Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to us.

I turned 34 today.  Aaron turns 37 tomorrow. It was a great birthday, and a great birthday weekend, not really because I did anything different or went someplace special.  In fact, the opposite is really true.  But I'm realizing that as crazy as my life sometimes feels, as tired or as frustrated as I might feel at times, the moments that I spend feeling incredibly blessed overwhelm me.  My birthday weekend was a typical one in the sense that it was full of surprises, laughs, a lot of hard work, and very little sleep.  I'll give the rundown in snapshots:

Wednesday night:  We got tickets to the brand new basketball stadium, College Park Center, at  UTA.  The boys LOVED it.  They did the "wiggle dance" on the big screen, got to hug Blaze, the mascot, and even got to visit the President's Hospitality Suite for some free popcorn and brownies.

Thursday evening:  Pla Shee's 4th grade music program.  Exerting his independence (in keeping with the patriotism theme of the program), Pla Shee opted not to do any of the hand motions during the performance.  Aaron was fully supportive of this choice, and the two bonded over a new English vocabulary word after the performance--"lame." (Eyes rolling)

Friday evening:  Relatively uneventful, though Pla Shee's older brother, Pah Day Day and his friends came out to the farm around 8 pm and stayed until well after midnight "hunting" for miscellaneous varmits.  They caught none.  Here they are the next day hanging out in the backyard.

Saturday:  Several refugee families came out in the morning and spent the day working in the garden to get the beds ready for planting in a couple of weeks.  They are so thrilled to spend the day in the country, as they say that it reminds them of their lives in Burma.  We have lots of seeds that we ordered from Thailand, so we'll be growing vegetables that they can't get in supermarkets here in the States. 

Even Kai and his friend Gracie Lin got in on the action.

It was all too much excitement for Ruby, though. She had to take a little siesta while supervising.

Later in the day, Caroline taught Aaron to cook Karen-style fried noodles.

Meanwhile, I led a game of picture bingo in our living room, which as you can see from the photo, is looking a bit disheveled.  We had a blast learning about toothbrushes, hammers, airplanes, pajamas, etc.  Lots of laughs from adults and kids alike!

Sunday (my birthday):  We had a low-key morning at home, with Kai agreeing to do a fashion-show of his new "lumberjack" outfit I dug out of the closet because he is finally big enough to fit it (It's size 12-18 months).  Well, it kind of fits, if you put his belt on the tightest it will go.  Yes, he's two and a half.  :)

Lest you mistakenly believe I had a 2.5 year old who agreed to let me take his picture multiple times without throwing a fit, I assure you this was not the case.  He drives a hard bargain...for every picture I took, he also got to take a picture.  Thank god for digital cameras, or we'd be spending a fortune on film!  I'll spare you the 18 photos where various parts of my body, usually my head, are chopped off in the frame.  Here's the big winner:

Please excuse the unmade bed and crazy curtain problem.  At least we have the birthday theme going on.

Sunday afternoon:  We skipped going to our church this morning and instead went to Grace UMC in Dallas for a service led by their Africa ministry, complete with traditional music and dress.  Sorry, no pictures of this one.

Sunday evening:  Our friend Holli came over and we made homemade pizzas for dinner and a cookie cake for dessert.  Here is Kai "helping" Holli make the cookie cake.

And here are the boys decorating the cake.  We started off pretty low-key...

...and ended up with an all-out masterpiece.  For the record, it says, "Happy Birthday Aaron Diane Pla Shee Kai Ruby Holli."  Well, that last one was a actually says "Hol" instead of "Holli" because Pla Shee's "hand was too tired to finish."  That's a direct quote.

And here we are, wrapping up the evening.  Our silly family...Aaron in a stained tank top, classing it up, Ruby naked except for a diaper, and yes, those are matches sticking out of the cookie cake.  Couldn't find the candles.

I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chicken time

Kai, Ruby and I usually have a couple of hours in the afternoon to spend together before Aaron and Pla Shee get home from work/school, so I'm always trying to switch things up a bit to keep them interested.  We have had some great weather ever since the rain let up at the beginning of the week, so yesterday we headed outside to "run so fast" (Kai's favorite phrase at the moment) and feed the chickens.  Kai was not feeling especially brave, so he opted to toss the food through the fence this time.  Ruby was loving it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Puddle Jumping

Lots of rain the past few days means way too much time cooped up inside for two energetic boys!  So this afternoon we made the most of it and let them get absolutely filthy.  They were in heaven!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We love the Planetarium!

