Things and Stuff.



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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love this onsie.

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

Here's an adorable baby shower gift idea!


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

Things and Stuff.

Where did this week even go??? It's been a whirlwind of travel, unpacking, errands, deadlines, and birthday madness. Our newly anointed three-year-old is celebrating her birthday today with her first ever majorly totally bonkers big deal birthday party. ("I fwee," she'll tell you. "I big now!") So while I run around like a rabid chicken, I'll leave you with a few gems from round 'ye ol' internets.

Parenting has been on my mind, lately. My newest harebrained scheme towards gold-star-super-glitterdom in the parenting realm is this book, which I managed to pick up in Singapore (OMG how I missed beautiful, well-stocked bookstores!) So far, I'm in. It's the first book I've read that "gets" my kiddo. The first book that's copped to the idea that there are certain kids who are just more taxing than others. Certain ones who will resist sleep, and all the tricks in all the books just won't really help. I'm all in.

Here's a wonderful piece that really resonated with me. Eleven things I Want My Daughter To Hear Me Say. I'm particularly taken with number one. Might just print this out and tape it to my fridge. (If I EVER get my printer connected.)

An insightful argument against that old saying, boys will be boys. Really worth a read.

Another wonderful post froma blogger I admire x 10 on letting little girls be little girls. (And, PS, all of Aisa needs to read this post, because the number of times I've seen five-year-olds in high heels makes me lose my faith in good sense and humanity and stuff.)

Did you know that Indoneisa has some of the world's most progressive (sorta) laws towards breastfeeding? It's illegal here to offer formula to infants less than six months in age, unless there is a compelling reason to do so. This, on the face of it, sounds like a great idea to me, but the issue is far more complex than it appears. I urge you to give this a read.

Speaking of Indo, I'm really enjoying Hither & Tither's Bali travelogue. I'm already dreaming up our next trip.

The week according to twitter by one of the nicest bloggers out there. (And I feel like, 70 percent, our weeks were the same.)

I'm loving this new-ish-to-me blog, not least because Ashley turned me onto a fantastic graphic designer.

This kid! This kid's got the most gorgeous eyes! (And also a pretty impressive aptitude for the harmonica.)

So, this one time I surfed some baby waves in Bali, and told myself that I was hella cool, because first time out and I stood up rode the surf right into the beach. Huh. My name twin is way cooler. WAY cooler. (Also: sharks.)

Alright, wish me luck, charm, and organisation. And also no tears. Birthday party, HO!

Vote For Us @ TopBaby Blogs! The Best Baby Blog Directory

Things and Stuff.

THIF  S Or something. This week. THIS WEEK. Eff you, this week. I've been knee deep in life stuff which has been entirely sub-optimal, plus sleep stuff (also lower than awesome, but Mr. Chef has born the brunt of that one), parenting stuff (OMG THE TANTRUMS "mama GO OUT! mama come here! NO GO OUT! Heartbreak + rejection at ear-shattering pitch x 45 minutes) and work stuff (awesome why are there not more minutes and hours and time you dirty bastard).

Thank god it's Saturday so I can hide out in a cafe, catch up on internet stuff, enjoy burger and milkshake in good conscience, and perhaps stock up on some fake DVDs. 

Here are some things that I've enjoyed round these ol internetz.

A plan of atack to get out of the doldrums (PS did you know that The Doldrums is actually a place? Like in geography? Where sailors get stuck for weeks and months and eternity because the wind just kind of quits? I know because I just listened to an hour-long radio program about sailing around the world. I am SUCH a nerd.)

This is my child's spiritual twin. 

A great post on being okay with not loving all aspects of little kid fun timez. For me, it's playing babies. OMG, stab me in the eye. 

Amy has added personalized art to her shop

Baby crack for all you android users. (Too soon, Tom Ford?)

I've been pondering the greater questions in life, including cargo vests, fantastic graphic tees for toddlers, and the perfectly draping white tee-shirt. Any suggestions on the latter?

