Monday, April 30, 2007

Our Third Year & Sushi

On this date in 2004, Golf and I were married in Bangkok and then had our wedding reception at Reflections Restarurant near the Ari Skytrain Station. Below are some pictures from our wedding day! We loved the look of the restaurant, which is now more famous for its themed hotel rooms, which were under construction when we went there.

But today we celebrated with sushi from Safeway and a nice bottle of Robert Mondavi white wine. We don't have anybody to watch Aidan for the evening, so we stayed home, which is fine. We'll get to go out when he's older... Golf also bought me a lovely bouquet of flowers! I have the bestest husband and I'm such a lucky gal!

Some of the sushi we got was of the cooked variety so Aidan could try some. We got him some of the eel kind and some of the crab kind and HE LIKED IT! I'm so proud of my baby, eating sushi before he's even two. What a cosmopolitan kiddo! :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not much to blog about lately

Not much going on, yet the days are always so packed that the weeks just fly by. Aidan and I have our routine on the days I don't substitute teach (which I have the last few days).

Mornings after breakfast is the powerwalk and playtime at the park. We get back by noon.
Lunchtime at noon.
Playtime after that.
Between 2 and 2:30 he goes down for his nap.
Time for me to study my real estate texts!
I do indulge in Oprah at 4 PM while also making a wake up snack for Aidan - I know once I start working I won't get to watch anymore.
5 PM make dinner
Play and watch the news til 7:30
7:30 naked baby time and/or bath time
7:45 jammie time
8 milk time
8:30 bed time
after 8:30 I study more or if a special show is on I'll watch it. I don't watch much TV at night cause nothing's on
This schedule does not take into account the various chores I need to do such as folding laundry, grocery shopping, washing dishes or cleaning the apartment. I ususally do cleaning and laundry when Aidan's napping and catch up on my studies at night. Grocery shopping I do with him in the morning instead of going to the park. On weekends we like to go with Golf to the flea market in the morning! We're going to go tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cultural Similarities

We just got back from spending the weekend in Sacramento visiting my sister and bro-in-law. Golf mainly wanted to check out the flea markets there to put his mind to rest when we move that he'll have some good sources for eBay sales.

The main place we went to was Denio's market. If you look at the first photo on the far right when the page loads, you'll see what looks like a smaller American version of Chatuchak market in Bangkok. The permanent flea markets we've been to, such as Denio's and one at the Coliseum in Oakland remind Golf and me of the markets in Thailand. The stuff they sell, like cheap clothing - tables of socks, bras, jeans, shirts - toiletries, bedding is the same. The mannequins here though have bigger booties for the Hispanic population. :) Here there are many used tools and car stereo accessories. Popular Hispanic snacks are sold and there are also food vendors selling tacos and tamales. We like getting this sweet bread when we go to share with Aidan. At Denios, there's even a big pet section, just like at Chatuchak too! The flea markets draw in many Asian and Hispanic vendors and buyers, and I think that has a big influence on what is sold and the whole vibe of the place.

In the permanent flea market set ups, there is a big section for fresh produce and when you walk inside and it's just like walking into a Thai market. Only difference is that fresh meat is not sold because of health regulations. I love, love, love shopping at these flea markets for so many of my needs including food. It's such a good deal and I love being amongst a mix of different cultures and the vendor personalities that Golf runs across is amusing: They are their own bosses, so they can be as rude or as nice as they want to be and you get a wide range of personalities to deal with. Most are rather eccentric too. I guess you would be by nature if you make a living at the flea market.

So in our observances, we've noticed how similar Hispanic culture is to Thai in how we've seen the kinds of things offered for sale. Tables full of music CDs, cell phones and accessories, DVDs, used books, cheap clothing, shoes. The bedding looks almost the same and Hispanics seem to also like the big overstuffed furniture, the same sorts of home decor from clocks to rugs. I'm telling ya, you walk through any of these markets here and it's the same stuff in Thailand, only a different language. Same Same but Different as they say in Thailand. And sometimes I'll see a Mexican teenager standing on a street corner with a bucket of flowers to sell to motorists. In Thailand you'll see them selling newspapers or jasmine garlands for the rearview mirror. It's uncanny how similar it all is and here they are half a world away. Makes me feel wonderful about how similar we human beings are.

