home prenatal care

2014-06-09 prenatal care by Melissa CrossettI’m now in my 3rd trimester and have only had two prenatal appointments so far.  Now, I’m not advocating for avoiding regular check ups with your doctor or midwife.  But living way out here, I’m pretty far from quality medical care, so came up with a simple plan for at home prenatal care.

1. A healthy diet based on vegetables, eggs, meat, fruit, fermented foods, etc… Avoiding sugar, most grains and factory oils.

2. Regular activity – biking, walking, squats, etc..2014-06-09 prenatal care by Melissa Crossett-2

3. Quality supplements2014-06-09 prenatal care by Melissa Crossett-3

4. Basic monitoring of blood pressure, baby’s movements, and urine tests

All this can be done from home with the right tools and supplements.  The one thing I couldn’t check was the baby’s heartbeat as I don’t have a fetoscope.  But, she’s very active, so I am aware of her movements and would take notice if that changed.

How did I do following my plan?  Pretty good, though I could’ve done much better in the “regular activity” department.  I do ride my bike daily, but not usually for very long.  Walking doesn’t happen too often lately as it’s been so hot!  I’m looking forward to doing some of that when we’re back in the US and the land of nice sidewalks and strollers, too!  I also ate a lot more rice than normal and not as much bone broth as I would’ve liked.

You can read more at these sites about the foods and supplements I try to take for optimal prenatal health.

Everything seems to be going well, but I am looking forward to being back in the land of good medical help near my midwife for the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy!

touring Northern Laos: family accommodations

With around 20 hours on busses and tuktuks and over 10 hours on boats, you can imagine we also experienced a range of accommodations during our week touring Northern Laos.  2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa CrossettSome of the guesthouses we stayed at were a little rough, but thankfully, the accommodations got progressively nicer each night of our trip.

Day 1: In Oudomxay we stayed at a nice guesthouse that was the only place we stayed with air conditioning the entire trip.  The girls enjoyed having a real shower with water pressure and hot water (as we all did!) The room had two twin beds and we made up beds on the floor for the girls using the extra blankets in the room as well as our blow up mattress and cushions from the chair covered  with sarongs.2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-2Day 2: In Phongsali after a very long bus ride, we checked into the guesthouse Ryan had stayed at the month before.  However, the upper level rooms where he had stayed previously were all full, so we were left with a lower level room.  Our room was tiny and there were two twin beds and no floor room.  So we had the girls share one, and Ryan and I shared one.  Let’s just say, it was a rough night.  The beds were rock hard, the bathroom stunk pretty badly, the sheets were sandy, and a 7 month pregnant woman and a full grown man don’t fit very comfortably in a small twin sized bed!2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-3 2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-4The girls, however, slept well, and we were excited that they did well sharing a bed for the first time, opening our options for the future.

Day 3: Our second night in Phongsali, we moved to a different guesthouse that had three twin beds.  Wohoo!  Ryan and I each had our own bed, and the girls shared again, except for during their naps.  Bonus: the sheets were cleaner and the bathroom didn’t smell as badly, though you had to be careful not to hit your head on the sink when trying to reach the toilet.  On the way out, Ryan trapped a cockroach under the cup in the bathroom as a surprise for the next guests!2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-52014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-17Day 4: In Muang Khua we again found a guesthouse with a three twin bedroom.  Perfect!  Only challenge this time was the hotter weather now that we were out of the mountains.  Overall, we slept pretty well that night.2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-6 2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-8 Day 5: In Muang Ngoi, we stayed at a bungalow facing the river with its own little balcony.  The balcony was a nice place for Ryan and I to hang out while the girls slept.  Here it was another hot night, and we were back to sharing a twin bed, but we still sleep alright.  2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-112014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-9(not sure how she ended up with the comforter on in that temperature!)

Day 6: The last night of our journey, we stayed in some beautiful bungalows in Nong Kiau.  The room was huge, had a wonderful bathroom with a rain style shower head and very hot water.  The challenge here, was twofold: the bugs and the heat.  There was a beautiful mosquito net on the king bed, but you couldn’t feel the fan through it.  So you had to choose between getting eaten by mosquitos, or sweating the night away.  The kids slept on small mattresses on the floor that were in the room already.  Very convenient.

