Sunday, May 31, 2015

Spring summer

It's a three-day weekend, and Whim is out of town at a music festival. At the beach.  I love the beach.

Sometimes we get to tag along on these out-of-town gigs, but this one wasn't family friendly.  The band was sharing rooms. The hotel didn't have a pool and it wasn't walking distance from the beach, or the place where they were playing, or anything fun.   

We agreed that as soon as school was out, we'd plan some trips of our own. It didn't matter.  I needed something.  

Then a friend we haven't seen since her son started Japanese school several months ago asked to meet up at the Spring Summer organic market this afternoon.  Perfect.  Long weekends were made for friends and goodies.

We got there early and lounged in the shade.

When S's family arrived we had pineapple ginger fizzes and cinnamon ginger fizzes and banana bread and zucchini bread and grilled salmon and barbecued steak.  And fruit pops.  It was an additive free bonanza.  Someone had a piece of gluten-free chocolate cake AND and a gf chocolate chip cookie... but there is no need to name names.  The boys got along like S had never left. 




After a leasurely lunch and chat (the secret to a relaxed lunch? find a Japanese mother who doesn't hover and emulate her), S's mom invited us over to swim on her rooftop pool.  Twist my arm, why don't you?


I don't often go out with the boys when Whim's not home.  Especially not downtown and especially not to places I haven't been before.  I'm so glad we did. I'm so glad she asked.

This was just what I needed to get me through the last few days until summer.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blame

Remember the Shel Silverstein poem "Blame" about the child's wonderful handwritten book, tragically eaten by a goat, never to be recreated?

That's my post from the morning.  It was about the desperate tiredness of the end of the school year, comparing it to how urgently you need to go to the bathroom when you can't work the lock in a public bathroom stall, even when you didn't really have to go in the first place.  Anyway.  It's gone. 

Needless to say, I am exhausted (though happily not burned out) at the end of this school year.  I'm in the Cereal-for-dinner range of tiredness, which is about two steps away from the Do-I-really-need-to-brush-my-teeth-today? zone.

To save us all from that unpleasantness, I'm taking it easy on myself.  Last night I made the boys scrambled egg sandwiches- the easiest/fastest meal I could think of.  M loved them so much he asked me to make them for his birthday (which is... next October).  L was significantly less impressed.  There were tears.  I'm not the only one who's exhausted, I'm sure.

M tried to convince/admonish him with the funniest line I have maybe ever heard when I was this tired.  "L!  These are McDonalds' world renowned egg mcmuffins!"


This is not a recipe.  It's just a funny story and an encouragement to hang in there.  There's nothing wrong with the easy way sometimes.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rainbow



Last Tuesday I saw- for only the second time in my life- a 360 degree rainbow around the sun.

They probably aren't as rare as I'd like to think.  I admit, I don't often look up at the midday sun.  But they sure feel special.

Whim made a makeshift filter with his sunglasses and took a quick iphone pic.

The end of the school year is so hectic- report cards to write, special days to plan and pull off, lots of lasts... This moment was a welcome reminder to just pause and enjoy beautiful moments.

This morning L asked me if there is a job where you can travel to other countries and tell people about God.  What a sweet moment.  He is such a loving boy.

Then this afternoon, as M and the other kindergarteners practiced for their graduation, I watched as he sang proudly and carefully followed every hand motion.  There was a clutch of boys being silly to his left, but he never wavered. Last year he would have joined them without a second thought.  What a proud moment.  He's such a good boy.

This part of the year can be so tough, but it's still full of beautiful moments.




Saturday, May 23, 2015

L being cute

L had an asthma attack at school on Thursday- which his teacher and the nurse handled perfectly, I'm so glad to say- so he stayed home yesterday to rest.  

His asthma is so tricky to me.  It's not exercise-induced.  It's not emotionally enduced (I would have been so ready for that one thanks to my many years of devotion to the baby sitters club). But a cold or allergies sets it off, and he seems to go from zero to ICU in hours.