Monday, April 16, 2007

We DID get to go!!!

My wish came true and our family did get to go to the Thai temple yesterday for the Songkran festival. As I mentioned before, we had planned to go on Saturday but got rained out and Golf wanted to go the flea market on Sunday morning.

Well, we got an early start yesterday and we finished at the market just before 11 AM and decided to go for it and made the 1/2 hour drive to the temple. As predicted, it was packed with people who also didn't come on Saturday.

As Golf parked the car a mile away and take the shuttle, Aidan and I went onto the grounds and watched traditional Thai dancing. Unfortunately by the time Golf arrived, they had finished. That was at noon and since there was no more dancing, the only thing left to do for most people was line up for the food and the queue was SOOOO long. We decided to make merit in the temple instead, so we went inside and Aidan was such a good boy as we lit incense and made our wishes. The monks were chanting blessings and flicking the holy water with the grass brushes over the packed hall of laypeople who were also there giving prayers and offerings. I felt so good involving Aidan in these rituals. We're establishing these traditions within him right now.

We decided to line up for food, it went quickly and they do it just like in Thailand: You buy tokens - one token per dollar (in Thailand you actually get tickets of different denominations, one, five or ten baht). You then exchange the token for the food for whatever it costs. At the end of your meal, you exchange the remainder of your tokens for your money back.

An old acquaintance of ours was there as we were waiting and we went to their table. The couple was a Thai lady named Bok and her American husband. We met them in Bangkok when Bok was 5 months pregnant with her first baby and Golf and I had been newly married for about a month. Bok now had 2 children, and it was neat seeing her first born daughter who was going on 2 1/2. Her little one was a cutie pie too, a year younger than Aidan.

It was nice catching up with them and meeting their friends, who are also very casual acquaintances of Golf's - his former boss, Benjawan, who authored the Thai language learning books, knows all these folks. The exposure to the Thai language was very good for Aidan and he made hearts melt as he waied "Sawatdee" to everyone. What a great day!

Once we got home, I took my final exam for real estate appraisal and passed that too. Two books down, six more to go. I'm beginning the real estate economics book today, and believe it or not, it looks quite interesting.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A disappointing day

Today and tomorrow the Thais here in America celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year. We were SOOOO looking forward to going to the Thai Temple in Fremont to make merit, see the dancing, listen to music and eat delicious food. It's so important for us to expose Aidan to his Thai side as often as we can.

However, today it was POURING down rain and tomorrow Golf wants to get to the flea market since the last two weeks have been replaced with a traveling carnival. Well, if we see that the carnival is there again, then we'll head on down to Fremont because it's supposed to be nicer tomorrow.

Now in Thailand, I'd huddle inside my apartment all day long because the water festival there is serious sanook (or fun). Not. You'll be drenched the moment you step out your door. Farangs (white foreigners) are especially targets. Look for some pictures and a description from this blog here.

So Sawatdii Pii Mai (Happy New Year!)

Money or Stress

I made a choice yesterday. A choice that I had mulled over for nearly a day and came to the conclusion that a particular job I took was not worth the stress it involved and therefore not worth the money.

Thursday before last, I took a substitute job that payed more than triple what I make a day in my current school district. This job payed more because the teachers were on strike over their contracts. I needed the money and went in, never being near a picketing protest in my whole life. Needless to say, they pay you more because the experience was very unpleasant.

The strike went on the next day but I was already teaching at another school in my present district. I had heard on the news that the teachers on strike that day even accosted a sub. Umm... I thought these were educated "upstanding" members of society, not factory workers... My opinion of the whole union process went down the tubes. In this freemarket society, there is such demand for good teachers and if they aren't getting the benefits or salary they want, get out! Go to a non-unionized school. If enough of them leave it would certainly shake things up and change would happen in their favor.

The negotiations were supposed to go on over spring break, which ends tomorrow, and I was called on Thursday to come in again on Monday. I had said yes, but after thinking it over and talking with Golf, I decided not to. I don't want my already tarnished opinion to get any worse, nor do I want to put myself into a potentially dangerous position, so I called back yesterday and said I couldn't do it. I'm disappointed in not getting such good pay, but the price is too high in this case.

