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Happy Happy Friday

It was a week of rain, fevers and gloom. Frustration reigned as plans were canceled, vacations postponed, while uncertainty hung oppressively above us.

A typhoon rolled through up North, and suddenly the skies cleared, the humidity vanished, and the sun came out. So, to park! To park! To sea! To beach! To shake off the remnants of a foul mood and clear the way for the coming week. 



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Photo 1

Photo 2

 May your Friday be so happy.


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Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 09:55 PM

So, since this is Stella's 15 month and 21 day birthday, I figure that it is an appropriate time for a Stella update of sorts. Because, you know, I have yet to include one of those on my blog, and well, um....NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT*.

So. Here you go. (I'm pretty sure only my mum will read this. And then, realistically, even that is doubtful.)

Stella Stats

Age: 15 months, 21 days

Height: Tall enough to reach the table

Weight: What? Who weighs their babies? I have no idea. Hopefully heavier than last time

Head Circumfrence: ???????!!?!?!?!!!


Stella Can

  • Charm the pants off of anyone she meets
  • Walk by her self from her bedroom to the living room
  • Say diiiiisssss (where diiiiisssss = this and is a stand-in for ever thing in the whole wide world) and meeeooowwww (which is cat, obvs, and also any four-legged creature. And sometimes birds.)
  • Sign like the dickens (Papi, baby, eat, more, water, cracker, bread, cheese, wind, music, phone {an invented sign} grandmother, grandfather, cat, dog) 
  • Follow basic directions (sit down, go to the high chair, go to Stella's room, let's go outside, put on your shoes, time ot eat etc.)
  • Crawl. Finally. Which she learned from the daycare teachers, AFTER she learned to walk.
  • Scoot like a champ.
  • Throw a ball. 
  • Brush the cat.

Stella Can Not

  • Understand the word "no"
  • Eat a meal without purpousfully dumping things on the floor because she knows this drives me abso batty.
  • Understand that the cat does not appreciate being hit with the brush.
  • Sleep through the nigth. *sadface*
  • Walk by stones whout stopping to pick them up.
  • Go out in public without being told Kawaiiiiiii at least once. 

Stella Loves

  • Avocado. Times a million.
  • Babies. Times infinity.
  • Going outside.
  • Going outside and seeing babies.
  • Playing the park
  • Looking at pictures of her grandparents 
  • Twirrling her hair before she goes to sleep
  • Taking baths
  • Spicy food
  • Wiping the table
  • Even better - wiping food all over the table
  • People who run (HI-LARIOUS)
  • Tickle hands
  • Her mother vaulting over the couch
  • Playing parachute with the bedsheets
  • Kiss attacks
  • Riding in the ring sling (Stella do you want to go for a ride? *Claps*)
  • Her Papi. A lot. So much. You have no idea.

Stella Does Not Love

  • Going to sleep
  • Staying asleep
  • Eating thigns that requrie her to chew
  • Riding in the mei-tai *frownyface*

*Please see this as the vieled excuse for lazy blogging that it is. 

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Small Style, Stroller Style

So, anyway, Stella has a new toy that her Papi brought back from a trip to Canada. And let's just say that the world is now all sunshine and ferries and pink bunny rabbits and rainbows and unicorns and that Stella loves loves loves loves her new toy. 


I let her take her dolly stroller out  for a little spin in front of our building because our tiny little living room is no match for an uncoordinated-newly-walking-dolly-stroller-baby-mama who has yet to grasp the concept of steering. Also still in development: the notion that static objects will not get out of your way if you throw a temper tantrum and pound on them with angry toddler hitting hands. 

Our mini-excursion went really well, garnering a few standard kawaiiiiiiiiis from the neighbours. Smooth sailing until Stella fell over and pinched her thumbs between the pavement and the stroller handle bar. Poor wee lamb. 


And so, I gave her two band-aids and suggested that they accessorise her outfit. She was royally pissed about that. 



All in all, it was a good little outing.


Stella Wore:

Shirt - Cherokee (Thrifted)

Shorts - Unknown (Thrifted)

Shoes - See Kai Run

Neclace - (Model's Own)

Now, head on over to Mama Loves Papa for some very cute little Small Stylers. 


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So, Anyway, I Guess Life's Not All Doomy

I’m starting to wonder if living in Japan is bad for my child’s ego.

Stella is the only foreign kid for miles around, and in kawaii obsessed Japan, her genki smile, auburn curls, and predilection for waving have garnered this wee girl quite the following. 