So when he looked allergy-y yesterday morning before school, I sent him back to bed, and he spent the day with Whim.

They showed up to M's play last night looking like this:


Talk about taking someone's breath away!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Night 2

Mr. G treated all the actors to pizza before tonight's performance and graciously invited M and A, too.

M wouldn't be able to eat it, but we wanted him to have that shared experience.  

Whim came through with an additive-free special delivery, and M got to sit and eat pizza with his cast mates.

 
I know I overthink things, but that moment was important to M.  And finding a way to let him participate in things like this respects his social needs while still allowing him keep his diet, which is a necessity for him. He wouldn't have complained about a sandwich or a takeout box of fried rice instead. But for a while, they were all just kids eating pizza.

The play was absolutely electric tonight, and M was encouraged by so many friends and teachers who came to support him.


I hope the good feelings from this experience will stay with him for ever.




Opening night



Look at these cuties on opening night! 


M has had such a wonderful time being part of this group.


He and A did so well.  They were definitely stiffer than in practice when they saw all the people in the audience, but they knew their lines and took their roles seriously.  M didn't crack a smile the entire dance number!

The rest of play itself was fun and silly and wonderful.  But the most magical thing happened after they took their bows.


One of the eight-graders swooped M up onto his back and raced him through the crowd, high fiving people left and right while A chased at their heels.

 
With the music, and the cheers, and M's peals of laughter, I was almost overwhelmed with happiness.  If I could have had a way to articulate it, that moment would have been my wish for M since the beginning.  That through the play he would be a part of something bigger than himself, feel accepted, and to experience something just like that piggy back ride.





Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tagless

I noticed a skin tag on M's neck a couple months ago.  It came out of nowhere.

I once worked with a lady with hundreds of skin tags all over her neck and collar.  She used to wear these necklaces and I lived in constant fear of a snag.  Just remembering those necklaces gave me shudders.

I put my aunt C's homemade balm of gilead on it and it shriveled up and fell off.


Tagless!  

I love modern medicine, but I love it even more when I can avoid it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tier 5

I don't know why I care about this, but my kids' uniform colors and degree of brotherly matchiness are in a direct relationship with my happiness and anxiety levels.  It is a multi-tiered system.


Tier 1: In my ideal week, they both wear yellow shirts on Mondays, burgundy shirts on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and blue shirts on Fridays.  

Yellow is the official color for Monday in Thailand.
Blue is the official color for Friday in Thailand AND the teachers wear blue shirts on Fridays, and it's nice to match.

The rest of the days don't actually matter, but we inherited a sack of hand-me-down burgundy uniform shirts from a friend, so it makes sense to use them the rest of the week.

This would actually be easy to repeat on autopilot weekly, without thought or stress, except that only two of the burgundy shirts are small enough for L, so this requires mid-week laundry.  

(There were no burgundy shirts in his size at the sweetie shop the day we went uniform shopping. I don't know why I haven't just bought one more shirt in the many weeks and months since, except that it seems ridiculous when we have a drawerful one size up and surely he is going to have a growth spurt any moment.)

Tier 1 Stress level: 0


Tier 2: In my not-ideal but still acceptable week, they wear the same color as eachother each day, but not according to the above color schedule.  This is easier because you can choose whichever pairs you have that match early in the week and leave the odd-ball non-matching shirts for later in the week, when you have presumably done laundry, and then match them up with the newly-clean brother pair.

In this case, you are not adhering to the official colors of the day on Monday and/or Friday, but you are still matching your brother.

Tier 2 Stress level: 20



Tier 3: In my unacceptable- but I do it sometimes- week, L wears one of the too-big burgundy shirts to maintain either the color schedule or brotherly matchiness.  If the color schedule is right, this only sets me up for minimum additional stress.  If this is in addition to being on the wrong color day, we are approaching the red zone.

Tier 3 Stress level: 40-60


Tier 4: This is nadir.  The boys go to school in two different colored shirts.  

