Boys with Curls: When to Stop Being So Damn Sentimental with Your Kid’s Hair


In the tradition of Lao babyhood, all infants have their heads shaved for the belief that it will grow lustrous and strong. (For whatever else, I don’t know) This tradition is oft suggested to newborns, which is when my mom suggested we shave Humnoy’s head. The kid still had vernix pasted on his vagina-squeezed, oblong head when #AznGrandma about busted out the buzzer. Being the overprotective and wannabe-natural boho mommy I was, I absolutely refused no matter how unfortunate his hair journey started.

Humnoy had this weird, old-man hair when he was an infant: smooth/fuzzy on top; long on the sides and back. Shit was a M E S S. It wasn’t up until he was a full-blown toddler that he grew out of the old-man look and started showing growth and, to my softness for unique hair traits, perfect little brown spirals. I knew waiting out was going to be worth it. I thought, “Oh gee golly, I’m sure glad I didn’t listen to my crazy Lao mother because look at his hair now!”

For what seems like every public outing of his life, I’ve gotten the question: “When will you cut his hair?” usually right after they are offended/surprised that the little girl they are fawning over in the shopping cart is actually my first-born son, who’s never ever had a haircut. I would answer, “Well, I don’t plan on it really, [why?]” What is it about the length of a child’s hair define who they are? Humnoy was always quick to say, “I’m a BOY!” when I’d repeat my, “Oh, HE’S [insert his age]!” I was fiercely proud that I did not ever force him to get a haircut. For what? So strangers can see “who” they’re talking to? No way. Buzz off.


There was finally a time GH and I decided that, yeah, sometimes maintaining his brown curls was more work than not. One day, he got his hair so matted that he formed a baby dreadlock. I thought, “Crap, maybe he does need a haircut” but then he took another bath and fresh, new curls appeared after the baby dread was cut off, along with all my doubt. (It is now in a Ziploc bag in our kitchen because I’m fucking crazy like that). The only other time was when we were reviewing how he’s going to prepare for preschool. I hesitated on my motherly instinct only because I know how cruel people, even preschoolers, can be. I think we decided he would get an actual haircut when he enters Pre-K 4 this coming school year.

Ironically at one month before he was to turn four years old, his eligibility age for his preschool, it was clear that it really wasn’t up to me at all. Not then, not now, not never and Humnoy and his preschool scissors made that very clear (cut) while Lanoy and I were taking our nap, the time when Humnoy should be “quietly playing” since he’s given up on home naps. Long gone are naps for him, long gone are his beautiful baby curls and long gone is all my gushiness for his own hair on his very own head. ‘His hair, his body, his choice,’ isn’t that how it goes or whatever-someshit?


 When did you (or they) cut your kid’s hair?


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Small Balls Serenade: A Birthday Song by Humnoy

It’s that time of year again.


How far away are you from the last year of your 20s?


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Only the Most Important Things on My Phone

I’ve been obsessed with the iPhone since I got the third generation back in 2008. Six years later, I don’t know if I can live without it. It keeps me “organized,” in touch, and keeps my selfie game in check. Finally figured out how to showcase only the important things on my phone: de-clutter with a whole lot of adorable.


Just fucking kidding. I still am a hot mess.



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{CLOSED} Laotian Entertainment: Family Movie Night w/ “How to Train You Dragon 2” & Giveaway Have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsored

I can’t tell if motherhood has really screwed me over (more than it has) or if family movies have really stepped up their emo game. I have cried at commercials, sure, but an animated, action-adventure movie? This latest movie was seriously no exception because not only did wet, hot things roll down my face (again) but the kids and I were cheering on the characters. Seriously, the last time we did were all rooting at the screen characters was *cough* kidsstayupwatchingTheWalkingDeadwithus *cough* In “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (HTTYD2), we got all of it: action, friendship, and heroism. I especially loved the reunited love story the mostest. I’m such a sucker for reunions because I hate losing things, ‘know what I’m sayin? Ugh. You also can’t go wrong with dragons. DRAGONS! And especially, widdo baby dragons. So kewt.

Enough of the movie, let’s move on to the the best part of movie: snacks. The good people over from DreamWorks basically tossed us the awesome gift of calories and sugar, which I have never been mad at someone for doing so, for my family to enjoy while watching one of the best films of 2014. We got to nosh on buttery popcorn and candies like Red Vines and Sour Patch Kids (which are VEGAN, wut), along with some longer-lasting goodness in the form of the newest addition to our bare feet grenades toy family: Toothless action figure! Toothless is the dragon companion to Hiccup, the protagonist of the HTTYD movies, and he’s one of those cute dragons I was talkin’ about.

