Return to Munchkinland

When I pulled up on my moped, I saw no munchkin heads peaking over the fence, heard no yelling…and where is the cat?

As it turned out, the munchkins had social workers visiting to put on a meditation workshop.  My initial thought was it may be working because it was unusually quiet.  But, by the time I made the walk from the gate to the office, one had sprung loose.

“TEEEEEAAAAAACHA!!!!” It was JJ. She led me around the corner so we could hide and she could have me and my unbraided hair to herself before the rest of the crew caught on.

As the hosts of the activity attempted to lead an orderly procession from one room to another, JJ and I let a giggle slip and within seconds the herd spotted us and took me down. It was a massive munchkin pile up that left the social workers very confused and likely undid a lot of the effort they’d just put in to strike a tranquil dynamic.

While the munchkins were finishing their (not so silent at this point) meditation I got a chance to talk to the new Director. I’ve been worrying about this meeting since Megan told me about the turnover and want to give a big thanks to everyone who has been praying about this with me.  I left feeling very optimistic about the conversation.

We talked about continuing playdates, reinstating English class once school starts, and most importantly identifying a more consistent format for tutoring. She seemed aware and candid about the difficulties facing the school and the community as a whole, which is unusual in this saving face culture.

I was trying to be patient and let the social workers finish their session but I must have been perceivably anxious because a board member whom I’ve met before said “ok you want join them now.” and let me in the room. Understandably, the social workers were not happy about the interruption until something happened that changed their minds.
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This is Seven. He came to the orphanage only a few weeks before I left for the summer. He has a very with us but not with us aura about him so I worried about him heading into the classroom environment as I knew how slim the chances were of a teacher being able to engage a new student, particularly a quiet one.

Two of the social workers had clearly picked up on Seven’s vibe and had taken him aside to work with him individually.  He wasn’t looking at them and wouldn’t speak.  I continued to keep an eye on the three of them while I played with the rest of the kids.

When there was still no change after 20 minutes, I told the munchkins to be quiet. I whispered across the room, “Seven”. It immediatly got his attention and I’ll never forget the huge smile on his face as he sprung up singing H-E-L-L-O and crossed the room to hug me.

The munchkins made room for him in the circle and I said in Thai, Seven how old are you?
“7”
No not your name. How old are you?
“7”

But how old are you Seven?

I continued to fain misunderstanding until Seven and all the munchkins were rolling with laughter and yelling in unison “7!!!!” to try and get it through Teachas thick skull. Gop couldn’t take it anymore and dug deep into his english repertoire “Teacha, you are crazy, Seven is 7 YEARS OLD AHHHH!”  The social workers were laughing now too.

“Ohhhhhhh Seven is 7” dramatic head roll open palmed slap to forehead, “Why didn’t you guys just tell me that?” We all gave Seven high fives for being 7 and he participated the rest of the afternoon.

Though I feel a little uncomfortable writing specifics about individual kiddos in such a public forum, I find this small moment to be an important reminder that some of the problems Make Our Day is facing don’t need fixed as much as they just need lived through.

It is hard for any kid anywhere to be “the new kid” but its not a life experience you can seek to eliminate. Is every munchkin going to pass school this year, no. Are all the kids who are “best friends forever” now going to stay friends, no. Do we want them to go through it without a trusted adult noticing? No.

I’ve been talking non stop all summer about short term and long term goals for financing, reach, and sustainability. While making daily steps towards these goals is crucial, talking about them doesn’t tell the story nearly as well as he does and I’m thrilled to have an impact report that reads like this one:

Holy transformation Tuesday Instagrammers, This is the kind of ROI I like to see.
Holy transformation Tuesday Instagrammers, This is the kind of ROI I like to see.

The munchkins go back to school this Monday. The Director of the orphanage and I agree that we need to talk with the Thai teachers and get struggling students started in private tutoring right away before they slip into bad habits for the semester. If you would like to support a munchkin’s tutoring on a monthly basis you may set up a recurring donation in any amount using Paypal, text, or online registration.

Now the rest of the crew!

