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Entries in expat blog (37)


Two Months

I might just be the only person on the face of this blogosphere who sees fit to write a novel-length treatise on the achievements (yes! achievements!) of her infant, but there you have it. Brevity is not my forte. Nor is timeliness. Here’s Hugo M. Bear’s Two Month Update coming at you, twelve fifteen days late! 


Hugo Two Months


Growing :: Two months and eleven fifteen days (though these pictures were taken a few days before he turned two months because I really am the best at organisation and being on time.)

Just before he turned two months old, this baby bear was clocking in at 6 kg, or 13.2 lbs. Which puts him at more than six KG now. Accuracy! People keep commenting on how big Hugo is, but I don’t see it; Stella was bigger at this age, I’m pretty sure. A little googling around tells me that baby boy is on the big side of average, but by no means gigantic. He does have gigantic feet however, so.


Learning :: Hands! Legs! Laughter? Possibly maybe rolling over, though I’m not convinced.

Hugo’s discovered hands. HAAAAAANDS! They’re great for licking. Particularly that index knuckle. Yes.  Also, I swear that he’s trying to use his meaty baby fists to guide his soother into his mouth, or bat it away, whichever the situation requires.

He’s started bearing little weight on his legs, and loves nothing better than doing some squats, and receiving cheers from his over-enthusiastic mother. 

Annnnnd, laughing? Sort of? A few uncoordinated chortles may or may not have bubbled forth. And OF COURSE he’s saved them expressly for his sister. 

Also speaking of laughter…can we talk about sleep laughter for a second? Because OMG my favourite. That is all. 

Okay, so twice now, Hugo has been seen to roll over from his back to his tummy. Both times were on my bed, and I *think* assisted by a slight depression in the mattress caused by my not insignificant mass beside him. I’m not ready to declare this official Rolling Achievement Unlocked, because mah baybeeeee etc, and also movement, not ready for that, but, uuuummmmm, yeah. 


Mastering :: Smiles, Coos, General Adorableness

Oh, attachment promoting behaviours, you really are the best! Those gummy smiles, the ooooohhhhs and aaaaagahhhs and aaaaagooos that are coming out of this kid’s mouth and warming my heart. 


Eating :: Milk. In an unremarkable and totally typical baby way. 


Sleeping :: Like a two month old! 

Which is to say, he’s dropped his first feeding! Which is to say there’s hope! Which is to say, infinitely better than a certain other baby used to! He goes down to bed by seven without fail, and then wakes at 11 to eat, and every two hours thereafter. 

He naps ever two hours during the day, for about 45 minutes or an hour. Longer, if he’s koala-ed to me. 

The only wrench in the works is the occasional case of super sonic burps and rocket farts. They really have a way of interfering with a good night’s rest.


Enjoying :: Siblings

So, I knew going into this parent-of-two deal, that one of the things I’d love the most is seeing my kids develop their own little world, apart from me. And, guys, it really like, really, the greatest. Stella loves this boy. She’s doing her best to engage in playtime with him, and while his interactions are limited to the occasional gummy smile and gentle coo, she’s quite happy to set up imaginary school scenes and teach her brother the alphabet, and serve him invisible snacks. He’s a pretty compliant student, let me assure you.


Loving :: The Big Kids

Now that he’s getting a bit more robust and more aware of his surroundings, he’s keen to dress up as Spiderman and join in with the big kids, (Stella and the boys from across the hall) tearing down the hallway and generally running riot all over our building. 

Other favourites of note include bottom pats while seated in his bouncy chair; his soother; anything with high-contrast lines; cuddles; sleeping in his Ergo carrier; sleeping on me; being a koala; and…television (!!!!) (I left Hugo in his chair while I did the dishes and wondered why he was so agreeable to being abandoned for so long, only to discover that his sister had ever so generously set up the iPad for him to watch, our moratorium on screen time for babies, notwithstanding.) 


Loathing :: 

The BCG vaccine. Which, I’m pretty sure he hated even more than Hep B. Holy moly. Being tired. Rocket farts. Supersonic burps. These are about the only thing worth crying over, if you’re Hugo M. Bear.


 Inspired by Jordan and her accounts of the lovely Baby Berlin


Welcoming Hugo :: One

Hugo turns two months old this morning three days ago (and I meant to post this on Monday, but then I went ahead and broke my big toe, freaked out about a broken, noxious-gas spewing AC, and caught the flu, so hi...one day I'll get the hang of this blogging thing and post with punctuality, maybe?) To mark the occasion, I thought I’d post a few reflections on our first week together before these memories vanish along with baby Hugo’s newbornness.


