Jet-lag + Sleep Training + a Twin Bed = A Very Tired Family, Part Three

December 27, 2011

This is the third and final installment (please, God!) of the Very Tired Bates' series.  See these posts: Part One and Part Two for more information.  The Jet-lag problem kind of resolved itself with Sky's bedtime moving from around 7pm to a little before 8pm.  We decided not to push that since we were dealing with the twin-bed problem and she is still getting enough sleep.  But how did we solve the twin-bed problem, you might ask?  Well, I did a lot of research, on the internet, in books and through polling other moms.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, our situation is not that unique but nothing that I found really seemed to apply to the problem we were having.  In the end, we followed the common thread of advice: we did what worked for our family.
  Before I tell you what we decided on, and what has been working for us, let me ask you, reader, not to judge.  Yes, all two of you!  Put on your objective hats and realize that this is what we needed to do.  I know it's hard not to disagree with another parent's methods (believe me, I do it all the time, and I'm working on getting better at it) but every family is different and this is how D and I chose to deal with this problem in our family.

Jet-lag + Sleep Training + a Twin Bed = A Very Tired Family, Part Two

December 25, 2011

This is the follow up to this post.  We're still really tired here at the Bates house.  Last night (or should I say this morning) Sky was awake off and on from 2:30am until we called it a night at 5:30am and the two nights before that were just as bad. We had previously been trying the sleep training method recommended by a friend where you keep putting the child back in bed, over and over, until they stay there and sleep.  It worked on the first night.  Sky was only up for about 20 minutes and D and I thought, "Yay, this is going to work!".  The next two nights were awful.  Sky has lost her ability to sleep through the night and every time she would cry herself to sleep in her bed, she would wake up 10 minutes later and we'd have to do it all again.  It really wasn't working. 

Sky and Ugly Christmas Sweater

December 22, 2011

I picked this sweater out of a Goodwill donation bag specifically for these pictures thinking, "Won't that be fun? We can put it on her and take some nice pictures in front of the tree?". Well, it turns out Sky is allergic, almost violently allergic, to bad fashion. I had to fight her to put the sweater on and these are the pictures I got:

The one semi-good photo

She's Got This Bowling Thing Figured Out

December 21, 2011

   This post is for my Dad.  You know, it's way easier to knock the pins over if you just hit them directly with the ball, rather than trying to roll the ball at them.  Here, Sky will show you:

Pictures with Santa and Kwaj's Christmas Tree

December 20, 2011

   Santa actually arrived at the end of November but I'm just getting around to posting these.  Happy Holidays All!
 How does Santa arrive on Kwaj?  By fishing boat, of course!

Jet-lag + Sleep Training + a Twin Bed = A Very Tired Family

December 19, 2011

  As the title indicates, we are a very tired family this morning, and last night went better than most have since we got home.  We have encountered a perfect storm of sleep problems.  The first one is jet-lag.  Thailand is 5 hours behind us and we're all having trouble waking up on time in the morning and then going to bed when we need to.  Sky has been staying up as late as 9PM when her usual bedtime is 7.  D and I have been having the same problem so we're all dragging when the alarms go off in the morning. 
  To add to the jet-lag, Sky is having trouble sleeping alone and has figured out how to climb out of her crib.  We all slept in the same bed during our vacation in Thailand which was fine while we were there but has come back to bite us in the butt now that we're home.  We only have a full size bed here and Sky is a flail-er, which means that the family bed doesn't work here.  To be a good Mom, I need my sleep and I can't get it when she sleeps with us in our bed.  When we tried the method of sleep training that we used with her before, we discovered that she could get out of her crib, something she'd never done before vacation.  For a few nights, we took turns sleeping with her in her twin bed but that wasn't a long term solution. 

She's Two!

December 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Sky!
We celebrated Sky's second birthday this Saturday with Sky'a best friend and her parents.  We had her favorite noodles and corn on the cob for dinner and then opened presents.  Sky had a great time tearing open presents and then blew out her candles herself when we had cake.
  I can't believe that she's two!  She's grown so much in the 10 months that she's been with us, both physically and mentally.  When we adopted Sky, she was 14 months old but was the size of an American 9 month old.  Now she wears 2T size clothes and her teachers tell us she's actually tall for her age.  She is starting to try to express more things with words and to make sentences.  She's also potty training already and doing great at it.  We're still having some issues with biting but it's not as bad as it used to be.  She's already acting like a two-year-old, exploring our boundaries and then pushing past them but she's still our perfect girl and we are so blessed to have her.

