Thursday, April 30, 2015

World Book Day dress-up

The girls' school celebrated World Book Day today. Instead of uniforms, the students dressed up as their favorite book character.

Miriam was Bellatrix Lestrange.

Magda was Marigold (aka the Princess in Black by Shannon Hale).


I think their costumes turned out better than Halloween, and with so little effort on my part. I mean, this lady in a Bellatrix hair tutorial I watched with Miriam yesterday afternoon spent forever on her hair, with steps including spraying, curling, teasing, and pinning. We got the same effect by putting Miriam's hair in three tight buns and having her sleep in them. We took them out this morning and POOF.


The dark mark is literally just marker. Miriam drew what she wanted on a piece of paper, I outlined it on her arm, and she colored it in. I put a dab of lipstick on her and it really completed the Bellatrix look. I thought later that I should have made her eyebrows black, too, but oh well.

Miriam's two good friends at school dressed up as Hermione and Harry, so she said it was funny to be hanging out with her supposed enemies all day.

Magdalena put together her Princess in Black outfit herself, including the purple sheer curtains as a cape. She woke up around 6am to draw, color, and cut out the flower decal.

I love having children who are far more creative than me. It makes days like book character dress-up day so much fun!

Oh yeah, and I told Magda I'd send a picture of her to the author of the book. I tweeted a photo earlier today and Shannon Hale herself replied "awesome" and then re-tweeted it! Kids these days.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bougainvillea

Four years ago, I was in my first semester of an MA program. In the late afternoons, I'd sit outside on the patio and do my readings while the girls played in the lane. At that time of night, at that time of year, the still-warm air always smelled like bougainvillea. I didn't realize it at the time, but I formed strong associations between the smell of those flowers and the feeling of having moved somewhere new and started an MA and entered a busy and exciting phase of life. I'm sure I've smelled those flowers before and since, but my brain has tied the scent very particularly to that phase of my life.

And still sometimes when the season changes just so, and the sun sets in the sky just so, and I'm coming home from work, steering my bike around the girls playing in the lane and greeting Sterling with a reciprocal "hi Mama," I catch another whiff of that bougainvillea smell and it brings me right back to my patio four years ago. Textbook open on my lap. Looking up every few paragraphs to check on the little ones. Wondering if I could really do this.

I don't have a lovely ending for this post. It's just a moment I've been experiencing recently as bougainvillea season has begun. It's amazing the things we can accomplish when we work hard. But wouldn't it be nice to sometimes know the ending when we're still at the beginning? If me on the patio doing my readings could see me coming home from work, MA done and dusted?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Relative durability of children's clothing brands



We generally save clothes shopping for the kids for when we're in the US every other year. Clothes are expensive here, or, if they're cheap, they are of awful quality. We're coming up on our trip to the US, so I've been going through the girls' closets to see what has held up over the last two years. Here are some conclusions, in roughly descending order of quality.

Columbia Sportswear. This stuff never ever wears out - shoes, coats, exercise gear, etc. It all looks brand-new still, sometimes even after going through both girls.

Kohl's - Sonoma (kids). Excellent quality. The fabrics are sturdy and don't pill, and the colors don't fade even though we dry our clothes on a rack in the sun.

Hanna Andersson stretchy pants (or Kirkland brand). Excellent. Magdalena always puts holes in pants, but not these.

Target - Cherokee. Very good quality. Higher quality fabrics and stitching.

Target - Circo brand. Very good quality. Good enough to hand down from Miriam to Magdalena, even. Sometimes the clothes don't hold their shape as well as I'd like, though - t-shirts get a little short after a couple of years of use.

Old Navy. Just OK. The pants almost always get holes in them within the first six months. It's disappointing. The t-shirts are made of lighter fabric which is good for the heat here, but it also makes them less durable.

H&M. I only buy kids' clothes at H&M if we need an item right now for some reason. Otherwise, I try to avoid it. They have really cute clothes but I find that they are overpriced for the quality you get. The pants gets holes in the knees so easily, colors fade, and cute decals that look good in the store droop or distort after a few washes. Sometimes they have a really good sale and I don't mind buying an outfit for cheap even though I know it will wear out soon.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My accompaniment nemesis

I'm still working as the Performing Arts piano accompanist this semester. I'm still in love with it. I think I've met my accompaniment nemesis, though. I had thought it was last semester's Hello O Margaret It's You, but NO. It's Bolcom's Amor.


