Saturday, June 29, 2013

I want to ride a train

Every Sunday for the past year, L has asked to go on a train ride.

There's a railroad crossing on the way to church, and L's day is made if we get to wait for the passing train.  Every time we cross, he reminds us sweetly: "I want to ride a train!"

Lately, though, I think he realized the weekly requests weren't getting him anywhere, because he's been asking every day.   For weeks.

This morning we had nothing to do but make a kid's wish come true.   

Luckily there's a station just a few miles from our house.  We didn't know the train schedule, so I groaned a little when I saw we had an hour to kill before the train arrived.  But it was trulythe nicest hour of my week.  The boys clamored all over the tracks and made up games and raced up and down the sunny sidewalk.  L did have a seizure (last night, too T-T) but it didn't keep him down for long.

L was thrilled when the train chugged into the station. After squeezing on to one ridiculously cramped carriage with standing room only, L sagely suggested, "Maybe next time we can get a train with chairs."

On the way back we did.  The boys were in heaven.  Looking out through the open windows, all the usual sights of the city were transformed into exciting new adventures.  A little cluster of palm trees was a jungle.  The chedi we pass every other day suddenly looked mysterious.

As we headed back home, I have to admit Whim and I were feeling pretty good about ourselves in the parenting department.  A dream fulfilled, a fun outing, fresh air...  

And then we heard it from the back seat: "I want to ride a train!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Absolute last post re: L's birthday

Lennon got his birthday wish: a Gingerbread Christmas birthday. I got my birthday wish for him, too: no seizures!
The only picture we got of him all day without a bag of icing in his mouth.
There was no sense trying to give L the cupcake with less icing.  By that time he had already eaten his weight in chocolate chips and had spent the entire afternoon mainlining a piping bag of icing.   I don't even have a cute photo to post of a cookie he made - his was just a heaping pile of icing and decorations. (He didn't eat it, thank goodness!)

I was a little worried about the sugar situation, but he didn't have any seizures that day and hasn't in the days since, so we're in the clear this time.

By happy coincidence, my sweet friend Malia and her family are visiting from Korea, so Lennon had three lovely young guests at the party, along with his two favorite people in the world: Auntie Waan and Uncle Ben.

And now that L's birthday is behind us, I am counting down the last 7 days of summer school and getting ready to shift into vacation mode by terrorizing myself with articles about families of toddlers getting kicked off of airplanes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paper ships for Lisa

I promised Lisa I'd show her how to make a paper ship.

I am not a crafty person, but everyone has a few tricks they know...

You have to excuse my giant man hand, the mess in the background, the crinkly paper and everything else that made me put off posting this for more than a week thinking I'd take new pictures. 

How to make a newspaper ship!

Start with a regular page of newspaper with the fold away from you.  I didn't take a picture of that. 

   1. Fold down both the corners toward the center so it looks like this.
 2. Fold the bottom 2 or 3 inches up, then turn it over and do the same on the back. 
3. This is the only tricky step.  Grab the two bottom corners of your triangle and pull them toward eachother.  It makes a rhombus like this.  The bottom folded tabs will overlap eachother nicely and won't stick up. 

Another way to think of it is that you are grabbing the centerpoint from bottom front and the bottom back and pulling them as far away from eachother as possible.   They become the side corners of the rhombus.

4. The bottom of the rhombus opens up.  Fold the bottom corner up to meet the top.  Then flip it over and do the same to the back.
5. Now that you've folded the bottom up on both sides, it will look like this.
6. This is just like step three above.  Take the two bottom corners of the triangle and bring them together to make a rhombus.  The corners make the bottom point of the rhombus and the middle front and middle back pop to the sides and make the side corners.
7.  Carefully grab the top of the rhombus and pull apart to the left and right.   You are pulling the front and back of the ship into place.  
Tada!    A paper ship!  It really floats.

If you want the ship to be smaller but sturdier, (like to entertain your kids on a 20 hour airplane flight...) you can do the whole thing with a paper that is folded into fourths instead of in half to make it double thick. 

And speaking of that long flight... anyone else have any good tricks?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gingerbread cupcakes

L's birthday party is tomorrow!

He asked me for a gingerbread boy Christmas birthday party and who could say no to that?

Of course I waited until today to make the gingerbread boys so they would be nice and fresh, and then this happened:

 No!!!!  I hate gluten-free baking sometimes.

The boys are actually fine with gluten, it's only me that can't have it... but I hate making treats I can't even eat, so most of the baking we do is gluten free.

There are some things I just can't get right, like pancakes.  Everyone eats the gf pancakes and noone complains, but I remember what a pancake is supposed to be like, and I haven't gotten it yet.

Cupcakes have also been tricky, and clearly gingerbread boys are going to take some work.  I made a slight change of plans and decided we'll be decorating gingerbread boy faces tomorrow (as in regular round cookies) instead of gingerbread boys.  Phew... crisis averted, kind of.

