this week was Parent Teacher Interview week at the Clowns’ school. What that really means to me is, this week was Parent Grading Week at the Clowns’ school…
Marc and I are big readers.
We have always loved to read and have tried to encourage a love of books and reading from the time each Clown was born. Books have always been readily available and accessible to the Clowns. I may have a book collecting habit that has had to be tamed since we have moved… it’s so hard to leave a book behind! But I digress…! As the Clowns get older we are seeing them develop their own joy in reading and it’s so wonderful to watch!
I enjoy reading what Owen, in particular, reads and is interested in. We have similar tastes, so it’s easy to buy him novels I see in passing or to pick up what he’s reading and thoroughly enjoy it.
Why do I take such an interest in what the Clowns are reading? A few reasons… Partly because I love to read and am partial to great young adult novels. Partly because I want to make sure the Clowns are reading appropriate (and sometimes challenging) material. Partly because it is a way for me to connect with the Clowns individually. They all have very different tastes in their reading choices. I find it interesting to see what they come home with after a library visit or what books they are drawn to at a bookshop. It’s the Observer in me, I guess. 🤔
Owen is a vivacious reader. He takes either a book or his Kindle with him wherever we go. We cannot keep up with the volume of books he gets through.
We bought him the Kindle for Christmas to help keep the book storage to a minimum, although for me, nothing beats a proper paper novel.
He loves to talk about books with us and share moments from their stories, sometimes while he’s smack bang in the middle of an exciting part. He likes to discuss the characters and imagine them in larger places than just the confines of the pages.
He readily and enthusiastically recommends authors and novels to his siblings and to friends at school. I’m surprised he hasn’t thought of starting a YA Book Club…
It still amazes me that all this comes from the Clown Who Would Not Learn His Sight Words in Prep, all those years ago and struggles with orthographic dyslexia and orthographic processing. Neither of which have stopped him from challenging himself.
Upon his recommendation, I started reading The Land of Stories series with him. I am yet to catch up to Owen so today, I am starting Book 5 – An Author’s Odyssey. I love fairy tales and Chris Colfer’s take on them and their characters is always an entertaining read.
You’ll know where to find me on this rainy Thursday afternoon! Who could want more than a rainy afternoon, a good book to begin and a coffee, of course!
From all around the world!
One of the main reasons I was all for moving to Bangkok, when Marc was very unsure about suggesting we pack up our lives and those of three children (and a dog too.. we can’t forget about Rosie!) was the amazing opportunity the Clowns would have, not only living somewhere completely different and seeing another side of the world, but because they would be exposed to so many different people and cultures, just by going to an international school every day.
We have chosen where the Clowns are attending with much consideration to the fact that Owen was about to begin his high school years in Australia this year. Reuben and Ella, we weren’t as concerned for as they are still smack bang in the mix of middle primary years. They have time to adapt an embrace a different way of schooling before they tackle high school as well.
Anyway, back to our schooling choice…. In Thailand, the school year runs fairly similar to Australia and follows the seasons, but since their Summer is mid year the school year begins in August and runs though until June.
So… We have started the Clowns in the grades they completed in 2017 – Owen is in grade 6, Reuben grade 3 and Ella in grade 2, until the 2018-19 year starts in August. then they will move up grades along with their new classmates. We thought it would give all of the Clowns time to focus on getting to know the school and their classmates with less pressure on their academic focus, as they will basically be revisiting the last term of the grades they have just completed in Australia. Long winded, but I hope that makes sense?
Now, onto the actual school the Clowns are attending… This is something that we researched a whole lot, before we even relocated or started looking for our home. Where we are living was narrowed down to being close to the BTS for Marc to get to work easily and for close access to school.
Thankfully we were able to chose a school that runs the Australian curriculum, (hopefully!) making the transition even easier for the Clowns.
The Australian International School Bangkok is a smaller school than what we are used to, running all grades up to eight at the moment. The classes are half or less than those of the Clowns old school (I think Ella has 12 or 13 children in her class) with grades running a maximum of fours streams. The strangest thing for the Clowns to get used to? No vast green outdoor spaces! Living in Bangkok, land is at a premium, so the school buildings are storeys high, with play space/green space a lot smaller than what they are used to. The classes are on a play time rotation, so everyone gets a chance to really expend some energy and run around.
Class rooms are very spacious (there’s not as many desks with so many less kids per room!) and they are sun filled, bright, colourful and welcoming spaces (but also lovely and air conditioned!!). There are many Australian teachers. Owen and Ella both have Aussie teachers this year. Reuben’s teacher is from America.
Here’s what the Clowns all thought of their fist day. Please excuse the moving mess in the background – we are waiting for the removal company to pick up our empty boxes.
We chose to pay for the schools meals as well as the bus service to pick up an drop off the Clowns – something I am very thankful for today! Initially I had thought we would meet the bus somewhere on our street, but nope! They drive right up to our building. It’s been storming all morning, and the bus picks the Clowns up from our front door right and goes to their building at school, and repeated in the afternoon. Much better than arriving at school drenched!
Big things have happened around the Circus of late. Those of you, lovely readers, who follow our travels through Instagram have seen us pack up our lives, rent out our little house in the ‘burbs of northern Brisbane, say teary ‘see you later’s’ to our friends and family and make our first international flight as a family to Thailand, to make it our new home.
