Saturday, February 28, 2015

Twofer


Not the three-hour, White Stag nap Whim and the boys experienced yesterday, but I'll take it.

Long enough to tiptoe downstairs and mix up brownies in the rice cooker.  M woke up after less than half an hour, but he's already settled in with a Tintin comic and L is still safe in the Land of Nod... for now.

The eyes have it


Seems innocent enough. One eye a little more alert than the other.  You could almost argue that it's just a jaunty look.  I'm so used to his eye swelling being a sign of accidently eating additives that I chalked it up to our Mexican dinner the other night.

But no.  It's actually the start of a week-long mandated break from school for eye infections.  Yes infections.  As in both of them.  Why do they always both get sick!?


Gross.  Sorry.

I would love to get in on this mandatory week-long vacation, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The introverted mother: a Cautionary Tale

I love that in the last few years, the introvert/extrovert concept has gotten so much airtime.  And by airtime I mean eye-catching articles about introverts shared on Facebook.

I love reading about myself, especially when it's illustrated with pictures of quirky, cute leading ladies.  I'm in good company!  We're all mad here.

Here's the thing though.  Being single and living alone is the perfect setup for an introvert.  You control all interactions with other people.  When you want to be alone, you are!  Those were the glory years.  It can only be downhill from there.

Being married to a musician is the next logical step for the thinking introvert, though.  You have your spouse that you love, but he is often away in the evening, leaving you lots of downtime.  When you get up in the morning to go to work, he is still asleep.  There are still long hours of silence and "solitude" in your life, but you don't have to worry about dying alone. (Joking.  But kind of serious, right?!)

When you start having kids, that's when your life really changes.  They have no boundaries.  And they can't even read, so those "How to Love Your Introvert" articles won't do you any good, either.

If you are blessed with a stay-at-home husband, there is still hope.  Your alone-time will look different now. You will learn to cherish your commute to work.  The backseat of the taxi becomes your own little world, where you recharge and process.  It's 20 minutes of peace.

It may not be perfect, but it works.  Until. Your child turns four and starts coming to school with you.  The following year, your other son joins you.  Once a zen chamber of silence. your taxi ride soon becomes just another medium for questions. No, I don't know how far the next nearest star is from the sun.  Yes, I can search it up.  No, I don't know if the word destroy comes from word stroy; I've never heard of stroy.  Yes, it does make sense... Yes, I can search it up.  No, I don't know why the driver has so many hairs growing out of that mole.  Actually I do.  But I'm so tired I can't even think of how to answer.  You know how sometimes moms of babies feel "touched out"?  I am questioned out.  I love that I have curious children.  They just require a level of on-ness previously reserved for final exams and public speaking.  All the time.

My mind is only fully functional when it's calm and quiet, which means that basically I have been running on reserve resources for the last six years, with the last year and a half pretty much on E.

I love my kids!  I love my life!  But I cried real tears of joy when Whim said he was taking the boys to church today so I could rest.  One morning alone and I feel like I can conquer the world! I tidied the whole house while they were away, and still had time to watch the first half of my favorite movie before they got back.

Yes, I can answer that question!  Yes, you can make a volcano. Yes, yes, yes.


I love this picture that Whim took of me so much that I made it my Facebook profile picture, even though I'm practically scowling in it.  It was months ago, and it still makes me happy when I see it.  Just me, alone, thinking, while the boys were having piano lessons.  I need to be better about grabbing those moments of solitude when I can get them.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Children's Discovery Museum

Today Whim is selling records at a charity event.  In a rare and uncharacteristic attempt to be social, I made plans with some friends and took the boys to visit the new Children's Discovery Museum, here in Bangkok.

If we had gone there only to build with the larger-than-life Legos, it would have been totally worth it.  They were awesome.



If we had gone there just to visit the dinosaur exhibit, it still would have been totally worth it.  The kids entered through the T-Rex's ferocious jaws, dug for fossils, dressed up as dinosaurs, and even fed huge anamatronic dinosaur heads.







We didn't come close to seeing everything there was to do, but everything we saw was engaging, well-executed, neat, and safe.  I think I heard something about a spacecraft area (for M,) but we didn't make it this time.  There was also a cooking class for kids, art classes, and hands on science experiments.  I can't imagine anyone could do it all in one day.





Before we left, the boys went wild on the *outdoor play structure and then cooled off in the splash pad. 

Again, either one would have been worth the trip in and of itself.  I've never seen such a huge playground, and in the heat of the day, that splash pad was so enticing! It was one of the best family outings we've found in Bangkok.


Especially since the museum is free to the public!  It is a sad reality that public parks and works deteriorate rather quickly in Thailand, so we will be sure to visit often while it is so nice and new!

*Bonus: I have lived in fear of playlands and playgrounds since L was first able to toddle off into one.  Even though he rarely has seizures now, I hate to think of him being up in one of those child-sized tunnels and needing help where I couldn't get to him.  This playground could hold adult weights and the only tunnels there were slides!




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Life I love you, always groovy

loved our resort.  The atmosphere was so relaxed- it felt like we were a million miles from the city, instead of just a quick hour's drive.



