Well begun, is half done. We were all staying in one room at the IPST (where dad was working in Bangkok). The air conditioner worked, which was 90% of the battle anyway. The days began like days at home, just with the vestiges of jet lag. The boys and the Bean Ma Bear and Honey Bear slept with the boys. I am sure Jakki had a stuffed animal as well, I don’t remember which one of her favorites made the trip to Thailand. She had a lot of stuffed animals by then and the collection continues to grow. She loves stuffed animals.
Our mission that day was the floating market. I remember the market from my childhood and we thought it would be a good memory to leave with the boys and Jakki. It is a magical place, the Thai market. I love going to any of the markets they are simply fun. I remember the Sunday market’s most vividly from when I was a child, watching the kite fighting. Anything for a dollar (well anything for 20 baht back then). An explosion of noise, smells and things to see.
After a long day wandering Thailand the boys crashed. I have somewhere in the Bangkok folders a better version of this picture (with their foreheads actually touching). But this one is pretty cool. When the boys were born we did one University study (co-bedding) because we felt that twins should stay together for as long as the wanted in the same bed. We were selected for the study and weren’t control group (selling in separate beds) they had to be separate in the NICU units the first two weeks (and later when Nick was sick for another two weeks) but when they were ready they got to sleep in the same bed. We thought it was important. If you offered that option now you would receive a warm No.
Do we really have to be here? As the boys got older we lost the stroller and the leaches but the faces appeared. They were not always the happiest campers when we went places. Even in magical Thailand. I guess it is the reality of DNA. Who knows. Anyway this is the two do we have to faces. The funny thing about them is that they still make these faces as 18 years of age.
Dad had a class to teach on the 4th day so mom was our tour guide. She and I talked and decided to wanted to go visit the grand palace. So we headed off in an IPST bus to see the Grand Palace. The grand palace is no longer a residential place (the King and family don’t live there) it shows the royal homes of the 1800’s. During the US Civil War the King of Thailand offered Abraham Lincoln to war elephants to help in the war.
I think the boys would have liked it more if it had canons. Or more pictures of people dying on the walls. We wandered the palace for an afternoon. The architecture of the palace is traditional Thai with pagoda’s and umbrella’s. The significance of the umbrella’s is the importance of the person that lives in the house. More umbrella’s – more important. My house has –1 umbrella.
There are two things I remember most about Bangkok,. the first is the architecture. The second is the people and simply the friendly amazing place Thailand is. The people didn’t change in the 30 years between visits, the architecture did however. The city is a lot more western now than it was. There are still the classic Thai places though. The march of time changes all things. Except the wonderful people in Thailand.
Adults do stupid things like have dinners and talk until 10 at night. When you are 4, you don’t worry about that. I am proud of all three of them, they are good travelers. They are great kids. All three have keen minds. And they know the most important lesson in life. When it is time to sleep, sleep if you can. Sometimes when you are an adult you forget that sleep is well, really important.
I, as a teenager didn’t get up early in the morning. I do now. I write my blogs and ponder the wonder of the universe. While in Bangkok I got up early every morning. It is the way my body works now. So I took pictures from and around IPST where we were staying. Every morning dad was up as well. We talked, laughed and got to bond Father to Father. I treasure those early mornings when it was just he and I. They are memories and conversations that will always be with me.
Thinking of Bangkok makes me miss dad. Thailand was magical for him. He was so alive there. Everyone has a magical place in their life.
Day 2 in Bangkok. They don’t wake up quite this cheerful now (they are after all 18 now). I love the smell of Bangkok in the morning as the city wakes up. Every city has a smell, a set of sounds, an identity. I know the sound of DC in the morning is car horns . Bangkok is more tropical birds and the feel of a warm sun on your face. 1972 was a tough year and the best year for me. It was tough leaving everything I knew, behind. It was amazing because I was exposed to the world.
Running through the heart of Bangkok is the Chao Phyla river, the heart of Bangkok. We took the river tour that second day. Dad was enjoying showing us Bangkok. He loved the city with all of his heart. I think Bangkok was as much a part of him as any place he ever lived. He came alive in Thailand. I remember the smile. On this second day we wandered up the river on the tour. It was magical. Until we wandered past a brewery and I realized that beer used water from the Chao Pray.
My BFF. Partner in crime for 25 plus years. What an amazing person. She struggled as a single mom working her way through college. It took her 10 years to finish her degree but she never gave up. She never said this is too hard. Later in life when most people have settled into their wheel ruts she broke out of hers and went back to get her Master’s degree to take on her dream job. Every day she wakes up, every day she smiles at me it makes a difference. So showing her the Bangkok that I loved was a great experience. Barb loved the city, not so much the hot!