 She got a doll house from her BFF

The Erawan Waterfalls and Elephant, Bamboo Raft and Train Rides

December 17, 2011

    Next time we go to Thailand (yup, we loved it so much, we were talking about another trip before we left), we'll probably rent a car and do these trips on our own but with it being our first time there and with Sky being so young, it was just easier to jump onto a tour.  So we did.  Our second tour day was a full one.  The seven-waterfall hike at Erawan National park in the morning and after lunch, elephant rides, bamboo raft rides and train rides.
  Sky wasn't too sure about the hiking part, at least not at first.  We'd promised her more swimming and she couldn't understand why we kept walking past all these waterfalls.  The plan was to hike up to number seven and then swim on the way back down but we didn't make it that far.  D carried Sky most of the way so we ended up stopping at waterfall number five to swim.  Well, D and Sky swam.  If you scan through the pictures below, you'll notice there aren't any of Amber swimming.  Now why is that?  Anyone in my family can tell you that I'm hyper-ticklish and all of these pools had nibbling fish in them.  I tried, I really really did, but I jumped and screamed every time on of them nibbled on me and I just couldn't do it.  It was too weird!  I kind of wish I'd braved the fish so that I could have slid down the the waterfall at number four like D did, but I suppose there's always next time.

Motorbikes and the Bridge on the River Kwai

December 16, 2011

  Between tour days we scheduled ourselves a day off to loaf around the hotel and spend some free time in town.  D took a taxi into Kanchanaburi and came back with a motorbike for us.  We loved riding our motorcycle so we thought this would be a great way to get around.  Well, it worked for D and I but Sky didn't think much of it!  She didn't like having to sit between us but didn't like the wind and bugs when she rode in front of D and she was getting pretty annoyed with the whole thing by the time we returned the bike a few days later. 
  We spent a little time tooling around town, visited another railway museum and the war cemetery and then found our way to the Bridge on the River Kwai, the one from the movie (The Bridge over the River Kwai).  Part of it was bombed during WWII but it was rebuilt and used after the war and is actually still in use today.  The metal bridge is the second bridge built.  The first one was wood and kept collapsing.
  After a morning in town, we spent the afternoon playing in the pool again and then took the baby to a bar in town.  Yup, a baby in a bar.  We're those people!  Just kidding- they had a special on fish and chips and we were out of there before 6pm.

How brave are we?  We're Thai brave! 

What to do today?

December 15, 2011

   We didn't make any plans on our last day in Kanchanaburi so once we were up and moving we hopped on the motorbike and headed into town. What to do, what to do?  How about we stop and pet a leopard?  What!  Yes, a leopard.  Right there.  In town.  On a table.  Hmm.  Is that really a leopard?  Yes.  Should we encourage this very questionable enterprise by paying 100 baht (3 dollars) have our photos taken with her?  The hippie backpaker in A is outraged at seeing such a beautiful animal chained and made to "work" in such a demeaning way, but older, tourist mommy A says "Heck, yes!"  So here you go, us with a leopard:

Thoughts on Traveling with a Two-Year-Old

December 14, 2011

Thinking of taking your two-year-old on vacation? Avoid it at all costs!

Hellfire Pass, Sai Yok Waterfall and the Tiger Temple

December 13, 2011

  On our first real day in Kanchanaburi we went out on a tour to see some of the sights.  Our first stop was the Hellfire Pass Memorial and Museum.  It's built for and dedicated to the World War 2 POW's and conscripted workers that built the Thailand-Burma Railway in 1944, and died doing it.  I had read about Japanese attitudes towards POWs in Unbroken  but to actually see what these men were made to do was striking.  It's good to have these kinds of reminders about the awful things that happened so recently in the past (both my grandfathers fought in WWII) so that we can try to prevent them from happening again.
  After the museum we stopped at Sai Yok waterfall before heading to the Tiger Temple.  If you haven't heard of it before, the temple gets a mention in this month's National Geographic magazine.  It's a fairly controversial place.  Tigers are bred there and raised by hand by the monks and staff and then used to raise money for the temple.  I have to say, the whole thing was very tourist-y.  At no point were told a mission statement or philosophy regarding the tigers, told any other reason for them having the tigers, directed to the temple or encouraged to speak with anyone regarding the religious life of the temple.  And for the amount of money that the tickets cost (1200 baht, almost $40!) and the number of tourists that go through there, the whole place seemed pretty run down. 
  The tigers were amazing though.  They were all obviously well fed and kept well excercised and all were very tame.  Because they're raised by hand and have imprinted on humans they don't mind us touching them, and becuase the temple wisely does it's tiger show in the heat of the day, they are very drowsy and sleepy when the tourists see them.  I've never been that close to a big cat and let me tell you, they are BIG.  They're very impressive animals and it was never far from my mind what they could do to us if they chose.  But of course, we got our pictures taken petting and walking them!   Sky wasn't too sure about them but kept pointing and saying "kitty cat". 

