Sunday, April 26, 2015


You know those clickbait videos people share on Facebook that are always claiming to "make your jaw drop"?

Yesterday I saw a "kitchen hack" video that actually astounded me.

Make whipped cream at home in minutes.

I've complained to everyone I know about it and I'm still not satisfied.  Do people really not know how to make whipped cream??  Is it really "life changing" and "totally winning"?  How did these commenters reach adulthood without knowing that whipped cream is just whipped... cream?

I don't know, but I am protecting my children from that same fate.  We went to the grocery store after church today specifically for cream so I could show them how easy it is.

Life hack?  Please.  

Come up with a way to make additive free cadbury mini eggs, then you can talk to me about life hacks.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Looks so natural, no one can tell!

I'm not always the biggest fan of kids' technology for the boys.  Some programs and apps are great, others are unavoidable... but most don't do much for me.  I'd rather see them read a real book, draw a real picture, or play with real toys.

Whim's friend recently bought books for the boys when they were in the hospital, both of which came with a free app.  I admit I wasn't exactly thrilled to see the app mentioned on the cover and every other page.   Can't we just read the book? But I was wrong.  Check it out!  It's awesome!

The dinosaurs "come out" out of the book and walk (or fly) around the room, and even climb into your lap.  The other book has 3D planets and heavenly bodies that you can hold and manipulate.  Only when you're looking through the iPad app, of course, but it feels so real!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Greener grass

Growing up, Whim rarely got the name-brand shoes or sports equipment that he wanted.  Like a lot of us, his family got by ok, but didn't always have a lot of extra money for the latest trends*.

Because of that, he gets a lot of pleasure out of choosing "cool" backpacks, shoes, or clothes for the boys.  For Whim, cool pretty much= Adidas, and he isn't sending his child off to school with anything less. 

I don't mind.  I totally get it.  It's his "scholastic book order."

Over Songkran, though, in a pinch, we let the boys each pick out a pair of Tesco Lotus 89 baht Fraux. (I made that up.  Faux Crocs!)  Think 5 dollar foam slipons from Walmart, with a superhero decal.

They were overjoyed.

They both wore them all break, and M begged to wear them to school when we went back.

Go figure!  I wonder if they've been pining for garish polyester Masked Rider and Gundam tshirts, too?

*Hilarious side note: Fido Dido was hugely popular in Thailand when he was a teenager and you still see it sometimes.  What!??!

Earth day

After school today, the common areas were filled with tables.  There are always a dozen groups raising money for various projects, so it's a familiar sight. Shave ice, Krispy kremes, pork and sticky rice, icy sodas, kimbap, exercise books, t-shirts... Someone's always selling something.

Then I remembered: Earth day!  They had advertised "green and organic" goods for sale.  We always have to pass on everything (except lemonade, we get lemonade whenever we can!) so today I was eager to see what was available.  I was in the mood to splurge.

There wasn't much in the way of goodies, but they were selling organic eggs, dips and salad dressings, noodles, honey, soaps and cosmetics.

And M walked away with two cool, non-food items.  A plant (in his shirt pocket) and a three-minute shower timer!  I'm always saying everything doesn't always have to be about food.  Good on you, ICS!  Happy Earth day!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Back again

I'm starting to think that this is all just an elaborate scheme to get more Legos...

Monday, April 13, 2015

They don't lie?

L looks so tall in this picture!

Even his precious cheeks are almost gone!  But not from my memory (or my phone).

Oh how I loved this squishy, chubby baby!

And how am I supposed to reconcile this:

With my so-recent memories of this?

Run run run run runaway

He tiptoed down the stairs and eased onto the couch beside me.

"I decided to run away..." he started.


"I put my pillow in my bed to look like my body, and I wrote a note, too." he continued. "I put it under your door."
"Can I read it?" I asked.

"I already erased it."

"Well, have you packed?"

"I decided I'm not going.  First, I really was mad and I was going to run away.  Then I thought about it and I decided just to hoodwink you, to make it look like I was running away, so you could still see how mad I was.  So I left the pillow there and hid.  But then I decided it was too much trouble either way, so I just erased the note and put everything away."