It is important to note here that this is a 100% self-imposed, imaginary rule.  The kids' dress code allows for any uniform color they desire on any day of the week.  And despite Thailand's love of The Sound of Music, siblings are not required to match.  

The one good thing about Tier 4 is that on a normal week, if you don't look in the drawer, you might happily consider yourself in Tier 2 for most of the week, until you suddenly find yourself left with two bogies on Friday morning.

Tier 4 Stress level: 80 

So, why am I writing all this out today?

Because yesterday M wore his regular yellow shirt to school, while L wore an oversized burgundy one.  

Tier 5, the perfect storm.

June 4th, come quickly.




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Albert

When M was born, a friend of ours gave him an Albert Einstein-shaped pillow. 

As a toddler, he loved it.  He called it Albert.  Albert, Buzz, and blue blanket were his constant companions.  In fact, "Albert" was one of his earliest non-essential words. 

Yesterday the kindergarteners celebrated meeting their stamina reading goals by having a pajama day at school.  They brought favorite books and stuffed animals to snuggle up and read at school. And guess who made an appearance? 

Nope, not Albert.   

"Einstein". 

Just like that.  A kid reads a few books and suddenly he realizes that you don't get to refer to historical figures by their first names? What's next?



The same day, L's class celebrated Alphabet day. He is dressed as "R for racecar driver" (which he decided last year on his brother's Alphabet day and has mentioned approximately every two weeks for the last year.)  At least some things never change.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Welcome home


We did it.  Fish to love and lose.  

I'm not going to lie, I'm proud of their names.  

A golden Snitch
A silvery Patronus
A red-headed Weasley 
and a pitch-black Dementor.

M chose Patronus first, and it all followed from there.  Yesterday L was still calling his black fish "Vision", but he couldn't resist the lure of the Harry Potter themed group names any longer.  

Maybe our next pet can have a super-hero inspired name.



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Feelings

M loves charts and graphs and tables.  He likes filling them out, and often asks for one about easy-to-categorize things like superheros, animal traits, books (genre, characters, setting, problem, lesson learned, time period, author, number of chapters... We've done every combination or iteration of book table imaginable.)

I indulge because he's not asking for expensive toys or junk food or a tattoo.  And surely organizing information is a better downtime/lounging activity than playing computer or tormenting his brother.

Last night he made a table of the Avengers.  We've done this one many times, as well, but the new movie brought new characters and fresh information to sort.  Then it was a bar graph of the Avengers characters and how many movies they have each appeared in.  (We're on to you, Tony Stark.) 

Last, he asked for a "feelings chart".  I had to get creative, since it's not as straightforward as our usual type.  But as he worked on it, I realized he must have had something he wanted to process. 


I feel like these faces are the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. Look how the dissapointed guy is still trying to smile.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Chaiyo!


M got to raise the flag during the national anthem this week.  (It was an optional free-dress day for students who brought a donation for Nepal.  He looks like Whim, Jr. in that aloha shirt.) 

Afterward, I heard reports that he sang at the top of his lungs the whole time.  Doesn't surprise me a bit.  I still remember hearing him sing last year, from way up on the third floor!

Bad nose and good news

The other day, M read to me from one of his library books about a man who had been struck by lightning so many times, he was called a human lightning rod.  It was as if something about him attracted the strike.


I think L's nose is like that.  I have lost count of how many times he has bashed it open, right on the bridge.

Yesterday he was picking up a glass off the sticky table (note to self: get a maid, your children are actually suffering) and pulled so hard that when it unstuck, it hit him smack dab on the nose, busting it open in what is currently the third place.

The silver lining, because there always is one, is that he didn't have a seizure (even from the accompanying splash of water) and hasn't for so many months that I'm no longer keeping track.  Actually, the other day when M cautioned: "You're going to give yourself a seizure," I said, "He doesn't have seizures anymore, right L?" And I wasn't even feeling bold.

So I have thrown down the gauntlet to the universe.  Seizures are officially being referred to in the past tense from here on out.

