My best girl turned four. FOUR! I'll just join in the chorus of every other Mamalady blogger who ever put words to screen and say I can't believe she's four. Wasn't she born yesterday? Where does time go, etc etc.

Because really, nothing I could write in the space of a blog post could ever really encapsulate what this girl means to me. My whole world changed when I became her mum. She's my all and my everything, my heart beating outside my chest, my lovely lady with auburn curls and the deepest brown eyes. 

The other night while I was tending to some important Ice Cream Making Business (!!!) Hugo slipped out of his bouncy chair (perhaps because I hadn't done up the seatbelt, because of haste and the above mentioned ice cream business? But this is the high judgey court of the Internet, so I'll never tell.) Anyway, Stella noticed him slipping, ran straight to his side, and caught his head before it hit the marble floor. And that's just the kid of kid she is: observant, watchful, careful, loving, and always always ready to help her little brother. She's an amazing kid, this one. And I get to be her mum.



Newborn baby Stella in the NICU in Japan // Stella celebrates her first birthday by shoving cake into her face, which is really only reasonable // Stella celebrates her second birthday at Ohori park in Fukuoka, Japan // Stella's third birthday in a swanky hotel in Singapore // Stella's fourth birthday at our kitchen table, where she announced that the cake I had made was "not very yummy, it's crunchy and yucky." But then she ate it anyway, so. 

Keeping The Peace in the Far East


Today we had a little girl over to play. As she was leaving, we suggested that she might like to give Hugo a kiss good bye. Stella, meanwhile, objected. Quite vociferously. “NO HE’S MUY BRUDDER!!” And brothers are not for sharing, and certainly not for kissing by other small children. 

(Okay. So. Dead. Because, ADORABLE.)

And mostly this is how their relationship goes, Stella and Hugo. He is captivated by everything and anything she does because she’s a big kid and he so desperately wants to be a big kid. Plus she’s the sweetest, and quite honestly, I’m captivated too. She loves her brudder, and is quite sure that he is HER baby, and “Mama, wet me howld him, wet me touch him, wet me kiss him, why he sweeping? AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH, *screams* oh, wook! He’s awake! Goodie. Wet me hold him, okay? OKAY?”

So, most of the time things are peachy, if slightly over touchy and under nap-y, in our sibling relationship. 

But, curve ball: Hugo has just learnt how to use his hands. (Believe me, my salad bowl never saw it coming.)

So now, instead of one-sided wrestle-snuggle-fests, Hugo is an active participant, throwing out the odd scratchy hand, or grabbing a little side of face, or a handful of hair.  

And Stella gets UPSET, dismayed that her beloved brother would actually scratch her face or pull her hair, or otherwise inflict bodily harm. She doesn’t get that these are not calculated acts of violence, but rather nearly random movements by a person barely in control of his body. 

So, to keep peace in the far East, I always make a thing of telling Hugo to be gentle, or give him a light scolding for hurting his sister, or ask that he apologise. But other than that, I’m quite clearly out of my depth here.


How do I protect my girl’s feelings while getting her to simmer down just a bit about the whole HE PULWED MUY HAIR! stuff, because geeze, he's just a baby!


Suggestions? Please?

(Also, please note, these pictures are not staged. I just simply can not keep this child away from her brother, period then end. And okay, one more thing, I kind of love that.) 


Kid Life 365 {Week Five}


Thirty-four: Hugo day two. Is there anything better than watching your partner hold your baby? I think no. 

Thirty Five: Actually, okay, maybe watching your child hold your baby. We came home from the hospital after spending two nights there, and while getting out of the hospital was about as challenging as crossing the Sahara (more on that later, hopefully) it was so good to be home.

Thirty-six: Making time for big-kid cuddles. 

Thirty-seven: I basically can't take a picture of Stella without Hugo in the frame. Wherever he is, so is she. To say that she is thrilled with her new baby is a gross understatement. 

Thirty-eight: Sleep smiles. One of the many things I had forgotten about the newborn stage. And, PS, they are every bit as delightful the second time around.

Thirty-nine: Hugo's coard stump healed. We celebrated by offering him his first bath at home. It was a resounding success. We've got another water baby on our hands!

Fourty: Well, little Hugo Bear, you sure do look adorable when you're sucking your thumb. 


