Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pre-Natal Herbal Medicine - Hmong Style

Hmong herb vendors outside Talat Sao (Morning) Market, Vientiane. They set up everyday and are quiet popular with the locals. Actually most markets have one or two traditional medicinal vendors, however this area usually has around 8 or 9 set up.

Yesterday I had go pay some bills and couldn't resist looking. Ended up buying one for making birth easier, but only because I felt bad that La was taking so many photos.  Since I've already got a huge supply of traditional Lao herbs from M, my mother-in-law, I picked the one I could plant. :-)

This woman had medicine to help birth easier, medicine for more milk and medicine to poop easier after  childbirth... along with medicine women who want to conceive. 


(And yes, I'm in the b/w polkadot dress... again.... at 39+ weeks it's one of the few comfortable things I can wear..)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Montessori Monday - LAOS! Giveaway for your Asia Continent Bags!

Back in July I started making Continent Baskets for our school. These baskets hold items relating to each continent, including maps, stamps, money, books, small treasures...all things to explore. I had a great time making them with our teachers, and hope in the coming school year to add to them. (I also hope to transition from paper covered baskets to fabric bags like the ones from Counting Coconuts)

Recently, I had another Montessori teacher in an online forum I post in ask "Excuse my ignorance, but where is Laos?" It's not the first time I've been asked that. It's between Thailand and Vietnam. Depending on your map, it's purple or grey on the Montessori Asia puzzle.

Because I love this corner of the world so much and want others to know about it too..
I'm offering a small Montessori GIVEAWAY from Laos!  

There are 2 options.

1.)  For those of you that would like a little small "something" from Laos to add to your Montessori ASIA continent bag / basket / box drop me a line at kellyinlaos (at) gmail with your mailing address and I'd be happy to send you a postcard. It'd be really nice if you wanted to do the same and send us one. (hint hint)


2.) If you are interested in doing something more exciting, I'd be happy to do a TRADE with you and send you a few small traditional Lao items in exchange for somethings from your country.

No expiration date on this one. :-)

With love from Laos!

Living Montessori Now

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Goodnight Grandpa

I've been mentally processing this for the past few weeks. My maternal/paternal grandfathers passed years ago, and now my other "grandfather" has passed. This is the second time since I've been in Lao someone close to me has passed. Times like these the space between feels very very large. Ironic that I'm now living in his homeland, and he was living in mine.

Thank you for teaching me about Lao culture.
Thank you for making me laugh with your antics. (Yes, of course, we can collect frogs from the local park..)
Thank you for making me try snake soup.
Thank you for trusting me to help you with your medicine and mail.
Thank you for opening my eyes.

Sleep well.
Grandpa Khammanh

Monday, August 6, 2012

Little Picasso

My nephew painting in his dad's studio. He painted the one above the one he's working on too. They live next to us and he was proud to show off his new creations.
Wonder if little River will be doing the same in a few years?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Creating Baby's Space - Montessori Style

So, in a few short weeks I’m going to be a mom. Oddly enough, before I moved to Laos I never envisioned myself having children. I liked them. But they were for other people to have. Maybe living here it’s impossible not to feel the call of motherhood, as the culture loves children so much. Not to mention there are 3 routine questions you are asked by every stranger: How old are you? Are you married? Do you have children?

Now that I am finally on maternity leave, we have started setting up a space for River. All  my  Montessori training is coming out in River’s spaces. He won’t have his own room in this house as there just isn’t the space. (We are in the process of building a house.) There is an extra bedroom here but La uses it as his art studio, and we both agree it’s too important to confine oil paints, thinners, cutters, chemical smells and all other supplies that make a parent cringe in a safely locked no baby entry space.

We are doing co-sleeping, so I’m setting up that area for him. He won’t actually sleep in the same bed as us, but next to the bed on his own little mat. I’ve never personally been fond of cribs, as to me they look a bit like zoo cages, but in Laos, they are even more unheard of. There is no debate here about co-sleeping; it’s how every baby sleeps and you’d be called a bad parent by locals to try otherwise. He will also get his own mosquito net, which I have to buy this week. Yes, they make baby size models.

