Shaking Hands in Indonesia {Friday Faves}

Sometimes, on occasions delightful and uncommon, I sneak away for a few hours and sit in a cafe with my book or my computer. 

Regardless of whether I’m producing words or consuming them, I spend a lot of time looking up, stealing glimpses of life going on around me. I watching people working, catching up, chatting, meditating with a coffee, and discussing million dollar business on a Tuesday morning. I love watching the comings and goings of the advantaged of this vast and diverse city.

One of my favourite things to observe is the way people in Java greet each other. Two people meet, they catch eyes, smile softly, and offer each other a hand to shake. Each then touches his right hand to his chest, welcoming the other’s greeting into his heart.

This greeting, it’s like an acknowledge of the unmistakable beauty in each of us, and it makes my heart swell each time I witness it. It's one of many beautiful gestures of kindness I've witnessed since moving here.

 

So, now tell me something you love about where you live.

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.

 

PREORDER ARROWS HEATHER
1.445.455 IDR - blockshoptextiles.com

 

 

 

Earrings
anotherfeather.bigcartel.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.)


Looking Ahead

Santa really knocked it out of the park this year. Much to my surprise, a shiny new full-frame camera was waiting for me under the tree.

I don't think Santa could have come up with a more meaningful gift if he had tried. I was getting frustrated by the limitations presented by my old camera (well, technically it's Mr. Chef's camera, but surrendering your possessions to your partner is true love, right?) My much-loved 50 mm lens was way too tight on my crop sensor camera. And I was really having trouble getting sharp images unless I was outdoors. Not to mention that I couldn't really shoot anything over ISO 400. 

 

But more then eliminating some pain points, this camera is like a ticket to spend time on a passion of mine. I really love keeping a visual record of or every day lives, and this camera is going to open up so many new possibilities. 

Already I'm feeling five hundred times more inspired. It's like the thrill of going from a point and shoot to a real DSLR, only like, way more exciting.

I haven't really had a whole lot of time to sit down and really learn my new toy, but so far, I like what I see (namely sharpness, light, and a wide open field of view. Oh, and I'm kind of digging that vignetting.)

Here are a few random snaps I took while trying to learn the settings. There's nothing really spectacular here, but look! Light! Clarity! Sharpness! 

I pretty sure that there's a photo a day project waiting for me in 2014. 

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Wishlist

The season of buying all of the the things is upon us! Hooray! While it's probably too late to order any of these little numbers to Indonesia, it's probably not too late to play imaginary shopping! (PS, my hobby.) So, here's what I'll buy myself for Christmas in my imagination. 


Because, adorable

Because stacking rings are trendy and gawd knows if there's a bandwagon, I'm on it.

Because I feel like grownups wear earings, and these ones are probably not that grabbable by baby hands. 

Because isn't this the greatest take on the pearl necklace

 

Because I've had this scarf in my mind for about ever and a half. 


Because it's Christmas, and you're feeling generous, right?

Because, real life.

Because it's breastfeeding friendly

Because playgroup will be 73 percent more awesome if I can bring muffins in a cute tin.

 


Because this seems like something a grownup would own. 

Because I really, really want you to know just how rad I am. 

 

Because, duh.

 


Because I feel like the great wheel of life owes me some ornamental bugs.

 


Because I'm dreaming.

Because I don't need to explain myself

him and her

 

him AND her

 


 

I never thought I would be a matchy-matchy mother. I don't really go for cutesy, generally. And then I moved to Asia, where they're all about the partner look, you know matching his and hers tees announcing carefree happy coupledom etc.

Now? I'm like, yup. Matchy-matchy. Totally legit.

Of course I'm dreaming up matchy-matchy outfits for Stella and her baby brother-to-be. I'm trying to restrain myself here. But, believe me it's hard. I mean. Gah! 

 

Anyone out there have some extra cash lying around? Because I'm gonna need some. Oy. Shopping. Walmart shipping coupon - holiday savings is totally not cutting it. 

 

 

(So, um, do you like this kind of post? Because I totally loved making it! More? Yes?)

(And now while I've got you here, can you give us a vote on Top Baby Blogs? I need a bit of a boost!)

 

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Nesting is a Cultural Experience {Baby Boy's Nursery Inspiration}

*alternate title: a rationalization as to why I'm seriously considering investing in a set of three 64 dollar wooden ducks*

I never really put together a nursery for Stella. Overwhelmed as I was by impending parenthood in a foreign country, and stretched by the costs of an over-seas move, a beautifully curated little room for our wee girl just never happened. Not that she minded. I mean, she was quite happy to sleep in our bed. And besides, she never much cared for minimalist design, anyway.

