Monday, February 28, 2005

Monday morning thoughts

I've had this theory for many years, that the key to being thin--or at your healthy weight, I should say--is to eat in moderation with smaller portions than what most restaurants in America serve up. Since moving to Thailand, I've gotten used to smaller portions and for awhile I also thought that the Asian diet was THE healthy way to eat, as I lost about 15 pounds without even trying.

While I do think it's healthy, I also think it doesn't contain near enough vegetables and too many foods are fried. And being raised in a western society, I simply love bread, cheese, pasta, and other foods that Asians don't eat. I also love the real thing. I don't care for all the super low fat or fat free foods. I wanted to find out how to eat the things I love with the correct mindset not to binge on it, and enjoy it and still stay slim, something more difficult to do as I get older, now in my mid-30s. I also had the theory that the obesity epidemic in the States is due to the fact that people don't have the time to cook good meals at home anymore from scratch. They purchase all these pre-made foods with all sorts of additives, preservatives and fillers that make you eat more and feel less satisfied.

Well, lo and behold I found a book on just that subject! It's a brand new book published this year called French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano. She's a born and raised French woman who knows French culture and American culture both, and can compare how both cultures on the attitude toward food, diets and exercise. I happened to find this book at Asia Books yesterday and so I snatched it up and have not been able to put it down. I'm determined to not be a fatty after having my baby and I know this is possible to achieve!!!

Sunday Brunch

I'm having Sunday Brunch this Monday morning. :)
1) Do you take your lunch hour at work? Yes.
2) What is your favorite place to eat lunch at? At this market on the weekends called Bon Marche. They have great pot pies and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls.
3) What do you usually eat for lunch? Whatever the school is serving up. We get free lunch at the school I work at.
4) Do you have anyone that you eat lunch with on a regular basis? The foreign teachers.
5) If not eating, what do you usually do on your lunch hour? I always eat on my lunch break. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday happenings

I haven't been as active on my blog lately, just because nothing much has been going on worth writing about. I did, however, see an interesting news article on CNN last Friday where a Canadian couple who perished in the tsunami here in Thailand had their digital camera recovered, and the memory card was still intact. The photos are the first I've seen of a real tsunami coming right at you, and it's eerie, knowing the person who took these pictures is dead as a result. Here is the link and the photo gallery of the tsunami wave coming is to the right.

Today, Golf and I are meeting a former colleague of mine, Haviva, for lunch. She's going back to Israel after being in Thailand for five years. She's ready to go home -- I know how she feels! Then after we are done with our visit, Golf and I plan to go to our usual mall and see a new Keaneau Reeves movie, Constantine. Then that's about it for our Sunday plans.

Oh yes, and...

I forgot to mention that earlier this week, Golf bought the first season of CSI. It's really great! I remember my friend, Carolyn, telling me how hooked she was on the series, and now I can see why. And watching it this way is even better -- no commercials! Golf is now searching for season 2, because it's so cheap here and heck, the TV shows here suck, except for news shows, which I can't watch anyway cause they're all in Thai!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Holiday today

Today's a public holiday here in Thailand, called Makha Bucha Day, and it's a Buddhist holiday. It's the day that 1,250 came to the Lord Buddha's first teaching all by chance -- they knew intuitively to come.

So we're just staying around the apartment today, spending it like any other weekend day, just relaxing, getting some housework done. I've been putting together a homemade cookbook. Now and then I like buying magazines here, often ones that have quite a few recipes in them, so when I'm finished reading the magazine, I cut out the recipes I think sound the best. I'm also on, and I'll often go there and print out recipes on recycled paper which I cut out and stick into my cookbook. I remember how my mother had index cards of recipes she cut out or hand wrote, so this idea is along that vein.

On Monday, I called in sick. Or I should say I called in lazy! Until Monday, I had not taken one sick day, and still I tried to be courteous to the teachers who would have to substitute my classes -- Mondays are light days and I teach only two classes. So with Monday off and today off, it's only a three day work week for me.