D and Sky walking to the railway cut

On to Kanchanaburi

December 12, 2011

 Sky at our hostel doing some trip planning for us

Happy Birthday King!

December 10, 2011

   On the night of the 5th, we went to Sanam Luang to see the celebrations for the King's 84th birthday.  We'd watched some of the parades on TV and were excited to see what was going to happen that night.  We'd been told that in light of the recent flooding and the King's poor health, it was going to be more subdued than usual but that it would still be worth seeing.
  There were lights in the trees and forming pergolas over the street.  There were lots of vendor tents set up and the streets gradually filled up with people.  We ate and window shopped for a while and then followed the crowds to the walls outside Wat Phre Khao where people were lighting lanterns and releasing them to the sky.  I've never seen lanterns that big before and the sky was full of them- I don't think we got a good picture of them but it was pretty amazing to see.  There were a lot of people and Sky was getting pretty tired so we didn't stay too late but we're really glad we went.  Happy 84th Birthday, Your Majesty!
 D and Sky with the lit-up trees

Medical Wrap Up (A Post by D)

December 9, 2011

  Not that it will be any surprise to anyone, including myself, but yes, I do just seem to be crazy. All kinds of tests found nothing wrong with my innards that should be causing this pain. Docs seem to think it doesn't fit w/ the hiatal hernia, and my resulting acid reflux is well under control w/ meds. So we're back to what I knew, I must maintain perfect posture and limit stress. Just knowing that's the case will take a large part of the stress off, which should help. It still seems implausible that such a high level of pain can be caused by worrying, but my family will know I do come by it honestly.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and concerns

Rivers, Temples and Kao San Road

December 8, 2011

   D spent a night in the hospital this week and didn't get out until later in the morning.  We met up with him around lunch time but that morning, Sky and I expanded our maps of Bangkok and gave the Chao Phraya river ferries a try.  Sky kept saying " Bee boat, bee boat!" (big boat), so I think she liked them as much as I did.  They can get pretty crowded but you can get from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes for about 10 cents.  Sky and I went to Wat Pho and had a tour guide show us around.  Mr Jimmy was great, carrying Sky's stroller for me and telling me all about the temple.
  That evening, D, Sky and I got back on the boats and headed up to Kao San Road, the traditional backpacker area of Bangkok.  Our hostel is near a night market but I wanted to see the one here to compare (plus, backpackers make me laugh- I know, it's the pot calling the kettle black).  We had a good time and did some good shopping before catching a cab back to our hostel.

Sorry folks, the pictures are out of order and I'm not going to hassle with fixing them.  I'll try to make it make sense in the explanations.

Someone gave Sky this balloon for free and she figured out pretty quickly how to pull the string to hit Daddy in the head with it- that made her night!

Taking it Easy in Bangkok

December 7, 2011

    Sky and I had most of the day to ourselves the other day so we spent the morning playing at Lumphini Park and the afternoon at the Children's Museum.  Well, that was the plan.  The park part went fine, Sky actually didn't want to leave but after a snack and some water, we headed out to find the museum.  Two trains and half an hour of walking later we get there, only to discover that it's closed :(  What to do, what to do?  
  A movie, of course!  Sky had never been to see a movie in a movie theater so we headed over to see Puss in Boots.  She loved it!  I don't know how much she really saw though because it was in 3D and she refused to wear her glasses, but she sat still and watched the screen for the whole thing, so I think it was a success.

 Playing at Lumphini Park

Is Sky Thai or Black?