Still, creating a space in which to welcome a newborn is like a cultural experience, you know. I'd go so far as to say it's like a rite of passage. A symbolic, ceremonious act of loving preparation. When you're so far from home (and have a raging case of pregnancy crazy-sauce) these acts take on much greater significance.

And I feel like the first time around, I missed out on a major cultural expression vis-à-vis nursery design. 

Now that I have a chance for a do-over, I'm doing over!

Baby Boy will sleep in our room for the foreseeable future (where "our room" means baby boy's and mine because for reasons having to do with everyone's sanity, Mr. Chef is seeking refuge in quieter waters aka Stella's room). We're limited somewhat by space, and the the pre-existing fixtures that come built in to our apartment. There's a lot of dark wood going on. And I don't think I can change the curtains. We won't have a changing table or a rocking chair. I think Baby Boy's chest of dawers will have to live in his big sister's room. But we'll make do. I'm going to embrace that dark wood and ochre drapery and feather a little corner nest for Baby Boy to call his own. 

He'll use Stella's old crib (which is similar to the one pictured below. I have tragicomic story about that crib. You should ask me about it sometime.) I was thinking about painting it white, but on the suggestion of Mr. Chef, we'll probably keep it as is. It matches all the dark wood we have going on, so, maybe it'll work?

 

Nursery

 


 

Stella Speaks

 

Isn't little-kid-speak, like, totally the greatest? I mean, hearing my girl tell me all her stories in her perfect toddler accent is my fav-wet. 

There are a few little gemstones that I intentionally leave uncorrected, because...they kill me dead. Every time. 

 

Wook at me, Mama! Wook! 


Driving by the water fountain in the roundabout:

Why is da mountain tuned off?

 

I have a ba-squito bite!

 

I will eat bas-ghetti for dinner! Fwrom woom-ferwvice! (Trans: From room service)


Me: Stella, can I sit in your lap?

Stella: You cannoooooot! Because I'm a children!


While switching roles in a game of restaurant-restaurant:

Okay, now I'm a people. "Excuse me, Nadam, what you want to dwink?"


It can not work! It's bloken! 

 

Can I go bare-a-foot?

 

As I'm headed out the door:

Are you going to a neeting? 

 

The baby will come out in da hos-ta-ble?


Me: Stella, how many sausages do you want?

Stella: One! One and two! One and two and five!

 

Pulling a German book out of the shelf:

Mama, can you speak dis one? 

 

Mama! You da iPad man! Papi is da sleeping man! (Trans: Mama, you put me to bed. Papi will sleep with me.)

 

I really enjoy these toddler expressions, and take pleasure in extending their shelf-life as long as possible. (Goodness knows I do the exact same thing to my poor, non-native English sepaking husband!)

 

Oh, and for my all-time favourite, most totally hilarious kid-speak, check out this ginger duo. Like, seriously. Prepare for some legit LOLs. 

What adorable things are your kids saying?

 

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Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay {Travel Files}

I think we find the perfect little Jakarta mini-break destination. This little organic farm and homestay serves up some of the freshest, most delicious, innovative food you'll find in all of Indonesia. (Can I just say that pesto made with basil, parsley and coconut cream was a life changing bite of goodness?)

Lodges Ekologica at Portibi Farms: Tops in the Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay situation. 

Stella and I headed out of the city with a group of friends and a gaggle of kiddos. 

We slept in beautiful cabins, paragons of Indo-hipster design esthetic. There were three-year-olds dancing to records, little boys eagerly feeding logs into a fire that roasted our sate, a nocturnal visit from a civet, vegetable harvests, and constant sequels of children running in the grass, barefoot and gleefully dirty. If you know anything about Jakarta, you know that this is basically the perfect antidote to our lovely, crazy city.

Stella was basically as happy as happy can be, reveling in the freedom offered by life in the "crunchry side". With vast tracts of grass, fresh air, and a partner in crime, my big little girl suddenly became this independent, self-reliant human person. 

For more prefect and artful images of this epic weekend, see my talented friend's website. PS, she books family shoots. So if you're local, get in touch.



 

 



Oh, and yes, my child DID wear the same dress for three days straight. I had to peel the thing off of her once we got back into the city. But I guess that's a sign of love? Dress c/o Matilda Jane.

 

If you Go:

 

  • Honestly, I couldn't think of a better mini-gateway from Jakarta than Portibi Farms This Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay offers good food, great hospitality, and lovely, lovely, fresh air.

