visa run

our current visas require that we leave thailand every 90 days. and before you start thinking, "oh, my goodness. i can't believe they've been there 90 days already" just know - we haven't. we still have a few weeks, but today is the only day we could all clear our schedules to go. so, bright and early this morning we set out to cross the border into burma (it's officially the union of myanmar). we hired a minibus and driver to get us there and it took us about 4 hours. that's with bathroom breaks and some pretty rough road - mostly issues with construction, resurfacing and the like. our first bathroom break was at a resort and restaurant that was created to provide financial support for the population and community development association.


this establishment has set some pretty high standards for their food prep - and i now have all new worries about dining out.


our driver dropped us off in mae sai, thailand - maybe 50 yards 45.72 meters from the border.


while having our passports checked i happened to look up and notice the clocks. the time in burma/myanmar is 1/2 an hour behind the time in thailand. i wish i'd taken a picture of it, but i didn't. i was too preoccupied with the dangers of border crossing. and i was all preoccupied over nothing. it reminded me of another border crossing experience i'd had.

when i was 15, the orchestra at my high school made a trip to the 1986 (don't stop reading to tax your brain trying to figure out my age, i'll do the math for you. i'm 37) world expo in vancouver, canada. we flew from dallas, texas to seattle, washington - which in and of itself was huge for me. (i'd only flown one other time and that was from dallas to houston on a southwest airlines peanut plane.) in seattle we boarded a bus and headed for the border. the entire drive i was nervous, like sweating buckets nervous. we got to the border and were stopped by guards. who boarded our bus - just like i knew they would. and then they got off the bus and waved us through. and that was it. i was so let down. i'd expected so much more. i'd expected guns waving and people yelling at us in a foreign language (you know, canadian english.) i'd expected our luggage to get tossed. i'd been holding my birth certificate tightly in my clenched fist - so i could produce it as soon as the nozzle of some high powered automatic rifle was waved in my face. but none of that happened. the weren't at all interested in a high school orchestra from dallas, texas. but we did stay on a cruise ship. you know, just in case those canadians decided we were dangerous and we needed to make a quick get away. (yes, i did believe that story then and now you're not gonna convince me other wise.)

anyway, back to this border crossing. after our passports were checked we crossed into myanmar/burma.


where they took pictures of us, we paid them and they kept our passports for processing. and we proceeded on to tachilek, burma/mayanmar to do a little shopping. then we returned and picked up our passports and reentered thailand.


on our way home, we noticed several fires. in an effort to improve air quality it is now illegal to burn in thailand, but it is part of their culture and old habits die hard.


i could have taken this exact picture a dozen times on our way home. the smoke was heavy and the stink was strong. we can see the smoke from our house and the haze in our area is awful. and at times the smell is almost unbearable. i hear it gets better once the rainy season comes and that this year is nothing compared to last. which makes me thankful i didn't experience it.

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field trips in thailand are a whole 'nother kind of education

#3's class went on a field trip to the fire station this week. he came home all excited and i couldn't figure out exactly why. he's been on a school field trip to the fire station, several, as a matter of fact. but after i got the details of this particular field trip i have a much better understanding of why an 8 yr. old boy might think this was the coolest field trip ever.

just what might make a field trip to the fire station all that? well, the kids were promised that there would most likely be an opportunity to operate a fire extinguisher. how fun is that?? what wasn't mentioned was that they would be putting out an actual fire with the fire extinguisher. an actual fire that the firemen themselves started right there in front of the entire 3rd grade from #3's school. an actual fire that they started by pouring gasoline on the ground right there in front of the entire 3rd grade from #3's school. and then lighting a match. i wouldn't be telling the truth if i said i wasn't ever so slightly disturbed by this. and this is one of those times that i'm seriously hoping #3 doesn't have his facts exactly right. because if he does, it seems to me that about 42 8 & 9 yr old boys and girls now know how to use accelerant to start a fire. and i don't think that was on the permission slip that the school sent home.