I didn't have to ask him why he was mad, I knew.  But I was glad he changed his mind, and I told him so.  We were quiet for a while, then I asked what made him decide not to run away after all.

"Well, I was going to have to rely on the kindness of neighbors.  And I started to think about what foods they'd cook, and what if they had additives?  I knew if I had a reaction, they'd kick me out.  So that's when I decided to just hoodwink you instead."  

You have to admit, he had thought things through.

I looked at the note, later.  You can still read it. It says, "I am so close to runing away, you know! better say sorry. Guess who wrote this"

A few lines down the page, he'd added:

"I ran away!  Sorry.  To late!  I told you what woud happen."

Poor boy!  He can't even run away.  It took all my restraint not to make him a hobo's bandana/stick bundle of additive-free treats to put over his shoulder and shoo him out the door.

Luckily, we had something fun to do, instead.  An hour of Songkran fun and he no longer wants to leave.  And for the record: yes, I apologized. 

Close one.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


About a week ago, just before career day, with his speech memorized and his suit ready, M told me he didn't want to be an astronaut anymore.

What?!  Why?

"Papa's friend just told me that aliens do exist.  So I don't need to go anymore.  They know."  

The backstory: 
When M was almost five, he asked me if aliens were real, and I told him, truthfully, that no one knows for sure.  Unfazed, he asked me to "search it up" (ie google it.) My disappointing explanation -that Google only knows what people input into websites- was his first awareness of the finite nature of human knowledge.  

Up until that point, questions always had answers.  There were plenty of things he didn't know, but he could always ask me.  And if I didn't know, we'd just look it up.  That day led to two major realizations for him: that answers (whether from books or google) were ultimately dependent on human knowledge and that there are some things that we just don't know yet.  It really shook him.  

I have thought about that day from time to time since then, remembering how shocked he was, how hard it was for him to accept that we just don't know.  But I didn't know that it had stuck with him as well.

A few years later, when he began meeting with Dr. D, he recounted to her how that was the day he had decided to become an astronaut. I hadn't realized that. He had been interested in space anyway, so it made sense to me that he would be attracted to that career.  The missions, the adventure, the weightlessness... I didn't make the connection to that one question.  I had no idea that he still just wanted an answer. 

Dr. D said his awareness of the future, as a six-year-old, is unprecedented.  Most six year olds would say they want to be an astronaut, or a doctor, or a princess, or a builder, or a teacher.  They have the name of a job and vague idea of what they'd do, but no plan or process in mind, no particular motivation outside of "It's fun and I like it", and no idea of what it takes to get there.

When she asked him, he said he wanted to be an astronaut, so he was going to have to study to be a pilot first, then afterward he could apply to Nasa's space program.  He wouldn't like the cramped quarters in the shuttle, but he'd manage.  He figured by the time he became an astronaut he'd be about 30 and already have a wife and kids (but they couldn't come on his missions, of course.  They'd wait back on earth.) And his goal? To discover if there is life in other galaxies. Full stop.

Dreaming of becoming an astronaut is a pretty typical boyhood fantasy, but for M, it wasn't.  It wasn't wonder at the joy of floating weightlessly though space, or excitement at seeing earth from outside our atmosphere.  It was business.  A mission to put to rest that one unanswered fact, and if it took 25 years to find it, well... so be it.  

Knowing M, if he did discover life on another planet, he would probably just fly right back to earth and resign, since he now had his answer.

That's why his career-change declaration last week made me sad.  Not that he changed his mind.  He'll probably change it a hundred more times before he's old enough to really know what he wants.  It just made me face what I had been denying since December. That even when he's dressed up like an astronaut, the same as two other kids in his class, the astronaut thing is just another way that he's different. He never actually wanted to be an astronaut, he just wanted an answer.

In the end, he did go to career day as an astronaut.  I told him it was too late to change and papa's friend didn't have any evidence, so he should still plan on being an astronaut until they can know for sure.  But that's (shame alert!) just because I didn't want to have to talk to his teacher about changing careers at the last second and then have to figure out a different costume for him the same night as the Easter concert.  

But I wish I had.  Now that career day is behind us, I asked him what he wanted to be now that he doesn't want to be an astronaut and he said an author.  Awwww!  Now that would be a job for him.  It wouldn't even have been a hard costume!