Case in point: our weekly trip to the department store food shops wherein we set out in search of cilantro, good whole-grain bread, and our hebdomadal cheese ration, and return with a massively inflated conception of self-worth.

I tell you, people, walking through the food aisles with my daughter is like accompanying Oprah as she glides through her studio audience on the way to the stage (an outdated similie I know, but my cultural reference points have been severely narrowed by being on the other side of the world). As we walk down the aisles, strangers coo. Some whisper to each other and some call out to us, KAWAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII.  People wave, and initiate sly games of peekaboo. Strangers rush over to her and tap her cheek, hold her hand, or offer her candy. Grandmothers are Stella’s natural target market, but even business men, and most shockingly, teenaged boys are not immune to her charms. 

And does Stella ever love the attention. She walks along beside me, waving at all the people. I’m pretty sure she things she’s Kate Middleton. Or possibly Suri Cruise. And let’s not lie, it’s not like I’m suffering a great hardship here, by being told that my kid is adorable eleventy million times a day. 

It’s just that, when we go back to North America or Europe, and Stella is just one more snotty-nosed caucasian kid in a sea of snotty-nosed caucasian kids, well, poor wee lamb is going to be in for a rather rude awakening. 


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On Needles and Pins and Expats

The waiting has started. We've just sailed right past the two-year mark on this contract, leaving behind stability, security, and knowing what the future holds. Now is the season of anticipation and of speculation. Ears pressed firmly to the ground, listening for murmurs of rumors, suggestions of what might come next. Eyes glaze, and wild fancy takes over, painting a thousand and one imaginary tales of boxes and apartments and new cities and new countries and new foods and  new languages and new friends and and and. We're looking forward with vigour, but we don't know to what. Or when. Or how. Or where.

I suppose that as an serial expat, one never really know what the future holds, but cognitive dissonance allows one to overlook the gaping black hole in the imagined future. The expat starts a contract with an image of life progressing on a linear path of two or three years, and then suddenly: nothing. No concept, no daydreams, no mental construct with which to understand what lies ahead. The serial expat can successfully ignore this reality, happily marching along with time, until she is suddenly standing right on the edge of this gaping hole, with no idea what will fill it. 

Thus, grasping for unknowable answers to the question "what next" is consuming about 98 percent of my consciousness. 

Oh, and did I ever tell you about the time when we had to pack up a house and leave a country with 24 hours notice? That scene is currently headlining in my imagination.

The uncertainty is thrilling, but also, quite frankly, unnerving. We know that a move is on the horizon. There are rumblings and unofficial promises. Vague assurances of "soon" and  "gateway city" and "more exposure" offer hope, yet that hope is awfully slippery when we face the present reality of an incredibly stressful work environment, a poor to non-existent support network, and a country which, although it offers many pleasures, is just a poor fit for us.

Also: it appears as though our much anticipated October European Vacation Extravaganza will be canceled. We already have the tickets. Plans had been made. Concert tickets bought. The aforementioned work stress is a symptom of endemic organizational issues: they are deep. And Wide. And require attention. 

 Suffice to say: doom spirals over at Expatria, Baby. Come join the fun. 


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Small Style, WALKING STYLE!!!

So, THIS is happening:




TA DA!!!!!!

Stella took her first unassisted steps right before her first birthday. And then promptly refused to walk alone any more. This, despite the fact that while we were in North America, my father took it upon himself to engage Stella in a rigorous walker-in-training regime. He was operating under the assumption that late walking is a certain indicator of a future of sloth and un-industriousness, confiding in me that as a father, he fears he made many mistakes raising his three girls, one of which was, evidently, not pushing his kids hard enough to be early walkers. OH MAH LANDS! The things  could have achieved had I JUST WALKED THREE MONTHS SOONER!!!  Ergo, my father frets: HOW WILL SHE EVER BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IF SHE DOESN'T LEARN TO WALK IMMEDIATELY???? (BTW Dad, She's not even an American.)

So, anyway, two days ago, Stella decided that walking was actually pretty rad. And it is especially rad when I say, "Stella, time for bed" and she walks AWAY from me, giggling maniacally at her newly discovered ploy: "I'll never have to sleep again if I just keep walking away! You'll never catch me. No you won't. Sleep - I shake my tiny, vengeful fist at you." 

So, anyway. Stella's walking now. Which means that I can finally take Small Style pictures in a venue that is not my living room. Hooray!

