Canadian Thanksgiving Comes to Jakarta

Holiday season is here, guys! Like, for real! Idul Adha is just behind us, and Halloween is just ahead, and over the weekend, the Expatria household celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving (alternately known as regular old Thanksgiving. And it should probably be noted that it wasn't until I was, like, legally drinking mulled wine that I realized there was a non-October option for Turkey Day.)

For most of my expat career, I've been all, "meh, holidays, I guess we should celebrate, maybe we'll roast a chicken, oh wait, thanksgiving is tomorrow, okay, festive pizza in a box?" But now that Stella is getting to that age where concrete memories are forming, I feel more of a duty to give her a taste of our native culture, however small that may be. So, Canadian Thanksgiving. (Also, it should be noted that a fair degree of nationalism, cultural obligation along side some preg cravings for pumpkin pie went into this decision.)

So, we invited some dear friends over, lured with the promise of roasted dead bird, and reassured that, yes, Canadian Thanksgiving is ACTUALLY A THING and then stuffed our mouths full of food. 

We cooked up a turkey (where "cooked" might more accurately be described as opening a hot box in a room service trolley and retrieving a juicy, steaming turkey.) There was also lots of other goodness that was actually cooked by us in the more literal sense.

In case you're wondering, rosemary and sea-salt flatbread (except I substituted kamut flour because that's how I roll), roasted root vegetables from this cookbook, salad that was supposed to be this one, but was instead an overdressed pile of lettuce leaves because time was ticking, and, uh, I dunno? Pumpkin pie, apple crostata with a spelt flour crust because I can't help myself!!!, ccinnamon ice cream, and apple compote. 

The evening was topped off with a dip in the pool, crank calls by three-year-olds, and a gaggle of children with questionable blood sugar levels racing through the halls. So basically, perfection.

And, while Canadian Thanksgiving (OMG, why do I keep saying that? It's just Thanksgiving!!!) certainly does have it's charms when celebrated in situ, I am not going to pretend that lounging poolside before filling your belly with turkey with nary a fear of frostbite of polar bears isn't totally amazing.   

I kinda sorta forgot to take pictures, but here are a few? Question mark?




Oh, here's a peek at the turkey

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My 20 Week Ultrasound in Singapore

This picture has kind of nothing to do with anything except that it's in the Singapore Airport, and it's Stella and she's kind of the best, so. 

I'd gotten pretty used to the laid-back approach to pre-nantal care in Jakarta. I go to my clinic, pee on a PH stick, get my blood pressure checked, get weighed (they don't even COMMENT on my enormous weight gain, TAKE THAT, Japan), and then pop in for a quick visit with the Doc. It's a brief "Hello, how are you, any problems, okay ultrasound time!" And then we're done.

 

(This compared to my Japanese appointments which always had an elaborate ritual of blood tests, cups of pee, belly exam and measurements, and scolding for being too fat.)

 

When I showed up at the clinic in Singapore for my anomaly scan, I had to go through the  registration process. They ask a lot of questions. Like they want to know every detail about both parents' lives, occupation, place of employment, and religion. RELIGION??? What? Excuse me. How exactly does this impact my medical care?

 

Oh, and another favourite of mine: "Name of husband/guardian."

 

Guardian??? GUARDIAN? Is this real life? Is this the 21st century, Singapore? What you're saying is that if I didn't have a husband I'd need a GUARDIAN?? And anyway, how exactly does my marital / guardianship status influence the doctor's ability to evaluate my pregnancy???

 

Because I'm such a pedantic peach, I obviously took this is an opportunity to point out the absurdity of this question, but passive aggressively because that's how I roll. So I circled that offending part of the registration form and cover it in exclamation points. You know.

 

 

Anyway, my Singapore doctor did not bring up either my religion or my guardianship status. Thank Feminism. He did, however, complete a super thorough exam of the baby, the likes of which I'd never before experienced either in Japan or here in Jakarta.

 

It's funny. When I went into see a doctor while on vacation in Canada when I was pregnant with Stella for reasons having to do with FIRST TIME MOTHER FREAKING OUT, all the doctor did was to have a little chat, have the nurse get out the doppler, and take a quick listen. Brush hands and done.

 

In Japan, and here in Jakarta, it's all ultrasounds all the time. Wanna see if you're really preg? Let's do an ultrasound at six weeks! Eight week appointment? Ultrasound. Worried about your pregnancy for no good reason? Come in for an ultrasound, NBD! 

 

And Iet's not joke around, I kind of love that. Before reassuring kicks to the bladder become a regular thing, it's really nice to actually see the baby and know that all is fine. And also, it's great to check in on things later in the pregnancy and make sure that all looks good. You know? I think North America should get on this ultrasound train.

 

Anyway, my Singapore ultrasound. When it was all finished, the doctor typed up a five (FIVE) page super official report including graphs and measurements and other science things and handed it over along with a DVD containing all the images form the ultrasound. Which totally surprised me. But shouldn't have. Because, duh, it's Singapore. 

 

What's the deal in the US / Canada / Europe / Elsewhere. Do you get multiple ultrasounds? A five page post scan report? Graphs? Quizzed on your religion and who owns you? Just curious. 

+++ 

Oh, I've kind of majorly dropped the ball in the Top Baby Blogs department. They reset their numbers and I'm like totally slipping! Can you give us a vote? I'd super appreciate it!!!

 

Thanks and candy!

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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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