New kid on the block, and she's a keeper! Meet Pair
Another new kid on the block, and she’s a keeper! Meet Pair
Crankypants meets tankypants...and shes still cranky. Come on Kwang
Crankypants meets tankypants…and shes still cranky. Come on Kwang
Ummmm excuse me Peyton, could you please stay a munchkin? He's practically a minion, STOP.
Ummmm excuse me Peyton, could you please stay a munchkin? He’s practically a minion, STOP.
JJ made me wait until she finished my Elsa braid to get in the photos
JJ made me wait until she finished my Elsa braid to get in the photos
Gop and I changed the chorus of Let it Go to say
Gop and I changed the chorus of Let it Go to say “Wut is ting tong” you had to be there…but it was hilarious and upset Wut enough that he chased me around the table banging on his chest yelling “KING KONG!!!”…..my mom takes issue with Wuts rowdiness and constant sweating, but he’s my favorite.
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Everything in this picture is so business as usual for the end of a playdate, I can’t stop laughing. Benz is demanding more photos, Peyton is behind the camera being a perfectionist, my boyfriend Gop is doing exactly what I asked him to, Pair is nuzzling and squeezing me everywhere, cranky pants is…cranky and Ben is photobombing in the background wanting to know when the big kids are going to go away. But the wild card of the day…Fai. Fai is front and center and smiling, which made Teacha smile all day.

This probably didn’t happen to you today

Things that probably didn’t happen to you at the mall today:

  • You probably did not get a lugee hawked on your arm by a shop owner who 1. Felt no shame over this and 2. Did not aid you on removing it.
  • You probably didn’t feel something scratching your foot, assume it was a rat and look down to see it was a leg less man asking for money, or maybe your shoes…wait.
  • You probably didn’t see an unattended child wet his hammock.
It's ok buddy, I'll probably have nightmares about this too.
It’s ok buddy, I’ll probably have nightmares about this too.

Had one or all or all of these things happened to you at the mall today, it’s safe to assume you’d consider cutting the trip short. I was there 8 hours. It was outdoors, 100 degrees and it rained 3 times. Neither weather condition complimented the surrounding particularly well.

This guy probably had the best stuff in the house...but work? "maybe not today"
This guy probably had the best stuff in the house…but work? “maybe not today”

One may ask, why endure this? Do you just love shopping that much? (My response in the voice of Dwight from The Office) “False” I do not love shopping. But my Stephens Susie’s are hard at work getting me all set up for the Make Our Day holiday pop up shop so I had to keep up my end of the bargain and step up our elephant game.

So here is a sneak peak live from Bangkok of what shoppers have to look forward to. If you want in on this early and fo FREE apply via Instagram to be a campus rep.

ok the middle one is a deer...but I like it.
ok the middle one is a deer…but I like it.
watch / bracelet
watch / bracelet
Make Our Day wallets
Make Our Day wallets
zipper totes
zipper totes
ID holder and keyring
ID holder and keyring
tanks
tanks

If you give a moose a muffin

If I know one thing about headbands and elephants....it's that they make people happy and you should buy them this holiday from the Make Our Day Shop.  Also I know the background is awesome, thanks for mentioning it though. L to R: Brittany, Teacha Katie, Morgan, Megan, Laura
If I know one thing about headbands and elephants….it’s that they make people happy and you should buy them this holiday from the Make Our Day Shop. Also I know the background is awesome, thanks for mentioning it though.
L to R: Brittany, Teacha Katie, Morgan, Megan, Laura
So as of now, Teacha has left the building.  If you had my phone number, forget it.  If you are tired of me calling you anyway, rejoice.
Before I left I had the pleasure of rounding up my Fall 2015 Make Our Day staff for a little pre departure pow wow.

This was not a typical meeting as (like everything in my life) like to have everything going on at once.  No powerpoints here.  Just lots of ideas, lengthy side-notes, a hula hoop, booze, and oh wait, here.  There is a method to the madness.