This piece is insane. Deceptively so - it combines a tricky and non-intuitive rhythm with the need for precision. There's no way to fudge your way through this piece. Everyone will notice. People in the comments think the female soloist posted this video. They are wrong. The accompanist posted it, because he knows he is hot stuff on the piano. Seriously, he is so good! After two weeks of practice, I think I've got this piece down...enough. Luckily, the soloist I'm playing it for has a good sense of timing and is confident enough to sing with accompaniments that rarely follow exactly along with her melody.

My favorite pieces this semester are Johnson's Will There Really Be a Morning (for the women in the choir), and a solo piece called Sure On This Shining Night by Barber. The former I love even though the words come from my least favorite poet (sorry, everyone - if I tell you that most of her poems can be sung to "The Yellow Rose of Texas," she will be ruined for you, too). The latter I love because the accompaniment is not just a background, but is a tandem performance with the vocals.

In other accompaniment news, I've been pounding out chords a lot with Schubert (Was Ist Sylvia and An Die Musik). There have been a few Italian arias as well, some crazy Copland (All the Pretty Little Horses), a creepy-but-pretty lullaby (Lullaby), and some familiar American songs (Long Time Ago and Deep River (!!!!)).

Oh, I forgot my runner-up nemesis might be Don't Rain On My Parade. If the Emirati girl singing it can pull off this Barbra Streisand showstopper - and if anybody can, she can - I only hope I can keep up! What a song.

It's shaping up to be another great semester of music!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 24th, outsourced

"...but still. on. a Friday!" Due to a weird confluence of circumstances, I forgot yesterday was Friday. So here you are, a day late!

Where on earth is Umm Al-Qawain? I loved the BBC's look at the lesser-known Emirates.

This flying baby is the cutest and the pictures are awesome! [HT Kathy]

This bizarre item in a Lego video game recently came to my attention. WOAH.


I am the worst at attributions, so I can't remember who posted this, but: What I learned in my 40s.

This guy is a friend of a friend, and the video is from a few years ago, but dang if I didn't almost cry watching it - Aladdin hopeful gets called up on stage to sing with Lea Salonga. [HT Kat]

Ooooh I wish I could see my kids playing this game - some kind of whipped cream (?) roulette?

Your manuscript on peer review. Love it. [HT Andrew]

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sri Lanka tips

I really wanted to call this post Serendip Tips, but I didn't.

Tips for your next trip to Sri Lanka!

1. Hire a driver. I was hesitant to do this because, well, we've never done this, but I am so glad we did! I only wish we would have hired him earlier in the planning process. I didn't want to outsource our itinerary to someone else - I wanted to see what WE wanted to see, not what some guy thought was good enough for tourists. But with the driver we ended up hiring, turns out I could have told him we wanted x, y, and z, and he would have delivered. Now we know. (And I can recommend a great driver if you need one.)

1a. Overestimate driving times. Relevant to the above: Google Maps is worthless for itinerary feasibility studies. Driving times in reality were two to three times what Google Maps estimated. So when I sent our original itinerary to our driver a few weeks before the trip, he probably laughed out loud for a while. Then he wrote me back a very nice email saying, tactfully, that 17 hours of driving in one day might be tough on the kids.

1b. Be prepared to haggle. Section b relevant to the above: if you do not hire a driver, then have fun haggling every little ride to and from the train/bus station, and to every attraction. In a country where we didn't speak the language and where the currency is one of those with too many zeroes, it was a blessing to have negotiated the price ONCE, and have done with it. We did want a token tuk-tuk ride, and our driver arranged one for us at no extra cost. I have dreams of seeing Sri Lanka by train someday, but today is not that day.

2. Baby backpack or stroller? The eternal question, am I right? Ideally you'd bring both, but come on. We chose backpack and it was for the best. Of course there were times we wished we had the stroller. But the infrastructure in Sri Lanka is at a level where a stroller would often be unusable.

2a. Baby crib or no baby crib? Jeremy and I went back and forth on this one. It turned out that all the hotels could have provided cribs, thus sparing us the hassle of bringing our portacrib. However, they were not really age-appropriate for Sterling (he could have climbed out easily). So in the end, I was glad we had our own that we knew was safe for him. Even if it was a pain to lug around. If he were a year younger, I think we would have been fine with the ones offered by the hotels.

3. Socks and long sleeves/pants. Please to be bringing these. You can't get into the religious sites unless you're covered, and you will burn off the soles of your feet if you don't wear socks in the places where you must remove your shoes.