We spent nearly every minute of our waking hours there outdoors (and L and I definitely have the pink cheeks to prove it.)


We ate all our meals by the pool or by the river.  We hammocked and kayaked and explored and braved the icy pool again (much nicer in the heat of the day!)


The boys both screwed their courage to the sticking-place and bravely jumped several feet from the boardwalk to the cool river below... then climbed the ladder and jumped again and again for the rest of the afternoon.  Whim and I even indulged in luxurious outdoor massages.

The whole time I just marvelled at how easy it was.  The boys were mellow and they had room to explore and play.  The atmosphere was very kid-accepting, and I never felt like I had to hover over the boys and make sure they weren't bothering people.


This sign was perfect.  Number 10 says "Silence.  Don't disturb the peace.  And don't eavesdrop on other who are disturbing the peace."  

I'm always amazed at how refreshing and fun a quick weekend trip can be.  This weekend was particularly wonderful because every time we turned around people were commenting on how well-behaved and self-reliant the boys were, and asking what we did for them to be so articulate and confident and independent.

Seriously!  I wanted to pinch myself!  It's like Someone saw inside my harried, frazzled, often-cringing, always-worried mother heart and knew what I needed to hear most of all and arranged this whole weekend as a special valentine blessing just for me.

We're almost home, but I'm bringing these good feelings back with me.


Tiny dancers


Along with traditional hearts, we made dancing gingerbread boys for Valentine's day this year.
It may have to become a new tradition! L laughed his head off, which was perfect really, considering how many gingerbread boys ultimately lost their heads as well.

Valentine's day

Being a musician means working on holidays... that romantic Valentine's ambience doesn't set itself. 

Being a musician's wife (and kids) means going with the flow. Sometimes it means celebrating another day.   But sometimes, it means going along.  

Whim brought us all to Arthit-Tara lodge for his Valentine's weekend gig.  We're in heaven.


We found a smile on the river-side boardwalk.


We've relaxed in the hammock and frolicked with the resident puppies.


We dined al fresco- surely the most delicious rice and omlettes ever served.  Whim's friend Bam, the resident chef, has a gift for cooking.


We love our room, and yes I took them swimming.  It was freezing!


Thank you Whim, for this special Valentine's day trip!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sticky business


I have a sneaking suspicion that playing outside with a stick is the most beneficial, character building, and important thing my boys can do with their time.  

So why do I have to bite my tongue every time I peek out the window?  Don't climb that!  Careful!  Don't break it!  Watch out for his eyes!  What are you throwing? Let's leave those there.  You need to put shoes on! 

They spring forth from my mouth without warning.  Who is this worrywart and doesn't she have something else to do?

Sigh... I had every intention to not become a helicopter parent.  I have to admit, though, that a nice, quiet book is so much less anxiety-producing.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An American mom in Thailand

I think I can pat myself on the back and say that, for the most part, I've done a good job raising my kids as (half)Americans in Thailand.

They are both fluent in English: reading, writing, and speaking as well as their American-born counterparts.  They've had many chances to visit family in the United States, they Skype with their Nana often, and are well-versed in American-kid-culture, from tooth fairies to tongue-twisters. 

But, despite it all, one aspect of Thai mothering has rubbed off on me.  It's the swimming unit at school, and instead of sending them with their towels and sunscreens in a grocery store plastic bag, like I know in my heart is normal and ok, I searched through their stuff and found two "cute" waterproof bags to use instead.


It's bad enough to be the only kid in the pool not wearing a wetsuit (that's another story...) but at least I can spare them the indignity of being the only child without a proper re-usable cartoon-character swim bag!

Monday, February 9, 2015

International day 2015

Last Friday the boys performed in our school's International Day show.  Along with traditional Thai dancers, Korean taekwondo performers, Bollywood-style performers, and other cultural acts, they participated in a cheer routine to God Bless the USA with some other American families from our school - Check it out.  The boys are on the left with red pompoms.

My kids never miss a chance to get on stage, to be front and center, to perform.  I...  I'm not a signer-upper.

But did you know that when you show up to rehearsal to drop off your children, and they are short on adults, they put you in?  Yeah.  That's me up there.  What can I say.  It was the ultimate maternal sacrifice.  




New kitchen! Sort of

When we moved into our house six years ago, it was completely bare.  Not a shelf, cupboard, closet, rack, or hook anywhere in the place.

We didn't have the money to design built-ins, so we did what we could with bookshelves and... bookshelves.  Our kitchen was lovingly dubbed "the Lego kitchen" with bookshelves and an old armoir piecemealed together to create a place to store the necessities, for now.

"For now" lasted way too long, but about 3 years ago, we put in cabinets and cupboards and had a real kitchen.  Except there still wasn't enough room to store everything, and we still had one last bookshelf in the kitchen, overflowing with cereal boxes and tea.  And drinking glasses.  And baskets of Tupperware, dish towels, and hotpads.

