Monday, April 29, 2013

It only took me 10 years.

After living in Thailand for almost 10 years, this weekend I accomplished something I have wanted to do ever since I heard of it in my first year here.

I learned the name of our capital city.  In English, we say Thailand's capital city is Bangkok, and in Thai, people refer to it as "Krung Thep" (city of angels.)

But that is actually a shortened version of the official name:  (deep breath)

Krungthep Mahanakon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Pop Nopparat Ratchatanee Burirom Udom Ratachniwet Mahasatan Amon Piman Awatan Satthit Sakatattiya Wisanu Kamprasit.

The name was set to music by a popular group in the 80's, so I memorized it by singing along.

(For the record: It didn't take me 10 years to learn it, just 10 years to decide to finally sit down and memorize it.)

Even though it's not an acronym, I think it's still a good fit for this week's listicle. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Puzzle master

I love puzzles. I'm talking about jigsaw puzzles, but to be fair, I also like word puzzles and number puzzles and riddles. So pretty much all puzzles. Sometimes at a family reunion a puzzle sits out on the table for days, and we sit around working on it and chatting.

L, the boy after my own heart, loves them too. Probably every mom thinks her own kids are particularly smart, so I'm not rushing out for his Mensa jr membership. But he is good, I have to give him that.

We have these lenticular (holographic) puzzles that he is so good at, I can mix up two different Cars 2 puzzles together and he can solve them both! Actually, he's just really really patient. He tries piece after piece until he gets it. Which blows the old, "He'll grow out of his seizures when he gets older and less easily frustrated" theory out of the water. Oh well.

Check out his latest challenge. He got it, too.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Because it makes me happy

Yesterday a dozen different people must have asked why he was carrying his backpack all day.

The front of the bag is clear, so the carefully folded spare clothes were easy to see. I'm not sure why people continued to ask. I guess they just wanted to know how he would answer.

But no matter how many times they asked, every time his answer was the same: because it makes me happy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Miracle days

Yesterday was a day of miracles.

We went to the immigration office and applied for my yearly visa renewal.
Then, armed with my new visa, I applied for my re-entry permit, allowing me to leave Thailand for the summer, but come back in again under the same visa.
Then Whim got his new international driver license, which unfortunately expires every year.
THEN we got M's passport photos taken, for his new passport application at the US embassy today.
THEN we had to get pictures developed that showed M growing over the past 4-1/2 years, as part of the application process.

Five. We did five errands yesterday at four separate places of business. WITH the kids. I used to dread these kinds of errands with the boys in tow. Just one would require my maximum daily allowance of patience, and I'd still end up walking out in shame when it was all said and done.

There was usually another mom or two who got it and would shoot me a look of solidarity, but mostly I always felt so alone. Why are everyone else's kids just sitting there? Why is my kid the only one climbing the filing cabinets? Why doesn't anyone else look as stressed as I feel?

Yesterday they sat. I was prepared: snacks, puzzles, books, and the iPad as a secret weapon. But still, they were just so good. I am used to people commenting on how cute they are (that probably sounds conceited, but it's the truth) but I'm not sure I'll ever get used to people saying how well-behaved they are.

Today we had just one errand: M's new passport at the US embassy. We were finished before noon, but something tells me the boys were still worn out from all the errands yesterday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Songkran traditions

Even though I love Songkran, we've had a rough history.

I spent two consecutive Songkrans in the hospital, and Whim had to have surgery during Songkran the year before that. Last year, though none of us were in the hospital, we skipped out on the festivities because we were all sick with fevers.

It's tradition, I guess. I have had an annoying stomachache since last Wednesday night (same day we made those ridiculously good potatoes, but I'm trying to deny that embarrassing fact.) I finally started coming around yesterday, and then M was struck down.

Luckily we had already visited Whim's parents for the (real) traditional water blessing on Monday. Good try Songkran, but I think we beat you this year.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Songkran Saturday

Saturday, we met up with some friends downtown to celebrate the first day of Songkran.

I'll just admit upfront: It's hard to get good Songkran pictures without a waterproof camera.

You can't take your camera or your phone along with you when you're out splashing, so you'll have to settle for these from-the-car shots on the way there.

The family that sprays together, stays together
Songkran on wheels.  Sadly hundreds of people die in traffic accidents every year during Songkran.  But I admit to doing it one year.
This was our corner for the day.  Some of our friends were already there when we arrived. 
 "But I don't want everybody to splash our Jeep car!"  Sometimes being almost-three is just hard.
Someone on the corner across from ours had rigged up an iPod/loudspeaker combination and was playing non-stop Glee-featured hits.  Seriously, it must have been some kind of compilation album because the only current songs I ever know are the ones on Glee, and I knew every song all afternoon.  So as if splashing in the sun wasn't enough, I got to feel like I was my favorite show all day long.

