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Entries in Expat Mommy Blog (38)


Pregnancy Update: Week 40 {Done. So Very Very Done.}

I’ve been having false labour for almost three weeks now. Sometimes it’s just run of the mill Braxton Hicks contraptions. But sometimes, and especially in the past week, it’s call the doula, pack your hospital bags, stock up on gatorade, clutch your abdomen in pain type of contractions that happen every eight minutes and last for 16 hours. Only to fizzle out and leave you tired and sore in a pool of disappointment and frustration.  



Needless to say, I’m so over this.


It’s one thing to be uncomfortable, crampy, and contractiony when I’m on my own. But it’s a whole other circle of mum-guilt hell when there’s another kid involved. Basically all I want to do is lie in bed, eat cookies and drink ice cold water from a mason jar while watching episode after episode of The Good Wife.  But I have a child to feed, entertain, and enrich, and sadly she’s just not interested in hanging out with the electronic babysitter all day long. She wants to play pretend. Every day. Always.


And yesterday it kind of all came to a head.


It was our Monday Lady Date Day, so I took Stella out for fancy cake. But I was short on patience, and the most I could muster was a half-hearted game of restaurant-restaurant while we ate our cake.


We got stuck in stop-and-stop Jakarta traffic on the way home, and I capped off little outing by snapping at my poor girl, who was intent on playing midwife-midwife in the back of a taxi “OMG I JUST CAN’T RIGHT NOW PLEASE JUST DON’T TOUCH ME MUMMY CAN NOT OKAY JUST STOP!!!” And that may or may not have happened more than once. Because. Aggggghhhh!!!!


Back at home I thought I could make up for my cranky mummy mood by agreeing to feed Stella pancakes and maple syrup for lunch, and sure why not? I’ll let you be independent and pour your own syrup…oh shit, so, there goes half the bottle of imported spendy like gold syrup all over your plate, oh well, there’s no saving it now, I guess I’ll just let you eat your syrup with a little pancake on the side. I mean, oatmeal kamut pancakes, that's like a balanced meal, and, really, what’s the worst that could happen?


And that is how you end up, 39w6d pregnant, besieged by false labour, and the sole adult responsible for a pre-schooler literally bouncing off the walls, beds, floors, all flat surfaces, in fact, on the sugar high of her life. 


And so I called my husband home from work to look after our frenetic sugar addled child, fed her room service for dinner (again!) and then cried so hard at my failings as a parent and my asshole uterus that I literally made myself vom. Oh pregnancy. You're really a peach, aren't you. 


And now, for what had better be my last pregnancy update.


How Far Along:

40 Weeks. Today. OMG. DONE.


How Big is Baby:

Baby Boy is measuring about 3.3 KG. Which, if you ask me, is big enough. SO, YOU CAN COME OUT NOW.



Things are getting pretty cramped in there, but not too restricted to throw some nice pokey knees and elbows at my right ribcage!


Total Weight Gain:

I don’t even care any more. A lot. Probably close to 25 kg. In the past couple of weeks I’ve just been like, okay! finish line in sight! I’ll eat all the things, and also my feelings. Which taste like an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies! And you know what? I haven’t gained any weight since about 37 weeks. Contrast that with my first two trimesters wherein I ate nothing and basically gained a third of my bodyweight. Eff you, pregnancy, you make no sense.



Well, I know many of your pregs really don’t sleep at all in the final weeks, and also I know full well the all night human milk buffet shift that is waiting for me on the other side of this, so I really shouldn’t complain. {but it's what I doooooooooo}I will say, though, I’m developing a superhuman ability to sleep through contractions, and if things continue like this I’ll probably be able to be unconscious during transition. So. 


Maternity Clothing:

Ahhhhahahahahaha! Isn’t that cute? You think I actually put clothing on my body at this stage? Nope. It’s all leggings and sweatpants, all the time. And I feel like I should feel bad about that since I live in a super fancy hotel, and there are appearances to keep up and stuff. But nope. I don't. 



Not being pregnant. Ice cold water. Chocolate chip cookies. Bed. DVDs. Zero responsibility. Not having to play midwife-midwife. Silence. Hibernation. 

Linking up with Erica and Toi. Better late than never, right?

