Saturday, July 27, 2013

Go fly a kite

Over the past three weeks, we visited 10 cities in three different states.  We were busy-staying with family, visiting friends, and exploring new cities.

We spent the last part of our trip with family in Washington state.  I didn't take nearly enough pictures, except for our last day.  The whole family went to Long Beach to fly kites.

A day at the beach sounded like just the way to end our trip.

But why is this beach so freezing?

With the help of a giant coat, L pulled it together to become a master kite flyer.

Look at that tiny speck of a kite. (Whim helped).

M tried too, but didn't quite get the hang of it.

Maybe next time.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On our way home

We're on the way back to our home in Bangkok, and as always, I'm just as glad to be heading home as I am bummed to see the holidays ending.

I'm always happy to get back to our regular life, and that includes our regular diets.  

For the most part, we did well keeping the boys additive-free.  We had a few slip-ups, but it was easier than I anticipated, and we found foods they eat in some surprising places.

Most often we would stop at an organic market and get groceries to eat picnic-style.

Once, in Portland, we found a place that bottled their own natural fruit sodas.

More than once we found additive-free ice cream bars to help get us through a long day on the road.
We even found a safe pizza place with gluten-free pizza (for me!)

It was fun to indulge in so many tasty treats, but I can't wait for that first bite of kanom jeen at Ram 2 market as soon as we get back.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My real life friend

Last week, I met my friend Tara at In-N-Out for a burger.  No big deal, just totally awesome.  

She wrote about it here, and her post is perfect.  First of all, she only chose pictures of me that look cute, which is so nice and says a lot about her as a person.  Well done, Tara.  Second of all, she's a great photographer so we look like we were all in a commercial for In-N-Out. 

Things like this make me love the internet.  

My only regret about the whole visit is that I didn't get there early enough.  I wanted to bribe a creepy-looking guy to sit alone at a table near the door and wink at her when she walked in.  Maybe say something like, "Don't overthink it, baby."  Wouldn't that have been perfect?  I'm sure some shady guy would do that for a free double-double and Neapolitan shake.  But she was already there when we got there and saw us as we were walking up.  Dang it. 

Plus, she had her husband there and he might have attacked the guy or something, so maybe it was for the best.

If you want a decent picture you'll have to check out her post, instead.
She was totally cool, which was awesome, but not a surprise since we were already friends in the computer.  She even brought my boys a gift- buttons, which they have worn every day since we met last week.  I love it when my friends in the computer become regular old friends.

Tara, let's do it again - next time in Bangkok!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Not just a day at the beach

Saturday, our friend Sadie took us to a beautiful beach to spend the morning.  

We stopped at the Rainbow sandals store on the way (new sandals are a vacation tradition) and then trooped down to the beach with blankets and shovels and pails and snacks. 

The surf was a little rough, so the rocks were closed and we couldn't explore the tide pools.  We set up camp at Sadie's favorite spot, a natural rock arch, and played in the sand.  

It was idyllic.  The kids dug holes and buried eachother, intermittently squabbling and playing. We chatted, sometimes laughing at the kids, sometimes swooping in to stop a fistful of sand. It was perfectly imperfect, real life, but better. 

Suddenly, a wave came crashing up the beach out of nowhere.  We were well away from the shoreline and no waves had come close to us all morning.  As I saw it approaching, I bent to grab the blanket, thinking we were going to get our feet wet.  M was at arm's length and I took hold of his arm just to be on the safe side, but mostly I was glad we had hung our purses on a rock outcropping, so they were going to be fine.

Then all of a sudden it wasn't fine.  The wave was coming in both sides of the tunnel, and it was above my knees.  Thankfully I had a hold of M, because he was pulled straight towards the rock wall.  Sadie grabbed both her kids who were at her feet, but L was completely swept away under the water. Whim, thank God, rescued him in time.  He came away with one knee dashed on the rocks, but thankfully nothing worse.   

The most terrifying part was that Sadie had scooped up both Micah and Isla in one motion, and in her panic she didn't know if she had them both.  She kept screaming for Isla as the wave rushed around our thighs.  The whole thing lasted only a minute, but it felt like hours. I kept counting and recounting the kids as Sadie screamed Isla's name.  One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.  M, L, Isla, Micah. They're all here.

Then the wave was gone, and everything was quiet.  We thought our hearts would never stop racing. I didn't care about a single one of our things, I just wanted to leave everything, walk straight to the car, and go home and never stop hugging and kissing my family.

But Whim, who was no less shaken, didn't want to leave without trying to gather up all our stuff.  Most of Sadie's sand toys and all the snacks were long gone, but Whim could see all our new shoes bobbing in the water.

He and a kindhearted snorkeler managed to get them all.

I was just so grateful it was sandals they were searching for and not something much, much graver.

L's dream day

L has wanted to go on the bumper cars forever.

When you are three, pretty much everything you've ever waited for is a life long dream- after all, your life isn't that long to begin with.

Anyway, the bumper cars place in the mall back home has a height limit, and L's not even close.  He'll probably be about 9 when he makes the cut.  But every time we pass it, he runs to size
himself up, positive that this time it's going to be his lucky day.

Well, Friday our friends took us to the opening day of the OC fair, and right there in the middle of the kids' zone, there it was: mini bumper cars. 

L made the height requirement by a hair.  He ran in and picked a car and sat down, exuding confidence.  I was nervous, sure that with the first jarring crash he'd go into a seizure and we wouldn't be able to get to him until the ride finished.  But I know we can't wrap him in cotton wool, and that he could just as easily have one from stubbing his toe, so we might as well let him live.