And not a seizure all day!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Don't be a splashhole

If you're ever in Thailand for Songkran, follow these simple rules to avoid being a splashhole.

1. Don't splash someone holding an infant. Squirting with a little squirtgun is enough in this case, a bowlful of water in a baby's face makes you a splashhole.

2. Don't splash someone riding a bike with a truck driving behind them. You probably don't want to actually be responsible for someone's death and see them get run over by a truck in front of your very eyes. Again, excellent time for the squirtgun. Killer is worse than splashhole.

3. This one is hotly debated, but I am firm on this one: Don't splash someone if they are talking on their phone. This is mean. I would cry actual tears if my phone got wrecked. Come on.

4. Don't splash a kid who is sobbing. Despite talking about it for weeks, when it
came time to really play, it took both my boys a bit of time to warm up to the craziness. Eventually they were having a blast, but both were sobbing at the first direct splash to the face. And the next 25 splashes to the face really didn't help.

Since Songkran is all about having fun, this simple question should guide you: will this splash make anyone miserable for an extended period of time?

Splashed baby? Yes! Both the infant and the parent will be miserable as he screams all the way home, through an outfit change, and another half hour or so for good measure.

Crushed biker? Safe to say several people will be miserable (including yourself) not to mention the dead person.

Wrecked phone? Yes, that would be miserable.

Overwhelmed kid? I can testify, that that was miserable for quite a while.

The streets are packed with people who've come out to play. No need to seek out the ones who are trying to stay dry. The thing is, holiday-makers-wouldn't this be common sense if we were in all of our home countries?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

We're here to stay

The Dose girls warned me, but I didn't listen.

Actually, I already knew. Spring break staycations are dangerous. Too much time at home and the boys turn to their favorite form of entertainment- antagonizing each other. And if there's one thing that gets Whim and me bickering more than 10 days together at home, it's the prospect of 10 days together at home looming ahead of us.

Suddenly everything he says has this tone. What do you mean, "What do you want for breakfast?!"

But with our big summer trip on the horizon, we have to keep this one low key.

I know I said I didn't want swimming to lose it's charm, but it's just 10 days...

If I said

If I said I saw a lizard on the way to work, what would you imagine?

I saw a lizard on the way to work.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Trek's day

Earlier this week, Chelsea at Our Sonny Life wrote this, touching and heartbreaking and strong.

I love to read about her adventures with her boys in Thailand, and her sweet memories and the way she finds Trek in every plumeria blossom. Like you sometimes do in the online community, I've felt a connection to her and her story- a mother's love through unthinkable loss, embracing life, and coming through on the other side.

Anyway, she invited readers to celebrate Trek's should-be second birthday (April 11) by doing something special with our own children: cherishing them more than ever, relishing the moments with them, mindful of how precious they are to us.

What a beautiful idea. I try to live by those principles, I'm sure most moms do. But days can become routine, and reminders like Trek's birthday can help up focus on the moment and remember what is truly important.

After reading that post on Monday, I didn't need to wait until Thursday. I mean, I wanted to do something Thursday to honor Trek, but why not now?

So I spent this week more mindful of the gift my boys are. I said yes more. I said wait a minute less. Not that loving our kids always means saying yes. But I know you get it. In the hustle and bustle of our day to day, just taking time to make sure they feel like the joys of my life.

On Tuesday evening, we went to the pool. On a school night. I'm sure you can imagine, the thrill was palpable. The pool is a weekend treat- weekday afternoon we read and draw and play and ride bikes and watch movies at home and take walks in the neighborhood. But I surprised the boys by tossing their suits at them after dinner. L was thrilled, no questions asked, but I could see the look in M's eye... Are you serious?! The pool? Now?!

Part of me feels ashamed that something as simple and easy as going swimming is that special in their eyes. But the other part of me is grateful that they are sweet boys who don't demand much. I brought their jammies along and we swam until bedtime. The evening felt so special because it was different. I want to do it again... but not so often it loses it's charm.

The rest of the week was like that- little sweet moments, nothing major, no amusement parks or fancy new gifts. One that sticks out to me is that M asked if he could have some of my "special cereal."  Oh you sweet, sweet boy.  Thursday, Trek's day, coincided with my last day of school before the Songkran holidays. What a time to celebrate!

