Showered with love/diapers

2 weeks ago, several of our lovely friends from school (Beth, Keeley, and Kim) organized a baby shower for me and my friend Therese. Therese is a high school English teacher at the school, and the students’ prototype for what a normal pregnant woman should look like. I blame her for all the confused looks the students give me when they witness my massiveness (the fact that I am due in November and she is due in February doesn’t seem to register – these children have grown up without health class).

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Therese is very happy to be of service.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect before I got to the shower – most of the baby showers I’ve attended in Canada have been laid-back, men-welcome affairs – and I was totally blown away with what the hostesses had prepared. For starters, the venue was awesome. Agaligo is a Victorian-style mansion with a variety of different party appropriate spaces. I was so excited to discover that the room we were in was decorated in perfect, delicate taste, EXCEPT for the dead fox in a glass case on the wall. Oh Thailand. You make me so happy.

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Jessika and I discuss the decor: “What kind of stupid fox gets itself caught in Bangkok?” “I know, right?!?”

Once I managed to heave myself back into an upright position, it was time for the party games to start. I had never even conceived (haha) of most of the games the hostesses had planned, and their attention to detail was mind-boggling. As someone who struggles with details on a daily basis (ie: remembering to wear shoes), it would never occur to me to create an anatomically correct paper uterus and a bunch of sperm with faces for a game of “pin the sperm on the uterus.” Well, maybe the idea would occur to me, but the execution would be sadly lacking, and I definitely would not have remembered to offer appropriate prizes.

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First, all the guests placed their “sperm” in the uterus…

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Then, Therese and I were spun around, and had to place our “egg” in the uterus (or was this the point where Kim was guiding me through contractions? I forget…)

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And voila! Leah and I had a baby together! She won a vase of fresh flowers, and I won… a baby.

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The female anatomy is still very confusing to Ellen.

But the games didn’t stop there: attendees also got to create collages of what my and Therese’s babies will look like, using headshots of us and our respective husbands.

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Lisa came up with a real gem.

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Oh well. At least she’s in head down position.

And then it was time to guess how big Therese and I measured around the middle. I tried not to be too offended when some guesses were off by a foot or more (and not in my favour).

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Rina is also very pregnant, though, so she took pity on me.

We also got to partake in a baby bottle chugging competition. It was fun until I realized that a little creature is going to be chugging on a certain part of my anatomy in a few weeks. Not so amusing after that…

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Rina and Sarah demonstrate their best latching faces.

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And Sarah’s competitive spirit and perfect latch win the prize. Ellen is still finding the female anatomy quite confusing.

A bunch of us lived in an apartment building last year called “Big Tree,” and until we delivered the goods, both Therese and I fielded many, many requests for a “Big Tree Baby.” So the hostesses thought it would be appropriate to create a piece of nursery art for each of us that included a “big tree.” No offence to the building, but the artwork is much, much cuter than that sewage-scented apartment ever was.

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First, she’s the perfect pregnant prototype, and now, she has a cute piece of baby art. Therese is one happy, happy camper.

Our friends also wrote messages on a bunch of diapers for those wonderful, highly-anticipated, middle-of-the-night diaper-changing sessions. Hopefully, having a little light reading material in the wee hours will wake me up enough that I don’t drop Bannock.

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Adorable Vera and dirty diapers are such a visual oxymoron.

Our friends gave us a bunch of really thoughtful gifts. I’m not going to showcase them all here, but I had to share this li’l number: crocodiles’n’ babies might be my new favourite combination.

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I did not know such epicness existed, but Katherine managed to find it.

A huge thank-you to Beth, Kim, and Keeley for planning such a great celebration. Having a baby in a different country can feel a bit crazy at times, and feeling so much support from our Bangkok community was huge for both me and Therese.

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The love in our hearts for you three is even bigger than our bellies.

