Here in Bangkok, students who attend Thai schools are currently on summer vacation while international schools were ordered to close on March 18 for 2 weeks. My school has moved our 2-week spring vacation forward, so we aren’t scheduled to go back to school until April 13, but who knows if we’ll actually go back on that day. Since I’ve started this post, the governor of Bangkok has announced that all malls and restaurants in Bangkok will close from tomorrow until April 12, but that grocery stores and fresh markets will remain open.
We had planned to spend Songkran, or Thai New Year, which is April 13-15 this year, in India visiting Worchihan’s family, but obviously that won’t work. Chiang Mai was our next choice and we booked a hostel, but we canceled that trip. We then booked a hotel here in Bangkok but have canceled that as well. Songkran has been postponed until July, though I’m not sure how you can just postpone the new year.
So I find myself with a lot of time on my hands in our 350-square-foot condo. Can we sit out at the pool, you might ask? Nope. Instead of putting a cover on the pool and monitoring the number of people who sit on the 4 lounge chairs throughout the day, the door to the pool area has been locked. We can still go for a walk, but taking a walk here is not the same as taking a walk in the US. We’ll have to make a video to show you what a walk around our “neighborhood” looks like.
Here’s what I will be doing during this extended period at home.
- Pray: Is prayer not our most important activity whether we’re facing a global pandemic or not?
- Read and study the Bible: I’ve been attending Bible Study Fellowship for several years now here in Bangkok. I started by going to weekly classes at a local church but began attending online classes last year because going to work, eating, going to class and getting home at 10 proved to be too much for me for one day. My current leader is in Michigan while my fellow students are in Turkey, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and the US. Right now we’re studying Acts and the Apostles — what I love about BSF is that it’s a Bible study where we actually study the Bible, not a book that is written about the Bible. BSF works like this: complete daily homework; participate in the class (my online class lasts one hour); watch an online lecture (these are generally around 30-40 minutes); read the notes. All of this allows you to get much of the information 4 times though you get lots of extra material in all 4 forms. BSF is nondenominational, has classes in more than 70 countries and is completely free. I love BSF and the friendships and accountability it provides and would recommend it to everyone who wants to study the Bible seriously.
- Read a couple of books in my stockpile: I have too many books and it wasn’t until recently that I acknowledged this. Many of my books are teaching books that I’ll probably always keep/use, but some of them need to be read and then either sold or given away to someone who would appreciate them (and who would hopefully then pass them on). As an American, I’m an overconsumer, but living in Thailand, where I encounter real poor people every day and where average living spaces are the size of kitchens in 3,000 square foot houses, I have to wonder why I need to keep SO MANY BOOKS. I’m currently reading Made to Stick and Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God, which will be coming to the blog soon.
- Work on my blog: Worchihan encouraged me to start a blog in 2017 because he (mistakenly) believed that I like to write and I’m still grateful for his gentle nudge. Not only does the blog allow me to record our experiences (which is enough of a reward in itself), but it gives me an opportunity to share our experiences and what we’ve learned from life/marriage/travel/books with others. We had a friend set up the blog for us and still ask him for help occasionally, but other than that, we can run it ourselves. Having to pay for the domain and the host motivates me to post; sometimes I need that extra push. If you have ever thought about starting a blog, this might be a good time to give it another thought.
- Create resources for my Teachers Pay Teachers store: I have been teaching since 2008 and have created hundreds of resources since then. I always enjoyed sharing them with my colleagues who were teaching the same thing, so when I heard about Teachers Pay Teachers, I thought, How could teachers charge other teachers for their resources?, but the need to bring in some extra income has led to me setting up my own TPT store. And guess what? Posting my resources allows teachers all over the world to use them and saves them the time they would have spent creating the resources for themselves! So it works out for everyone. Teachers, if you’re constantly creating your own resources, look into selling them on TPT. They offer a free subscription in which you earn 55% of your sales or a yearly paid subscription ($60) in which you earn 80% of your sales. I wish I would have joined years ago!
