May Day. Labour Day.

 

We celebrated May Day yesterday with plans to host six adults and seven small children in our 90 square meter apartment. 

 

Hugo gently fussed through the pre-dawn hours, and I woke to discover an inadequate diaper and soiled sheets. The traffic circle in front of our building was blocked with thousands and thousands of demonstrators, bullhorns and base blaring. The road leading to our place was choked with busses carrying protestors, bringing traffic to a standstill for kilometres and kilometres.

 

In my kitchen, the tart shell shrank. I burned the veggies. I didn’t have enough eggs, or coffee cups, or chairs at our table. 

 

The skies, which had been clear, began to cloud over and threaten rain. I thought to myself, the signs don’t look good. This might just turn into a disaster. 

 

But it didn’t. We ate. We drank. (BREAKFAST WINE!! PS, It’s a thing!) We laughed and lounged. We cooed over babies and told stories of living. The kids played, and swam, and made messes, ate, and played some more. They found the iPad and shared it around. There was not one squabble amongst the seven of them. 

 

Somehow the day came together, lazy and long, and perfectly lovely. I had cooked for a crew. I tidied the house. I organised a gathering, and accomplished it all with a little baby on my hip. 

 

The first of May marks Labour Day. And Hugo’s three month birthday. I think it was fitting. A small celebration to close the door on the “fourth trimester,” the labour of the newborn days is behind us, and we welcome a new phase. Life with two kids. A new normal. Getting out and living again.

 

It was a good day, the best kind. 

A master stroke of parenting genius. Or Something.

So, this morning. This morning I fed one kid. Bathed one kid. Got the little kid dressed. Made breakfast. Fed myself and the other kid. Showered. Got myself dressed (makeup!!!!) Put the little kid down for a nap. Made the mis en place for dinner. Got the big kid dressed, hair done, teeth brushed, medicine taken. Packed snacks and school bags. Cut up some fruit for later. Picked up some toys, and wiped down some surfaces. Nursed the baby, then off in a taxi by 8:30 for school drop off. 

 

No tears were shed (well, a few baby tears, because come on, let’s be real here), no threats uttered, no shouty mummy moments endured. We got out the door and got to school on time like we’ve been doing this our whole lives. 

 

And I mean, it’s not a big deal, right? It’s just a mother caring for her children, meeting their daily needs with a reasonable degree of calm. Millions of mothers do this day in and day out. Feed the kids, get them dressed, and off to school.

 

But for me it feels like a master stroke of parenting genius.

 

Last time around I had such a hard time coping with the daily demands of a colicky, sleepless newborn, while transitioning into my new role as an at home mother in a new country in a new language. I never felt in control of our days. I really worried about doing it all again, but this time with a high-need big kid in the mix. 

 

But here I am, handling mornings, or taking both kids to lunch in a restaurant, or walking through the mall carrying one kid in the sling, and one on my hip and feeling like, yes. I am doing this. I’m competent and confident in basic childcare. My children are happy, And I’m happy. And I’m doing this. And it’s totally major.

 

(Please note, while we can successfully get through the morning or eat lunch in a restaurant, this is not a bragpost. My beds are always unmade, I haven’t vacuumed in donkey’s years, my email inbox is about to explode, there are toys everywhere, and I have yet to leave the house with an adequately stocked diaper bag. So.?) 

Something Good.

I've been leaving hints here and there that I'm working on a new project. It's big. It's terrifying. And totally exhilarating. And I can't wait to tell you about it.

But until then, here's a sneek peak.

 

 

I'd LOVE for you to go here, and sign up for the newsletter. I'll send you a mail and let you know when the project is ready. 

Also, can I ask for a favour? Could you share the link to my new website? A post on Facebook, or a tweet, or a link in your blog would totally make my week. I'm excited about this new adventure, and I'd love to share it with as many people as possible.  

Support for the Trailing Spouse

I kind of hate the term trailing spouse. It conjures up images of a loyal old dog, ambling along as the husband (it's almost always the husband. Except when it's not. I do have friends for whom the equation is reversed.) forges forth, confidently climbing mountains, fording streams, and generally being the master of your small universe.  

But I also kind of like the term. Because it does covey the truth of this existence as an expat partner: you do have to give up quite a lot and travel (trail?) with your partner. 

People who haven't lived this way, well they tend to think of expat-dom as some sort of colonial throwback with palm trees, servants, free-flowing gin and tonics, and not too much to worry about.

Life as an expat wife can sort of be that way (like, you guys, I have palm trees! I also have a nanny, and don't have to scrub my toilet that often), but then there's the unseen stress that goes along with the package. When you sign up for this life, you give up the proximity of your family and friends, your support network is kind of obliterated, you often suffer a major identity crisis as you leave your job, your home, your interests, and your life behind.

