Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Today I took the boys Trick-or-Treating.

Does that make me look like a giant hypocrite?

They didn't eat the loot they got.  They didn't even take that much. 

For them, it was totally exciting, and totally not about the candy.  We dressed up and spent the evening walking around with friends, waving glow sticks and running in the streets.  Just that, by itself, was awesome.  They didn't need candy.

For me, it was a tradition.  Part of my childhood I get to watch them recreate.  We don't live in the US, but I want the boys to have those American experiences that I grew up with, even if we have to fake them a little.  People don't trick-or-treat in Thailand, but there's a neighborhood near our school with a quite a few western families, and they make it happen. 

And, if we're being honest, I had the most adorable costumes planned.  They were going to be Axl Rose and Slash.  Unfortunately, at the last minute, M insisted on being Batman (ie wear oversized batman jammies) thanks to a picture we saw online of Slash wearing a batman shirt.  Oh well.  At least L looked adorable.

Thank you STARS!

In December, ICS is hosting SNAP - a special needs awareness program. The goals for the event are to celebrate children with special needs, to help provide parents with needed resources, and to build relationships in the community.

I'll be there, raising awareness for RAS and trying to connect with other RAS parents.

Last month I wrote to the STARS trust and told them about the event and how I'd be hosting a table there.

Look what arrived this week!  I didn't know exactly how I was going to set up my table, or how I was going to connect with people there.  I felt a little stuck.  But just looking at their generous gift is getting me so excited, and now my head is full of ideas.

I am so grateful for the pamphlets and information sheets.  I even received 100 cards I can pass out to people who are interested in knowing more.  The "Jack has RAS" booklet in the center is a charming story about a child dealing with RAS.  I would love to be able to put one in the hands of another RAS parent.

I hope to raise awareness of RAS, so that when L starts school at ICS (in 2 years) the community will be familiar with it.  I'd also love to share how diet has helped him reduce seizures, show what to do when someone is having a seizure, and maybe dispel some myths about RAS and its causes.  Anything else I should be sure to cover?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Race

As I mentioned compulsively throughout the past week, M and I signed up for Sunday's "Wienna Run For Breast Charity".    I'm so happy to have had this experience with him.

Look at my boy.  He looks about 10.
The sun wasn't quite up yet.  Sorry for the dark photo.

I will spare you the 250 pictures Whim took of us from the rear and show just this one.  It's a true glimpse into our morning.

M was not competitive.  He walked and ran and meandered and explored.  Sometimes as someone passed us by, I'd urge him on: "Let's go.  Don't let them pass us!"  But he didn't mind. It was good for me.

There will be other races for learning about drive and determination.  This time we just had one goal.
No broken bones.  Clear to keep going!

We made a deal ahead of time that we could run and we could walk, but we wouldn't quit, and I wouldn't carry him.

At one point he fell off a low garden wall (you can see it in the picture) and it threatened to do us in, but even through tears he said again and again that he didn't want to quit.

(He did ask to be carried a few times after that, but when I reminded him of our deal, he kept on trucking.)

 I'm so proud of him.  Even though it was a short race, it wasn't all easy.

Proudly showing his medal.  We can't wait for the next race.

But it was totally worth it!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weet-bix Bites. Their words, not mine.

Weet-bix Bites, Wild Berry.

Whatever food additive it is that makes L susceptible to seizures is in Weet-bix Bites, Wild Berry flavor.

The frustrating back-story of how he got them doesn't matter, but at least we're getting closer to narrowing down the culprit.  He didn't actually have a seizure, but he had the closest near-miss you could imagine.  He managed a breath at the last possible second.  (Weirdly, later in the day he got a nosebleed out of nowhere.  It could just be a fluke, but it's never happened before.  I wanted to make a note of it, just in case it ever happens again.)

The ingredients listed on their website are: 
Wholegrain wheat (71%), sugar, berry purees (3%) (strawberry, blackcurrant, raspberry and blueberry), invert sugar, humectant (glycerol), honey, minerals (phosphate of calcium, iron), salt, wheat fibre, flavours, barley malt extract, gelling agent (pectin), acidity regulators (296), vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate). 

The thing that jumps out at me automatically is the acidity regulator (e296).  I did a quick google search and found several sites listing e296 as dangerous for infants and young children.  Of course, "flavours" could mean anything, so that could be it, too.  I emailed the company asking if they could clarify what "flavors" means in this product.  I'm not holding my breath, but I do have my fingers crossed that they might provide us with a little more information.  Of course it could be any of those vitamins, or minerals, or something else that goes unlisted on the package.  But at least it's a clue.

