Kids, Food, & How to Kill a Chicken, Improvised.

Poultry chart via etsy

My kids, overall, are good eaters. I won’t go into my philosophy in detail just that I take a French-mother/Man Who Ate Everything approach to feeding them. It seems to be working for us –despite the occasional protests.

One thing I have always tried to do is make sure my girls know where their food comes from. I do not want to find myself, burger in hand, facing my kid around 12 suddenly stricken with a look of horror saying:

Wait you mean burgers and cows are the same thing? So what was the animal we ate last night?

Me: Well we had venison so you could say we ate Bambi, well probably her mother.

Living in Thailand has made this pretty easy. Granted, we have not passed Daisy the cow on our way to ballet class, but we have waved hello to many other edible friends. I knew I was succeeding  with my mission when upon seeing new animals, SweetPea would point to the creature going by and ask first:

What is that

followed closely with

Can we eat it?

Both girls love chicken but for SweetPea, it’s an obsession. She will choose chicken over any other food including sweets and cake any day so chicken features pretty regularly on our menu.

While eating chicken for dinner the other night:

P: Maman why can’t I see the chicken’s blood?
Me: Well they remove it before they sell us the chicken.
P: How do they remove it?
Me: They cut the chicken’s head off and hang him upside down.
(At this point I know that chickens get heads cut off and pigs are bled so I am just trying to piece this together)
P: Like this? (Showing me with her dragon piggy bank conveniently located next to her).
I nod in agreement.
P: Maman can I please do that next time we have chicken for dinner? And how do we catch a chicken?
Me, quiet worrying about a Dexter in our house.
P: And I want the chicken blood.
Me, thinking it is time to redirect this conversation: Well how about some boudin noir which is blood sausage?

Close call.

The next day, I worried as we head out of the house. There’s been a trio of scrawny birds hanging out by the front of our mobaan –a cluster of houses, like a little village. I didn’t want SweetPea getting any ideas. Fortunately the chickens were so scrawny. They were like the Kate Moss of chickens: breast-less, always in black, and in need a good meal and long night of sleep. I figured she wouldn’t find them appetizing enough to want to make the kill.

Right, I must brush up on my art of butchering skills. Til the next time readers.

Top 10 Musts When Traveling By Plane With Young Children. (In addition to copious booze, which goes without saying)

This summer I survived -among other things- a 23 hour journey alone with a 5-year-old, a 2.5 year old, two planes, and a final long car journey and this is what I learned.

Bad hand-luggage, good outfits. See 4a, 4b,5a. All rights reserved.

Bad hand-luggage, good outfits. See 4a, 4b, & 5b. All rights reserved.

1. Don’t pack too much. You are better off paying a fee to get laundry done somewhere then having to lug endless changes of clothes with you. If staying with friends, I’ve always found access to their washing machine has been no problem.

2. Following on point 1, expect to carry, pull, roll whatever cute case or bag you have purchased for your wee one. Your best bet is to make it small enough you can chuck it into your own hand luggage if necessary. Check to see if your airline still gives out kid-packs. I found that my kids were entertained with their free sponge bob giveaway activity packs and the in-flight entertainment for the 16+  hours of airport travel. Imagine my joy having lugged 8kg of books or about 50% of Usborn’s toddler line.

2a. Leave space in your hand-luggage for kid’s bag.

3. Have them pack their own bag. That way, if they suddenly want a toy they don’t have, they won’t be able to blame you.

by CNdR creativecommons

4. Never, ever, ever bother with hand-luggage that does not have a set of wheels on it. Not a rolling suitcase requiring overhead storage but something that has wheels and can fit under your seat.

4a. If you simply cannot get something small enough that fits in your own luggage for your  kids, best to follow same adult hand luggage rules and acquire a backpack type bag with wheels so it can stay at your feet and get easy access. (Trunki cases, as seen here, were a very bad idea)

4b. Make sure you do the tipping-test with said bags. Nothing is worse – yes nothing– than a 4-year-old with a packed Thomas the train wheely bag that keeps falling forward. Hello Tantrums, I didn’t plan to see you ’til halfway through the flight, not before we’ve even made it through security! (I learnt this on my previous long haul crossing. )

5. Always pack a change of clothes for each child and adult. Pack each one separately in a ziplock bag. It will be easily found and then you already have sealed bag for juice, sauce, vomit encrusted clothes.


5a. Ladies, don’t forget an extra bra. Vomit is far-reaching. I was a 34DD/E when nursing and learned the hard way on a 14 hour flight.

5b. While we are on the topic of clothes, dressing the kids alike is also helpful to spot them in a crowd of if you’ve temporarily misplaced one.

6. Insist on sippy cups. I don’t care how precocious your kid is at drinking with regular cups. They will spill something at some point, most likely on the stranger sitting next to them or your last spare set of clothes.