I believe in surrouding myself in positive energy, and not knowingly entering hostile environments.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Dodging raccoons

Well I did it. I woke up this morning at 4:45 AM and went on my very brisk power walk. I think I will walk this route, which is 3.2 miles or so, for the next week before taking on a longer route. Or I might just stick with this one since it took me 20 minutes longer to complete than I expected.

I discovered I LOVE early mornings! No wonder spiritual scholars such as monks wake up every day very early. It's SOOO quiet and very peaceful. The birds are just starting to chirp at about 5 AM, but still quite dark. As a matter a fact, I was barreling down the sidewalk and a huge raccoon walked out from behind a tree. We both startled each other!

My goal is to do this every other morning. Wish me luck!

ALSO - Happy Birthday to my sister Alise. Love ya!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Trying out a new exercise routine

I've had the last 10 pounds clinging to my butt for nearly a year now and I'm tired of it. Tomorrow I'm going to start a new strategy.

Fitness experts say that to get rid of the last few pounds, you need to amp up your aerobic workout, and while I walk with Aidan briskly nearly every day, it's just not intense enough. I'm going to go on my real powerwalk tomorrow morning. While I already wake up at 5:30 AM every day to do my meditation and have some alone computer time, I now need to wake up at 4:45 AM 4 days a week to get my meditation in and my 3 1/2 mile powerwalk. I think I can get it done in about 40 minutes.

So tomorrow I'll wake up that early and see how long it takes me from the time I start to the time I get back. This time has to take into account my meditation and changing my clothes. I should hopefully be back by 6:30, which is the time Aidan has been waking up lately. The earlier he wakes up, the earlier I have to wake up.

I need to get into this habit now because once I begin working outside the home, the early early morning will be my only time to get in my exercise.

On the yoga front, my back is still not 100% well yet, so I'm not going to attempt yoga until possibly this coming Friday, when I will go back to that class. I will also notify the instructor of my injury and we can modify poses. It's been almost a month since I hurt myself and I don't ever want to sprain my back again!!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lots of food

Golf, Aidan and I went to Berkeley yesterday on our ethnic food run. In my commitment to eating more vegetarian, I went to the Indian grocery store I'd been going to for years. Indian is my favorite vegetarian food, although I cannot eat it every meal for the flavors are so strong. I still remember when I went to India, by the time I was there a month, I was really tired of the food. I didn't eat Indian food for nearly a year afterward! Luckily, I didn't have the same reaction with Thai food, since I lived in Thailand for nearly four years, and I was certainly able to break up my meals with western food and just good ole fruit - albeit exotic varieties we don't get here.

Anyway, I bought some different dals at the Indian shop - toor, chana and urad. I got besan, which is chickpea (or grabanzo bean) flour and some basmati rice. I got two different mixes for idlis, since I have an idli mold, so I want to see if one brand is better than the other. And now that I have all the ingredients, I'd like to try making it from scratch too. I also got some rasam soup base, which is really delicious to eat with idlis. Those are the main ingredients for many Indian dishes, and I'd just need to get vegetables, as I already have the main spices: tumeric, cumin, mustard seeds and coriander.

After I was done at the Indian shop, we went to the Talaat TukTuk or Tuk Tuk Thai Market in English. It was a few blocks further down the street and it's the largest Thai market I've ever been to. It includes a food court where you can get tasty dishes for the same price as a fast food meal. I got my pad thai talay, which is seafood pad thai. Seems most non-Thai people eat the pad thai, since it's the most familiar and for sure delicious, but I get it because Golf doesn't cook it at home. Golf got the pad si eew which is broad rice noodles with pork and green vegetables (broccoli being the American equivalent). It was yummy!

This market has a real tuk tuk inside it, although fancier than the ones putting down the streets in Bangkok. Aidan loves playing on it, sitting in the driver's seat. We'll for sure take him for a short ride on one next time we're in Thailand. Then we got our groceries there (Golf doing most of the shopping) and went home. It was a surprisingly fun morning and so nice not to have to make anything for lunch.