In the main area of the house, I’ve set up one bamboo shelf for his supplies that we need to use everyday. I was going to keep it in our bedroom, but with MIL coming to live, I need it to be accessible to all. There is also a soft woven fabric mat for the floor and I will buy another small bed mat this week. La’s friend at Vientiane frame shop is making us a big mirror Montessori style, for the wall. That way during tummy time he can explore his environment and himself. La is painting the story of the frog and moon also to be hung low on the wall to introduce River to artwork. I plan to make a simple mobile, hopefully have that finished also in the coming week.

There is just SOO much info on the web about Montessori parenting, but I have a few blogs that continue to be sources of inspiration:

Sew Liberated - This is my all time favorite go to blog for Montessori / creative parenting. I've read her for years for teaching inspiration and now I see it as Mama inspiration. 

One book I have found really helpful with regards Montessori and Infants is: 
Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three 

Photos to come, I’ve got a lot of work to do first!! Ha, maternity leave. OK, I’m not teaching in a Montessori pre-school of 41 for the next 3 months, but it feels like I have an even bigger task with 1 soon to be newborn!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lao Baby Names (Revisited)

Well River is due in about 20 days and we are still working on a Lao name for him. Again.

I posted on a Baby website the following about finding a Lao name....

"We're having a boy and are giving him an English first name (River.. think Mekong..not the actor) a Lao middle name and a Lao surname. My DH wants MuokSao as a Lao name (means morning mist) but I'm not 100% on that one. "Sao" means morning but if pronounced wrong means girl. (Lao is a tonal language) So, I'm sure my American family won't say it right..." actually.... most of the time I can't even say it right!

Most Lao names are given by monks at the temple. Well, some background on our family. Khamla is Tai Daeng. -Red Tai ( It's an ethnic group, not related to Thai. Oi, call him Kon Thai not Kon Lao and you R IN TROUBLE!) ; ) Tai Daeng live in Northern Lao, near the Vietnam border. (You know, that area the USA was busy bombing the daylights out of during the American War or Vietnam War. La's family lived in the caves, farmed at night.. River is going to have an interesting family history for sure. Anyway))  

More about Tai Daeng from :
According to Patricia Cheesman in her book Lao-Tai Textiles: The Textiles of Xam Nuea and Muang Phuan, “Tai Daeng translates as Red Tai but actually refers to their original homelands in the district of Muang Daeng in Vietnam [and] many arguments have been presented as to origin of the name: the Red River, the red funeral blouses or the red waistbands on the women’s tube skirts…The Tai Daeng are one of the largest Lao-Tai groups in the northeast of Laos, having migrated into Houa Phan province from Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam, in the 19th century and the currently make up about 70% of the population of the Tai groups in Houa Phan province.

Your thinking.... Kelly, "WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH LAO BABY NAMES?"  Well, allot really. La's family isn't the temple going sort, there isn't even a temple in his hometown village. (Most Lao names are given by monks) La himself has never even actually given alms etc. It's not his culture..even though, yes, he is "Lao". His family is Phi which another whole blog post...(Not all Americans are the same right?) All his siblings have given their children small nature names: nok/bird nuu/mouse mhek/cloud mangon/dragon .. and unlike many Lao, these AREN'T their nicknames.. it's their full first name. Needless to say, we are keeping religious beliefs out of naming the wee one. 

But both of us would like something a little more formal than officially calling our son Mapanoy (little wolf) or Muu noy (little pig) etc. As a nickname fine, but not an engraved on US passport kinda deal. 

Ugh. So 20 days. (Because thank the USA for having these amazingly complicated "report birth abroad" forms I still need to fill out to make sure "luk sai pen kon american" (baby boy can be an American citizen) 

Top 100 Tai Daeng or Lao baby names.... I haven't found a copy of that bestselling book yet. Anyone have one I can borrow?