It's a tradeoff, you know. I'll give you palm trees for your self identity.

But you can also make lemonade out of some of the lemons that come along with expat life. 

My friend and colleague Karlijn De Broeck is a life coach who specialises in helping trailing spouse find success as expat partners. 

We're working together on a blog project that I'm super stoked about. I'd love it if you checked it out, and maybe left a comment. If you're interested in hearing more about issues in expat partner-dom, you can check out the Expat Partner Successs Facebook page.  There are more things in the works, here. I'll update you!

Group Giveaway

Here's something super exciting to start your week +++ A Group Giveaway!! Hurrah! I'm thrilled to be participating, and believe me, were I not one of the, like, bosses, of the giveaway (actually, what am I even talking about? Alex is running the show. And doing a great job), I'd totally want to win some of these prises. May I suggest the batik bunting? Seriously. Adorable. I should know. I designed it. 
So. Have a gander. Visit a few new blogs. And win something amazing. Okay! Go!
myfroley
mamainchile

expatriababy

loveandbaseball

OTET

7 bloggers have come together to bring you a grand prize worth over $250 One winner takes all Competition is worldwide Good luck x

I have legs and can walk places and also take the bus. #NABLOPOMO

I get a fair few scandalized glances wherever I leave the hotel on foot. Like, WHAT?? A Caucasian who walks places! That will not do!!

But I do. I walk places, because I have two legs that work, and a body that needs excercise, and eyes that like to see things, and impatience for sitting in gridlocked traffic when walking is actually less nauseating and much faster.

So I walk. Or take taxis. Or the bus. Because it's faster. Because it's more interesting. Because I like it.

Occasionally people ask me why I don't have a car, not in a curious, 'hey, what's up with not having a car' kind of way, but more in a 'GASP! You don't have a car and driver, you poor pauper! However on Earth do you survive.'

Anyway, today I sunk to a new low: I drove home from the wet market (OMG YOU WENT TO THE WET MARKET AND DIDN'T DIE OF TYPHOID say all of the expat princesses, but that's another story for another post, one that involves decapitated {defootitated?} cow hoofs piled up like logs ready to be scraped of their fur and put into a pot for lunch. Real life, people. Real life.)

I really wanted to drive up to the hotel lobby like this. But alas, I have my husband's professional reputation to protect.

So I'm a closet non-princess. 

Next up: Motercycle taxis. 

 

 

Small Style, #Nablopomo Style

Well, HELLO there. Nice to see you on this fine Thursday in NABLOPOVEmber. 

In cease it was not already self evident, I'm writing a blog post per day in November, and as a side-effect of this overhasty and reckless endeavour, sometimes my brain is empty of thoughts. And yet, I still need to post.

So, in that vien, let's just slap up a few pictures, provide a Stella update, and call it a blog post, shall we?

Things are chugging along pretty nicely at Expatria Rumah. With the exception of a protracted (TWO HOUR!) bedtime routine, and resultant post-pre-school crack-ups (body slamming the floor, throwing off one shoe, only one, every time) we're all just tickety-boo around here. 

To say that Stella loves school is an understatement. She announces each morning, I GO SCHOOL! and then proceeds to loose her mind if I take too long to get ready. Alternately, she'll announce that she's going without me. Mama stay HERE. Bye mama. See you.  When it's go-time she runs into the hallway and screams aaaahhhhhhahaaaaaa as her tiny backpack flops around behind her. 

When not in school, she passes her time running up and down the hotel hallways pushing a red grocery cart. I go see cars, mama! And she's off with her groceries to look at the traffic circle and watch out for nanu-nanu cars, which, to the layperson, are police cars, fyi. 

An other favourite pastime is charming the pants of everyone in the hotel. On our trips down to the pool (shopping cart in tow, because, obvs) she waves, Hi! Good morning (ps, it's 3:30 pm) hello! how ah you!

She also loves posing for pictures. Cheeeeewwweees. 

Other favourite pastime include singing quinkle-quinkle wittle star, like a dina in da sky, and watching Olivia on her iPad on infinite repeat. She can now quote entire lines from the show, and should I suggest that iPad time is finished, she commands, MAMA GO SWEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeEEEEPPPP! She knows me, that kid. She knows. 

Stella simultaniously bows and blows a kiss when saying tee-tuuuu (again, for the uninitiated, this means thank you). Both are holdovers from previous languages (Japanese and baby sign) and each time she does it I die dead dead dead. 

She's a great shareer, and always sings, teee-tuuuu, welcome! after offering her friend a bite of her snack. She's a stickler for good manners, this kiddo.

She's never met a noodle she doesn't like. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Noodles. She's Asian, you know.