And one last photo to conclude: I love a prego line-up, and this was the first time that all 5 of my pregnant friends in Bangkok were in the same room as me. Asia is severely under-populated, so we all decided to do our bit…

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Nicole – 37 weeks, Rina – 36.5 weeks, Ruth – 35 weeks, Kelley – 27 weeks, Therese – 23 weeks, Lip – 23 weeks (please don’t give me any prego rage if I got your due date wrong!!)

Foodie Friday: 57th Street and Govinda’s

Haven’t written one of these posts in a while! I have, however, been chowing down pretty good’n’often recently. It suddenly hit me that once little Bannock is here, she is also going to be chowing down pretty good’n’often, which will probably lead to a slight reduction in my mobility. So, I am making a valiant attempt to eat my way around Bangkok before she arrives. Here are two of the restaurants that I hit up this week:

57th Street at the Marriott

One of the best parts about working for a magazine is the random invites that get sent my way. On Wednesday, I received an invitation to a celebration of Indian and Indian-Chinese food at the 57th Street restaurant at the Marriott, which would take place that evening. It was accompanied by an apology for the short notice. No apologies necessary: any time I’m invited to scarf curry for no charge, I’m a pretty happy camper. Todd made the supreme sacrifice of swapping his volleyball game for a night full of binge eating, and accompanied me.

The evening began with wine and Indian/Chinese fusion appetizers.

This photo demonstrates neither wine nor Indian-Chinese foods. But it does show TODD who likes to EAT.

After an hour of chit-chats and calories, the Indian ambassador to Thailand gave a brief speech – I’m sure the content was great, but my brain is drawing a complete blank – and we stormed the restaurant.

Part of the Indian selection.

Part of the Indian-Chinese fusion table

Aloo Gobhi, Kadhai Paneer, and Goan Prawn Curry

Wee gems from the ocean

The spread of food was pretty impressive. Sadly, these days my stomach’s capacity is pretty pathetic (compared to my glory days, at least), so I limited myself to Indian food.

But don’t worry about me! I still managed to find a few calories.

When I noticed that everyone around me was drinking wine, though, I decided to drown my sorrows in the dessert room.

Pretty decent, as distractions go.

I couldn’t fully capture everything Todd ate in one photo: let’s just say he got his money’s worth.

I can’t believe you didn’t at least TRY to capture my meal on film. So betrayed.

All in all, it was a delicious evening, and we will happily return any time the Marriott wants to celebrate Indian food.

Govinda’s

I barely had time to digest before it was time to waddle out for another meal. While the name may suggest otherwise, Govinda’s is actually an Italian restaurant. It has been quite a while since I’ve eaten Italian food, and I wanted to order everything on the menu. Decisions of any kind have never been my strong suit, but they are especially difficult now that I have to account for the cravings of both myself and Bannock. I haven’t been too impressed with her impulse control just yet. I started off with a Caprese Salad, and then ploughed through a plate of pesto gnocchi.

The gnocchi was great. My facial expression on the other hand…

Drowning in an amazing pool of oil/garlic/basil.

I ditched T-bone in favour of some more estrogen-filled comrades.

Who tried to pretend that I wasn’t taking awkward photos of them in the middle of their dinners/intense, estrogen-fuelled conversation.

I have to ask: is it a female thing to share meals? I’ve often seen women do this, but do men do it, too? I can’t speak for myself, because I am extremely territorial about food, and the thought of splitting dishes makes me break into a cold sweat. Maybe this is due to the fact that I grew up with four ravening wolves siblings.

Jacqueline, on the other hand, has no problem sharing meals.

The night ended with ice cream at one of the many, many conveniently placed McDonald’s outlets in this fine city. And now, I think I need to go sleep off this food hangover…

Random Photo bomb

Anyone who reads this blog immediately notices the delicate artistry and precision of my photographs – I’m sure it’s obvious that photography is a real passion of mine.

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Just kidding. I can’t even type that with a straight face. In truth, I despise taking photographs. The very act of hauling out my camera (uh…phone) to capture a moment almost ruins the moment for me. However, I also think that photos, even low quality ones, make a blog much more interesting, and so I soldier on. Which is why it pains me so deeply when I flip through old photos, and notice how many I have forgotten to post. Which is a long-winded way of saying that today you’re getting a random photo bomb of pics that I can’t bear to waste. Here goes!

