We flew alone all the way around the world. And we were fine.

So, we’ve officially been in the US for a week. We’re settled, we’ve unpacked our suitcases. We’ve visited Target and eaten more tacos than you can shake a stick at. 

 

With a week behind us, I’m sure you’re dying to hear the gory and sordid details of my heroic trip across the world with two children in my sole and solitary care, right? Every tantrum, every diaper blowout, every eye-stinging hour of exhaustion.

 

Well, actually the trip was fine. Totally fine. No big deal (okay, sort of a big deal, but still completely okay.)

 

Stella and Hugo and I flew together with Mr. Chef to Singapore the day before our big flight. We were looking at a 6 hour layover in Changi, a prospect that filled me with all sorts of nope. So we decided to go a day ahead and make a little mini pre-vacation vacation out of it. 

 

We enjoyed an extraordinarily over-priced but nonetheless delicious dinner (Singapore, why do you eat all my dollars??) I had a sleep-in in a gigantic hotel bed (my last for months!) and we went down to Gardens by The Bay for some pre-flight splash pad fun.  

 

Mr. Chef headed back to the airport to catch his flight home, and the three of us gulped some big gulps omg are we gonna be okay alone? 

 

I was mildly terrified at the prospect of flying alone with two kids. I wondered how I’d stay awake and functioning for 36+ hours. How I’d handle Hugo’s morning all over everything diaper bomb. How I’d manage Stella’s need for constant motion, unending pretend play, and never never never sleeping.

 

It turns out we were totally fine. More than fine. Just great.

 

Both of our long flights (12 hours and 8 hours) more or less corresponded with our body clock night time which meant the kids slept. The long layover in Frankfurt airport meant that we could stretch our legs, play a bit, and eat a pizza. 

 

It turns out that you actually CAN carry a diaper bag, a backpack, pull a carry on suitcase, and your child’s carry on suitcase, while wearing a baby and pushing a four year old in a stroller. It’s a little hot and sweaty, but totally doable. 

 

Also, babies who actually sleep also sleep on the airplane which is a major win in my books.  

 

And, lo, with the passage of time kids grow up and become more capable of sitting in a seat for an extended period of time. A four-year-old traveling companion is so much more relaxed than a three-year-old, which again is infinitely easier than traveling together with a two year old.

 

And so, as is almost always the case, a lot of worry for naught. We were totally okay. And everything worked out. (Expect for day two jet lag which was a total and utter shit show, the likes of which I never want to relive. Ever. More on that later. Maybe?) 

Annnnnd, We're OFF!

 

We're embarking on our grand summer adventure first thing this morning. We've been looking forward to this trip for months (slash, I'm also terrified because jet lag and solo parenting and did I mention six countries, three continents, and so many airports?)

Anyway, I really want to be a good blogger and document this trip for my own memory keeping purposes, buuuut, generally I'm terrible at keeping up with the internet while I'm away from home. I will likely, however, do a slightly better job at Instagramming (okay, bragstagramming) my adventures in trying not to lose my mind on negative 18 hours sleep in airport number four, while carrying twice my weight in children and luggage. So you can find me there @expatriababy if you're into that sort of thing.  

Next stop, SINGAPORE! (Wish us luck.)

 

The Pre-Trip Jitters

 

Summer is here. School is out. And, in expat circles, it’s that season again. Time to make the yearly pilgrimage home. It’s that trip to reconnect with family and friends, visit beloved childhood landscapes, eat all those familiar delicacies unavailable in your home across the ocean, and give our children a taste of what life in their passport country is all about.

We’re about to depart on our own Odysseus journey. But this is no mere jaunt across the Pacific. No, we’ll be gone on a two-month, three-continent, six-country adventure. And, PS, I’ll be doing the majority of this trip as a solo traveling parent.

 

To say that I’m thrilled and excited and totally thankful is somewhat of an understatement. But to say that I’m also not crapping my pasts would be a total and utter boldface lie. 

 

I’m not particularly worried about the flights. This is not our first time at the long-haul trans-continental rodeo. I know flights are generally long, boring, uncomfortable, and sleepless. But there are good parts. But they end.  

 

I am worried about jet lag, but I’m not ready to talk about that because holy crapballs, I just can’t even think about the weight of two jet lagged children at three am when all I want to do is zzzzzz. 

 

I’m going to focus my anxieties on the logistics and the practicalities. Like, exactly how many shirts are enough shirts? I want to avoid having to stretch that baby-barf covered, ice-cream-smeared, snot-stained tee just ooooooone more day until we reach laundry facilities while not bringing everything everything everything because I’m a little worried about how I’m going to manoeuvre everything everything everything through an airport along with two exhausted but nonetheless adorable ratbags.