If tabasco is on the table, it's on her food. It's the way she likes it.

Stella hates rice (so I guess she's not so Asian after all), hair adornments of all kinds, bathing, anything but her beloved Native shoes, waking up from naps, and going to sleep. She'll cut you if you try to take away her iPad. She will. 

She calls her father Uncle Papi because the other kids call him that. At least she doesn't call him Uncle Butt, which is the unfortunate moniker she's bequeathed upon my husband's colleague. Oy.

And that concludes your Stella Update. The end.

Linking up with Mama Loves Papa for Small Style.

Stella Wore

dress // bobo choses

stains // chocolate ice cream + oranges.

 

 

 

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You have a cute son who is actually a daughter. #NaBloPoMo

My girl and I got into a taxi this morning on the way to pre-school. She went through her usual routine, saying "Good-bye new one house! See you way-ter new one house!" before breaking into a rousing rendition of the Wheels On the Bus, and the taxi driver looked back in the mirror and asked me, "How old is your son?"

 

Boy outfit.

After so many years in Asia, gender mix-ups no longer catch me off guard. Many languages do not have gendered pronouns like in English, and so learning to differentiate between him and her, his and hers, he and she is not that simple a task. But this driver had a great grasp of English, and he said "son." The driver obviously thought that my "she" was a "he."

 

Which I mean, is totally ridiculous, right? She was wearing a dress! Albeit a white and blue dress, but a dress nonetheless. 

 

Again with the boy outfits!

I've had a fair few conversations with Stella's nanny about this. Nanny laughs at me, and my strange, semi-feminist, 'progressive', anti-pink ways. I don't think Nanny appreciates my disdain for ruffles and pink. I suspect that for her, it's just part of the weird foreigner package, along with not eating rice, or being a wee sacredy kitten who can not handle fiery burning spice. 

 

You see, here in Asia, notions of gender are much more codified than they are in the West. Girls wear pink, boys wear blue. NBD. Oh, and PS, seven-year-old girls also wear high heals. 

 

Before you go telling me about systemised gender stereotypes and inequalities, let me just state that I've seen this girls = pink boys = blue pattern equally in places like China where women hold a good deal of power as in places like Japan where women are sidelined almost completely.  

 

Boy.

Now, let's be clear. I do adore a tasteful hair bow, and a pair of sparely shoes as much as the next person. And I fully intend to enrol my girl in ballet solely for the purpose of getting her into a tutu. I just believe in moderation. Balance. A bit of blue for every bit of pink. It's not that I ban ruffles and dolls outright, but I am mindful of hoisting artificial notions about gender expectations on tiny, innocent child, who has yet to form her own ideas about what she wants out of life, and the possibilities that are open to her.

 

So, in this vein, she wears a lot of blue and green, and not a lot of pink. 

 

This, coupled with her tendency for wild hair, refusal to bow down to a clip or a barrette, and instance on wearing boy shoes, is apparently the source of the problem. 

 

Nanny, unfortunately bears the brunt of inquiring comments, fielding off remarks of "cute boy!" When it is relived that Nanny's charge is actually a girl, she's judged for her inability to dress her take-care-kid in appropriately pink and sparkly attire. People outright ask Nanny why she doesn't put a clip in her hair? Why she dresses her kid in shorts?

 

Ummm, okay. This is sufficiently girl.

So, not wanting to reveal the fact that neither one of us can hold this baby down and clip a little tiny bow on her head (because let's face it, for all my posturing, that is the real reason behind wild hair it's lack of adornments) she blames me, and my strange, feminist, foreign ways.

Sweet Shop

In Japan, adorable children's clothing is hard to come by. Which is totally strange, considering that some of the most adorable lines of children's clothing is produced by Japanese designers (Atsuyo et Akiko, I'm looking at you.) So, imagine my surprise when right in my own neighbourhood I stumble upon the most adorable little kids shop that stocks (almost exclusively) adorable little pieces by Japanese designers.

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Hello, ciel et soeil, where have you been all my life?

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Light and airy, with an indoor slide and a basket full of knitted alphabet balls, this was my kind of place. And some of the gametes inside were real treasures. Like this adorable romper. These little sandals. And these tiny hats. Love. 

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The shop carries cute brands like Wafflish Waffel, Pony Go Round, Hüa Küpü, and Blue H. All designed in Japan, and many totally cute.

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And these little hanging pieces of art? Oh swoon. Love.

Shop Details:

ciel et soleil

1-5-17 Otemon, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka

online shop (open in Google Chrome if you can't read Japanese)

 

 

I was not asked to write this post. All opinions are mine alone. 

