Mimi's KSL Studio 5 Feature

Last fall Mimi was featured on the KSL morning show Studio 5 for her cooking hobby and I neglected to post it.  Here's the video of my capable pretty girl!



Mimi and I went with our Girl Scout Troop to tour the local news and radio station during the Spring.  While there we were invited into the studio where the morning show is filmed.  There's an entire faux kitchen used for filming cooking segments and when Mimi saw that she got stars in her eyes.
"It's a kitchen like Martha's!!  Can I cook here? Will you ask somebody?"  So I asked.  I sent an email to whomever I could find associated with the show and told them a little bit about Mimi.  They loved the story and came to our house to film her in action.  She was super nervous!
The feature went up on Studio 5 and one of Mimi's teachers saw it and wrote about it for the district website. The school district featured her on their website which led to a front page article in the local city mailer.  It was fun to see the little feature progress. We're super proud of little Mims, 10 year old aspiring chef.


Slash Dad Kintsugi: To repair with gold.

How many dads does it take to replace one “real” dad?  How deep is that hole in a boy’s heart whose dad inexplicably forgets he exists?
Yesterday was my son’s 8th birthday. In keeping with an 8 year tradition, there was not one acknowledgement from his birth father.  However, on that day two dads stepped in and filled the Dad shaped hole in his heart.  One FaceTimed in as a sweet and authentic mimic of what his real life divorced dad should do.  The other made a Dad style birthday party for him, complete with freshly storebought cake and bowls for plates. Silas had a dad yesterday. His slash dads stepped in and made that boy know he counts.

It was Silas, actually, who came up with the concept. We needed a fill-in Dad to help with Christmas Eve and do the iconic “Night Before Christmas” reading that the dad always gets to do in pictures of Norman Rockwell style Christmas. In his glasses, with a mug, and in slippers (pink sparkly ones!) One of my oldest friends was in the area and I hit him up to play Dad. Silas said he’s our friend but also like our dad when we need him to be. He’s our friend slash Dad.  

My grinch heart grew three sizes that day. He’s right! We do have DAD. We have dads who love us when they really don’t HAVE to.  We have a dad to take us skiing, we have a dad to let us eat junk food, we have a dad to make sure the broken door is fixed, we have a Dad who makes sure we have a roof over our head, we have dads who reassemble furniture, we have a dad who will baptize Silas when he wants to be baptized, we even had a dad (my brother) who explained that boys can pee standing up. We are a village of Dads, any time. We are blessed by an army of Slash Dads who are rooting for and helping toward our success. God bless them in their selfless regard for my children. 

Thus, public acknowledgement and expressions of gratitude need highlight these unseen dads who keep my boys feeling like somebody sees them and my girl off the pole. Thank you to my Slash Dad Team. 

Thanks to the consistent men in my life — when you’ve arrived you’ve stayed and you’re the only way we will make the transition from the perilous “I didn’t know my real dad should have been doing more than paying and seeing us twice a year.” to the whole and healed “My real Dad didn’t ever see me play football but my slash dads did and my real dad never saw my ballet performance but my slash Dads, they were there for me every single time.” They’ve come into our lives in different ways and for different reasons and they love and care for my children independently of (and perhaps inspite of) me. Imagine what Mimi’s crowd going down the aisle is going to look like. The men who are helping raise them will support them forever.  Oh, and if any one hurts them they will amasse guns and shovels and take care of the problem.  We are fortified with Dads.

She is reminded of that every time she sees one Slash Dad’s tattoo of five bars: one representing her. If Jude doesn’t have a mother who can consult on football paraphernalia he has a Slash Dad who will be honored to do so.  He knows what a first down is.  Silas will know Star Wars culture because of his Slash Dad.  One Slash Dad even came to Jude’s birthday party dressed as a Jedi Teacher AND DarthVader to instruct on Jedi mind tricks. Our Slash Dads go above and beyond. 

 And so, through the Slash Dads we also find acceptance and love for the birth dad. He is doing the best he can too and we accept the love he is able to give in whatever fashion. He gave them a trip to Park City and a Nintendo. We love him for playing a Slash Dad role too. That’s ok.
There is a tradition in Japanese art called Kintsugi which means to “repair with gold.” The idea is broken pottery is repaired with golden glue to make something the more beautiful for its broken pieces. My children’s and my heart (mostly mine now, but possibly theirs in the future) are broken and filled with the strongest most beautiful gold. We are completed with you kind hearted men who have pulled the cart with me.

So if you see my man friends and exes at a game or at parties know they are filling a family’s heart, on call, at the drop of a hat.  Thank you for filling in the Dad shaped gap. You are loved and you are part of our family.

There are so many chances for men to be good men.  These men are there for us all the time.  All you have to do is give them the opportunity to be there for you and they will.  Thanks, Dads.