4. Mosquito netting/repellent/bug bite cream. There are a lot of mosquitoes in Sri Lanka. We outfitted our girls with those citronella bracelets and applied repellent as well. We also packed itch relief cream for the errant bite. Jeremy is awesome so he packed two mosquito nets - I'm so glad he did because one of our hotels did not provide them.

5. Baby food. I already talked about this but if you have a baby or young toddler, consider bringing along a lot of food for them. We were often on the road, hours away from any semblance of a hot meal, and it would have been a nightmare to deal with a hungry baby in that situation. Even when we stopped at roadside stands, sometimes all that was on offer were stale wafer crackers and chips. That said, bananas were fairly easy to find, as were coconuts.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Goodbye, Gil

Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie) is dead.

Anne of Green Gables (and Anne of Avonlea) was a HUGE part of my media consumption as a kid, as my sister can confirm. We were bored? Pull out the VHS. We were sick? Pull out the VHS. Christmas vacation from school? Staying up late in the summer? Yeah. At first, our copy of the movie was a VCR recording from Wonderworks (with the hot air balloon intro) or PBS or whatever it was that first broadcast Anne of Green Gables. Eventually we must have worn it out because my parents bought a real VHS of it. Where can I even watch it now? How can I make sure my kids grow up to be right-minded and well balanced, which they cannot be unless they have internalized this movie?

I'm due for a re-watch, myself.

Here's my favorite Gil moment, as in, my sister and I laugh about it/love it to this day: when he Stand-up Claps for Anne after her performance at the White Sands Club (?) and his hair is all bouncy and his face is all bouncy. Of course there is a gif (though it's not long enough in my opinion).

Please tell me you have cherished favorite memories of these movies, too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17th, outsourced

I found this account of an internet writer's life without WiFi to be very interesting.

I know it's the Daily Mail, but wow, four American high schoolers were accepted to all eight Ivy League universities!

Kids are THE BEST. Look up that flying fairy video on its own if you can - it makes me laugh every time.

My mom sent me this article about getting through tough times in parenthood. I totally agree that some of us are not [insert stage] people - the baby stage is really hard for me, and so it was nice to feel validated.

Here's that Cheryl's Birthday brainteaser, solved.

NAMES 2014!!!!!!!!!!

What is parenthood like? SO TRUE. [HT Andrew]

I'm sure you saw the click-baity headline about the CEO who cut his own salary to raise the salaries of his employees to at least $70k each. I was sure there was a catch...but no, he really did.

Lebanon Shot Twice - photos during the civil war and now.

This is what our kids' school lunches look like. [HT Andrew]

This couple kept it a secret that they were having twins, and then filmed everyone's reactions when they saw the babies for the first time.

I loved seeing the kids in action at this awesome kindergarten in Kyoto!

I meant to share this last week - Dark Lord Funk You Up. Your kids will want to watch it on an endless loop, if they're like mine. [HT Jeremy]

My friend Liz is going to Botswana to record women's oral histories. GoFundHer, please.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Other stuff we did in Sri Lanka

We went to church. The girls made me come with them to Primary (they sometimes hate it when mom and dad throw them into weird social situations in foreign countries) but I was happy to be there. I just sat in the back and smiled. There was one other American girl there - can you believe it? Also, can you believe that she lives directly across the street - not 25 meters - away from the hotel we were staying in? We went to her house for Easter dinner that night. The missionaries were there, too. It has been a long time since I've seen missionaries and it was fun to share a meal with them. They're Sri Lankan. They ate with their hands. But they spoke perfect young-American-man English thanks to the American companions they had in the Philippines.

We played at the beach and drew quite the crowd. These people just stood there and watched our kids play. Sterling had his own audience a little ways away.

We visited the Isurumuniya rock temple, with its accompanying stupa. You can't wear your shoes in these holy places and aye caramba, was the ground hot! I'm so glad I happened to read in passing the advice to bring socks with you to the sites. That saved us blisters on the bottom of our feet.

I keep looking at this picture and thinking it must be fake, but it isn't. I was there. I walked a mile in stocking feet to see it. It's Ruwanwelisseya Dagoba.


I wasn't brave enough to take an obvious photo, though I don't think they would have minded - these pilgrims (?) were all dressed up and carrying a new sash to the stupa to wrap around it. I really wish I understood these things (this religion - Buddhism) more.

We admired another stupa (Jethawanarayama) from afar, since the admission ticket was steep and we wanted to get to Mihintale.

