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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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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When You Miss A Breastfeeding Session or Two

I did what any breastfeeding mom going back to work would do: get an expensive breast pump with full intention of using that expensive breast pump. When Lanoy was 10 months old, I went to my first day back in a classroom. I asked the original teacher if there was a place I could pump during the planning and/or lunch to which she, of course, noted the nearby germ playground kindergarten bathroom or the classroom with the door locked. Few hours pass and before I know it, I am picking up crayon wrappers after the kids have left for home. I did not pump at all that day and my body hated me for it.

I got home, popped that girl on a tit, and pumped out the other side as she nursed and I got about enough milk for the village. This is my breasts’ way of getting really angry with me for messing up the flow of things. My body was all, ‘Bitch, where were you for your noon feeding? Oh, you were leading an art lesson? Okay” and decided to open the milk flood gates to rebuke career duties. The awful part was when an elementary schooler’s big head would bump into my chest for the side-hugs-only contact and I felt like I was going to fill the classroom with letdown and fore milk. Lest us not forget lunch; my boobs went go-go-gadget when it’s being nourished. I can feel my boobs swell up a notch with each bite of food next to ancient teachers, who probably did not understand my face of breast discomfort. Not a lot of teachers pumped that I knew of.

I then made the decision to not pump for my toddler. After a while, my body adjusted and my breasts weren’t so painful if I nursed Lanoy right before I walk out the door. They weren’t ‘so painful’ where I couldn’t not work so I kept trucking on. This went on for six months while I was teaching part-time this school year. It would totally be different if I was in a classroom full-time and eight hours a day. On a few occasions, I run a bit late to nurse my sleep-through-the-night toddler before leaving, come home after a full day, and the first thing thing I say to GH after he asks about my day is:

breastfeeding boobs on fire

*For some tips for pumping, go see How To Get More Milk With A Hand Pump

When do your boobs get on fiyah?


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Rihanna and Breastfeeding Memes: Why You’re A Shamed Shamer And It’s Not Okay

rihanna breast feeding meme

rihanna breastfeeding instagram

Both are okay actually so…

The entire world is completely messed up from Rihanna, y’all. The 26-year-old singer stepped out in her bangin’ bod at the CFDA Fashion Awards, whatever TF that is, for the appropriately categorized 2014 Fashion Icon Award. Welp, she earned it. If you do not call under a rock your permanent and/or temporary address then you have seen the infamous dress: a sheer gown with a purported 230,000 Swarovski crystals and little to nothing else. People were l o u d about this dress such as the usual can’t-deal-with-hos men and even women, who were really offended by Rihanna’s bare-all some-things-but-not-really attitude.

One group of women especially did not like how Rihanna dared to show her breasts when they cannot show theirs. Breastfeeding advocates have been pretty meme-happy since this incident à la #moi and it’s the classic case of Shamed Shamers, where a group of oppressed women shame another because one group (Rihanna) is not shamed enough therefore one group (breastfeeder) feels falsely shamed. Making memes like the ones included above only feed the cycle of why you need to make such images in the first place. These type of “breastfeeding” memes are repeating the puritanical system that tell breastfeeding mothers when, how, what to breastfeed just like how non-lactating women’s bodies are told when, how, or what to dress their body.

It is important to understand that Rihanna received much more criticism than ‘fashion icon’ praise unlike like these memes suggest. Actually, I have yet to read a comment really “okay” with Rihanna’s dress at all. With a simple Google news search, you’ll see the headline word choices contain ‘naked,’ ‘bares all,’ or ‘too much skin.’ By asking “why [are Rihanna’s boobs] okay,” it is promoting the very body policing that breastfeeding is too aware of and contradictory of the cause for normalizing breastfeeding. All boobs, all okay.

We should not be shaming Rihanna, who also got banned from Instagram like so many breastfeeding IG moms for the same exact thing: boobs, lactating or otherwise. We should shame the internalized patriarchal thought that makes us think we need to shame her to get our point across. We should shame the images that say she can’t be a fashion icon and be a woman with breasts. We should shame those who invite you to sit in the bathroom to feed your hungry kid. We should shame the predators, who sexualize women’s breasts to latched- or non-latched children. We should shame the people who shame Rihanna because they are most likely the same people against breastfeeding. When you shame Rihanna’s body next to yours, you shame the advocacy you misappropriate through images and thoughts like those.

