Thursday, February 28, 2013

His brother's keeper

This is one of my favorite pictures of the boys, taken after L's birthday party last summer.

They look so sweet and strong and peaceful, don't they?

And they are sweet and strong and peaceful, for the most part.  But today was hard.  L had three seizures, and all three were M's fault.  I mean, I know the seizures aren't really ever anyone's fault, but he triggered them all. 

It would be hard to be L's older brother.  M does care for L, and he often makes me proud with the way he looks out for him.  But you know how kids like to mess with each other and push each other's buttons.  Of course we teach them to be kind to each other, but I also remember being a kid.  Doing foolish things for basically no reason just comes with the territory.

M triggered the first one this mornings by closing a drawer when L was trying to get something out of it.  Yes, it was on purpose, just to get his goat.  But it was pretty standard teasing, as brothers go. Miles was laughing when he closed it - it was a silly prank, not an evil plan.  It doesn't seem fair that instead of merely annoying his brother like every other big brother in the world, M's bad choices sometimes cause  to have seizures.  It's a lot of responsibility for a four year old to have to bear.  The other two were worse, roughhousing and fighting.  L got hurt twice, and had two seizures in a row.

It's hard, as the parent, to know what to say.  On the one hand, M needs to see the consequences of his actions.  He has to know that he can't antagonize and hurt his brother.  But L isn't innocent either.  Half the time he is the instigator, but when he pushes M to retaliate and ends up having a seizure, M is the one left looking (and feeling) guilty.  And I can hardly bear those guilty feelings myself.  It isn't fair for M to be burdened by them.

The thing is, I don't want to make it all about the seizure: "Don't hurt/annoy your brother, because he might have a seizure."  Like every other mother, I don't want him to hurt or annoy his brother, because it's wrong.  The seizure is just too easy of an object lesson, but it's so severe, for such minor offenses.

I'm not sure how to get the seizures off the table.

Monday, February 25, 2013

10 things I'll never buy at Tops Supermarket

I wasn't going to do the listicle this week, but then we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some cream, and I was inspired.

Keep in mind, I had a miserable L in tow, so I had to make it quick.

With no further ado: 10 things I would never buy at Tops Supermarket.

#1 Darlie Toothpaste.  Formerly known as "Darkie Toothpaste." Wow, you changed one letter of the offensive name.  Great job.  I think I'll go for anything else on the shelf.

#2 Weet-Bix Bites Wild Berry.  The only food I know with 100% certainty to cause Lennon's seizures.  I'll pass on this one, too.
#3.  Schwarzkopf Honey Blond Freshlight.  I guess it's a highlighting kit.  If I was going to highlight my hair, I would go for one that didn't have a Blythe doll on the box.  Or small print about not being intended for use in children under 16.

#4.  Heinz Salad Cream, "Pourable Sunshine".  This is one of the grossest things about Thailand.  Take mayonnaise, put it in a bottle, sell it as salad dressing. Yum.

#5. Tasto Brand Seaweed Shrimp Tempura flavored chips. 

#6. Lays Lobster Hot Plate flavored potato chips.  What is wrong with sour cream and onion?

#7. Bird's Nest Beverage, any brand.  There is a whole aisle of them.

#8. Bird's Nest Beverage decorative basket.  This is a whole separate aisle from #7, people always bring you these when you are in the hospital.

#9 Lite sugar.  Half the calories of regular sugar, simply by adding MSG and aspartame!

#10.  This one is just silly.  Goon.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into Thailand's supermarkets more than L did.  (Whining-induced seizure)

Saturday, February 23, 2013


M asked for a picnic this morning with his first waking breath.

Gosh, I love these boys so much, it's almost painful.

I'll see your picnic, and raise you a morning at the pool.

Ah.... that hair

I love that when we said they could have "anything they wanted" for the picnic, they chose three kinds of fruit.