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Merry Indonesian Christmas! 

You know that banality of new parenthood? The one when you walk out of the hospital cradling the new baby. You’re all uncertainty and excitement. Then, you get in the car and find yourself wondering when the real grown-ups are going to arrive and take over this whole being an adult thing.  

I kind of feel like that about cultural high holidays.


Like, someone just handed me a bundle of Christmas and expects me to know what to do. Here! Here’s a holiday! Make it magic! Your child’s future memories depend on it! And, oh, PS, there’s no snow! Have fun!!!!


I always feel totally out of my depth. Here I am, in tropical Indonesia, with a three year old who is starting to ‘get’ Christmas, and there are no real grown ups in sight. 


But this year, somehow we pulled it off. 


Stella and I shared a quiet candle-lit dinner on Christmas eve, catered personally by Mr. Chef who was stuck at work. 


Then we headed out to watch a children’s choir sing Christmas carols, just like we did last year. TAnd of course they sang about five numbers from the Sound of Music, because Stella lives for the TSoM, and it’s Christmas and magic, and nothing could have been more perfect.

When we woke up on Christmas morning, and delighted at the stockings waiting for us at the breakfast table.  Although Stella was quite insistent that stockings are for FEET and NOT for presents. We whipped up a batch of cinnamon rolls, along with a few other treats courtesy of Mr. Chef’s kitchen, and slowly opened presents.


Stella was not really that into presents this year, more interested in pancakes, orange juice, and the fact that we were headed out to her friend’s house later. Eventually we enticed her with the promise of a really, really big present. When she discovered a scooter inside, all was lost. She had no more need for any other wrapped parcels. A SCOOTER!! She declared, “Father Christmas is very clever!” English accent and all, because (??????!!!!???)

Unfortunately Mr. Chef was not able to really enjoy all the Christmas the fun. He was taken down by a terrible bout of something nasty and tropical, and was too sick to even eat a piece of toast. Which is really a shame, because he went all out in the Christmas department this year, and deserved more than ever to take part in the festivities.

Stella and I left him at home to recover while we partook in all the Christmas merriment. Believe me, I felt kind of conflicted about abandoning our valiant Chef.

We joined some friends for a massive Christmas lunch complete with eggnog, Christmas crackers and flambéed Christmas pudding. There were a million children, old fiends and new, all gathered together running wild like cousins they'd known since birth. And adults sitting around tables in the back garden sipping on festive drinks. I felt just like all the aunites and uncles gathered together in a farm house kitchen somewhere in Eastern Ontario. Except with a pool. And palm trees. 

And so, I declared all of us all very clever because somehow, against the odds, we created for ourselves the most christmassy of Christmases right here in topical Indonesia. Really. This year was one of the best. 

Annnd, here's Christmas last year, our first one in the tropics. 

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The Case for The Solo Babymoon

I never went on a babymoon when I was pregnant with Stella. Such is the way with pregnancies that happen right after you move to a new country, I guess. 


I never really went on a honeymoon. (Unless, of course, you count a whirlwind trip around Switzerland with my husband. And aunty. And parents. And come to think of it, NO I don’t not count that as an official honeymoon.) Such is the way with visa marriages, I guess. There’s usually time pressures and financial constraints that preclude indulgences like an actual marriage proposal, a wedding planned in more than ten days, and a honeymoon. 



Still, by forgoing these various ____moons, I’ve felt like I’ve missed out on a vital cultural experience. I always felt a little resentful of that.


Until this week, when I created a new category of ____moon. The Solo Babymoon.


I spent a blissful couple of days alone in Ubud, and I realised that we’re all doing it wrong.  Forget a babymoon for your first pregnancy. Forget a honeymoon, even. Instead, cash in your relaxation tickets when you really need some time out. Take a babymoon for subsequent kids. And leave your husband at home.



Certainly I can see an argument for requiring a period of connection, recovery and relaxation after a big wedding. And spending a little time time bonding with your partner as you prepare for your life to be completely turned upside-down by a new little human, well, it’s a nice little idea, isn’t it?




But you know when you REALLY need some relaxing time? When you’re growing an inside human person while simultaneously raising a demanding outside human person who objects vehemently  to such everyday tasks as putting on clothing, eating food, and, resting our bodies, and walking out of the door. 


