Sunday, December 23, 2007

Maeve's Thai Portraits 2007/2008

Every year we live overseas, we hope to convince Maeve to have her portrait taken wearing local clothes. We have been successful every year. This year is no exception. In fact, every year gets a little easier! Meave loves to get dressed up. She loves to have someone do her hair. Add in a personal makeup artist and a flashy photographer and you have heaven on earth for Maeve. Mom and Dad broke the bank too! Five hundred Thai Baht is about 15 dollars... But the results are worth all the pampering and a few pennies!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mac Year in Review 2007

The Christmas season is once again upon us, and it's time to recap the events since our last end-of-year letter. The year 2007 brought its share of trials, triumphs, adventure, and accomplishments.

The first news worthy item came toward the end of February when Mary noticed a significant lump in her left breast. Thanks to the medical facilities here in Chiang Mai, she was quickly diagnosed with breast cancer and on the operating table in less than a week. Poor Andrew was on a camp with students at the time, and had to come back to deal with this shocking news. Mary recovered quickly enough to attend our school's PSA (Parent Student Association) dinner and dance evening --an event we were glad not to miss. We're always happy to find opportunities to cut some rug and revive those dance moves that brought us together those many years ago.

Mary started her chemotherapy in April, and found that by the end of the term, she needed a lighter teaching load. Our school was very supportive, and relieved her of her senior school classes.

During our spring break, we headed up to the Golden Triangle region in the north of Thailand where Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and China intersect. The Thais were having their biggest celebration of the year: Songkran. This holiday marks the Thai New Year and the beginning of the rainy season. We spent it in a sleepy town on the Mekong River, bordering Laos where we were able to partake in the festivities (one huge, two-week water fight) on a more gentle scale than found farther south.

The last term of school went by quickly. Mary was busy with directing a musical production of Alice in Wonderland in the junior school; which was a grand success. This production was a big change for her as she had a good deal of people to help out and share the load to give the show real panache.

In May, Andrew made a quick and arduous journey to Canada to attend Andy Hackett and Kathleen Lang's wedding. It was a great opportunity to reunite with the clan as all his brothers were in attendance as well as our new niece, Molly. We also took advantage of the opportunity to get some cool new toys for Maeve!

At the end of May, we celebrated Andrew's 39th birthday, and our tenth wedding anniversary. Where has the time gone? Andrew marked the end of his thirties by going paint-balling with a group of friends, and we stayed at a swish resort in a deluxe honeymoon suite for our anniversary.
For the summer holiday, Andrew and Maeve traveled to Canada, and Mary stayed in Thailand to finish her chemotherapy treatment. Maeve celebrated her 5th birthday with her many cousins at a party hosted and master-minded by her Aunt Jane. There was a big yard, playhouse, kiddie pool, and a hand-crafted ballerina cake -- of which birthday dreams are made. Maeve got to meet her new cousin Meg, as well as cousins from the Weiler end of the family, whom she hadn't met yet or seen for a long time.

Next, Andrew and Maeve hopped on yet another plane to fly out east to visit the MacLachlan side of the family. They were warmly received at Braycroft by Grandma and Bagpa, and the new addition to the family, Devo, a young Irish wolfhound. Ian, Amy and new cousin, Molly came out to visit from Ontario, so there was a good clan gathering. Maeve enjoyed playing with her uncles, exploring along the beach, and listening to Bagpa play his pipes. Meanwhile, back in Thailand, Mary was enjoying her holiday. In between chemo treatments, she dusted of her scrapbooking and worked on Maeve's baby book. She took a five-day Thai cooking course, and visited an elephant sanctuary. She also checked out some local riding stables and got herself back in the saddle again. It was great to have the time to relax and have no demands on her time or attention.

Term One was partly taken up by Mary's radiation therapy which consisted of driving into town every day after school. The rush-hour traffic was more taxing than the treatment itself, but certainly served to hone Mary's combative driving skills. The biggest perk, however, was getting out of committee and staff meetings!

For our term break, we headed to Bangkok to take Maeve to the aquarium and to Dream World (a smaller Thai version of Disney Land). Afterwards, we headed south to the island of Koh Samet to take in a bit of beach therapy.

November was a very busy month. Andrew hosted the first Model United Nations conference at our school with 60 delegates from international schools in Chiang Mai, including our own. Then our school had its annual International Day where we headed up the Canadian booth. Andrew lead kids in exciting games of ball hockey, and Mary performed a Highland Fling. Immediately following International Day, our school underwent a week-long three-way accreditation visit from the Thailand Ministry of Education, Council of International Schools, and New England Association of Colleges and Schools. Phew! Next came our favourite holiday of the year, Loy Kratong. This festival marks the end of the rainy season and people make wishes for the coming year as they launch lanterns into the night sky and release Kratongs down the river.

Mary threw a big dance party to celebrate the end of her cancer treatment on December 1st. Andrew arranged for a super fireworks show with a few floating lanterns thrown in for good measure. Great party!

Now we're kicking back, enjoying our time off work. We plan to use the time to recharge our batteries and explore some more sights in Thailand. There are a good number of people around campus this year, and we are getting together to have a Kantok (Northern Thai traditional) dinner Christmas Eve with fireworks and lanterns.

To friends and family all over the world, we wish you love and peace the whole year through, and may our paths cross again in the not-so-distant future.