Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Things I Learned in June

I moved from the U.S. to Thailand a few months ago, so I learn approximately fifty new things every day. Here are just a few of the things I learned in June...

Playgrounds in Thailand have all the unsafe but super fun equipment that's long been banned in the USA. Things like merry-go-rounds and see-saws. And my daughters love it all, of course.

Tropical storms are fun! The thunder rumbles deeply and sometimes cracks so loud my heart drops. A single storm can bring dozens of bolts of lightening. The rain falls on our car park's tin roof so forcefully, I have to close the front door to be able to video chat with my parents. When a thunderstorm rolls in, the wind picks up and the temperature cools. After a storm, the air remains cool but becomes oppressively humid and we all sweat buckets. I am loving it all. Except the sweating buckets part.

The Thai word for "socks" is "foot bag." Perfect!

Trying to buy a car in another country is a time sucking, frustrating experience. Thank you, Lord, for easy to use public transportation.

I'm intimidating. I've noticed that when I walk toward a Thai man, he often gets a frightened look on his face and will sometimes even back away! This doesn't always happen, but it's happened often enough for me to notice. 

Why do some men act this way? Are they afraid of me? Am I misreading them? What are they afraid of... that I'm going to start speaking English and they won't understand? Why don't women act this way toward me? 

Street food is ruining my taste buds. I eat Thai street food once or twice daily. Almost every dish I eat is either sweet, sour, salty, spicy, or some combo of the above. Now, when I cook old favorites from life in California, they taste really bland. My husband and I dump on salt, red pepper, even spicy fish sauce to try to bring our old favorite dishes up to our new taste bud standards.

I'm not the only girl with a huge crush on my husband. My one-year-old is obsessed with him too. If I try to take her out of his arms, she screams at me. Daddy's girl through and through.

When I study Thai, I should always pull the eraser first out of my "keep clam" pencil bag. I make so many mistakes. But, that's how you learn, right?

This exists. A few weeks after I took this picture, I sent my daughter outside to put her shoes on. (Shoes are stored outside here.) When I went to help her, I saw one of these nasty critters about a foot away crawling right toward her little hands and feet! And did I mention they're poisonous? In the tropics, always look before you send very young children outside by themselves. Which leads me to my next lesson...

Always look before you pee. The news recently carried two stories of snakes slithering through plumbing into people's toilets. And they weren't garden snakes. No, no. One was a 3.5 meter long python and the other was a one meter long cobra. The python even bit a man's... you'll just have to read this article. Yikes. Always look before you pee.

My three-year-old is brave. When my now three-year-old was three months old, she became very anxious around strangers. Her fear grew and grew until she would scream and cry with anybody but me. I remember when she was one, we tried to get her to accept the church nursery and she cried so hard she threw up!

By God's grace, a lot of hard parental work, and good old-fashioned passage of time, she has mostly outgrown stranger anxiety.

Last month, she started attending Thai preschool. Everyday, she walks half a mile (in this hot, humid climate!), bulky, much-too-pink backpack bouncing on her back, all the way to school. She stays three hours immersed in a language she cannot yet understand and a culture that is so different from our own. She has cried a few times, she tells us she doesn't like it, and yet she keeps going. She has learned to be brave! I am so proud.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Riding the Roller Coaster of Toddler Emotions

As I raise my kids, ages 3 years and 21 months, I notice that any given day can oscillate rapidly between them being ridiculously cute, to moody, to silly and playful, to screaming in rage, and back to cute again with shocking speed. Sometimes the monster moments and the melt your heart moments come right on top of each other with hardly a breath in between.

I recently stumbled upon this vignette of motherhood and toddlerhood that I wrote about six months ago when Cora, my second kiddo, was 15-months-old. I think it captures the often-overlapping challenges and joys of parenting.


Last night, Cora was a hot mess.

She had napped well in the afternoon -- almost three hours ending at 4:30. However, by 6:30, our little firecracker was completely melting down. There were moments where she bowed low, forehead plastered to the ground screaming. Toddler D-R-A-M-A.

I gave her some space to see if she would just get over it. I tried to hold her. I tried to play with her. Nothing worked, she continued to cry hard. Finally, I took two deep breaths, scooped her up, and began her bedtime routine early.

As I carried her upstairs, brushed her teeth, and gave her a pacifier and blankie she calmed down realizing that bedtime was just around the corner.

I dressed her in striped green and blue second-hand baby boy pajamas. Her hair, now that it was finally released from her top-of-the-head firework hairdo, was loose, sticking up straight and wild. Her dark brown eyes were content and heavy and regularly drooping closed. She held her pacifier in her mouth just below her tiny button nose rhythmically suck, suck, sucking. She clasped her gray bunny blankie with both delicate hands holding it up to her nose, breathing in the smell and feeling the soft, gray fur.

I scooped her tiny body into my lap. I barely felt her there, not because she's so tiny (though she is) but because I am so used to her being there I don't even feel it when she is. We whispered our way through Goodnight Moon.

I pressed her little hands together between my hands like a Cora hands sandwich with Mommy hands bread. I prayed for her and she listened enraptured looking at her hands pressed between mine.

Then, we sang a little song and off she went to sleep without a tear.

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