We rode an elephant. The kids were sometimes terrified, sometimes thrilled. Sterling and Jeremy got off after about 15 minutes because baby was just too nervous. Magdalena fed the elephant some bananas. It was fun, but not as amazing as I thought it would be.

I took this picture of Sterling outside our elephant hotel and it is one of my favorites.

We rode a tuk-tuk to our driver's house (like, our driver was home with the van, but he knew our kids wanted to ride a tuk-tuk, so he sent his friend to pick us up in one. Awesome). Magdalena got in that thing like it was what she's been waiting for her whole life.

We hung out at our driver's house for a while and ate some food. The girls got to see how Sri Lankan kids live.

Somebody (or two) could not get enough of the elephants. It was pretty special.

We went to the beach again. I think these were Sterling's happiest moments. Finally not confined in a van or being kept from jumping off ledges into elephant-infested waters.

Two notes, without pictures:

On the airplane on the way home, a monk (in one of those gorgeous saffron-orange robes) sat down in the seat in front of me. He turned around and greeted Sterling with a handshake. Probably the coolest thing to happen to Sterling in his lifetime.

Also on the airplane, as people were boarding, a little girl walked by our row and saw Miriam and Magdalena dressed in matching outfits (I do this for convenience when traveling so they're easier to keep track of). She got the most delighted look on her face and exclaimed, "What?!?!?! TWINS!!!!!" We've been quoting her all week. And no, I didn't have the heart to correct her (she'd moved on down the aisle anyway).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hotels in Sri Lanka

First, I'd like to bear my testimony of Booking.com, both the website and the app. It is the best for booking non-traditional rooms - say, ones that can fit a family of five. It lets you put in the ages of the kids and spells out the fine print about extra beds and cribs very clearly. I've never used it in the US, but overseas, it is ALL I use.

We stayed in four different hotels during our time in Sri Lanka. I'll start in Negombo with the best: Holiday Fashion Inn (gotta love the name).






This was more like a B&B, and it was run by the very friendly Magdaleine (pictured above with Magdalena) and her family. When I booked it, I thought I was getting a single room that we'd all squash into, but it turned out to be practically its own apartment - two bedrooms (!!!!), two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. What a welcome sight it was for our first two nights in Sri Lanka. Also, BREAKFAST. This place cost around $80/night, breakfast included.

The next place we stayed was Hotel Heladiv between Anuradhapura and Mihintale.




I almost really loved this place. But it was ever so slightly rough around the edges. It's a fairly new hotel, so I think they'll get the hang of things better soon. There were only four rooms and the hotel is located practically in the middle of the jungle. The room really reflected that - the floor was even with the outside, and there was a skylight and small atrium area with plants and rocks. It had a really calm, natural feel about it. There were pleasant common seating areas outside and a small private patio for the room. This place cost about $50/night for our four-person (+ crib) room, breakfast included.

Elephant Bay Hotel in Pinnawala was the only proper hotel we stayed in on the trip.


It was semi-built (as in, they seem to have never finished it) in maybe the 80s, and hasn't been updated since. But everything worked passably well and the location cannot be beat. You step out on the balcony and see elephants frolicking in the river, with the forest in the background. WIN. There were also nice grassy areas to walk around as we enjoyed the elephants. Cost: 50$/night for our four-person (+crib) room, breakfast included.

The last place we stayed was The Hotel Paradise back in Negombo.



It wasn't my favorite, but I give it an A+ for effort. Again, this was a new place and therefore could use a little polishing. Its main draw for us was that it was near the airport (we had a 6am flight to get to). The staff were so eager to make us happy. Unfortunately, as a new hotel, they haven't straightened out things like electricity supply, so the power was constantly going out and the generator kicking in. There was also this gorgeous bathtub...which wasn't hooked up to the hot water supply. So we roughed it a little more than we wanted to on the last night of our trip, but we got to the airport in good time, so whatever. The cost, however, was the same as Holiday Fashion Inn (for a double bed + crib + bunk bed - huge bonus points for that; the girls loved it). If I could do it again, I would sacrifice proximity to the airport for the spacious quarters and kind attentions (and tasty breakfast) of Magdaleine.

Overall I think we were lucky to escape any real hotel mishaps. You never quite know what you're going to get, so we were happy with how things ended up.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I travel with kids


 Majd at the citadel in Cairo.

Miriam at the BYU Jerusalem Center, overlooking Dome of the Rock.