Because I work only three days, I called the tailor to alter my two dresses I wear most often to work to put a triangular insert in the skirt part of the dress and take out the sides near the boobs to accomodate my growing body parts to last me til the 9th month. The dresses were starting to sqeeze my belly. They should be done by this weekend. One of the parents gave me a maternity dress, she also gave me a muumuu to wear around the house! I'll have to wear the dress at last once to be polite, the muumuu, I don't know -- I'll have to be desperate, but in my 9th month, who knows!?!?!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Monday Madness

This week, using the letters in your name (real or screen name), list places that you've been to. Be creative! Have fun! =)
A -- on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, May 2001
M -- Malaysia, on a visa run.
Y -- Yakima, Washington: lived there as a girl for a short period of time.

Wish my first name was a little longer, but I won't use my married last name because it's 16 letters long!!!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The weekend thus far...

has been pretty good. I did have to go in on Saturday morning for parent/teacher meetings, and of course, the students who need to be talked about the most, their parents didn't show up. Anyway.... I was finished before noon and Golf met me and we walked to our usual market place for weekend lunches.

We came home after that and watched some episodes of Millinium, the serial that Chris Carter of X-Files fame had created. Golf bought the first season and we've really been enjoying it, but it has caused me to have some extremely weird dreams -- if you've read my pregnancy journal, you can get one example of the many different ways my brain is going haywire with these wacko hormones coursing through the body!

Then I had a dental appointment at 4:30, just a standard cleaning. I need to get some wisdom teeth pulled after the baby is born. They've been needing it for years, but I've been too chicken. I must do it before we return to the States because dental care here is fine, and it's a fraction of the cost. Fortunately it's just my two bottom teeth, my upper teeth are OK.

Right after the dental appointment, which took all of half an hour, we went to the nearby mall that has the fabric store. The dresses I had made for work are good through my sixth month, the tailor said, and he was right. They're getting tight around my belly now, so we went back to the fabric store and got some more to put a triangular panel in the skirt part to widen it and accomodate my growth. I hope it doesn't look too silly, but I almost don't care. I've felt so whumpy and unattractive with all the extra weight, and my hair is too dark and funny looking. My arms look like toothpicks stuck into a large apple. My dear sweet husband constantly reassures me that I look beautiful to him, but alas, I think this is something that every preggo woman goes through. Your body changes so much!!!

So after we bought fabric we went to dinner at BBQ Plaza which is a place where you get a large platter of raw frozen meats and fresh vegetables (mostly shredded cabbage) and you have your own personal hot plate with a surrounding trench for soup. It heats up and you grill your own meats and they pour this chicken broth in the trench and you add the veggies. It's fun! I hope to take Mother there if she comes before the baby is born. AND if she can use chopsticks, although I'm sure they'd give her a fork if she were unable.

Then we went to see a movie Golf's been wanting to see called Kung Fu Hussle. It's out of China and it's a comedy set back in 1930s Shanghai. It was dubbed in Thai with English subtitles and Golf got to enjoy it much more because there were many more things said in Thai than there were written in English. It was funny enough and I'm happy my husband got to see a show he's wanted to see for nearly a month now.

Today we're going to meet an online friend of Golf's -- she's an American from New York, and she's also a teacher here in BKK. I've seen her posts on the forum Golf and I frequent and she's very articulate, so I'm looking forward to meeting her. We're gonna go to Sizzler for salad! Woo hoo!

After that, it's bakery time, and hopefully they'll have my favorite breads in stock. They didn't last week. Then it's time to come home. I hope to get a power walk in today, because I didn't exercise Friday or yesterday due to social obligations or work obligations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My Valentine!

Yesterday after work as my husband was walking me home, he said he felt so bad that he didn't have anything for me for Valentine's Day. I said don't worry! We had a great time on Sunday and I've never been one to make a huge deal about little gifties. Well as soon as we walked in the door, I saw a huge bouquet of red roses, carnations and baby's breath, beautifully arranged! My sneaky husband! What a guy! I love you tii rak!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Got Baby Stuff!!