Thailand Day 1: Exotic Beasts

One rolly suitcase each, my mom bag.
There are two activities that cause me to bolt out of bed in the morning. The first is in-utero baby appointments, the second is international flights for adventures.  We ubered from Danville to SFO where we met up with the Hippie (I was going to nickname him the Gift on here because he's been such a gift in our lives this last half year, but the Hippie seems to get more to the experience of being around my darling beautiful brilliant boyfriend) and his 11 year old Blake.  They caught one flight and we caught another, both to Tokyo but to DIFFERENT AIRPORTS. Ha. Check your airports friends.
Highlight of Japan: the toilets.

This is REAL top Ramen.

We met up in Tokyo, slept and ate noodles then headed to Bangkok. In Bangkok we had a driver with a sign waiting for us that my friend Megan arranged to take us to her gorgeous home.  When you get to a second world country it's good to have a driver.  Find one on Trip Advisor and make sure they tell you exactly which airport exit they'll be waiting near with a sign.

Arrived in Bangkok, waiting for our sweet ride.

The vans in Bangkok are my second dream vans. Toyota makes these fancy 9 or more passenger vans with tricked out interiors. I wish they were available in America bc all moms would drive them.

The next morning the Hippie had arranged a killer tour through a company we found through Trip Advisor: Tours with Tong.  The guide Lily spoke pretty good English and was totally accommodating to our needs for snacks and bathrooms.  There was a tour guide and a 9 passenger van driver which cost about 4000 baht for the day.  That's about $120 American.  Cash is king in Thailand so if you go show up with about $300 in baht.  Every couple of days I took out another $300 which we used to pay drivers, take tuk tuks, pay for food, pay for everything.  For the 6 of us combined I'd budget about $100/day maybe for everything?  Our hotel for all 6 of us was about $50/night in Bangkok (we had to move from Meg's to access our cooking class) and our AirBnB in Phuket was about $100/night.  Here are the links of where we stayed, in case you're planning.  I would ABSOLUTELY stay at the AirBnB in Phuket again.  I want to buy it. Here's Urban House and here's the magical AirBnB: Rawai 
Shrines like these all over the place.  Look at the little magical houses!  Need one.

This is the big cat petting zoo called Safari Park. Think how different this would look in the US.

The boys ready to play with the baby lions.

Our first stop was about an hour and 30 outside of Bangkok so we saw the countryside before we saw the city. Every other block had a glamorous Buddhist temple with the golden curly and ornate detailing. Thailand feels magical because of these gorgeous buildings looming around every corner resplendent with mirrored tiled mosaics.  The monks really outdo themselves. Each home dwelling also has a spirit home shrine in front of them which look like mini temples. We learned that the Thai people believe strongly in folklore and mythology so you see a lot of sparkly guys with masks and magical animals.  More on that at the Siam Niramit show.

Destination 1 was one of the main motivations of this trip: my kids wanted to see animals.  There's a zoo in Kanchanaburi where they keep the baby animals separate so that guests can interact with them.  For $15 you can go into the cages one by one and feed these baby animals bottles.  They are not sedated but they are chosen because of their age and temperament.  Each animal has a cat nanny who works with it daily and goes in there with you.  You feel at risk for scratches but the animals are babies for the most part or, in the case of the the lion Jude hung out with, it is just a really mellow beast that has never scratched nor bit anyone ever.

Not so with the tigers.
The lion is about a year old and practically domesticated but not tranquilized.

Cat nanny and our ace photographer tour guide Lily.  She was fantastic!

In went Jude to the young lion's cage. He was appropriately nervous because feeding animals with bottles is different from his extensive experience feeding babies. They eat aggressively. And they're thicker than house cats so you have to pet roughly. It started out apprehensive but then became snuggle time.

Made us miss our babies!
Next up went Blake and Silas into the baby lion cage. There were two snuggly lions who were like teddy bears. One of them latched on to Blake's hand but didn't break the skin.  They were both brave and they loved it.
Then Mimi went in with the leopard. She put on Jude's shirt in case they crawled on her shoulders, which they did. Beautiful animals, leopards. She spent a lot of time playing with them.

I don't know which beast is more beautiful.

It was my turn. I chose the tigers. I am an idiot.

There were four 4 month old tigers prowling around their cage.  They were active. They were hungry. I threw caution to the wind and went in.

Of course when they told me to sit down over on the bench the tigers were milling around I thought "I should definitely not sit down on the bench the tigers are milling around." But I did it anyway because I am both brave and stupid. And one crawled on my back like Philo does every day and sunk his fangs into my shoulder. The guide happened to be filming and caught it on tape. I quickly pulled the tiger off and left the cage. When I took my hand away it was a bloody mess but in the chaos we didn't get a good picture of my bloody shoulder before the cat nanny pounced on me with iodine and bandaids. True to form, I could not stop laughing. It's my fear and pain coping mechanism and many of my babies have come into the world to the sound of my cackling.

