Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Eating Lotus Blossoms: More Khmer Food and Baby Update

Here are a few more interesting Cambodian/Khmer foods:

This is a lotus blossom. It is sold on the side of the road and eaten in Cambodia. You push the seed out, peel the outside off and eat the white, nutty, middle part. It tastes similar to a peanut.

Do you have an opinion on tempura battered mushrooms?
Ben thinks they taste like fried chicken, Ezra eats the outside and spits out the mushroom, Talia loves them, Elias turns his nose up at them all together, and I like them! The boys like tempura onions (I totally introduced the concept of onion rings to the Cambodians here: they were amazed!) and zucchini, just not mushroom. 

It's a big, flowering, white clump of mushrooms that grow  together- I don't know their name...

Although it looks like a doughnut hole from the outside, with its sugary coating, this is no ordinary doughnut. The inside is stuffed with what tastes like cheesy mashed potatoes in a unique Cambodian spin on things. I think the outside dough is made with rice flour because it is very chewy. The mixture of savory and sweet is a little different. Also sold near it was a flatter-looking version without the sugar coating. That one had a sweet potato filling.

I'm thankful everyone has been well enough to go to school and work this week! Zoe is almost 6 weeks old today. She's very active all day long, here she was trying to tell me something, but she sleeps most of the night only waking to nurse a couple of times. 
I think all of my babies look very similar, but Ezra looked the most like me and got my mom's Swedish roots. The other three got their father's dominant genes. Can you tell who is who?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cambodian Buddhist Funerals and a Stomach Virus

First, something pleasant:

These beautiful orchids grow on our second story balcony. That is the most beautiful spot out of the entire house.
This week we were able to witness a side of Cambodian culture that we haven't seen before: a funeral. The Buddhist approach to death is very different from what is normally witnessed in the States. Sunday we noticed the old lady who lives in a house at the end of the street walking up and down the street assisted by two family members. Then monks started arriving. Her husband had died, supposedly in the night. Very soon afterwards, this tent was going up on the narrow alley that composes our street:
Monks chanting, a recording of a wailing lament and clangy music with drums was played at full volume most of the time after the tent was set up. This particular funeral went until Wednesday, though the people here say it depends on how much money you have. If you have a lot of money, it usually lasts a full week. Every morning during the funeral people would be up preparing for the day and music would start soon after 4 a.m. This would continue throughout the day and then in the evening people would come and eat at the tables set up under the tent. Children would run around playing and people would be socializing until around 10 p.m. Then, on Wednesday, everyone showed up in white clothes (the color of mourning here.) When it was time, the coffin was pulled on a cart with wheels and the people walked in procession holding unopened lotus blossoms and carrying a bowl of something white. Not long afterwards, the tent and tables disappeared and life went on as before.

For us, this week has been full of sickness. Ben and Ezra were home with a stomach virus at the beginning of the week. (Ben commented on the appropriateness of feeling like death and listening to a death chant all. day. long.) Poor Ezra can't catch a break. The vomiting and diarrhea from the beginning of the week has finally lessened but we're keeping an eye on his fluid intake to make sure he stays hydrated. You can tell he doesn't feel well when he lays around, because he's normally a very hyper little guy. He's been lethargic this week and not wanting to eat. Talia has also been home with the same symptoms, but seems to be recovering faster.
Zoe has made it to one month old!
Hopefully everyone will be feeling better soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

If You Need an International Midwife.... and an Update After Zoe's Birth

A lot has happened after Zoe's birth, as I'm sure is normal in families with 4 children abroad. One thing we have had to figure out has been getting Zoe's birth certificate after a home birth. It turns out to be much less complicated than we expected. I'm going to leave that post for Ben to write, as he's been dealing with most of the paperwork and can explain it better.

We, sadly, had to say goodbye to our midwife. She helped by catching Zoe, the way midwives do, but she did more than that. Just being here as another (mostly) sane, English-speaking, fellow mother after one of the most life-impacting times abroad (as birth generally is) made the transition smoother and our lives better. Her sense of humor, (when Ezra drank her mouthwash for one of many examples) adventurous spirit, (showing me parts of Cambodia I haven't been able to visit yet!) helpfulness (she taught me how to make ricotta and other things) and adaptability (Cambodia can be hard, but she didn't complain) make her special. I miss hearing her wise viewpoints on life, but I'm glad she made it safely home. If you'd like a good midwife who is willing to go abroad to help you, I highly recommend Fair Flowers Birth Services.

My sister also came and left. She doesn't like her photo online, but she took photos for us while she was here.We had fun visiting different places around Cambodia, and she especially liked bartering at the market! We miss her a lot, too.
The kids had fun taking pictures with baby Zoe. Now that everyone has gone home, we are figuring out our new normal for routines with 4 children, one of whom needs to be held most of the time right now. So far, the craziest part has been getting breakfast and kids ready for school in the mornings, but even that is smoothing out after a little bit of time.
Ezra has been struggling with breathing issues about once a month. Previously, the doctor refused to give him anything stronger than a saline nebulizing treatment as asthma is difficult to diagnose in children under 5. However, I had done everything he recommended and none of it was working. The worst part of having children is to watch them suffering and not be able to help. When Ezra comes home from school with a runny nose, he usually is struggling to breathe a day or two later. I hate going to the doctor for every little thing, so if we can take care of something at home, we do. When your child is gasping for breath, though, and the saline treatment isn't helping, a doctor is the right option! I'm thankful we have access to healthcare when we need it. This time the doctor decided it was time to have something available for when Ezra has an asthma attack and it gets this bad and gave a prescription for medication to put with the saline in an emergency. Ezra is the only one who has suffered with this so far, and every doctor he's seen expects him to grow out of it as his bronchial tubes mature. Ezra was back to his normal hyper mischief the very next day, so I think it's working, thankfully!
Zoe is growing quickly! She has gained about a pound a week and is curious about everything around her. Her schedule seems to be slowly aligning more with ours as she gets bigger and can sleep for longer periods between nursing. Talia loves having a sister and the boys are still very protective and slightly awed by the smallness of a baby. It's adorable to watch them hold her with little smiles as they exclaim "she's so cuuuuuuuute" every single time! I'm sure when she's old enough to mess with their things this will be a harder sentiment to find, so I want to remember them this way.