Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Is this a milestone?

He looked at me.  I looked at him.  The slightest hint of a smile danced in his eye, but he played it cool.

Until she left.  And then the dam broke.

Mom, I think that nurse TOOTED!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I don't know how to cook fish!!

In Bangkok, eating out is so cheap, we do it all the time.  

L's favorite: mieng platu- plus curry, another fish, and rice all around- only puts us back about 10 dollars.

Yesterday morning we had a plate of mackerel fried rice each, plus curry, omlette, and stir-fried cabbage.  I think this one was maybe 12 dollars, but we all had hot cocoa, too.

It would be hard to do the work of shopping and cooking and recreate the meals any cheaper.  And we don't have to do the dishes!

We cook at home sometimes, too.  But we never have the same variety of veggies, sauces, and flavor.

I've been warning the boys to enjoy it while it lasts, but I think I'm really just warning myself.  I have been able to put it off for 32 years, but once we're in the states I can't be making the same few foods every meal.  I have to learn to cook!

Tooth symmetry yrtemmys htoot

That's more like it!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Good thing

It's a good thing I got everything off my chest and published that let it go post already, because if I had written it this evening it might have sounded a little different!

Wow, the boys were crazy today!  But we got to see precious friends who were visiting from Korea -and how many times is it going to take me to realize that the crazy moments with people we love are more important than my attempts at a calm, peaceful, stress-free day-to-day?

I'm learning.  Thank you, M and M, for bearing with us through the chaos.  From a distance, I might be able to pretend to have it all together.  But only at a distance, by keeping people out. If we're going to be up-close friends, there is no sense trying to hide it.

Our life might always be sort of crazy at times.  Thanks for still being a part of it!

Let it go (long and probably interesting to no one, but a reminder to myself)

Earlier this month, after seeking the advice of my sister C (parenting extrodinare) I made the life-changing decision to make like Elsa and let it go.

In a nutshell, for the past probably 5 years I have monitored and corrected almost every thing that M has ever done.  Too loud?  I'm on it.  Too talkative?  I'm on it.  Spinning while walking?  On it.  Annoying his brother, on it. (L was getting his share, too.  But as the baby, I didn't start on him until a little later and he's naturally less boisterous than M and a little quicker with social cues, so he wasn't getting as much. Still, not easy for either of them.)

My heart was maybe in the right place- I saw behavior I didn't want to develop into a habit, so I felt my job as a parent was to step in and: advise, remind, scold, punish... Whatever it took.  I'm the one who signed up to be a parent.  I have to be responsible for them, even the un-fun parts like shaping character.

The thing is, I slowly realized, that it wasn't moral issues I was getting after them for.  I wasn't having to get on them about hurting people or their feelings, teasing, lying, cheating, stealing, sneaking, backtalk, or anything sinful or evil.

I was constantly on them, all day, every day, about my preferences.  How prideful of me!  Being "too talkative" or "too loud" is an opinion.  At least half the human population is louder and more talkative than I am and I accept that as normal.  But when it came to my kids, I was using my preferences as a moral standard.

The goofball stuff, like bouncing or twirling instead of walking, is just a part of being an active kid.  I can teach them the right behaviors for the right places and not to bother people in public, but that means being ok with "unnecessary" movement and noise at home.  (Note to self: We don't always have to be in the same room.  Nothing wrong with sending them upstairs or outside to play.)

I'm reminded of the bible verse in Ephesians: "Parents, do not exasperate your children to resentment..."  By making personal preferences into moral issues (ie I told you to stop bouncing and you haven't, so you've disobeyed) I must have been exasperating them.  Of course I don't want my children to resent me for putting unrealistic expectations on them and micromanaging their every interaction.  (Even the Bible got it 2000 years ago?  Where have I been!)

I'm honestly not sure about the pestering and bickering with eachother.  But I do know that if constant intervening, reminders, scoldings, punishments, and berating worked, they would have stopped by now. Also, I know that if I'm honest with myself, my siblings and I fought and squabbled a lot when we were young.  And we all love eachother and turned out ok.

I think being all over them about everything was at least a little bit selfishness and laziness on my part, too. I could justify, "Well, it's not MY fault. I'VE told them and taught them a thousand times.  They just won't listen!"  instead of adjusting my ways to reach them or accepting the fact that they aren't me.  There was obviously a large portion of pride involved, as well.  How dare MY child do xyz and make ME look like a bad parent.

The worst was that when they did make a true mistake or bad choice, our corrections were getting lost in the white noise of all the rest of my nagging.

So.  I've let it go.  If it's not a moral issue, no comment. The change in my personal stress level has been radical.  I'm happier. They're happier.