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I Can't Get You Out of My Head

Cactus21

{source}

Design Love Fest is my current blog obsession. Light, fresh, airy, with lots of pretty pictures and full of beautiful, inspirational project ideas, which, for a dummy like, are totally executable.

Speaking of things bloggular, doesn't this course from another blog favourite of mine sound interesting?

Here's a sweet little blog that suggests it IS possible to be pregnant and totally rad. 

Also, I'm going to be wearing my jean jacket for the rest of time, thanks to this blog post

And wouldn't this, from one of my all-time fave Etsy shops just be the perfect for the jeaniest of jackets? And they have a kids shop too. So, I'm dying.

I'm obsessed with this song. So, basically, this all means that I'm a twenty-something hipster trapped in a mom body. Eff.

It's pretty much inevitable, you know, the progression from blog enthusiast to total digital geek, but I'm not convinced that I absolutly need to become a Photoshop ninja and therefore require a pen tablet. Obviously.

This wonderful little kids shop just opened. Oh, hello new love. And BTW, Stella wants you.

This is like the coolest shop ever. And I'll take one of theses for Stella Bella's room. And while were at it, one of these for me.

 

I really admire people who Montessori or waldorf or otherwise organize enriching activities for their kids, and organize their homes into tidy little child-friendly spaces. Me, I'm more of a oh-please-gawd-let-me-make-it-through-the-day kind of parent, but still. I like reading about what I could be doing for my kid. And then engaging in bit of self loathing. (PS how do they keep their perfectly kid friendly rooms from getting trashed?)

 

Davenport_0231{source. click through this link. i'm telling you. you'll be lost of days and days and days}


My newest portrate photography obession. Could you dream of a more beautiful collection of photographs? The light. Oh the light.

Also, so inspired by this photo blog. Man. I wish there were endless hours in the day so that I could do all the awesome things, like learn how to make images this pretty.

Speaking of beutiful things. Indulge my China obession a little bit and take a trip to Fenhuan. You won't be sorry.

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66/366

I almost forgot to take a picture yesterday, and thus, my perfect record in my 366 project was nearly tarnished. I thought about cheating and pulling a picture from my archives, but then I felt like that would make me a big liar liar pants on fire and then the internet would find out and everyone would hate me and however could I raise an honest and upstanding girl if I lied about when I took my pictures OMG EXISTENTIAL CRISIS IN MY BRAIN!

And then, phew, big sigh of relief, I remembered that I did take a random picture yesterday morning. Of my daughter's totally disorganized and overstuffed and really ugly closet. So here you go! Enjoy!

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I'm still winning at 366.

But I'm loosing at organizing. Which is ridiculous, because I only have one kid, and she is not even two yet, and we barely bought her any toys and have actually very little in the way of baby paraphernalia, but still, everything is everywhere, and messy and there are no places for things, which means that my clothes horse of a kid can easily pull out her baby clothes out of boxes in her closet and strew them around her room and dress her dollies in them and so obviously she is the reason for our disorganisation and not my general housekeeping mediocrity.

But I say NO MORE! I'm organizing the hell out of my house. Major style.

With a move likely this year, I have no inclination to drag a crapload of crap to our next destination, especially since that means I'll have to find places for a crap load of stuff when I'd rather be relaxing on a beach or learning to surf (because we're moving somewhere beachy and surfey, RIGHT POWERS THAT BE??? RIIIIGGGGHHHHTTT?)

So anyway, this is a really long winded, round about way of saying, I'm spring cleaning. And that my honesty overrides my pride and I would rather reveal the contents of a disorganized closet than fail at 366. 

Fascinating, I know.

I got my inspiration from Simple Mom, and am linking up there. So, storage boxes ahoy!

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I Can't Get You Out of My Head

I came across some images by German photographer Michael Wolf while I was in Shanghai. He captures everything I love about big cities in Asia, and now I'm captivated. 

Michael wolf night8

(Image credit Michael Wolf.)

Speaking of Shanghai, Emily introduced me to this blog, Life on Nanchang Lu. And I'd happily get lost in it for hours. She also pointed me to Post Secret. And while I know that I'm late to the party, it is now a Sunday obsession. 

And while we're on the subject of the arts, I'm having a aural love affair with Steve Reich.

Oh, right. Now on to the serious stuff. I'm in love with this necklace from this store. And while you're there, I'll also take one of these, and these, and this. Stella will take this. And this. Why not.  

Necklace

Image source.


I'll saw these shoes, and promptly began obsessing over them. Although the inevitable purchase will be made, I will spend the next six weeks telling myself that I'll be good and refrain, yet checking the site daily, you know, just because.

Lotta

Image source

I want these suitcases for Stella's room. And, well, everything in the store is pretty sweet. I may have my eye on a few pillows for myself. I may be a grown up, but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy wimsey!