In the weeks leading up to my due date, I was growing more uncomfortable and increasingly impatient and uncomfortable. 

I was besieged by false labour (which I moaned about in great detail here, and on Twitter. And Facebook. Instagram. And basically to anyone who would listen.) I was having regular contractions that would last hours and hours, leave me more or less incapacitated by discomfort and is-this-labour-anxiety and then suddenly vanish with nothing to show for all the suffering. 


Those last few weeks of pregnancy were slow, and my parenting lax. Afternoons spent watching documentaries about midwives and trips down to the pool were about all I could muster. I was spending more and more time in bed, curled up with the laptop playing pirated DVDs of The Good Wife, hoping that each day would mark the beginning of life as a foursome.



My due date came and Mr. Chef took some time off. The due date went, and so to Mr. Chef back to work.


I kept waiting, false labour coming about every other day, convinced that this time, it really WAS something.


I must have known, deep down that I wasn’t in labour, but a couple of days after my official due date, I called my doula to come over. I was hoping, somehow, just by calling her, she could declare braxton hicks official labour. But alas, she came, and announced I still had a long way to go. 


The night of Chinese New Year I was up all night with braxton hicks contractions. Mr. Chef was off work because of the holiday, and so to provide some solace for my suffering, he took the three of us out to my favourite restaurant for pizza. 


We ran into a group of our friends at the restaurant. The grownups chatted and ate, the children ran amok as children in Asia are wont to do, and I quietly suffered through contractions. 

The contractions continued all day, through a walk around the Jakarta streets, a lazy afternoon with friends, dinner and bedtime. As the night grew darker, I became quietly hopeful that labour was establishing. 

By midnight I was sure. The doula came, and she was sure as well. 


I laboured at home for a couple of hours, before heading to the hospital at around 4 AM while Stella stayed behind, awake and excited, with her babysitter.


(Aside: if you’re ever planing on going into labour in Jakarta, may I suggest heading to the hospital at 4AM? Zero traffic! And, PS, one of my biggest fears about this pregnancy was being in transition in the back of a taxi in a driving rainstorm while traffic stands still  and horns blare and contractions…gah!!!!)


On the way to the hospital Mr. Chef and the doula were cracking jokes about how long it would take to deliver the baby, sure that he’d be here by 8 AM. I wasn’t convinced, based on the 23 hours of pitocin induced labour last time around! However, I did appreciate their optimism!


My labour was great. I had strong contractions with nice, solid breaks between them that allowed me to catch my breath and gather my energy (unlike last time, pitociiiiiiiin!!! *shakes fist*). Two hours after arriving at the hospital, I was ready to push, and Hugo was born fifteen minutes later, a few quiet mewls announcing his arrival.


He was placed on my chest, warm and perfect, and there he stayed for an hour or so, peaceful and calm. Feeling this fresh baby on my chest, his soft weight and warm body, this brand new little being, settling into me was perfect. 


After a few routine checks, we were moved into our recovery room. Mr. Chef went home to get Stella (who was beside herself with excitement about her new brother) and do a little snack shopping for me as I was ravenous and the hospital breakfast of two pancakes was not quite enough to replenish my energy. 


I was charged with getting some rest. Unfortunately that proved impossible as I could not keep my eyes off my sweet baby’s face. 


A few hours later, Stella arrived at the hospital, and asked, her voice full of wonder, “Is dat my brudder?” And immediately jumped up on the bed to hold him. I was officially chopped liver; she only had eyes for Hugo. She delighted in wrapping him up, and was fascinated by the hospital-issue mittens that he was dressed in. After lots of cuddles, and a few games of midwife-midwife, she and Mr. Chef went home, and again I was instructed to “get some rest,” which AGAIN proved to be exceedingly difficult because OMG fresh baby perfection heartsplosionsetc.


While I was in the hospital, we packed full Stella’s days to somehow make up for my absence. This proved to be an ill-advised strategy. Stella went from pre-dawn wake ups to breakfast out, to gym class, to playdates, and on and on until she succumbed to a nasty cold virus on Hugo’s second day of life. And of course, Hugo came down with this cold five days later. 


