Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

We're still enjoying our government-mandated school break thanks to Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.  

Whim, no longer a stay-at-home Papa, couldn't be with the boys all the time I needed to be at work, so I took a few days off and we made a real Thanksgiving break of it.

I loved having some unexpected quiet time at home with the boys to read and snuggle and play and bake and make ninja turtle masks.

And luckily we had plenty of family time, all together, too.

I'm so thankful for these three, my whole little world.

Happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Snow days

I keep a running list of "Thai snow days". It never snows here, but schools close for all kinds of other interesting reasons.

While teaching in Thailand I've had:
Flood days
Political unrest days
Coup days
Toxic garbage dump fire fume days
ASEAN conference days (all schools closed for a week to reduce traffic jams for the visiting leaders)
And now: Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease epidemic days.  

Which just goes to show, all those kids across the US who are praying for a snow day are thinking much too small! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekend woes

During the school week, our weekend-only computer game rule seems genius.  We don't have TV, so they are free to read or play, practice piano, draw, do a puzzle, ride bikes... 

We'll often watch a movie together in the evenings, which I don't mind one bit, and the boys even have e-books they read online for their reading homework, so the school-week isn't screen-free.  We're just protected from constant requests to play games and watch YouTube videos, since they know the rule.

But the weekend is when it gets a little tricky.  In theory, I'm not against games.  I grew up with lots of tv and Nintendo time, and I was fine, a very good student and normal person.  I just don't like how everything that entertains the boys midweek is forgotten when the computer comes on.  M reads books for hours.  He would read all day if we let him.  But once the computer is fired up, his books are forgotten.  L loves to play creative, imaginary games... Just not on the weekend.

They know they aren't allowed to play "first thing in the madrugada" but there isn't a set hour.  So sometime after breakfast, one or the other of the boys will wander upstairs and then it starts. And once it's on, that's all they want to do.

I institute technology breaks at random intervals because I want them to do other things and have fun without the computer.  But I'm just as bad.  If I don't have anything going on, a whole hour or more can trickle by while I mess around on my phone.  Mildly entertained, but not really doing anything special.

If I want my kids to know there's more to life than passively using technology, I need to show them.  I know it's not rocket surgery, but if I'm not exposing them to fun and interesting things to do offline, why should I be surprised that they keep going back to the computer?  Art projects, outings, cooking or baking, experiments, sensory activities, exploring, writing, building, board games... I need to step up my game.  I have often told myself (and them!) that I am not responsible for my kids' fun.  But I do have some say in how their preferences form.  No more slacking.

Yesterday we made oobleck and slime.  For a while, technology was forgotten.  

Just a while.   But at least they know how to make them now, and might think of them again.

Later that afternoon, we (finally) took down the boys' Halloween things and decorated a paper Christmas tree on their door.  It may not be much to look at, but it represents an hour that nobody asked if they could watch Ninja Turtle videos on YouTube or play Snailbob.

This morning we built a city before anyone could bring up the computer.

And now?  As I type?

Now they're playing games.  Baby steps.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I saw your dad once, his beard is weird!
"One day you'll grow up and have a beard, then we'll see what you say."

Your hair looks like mama noodles!
"Yes! I love mama noodles!"

You don't get to have any of the cake, nyah-nyah!
"That's ok.  I can make cake at home when I want to."

M loves practicing what he'd say if someone started teasing.  The guidance counsellor at school gave a lesson to his class about responding to teasing a few months ago, and he's been asking to practice ever since.  I truly don't think his classmates tease at school.  But maybe he just wants to be ready.  

He treats it like a puzzle- you have to answer quickly, not be rude back, and not rise.  He's good, though I take care to only "tease" about silly things or things I know won't bother him.

L, on the other hand, has exactly one line. But it is unstoppable.
No matter the taunt, his response:

"Mandude, that's how God made me."

Who could go on in the face of such cuteness?

You're a baby!
"Mandude, that's how God made me."

And the bully combusts into a poof of smoke!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Only child

This week, Whim and I spent some one-on-one (two-on-one?) time with M.  He had a few doctors appointments with a specialist that had to be done during the school day- the perfect excuse for lunch out and a post-appointment coffee shop visit, just the three of us.

With two sons, close in age, who share a group of friends and are enrolled in the same school and extracurricular activities, I appreciated the chance to shift focus to him, to let him be an "only child" for an afternoon or two.  And L, who was picked up after school by a beloved auntie instead of me, felt so brave and mature and special, too.

They get along well, fighting and playing as brothers do, making the most of a shared bedroom and a constant companion.  But everyone needs to be recognized individually, to be seen, from time to time.

I never liked the dating your children thing- "mother/son dates" aren't for me.  But I think it's time for some only-child outings.  L's up next.