Suitcases

Image source.

Also, Ikat. Please. 

IKat

Image source.

My FIRL (friend in real life) has just started a wonderful blog documenting her unconventional start in mothering. And my FOTI (friend on the internet) is running a series on marriage, and her first post is, like, totally spot on. Very wise. Finally, my FIAWG (friend in a writing group) also just started a blog about running and motherhood. If anyone could help me find the time to run it's this amazing woman, who has an amazing career, does a million things all while raising two girls and being super savvy and fab. Oh, and in a crazy turn of coincidence, we met in a writing class online (FIAWG), but it turns out we lived in the same apartment complex in Shanghai. In THE SAME BUILDING!!! At the same time. If that doesn't convince you to read her blog, than you have no faith in the joy of serendipity. 

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One Year of Small Style

Fifty-two weeks of stylish babies is quite an accomplishment, yay Morgan!

I joined Small Style on, like, week two. I guess you could say that I'm a Small Style pioneer. But pioneer doesn't sound very stylish. An archetypal Small Stylist? An autochthonous Small Styler? (Oh geezus! Someone take this thesaurus away from me.) Point being that I've been Small Styling for a hella long time, and it has been simply wonderful. I've met some fab Internet friends (and in Japan, where my dearth of real life friends is wide and heavy, this has been a gift) and I've simply adored watching everyone's babies grow up on my screen. Thanks, Morgan. It's been a great year. 

So in honour of this monumental occasion, I think that it's appropriate to give you the first ever DUO Small Style. Two Small Style participants united in one place.

 

So without further ado, take it away, Jackson and Stella.

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Oh haiiiii babies, you giggly things!

Alright. So, truth time: as with most things baby, this photo shoot didn't go as planned. We set the kids up, right before bedtime in front of bright lights and flashy cameras (because BTW Emily is a grown-up photog with big kid toys like studio lights and stuff). There are, consequentially very few shots with both kids looking cute. And so, naturally, because I'm such a great friend, with the exception of the picture above, I selected only the pictures in which my kid looks good. Sorry Jackson. {Blur}.

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Hey, hold on a sec, lady, there are shoes that need nomming. So, what the what? Sit down.

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Here, let me ton ton ton you back. With all my strength.

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HEY! I'm ton ton tonning* you my hardest! You'd better appreciate my efforts, SIR!

Now, before we depart, let's just talk for a moment how Mr. J is about the cutest, and best baby in the history of babies. Adorable, chubby, cheeks! and smiles! and shrieks! and nom nom nom, I eat feet. Oh, and the kid takes naps. I practically adopted him while we were staying at Emily's house. He worked some major magic with his giggles and coos and zzzzzs and went a long way to curing my Baby Number Two fears. 

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And StellaBella was all patience, kindness, ton ton tons, and hugs. Toy snatching was minimal. Baby smacking non-existent. Jealousy was indictable. My girl. Seriously. The best. 

 

Stella Wore:

Sweater: Joe Fresh (I suppose that for this special occasion, I could have busted out something great, but, well, this old stand-by is much loved.)

Top: Baby Gap

Shorts: Baby Gap

Tights: Hippie Fairydust Grocery Store

Shoes: See Kai Run

*Editor's Note: ton ton tonning is the gerund of the verb ton ton ton, a commonly practiced Japanese method of soothing little babies whereby the caregiver pats the baby with the rhythm of a beating heart on the chest. 

 

Oh, PS. I could totally use a vote or a billion on Top Baby Blogs. The Great Fire Wall prevented me from posting. And thereby soliciting votes. And obviously this is a great tragedy and I must mobalize my interwebular friends to rectify this situation.

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

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Pas Possible

“C’est pas possible.”  When I lived in France, I heard this phrase countless times and in countless ways and it infuriated me. It was the rigidity of the answer that bristled. Of course it was possible. Creating gold from stone lead is impossible. Issuing a permit or opening a bank account is, in fact, very possible. You just didn’t want to do it! There’s always a workaround. There’s always an unexplored option or yet-to-be brainstormed compromise. Flexibility. There’s always a way.

 

Yet, after reading an excerptt (linked to on Facebook by a lovely writer friend) from Pamela Druckerman’s Bring up Bebe which appeared, Tiger Mother style, in The Wall Street Journal, the frustration with which I met this phrase has now been replaced by optimism. C’est pas possible might just become my new parenting mantra.

 

I’ve long been interested in the ways, varied and sundry, that parents of the world flout North American parenting advice, yet still, somehow, miraculously (if you’d believe the Searses and Weissbluths of the world) raise well adjusted, happy, functional adults. And, according to Druckerman, the French are doing just that, despite the manifest absence of whirring parental helicopter blades. 