Yes. Yes. And yes!
For the moment, we are living full hotel life mode out of our suitcases, before we can move into our apartment and properly settle in to the amazing city of Bangkok. Rosie flies over from Australia soon too. She’s not missing out on our adventures!
Hotel living sounds like the dream, right? Well…. It is. And it isn’t. With three loud, very much outdoorsy clowns to keep occupied, there isn’t much r&r going on! On the other hand, there is the daily serviced room that I look forward to every afternoon… Fresh towels and linen and beds made by someone else? I’ll take that everyday… To me, that is a luxury that will be missed once we leave our hotel.
Marc’s two minute commute to work will be something that will be sad to leave as well.
And the decent wifi that the Clowns (and I) are making the most of, FaceTiming friends and family and playing online games with their buddies has helped them transition a little. The small three hour time difference helps a whole lot too.
Eating out and the daily, sometimes more than daily, trip to the local Tops Market has become a habit. I will be happy to have the coffee machine, thermie and slow cooker back once we move. While eating out for most meals seems like it would be great (no prep and no cleaning up!!) – the decisions for five people have become too hard after a week of meal negotiations and menu preferences. Some nights we have ordered room service just so we don’t have to go out again for another meal. Tough life, right?! But the food (even the room service) is fantastic. I can’t wait to try more places and share them with you!
School starts for them in a few weeks time, and they will hopefully enjoy the diversity that comes with attending an international school. I can’t wait for them to start, and they are (now) keen to make a start.
In the meantime, we are keeping ourselves busy by exploring on foot and making the most of the BTS line to navigate our way around the area. The clowns have seen some pretty cool things and have been exposed to a very different culture and way of life already.
I’m sure there is a lot that Thailand has to show and teach us!
I look up. Sometimes. I need to look up more. I find I get stuck in a looking down rut at times. And that’s sometimes interesting, but mostly means I’m in rush mode or get all the things done mode. And that’s not always happy or helpful to my frame of mind or mood.
But when I look up?
The sky is refreshing and recharging and perspective shifting.
I try and bake at least one or two things for the Clowns lunch boxes on a Sunday. It makes everyone’s lives heaps easier and a little more organised in that crazy weekday morning rush!
So today I decided to make a few of Leilah’s (AKA Thermomumma) super easy and delicious recipes. If you are looking for anything bread related, her recipes have always worked beautifully for me and they taste great!
Starting with Leilah’s Cheese and Bacon Rolls, which I made into baby sized portions. That way I can use them for snacks as well as lunches. I have made this recipe loads of times, and it is always a winner with the Clowns.
Finger Buns were next on the baking list. Again, super easy to make. I made them a bit smaller too as I don’t think my kids lunch boxes need a normal sized finger bun for their morning tea!
Lastly, today I tried out the Blueberry and Choc Chip Muffins. Except I replaced the blueberries with raspberries. They smell aaaahhhhhmazing!
Do you? Do you say no to things, completely (or almost) guilt free? I used to be in the Say Yes to Everything! camp. And it was stressful. For me. And usually ONLY for me. Over extending and putting unnecessary pressure and stress on myself, just so I wouldn’t have to say that dreaded word…. And if I did have to say no, I had to have a mega super important reason why. So I could justify the No….
Ridiculous because the recipient of the No doesn’t really need to know the why or the why not, nor need understand your choice.
So I had a little pep talk to myself (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?!) and took my own advice. And I started saying Guiltlessly No! when I saw red flags for me and/or for the rest of my family.
So I have said Guiltlessly No! to a few kids parties that were going to stretch out a fun day to a really long and tiring day/night, or we had overlapping commitments. I have said Guiltlessly No! to volunteering for a few school projects, one big one being the biannual carnival. I have said Guiltlessly No! to family events, especially ones that really don’t suit our routines come Sunday afternoon/evening. I have said Guiltlessly No! to some recent girls nights out, which are usually great and fun and good therapy for the soul, however they also impact everyone else in my family. Probably the biggest Guiltlessly No! I have said is to the Clowns going to our school carnival, endless cues and crowds and Clowns who weren’t really keen to take part in their class performances (all not compulsory) meant we chose to miss it this year.
And everyone is still OK!
Do you know what? Life around the Big Top is calmer and a little less hectic for all my/our Guiltlessly No! calls. And I am really happy about that and I can see the Clowns and Marc are too. Slower weekends mean more productive Clowns during the week. We are getting more little projects started (and finished!) around the house. Monday mornings are not so hit and miss now.
I have stopped feeling the need to explain my invitation declines. But this was hard in the beginning!! I have hardly any problem saying no to something that I know immediately is going to mean me running around like a crazy person trying to fit everything and everyone in. And if I’m not sure, or want to check with Marc first, I can happily and comfortably state this to the person and get back to them with a response. Before, I would have committed to the thing without hesitation and without thinking it through first. And then just made it work. Somehow. Crazy, I know!
Saying Yes! to commitments and people has also become easier. We now have clearer priorities, workable boundaries and windows of time to play with (hello Google synced calendars!!). Happily Saying Yes! has been an unexpected byproduct of my Guiltlessly No! project.
Guiltlessly No! has made a big, positive difference for us. Do you think it would help your family too?