It is worth mentioning that L used to eat this cereal all the time.  He hasn't had it since we changed his diet, but before that, it was a staple in our house since Miles started eating cereal.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I don't know what we're eating, but I know what we'll be wearing

There are a lot of things I love about Thailand.

Incredible food.  Gorgeous beaches.  Tropical weather.  Unhurried lifestyle.  Kind people. 

One thing I have never fully appreciated, though, is the abundance of cheap tailors.

When we picked out our race shirts earlier this week, Miles got an adult small.  Despite being a mother-child race, they didn't offer children's sizes.  Hmm.... well, whatever.

We could have just gone with it.  It would be cute, right?  Scampy kid running in rolled-up sleeves, shirt hanging down to his knees, collar hanging off his shoulder.   That kind of stuff is pretty adorable, especially on a kid as cute as M.

But then, afterward, I would want to keep the shirt because, come on, memories!  But I wouldn't let him actually wear it because it would look sloppy and ridiculous.  And I know the only thing that keeps these moptop kids from looking like complete ragamuffins is cute outfits.  So it would be one more useless thing in the house, which is exactly what I am trying to cut down on.

Instead, I brought it to the tailor in the alley at Ram 2 market.  I expected him to cut off the bottom, hem it, and call it good.  Instead, for 60 baht, he remade the whole shirt in half an hour- small sleeves, small neckhole, small shoulders and body, completely normal proportions.  It's awesome!  For less than 2 dollars, he has a shirt he can actually wear afterward.  Well... except that it's pink.  But you can't win 'em all. 

Anyway, in case an entire post about M's shirt hasn't tipped you off, I'm really excited for the race tomorrow.  Wish us luck!

Friday, October 26, 2012

All normal at the zoo

Yesterday we took the boys out to the zoo.

Dusit Zoo may be dingy and pathetic, but it's our dingy and pathetic outing of choice for a day off that falls at the end of the month.  Even with train rides, souvenir splurges, and giraffe feeding, the whole day only puts us back a few dollars.
The kids used these 50 baht binoculars nonstop.
The kids were amazing.  This must be why people like taking their kids places.  They were interested, obedient, and happy.  They played all day: with each other, with other children at the park, climbing things and rolling down hills.  They were so normal.

These stairs provided at least 30 minutes of nonstop fun.
All day I was reminded of the last time we went to the zoo.  It was in January, just a few months before we changed the boys' diets.  It was so hard to go anywhere back then.  I can still remember how I used to plan outings  - desperately hoping that this time would somehow be different. 

M was so hard to control and L was still so little.  Though at that time I had no idea how diet came in to play, I knew he had more seizures on days he didn't get enough rest. So day trips and outings (with the inevitable junk food and missed naps) were never easy days for us.
At no point in yesterday's trip did the boys run in opposite directions
and make me fear simultaneous double-abuductions

We always had some fun moments, of course.  And we have many of those happy moments recorded in photos, thanks to Whim's skill as a photographer and his excellent timing.  But behind the photos was always a story of stress, and meltdowns, and disappointment.  I wish there wasn't so much pressure to appear to have it all together.  I wonder if any of my friends are hiding similar struggles behind their own beautiful photos and cleverly-worded facebook updates?

If you are, just trust me that you aren't alone.

But back for a minute to that word normal.  I've never come right out with a name for M's issues, but it's not because I'm trying to be mysterious or because we are above 'labels'.  It's because I really don't know what to call it.  I had wondered and worried about him for a while, but just at the time I started feeling legitimately concerned, we started the diet and things started changing. 

I think it's safe to say that if M had been evaluated last year, he would have been diagnosed with ADHD.  But if I am honest with myself, there was more than that going on.  He had compulsive habits, exhibited Tourette's-like behavior at times, and even the autism spectrum didn't always seem completely out of the question to me.  I have always loved and accepted M, but part of that acceptance was the awareness that he wasn't "normal".

Now, suddenly, unless he's reacting to a diet infraction, he is a typical four-year-old.  Maybe it's just because we've been watching the Back to the Future trilogy all weekend with the boys, but I can't help thinking about how differently things could have turned out for him. Heavy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Morning walk

These sweet moments are brought to you by: October break, our morning walk, and an abandoned rope swing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Will run for breasts

This Sunday, M and I will be racing in our first mother-son fun run: the "Wienna Run For Breast Charity" road race.  