We took all three kids to the UTA Planetarium on Sunday, and it was a huge hit with everyone.  I think Ruby liked it the best, though.  She was kicking her feet, waving her arms, and giggling through the whole show.  I had never even thought about taking a baby to a planetarium, but it was definitely right up her alley.  The boys liked it, too, but they liked the Space Ice Cream even more.  Aaron and I were laughing about how much our lives have changed since our last visit to the UTA Planetarium in November of 2008, recounted in this blog post.  We wouldn't wish it any other way, but it does seem like a very distant past when we used to go on "dates" on Friday nights!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kai's Glasses!

At our last visit to the eye doctor a couple of weeks ago, we learned that Kai has regained almost no vision in the eye that was injured.  We had been holding out hope that the patching we had been doing had helped, but at this point it sounds like he doesn't have much vision in that eye at all.  So the doctor prescribed eyeglasses not so much to improve his vision, but instead to serve as a layer of protection for his good eye.  The great news is that he has excellent vision in the good eye, and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way.  Playing mind games with a 2 year old to encourage him to actually wear his glasses has been an interesting process. 

Bribery:  "You can have [insert toy or sweet treat of your choosing here] if you put your glasses back on."

Flattery:  "Oh Kai, you look so handsome with your glasses on"!

Emotional power play:  "It makes mama so sad when you throw your glasses across the room. [Fake crying helps.]

Modeling:  "Look, Mama and Daya have glasses too!" [Usually followed by Kai's keen observation, "Not Ruby and Kai and Ja Ja (Pla Shee)!"

Bargaining:  "We can't do X until you put your glasses on." [This one seems to work best in general, but is a real bummer when we're running late and really need to get out of the door in a hurry.]

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Do unto others?

I consider myself to be generally optimistic about life, and usually see the best in others.  I tend to think that the vast majority of people that I encounter are genuinely good and decent. 

But I'm frustrated tonight as I've been reflecting on my trip to Target with Kai and Ruby this afternoon.  I usually try to avoid trips to the store with both of them when I'm by myself because they are totally unpredictable and I never know whether everything will go just fine or if Kai will decide to exert his "independence" and express himself with kicking, screaming, crying, and whatever else it takes to call attention to himself.  Today's trip was unavoidable, however, because we had officially run out of the three major staples of Kai's diet--milk, waffles, and turkey dogs.  When I say "staples," I actually mean that these three items make up the extent of his dietary intake on a typical day.  Very impressive parenting, I know.

Anyway, I digress. we are at Target.  I'm carrying Ruby in a sling, and pushing the cart with one hand while trying to convince Kai to actually sit inside the cart.  I'm not even picky about where he sits--the seat or the big part of the cart--either would be acceptable.  But no.  Kai has decided he wants to stand on the end of the cart and hold on.  That would be okay for a normal size kid, but for someone who is still the size of a 1 year old, it doesn't work very well.  We made it a whole 20 feet inside the store, to the front of the produce section, when his grip slipped and he turned, falling face first onto the linoleum.  It was only a fall of a couple of feet (as you'll recall, he's very short), but the thud that accompanied his head hitting the floor sent my heart into my stomach.  He started wailing immediately.  I scooped him up, and saw that he had the beginnings of a giant goose egg forming right in the middle of his forehead.  In addition, blood was literally gushing out of his nose, onto his shirt, me, Ruby, and the floor.  So I'm now holding Ruby and Kai, both of whom are now screaming, and digging in my purse to find tissues to sop up the blood.  It was a pretty desperate feeling.

Not one person came up and offered to help.  There were lots of people around, but they just pushed their carts around us, and two women in particular made a noticeable effort to avoid making eye contact.  I don't really know why no one bothered to help me.  My guess is they didn't want to be bothered with it.  I don't know.  But as I've been thinking about it this evening, I just can't seem to let it go.  I hope that if I see a stranger struggling that I'll step out of my comfort zone for a few minutes and see what I can do to help.  Because in the end, we're all in this together.  I think the world would be a better place if we stepped outside of ourselves and actually gave a damn about each other.

Warm Winter

I LOVE that it is the beginning of February and we can be outside enjoying 70 degree weather.  This is a little different than the first week of February last year when we had that awful ice and snow storm!  I took Kai and Ruby to the park yesterday after school and snapped a few pics.

Aaron and I decided that the caption for this one should be Ruby saying to Kai, 
"Oh, big brother, how I envy your luxurious locks of hair"!

Kai discovered a new way to ride on the stroller rather than having to walk like a chump:

But most of the time he has to exert his independence.  
"No, mama!  I do it!" is his mantra, and he repeats it about 200 times each day.

We brought bread to feed to the ducks and geese, but Kai decided he needed a snack instead.  Silly boy!