learning to dance

After some bouts with poor internet, we’re back to posting again! I have a lot to post from the past few months, so hopefully I’ll have time to share them with you.

Talia recently performed her first traditional Lao dance that she learned at school! We were all invited to come to the Teacher’s Day celebrations and watch her perform. After rounding up the appropriate traditional dress and doing her hair and makeup, which she was pretty excited about, we headed out in a Tuk-Tuk.2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 2)I’m not sure why, but after over 5 years of living in Southeast Asia, we still arrive to events on time. Amateurs. 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 2)2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 17)Once others showed up and things got rolling, Talia had help putting on her sash and a special crown. 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 17) 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 17)At first Elise followed Talia around everywhere, including right onto the “dance floor”, so I had to remind her that she wouldn’t be performing with her big sister.  2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 17)Some of the younger kids recited some poems and did small performances first. 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 17)Then Talia and her classmates were called up to get their flowers and get ready to perform. 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 17) 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 17) 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 17)  2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 17)Initially, she had been unsure she’d be able to learn it since the other girls mostly knew the dance already. But, after a few pep talks she took it very seriously, and did a great job.

Here is a short video:

2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (13 of 17)

Next the 3-4th grade girls performed their dance which included candles. Talia can’t wait to do that in a few years!2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (14 of 17) 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (15 of 17)Another poem recitation.. 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (16 of 17) 2015-10-21 kids Lao dance Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (17 of 17)

Followed by snacks and lunch. Here is Talia with her friends.  Can’t wait for our girls to learn more dances!

September-gram

Here are a few snapshots from September that you may have missed if you aren’t on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.

First day of 1st grade! Off to afternoon school to learn some Lao language.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:37pm PDT

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Trying to stay dry in the pouring rain. #notgonnahappen A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 3, 2015 at 6:06am PDT

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Boat races!

A video posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:07pm PDT

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Highlight of the boat races for these two was getting to pick out a balloon for the first time. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 12, 2015 at 6:09am PDT

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The best place to ride bikes around here is at the neighborhood temple! It’s where all the kids play after school.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 16, 2015 at 6:50pm PDT

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“grilling fish” by the river. Who needs toys? 🌿 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 20, 2015 at 6:40am PDT

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Every kid’s dream… To drive her own Tuk-tuk.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 22, 2015 at 6:05am PDT

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Soaking up some family time before high season starts up here. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 8:36pm PDT

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A spectacular Saturday evening sunset over the Mekong River. #nofilter A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 6:20am PDT

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What were the highlights of September for you?

the hair-washing joint

I have not used shampoo for over three years now, and I’ve loved it…. until now.  It took me a while to realize something was wrong, but I just couldn’t seem to get my hair clean with my regular routine.  Over time, it seemed to get sticky and tangled and no amount of scrubbing in the shower made any improvement.  It wasn’t just my hair, but the girls’ hair, as well.  After a little reading online, I figured out that hard water was the problem.  We have very hard water here, so much so that it leaves a white layer of mineral deposit anywhere it dries.  And from what I read online, that doesn’t work well with my non-shampoo ways.  The solution for most people, is to get a water softener or a shower head filter, but since that isn’t an option for me right now, I have resorted to washing my hair once again with shampoo.IMG_50142015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettThe cool thing is that there are hair washing shops on every block here.  I can think of at least 5 or 6 just within walking distance from my house.  So, I decided if I was going to use shampoo, I might as well go all in and have my hair washed professionally. IMG_50052015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettAfter picking out what type of shampoo you want, you lie down on the “hair washing bed” and they wash and rinse your hair not once, not twice, but three times with as much lather and scrub as you can imagine. They also give you a little head and neck massage in the process. IMG_50072015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett Then they rinse with dipper after dipper of cold water.  Then comes the conditioner. IMG_50102015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettWhen I took Talia in for her wash I asked them to trim Talia’s her hair as well, but that is optional. IMG_50112015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett IMG_50122015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa CrossettThen, they’ll blow it dry for you.  I opted to skip that part as I’m not too keen on having hot air blown on me when it’s already 99 degrees out! IMG_50152015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett

I have to say, having my hair professionally washed was quite an enjoyable experience.  And it only cost $1.50 for Talia’s wash AND a trim!  Of course, now my hair is back to it’s frizzy and limp state, but at least it’s clean.

I still have a lot of questions about hair washing practices here…. Who goes to get their hair washed?  How often?  Is it routine or for special occasions (like no water in the house!)?

The hair washing place also offers an ear cleaning service.  Ryan thinks I should give the professional ear cleaning a try but the tools they use look like they could be used for some kind of torture technique so I’m going to take a pass.  It would make a great blog post, though.

Would you go to get your hair washed?