It is only AFTER experiencing the rigours of parenthood that one can truly enjoy a self-indulgent weekend away.


Despite the fact that the conditions of my life allow me significantly more time to myself than most of my North American counterparts, I don’t really take it. I don’t go out for dinners. I don’t go shopping. I don’t get my nails done. I don’t hang out with girlfriends. I hardly go to the gym because I feel like that would mean taking time from my kid, and maybe sacrificing plans to make a wholesome dinner. Which is absurd, but there you go.


It is within this context that I decided to take some time out. (Also, I thought a trial run spending a night or two away from Mummy would be a good exercise for Stella, thanks Emily for the suggestion!)


So, after an extended weekend with Stella and the Chef on the beech in Bali, I took off to Ubud. Alone. Blissfully Alone.


Objectively, this trip was nothing special. I stayed at a pretty simple AirBnB. I hung out. There was no champagne, no caviar (PS, *vom*), no hot stone massages, or languid days by the pool. But I got to spend two doing what I wanted. When wanted. How I wanted. 


I woke up with my natural rhythms. I took an extended breakfast. I walked, (WALKED!) through the rice fields down to the city. I stopped to take pictures. I pushed nothing, and carried only what I wanted to carry. 


I met a bloggy friend. Had lunch with a good book. I poked in and out of shops, leisurely and at my own direction. I got a foot massage, and ate an extrordinary dinner.



I don’t think I have breathed this deeply or felt this calm in years. (Probably three and a half???)


Of course I missed my girl like crazy, and when we talked over FaceTime, I wanted to be transported home where I could squeeze her and tickle her and tuck her into bed. 


But, I was alone. Blissfully, alone. The kind of alone that one is only able to appreciate after spending an extended period of time being never alone. I worried not about other’s whims, desires, levels of fatigue, or patience. I did not chase after a small person or negotiate the conditions in which it would be acceptable to walk 50 more meters. I did not subjugate my desire to go into yet another organic yoga clothing emporium for fear of inflicting tremendous irritation upon my husband. 


Instead, I did what I wanted to do. I went into that organic yoga sore. And then into an aromatherapy shop. And after that, I spent 20 minutes examining deliciously wabi-sabi hand carved mahogany plates, debating the merits of a rectangular or square shape. And that was perfection. 



Why the Solo Babymoon is not a widespread cultural phenomenon, I’ll never know. It is not until you actually have a pre-existing child that you really “need” the luxury of a babymoon. And it is not until you’ve spent nearly all of your waking (and sleeping!) time worrying about the whims of others that you can truly appreciate being on your own. So. ladies. Band together. Join me in proclaiming the merits of solitude. Lets make this, the solo Babymoon, nay, the Mommymoon, a rite of passage, a cultural phenomenon equal to the honeymoon to which every woman is entitled. 



Babymoon, Take One.

Our little family has escaped the big city for a babymoon of sorts. We're spending an extended weekend together in Bali.

Believe it or not, this is the first real family vacation we've ever been on. I mean, like the first trip in seven years where it's been just us, with no program, no family to see, nowhere to go, and nothing to do but take afternoon naps.

Since we've been out of the city, I've been walking slower, and breathing deeper. Tantrums don't get to me. Sitting down to play comes easy. We've let go of the rules and forgotten about schedules (as evidenced by the fact that the Chef watched our kid beginning to lose her everloving mind, and realized at the same moment that we'd failed to feed her breakfast. Or lunch.)

We're enjoying this. Every minute of it.



A Case of the Mondays {And a Matilda Jane Giveaway}

Oh Monday. You really can be downright awful.

I used to keep the weekend's chores for Monday mornings, and frantically tried to juggle a needy toddler, epic tantrums over the injustice of bed-making, my own frustrations at the improbable ephemerallity of Sundays, with pinterestically high standards of domestic serenity. And that, you guys, is a recipe for unfun.

{But then again, remember back a few years ago when I had to put on fancy clothes, pack myself into a hurtling sardine can of a Shanghai subway car, traveling underground across the city, and go to an actual office. Yuck.}

But these days, Mondays are sweet. 