I'm slowly getting around to editing, processing, and filing my photographs from the first few weeks of Hugo's life. I've decided to take on two 365 projects; one for Stella and one for Hugo. I'll post a collection of each of them here, a highlight roll, so to speak. I intend to use my DSLR camera exclusively of this project, but let's be real, the first few weeks of newbornhood, when you're drifting in a hormonal haze of exhaustion, and your says are filled with poop, and spit-up, tears and mastitis, a certain degree of grace in the form of iPhone photos can be extended, right?

Also, I'm wondering if I might post pictures one-by-one rather than in a collection? Because then I might blog more than once a week, and might write thoughtful accompanying text? But I've already started it this wan and um, important decisions are haaaaard!! 



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Kid Life 365 {Week Four}

Twenty // Listening to the baby; "he says dum-dum dum-dum dum-dum."

Twenty-one // Quiet time, becuase Mama needed it.

Twenty-two // Sleeping over in my bedroom because of a nasty cough that just won't quit. 

Twenty-three // Getting a physio treatment for that unending cough.

Twenty-four // An afternoon playdate with her "best fwiend."

Twenty-five // Saturday afternoon at the pool. This kid just WON'T allow for her face to get wet, so creative methods of encouraging pool jumping need to be found.

Twenty-six // Baby love, and now with hindsight, an excellent foreshadowing of how she'll love on her brother.


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New Year's Eve in Jakarta


New Years Eve! What a wild time we had (if your definition of wild equals being unconscious by 10 PM, than wild it was. But these are preg lady rules, so.)


Stella and I decided to make a night out. We roasted a chicken and had a candle-lit dinner, fancy napkins and all. Then, we headed down to the hotel lobby to “See da people singing at da big party.” 



I wasn’t sure how Miss. Stella would react to “da big party” as she’s not usually one for noise, and boy was there a lot of noise that night. But, this kid was in her element. There was even (an excruciatingly long) moment where she rushed the stage, and got up right in front of the performers and started singing along with the band. I mean, you guys, she was doing do-wop arm movements. And dances. And singing along to songs she didn’t know into a pretend microphone.


I was doing my very best to give her stern and disapproving looks, and insisting that she GETDOWNFROMTHERERIGHTNOW but I failed utterly, because I was too busy trying not to pee in my pants from laughter. And I mean, come on. The whole thing was just utterly delightful. 


Mr. Chef was working on New Year’s Eve, such is the curse of the hospitality world. And my goodness, what a long night it was for him, and then he was back at it first thing in the morning before Stella and I had gotten out of bed. But, I guess it was a good thing he was in his whites for the night as I did need to send a mayday text his way to help me wrangle a certain someone off stage.

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Fresh, New.

New Years is kind of a crock of shit, right? I mean what makes January 1st any more or less significant than November 13th? We all launch headlong into the year full of ambition, vague resolutions, and hope for a new year new me this is the year that I’ll finally loose those ten pounds cross my fingers hope to die. 


I don’t buy it. Intellectually.


But emotionally? That’s a different story.


 As the year draws to a close I invariably catch myself taking stock, ticking off my achievements and mourning those ambitions that fell away.  Buoyant at the prospect of a fresh start, I begin keeping a mental list with all my hopes for everything that will be different, this year, promise, pinky swear.  


This year is no different. I’m hopeful that 2014 will offer indulgences, and maybe go a bit easier on me?


In the spirit of going easy, I’m not putting much pressure on myself this year. Our family is on the cusp of expansion, and I have no idea how easily we’ll all adapt to that change. 


So, I’ve set my sights on some easier objectives. Chief amongst those is a new photo project. 


A photo a day in 2014. 


My objective is to capture our days, the beautiful ordinary, and keep a record of them for my future self to look back upon, nostalgically, and wonder how it all went so quickly. My aim is to focus on kid life, without necessarily taking portraits daily. Because goodness knows, a certain three year old wouldn’t stand for that. Instead, I’ll draw inspiration from lifestyle photographers like this one who’s a real hero of mine, and this Jakarta based lifestyle photographer who is also doing a photo project this year. I love the way each of these ladies captures the background moments and the tiny things that make our lives so beautiful. 


I have so enjoyed the 52 project that I completed last year (last year???!!!), and so I’m going to carry on with that, by incorporating it into this year’s more ambitious project.  