The bar

Friday, the kindergarten put on a play for Chapel.  A real (albeit bite-sized) play, complete with memorized lines, costumes, and microphones.  They did such a great job in front of an audience of over a hundred of their peers and lots of moms and dads, too.  


M got to do what he loves best: read.  He was the narrator and read so confidently, with expression and excellent timing... I truly could not have done better myself.  


This play (like anything really important, I'm starting to believe) was extra.  It wasn't part of the curriculum, and as my dad was so fond of saying, it was a "hassle."  Borrowing costumes, squeezing in practices, corralling squirrelly five- and six-year-olds into their places.  Teaching the lesson myself would have been much more efficient.

But the kids experienced something - and took something away from that experience - that isn't testable or data-driven or recorded in a benchmark or standard or dictated by any committee.  

They tried something they had never done before.  They worked for it.  They failed, re-imagined, and found better ways.  They were creative and took the risk to make improvements.  Some of the best parts of the final product came from their suggestions  And when it was all over, they were truly proud.  And I was, too.  

This is to remind myself to raise the bar.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New looks

Somebody got a haircut!



Two somebodies, actually.


They look so grown up and handsome!  I love it.

Whim got a trim, too, and (of course) he posted some pictures of the three of them on Facebook.  I had to laugh at how many people messaged me to ask if I knew they had gotten cuts, or if I was on board.  

I guess I haven't kept my love of long locks a secret!  I may always prefer shaggy moptops, but I could get used to this too.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A fish?

Yesterday M came to me, out of nowhere, choked with sobs.  His wife was going die.  He snuggled up beside me for comfort and cried quietly while I tried to figure out where this was coming from.

No, I didn't forget to update regarding a recent elopement.  He's still single.  And he's still six-and-a-half.  

I don't know what brought it on, but the inevitablity of her death had him in deep despair.  It may not have been rooted in his current reality, but his grief was real, nonetheless.  

I offered condolences and told him that he and his wife would have every reason to expect years and years of happy times together before they needed to think about anything like that.  But I couldn't actually deny it, and he knew it.

He finally wiped his eyes and made a decision.  He wouldn't get married, then he wouldn't have to worry about losing his wife.  I recalled the adage, "It is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all."  He didn't agree. 

Two minutes later he was fine, and I was the one worrying.  This is the kind of stuff that is so hard about parenting.  If he just said he didn't want to get married, I wouldn't give it a second thought.  A six year old's whim is nothing to waste valuable worry time on.

But this was a conclusion, not a fleeting thought.  He was truly heartbroken until he found the "out".  M has always been a big feeler. His emotions - though not out if control like they once were - are raw and on his sleeve.  He is a happy child, but not happy-go-lucky.  Not blissfully unaware, like most kindergarteners.  I worry about him making decisions like that to avoid big feelings.

He has every right to make unwise decisions or come to less-than-perfect conclusions.  He's six!  I know that. But it's my responsibility to make sure that kind of thinking doesn't become habitual in him.  That's why I worry.  Being a parent is not for the weak!  

He has been asking for a pet.  Maybe it's time.  For a fish.  Or, better yet, a series of well-loved, short-lived fish.  Better to have loved and flushed than never loved at all.



Snowed in, Bangkok style

Our air conditioner chose this week to suddenly start dripping water.  The end of April: the stickiest, sweatiest time of year.

We recently had the hottest day in 55 years- at this time of year it doesn't even cool down overnight.

The air conditioner can't be cleaned until Monday.  What else could we do but retreat?

We spent the entire day yesterday holed up in the boys' deliciously cool room.




No computer.  No movies.  Just the four of us and our books and games.  In a funny way, it reminded me of being snowed in.  Or a blackout.  

But instead of being huddled by the fireplace with blankets and candles, we're doubled up on the bunkbed, emerging from our sanctuary just long enough to grab another puzzle or something from the fridge.  I don't think the boys squabbled all day.

By the time we're home from school on Monday, things will be back to normal.  I won't mind having my bedroom back, of course, but we might have to make a habit of being snowed in from time to time.