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i think my bootstraps broke

this is obviously going to be a woe is me, oh my life sucks post. and i'm just gonna tell you in advance that i would appreciate it greatly if you would all post the following in the comments. you can even go a little crazy and adlib, if you like. but i'd really, really like it if it had the same flavor. and then go get your friends to do the same. it would really make me feel better. much better.

"oh, you poor woman. you should just have yourself a good cry. let it all out. he is a bad, bad man. as a matter of fact, he's just awful! oh, and i must say, you're lookin' good, girl! have you lost weight?"

okay, so on with it. the man has taken himself off to ulaanbaatar, mongolia. and gone dark. i haven't heard from him since friday. and he was at his hotel at the time. and he was getting ready to go to dinner. and he said, "i'll skype you after dinner." well, he still must be eating. so i googled the hotel and discovered that they do indeed have free dsl. and i called the hotel, so i know they have a phone system. but there was one thing they didn't have - a reservation for the man. now, i'm sure if something awful had happened to him i would have heard, right? i mean by now, surely i would have heard something. but so far, nada. so i'm assuming he's alright. and thank God nothing bad has happened here since i have absolutely no way to reach him. his sim card doesn't work for his cell. and the real problem in all of this - i have no friends here. i have no one here i can call because i'm having a bad day or because i want to have a conversation with someone who doesn't call me mom. and don't say get out there. do something. this post is not about what i can do or should do... it's about feeling sorry for me - because it's all about me. and just in case you don't feel bad for me just yet, remember, we don't have tv, i mean, we have tv, but we have no satellite, none. and hulu is only available in the states.

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that hurts

i am addicted
to sharing it all with blog
don't be embarrased


him: "you know your mom blogged about our conversation the other day?"

her: "she did? why'd she do that?"

him: "sweetheart, your mother blogs about everything, nothing is sacred."

her: "you need to stop talking to her, daddy."

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how do we get this thing home?

i dropped #2 and the man off at the airport right after dropping the boys off at school. i hung around until they were checked in for their flight - i wanted to be sure the flight plans took - and then they were gone.

mom, that pics for you. that's the size of plane they fly between bangkok and chiang mai.

i'm slightly jealous because i know that this will be a trip a11 will remember forever, but those are good memories to have with her daddy. they get to bangkok and head straight to the harp center centre, getting there about noon.


and now we come to another part of the trip i was responsible for - finding out the hours of operation for the harp center centre. and i did, the hours are wed - sat 10a - 7p. they got there at noon on wed. should have been fine.


that's a pic of #2 staring at the locked door. because it's closed, as in not open. which the gentleman who came around from the side communicated to them. but he did point them to the harp school. which is right around the corner. and guess what?!? it was closed. luckily, the man has a very keen eye and while peeking in the windows he noticed someone in the school and managed to get their attention. they were able to help. and #2 tried out the harp and was pleased.

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and every one agreed she is the best harpist evah. but we knew that already. so they paid for the harp and made arrangements to meet back at the harp store at 5p. allowing the very nice people at the harp center centre to wrap the harp up and get it flight ready, since the plan was to take it as over-sized luggage on the flight home. bh has an appointment to make so they head that way. the appointment goes well and they still have some free time. so it's off to starbucks.


and then to toys r us - you know since they were there and all.


and while at toys r us they happened to come across ken's new friend


why-buy-the-cow-when-you-can-get-the-milk-for-free barbie.

thankfully, they did not bring her home. i mean we do have a teen boy in the house.

then they returned to the harp center centre. where the harp and their ride were ready and waiting for them. there was just one itty bitty problem. the harp people weren't convinced that the airlines would allow the harp to be carried on as over-sized luggage. so they called the airlines. much speaking of thai happened and eventually they were sent on their way - with the harp.