 

And how, exactly, do I pack for three different climates? Especially since a certain baby I know owns nothing warm and the polar vortex is descending on the great lakes region, and hi, that’s where I’m headed.

 

And what will I need in the overnight bag / carry-on bag? What if my milk peaces out mid-flight (I’ve been having supply issues after food poisoning round deux)? And why do bottles take up so much room? Do you have to sterilise bottles when your baby is five months old? How do you transport formula?

 

I’m finding myself up at night fretting about such critical issues as, “Um, how do I carry one baby, a diaper bag, a backpack, the carry-on suitcase containing all the diapers, and my child’s carry-on (of which she will no doubt tire of pulling) my camera, my computer, annnnnnd a stroller through Frankfurt airport when it's like, five AM body clock time? By my self? Anyone?

 

So, obviously I’m channeling all of my anxiety and nervous energy into online shopping. Because buying ALL THE THINGS will obviously solve my packing problems, right? RIGHT? (Don’t argue with me.)

 

PS, if you have any great tips about packing and traveling with bottles and what is critical inside the airplane and what can go in the hold, I’d love to hear them.

 

52 | The Ones That Got Away {From Far Away}

I've been enjoying playing along with Jodi and taking weekly portraits of my girl. And what fun to look back on the year that was, admiring the photographs that captured each of our 52 weeks. Of course there were and all the images that didn't make their way into my series, the ones that got away. And following Jodi's suggestion, I've gone back and gathered together a few images that I loved, but never got their moment in the sun.

2013 was certainly a year of travel. So for my collection of The Ones That Got Away, I've chosen images taken on our many (MANY!) little trips.


Admiring strange stone architecture in Cierbon, West Java.


Splashing on a stony beach overlooking Mt. Krakatau, West Java.


Singing on Bunaken, North Sulawesi.

Posing (always the peace sign, always) near Tomahon, North Sulawesi.


Sliding in Singapore.


Sitting next to the canal in Ottawa.


Climbing up the hills in Northern Ontario.


Chilling with Sagey in Toronto. 

More splashing in Singapore.


Exploring in Bali. 

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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.

 

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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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. 

 

Hi. We're back. (zzzzzzzz jet lag)

 

 

 

So, here we are, back on the other hemisphere, on the other side of the equator. It's both good and bad, as it usually is, coming "home" after being away at "home". Even after almost eight years away, I don't think it will ever get easier to say good bye.

 

We left Canadia early Monday morning (like really early: 1:30 AM early, which, surprisingly was not nearly as painful as I had imagined. But more on that later.) Despite getting barfed on (TWICE!) before we had even checked into our flight, and getting my iPad stolen (more on that later too…because OMG so mad), the flight was infinitely easier than usual. 

 

For the first time in about 20 flights, Mr. Chef was with us, proving that flying as a parenting duo is infinitely easier than flying solo (um, surprise?) I revelled in heretofore unknown pleasures such as going to the bathroom by myself! And watching movies! And eating a semi-edible meal with minimal interruption. And catching some solid naps, crammed into a pretzel and wedged into an economy sardine can. It was fantastic, I tell you. (Oh boy. I sure know how to live.) 

 

Even as I crawl my way through the fog of jet lag, I'm looking forward to getting back to my blog. I've missed this place. I've missed you guys!

 

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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.)

A tale of feathers, glitter, and streetmeat: 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.)

+++

I'm kinda sliding down the ranks in Top Baby Blogs. I'd love it if you could send a few votes my way. Strangely (and totally shallowly) my ranking totally matters to me. But my appreciation of every person who takes the time to offer up some support is deep and sincere.

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Ottawa is the sweetest (in summer only).

Can I tell you how much I enjoy pretending that I live in a Real, Proper City? (Where by Real, Proper City, I mean a city which I can navigate by foot and stroller, popping in and out of shops, while grabbing a quick ice cream lunch to keep our energy up?) Yes? Well, a lot.

I'm not actually in a city right now, but I won't let that deter me from reminicing about my pretend Real Proper City Life. 

Herewith, the next installment in my obnoxious pictorial retrospective of our four week vacation.

Ice cream for lunch. It happens. At least twice.

Stella and I spent about a week in Ottawa, my hometown. We stayed at an super friendly AirBnB right in the heart of the Glebe (which, for those not in the know, totally adorable and full of the greenest parks and the brickiest houses). We imagined ourselves as veritable Glebe residents, complete with a high performance, rocketship running stroller, fairly traded, handmade, artisan knitwear, and and an organic vegetable patch in the back garden. I did, however, feel the scorn and side-eyes of the entire neigbourhood when, over a breakfast of organic almond milk and hemp protein smoothes, I pulled out my kid's iPad, and enjoyed my coffee sans drama or distraction. 