There's a puncture wound from the teeth but the bruising that came later was even more evident of how it feels to be bitten by a tiger.
After the incident everybody bullied me into feeding the nice lion that Jude fed. I did it and I didn't like it. I'm done feeding jungle cats.

But the Hippie wasn't. I think he saw my tiger bite as a challenge or one of those get back on the horse and conquer your fear opportunities so despite my protests in he went with bottles. The tigers eventually mellowed but that doesn't change the fact that he has proven his foolhardy bravery. He'll go into the tiger den. And he has the temperament to calm everything down.

This doesn't look safe because it isn't safe.

Too many tigers.  Please how about less tigers.
Tiger friends.

Next was our first Thai meal at a little joint nearby and it was of course magnificent. The children were distracted by the two day old kittens in the box in the corner. Sanitation is not enforced in Thailand.

But all of that happened before lunch.  Next stop: ancient ruins and elephants.

Thailand Day 1 part 2: Ancients and Elephants

Theoretically I knew we would be riding elephants.  But the reality of it didn't hit me until much later in the afternoon.  First, we visited an ancient Khmer temple.

From the little restaurant we went to Muang Sing which is the ruin of a Khmer Kingdom city dating back to 857 when that kingdom was flourishing.  
The place was similar to Siam Reap and built during the same Siam dynasty, around 1200 I believe.  We felt like Indian jones exploring around the  ruin.  One highlight was the explanation of particular structures within the temple.  The religion incorporates the worship of the phallus of God believing that it can rain down fertility, specifically into a uterine shaped receptacle.  That was fun to explain to the children. My favorite quote was when Jude or Silas said, "So they believe God's semen when it pours into that thing makes a good harvest?" Yep. You got it dude.
The area is well maintained and beautiful.  We were one of two groups of tourists checking it out.  

The kids were shocked when the guide said "yes, you can climb on it" and off they went.

I don't think this visit to Mueang Sing satisfied my interest in ancient temples.  Going to have to eventually visit Siem Riep in Cambodia.  And all those ancient temples in Greece.  And the ones in China.  Oh, also the Mayan ruins.  Ok, I need to go everywhere.

Next up, elephants.

We just pulled into this little structure with elephants hanging out nearby.  Just huts.  Some with elephants.  Everything made of bamboo.  Some plumbing but not much.  Second world, for sure.  

We handed over some cash (I want to say about $30) and up lumbered some giant elephants.  Like right up to us.  I was TERRIFIED.  

This is my favorite face Jude has ever made.

They put a little "seatbelt" on Jude and Silas so they wouldn't be so scared.

These animals are bigger than minivans.

By the way, I am not an animal person.  In fact, I'm a little afraid of all animals.  But here I am with all these little kids around me and I have to pretend that I think this is a totally normal and comfortable thing to do: climb up and sit on a twenty foot tall beast who could kill me.  I turned to the Hippie with tears in my eyes and begged him not to make me go and then promptly turned to my boys and forced them crying onto the elephants.  It all happened rather quickly and soon all six of us were marching toward the River Kwai on elephants and I was shaking in fear and pretending for my kids that everything was going to be fine.  I've never been so scared in my life and not three hours before I'd been bitten by a tiger.  

Down the steepest hill we went, crashing into the water, and then guess what the stinking' elephant's favorite thing to do is?  Dive of course.  And so scuba diving we went as the elephants fully submerged themselves.  Surprisingly, once we were in the water we were all a lot less scared.  They didn't seem quite so big because so much of their bodies were underwater.  They were not aggressive and the guides who rode with us didn't use any kind of force to get them to do activities with us.  The people running the place were very affectionate with the animals and the energy I got from everybody involved was that, though certainly these are wild animals made tame, the people loved being with the elephants and treated them like horses or dogs that they loved and enjoyed.  I obviously do not know the psychology of elephants but they seemed to be having a lovely time lounging about in the water and spraying us.
Elephants.  Just swimming along in the River Kwai.

Again with the fear cackling.

It really was amazing fun.

 They easily lifted us with their trunks and seemed to enjoy being scrubbed with brushes.  I was not super happy about getting sprayed with elephant snot, but I guess having a water fight with elephants is an opportunity not to be missed.

Probably at least 50% snot.

Just a man and his son.  Washing an elephant like it's a car.

There's my kid.  Doing a backflip off an elephant.

Jude age 9.

Running from the snot cannon.

Afterward the elephants dropped us off at the showers and we drove about two hours back to Bangkok.  The traffic in Bangkok is no joke.  Getting just about anywhere in the city in transportation other than a tuktuk, motorcycle, or subway/air train is a total hassle and takes hours.  Cars and vans are by far the least desirable form of transportation, but to get outside of the city there are not better options.

Here are a few more I can't live without: