“Theek Noy” And Other Lao Names Revolving Around Me (As It Should Be)

The first time my grandfather laid eyes on Humnoy, my family’s first great-grandchild was endearingly referred to as “Theek Noy” because of a striking newborn resemblance.” If you’ve been following just recently then you know it literally means “Little Theek.” Also, if you you’ve been following since the very beginning then you’ll know Humnoy is a boy and I, myself, am not a boy. Growing up Lao, I was constantly referred to as some relation to another person. So Game of Thrones of us, right? If my Lao moniker was not used, it was always “Eldest Granddaughter of Khene” or “Eldest Daughter (That Made It To College) of Nang.” It always traced back to an original person that connected the subject of conversation to a link somewhere in the generation. Much like all the sets of parents before me, I am that start of the next generation as it freaking should be. You’ll need to understand pregnancy pain and an annoying spouse to see why.

The kids are still called “Humnoy” and “Lanoy” by close family members but sometimes that is not common knowledge to everyone who hasn’t met them so it’s just easier to call them something entirely technical and less personal. For my -noys, they are called Leuk (Ee) Theek which literally means “Child(ren) of (The Girl) Theek.” The same goes for the other important person tied into all of this: GH. How hilarious would it be if the Lao people called him Gym Hottie like y’all do? lulz. The word for “husband” in Lao is puah and since he’s clearly not Lao, he definitely has his own made-up name. A few have been a little racist albeit still technically correct. Buk Kow literally means “White Boy.” I mean, like I said, accurate.

This has been done for as long as I can remember so let’s see all the names I’ve donned over the years:
Theek Noy Bébé Theek
Leuk Mek Daughter of Mek
Leuk Gkoke (like “coke?” I think) Eldest Child
Mae Buk Hum Mother to Hum
Mae Lanoy Mother to Lanoy

As a Lao parent now, I see it. I see how and why it’s been done this way. I see how it makes much more sense to connect a couple generations in a single conversation. What better and more honorable way to pay tribute to your parents than be forever known as their child? If you’d like to be associated with them, that is. I really feel Westerosian though now that I’ve sat and explained this because I had never ever sat and explained this. I am mama to my babies and my babies are from to their mama. Here are my Theek Noys:

20140518-021815.jpg theek and noys theek noy noys husband of theek

*POP QUIZ* What would GH’s title be as my husband?

Lao Motherhood Across The Years, Generations, and Oceans

Now you all know how I got here in the first place: Humnoy was born and all I could think was to do the absolute best to maintain my culture for him so that began this blog. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’d really even care about breastfeeding or elimination communication if it had not been my entire existence in the first place. If it were not for my mother and for my mother’s mother, I literally would not be here today. I would not be the woman, the (shitty) wife, the mother, the friend I claim to be today. Just peep my grandmother’s prop in the slideshow below and you’ll know why I’m much more alike than different than a refugee matriarch. Even if it weren’t for that Laotian Village that is woven into my culture’s sense of community, I still wouldn’t be half of those identities.

I am fiercely proud of being a Laotian mother only because I’m trying to make my truest inspiration, the Original Laotian Mama, proud as if she could still see me being a mama if she were alive today. My Mae Tao raised and transitioned four living children from a war-torn country to America. My own Mae not only had to adjust to a whole new culture but also birth and be a parent in this entire new culture. I would just like to say I ain’t shit compared to The Original Laotian Mamas:

1979: The year the first living grandchild was born to my aunt in a refugee camp and also the year my family traveled to America.

1986: The year the first American-born grandchild was born. Moi!

1987 – 1993: In just 5 more years, my mother had three more American-born children, including one with special needs.

2000-2007: I am a rebellious and free-spirited teenager and my mother does not know what to do with me.

2008: My mother cleans toilets to put me through college.

2009: My Mae Tao suddenly passes away.

2010: I am unknowingly pregnant the same week I graduated college with the first great-grandchild just nine months after my grandmother’s death.

2013: I am a mother to two under two.

2014: I survived being a mother to two because of the Original Laotian Mamas.

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Happy Mothers Day to you and your Original Mamas!