meeting handouts
meeting handouts
A glance at the table alone will tell you what a Type B can do lacking supervision and traditional workflow structure.  The sprawling takeover of the table started innocently enough.  Plates.  We need plates right, didn’t you read item 1 on the agenda?
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And since this meeting concerns Thailand, it would be downright disrespectful, Buddha no happy, to offer any fewer than 5 sauces.
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So snacks. (Insert scene from The Jerk..”that’s all I need”)
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Then headbands. (snacks and headbands, that’s all I need)
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Then the Make Our Day Shop holiday goodies. (ok just these snacks, those headbands…and you get it)
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Throw in an abundance of new and foreign (to Teacha) technology including a selfie stick and all bets are off.  If you give a Moose a Muffin….you probably shouldn’t come back until she’s finished with it. I hope the person with (moderate…question mark) OCD who generously allowed us to use this room doesn’t see this.
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Elephant errrr-thang
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I keep moving out of the frame of the selfie stick and I don’t know what to do about it…Morgan says stop moving…hmmm
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You can hold the selfie stick up high…
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….or down low
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but really I suggest you give it to the professional photographer to hold. Thanks Megan for making it look super easy…and if you’re reading this thinking “well it is super easy”…just shut it.
If I know one thing about headbands and elephants....it's that they make people happy and you should buy them this holiday from the Make Our Day Shop.  Also I know the background is awesome, thanks for mentioning it though. L to R: Brittany, Teacha Katie, Morgan, Megan, Laura
If I know one thing about headbands and elephants….it’s that they make people happy and you should buy them this holiday from the Make Our Day Shop. Also I know the background is awesome, thanks for mentioning it though.
L to R: Brittany, Teacha Katie, Morgan, Megan, Laura
For those of you who haven’t visited the staff page, Morgan and Brittany are actually joining me in Munchkinland starting January 2016, Laura is doing graphic design, and Megan knows stuff.
If you are digging this lucky elephant vibe and are in college, please apply to be a Campus Rep.  It’s a pretty sweet gig.  I send you free (and wary lucky) clothes made by my friends in Thailand.  You wear said lucky clothes and #makeourday.  Deal? Dee Mak!
Campus Reps:
The Make Our Day Shop is a pop up Instagram shop in which 100% of proceeds go towards opening the Make Our Day Tutoring Center in Phuket, Thailand.
Items will be available for online purchase starting Black Friday, but we need YOU, yes you, to start promoting on campus wan nee (today in Thai).
If you are interested in being a campus rep, follow our instagram makeourday_org and direct message a selfie with the following info in the comment:

They love feeding me, thankfully this snack is edible and contains no visible traces of seafood or pork blood

School: Stephens College
Class: Senior….plus 6 years
Major: Fashion Marketing & Management
Clubs / Sorority: Mortar Board
Favorite late night food near campus: El Rancho…duh
Place you most want to travel to: Greek islands, Spain, Portugal

Backpackers Need Not Apply

I’m in the process of re-doing my website and of course when I say “I” I mean Carlie is in the process of doing it. “I” maxed out my wordpress publishing for dummies skillset a long time ago.

Several people have suggested I throw up an FAQ section for people who are interested in teaching abroad. I’ll do that, but I’m warning you right now, if you’re looking for answers you’re going to like you need to skip right on over to the sunshine and rainbows world of Lonely Planet and Gap Year trips. They’re happy to take your money and you’ll have a great time, seriously you will.

What's not to love.
What’s not to love.

However, if you are truly interested in living and serving God abroad here is the briefest and best advice I can offer you without directly answering any one question…helpful I know.

If you plan on staying past the honeymoon period of 5 or 6 weeks you will need to fall in love with everything that is unlovable about your new home. And while you are at it, try to give yourself and others the same respect. You’ll hate the smells and the noise the same way you can’t stand your friend (or mom) who asks too many questions during movies. You’ll scrunch your nose and throw a tilted glare in the direction of the offender but to change it wouldn’t please you as much as you may think in the moment.

You’ll feel alone and deflate a little when people tell you how lucky you are to travel. You’ll tell white lies to your family and friends as to not burst their bubbles or keep them up at night. You’ll experience some of the most beautiful moments of your life, but they won’t belong on postcards and it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to share them.

It will be the lingering, curious stare of a person who has never seen a person like you. A cautionary breeze before a dangerous storm, and the moment in the day when you give up. Your unfamiliar surroundings and being the minority will beat you and yet you will wake up feeling at peace the next morning.

"The world is a monumental beast, frightening and discouraging but in small doses it is the most beautiful thing you will ever discover. Beautiful moments L to R:  My student helping a boy who does not speak her language The day I realized my babies spent the weekends lonely or afraid  The day my business students opened their coffee cart.
“The world is a monumental beast, frightening and discouraging but in small doses it is the most beautiful thing you will ever discover.
Beautiful moments L to R:
My student helping a boy who does not speak her language
The day I realized my babies spent the weekends lonely or afraid
The day my business students opened their coffee cart.

You’ll experience the paradox of not understanding a persons language or beliefs yet not shaking the feeling that you can read their eyes and their heart for the struggles and joys that are universal. Some will give you a gracious smile for a kind gesture and some will resent you without reason. You’ll need to be able to love them equally or you need to leave.