I found out about the Jog and Joy racing site from another Bangkok mom-blogger over at Toddle Joy.  I used to be a distance runner and even ran a few marathons back in college.  It's been years since I've done any running, though, so neither of us are ready for anything serious.  The first race listed is coming up this weekend, and it happened to have a 1.8 km category.   Perfect!  We signed up today and even got our racing bibs.

Can't wait for Sunday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the year of the couch

Today, after exactly 363 days, the year of the couch has officially come to a close.

Last October, when floods threatened Bangkok, we moved every last piece of furniture upstairs before we skipped town and headed north.  In late November, when the scare was over, we slowly started putting things to right. We moved one of our sectional couches back to its rightful place in the living room just after returning to our (thankfully safe and dry) home.  For some unexplainable reason, the other one has been in our bedroom ever since.  For a year. 

This couch was the first thing I thought of when I heard about the 31 days projects.  It would have been my Oct. 1 project, but I couldn't move it down the stairs by myself.  (I tried!)  After 22 days of purging, organizing, and tidying, today I brought up the couch with Whim.  He took care of it during Lennon's nap.  It was that easy.

Even though I didn't actually move the couch myself, I still give myself partial credit for a) not nagging about it (major victory for me- Sorry, babe!) and b) making enough changes around the house that it seemed worthwhile to him to make an effort, too.  How could I blame him for not doing it sooner, when the couch was just one of a thousand things that needed to be done, and we weren't working on any of them? 

But the most interesting thing of all happened when L woke up.   As I was carrying him to our room to show him the transformation, I knew with absolute certainty what was going to happen.  He wasn't going to like it.  Being two, and still rummy from his nap, the missing couch was going to freak him out and make him cry.  And it did.

And even though he and his brother were playing cars and lounging in their new-found, couch-free playspace within a few minutes, at first the change freaked him out a little bit.  He had come to accept the couch in the bedroom as normal, and when it was gone, it felt scary.

And not to be too philosophical, but that is really true for me, too.  Even when changes are for the better, they still freak me out a little. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

M and Mom Together

Remember when Frog and Toad are eating themselves sick with chocolate chip cookies?  They tie them up in a box and put them on a high shelf, but it doesn't stop them from getting them down and cutting the string and eating them?

M and I read that story today during L's nap, and we agreed that gorging on cookies sounded like the perfect plan.  We tried this awesome recipe for Honey-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cookies, from A Dash of Sass, with a few subs to make it work for us.  Ours were Honey-Sweetened Sunflower Seed Paste cookies, and they were amazing.

In keeping with my sandwich-making post last week, I let M do as much as he wanted to.  He liked all the measuring and pouring in, but not much of the stirring or cookie-shaping.  He was also keen to put the cookies in the oven.   

Concentrate... concentrate.
A moment of shock when he thought he burned himself.
He didn't.
I'm sure the recipe as written is even better.  But our gluten-free, nut-free version was pretty great, too. I didn't even follow the part about mixing in separate bowls first (I'm a cookie rebel, I guess.  Or too lazy to have extra dishes), but I did leave the dough to sit for 10 minutes before adding the chocolate chips, as instructed.

These cookies called for a cup of honey, so even though they don't use sugar, they are still sweet.  And we've seen in the past that too many sweets make L susceptible to seizures, no matter the source.  So since this isn't a reduced-sugar recipe, we're having to limit his sugar intake the old-fashioned way.  Not letting him have too many.  Wish us luck!

We followed her recipe, with the following exceptions:
1 cup homemade sunflower seed paste in place of 1 cup peanut butter
2 cups Arrowhead Mills gluten free all purpose flour in place of 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour.
A few handfuls of dark chocolate chips in place of 3 oz. bar of dark chocolate.  Only because it's what we had on hand.
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla omitted.  Because we forgot.  Oops!  It's hard to bake with a four year old. :)

Today is our first day of October vacation and judging by these awesome cookies I'd say we're off to a great start.

We must be doing something right

M let me straighten his hair on Saturday afternoon, just for fun.  He loved it and said he looked like Pa-punzel.  I loved it, too.  He looked so cool!  A little less Slash, a little more Axl Rose.

Sunday morning I found him at the bathroom sink, filling his hands with water and gently patting his hair. "You don't want your hair to be like Rapunzel anymore today?" I asked him.  His answer:  I just love being M!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Any mom would have done the same

Back me up, Moms.  And if you don't have kids yet, enjoy a peek into your future.

Every mom has been puked on, I'm sure.   It comes with the territory.  It's not even that big of a deal, really.  I can still remember the first time M was sick and threw up all down my back.  The only clear thought I had at the time, besides compassion for my poor boy, was a wave of relief that I wasn't selfish, after all.

