Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Random news and ramblings

Less than 48 hours from now we'll be on our way back to the U.S. Not permanently, just for a quick vacation. My brother is getting married, and my parents are making a weeklong family reunion out of it. They've rented a house so we can all stay together, and most of us we'll be there all week. I'm so excited I can hardly wait. I'm not looking forward to the flights - the travel time is insane - but I'm excited to see all my family, and for them to see Trea and how much she's changed and grown. She's started to favor Thai over English the last few weeks. Her teachers constantly comment on how quickly she's learned it, and it's fun (but weird) to watch. John's been trying to count the number of words she knows in Thai, and it's somewhere around 150. We're really hoping she'll be able to maintain it after we leave here.

John's Thai is also improving steadily. He'll kill me for posting this, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want. My boss actually mistook him for a Thai the other day. She was in her office, which adjoins the teacher's room, and he was talking to a Thai teacher. My boss told him later she'd thought it had been two Thai teachers talking. Pretty cool if you ask me. He's also getting to where people on the phone don't seem to immediately know he's a farang, which is cool.

As for me, I am picking up a little of the language. So far I've learned my colors and several animal names (giraffe, zebra, hippo, elephant, crocodile, tiger). I can also say drink milk, go potty, put on your shoes, sit down and pay attention. . .very sophisticated vocabulary, I know, but when you're learning Thai primarily from your two-year-old daughter and your three-year-old students, this is what you learn. I'm learning a few other phrases as well, but I really need to put more effort into it. I understand far more than I can say, mostly because my pronunciation is severely lacking. I try to talk to people and they look at me like "huh?" I like talking to Trea's nursery teachers, they're used to piecing together toddler talk so they understand me some of the time! I know I could do better, it's just a matter of committing to the effort. I just wish I knew how long, for sure, we will be here. We're kind of flux right now (again). We need to decide in the next couple of months whether to renew our contracts for another year, or change jobs, or head back to the U.S. Or Taiwan or Korea or whatever (with my husband, you never know). We recently found out that NSA is not offering their Language Enhancement program this year, which probably means John would need more time here before his language was up to translating full time (he's very talented, but even he needs more than a few months of using the language part-time to become fully fluent). We were bummed to hear that. John's trying to decide if he really wants to pursue translating, or if he wants to go back to school or just get a boring 9-to-5 job like a normal person :).

We also recently learned that my job won't allow me to nurse the baby. I would really like to breastfeed as long as possible, but if we stay, that means getting a new job. I'm not really upset about that idea - teaching KG has been a challenge to be honest. I realize there are people out there with endless energy and patience, but I am not one of them. I have a quota of how many hours of tantrums, whining, and pouting I can take in a day. Having a toddler, and soon a newborn, at home, it seems a shame to waste some of my tolerance on other people's kids. I also think I deal with enough vomiting and potty training accidents at home without adding a few each week from school. Don't get me wrong, many of my kids are adorable and I will really miss them. But, I think a change to teaching adults could be a good thing. Maybe I'd get to use some of the grammar or literature I studied in college, instead of being challenged with cut-and-paste projects three times a week.

To make this a reality, though, I actually have to go find this job. There's a university across the street, and I think they occasionally hire farangs. That would be ideal, as long as I could work out a schedule that would let me come home when the baby needed to eat. Universities in general are flexible about teaching schedules, and unlike KG, you don't need to hang around all day, just when you have a class to teach.

So, IF I could get a job, and find a nanny, then we could feasibly stay. . .it's just a really hard decision. Yes it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an adventure; it's also way out of my comfort zone, and while that is growth-promoting it is not always fun. I still don't like cockroaches on my kitchen floor, or getting sick from the food. I miss my family and having friends who speak my language fluently. There are other teachers at school, of course, but it's not the same as having other moms around to talk to. I miss understanding what's going on in church. John and I are trying to decide what to do but we really have mixed emotions about the whole thing. Whenever I'm in the U.S., I miss Thailand, and when I'm in Thailand, I miss the U.S. . . . Anyway, enough rambling for now.

In other news, the "cool season" has finally arrived, with lows in the 60s and highs in the high 70s or low 80s. I was so looking forward to the cool season, and now that it's here, the water is freezing - we have a little electric heater in the bathroom, but it's no match for cold pipes. I've taken to showering in the late afternoon, when the water and the house are the warmest. My students think it's freezing, and have been coming to school bundled up in coats and scarves. One of the ladies in the office even warned us that our car might not start in the morning, because it's "so cold." I wonder what they would think of the places in the U.S. where you have to warm up your car batteries just to start your car. And my boss put shirts on her dogs, on the advice of her vet, so that they don't catch a chill. Maybe the dogs acclimate just like the people do.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of a panick attack when I realized I hadn't felt the baby move in over 12 hours. John took me to the hospital, where they did an ultrasound and verified the baby was fine. It was less than $10! And, since they were doing the ultrasound anyway, we asked to know the baby's sex. . .

And they still couldn't tell. The baby was facing my back, with the umbilical cord between its legs and close to the placenta. This kid is determined to be a surprise. We have a boy's name all picked out - no I'm not telling - but I'd welcome suggestions for a girl's name. It doesn't have to be totally exotic, but I don't think it should be super common either. John doesn't really agree with this, but I don't think Chantrea should have a sister named Alice or Jane. Trea will probably go through a stage where she doesn't like her name, and her sister would be jealous that Trea's name is unique while hers would be plain. So, it's got to be a at least a little exotic. Feel free to make suggestions!

And since I probably won't post again soon. . .Merry Christmas!