Sunday, July 31, 2011

Khao Yai National Park

We drove up to the mountains of Thailand and visited the Khao Yai National Park. It was beautiful and the weather was nice and cool from the rain. Here they have salt licks for the elephants and other animals. No elephants came out while we were there but we did see some on the ride home as we passed an Elephant Riding business. The roads twist and turn and are filled with teek, cobras, birds and gibbons.The Gibbons and are similar to monkeys and we happened to spot a whole family just off the side of a look-out point.
One of many great waterfalls in the national park. The night before we had a huge rain storm so the waterfall was overflowing

There are shrines and pictures of the King everywhere you turn in Thailand. They show their love for the Royal family in everything they do. They even have daily colors you wear. Pink is the king's favorite color and you can see everyone wearing pink shirts on Friday.

The ride to the national park was hard on Taryn after the first couple of hours. I am learning a lot about traveling with a baby. It's definitely not easy but it is totally worth it. Grandma Smith made a bed out of a blanket for Taryn to sleep on during the long trip. A good day should always end like this. Exhausted but happy :)

Turning 24 in Bangkok

Perfect start of a birthday is a bowl (or two or three...) of Swiss Choco Bits, a cereal that we have only seen in Thailand and it's our favorite! Filled with nutella we can't get enough. We seriously finished a whole box between the two of us that morning. Tyson also LOVES the juices here and we have a couple of options each morning. His new favorite is Red Grape, while mine is Mango.
For his birthday dinner, Tys requested Curry Chicken Crepes from me and Janis made a White Chocolate Macadamia nut cake.
Elder Johnson serving in Thailand celebrated his birthday too so they shared a cake and ice cream. Sister Bernard on the left held Taryn as she told me about her 10 month old grandchild who just started walking. It is truly a big sacrifice to leave your children and serve the Lord.
Ties to go with his suit he is having made here and a sweater to prepare for the colder weather in Italy and Washington D.C. were great gifts to prepare him for the next couple of years. And who could forgot being in Thailand for his 24th birthday- thank you Jackie and Craig!

Tyson was happy that on his birthday he was able to spend quality time with his Dad while they traveled to Gulati (same place Pres. Hinckley had a suit made) to get Tyson's suit for his Graduation/ Birthday present. Tyson told me it has been 5 years since he spent a birthday with his parents (His mission, their first mission to Hong Kong, and then their 2nd mission in Thailand) I know that this time Tyson has to spend with his parents means the world to him. I have loved getting to spend time with them as well and watching them get to know Taryn- their 12th grandchild.

Impact Center and some pampering

I can't get enough of the green foliage everywhere. Beautiful flowers and pretty trees and the smells! Oh the smells. We take a walk almost everyday around the mission home community and I take in big breathes of fresh rain, flowers, and the dense humid air. It's great!
On Thursday we went to the Impact Conference Center where they were having a big "Swap Meet" and we shopped around a little bit. We stopped for a treat- some Rote-Tee - delicious crepe like bread served hot with sweetened condensed milk. Yum!

The Thai food is delicious! We had a great lunch here- an Asian menu highly influenced with Thai options. Janis and Noi taught me about the 4 flavors of Thai food. They include Sweet, Spicy, Sour, and Salty. Each is added to a meal to complete the sensory experience of eating.

We are spoiled to have Noi! She is such a joy to talk to everyday. She gives us great insight on the Thai culture and helps us understand everything around us. She prepares such amazing authentic Thai food everyday. Noi is the mission home "Helper" who is native Thai and does all the great cooking- even on the day of transfers for the missionaries- sometimes feeding 20 people at a time! For someone like me who understands big crowds for meals- that is a BIG task! And she is so great at it. She also takes care of the home. We love Noi and her happy attitude. She is a pleasure to be around and Taryn loves her!After lunch we headed to Nitchida,the International center where all the American/ British children go to school and where they have a tiny American Market called the Villa.Taryn and I took a picture by the lake in the center. We had to get some special ingredients for Tyson's birthday the next day and for a dinner for missionaries going home in the next couple of days. It's so different shopping in Thailand where your options are small. It's an adventure just to find what you were looking for- is it crazy to say that I loved it? Next door is a little salon where Janis got her hair done, I got a manicure and pedicure and Tyson had a back massage and manicure. His first time getting a manicure (no polish) and he liked it- it was one of his birthday presents from his mom.
It was hilarious to us how much attention Taryn was receiving. We had a million people snapping pictures of her on the airplane, airport, and on side streets.