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hmmm... perhaps the size of that box was the cause of the concern about taking it as over-sized luggage. these two nice gentleman load the harp, #2 and the man and head to suvarnabhumi airport. once their they discover that it's a no go, it's too close to the flight time. so much rearranging is done and another flight is scheduled, but it's at don mueang airport - which is not so conveniently located on the other side of town. so, it's back in the van for a not so very quick jaunt across town. they are arrive with plenty of time. get the harp unloaded and now it's time for security. where a valiant effort is made to put the box containing the harp through the baggage x-ray machine.


but surprise, surprise it doesn't fit. the only option is to open the box and look for bombs. but what they find in the box is, well, they aren't really sure. so they call for back up. and end up with 11 security people - and #2 - all standing around the open box peering in at a well packed harp. and it must have passed muster because they send it off into the special holding area for things they-aren't-really-quite-sure-exactly-what-they-are-but-have-been- deemed-safe-for-flight.


and now we come to my last responsibility picking up the man, #2 and the harp from the airport. #3, #1 and i get to the airport right on time and manage to get the best parking spot at the airport. we go in to wait. the flight is delayed. now, no one has communicated anything to me, so we're there to pick them up at their original flight time. and just about the time the plane should be landing the phone rings - it's #2. she says they're at a restaurant. at the airport. in bangkok. i'm pretty sure she's joshing so i ask to speak to her father. and he confirms that they are, in fact, at a restaurant. at the airport. in bangkok. we talk, figure out the harp won't fit in our car anyway - someone might have suggested that days ago - and decide a taxi cab minivan is the way for them to go. i stop and make arrangements for the cab at the cab stand and head home with the boys. at 11p i get a phone call from the man - no taxi, no hope of a taxi. but one of the guys who works at the airport happens to drive a song theauw and is more than happy to give them a ride home. for a price, of course. so into the song theauw they go and by now it's late. and they're tired.


once they are home it is imperative that the harp is unpacked, to check for damage.

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and just how big was that box?



#2's harp teacher came by this evening to tune the harp for us and set up a time for lessons. have i mentioned that her teacher plays for the queen? how cool is that?

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a little harpy

i'll post all about harp shopping when i'm not so tired. but for now, here's a couple of pics from bangkok.

auditioning the harp

posing at the central world mall

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how he loves his diagrams

the man went to pick up the kids from school for me. this is usually my chore favorite thing to do, but yesterday i just wasn't feeling like it. and turned out it was his lucky day.

in #2's class they are studying decades. they are broken up into small groups and each group has a different decade. #2's group has the 70's. another group has the 80's. (i love the 80's) and in their report they seem to have including a bit about aids, and homosexuality, and prostitution. and when the man picked up #2 she was just chock full of questions. see these things were just mentioned, not actually discussed, but she had the feeling that everyone else in class knew what they were talking about, everyone but her. so she asked the man a few questions and the man believes in telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth and didn't feel like he could give her a proper answer unless he started at the beginning - with a talk about human anatomy. and for those of us who know and love the man, we know that no serious conversation can happen without a diagram. and because i like to share, i scanned it so we could all see. here it is...


i wish i could tell you after seeing that i felt some relief, but instead what i felt was a growing sense of panic. because i wasn't sure exactly what was included in this diagram and i've got those parts. so i had him explain. and here's the diagram with the explanations...


and after the man explained it to me he said, "maybe you should have a talk with her, too. you know, just to clarify things."

and so you guys don't worry. #2 and i have actually had this talk - but it looked nothing like this. and i'm assuming that's why she didn't recognize it.

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chiang mai balloon festival

we lived in colorado springs for 5 years. and every one of those 5 years we headed out to the annual colorado balloon classic to see the balloon glow. and not one of those years did we actually get to see a glow, each and every time we saw what they called a flame. which means they lit the fires but didn't have the balloons up. and it wasn't enough to keep the kids interested. but this year in chiang mai we saw this...


and this...


and this...


and we got to do this*... (since it was dusk, the lighting inside the hot air balloon wasn't all that great making it somewhat difficult to see that we are standing inside the balloon as they fill it with air)


and this*...


and i found the van of my dreams...


and if you can't make out just what makes it all that, look at this...


do i really need room for the kids?

earlier in the evening there were hangliders - but they weren't really hangliders they were something else, i just don't remember what it was they called themselves...