It will become clearer to you which masters people serve home and away. The status quo, money, pride, fear, vanity, bureaucracy. You’ll have to decide for yourself what roles these things are going to play in your own life. It will mean letting go of things you never thought you would; people, jobs, homes, personal goals. In letting go you may also lose the need or simply the ability to explain yourself. It’s ok, if you are letting your heart lead it is to be expected that it will take your head awhile to catch up.

Trading one life for another is transformational in the way that anything of significance in life is. Love, loss, abuse, grief, marriage, children, divorce, moving, will take you to a place, location or otherwise, that you won’t ever come back from. Not because you don’t want to but because to try and do so would be dishonest and a discredit to the good that God is trying to do through you.

L to R: The day they asked if just one..ok 2...ok just three of them could live with me; Easter morning; using Olaf to learn to give hugs because many of them raise their hands over their face when I try to high five.  they think I'm going to hit them.
L to R: The day they asked if just one..ok 2…ok just three of them could live with me; Easter morning; using Olaf to learn to give hugs because many of them raise their hands over their face when I try to high five. they think I’m going to hit them.

So, to those of you who are seriously considering a life change, not just a change of scenery, I probably won’t answer your questions but I will pray for you. The same prayer I wrote for Teacha Megan when, with a heavy heart, I left her and the Munchkins for the summer.

Lord if she faces the choice between being happy and being useful, let her choose to be useful.

Give her company when she is lonely, your word when she is afraid, and rest when she is tired.

Let her follow you blindly, but give her glimpses of your glorious plans should she get discouraged.

Most of all Lord, let her be a vessel, going where you lead to bring your love to those who need it most, home or away.

Amen

Megan and Munchkins say HUUURRRRYYYY!!!!
Megan and Munchkins say HUUURRRRYYYY!!!!
Writing love letters upon departure to Bob, Koe, Jan, and Megan.  If I was better at Instagram I probably could have made this oceanfront writing session look super pretentious...something to aspire to, or not.
Writing love letters upon departure to Bob, Koe, Jan, and Megan. If I was better at Instagram I probably could have made this oceanfront writing session look super pretentious…something to aspire to, or not.

Make Our Day Shop – SALE

Thanks so much to everyone who shopped the Make Our Day Shop on Instagram last month. We raised $1,000 towards my goal of $20,000 to open a tutoring center in Thailand.

Below are the remaining sale items, if you know anyone who wears this size (tops small, bottoms 4) please share it with them and I’ll move onto our next round of fundraisers.

Just leave a comment on the blog to purchase and I’ll invoice via paypal, ship next business day.

SALE Romper $24
SALE Romper $24
SALE Top $18           Skirt $24
SALE Top $18
Skirt $24
SALE $24
SALE $24
Sale Top $18
Sale Top $18
Sale Top $18
Sale Top $18
Sale Top $18
Sale Top $18
SALE Top $18
SALE Top $18
SALE Top $18           Skirt $24
SALE Top $18
Skirt $24
SALE $18
SALE $18
SALE $18 (black or white)
SALE $18 (black or white)
SALE Top $18            Shorts $24
SALE Top $18
Shorts $24
SALE $18
SALE $18

Summer Lovin’

So I’m dating a 16 year old ladyboy named Bob. A May December romance
that no one saw coming, except maybe Bob.  See Bob’s parents needed a little
Bob break, so they sent him to stay with his uncle in Phuket for the
summer.  His uncle promptly enrolled him in the nearest English
school with the longest hours….sensing a theme?

Us fighting off paparazzi and reporters after our relationship went public
Us fighting off paparazzi and reporters after our relationship went public

Bob’s real name is Nong but after about the 100th time of him correcting
my pronunciation of the impossible “ng” sound, I said, Ok you
know what, you’re Bob now.  Post name change, his peer approval rating skyrocketed, you’re welcome Bob.
Bob’s class is from 10-12, but he gets to school at 7am
regardless of rain, locked doors, or subtle hints about operating
hours and says “I am ready.”  He then harasses anyone in sight until
they are forced to also be “ready”.  After one day of that I taught him how to make coffee and told him no one is in any way “ready” until you do this.  He did it every day.
About a week into summer break, Bob started making some demands of his own.  Fed up with people’s refusal to match his enthusiasm for morning selfie sessions and not getting to do much vacationing on his vacation, he took matters into his own hands.
“Teacha, I want come to your house for dinner.’

