{31 for 21} Illegal in most places

But quite normal here. For the record, this scares the bejeezus out of me but it's getting very hard to avoid. And it is considered normal here. I leave it to dad though, I think you have to grow up riding for this level of confidence.

She's getting her own seat installed today. That's better, right?


{31 for 21} For Comparison

at 3.5 months
  The same lack of hair. Poor kids.

{31 for 21} WISE - Tastes Like Chicken

I'm relaunching the WISE series. As in: What Is She Eating? Series. 

Today's food:

It's fluffy threads, akin to candy floss. But its not candy. It's not a vegetable either. 
Imagine jerky. Imagine jerky so dry it was almost power. Imagine if that jerky wasn't in chunks but in tiny shreds. Imagine it and you have this. 
Chicken floss. Also, see pork floss. 

Its sweet kinda freeze dried meat power floss stuff. You can eat it straight (gets everywhere) or dump it on hot steamed rice and mix it right in. Nava approves. It's 10% sugar so Mama cringes a little but hey, at least she's eating. 

And honestly I can't feel too bad giving it to her because when I was an exchange student in Thailand in high school and I'd hit my limit of meat that was full of bones and gristle and fat and skin not to mention tough...I found pork floss and I loved it. 


{31 for 21} In my other life as a doula

I usually don't talk much about myself outside of my role as Mother on Navagating. However, after nearly two years blogging I feel like broadening the scope a little.

Since Nava's birth I became a mom and I've also become a birth doula. Oppertuities to doula are very limited here in Vientiane as the women likely to know about doulas and actually want one don't birth here. They go to Bangkok; they go home; they go to Bali (okay, really only I did that last one).

So it's kinda hard to doula in the normal sense. So I've been working on the other ways new mothers need support. As I shared in my story of breastfeeding Nava, there is little to no support for lactation here in Vientiane. So I'm working on changing that one little step at a time.


Mothers of 1, 2 and 4 with babies 3, 2, and 1 month(s) old!
This was the first 'official' meeting of the Vientiane nursing mother's coffee klatch. I hope this group will grow into a longstanding line of support for mothers in Vientiane. I really hope to find some way to grow it out into the local Lao community too. I'm not sure how just yet but I think I need to be patient and let it organically take shape so it sticks for the long term. I'm so excited that something has started!

It definitely helps that we've had what one of my FB friends termed a "baby blizzard" here in the last couple of months. Loka was the oldest!


{31 for 21} Candle Joy

It's been a weekend of birthdays here. Yesterday, Nava got to watch a friend turning two blow out candles on an amazing Eeyore cake. Today she saw brother and sister playmates blow out candles twice. 

And today our power was out all day (it's a developing country thing). Come 6pm, they still hadn't turned the power back on so dinner time was by candlelight. It's a routine we've done many times before around here but today Nava had certain opinions about how it should go down.

Like that we should be Singing.
And Clapping.
And Blowing.

Yup, it was Happy Birthday Dinner time. Kinda makes power outages something to look forward to...


{31 for 21} Bikes!

Two important bike related news stories from Vientiane.

#1: Nava lucked out on Teacher's Day and got her first bike. It's pink (daddy's choice) and it's called Turbo and it even has a water bottle holder.

It's still too big for her but she was showing a lot on interest in her non working 4th hand tricycle-including trying to pedal-so we decided to go ahead and let her grow into it. I'm hoping to also borrow a balance bike so she can practice both ways.

#2: Fixeys have taken over Laos
They are everywhere. Mostly risen by prepubescent boys in gangs who treat them like over grown bmx bikes and do tricks on them at the river park.
But this one takes the cake: behold...

Grandpa Fixey


{31 for 21} My mop is more inappropriate than yours

(This post has nothing to do with Nava, Loka, Down syndrome, or Parenting. It has everything to do with enjoying the chuckles that you get as an expatriate in Asia.)

Behold, our mop.


 What brand you ask?

Oh yes.


{31 for 21} WW Random Tidbits

No awards for guessing as to which child is more of a challenge to parent at the moment...


{31 for 21} We heart froggy

When your daddy's a biologist, you get to get up close and personal with slimy things pretty early in life... Check out her double checking with me on whether she can trust Daddy on this one. I was very impressed she gave him a pet--this is a girl who hates the look and feel of stuffed animals!


{31 for 21} Semi-Silent Sunday

Dancing in the park to the open air aerobics sound system on Sunday afternoon
Sadly the boogieing ended in her Crocs tripping her up and a lil' facial road rash. C'est la vie.


{31 for 21} Sparkle Shoes

This pair is currently the favorite. They are incredibly shiny in real life and we get non-stop compliments.

See Kai Run and the end of summer 50% off sale is a good thing.


{31 for 21} The Lao Happy Meal

Those of you who are long time Navagating fans know that Nava was an amazing eater. There is really very little she would not eat from age 9 months to 2 years. You'll note she is two and a half now. Amazing eater of diverse foods? Not so much these days.

::cue sad music::

Like most toddlers, she has gotten picky. And like most toddlers, she now has days where she barely eats. Just plain not hungry. Again, long time Navagating fans will be shocked. This has been a big adjustment for us. We just didn't have the "feed picky eater" skill set around here before.

We are quick studies however. You have to be in a place with no McDondalds or KFC. And I thought I'd share what's on the menu these days at Casa Nava. It's the worldwide favorite standby you find in almost every culture: Chicken and Rice. Thais have Kao Man Gai. Singaporeans love their Chicken Rice, and of course there's Arroz Con Pollo but Lao has this version:

Part A: Rice. Specifically Sticky Rice. Reeeeallllllllly Sticky Rice. The rice traditionally eaten in Laos is steamed, not boiled, and is eaten by hand, torn off in chunks. You simply can't eat it with chopsticks or a spoon. I know, I've seen bewildered tourists try. 99.999999% of children love sticky rice-its chewy rice you eat with your hands, what's not to love?

got rice?