That Damn Children’s Book That Made Us Cry But Not From Reading It

For three years since we were gifted a children’s book by a dear friend, GH and I had never been able to end the reading with dry eyes. For me, I blamed it on hormones— pregnancy, breastfeeding, or my cycle. As for GH, I don’t know what’s up with him but he cries every single time he reads the book “Love You Forever“. Each time we are near the book, we unofficially challenge each other to get through the book without crying. I have won each time because I am a cold-hearted woman; GH is very sensitive.

The most recent “Love You Forever Challenge” (LYFC) happened when it was Lanoy’s turn to choose a book. She randomly chose Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever,” written by a Canadian whose wife experienced two stillbirths. The premise of the book is about a boy and his evolving relationship with his mother from birth to her old age. If you haven’t read it, it’s a cute and creepy book. Not even gonna lie to ya. I also won’t lie that even I, Cold Woman, have had warm, moist things well up my eyeball sockets by line two.

Tonight though, tonight was a different type of cry: I wanted to document my LYFC opponent’s impending defeat so I snapped a bunch of photos to document that grown men let go of their thug at this book. So, per usual, GH was bawling by the second-to-last page and I’m crying because he’s crying but he cried first so I technically win and that was that. Later that night, I sent GH the endearing photos of him reading with his kids and this is the photo that made us cry even harder:

{TheLaotianCommotion.com} #parentingmeme that we need to spread near n' far.

#mememonday

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What’s a favorite children’s book that you cannot get through?

Pii Mai Lao 2014 With The Laotian Commotion Family

As much as I hate visiting my family, the food and reasons we usually get together make
up for all the crazy Lao-ness. Pii Mai Lao 2014 was an obligatory event where I must exploit my children to such culture so off we went for the entire weekend. It will forever be something that will be a tradition no matter the hassle and no matter the unworthiness of the time and energy. This year was just as nuts and we didn’t even get to do a water fight.

Now that I’m rocking the Two Toddlers At A Time life, it’s even more Lao’d and crazy. Throw in even more Lao’der and crazier family members and I am ready to drive five hours back home. The festivities were pretty timid on Saturday and we were exhausted just from the day and I’m not talking about going to the Wat (Lao Buddhist temple). My family is just e x h a u s t i n g. So, we drove five hours just to go to the Wat and eat overpriced Laotian pho. It was a stark contrast to the first few years of Lao New Year.

Lao new year 2011 humnoy

Pii Mai Lao 2011 was Humnoy’s very first New Year. He was barely a month old and I drove my crazy postpartum ass down there just to start this tradition to be a part of my cultural renewal process for my mixed family. It’s that important to me and I have done so ever since. I did it the following year when Humnoy toddled and danced around. The next year was when our family added a new member to celebrate the New Year. Lanoy was a little older than Humnoy was at his first Pii Mai.

This year. . . This year was nucking futs. Have you ever had to disarm wide-eyed destructo-ddlers from touching Buddhist relics? Well, it’s not only embarrassing but pretty fucking low key damning. Lao people love money and Lao New Year is no exception. Money is blessed and then donated to the Wat, monks and, in turn, the community’s only religious mainstay. You know who else loves money? Lao toddlers so they can try to rip it because paper. Please do check out GH as the Token White Guy Getting Buddhist Blessings.

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I love it all though. Lao’d and crazy and all. It’s the perfect and most annoying excuse to be with family. Lao New Year is all about family to me especially now with my own and I’m just going to continue on the crazy train.

Sabaidee Pii Mai, y’all. Sa. BAI. Dee.

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Does your family drive you Lao’d and crazy too?

Motherhood Myth #618: You Won’t Be Needing Your Young and Hot Wardrobe Anymore

all my outfits
Nearing the Danger Zone to pop out my first child, my nesting included prepping clothes for the pending child soon to take over my life for the next many years. I washed, prepped, folded (ha!), and organized all the tiny little articles of clothing for Humnoy. Nesting is the phenomenon of pregnancy where your body jolts you into severe prep mode. Not just for the baby but for myself too. All my life I noted how pregnancy forever changes your body so you know what I did? Crying whilst I got rid of all my tiny clothing as a 24-year-old mother-to-be fresh out of college because I’m gonna be forever pregnant, right?

