Tuesday, June 30, 2015

L does, too!



L is a classic little brother- anything M is doing, he wants to be a part of it.  I wasn't surprised that after he saw M blogging, he wanted a blog, too.

Initially, I was tempted to start a book blog for him, as a way to motivate him and keep him reading.  

But M's blog was to support his passions of reading and language. There wasn't a hidden agenda to pressure him into anything.  So I decided that a blog might be a fun way to support his Lego love.  And like M's blog, I'm glad that it gives him a built-in chance to write.  

As an added bonus, it's been fun to see him taking pride in his creations.  And best of all, it has him pulling out and working with his old Legos almost every day, instead of just waiting for a new set.

Same old picture



I may never stop taking pictures like this, because the sight still brings me so much joy.  Seeing him sit calmly feels like a miracle, even though the days of chaos are far behind us.

All that frenzied desperation to move, and see, and do, and touch, and twirl, and break, and climb, and jump has transformed into a equally desperate thirst to know, and read, and understand, and relate, and compare, and express, and discover.

His intense emotions have transformed, too.  Those same feelings that used to overwhelm him now help him relate, feel compassion, empathize, and understand others.  He still feels deeply, because he is still intense.  But his diet (in addition to a few years of good-old-fashioned growing up) has made that intensity a positive attribute instead of one that will hold him back.

When I first started his diet, I didn't know what was "wrong" with M, but I had a hope that the diet would fix it.  It's so obvious now that the only thing that was ever wrong with him was what he was eating.  

His intense, curious nature as a toddler would have made him a handful no matter what he ate, but the out-of-control feelings and lack of impulse control he experienced because of his diet were a recipe for disaster- for all of us.

I wonder, sometimes, what life would be like if we had never found the connection between his troubles and his diet. His reactions are less severe now- maybe he would grow out if it eventually.

But I don't think he would have found the same love for books, and what a shame that would have been.




Monday, June 29, 2015

SS Market, again!



The Spring Summer Epicurean market was back this weekend- it's only open the last Sunday of every month, so we've been looking forward to it since our last visit!

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we arrived just a bit before they closed down for the day. It was just as lovely as we remembered.  We scored tons of free treats and discounts from vendors wrapping up, too!  

My (delicious and additive-free) shawarma was half off, the boys got free rosewater lemonades, and our "superfood salad" was discounted, too.  

Can't wait to see what's there next month!

Friday, June 26, 2015

M has a blog


A few weeks ago, M started a blog (with a little help from mom.)

With all the time he spends reading, this summer I wanted him to respond to the book he reads in some way.  He has such a unique way with words, but isn't used to putting his ideas down on paper. 

At this point, I encourage him to write a post for each chapter book he finishes- a bit of a summer project. But I am hopeful that this will soon transform into something that he chooses independently and enjoys as much as the books themselves.  

For now, he describes, summarizes, or recalls his favorite parts of each book in a few sentences. As his writing grows, his blog can grow with him.


It's been so good for him.  He's learning about writing, spelling, and even editing, without me having to say a word.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Balance

I wonder if I'll ever stop worrying about the wrong things?

After a day at the pool yesterday:





and a trip to the zoo Monday:


L was thrilled to hear that he gets to go to a casting call today.

We brought his new lego set and got here early (scored the second queue number) and he's already getting his hair done.  No sighs in sight.




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The perfect egg



I know it's self indulgent and tacky to take a picture of your food, but look at this.

This was the most perfect fried egg I have ever seen.  

Freshly made, not greasy, not frizzled on the edges.  No white left undercooked, but the yolk was still perfect and only ran when I punctured it with my spoon.

I want every egg I ever eat for the rest of my life to be exactly like this one.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Worry, why should I care?


This week the boys had a couple of casting calls for a few commercials.

School's out and our summer schedule is free and easy.  But I can't help worrying how much is too much.  

Rationally, I know that a single, random week with two auditions during a long summer full of relaxation is not a big deal.  Even if they get one of the jobs (probably not likely, but you never know) it would just be one or two more sessions.  There's still weeks and weeks of wide open days for zoo trips and cartoons and sleeping in and friends and adventures.

But when we were waiting today for their turns, L definitely heaved a few sighs of boredom.* That's what got me worrying. 

We have said from day one: We're not serious about it, this is for fun.  We'll only do it so long as they like it, and we'll stop if that changes.  

Nobody wants to be one of "those" pushy moms who neglects her kids' needs in her desperation to get them into the spotlight.  If the kids didn't enjoy it, we wouldn't do it.  End of story.

So the tricky part is: He loves it when it's his turn.  He likes doing the "job" and seeing himself in the rare magazine or commercial.  He likes the attention from the crew, the wardrobe changes and makeup, the whole experience.  But he doesn't like waiting around for a long time before he gets his turn.

The most self-critical part of me says: He hates it.  You're already one of those moms.  You're horrible.

The less critical part says: Wait, he still likes modeling.  He just doesn't like waiting around.  Who does?