 

Druckerman describes the French notion of a cadre, or frame, which confines children within limits of acceptable behavior. What is outside that cadre is pas possible, and rigidly so. But inside, kids are free to do as they like. For French parents, a firm but polite Non! is what keeps their tots firmly within the cadre. A Non! delivered with authority keeps a child within the bounds of the sandbox while his mother chats, unperturbed, on a nearby bench. 

 

French kids cry it out. They sleep all night, alone by age three moths. Their mothers don’t often breastfeed beyond six weeks. They are not pumped full of goldfish crackers and Cherrios. Yet, they are read to, doted on, and ferried to and from enriching lessons, but family life is not dictated by the needs and wants of the progeny. 

 

Bottom line, it works. French parents love their kids, make them eat their vegetables and sit at the dinner table and their babies grow into adults and they turn out just fine. 

 

Japanese kids, by contrast, seem to have no cadre at all. At least when they’re young. Recently I was with my daughter at a drop in play center, and she was on the receiving end of a pint-sized cuff. While my lizard brain responded defensively, my logical mind, for once, overrode the impulse to shoot dagger eyes at the kid and his mother. The mother of the offending tot did not make any showy displays of discipline; the wee boxer was not sidelined, or timed-out, or even scolded, really. Instead, she proffered an apologetic glance and bow, and then brought her kid to another part of the room. No biggie.

 

It was as if the mother felt that such behaviour was totally possible, in fact, it was inevitable. Kids will be kids, and part of that state of being means occasionally walloping other kids on the head. 

 

In Japan, as I’ve written before, children are not expected to go to bed at a reasonable time. They sleep with their mothers beyond the age that would be acceptable to even the hippiest of North American hippies. Children run freely. Candy is administered liberally.

 

It’s not till much later that the cadre descends swiftly and suddenly, and, perhaps, claustrophobically on Japanese kids. A full, rigorous day in school is followed by an entire evening, and often weekend at juku, or cram school. Kids can’t be kids. They don’t get to play. And when they do get downtime, their faces are glued to all manner of electronic screens. 

 

But. It works.

 

Bottom line, Japanese parents love their kids, let them eat candy, make them study hard, and their babies grow into adults and they turn out just fine. 

 

So, it stands to reason, then, that a parent should not worry so much about what is right and instead do what’s right for them. Maybe for French parents, it’s more desirable to let a child cry it out so they might rest. Or maybe a sharp reproach that corrects a child who is impinging on carefully guarded adult time is what is right. For Japanese parents, perhaps it is right to bypass the hours-long struggle to cajole a sleepless babe to slumber and just keep the kid up till 11 pm. Maybe the value of avoiding whining pleas for candy is greater than the potential damage of tooth decay.

 

Which is where pas possible comes in. For the French, it’s pas possible to allow a child to run wild at dinner or be up multiple times during the night. For Japanese, it’s also pas possible to expect a one-year-old to sleep solo, let alone though the night.

 

It’s a mindset. 

 

For me, it’s been exceedingly vexing that my kid climb my leg and whine and cry and scream and flail and throw her snot-encrusted body on the ground because I’m washing the dishes. But until now, it has still been possible. And it’s been equally possible (and equally infurating) that she be unable to entertain herself while I take five minutes to drink a coffee and write a grocery list. And you know what, I’m giving up my ambivalence about that. It’s now pas possible. And I don’t feel one wee bit badly.

 

Pas Possible. Polite but firm. Rigid. Still kind. But, pas possible.

 

Its my new parenting mantra. 

 

Watch out, kid.

 

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Further revelations about the food that I like to shove into my face-hole

Okay. Remember the Sometimes Sweet Clean-Eating Challenge?? So I did it. (Kind of). I did a WEEK (six days minus three hours) of sugar free! And it was both more torturous and less awful than I had expected it to be.

 

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Here’s what I did. No white sugar. No added sugar at all, in fact. No potatoes. No white rice. No white bread. Fruit got a pass. So did milk products. And wine. Obvs. 

 

Here’s where I cheated: Nomming jam on day one, breakfast one. A little potato action on day five. Because Mr. Chef cooked dinner. And I didn’t want to be rude. And I didn't always make hippie fairy dust bread. Because my kid decided that it was disgusting. So. Well. Whatever. We're working on the recipe. 

 

 

While I needed a little bit of time to say good-bye to my raspberry jam on Monday morning, after that, things were pretty easy in the cravings department. I had an open bar of 70 % chocolate sitting on my shelf in plain view the whole week, and I totally didn’t even eat any. Or really feel like eating any. I was just like, whatever, chocolate. Live and let live. No bigs. 