Welcoming flowers, jasmine and roses. The Thai people use these to make their rooms, cars, etc... smell good. You can see Thai's selling them on the streets in the middle of the road- reminds me of Los Angeles and the windowshield washers :)

We made it! And Taryn met Grandma and Grandpa Smith for the first time! We are so happy to be here and we have already had a lot of fun! I love that we are doing "Thai" things, as Janis says, not what regular tourists get to do. I will share one of my favorite experiences with you soon. Our little one is now 5 months old!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Las Brisas and a 15 hour Flight

Monday morning we enjoyed our last American breakfast at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach. They have a wonderful buffet and a gorgeous view of the ocean. We loved the food and Taryn was relaxing in her car seat the whole time- one of the last times she would be in it since we left it behind. The international seat belt laws are different and most people just hold their children in the car. Plus in Italy we won't have a car so no need for one there!

When we came home we spent the rest of the time making sure we were all packed and we tried to finish up any last business. I can tell you from experience that leaving the country for a long period is difficult because you have to cancel this and that and make sure you don't have any bills looming etc... Sounds easy- it's not! Just one big headache! But TOTALLY worth it!

Mom and Dad drove us to LAX that night and it was so helpful to have my parents there. Mom dropped us off and Dad helped us carry all our luggage in. But don't worry, we are totally capable of carrying our 6 bags and carry-ons and Taryn by ourselves! We practiced! Then we boarded our plane for a 15 hour flight (yikes!) heading to our layover in Guangzhou, China. And we got a stamp for China in our passports! I would highly reccommend to anyone traveling with an infant to reserve a bassinet! As parents, you get the seating with more leg room and no one in front of you, and you have a place to put your baby to sleep so you can sleep comfortably as well. There were 3 other babies on the flight, one of which cried the whole time. Taryn was so happy on the flight and slept for half of it! I was so relieved!

Sleeping Taryn in the bassinet
So happy and content playing with her toys

Guangzhou, China sunrise

5 am in China waiting for our connecting flight to Bangkok, Thailand

Pioneer Day

Sundays have always been a special day for dinner. Everyone is in the kitchen helping prepare for dinner, whether it be setting the table, making a centerpiece, or helping mom cook. My dad always had the job of making a special drink- always a different mixture of ingredients- So when Pioneer Day fell on Sunday, it was a great occasion. My mom pulled out her Covered Wagon as the centerpiece to celebrate the arrival of the Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. On the menu- Porcupine Meatballs- a signature dish my Grandma Larson would always make and seeing how it was her birthday, mom decided to celebrate the memory of her.
After dinner, we all took naps and then Tyson, Brittany, Taryn and I went on a walk around the neighborhood. I love sunday walks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Houses and play time

Saturday we took Taryn on a walk at the park above my parents home and saw many Open Houses signs on our way. After our walk we picked up my parents and put Taryn down for a nap and went to see the houses. Brittany has been studying for the California Bar so she was home to watch Taryn -Side note- Brittany takes the California Bar this week and she has put in so many hours studying! Good luck Brittany!!!-
Tyson loves looking at homes and has since he was a little boy and we have been through many! We go through and say.."In our future home...." and file away those thoughts for the future! We had to drop off my Dad so he could work on a few things while we kept looking through homes. Taryn woke up while we were gone and this is what I came home to...
Grandpa had picked her up and was playing with her upstairs in his room. He had a rattle (medicine in a bottle), a soft toy (clean socks), and a musical toy ( a bird calling whistle). LOVE it!

A concert in the park

The park above my parents house hosts a Concert at the Park and we went with my parents and had dinner- sub sandwiches- while we watched "Rod Stewart" perform. It was a fun experience and we learned that you need to bring TONS of blankets- in the middle of July- you still need TONS of blankets!

I'm so glad that Taryn was able to see my parents one more time before we left. I love the picture of my Dad and Taryn. She wouldn't take her eyes off him and then she fell asleep for a little cat nap.

Being in California was a much needed break for us and we were so happy to be one step closer to our adventure!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A day at the beach

Ask anyone in my family about "Waffle Beach" and you will get nothing but wonderful stories of being taken there when we were sick, when people came to visit, or just for those fun mom and child dates. It doesn't get any better than going to Newport Beach, putting your feet in the sand, and enjoying a scrumptious breakfast while listening to seagulls and the waves crashing against the sand.

Taking Taryn to the beach was the most exciting thing for me. I wanted to put her toes in the sand, let her feel the cold ocean water, and put her in the little swimsuit and watch her soak it all up. After breakfast I was jumping up and down telling Tyson, "Ok, are you ready to go back to the beach? Lets get our swim suits on- we have to take Taryn for her first beach experience!" (come on mommies, you know what it's like to experience something for the first time with a child)

So we packed up diapers, towels, and a boogie board and headed to my favorite beach cove. I love that parking is easy (and free) and there are never too many people. I loved every minute of watching Tyson boogie board while Taryn sat on my hip, mesmerized by the waves. The California blood runs strong in Taryn's veins!

This is my idea of a perfect day.