OK, so I don't have a cool picture for Sterling yet, so he gets With Spigot in Sri Lanka. For now.

I reserve the right to write a more thorough post on this topic someday. This post is also a postscript to the non-post of The worst age to travel with kids.

So if Sterling is so hard to travel with, why do we take him? Why do we travel with our kids? Not counting longer stays/periods of living in Jordan, Egypt, and Germany, where leaving our kids behind was not even an option, our children have come with us to Austria, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Syria, Turkey, Qatar, Oman, Romania, the UK, and, most recently, Sri Lanka.

We travel with our kids because they're part of our family. If I am enjoying an amazing vista from the top of a Crusader castle turret, I want to be enjoying it with my family (while maintaining a death grip on the hand of the two-year-old). I want to perform with them on the stage of a ruined Roman amphitheater, and push my kids on a zipline in Salzburg. I want to go to Topkapi Palace with my daughter and pretend we're members of the Sultan's household, and choose a room for our bedroom and pick out the jewels we would wear.

There is so much of the world, of our everyday surroundings, that we miss when we don't have a child with us to point it out to. And when we explain cultural differences or historical aspects of a foreign country to our children, admit it: we're explaining it to ourselves a little bit, too.

We travel with our kids to show them that there is a world out there bigger than them. That there are people who live differently than them - so, so differently - and call it normal. We want to show them that the world doesn't run on their schedule, and neither does our family, at least not all the time. Sometimes you have to eat stuff you don't want to, and wake up too early for your tastes, and be hot and wet in the rain or stand in the cold a little too long.

Traveling with kids builds character - theirs and ours.

Three subpoints:

1. We also enjoy traveling with our kids because of the doors it opens for us as the parents. Children can often be the great equalizer when traveling abroad - everyone loves a cute baby. Just as we like to show our children how other people live, at the same time, we are walking anthropological exhibits for others.

2. But what if they're too young to remember? Then isn't the trip wasted on them? Well, sure. But children start to remember things earlier than you'd think. Miriam has vivid memories of Middlebury from age almost-3. Same with Magdalena in Turkey. And even if they don't remember specific sights and sounds (though really, you'd be surprised), they will remember - or at least retain the effects of - the feelings they felt and the time they spent with Mom and Dad.

3. I have to admit that another part of why we take our kids is because as difficult as it is to have them with us, it's no piece of cake to leave them behind, either. We don't live close to family (to say the least), so we can't just pop our kids over to Grandma's house for a week. It is actually more practical to just bring the kids with us. Really.

All of the above is my opinion. I am fully aware that there are awesome people out there who travel well without their kids. I envy them their in-flight book and quiet nights of sleep. I just wanted to present the side of those of us who choose to travel with our kids, even though sometimes it really sucks.

Like at age 18 months for example: too young to appreciate a screen, even in those moments you really need them to; too old to sit quietly in mama's lap. Too young to understand "wait a minute,"; too old to sleep anytime, anywhere, oblivious to the distractions around them. Plus, at 18 months, toddlers seem to lose any and all sense of self-preservation. We were with Sterling admiring the elephants bathing in the river outside our hotel in Pinnawala. There was a significant drop-off from the lawn area and while Jeremy was holding his hand, Sterling tried to disengage and step off of it. That's why this stage is called the Keep Sterling Alive stage. And the slightly more difficult variation of that game was the Keep Sterling Alive in Sri Lanka stage.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mihintale/Ambasthale Dagoba

My favorite thing we did in Sri Lanka was our visit to Mihintale and the Ambasthale Dagoba. And it's a side trip we almost didn't take!

Mihintale and the Ambasthale Dagoba are at the top of a prominent hill near Anuradhapura, and you reach them by climbing a lot of ancient stairs. (A dagoba/stupa is a Buddhist center of worship or meditation.)


We started our climb in the late afternoon, when the worst of the day's heat had passed. It was quiet and beautiful and we enjoyed walking among the fallen plumeria blossoms and trying to spot monkeys in the trees.

Speaking of: at one point, I gave Sterling a milk box to drink in the backpack. When he was (mostly) done with it, I held on to it as we climbed, keeping an eye out for a trash can. Instead, I got stalked by an aggressive monkey who very much wanted that milk box. I was determined to stand my ground, be a responsible tourist, and throw the box away in the trash, but there was no trash can anywhere and the monkey was getting increasingly brave. Finally, a passing Sri Lankan woman told me (in German!) that it would be safer to just give the monkey the milk box. So I did. And we all watched, fascinated, as it retreated up into a tree and tore open the milk box with its hands and teeth. Sometimes you wonder what your young children will remember about a certain vacation; I think my kids will remember THAT.