I’m not sure yet, how I’ll post this project. Maybe in a weekly wrap-up? Let’s see. 


Now, here’s the first image to kick things off. See, I told you I’d get some resistance. 


"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: On Christmas Eve listing to the children's choir singing the Sound of Music.

Can you believe that we're here now at the final weekend of the year? We've come a long way since the first portrait of the year. I've really enjoyed participating in Jodi's portrait project and marking each week with a photograph of my girl. It's amazing to see incremental changes each week, as Stella goes from chubby faced toddler to long-limbed big girl. Fifty-two short weeks! I can't wait to do it all over again in 2014, and this time with a shiny new camera

Another aspect of this project which I've really enjoyed has been the community mindedness of all the project 52 participants. I've enjoyed playing along with some old blog friends like Liz, Claudia, and Erica as well as discovering some new-to-me blogs like this one, and this one, and this one, which is a constant source of inspiration. Yay, everyone, congratulations on finishing and go team etc. 


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"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: Making my heart stop since 2010.

We had about one nice day last week, such is the reality of rainy season. When its nice in the afternoon, you can bet we'll be outdoors. I snapped this little shot on my phone. I didn't even pick up my DSLR once last week. Maybe it's Christmas shenanigan, maybe it's pregnancy, maybe it's a case of holiday homesickness, but I wasn't in the mood.

Still, making photographs of my everyday is so important to me, and I'm pretty sure that my resolutions for 2014 will be photography related. I need to get back into the habit. I'm sort of half-heartedly batting roudn the idea of a daily photo project like the one I completed in 2012, but I'm not sure. That might be too much with a new baby on the horizon. Let's see!!

Linking up, as always, with Jodi.

Oh, and PS, a look back at the year in portraits.


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(Anyone else feel like phoning it in as we lead up to the holidays? Yes? Maybe it's my preoccupation with all things Christmas; maybe it's my current state of giganticism; maybe it's my house has been caught up in a vortex of chaos for the past few days, but I'm having a hard time thinking coherent thoughts. So here's a little brag-dorable anecdote for you. Imagine it's a real blog post.)


It's no secret that Stella is no fan of sleep. So when I proposed a little nap to exterminate the awful baditude that struck my kid down after school, she melted into a predictable puddle of tantrum tears. I explained that when our bodies are tired, it's important to rest, and if we're too tired to use our kind voices, we need to take a nap. 

No, no no, I not tired at awl! 

But Stella, you're awfully cranky. That makes me think you're tired.

No, I not cranky! See!

And then she stopped mid tantrum, tear and snot-streaked, and gave me this exact face.

So, obviously I peed my pants laughing because this kid is just too much.

(And for the record, no, she didn't take a nap.)


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"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: trying out the baby's crib.

We put up the crib this weekend with the help of a pint-sized carpenter. I can tell you one thing, I have never seen this girl more excited about anything. Ever. Not chocolate. Not presents. Not even Christmas. Crib day. Knocked her socks right off. Stella is so excited for this baby to get here. She's going to make the best kind of big sister.



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Snow in Jakarta

Here I present to you Jane and Michael Banks. They are sleeping and Mary Poppins has to sit in a chair and sing to them. All night long. A lot. Mary Poppins has to do some complicated hand maneuvers "wif your stufs" which very much resembles winding a ball of yarn. 

Jane and Michael will then wake up, get dressed, put on coats and hats, and head outside. The will be singing "Just a Spoonful of Sugar" and marching. Obviously. Because, duh.

Jane and Michael will then don snow boots, hats, scarves, and coats (first set of hats and coats notwithstanding) and head out into the hallway of the building where they will build snowmen. Jane and Michael have a remarkable awareness of the exact ingredients required to build a snowman despite never having actually seen one in real life. In fact, Jane and Michael have witnessed the existence of snowflakes about twice. Ever. 

The next day, while seated around the breakfast table, Jane is asked to recount her snowy adventures of the previous afternoon. Jane hops up, runs to the door, flings it wide for the world (or at least the hallway security cameras) to see that yes, Jane's family does eat breakfast in their skivvies. And hi, that's a nice invisible snowman.   

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"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: Splashing in the baby pool.