 

  • All meals are included in the room rate. Which is good news, because there's not much around except trees, and nature. But I couldn't imagine wanting to eat anywhere else, frankly.

 

  • Like most places in Indonesia, it can get surprisingly noisy at night. Particularly if you're here on a Friday evening, the mosques in the village below are quite persistent in their reminders to pray. Bring ear plugs.

 

  • Expect a back to nature experience. There will be bugs. And okay, the occasional civet cat. But no bigs. Just bring some mosquito spray. 

 

  • While kid-friendly, (there's a little play structure / climbing frame for kids to run themselves ragged on, and the owners are more than gracious and accommodating of little ones) small people with terrible risk assessment skills (read: the under three set) will need to be closely supervised. There are balconies without railings, and the occasional steep drop-off.

  

 

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Mondays, Redux.

Image c/o Viveash Photography. If you're looking for family photography in Jakarta, look no further. 

So Mondays. I told you they can be good. I mean, can there be anything better than sleeping till eight, lazing about with my people, and eating risotto for dinner? Actually, yes. Maybe. Doing all of this in post-holiday love haze. 

Even better than that still? Having little gems like this image waiting in my inbox post-bedtime. Stella and I went away for the weekend with Jakarta's most totally rad photographer, and look! She took pictures of our holiday! Which!? Amazing. Can't believe my luck. 

So. Mondays. You're doing right by me.

Now, as promised, the winner of the Matilda Jane giveaway is....AMANDA! I'll be in touch.

Wishing you equally splendid starts to your week! 

Oh, hey? Could you send me some blog love by voting here? Thanks!

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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.

Swimming Lessons Jakarta Style.

Stella has just started taking swimming lessons, and you guys, this is totally major! We're on week two, and I don't know who's more excited about our swim Fridays, she or me. The grin on this kid as she swims "by mine selwf" is just too much. And my Mama heart: swollen and prideful beyond all recognition. Let's just say we're both pretty stoked. 

With an amazing pool right on our doorstep and an appreciation our year-round swimmable climate born from 24 years of Canadian winters, I feel like it's, like, kind of a crime not be at the pool every day of life. You know? Plus, with a new baby coming in a few short months, well now's the time to learn to stay afloat in water so independent pool play is possible. Thus, swimming lessons. 

And now, this sounds terribly posh and privileged, and okay, it kind of is, but whatever. We're working with a private teacher who comes to our building to teach our three year old and her friend how to blow bubbles in the water. But, in the Jakarta context, believe me, it's totally the way to go. I mean, when you have Indo traffic to contend with, who wants to go to the municipal pool (oh, wait, there IS NO municipal pool, duh.) So swimming lessons in Jakarta happen at home. It's just the way things are done. 

On this particular Friday, we swam not once but TWICE! Swimming lessons were followed immediately by a swimming playdate. Because it's Friday, and why not? There was a little splashing, a little swimming, some time spent getting acquainted with a flutter board, a nasi goreng break, and then off to the next pool where the kids splashed, the mums chatted and there may or may not have been mango iced tea spiked with vodka. Fridays, I'm telling you. They're not too shabby. 

 

 

Singapore Zoo {Travel Files}

Oh Singapore. You're kind of the best. Your clean streets and law abiding citizens. Your, green spaces, clean air, orderly and timely trains, lack of democracy, forbidden chewing gum and lashings with canes, oh wait, what?? 

 

Never mind.

 

I probably love Singapore so much because it's just the right antidote to the crazy of Jakarta city life. And we all know that I do adore some crazy chaotic city life, but it is nice to get a break once in a while. And besides, I'm sure all the orderliness and the state-sponsored beatings would get to me if I actually lived in Singapore.

 

But still. 

 

Singapore. You're a peach. {Also, anyone else notice that this is totally a weird way to start a blog post?}

 

When we were in Singapore a few weeks ago we hit up the Singapore Zoo. 

 

And while we're normally big fans of democracy, in this instance the Chef and I sidelined our own democratic principles and force marched Stella to the zoo. You see, he and I really wanted to go. I mean. Orangutans! And polar bears! And green space! And walking! Stella, on the other hand, well, she was not into the idea. Not at all. Singapore Zoo? That'll be a big fat NOPE.