If you haven’t seen any of the films from the HTTYD franchise, go-go-go now and enjoy a family-friendly animation that will have you cheer and/or cry from start to finish. Yes, I cried at the old love reunion! I recommend this particular film because dragons are so in right meow and if you aren’t on that dragon bandwagon, this is a great way to get the whole family started! Also, it’s really fun animation with really memorable characters and that’s probably what you’ll get out of it rather than dragon pop culture. So, this will be a family favorite, for sure!

Continue reading for a special surprise just for my beloved Laotian Commotion readers… How to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! Click to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! Click to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! Click to have your own relaxing #HTTYD2 movie night! Click to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsored

Haven’t seen “How to Train Your Dragon 2” but want to experience the animated adventure with dragons and their trainers in a faraway place?

Well, I’m hosting a DreamWorks giveaway that includes:

1) your very own copy of the Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital HD movie

2) a Toothless action figure to call your own

Here is how:

  1. Subscribe to on the sidebar all by entering your email. Don’t worry I’m too busy with life to blog everyday.
  2. Comment below on this post with your email and favorite movie time snack of all time. If it’s quinoa cakes, you might just be disqualified. Jk.

Giveaway ends Sunday, 12/14 11:59 PST and I will choose a random winner with details on a subsequent blog post so please subscribe, tweet, and instagram me!


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View From Down There: Wake Up, Mama!

kid toddler photog seriesWhen you Google the terms “kid photography,” do not be surprised when you see a bunch of images of kids and not photographs by kids: a kid-kid photographer, who takes photographs. I keep track of my children’s development by Googling all sorts of shit yet Google did not tell me what age children know how to take selfies, choose filters, and change shutter speed. All things that my toddler and not-in-preschool preschooler know how to do when they jack my iPhone and leave little kid photog gems. Using kids’ unedited imagination, feel free to see and add your own mini photog’s #viewfromdownthere to show the world through their eyes.


Ask GH: I am not a morning person. If I’m not getting up for work then I’m not getting up. No one needs to be up (without pay) so goddamn early in the morning, kids included. My kids are semi-morning people. They will get up but usually let me sleep a little longer. Humnoy will find his Lego blocks and build a Transformer/spaceship/Transformer-spaceship and let me be. My little girl is my little girl for a reason. Lanoy loves to sleep and enjoys the crook of my armpit right along her Mama and we are happy. There are some mornings where blissful sleep drift away like a dream through wide-shut eyes of a 3.5-year-old photog. This is his way of asking for cereal:

kid photog wake up mama1kid photog wake up mamakid photog wake up mamakid photog wake up mama 2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s where you can view the rest of the series: Kid Photog Series


Who wakes up first in your house?


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Guest Blaog: Standing Out, Fitting In

*Ever since I came across the term “bLAOgger” from Little Laos on the Prairie, I probably overused it enough times to warrant a creative commons issue. Thanks to Chanida, who has been kind enough to bless my overuse of it, I have done just that: I write to share our culture in America, stories from the motherland, and our families’ histories. To add to that, I started a Guest Blaog series with all the experiences in modern-day Lao culture, parenting, and lifestyle. Happy blaogging!*

If you would like to be a guest bLAOgger, please contact


“Standing out, fitting in”

I’m Melissa, from southern California, and I blog at the Land in Between on life, health, and raising a family abroad.  A couple years ago, my husband and I moved to Southeast Asia to work.  We wanted to give our kids a different kind of experience in life outside of the typical American life. Our most recent move brought us to Northern Laos.