 

I was only drawn into the vortex of sweet craving when I was having an exceptionally bad day, and okay, I cheated a bit by eating chips, because it was that or jump through the phone and strangle Mr. Chef because he was home late, through no fault of his own and so crunch crunch crunch nom. But that’s potatoes are not sugar, so it doesn’t count. Kind of. Whatever. This is my blog so I can fool myself as much as I’d like. Cognitive dissonance and I are besties.

 

Anyway, bottom line, the cravings weren't so bad. And when I pined for sweetness, after a meal, a cup of something hot would typically fix me right up.

 

What was terrible was the sugar withdrawal. You guys. Face punching is more pleasurable. And I eat a pretty healthy diet, generally; very little of what I consume is processed; I never buy cookies, or candy or much of anything fun. It’s all yoghurt and veggies and fruit and okay, lots of 70% Lindt. So I thought I’d get a pass on the ol’ sug withdrawal. 

 

Nope.

 

Sore throat. Lethargy. Bedtime by, like, 8. A feeling at 4 PM on day three like I was either coming down with bird flu or dying. 

 

That alone was enough to convince me that my sugar habit, as slight as it is, needs a boot right out my front door.

 

But not before I shoved my face full of cake today. And had a very LARGE sip of a milk shake. And three fries. And a mini bundt cake. Okay, two (but one was a broken one and was missing a piece and a bit crumbly so it had way fewer calories, you know?!?!?!) Whatever. It was my husband's birthday.

 

So, I’m not going to go all ninja on sugar or anything. It's kind of unavoidable in Asia. But I’m continuing to be no white sugar at home. No added sweeteners till mid-Month. Then a two-week reprieve while I do some gallivanting, before returning to my regimen when I'm back at home. I’ll gradually add in agave and maple syrup and other hippie fairy tinctures. Because, come on. One has to live a little. 

 

So, that’s what’s going on in my tummy. Riveting. Right? Thought so.

 

The end. 

 

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Only read this if you care about mom bloggers writing about their eating habits on the internet. Because really, I'm totally lame.

You guys, this is pretty hard to believe, but I'm giving up sugar. For a week. Starting today at lunch. Because I had some good baguette left over and I hadn't properly said good-bye to my raspberry jam. We needed some closure.

 

 

I'll wait for a second while you process that.

 

 

I KNOW!!! 

Clean eating

My motivations are entirely vain - you see, my skin is an asshole. It's breaking out looking like a 17-year-old pizza delivery boy. All the while, it's also wrinkling. Which is effing BS if you ask me. So, when I read that Danielle's natropath had suggested a sugar moratorium as a means of curbing her skin problems, well, I was on that bandwagon, so fast, because obviously, everything that you read about some random stranger's naturopath on the Internet is totally, 100 percent truthiness. 

 

Anyway, I'm not going whole hog, because, let's face it, in Japan that's pretty much impossible. We don't have spouted grain hippie fairysauce toast 'round these parts. And in a country which believes that white rice is pretty much an essential part of a healthy diet, whole grain/sugar-free anything is an ultimate unicorn. 

But, I am committing on this here blog to cleaning up my palava of a diet. No added sugar (that I know is there. I am sure some will sneak in, after all, I'm functionally illiterate). Whole grain bread made by me. Whole wheat pasta (sorry Mr. Chef, I know I insult your Italian heritage,) tones of veggies, lean protein, that kind of thing. But I'm not ditching wine. Or coffee. Come on, I'm aspirational, but not a masochist. 

I'll report back in a week (unless I die of a chocolate withdrawal, which a real possibility.)

(It should be noted that upon discussing this plan with Mr. Chef, he insisted that when [note when, not if] I become a raving bitch due to chocolate / sugar withdrawal, he'll personally shove a bar of Lindt 70% right in my pie hole. Now I have all the motivation I need to prove him wrong.)

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Master of The Universe and Also Slides

Okay, sorry, excuse me a moment. It’s been awhile, I think, since I told you just how effing amazing my kid is. Seriously. So, indulge me here, will you.  

One wouldn’t really say that little S is given to corporeal risk. As an infant, she wouldn’t roll over until she was good and sure that she really really really could. It took seven months. She was sitting before she was rolling.

Stella took her first steps when she was just shy of a year, but then, for the next three months, she steadfastly refused to walk unassisted ever again. This, despite an intensive Walking For Pre-Walkers program instituted my father. She's careful and cautious and weary of bumps and bruises.

Stella has never even entertained the thought of climbing onto a surface that is higher than six inches off the ground. She would never dream of scaling the bookshelf or jumping out of her crib, or even stepping onto a raised surface without holding my hand. Still now at 19 months, she believes that she needs my assistance to get up on the couch, and my supervision to get down off my bed. She is like her mother: timid, hesitant, clumsy. Fairly the antithesis of sportive. 

