Not “down in the dumps”

S and A have a friend in the neighborhood named Parker, who is the sweetest little boy you will ever meet. He is a year and a half older than the girls, yet is so patient and phenomenal about playing with them.  The other day, my friend, Phi told me the cutest thing he said– it still warms my heart to think about.

A little background: we stuck an invitation to the girls’ birthday party coming up in Parker’s mailbox a few weeks ago.

Redacted version– so excited!
Anyway, you remember the Frog and Toad children’s series? I loved those as a kid, but had totally forgotten about them until Phi mentioned that Parker has been reading them lately. In one of the books, Toad is feeling sad, so Frog sends him a letter in the mail and then Toad exclaims that he’s “not down in the dumps anymore!” 

Back to Parker. So Phi walks in and Parker is holding the girls’ invitation and jabbering on about something to himself, with a mesmerized look on his face. When Phi listened closer, she heard him say, “Wow! Sammy and Amelia sent me a letter in the mail! Now I’m not down in the dumps anymore!” 

She relayed this ADORABLE exchange to me via text and my heart just melted all day long. Even now I think about it and a smile comes to my face. 
“Now I’m not down in the dumps anymore!” Just way too cute.
As an aside, somewhere between two and eighty frogs have made their home in our fountain on the patio. They are LOUD and keep us (and our neighbors) up at night with their croaking, but we’ve been reluctant to bleach the water and get rid of them because: 
A) They are fun to catch and 
B) Samantha tells us hilarious stories when she hears them croaking involving how there is a “daddy frog, a mommy frog and a baby frog.” 
When we catch one, S and A squeal in delight as the frogs hop around. Then, when the girls are not looking, we chuck the frogs as far as we can out back. So far, none of our efforts have reduced the croaking. 
Anyway, onto our multicultural experience for the month. A few weekends ago, Parker and his family celebrated Vietnamese New Year (the same weekend as Chinese New Year) and gave the girls a little gift package so they could celebrate too. 
The girls received some delicious rice stick treats and pretty envelopes with money inside. It’s traditional for the kids in the family to get some “Lucky Money” at the start of the new year– let’s just say S and A definitely felt lucky!
Parker’s family also brought us something interesting– it’s a traditional rice cake filled with mung bean and pork and wrapped in banana leaves. The girls didn’t know quite what to think at first. 
Phi told me how to cook it (just chop it up into cubes, microwave it and then pan fry to brown the edges) and the rice cakes ended up looking like little tater tots. I wasn’t sure how the rice cakes would be received, but to my surprise, the girls were absolutely obsessed with them and gobbled them down like they were fries. More rice cake and mung bean on the menu, please. 
Later, Phi brought us more rice cakes, hot and fresh from the market so that we could freeze them and enjoy again later. The girls were so excited to cook new foods and learn about different cultures. I’m not that adventurous unless someone is giving me step by step instructions on how to do something, so I was grateful too. Thanks, guys!
Playing with Parker’s dump truck and no longer “down in the dumps.” 
Lots of love, 

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