In the mornings Stella asks me, "Mama, what's today?" And so I tell her, the day of the week and our plans. "It's Monday. It's Mama-Stella-Date-Day." Admittedly, on Mondays, she's usually quite disappointed to hear that there's no playgroup, no gym class, no ballet, no playdates on the schedule, and responds with a downcast "Oh." But I really love these unstructured days with no plans, no commitments, and no one but the two of us. And usually my girl, well, after a day full of Mama attention, she usually comes around too. 

This Monday we started off with a nice solid temper tantrum, but that was nothing a little game of Airport-Airport couldn't fix.

We packed our "bags", wrapped up our "babies", got in the "taxi", and took off for the "airport." Not before stopping for some passport photos, though. (And this is how you pose for passport photos when you're three and semi-Asian. See?}

{I seriously CAN NOT make my child stop posing like this.}

After a couple hours at pre-school, we headed out for our date. Which consisted of pancake, sausage, and french fry "lunch" for her, because it's Stella-Mama-Date-Day, so let's throw nutritional caution to the wind! There was time to check out some toy stores before hitting the supermarket where this girl behaved like the very best of little ladies, and helped me to "measure" all of the produce on the big scale. We even managed to beat Jakarta traffic, which is basically a miracle sent from heaven.

We didn't do anything special, really. But time together with no program and not pressure, well, that is a rare and special treat.

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Can't stop, won't stop. Peace, everyone.

As for wardrobe choices, well this lady settled on the sweet Atmosphere Dress from  Matilda Jane and their Paint By Numbers collection. Which is on backwards, but you have to admit that it does kind of look adorable like this, no? And the sunshiny yellow buttons up the back totally work. (Accessories were all styled by Stella, btw.)

You'd have to admit that this dress is perfect for twirling, and posing, wouldn't you? Just the right amount of flounce, with a little tiny bit of stretch to make it comfortable enough for a picky three-year-old. Oh, and stripes don't hurt at all. Nor does a touch of pink. (Rules to dress Stella by: Stripes or pink. Anything else just won't do.)

Now for the fun part: A Matilda Jane Giveaway.

Matilda Jane sent me a gift card, but because I am so impressed with their clothing (I mean, could the effortless pattern mixing be any better??) I want to share the love. So I'm offering up 50 USD in Matilda Jane goodness!


To enter the Matilda Jane Giveaway:

Visit the Matilda Jane website and take a look around.

Leave a comment here telling me about what makes your Mondays sweet, and what Matilda Jane treasure would make next Monday even sweeter.

For additional entries, follow me on blogloving, like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and / or share this giveaway. Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

The winner will be chosen next Monday, 28th October.  


Fine print: Matilda Jane did not sponsor this giveaway, or in fact, ask me to post it. They sent me some clothing to review, and a gift card (which I'm giving away.) All opinions are my own.


Pregnancy Update: Week 24 {And a Really Bad Case of Fat Face}


How Far Along: 23 weeks, six days, but let's just round up and say 24 okay?


Total Weight Gain: Dunno. Probably a lot. I feel like an elephant. Already. And a budding case of fat face is doing nothing to help matters.


Maternity Clothes: Not really? Question mark? Despite being super gigantic, I'm living by the rule that leggings are indeed pants, and avoiding the whole maternity clothing question because I'm already huge and where do you buy nice maternity clothing in Jakarta and just gha. When more formality is required, I'm doing lots of dresses and skirts of the maxi variety. Annnnndd, I still have two pairs of "fat pants" that can still close. Sort of.  


Stretch Marks: So far, so good. I didn't get any last time around, so I'm crossing my fingers and toes and also slathering myself in all sorts of potions, and draining the tropics of all the coconut oil.


Sleep: Fantastic, as long as I don't sleep with Stella. Otherwise, I get up a million times per night to pee and / or fret about how Stella's going to wake up any minute now. The problem, though, is that Stella cuddles in her sleep, something she won't do in wakefulness. And also, she's totally the best, and I miss her when I'm unconscious. However, I can not be a human unless I get a proper nights sleep, so big life questions and stuff. 


What I'm Missing: Not being gigantic. Cross fit. Pushing myself at the gym. Though at basically six months pregnant I decided that, eff it, I'm going to start running again. And that's working out pretty well for all involved (except for every Indonesian person in the gym who is all like OMG call the pregnancy police!!!) 