You wonder - at least I did - if becoming a mom is enough to transform you.  Because before M was born, the level of selflessness I saw in mothers seemed unachievable to me.  But I am here to tell you that before the vomit hits the floor behind you, you're already over it and thinking about how to best sooth and comfort him.  Changing your shirt at some point is a necessity, but not a priority.  And cleaning up the mess is not a problem, either... the hard part is finding a way to put him down and keep him comfortable long enough to do it.

  So the other evening M was snuggled up in bed with me watching a movie.  He had been feeling under the weather, coughing quite a bit, and had actually coughed himself sick a few times already earlier that day.  He started up again and in one look, I had sized up the situation.  He was in the middle of my bed, surrounded by freshly-laundered sheets and blankets.  The bathroom was out of the question, and even the garbage can was going to be a stretch.  I had to move fast.  I turned to pick him up and even as I did, I knew it was too late.  I did the only thing I could.  I turned his head and let him puke onto my lap.

A disgusting victory.  I inchwormed off the bed and into the shower.  M recovered right away and I didn't even have to change the sheets.  I suspect any mom would have done the same.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Preston's Story

Amanda Sommerville is one of the mothers I have recently connected with through this blog.  I asked her to share her son's story here.  I hope it is an encouragement to everyone out there dealing with RAS.  Feel free to leave an encouraging word to Amanda and her son in the comments section below.
 Our family's journey with RAS started a little over two and a half years ago when my oldest son Preston was just 2 and a half years old.  I was pregnant with my other son Jackson at the time and we were living in Maui. I am a stay-at-home mom and do not think I have spent more than 6 hours away from my boys at a time, so I am lucky to know everything about them and have lots of time to love on them.  
The first run-in with RAS was a very scary and blurry moment for me.  Chet, my husband, was at work, and I was at the pool with a friend and her two boys.  Preston was playing with his friend and running around in the grass and just happened to be holding a small plastic Elmo toy in his hands. When he fell flat on his belly, the Elmo toy was jabbed into his eye at the same time.  I of course ran to comfort him as he was crying very hard at first.  I was just holding him and trying to calm him down when he went into what I call the "silent cry".  I have seen him hold his breath for short periods when he has gotten hurt in the past, but this was different.  His face looked almost distorted in a way and a bit pale.  
I continued to hold him in my lap when he went into the seizure.  His body did not shake or anything like I would have thought a seizure would look like.  His entire body went tense and he arched his back while clenching his fists together.  His face was the scariest part to me, because his eyes rolled back and his face froze in a strange expression I had never seen before.  I just remember yelling his name and crying all at the same time. My sweet friend was right there and saw the whole thing and helped comfort me.  It literally was just a few seconds long, but it seemed like forever to me in that moment.  
Following the seizure Preston woke up a little scared and weak, and I remember just snuggling him.  We went home and he was back to his active, goofy self in no time.  I really did not think much of it at that point and just tried to talk myself out of going to the ER at that time.  After thinking about it longer and realizing that there may be more to the seizure than I knew, we decided to head to the ER.  I am not big on hospitals and try to do more natural interventions at home as much as I can when my boys get sick, but this was different and I wanted answers.  Let's just say...I came home very disappointed and defeated.
The trip to the ER proved to be one of the worst experiences of my life.  I could go into all the details but let's just say the doctor was less than impressed with a lot of our natural life choices as parents and in response handled our case very harshly and disrespectfully.  I almost unloaded on the guy but knew in the back of my mind that my first priority was to figure out what had happened to Preston, and I did not want to destroy any hope I had for him being treated properly.  In the end, after feeling attacked and like I was on trial, we left with bascially zero answers.  They actually said they did not think it was a seizure and maybe was a breath holding spell.  I kind of felt ok with that answer but did not like how they were so certain it was not a seizure when I was the one there to see it happen.  I am no expert, but I know what I saw.  After being treated like trash they recommended I get Preston new shoes so he doesn't trip over them anymore....what???!!! Let's just say I never wanted to return there again and would find somewhere else to go from there on out.
Preston's second episode happened several months later, and I had actually forgotten about his first one by this time.  Him and a buddy were play wrestling on our bed and it ended in a seizure.  I did not see what initially happened to hurt Preston, but I happened to walk into the room as Preston was laying on his stomach doing the "silent cry".  My same friend was there again and happened to pick him up and hold him in her lap since I was holding my other son Jackson.  Preston went into another seizure and it looked about the same as the first one.  The face always scares me the most.  This one seemed to last a little longer and even though I had seen it all before, it was still just as scary.  It was devastating to me after this one to know that there may be something serious going on here.  He bounced back after this seizure too and wanted to go right back into playing. That was always a positive point for me, knowing he was ok after each one. 
