Tuesday, April 30, 2013

School on the Road

Sorry to disappoint anyone who thought this was going to become an all-star homeschooling blog.  Though I do have a few more books we've covered that I've been meaning to post, I figure those of the grandparent persuasion would rather see their littles splashing in the ocean than another picture of a lame craft made out of a paper plate.  This particular project brings together both of them!

I read the book "Sand Cake" a gazillion times when I was little.  It's the story of a bear family that goes to the beach and makes a cake out of flour, milk, eggs, and salt drawn onto the shore.  I loved the book so much that I snatched it from my parents' house when we were in Austin last year.  And then I brought it all the way to Thailand, so Micah could reenact Little Bear's beach baking.  

First, we drew a cow and milked it to get milk for our cake.  Ever since we studied "Angus Lost," the kid has been a little obsessed with udders.  He frequently asks me whether fill-in-the-blank animal or certain family members have them.  

Then he harvested the wheat to make flour.

And collected some eggs from a chicken.

Finally, he added a salt from the ocean water and stirred it all up in a bucket.

Then it went into the oven to bake.  About this time, Micah got distracted by the mud bath festivities and forgot completely about his sand cake.  At least Emma was there to take charge for him.  She even decorated it with little shells after I told her it was done baking.

The book concludes with the Mama Bear announcing that she has made a cake for the family out of real flour, eggs, and milk, and then they all enjoy a nice picnic on the beach.  Not this Mama Bear.  I scrubbed the mud off them and then fed them Thai food for lunch with definitely no cake for dessert.  Even still, there wasn't any complaining coming from my little beach-going baker.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

The tide is low in the morning at Dolphin Bay.  So instead our beach time that morning was more accurately an entire shore of mud.  Sloppy, gloppy, squishy, oozy mud.  And six little boys and two grown-up boys were quite literally in hog heaven.

What began as Kevin's assertion that mud works better than sunscreen quickly developed into football pads to complete Sam's linebacker physique,

pants for daddy,

a pair of shoes,

a mud bath for a growing crowd,

and then the classic bury-daddy-in-the-glop game.

Note that it's the boys who are hard at work.  Our lone female representative in the kiddo crowd didn't seem too keen to get in on the muddy action.  Boys will be boys.  Dirty boys who were fishing mud out of their noses & ears for days afterward.

Even Hudson was smitten with the slimy stuff.  It was a chore to keep him from ingesting too many shells.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dream Beach

You can't have a beach vacation without...well, the beach.  Let me just say that this is probably the most kid-friendly beach I've ever been to.  That doesn't really say a lot since this is only the second beach I've visited during my not-so-long tenure as a parent.  Nevertheless, there was zero undertow and the kids could walk into the ocean 30-40 feet before it got deep.  A parent's dream beach really.  

A place where you can wrestle with daddy long enough to melt away the cheesy toddler grin that frequents so many of my pictures...

Where a baby can eat as much sand, shovels, and shells as he can get away with...

Where a mama can happily wear her $3 Louis Vuitton sunglasses... 
("They're real!" the Thai seller at the night market promised.  "A real copy!")

Where a baby can learn firsthand the joy of cheap sunglasses and the nonjoy of sunburns... 
(hey, you can't blame me!  I've never had a white kid before!)

Where little boys can unleash their inner fish...

Where diapers are so full of ocean water that swim suits can't even stay up...
And two year olds remind you for days that he no like the boat be loud...

Where daddies bond with their sons...

Where fledgling marine biologists chase after crabs and comment on how beautiful they are...

Where two little men learn that they have more in common than the last 5 letters of their name...

There's really not much else to say except that we had a beachin' good time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Vacation Life

No, this picture is not photoshopped.  If it was, I would have actually made all of my children looking the same direction.  (Is there an action for that by the way?)  But that sunset...oh that sunset...is as real as they come!  And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons why we love Thailand.  

After our meetings in northern Thailand, we took a short flight and a not-so-short drive to Dolphin Bay with these fine friends.  We've known each other since our paths crossed in Louisville and before there was nary a child in the picture.  Now there are 7 children between our two families! 

The resort where we stayed booked us in a cottage, so we had a living room where we could hang out after the kids all went to bed.  That is worth its weight in baht!  They also kept our kids one day during nap time so Kevin & I could sneak away to get a foot massage together.  We've decided that vacationing with friends is definitely the way to do it.  Our kids have more fun, Kev & I have more fun, and I'd like to say that our friends had more fun too (though you'd have to ask them!).

Upon arriving, we were disappointed to find out that the pool where we were staying was undergoing repairs.  But what we got in return was permission to head down the street to the fanciest resort to use their pool.  The kiddie pool was big enough that it didn't feel like a glorified toilet, and there was a restaurant right next to the pool where we ate a few times.