1. Pregnancy Dreams

Hormones have triggered some particularly vivid dreams for me lately, and the photo below represents one of the best: I dreamt that I was chewing a marshmallow. It was extremely chewy, and I think I almost dislocated my jaw in an effort to fully masticate it. When I eventually woke up, I found the following item next to my pillow:

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Nope, not a baby carrot.

One of my ear plugs, looking like a chipmunk had mauled it. It was also much cleaner than it had been before the marshmallow dream. Oops.

Todd has also had some fun dreams during pregnancy, although he can’t use the hormone excuse. Recently, in the middle of the night, he turned on all the lights and started trying to roll his pregnant wife off the bed. He was convinced that a giant lizard was about to eat me, and shoving me off the bed would save my life. I was in such a stupor that I simply stumbled to the washroom with the vague idea that Todd was trying to tell me to wash the drool off my face. I really couldn’t blame him.

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Todd and his friends Theo and Zach forgetting that their wives are the ones carrying the spawn…

2. Carnival

We had the rare privilege of having a traveling carnival park itself at the night market near our house for a few weeks. Todd stopped by on his way home one day, and won this gem (which is now making our bedroom look even more stylish/coordinated than before):

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He was extremely taken with his new friend, and started trying to convince me to visit the carnival with him. After many, many evenings of listening to the discombobulated voice of a huckster yelling “binGOOOOOOOOO!” as we were trying to fall asleep (hence the earplugs), I finally caved in.

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The carnival was sparsely attended, which was strange when you consider how many opportunities there were to win bottles of liquor/household cleaning supplies/high-quality stuffed toys simply by popping balloons or winning a game of binGOOOOOOO.

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Only a math teacher can keep track of FIVE bingo boards at once

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Stakes this high require a handshake.

 Even though he loves playing carnival games, Todd generously urged me to spend the majority of our spare change. Or at least I thought he was being generous, until I realized that the entertainment value of watching my wildly aimed shots was giving Todd far more delight than any cheap prize could.

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The number of balloons that I popped is classified information.

We finished the night with Todd urging me to try the “ferris wheel” with him. Normally, I would be the one instigating such a boneheaded move, but this time, the prego hormones were creating images of my baby daddy burning up in a fiery cataclysm of “ferris wheel” parts, and I begged him to abstain. Instead, we indulged in another round of beer cap bingo.

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But it’s sooooo safe!

3. Ten Ten Day

Many of the students at our school are Taiwanese, so 10/10 (October 10th – Taiwan’s birthday) is a big deal. This year, the ambassador from Taiwan visited our school to commemorate the celebration. I was subbing for high schoolers that day, and the students treated the morning away from class with all the maturity and respect that one would anticipate from this age group.

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The only thing this photo doesn’t capture is how much their mouths were moving.

I just love a good dose of patriotism – the country doesn’t really matter – and I made sure that I got my hands on a high-quality plastic flag. The lyrics of K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” were running through my head, and I had to fight the urge to stage a moving interpretive dance.

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4. Classical music

I love classical music, and I haven’t been to any concerts since we moved to Thailand. One of my goals before Bannock arrives was to finally attend a concert, so when another participant in my Thai Culture Course invited me to her singing recital, I was all over it. The concert took place in a venue called Sala Sudasiri Sobha, and all the proceeds went to fund the charity that the venue runs. The music was wonderful, but I think Todd was most excited by the fact that there were Pringles at the reception, and he got to transfer them to his plate using silver tongs. Comfort AND style.

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Todd’s dream come true.

5. Thai wildlife

What would Thailand be without a few random dogs’n’bugs?

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I love how graphic this sign is. Just in case anyone was confused about what dog poop looks like…

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Every time I visit Koh Samet, this fella is encased in sand. I think it’s like swaddling a baby – he seems to find it very comforting.

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This landed on my neck when I was waiting for a bus. For some reason, I thought Todd had thrown a snowball at me, until I remembered that we live in Thailand.