And what I've seen in the past few weeks is that they already knew.  They already know.  They don't make mistakes or bad choices or annoy people because I failed to tell them one last time.  They make mistakes because they are human and fallen, like me. So, I will never scold them into perfect people, because there aren't any!  And since they are still learning social graces, they need to have legit interactions with people without me hovering so they can learn what people like, don't like, and do in all different kinds of social settings.

One pleasant and unexpected side effect of Operation: Elsa is that, by giving them space, I've allowed them to reflect on their own actions instead of doing it for them all the time.  When I don't rush in to scold, I find that they have time to consider other people's feelings and will often apologize themselves.  Isn't that what I wanted all along?

Yesterday we went to a wedding and had a perfect day.  The boys were wonderfully calm and quiet during the ceremony and charming and fun at the reception.

They sat with family friends for a long time between the ceremony and reception, playing Scopa. So long, actually, that Whim and I took a walk to 7-11 without worrying about them, and when we got back, they were still playing.

(I'm sure most moms of 7-year-olds have been this free for ages, but in the past I have never wanted to leave them with anyone, because what if they were naughty? If we ever did, I was anxious the whole time and would hurry back to avoid inconveniencing anyone for too long. Even hearing that they were fine never eased my mind for the next time.)

During the reception I even got to be another pair of hands for Whim's sister, who has a baby and a toddler.  Those days are so relentless, and I'm happy to be in a place where I can trust my own kids enough to let them be and help a loved one with hers, instead.

Friday, March 18, 2016

It's happening

We finally transferred the money for our airplane tickets this afternoon.  This is happening!

As of this evening, our renter has officially moved into the guest room.  For the next 2-1/2 months before we leave, we'll have a housemate.  It is actually happening.

It dawned on me today that this time next year, we'll be packing up and winding down- our time in Carmel will be almost over.  It's really happening!  Soon!

82 days until we fly.  47 school days left in the school year.  A million little details taken care of so far and a million more to figure out.

But I have had more fun googling public libraries and fossil dig sites and music festivals (and every last all-American pastime that my friends and I could think of) than one person should be allowed.  We are doing it!

Number 4

Oh gosh, I'm going to want to remember this gap-toothed moment.

In a serendipitous treat, I happened to have picked up "Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth" from the library's giveaway pile the very same day this one gave up the ghost.  There is something about finding books I had when I was a kid.  So familiar and comforting.  I can't resist.

Now the other top one is dangling by a thread.  Good bye beautiful smile!  See you again one day.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Climb every mountain

Yesterday was M's first-ever birthday party invitation where the mom specified that it was kids only.  

Good for us, moms.  We're doing it.  

M's last two birthdays have been the same and it's more fun and less stressful for everyone.  We dropped him off at the mall to watch Kung Fu Panda with his friends.  No fanfare.  I didn't even snap a picture.  But it's big!  Stepping back and letting him go a little.

Whim and I hung around the mall with L in the meantime and happened upon a great climbing activity set up in one of the gardens.

L was in heaven and didn't mind missing out on the movie one bit.

He is so brave and is just built to climb.  I remember laughing about how he gripped the rim of the tub so tightly as a baby- I should have known he'd be a good climber.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Early Easter

We'll call this our practice round.  Whim surprised us with a picnic after school, and he had all our eggs packed up and ready, too.  (They never would have made it 'til Easter, anyway, but now that we know how, it should be easy to make some more for the big day.)

We hid them at the King's park and the boys got to have an unexpected and early bit of holiday fun. 

I'm still so pleased with how they turned out.

M had half a dozen eggs before L even had one, so I walked with L and lingered conveniently in likely places.  I ended up with lots of sweet shots of him and none of his big brother.  But this one at the "whomping willow" is my favorite one of the day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Naturally dyed Easter eggs

Whim kept asking me if we were going to color eggs for Easter this year.  He's not usually the driving force behind our holiday celebrations, especially not American ones like coloring eggs....

Turns out he wanted to take pictures for his stock photos account. Hah!  Well, I was happy to oblige.  I don't know what the demand is out there for photos of naturally dyed eggs, but I really enjoyed trying my hand at making my own homemade, natural dyes.

I boiled beets to make red dye and red cabbage to make blue dye.  I used ground turmeric for yellow.  After a night in the fridge, they came out like the top photo.  (The marble egg in the back row was a plain white egg that I wrapped in a boiled cabbage leaf and left overnight.  I loved how it came out!)

Unfortunately, you can see in the bottom picture that the beet-red eggs didn't stay red for long. They faded and turned purple with white polka dots as water condensed on them. Luckily, the yellow and blue held true.

We decided to mix-and-match with different dyes and see how many different colors we could come up with.

The boys also wanted to try some rubber band stripes, so we boiled some more brown eggs and added them to the mix. Bigger rubber bands would definitely be better.

In the end, we got a lot of crazy-looking eggs.

Not many that you would call Easter colored... but interesting and varied, at least!  And there are three more brown eggs wrapped in cabbage to be revealed tomorrow.