Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thailand - Part II

I'll pick up where my brother left off...we headed south. THIS was my kind of vacation - sun, beach, giant pools, and monkeys....yes, monkeys. We flew to Krabi for some rest and relaxation. And thanks to a reservation mix-up, we scored the Honeymoon Suite at the resort - a palatial pad with a tub the size of our home bathroom and a view for miles. My parents laughed and said we were probably the only kids who had ever stayed there. Here's a picture my mom took of us in one of the pools. And here's me - my mom says my swimsuit physique is impressive.
We adventured every day and found some really cool shells on the beach. We also discovered the tiny, opaque moving shells weren't actually shells - they were crabs! So we filled their homes/holes up with sand and chased after them. We never caught any but we did accidentally catch a hermit crab (in one of the shells). My mom discovered him in our room after he'd headed back to the big crab heaven in the sky. By the way, dead crabs stink.

We followed a locals' path onto a rock mountain to see if we could check out a different beach on the other side - we'd heard it was only reachable by boat. While I'm only one, I believe a "path" implies a safe route for passage. If so, this was definitely not a path. The steepest parts had make-shift stairs that were put in place before the invention of the television. (My mom tried to capture the intensity of the climb/drop, but this picture doesn't do it justice.)
The best part of the hike were definitely the HUNDREDS of wild monkeys. They were above us in the trees and everywhere on the path. You could touch them if you were crazy enough to do so. One even ran directly at me thinking I was his afternoon snack. My mom chased it away by waving her arms wildly in the air - come to think of it, she kind of looked like a wild monkey too! We did reach the other beach, which was nice, but the adventure getting there is a lasting memory.
My parents indulged while we were at the resort - each choosing their form of relaxation. My dad had more Thai massages than there were days on the trip and my mom...she choose to kick this guy. I guess kicking locals is allowed as long as you are in a class called muy Thai boxing. We watched some of her class and wow, she sure likes to kick stuff. Here are some photos of my dad relaxing...

Once we were thoroughly relaxed, we headed back north to Bangkok to celebrate Easter with our awesome friends the Nelsons. We dyed eggs - I did more watching than dying because everyone was worried I would do a slam dunk on an egg.
And, by some miracle, when we woke Easter morning, that big fluffy (kinda creepy) Easter bunny had found us in Thailand and left us our baskets - score! We even did an egg hunt in the Nelson's house and found TONS of treats hidden in some pretty crazy places.

While we were eating endless treats and playing with the Nelson girls, my parents and their parents headed out for a bike ride before we caught our flight home. Apparently the ride was a real highlight for them. They rented bikes for just over a dollar and rode around a super cool island community. I don't understand money yet, but I know that Bodie has more than a dollar in his piggy bank, so the bike rental sounds like a real deal. The path they rode on was about four feet wide and elevated throughout the community because of the surrounding water. Apparently dollar rental bikes don't have the best (or any) brakes, making the downslopes on the path pretty exciting - if you didn't stop in time your reward was to fly off the path and into the watery marsh below!

The trip was a blast. We got to visit our friends, see new stuff, try new stuff, and eat new stuff. What more could anyone want.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Thailand - Part I

Yes, my parents voluntarily chose to take two small children on two twenty hour plane rides - crazy, I know. Lucky for them, Gates and I were pro travelers and both flights went smoothly.

I've seen Thailand on my world globe; I have to spin it to the other side to find it because it's pretty far from America. It's much closer to China and India. It's on my list of places I wanted to go, and so we went. (Mom note: He really has a list and it includes - and no, I'm not making this up - North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, Thailand, New Guinea, Senegal, South Korea, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Mali, Chad, India, Algeria, and Greenland.)
We started in Bangkok. While it's a big city, it has so many unique things to the Thai culture. There are tons of huge temples with gigantic Buddha inside. They have canals running throughout the city with homes on the canal. People were doing dishes, washing clothes, swimming, bathing, and selling goods. And the Thais have endless types of transportation.
Speaking of transportation, here's a list of ways we traveled during this trip - by car, plane, elephant, taxi, long tail boat, airport people mover, bus, tuk tuk, foot, shuttle, and by the side car of a motorcycle (just don't tell my Nana we did any of these because none of them had seatbelts!).