Humnoy is born and I’m a mother. A tired and exclusively breastfeeding mother. Not anyone– no one told me the toll breastfeeding would take on me. Actually, it’s because I did not have anyone in my life that told me about breastfeeding. As an American-born, Laotian, I saw zero breastfeeding in my community. Sadly, the refugee generation was subjected to the medical model of parenting and we all know that’s not very child-friendly. So, essentially nobody told me nothing about nothing. Everything I learned, I did by instinct and the Interwebs. This particular group of nobodies definitely did not tell me about the physical toll breastfeeding takes on your body.

Just the other day, I was coming home from work and GH pointed out something about my body that not only embarrassed me but made me angry all over again. Well, not my actual body but how my body does not fit my clothing well: my work pants were so ill-fitting that it took my husband, The Man Who Surface Cleans And Calls It Good, to notice. I no longer could fill out my work pants that I’ve had since college, which is also the last time I went clothes shopping. I eat like a caveman and have been breastfeeding straight through for the last three years. It’s gotta be that, right? Do I have tapeworm?

Anyway, my point is this: Don’t throw out all your clothing and budget some money to buy brand new clothing so you don’t look like you are wearing your husband’s pants. Also, breastfeeding does fickle shit to your boobs so plan to buy tops and good nursing bras from said budget. Plus side, I got to go shopping for <emmyself in many, many years. I don’t even know what’s hip or hot anymore but I tried my best and got to finally have some flattering clothing for once. #Breastfeedingfriendly, of course.

*stay tuned for all the pants that I could fill out in tomorrow’s post* Go to the blog sidebar and click ‘FOLLOW’ so the blog is sent straight to your inbox 💋 breastfeeding extreme weight loss

Are skinny jeans still hip to the hop? What about ones with faux zipper pockets?

Back-to-Back-to-Not-Back Pregnancies

23 months apart siblings.jpg According to a fancy website, my date of conception was anywhere between June 16-24th and second time around was May 11 to May 19 and … in 2012 when I was the mother to just the first conception baby. Yesterday, Lanoy the Second Conception turned 14 months old and I remembered that she is the same exact age as her older brother when we got surprise pregnant (again). Humnoy was just closing in on his 14th month of life when Bébé #2 was conceived. Whoops. We were in the middle of moving to the other side of the Cascades to Seattle from Spokane so clearly were pretty ahem excited for all this change. I mean, we wanted change and we sure got it. She was born February 5th, 2014 in a place where we had only been for less than two years.

Life has been much easier now that La has been a wee more independent with my working. Humnoy and Lanoy are more engaging with each other. For us, ‘engaging’ ranges anywhere from sharing snacks to tolerating each other long enough so I can go poop. Given the past dozen months of fun sibling love and reliving all the best newly-toddler moments, I’m still not trying to repeat no back-to-back pregnancy again. Hell no. It was so hard. It is worth it but so. damn. hard. So, for sake of known patterns of fertility I’m congratulating myself for not getting pregnant again at this time. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Happy Sunday. Oh, and happy belated monthday, Lanoy.

Are you able to pinpoint when you conceived?

Pii Mai Lao, No Twitter Lao

laotian meme

It’s that time again. I get drunk and I want to wipe my existence off social media again but good news, I’m not drunk (why not, right?) but do I want to wipe my face off of social media again? I’m back on Instagram but still am very uninspired from that so I’m still figuring that out. Still no Facebook because fuck Facebook. Then there’s Twitter. Oh, Twitter. Now that IG is on my shitlist, Twitter is my favorite form of #socmed because I learn a lot and I laugh even more. There are so many clever, hilarious, and very smart people #onthere from (literally) all walks of life. I’m not joking, look at my list of followings and you’ll see a variety of parents, activists, and more cool Lao people I did not know existed. It has ignited the activism bone that I always had but never knew how to express. Seriously, Twitter is awesome.

It is so awesome that I want to be a better twit …. terer. Sometimes I really think it’s great to walk away from something you love so you can step back and love it even more. Now that April is here, I have that excuse more now. April is the month of Pii Mai Lao (Lao New YearApril 13ish-15ish), which is arguably the biggest celebration of the year for Laotians, and I guess this would be the exact equivalent of “out with the old, in with the new” sentiment. Water is a huge symbol in celebrating Pii Mai so, for the month of April, I’m dousing the shit out of my twitter to take a hiatus from my favorite platform.