One strategy I'm employing to deal with the tantrums (with limited efficacy, I'm more OMG RAGEFACE than pace and calm) is to remind myself that it's a phase. It will pass. Time slips by etc. etc. etc.  Here, case in point. 

There was a really fantastic piece in the Atlantic a few weeks ago about touch screens and toddlers. It lead me to this app, much to the delight of both me and Stella. 

Speaking of screen time, we've been spending ours watching Infant Self Rescue Swimming videos. Which promted Stella to believe that she could swim, when in fact, she can not. 

I'm pretty sure that life can not continue without this pillow. And this has been hanging out in my Etsy cart for far too long. 

SO, I wanted to link to some flower faces that Roxy Marj posts on her instagram (must follow @roxymarj). They're beautiful, quirky and totally inspring. But, because I do not with the internet, I can not. Instead, here's her blog. (PS I'm @expatriababy).


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.  


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.


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!


Image source.

Also, Ikat. Please. 


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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Linkamarinky Linky Linky

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Mondays could use some help, no? Especially Mondays when you know that you'll be spending the morning a the Chinese Consulate praying that they issue your child a visa. So, clearly I spent a good amount of time on the weekend distracting myself from the visa anxiety with a dose all things interwebular. And now you can too. Here you go:

Sing this song to your kid, and you'll be sucked into a time / space vortex of memory (if you were a child of the eighties and also Canadian), plus your kid will love it. Promise. But you have to do the dance. 

Ever wonder about breastfeeding in Mongolia? I totally did. And now you can know everything. Its super interesting. I'd suggest that you read it.

I'm obsessed with this artist. She's a Scandi. Which is why she's awesome. Obvs.

Oh, and is this little blind kitty not, like, the totally the most adorable thing ever?

Speaking of cute things on YouTube, Stella and I were mesmerized by this wee guy, sweet Lil Drac.

Far and away, the most hilarious thing I read all week. Oh boy, I can't wait till my kid starts really talking.

My writer friend wrote this about screen-free kids. And I totally aspire to be that kind of parent, but, well, cute animal videos on YouTube.

On a more serious note, my friend Aisha, who writes one of my favourite expat blogs, is hosting a series on mental health issues called Breaking The Code of Silence. I urge you to check it out; it's powerful stuff. And, if you're interested - why not offer up a guest post?

Okay, that's it from me. Cross your fingers and toes that we get our visa!!


Oh, WAAAAIIITTTTTTT....before you go, could you give us a quick vote on Top Baby Blogs? It'll be like karma for the visa office, or something. 



Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

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Bonus Saturday Links To Love {Video Edition}

Why.....someone must be procrastinating like it's their job.

That someone is me. But I suspect that that someone may also be you.  And far be it from me to impede your procrastinatory ways. Rather, I will support you in all of your postponery and foot dragging. In that vein, I present you with videos. That probably were viral months ago. But I procrastinate everything. Even video watching. So. Whatever. Here you go. 

I aspire to this when I'm an octogenarian. I have a long way to go, but I'll be working on it. I have time.

This may just be the best wedding trailer video of all time. Watch it and try not to get misty. Just try. I dare you.

Norwegians are hilarious. And books are hard. Call the IT guy.

I hope that I can raise my daughter to be this cool. Seriously. Just look at this.

Get your nerd on and watch these amazing documentaries. I know I am. 

Wanna take a photography course from Stanford for free? Here you go. While not strictly video, it involves a camera. So whatever. Don't complain. 

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Links To Love Because Mondays are Significantly Less Than Awesome

I have some things to show you. See, look.


I'm trying to be a grown-up blogger, and as such, I'm giving myself some focus and direction on my blog. Here's my new editorial calandar. Feel free to ooh and awww.

I'm delving into the world of YouTube hair tutorials. Which basically proves that I have entirely too much time on my hands and entirely too few smart thoughts in my brain. Oh well. Here's the sock bun SECRET!

Speaking of hair, I'm newly obsessed with this product. It has done wonders, and for the first time EVAH! I can flat iron my hair and have it not look terrible.