We visited the city of Ayutthaya. It has a lot of history and was founded in 1350. They had several battles with the Burmese and eventually the city was destroyed in 1767. While the fighting left many things damaged, the ruins that remain are pretty cool including a Buddha head inside of a bunch of tree roots. You can tell this city was very important, even 800 years later. Of course my parents were respectful of these ancient ruins and only did jumpers when no one was looking - good grief!

While in Bangkok, we also got to visit The Red Cross Snake Farm - seems a bit ironic, huh? The people saving lives own some of the most deadly snakes on the planet. I guess a doctor wanted them for the venom so he could help people who had been bit. I sat in the front row, about three feet from the snakes, (again, don't tell my Nana). Gates sat a few rows back and didn't find the demonstration as interesting (notice the snake in the background).
We went to the coolest kid place on the planet, Kidzania (http://bangkok.kidzania.com/en-us/). My mom says someone could make a zillion dollars if they opened these across the U.S. It's a giant indoor city for kids. Kids can try out 50+ occupations (really, anything you can think of). We got uniforms for that job, they trained us in the skills, and then we did the job - SO COOL! Parents aren't even allowed into the shops, they just sit on park benches in the pretend town and wait for the kids. Some of the jobs I did included working at a radio station, McDonalds, a gas station, a construction site, 7-eleven, a bank, a photography studio, a barber shop, and a disco tech. Kids could be firefighters, dentists, Coca-Cola bottlers, designers, dancers, juice makers, car mechanics - it was awesome. 

 We then headed south to the city of Krabi and the Ao Nang beaches. LOTS of fun there too. We'll post more about that shortly so stay tuned...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Knots of Fun!

Bodie accomplished a big milestone last week - he learned to tie his shoes. He got two pairs of lace-up shoes and I immediately made the rule, "If you can tie them, you can wear them. I do not tie other people's shoes." Amazingly, this was the exact motivation he needed, he wanted to wear those shoes. So he sat down and began to learn. I was prepared for it to take daily practice for about a week. Thirty minutes later, he had it and has been tying them up ever since. Way to go buddy!

The weather from the Antarctic has finally left and we have been outdoors nonstop. In three sunny days we hit five parks and are loving the sunshine. Bodie jumped on his bike and hasn't looked back, except to pick his brother up.Who, also, has decided he should be riding a bike and a scooter. Gates gets his own helmet, drags out an item to ride from the shed and then begins to grunt like a caveman until someone hooks his helmet on and sets him up.

He has no concern that he doesn't know how to pedal yet, he will sit on that tricycle for 20 minutes grunting in hopes that it will move, occasionally getting motion that ends in a wipeout. He definitely has the will to ride a scooter and a bike, which may be all he needs. Skill will come...

Bodie is leading the way in fearless park behavior. He can be found climbing the outside of any park equipment until he reaches the top and some petrified parent anxiously cautions him to come down before he breaks his leg. Gates is learning from the best. I turned my back the other day to get something out of my bag and found Gates on top of this 15 foot play structure with three of the four sides as open drop-offs. Even I was nervous. Then I saw and heard this noise - he climbed up and down probably 15 times, laughing every time.
No doubt with these two little dare devils the emergency room is in our future. At least laughter will have preceded the pain.

It was hero day at preschool on Friday. I gave Bodie a long list of people he could dress as, his dad, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, I went on and on. He looked up, so focused on what I was saying then smiled and said, "Or Batman!" And Batman it was. Oh well, I tried. We were also responsible for the special snack that day, so we made a super kid cake.

Lastly, we've been teaching our kids "music appreciation," inspired by my brother, Rick. He decided that each Christmas his kids would receive a classic (Led Zeplin, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, etc). We're attempting to give this same gift of music to our boys through my love of rap music. You can see, they are definitely taking to it. It's so fun, what's not to love!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stiring It Up

While Gates has only been on this earth about 19 months, I can already tell you, he likes to stir things up. He's got a strong will, clear opinions, and laser-like focus. These are not common characteristics of little people just trying to master how to walk straight.