Mega banana

When we were kids, there was a gift shop in town called The Unique Boutique.  The florescent sign out front was old and partially burnt out, and privately referring to it as "The Unique Bout" always gave me a little smile.  I still think of it as The Unique Bout, even though they surely have a new sign by now.

Last night, we went to Mega Bangna for dinner, and I was so happy to see this sign.  Tell me your mind doesn't automatically fill this in as Mega Banana.   Things like this bring me joy.

Just like that, it was settled.  Mega Bangna will now and forevermore be known as Mega Banana.
Whenever we go to Mega Banana (ha!) we always eat at Reflections.  I'm not going to say it's the perfect restaurant.  I guess if you don't like cheap and delicious additive-free Thai food, it might not really be your thing.

Whim and my sister-in-law Wum.
But even if we didn't love the food, we'd still come here.  A place where kids are considered and expected to want to have a little fun is surprisingly hard to come by.
Bouncy buffalo - what's not to love?
They can run and play in the square while we wait for our food. 
Then they haven't already used up all their patience and good manners by the time the food arrives.
But they aren't sent off to a fast-food style playland.  The kids and adults share this lovely outdoor space.
I was, once again, amazed at how well the boys behaved.  I've said this before, but I finally understand why people like taking their kids places!  They played together nicely while we waited, they were charming to the other patrons, and they ate beautifully.

Auntie Wum giving after-dinner twirls.
The funniest thing was, as we were leaving, an older gentleman quietly encouraged me, "Don't worry about little boys being naughty.  It means they are smart."  All I could do is laugh - you want to talk about naughty?  I've seen naughty!  (Actually the Thai word for naughty is distinct from disobedient, and could maybe be better translated as playful or scampy. But still...)

But it did encourage me, though.   Parenting a wild child means you fight different battles.  M might be crazy at times, but I've never once heard him say he's bored. He's confident, independent, brave, and fun loving.  He takes initiative, has opinions, and can speak for himself, at four.   Maybe, to some who are used to children twice his age who won't even answer a direct question, that seems naughty.

Even when M was at his wildest, I wouldn't have traded him for a mild-mannered bump-on-a-log.  Those traits I see in him are going to make a fine man someday.  How someone could see a two- and four-year-old eating quietly at the table as naughty, well, I don't know.  But I will take my parenting lot with no complaints.  The hard parts are short-lived and none-too-frequent.  Unique bouts, if you will.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Busy busy

I can't think of another way I would have rather spent my evening...

Especially now that they are snuggled up in bed and I'm going to watch "Switched at Birth".  (Someone please tell me you love that show, too, I really need someone to be obsessed with me.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

10 little things that bring me joy

This week's listicle must have been hand-chosen for me.

Today marks one year into our additive-free lifestyle, and a lot of little things bring me joy these days.

1. Shirt tags.  Once a guaranteed meltdown, now a harmless scrap of cloth.  Love them!

2. Mornings. Some mornings, I wake up to find M nestled in bed with us.  That moment alone could fill this list - his deep breaths, his long lashes, the way he slips in quietly, without waking either of us, and falls right back to sleep.  Other days, he comes scampering in a few hours after I wake up, bursting with exciting news about his dreams.  Still other mornings, he wakes me quietly with an armload of books.  The thing he doesn't do now is come in crying inconsolably, every other morning, about how he wants to be so happy. 

3. Taxi rides.  L used to have seizures in the taxi every time, without fail.  Just getting into a taxi would send my blood pressure through the roof.  Now, every time we take a taxi, my heart beats a thank you for all that has changed.

4. Outings.  I no longer live in fear of them!

5. Flowerfood brand sunflower seed bars with sunflower seed butter.  Our favorite snack.

6. These, which I now find all over the house.
Every one makes my heart surge.

7.  Our market, which is so wonderful it deserves its own post, coming soon!

8. Instagram.  Parenting is just better with a little filter.

9. My blog.  It may be silly and it's definitely tiny, but the community that has been borne of it does bring me joy every day.