 

{From what I gather this all stems back to her deep and abiding fear of elephants. When we were new to Jakarta and Stella was new to speaking English, we checked out Taman Safari. There were elephants. She would not go near them. Mayhem. And when we returned home, she reported to Mr. Chef: "Elephants. Poo-poo. Elephants NO!"} 

 

Anyway, we employed one of our favourite covert parenting techniques, and showed Stella YouTube videos of the Singapore Zoo splash pad and were all like, SEEE! The zoo is AWESOME! There are no elephants! Only water slides!!!

 

{She quickly bought into our plan. We also may or may not have sweetened the deal with the promise of ice cream.}

 

And good thing too. The Singapore zoo is fantastic. Really. It's a must visit. The exhibits are all lovely, recreating as much as possible a natural habitat using environmental barriers instead of fences and bars. There are orangutans who roam free range around the park. You can ride a mini-tram which, when you're three, is pretty outstanding. And the water park? Well. Bonkers. 

 

Singapore Zoo Tips:

 

There's lots of good food options, but less in the way of healthy snacks. So bring some? 

 

I vote for visiting on an overcast day. It's so much less hot!

 

Bring a bathing suit and towel for the littles. And for you too, unless you're allergic to fun. The splash pad is not to be missed. Under any circumstances. 

 

A taxi from downtown will run you about 25 Singapore dollars. But be warned, if it starts bucketing down with rain, you'll have no chance of getting a taxi back to the city. It seems as though people were calling a reservation hotline to order taxis. And if you have a phone that works, I'd suggest this as the way to go.

We opted instead to take a bus to the nearest MRT station. It took us a good hour to get back this way, but was preferable to waiting for all eternity to get a cab. And Stella will take ANY excuse to travel by bus and / or train. So. 

 

Hash House Harriers Kids Run in Jakarta

I love big city living. I do. I love hustle and bustle, concrete, and that invigorating chaos that comes with millions of people jammed together, all trying to be humans right on top of each other. I'll even take the air pollution that comes with bajajs and busses of varying degrees of roadworthiness, because that's what makes a city, you know? 

 

But once in a while I need to hear a bird sing. I need a dose of fresh air and a little green space. 

 

So, when a friend tipped us off to the Hash House Harriers and their monthly kids' runs. And we were in. Oh were we in. 

 

Mr. Chef was stuck at work all weekend, so a trip out to the country was the perfect distraction. We rented a car, rounded up some friends, and headed out to the jungle (where jungle means moderately developed housing estate with some cassava fields, and a few mountain bike trails, but you know? there were trees, and streams, and dirt and birds, and I'll just take what I can get, thankyouverymuch.)

 

From what I can gather about the Hash House Harriers in Jakarta, they're a group of people who like running and and like beer. A lot? 

 

And the Hash House Harriers kids' runs follow a similar theme: you set the kids loose in the jungle, run them around for a while, and then meet back at the starting point to shotgun sodas. Oh, and in case you were concerned, there IS INDEED beer for the parents. 

 

The run was pretty short. And was entirely more a walk than a run. Or in Stella's case a cary? Question mark? "Carwy me, mama!" And I figured that was fine because I do have a bit of an exercise deficit, so, why not? So I carried my 14 KG kid all along the trail, stopping to practice leaping off mountain bike jumps and gather "tickle sticks" which grown up people call "grass". 

 

(A propos of nothing, it should be noted that Stella is providing an excellent example interpreting this autumn's major trend of pattern mixing for the tropical jungle context. And while moccasins do not make the most practical jungle walking footwear, they do look totally rad, and they went on her feet without a fight, so who am I to argue?)

We ended the run hot and sweaty, but totally happy with red cheeks and fresh air in our lungs. Nature is, like, totally the best and stuff.

 

If you're local and want to join the Jakarta Junior Hash House Harriers, they run the last Sunday of the month. The run is held at different sites around Jakarta, usually not much more than an hour outside the city. You can contact Greg Fletcher at gtfletch@cbn.net.id. He'll get you on the list.  

Chaos in an Industrial Kitchen

Yesterday may or may not have been the best day of wee Stella's entire life. 

All the little kids from her school came to her Papi's kitchen. They got to take a tour. Check out the big machines. See where the 900 litres of ice cream is produced. Checked out the gigantic ovens. Wave at chefs. 

 

And then they decorated cookies. With icing. And sprinkles. 

 

It was epic. 

 

And may I ask you, is there anything more adorable than a bunch of three-year-olds dressed in aprons and hairnets? (No. The answer is no.) 