Closer to the dagoba, we had to take off our shoes and continue barefoot. I had never hiked barefoot before! The girls were entertained by the novelty of climbing up rocks in bare feet.





The view from the top was glorious. There was a nice breeze that cooled us down. This was especially nice for Jeremy and me because you have to wear long sleeves and pants to visit these religious sites.

We headed back down as the sun set, the end of a perfect visit. Thinking back, there was nothing about the dagoba/stupa structure itself that was amazing. What made this site my favorite was the effort required to reach it, and the rewarding views from the top in a peaceful, worshipful atmosphere. We had decided to go there almost on a whim, even though it was out of the way, and I'm so glad we did.

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10th, outsourced

I wasn't on the nets much this week. Here's what I have for you.

Watch the Star Wars "I am your father" scene in 20 languages! These are definitely of different quality and feel. The Arabic one sounds like someone speaking into a walkie talkie. [HT Andrew]

In the category of baby gender reveal parties, we have this woman finding out she's having a girl after six boys; and this couple who staged a fight between the sexes, with the winner representing which one the baby is. Very clever.

Elementary school flashbacks. Yep.

I appreciated this short essay on beauty. The video they do-but-don't reference is this one from Dove. I would totally have been that woman at 1:45 who was like, "nope, didn't need to go inside that building anyway."

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Food in Sri Lanka

[If you are sensitive to thematic elements that include vomit, skip the first paragraph. The rest of the post is fine.]

I'm always jealous of people who go on vacation to foreign countries and really get into the food there. I've been burned (read: made sick) by iffy food too many times over the years to be able to pull up to a roadside stand in Tiny Village, Foreign Country, order something that looks good, and thoroughly enjoy it. It's always a delicate juggling act between not starving, trying out some cultural favorites, not offending your hosts, and avoiding being friends with the toilet all night.

With that in mind, here is some of what we ate in Sri Lanka, sometimes with pictures, and sometimes with accurate names but probably mostly just descriptions.

The best food we ate the whole time we were there was breakfast at the B&B in Negombo. The owner's name was Magdalene (I KNOW) and she was a lovely human being and a fantastic cook. We ate baby bananas, fresh pineapple, "string hoppers" (?), toast with butter and jam, juice, Sri Lankan omelette, "pancakes" - honey/coconut roll-up crepe things, and my favorite that I can't stop thinking about: egg hoppers. It was an egg in the middle of a bready shell made from rice and coconut flour, baked. Or something like that. The edges were crispy, the center was perfectly cooked egg, and in between was spongy sweet eggy coconut bread. Delicious.

We also ate a lot of vegetable rice stir fry, or vegetable curry rice. The veggies were usually nice and crisp and heavy on the green onion.

There was coconut water, of course. I'd only ever had green coconuts in Salalah, but in Sri Lanka, they had orange coconuts. I liked them much better - not as much of an earthy taste to the water.

Then there was the pineapple juice. "Juice" doesn't even do it justice - I think it's an entire peeled pineapple put into a blender. Miriam had one taste of that stuff and she was GONE. I'm surprised she hasn't turned into a pineapple herself, considering how much of it she drank.

We mostly stayed away from Western food. It wasn't readily available in the places we were, for one thing. For another, if it was available, it was expensive. We did opt for the Western breakfast at one hotel because the Sri Lankan breakfast was fish curry and I am not that hardcore. We also went to a Sri Lankan pancake house on our last day and the girls got ice cream pancakes. Because why not?

I had my first taste of fresh green guava when we visited our driver's house in Pinnawala. It tasted a lot like green apple to me.

Little Sterling ate off our plates a little - except when we visited our driver's home and he gorged himself on the food there. So what did he eat the rest of the time? Well, I packed enough baby food pouches to last us the whole trip. I know that is very inauthentic of me, but the last thing I needed was a hungry, cranky baby in the middle of nowhere, Sri Lanka, and nothing but fish curry to feed him. I am so so glad I brought the food pouches. The poor baby was dealing with enough upheaval of his schedule and it was nice to be able to feed him something safe and familiar in a foreign country that was often overwhelming even for us adults.

So it wasn't exactly a grand tour of the Sri Lankan culinary scene, but we didn't go hungry, we didn't get sick, and I will forevermore crave egg hoppers.

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