Pine cones and sticks and rocks oh my

'Tis the season. What do you do with all the sticks and rocks and pine cones that the kids drag in throughout the year? And the toys they've outgrown but have a special place in your memory? Repurpose and get creative with the Christmas decor, that's what. … [Read more...]

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...]

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center for a birthday party

We've been to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center several times and I'm always impressed with it. The grounds are large - it's certainly possible to walk from one exhibit to the next, but a vehicle would be useful. They have many exhibits. I still haven't seen all of them. Most animals have a fairly wide area to roam (they aren't confined to small concrete cages as I expected). They're rescued from accidents or illegal wildlife trade, and rehabilitated. Those that can't be released back to the wild stay on the grounds. The center is staffed by dedicated conservationists, and they're routinely visited by experts in specific species. Our little boy and his friend celebrated their birthday together, so we took them to the Rescue Center with … [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...]