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?

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fun at the Nam Khan River

2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (1 of 9)

Like we said in our post about biking, Luang Prabang is the place where the Nam Khan River meets the mighty Mekong.  Most people have heard about the Mekong.  It’s a pretty impressive river.  Here in Luang Prabang, it’s already pretty big and moves quite fast – a little bit intimidating.  But we’ve also got the Nam Khan, which is a little more tame and friendly.  There are beautiful sandy beaches for the girls to play on (although, littered with the occasional broken bottle that we try to avoid.)2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (2 of 9)  During the dry season there are two charming bamboo bridges that visitors cross for a fee.  You can see a couple pictures of them on our Instagram feed (as well as many other’s tourist’s instagram that visit here!)2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (4 of 9) 2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (5 of 9)

The girls have fun collecting river weed on sticks just like the local kids.  The river weed here is dried in sheets and fried for a snack.  It’s one of our favorites.2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (6 of 9)

We also had fun one day catching tadpoles with the plan to take them home and watch them grow into frogs.  We should have done some internet research first, though, as we ended up killing them because of our negligence.  We’re read up on frog raising now so we won’t be making the same mistakes next time.2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (7 of 9) 2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (8 of 9)The Nam Khan has been a great place for us to go if we have a free hour or two and want to relax while the girls play and explore.  We’ve talked about swimming in it but haven’t yet.  2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (9 of 9)Where do you go to chill out when you get the chance?

weekend adventures: butterfly park

Ryan is going to be doing some of the writing here now so that we can keep this blog going!  So start checking the author if you’re wondering which one of us wrote it.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (1 of 17)

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Laos.  Wanderlust magazine rates Luang Prabang as the top city to visit in the world!  We’ve often missed enjoying the places we’ve lived because we’ve been so focused on life and work.  So, this time we’re trying not to let this golden opportunity slip by.  We’re living here now, so we might as well figure out what all the fuss is about.

2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (2 of 17)

The Kuang Si butterfly garden is listed as one of the top places to see.  We’ve been pass it before on the way to the waterfall of the same name but didn’t have time to check it out.  With a family full of girls it is bound to be a hit!2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (3 of 17)

The Dutch couple that put this place together did an amazing job in a relatively short amount of time.  The grounds of the park are beautifully landscaped and full of butterfly attracting flowers.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (4 of 17)

At the end of the path is the main attraction – a huge butterfly enclosure.  There can be up to 80 species of butterflies in here during rainy season.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (5 of 17)

One of the best things about the park for the girls were the admission tickets with the butterflies on them.

2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (6 of 17)

I decided to just go for it with the closeup butterfly nature shots.  Nat Geo will probably be knocking on my door next week.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (7 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (9 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (10 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (11 of 17)

We’ve got a couple information nerds in our family, so really enjoyed the guide they gave us at the entrance to the park and learned a lot.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (12 of 17)

A little bonus was the free fish spa.  I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of these.  They usually have them at a spa.  You stick your feet in and the fish nibble off your dead skin.  Lucky little devils!2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (13 of 17)

There was a lot of squealing going on from the tickles.  Sad to say, I didn’t get to do it, so I guess I’ll be nibbling the dead skin off my own feet.2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (14 of 17)  2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (16 of 17) 2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (17 of 17)We are having fun taking advantage of where we are living right now as local tourists.

What’s the best thing to do in your area?  Have you gone and done it?

weekend adventures: biking to the river

2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 12)On the weekend, we love getting out as a family and getting to know this quaint little town of Luang Prabang.  Before returning, I found a Burley bike trailer on craigslist that had never been used, so I bought it and brought it over as one of our check-in bags.  I was envisioning being able to get around with the three kids on my own, but that hasn’t really happened here.  There are a few too many hills and busy traffic roads for my liking.  But, when Ryan comes along, we can use it.  You wouldn’t believe the stares we get from some of the locals who have never seen such a thing!  I just hope we don’t cause an accident with all the rubberneckers! 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 12)