The more critical part accuses: He wouldn't have to wait if you didn't bring him to the casting.  That's the point!

And the other part answers: But he wants to go.  He's just bored, like he gets bored waiting at the bank or the grocery store.  Being bored never hurt anyone- this just feels different because the modeling still seems too cool to be true.  So it feels like there has to be a downside, and this must be it.

For today, I have consoled myself with the thought that despite my best effort as a parent, L has- in his less charming moments- actually complained about being bored while at home.  So changing the location of his boredom from home to the studio probably doesn't register on the scale of my worst parenting mistakes.

And the truth is, that critical voice in my head isn't my own worries.  It's the thing I worry someone else might think or say.  And aren't I supposed to not care what other people say? 

Instead of assuming that the answer is to stop the modeling full-stop, maybe I can think smaller and stop the boredom instead.

*M is always happy to have a long stretch of time to read, so no complaints from him.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Please tell me gf wheat thins are next!

Earlier this month, we found "safe" hamburger buns and made the boys their very first ever barbecue grilled cheeseburgers (on a real bun).


Then this week it was hotdog buns, for L's birthday chilidogs.

 
Slowly but surely, more organic and additive-free options are becoming available to us here in Bangkok.  

If there was ever a time to have a restrictive diet in a developing country, it's now.







No shame

During lunch, Pastor D brought up Greek mythology.  Well, you could say the comically-large book M had propped up on the table while he waited for the meal actually brought up the topic, but Pastor D put it into words.

D: You like gods, huh?  Which one do you like best?

M began highlighting the merits of the various gods he was reading about, unwilling to pick just one.  But it didn't matter, because Pastor D was "going somewhere" with this.

Pastor D:  I know the most powerful of all gods.  Do you want to know him?

M: ...

Pastor D:  He created the world.

M: Are you talking about mother Gaia? She... 

Pastor D:  Before that.

M:  Do you mean the Titans?  Kronos is...

Pastor D:  This God is greater than all others.  He's real.  He knows you.  And he died for you.  His name is Jeshua. [dramatic pause...] Jesus.

M:  Pppfft!! We were talking about Greek mythology!

M is absolutely authenic. Though that lesson would have hit me just as it was meant, leaving me properly shamed for failing to think of the "right" Christian answer, it would never occur to him to be embarrassed. 

I love Pastor D, so I don't hold it against him.  But some people don't know what to say when they get around kids, so they default to weird roles. Like mentor of spiritual matters instead of just Uncle D.

This was a (thankfully uncharacteristic) flimsy attempt to shame him for having intense interests outside of those directly related to the church.  But M brushed it away without a second thought. 

I learn so much from him. I'm practing my "Pppfft!" for the next time someone tries to pull something like that on me.

Interestingly, after that exchange, the conversation shifted.  Less "listen to me" and more "let's talk."  

At another point in the meal, Pastor D told M that if he asked him, God will give him visions and dreams.  Like a secret message to figure out.

M answered that he loves secret messages, and that he and his brother are learning to use morse code.

Pastor D countered that this kind of code is even more special than morse code, but M wasn't convinced.  So Pastor D challenged him to keep a journal near his bed and write down the messages that God reveals to him.  M's answer?  I'll write them... in Morse code.

Once again, he felt no pressure to say anything outside the truth of his experience.  I love that.  

In chatting with his wife R, I was reminded that parenting is about the future, not the present.  M's personality makes it very hard to be six. But those same traits will serve him well as an adult, and it would be foolish to squelch or suppress them in an attempt to make him a more "normal" kindergartner.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

L's fifth birthday


We haven't had a bottle in the house for 4 years, or changed a diaper in three.  We haven't had a toddler among us in two years... and now there aren't any four-year-olds around, either.   


On your fifth birthday you are:
Absolutely adorable.  
Particularly fond of posing.  Not for the camera, but for life in general.
Obsessed with mazes and captivated by numbers.


Imaginative.  
An immediate, ardent fan of every superhero you come across.
Still an almost-daily napper.
Quick to fuss, but equally quick to forgive.
Determined to become a racecar driver.

Naturally, I remember the day you were born.  But I also remember so clearly the day we brought you home from the hospital.  It was so easy, like you'd always been here.  I remember thinking "well... this isn't so bad."  And I baked a cake. 

I thought of that cake today as I mixed up your birthday cupcakes.  How different that day was from the chaos I felt when we brought your brother home. M may be the one who made us a family, but you made us us.  You completed the picture.  You're puffect.

Happy birthday, TSO.  I love you.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Who?

Who brings a 300 page, hardbound encyclopedia of Greek gods on a nature hike?


The same child who continued reading it,
late into the night, by the light of a glow stick bracelet.


He didn't read it... on the hike.  But I think it was nice to know it was there. 

M is so lucky to have discovered a true passion at such a young age.





Friday, June 12, 2015

The summer of swim

If my eleven-year-old self found out that she/I/we grew up and lived in a community with a pool but never went to use it, she/I would never forgive me.