Bangkok Thailand, the last of the family vacation series (I did them in reverse alphabetical order). So let’s wander the family trip to Bangkok for the next few days. Mom and Dad spent a number of winters (mom never really did like winter) in Thailand after dad’s retirement. They (IPST) invited dad to come back and consult. So they did, missing winters. They decided to have the family come over to see them in June one year (they survived Winter that year). So each family went for a few days to visit. It was magical, my first time back to Thailand since leaving in December 1972.
We got in, of course the kids were full of energy and raring to go. I wasn’t and Barb wasn’t but the kids were. So we ended up heading to the old city. What had been Bangkok many years ago. I won’t put the Thai name for Bangkok in my blog because I can’t spell it and it is very long. Old town has the most amazing Buddha’s and was a great way to get the “party” started for the kids.
Day one ended at the Crocodile farm. Some of the largest crocodiles I’ve ever seen (and Alligators). The kids were fascinated (of course we were sitting far away from the show). Funny how that works. The boys were entranced by large gators and people like the young man in the picture, placing their arms into the gators mouths. Personally it just made me nervous. I don’t recall going to the crocodile farm in 1972, we may have. I do recall going to a snake zoo. Mom wasn’t very happy about it. Particularly when the aquarium holding the king cobra had a crack in the glass from the cobra hitting it.
The conversation pitched
Leaning to one side
Away and yet
The accousoucity tricks of time and space
And bound the words back again and again
Finding a voice
Within the seat cushions
And bouncing off walls
And becoming one with curtains that
Engulfed with flames
Create die cast shadows
On the wall
Portraying the moments of
What was a private conversation
With all to see
But now shared.
Now loudly shared
And no one
Because the voices were cupped
The ears bent
And all lost
Never to be heard again.
Ah Chicago, I was born in Chicago. I am a Chicago Sports fan. I have posted every year that this was the year the Cubbies were going to win the World Series (finally). My favorite teams (the ones I will always root for) are the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and my cubbies. I will (unless they are playing the Cubs) also root for the White Sox but they aren’t one of my all time favorites. We took the kids to Chicago shortly after I transferred (about a year) from Detroit to Chicago for my job. After 9 years in Cincinnati we were back close to family (Greenwood) and Chicago was only a 3 hour drive away (or 6 hours depending on traffic and number of stops for bathrooms etc). It was October 2000. Many things would change over the year that followed this vacation. But this was our first full family trip to Chicago. We did the many museums. Jakki had a school project on dolphins so we added some video of the Dolphins at the Shedd aquarium.
Of course being a trip I have to include a picture of boy in stroller. I wonder why Van Gogh never painted one of these. I seem to have this picture from 1998 to 2002 in virtually every trip we made. We also did the Field Museum (Nick did not like that trip very much). Finally my personal childhood favorite the museum of Science and Industry. As a child that was my let’s go to place in Chicago. I have no idea how many times I dragged my mother there, but it was more than once. My personal favorite was the tour of the U-Boat. Actually I just love the entire museum. So we wandered Chicago. This vacation’s trauma and they all have unique trauma’s was we forgot to pack Honey Bear (Luke’s) and Ma Bear (Nick’s). We ended up at FAO Schwartz convincing the boys that their new stuffed animals would protect them as well as the Bears would. Jakki of course just loved getting another stuffed animal.
We end the journey via my blog facing the opposite way (the first picture from the water in, this picture from the shore out) of the lighthouse at the entrance of the Chicago harbor. The actual commercial harbor for Chicago is much closer to Cicero (South side of Chicago) than where we are. We are near the (just South of in fact) the famous beach Chicago has called the Gold Coast. This lighthouse sits just beyond Navy Pier. Navy Pier in Chicago is also home to the Chicago Children’s Museum. It is a very nice overall museum, not as big nor as magical as the one in Indianapolis, but we’ve many to many in the US (Children’s Museums) and frankly there are few even in the same category as the one in Indianapolis Indiana. Over the years and my many visits to Chicago I have taken more than 100 pictures of this lighthouse and its twin on the Indiana side. I guess I just love lighthouses, water and anything to do with either.
Barb with her parents Les and Joan Ralstin. Picture is from our driveway of our house in Indiana. Timing is somewhere between 1999 and 2001. The only reason I have small of a range is the size of the young man hiding next to Barb . Most likely the boy is between 2 and 3 at the most. So that gives us a good time range (moved to house in Indiana in October 1999, boys turned 4 in March 2002). You can still see a little bit of the military picture taking in Les. He served in the US Navy (in the Pacific) during World War II. He was a signal officer on a landing craft. It is also a funny stair step, Joan was a lot shorter than Barb and Les. She would always proclaim that she was 5 foot 1/4 inch and never less. If you argued that point, she would just ignore you. The next time she was asked how tall she was she would say 5 foot 1/4 inch. Joan is one half a set of twins as a by the by. That said, she and Les welcomed me into their family December 1990. We drove to Hot Springs that December to visit them. They had never met me. But they welcomed me into their home and into their lives, site unseen. Boy did they come to regret that decision .