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and just so you don't think it was all fun and games, we also were witness to this...

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i have no idea what he is doing or why he is doing it, but i do know this clown will not be at any of my kiddos birthday parties - well, if any of them were still young enough to want a clown at their birthday party.

and you may have noticed c13 was conspicuously absent from the days activities. he was off at a birthday party - social butterfly that he is.

*the lovely couple who took our picture in the balloon and then let the kids hang out in the basket for a bit were from england. most of these balloons came from bristol, england. they sent the balloons and the baskets by ship in december preparing for a valentine's event - which is when the international festival was originally to be held. the festival was postponed because of a 100 day mourning period due to the death of the king's sister.

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different bad

where i come from when you're driving down the road and you are trying to switch lanes or make a turn across several lanes of traffic or even make a u-turn it's not uncommon for someone to flash their lights at you. and that flash of headlight has always been - at least to me - goodwill towards fellow man in action. that gentle flash means please turn in front of me, there is plenty of room and if there isn't, well, i don't mind slowing down one bit because the world really is a beautiful place.

it reminds me that people really are good.

they really do want to help.

and they care.

they do.

so picture this, i'm waiting to make a u-turn - cuz you cannot get from point a to point b here without making at least one u-turn - the traffic is somewhat heavy, but i finally get an opening. and this black truck flashes his headlights at me. so naturally, whatever hesitation i might have been feeling evaporated and was replaced with the all to familiar sense of peace and love and everything being right with the world. confidently, i make my u-turn. now, i don't end up in the same lane as this lovely man but all the same i appreciate his generosity. imagine my suprise when a few seconds later (because this guy wasn't really all that close and i didn't need his stinkin' headlight flash to tell me i could go) this guy pulls up beside me and shoots the finger at me, yes, that finger, the naughty finger. and he doesn't just shoot it he waves it all around, crazy like. and he's yelling. and even though my window is up and his window is up i'm pretty sure i can hear what he is saying. cuz he's mad. like rabid dog mad. and he continues this behavior more than a few seconds and has me scared and confused. all sense of normalcy has now been thrown out the window (well, not really, because if i'd been able to throw something out my window he'd've been able to throw something in my window and probably would have.) and this is how i was introduced to the harsh reality that things are different here and not everything is different good some of it is different b.a.d. i have discovered that the headlight flash means something totally different here. it means something more along the lines of stay where you are and don't even think of turning in front of me because i own this lane - this entire lane from here to infinity - and if you do i will make you so sorry you messed with me. no really, that's what it seems to mean here. and my experience with this has left me trusting my fellow driver a little lot less.

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i can haz coffee at home

what a difference a day makes
twenty-four little hours
brought the sun and the flowers
where there used to be rain

~Maria Grever & Stanley Adams

ah, young love. it's here and i'm basking. cuz today, i bought a new friend. a friend with it's very own keeping warm plate. (how many of you have friends with a keeping warm plate? come on, be honest.)


and let me tell you, i know my coffee maker - ask me anything, we have no secrets.

so home i come with my new friend, take her out of the box (do you think coffee makers are hers or hims?), read and follow the instructions. which involve running just water - with no coffee grounds - several times through. and while i'm doing this i get the coffee out and read the instructions on the bag. and discover that as hard as i tried to hide it the other day, i am a wuss. this bag of coffee says...


this coffee maker makes 12 cups so that would be 12 tablespoons, not teaspoons, of coffee for one carafe of coffee!! that's crazy. i can't imagine what i might do with that amount of caffeine coursing through my veins. so, i used the i'm-a-wuss algebraic formula and determined that instead of 12 tablespoons of coffee i should use about 3.5 tablespoons. and how'd that work out for me?

to the
last drop

actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis - a good hot cup of coffee. ~alexander king

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