The big girls and I made our way to Thailand to meet up with some other homeschooling moms who live in Asia. It was an opportunity to hear from other moms and glean information from them. I loved the chance to pick the brain of moms whose children are older than mine. And many of my questions were not just homeschool related. I had sweet conversations with other moms who have larger families, good talks with moms who have little girls who are growing up quickly, and moms who live in more isolated areas (away from other American children).
I am thankful for all I learned and for the sweet time with friends! BUT, the going was hard. There wasn’t adequate childcare for Luke and Hope, so they had to stay home, and we just couldn’t justify the expense right now for Steve and the other 3 kids to fly to Thailand as it is an expensive trip for us. So that meant I had to say goodbye to my 3 youngest kids for the week. I could handle saying bye to Nate, but not seeing Hope for a week was hard. I didn’t like being separated from her again. And saying goodbye to Luke for a week was heart wrentching for me. I think there were still some raw emotions and it was just hard leaving.
The day we left was one of the busiest travel day of the year in China. We had gone to buy our train tickets the day they became available and there were no seats left. My only option was to buy a more expensive ticket from a different city and then catch the train at our station, hoping that our tickets weren’t resold in that previous city after we didn’t get on. Confused? Me too.
We made it to the station and through the swarms of people. It was quite crazy. But our seats were by far the nicest I have ever seen and it made up for the craziness!
We arrived in Guangzhou 3.5 hrs later and made it to our hotel. It was kind of not what I expected, and the walking street of restaurants that it advertised were not yet open, seriously? And because it was Chinese New Year time, all the little restaurants that would have had yummy food were closed. We hadn’t had much for lunch and the girls were really hungry. I told them we could head off to find some western food. I finally found a taxi and told him to take me to the closest western food that wasn’t a McDonalds or KFC. He dropped us off at Pizza Hut. The girls were so thrilled with food, that they ate really well. After dinner and a quick pop in to the nearest grocery store, we headed back to the hotel, and by 7:30 the girls were completely out. And I did my best to not go crazy with nothing to do but update my iphone.
We set off at 6am the next morning, stopping by the hotel restaurant to find that they also ‘stretched the truth’ regarding the advertised western breakfast. No doubt that hotel won’t be visited by us again.
We arrived in Bangkok without any problems, and from the moment the girls spotted their first, other foreigner, they talked non-stop. I never saw them stop talking the whole week. They always had a friend by their side, either old or new, and were soaking in every moment with other English speaking kids they could get.
During the week, while I attended some different seminars, the girls attended their class. They had a great time learning some basic sign language, and playing with other kids. They had 2 days of testing, which was the first time they had really had to sit and take a test. I was very curious what the results would be, especially after a very interrupted school year, but they both did wonderful and I was not surprised by any results.
They also had some opportunities for some public speaking practice! They had to dress up as a character from a book and introduce themselves in front of everyone. Then they were to read a section aloud from the book to a group of people. It was a challenge for the girls to pick a favorite character, because every new book they read causes them to have a new favorite character. But finally Elizabeth settled on Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, and Anna decided on Fancy Nancy. The kids were encouraged to dress up in costumes to better portray their characters, and some costumes were really great! Ours however, were most simple and required explanation to understand them. It was just something that I didn’t have time to do, seeing as we hadn’t been back long and I was still trying to settle in.
My girls did an amazing job walking up on stage, introducing themselves, their character and book. I was so proud. Anna told me later she had a few other sentences prepared in her mind to say, she said she wanted to make everyone laugh, but thankfully she decided to just stick with program! I don’t think it was the time for her to turn it into a comedy show.
But the week wasn’t all work. The girls and I would rush from their class everyday at 3 back to the room to change and head off to the pool. They would swim hard right until it was time to get cleaned up for dinner… then they decided on day 3, that by going to dinner wet, straight from the swimming pool, would allow even more swim time. Can you tell where their priorities were? :) Anna needed a bit of practice to regain what she learned in lessons, but Elizabeth looked like she had never stopped.
The last night we were there, we had a dinner served outside. The girls got big bowls of ice cream, and were ready when someone turned the music up outside and a dance party started.
Anna danced for a few minutes, but then went off to play with friends. Elizabeth however, (in the blue dress) danced for hours. Hard. Never stopping. She had a blast and was the life of the party. It was so fun to watch her moves.
We made it home late the next night and were so thankful to be reunited with the family!
Now to take all I learned and get back to our homeschooling!!