2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-12 We chose to use the mosquito net, but in the end I got very little sleep because of the heat.  It’s hard to sleep when you just can’t stop sweating. 2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-14 2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-13The large balcony was a great feature of these bungalows.2014-06-07 Northern Laos accommodations by Melissa Crossett-15Our tour of Northern Laos was definitely an adventure for our family in every department, but we’re so glad we took the trip and enjoyed so much of it.  We were so happy with how well the girls did with the whole trip, and love it that they can share a bed when needed.  After a week on the road, it was nice to get back to our own rooms, fans, and screened windows!

Where do your kids sleep when you travel?  Really, I want to know!

part 1 touring Northern Laos: packing light

part 2 touring Northern Laos: Phongsali

part 3 touring Northern Laos: down the Nam Ou River

touring Northern Laos: packing light

Did you miss me last week?  We were gone all week on a family tour of Northern Laos.  Ryan had done the same trip last month and decided he wanted to take us along to see it before we head back to the US this summer.  We had an awesome trip (aside from a few rough spots.)  I’ll be telling you all about it this week.

First, I’m going to tell you what we took with us.  We knew we’d be on and off many different modes of transportation: buses, tuktuks and boats, so we wanted to pack as light as possible.  We ended up with 3 small bags:

1 duffel bag
1 daypack
1 purse 2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-7It was very convenient to only have these bags, especially since we often had to pick up the kids or help them on and off our rides. What did we fit in these three bags?  Just enough for a week of travel.

In the duffel we packed:
1 outfit per day for Elise (a few less for the rest of us)
1 toiletry bag for the whole family
1 small pouch of hair things
1 inflatable toddler mattress
1 blanket
1 sarong
phone chargers

In the backpack:
dslr camera
2 sarongs
homeopathic motion sickness medicine
Ryan’s clothes

In my purse:
notebooks and crayons
plastic animals
a pouch containing wet wipes, chapstick, money, bib, mosquito repellent, barf bags, phone etc..

2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-6

2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-5We had some laundry done at one stop, and another time we washed a few things in the sink.2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-4We brought very few toys for the kids.  They were happy with their notebooks, crayons, and plastic animals while waiting at restaurants.  2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-2-2 On the long bus rides, they kept entertained with audiobooks, music, snacks and a few games on the ipad.  They also took a number of naps on the road.  2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-10We bought snacks as we went from the bus or boat stops like seasonal fruit, nuts, homemade rice crackers and smoked meat.

The most useful item we packed?  Our three sarongs.2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-9They are just simple strips of fabric.  Each one is a different shape and fabric.  One is sewn into a tube.  They pack up very flat, dry quickly and have so many uses!  I can’t recommend them enough.2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-8We used them as pillows on the buses and boats, towels, sheets, picnic blankets, rain cover2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-3and in the past we’ve used them as baby carriers2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett 2014-05-26 packing light by Melissa Crossett-2We would consider them an essential travel item.

That was all we brought.  It’s the lightest we’ve ever packed for that length of time.  The only thing I wished I had brought was a sun hat for Elise as it was blazing hot some days (and she has very white skin).  And my plastic flip flops that I chose as my only pair of shoes ended up wearing down a bit too much.

In the next few days, I’ll be telling you more about where we went, what we saw and how we slept.

What do you pack for a week long trip?  What are your essential travel items?

part 1 touring Northern Laos: packing light

part 2 touring Northern Laos: Phongsali

part 3 touring Northern Laos: down the Nam Ou River

part 4 touring Northern Laos: family accommodations

beating the heat

It’s hard to believe that only a few months ago we were freezing our tails off during the winter season.  Without any heat source in the house, we had to get creative to keep warm, like family snuggle sessions in the middle of the day, 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossettwearing hot water bottles2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-2

and stylish pjs.2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-3

Now, it’s summer, and this past month has been HOT!  Thankfully, the girls have AC in their bedroom, so naps and nighttime for them is quite comfortable.  The rest of the time, we’ve been doing our best to stay cool.2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-5We made smoothies, 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-4went swimming in the river,

2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-6 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-7played with water in the yard,2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-8 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-9 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-11 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-10And one day, I felt desperate for a break from the heat, so I hung out with the girls in their room with the AC on2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-12We also went over to visit the neighbor and her new baby.  They, however, were not beating the heat.  Most women here practice “mother roasting” after giving birth, which consists of keeping the mom and baby home and very warm for a month: bathing in hot water, drinking hot drinks, eating hot soups, wearing hats and long sleeves, and the real kicker…. lying on a bed with hot coals on the floor underneath.  I have a lot more to learn on this subject, but from what I understand, it is done to help them heal quickly and restore their balance.    2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-13 2014-05-05 Lao summer by Melissa Crossett-14

My friends here can’t believe I didn’t practice this after my girls were born.  They were very curious how long it took me to heal.