10.  The boys.  They've brought me joy since before they were even born, but I enjoy them now more than I ever have.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bring on the birthdays

I'm still not accustomed to easy days out with the boys.

Even though it's been months and months since those harder days, it's still such a pleasant surprise to take them someplace and have no stress, no meltdowns, no tears, and no reactions.

Today the boys were invited to a double-birthday pool party for two of M's preschool buddies. I didn't take any pictures (sad) but Mi swam like a fish the whole time, I got to visit with all my mom-friends, and L was fabulous and seizure-free.

And, also important, neither boy asked anything rude about the party food. (Is this junk food? Does this have additives?) We made muffins this morning and brought some to keep in the car for after the party. M excitedly watched the birthday kids blow out their candles, and then jumped back in the pool when they started serving it.

I don't think he missed the cake.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kindergarten interview

He knocked it out of the park.

Valentine heartbreaks

We were up for preschool snack again today. Just in time for Valentine's day.

Someone else was already bringing cookies and icing for decorating, so I thought long and hard and settled on the only snack I ever make: fruit and veggie plate.

Of course Pinterest was rife with ideas, but every modern mom must remember the age-old adage A pin in the hand is worth two in the board, as well as Not all who re-pin are crafty. I tried my best, and although there were no tears shed, I can't say the same for exasperated sighs before I finally gave up and piled the apple hearts on the plate and called it a night.

Also, on top of the fruity fiasco, that night I got a message that no pressure, but a few of the kids would be bringing Valentines cards to class tomorrow.

I wanted to throw in the towel, but it dawned on me that this is the first of many, many unrealistic things I will be helping my boys do the night before for school. Suddenly it felt like a milestone. It changed my whole perspective and I really embraced it. We got out the markers and the 20-baht-shop heart shaped sticky notes and did it up right. M dutifully copied his friends names on the backs and I admit to stressing out a tad because WHY must he start every name exactly in the middle of the heart? But we succeeded and he went off to preschool with a box of valentines in his bag.

And then came home with them still in there. Oh well, I figure as far as valentines heartbreaks go, it could be a lot worse.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rube Goldberg machine

Yesterday, M and I spent the day setting up and perfecting a simple (but 100% awesome) Rube Goldberg machine.  L was sick (ughhh!) and we weren't going anywhere all day, so we needed something entertaining and fairly quiet that we could do while L alternated between screaming to be held and begging to lay in my bed.

My facebook friends will have to forgive me because I already posted one of these videos and several pictures of the setup, but I couldn't help myself.  It was so fun to see M attempting something difficult, sticking with it, making adjustments, and the absolute thrill on his face when the light came on on the fifth run.

(Our second run. You can see M counting his words as he talks.  This is a quirk of his we used to see fairly often.  I'm not sure why he was doing yesterday, except that maybe he was excited about the machine.  Anyway, I liked how he was perfectly satisfied to keep trying again and again.)

Look at his eyes when the light goes on.  He's a nerd at heart, just like me.  I couldn't be prouder.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Yes day

Whim is out of town for the weekend. 

Sometimes, weekends like these aren't my favorite things.

For one thing, I am not shy about admitting that I think being at home with the kids is a harder task than going to work.  Yes, it is worth it to put in the hours developing their minds and character.  Yes, it is a joy to be with my children.  But in terms of being draining and requiring mental energy, Whim and I both know I have it easy going off to work all day.  Which is probably why, when it comes to the weekend, I take over things with the kids and Whim's the one who goes off duty, even when he is in town.

The other thing is, even though I haven't had a relaxing weekend in over four years, I can't retrain my mind to foresee weekends as the time to buckle down and get to work.  I still get that little thrill on Friday afternoons knowing that the freedom of the weekend is coming.  So sometimes that 6:00 am wake up call can be particularly painful.  And when Whim's out of town, it's only that much harder.

Anyway, today before the boys woke up, I decided to make today a yes day.  It's something that I have read about other blogger moms doing, and the idea is simple:  say yes to everything the kids ask for, within reason. 