That’s where I feel guilty: the Lao online community is already so limited that I feel like I am removing another unknown perspective. I’m quite possibly many people’s only source to a Lao-American perspective in modern parenting, interracial marriage, refugee experiences, public education, and anything else you didn’t know Lao Americans were a part of. As sad as I am to leave this month, I know you’ll be in good hands. To follow the Lao Twitter experience while I’m gone, please check out @thaoworra‘s Lao Voices and Nicky Chaleunphone‘s Lao Community for fellow Laotians online.

If you want a visual reminder then my Instagram can showcase the Lao American experience in a few filters. If you need more details with lots of frilly word vomit, my blog has that tiny little unknown Lao voice so you won’t ever have to say, “No, I don’t know a Lao girl who writes about motherhood, marriage, and the world around her. Never. Nope.” because you’s a liar since I’m still here.

Am I the only Lao person you ‘know?’ Online or otherwise?

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If You Love Your Friends/Family, You Need Social Media Or At Least That’s What I Tell Myself

social media for friends and family.jpg

Pic from http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/science-you-and-social-media/

As much as I loathe The Man and the stranglehold of social media, I seemed to have forgotten about the real people, who I care about and know. I actually do have real-life friends, believe it or not. Believe it because I’m a good decent one, at that. Well, that was until I decided to just vanish off of personal social media and dive into an online alter ego: Theek. Just one word. Like Madonna or {Symbol}.

I deleted my personal Facebook in spring 2012 and then just a couple months ago, my personal- turned semi-personal/blog’s Instagram with over 1100 followers. How many of those followers had ever met my family? Not including creeping stalkin ass stalkers, I’d say just a handful of real-life friends and family having to compete with 1085 other online users as their only chance to get to see their nephew, niece, cousin, or best friend. Poor Far Away Aunty got muffled by the Other Mommy Blogger.

You would hear shit like “Well, if you’re truly close then the phone works both ways” or “We spend too much time on our phone than real life.” To that I say, “No fucking duh, that’s the only way!” I don’t know if you’ve noticed but my schedule isn’t wide open like it would be negative two kids and balls deep in student loans. Unfortunately for my IRL friends, I have been quite nomadic since 2008 through college, both pregnancies, and many jobs so no, I can’t just “meet up with them.” I need social media for that. I at least convinced myself of the best one.

Not Facebook Facebook requires your mom’s birth city and dog’s social security number so that’s still a big fat nope. Ok. I lied but I know you gotta get past the CIA breach to register.

Not Twitter I would probably die the day my mother discovers twitter. She already knows “Fatebook” so I’m thinking in a couple years, she might say the word “tweet” in its context.

Not Google+ No one’s (still) on Google Plus. Nobody.

Instagram Ahh, my go-to app to quickly share a single photo and you can find out all about it in the capture and caption.

- Nice that you can choose any (available) username you want so go ‘head and choose ‘BigBooty69xxx’ I checked; it’s available.
– Also nice that you can quickly make your entire account private.
– It’s becoming more popular meaning it’s accessible to more users i.e., more far away family and friends.

So, what did I decide to do? I made a super secret Instagram account for our private lives: silly milestones, non-epic adventures, simple daily things that make up our life. Our life does include the people who have been physically a part of it therefore respect that part of intimate details. So super secret that it’s for the select few that know Humnoy’s household nickname. Yes, the kid’s got a Lao name, a Lao nickname, and a household nickname. I think this is a prime example of how social media can be used for good, not evil.

For family/friends, please let me know your username so I can add you to the private family account.

Dear awesome readers, please follow my blog IG: @LaotianCommotion

Is your Instagram for both IRL friends/family and online friends?

Perks Of Being An Annoying Sick Person

parenting while sick.jpg

I knew I caught the kids’ cold virus when a stream of ninja mucus would show up on my lip with no warning. My nose was running so much that I could not blow my nose fast enough so it would just keep coming out. So, enter Phase: Tissue Plugger-Uppers just to go ’bout my domestic duties. My day including two young kids under the age of three and a husband, who loves my “sick” attire of days-stretched yoga pants with little else due to my high body temp. Parenting while sick can buzz all the way off.