{Though I do wonder if Mr. Chef made us wear hair nets for for reasons of hilarity and adorableness or for reasons of hygiene and food safety?}

 

 

After getting hopped up on sugar, Stella and a few buddies had lunch together (pasta all around, in case you're wondering.) And then, because this is Indonesia, they ran circles around the front of the restaurant, not at all heeding their parents' half-hearted pleas of "Inside voice, guys!" And no one cared because this is Indonesia and unruly children are, like, totally cool, so ladies, let's just eat our salads while our children run around like tiny demons and we'll just talk about about nap schedules in peace, okay? 

 

And then, because my child wasn't sufficiently exhausted, we went on an all-swimming-all-dancing playdate, ate broccoli soup, and then traversed the city in the back of a taxi cab.

 

Some days Jakarta just knocks it out of the park. 

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A Back to School Giveaway!

How's back to school going for you?

For us, it's all a bit medium. We're taking some time to adjust. While I'm enjoying getting back to a predictable routine, I'm finding I miss my girl being around me all the time. And Stella, well, she's happy to be back with her friends, but she's having a hard time adjusting to all the changes: she's at a new big-kid campus; there are new teachers; and lots of new, bigger kids; some of her old friends have moved or changed schools. It's hard coping with all of this when you're only three!

I'm excited to be partnering with Yummi Pouches (remember them?? We're fans!) to bring you a Back to School Giveaway. Check it out! 

 

Enter to win this collection of awesome gear for your little ones going back to school!

 

Prize Package Includes:

  • Yummi Pouch Brights - 2 sets of reusable food pouches ($30 value)
  • milkdot - Striped lunch tote ($27 value)
  • Applepark - Preschool backpack ($39 value)
  • EasyLunchboxes - One lunch container set, one set of Mini-Dippers,
    and one cooler bag ($30 value)
  • Early Lingo - 6-DVD box set, and the winner can choose the language ($100 value)
  • SNOOKNUK - Once Upon a Day, A Little Less Tears album ($14.95 value)
  • Pura Stainless - Stainless Steel Kiki Sippy Cup ($15.99 value)
  • Name Bubbles - School Labels Pack ($34 value)
  • Sock It to Me - 4 style sock set: Kids Dinomite & Green Monkeys, Youth PB&J Sock, Youth Super Juicy Sock, Juniors Red Ninja Power Sock ($41 value)

Total Value = $330+

 

Yummi Pouch - Reusable Food Pouches

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yummi pouch reusable food pouches

Yummi Pouch Brights - 2 sets - Retail Price: $30

Yummi Pouch Brights (Set of 4) combine style and convenience in an eco-friendly container you can fill with homemade smoothies and blended snacks! Easy to fill and clean through the top zipper opening and enjoyed by drinking from the side spout, Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches are great for kids taking healthy snacks on the go. Includes set of 4 assorted patterns. For more information visit yummipouch.com.

  • Set of 4 Yummi Pouch Brights reusable food pouches
  • Dishwasher and freezer safe
  • BPA and phthalate free
  • Great for on the go snacks!
  • Hold up to 6 ounces each

milkdot

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milkdot back to school giveaway

One Stoh stripe lunch tote, winner can choose the color - Retail Price: $27
Winner can choose from green apple, blueberry, or raspberry.

milkdot believes that good design can be appreciated by anyone, big or small where each product is created with love for design, color, simplicity of clean lines, versatility and love for the world we live in. Contemporary products with an all-ages appeal. Products that are not only safe for kids, but also fit a kid's need to be cool and unique with the functionality and style that parents love. For more information visit milkdot.com.

Applepark

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applepark back to school giveaway

Preschool backpack - Retail Price: $39
Winner can choose the style from online store.

Apple Park makes eco-friendly products for babies and kids using only the finest organic, sustainable and recycled materials!

  • These adorable backpacks are made from 100% recycled fabrics
  • Fabric: 100% recycled material from PET bottles *Bottles saved from landfills = 24!
  • Made of 100% recycled fabrics from plastic bottles, your kids will make a style statement while you feel good knowing that you're helping out the planet.
  • Size: 10.75" x 12" x 5.5"

For more information visit applepark.com.

EasyLunchboxes

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easy lunchboxes back to school giveaway

One lunch container set (winner chooses from BRIGHTS or CLASSIC), one set of Mini-Dippers, and one cooler bag (winner chooses from 7 colors). - Retail Price: $29.85

The best selling lunchboxes on Amazon! For all ages. BPA-Free, easy-open lids. Make homemade "Lunchables" kids will love! Foods don't "touch", and just one lid covers all. No more time wasted looking for the right size container & lid or baggie for every item you pack. And EasyLunchboxes make portion control easy - just the right amount of food, without having to weigh or measure your meals. The cooler holds everything needed for a great meal - container(s), water bottle, ice block, extra snacks, even a thermos. No more wasteful baggies, mismatched containers, or struggles to fit your meal in one bag. The lunch containers are long lasting, reusable, and of much heavier quality than similar 'take and toss' products. (Not leakproof). The sleek and functional, zip-shut insulated cooler will hold even a whole day's worth of food and keep it fresh. Roomy enough for up to three of the lunch containers. Small dip and sauce containers are leak-resistant. For more information visit easylunchboxes.com.