Chet and I decided it was time for him to see a specialist so we scheduled an appointment with a neurologist that had been highly recommended.  This appointment went much better than our experience in the ER.  The doctor was very kid-friendly and was more informative, but unfortunately did not have many answers.  He too thought that it could be breath holding spells that were triggered by intense pain.  I had a hard time accepting this conclusion because Preston is a boy who gets hurt often and it just didn't seem to make sense to me.  We left feeling ok but not great.  I left hoping I would never have to see him go through one again. 
As a mom, I can be pretty protective and kind of a ninny when it comes to my boys wanting to jump off high things, wrestle too hard, run too fast, etc, but I also know that they are boys and they have the most beautiful freedom, adventure, and life in them.  I never want to stand in their way of becoming who they want to be or crush their spirits.  I of course got a little freaked after the first two seizures and kept an extra eye on Preston and am probably guilty of being a bit overprotective after each one until the worry wore off a bit.  I knew he was ok and would be ok and I should not get in his way of being a kid. 
To be honest, I kind of forgot all about the two seizures until about two weeks ago.  Preston is now four and about to turn five in November.  Wow, where has the time gone!? We recently moved from Maui to Texas.  The boys and I were in Kroger a couple of weeks ago and somehow Preston's arms got twisted in the buggy when he was holding onto it playing with his brother.  I got his arms out and kind of stood there hugging him as he cried out loud.  He was crying pretty hard and loud so I was not expecting anything to come of it, but I noticed his eyes were closed and he was going into the "silent cry".  I immediately picked him up and held him tightly and whispered to him to breathe.  I was rather calm this time around since I kind of knew what was going to happen.  I remember hugging him tightly and looking at his face as his eyes rolled back and his body tensed up.  He literally looked lifeless and seemed to stop breathing for a few seconds. I remember in the first two episodes that he seemed lifeless but it was strange holding him and actually feeling it this time around.  It was still just as scary but I bucked up and stayed calm for him and tried to talk him through it.  He always just cries after and snuggles me for a while as if he is a little scared and confused.  Everything always happens so fast thankfully so neither of us have much time to freak out for long.  I caught on quickly that the seizures obvisously are triggered by an intense pain for Preston.
I did not understand it or find many answers online as to what it could be, and honestly just kind of let it go as if it was pretty normal for a kid to have these type of things happen to them.  It was not until a few days ago that I was introduced to Robin and her blog through my sister Chelsea.  I am so thankful and glad Chelsea told me about Robin and that I now can put a name to Preston's seizures! Reflex Anoxic Seizures was a name I had never heard of so I immediately began researching it and it made perfect sense. Finally it was clear as to what my sweet boy has.  
I feel so lucky that he has only had three and I hope he never has any again, but at least now I know what it is and what to expect.  I am so grateful to know Robin and for all of her knowledge on it.  I am sad that we have met under these circumstances and that our two boys have this similarity, but it feels so nice to have her support.  Thank you Robin for being so helpful and willing to share your story with us all, it means more than you know. I would love to share that altough my son deals with RAS, it does not at all change who he is or how we live.  Yes, I am more aware and alert when he gets hurt and always kick it into high gear when he does, but luckily he is able to still be a fun, active boy with nothing holding him back.  It is so refreshing to know that he will be ok and can still play like any other boy his age:) We will not be defeated by RAS;)
Why did reading this make me cry??  I don't know.  Our kids are so strong, and I guess as moms we get pretty strong, too.  But reading our story in another mom's words reminds me that we aren't alone.  And I love her resolution not to let RAS stop her from letting her little boy be a boy.  Thanks again, Amanda.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Draw something

Obviously, I am addicted to Draw Something.   I say obviously because I can't understand how someone could not like this game.  It is awesome.

I let M play with me sometimes because I know in my heart I shouldn't be playing games on my phone in the 4 hours a day I actually see my children.  So to assuage my mom-guilt and not give up my daytime addiction, we play together.  He helps me guess, and every once in a while I let him draw, too.

Letters: AACILTT

Can you guess what he was drawing?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My RAS friends

Last week, I connected with another RAS mom online.  A commenter, Amanda, heard about my blog from her sister (whose blog I follow) and it helped her to give a name to her son's seizure issues.  I was grateful that this blog could be a resource to another mom going through the same things we have, and was selfishly also glad to have connected with a friend to talk to about it all.  An RAS BFF, if you will.  I love when things work out like that.

