Baby Bites. When we first arrived here, our sponsor’s daughters filled a bag with items specifically for Alexa. It included a couple of packs of Kraft Easy Mac, some jam, and a few other items. The easy mac benefitted all of us, as it became my backup side dish when I messed up the rice the first time I tried to cook dinner here. But by far, the jewel of the bunch was a snack I’d never heard of, designed for infants aged 6 months and up: Baby Bites. To me, they have no taste at all. Alexa, however, loves them. She eats these thin, oblong, rice husk wafers like I’d eat M&Ms. She recognizes the packaging, both the box and the 2-wafers-inside plastic, and when she sees them, she starts whining and pointing, and if she doesn’t get one immediately, she goes into full tantrum mode. I’m just glad she’s chosen to obsess over a relatively inexpensive semi-local option rather than deciding on the Gerber snacks that also are available, or insisting on her Cheerios, which I haven’t seen here at all.
Damage. My mugs weren’t the only things that arrived damaged. By far, the most heartbreaking was the mugs. The most expensive was a metal trash can, which was dented up something awful, and the foot pedal wasn’t just broken but was missing altogether, not even in the box. The most annoying on a daily basis was the coffee maker, on which a small plastic piece is broken. The piece is one of two that can be used to lift the lid, and it just so happens that it’s the one I naturally try to use most often. Also damaged was a wood cutting board frame, the kind that has a shallow indentation in the top for a plastic interchangeable cutting surface, with a slot underneath to hold several plastic surfaces so you can have one for beef, one for fish, one for veggies, one for bread, and so on. Jeff had to push and press the frame back out so that the plastic pieces would fit into their slot. And the digital food scale apparently endured more than its tolerated 5lb of pressure for too long and won’t work at all anymore; maybe I should have taken the battery out of that before we shipped it. All in all, about half of the things in that box that could be broken were broken. (It’s hard to damage clothing, and the shoes were okay, too, although the boxes were torn up. The small TV, the alabaster piece, the knife set, the ceramic trash can, and the Tupperware-type containers all were unharmed.) I know it’s just stuff, and it doesn’t matter in the big picture. But it does make me angry, and it makes me worry about the rest of our stuff—most especially the rest of the alabaster and the framed papyrus paintings. I’ve been praying for peace, for a relief from the anxiety, but it’s hard. Apparently my stuff means a lot more to me than it really should.
Stripping my diapers. Many of you know that we use cloth diapers with Alexa. One thing that often happens with cloth diapers is that detergent builds up in them, causing them to develop a really nasty smell as soon as they’re soiled—even with urine, not just with poop, although normally I barely smell even a poopy diaper when she’s in cloth—and, in the worst cases, causing them to wick moisture away from the absorbent layer altogether, keeping it trapped against the baby’s skin until it starts to leak. When this problem happens, you strip the diapers. The most common method I’ve heard of involves washing them with a small amount of original Dawn dish detergent, then rinsing them thoroughly. In a year of using them, I’ve never had to strip them. So it didn’t even occur to me to bring some Dawn with me when we moved to Cambodia. Now, apparently the water is harder here or something, because my nose is alerting me that we have a problem with Alexa’s diapers. And Dawn is not available here. I can’t even get it through the APO, because it’s liquid. I can order it from the commissary in Bangkok, but the next shipment from them won’t arrive until late November. If we make a trip to Bangkok for any reason, we can pick some up, but we have no plans to go there. If it comes down to it, a missionary I met—the sister of an awesome doula whose blog I read—has some, and she’s offered to give me what I need. But I hate to take something from her that can’t be replaced, especially when I do have access to it that she doesn’t have, through the Bangkok commissary (it’s against the rules even to give away their products, so I couldn’t even replace what I’d used). So I think I’m going to try the least efficient method first, which is just rinsing them, without any detergent, in cycle after cycle of hot water. It’s going to be a multiday project, and it may not even work. I’ll probably keep Alexa in disposables until I do it, though, because she’s been getting fairly severe diaper rash, presumably from the cloth diapers needing to be stripped. And I don’t want to keep her in disposables, especially not since they’re so expensive here. So I need to get those diapers done … I guess I can always start today, now that my other laundry is out of the wash and in the dryer.
Alexa is becoming a girly girl. She’s always loved for me to brush her hair, even when she didn’t have any. Now she enjoys brushing her own hair—and mine, too!—although she doesn’t always understand which side of the hairbrush she should be using. The icing on the cake is what I discovered just today: how to get her to sit still for fingernail trimming: tell her that I’m giving her a manicure and making her fingernails “pretty.” At least it worked this time; we’ll see if it works next time. I’ve also started letting her pick out her clothes most days—I have her clothes folded together in matching sets, with short and pant sets (along with the one-piece outfits) in one drawer, dresses in another drawer, and separates in a third. I just open the drawer that contains whatever type of clothes I want her to wear and let her point at her choice. (If we’re doing separates, I pick the pants and then hold up two shirts for her to choose between.) How is that relevant to the girly girl idea? Three-quarters of the time that the choice is available, she chooses one of her very few pink options. Jeff and I are not fans of pink, to put it mildly, so almost all of her pink clothes are gifts* or hand-me-downs. And she chooses them. Instead of the nice greens, blues, and purples we prefer. Sigh. Maybe she’ll grow out of it, in about ten years? *Note to our families: No, this information should not be taken as a reason to buy her more pink clothes! We’ll buy them for her when she asks/points during the shopping.