Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Zoo

We have lived here for almost four years (next week is my anniversary - Matt's was a few weeks ago). The Singapore Zoo is supposed to be a big attraction in Singapore. We had never been. We FINALLY made it to the Night Safari a year and a half ago when Sarah and Ben were in town.

The last time I went to a zoo was in St. Louis when we were there for Danny and Lisa's wedding four years ago. It was supposed to be one of the best zoos in America, and I had been excited. Though I love animals, I hadn't really been part of the anti-zoo movement, and I hadn't even read or thought about it much at all. It caught me by surprise that I was so upset about how the animals were so enclosed and on parade for people to see and tap or yell at. I really felt sick about it. I swore off zoos, but not too seriously.

Our friends, Julia and David suggested that we go to the zoo, and we jumped at it. I couldn't believe that we hadn't gone yet, and I also couldn't believe friends who don't have a kid are interested to go with us. We suggested meeting there at 8:30, but they were even up for that!

This zoo only upset me in a few places - I mean the whole idea is still upsetting, and life looks EXTREMELY boring for these animals, but they are not as enclosed as other zoos, and their areas look much nicer. I think it actually just made me feel better, and it might not actually BE that much better for the animals, but it just didn't seem as bad. Highlights included LOADS of monkeys and orangutans making crazy noises (Sam only cried once...) and swinging all over the place, the manatees, which are just huge and awesome, and little field mice. The tigers and cheetahs were cool, but they fit into the "sad" category. Sam took two naps, she looked at a few animals, but mostly she enjoyed watching the other kids and eating the map (it was especially tasty). She was a champ, though, because we were out for SIX hours (remember, she REALLY likes her sleep...).

I can't be bothered to look through the 198 photos that Matt took of the animals at the zoo, so I'm posting a few of us from the day. Sam is sitting with Julia and David. Sam is pouting on the tortoise (we love that face - but why be so scared of sitting on a tortoise?).

In other news, it was my mom's birthday yesterday. Happy birthday, mom!

In yet other news, Samara still hates eating, but we're getting better at feeding her. She is now happy when she's eating - she smiles, laughs, plays, but she turns her head at the food and gags very dramatically when food goes in her mouth. We're working on it.

She has also started moving all over the place - like crawling but not exactly crawling. At least she doesn't use her head anymore - just arms and legs. I left her on her tummy in the middle of the floor for a minute earlier today, and I looked over and somehow she was sitting up. That was a first, but I have no idea (and I'm sure she also has no idea) how she got up.

I was very sick over the last week - a really bad cold with a fever. The fever lasted about 2.5 days, which is a record for me in the past years. I really feel like I rarely get sick, and I was a disaster. I only went to work on Thursday (and I tried Tuesday morning, but I went back home at noon), and I was in bed for a few days. Thank goodness, the fever is gone, and all I have left is the stuffiness. It stinks to be sick.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Same Same Boy

Finally - a post about our trip to Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, last weekend...

This is entitled Same Same Boy, because that came up quite a few times in our four days in Thailand. Boy? Girl? Girl. Same Same Boy.

Finally I got someone with better English skills to explain what this meant - your baby looks like a boy, even though she's a girl. Fair enough.

We had a mostly great four days in Chiang Mai. There were many dimensions to the trip which I will briefly outline -

1- The Weather. Somehow we completely missed that it was the rainy season. Apparently it was. It rained nearly all day, nearly everyday. We borrowed umbrellas, bought umbrellas (and a silly poncho), used our water-resistant-ish ergo for Sam, got caught a few times, but mostly we stayed somewhat dry.

2 - Sam's sleeping. Samara sleeps. She usually is awake for only five or six hours per day. She likes to sleep 12-14 hours per night and then takes 3-4 naps during the day. She prefers to stay awake only about 1.5 hours before her next shluf. This did not fit into our travel schedule. We pushed her (which I think is good for her, ultimately, right?), but sometime she didn't like it. Mostly, though, she was fantastic, and we gave her a morning nap before we went out, and we came back to the hotel for a long afternoon nap (all naps were had in her crib in the bathroom, obviously), and then we stayed out until about 8 or 9. I felt really guilty, but she was a champ.