The kids love riding in it and taking in the sights.  Our favorite spot so far, is down at the end of the peninsula where the Nam Khan River meets the Mekong River.  It’s gorgeous and complete with sandy beaches and hand made bamboo bridges.2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 12) 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 12)

The girls could play for hours with sticks, rocks, water and sand.2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 12) 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 12)There is so much to see and explore, like tadpoles, little fish, and river weed.2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 12)These are the kinds of experiences I just LOVE giving to my kids.  2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 12) 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 12)We also found some decent quality bikes and trikes for the girls to ride here at home.  They spend hours on them, though it’ll be a long time before I trust them to ride on their own around town. 2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 12)For now, Isla is snug in a baby carrier and usually enjoys a nap on our bike rides.

Do you bike as a family?  Where are your favorite places to go?

Halloween fun

The girls had a blast dressing up this weekend and going to a Halloween party with friends.  We had a ballerina, an owl, and a pea in a pod.

2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (4 of 9)2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (5 of 9)Isla seemed to really enjoy her cozy outfit and slept through almost the entire party.   2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (9 of 9)Elise loved being an owl and hoo’d as often as possible.  2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (8 of 9) 2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (7 of 9)And Talia got to work on some ballet poses that she had learned that week from an older friend who’s been in ballet classes for many years. 2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (6 of 9)2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (3 of 9)Here’s the whole crowd.  Last time we got to dress up for Halloween was 3 years ago, when Elise was only 3 weeks old!2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (1 of 9) 2014-11-02 Halloween by Melissa Crossett (2 of 9)

How much Halloween candy do you let your kids eat?

a simple birthday party

It’s been so fun to be back for the girls’ birthdays this year!  Elise turned three last week and we had a very simple celebration, which she absolutely loved.

My parents came for the weekend, which made it extra special.2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (3 of 15)We hung up a few balloons,2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (2 of 15) 2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (6 of 15)Isla got her party clothes on (which the big sisters were very excited about!),2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (4 of 15) 2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (5 of 15)Elise learned how to make “3”.2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (7 of 15)Gramma and her helpers whipped up some cream,2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (8 of 15)we all put on party hats,2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (9 of 15)

and sang happy birthday, with three candles stuck in a banana split!2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (10 of 15) 2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (11 of 15) 2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (14 of 15)Talia made a special birthday sign2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (13 of 15)and we had an absolute blast with our dollar store noise-makers.  We cheered so loud when Elise and Gramma, finally made noise!2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (15 of 15) 2014-10-19 simple birthday party by Melissa Crossett (12 of 15)It really doesn’t take much, to make a super fun, special birthday for a three year old.  And, since it was so simple, it was enjoyable for everyone.  We’ll always have great memories of Elise’s simple party.  She even ended the day by saying “best party ever!”

How do you celebrate birthdays at your house?  Do you have any birthday traditions?

sisters photoshoot

I have some adorable pictures of Talia and Elise from when Elise was a newborn, so I started panicking when I realized I hadn’t taken many good ones of the three girls together since Isla was born.  So, I immediately made a plan.  I decided on a morning when we had some time, and planned to do a mini “sisters photoshoot” before any more time went by.  Here are a few of my favorites.

2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (1 of 10)I’m so happy that the girls are so in love with their new baby sister.  2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (2 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (3 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (4 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (5 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (6 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (7 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (8 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (9 of 10) 2014-10-12 sisters newborn photoshoot by Melissa Crossett (10 of 10)And one of Isla after she got dressed for the day.

I’m far from a professional photographer, but these are a few things I try to do when I attempt to do a mini photoshoot of my kids:

1. Plan ahead to when I have a free block of time so I’m not feeling rushed

2. Pick a time when they are not tired or hungry

3. Make sure everyone is dressed and have hair fixed well in advance

4. Have my location and camera settings ready before bringing the girls in

5. Have someone around to help get the girls moved around or arranged

6. And, my most important strategy: take a ton of pictures in hopes that I get a few good ones!

Do you do mini photoshoots of your kids?  I’d love to hear your tips!