Oh, and while we're at it, let's all learn how to tie a scarf, too, OKAY?

This is probably just about the most amazing and inspiring writerly story in the history of writerly stories. Pretty wonderful, if you ask me.

Speaking of pretty wonderful things, I am in love with these prints. They're pretty and wonderful.

And just because I'm not above a little shameless promotion, here's a post I wrote for Aiming Low.

And the latest installment in our NorthSoutEastWest series.


And finally, please, pretty please, with a cherry on top, would you give us a vote on Top Baby Blogs? If you do it once per day, I'll kiss you three times like the Swiss do. THANKS!


We Are A Top Baby Blog

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Stream of Consciousness Sunday: 21st Century Baby

I Skyped my sister today. I didn’t have much to tell her, so I showed her all of Stella’s new party tricks. “How old are you, Stella?” She holds up one finger. She bows her head in greeting. She can bring her finger up to her face and say “Shhhhhh!” Though it sounds more like “Ssssssss.” When we were finished and it was time to say good-bye, Stella kissed the computer.


I skyped Mr. Chef today. I didn’t have much to tell him, either. Except that we’re both fine. We slept okay. Stella’s eating well. 


Stella saw the cat, and rubbed her fingers together, calling him to come sit on her lap. She was frustrated when he wouldn’t come. She lifted her arms up and down, and wondered why her Papi wouldn’t pick her up. When it was time to say good-bye, she kissed the computer.


Each night, back in Japan, I call Mr. Chef at bedtime so that he can say good night to Stella. When they’re done talking, she kisses the phone. Sometimes, her lips hit the big red bar at the bottom of the screen, and the phone hangs up. I always call back so they can say good night properly.


I wonder what it’s like to be a baby in this age of technology. To grow up believing that parents, and cats, and aunties live inside these little screens. That they can feel kisses through the internet.



This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post at
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.



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Happy Fourth, America

Happy fourth of July, people of the interwebz! It's my first ever Independence Day celebrated in America and I'm not really sure how to do it properly. We're Canadian, so we don't really understand things like barbecue and pulled pork and cornbread. And were we to try to cook a Fourth Feast, we'd likely douse everything in maple syrup and remark, "This is aboot the best thing ever! Delicious, eh?????"

So I think we'll go out for hamburgers instead.

But what I do know, is that my FIRST. EVER. GUEST POST! just went live at Paul et Paula, which is a super awesome fantastic kids' fashion blog. It would make my day if you clicked on over and left a comment. And would totally make up for my barbecue incompetency woe. 



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On Doing It All (Airing My Dirty Laundry)

Internet, I am super-mega-effing stressed out right now, and it's all your fault. YOU! You, with your shiny happy pictures on Facebook of your smiling little kids, your sunsets, your perfect dinners, your soccer games, your evenings with friends, your tidy little houses, and your chirpy LOLtastic updates. You with your blog posts, coyly letting slip that you have a jillion kids all of whom are little prodigies, who you sit with while they practice piano, and behave themselves while you run a business and singlehandedly keep your household ticking along like a Swiss watch, (except for that one lampshade that is just a tad off kilter, and that's like totally shameful for you). Blerg, you Internet.I can't live up to your standards! BLERG YOU!


(Just kidding, Internet. I love you. Don’t be mad.)


You see, I can’t live up to that. For example, this is what my house looks like right now:

(Minus the baby, who, praise the heavens, is peacefully napping. Hopefully for many many many minutes.)


The problem is, my expectations and my ambition are in conflict: I expect myself to keep an immaculately clean house; to have organized closets; to make homemade baby food; to dream up and implement baby betterment projects; to cook meals worthy of a chef; to handwrite thank-you cards in a timely fashion; keep the baby happy and entertained; and a myriad other household tasks, varied and sundry. 


But I also have ambitions: grow my blog; finish that freelance project I'm midway through; learn to sew; start running again; explore my little corner of Japan; keep up with friends and family back home; go out and do awesome fun things with my girl. Bike to the shore. Decorate my house. Finish that resume. 