That picture above and a few others were in a folder labeled Connor Prairie. For a long time I would shoot pictures until I remembered to empty the memory card. Based on that I would label a folder the last event completed and put all the pictures into that folder. This folder was from a trip to Connor Prairie. Connor Prairie as you can decipher from the name is a Prairie just north of Indianapolis. Connor was the name of the family that settled in that area in the 1800’s. It is now an interactive history museum where you can go and see life lived as it would have been more than 150 years ago. We went there many times over the years, personally I took 5 different classes of school kids to the facility. It is a wonderful experience of pioneer Indiana. I loved touring the Connor mansion on the property. It was a huge house for the time, but looks small now.
The first of our digital video cameras (its huge). The Sony took both stills and video. Pretty good video overall but far from HD (back in the SD video days). The still images were also ok, nothing to write about in terms of quality. It weighed quite a bit as well. I don’t mind carrying my DSLR at times, the quality is so much better than anything else, but I also like carrying the smaller camera at times also. Cell phones just don’t capture everything. Its nice to have a small digital camera that takes better stills than the old Sony did, as well as taking higher quality video.
Over the next couple of weeks I have a lot of early am work meetings so my apologies if I miss a couple of blogs. I’ve gone 368 days since the last time I missed a blog so we are due a couple of misses.
So what do you do after a bunch of days running around Disney World and a relaxing cruise, you get back on the horse of course. We spent out last full day of vacation at Universal studios. I have been several time over the years, it is more fun when you get to watch kids eyes light up then when you are just standing in line to ride the rides. We wandered the park the entire day, doing all the stuff the kids wanted to do. We had to stay away from animal characters though, Nick was still terrified of them. He was always looking around to see if he could see them. Luke and Jakki were fine with eh characters. Nick was still a little nervous. It was a delightful day however wandering Universal.
Shortly after lunch we wandered over to the area that had a Barney stage. Jakki and the boys all loved Barney. We were really nervous however because of Nick’s fear. We figured this was going to be a really tough show so Barb and I decided that Nick would sit with me. That way I could quickly stand up and get him out of the outdoor theater and wait for the rest of the crew near the strollers. I could talk to Nick, calm him down and Jakki and Luke could watch the Barney show live. Except as is often the case with kids, the unexpected happened. As the show was nearing I was getting more and more anxious checking to see if I had a clear route to the exit.
Then Nick saw Barney. He jumped up in my lap with an excited squeal and at the top of his lungs shouted Barney, Barney. He loved that purple dinosaur. He then promptly watched the first ten minutes of the show and was so excited he ended up falling asleep in my lap missing most of the show. He wasn’t scared by Barney, his whole gang and Captain Hook.
We would visit Florida a few more times but always Tallahassee where Barb’s brother lives and her parents lived for four years. We should probably take the grown kids to Disney World now that they are full sized and can ride the rides (well Jakki can ride most of them). Time slips away so fast. You turn around and the little guys that you could hold in your hand, that their big sister could feed both of them easily, now dwarf their older little sister (which is actually what they call her) their little big sister.
We never had “a boys face” there was always a Nick face (see there in the picture) and a Luke face (not shown). The two were distinct and very different. But as people they are distinct and very different. It seems strange to me somehow we are heading into the summer of their Senior Years in high school. I remember my senior year. Many things have changed since then but I remember it. This is Nick, chilling on the little porch/deck we had on the Disney Magic. This was the morning we were docking at Castaway Cay so we were moving kind of slow. Jakki was already with the adventure crew below ready to head to the dinosaur dig. The dinosaur dig was the beach activity planned by the kids group. Barb and I were moving a little slower with the boys.
At this point Nick is still terrified of the large Disney characters but we had to snap a picture with Mickey. You can’t go to the magic kingdom and not take a picture with the head mouse. It was on this day in family lore that a strange event occurred that is and remains unexplained. Nick and Luke both claim that in fact it is because of the nature of the characters being large anthropomorphic animals, and Nick not liking that. But that is for the next picture today. The Cay, Castaway is a well constructed fun island 99% beach with the rest intentionally abandoned construction equipment making it look like it was a castaway island. There were a number of tropical outbuildings on the island. The major structure was the ships docking bay.
Then, as we were reboard the Disney Magic, Nick spied Captain Hook. The boy who had been terrified of every single character suddenly explains with glee runs over and hugs the captain. The one villain we see in 7 days at this point is the one character Nick loves, remembers and wants to be near. The boys say its because he was the most human looking of all the characters. I don’t know. I think Nick likes underdogs. Captain Hook always loses to Peter Pan. I think Nick identifies with the struggle and fight, the desire to win on occasion. Anyway, he wasn’t scared of the characters after this. Our last night at sea we went to a show and Nick didn’t cover his eyes or try to bury himself in his seat. I guess sometimes we all have to have a Captain Hook to free us from our fears.