- Study Italian: I’ve never been to Italy and it’s not the first country on my must-visit list, but I love Italian (though not as much as I love Spanish). I’m pretty sure this has something to do with studying Latin in high school, which I loved, and how Latin is Italian’s base. Several years ago I bought Pimsleur Conversational Italian and just yesterday, I signed up for one year of Babbel Italian while paying for only six months. (I had downloaded the Babbel app to go through the free Italian lessons and then I saw an add on Instagram when I was watching Stories for the six months free.) I plan to spend time on the app every weekday, so maybe I’ll be able to have a simple conversation in Italian by the time I go back to school.
- Spring clean: For me, spring cleaning is getting rid of stuff and then deep cleaning. I plan on getting rid of things by posting them in Facebook groups and hoping they sell. (I’ve sold 2 books so far, Dad!)
- Take pictures of our condo: Well, this is something for Worchihan to do with our camera that I don’t know how to use. I’ve been bugging him to do this for a while now, even though I first need to do something about all the stuff that’s found its way into our condo. We need to take these pictures directly after spring cleaning or else it’s never going to happen. (If you’re wondering why this is on the list, it’s because I want pictures of where we lived for memory’s sake — doesn’t everyone do this?)
- Take some online classes I’ve already bought access to: Teachers get pretty much zero professional development here unless they work at one of the better international schools, so many of us have to find it and pay for it ourselves. I enrolled in The Reading Roadmap (created by Malia Howell of Playdough to Plato fame) a couple of years ago, saved all the resources and then promptly went on my way, so it’s time to actually take the course. I just enrolled in Teaching Every Writer (created by Anna Geiger of The Measured Mom and Becky Spence of This Reading Mama) right before the price went up, so I need to download those resources and then actually take the class.
- Learn how to make roti from Worchihan: My husband is Indian, but not an actual Indian because he’s Naga, so he doesn’t make roti (India’s version of a tortilla). Nagas generally eat rice for lunch and for dinner, so because Worchihan is the cook at our house, we eat rice for dinner almost every night, but we also like roti. Roti and all other Indian food in Bangkok is expensive — it’s actually about the same price it is in the US — so we’ve tried (and failed) to make a decent butter chicken, but roti can’t be too difficult. Worchihan’s grandpa taught him how to make roti and though I’m not known for my culinary skills, I think I can learn. Mom, I’m gonna make you proud.
- Organize and backup all my pictures on Google Photos: Can’t say I’m looking forward to this one, but it’s been on my to-do list for too long. Most of my pictures are stored on my hard drive, but I’m always worried it will crash and I will lose everything, so getting this done will put my mind at ease.
- Listen to Wild + Free’s conference audio: I’m pretty sure I’m the only Wild + Free member who doesn’t have children, but don’t tell them that. Wild + Free is a homeschooling community, so I’m getting a head start on my homeschool plans, right? They have several conferences a year and allow members to access the audio of the talks given by smart, experienced and insightful homeschool moms. The talks are inspiring and make me so excited to homeschool my yet-to-exist children (maybe I should add make a baby to this list).
- Start learning how to draw: When I taught first grade, my students had a good laugh the two or three times I needed to draw a picture on the board. I figured I better do something about my lack of basic drawing skills, especially seeing as those same first graders could draw significantly better than I could (why don’t we learn basic drawing in the US??). For this purpose, I’ve already bought Usborne’s Step-by-Step Drawing Book and Learn to Draw…Flower Garden! If I can just master drawing the dog and the car on the first 2 pages of the Usborne book, I’ll be happy (for now).
- Help others: This one is tricky because we’re not supposed to be around each other right now, but there are a few things we can do. Worchihan and I can buy food for the security guards at our condo to say thank you. As I teacher, I can share resources others teachers have shared for free with my friends and colleagues. All of us can call family and friends who are especially vulnerable at this time to let them know that we are thinking of them and that we love them. I’m hoping Worchihan and I are able to help in other ways during this time because I truly believe only what we do for others counts.
- Relax: You know what this means: take naps, watch tv, play games like Sequence and Rummy with Worchihan…I’m feeling a nap coming on shortly…
Ok, there. I’ve made my list and now this is what I’m doing and why. I am fortunate enough to view this time as an opportunity that I don’t want to waste. So what about you? What are you going to do during this time and why? Let me know in the comments.