The high school journey continues.

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Kai was home for June and July, but school has started again and he’s back at it, digging into eleventh grade and all that means.

This year our nearly-seventeen-year-old kid has new classes and new teachers. He has a new house and family to live with during the week. His new house is much farther from the school, so he is mastering the transportation system in Chiang Mai, which consists of yellow and red songtaews. Songtaews are trucks with seats in the back.

He will have many more rides to and from Pai on the weekends. Hours of curving roads in a fast-traveling van. This does not deter him.

This tall kid is powerful. When he decides to do something, he does it, disregarding anything in his way. He has grown so much since he started this school journey—actual inches, plus he started playing drums, figured out essays and tests and class schedules, and learned that basketball is not for him. Weights are, though. Kai was our wide eyed baby, our kid who never stopped thinking and learning. Now he is a level-eyed young man, kind and chock full of sense, patient and determined. Also hilarious.

In our wild life, I didn’t imagine that I would have five different kids with five different school journeys (every kid is doing something slightly different this year) but I’m so intrigued and excited by all the learning, mastering, and growing I see in their lives.

Every Friday he comes home to cries of “Kai!” and hugs.

We love him. We miss him. We’re proud of him.

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts, as well as my books as soon as they are available. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work.

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Dear Solo, (a letter to my almost eleven-year-old son),

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Dear Solo,

You will be eleven this month.

Let’s not forget you, India baby, walked on the shores of the Arabian sea. Born during the monsoon, when the water streamed down the windows and I held my face in the cardamom jar every morning because I couldn’t bear the mildew stench. You were so loved.

Little baby Solomon, King Solomon we called you.

You cried in the coconut grove and I walked you under the stars, step by step in the humid night air.

You learned to walk in the mountains, toddling at great heights, teeth first, while Nepali friends carried you back and forth and fed you sweets. You ran away from me in the Pokhara markets while I vainly tried to follow, trailing three young children and holding many bags. You tucked yourself away in sari shops or gold stores, hiding behind counters, hiding in boats, hiding under your blankets on your bed. You were always laughing when we found you. You were covered in sand, shining with stars, swimming like a fish.

We moved to Thailand and you leaned on the arms of Thai grandmothers, grinning up at them, you played with soi dogs, charmed monks.

And then you turned inward very suddenly, became quiet, scowled your way around. It was an abrupt shift. You were working something out, deep inside there somewhere. Any way we leaned, you leaned the other way. No, you said. No, no, no.

Just as abruptly, the sunshine came back, and with it, the dancing. You have danced in many countries. Sometimes your dancing makes me feel like I could fly if I tried hard enough. I think it makes you feel that way too.

You cried when we moved out of our house. But you out of anyone need the starry skies. You are mighty, young son. Sometimes you wonder if you look okay.

“You are so beautiful,” you told me the other day. “And Dad is so beautiful. But me?”

I don’t know what it is that blocks you from seeing it, but son, you are stunning.

You protect people that you feel are being shamed or mocked.

You draw for hours and spend your money and time making gifts for people.

You are Wookie’s great friend. The only time you seem to stay still is when you are reading somewhere with Wookie curled up beside you. You always look out for animals and every kind of creature. You are fierce and sometimes anxious, artistic and a boy of great feeling.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

I love you and love you and love you. Your dad does too. Sometimes we talk about how we feel about you. We can barely stand it.

I’m writing this birthday letter early just because I’m feeling it now. Because I can hear your laugh in my head and it is so sweet to me.

My son.

My wild son, in perpetual motion.

I love you.

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts, as well as my books as soon as they are available. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work.


In a new space.

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How do you make a house feel like a home?

Our new house is beautiful. It is a sudden rise up, a view and some space, but we have not changed, our money situation has not changed. So how do we reconcile this shift? How do we hold it and live inside of it, expand and live in these spaces? How do we make a home here?

The younger kids roam. They ride their bikes and their scooters. Solo rides his wave board, all geared up with elbow pads and knee pads, looking like a kid in a catalog. They run to Winnie and Josh’s house to hang out with their friends, then all of them careen over here.

