Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer of nothing, revisited

Every time I turned around this summer, his nose was buried in a book.

To see my son dive headlong into a life of reading brings me a deep joy that I have anticipated since I first became a mother.

But this kid...

Every time I turned around this summer, he had found another way to accessorize.  Cape, crown, beanie, suspenders, headband, necktie, wrist cuff, "gold medal", sunglasses, costume, goggles, cap, bandana, scarf...  You name it, he wore it.

I don't have even a tenth of his eye for flair, but to see him cultivate his own taste and shine in a way that is so uniquely him and find ways to express himself... It brings me a joy I never could have expected.

As summer winds down and our schedules shift, I'll miss the unscheduled hours we've had together for books and costumes.  I couldn't be happier about how we spent our summer vacation and with who these two are becoming.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

L's ootd

The day you buy your first ever school uniform is a celebratory occasion.  Not just any outfit will do!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pineapple "ice cream"

Thailand is home to the world's most delicious pineapples: Phu lae and Phuket.

You can buy them from the side of the street- giant pieces, peeled and sliced, for ten baht each (~30 cents).

I could eat them every day.  Sometimes I do! There are over two dozen other varieties of pineapples grown in Thailand, but these are so delicious, I have never had much use for them. 

So with these tangy slices of heaven available on practically every corner, I don't understand how anyone could come home from the market with two kilos of glassy pineapple, instead! (cough, cough.. Whim ...cough!)

I froze it for smoothies, but then yesterday -struck by sudden genuis- I blended some up into "ice cream" using the grinder attachment instead, and it was amazing! 

I made another batch this morning with (fresh, unfrozen) mangosteen.  What did the kids think?

I'll let the picture speak for itself.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Not cookies: The power of suggestion

Yesterday, at our friends' wedding, the wedding favors were gorgeous, custom decorated cookies wrapped in charming gift boxes.

The boys knew the drill and didn't pout to eat them, though M did ask if we could make some cookies at home later instead.

I will probably always say yes to that request.  I love when they want to solve a problem rather than just complain about it, so I try to support any realistic solutions they can come up with.

This afternoon, we settled in to make some "cookies". We didn't have any flour, butter or sugar, or even baking mix on hand (we still haven't gone grocery shopping since we came back from the beach), but I had a sneaky plan.  We mixed equal parts sunflower seed butter with ground sunflower seed "meal" an egg, a few spoonsful of cocoa, a sprinkle of baking powder and about a tablespoon of honey, then added a handful of mini chocolate chips.  (This is not a cookie recipe.  Follow at your own risk.)

We baked them like peanut butter cookies, and when they came out, they smelled, looked, and tasted exactly like warm, hardened sunflower seed butter.

I had warned the kids that we were making up our recipe as we went along and we couldn't be sure how it would turn out.  I even said if they weren't great we'd just try something else.  But there was no need.

They were completely hoodwinked.  They had absolutely no sense that these were not cookies.  I tried them: they were just sunflower seed butter and egg with a few chocolate chips every other bite. 

No matter!  They dunked them in milk, cheers-ed, and ate them with gusto.  They sighed and smiled. They experienced cookies in that moment, no matter what the recipe says. (I have to say, they had great cookie-like texture, held their shape, didn't crumble or puff up- they were nicely browned outside and just a little chewy in the middle.)

I don't have a thing against sweet treats now and then- not one thing.  But if my kids are every bit as happy eating warm seed butter dressed up as a cookie, then I'm going to go with that sometimes.  I can't speak for every kid, but as long as it's not actually foul, I think my kids like the cookie-ness of the cookie more than the actual taste.  I have seen the same thing with cake.

If I am making these myself next time I will leave out the honey and baking powder, since they were just for show anyway, to feel like we were really baking cookies.   This is the cheapest, easiest, quickest cookie "recipe" ever, not to mention being totally health-neutral, if not healthy. 

I would give them these cookies every day and not think twice about it, except that they ate the whole batch within 20 minutes!

Family picture

We so rarely get pictures of all four of us. I love this one!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vacation things to remember

Things to remember for our next vacation:

1. Stick to breakfast in the room.  
It's not much fun to go to a hotel's fancy buffet and only be able to eat a few of the options there.  It is apparently very fun to eat the same things you eat every other day of your life, except sitting on a towel on a hotel balcony.  The boys were thrilled to have breakfast picnics of just fruit, rice crackers, juice/milk, and hardboiled eggs.

2. At least ask
I'm such a penny pincher by nature that I tend to avoid tourist-traps like the beach-side pony ride.  I always assume it's highway robbery and say no thanks as we settle down on the nice, free sand.  This time, feeling frivolous, I checked.  The rides were 10 dollars for half an hour, which seemed pretty fair to me, and he even agreed to let the boys split a turn and ride for 15 minutes each (which was more than enough). I may be cheap, but I'm not dumb.  That was 10 dollars well spent.

3. Just get in.
This is something I need to remember all the time, not just on vacation.  Get in the swimsuit, get in the picture, get in the pool.  It sometimes seems like a hassle, and it would be easier to sit it out, but the fun stuff happens when we get in.

4.  Another crab omelet won't kill them.
Sometimes I stress trying to find a place where the kids can eat safely.  But the truth is, they can get an omelet and rice almost anywhere.  It's just a few days, it's not the end of the world if they don't get much variety.

5. If you see a bicycle built for four, rent it.
That's all, it's just really fun.

6. It's worth it!
Some parts of vacations do end up feeling a little crazy, but it's worth it. This trip in particular, the fun and relaxing parts totally outweighed the stress... 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Boy oh boy

On any given day, L can be found wearing a combination of blue, brown, grey, dinosaurs, and superheros.

He has no less than 2 matchbox cars tucked away somewhere on his person at all times and his face is smudged with dirt.  He is constantly running, climbing, and blasting sound effects from spidey "web-slingas" to revving engines. 

He is all boy.

I don't mind when people make an honest mistake and call him a girl.  I know.  His hair is long. It's confusing. I understand.  We simply correct and move on.  No hard feelings.  Even L can take that.

I do mind when people won't let it go, insist that he must be a girl because his hair is that log, and then call over some third party and demand that they guess, and then triumphantly beam when the person says girl. "See?!" What happened to "Oops, my mistake"? Or even a non-committal, "Is that so?" 

What especially bugs me is that for all the unwelcome advice and lectures I've been given from perfect strangers regarding his hair once they find out he's a boy, I have never once been told off for letting my so-called "daughter" dress and act like a boy beforehand. Not once! 

People smile at the thought of a raggamuffin, rough-and-tumble little girl in her brother's hand-me-downs, I guess. As long as her hair meets their standard of length.

But a boy, who thinks like a boy and acts like a boy and dresses like a boy.  With long hair?  Unacceptable. 

I'm sick of strangers telling me to cut his hair.  I'm sick of the look we get when we kindly reply to compliments with, "Thank you, we think he is lovely, too."  I'm sick of busybodies threatening to, "...just check and see, then."

I realize that we could cut his hair, but come on.  It's glorious!  Who could cut off those locks just to appease the lemonade lady or the mailman?  We like it.  He likes it. 

Plus, we have!  When we cut his hair last year, even with short hair and boyish clothes, people still called him a girl. He just has a sweet face, what can I say!?

But really?  Does this look like a girl to you?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Checking in from Cha-am. Aka paradise

L has enjoyed his breakdancing lessons so much- he practices every day.

When you ask him why he wants to learn to break dance, his straight-faced answer is, "I like to move it, move it!"