M and his little school friend A have the lucky privilege of acting as the young Romeo and Juliet (Romo and Jules-cuteness!) in the middle school play this spring.

I haven't wanted to post about it for fear of jinxing it, but it's been a month so I think I can uncross my fingers. 

I'm excited for him.  His scene is tiny, to be fair, a little blip before the 'Ten Years Later' sign and the rest of the play... but it's his. He has real lines to learn, directions to follow, even a lip-synch/dance to perform with his little leading lady.

He learned his lines the very first day, from the Shakespeare 'thous' and 'nonethelesses' to the (almost-)modern  'hubba hubba'. He's set in that department. The dance?  Well... we're working on it.  The director has assured me it will be adorable no matter what...

It just goes to show that being the most talkative child ever to enter a kindergarten classroom has its perks.  It's not always bad to stand out.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Brain dump

Reading, like a lot of things, is a cycle.  The more you read, the better you get at it.  And the better you get at it, the more you want to read.  M is stuck in the cycle, and for the most part, I'm ok with that.  When he's reading, he's learning, he's out of trouble, and he's happy.  The only thing that makes me hesitate is that instead of "everything evening out" now that he and his peers are getting older, he's just picking up speed.

So you're four, and you read the Franklin books while the other children page through them.  That's not such a big thing.  

But then you're five, and you're expected to review the letter of the week with all the others... every day... when all you want to do is get Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from your backpack and finish it in the bean bag over there. 

And then you're six and you're reading adventures, heroic tales of Greek gods, classics... being touched by poetry and stories of injustice... experiencing true literature...
While at school you have to sound out hen and pen, big and pig, and pat and rat.

What is seven going to be like?  Something tells me that's not going to be the year that "everything evens out" either.

I've hashed this all out before, worried about it, thrown up my hands and decided that all I can do is to wait and see.  So why am I going over it all again?  Because of L.

Because after he finished the K-2nd grade Khan Academy mission the other week, he wanted to keep going.  I figured, why not let him learn a few more skills?  He'll eventually get to the point where it's too hard and he'll just stop.  And I know eventually he will.  But he hasn't.  He's thrilled.  He's asks me to explain the things he doesn't understand, and he picks them up.  He's caught in that same cycle.  But it's going really fast, and I'm worried that in two weeks, I've just spoiled the next six years of math class for him.

He can multiply fractions and decimals, use and understand absolute value and negative numbers, divide fractions. Telling time, measurement, patterns, basic operations- basically all of elementary math is already behind him.  He's up to sixth and seventh grade topics now.  How far do I let him go? It feels like I should probably stop him pretty quick here.  No sense keeping it up, I mean why would a four year old need to know how to reduce and order fractions anyway?  Sorry, four-and-three-quarters. 

(And truly, just because he can do it doesn't mean he needs to move on. He's not a savant.  Yes, he can multiply -974 x 6.5, and get it right, but he would still use his fingers as he was doing it, to figure out seven times six.  So it's not like I'm saying I want to ship him off to Harvard.)

The thing is, I would never cut M off and stop him from reading books above his age level.  Not when they bring him so much joy.  Even if it does make school awkward.

So why would I do that for L and numbers?  I don't want to put words in his mouth, but it's starting to seem like they are to him what words are to M.   Thrilling.  Envigorating.  Worth waking up for in the morning. 

"You want to hear something cool?  I'm four, and double four is eight, and double eight is sixteen, and double sixteen is thirty-two.  And you're thirty two!"

So... Do I let him keep exploring, knowing that he won't even get to two digit addition with carrying at school for another two full years? Or do I put on the brakes?

Unfortunately,  I think there's not much choice.  The box has already been opened.  Even if I said no more Khan Academy, how could I stop this?

And would I want to?  He's entertaining himself with math offline.  That's good, right?

PS- I know.  I know!  It would be so much easier if they were excellent little swimmers or really great drawers or ukulele prodigies.  Then I could just straight up talk about their latest accomplishment without so much (internal) cringing and drama.  Being the parent of an atypically school-smart kid is complicated, I think.  At least to me.  