The ride started, and L's car was facing away from me.  He got slammed several times right away, but I couldn't see him to gauge his reaction.  I was almost in a frenzy by the time he got his car turned around and I could finally see his face. Pure joy.  Absolutely thrilled!  He cheered every time someone slammed him and laughed every time he got someone else.  He rode it twice and didn't have a bit of trouble.

Waiting for the ride to start.

And since we were busy making dreams come true, we figured it was the perfect time to fulfill another one of L's dreams.  We topped the day off with his first ever ice cream cone.  

I love being on vacation. (And Whole Foods!)

Friends by the sea

I have never been so relaxed in all my life.  All our future vacations are going to have to start out with a few days in Carmel by the Sea.  

The icing on the cake was a visit from my oldest friend Bryn, who drove down from Northern California with her son to spend a day with us.

The boys were wild and L had two seizures and it was freezing, but I got to see my old friend and meet her son for the first time.  Thank you, Bryn!  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We made it!

It was like a dream- the easiest long flight I've ever had.  The boys were angels.  We didn't even need the secret weapon (read: iPad).  

L did have two seizures- one in the Taipei airport, one as we landed in LAX, but it could have been much worse.  I was so grateful for the fruit plate meals, and that we were able to bring our own food through immigration.

And now we're here.  Yesterday was long, and M reacted to the very first thing we gave him to eat in the US- a bottle of milk  - but we made it to bedtime without naps or killing each other, and jetlag seems to be behind us already.

The kitchen is stocked with Whole Foods goodies (thank you, Nana!), we're walking distance from the beach, and my best friend from high school has come down to visit with her son.  What else could we ask for?

We made it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Asians do it better

As we prepare to fly back to the states, I'm reminded how much I love Asia.  Everyone knows asian airlines are the best.  It's pretty obvious the fellas aren't bad, either.  

So why wouldn't we mark all our bags with washi tape?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sampran photoshoot

I am so bad about getting my picture taken. 

I blink, I cringe. My regular smile is replaced with an awkward imposter.

But thanks to Mark, somehow everything worked out just right, and we got so many pictures I just love.

Not every shot is perfectly posed, and I know Whim well enough to know that every good photographer will analyze his shots and find flaws here and there, but we look happy and that is enough for me.

New camera

Whim bought M a camera.  It's waterproof, dustproof, and dropproof.  Basically it's four-year-old proof.

No comment on the shirt.  We're wearing clothes that we aren't packing.
It cost about 3,000 baht, which is less than 2/3 of the stuff at Toys R Us.  It amazes me that something this awesome was that cheap.  My first digital camera cost twice that much, had none of the features, and didn't even have a rechargeable battery!  I'd use it for 2 hours, then wait 3 months until I'd remember to buy batteries again.

We knew L wasn't ready for a camera of his own yet, but he was just as happy with a new matchbox car!

I wonder how much longer that will last...?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Suan Sampran

I should be packing. 

Today I unearthed the suitcases from the dungeon under the stairs.  I did three loads of laundry.  I packed the boys' suitcase.  I went to the grocery store for new toothbrushes and travel snacks.

I have not packed.

Whim has packed.

So, naturally, I am working on a blog post.

Suan Sampran is one of my favorite day trips from the city, and we visited there yesterday with our friends the Heils.  It is peaceful and beautiful, and I never get tired of the traditional activities.

Besides being way late (Sorry, Malia!!) and a little spat that may or may not have, but definitely did spring from being way late, we spent a wonderful morning there.  It was the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer school and the beginning of the real summer holidays.

Whim brought along the real camera, so this will be a break from the crappy but easy iPhone pictures.

Bamboo jump rope

Milling rice the old fashioned way

Gorgeous Mika grinding coconut

Clay pottery and silly faces

Silkworm farming

Look at my little Leave it to Beaver boy

Muay Thai

I think we did great with five kids under five.   Minimal crying, occasional naughtiness (I'm looking at you M and L).

And one of the best parts was that Whim and Mark agreed to swap photo shooting sessions, so we each came away with family pictures.

I'll save ours for another post, but here's one of the whole Heil family.

Friday, July 5, 2013

They're back!

Look who's home!

And just in time for the end of summer school.

Besides being glad they are home (naturally) I am so happy to see L finally outgrew his haircut and is looking shaggy again, just like I like him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm praying for a wonder-ful flight

Six days from now, we board, and the 24-hours-of-potential-terror will commence.  I read online somewhere that for easy flying with preschoolers, simply plan a special surprise for them to unwrap every 15 minutes, and you're almost guaranteed success.

Flights under 8 hours must be so fun.

I wonder... with 96 treats each in their carry-ons, will there still be room for a change of clothes?

But even if I can't do the 15 minute present bonanza, that doesn't mean I have to go in unarmed.

I have packed them books, wikki stix, coloring books, "kindergarten work" aka worksheets (M would probably do these the whole 24 hours, bless his heart) foam stickers, post it notes (I figure these will buy me 1/2 an hour, just sticking them on things one by one) and the almighty iPad.  And of course there are always inflight movies, sleeping, and the classic standby screaming at the top of our lungs looking out the windows.

But I have to share this- it is the cleverest thing I've thought of in ages.

Because if I'm going to buy fancy 15 dollar coloring books (I'm looking at you Crayola Color Wonder) my kids better not lose the super special markers.

Nothing says high class holidays like flying economy with a ziplock bag of markers taped to the inside of your coloring book.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy anniversary to us!

Somebody's not so sure about spending a few days at Yaya's house this week.

Actually he was really excited, just tired from missing his nap.

After lots of hugs and goodbyes,  we went out to the movies to celebrate our 7th anniversary.  

But today I'll admit to missing them a little. I wish I could bottle up this feeling.  I am thinking of a day next week when I know I will want to take it out and breathe it in deeply.