December 5, 2011

  at seems to be the burning question on Bangkokians minds- what is Sky? Naturally, we get stared at. We'd get stared at without her, but with her, we're in whole 'nother realm of staring. As another blogger I follow puts it, we're conspicuous. For the most part, the stares are just curious- taking a look at something new in the neighborhood. Most of the time, I ignore them. If it's a woman, I will usually smile back. A baby is a baby and Sky is a particularly cute one, with a kind of cute that crosses cultures and most ladies will smile back.
   Some people have asked and they've asked nicely. The trend seems to be that if D is with us, people tend to think that she's Thai and that we just adopted her. She's a little bit darker than the darkest Thai person I've seen but I suppose she could be mistaken for asian. If it's just Sky and I, people will ask if she's black. I ran this past a foreigner that lives here and he said that Thai's just don't know what black people look like, that they think she's my biological daughter and that she's mixed.
   So, greater Bankok, that's the burning question: what is Sky? Besides being my perfect handful of almost-two-year-old daughter, Sky is Indian. Yup, that's what we settled on. People here don't know about the Marshall Islands, or Polynesia but they do know India. We found that out when we tried to explain her heritage to someone and they latched on to the Indian part. So we've copped out and stuck with that. So keep an eye out here folks, for more travel updates from us and our Indian daughter :)

D's Thailand Lesson Learned

December 4, 2011

#1 - Don't pay too little. Don't pay too much, but don't pay to little either. All advice I seem to run across is all about getting the best deal. My advice, we're the rich tourists and things are very affordable. There's nothing wrong w/ putting a little extra food on the locals tables. MOST "scams" are just a bit of hustle and they're how mouths get fed. Even for a hustle, the end price is not that unfair. Compared to time shares, the worst Tuk-Tuk re-routing to a gem shop is merely annoying. (Not that they've succeeded w/ me on that one.)

An example is taxis. Advice is to always insist on the meter. We were hearing that taxi meter prices have not been allowed to be raised in 17 years. If you pay that price, which is cheap, your driver may not even make any money that day after taxi "rent." I like to get the meter, but then go 50-100% higher.

Bartering is present, but not always. I could be wrong on this, but if the prices are listed, I'll generally pay, or barter down a bit. Bulk discounts are a must. If you have to ask the price, a real price is tricky number between 20-80%. If everyone is selling the same thing, try to walk away from the first three w/o even offering a low barter. One of them will show you the desperate price. Pay more than that to the next guy or your favorite. If the item is handcraft, real price may be closer to opening bid. When I named a number they accepted w/ a stomp and pout, I then paid a little more than I said.

The chief thing about don't pay too little is it can be the hustle. It's much better to approach them. Anyone coming up to you is probably not going to shanghai you, but is not your choice business, either. China town was a nice break. Everyone just showed wares and waited for their customers.

#2 - Quickest, cheapest, most straightforward way to get some where is take the Skyrail, Subway or boats to the neighborhood and grab a moped taxi. Then tuck your knees in tight, pray, and try to learn where a little about the neighborhood.

#3 - Take car taxis through Bangkok before 0730 or after 2300 if at all possible. Traffic sucks.

#4 – All crisps (potato, or otherwise, chips) are meat flavored and 90% seafood at that.

Eating Chicken Nuggets in Bangkok

December 2, 2011

  So far, this vacation isn't what we expected but it's exactly what we needed.  A lot of D's time has been taken up with tests at the hospital and Sky and I have been taking it easy around the city.  As far as D's medical situation goes, they've decided that he doesn't need the surgery he actually came here for and are doing tons of tests to try and find the real cause for his abdominal pain.  I'm very impressed with the hospital and the fact that they actually seem to care about D's health.  They've done x-rays, cat scans, endoscopy's and lots of blood tests.  D has a few more tests scheduled for today and then hopefully we'll have some answers.
  Sky and I have been spending our early mornings at Lumpini park, a fabulous park in the middle of the city with a lake and jogging paths and a nice, big playground.  Sky has a great time there and it's nice to be able to just let her run.  We've also gone to an aquarium (Nemo!) and the zoo and today we're going to a children's discovery museum.
  So we're not doing the usually tourist thing, going to temples and the like and we don't have too much bragging rights as far as food goes, because we actually have had chicken nuggets here (sometimes, you just need to feed a kid something you know she'll eat!) but we're having a really good time.  We really enjoy the city and Bangkok has a much mellower feel than anywhere we were in Japan.  The weather has been perfect and we haven't run into any scams.  Everyone stares but we expected that and the stares are curious without really seeming judgemental.
  There are so many more things I'd like to post about: travel with Sky, the food, how to go on a date with a baby and the fact that Sky looks Thai, sort of.  Oh, and sweet Thai coffee.  That stuff is so amazing it'll probably get it's own post, but without further ado, some pictures:

 Sky playing at Lumpini Park
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.