I got a new book yesterday at the English bookstore. It was a total impulse buy, but I thought it would be so beneficial. It's called Baby Play, by the people who do Gymboree in the States. I know I'm supposed to stimulate baby, but HOW besides playing peek-a-boo, rocking and silly faces?

The Big C idea worked out well yesterday. This store is huge and there were quite a few bedding options and we found the cradle we were after for about $20! We have to find a better mattress for it, and some sheets, but at least my child won't have to sleep in a box! We also bought some more little hooded blankets, some soft towels to dry him off, a rubber sheet to protect the mattress, and some grooming supplies. I felt great to finally get something for our baby!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Celebrating V-Day with my DH

Golf and I plan to celebrate Valentine's Day today, since the real day is on Monday. One year ago he proposed to me at Saxophone Jazz Club -- who would have thought that a year later I'd be six and a half months pregnant with our first child!

We plan to go to our usual favorite mall and go to our favorite Thai restaurant there and it's the same one we took Anna and Jimmy to when they came. Then we'll go to Swenson's ice cream parlor for a big, fattening, yummy sundae. At first I just wanted some chocolates, but hey, why not chocolate ice cream? Then my wonderful husband can share with me!

He's still in bed at the moment, but I got another idea too. There is this Big C store across the street and at another Big C, (it's like Target or Walmart) Golf saw a decent baby cradle for not very much money. So I'd like to check out this one to see if they also have the cradle. I have not yet bought one thing for my baby and in about 2 1/2 weeks, I will be 7 months along. I think it's time. Last time when I planned to shop for baby and saw they had no bassinets in this country, I was so upset that I lost all heart for shopping. I hope today will be different. OH! I updated my pregnancy journal this morning too. :)


After the incident last Monday, (read the Thai Election entry, about half way down) all of us foreign teachers did go to this Saturday function. If our boss only told us a couple weeks in advance exactly what was going on and could we please help out, none of us would have had a problem with it. The bottom line is that the Thais do not communicate effectively with us. We thought we were going to promote his school simply by showing our farang faces, which insults us. At this meeting he called, he explained everything in a more clear matter. OK, so we'll go, and we did and it wasn't so bad. The kids were real cute, but if we walked out amongst the parents, all we got was stared at, so we hid in the teacher's room until the children arrived to the classes. This whole promotion art contest the director sponsored drew less than half the children he expected.

So this brings me to my next question to contemplate, which I did with my fellow teachers. In the US, private companies give incentives to work hard: promotions, raises, bonuses, comissions. If you work for a government enterprise, you know you aren't going to get rich, but you will trade that with more stability in your job and get good benefits. Teachers in the US resign themselves to the fact that they will never get high pay and they do what they do because they love it. And they are teachers only -- they are not expected to be sales people.

Here in Thailand, it's a hybrid. We have private schools which are, bottom line, businesses out to make a profit. The teachers still make a very low salary. The teachers are expected to do much more than just teach the kids. They are to do promotional advertising for the school and kiss ass to any potential 'customer' who might walk through. And for what? What is their motiviation? They don't get higher pay or a bonus for every new student signed up with the school! Basically they work their fingers to the bone to make the boss rich. This mentality I do not understand at all. In America we all ask, "What's in it for me?" Here, they seem to do it "For the spirit of the workplace." When these two perspectives meet, it clashes and is sometimes ugly, like it was for us. We farangs didn't get anything out of this promotional event held on our weekend. But we came in and did our minimal duty and went home.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Close-up of First Offering

Just about all food offerings contain the same items. There are 5 small cups of whisky, which we fill partially before prayer. After the incense is lit and we've prayed, we fill the cups two more times. There are also two cups of tea, three different types of fruit (oranges must be there). Various deserts and cakes, peanut candies, such as that you see right next next to the cakes. There is also pork for well being, a whole fish, and a whole steamed chicken.

The First Offering

The first offerings are intended for the Gods of the Earth and the Sky. We bless all offerings with well wishes for the New Year and tell what the food and drink items are that we are giving.