*For some real-time insight into the world of Twitter’s thoughts on shaming breastfeeding and/or Rihanna, check it out here.

rihanna vs breastfeeding in public shaming



Are these memes promoting or hurting the cause for normalizing breastfeeding? What about the cause for body positivity?


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The Topic of Breastfeeding in Public Just Got Hairier

@LaotianComotion: How to gymnurstics in public #laotiancommotion

@LaotianComotion says, "I don't care about #breastfeeding in public and you shouldn't either" #laotiancommotion
One of the rare times I was asked to move to another location to breastfeed was actually by my mom. We were at a Lao wedding and she gently suggested for me to go to the bathroom. First, I was like, “Mom, that’s disgusting; this is your grandbaby breathing in air poop particles.” She revealed a bit of embarrassment, if that’s even a thing for my mom, when she motioned to the table of skeezy Lao men behind us (i.e., my dad’s skeezy Lao friends). Second, I was like, “Wait, why would these Lao OGs, who were breastfed by their own mamas in Laos be skeeved?” and then I remembered: ‘Murica.

I find it hilarious how there are U.S. laws to protect the right for mothers to feed without harassment, lawsuits, or jail time. “Yes, we realized society has just recently shamed the natural act of feeding from your breasts so give us a bit to write up these laws so you can face public outcry with vague legal backing.” #Okay. In many other places in the world, there are no such laws that protect the right to bare lactating breasts in public. Why? Because it’s not a big deal. In Laos, I asked my friend Kelly from The Frog & The Moon, who is an American mom living in Laos, about the breastfeeding laws there and she said there were none. Well, of course not. Here in the United States, there are laws abound! I mean, that’s good to avoid jail food while hangry and all but how dumb. Breastfeeding laws are just dumb in theory.

According to National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.” Allow? You allow me to whip my own boob out because my child is hungry while everyone else is eating too? You allow me to respond to a crying child by sticking a breast in there? You allow me to police my own body parts? The following are the examples of breastfeeding in public laws here in Washington:

2001: Breastfeeding in public is not considered indecent exposure. (RCW 43.70, 9A.88.010)

2009: Breastfeeding mothers are protected under state anti-discrimination law, and can breastfeed their children in places of public accommodation such as restaurants, pools, theaters, government buildings, museums, libraries, busses, or parks. (RCW 49.60.030 and 49.60.215)

In almost 40 months of straight breastfeeding between and tandem of two kids, I really have taken the law in my own hands. Please note I have never had an in-real-life incident with harassment with breastfeeding in public. At least not to my face anyway. I have gotten a few head shakes, a lot of stares, and many more quick stare-then-look-aways. It really wouldn’t matter anyway because I actually have the law on my side-boob. Even if the law did not protect me, there are a number of ways of how to nurse in public the right way:

  • Wear a nursing cover.
  • Don’t wear a nursing cover.
  • Use a bottle.
  • Don’t use a bottle.
  • Perfect your bitchy resting face.
  • Don’t be a bitch.
  • Find a room.
  • Don’t find a room; never a restroom because airpoopparticles.
  • Go everywhere with your 6-foot husband, who’d crush anybody for looking at you sideways while breastfeeding the baby in public.
  • Go places without your significant other.
  • Grow long hair (my recent method).
  • Don’t grow long hair.
  • Don’t care what people think, say, do when you are responding to your hungry baby when out living your life in public.
  • Seriously, don’t give a shit.
I’ve actually done all those ways to be comfortable in public because I was a new mom surrounded by jaded society. It wasn’t until I learned one important thing: I’ve lived my life caring about others (my parents, my boyfriends, my friends) thought about me and my body and the only person who should be bothered is the person whose boobs are attached to. If you are modest about the amount of skin you are showing, you have that right. If you live in the bottom depths of Seven Hells and your baby gets too hot under a cover then ditch that thing. If you prefer a quiet spot in a lounge room with comfortable chairs, sit back and nurse. If you just do not give a shit, then go on not giving a shit because you aren’t doing anything wrong. Not only does the law say so, but you do too. I have done all those things because I do not prescribe to one radical be-all-end-all in breastfeeding and I have never had a single problem.
*For a list of your state’s breastfeeding laws, please go check out Breastfeeding State Laws
The one right way to nurse in public #breastfeeding @LaotianComotion

Law’s On Your Side Boob.

*You may share any images from my blog upon the condition you credit/link to I like when you share but love when you acknowledge the creator. Thank you; don’t be a dick.

Breastfeeders and non-breastfeeders: What do you care about breastfeeding in public? Do boobs bother you? Are you modest?


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