We've said he was "feisty" from day one. In fact, when Gates was just a few months old we were sitting in the second row of a packed Catholic church - we're talking 2000 congregants - and I referred to this beautiful, sweet newborn as a "ticking time bomb." Because honestly, that's who he is. Had he woken up and not wanted to be quiet and held at that moment, he would have let everyone know, even at just a few weeks old.

What's cool now, is watching that energy evolve. He's beginning to figure out how to focus the energy and express himself in creative ways - when you have limited words and lots of opinions, the world can be a frustrating place.

The pots in our house are the perfect example of Gates' determination. He loves them. They are loud, heavy, and very inconvenient for me to be used as his toys...He doesn't care. He loves them. Any hour of any day you can find Gates hauling, or re-hauling them out around the house. He then goes and gets kitchen utensils to "stir" the pots. He has also recently decided that the small bottles of baby powder are spices and he's figured out how to shake them into the pot (and everywhere else). He leaves the room, I put the pans away, he returns and takes them all out again, and the cycle continues.

This same determination is seen with his disdain for shoes - though he is finally relenting a bit, but only on his terms. He can often be found outside in the yard, in the snow, without shoes on. He doesn't care. It's his choice and he's exercising his control. You may say, "you're the parent, put shoes on him." That's what I would have said before I met Gates.We're learning that when we treat him as a person - not an un-opinionated toddler, the respect is returned.

This determination, while a bit off-putting to some adults, is pretty cool to watch when channeled correctly. This short video clip is a great example of who he is. We went to a huge, open gym to get out some energy. Gates immediately wanted his own basketball. He took the ball and walked directly under the regulation-height hoop and began to shoot. He stood there for nearly 30 minutes, attempting to make a basket. He wasn't intimidated by the dozens of adults playing around him or the 10' basket above him. He wanted to make a basket...period. The heavy ball hit him in the head and face over and over again, he never stopped, his focus wouldn't let him. Finally the lure of a water break and power bar got him off the court.
Lucky us to have two incredibly fun, kind boys. I love how different they are from each other and how perfectly they play together. I could listen to their laughter together all day, it's the best sound. I've never fit life's "mold" for me and I'm glad I can now support our two boys as they shape their own molds for what they want out of life.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Indoor Entertainment

Brrrrrrrr does not even begin to describe our weather; crazy stinking cold does. So why haven't we blogged if we've been indoors you ask - good question and we don't have an answer. What could four lovers-of-the-outdoors be doing in sub-zero temperatures - another good question and I can answer that one.

My mom, Gates and I have been taking lots of trips to the museums, the local gymnasium, Chuck E Cheese, and the local rec centers -basically ANY PLACE we can run and jump and move. And no, the Smithsonians do not market themselves as "indoor playlands." However, you must admit that they are WAY better and bigger than any fast food playland, and besides, we get to learn stuff as we run by it.

We've also played just about every indoor game on the planet - have you heard of Skunk Bingo or Elefun (both great games). We've built forts. And of course, we've had approximately 10 zillion car races. We've had play dates and made cookies; we've made macaroni crafts and glued puppets. We've made masks and used other items to provide entertainment in the afternoon.

We tried out roller skating night at a local junior high. My dad skated, I wiped out, Gates ran at full speed BETWEEN the other roller skaters, and my mom chased after Gates. I think my mom and I got the most exercise that night. (notice Gates flying by in the picture)

When the weather hits 37 degrees, my mom wraps us up like Eskimos and we head out to the park. For some reason, we've had the parks completely to ourselves - maybe the other kids are out of town? And when it snows - even a dusting - we also head outdoors. Gates, as you may know, has been against shoes since birth. He doesn't dislike them, he abhors them. Why am I including this at this point in my story? Well, because one day he decided to play in the snow for about 10 minutes with NO shoes on! He was super happy, running around, laughing and then all of a sudden - YIKES! I must say, I was impressed that he lasted that long. And since that day, he has hardly objected to his shoes, so maybe the near-frostbite afternoon run was worth it!?!!

One chilly night we had some friends over for a pizza, movie, ice cream sundae night. It was awesome. And I guess if this is what the cold is all about, I don't mind it every once in a while...