House Spirit Offerings

Our second occasion for prayers is for the spirits of the house. The same sorts of food are offered.

Afterlife Necessities

These items are all made out of paper to burn. The silver tray contains items for Golf's father, and the items on the red tray are for his mother. Look at all the different sorts of things people need in the afterlife: Cell phones, jewelry and makeup! :)

Offerings to Golf's Father

Golf's father has not been passed away from us for three years yet, so until three years have passed, the family must honor him seperately from the rest of the family ancestors, whose offerings are next.

Close up of Golf's Father

Golf looks so much like his father that I thought I'd add this photo of a close up of his picture.

Ancestor Offering

The last prayers go to all the ancestors of the family going back several generations. All the same sorts of foods are offered. The beautiful lady right behind the left candle is Golf's mother.

Burning the paper afterlife necessities

At the very end of the ceremonies, all the paper necessities, such as you saw earlier, plus 'gold bars' 'money' 'clothes' and 'shoes' , even catalogues of household items are burned to go directly to the family ancestors to use.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

It's Chinese New Year!

Today is special for two reasons: One, it's my Mother's birthday -- Happy Birthday Mommy!!! and two, it's Chinese New Year. My school gave us the day off, and I went with Golf to pray to his ancestors, the Gods and his immediate family. He took some photos of the ceremonies and tomorrow morning I will upload them and explain what's going on.

Today I also had a little surprise from an online friend whom I've known for almost 5 years now. She mailed me a little gift for our baby. It's a swaddling blanket, but not just any blanket. Turns out it's a blanket I ordered for her from her baby registry when she finally got pregnant with her first child. She's since had another baby, and this blankey has the love of two babies wrapped up inside that she sent to me for my baby. I thought that was just so special. Thank you very much, Darshani! :) :)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Thai Election Day

Today Thailand votes for a new PM and other various political positions. It's like a circus! Thailand has their election day on a Sunday between 8 AM and 3 PM and the night before, no alcohol is allowed to be served or sold at restaurants and grocery stores. So it was rather quiet last night. Kind of a good idea to have, since Thailand has the highest alcoholic rate in all of Asia.

Right now, as I'm writing, Golf is still asleep. I don't know if he's decided to vote today or not. He says all of the candidates are awful and that no real democracy exists after you've put your ballot in the box. In other words, once someone is elected, they care little for their constituants. So he's not exactly excited about making the trip all the way back to Saphan Kwai to vote.

If he doesn't vote, either way we plan to go to a Wal-Mart equivalent store to take a look at baby things and maybe even buy something. I want to see how much bassinettes cost and maybe get a few other things to get us started. I have not yet bought ONE thing for our little bundle of joy, and now that I've started my sixth month of pregnancy, I think it's not too early. I'm excited!

Other than that, we will stay at home because I have to finish two more final exams. I nearly finished two yesterday and they are all due on Monday, so even if I don't completely finish, I still have all day on Monday to get it done.

And Monday will certainly be interesting because on Friday afternoon, just before quitting time, all us foreign teachers (with the exception of 3 -- one of whom was sick but would have joined us) went in and told admin that we were not going to go to this Saturday function (on the 12th) of babysitting 200 little kindergarteners. See, two weeks ago we were told of this event used to promote G1 to kindergartners (or I should say, their parents) and it's this art contest. Admin said not to worry, we didn't have to come. Well last week they changed their mind and said we did have to come. First of all, the parents don't talk to us foreign teachers. They just want to see white faces there at the school, like a stage prop. So our job would be to stand around and be bored, then entertain these little tiny kids who are petrified of our big white selves as it is because we don't speak Thai either! It's utter bull crap. It's insulting that they want us there as stage props. All of us have better things to do than show up for three hours on our Saturday for no other purpose. So I proposed the idea to admin that if parents want proof of foreign staff, then show them this promotional video the school had made for TV spots. It has plenty of footage of various foreign teachers in action, including the G1 teacher. Plus we have two issues of our English language newsletter which interviews several other foreign teachers. So we not only complained, but gave solutions to the problem that we thought were reasonable.