One of my favorite things was the grass.  Lush, green, and...grassy.  While at our resort, I pretty much went the entire day without wearing shoes.  We were asked to take of our shoes at the door where we met for meals, so I figured there wasn't much point in wearing my shoes at all during the short walk there.  We could see the stars at night, hear the birds singing in the morning, and could taste the freshness of the air.  Our urban home definitely makes us thankful for these things!

We loved watching all the kids play together.  The two babies, Judson & Hudson, were fascinated with one another.  We had story & song time in our cottage during the odd hours where we didn't have enough time to make it to the beach or the pool.

I'm certainly not one to complain about vacation, but I have to admit that there are some definite challenges to vacationing with littles.  I've heard some moms not even refer to it as "vacation" but instead substituting "trip."  Probably a more accurate portrayal of the whole experience!  Gone are the days of lounging around, only appealing to my fancy for a decision on what to do next.  There are kiddos to chase and tummies to feed.  But there are also memories to be made and laughter to share, which makes it totally worth it to take yet another international trip with our brood.

Challenge #1 was hotel life.  We are still able to fit our family of 5 in one hotel room.  Our hotel room during the first part of our trip had two twin beds for Kevin & me, a crib for Sam shoved in between, a mattress for Micah on the floor, and our pack & play for Hudson crammed in the corner.  It was definitely a cozy fit but, since we didn't travel to Thailand to hang out in the hotel, we made due.  The only thing about having one hotel room for the entire family was the when the kids went to bed, Kevin & I were relegated to hanging out in the hallway.  So for 8 nights in a row, you could find us in the hallway, perched on pillows, watching a show on our lap top.  A date night of some sort you could call it.  The other thing about sharing a hotel room is that when one person gets up in the morning, everyone gets up.  And if that person was under the age of four, they usually ended up in mama's bed.

This was our final moment in our hotel room home before we headed south to the beach.  Maybe we were just happy to soon be in a place with a bit more space!

Challenge #2 was bath time.  Since we were swimming and sweating under the Thai sun everyday, my pretty flexible stance on the frequency of bathing firmed up a bit.  But since we didn't have a bath tub where we were staying, we had prison shower time.

Challenge #3 was just getting there & back.  Our resort at Dolphin Bay was a four hour drive from Bangkok.  For some crazy reason, we decided to drive to the airport, hang out there for 6 hours, board a 6 hour red eye flight to Seoul, spend another 6 hours at the airport there, and then board another short flight home.  We've always had good experiences with overnight flights with our kids before but this one has caused us to reconsider our position.  

Fear not...what is a trip to the beach without beach pictures?  There's enough of those for a post all of its own, so they should be up in a few more days.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Then & Now

We just got back this afternoon from two glorious weeks in Thailand.  Let's just repeat that together...two.glorious.weeks.  Sunny skies, flip flops, and all the $1 mango smoothies you can drink.  It's a definite respite from our typical days on the other side of Asia.

Our family is usually there for various reasons about once a year.  I've enjoy visiting some of the same places year after year because it's a very vivid reminder of how much things have changed.  Take, for example, our trip to the zoo.  The last time we went to this particular zoo was in 2011.  We were in the midst of dealing with Sam's unexpected seizure issues and decided to take a day off from doctors & hospitals and have a bit of fun.  Fast forward nearly two years, and there are quite a few noticeable differences.

In 2011, I couldn't even attempt to get a family picture because certain members of our family wouldn't hold still. 

In 2013, that same little guy has now mastered the toddler cheesy grin and will gladly accept the bribes I dole out to him for just one more picture.

In 2011, the Ergo was home to one baby.

In 2013, it's home to another.

In 2011, I'm guessing the most wildlife the boys had experienced were dogs, cows, and goats.  Which explained a lot why they were both elated and timid during our up close encounters.

In 2013, that's definitely no longer the case.

In 2011, I tried to amp up the entertainment value of the zoo by making them ride animal statues.

In 2013, I'm still up to the same tricks.  But this time, it's telling them them that we just climbed 28 steps in the blazing Thailand sun to see a panda statue when in reality we climbed 28 steps in the blazing Thailand sun to realize that you have to pay money to see the real pandas.  That's when mom calls an audible and decides that the panda statue is the new main attraction.  

In 2011, I realized that the Ergo child is hardly in any pictures.  That's because it's far too much work to take them off, take a picture, only to put them back on again.  And partly because the Ergo-wearing mama would like to conceal as much sweat as possible that the Ergo child (aka-heat blanket) has helped to produce.  But in the epic battle between sweat and sentiment, sentiment always wins.

In 2013, I again attempted to make efforts to include the Ergo child in the family memories.  But sometimes the Ergo child does not appreciate my attempts to be sentimental.  Come on, baby!  I even put you in the same stinkin' shirt Micah wore two years ago!  And not ever a facade of happiness for me.  

Maybe he's just a little concerned that the pig has no nostrils.  That would worry me too.