At which point it became plain: I'm not in Asia anymore.

My sister and her partner came down for a few days to sip hemp protein smoothies together as a big happy family, and shower us with Montreal bagels. Which, amazing. 

Of course we had to visit several playgrounds (three? I think?) and take my geriatric dog Chloe for walks. (She was visiting O-Town with my mum, fyi)  Poor old Chloe has been my pet since I was about 16? Which makes her 103 in dog years. Anyway, regardless of our history, she will henceforth be know as Perry c/o Stella who also insists that she is actually a he. Toddler logic. Anyway, there was lots of this: "Perrwy! Perrwy! Come here! Wisten! Perrwy! Wisten to me! WISTEN, PERRWY!"

Would you believe that only hours earlier this kid was terrified of that dog? All it took was a name change and the business end of a leash to modify the equation. 

Our days were packed, visiting aunties, Grannie, cousins, new babies, friends, and the mums the kids I used to run around with years ago when I was barely able to run. We also made a solid effort to enjoy the green grass and blue skies, while walking more miles in six days than I've logged during my entire time in Indonesia. 

Other big news? There were several epic stroller naps and a couple 7 AM sleep-ins as we rode out the tail end of jet lag. So that was pretty major.

It was a great, but totally exhausting few days, and I'd go back in a second (between the months of June and September.)

Okay. Now for a million pictures.

One of the best things about Ottawa may just be the amazing bike / running / walking trails. All that green and alfresco exercise made me consider moving back. Until I remember that it's only like this for about three months a year. 


Admiring a little inlet along the canal. At some point during this exercise one shoe was lost. 


Here's the Canal. Which, during the winter months is a gigantic skating rink. Upon which people commute to work by blade. I'm not even kidding. It's real life in Canada. 


We discovered that sitting down in grass is about the best thing ever.


Visiting my high school buddy, who gained major cool points with the toddler by the fact that she drives a nino-nino car (aka ambulance.)


Canada. Duh. 


Flowers in the Byward Market. It sure is pretty down there.

Advenetures in Eastern Ontario.

Well, it looks like I forgot where I left my blog. But good news! I've got two whole hours with noting scheduled, a hotel room full of wifi and an iPad loaded with Babies to occupy my three-year-old! Freeeeeedom!

We've been jamming our days about as full as you can get them, going going going from about 7 am to 9 pm. Such is the reality of coming "home" for vacation. There's just too many great people people whom I miss too much, whom I NEED to see, and that leaves zero time for relaxation. It's an expat truth. We deal. 

So, anyway, what have we been up to? Let me show you in several obnxiouly photo-filled vacation brag posts.

First up! The Ottawa Valley.

Last week, Stella and I rolled into Eastern Ontario on Via Rail for a three-day visit with some of the loveliest friends that there ever could have been. We hung out in my friend's lovely old farmhouse which is about as sweet as you can imagine. I got to meet (and generally smother with way too much attention) her new baby boy, while her older boy adopted Stella as his side-kick and / or shadow. Lets just say that being able to play with a big kid kind of totally made her life.

Isn't this the sweetest litte corner?

My friends organized a lovely reunion with some high school friends. Only, this time there were three more babies in the mix. I'm pretty sure that the last time we were all together, we were regaling each other about the stupid things we did that time we were so hammered. This time the conversation took a much more sober (not sorry!) tone. Major topics of discussion included the region's best toy stores, bedtimes and sleep strategies, and the pros and cons of sundry features of various strollers.

This is a good picture of no one. But it does convey the chaos that five children can produce. Also there are three more humans in this picture then there were last time we all got together.

New humans!

There was, however, a dinner of tacos, including home made tortillas. And I'd like to say that the chef basically hit that one out of the park.

 

Somehow over the course of our stay, my kid got it into her head that life could not go on unless we had a picnic. I'm not sure where she acquired the picnic schema (complete with blankets and baskets??), but she did. And was quite insistent on the fact that we must have one. So have one we did! In the park beside a stream under a tree. Poor kid was so jet laged that she fell asleep five minuets into our walk, and stayed unconscious throughout most of the meal.

Picnik fixins (as provided by a cafe because, come on! Vacation.)

Unconcious picnik.

We rounded out our stay with some playground time, a lovely dinner, more baby snuggles, and an overly stressed / frantic quest to pack all the things back in my suitcase.