And some of us foreign teachers who are already teaching an extra EFL class would have to work additional hours because the hours, from 9-12 are the same hours they teach and there are no extra classrooms. The weekend after that (19th) is parent-teacher meetings, on a Saturday too. So that's two Saturdays in a row that are axed. We're not happy, and the EFL teachers are even less happy. I'll be curious to see what happens. For those teachers who teach extra on Saturdays, it could mean a possible 14 day work period of no break and they are refusing. How about offering a refund to the parents who paid for the EFL classes for those two Saturdays? No, the school is too greedy for the money. And those teachers already felt like they were doing the school a favor by volunteering to teach (they get paid, but they don't like going in on Satrudays! Who does?!?) Anyway, with all of us refusing at once, we shall see what happens. Is the boss going to fire all of us? How would that look to the parents already there? To be continued on Monday....

Friday, February 04, 2005

We're back online!

So our problem that we had with our phone line was exactly what I thought it was: bad wiring that just needed to be tinkered with. Was it the responsibility of the building or the responsibility of the phone company? Well, Golf was the go-between for the two and he got it figured out and had the appropriate technician look at the problem and it was a real easy fix. We'd just been 'suffering' for about a month! But now Golf can get back to his work and I can enjoy my leisurely weekend mornings with internet and a cup of coffee. I'm in a better mood now!

I was thinking about our location for when we move back and I've been looking on Craigslist almost every day for areas around Lake Merritt in Oakland. Well, I took a peek at Alameda too and wow, they have apartments that cost just as much but are much bigger and they're right near the beach and also good shopping so I don't have to drive to get groceries at Trader Joe's or Safeway. So that's another option, better, even than Lake Merritt because of the bigger space. I also mentioned to Golf that if we live in an apartment complex I could offer to be a part time manager if it would knock off some rent a couple hundred bucks a month. Real easy work. I saw a two bedroom apartment in Piedmont go for $800 per month if the tenant could do PT managerial work. That would be awesome.

I'm so glad it's FRIDAY!!! It's also my easy day, only two classes, but I have to make final exams and it's certain I will need to take some of this home with me, because I also have yet to do lesson plans.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Doctor visit

Yesterday's monthly checkup went just fine! You can read about it in my pregnancy journal. I also have a new picture in the photo gallery.

Today the students are celebrating Chinese New Year with activities at school this morning. We have Tuesday and Wednesday off next week because the director of our school is of Chinese heritage. My former school didn't give us days off. The reason the students are celebrating today instead of Monday the 7th is because their Chinese teacher comes in on Thursdays. It was so cute, all of us (students and teachers) dressed up in red and most of my students have on traditional Chinese dresses on and they look so adorable!

So next week, Golf's family has some things planned for Tuesday the 8th. I didn't participate with him last year because at that point we were just dating. Now I get to be a part of every family function and it's very nice to be included.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Petty gossip

Yesterday I was confronted by a colleague who heard I made some comments about the behavior of her child. Yes, I made some comments to some other teachers, and it's perfectly fine that another person has different standards of behavior that are acceptable than I would have for my own. I f***ing HATE gossip, because the person or people who I was talking to about this one incident twisted it in their own perception and decided it was in the best interest of my other colleague to tell her all about it. To what end? Did it make my colleague feel good about the way she raises her child? No. It's the exact opposite. So when she confronted me yesterday I had to explain myself to her.

I'm not angry with her in the least, but I am angry with the person who decided to tell her what I said. I don't know who that person is, nor do I want to know, because it would do no good for me to confront that person too! I'm being overly sensitive, but I hate situations like this just the same. Some person out there gossiped just to make trouble for two co-workers and that's what I find disturbing. And yes, I gossiped too, so you could say that I'm getting what I deserve.

So I'm finding I don't want to confide in anybody but my own husband, and I haven't even said anything about this to him yet. I want to let it go because it really is not a big deal, which is why I haven't said anything. But I do need to get my frustrations off my chest, and writing about it in my blog has helped. OK. It's done. I feel better now.