Early Lingo

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early lingo back to school giveaway

6-DVD box set - Retail Price: $99.99
Winner can choose the language from online store.

Early Lingo is an entertaining and educational DVD series for ages 6 months to 9 years that allows children to become familiar with foreign languages through immersive and repetitive learning techniques. Currently there are 6 languages available: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and German. The 6-DVD box set includes parts 1-6: Colors and Shapes at the Park, Numbers and Counting at the Farm, Opposites at the Beach, Alphabet at School, At the Market and In the City. With approximately 210 minutes total running time and over 450 words and phrases, each set will give a child a solid foundation in the language of their choice. For more information visit earlylingo.com.

SNOOKNUK

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snooknuk back to school giveaway

"Once Upon a Day, A Little Less Tears" album - Retail Price: $14.95
An array of songs covering topics from the time your child wakes up until sleepy time. Use as your companion while teaching your child to brush their teeth, wash their hands, potty training, eat vegetables & more. Melodies are catchy, easy to remember and the music is Enchanting. Makes for a great day!!

SNOOKNUK is a brand that is dedicated to creating original and innovative content to make childhood a magical adventure. We are focused on childrenís early development, specifically on teaching important life lessons and basic hygiene, producing products such as Music, Videos, Shows, Toys, Books & more! For more information visit snooknuk.com.

Our Goal is to:
  • Provide parents with a fun way to teach and engage their child.
  • Help make kids less resistant.
  • Motivate children to have a healthy outlook on life.
  • Create amazing memories for kids and families.

Pura Stainless

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pura back to school giveaway

Stainless Steel Kiki Sippy Cup - Retail Price: $15.99
Winner can choose the color from online store.

Pura crafts the safest infant and toddler sippy cups on the planet from stainless steel with silicone components and NO PLASTIC. Our completely modular and interchangeable system grows with your child from infancy through grade school. Silicone bottle components include infant nipples, sippy cup spouts, and sealing disks. The sealing disks convert the bottles to both snack cups and water bottles.

In 2012 Pura was recognized with 11 product & business awards and is now available in more than 30 countries. Most importantly, we remain a family-owned business focused on innovation and unparalleled quality.

Pura Stainless' award winning bottles can be found in most Whole Food markets, fine children's boutiques, or on-line at Amazon.com and PuraStainless.com. For more information or to order visit PuraStainless.com.

 

Name Bubbles

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name bubbles back to school giveaway

Name Bubbles School Labels Pack - Retail Price: $33.88
The Name Bubbles School Labels Pack is a collection of our customer-favorite name labels, designed to keep all of your child's school supplies and gear coming home. These award-winning personalized labels are waterproof and durable enough to stick strong to backpacks, lunch boxes, school supplies, water bottles, sports equipment, uniforms, and clothing for the entire school year. With dozens of styles, icons, and colors to choose from, personalizing a pack to fit your child's unique style is a breeze.

Name Bubbles personalized labels will help keep the entire family organized for daycare, preschool, school, and at home. A recipient of the Parent Tested, Parent Approved Seal of Approval, our award-winning name labels are made from top-of-the-line materials that are guaranteed to last. They're waterproof, fade resistant, and contain an ultra-strong adhesive that means they'll stick where you need them while staying bright and vibrant. Perfect for anything from bottles, blankets, and clothing headed to daycare, to jacket and supplies headed to school, these labels will stay strong and keep everything coming home. Available in individual labels or our customer-favorite Value Packs, personalization and organization has never been easier. For more information visit namebubbles.com.

Sock It to Me

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sock it to me back to school giveaway

4 style sock set: Kids Dinomite & Green Monkeys, Youth PB&J Sock, Youth Super Juicy Sock, Juniors Red Ninja Power Sock - Retail Price: $41
Winner can choose sock size, which may affect style from online store.