Now May is here and has brought with it some nice rain and beautiful temperatures.  I guess a couple weeks of super hot weather is all we’re going to have!

What do you do to stay cool in the summer?

Patty (and the strangest google search I've ever done)

Our friend came into the house with something tiny to show Talia today.  At first I thought it was a little frog, but then she stretched it out and I saw it was the teeny tiniest baby bat!  He (or she) must have fallen away from his mother during the rain last night.2014-05-06 baby bat by Melissa Crossett-2

Talia decided the baby bat would be her pet.  She named her Patty and put her in a bowl outside.  Then Talia came running to ask me what bats like to eat.  I told her fruit, so she rounded up some suitable “snacks” from the backyard.  She must have decided the bat also needed water, as we later found Patty swimming in the bowl.

2014-05-06 baby bat by Melissa Crossett

Talia wanted to know how to take care of Patty, so I turned to google to find out what could be done.  I read that it’s best to get the baby bat to grab onto a stick and then put her up in a tree, where hopefully, her mother would come back for her.  They don’t really survive if you keep them.  If that didn’t work, google said you should call a local wildlife rehabilitator for assistance.  I don’t think we have one of those here, so we’re hoping plan A works.2014-05-06 baby bat by Melissa Crossett-3

So, right now Patty is hanging out in our Lychee tree, and hopefully she’ll be gone in the morning.

What was your first pet?

simple toys: cardboard dollhouse

Our girls don’t have a lot of toys.  That’s mostly due to the fact that we’ve moved so frequently the past few years.  Also, we do prefer they run around and explore outside, color, or look at books.

The toys we do get them are usually simple toys that encourage creativity. Some of our favorites are Legos, kitchen toys, and baby dolls.  It doesn’t take much to get them excited about something new.  A few weeks ago, Ryan whipped out this simple cardboard dollhouse.  You can’t get much better than that: free, easy to make, and disposable.

2014-04-26 cardboard dollhouse by Melissa Crossett

We don’t have any furnishings for the house, but some random Little People and Legos work for now.2014-04-26 cardboard dollhouse by Melissa Crossett-3 2014-04-26 cardboard dollhouse by Melissa Crossett-4 2014-04-26 cardboard dollhouse by Melissa Crossett-2

What are the favorite toys or activities in your home?


I’ve been thinking lately about how our life here reminds me a lot of camping.

First, there is the fact that we’re missing a few key components in our bathroomDSC_4811

and our kitchen2014-01-13-DSC_4063

And filling up baskets of dirty dishes to haul out to the outside kitchen, somehow reminds me of taking them down to the river to wash them.2014-01-07-DSC_3890

You can also smell smoke during most parts of the day as the neighbors do their cooking.  And that smell often clings to my laundry hanging on the line.  That I really don’t mind though.2014-01-06-DSC_4713

And then there’s the wildlife around…20131108-DSC_3898

This week, I’ve been learning how to cook a bunch of Lao dishes, the Lao way – outside over a fire.  So, that just sealed the whole “camping” analogy for me.2014-04-26 Camping by Melissa Crossett-2 2014-04-26 Camping by Melissa Crossett-4

Do I like camping?  Yes, I do.  And I love the laid back way of life that goes with it.  Who doesn’t love sitting around a fire and spending plenty of time outdoors?

Do I want to feel like I’m camping permanently?  Maybe not.  On one hand, I know my house is a step above many of my friends and neighbors who only have outhouses, and a water tap out in their yard. On the other hand, many of them live with, or near their extended families and they all help each other out.   2014-04-26 Camping by Melissa Crossett-5

I think my growing belly has got me thinking about how having a newborn again will change the dynamics of our family, and that makes me shy away from this “camping” lifestyle.2014-04-26 Camping by Melissa Crossett

We’ll probably look for another home after our year lease is up, one that might have a few more conveniences and make daily life a little less work.  I hear there are actually some houses with real indoor plumbing in town!

When is the last time you went camping?