I said, Bob do I look like Kathryn Pfieffer** to you.  Well Kathryn Pfieffer is exactly who I looked like to Bob.  With sociopath like intensity he stared at me and said, “Yes, Kathryn’s house for dinner.”  Dammit Bob, my name is Kathryn and Mamma P** would love you so I guess this one is out of my hands.

** Kathryn Pfieffer / Mamma P as we call her, despite having just the two feisty red headed twink a dinks is never lacking for
dinner guests…and brunch…and well you just never know when they (Kayla or I) are going to leave.

“Ok Bob, I’ll pick you up at 6.”

This was met with jumping, an ear drum shattering scream, and of course…..a selfie.
“Thank you Teacha, thank you Katy Perry, I go get ready now.”  He immediatly left class and ran out the door.  It was 11:30.

 He has a staring problem to begin with and the confusion of my frequent rhetorical questions really exacerbates it.
He has a staring problem to begin with and the confusion of my frequent rhetorical questions really exacerbates it.

I picked Bob up for our first date at the pier just before sunset and
already it had the makings of an alternate universe Bachelor where the
contestants are less attractive, the premise socially unacceptable,
and the suspense lacking as neither of us has the prospect of getting
another dinner date.

He was wearing a straw fedora, faybans, and
shorty shorts waving anxiously at me with one hand and taking my
picture with the other. “Teacha I am heeeeeeeeere.”
As I feared, the afternoon had given Bob way to much time to scheme
and dinner was no longer the only thing on the menu.
He presented me with a 1/2 Thai, 1/2 English extensive list titled,
Travel in Phuket with Teacha Katie
-Go to buy the sunglasses the same at Naka Market
-Ride motorcycle in mountains with boyfriend
-Eat romantic dinner seafood
-Go to every beach every day
-Yoga at rock
-Yoga at beach
-Yoga at park
-Travel to airport
-Eat ice
-Splash Jungle
-Take a bus
-Talk with tourists
-Be brave be beautiful

We did all these things and more minus the production quality and
wardrobe changes of a reality TV show and plus some minor compromises.

I sang the song from The Lion King when we got to the top of the rock but he didn't get it.  Should have been my first clue, other than his sexual orientation, that this wasn't gonna work out.
I sang the song from The Lion King when we got to the top of the rock but he didn’t get it. Should have been my first clue, other than his sexual orientation, that this wasn’t gonna work out.

For example, number 2: Ride motorcycle in mountains with boyfriend in reality turned out to be Bob and I on a 250cc scooter along the beach road but he held on to my waist and screamed everytime we rounded a corner just the same. During our candlelit seafood dinner on the beach, he giggled repeating, “it’s so romantic” over and over.  We did “Yoga” in the loosest sense of the word but we’ve got no less than 200 pictures of it.  We spent hours making playlists for roadtrips and at the waterpark he took a GoPro video of us on every waterslide, enclosed slides included.

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Every Beach Every Day
Eat Ice - with corn and potatoes in it..what I don't do for you Bob
Eat Ice – with corn and potatoes in it..what I don’t do for you Bob
He was so shocked when he saw this picture that neither of us can actually do a handstand.  He blamed the photographer.
He was so shocked when he saw this picture that neither of us can actually do a handstand. He blamed the photographer.
More lunch dates with gross food that I can't pronounce or identify
More lunch dates with gross food that I can’t pronounce or identify

He cried when summer was over and called me 5 times on the way home,
each time sounding completely shocked to be speaking with me.  The
Munchkins facetimed him from the orphanage and he cried again.  After
being home and seeing his old friends he called in real crisis mode.

“Teacha my friend tell to me Nong is not same from Nong in the past.
Have thinner, and tanner and more polite.  Some friend say, ok yes you
are different now is good but some friend not like says not ok…..want to have
Nong the same from the past. Everyone liking name Bob though, want to keep”

I said well Nong, you’re not Nong anymore, you’re Bob and you’re a man now…kind of.  No more Old Nong, only New Bob.

After I talked him off the ledge, I broke up with him but it’s nothing New Bob can’t handle.  He told me he wants to “focus on his studies” anyway.

Blarin our song and singing on the way to the airport,
Blarin our song and singing on the way to the airport, “I’ll love you long after your gone..gone..GONE” How appropriate