Catching Up.


I'm sick, sitting in bed with a mound of scrunched up pieces of toilet paper beside me, a little dizzy from sleep deprivation due to the sick kids in and out of my room all night. There is a tiny angry man pounding on the inside of my left sinus cavity, the one behind my cheekbone. Perhaps it is a good time to write a little about what we've been up to in the last week.

YaYa in the restaurant.

On the weekend we took a little trip to Chiang Mai for computer repair, dental work and brie. Well, no, we didn't take a three hour sick-making bus ride for brie, but it was handy that it was there because my Superstar Husband and I happened upon the eleventh anniversary of our wedding day. We're in those lovely mid decades, not newlyweds by any stretch. We know each other well, we're still learning about each other, and we're in a season of life I never could have predicted, living in Thailand, married for eleven years with a ten-year-old, a few other kids, and a pregnancy that is halfway through. I think my twenty-one-year-old self would have been a little afraid, had she known the future, but as it turns out, this isn't scary at all. ( Well, maybe a little.) I can say now that Chinua has been a husband who has exceeded all of my expectations. He's ridiculously wonderful. On our anniversary, we didn't have a babysitter, so we had an after-the-kid's-bedtime picnic date, cross-legged on the guesthouse bed with the kids sleeping in the next room, warm brie and crackers, a few tiny sips of red wine for me. It was perfect.

Very relaxed cat in a market in Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai I was already run down. I had expected a day out with some of our new friends but I ended up staying at the guesthouse by myself. It was wonderful rest, I slept for hours and then woke up and read a whole book. By the time I was finished with the book, though, I was ready to not be alone anymore. It was an emotional book, and that thing happened, that sometimes happens to me, where I felt like I was the girl in the book, with all her sorrow and tragedy and failure at being a parent. Some tears happened, but then Chinua called and wondered if I felt up to going to a family's house for dinner. I did!

What people here eat for breakfast.

I hopped in a tuk tuk and guided the driver with my broken Thai. Speaking broken Thai is such a milestone in my whole language learning journey, after arriving knowing nothing except a few numbers and Hello and Thank you. I vacillate, in this journey, between feeling elated that I can brokenly communicate, and feeling like I'll never, not ever, get it right. In what order do the words go, again? It is not like English, French, Spanish, or Hindi. It's not like any language I've ever had a rudimentary grasp at. (Don't get the wrong idea- I'm not fluent in anything but English, but I understand the grammar of French and Spanish and a little bit of Hindi grammar.) In Thai, I feel like words are repeated several times in a sentence and I don't know why.


Just keep studying.

Cycle rickshaws and pigeons

Anyhow, we had a nice dinner (or a lovely supper, as I might say if I was in Canada) with the family we recently met. They were sweet and made us pizza, and after it all, when we were ready to go, they drove us out to a good spot to catch a songtao- a type of Thai taxi which is a truck with benches in the back- to the city. (The family lives in a nearby suburb.) After we were dropped off we stood on the side of the highway for a while, a little worried with one feverish, sleepy boy (Solo was just starting to get sick) and waiting for the yellow songtao to come by, like it should, every fifteen minutes. There were a couple of angry barking dogs who were near us, protecting their property, and I wanted to get some children's ibuprofen into Solo, but no songtao came. A couple of ladies kept poking wandering out of their house and having a look at us, until one lady approached. "Pai nai?" she asked. Where are you going?

I whipped out my broken Thai and told her we were waiting for the yellow songtao to take us to Chiang Mai. "Mai mi!" she said. It's not there. It was a holiday, apparently. And that's when she told us her sister would take us to the city in her car. I protested, she insisted, I protested (not very hard, just to be polite) she insisted.

Her sister, a perfect stranger, drove us all the way to the city, and wouldn't take any money from us. It was one of those moments when I wonder what country we've come to. How is it that people are so kind?

So the weekend went on and there were dentist appointments and a computer appointment and I ended up coming back to Pai with Kid A and Solo, a day earlier than the rest of the family. When I got to the bus station, the last van had just left for Pai, so they set up a special van for us. It was only the three of us, with one other lady. Another act of grace for us. The driver was lovely and careful on all the curves into the mountains, so I didn't get car sick like I have been on that drive ever since I've been pregnant.

Mor Paeng waterfall with the boys

We got home late, and the next day Chinua ended up being a lot later than he thought he'd be. I had the boys who were both moping a bit because being split up from the rest of the family, (tears! And it was only one day!) so we took a drive to the waterfall. I thought we could look around and walk and let the waterfall breathe on us, but as soon as we got there, Solo waded in.

Mor Paeng waterfall with the boys

I was kind of hoping not to get him wet, but it was too late. Ahhh.

Mor Paeng waterfall with the boys

We stayed for a while, until I felt that we should really get back and get Solo dry. But the drive out to the waterfall, and the drive back as well, was filled with such grace and beauty that I felt like I would float off the motorbike. It was the fresh (not humid for once) air and the sun on my back. Feeling the sun on your back is so different from merely being hot. The smell of the trees and the grasses and the road, warm in the sun... everything felt summery and light. We're coming to the end of the rainy season, after a couple of months of mostly clouds, the sun is so welcome. There were fluffy clouds and I had two sons that I love on the bike with me and it was amazing.

View on the way to Mor Paeng Waterfall, Pai, Thailand

It was a high moment.

Since then I've been doing one thing at a time, trying to do things like cleaning and writing in short chunks, saving energy, sneezing and coughing. Everything is a blessing, I'm reminded that I am beloved, and even silly colds and coughs and sinus infections only remind me of our usual good health.

Let's just hope that everyone sleeps all the way through the night tonight. That would be nice, considering that everyone is over four years old. I'm not always as sarcastic as I sound there, I actually prefer having feverish little ones in bed with me because I worry about them and have to keep getting up to check them anyways. But the middle of the night restlessness from the ten-year-old and the eight-year-old? Wha???