Part B: Chicken. Specifically Grilled Chicken. Marinated in tumeric amongst other spices and flayed between a split bamboo stick and grilled on the barbeque, purchased on the side of the road, wrapped in a banana leaf. Bamboo and banana leaf makes for a very green take out wrapper, if you ignore the plastic stack it all gets handed to you in ;)

"chicken" is one of her favorite signs

What's your sure fire toddler meal?


{31 for 21} Take my brother...please

Things started out very easy for us on the sibling rivalry front. I think, all told, we are still getting off pretty easy. But it has gotten harder.

The worst of it seems to be when I'm doing something with Loka when she wants me to be with her. In these cases, having 2-3 other people at her disposal really is of no comfort and all she wants is mommy and therefore all she wants is mommy to quit it with that little brother guy. Sometimes this means refusal to eat dinner, sometimes non-cooperation at bedtime, and (many many) other times it means whining.

She has started hitting him--in that toddler slap sort of a way. She does it right in front of us after being told gentle and with a glint in her eye that makes it crystal clear that she is doing it to get a rise. Needless to say, she's frustrated and this is a way to express her disapproval.

Its a bummer in some ways but...but...but...its no different than what just about every mommy who has been here has described. It may suck but it's fairly age appropriate. Whoohooo...way to go behavioral milestones ;)

At the same time though she is extremely affectionate with him and still enjoys overseeing diaper changes an etc. She asks to hold him and want to sqeeze him and she brings toys to him. And for right now at least, that cuteness is helping to soften the emotional blow for a mommy seeing one sibling hit another.

Oh and I bought a toddler-appropriate discipline and parenting book yesterday, ya know...just in case.


{31 for 21} It's OK to say you're sorry. I'm sorry too.

In the Ds community there is a common refrain bemoaning people saying sorry when they are told  your newborn or fetus has Down syndrome. Because babies are usually and should be greeted with Congratulations! not pity, sympathy and the dreaded sorry. Of course.

1 day old

New parents who have just brought a child into this world and have had that world answer back sorry are justifiably grieved, I think. Its an acutely painful thing. Personally, I announced Nava's genetic status via her birth announcement. I posted it on facebook and emailed it to my bosses and non-fb folks. In my vast experience with this (n=1) it's a great way to share the news of a kiddo coming with something extra. I got to frame it the way I wanted people to hear it. I didn't have to repeat myself a thousand times. And most importantly, I didn't have to see the looks on people's faces. On friend's faces. Because, to be completely honest, I'm sure some people's reactions would have hurt me (completely unintentionally of course). This way everybody got to process it first then respond on fb or in person without a knee jerk reaction.

5 months old

As a result, I think, I didn't get many sorry comments.

But as I see new parent grapple with being told sorry on message boards and blogs, there always remained a little voice in the back of my mind saying but sorry is kinda right... saying sorry isn't necessarily wrong because...because...because this:

Sorry? Sorry. Yes. I'm sorry too. 
I'm sorry that my child has been born into a world that discriminates against people for the make up of their DNA. 
A world that considers them less than human at times. 
A world where it can be justified to deny them education. 
A world where people feel its ok to video them dancing and put in on youtube to mock. 
A world where people will sling around the word retard cause its such a fun way to put down others! 
A world where some doctors urge abortion of people like them. 
A world of people feeling uncomfortable and even scared of or disgusted with people with an intellectual disability.

These *are* things to feel sorry for folks.

9? months old

But I'm not sorry Nava is Nava. Not sorry at all. 


31 for 21: Family Sunday Tradition

 Dad is now working away most weeks Monday to Friday. As we've gotten into the rhythm of his schedule we've also developed a habit of evening frolics downtown along the bank of the Mekong. Until very recently this area was wild and undeveloped. I can't say I like everything they did to it (a road through a park!?!) but it is really precious to have a big open space in a town like this. And since we live on a rocky dirt lane, having a place for Nava to enjoy a long walk is also very appreciated.

The whole town is there at sunset, when it finally gets cool enough to enjoy being outside. Seniors, teens, young families, skaterboys, aerobicizers, you name it.
This past Sunday was marked by a) Loka agreeing to a whole walk in the sling (wooohooo!) and b) Nava going barefoot after a little naughty shoe off taking resulted in said shoes being forgotten. You win some, you...walk barefoot.
Lack of shoes didn't slow her down at all. Loka being in a sling sure helped make my job a little easier.  We have officially reached the stage of "come here" means "run away" and, of course, No means Yes.

They even supplied a nice clean beach right there.
Ok, it was a new path under construction. Still good.

add your own caption. please!


31 for 21 2012: Awareness Campaign Lite

It's October again.
October is Down syndrome awareness month. But World Down Syndrome Day is in March.
I know, it's confusing.

But, getting back on point, it's this month a bunch of bloggers attempt 31 for 21: blogging all 31 days in October in the interests of awareness raising and celebration of those with Trisomy 21 (as in 3 copies of the 21st chromosome aka Down syndrome. But you knew that).

So here goes nothing! I can't promise a lot of deep thoughts but I've got a huge backlog of day in the life type stuff and few heavier posts rattling around in my head. Goddess, infant, toddler, work, and Lao internet willing, I will be posting everyday. If nothing else, I can promise a steady stream of really cute pictures. What's not to like?

If you'd like to see who else is 31for21ing, have a look over at this year's host, Big Blueberry Eyes. And if you tweet, the hashtag #31for21 awaits you.

Topless Photos! ZOMG!
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