And as if that wasn't enough, today I met another mother of a child with RAS.  In person!  Even though it's rare, I knew that in a city of 10 million, there was sure to be at least a handful of families dealing with this condition.   I just didn't know how to connect with them - and I certainly didn't expect to find one right under my nose. 

I could hardly believe it when Michelle introduced herself this morning and told me about her daughter.  It turns out that one of the preschoolers in M's co-op has RAS, too!    Well, 'had' may be a more appropriate word - Michelle (my other new RAS BFF) said that Lucy only has about one episode a year now.

That's Lucy in the blue shorts, across the circle from my boy.

It's so encouraging to hear a mother talk about RAS as if it was something from her daughter's past.  I've read so much about kids not actually outgrowing RAS that I had started assuming it would be a lifelong struggle for L.  Our talk this morning was a welcome reminder that it's likely we won't be dealing with L's seizures forever.

I would never wish RAS on anyone (except maybe some of those doctors, hmm...) but I am grateful to be connected to two new friends that will be able to relate to this aspect of my life.  And I'm cooking up a plan to talk them both into writing their stories so I can publish them here, too!   What do you say, girls? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

sandwich hustler

Sometimes I get hustled by my kids.

Today M made a sandwich for the first time.   I read something somewhere, on some blog probably, about how a three-year-old should be able to follow a basic recipe.

Thankfully I have grown as mother since the time I freaked out when I realized one of his friends could write her name and I had basically never even put a pencil in his hand.  (He learned that weekend.  What?  He's smart.)  But it did make me think.

He does other age appropriate things like dress himself and bathe himself.  He knows keyboard shortcuts on the computer that I don't even know.  He even pours his own milk (unless the gallon is full.  I'm not that into supervising the wiping-up process for entire spilled jugs of milk.)  The only reason he doesn't do things like make sandwiches is because I haven't ever made (or let?) him try.   So when he asked for a sandwich for breakfast this morning I told him he could make it himself. 

It wasn't even a momentous occasion.  He just made it, and cut it in half, and ate it.  That's it.  He even opened the jam jar and bread bag.  It's like when he was younger and refused to acknowledge any color except blue despite months of clever attempts on my part to sneak the words into our playtime and drop them casually into our conversations, to the point that I eventually tried bribing him with M&Ms and it turned out he knew them all except brown.  What other hidden talents does he possess?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Three guesses

Three guesses how this ended.

Yes to the crash.
Yes to the faceplant.
No to the seizure.

Totally worth it.

Caps for Cure

Today at school, the teachers and students participated in "Caps for Cure" - a fundraiser for research into cures for children's cancers.

In my opinion, they have stumbled upon the perfect fundraiser format.  It's brilliant, really.  If the kids want to participate, they bring a hat to school on the designated day, along with 50 baht to donate.  It's optional, but wearing a hat is normally against the school's dress code, so most kids are pretty eager to take part!

Giving should come from the heart, of course, but I don't think there is anything wrong with a little incentive, too.  And since the donation cost was low, I would be surprised if anyone wanted to take part but couldn't.  Most kids spend that much in the Sweetie Shop after school every day!

At last count, they have already raised 47,800 baht, which is over 1,500 dollars.  In one morning.

If I ever run a fundraiser, I will set it up just like this.  Not hats, necessarily, but something.  It's no secret that when everyone gives a little, there is always enough.  We just need to find the thing that makes people willing to give their little bit. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Casa Pasta or The End of a Salad Bar Era

Today we discovered an amazing new restaurant.

Sometimes I hate trying new restaurants.  We have to ask a million questions about the ingredients and the waitstaff always seem so annoyed.  Half the time they are just making stuff up or telling us what they think we want to hear, and even after all those questions, we always seem to deal with reactions.

Last Sunday, our good friend Ben convinced us that we had to try this amazing Italian place near his house.  It just didn't sound very convincing.  An authentic Italian place on some back soi in Bangna?  When we met him there for dinner tonight, it didn't look very convincing, either.

Doesn't it just look like they'd serve you spaghetti with hotdogs in it or something?
But we figured Ben must know his Italian food, and gave it a shot. The verdict?  Amazing.  We loved it.  The food was delicious- really, truly good.  But the waitstaff and chef are what secured us as lifetime customers.  Our waitress answered all our questions helpfully and brought the chef so we could confirm everything before we ordered.  When he had to make a substitution, he sent the waitress out to check with us first.  They make everything from scratch -even their bread and some of their noodles.  They don't use MSG or any artificial flavoring or color.