We stayed in the hospital for a couple of days. In retrospect, I might have stayed one more day in the hospital to recover (day three marks a massive hormonal crash, I reckon, and better to crash at the hospital, than at home) but I was eager to get home to Stella, who was really missing me, and also keen to start settling into our new life as a family of four.





I have the best of intentions. I do. I keep meaning to come back here, post pictures and write about our life as a foursome. 


But things keep getting in the way. I wake up with a kitchen full of ants, and have to relocate the pantry to the dining room table. Then there are traffic jams, forgotten parent-teacher interviews, two sick kids, an endless parade of doctor’s appointments, and phone calls to organise a doctor’s appointment in Singapore. 


But sometimes I’ve been kept away by milky cuddles on the couch; an afternoon nap with a baby in the crook of my arm; late afternoons by the pool while the light casts long, lazy shadows; a gaggle of children, running and shrieking with glee, finally let outdoors as months of rain clouds lift.  

These days my nights are short, and my daytime hours slip away before I notice they’re gone. Life is chaos, my house is messy, but our days are just golden. 


Young Mangos After Dark {Pregnancy Cravings in Jakarta}


Hey. Hi. So, immmmm….it looks like I’m incapable of thinking, talking, reading, writing, or watching anything that doesn’t have to do with pregnancy. The only other task which I’m reasonably capable of undertaking is stalking baby clothing and monochromatic nursery decor on the internets. 


So. Lucky you. Welcome to yet another blog post chronicling the thrilling and utterly significant ways in which I’m pregnant. (And let’s not kid ourselves, this post is basically thinly veiled attempt to to distract my shopping fingers and save that credit card. (WHATEVER, JANUARY SALES.) 


Today I typed the following sentence: “Basically, I just want to murder everything, but don’t worry, in a normal, healthy way.”


I think it’s safe to say I’m officially a category two pregzilla. 


(Now, watch as I effortlessly segue into a cross-cultural observation, and trick you into thinking that this blog still has some tenuous connection to semi-smart thoughts about third-culture-kids and cross-cultural parenting. Okay, go.)


In Indonesia (or at least in Jakarta, because in a country as culturally and ethnically diverse as this, you really can’t make sweeping judgments, but boy do I enjoy oversimplifying matters, it’s kind of my stock and trade, so.) I’m learning that pregzilla symptoms emerge much earlier in pregnancy than they tend to in the Eurasian West. 


We Western Euros tend to allow women in their ninth month of pregnancy a bit of leeway in the sanity department. We forgive floods of tears, mood swings, lower activity levels, unreasonable demands, and excessive hoarding of baby goods as a woman approaches the end of her pregnancy. But for the majority of the gestational period, it’s life as usual. I mean, you go to work, you take care of the kids, you cook your dinner, and get on with life, right?



Here, though, as I’ve written before, basically from the moment of conception women are treated like delicate flowers who can’t be expected to lift their own shopping bags, let alone carry their own existing children. If a woman has any degree of disposable income, you can bet that she’s hired a helper to do basically all of the domestic chores for her. 


And while I”m a bit contemptuous of this  delicate flower attitude, one Indo pregzilla demand that I do find sweetly charming is the idea that food cravings must be satisfied. 


I was recently chatting with a young guy from Jakarta who told me about his aunt who, when pregnant with quadruplets (!!!!!) had a bonkers-crazy craving for young mangos. (And here's where my argument falls a bit short, because quads? Lady, you can do whatever you want. Sorry. But that's just bananas.) So, as a dutiful nephew, he was summoned at two AM to attend to his aunt and her mango craving. He had to drive around the entire city, call various friends, and search far and wide through all the city’s wet markets in search of this acidic treat. And there was no question that he would perform this task. His aunt wanted young mangos. And so he went off to get young mangos. Sleep be damned. 


The guy explained to me that failure to fulfil the alimentary cravings of a pregnant lady would result in a baby with uncontrollable drool. You you just gotta feed the craving.


Similarly, an acquaintance of mine whose wife is also pregnant keeps telling me of how she rouses from sleep at midnight and asks that he cook a meal for her. And so he does. Nightly midnight feasts, cooked up by a sleepy, hardworking husband. 


I kind of love the gender-reversal here, the expectation that a pregnant woman should be indulged, that the body needs to eat what it craves, the act of feeding a growing belly that is, in turn, feeding a growing human. 


And also, it kind of gives me a bit of leeway with my own husband as I burst into tears (again!) at the breakfast table because he asked me what the plan for the day was, I can say, hey. At least I’m not waking you every night to cook me braised oxtail with gnocchi, okay? 