I had been sick all night the night before and dragging at work all day, but this was a special day, no excuses. I asked the boys what they wanted to do - the sky's the limit. They opted for a movie snuggled together in our bed. Gosh, we are lucky. I offered fancy popcorn, but they were good. I fell asleep with them snuggled in on either side of me. No fanfare, but it couldn't have been sweeter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Facebook is good for something

Whim saw a picture on Facebook the other day of the most delectable-looking thing either of us had ever seen.

It was one of those made-to-pin photos that have all the recipe steps in one picture, and it had us drooling. We actually pulled up the photo on more than one occasion, discussing every detail over and over.

Is that melted butter on step 5? Do you slice it and then bake it, or do you bake it first? When do we add the cheese? Typical of Facebook there was no link or directions, just the picture. Taunting us.

Monday, at the grocery store, Whim casually added a bag of potatoes to the cart. Eyebrows up, I kept pushing. Sour cream. Cheese. I knew where this was going. The baked potatoes of my dreams.

You guys, you think that you've had baked potatoes before, but these are so good, it's ridiculous.

To make the baked potatoes of your dreams:

1.Cut the potatoes in thin slices, but not all the way through (like a fan) and rub with oil and herbs/spices.
Bake for 50 minutes in 400 degree oven (220 C).
Take them out and quickly wedge cheese and ham into the spaces between slices.
Continue baking about 10 more minutes.
When finished, top with more cheese and sour cream.
(I used bacon for mine because I don't like that kind of ham.)

I think I'm going to be full for three days. And then I'm going to make more.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Question: Have you thought of Fido Dido even one time in the last 22 years?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Super mom

Everyone knows that moms are kind of working class superheroes. We may not leap buildings in a single bound (unless building block ones in the middle of the living room floor count) but we have our own kind of superpowers.

Don't believe me?

Listen to the Green Lantern's super-monologue:  "In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, Green Lantern's light!"

Replace "Green Lantern's light" with "eyes in the back of my head" and you've basically got every mom's mantra.

And what mom hasn't comforted her little one with those sweet words: "Don't be afraid, Mom's here..."? Underdog totally got his line from us, too!

Consider Superman's famous tagline: "This looks like a job for Superman!" No matter how old you are or how many other able-bodied adults live in the house, there are some jobs apparently only Mom can do. I swear, when my husband son is looking for a pair of socks, this very line echoes through his mind.

Super-finding isn't our only power.  Any mom who has successfully navigated a Lego-filled floor for a midnight trip to the bathroom might feel like she could rival Batman for his title: "The Master of Darkness."

I often feel like I'm surrounded by super heroes and super-villains, too.  I mean, there are the hero masks in the toybox and the super-jammies in the drawer, but that's not it.

Am I the only one thinking that Hulk's big line: "Hulk Smash!!" was probably created by a toddler? It makes about as much sense (and creates about as much destruction) as some of the things Lennon comes up with.

And with two rowdy little boys in the house, just about any time can be "Clobberin' time!"

Crash! Pow! Biff! Zowie! and Ka-Boom! are heard more frequently in our house than I care to admit. Lucky for the little evil-doers: "Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse Mighty Mom is on the way!"

In short, Mom's power can't be denied. Spider-Man's own motto has never been truer than with a mom: With great power comes great responsibility. And like Wolverine, we're the best there is at what we do.

These ten super-quotes should be enough to make any mom feel like a hero. Check out this week's listicle link-up to see what makes other bloggers feel like superheroes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bring on Songkran

Next week is Songkran, my favorite Thai holiday.

It's everybody's favorite Thai holiday, though, because even though Thailand has about a million holidays, generally Thai holidays aren't celebrated so much as marked by Buddhist rituals. And lots of drinking.

Songkran is celebrated. There's ritual involved, too, and traditions and customs. But just like how Christmas is really about the birth of Christ, but it's also candy canes and stockings, gifts and mistletoe and Christmas carols and family recipes; Songkran has evolved.

Songkran is Thailand's traditional New Year celebration and traditionally one ritual allowed young people to honor their elders through the sprinkling of jasmine water.  But over hundreds and thousands of years, reverently sprinkling sweet-scented water over the hands of your grandparents and respected neighbors evolved into the world's largest water fight. Seriously.

For three straight days, the entire country battles it out in the biggest splash-fest imaginable. You can't not participate.  Everywhere you go, people are carrying water guns. In front of every home, children man the hoses, ready to douse the "unsuspecting" passersby. There are barrels of water on every street corner. surrounded by rowdy teenagers with bowls and buckets.  You don't make plans that would require you to stay dry.  Everybody "plays" Songkran.

