MESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE (10/1/18):
I know y’all are waiting on the news of Baby #2. So are we!!! Lori’s 40w+5d today (she went 41w+1d with Noe). Stay tuned! In the meantime, I figured Noe deserved a proper birthday mention before #2 comes and steals his thunder. As an oldest sibling myself, it’s the least I can do.
This post is dated June 26, 2018.
The evening before Noe’s birthday, we made a stop at our go-to cake supplier here in Vientiane: Maya Bakery. It reeked of fish oil and is just a hole-in-the-wall ma and pop shop in the neighborhood, but we love this place. The more well-to-do may get jaw-droppingly intricate custom cakes done elsewhere in the capital, but Maya’s cakes are much nicer than anything we’d be willing to pay for back in the U.S. And of course, Noe picked out the elephant cake.
As is the custom at Noe’s crèche, parents bring a cake and all the kids gather around and sing — after they’ve all had their fruit and biscuit snack, of course.
There are currently just under 30 kids at the crèche. Attendance starts low in July and August, then builds throughout the year until they graduate the oldest kids (who generally move on to the French school the following September after Rainy Season break), so it’s a packed house today. A couple weeks from now, Noe might be one of only a handful of kids here.
Here comes the cake!
One of Noe’s first phrases he ever put together was “Happy-birthday-to-you.” For the longest time we wondered what he was saying. We soon learned that they sing the Happy Birthday song in French, English, and Lao whenever one of the kids has a birthday. It still baffles me that he fixated on the English phrase rather than the French or Lao, with no other reference to speak of. Language is a crazy thing.
Whenever he’d see a doughnut or fire, he’d blurt out “happybirthdaytoyou!” Even at two years old, he still calls fire and cake products “happybirthdaytoyou!”
We don’t feed Noe sweets, so we reckon the first time he ever tasted something sugary was probably here last September during one of the kids’ birthdays. This is the first time Lori or I ever saw him eat something like this. He definitely enjoyed it, but thankfully doesn’t ever ask for it at home or when he sees things like cake or doughnuts at cafes and coffee shops. He’d much rather eat fruit (he’s obsessed with fruit). But even an addiction to something good for you has advantages and disadvantages.
And with that, Number Two was in the bag. That’s not to say that Noe didn’t get a few gifts before it was all done and over with. We did get him a very cool Mr. Potato Head kit and floor puzzle — both used, of course (would you expect any different from us?)
Even with his new gifts, Noe’s seemed most excited about the pasta necklace kit that Lori put together for Noe last week, which he’s found all sorts of other uses for.
We’re racing the rainy season here. We’ve gotten a few storms here and there, but know that the Big Yuck is just around the corner. So, we’re trying to get out and about as much as possible. We’re also fully aware that our time in Laos is limited at this point, at least until January. We depart on maternity leave to the U.S. in just over a month.
Noe would like to think this huge sausage crepe is all for him, but the three of us are sharing this one…today.
It’s been working a lot better lately having Noe share our food when we eat out rather than packing his food with us — though we generally underestimate how much the little guy can eat. Don’t be fooled by his size, folks. Noe can pack it away with the best of them. Where it goes, however, is one of the great mysteries of our time.
Friends and family back home are frequently baffled when they hear we rarely use a stroller here in Vientiane. Sometimes we even forget why we don’t break out the stroller more…until we go for a stroll…
So stop asking!
Another one bites the dust…
I’ve written frequently about how I’m constantly coming across buildings that are here today and gone tomorrow in Vientiane. There may be no neighborhood where this is more true than in ours (Phontan Village) and particularly along the main drag, Rue Dongpayna.
Another day, another residence razed (the old fashioned way, too, with sledge hammers and pickups with chains). What will go here is anybody’s guess (if anything goes up at all). Crazy times in Vientiane.
Our sixth anniversary — and FIRST in Laos. Last year we marked our anniversary eating McDonalds take out at our hotel room in Bangkok while Noe snoozed (it was a travel day to our credit, and we did get to celebrate the next evening in more proper fashion, albeit with a wily one-year-old).
This year, we enlisted one of our favorite sitters and hit the town. First up, massages at Manee Spa (I still got the traditional Lao full-body, but Lori opted for the 60 minute foot massage), followed by beverages at Naga Boat…which as of June 23rd is still sitting on the dry, though no less operational.
I do love me some Naga Boat. However, we were both put off by the fact that they seem to have acquired a monkey, which they have tethered to a zip line between the boat and the shore. Not sure what’s up with that, but sad, nonetheless. Hopefully next time we visit they will have found better digs for their monkey or else we may have to take our business to the other floating boat bar in town.
After Naga Boat, we made it across the street to Spirit House (I had a cocktail and Lori, a mocktail), before proceeding to our final stop of the night, Acqua.
Acqua has been on our list (and, incidentally, most foodies’ Vientiane eats list) for a long time. But it ain’t cheap by any standard, so our anniversary seemed like a good enough excuse to splurge. Fortunately, it was worth every bite.
The owner, himself, talked us through the menu (as he does with everyone), as well as through the four different salts for the steak. I was skeptical at first, but blown away by how much flavor salt can have, and how diverse the four offerings were.
And of course…
The next morning…
We’ve been talking about doing something like this with Noe for a while (he loves doing yoga at home with mommy). One of the yogis in town was starting up a toddler yoga class and offered a four-class special, which seemed like the perfect opportunity for Noe. As with any new class, there are still some kinks to be worked out, but I’m happy to report that Noe thoroughly enjoyed his first class and is hungry for more.
Our favorite community center, Nam Chai, is back up and running following an outpouring of donations that will hopefully keep the center afloat for a few more months until they can secure long-term funding. It’s been a special place for Lori and Noe and they really enjoy their Sunday afternoon story and music time with other English-speaking kids from around the world.
And now, on a serious note…
Noe’s first ever Time Out.
Our perfect little angel somehow went and got himself a bit of an attitude, literally the day he turned two. He certainly hasn’t been a “terrible” two by any standard (we still have plenty of time for that…), but he’s adopted something of a bad boy streak from time to time since that fateful day.
The Mister was none to happy with this new experience, but demonstrated a surprising degree of remorse when the timer went off. We had a good discussion about being a good listener, a big hug, and he was great the rest of the night.
I dreaded the first time I’d have to employ the T.O., but have to say I’m happy with the results.
Never far from our minds, of course, is Baby #2, which I know has to factor into his behavior change as well. There’s certainly no hiding it these days!