Movement: Lots! I love it! Little Baby Boy is so much more active than Stella was, and I've felt him much, much, much, earlier. 


Food Cravings: None. Really. Though, over the weekend, I DID lose a stand-off with a loaf of banana bread (see also: being gigantic.) 


Feeling: Pretty good. Better than last pregnancy, I think. Unless I'm exhausted from Stella Sleepovers, and then terrible.


Looking Forward To: Nesting projects! On deck: Organising Stella's room, re-painting the crib, gathering together a little boy wardrobe. 





And now, for a few random observations about pregnancy.


When I was pregnant with Stella I was pretty diligent about eating well. I took my prenantals and my omegas and I'd fight food aversions, gagging and choking my way through a plate full of greens. I was pretty careful to get my five servings of veggies a day, and was succeeded probably about 80 percent of the time.


This time around, I'm all, I think I ate some vegetable matter today, and uhhh, so cereal for dinner, right?Meanwhile, I make sure Stella still gets her fill of veggies, because I believe in good nutrition. 


I'm pretty sure that this is the first manifestation of second child syndrome. Sorry, Little Boy.




So, one thing about Jakarta is that they're super suuuuuuuuuper into security measures. Every time we come back to our building, our car is checked by a minimum of three security guards and a sniffer dog. To enter the building, we have to walk through a metal detector. BUT, show up with a baby bump? And they'll wave you right through, no check needed. Which is hilarious, because I'm pretty sure that if the metal detectors really had any impact at all on the pregnancy it would be most pronounced in the first three months? No? Anyway. Science has the answers, I guess. 


It kind of reminds me of in China when women would show up to work six weeks preg with a "radiation smock" which was nothing more than a super ugly apron à la kindergarten paint center that apparently protected the fetus from computer radiation. Or whatever. Because it's not like existing in the world and the sun emitting rays exposes us to radiation, ohhhhhhhh no. Nope. 




You know how in North America there's kind of an unwritten rule that you don't ask a woman about her pregnancy unless she's, like, in labour in front of you? 


The same rule does not apply here.


People have been asking me what's up with my reproductive organs well before the three month mark, and there's only so much I can to evade the comments. And then, last week, I got mauled. Literally mauled. For a belly cuddle by a woman with whom I have a passing acquaintance. And this is what I have to say about that: NOPE. THATZ NOT OKAY.




I think we've settled on a name! A NAME! Although Stella has yet to buy into our choice. She's lobbying pretty hard for Baby Kira or Michelle (the female version). Because in her world, baby will become a girl when he comes out. So.




Speaking of Stella, she's looking forward to her brother! She tells me how she's going to teach him how to play. And when he's sad, she's going to cuddle him. And I'm not allowed to nurse him, because she wants to feed him a bottle, and besides, he will eat real food anyway, and he's not allowed to have amm-amm (breastmilk). So, basically she's the cutest.


Speaking of my awesome kid, she wanted to show you her baby bump:



She'd also like to implore you to vote for us on Top Baby Blogs. Please and thanks!


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For more preg posts, check these out:

20 Week Ultrasound in Singapore

Gender Reveal

20ish-week Update

The First Trimester


And one more thing....

My name twin, and fellow expat preg, Erica, is hosting a pregnancy link up. 



To the Sea




"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week."

Stella: Afraid to get in the pool, and reluctant to pose for my camera.


Stella and I received one of the most coveted tickets in expatdom this weekend: an invite to a Saturday afternoon barbecue with a house full of great people, a pool full of swimming kids, and lots and lots of grilled food with which to fill our bellies.

A barbecue with some friends is the simplest of pleasures, right? Something that you wouldn't think twice about in Suburban North America. But here, oceans away from the familiar, it's a rare treat, a connection to home and a reminder of community. 

We ate, and talked, chased kids, and laughed, until the skies opened up to a topical downpour and we all piled into taxis, and headed home, hearts full. 


How 'bout some colourful babies from last week? Strips and sandals in the grass; interplay of contrasting colours and geometric patterns, oh, and sparkles; and a knit baby hat that almost makes me want to feel that autumn chill. And here's a little Fox for good measure because week after week, his mum kills it with her camera.