PPS- If you don't know me in real life, but read here, I have to say that I swear I don't talk about this stuff as much as I blog about it.  That's why I blog about it, actually, because it's not easy to talk about and I don't want to be "that mom."  Which means maybe I am turning into "that blogger", and that's ok, I guess.  

PPPS- But oh man, if you do know me in real life, let's just never talk about this.  Except if you secretly have a gifted kid and want to commiserate/bond!  Our code word can be hemorrhoids!  We can complain all we want and noone will be the wiser.

PPPPS- I slept on it before I posted and had a revelation in the morning.  I took him off the Arithmetic mission and put him on the third grade mission, instead.  He's just as happy, reviewing multiplication and fractions again and learning area and perimeter.. and it will buy me a few weeks. 

And mom, yes, I was worrying again.  Sorry.  But I am ok now!


It's not that I'm not grateful.  I am.

(On the very, very off chance that someone from church Sunday school reads this: I love you!  Thank you for teaching my kids.)

It's not that I minded bringing additive free Easter treats for my sons.  I was happy to.  I will always be happy to provide treats for my kids when the alternative is them getting nothing while other children chow down on special goodies.

(I love you!)

It just felt weird to buy treats, drop them off with my kids, have them search for the same treats as all the other kids but not eat or keep any and then, as they walked out the door, have the treats we brought in handed back to them with a "Happy Easter!"

When I complain about things, Whim will sometimes ask me what it is that I want instead.  That is a good strategy, in that it shuts me up, because it's hard to admit you just want to complain.

What did I want?  

An entire additive-free Easter party?  No.  It's unrealistic.  Everyone has their own food issues, how can you cater to them all?  

A treat-free Easter?  Well, yes, ideally.  But everyone else would hate that, and I would hate to be the one who made everyone else mad, so no.  I could suggest lots of non-food-related fun, but no.

Mix my kids' treats in with the other hidden treats for them to find?  No, obviously.  Too confusing for other kids who would inevitably find them first. 

So there wasn't a better alternative I can think of.  I guess I just want to complain.  I get sick of the boys' diet sometimes.  I don't like them always having to be different.  I admit that I would love to be able to buy them cheap, convenient food when we are tired/in a hurry/whatever without asking 25 questions and eventually just buying sticky rice and milk.  And we could, I have to remember.  It's not life and death.  But we choose to stick it out because it is worth it, for their sakes.

I am grateful to their teachers and the kindness they showed in planning a celebration.  The love they pour into the children's lives is so much more important than the party treats. 

And I am grateful, above all, for the sacrifice and victory that Easter reminds us of each year.  Everything else pales in comparison.  So my kid didn't get a chocolate bunny?  Did I have to watch him be whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross?  No? Then it is a pretty good day.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

You can do it!

Look what L can do!

M, who had always been supremely uninterested in learning, suddenly realized he had been left in the dust and also hopped to.  

As another TSO, I salute you, L.  I know the joy of doing something first.  I'm still proud that I'm the one that could do the penny drop.

So I no longer tie laces.  Now I just remind them again, after they come untied for the fiftieth time that day.  

The boys' cousin learned to walk today, and Whim and I reminisced at lunch about those early days and early milestones- how fun and exciting they were.  But this age has its own special moments.  

Today M, for the first time ever, assessed the situation and unbuckled his seat belt and scooted over to the far side of the seat to make room for his brother (when they were both getting in the car through the same side) without needing to be told.  I think my jaw must have hit the floor.  I have wondered aloud 500 times why he can't just notice that the other door isn't opening and scoot over without someone else bringing it to his attention.  Well, today he did.  First display of common sense.  That's better than a first tooth any day.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

They're out

Two updates in one, I guess!

I forgot to update that L is out of the hospital and doing fine.

Whim, too, is out after a scary accident the other night.  He was crouched down, checking something in front of the car (parked on the side of the road) when it was hit by a sleeping driver.  Thankfully he was able to walk away with only scrapes and bruises.  

If only I could say the same about our Jeep.


The boys are taking part in a chess tournament today.

Neither of them is particularly serious about it, but both wanted to join when they heard about the tournament at school.

The organizer assured me that their age groups would be full of beginners.  I sure hope so- it doesn't look like it!