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I don’t know where this was taken (thanks, Kim, for sending it), but a stuffed crocodile “wai-ing” is pretty great.

Ahh. That was profoundly cathartic. I am feeling a deep sense of peace now that I know that these high quality photos have not been wasted. I hope viewing them enriched your life as much as hauling my phone out of my bag and taking them enriched mine.

Hua Hin: Old folks love it and us

Todd’s school is currently on October break (a tremendously civilized practice that all educational institutions should follow), so we decided to head to Hua Hin, a town several hours south of Bangkok. Hua Hin is a popular destination for golfers, the royal family, and elderly people of all shapes and sizes: clearly, it was meant for us. I’m getting to the point where my heftiness is outweighing my adventurousness, and a few days on a beach chair sounded just about right.

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For some reason, this photo makes me really happy:  “Ruth’s Body Shop: For all your limb rental needs”

We stayed at the Jaidee Resort, which both I and TripAdvisor would recommend. It is a little out of the way, but it makes up for it with its sheer adorableness quotient. It is built in the traditional Thai style, and has a restaurant with a small lake beside it. Let me assure you: if you are having a hard time waking up in the morning, there is nothing quite like sipping a cuppa while watching a trio of copulating geese. Guaranteed to open the ol’ peepers.

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It works for Todd.

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We eventually made our way into town, and planted ourselves on the beach. I can’t say that Hua Hin is the most pristine beach destination I’ve ever visited, but it compensates for this by being full of horses and elderly people who are dying to converse with you.

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Just waiting to pounce.

Let me be clear: there are many elderly people that I really dig, and I am looking forward to being one someday. HOWEVER, certain members of this generation have many, many things that they are longing to share with you, and Todd and I seem to be the perfect targets. This was true of a few kind-hearted but verbose guests at the resort, and it was especially true on the beach. A brief smile was enough to set off the British gentleman next to us.

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Todd during a lull with our new friend. “Maybe if I close my eyes, he won’t see me.”

After asking if we were Russian and/or Latvian, he assured me that I was a small pregnant woman, unlike some women who just pack it on and get really, really massive. When he found out that we are Canadians, he felt that it was appropriate to share some of his favourite thoughts about Americans. A few of his more profound musings:

“My son says that when you cross the border from America to Canada, people get way more intelligent. Americans just aren’t very bright.”

“I’ve always thought that Americans were like British gone wrong.”

I’ll be sure to share these insightful remarks with all my American friends.

We also spent a large portion of our holiday eating. Hua Hin has numerous seafood restaurants along the beach, and we didn’t waste any time digging into some “fruits de mer.”

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Todd trying to restrain his hands while waiting for me to finish taking yet another photo.

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Todd got to drink wine like a normal adult, while I had to join 5-year-olds everywhere, and stick with a Shirley Temple. The things I do for you, little Bannock.

On our last day in Hua Hin, Todd came to the conclusion that he needs to start coaching me through activities that will mentally prepare me for the rigours of labour. This sounded like a grand idea, until we found a fish foot massage place. Fish massages are Todd’s idea of bliss, but there are very few things that sound so horrific to me. Clearly, the mental fortitude necessary for me to leave my feet in the water for ten minutes would be good preparation for D-Day. I cannot even imagine what the young guy running the massage place thought as he witnessed me cringing and squeezing Todd’s hand as Todd said “Focus! You can do this. Breathe through the contractions!”

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Trying to find my happy place….

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…this isn’t it.

I expect labour to be exponentially more painful, but exponentially less creepy than fish massage.

We finished our trip with a three-hour mini bus ride back to Bangkok, and dinner at a noodle joint, where between us we managed to consume seven (small!) bowls. Listening to old people and simulating labour is hungry work.

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And somebody needs a haircut.

Hosers’n’Tots

This past weekend was basically split into three equal parts: the first involved an abundance of testosterone and hosers, and the second involved an abundance of estrogen/progesterone/prolactin/insertyourfavouritefemalehormonehere and babies. During the third part, we were basically comatose, which is always a good time but difficult to describe, so we’ll just leave that part out.