All in all, it was a great three days that I only wish could have lasted longer!

For more of my travel adventures, you can follow along on my sporaditcally updated instagram account. I'm expatriababy.

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Notes on Travel

Hi. Um, so, I'm in Canada. With my little side-kick, who is just a little uncertain of geography and asks for clarification every five minutes, seeking to determine whether this is, in fact, Canada or Jakarta.

 

We've been here for only two days, but already have eaten pizza twice, walked about a million kilometres revealing in the unobstructed sidewalks, enjoyed fresh air and blue skies, and done a circuit of the city's playgrounds. 

 

 

Meanwhile, I keep wondering what Stella makes of this trip. For a kid who's spent the majority of her life in Asia, Canada must seem weird, right? But when I ask her what she thinks is different about Canada, she responds with a blank stare.

 

So, I piece together a fractured understanding of her perception of this place based on her comments. Choo-choo buses (Street cars) are totally rad. Carseats and seat belts are bullshit. As is the rule that decrees "In Canada that children cannot run around in restaurants." Total balls. We watched the "gym people" running past the cafe window. I guess that's weird? And the cyclists wearing helmets. Weird. And there was an episode where Stella began screaming in absolute terror as a pigeon pecked away on the sidewalk in front of us. So, pigeons are weird?  And terrifying? I guess?

 

 

As for me, I'm happy to report the following observations:

 

Flying with a three year old is infinitely easier than flying with a two year old. Stella slept a whopping 4 hours on the flight. She played independently in her seat, and let me snooze in half-hour stretches. And, most amazingly of all, this kid walked by herself through all airports while managing her own suitcase. I mean, jackpot, you guys!

 

Three-year-old jet lag is not nearly as horrendous as baby jet lag. (Though this point may require a caveat; I let the iPad do all the parenting between 3-6 am.)

 

Canada is freezing. Duh, me.

 

This fact does not deter Canadians from dressing in shorts, sleeveless tops, and sandals. Meanwhile, I'm worrying about hypothermia because It's 22 degrees Celsius, and maybe I should put a hat on my kid? And some mittens? Perhaps? 

 

Canadians are the friendliest. Really. I had forgotten about this fact. I've had at least 10 random strangers go completely out out of their way to open doors for me, warn me of an out-of-order elevator, or carry Stella's stroller up steps, or wish me a nice day. It's almost enough to make me crave the constraints of a mortgage and a over-priced shoebox-sized condo in Toronto. 

Project Life ::: Week Twenty-One


// pink party preparations // playing shouting, a favorite in the late afternoons // celebratory champers //singapore skyline // ice cream sandwiches made with real bread // ice cream aftermath // first ever ice cream cone, soy ice cream, no less (what I wouldn't have given for this when I was diary free!!!) // 

So, we ate a lot of ice cream when we were in Singapore. In Singapore We basically ate a lot. Full stop. My kid was there less than 72 hours, and she learned how to spot a street-side ice cream vendor. Yikes. But also, totally worth it! 

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Stella Turns Three. In Singapore.

Stella tuned three yesterday. Three. THREE??!!! Three. 

Since we hadn't taken a proper family vacation since, oh, um, ever, we decided that this was the weekend to make a long put off trip to Singapore. I mean, what self respecting jet-setting newly-three-year-old spends her birthday in her country of residence??I mean??!!!

(Plus we got a cheap flight, and a free hotel room. So.)

We started Stella's birthday morning off in style with a sleep-in (thanks to a one hour time difference! Three cheers for jet lag!) Then there was cake on a silver platter (I mean, obvs.), and a trip to the toy store (which is becoming somewhat of a birthday tradition). Wee S made out like a bandit with a stack of German books and a mini guitar. The day may or may not have also featured an ice cream cone, a swim in the pool and a plate of nasi goreng.

We capped off the day with a plane ride, a chance to pull her beloved suitcase through the airport one last time, and half a muffin for dinner because we win at parenting and also planing ahead. 

 

A delightful birthday, if you ask me. Though I fear we may have set the bar a little too high. I don't know what we're going to do when this kiddo turns four. 

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project life: week fourteen: Sulawesi + bali

Alternate title: here are a million pictures of our vacation, most of them featuring the back of my child's head.

I was congratulating myself for having made so many images of subjects other than my child. But looking through these, I guess I don't really know what the fluffernutter I am talking about. 

I'm a bit behind on my Project Life sitch, which is mostly due to the fact that my vacation has left me totally and utterly exhausted. Too much fun can do that to a person. So can too may 4 AM wake ups, and too few moments spent alone, which for an introvert like me can result in some pretty major orneriness.  