So, I’m curious, do you have any tails of pregzillaness, or other relevant cultural tidbits to share? Come. Help a preg out. I need some distraction. 

Oh, and could you spare a vote or two for my blog? I'd really appreciate it. Click below!

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Finding Maternity Clothes in Jakarta {Pregnant in Indonesia}

So, you know when you’re in the final weeks of pregnancy, and you’re outrageously enormous, nothing fits and that one, last maternity top that you’d been relying on since forever has basically just quit because, nope, can’t handle it? And you feel like a real asshole because you spent weeks 16 through 32 thinking you were rridiculously gigantic, but actually you were comparatively tiny, and why didn’t you just appreciate that time because here you are, for the eleventh straight day in leggings and a tee-shirt with 2 inches of underbelly peeking out?


Yeah. Hi. I’m having a fashion crisis.


I was aiming to get through pregnancy more comfortable and inspired. I told myself that this pregnancy I’d do a better job of, like, styling the bump <— (excuse me while I barf a bit, I hate that phrase.)  I was thinking something like this:



Help! I have a bump crisis.


1.445.455 IDR - blockshoptextiles.com









But alas, my miserly ways, and the dearth of nice maternity wear in Indonesia have conspired to make me a yoga pants preg. Again.


Indonesia is a great place in which to be a preg for many reasons (hello, cheap and wonderful prenatal massages!) Sadly, though, these perks do not extend to the maternity wardrobe. Most maternity fashion tends tent-like with bonkers crazy prints, which isn’t really what I’m going for when I’m already ginormous. 


So, imagine my delight when I discovered Maternity Exchange, a Singapore-based online shop (they have a brick and mortar store in Singapore) that specialises in maternity and nursing clothes, as well as some pretty essential baby items. They ship to Indonesia. And elsewhere within Asia, too! They also carry many foreign brands that I previously thought were just totally out of my geographical reach. 


(Aside: One strange by-product of being a pregnant expat is the insatiable yearning for all sorts of material goods that just happen to be unavailable in the country in which you live. This leads to lots of self-harmy online obsessive window shopping, passive aggressive heavy sighs as your husband walks into the room while you’re stalking yet another baby swaddling device, and the occasional crisis wherein you buy some extravagant something *totally necessary absolutely required for the baby* and then pay about triple the cost of said *can’t live without* item in shipping and customs fees. Yes?)


I ordered this little number, which has served me for all sorts of occasions big and small, and I’m thinking will just carry me right through the sartorially disastrous postpartum months, too. 


barefoot and pregnant. in jakarta. keeping it classy.

I ordered this dress off the Maternity Exchange website, and the process was seamless. (And I'm somewhat of an expert when it comes to internet shopping. Ask my husband.) Shipping was fast and efficient, (though the dress did get held up at customs, which can occasionally happen in Indonesia because gah! Pos Indonesia, come on you guys! Maternity Exchanged provided me with a tracking number which allowed me to trace the package easily. My experience is that a customs delay is more the exception rather than the norm. )


The dress was in my hands in no time though, ready to solve many a fashion crisis. (For example, what to wear for Christmas lunch? This dress. What to wear for New Year's Eve Dance Party with a three-year-old? This dress. What to wear to playgroup when nothing else fits? This dress.)


And now, basically, if I’m not wearing leggings and an ill-fitting t-shirt, I’m wearing this.


So, if you'll excuse me, I’m off to do some more “pretend shopping.” Today’s mission is to quell my colic anxiety by stalking swaddling devices. Pretty sure I might *accidentally* order a Woombie. Or a million.


Shop at www.maternityexchange.sg and enjoy free shipping to Indonesia with orders S$300 and above!


(Disclosure: Maternity Exchange sent me a dress free of charge. All opinions are my own.)


Pregnancy Update: Week 35


No you can't see my face because uggg....Christmas cookies go straight to my cheeks, apparently. This dress, however, is my new obession. And, PS, they ship to Indoneisa. 

Last week my doctor wanted to move my due date three days South. And so, obviously, I threw a semi-tantrum right there on the ultra-sound table because three days is about an eternity at this stage of pregnancy, and frankly, I quite liked my previous due date. It had a good ring to it. A nice round number. So. Wah. Noooooo. And he, well versed in the ways of the crazy-preg-expat, was like, whoa….lady, you can keep your due date. We’re cool.