Both GH and I got sick right when Humnoy was feeling better. Seriously though, the kid was sick like 1.25 days and I swear his energy level got a massive reboot since then. How in the f— anyway, Lanoy is the saddest little sickie: marbled snot bubbles, red, hound dog eyes, and little to no solids appetite. Week-long illness does not mean there isn’t a positive spin on things. I had to make the best of one of the shittiest situations experienced in parenting so here are a few benefits of being sick while caring for sick others:

In Sickness and In Health “No, babe, I really have a headache this time” just is more believable when your congestion has moved to your head and apparently to my crotch. “Til death so us part” isn’t the same as “through dry, red nostrils from abrasive wiping”.

Maybe She’s Born With It I don’t know about you but I could never quite cover up my look of death with makeup so I don’t even bother. I mean, if I’m going to do this illness act justice, go big or ho home, right? I let it all hang out so to make it a bit easier for others to deduce I’m sick and why I look like shit.

Sick Person of Walmart Before you judge my Christmas fleece, please see up at my Look of Death. I’m sick so you can fuck all the way off, Judgey McJudgerson. I’m gonna wear these same pair of pajamas for the rest of the week too.

Ill Introvert Since parenting, I have not been much of a people person like my dress-over-the-head party girl days. Sickness is yet another introverted way out of social engagements. The sick hermit inside you smiles when your contagious presence part crowds upon crowds. Sickness gives introverts everywhere a huge congested sigh of relief.

The Television Cure I would feel a little guilty that the tv has been on a lot more than usual but if it means I get to rest a bit then Disney Junior show marathon is just what the doctor ordered. Illness and near-death brings down the parent shame down to penance levels though.

Up The Fluids Any excuse to hop in a hot shower multiple times a day is just the biggest perk around, amirite? Steam helps relieve congestion by breaking up the mucus so this was the only time we will justify a high water bill.

Comfort Food Measures OMG, GH brought home Panda Express for dinner one night and made me almost reconsider my sinus headache. There is a lot of comfort in eating artery-clogging food. When you’re mouth-breathing to save your life, the last thing you want to inhale is a house salad.

Vitamin V for Vodka Did I already mention food? Wash it down with a beverage. Illness and stress along with it can be the perfect excuse to have a screwdriver in the AM for the vitamin C and the slew of vita-mins and minerals Smirnoff has, which is like a ton. Cheers. You deserve it.

How do you survive being sick?

When Anonymous Blogging Isn’t Anonymous Enough

The day finally came where I was recognized as a blogger in three years of blogging here and it was frightening. It wasn’t a mommy-fan or a rando, who’s seen my gymmurstics picture. It was the worst possible scenario: when someone discovers an acquaintance writes about unconventional ideas of parenting, marriage, and everything else. Of all this blog’s two readers in the entire planet, it had to be someone I know, someone my kids and I see every day, and for fuck’s sake this someone was even part of a post. She whispered from behind her apartment office desk that she has to tell me a secret: she saw my boobs online.

I’m not gonna lie because that put me in a serious panic. I went back and removed that breastfeeding picture and any other picture of a recognizable me. I also got the fated email about renewing my domain name thelaotiancommotion.com and at this point, I made the decision to not pay any money or mind to take further action and let that bitch expire. Buh-bye, Lao food. Buh-bye, breastfeeding memes. Buh-bye, Theek.

This was a wake-up call that I severely swayed from my original intentions for writing about my life. In 2011, I made the decision to be anonymous. Well, kinda anonymous. I faked anonymity by plastering the -Noys in each and every post, our family’s intimate details, and even real life drama. It wasn’t until 2013 where I finally realized I need to redefine “anonymous.” After poring over thus editing privacy settings on all my posts revealing my own face, I also remembered my other original intention of starting writing in 2011. Culture is important to me. My family is important to me. My voice is important to me. I started writing here because I didn’t give a fuck. Blogging is my place to speak what I feel deserves to be heard, as weird or uncommon as it may be. So, why am I giving a fuck now? I decided to keep writing and keep at it because do you know another Laotian-American mommy blogger? Probably not but if you do, are her boobs as nice as mine?

How are you anonymous online?

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