Nevertheless, a great time was had by all. This kid of mine, she was a real star. After a few nights of pretty dramatic papi-separation-melancholia, she jumped right into the idea of being away from our normal routine, christening each new hotel in which we stayed with a new moniker: Bunaken Home, Tomohon Home, Bali Home, and then back to Jakarta Home. 

I guess that's the nature of expat childhood; you kind of learn that home is not a static place, rather it is where you are together with your family. 

Still, we're both trilled to be back in Jakarta home. Stella is dreaming about choo-choo rides with papi, and I'm thinking about consequential and far-reaching matters in homemaking. Like, OMG, totally want to make something with cream cheese frosting, and maybe I should buy a baking sheet, and lets talk about couches for ever and ever and ever, okay? 

Anyway, enough rambling. Here's what we were up to, two weeks ago. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

the discovery of a guitar at our hotel pretty much made her life // building sand castles and decorating them with coral // left the rainy beach for the rainy highlands // toddler style is inexplicable // jungle behind, ocean in front // an after lunch walk and the sun finally came out // the rim of a volcano // I've always dreamt of sleeping in a bed with mosquito netting. so romantic. (I shared it with my kid and her nanny / my friend. less romantic.) // fish at the market in Tomohon, which was so bonkers I've got to tell you about it one day. //

Linking up for Sunday Stills at The Beatle Shack.

Happy Sunday!

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When I'm on vacation I like to pretend that I'm an oligarch.

Are you getting tired of hearing me talk about adventures in dragging my two-year-old around Indonesia? 

I'm kind of tired, but I think that's because I just spent the last two weeks dragging my two-year-old around Indonesia. 

After our time in North Sulawesi, we spent four days in Bali engaging in what is, quite possibly, the most obnoxious form of tourism. We checked into our super fancy luxury resort (I KNOW, I can't believe they let us in either, but it was free, so) and we didn't leave the hotel property until we checked out. Nearly every waking moment was spent in the pool and / or ocean. Stella learned to swim* and I learned to surf. Which, ps, is the greatest. It's been a life long dream of mine, something that I told myself that I'd do when we moved to Japan ( but instead I got knocked up.) 

*where swimming = wearing a life jacket, and floating independently for 10 seconds, slightly panicked, but not clinging to me for deal life.

We ate pizza pool-side, got nice and golden, and lazed around pretending to be fabulous Russian oligarchs.

But alas, the illusion was shattered by several scatological incidents and an unexpected night swim.

I'll leave the former to your imagination, but as for the latter, here's the deal: While we were enjoying a glass of wine (water for the two-year-old) in the super fabulous club lounge, a certain little person dove head first into the adject fish pond which, as it turns out, happens to be home to one rather substantial monitor lizard. This necessitated a second panicked leap into the pond as I dove in after Stella. I hoisted Stella out before the lizard got wind of our visit to his habitat, and we stood in the middle of the lounge, sopping wet, hearts racing, and totally beyond embarrassed.

I took some solace in the fact that a grown woman managed the same maneuver two nights later and concluded that the whole thing was a result of poor lighting and not an error in parental judgment.

Or something.

 

 

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And now I'm blogging from the jungle.

Hi we're in the jungle. Like, really. 

We've been hanging out with black mackaks (real live monkeys!!!), and watching tarsiers (adorable little ewoks + world's smallest primates) hanging out on the edge of volcanoes, (and um, hi, a volcano four KM away from us just erupted. Yesterday.)

So, anyway, that's what's up around these parts. Just thought I'd let you know that we haven't been eaten by pythons.

 

Hi. This is us in front of a massive jungle tree. Please excuse the jungle attire. Because, you know: jungle. 


Black mackaks. We got to come so close to these little monkeys. And here's a muma and baby, 1 month old! Adorable!


 Jungle flowers on the jungle floor. 

 

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Um, hi. I'm blogging from a tropical island.

Can't talk. Too much tropical island adventure. 

 

 

We've been spending the past 5 days on, what is perhaps, the most idyllic island in the Indo Pacific. There's not much to do here but explore, swim, build sand castles, and take afternoon naps. Oh, and learn to SCUBA dive, explore some of the most pristine coal reefs in the world, swim with green turtles and spot reef sharks, which, wut??! 

Anyway, just so you don't feel too bad about not being here too, I'll confess that it's been raining for a few days, the internet is molasses, and a certain two-year-old has been being quite two. However! Tropical island! Lifetime dream accomplished!

Now, on to the jungle where we'll hang out with some monkeys for a few days. 

 

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