Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Life Aquatic

I recently picked up a hobby that has appealed to me for a long time.  Scuba diving.  Thailand is a great place to learn about diving with a huge quantity of great dive sites available at relatively low cost.

I got my PADI Open Water certification at the end of July. The PADI certification process in Thailand is high quality, safety focused, and valid anywhere in the world.  I used Mermaids Dive Center in Pattaya for certification.  They were wonderful and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to get certified in Bangkok or Pattaya.  Open water certification involved 12 hours on online pre-work followed by three days of instruction and exercises in the water from native English speaking instructors.

I have been diving as often as possible since getting certified and now have 14 dives completed.

Mary has zero interest in scuba diving, but I have found a good diving buddy her in Bangkok.  The PADI certification course and most of my dives have been with a friend our ours that we know from high school who also lives in Bangkok.

Rather than continuing to write about diving, I'd rather just show you.  I recently bought a Olympus TG-4 underwater camera, so it's easy to share photos of my underwater adventures.

First a few shots with my wonderful dive buddy, Quyen.

I've seen things that range from colorful...

To potentially deadly...

To stunningly beautiful.

And of course one of the best parts of diving with a friend is having someone to take pictures of you! I am in the two on the right and the one of the bottom left.  Quyen is in the top left and bottom center.

Mary, Lily, and I will be traveling back to the US soon for Christmas, so it looks like I likely will have to wait a while for more diving. I am already excited for more underwater adventures next year though!  God's aquarium is an amazing place!

And if you were wondering, the blog title is in fact a reference to a film by my favorite movie director, Wes Anderson.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dear Lily, This is the USA

When Lily was nearly 6 months old we took her on her first big trip to the USA. I (Mary here) did the first leg of the journey by myself with Lily in late June after I was done with school. The 26 hour journey wasn't fun, but we survived. Bangkok-Tokyo-Minneapolis-Cedar Rapids. By the time I saw my dad I wept in exhaustion and joy.

The top left is the only picture I took while we were flying. It was our first flight and everyone was happy! We had a bulkhead seat with a bassinet. Lily didn't sleep in there, but she did enjoy sitting up to watch everyone. When we arrived in Iowa the first few days she fell asleep a bit early and where ever she was laid down. Uncle Zach loved when it happened to be on his shoulder. 
Our trip stateside was great. Lily and I enjoyed the first week and a half in Iowa introducing Lily to lots of new people. Many family members from Michigan, Missouri, and Illinois even made the trip to Iowa to see her.  To our amazement Lily handled the jet lag pretty well, adjusting to the 12 hour time change faster than me. 

In Iowa Lily met so many people for the first time including many of her family! She enjoyed playing in the grass and breathing in the fresh air.  She loved watching her cousin's play soccer out Grandpa Schuett's during a big BBQ.
On 3rd July my dad drove us north to Eau Claire, WI. The drive from Iowa to Wisconsin along the Mississippi is gorgeous and I enjoyed daydreaming out the windows as the cornfields passed by.  I kept an eye out for trains because I knew Greg would ask if we saw any. We did. We stayed with our friends the Fromm's who have become foster parents to four children since we last saw them, so in addition to their two dog's Lily got to experience what a full house feels like. It was great to catch up.

Enjoying some time in the grass out at a really cool pizza place.  
Greg flew into Minneapolis on the 4th of July and came to pick Lily and I up by early evening. We celebrated the Fourth of July with our friends Eric and Melanie at Eric's parents house out in the country. Lily especially enjoyed the labradoodles that were running around. Staying at a house with a cat and a dog enabled us to discover Lily is not allergic to cats and dogs. 
Lily loved the dogs! She would even let them lick her in the face. It was great to hear her laugh!

On the 6th we ran errands all around Eau Claire, which included a drive by our home (looks like the renters are treating it well), getting Lily's picture taken for her visa, a trip to the new post office to drop all the visa things off, a stop at our favorite burger joint, and the DMV to name a few of them. Then we headed up north, to No Manners II- my family's cabin.

Even though Lily didn't sleep well at the cabin, she sure had fun. 

If you know me at all, you know that Atkins Lake is my favorite place on earth. I've been coming since I've been about Lily's age and I hope she's still coming when she's my age. We stayed 17 nights in row, which may be a record for a family member other than my Grandma. We weren't alone for most of them, we had visitors from Iowa, Chicago, Michigan and Washington. Who are we kidding, most of them came just to see Lily.

Lily enjoyed playing with everyone who came to visit us at the cabin.  She had lots of play mates and enjoyed skinny dipping in the lake in lieu of her bath a few times. We didn't get a picture of was Greg's good friends Josh and Bryan who traveled up from Iowa for a quick 2 day visit or our friends Eric and Melanie from Eau Claire. 
Our last night in the US was spent in Minneapolis and we squeezed in one last breakfast with friends before boarding our first flight west. It was an amazing trip back, albeit a bit tiring at times, but a trip to remember for sure. 

Our time at the cabin was filled with good food, good drinks, beautiful nature, and wonderful people. Greg smoked ribs, a turkey, chickens, a variety of vegetables to put food on the table. Everyone caught fish off the docks and enjoyed the loons calling. A few took bike rides and even saw a bear cross the road!  It was what summer at the lake should be; wonderful!