Part 1: Samut Prakan’s finest attraction: Taco Lake

This blog may have somehow given you the impression that T-bone likes doing Stoopid Schtuff on a regular basis. You would not be wrong (for further evidence, see this post or this post or this post or this post). In fact, I strongly suspect that this is why he married me, but I digress. T-bone’s favourite Stoopid place to go in the Bangkok area is Taco Lake. When I first heard of it, I started dreaming of Mexican food, but sadly, Taco Lake doesn’t appear to have anything to do with its tortilla wrapped namesake. Rather, it is all about wakeboarding.

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T-bone is also All. About. Wakeboarding.

The lake has a bizarre/ingenious rope system that runs a bit like a t-bar at a ski hill. Wakeboarders wait on the edge of the dock until their rope is pulled, and if they can manage to hang on, they can ride around the lake until they either fall off or give up.

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The pulley system that miraculously keeps on pulling.

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Lining up for their turn (and not at all weirded out that a pregnant farang is taking their picture).

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T-bone in his element.

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Not sure if this one was a “give up” or a “fall off”

Every time Todd comes home from Taco Lake, he has a limp in his step and a gleam in his eye, and I can tell that he is already dreaming of his next trip. We have agreed that after Bannock is born, he will be responsible for all care-giving/breastfeeding duties (only fair since I am incubating her), so he decided he’d better fit in one more wakeboarding session while the gettin’ is good. Stoopid Schtuff is the most fun when done with Stoopid People friends, and it didn’t take much for Todd to convince his entire math department to join him.

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The hoser math department. Motto: We dig numbers’n’neon.

Part 2: Bobbleheads galore

After Taco Lake, Saturday was a bit of a shock to the system. In the morning, BAMBI, Bangkok’s biggest mothers and babies group, put on a massive garage sale of baby/kid stuff. Partly because baby gear is so expensive in Bangkok (crazy import taxes), and partly because my deeply entrenched value system tells me to “never buy anything new if you can buy it used and never buy anything used if you can find it in a back alley/dumpster,” I knew this was a sale I needed to hit up. Todd had to supervise Saturday detention, so other than the two dozen friends I bumped into and the ten million members of the general public at the sale, I was utterly alone.

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This is only a small corner of the sale: I couldn’t fit the whole scene in the frame.

Clearly, this was the place to be for anyone in Bangkok who has ever spawned, is preparing to spawn, or thinks that they may spawn at any point in the near or distant future. Honestly, it was all a bit terrifying. I had a few items that I was searching for, and I ended up finding those, plus a few things that I forgot I needed. Most of my purchases have names that are neither English nor any other identifiable language: ie: “Boppy” “Bumbo,” etc. This is why parents end up speaking gibberish to their babies. After 1.5 hours of the feeding frenzy, I called it a day, because I needed to make myself semi-presentable for the second baby-centred item on the agenda: my friend Nicole’s baby shower.

Nicole used to be a teacher at our school, and is the mother of a two-year old. She is one of the first people I went to for advice after I found out I was expecting. Turns out that she was/is too, and depending on when they decide to make their grand entrance, our daughters will be born just a few weeks apart. That’s where the similarities end, though, because she is a stylish belly dancer who wears clothes and makeup that actually coordinate.

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The lovely mother/mother-to-be

I dig mini men, but I have to say that baby girls are way more fun to shop for. Nicole’s baby received the usual explosion of pink frills, with a bit of purple thrown in to mix things up. I didn’t even attempt to be original with my gift: my cute reflex has officially overridden my gag reflex these days. It was an adorable afternoon.

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The four pregnant peeps at Nicole’s shower. From L-R: 36 weeks, 34 weeks, 32 weeks, 21 weeks. Note how we have all succumbed to the allure of “sensible shoes.”

On Sunday, we went to church. The rest of the day is extremely hazy – I think it involved McDonalds and a gory action movie, but I can’t be sure…