These are my big and troubling problems.  Woe. Etc. (By which, I mean, I have very few actual problems, and I’m totally counting my blessings.)


How far along?

LET”S NOT TALK ABOUT THAT. (35 weeks and change)


How big is baby?

At the last check up a week ago, he was measuring just over 2000 grams. And if I were a better, more organised mother, I’d know this sort of thing without googling average feral weight at 35 weeks. 



Fewer punches, more stretching. I can pretty accurately distinguish between a knee and an elbow (but I mean, who’s fact checking this?) Baby is most active in the evening until about midnight, a habit which I certainly hope he does not expect to carry into the world, because mama’s bedtime is 10 PM.


Total weight gain:

Eff you, Christmas. 



I thought for a while that I had given myself the internet curse by barging about how great my sleep was. A bout of insomnia had me wallowing in self-pity and general bad-attitudery or a while, but that seems to have cleared. I have regained both my nap powers, and my sound night sleeps, and all is right with the world.



I’ve been having a little heartburn, but nowhere near as bad as I had with Stella. It’s more a warm whiskey glow than the third degree chemical burn I had in my first pregnancy. 


I get the occasional tinge of physical fatigue, and bending down is like such a chore, but otherwise, I’m feeling remarkably well. I’ve got to tell you, I went into this pregnancy significantly stronger, fitter, and healthier than I was in my first pregnancy thanks to a CrossFit obsession that took me through the first six months of the year.  I think that makes all the difference. That being said, I’ve failed to maintain any sort of physical fitness regime during this pregnancy. So, don’t go thinking that I”m all virtue or something. 


Other little super interesting little gemstones:

I’m officially nesting! You guys! And in a good and healthy way, not in a frantic-freak-out-clean-all-the-windows-inside-and-out sort of way. I’ve got a nice to-do list. I’ve washed and put away all the baby clothes. I’ve boiled pre-folds and stuffed diapers. Closets are getting cleaned out, drawers are being organised, and things are coming together! I’m excited! And feeling like a real-life responsible grown-up! Hooray! 

Week 32

Week 28

Week 24

Week 20 Ultrasound

Week 20

Week 18

Linking up with Erica and TOI


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Pregnancy Update: Week 32 

In lieu of a belly picture, becaue I JUST can't take a good one, here's my "mifwife" examining me. She does house calls. Which is great. 


Well, here we are at 32 weeks, with that same cocksure swagger that I adopted last time around. “I”m totally the best preg around! The third trimester is cake!”


Don’t worry though, at least this time around I fully expect that the pregnancy gods will give me a good punch in the teeth sometime around week 34. At which point, if history repeats itself, I’ll give myself frostbite by being too vigorous in the application of ice packs on my sore, painful, pregnant back. (I’m not even joking. That totally happened. And then the massage therapist lady that I eventually saw was like, WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOURSELF????)


Anyway, buckle up. It’s pregnancy update time.


How Far Along?

Thirty Two weeks (tomorrow), and predictably I’m kinda doom-spiraling about all the fact that I MUST DO ALL THE THINGS but actually have done none of the things, and here we are in the single-digit countdown stage with eight weeks left to feather the nursery with (totally necessary) charming Scandi inspired sundries that can take up to 12 weeks to arrive thanks to the efficiency of the Indonesian postal service. You know.


How Big is Baby?

At last check-up, about a week ago, he was about 1500 grams, and measuring exactly in the 50th percentile for everything. Stella measured big, like huge, at the same stage. I wonder if it was because my doctor was using a Japanese standard? I dunno. 



Lots. Alien-like undulations, that I’m sure are visible from space, are now a regular thing. 


Total Weight Gain:

Shutup. Gigantic. Forty week weight gain achievement UNLOCKED! (At thirty-two weeks. I am an overachiever.) 



THE BEST. I’m not even joking. Here is where I’m like exceptionally skilled as a preg. I wake up twice a night, and otherwise am just comatose. 


Maternity Clothing:

The worst. I continue to believe that leggings are pants, since I won’t actually WEAR mat pants. And if you don’t mind me, I’ll just continue to be a sartorial hot mess for the next, ohhh, six months.



Ice cold water. Can’t get enough. Wild times up in here, let me tell you.



I am the weepy-ist. Also braxton-hicks make me worried about peeing my pants. 


So now that I’ve shared THAT special little piece o’ info you, I’m linking up with my name twin, and fellow expat mama, who is ALSO expecting a boy. Go! 


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