3 - Food. Food in Thailand is the best food in the world. No question. It is so tasty, and it's the yummiest of all tastes. We had: yellow curry, green curry, at least four pad thais, pad sie ew (sp?), mango sticky rice, banana shake, some northern style tom yam, papaya salad, mango salad, chicken with cashewnut (or cashews as we call them back home), and I'm sure there were other dishes that I can't remember. We had an average of three dishes per meal. Four days. Three meals per day. That's a lot of yummy Thai food.

Sam's food was also an adventure. This was our first trip where I wasn't exclusively breastfeeding (TMI? Sorry). We had a whole assembly line - first we washed the bottles (brought a sponge and soap), put them to dry, then we put them in microwave steriliser bags, took them to the hotel restaurant, they put them on high for 3 minutes. Then they came up to the bottle rack, and then we packed them to take with us wherever we went. It's slightly stressful because the water is not clean in Thailand, but it seemed to all work (with one minor upset stomach for about four hours...).

4 - Beauty. Chiang Mai area is absolutely gorgeous. The mountains, colo(u)rs and temples are just unbelievably beautiful.

Babies in Asia are total rockstars. I posted this article on facebook a few months back, because it's TOTALLY accurate. Tons of people took photos of Sam. At least 20 pinched her cheeks, probably 40 grabbed her hands (yuck - but what can you do?). Grown men were oogling and aahgling. It was pretty entertaining. The hotel people all talked to her. Random people held her, and she probably caused at least 100 smiles (not including ours) each day. That's an accomplishment.

We went to three markets - the Saturday Walking Street, the Sunday Walking Street and the Night Bazaar. The shopping in Chiang Mai was really nice - creative pieces.

Sam went in her first (second, third, etc.) tuk-tuk. At first she seemed a bit confused and bothered about the air in her face (though mostly she was in the chest-facing-ergo), she looked around, she smiled at people on motorcycles next to us, and she LOVED the lights at night. I did feel like an irresponsible parent, but then I thought that we were going really slowly most of the time, and hey - I breastfed in a moving car in Lombok. This was definitely not that bad...

We had a totally random experience on the Sunday Walking Street. It started pouring, and we ditched into a busy restaurant. It was full, but the staff found a place for us (they love babies - it's awesome). They put us at a table for four, but there were only 2 (and a half) of us. We saw another couple come in and look for a seat, and they couldn't find anything. I said, "no pressure, but we're only using two of these seats, so you're welcome to join us." "Wow - thanks!" Matt asks, "So, where are you from?" "The US." "Ah, us too. Where?" "Michigan." "No way! Us too!" Turns out they're from West Michigan. In 2003, they took 4.5 years (also 2004, 5, 6, etc.) and SAILED AROUND THE WORLD...with their THREE kids, between five and 16 years when they started. That's so fricken cool. The oldest daughter was doing a study abroad programme in Chiang Mai, and he was there for some medical tourism. They were really nice, interesting, and we really enjoyed meeting them. I just ordered his book, and I can't wait to read it. Here's his website. Our favorite part of the conversation was when Matt asked him something about it being hard with his daughter so far away on this programme in Thailand, and he said, something like, "no - I'm just so proud of her and who she's becoming. It's amazing to sit back and watch her blossom." It was really a beautiful thing to say, and I hope we feel that day about Sam and all of her 60 brothers and sisters one day.

All in all - it was a great trip. We love traveling. We love Thailand. We love spending family time (it was fun before Sam, but now we really enjoy it even more - she's soooo fun!). I have to say, though, that traveling with a baby (who likes to sleep a lot...in a place without clean water...in the rainy season...) is also a little bit difficult.

Here's a link to photos and videos. video