The kids ate up every bite and we didn't see any reactions afterward, either!  They even had some naturally gluten-free options, like their delicious spinach cheese bake (that I demolished before Whim could even get a picture.  Sorry.) 

Totally legit from the inside!
Look at that spaghetti twirling technique!  I don't know where he learned that!
Today he transitioned from pasketti to spagheti.  Sad, but inevitable.  He is four now, you know.
 We are sold!  And thank goodness.  I don't know how much more Sizzler I could take!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Still going

I'm still working on the 31 days of change.  I haven't missed a day yet!

Today, by happenstance, I read Rita's master bathroom remodel unveiling at This (sorta) Old Life.

I could hardly believe the before and after shots were from the same room.  The before looked like your typical, white bathroom.  It looked like my bathroom, but with gold accents.  The after looks like something straight from a home decorating magazine, but cooler.  With personalized style.

Doesn't this just make you want to light a candle and take a bath?
We aren't doing any remodeling around here, but the shower curtain called out to me.  Our shower curtain is beige and blends in with the beige tile behind it. It looked fine in our old house, with burgundy tile, but I haven't liked it since we moved. Four years ago.  I haven't liked it for 4 years, but I haven't replaced it because I am lazy and cheap.  And because I don't like going to the home improvement store with Mr. Octopus arms who loves to grab anything and everything and throw it all into the cart.  And the kids are a pain, too. 

But a nice, busy shower curtain will transform that dull room.  I have a date with Index Living Mall tomorrow after work.  Anyone with a two year old and a four year old can tell you that shopping without them is at least as relaxing as a weekend spa getaway.

Will a new shower curtain inspire me to attack the rest of that bathroom? Well, the curtain liner is in the wash right now, in preparation for the big switch tomorrow... so you tell me.

And the best part: you know I'm saving that 6 year old shower curtain for whenever we decide to move the washing machine out of the downstairs bathroom shower.  That bathroom has darker tile and hey... reusing is green, right?  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, M

Happy Birthday, M

I am so proud to call you my boy.

He is pretty special

Last Tuesday, one of my friends called L "Special Ed".   As in, "Don't worry, I don't mind taking care of Special Ed kids."

(Background: L is 2, so he's not any kind of Ed.  He is un-Ed.   But two years from now, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will go to a typical classroom with the other 4-year-olds.  He is not developmentally delayed.  He just has seizures.)

I mumbled something about L not being "Special Ed" but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why it bothered me. Everybody knows you don't call someone by their diagnosis (or in this case, the program they qualify for), so there was that.  But it was something else.    It's still on my mind 6 days later.

I wasn't offended that she thought Lennon was mentally retarded.  I don't even think she actually did.  I think she meant "special needs" and was just careless with her language.  And I guess L's seizures do qualify as a special need, though I hardly feel like I can claim that title.  I know others who are facing much more, who need much more support.  It's like a stutter, or color blindness, or being tone deaf.  It's real, and it impacts our daily lives, but it isn't that pervasive.   

But what if she did mistakenly think L was developmentally delayed?  Or what if L really was?  Even though that isn't what you spend your pregnancy lying awake praying for, if he did have a developmental delay, that would be our life and it wouldn't be the end of the world.  So that wasn't what bothered me, either.

But if my friend -a caring person in general- was willing to reduce L to a program she thought he would one day be a part of, without even knowing his full story, who's to say what kind of comments he's going to have to deal with in the future?  That's what was bothering me. How can I raise him to shrug off senseless comments without letting them get to him, if I can hardly manage it myself?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Best friends for now

Today M and Emma-from-church were best friends for about 3 hours.   I've written before about how changing our diets has opened up a world of friendships for M, and today we saw that change at a whole new level.

M has plenty of friends now - our friends' kids, friends from preschool, and neighborhood kids- but today was the first day that M and another child just found each other and started playing together, without an adult orchestrating.  He and Emma became BFFNs (best friends for now) in that adorable way that little kids can, based solely on the fact that they were the only two kids at church today (not counting poor L).  They've known each other for several months and have interacted plenty of times during Sunday school, but today was different.  There was an understanding between them.  They'd tell each other before they left to the bathroom or to run downstairs.  They'd decide on a game, play for a while, and then choose something different.  They found reasons to say each others' names all morning long.  I saw M as someone's friend today.

To be honest, this morning M was not at his best.  He was reacting on the way to church - overly emotional and uncontrollably licking his arms and face.  Weird, I know, the licking.  And every kid has his quirks.  But when M is just being odd, you can ask him to stop and he will.  When he gets fixated on something, like he was licking his arms this morning, it is a huge effort of will for him to stop.  So it wasn't just that M was under control today and so he made a new friend.  It was that she knew M from before, and when the opportunity arose, his reputation to her was "befriendable."