DSC_43052014-06-25 Standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett DSC_43412014-06-25 Standing out fitting in by Melissa CrossettWhen we moved to Southeast Asia with our light hair and skin and little blonde girls, we knew we’d stand out.  But, we didn’t want to settle for forever being the outsiders.  We hoped to live and work in Asia for more than just a few months, so we did everything we could to fit in and become part of the local culture. Obviously, we’ll always stand out, but it’s been a fun and sometimes comical journey learning to fit in to Asian life.
3 DSC_47082014-06-25 Standing out fitting in by Melissa CrossettWhat we’ve found to be the most important in fitting in, is to just get out there, be vulnerable and show ourselves friendly.  When we first moved to Laos, and our house was a mess  we didn’t have a real kitchen or a very functional bathroom, we made it a point to get out and meet our neighbors.  We were surprised with how welcoming and friendly they were to us, even though we must have seemed strange to them.  We’ve gotten to meet other great friends through our job at a eco-tourism company.  We’ve worked daily with a group of Lao women, and it didn’t take long to build close friendships with them.4 DSC_72192014-06-25 Standing out fitting in by Melissa CrossettHowever, even after being here eight months and having had experiences in other Asian countries, we still end up in some situations that remind us that we have a ways to go in fitting in.  Case in point…One of the ladies I’ve gotten to know quite well through work just loves our girls and has been so sweet to our family.  She invited us to come over to her house one day, so we made plans to head over in the afternoon.  First of all, I couldn’t get a hold of her to find her house, so had to call another friend to meet us and lead us there.  We weren’t sure what to expect as far as how long we’d stay, if we’d eat or not, etc.., but thought it would be fun to get to know her family and see where she lived.5 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-9When we showed up at around 4pm, our friend, “M”, was in the outhouse taking a dip shower.  For a minute, I wondered if she had forgotten about our planned visit.  Maybe she just didn’t expect us to be on time.  She was excited to see us, though, and invited us up onto her balcony.6 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-10We sat and chatted for a while, met her daughter and some other relatives.  She got busy preparing some food, but like I said, we didn’t really know what to expect so we just sat back and let things happen.  Eventually, she came out with some sliced apples, cucumbers and bowls of steamed rice (not sticky rice, which is the daily staple in Northern Laos).  She seemed nervous about what to do and what to feed us.  We weren’t sure why, because after living there for over seven months, she’s seen us eat plenty of Lao food (and enjoy it!) and we can also communicate pretty easily using our mix of Thai and Lao languages.7 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa CrossettNo one else was eating, but she kept encouraging us to eat.  At five o’clock, it was a bit early for a typical dinner, so we assumed it was maybe a special snack for us.  We thanked her, and began to eat the plain rice, not sure what else to do.  Her daughter took off on the motorbike and returned shortly with a can of sweetened condensed milk to pour over the girls’ bowls of rice!  Normally, I don’t feed my kids stuff like that, but I certainly didn’t want to add to M’s anxiety about what to feed us, so just sat back and watched as the girls downed the sweet, gooey concoction.  I felt bad that she seemed so worried about what to feed us, so started talking to her about it and joking around that we don’t need special treatment, and that we love Lao food.  Her sister-in-law eventually showed up and suggested that we like to eat omelets, so off she went to prepare another dish for us.8 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-11Eventually, “snack time” ended, and the girls went off with M’s daughters to go play with the kitties and ducklings, one of the highlights of their day.  Our girls have loved the interaction they get with nature here in Northern Laos, and eventually, I hope to get some of our own animals and grow some gardens.9 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-12After finishing her dip shower out in the open yard, Granny (who we learned is over 100 years old!) sat nearby enjoying watching the girls play.10 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-7I sat and chatted with the other ladies until their husbands arrived back from a day at the river, bringing a bucket full of small assorted fish.11 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-3Eventually M disappeared into her kitchen again and I wasn’t sure what was going on.  Just as it was getting dark, she came out with a complete Lao dinner for us and all the relatives.  She had made sticky rice, bamboo shoot soup, fish stew, fried river weed, and some spicy roasted birds they picked up at the market.12 2014-06-25 standing out fitting in by Melissa Crossett-5Everyone seemed relaxed and happy that we could all enjoy this meal together.  The finale was a rough (to us) Lao delicacy… honey bee larvae in the comb.  It had a warm, mushy texture and was a bit tough to choke down, but in the end, proved that we could really be part of the group.

We had a great time with M and her family and were glad we made it past the somewhat awkward “falang” (foreigner) snack time to enjoying a home cooked Lao meal with the family.  Although we’ve tried our best to learn the language, set aside some of our foreign ways, and jump into local life, we still have a lot to learn!

Have you ever experienced standing out, but wanting to fit in?  Would you eat bee larvae to prove yourself?


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Date Night Idea: Pamper Partying

Being away from family really means that my husband and I can’t get up and go do something on a whim. I would have to run background checks, call references or worse, pay someone to watch my kids. Thankfully, GH’s parents are in town from North Carolina for a Seattle vacation and we got to do a date night. Our last night out was in March and I over stressed, over worried and we overspent. Not this time, no sirree.