Sock It to Me is a business that sells fun, funky socks. We are talking about knee high socks with ninjas, unicorns, and monkeys; men's socks with mustaches, monsters, and beer. With over 200 different sock designs, there is something for every personality, from punk rock to peacock and everything in between. Sock It To Me is a Portland-based brand selling socks worldwide. For more information visit sockittome.com.

 

Enter to Win this Fabulous Set of Prizes!

One Winner will be selected September 19th. Have fun and good luck!

 

back to school giveaway prizes

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Further Proof that Disney Really Is Magic

So, yesterday Mr. Chef got to meet actual real-life totally legit Mickey Mouse.

 

No big deal. Just another day in the life of a chef. 

 

(TOTAL BIG DEAL!!!)

 

Apparently The Mouse was in town for some super high-profile mouse-like business. And The Mouse happened to run into Mr. Chef, so  A + B = Mr. Chef is now, like, totally besties with Mickey Mouse. 

 

And because Disney magic etc, Mickey Mouse offered make time to meet Stella personally. Which was totally amazing, but also extremely unwise given that our child is terrified of most everything that is not solidly human. (Remember that time that she was screaming in utter horror at the sight of a pigeon? And the time that she was terrified of my 13 pound dog, a dog which she's seen approximately 20 times in her life? And then there was a time wherein she saw a shoddy Mouse impostor at a birthday party and had then refused to be put down for the duration of the event.)

 

Still, because there's nothing that Disney can't turn to magic, Mickey kindly gave four (four!!!) stuffed animals to Mr. Chef to deliver to Stella.

 

Mr. Chef snuck them into the apartment while we were out playing and then sent me a picture.

 

I showed Stella the picture on my phone. She reacted predictably. (Read: with utter terror.) "No, I no wike! I no want! Mickey not come to mine house!!!"

  

When we finally got home, and saw the toys waiting for her in the living room, she refused to cross the threshold of our apartment until I touched each one prove that they weren't alive. Then they had to spend a quarantine period in the closet. After maybe half an hour of clinging to me and refusing to go near the toys, she got up the nerve to give one a poke.

 

And then? She was in love.

 

So, obviously she spent the next half-hour watching Mickey Mouse Club House together with "the guys."  

 

 

 

 

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Things and Stuff.

 

 

Oh Friday, it's you again. So glad you're here.

 

This week has been all about settling back into our regular life. School is starting. Work (should be!!!) starting. And it's hard to transition back to normal. Especially when you're, like, three. 

 

The result has been some sleep regressions (heyyyy, 4 am. You're still as horrific as ever), some trips down tantrum lane (omg, sometimes its easier to tantrum for 48 minutes than to put away the play dough???), and power struggles about putting on shoes and carrying back packs. You know. Hard life things. 

 

 

Still, we've had some sunny, laughter soaked moments at the pool, some pretty great meals, and some languid snuggle time. 

 

Here's what's been floating my interwebular boat this week.

 

I'm learning that Stella really requires more structure and routine in her life. Routine and sameness is so counter intuitive to me, so I'm looking for hints and tips to help me out. This post by one of the most wise parenting bloggers out there really helped me. 

 

And I drew inspiration from this post to create a little chart to map out our morning routine. It's helping (when I remember to follow it.)

 

So, homesickness, culture shock, and general crankiness. It's a hazard of expat life. My friend Greta calls them her China Days. I've been having a few of my own lately. But thankfully, I think they're mostly behind me.

Many bloggers I follow harbour a common dream: leaving it all behind and becoming homesteaders. I have a similar (but different!) dream of leaving it all behind and hitting the road. This blog, which I can't recommend highly enough, is about a woman and her son who did just that.  

My name-twin and fellow expat mama is also expecting! Yay for babies born in far-flung places! (And also: being pregnant in Tanzania. Wow.)

To all of you who sent me links to food blogs, thank you a million times. I really loved this blog (oh southern French rustic perfection.)

I'm totally digging Tragic Sandwich's Mom Friendly Meals series. 

I also was inspired to make a Burst Tomato galette from an old favourite blog which I was prompted to re-visit at your suggestion. It was delicious. I made a bit extra tart filling to toss with pasta for Stella and felt like a champion.

I things that I can stick in the oven, forget about, and come back to after a long toddler play sesh. This recipe is perfect and discovered that the leftover chicken makes excellent tacos. 

Love this onsie.

Ashley is following her photographic dream. I kind of love the result. 

Here's an adorable baby shower gift idea!

 

Alright, weekend. Give me your best. I'm hoping to avoid malls, get some sun, and maybe, just maybe sneak in a coffee date with The Chef.