The oddest thing about Songkran is that everyone wears Aloha shirts.  Don't ask me, I just live here.  But with temperatures in the 90s and 100s every day for weeks on end, I think people would agree to wearing muumuus if that's what it took to get splashed.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No goaty taste

Somehow that box-front claim doesn't make it look any more appealing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Colorfree cures: Die, Food Dye's petition

Die, Food Dye was one of the first blogs I found when I started looking for links between Miles' behavior and the foods he was eating.

I read its entire archive, along with two other websites, in the course of one weekend, and then decided to start making changes.

One of the things that has been hardest to change is medication.  We cut out all kinds of candy and snacks, found ways to make substitutions and imitations of our old favorites and discovered lots of new things to love.  But it's been much harder to find medications that will work for them, since nearly all children's medications are artificially colored and flavored.

Fortunately, neither of the boys needs to take any medication on a regular basis.  Fortunately, aside from Lennon's seizures, our boys are pretty healthy and strong, and they rarely get sick.  Fortunately, most childhood ailments don't actually need to be treated with medication: mild fevers can be brought down with cool rags, sore throats can be gargled and left to heal on their own with the help of some honey tea, noses can just be wiped instead of chemically decongested.   Fortunately, most of the time, the boys don't get any medication at all.

Unfortunately, we're just not always that lucky.  There have been a few times when fevers haven't gone down, or sicknesses have kept hanging on, and we've had to make some tough decisions.  Don't get me wrong, if it were life-or-death, we'd give them the medication without a second thought.  But when it's a matter of relieving discomfort, it's frustrating to know that the side effects of the dye may be just as bad as the sickness itself, and that they are completely unnecessary and offer no other benefit than making the medicine "look yummy". 

Anyway, Rebecca at Die, Food Dye has created a petition (link above) calling for dye-free medication for kids. I signed this morning.  It takes just a few seconds.  It's easy.  It's a step. Will you sign?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Call Neil Diamond

We're coming to America!

It's official- we've got our tickets and we'll be in California and Washington in July.

It's been two years since our last visit, so it's about time the boys got their feet back on American soil.

First taste
Bringing them up right

 I'm pretty sure I know what our first stop will be.

Did you know that besides being freaking delicious, In-N-Out Burger uses no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in their burgers, buns, and fries?  (I think the special sauce and shakes are out, but still.)

96 days and counting....

V day

Next week is V day at preschool.

V already!

We're at the end of the alphabet- those last, least-loved letters.

I warned M that preschool was almost done, and that there were just a few weeks left, but he was unconvinced.

I counted out the remaining letters on one hand: "V, W, X, Y, Z, then you'll be done with preschool."

"Not yet" He said emphatically, and started ticking off on his own fingers: Now. I. Know. My. A. B. Cs. Next. Time. Won't. You...."

Tear.  I can't believe how I used to worry about him starting school.

I took this from the group's fb page.  Surely it was for me, right?

I can't wait for next year!  I'm having actual dreams about buying backpacks and school supplies.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two more

Long day for L.

Two seizure day. :(

Not many details, I wasn't there for either one.

But speaking of bummers, Saturday L was sick with a stomach ache all day and look at this picture. We spent the day in bed watching every Easter special known to man. At some point L fell asleep pitifully against my shoulder and when I sneaked a picture (you know you can't move to look when they are asleep on you) the poor kid was frowning in his sleep.

Thankfully he woke up good as new on Easter morning.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

I couldn't find four dress socks, so L got the tiger ones.
Special Easter dance moves, or just impossible to take a picture of two boys at once?  I'm not telling.
We had (my first! ever! homemade!) cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and the boys hunted for Dinosaur and Cars eggs before church, specialty of Mom's Easter package.

They're so cool and colorful, I think you hardly miss the dye.  No complaints, anyway.

Ok...Maybe not pin-worthy eggs, but look at that determination.  He was taking the decorating so seriously.
Holidays with little kids are so easy.  They don't have any expectations yet, about what holidays are supposed to be like.  Even though my own childhood memories tell me that my boys need Easter baskets with chocolate bunnies and new spring outfits, they roll with whatever we tell them. 

And there's no reason why we can't make chocolate bunnies and get new outfits.  We will, probably, some Easter.  But I think if I had said Easter is the day we eat carrots and fold origami rabbits, they'd love it.  They just like doing something out of the ordinary.

That all might change next year when M starts school.... so I'm enjoying it while I can.