And then l I made these!

The most delicious gluten-free cupcakes imaginable from The Whole Kitchen.  They are actually pumpkin-ginger-chocolate muffins.  You would never, ever know they were gluten free.  They are amazing- gingerbread in a chocolate cupcake's body.  I made them just as the recipe is written, except we left out the candied ginger (too scary), the vanilla (out, as always) and the xanthan gum since I never put it in to treats (only bread).

Last time I made these I used avocado icing and it was perfect.  I had planned to use it again today too, but our only avocado wasn't ripe enough.  I just made regular butter/powdered sugar frosting and tried to make one for L without very much on it.  Between the cupcake and decorating cookies, I have my fingers crossed for no seizures tomorrow. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Interview your kids

Everyone who has ever read a blog has heard of Parenting, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, so I know she needs no introduction.  Yesterday Amber posted a list of questions and encouraged readers to interview their kids and record the answers.   We did it today and it was silly and sweet and fun.

If I can remember, I'd like to ask these same questions again in the years to come and see how the answers change.  And next time I will ask them separately so they don't influence eachother's answers.

Summer of 2013- Interview with M and L

What do you want to be when you grow up?
L: A papa
M: A mommy (I think at first he thought his answers had to match L's or something.  We don't even use the word Mommy in this house.  Based on other times talking about this question, he wants to be a pilot or a builder.)

What brings you the most happiness?
L: Papa
M: iPhones! (cringe)

When do you feel the most loved?
L: Papa (Me: No, when.  Like when do you know someone really loves you?) A valentine heart!
M: You make a valentine card, like you cut it.

What are you afraid of?
L: A lion because it says "Roar!" louder
M: Robot crashes

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
L: Wish.... fish!  Rhymes!
M: Sticky rice. (I tried to bring this one us a few hours later, using different words to see if I could get to his deepest wish and he still said sticky rice.)

What is the funniest word?
L: Playing (He thought I meant what word is the funnest thing.)
M: Stickabickdoo

What is the hardest thing to do? What is the easiest thing to do?
L: Swing/walk
M: Play a didgeridoo/play ball

What is the best thing in the world?  What is the worst thing in the world?
L: Auntie Waan/bad guys
M: Uncle Ben/crocodiles

What is the meaning of life?
L: Heaven
M: In the African savannah (?? I tried to rephrase the question but we didn't get anywhere. "Why are we here on earth?" got me "Because we couldn't be in space.  And "Why were people made?" got me "Do you mean how?  Are you asking me how people were made?)

What makes you mad?
L: Rhinos
M: Not sharing

What is the meaning of love?
L: Hugging
M: Mmmmwwwah!

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
L: Buy milk
M: Get a real dinosaur that could walk, a new brachiosaurus that has batteries.  (Poor boy, he actually has a walking brachiosaurus toy that is horribly loud so we "lost" the batteris.  Why is autocorrect trying to make me change brachiosaurus to brontosauras.  Brontosaurus isn't even a real dinosaur!)

The end.  So sad.  I wish there were more questions!  The boys were so cute and engaged, I just wanted to keep going.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Great minds blog alike

Check it out, I wasn't the only one writing about easy popsicles last week.

I love the 100 Days of Real Food blog and you already know how I feel about these summer treats, so obviously the boys and I made these the very day she posted!

We followed her recipe as written, with two little "modifications".

1) We omitted the vanilla because we are always out of vanilla.  I love it, so if we ever have vanilla, I bake nonstop and use it until it is gone again. 

2) M added his own special step at the end:  After you put the popsicles in the freezer, run to check on them every few minutes.  On about the 8th check, knock the popsicle mold over and spill slushy chocolate all over the inside of the freezer.  Your mom will fill the molds the rest of the way up with yogurt and you'll get fancy two tone popsicles. 

Sun's out, guns out

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, L

L, you are my dream come true.

My second son, the very one I prayed for and dreamed of before our family ever even began.

I love you, your gentle heart, your dimples, your determination and your silly voice.

Happy third birthday.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I normally hate surprises.... but I love the beach.

Whim had a big overnight event planned for weeks - playing backup for a concert at Hat Chao Samran beach.  He knows my position on surprises, so I don't know what came over him, but he decided to let me believe he was going alone, when he had actually made plans for all of us to join him. 

As a matter of fact, he kissed us all goodbye, walked out the door, and drove away.   He waited a few minutes, probably until he knew I was fully consumed with jealousy, before he called back asking for a 'favor'.  "Can you pack up a few things for me?  I'm coming back."  I wonder if he heard my disgruntled sigh, because I swear I could hear his smile: " the kids' swimsuits and maybe a change of clothes for everybody?"