We've made some backtracks in swimming these past few weeks, I think because I pushed a little too hard.

As a teeny tiny little thing, she took her first steps just before one. And then refused to walk again until 15 months.

When will I learn? You can't push this willful and circumspect little person. She does things in her own time. When she's good and ready and sure that she'll be successful. 


Aren't these from last week beautiful? 


"a portrait of my child, once a week, ever week in 2013."

Stella: "Hello Nadam, I check your baby, okay? Is it a baby boy or a baby girl?"

We've been playing a lot of doctor-doctor, which is great for me, because as the patient, I get to lie down. And that, at eight months pregnant, is tops. 

Stella is getting more and more excited about Baby Brother. She is volunteering little kisses to my belly, and asks about where his feet are. And at bedtime, she likes to lie down with her hands on my bump. She's going to make a great big sister.

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Three and a Half

Stella turned three and a half yesterday. Though, if you ask her, she's just three. NOT and a half. Because that is JUST ridiculious. 


I surprised her with a cake after dinner. This is the first time I've made any sort of deal out of the a -and-a-half birthday thing. But I like it. And I hope to carry this with us wherever we end up next, a family ritual painstakingly packed up, and then revealed again each year, no matter where we live. 

I also took this occasion to finish a birthday video that I had started right before Stella's third birthday. I feel like six months is a reasonable amount of time in which to produce a birthday film. Yes? 

(Also, does anyone else feel quite murdery towards the new iMovie?? Becuase hajs;k!!) 

Life according to Stella at three from erica knecht on Vimeo.

Happy half birthday, kiddo. Life with you is three and a half times more fun. 


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"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: "Chocolate cake!"

I took this picture just as the kitchen timer rang. It was a lazy Saturday. The kind where, despite the lovely weather, our Saturday activities don't extend much beyond a Peppa Pig marathon. Normally I find these types of days thickly oppressive. But this Saturday, we abandoned screen guilt, played a rowdy game of "push Papi off the bed" and made a chocolate cake. It was perfect.


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"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: Wanted to be pool-side even as dusk fell.

We've been in Bali for the past few days on a little family babymoon. Strangely I have hardly had my camera out, which is a shame, really because the Chef and I had such a fun time with Stella, and I have hardly any images of our first real family vacation.

I'd like to say that the reason for my photographic hiatus has something to do with living in the moment (because isn't that what bloggers are supposed to say?) But actually it had more to do with the fact that it was hot. And we were in the pool basically the entire time. And I was slowing down with this big belly. And as I approach the final stretch of this pregnancy, I feel like I'm turning inward. Maybe all my creativity is going towards creating this little boy? I dunno. Next week I'm vowing to pick up my camera more.

Last week, I stumbled acorss two new blogs that I'm now following as a result of this photo project: one, and two. Isn't it lovely, this little community? 

Nesting. Digitally.

I think I'm nesting.

But not in the way that is typical. I mean, our little nursery corner remains decidedly empty. I have not actually bought any of the tiny little onsies I've wish listed for our little boy. Our closets are a jumble of disorganisation and our windows are covered in fingerprints. 

But! My computer? Undergoing a major reorginisation. I'm cleaning up my photo archives and finally putting together a picture book of Stella's first year.

And, like wasn't she the most beautiful newborn you ever saw?

Those little fingers! I can see them still in her big girl hands. 

You guys! I'm getting SO excited to do this all over again. 

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Stella Speaks


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

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


Wook at me, Mama! Wook! 

Driving by the water fountain in the roundabout:

Why is da mountain tuned off?


I have a ba-squito bite!


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

Me: Stella, can I sit in your lap?

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

While switching roles in a game of restaurant-restaurant:

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

It can not work! It's bloken! 


Can I go bare-a-foot?


As I'm headed out the door:

Are you going to a neeting? 


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

Me: Stella, how many sausages do you want?

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


Pulling a German book out of the shelf:

Mama, can you speak dis one? 


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


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


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

What adorable things are your kids saying?


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"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013."

Stella: Asleep. Awake.

She rarely takes afternoon naps these days. But after a weekend full to the brim, she slept. And I lay down too, though I wasn't even tired. Afternoon sleeps with my girl, they are gold dust. 


This baby is styled perfectly, wouldn't you say? And this boy is adorable, dressed to the nines!





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