The older kids hide out. They find privacy where they can, in their rooms. Kenya draws and reads. Kai tests out the computer he bought with money he saved up, a great bargain when his host family moved away and sold it to him. He throws a football (An American football, Leafy insists. A football, Kai replies, in an old argument between people who feel more rooted here or there) to his siblings with his excellent arm, and they catch it again and again. Or they all go to the basketball court.

(Rumor has it that the village was talking about a certain kid of ours (maybe Solo) who was at the basketball court at 6:00 in the morning the other day. I have a feeling that not much of what we do here will go unnoticed.)

Chinua builds shelves, installs things, and plays his trumpet. I go through boxes. But I can’t wait to finish unpacking before having people over, so people are here among the boxes, in the bones of our new life, not yet settled, not yet complete. It doesn’t feel like home if others are not here. This is the life we have always lived. I don’t know how to make it homey any other way.

So I cook and we eat together outside. We have a covered outdoor table, the delight of my heart, in our carport. Who needs to cover a car? We would rather have a table there—a mystery to our landlords, who protect their car from rain or sunshine. Every countertop in our kitchen is too short for me, so I have embraced the old art of sitting while chopping. We have dinner and Bible circle with our friends over, and everyone is a bit astounded by our new view. The light shows off on the hills. We sit on cushions in the living room, surrounded by bugs, cups, tea, and hot water in the middle of the circle.  We read John 5 together, and discuss. I am always thankful for the perspective people from around the world bring, and this time is no different, as we hear about spirituality in Mexico, Spain, and the Philippines.

I want to try to live in my life, not drift along. Probably writing stories will help. Stories of our life here in this place. And to live in something beautiful, something more spacious than we are used to? I guess it is just thankfulness that helps with that. To acknowledge what we have been given. A view. That’s a mighty thing. I didn’t form those mountains, but there they are for me to see. I feel small in comparison. I didn’t plant these trees, but here they are. It is a vulnerable thing, to learn to receive. Inside I feel used to scrapping along, sure that what I have comes from my own power. Fists up.

How do you make a house feel like a home? Open hands, relaxed shoulders, lights and candles, sitting together. Songs in the house, maybe a dance party. Homeschool and students coming to learn. Figuring out the rhythms of life. (There has to be milk for the morning, because the store is far away.) Comforting crying children. Sorting out arguments. Driving to town for meditation. Cutting flowers for a vase. Planting a vegetable garden. There are hundreds of ways to make a house feel like a home.

Hot Season Days.

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Chinua is back and we are in long days that start off cool and, by mid afternoon, are hot in the way that makes your clothes feel like they just came out of the dryer. Pool time. Sitting under fans eating fruit. Cleaning and painting and writing and planning.

This is the smoky/hot season. A different kind of time.

People give each other nods in the street. I see you stayed. I stayed too. Much of our international community has fled the smoke for the islands. We wear masks sometimes. Sometimes we forget. It’s not so bad, it will be better in a week or so.

At the garden, the grass crunches underfoot no matter how much we water it. Dried leaves pile up. The new leaves are sprouting. Josh and Neil put in a new watering system in the food forest and it’s a delight.

Isaac has a loose tooth and tells me, “I love my loose tooth.” A long time ago Kenya told me she wanted to keep her loose tooth as long as she could because she would miss wiggling it with her tongue. We are a fidgety people.

I finished my final paper and have taken a quarter off to finish writing World Whisperer 5 and other things. I’m trying to pace myself more. It’s a bit nuanced for me: I either want to do all the work or none of the work, but I’m trying to learn how to work in a relaxed, sauntery fashion.

I painted Kai’s room. He moved from the very back of the outer house to the front of the outer house, and his space looks much better. Things I still need to paint: the back outer room, the kitchen, the downstairs back room. Things I need to clean and sort: everything. The car is in the shop getting prepped for a trip to Chiang Mai. The boys washed the motorbikes and themselves.

Life during a break is good. Ordinary grumpiness in the heat. Teenager stuff. Everyone tripping over each other. The good kinds of irritation, springing from a full house and a lot of love.

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