The best date night highlight was GH’s thoughtful idea from our kid-free days in college. The original time we did it was when I brought him in to my favorite spot and the gals loved how he came and gave zero fucks. One shotgun wedding and two kids later, GH decided date night would be a throwback for a couple pedicure. Major sex points there, amirite? He was there for the calf massage and I was there to soften my mom hooves. This wasn’t even the best part of the night. We really dug into our former and current selves for the rest of the night because the best date nights are both fun and functional.

Pedicures done, we just stepped outside in our freshly de-scaled heels to see what we would do next. Nothing planned, nothing reserved, just spontaneous togetherness and shit. An important thing that I should mention is the unofficially agreed upon requirement that all date nights will, now and forever and always, involve alcohol. We try, we really do but parenthood and aging has caught up to us. It was so adult of us to be one-and-done after one drink. Each. E A C H! We were practically falling out our bar stools laughing while people watching after a margarita for me and an IPA for him. Who am I and who removed my binge drinking card?

Our current adulting roles then took us to run important domestic errands at Target afterward. You ever been to Target 1) drunk 2) without kids? It’s a world I had never imagined could exist in my lowly life. This magic has inspired me to unofficially hereby decree that all future Target trips require alcohol, period. Kids there or not. The -Noys will clear out the Dollar Spot cuz Mama won’t give a fuuuuuuuuu.

unique date night idea

Date Night: Couple Pedicure

What did you do on your last


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Lao-American Community’s Latest Police Brutality Victim: A Sleeping Baby

SWAT Team throw a grenade on sleeping baby

19-month-old Bounkham (“Bou Bou”) Phonesavanh was sleeping peacefully with his family the night he was the newest survivor of police brutality. The family of six relocated to Atlanta home that belonged to the toddler’s family on his father’s side. Bou Bou’s father is a Laotian refugee, who escaped a war raging his home and community in Laos to wake up to similar events in his American home with his own family.

Atlanta SWAT enforcement raided the home in search of “a small amount of drugs.” The family drives a minivan with stick figure decals featuring their family with four children (girls aged 7, 5 and 3; Bou Bou 19 months) and a yard full of kids toys. With clear indication of children in and near the house, they broke down the door and attacked the father with no sign of the real suspect, the nephew, who did not even live there. An officer threw the father to the ground and tossed a flashbang grenade, which extremely emits light and sound that it temporarily blinds and deafens. This grenade bounced and landed right on top of their toddler son’s chest and blew a hole, which the mother refuses to look because doctors said his ribs are exposed.

Police brutality among communities of color continue to be a huge problem in this country all for the war on drugs. Militarized local enforcement affects civilian trust and safety with people paying with their lives. Fortunately, Baby Bou Bou and his family are in the process of recovery but not before the Phonesavanh family are working with ACLU to take legal action against routine police brutality against marginalized groups:

I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted. I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT. – Alecia Phonesavanh, mom to Bou Bou

From Huffington Post: Learn more about the Phonesavanh family’s advocacy efforts here and how you can get involved with helping baby Bou Bou recover here.

SWAT Team throw a grenade on sleeping baby


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Kid Photog: A ‘View From Down There’ Photo Series

kid toddler photog series

When you Google the terms “kid photography,”  do not be surprised when you see a bunch of images of kids and not photographs by kids: a kid-kid photographer, who takes photographs. I keep track of my children’s development by Googling all sorts of shit yet Google did not tell me what age children know how to take selfies, choose filters, and change shutter speed. All things that my toddler and not-in-preschool preschooler know how to do when they jack my iPhone and leave little kid photog gems. Using kids’ unedited imagination, feel free to see and add your own mini photog’s #viewfromdownthere to show the world through their eyes.


When I had the idea to document what my kid photogs are documenting, I mainly had all Humnoy shots. He would have all these interesting shots of his shoes on the wrong foot or peeping Tom on the neighbor’s balcony. One day, I was winding down as I do at the end of the day to inventory photos and found a low-key gem by the other -Noy.

I love this hilarious cèlfie because it has both GH, Lanoy, and me in one shot going on our normal family happenings: cooking food because we love to eat. Too much actually. Still accurate is how Hum is not in the shot because he goes off into his own world trashing the living room. She was in her usual spot on the floor near our feet scavenging and begging for food as I’m preparing it. It’s usually there or she’s laying down in the oven drawer like she would be in a bassinet.

kid photog series kitchen celfie~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see her other hilarious internet picture, check out my Love You Forever post.


 Here’s where you can view the rest of the series: Kid Photog Series


Do your kids know how to work a camera?


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