Stella Wore:

Onsie - Joe Fresh

Skirt - Bobo Choses

Shoes - See Kai Run

Bow - AdornMeGirl  

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Coyote Ugly

The expat life is one of adventure, discovery, glamour, and...bumbling social ineptitude. And so, for the September edition of NorthSouthEastWest: Expat Dispatches, our ongoing guest-post project, our four expat bloggers are divulging their most embarrassing expat moments. 

Linda of Adventures in Expatland (North) demonstrates that a small vowel can cause big problems. Russell, who blogs at In Search of a Life Less Ordinary (South), discovers that wherever you are in the world, people enjoy a good laugh at the newbie’s expense. Erica of Expatria, Baby (East) writes of disastrous first impression that last and last and last. And finally, Maria who blogs at I Was an Expat Wife, reveals how her expat mantra of “try new things” led her astray.

I hope that you enjoy this month’s post by Maria Foley of iwasanexpatwife.com and do check out all of the other posts. There are many, many lolz to be had. 


One night in Singapore, my friends and I went to a bar named Coyote Ugly.


That pretty much sums it up; that’s my embarrassing expat confession. Just typing the words makes my cheeks burn. As a fortysomething stay-at-home mom, if I’m going to write a sentence that starts with “I went” and ends with “a bar named Coyote Ugly,” the words “out of my way to avoid” had better be sandwiched in there somewhere.

  Coyote Ugly


For those of Erica’s readers who might not be familiar with the expression, “coyote ugly” is an adjective that describes a physically repulsive woman. Why, you ask? Well, a coyote caught in a trap will chew off its limb in order to escape. Apparently, a man who goes home from a bar with an unattractive woman and wakes up in the morning with his arm trapped beneath her sleeping body will chew that arm off to make sneak out without waking her. Delightful, no? 

The term spawned a New York City bar of the same name, and Elizabeth Gilbert — long before she hit the jackpot with Eat, Pray, Love — sang its seedy praises in GQ magazine with “The Muse of the Coyote Ugly Saloon.” That article, in turn, became the inspiration for the movie Coyote Ugly. (I’ve never seen it, but its promos featured a scantily-clad Tyra Banks prancing around on a bar, dispensing body shots and getting her freak on in an extravaganza of questionable taste that made me want to poke my eyeballs out with a sharp pointy stick.)


I’m tempted to end my story right there, but I promised Erica 700 words on the subject and I’d hate to let her down, what with her being so nice and all. So here’s the rest:


We’d gone to see a show and had just left the theatre when Babs (definitely the Alpha Female in the group) declared that we were going clubbing. I hadn’t gone clubbing since my pre-stretchmark days, but loosen up and try new things was my expat mantra, so I agreed to give it a go. 


When I walked into the establishment Babs had chosen, I noticed two things simultaneously: the large sign that screamed COYOTE UGLY, and the Asian dominatrix cowgirls undulating on the bar. I almost walked out again. Not because dancing on bars was illegal in Singapore — it was, although I didn’t know it at the time — but because the whole cheesy scene was so determinedly louche I couldn’t bear to witness it.


I repeated my mantra through gritted teeth, and plodded on. We ended up having a great time — $18 margaritas will do that — and danced (on the floor) for hours. Sometime after midnight I declined the drink offered by a very polite British sailor named Charlie, but I desperately needed a glass of water so I went to the bar with him and let him do the ordering. 


I was either too naïve or too hopped up on overpriced cocktails to notice that the crush of people around me had mysteriously receded, rather like a modern-day reprise of that Moses + Red Sea incident. I became aware of the hushed air of expectancy a second too late. Time seemed to slow down as I watched the bartender reach under the bar and pull out something metallic, which she pointed directly at me. My brain screeched RUN, but after all that dancing my feet were too damn sore to obey.


And then she shot me. With a steady stream of ice-cold water. 


The place erupted in applause as I gasped for breath. I was horrified to discover I looked like an entry in a middle-aged wet t-shirt contest. But I had to admit, in the steamy atmosphere of the club, the cold shower felt good. So good, in fact, that when I did finally get my glass of water, I didn’t need it anymore. I dumped it over Charlie’s head instead. 


He stood motionless for a moment, dripping water onto the floor, before shaking himself all over like a Golden Retriever. Grinning from ear to ear, he asked, “Feel like dancing on the bar?”


I glanced up at the nymphets languidly swiveling their hips, shrugged, and said — 


Would you look at that: I finally reached the 700 word mark! Now that I’ve fulfilled my obligation to the charming Erica and the rest of the NSEW gang, I’m going to call it a day. That’s quite enough embarrassment for one blog post, thank you very much.





Photo credit: M. Foley | iwasanexpatwife.com


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