Who does that?  How is it more fun to run around like a maniac trying to find beach clothes and a bag and towels and gathering up toothbrushes and star blankets and pajamas and making sandwiches for the ride, because as Whim so sweetly put it - "You guys are coming, but we have to leave,"?  Plus, half the fun of a trip is looking forward to it, so a surprise actually robs you of all the pre-vacation pleasure!  But on the other hand, a trip to the beach is better than no trip to the beach any day, even if it was a surprise, so I couldn't exactly complain.

Whim warned me that he didn't know where we'd be staying - if it was nice or not, or if it was even near the beach, since someone else had arranged the accommodations.   He didn't know anything about the venue, either, in keeping with the 'surprise' theme, I guess.  So he couldn't promise we'd be able to go to the beach right away.

But when we pulled up:

That's us... the boys and I went for a swim during the soundcheck.
It was perfect. 
His first time being buried... he never would have sat still for it before.
I couldn't believe it wasn't a dream.  Not what I expected when I woke up that morning.
  When we went back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner, it was lovely, too.
Excuse the extreme posed-ness of this picture.  I took this from Whim's instagram and he can't resist.
I was trying to get the boys to pose with me, but this is much more realistic.

I know I learned my lesson about the value of surprises.  The boys asked to swim again after dinner, and it would have been so easy to say no.  I'm sure they expected me to.  We were showered and dressed, the swimsuits were back at the hotel, still drying from that afternoon.  The concert was starting soon, and Whim was already on standby.  But what the heck.  They swam in their underwear.

I do hope that one day, despite my own dread of surprises, the boys will fondly remember the surprise trip to the beach with Papa's band.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Old papers

This afternoon sucked.

I don't know what started it- school was fine, the boys weren't acting any naughtier than usual, but all of a sudden I found myself in the kitchen barking orders and saying things like, "I can't keep this whole place clean by myself" and huffing to put groceries away like I was in an infomercial.  Poor M was with me and got quite the earful.

I hate when I catch myself right in the middle of acting like a jerk.  Because all the jerk feelings are still in effect and I want to ride them out and keep being mean to everyone, but the sensible side of my brain knows I'm being an idiot and I can't even enjoy it. 

I finished straightening up and decided to patch things up with M.  I was still feeling grumpy, but frankly you can only allow yourself so many minutes of meanness before you start getting sick of yourself.  We sat down together and folded a newspaper ship. 

L saw and raced over and of course he wanted a ship, too.  The jerk inside of me wasn't giving up without a fight.  I let out a long exhale before telling him to go and grab a piece of newspaper.   From the other room, L called out, "I can't find any newspaper, we only have old paper."  And just like that the jerk was gone.  Just gone.  I laughed and laughed, and I was back.

I made him a ship and we took them out to sail on our neighborhood pond.

 The boys and I watched those ships for over an hour.  There wasn't a bit of bickering for the rest of the night.  The boats drifted from one side of the pond to the other, and back again, and the sun went down, and we just kept standing there swatting mosquitoes and not being jerks.

I don't have a clever ending planned.  Sometimes you screw up and act like a jerk.  But it doesn't last forever.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

School's out

Kind of.

I signed up to teach four weeks of summer school, and I'll be tutoring, too, through the first week of July.

So it's still business as usual for the next four weeks, but then we're off.  And thanks to summer school, I hopefully won't have a heart attack when it's time to rent the car.

Until then, Popsicle on.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

No Hurting People

"No yaks, no guns, no hurting people, no dogs...."

I was getting out of the passenger side of the car, and I could hear M on the other side chanting to himself.  I walked around and saw him dutifully learning the rules posted on this taxi's window.

"...No dogs, no cups, no durians, and no smoking."

Buffalo is an awful insult in Thailand (along with monitor lizard and rhino), but luckily he doesn't know that yet.  And anyone who has smelled durian knows that rule is warranted.

But I couldn't resist taking a picture when I saw his "No hurting people" symbol.  That's right, bud.  No hurting people!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Strawberry yogurt pops

I know I've said it before, but when you live in a tropical country it takes work to make the seasons seasonal.

In winter we have Christmas, and seasonal treats, and wintry traditions...

Fall is always back-to-school, and Halloween, and carving watermelons when we can't find pumpkins...

Spring has Easter and Songkran...

But when it's hot 365 days a year, and you can go swimming or go to the beach or run through the sprinklers any day you wanted, how do you make summer feel like summer?  We don't even have the fourth of July!

The answer might be ice pops.
This was our first attempt of the summer- M did it himself and even decided on the recipe.

About four big spoonsful of unsweetened yogurt.
Pour in some juice.
That's it!  Put it in Popsicle molds and freeze.  We did them in the afternoon, so he ended up going to bed without tasting the fruit of his labor- I told him they'd be ready tomorrow.

The next morning M raced in to our room first thing in the morning and asked, "Is it tomorrow?"
Ice pops for breakfast.  If that's not summer, I don't know what is.

They were a hit.  And I've got pineapple and young coconut in the freezer for the next batch.

Any ideas for more summer-only treats or traditions?