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I was looking back at some old blog posts this weekend and realized what a great way this blog has been for us to document our adventures living in Thailand.  I also realize it has been 9 months since we last posted anything.  Time to fix that little problem.

As you might imagine, we have been rather busy learning to be parents since Lily came into our lives in January.  Life has become a whole new sort of adventure.  It seems like every few days Lily comes up with a new way to keep us on our toes.

We're going to try to start better documenting what's going on with our lives in Thailand for our friend and family back home (and anyone else who wants to read since this is a public blog).  I'm going to start out with an update on the biggest change to our lives in the last nine months, Lily.

Being a parent is both exhausting and wonderful. Seeing your child grow and develop is an amazing process.

A little about Lily:

  • Lily has been crawling for about a month and has just recently started pulling herself up on things.  She's still a little ways from walking, but it that is coming soon enough.  
  • Lily is a talker.  She speaks her own language, but speaks it almost constantly.  She even talks in her sleep sometimes.
  • Lily loves making friends.  She waves, smiles, and talks with almost every person we see.  This is a lot of work on Bangkok's crowded subway trains.

Below are a few of our favorite pictures from Lily's first 9 months.

We've had quite a few visitors since Lily was born.  All the grandparents have made it over, plus a number of friends from the US, and a few co-workers have even stopped by to meet her.  We're always open for more visitors, so let us know when you'd like to stop by!

We'll post additional updates in the coming days and weeks.  There are plenty of topics to visit:  
  • We visited the US in July and plan to visit again in December
  • We still live in a developing country ruled by a military junta
  • Greg has a new hobby of scuba diving
  • We've visited more of Bangkok's rooftop bars in the last few months than the whole rest of our time living in Thailand
  • We are traveling to Indonesia in a few weeks
  • Plans are in the works for trips to a few more Asian countries while we still live in Thailand
Lots to talk about!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Kimballs Came to Visit and Lily Came to Stay

From 30th December-3rd January and then again for one night on 9th January we were so blessed to have some of our best friends visit us from the states. Steph and Danny Kimball even got to meet our daughter, Lily Skye when she was 6 days new.

Here are the highlights from their visit.

Day 1 30th December:  Wat Pho and Wat Arun
On their first full day in Thailand, I (Mary) took Steph and Danny to see two of the best well known temples. Located right by The Grand Palace- Wat Pho (with the reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (across the river, Chinese temple that offers great views of the city and The Grand Palace) impressed them without being overwhelming. We ate lunch at a local pork restaurant and traveled by train and river boat taxi for a great introduction to Bangkok!

Surprise Baby Shower!

On their first night here, I came out of the shower and walked into a surprise baby shower. Steph carried gifts, cards, and even cookies with her all the way for the US. Greg and I both felt very loved and special. If you were someone who helped Steph prepare- Thank You!
Day 2, New Year's Eve, Day Trip: Maeklong Train Market and Amphawa Floating Market

Even though we had just done this day trip with our family, Ann and Andrew, it was still fun to do again! We saw the train come back through the market after being in the station JUST in time and explored the floating market sampling lots of food. Steph and Danny enjoyed eating Pad Thai that was prepared on a boat and eating fresh coconut ice-cream from a coconut. We were there for sunset and it was so pretty!

Happy New Year's Eve 2015!
On New Year's Eve headed out to a local restaurant for our NYE dinner. Steph, Danny, and Greg shared 3 Liters of long island ice tea along with some of our favorite Thai food. Indy Tree's is one of our neighborhood favorites and it didn't disappoint- the live music and relaxed atmosphere was a great way to spend the night. We made it home to watch fireworks from across the city right out our windows. Happy 2015!
Day 3, New Year's Day, Exploring Lumpini Park
Steph and Danny were here during Thailand's "winter". It was really just lovely weather where it wasn't too hot and actually quite cool during the day (80's to lower 90's) making it great to walk through the park. It was an excellent outing to spot the park's monitor lizards and turtles. We even saw a lizard in a tree!
Tea Tasting in China Town
After the park we took the underground train to China Town where we met our good friends Sam and Jamethon. Jamethon took us to a tea tasting shop that he likes to take visitors. We picked out many to try at their tasting table and bought some to bring home. It was a really cool experience that we hope to share with other visitors as well.  On the way back to the train we all got ice cream from a cart- The Kimballs fully embracing how Thai's like to eat it--- on a bun and topped with sweetened condensed milk. 

Day 4, 2nd January, Bowl Game Watching!

After getting massages the night before, we headed to an American restaurant, Bourbon Street, for some breakfast and to watch the Ohio State vs. Alabama bowl game.  The afternoon was spent relaxing at our place and Greg took Steph and Danny to Fatty's for some Wisconsin food. After having contractions all day, I spend the evening alone at home.

Day 5: 3rd January

After my contractions picked up and intensified all night/early morning, we headed to the hospital around 5am. We first said goodbye to Steph and Danny who were going to be headed to the airport for their week in Cambodia and then northern Thailand.

That morning, before their plane even left, Lily was born! Lily Skye MacLeod, 7:24am, 51cm, 2.5kg

 9th January: Meeting Lily at 1 week old

It was so special to have Steph and Danny meet Lily! 

Isn't she precious!?