7. Many planes have headset plugs that only fit their headsets, which do not fit small children. Bring a small beany baby or bean bag to help create a fit that won’t budge. Spongebob giveaway on Qatar was an emergency solution but far from ideal.

By CNdR all rights reserved.

By CNdR all rights reserved.

8. Make sure the airlines/transit airports you are visiting’s planes actually go all the way to the terminal. Having to manage kids & bags down metal stairs in the desert [hello Doha] and on to bus to terminal only to repeat the process to get on the next plane will have you wishing you were never born.

9. Pack plenty of hand sanitizer, kleenex and wipes. Also pack lipbalm and an extra one if you have klepto kids like mine. Finally lollypops for ascents and descents. Caution: give them too early and take off traffic will mean they’ve finished them before the plane has begun to flex its flaps and rev its engines.

10. Pick an Asian or Middle Eastern Airline if you can. Seriously. I’ll take an extra flight and layover anytime with people who appear to adore my kids more than their own flesh and blood relatives than a direct flight with people who look at me with that ‘don’t think I am going to look after your brat while you go to the toilet’ look. Thai Airways, Qatar, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Tiger, Asia, etc… these people understand children, their limitations on flights, and how a welcoming environment makes everyone more relaxed and as a result better behaved than a hostile one.

And for those of you who noticed it is actually more than 10…well has anything ever gone according to plan with kids? My point exactly.

Shit, I said it again.


My first daughter SweetPea was a very late talker, and this gave me ample space to learn to curb my potty mouth. In my defense, I worked first with sailors and then with a journalist; both seemed to embrace the abundant use of expletives on a daily basis.

Say what you want about how you wouldn’t have fallen prey, stick a person in a room for a week with an up-talking teenager or former valley-girl, and I assure you they will be infected by these atrocious and highly contagious conditions. Swearing is no different.

Pea, who is all of four-and-a-half, never went through the parroting phase most kids go through or at least not in a significant way. This meant that if my husband or I did slip up, we were at a very low risk of having her repeat it. Unlike a friend of mine with two- year-old-twins who, upon moving to Brooklyn and trying to make their way off the Brooklyn Bridge, missed the exit and swore loudly. I’ll never forget his description of the moment where time slows and you think you may have gotten away with your transgression. Reality snapped him back when seconds later, a duet of curses launched on a repeat loop from the two backseat boosters.

Little Plum, my second, was a precocious talker. She started early, in full sentences and quickly moved to parroting comfortably in any language she hears. I always figured I’d get myself into a pickle at some point, but I assumed it would be with her. Turns out she wasn’t the witness but the cause of sorts.

Sometime before Christmas, I managed to say ‘oh shit’ twice in 24 hours.  And to clarify by twice, I mean in two instances but the actual phrase was repeated high-capacity style if you know what I mean. I realise that sounds unthinkable. but the first time at least, I feel I had just cause. Plum, who was all of two, had locked herself in her room in our new house. I was still waiting on a complete set of keys to all the doors, which I’ll have you know I requested prior to signing the lease as I am blessed with the gift of foresight or, is cursed with the knowledge that inevitably what can go wrong will go wrong. Either way, I perched on the terrace, outside her safety-grilled windows; frantically dialing our landlord with one hand, while pushing my hand up against the mosquito screen through the bars to sooth my little naked and distressed inmate.

I was completely freaking out at the time and regretted as soon as I said it. I, like my friend, had a slo-mo moment where I thought I’d narrowly escaped but no such luck. SweetPea started repeating it, less out of curiosity and more of solidarity given my state of high anxiety. I quickly turned to her and trying to compose myself, explained:

‘oh Maman shouldn’t have said that, it is a bad word’

And nothing more was said by anyone…until later that night.

Come evening, I was tired both physically and emotionally and decided to allow myself a glass of wine a little earlier that usual. Ok yes, I’ll admit it was still daylight out.  As I tried to pour a glass, I lost control of the plastic knob and ended up spilling most of the contents on the floor. Unbelievably, I said it again! In front of Pea, again. She was now looking at me slightly perplexed.

Again, I found myself explaining why Maman shouldn’t have said it. but this time she wasn’t buying my story and the urge was simply too strong. She started repeating it, trying it out in different sentences. It wasn’t in a taunting fashion but just as a ‘oh so you shouldn’t say this word sort of thing but why not. I may not be able to get my hands on mommy juice or high shoes in my size but this I can control.’ At least that is how I perceived her line of thinking.

In the end I went to my ‘go-to’ rectifying which was “Santa Claus will be very unhappy with me, and I probably won’t get any presents. I must not say that, and people don’t appreciate little girls who use bad words” etc…

Pea, being the kind and generous-hearted kid that she is, told me she would be happy to share or even give me the gifts Santa brings her and not to worry. She also suggested I say “oh dear” instead, next time.

Now if only I could get Little Plum to stop using the French word for ‘seal’ or ‘phoque’ when she is talking about animals in English!