Should I Ryan go for the ear cleaning?

quick kitchen project

When Ryan sent me this picture of the kitchen of a rental house he looked at, I was pretty stoked!  A kitchen inside the house!!  After last year’s kitchen, I was ready to move back to an indoor kitchen.  So, we signed the lease and moved in.  There really wasn’t much work needed to make it livable, besides cleaning and purchasing a few basic items.  But, we didn’t have room to bring our solid wood counter we had built last year, so there wasn’t a lot of counter space in the kitchen.

2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (1 of 10)I make a pretty big mess when I cook, so I don’t do too well with limited counter space.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (2 of 10) 2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (3 of 10)

So, my handy husband decided to make a shelf for the dish rack to sit on, which would extend the counter and free up space to pile the dirty dishes.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (4 of 10) After measuring the nook where it would sit, as well as the counter height, he brought some boards home on his motorbike and built a frame. 2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (7 of 10)

Then he used a piece of leftover plywood to make the top.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (5 of 10)2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (6 of 10)  2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (8 of 10)Finally, he bought some clear plastic and stapled it over the top, protecting the plywood from becoming a mushy rotten board. Start to finish, the project only took part of the afternoon.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (10 of 10)Now I have a great spot for all those dirty dishes.2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (9 of 10)

And, bonus – the bottom has a little room to hold kitchen towels/rags and plastic bags.

Are you a messy or neat cook?  Where do you dry your dishes?

I'm back!

2015-01-01 I'm back by Melissa Crossett (5 of 5)Life’s been a little busy around here with having a third child, visiting friends and family back home, traveling back to Laos and moving to a new town.  We’re now in Luang Prabang starting a new job and new adventures.  I plan to be back to regular blogging, though it won’t be as frequent as last year.  Let me know if there is anything in particular you’re interested in hearing about.

Happy New Year from the Land in Between!2015-01-01 I'm back by Melissa Crossett (1 of 5) 2015-01-01 I'm back by Melissa Crossett (2 of 5) 2015-01-01 I'm back by Melissa Crossett (4 of 5) 2015-01-01 I'm back by Melissa Crossett (3 of 5)

kindergarten for a month

first day of kindergarten by Melissa Crossett 2kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-1 kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-3Although we are only going to be here for a short time longer, we decided to take the opportunity to send Talia to kindergarten.  We thought it would be good for her to have a little classroom experience and interact with some kids from her own culture.

Talia was so excited to start school and reveled in every minute of preparation.

Unlike some of her classmates on the first day of school, Talia didn’t shed a single tear.  At one point after dropping her off in her classroom she turned around and saw me standing there and said, “Why are you still here?”

kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-4With Daddy at the same school where he went to kindergarten.kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-5Her own pose idea.kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-6 kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-7Her second cousin is in her class!kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-8After her first day we asked her what her favorite thing was.  Her answer was, “Everything!”

She’s also made a goal for herself to make as many friends as she can.  Every day she’s come home to report one or two new ones.

It really seems to be a good experience for her.  Although there were no tears when we dropped her off at school, she did cry when she got home and we didn’t have a “welcome home from your first day of kindergarten” gift waiting for her.  I have no idea where she even got that idea!  Ryan, being a sweet Dad, ran out and surprised her with an ice cream cone to reassure our new kindergartener that we were indeed proud of her. =)kindergarten for a month by Melissa Crossett-9

Do you remember your first day of school?

squatty potty 101

I must admit that I felt pretty accomplished as a mother living in Asia when I could take my girls to use a squat toilet without incident. This wasn’t always the case!  The first few times I was forced to take my girls to use a squatty potty, it didn’t go very smoothly.  They would cry and protest, I wouldn’t get their clothes out of the way and they’d go on their clothes, or even on my feet.  Over the past couple years, I’ve learned a few things to make our squatty potty experiences more successful.  If you find yourself with little girls in squatty potty situation, maybe these will help you.2014-08-07 squatty potty by Melissa Crossett1. Get their pants/skirts/etc all the way down to their ankles, then hold them there
2. Have them squat all the way down
3. Bribe them with chocolate if necessary (yes, I actually did this once while we were all still learning!)
4. Learn how to clean up using water so that you don’t get into a bind if you didn’t bring tissue  2014-08-07 squatty potty by Melissa Crossett-2Now Elise will actually say, “Oh! Squatty toilet!” when we walk into a bathroom and see what kind it is.  And we can even brave bathrooms that look like this one without incident.  2014-08-07 squatty potty by Melissa Crossett-3Sometimes I actually think squat toilets are more sanitary, because only the bottoms of your shoes come in contact with them.  Other times, there is so much dirty water on the floor it gets a little gross.

Have you used a squat toilet?  Have any tips to share?