The truth is, my boys are lovely, sweet, helpful, and fun.  The only thing that makes spending the day with them feel hard is whatever I have on my own agenda.  I want to read a book, or organize something, or work on a project, or sleep in, or take a nap, or mess around on facebook.  And everything they ask me keeps me from that.  Sure, I can put my foot down and say "I'm the mom and I say go play in your room by yourselves, so I can read."  But those days always seem to end up feeling the longest, full of squabbles and time outs and tears.

I'm not suggesting we give in to our kids' every whim, just because it's easier.  Of course we have to teach them that they aren't the center of the universe, that sometimes the answer has to be no.  I'm just saying that so often I say no without even really considering things, and sometimes the only reason I say no is I don't want to make the effort, or I want to do something else with my time.

We made chocolate chip muffins.  The kids got to scoop the batter. 
I braced myself for an absolute disaster area and horrible muffins, but it was great.
They are officially the scoopers of choice from here on out.
We ate chocolate chip muffins with breakfast... and lunch.
We took the bikes out for a spin and came right back when we were 'sausted'.
They had an outdoor bath.
I sat on the floor and colored, too.  (I admit to saying no to L several times as he tried to scribble on my page!
Come on, L, this is the best drawing I've ever done.)
I read the library books four times over.  This one made me cry.
M got to make a tray of ice, wait for it to freeze, and drink a glass of water with his own ice in it. (??)
This may have been the highlight of his day.
Normally we stay home when Whim is out of town.  Here we are in a taxi on the road to our friend's apartment for a visit.  L said this was the "rainbow chair" picture. 
Department store fish tank.  We studied this tank at length and did not hurry to move on.
We bought snacks and ate them at the filthy food court table instead of taking them home.
We had a dinner opera - tonight's song "Eeples and Baneenees."  L sat on the table.
We made a tent even though it was almost bedtime.
We played eat the card.  Whereby you have to pretend to eat every flash card in the deck, one by one,
and then give a reason why you spit it out.   Ex. Oscar: too hairy.
Now the kids are asleep, I'm admiring my hair.  Well, it's true.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Farewell my friend

Goodbye my bike, you served me with care
May the one who stole you today be spared

I love that you carried me day after day.
Be faithful to your new owner that way

And may your owner be doubly blessed
With mercy and peace and love and rest

If we find you I'll give you that bike for free
You must've needed it more than me.

I was given a grace I had no right to claim
You don't deserve any less than the same

But may I suggest an unbreakable chain?
Or you may find yourself in need of a bike again.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New look

I don't usually post a lot of pictures of myself on here, because I don't really like getting my picture taken and the photos always look strained and awkward.   Plus, my kids are cuter and I mostly write about them anyway.  Today is different.

Yesterday I got a haircut, and I love it!  I'm so excited, I want to show my blog friends.  But to fully appreciate the change, you have to see the before.

This is one of my favorite pictures, which is why I use it on my profile.
Last summer, so it doesn't show quite the length, but you get the idea.

I haven't always had long hair.  There was this unfortunate look that I sported for 3 whole years in middle school.  But then I grew it out, and I think since then I was always wary of reliving that tragedy.

You might think this was my best friend Bryn and her middle school boyfriend, but you would be wrong.
I actually also cut it short when Whim and I were dating, in 2006, grew it out, and then and cut it again when I had L, but my hair has always grown fast, and most of my life, it has looked like that picture on the bike.

Now, contrary to speculation, I didn't grow it long for any particular reason.  No religious covenant or ancient curse or anything.  I just liked it.  I still look at the pictures and think it looked pretty.

But I was sick of it.  And I saw friends with cute, short haircuts and I'd catch myself wishing I could cut mine and feeling bummed that I didn't like short hair.  Which is stupid of course, because if I didn't like it, why was I pining for it?

So yesterday I cut it.  And now it looks like this:

I love it!