But this weekend. This weekend she simultaneously amazed and scared the shit out of me. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather, or the frenetic, late afternoon energy generated by half a million children in the playground. Or maybe it was the doughnut. And cake. And several sips of my double tall mocha. Whatever it was, Stella was fortified. She clambered up the steps of the play structure, alone, for the first time ever. 

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Feet firmly planted on the ground, I encouraged her to slide down the baby slide. She considered it a moment, and then shook her head no. Nononononononono and was off, ascending to the pinnacle, intent on planting her flag and bragging to the other toddlers about her feat of mountaineering genius. I watched, heart in my throat, as she eyed the windy, big kid slide. A gaggle of children was now forming behind her as Miss S debated her next course of action. I swear my heart stopped beating, as I pictured her losing her balance and tumbling down, shattering at once her brain and her confidence. And I may or may not have shrieked, “OMG SOMEONE HELP HER!!! to the clueless kids at her back who obviously had no idea what I was yelling in English, while I paced like a madwoman below, calmly (frantically) reassuring my kid that, “It’s okay! You’re fine! Just slide down!” Other parents looked on bemused, or slightly uninterested. 

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But then she did it. She sat. Then shoved off, and slid down. By herself. Like a big girl. She was so happy, she jumped down and clapped her hands and beamed. Positively glowed. And this was, perhaps, one of my proudest parenting moments. 

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All photos were taken, obviously, well before I started pooping my pants because MAH BAYBEE IS UP SO HIGH AND IS BREAKABLE AND WAH!

 

And now, blah blah blah something insightful and heartfelt about how we should let go of our kids and encourage them to explore and blah blah whatever blah MY KID IS SO BRAVE AND COOL AND FUNNY AND I LOVE HER! Now, how 'bout a vote, hey? Down here. Just click.

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Boxing Day

Hello! I hope everyone had a merry Christmas or a really great Sunday, if that's more your thing. 

Stella and I roasted a chicken on Christmas eve, which was quite the coup considering that the other 364 days of the year, roast chickens are nowhere to be found in Japan. And it was awesome and great and we were so excited. So much so that Miss S woke up at midnight and demanded to know where exactly Santa was (in the way that non-verbal toddlers who do not really understand who the pooper scoopers Santa is might) and then continued to decline my offers of a return to bed for the next two hours or so. 

Nevertheless, my Christmas was so perfect (no it wasn't I had a mini temper tantrum, but I do every year, so it's tradition, right?) that I'm going to take a week off to recover. I may post pictures. Or not. Totally depends on the scope of my laziness. 

But temper tantrums or no, it was wonderful. Everything I wanted. Family. Friends. Presents! Wine. Cookies. 

I will tell you that Stella cleaned up big time, and now has a stockpile of vehicles so great that it leads me to believe that there is a family-wide conspiracy to raise this kid as a tomboy.

I'm on to you, you guys. 

Christmas eve*

 

* this only took me about three hours to make so you'd better appreciate it (believe me, my technical skills are something to behold)**

**please note that I got the Polaroid template here. I know, that gives you a whole new appreciation for the profundity of my computer skillz. 

See you in a week!

Mokay, bye!!!

 

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Washi Tape Christmas Garland

I'm not really one for crafts. Or anything halfway artistic. That we've lived in this apartment for two years and my solitary act of decorating effort has been the hanging of about five pictures. This says all you need to know about all I actually know about style and adornments (read: not much). Still. It's Christmas time. And now that I have a kid who is possibly able to form long-term memories and stuff, I thought I'd better just get over myself and do some crafty decorating. Japanese style.

Meaning with washi tape.

Washi Tape

You guys, if you have opposable thumbs, you can totally make this.

And now, I present you with...da dada daaaa!...the washi tape garland.

 

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The instructions pretty much write themselves.

  1. Get some washi tape. In pretty patterns. Christmas colours need not apply.
  2. Cut the tape into two strips, one about 8 inches long, the other about 7.5 inches. Now the secret is cutting your strips in equal lengths, otherwise you'll end up with funny looking rings. Which is cool if that's what you're going for. But. Because I am a genius, I came up with the best plan: I made a template out of two strips of scrap paper and used it to guide my cutting.
  3. Adhere the strips to one another, leaving a bit of the sticky side of one tape exposed. This is a bit finicky, but washi tape is forgiving. So pull it apart and start again. WT will totally get over it. Now get looping. Make your loop. Close it. Repeat. Attach your next loop to the previous. Keep going. 

Doesn't it look pretty?

Washi Tape Garland

 

  Divider leaves dark blue

 

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