Adorable Knitted Baby Hats and Other Things Critical and Urgent

So, I'm finding it rather hard to be productive these days. Really, with morning sickness and jet lag behind me and Stella back in school, I should be buckling down, moving projects along, and ticking things off my lists.

But, the moment I sit down at my computer I'm distracted by visions of tiny little knitted baby hats and daydreams of the softest of soft leather baby shoes.  

Unfortunately, you see, very little of substance can actually be accomplished when I'm preoccupied with the all important task of sourcing the absolute Perfect Newborn Baby Going Home From The Hospital Ensemble. And since I don't yet have official word on the gender of this foetus-child, narrowing down outfit choices is difficult! Plus I need to make sure I allow for adequate shipping to Indonesia time. Woe! 

So, anyway, I decided that maybe, I could put to use of my trolling-around-the-internet-for-the-perfect-gender-neutral-infant-outfit-time and create a mood board of sorts. You know, shopping inspiration. Because I obviously need some of that.

 

 

 

 

 If you're interested, you can follow my adventures in infant sartorial daydreaming on Pinterest

This post was written in collaboration with Babski Baby, whose baby hats are adorable, btw. Eternal thanks for providing a legitimate reason to spend several hours looking at newborn clothing.As always, all opinions and thoughts expressed herein are my own entirely. 

A tale of feathers, glitter, and street meat: August Long Weekend in Toronto.

Alright Toronto. You're sort of the best. (And if you know anything about Canadians, you'd know an admission such as this from a former Ottawan? Ottawa-onian? Ottawa-nite? that's kind of totally a major). Torontonians are friendly (contrary to what the rest of the country believes) more people held doors for me and made allowances for my sub-par stroller pushing skills here than anywhere else. Plus, shops, restaurants, parks, subway trains, museums, street dogs, streetcars, and general big city magnificence.

After a solid week of gogogogo in Ottawa, Stella and I choo-chooed our way back to the big city. We holed up in some swanky digs for a few days, pretending like we belonged there, before being reunited with Mr. Chef after his long trip across the ocean.

It was a glorious (if somewhat tantrum-filled) three days.

And now, get your boots on. It's time for a pictorial representation of Toronto, round two:

+++We happened to land in Toronto just in time for Caribana, which is the most joyfully exuberant celebration of Caribbean culture (plus glitter, feathers, and sparkles.) We headed down to Lakeshore Drive to watch the parade and catch up with an old friend, who noted that this event is basically a conglomeration of people of all shapes, sizes, and genders dressed in bikinis. No body shame. None. Totally refreshing. 

It should also be noted that on the morning of the parade, three gentlemen dressed in nothing more than hot pants, feathers, and body glitter were spotted in the lobby of our totally posh/stuffy hotel (Yorkville, in case you're wondering.) I knew from that moment that it would be an amazing day.


+++A certain three year old slept through the whole show. This, in spite of the fact that we were literally five meters from these gigantic speakers. What followed, however, was behavioural proof that daytime naps and the subsequent late bedtimes do not agree with our little. (OMG. Tantrums. Nervous breakdown etc.)


+++Baby's first streetmeat. (Also, first ever experience of hotdogs and the golden triumvirate of ketchup + mustard + relish.)


 

 

+++While eating our dogs, we happened upon this fantastic group of students funding their education via quarters from passing pedestrians. They played all the hits (most notably Gangnam Style, points from the Aisan team) on the trombone and sax-a-ma-phone. Totally Stella's jam.


 +++we hit up a park together with Mr. Chef where Stella demonstrated her new found skill of taking off her pants. Not long after, she took off the rest of her clothing and bolted clear to the other side of the park. I'd like to point out that this new skill was acquired thanks to her three year old second cousin, to whose mother I am no longer speaking. <-- that part is a joke. We're still on speaking terms. Though she could make the whole thing up to me by offering up her recipe for healthy peanut butter cups.

+++Two nights in a row we enjoyed overpriced Yorkville ice cream. This is where I discovered that my poor (nominally) Canadian child has been sheltered far too long in Asia. She asked for her ice cream in "One of da holdy things." 


+++The morning we left, we had a lovely room service breakfast (c/o the hotel chef; it's good to know people in kitchens) who got wind that we were leaving on the eve of my birthday. So, cake for breakfast.

Toronto. I love you and your overpriced ice cream. I really do. And I'll be back for three glorious days before we head back to the East Side.

(NB, Kate gets 10 gold stars and also good food karma for her recommendation of Pizza Libretto. Game changing pizza. Additional Toronto food recs gladly accepted in the comments.)