food as a cultural experience for preschoolers

Welcome to the April 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Pastimes This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about family pastimes. Our preschooler tried a bite of vindaloo. He’s trying to like it, but his face blanched and he tried to wipe the heat off his tongue with a napkin. I slid a glass of mango lassi his way. Eating out remains a treat we indulge in, and we regularly bring the kids. It entails lots of advance notice and build-up (reward system). Our older one loves the novelty of a restaurant meal so we use that. Our agreement? He can join us on these special nights out if he will … [Read more...]

Silent courage of mothers in rural Cambodia

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants... Nothing against workdays at the office. There’s something to be said for air-conditioned comfort when the blistering sun and uneven roads await activities that donors have pledged tax dollars for. Besides, all the preparatory, follow-up and administrative work is necessary. But fieldwork is where the action is - where meaningful … [Read more...]

Tuk-tuk rides: Look, ma, no seatbelt!

This little monkey is a a terror in the tuk-tuk. Thankfully the tuk tuk driver, Rithy, drives fairly slowly and cautiously, occasionally watching the boy from the rearview mirrors to make sure he hadn't fallen out (which is sadly his only use of these implements that we can determine). But luckily he fell asleep after we let him use the vehicle as a jungle gym for 20 minutes. A sleeping boy makes for a happy Papa! … [Read more...]

the problem with the way we handled attachment parenting

The above image is from the 21 May 2012 issue of TIME magazine. "Are you mom enough?" - That headline just grabs you, doesn't it, questioning your values and your parenting. One thing we didn't anticipate, in all the planning and discussions about attachment parenting, is the difficulties in teaching our son to put himself to sleep, and to soothe himself back to sleep when he twitches awake in the night - without me. For the past 16 months I was perfectly happy to oblige his every request. I'm quite fortunate to work for an employer who's flexible to the needs of new mothers. There's a nursery at the office so you can nurse or pump during the workday, and until the child is a year old s/he and the nanny can be taken on work trips to … [Read more...]

Healthy baby girl, FREE to whoever can feed her

As a mom, it tears at my heart. It was shocking at the same time that I know it meant a better life for the baby. It's commonplace, but I don't often personally see or hear of it. A woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl around 7am, at a health center where we were field-testing some questionnaires. Usually anyone admitted to a facility is accompanied by throngs of family members, who provide the care to the patient that back home would be done by health staff (eg providing meals, making sure medicines are taken, changing the dressings etc). But there was no one with this very young mother. She was thin, ragged, and very weak. She breastfed the baby a bit, on prompting by the staff, but by evening someone noticed that she hadn't eaten … [Read more...]

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary

Desperately seeking green spaces in Phnom Penh? Just 40 km outside Phnom Penh is a rescue center for injured or trafficked animals. There are over 80 species including macaques, lions, tigers, bears, gibbons and crocodiles - most are endangered, rescued from the wildlife trade. The sanctuary sprawls across 2500 hectares of protected forest. It wasn't as terrible as I expected (small concrete cages with animals pacing in the heat, going mad) and the handlers are quite knowledgeable. Tristan got to see many animals he has only ever seen in pictures. To boot, there are a lot of trees with shaded areas. They're working on putting the crocodiles on a feeding schedule so that they can put shows on during the weekends like the elephants … [Read more...]

building communication skills to help with the Terrible Twos

At 15 months, we're getting a premature taste of the infamous Terrible Two stage. Our little boy's personality seems to be developing along what the books call "spirited" or "strong-willed", even "high-need" (although this last term is politically incorrect anymore). His Khmer nanny is bewildered and amused at the range, intensity and volatility of emotion he exhibits. He can be blissfully happy one second and thrashing about in a full rage for the next two hours. It sets him off when we don't understand what he wants. With redirecting a bit more difficult now we've had to be creative. Thankfully he's developed some decent communication skills early on. The fact that signing and verbalizing are still novel to him at this stage, and that … [Read more...]

Awake training

Lack of sleep - yes, it comes with the territory. (Don't you love how every Jane Dick and Joe peddles this brilliant insight gleefully to new parents, regardless s/he's a parent herself? Like the idea won't logically pop into your head?) As a working mom who luckily likes her job, I'm amazed with how mind and body can actually still function - well, maybe not optimally - on the piddly rest I'm sometimes able to scrape out of my nights. (Sleep-training our little boy? I think he's got me the other way around.) When baby wakes me up to help him go back to sleep - and then I can't get myself back to sleep, it's the one opportunity I have to catch up on my rss feeds, in bed in the dark. (Thank god for tablets!) So during these sleepless … [Read more...]