We haven't been in a year.  Why are we so lame? We love it when we are there, despite a few missing tiles and the super-chlorinated water. 

No more excuses.  It's not a resort-quality pool, but it is RIGHT HERE!  


We went this morning and have officially decided that this is going to be the Summer of Swim.  It's funny, but looking at L's watersides post again got me thinking.  "Packing a lot of fun into one overnight" shouldn't be exclusive to out-of-town trips!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer special

Last weekend, we unearthed a hidden treasure from the back of the fridge.  It has been there since Christmas, waiting for the perfect moment to emerge.

We had so many treats while we were visiting Alaska (it's practically all I posted about for three weeks), and we had every intention of stocking up on more before the end of our trip, to bring back to Bangkok with us.  

But all our last-minute shopping plans changed when we experienced a bizarre drive-by shooting.  To focus that last day on shopping would have been a sacrelige.  We spent it together by a fireplace, which I know was the absolute right choice.  

So we came back without all the extra treats.  But luckily, we did still have a bag of marshmallows, which my cousin had picked up for us earlier in our trip.  We brought it back and tucked it away.  And last weekend- the first weekend of summer break- we broke it out for s'mores.


We had to use the boys' Goodies animal crackers and our favorite "healthy" chocolate mints, since we don't have all the same additive-free options here, but I didn't hear any complaints.


In Bangkok, it's pretty much always barbecue weather.  But there is something magical about a summer-vacation-s'more, isn't there?  To eat them just anytime would diminish their magic.  

Well, maybe not... But I have always loved it when things feel special, and I want my kids to have little traditions like that, too.


Spending a summer afternoon gathered around the barbecue just feels right.  Unlike spending it at the dentist's office, which is where we all are right now...

L's early birthday waterslides


To celebrate L's birthday (a week early) and to start summer off on the right foot, we took a quick trip to the beach! 

L had asked to go to a waterslide park, and a very wise friend pointed out that for the cost of tickets for a family of four, we could get a room at Centara Grand Mirage in Pattaya and enjoy their waterslides as a part of our stay!  Genius! In the end, the room was a bit more than just waterslides would have been, but we all agree it was totally worth it.

Pattaya, our nearest beach, isn't exactly picture-perfect white sand paradise.  I didn't know what to expect, but our friend assured me that we would love it.


She was right!  It was gorgeous.  I think we've all been spoiled.   It's going to be hard for our usual 800 baht rooms to measure up from here on out.


The water isn't crystal-clear, and the sand is admittedly a little rough, but it's the ocean.  Even when it's bad, it's good.

We spent most of our time in the pool.  The lazy river/waterslide combo was our favorite, though we did indulge in some "cliff jumping" at the deep pool and the kids also liked taking a break in the splash pad.




Whim got a waterproof phone case, and we took so many pictures that eventually, every time I called his name, L would say, "Is it time for a sophie?"  By the end of the trip, he had us all saying "sophie!" (selfie) instead of cheese.

It was hard to leave, but I've noticed time and again that you can pack a lot of fun into a quick overnight trip.  And speaking of packing, we packed our own food and only had to worry about eating out once. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Marzipan Olafs

L has always marched a bit to the beat of his own drum.  It's a wonderful trait.  I'm proud of how sure he always is.

If he decides he likes something, he doesn't need company.  He isn't the least bit swayed by "but everybody..." persuasions.  It's not that he's stubborn. He just absolutely, truly, in his heart, does not care what other people think.  Inspiring.

Recently, while reading the misadventures of an anthropomorphic cupcake [Bake Sale], he discovered a word so intriguing, so intoxicating, so beguiling and incredibly attractive that he knew he couldn't live without it for another day. 


 Marzipan.  



What was it?  Who knew?  Not him.  But still, he had to have it.

As luck would have it, his K4 teacher arranged for him to bring a treat on the last day of school, since he has a summer birthday.  Despite everybody who has ever had a birthday at school bringing cupcakes or a cake, he chose marzipan.

I had never made it or tasted it... or even seen it, but who was I to stand in the way of his dream.  How hard could a few marzipan cats be, right?  

While the marzipan turned out great (I think...  remember I had never seen it before) we gave it a heroes try on a test run last weekend, but our attempts at animals came out looking like lumpy snowmen.  We did some fast thinking and decided they were Olafs.


Still tasted good.

In the end, he brought his marzipan balls to school proudly and shared them at his end of the year program.


That's him, striking a pose.

And now, we're officially "...in summer".



M's K5 graduation

Today was M's Kindergarten graduation.  Don't they look adorable in their gowns and sashes?  


His teacher and I worked out the program, and the parents of both classes came together to decorate.  It looked incredible!

There were "photo booth" areas with funny backgrounds and props, beautifully designed signs and banners, and miles of colorful bunting and balloons.

But my favorite were the charactures.  Every child was almost immediately recognizable. And even the ones that took me moment, once I saw the key- whether it was the eyes or the smile or the expression- it became so clear.


Every child was noticed and celebrated.


Teachers too!