Last year we bought two more cupboards from a friend who was moving house, and they've been stacked in the corner of our kitchen ever since.  Taunting me.  Several months ago, Whim took down the existing cabinets in order to hang the new ones, then hit a snag and never did. Soon they were stacked along the others. So no cabinets.  Dishes and groceries stacked on every available surface.

Until last week. Whim hung them and they look fabulous.  We moved the fridge, and it feels so open and airy. I love my new kitchen.


Now we get to decide where to put the bookcase!

Sorry bud


"When I have kids, I'm going to let them eat whatever they want."

I think the easiest chapter of parenting kids with a special diet it over.  L had a taste of "the good life" while we were in Alaska, and he misses it.

Maybe in retrospect I shouldn't have given them so many treats there.  But it was fun!  After all, I don't get those treats here either.  But now when he sees treats at the grocery store, he wants some. And there are none to be found.

Yesterday we made homemade pizza- a first- inspired by the gf, additive free Udi's crusts we used on vacation.  The verdict: ambrosia.

And I've got another trick up my sleeve for today: cornflake muddy buddies (we don't have chex here, but they are otherwise the same.)  Sometimes a day off comes at just the right moment.





It's all Greek to me



And he's off. The name of the game is Greek gods, and the obsession level is maximum.

I have to give myself credit for this one, because I totally called it months ago.  It's new/foreign words, super powers, exciting stories, and interesting facts all rolled into one irresistible nerd-love. 

Yesterday he needed a project to help him get centered after a hard, reactiony, swollen-eyed Saturday.  So he made a table of Greek gods, their Roman equivalents, and their respective domains.


He worked on it on-and-off all morning before church, calmly and peacefully, his only regret that he hadn't left room for a 'symbols' column on the page.

If only there were more gods, he wouldn't have gotten in trouble for hitting me with a catapulted pencil as soon as he finished.  I guess there's always Norse gods.  And Egyptian... 


Most interestingly: M, never one to miss a connection, especially between his two most favorite current interests, asked me why the Apollo missions weren't called Artemis missions, seeing as how they were bound for the moon, not the sun.  Hmm.  Why indeed?  Off to google.



Saturday, February 7, 2015

I've never been prouder


This last month has been a little hard for M. We're working on some ways to make school more positive for him, and helping him work through some bummer times with friends, too.  

Yesterday, a mom-friend approached me about a recent "incident" and I braced myself for the worst.  We've been friends since the boys were only a year old, so I knew we could get through whatever had happened between her son and M.  But the truth is, my stomach dropped to my knees as she described how her son had been having a bit of a hard time with friends at school.  I didn't want to believe that M was part of the problem, but I heard her out.

She described some classmates pushing her son the other day, and then M... stepping in to help.  My boy!!  I was so proud, my eyes welled up with tears right there in the school cafeteria. 

Before the end of the day I had heard two versions of the story: one where M said "If you're going to push someone, push me!" and one less dashing version where he just said, "Don't push my friend."   Either way, the friend was relieved and glad to have M on his side.  I can be so hard on him sometimes.  Hearing that story just made me want to kick myself for all the times I've nagged him to quiet down, and slow down, and calm down.  And thank my lucky stars that he is mine.

Later I told him how proud I was of him standing up for his friend, and he... had no clue what I was talking about. Well.  I guess he's just taking the non-chalant hero thing to a new level.




Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book suggestions?



A familiar sight with a new subject.

I remember when M was at this stage.  Picture books still entertain L (greatly) but it's taking ever more books per day to keep up with his demands, and he spends more time choosing the books each day after school than it even takes to read them.  He's done by the time we get home from school, no matter how many I let him take out.

He's ready to move on to chapter books, but not ready to commit, even though I know that one fun chapter book could replace 20 times its weight in picture books. (Backpack weight/time spent choosing books at the library every day after school are my only concerns.  He could read picture books for 5 more years and I wouldn't fuss.  M still enjoys them, too.  Heck, even I like them!)

For the record: with M, I failed spectularly until I realized he didn't want to read books about annoying 7-year-olds teasing their siblings.  Out with ALL the cheesy transitional chapter books I had been pushing, in with actual chapter books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, The Cricket In Times Square, Charlotte's Web, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Henry and Ribsy, and the whole Great Illustrated Classics shelf. He never looked back.  But, along with being a certified logophile, he had the skills to handle those heftier books.

But L is different.  He's younger, for one, and his reading comprehension is still closer to second grade than fifth.  Plus, he has a very specific set of interests.  In a word: cars.  

He'll happily read a picture book about pretty much anything fun, but hasn't been interested in diving into any of the transitional chapter books I've suggested.  I wondered if racecars could be the secret to unlocking chapter books for him.  It looks like they just might be.

He sweated his way through his first-ever chapter book, so curious to find out if Humphrey, the racecar-driving hamster, wins his big race or not. (Don't worry. I won't spoil it for you).  And when he finished he wanted to read it again.

So.  That worked.  Aside from The Mouse and the Motorcycle (perfect suggestion from my perfect BFF/expert on all things books and otherwise) what other easyish chapter books might catch the interest of a car-loving four-year-old?