But there is just not room for all of these things in my life. The expectation / ambition conflict means that something always gets left by the wayside. Unfortunately it is usually my living room. (Incidentally, when taking my daughter out to play the other day, I had to go over her with a lint roller to make her presentable enough for public observation. Oh gawd. I am the best mother ever.) 


Once more, for the kids in the back row, I give you this in lieu of a thousand words: 



Please note the dirty breakfast dishes on the table. And the random blanket strewen across the couch. Along with the cat cage, that was recently extracted from THE CLOSET OF HORRORS,  of which I remain very afraid, and as I have not yet found an alternate home for said cat cage, it just sits there in our livingroom. Like this. 



So anyway, I'm stressing out about not being as good as the other mothers out there in Internetlands real and imagined : not doing as much; not being organized enough; not being fun enough; our outdoorsy enough; or ambitious or industrious or whatever enough. And then, I read this book to my girl for her bedtime story.


This gem of a book! This little treasure with it's jaunty rhymes, it's joyful illustrations, it's depiction of the real life of a family.


Peepo! by Janet & Allen Ahlberg


Look! A messy house! Puddles on the floor! Clothes strewn in random places! A baby who lost his shoe! A mother working hard, trying to stay on top of things! This looks just like my life!




And I started to feel a bit better. I'll bet that more people than are willing to admit have dirty laundry like mine. I'll bet more people have chaos that they are sweeping under the rug. But we keep it hidden, and post shiny happy things on Facebook and on our blogs. 


Now, here is where I would say, in conclusion, that I'm going to go easy on myself, modify my expectations, realize that they are unrealistic, and that no one actually lives that way. 


But what I'm actually thinking is HOLY CRAP I've got to organize the closet, and clean out the fridge, and make baby food, and that massive pile of ironing isn't de-wrinkling itself, and there are masses of emails that are hanging over my head, and the minutes in the day are not nearly enough to find the time to finish that video and write that update, and think smart thoughts, and my kid is whining, and needs me to pick her up and I can't make dinner and ... gah gah gha ... brainaneurysmkaboom. 


So, maybe I'll just conclude with a question or two? Are you swimming along swiftly, or just barely keeping your head above water? If you're managing....please tell me howhowhowhowhow!?!???????




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Baby Essentials + Pinterest

In an attempt to boost my interent cred, and maintain my webular ninja status, I've just signed up for Pinterest. Crazy, I know, I'm trying to be an early adopter for once. (When Facebook started, I was all, "internet? What is 'internet' anyway?" And I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to Twitter. My last job forced me to sign up, against my will. Those bastards. And now I'm addicted.) But Pinterest! I'm joining! Early(ish)! 

So far, I'm in love.

(Now, imagine a wonderfully elegant transition to my next line of thinking here.)

I've gotten a few emails from readers* asking for hints, tips, and tricks for surviving as a new parent. And I thought to myself, "MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN! I'll just create a little pinboard of baby essentials, and learn about Pinterest that way." So, without further adoo, here is my wonderful fabulous list of things that are essential for the all essential baby. 

Okay, so now that you've had a look, I'd like to say a few things about Pinterest

  1. It is awesome and beautiful (true)
  2. You should join (also true)
  3. I worry that I've degraded the aesthetic value and strayed from the philosophy of Pinteret by posting a shitload of plastic crap on my pinboard, but wheves (probable)
  4. Is it, perhaps a gigantic feedback loop wherein everyone ends up liking the same stuff? (maybe)
  5. Will it make me feel bad about myself for not having enough beautiful things in my life? (yes)
  6. WIll it keep me blissfully unfazed by my screaming child as I sit by her crib as she shouts about the injustice of having to go to sleep (certainly, yes)

Therefore, in conclusion, I'm digging Pinterest. You guys should join. Hit me up for an invite, will ya? And then follow me, cuz it's more fun that way.

Also, as an aside, if you want a superhelpful beginers guide, visit Megan at Sorta Crunchy


*No I haven't; I just said that to sound important, like a bloggy authority. Whatever, all the cool kids are doing it.


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