As M's mom, I have the sometimes-agonizing role of being both his biggest supporter and his most fierce protector.  Which is why I see his endearing charms and know that they will undoubtedly win him many, many friends throughout his life.   But I'm also keenly aware of the peculiarities that will make him most vulnerable to ridicule.  Today, as he was playing with Emma, he didn't need me to smooth over any of his oddities.  They were there, and maybe they always will be, but today I guess I finally let his charm speak for itself. 

Sometimes love is a disfigured spiderweb cake

I like doing things I am good at.

I liked school because I did well.  I like translating because I know I can do it right.  Math puzzles are my favorite because, even if they are hard, I know I can figure them out, and in the end I will feel clever and competent.

Yesterday I made M's birthday cake.  L can't have too much sugar -it makes him susceptible to seizures.  It's gluten free and additive free, and I'm afraid it isn't very tasty.  My boys will like it because they don't know any better.  But to everyone else, it's an advertisement that I'm not a great cook.

I had a plan to decorate it with a spiderweb.  It seemed like an easy, dye-free way to fit the theme.
It looks awful.  I scraped the whole web off and tried it a second time, but the second time wasn't much better.   The perfectionist part of me doesn't want to serve it.  But only my pride is on the line.   M is going to love it, and it's his birthday.

Sometimes love is swallowing your pride and serving your guests a disfigured spiderweb cake.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Everybody's doing it

Look what I found today.

My mom sent these over when M was first born, saved from when my sister, Corey, and I were young.  Corey has just had a baby girl, so it's time to send them on.   

Normally, I would decide to send them, and then they'd sit on the couch in my room for about 6 weeks.  Eventually they would get taken downstairs and put on top of the piano in an attempt to get them closer to the front door, and then finally after about 2 more months, they'd be put back away in the boys' drawers.   I'd feel guilty about it, but obviously not guilty enough to just send them. 

Sometimes the thought of something like putting them in my bag, looking up her address, walking over to the post office, buying a large envelope, deciding on shipping options to mail the package just incapacitates me.   I blame my dad for teaching me to recognize a hassle from a mile away.   Too many steps.  Too hard to start.

But I have loved reading about other bloggers taking part in the 31 days of change this month.   They are overcoming inertia and tackling the mounds of crap that they have piled up in their houses.  I can say that because I also have piles of crap all over my house too.   And even though it's sloppy and frustrating and I would much rather just clean them up and live in a tidy house, I usually ignore them because it's too much of a hassle to just decide what to do with it all.  That's the thing.  If it had a place, I'd put it away.  The whole reason it's in the pile is because there's no good place for it to go.   Sometimes I wander over to a pile, pick something up and think, "Well where should I put this?"  I end up putting it back and ignoring the pile because I just can't decide. 

So the deal with 31 days is that people are just doing one thing every day.  Smart, right?  So if you choose getting your house organized, you don't feel overwhelmed thinking that if you can't deep clean the entire house you might as well not even bother sweeping.  Even though I'm not officially participating, I have been following along with Jules and Zdub and doing something every day, as well.  I love it.

Mostly I am throwing away senseless crap that I should have gotten rid of a long time ago, but it's a start.  I love the idea of attacking one thing at a time.  I'll probably be sick of it by the end of the month, but that's fine.  The challenge will be over and my house have 31 less messes than before. 

There just so happens to be a clothing drive going on at school, so today I went through the boys' clothes.  I pulled out everything they've outgrown and packed it up to take with me tomorrow.  (Not to mention the crap that was too gross to even donate.  Why was I saving those old, stained tshirts?!)   I was on such a roll, I organized the drawers: pants down here, socks over here, jammies over here.    So when I stumbled across those old baby clothes,  I decided I would ride the inertia all the way to the post office.  The baby clothes are in my bag.  I'm already 4 months ahead of schedule.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

He is the walrus

M helped me prepare the party favors for his birthday this weekend.   Doesn't he look four?

M is getting so big.  At almost-four, there's almost no little-guy left.

"Noongaeng" has long been replaced with the correct-but-much-less-adorable technical term "pants" and his blue blanket, though still a favorite, no longer brings the world to a crashing halt with its bedtime disappearing acts.  He just shrugs.

But today he told me L's name was L Walrus Jxxx.  (It's Wara.  So close!)  So I think there's still hope.

Independent L