Visitors!

It has been a social coupla weeks around here! Not that I’m complaining – I was on the verge of becoming a hermit. If you are wondering how it is possible to be a hermit when you share your days with an adorable lump of baby, let me assure you, it is possible. As much as I nag her, Zoe absolutely refuses to engage in meaningful conversations, or ask ME how I’M doing. Sometimes I feel like she doesn’t even know that I exist. Or that she exists. Or what “existence” even is.

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Why won’t that woman stop yapping already?!

But all that changed when Zoe’s subjects grandparents came to pay homage to her visit us. Granny and Grandpa were a very welcome addition to our daily routine, and it didn’t take them long to acquire that grandparent-ly touch. They soon became pros at doing things for Zoe that even her ever-loving parents would never attempt, such as reading the same story thirty times in a row while simultaneously bouncing her on a fitness ball followed by ninety-nine ten million verses of “99 bottles of beer on the wall” (but with ‘milk’ substituted for ‘beer’ to make it age/interest appropriate).

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More bounces, Grandpa! MORE, I SAY!

They also ran errands, made sure we were fed, and babysat. And sometimes they babysat so we could feed ourselves. In retrospect, I’m not sure this was the best idea, because Todd and I clearly have no boundaries when it comes to calorie consumption. I’m pretty sure I gained a Zoe-worth of weight while they were here.

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As long as you look guilty, the calories don’t count, right?

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And these calories don’t count either, because it was a birthday present.

And for dessert, they provided medical care for my feet. I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, and while I’ve managed to avoid cutting Zoe’s toenails too short, I haven’t extended the same courtesy to my own poor li’l nubbins = ingrown toenail. Since I’m a hypochondriac, I was on the verge of going back to my OB/GYN and letting him refer me to an orthopaedic surgeon, but then Todd suggested that I let his mom – a nurse – help me out. At first, I thought this was too big a favour to ask of anyone, but then I remembered that she used to work for an organization that provided healthcare and more importantly, footcare, to Calgary’s downtown homeless population. Some of her patients literally wore the same pair of socks and shoes ALL WINTER (I say this from experience – I worked there, too). So I asked her to take a stab at my poor, weary, but fairly clean toe.

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Uh…ouch. Ha. Aha. Ouch. 

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Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha (hyperventilation, not laughter. Ps: white socks in bottom right corner courtesy of Gramps the Champ)

She fixed the problem, but only after I almost passed out from the trauma of it all.

Partway through Granny and Grandpa’s visit, my Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Jack swooped in for a visit during their gallivant around SE Asia. It was a treat to see them, and my uncle was extremely pleased that he got to hold Zoe before her grandfather (his brother) did. Unfortunately, he was too busy cackling with glee to pose for a photo, so here is one of Zoe cackling instead.

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She thinks escaping her swaddle is the height of wit.

And today, all the visitors are gone, and it’s back to the g-r-i-n-d for us. Not sure how we’ll manage now that we have to look after our own meals and our own toes. Not to mention that Zoe’s expectations for entertainment have been raised exponentially. Maybe if I discuss “existence” using 99 bottles of beer as a metaphor, both of our needs will be met.

 

Guest Post: How to be a tourist

My sister Sarah just left after spending 2.5 weeks with us. She decided that it was extremely important for her to influence the development of Zoe’s personality as much as possible in these early, impressionable days, so she ditched the first weeks of her university semester for some time in the tropics. I’m not sure that Zoe even realizes that she has a “personality” just yet, but Sarah was determined to try.

Whispering instructions to Zoe while she sleeps...

Whispering instructions to Zoe while she sleeps…

Sarah also got to satisfy her lifelong wish of being my twin. “Apparently,” when we younger, I refused to wear matching clothes, but as a parting gift, I agreed to be twinners for one evening.

Nursing mothers should generally avoid owl/hooter paraphernalia...

Nursing mothers should generally avoid owl/hooter paraphernalia…

And finally, she achieved her greatest ambition by writing a guest post for this blog. All I can say is that I hope that some of her guidelines are facetious, because otherwise they are the worst advice I’ve ever read.

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Guest Post:

 

I came to Thailand for 2.5 weeks to visit Ruth, Todd and Zoe. Because my stay was short, I wanted it to be sweet so I decided in my time off from being an influential auntie, I would be a tourist. There is no better place to be a tourist than Thailand and I thrust myself into the lifestyle with abandon.P1030869 In the past two weeks I have really learned how to be a perfect tourist, so let me share the tricks of the trade with you

  1. Learn as little of the local language as possible. Hello, thank you. That’s all you need.
  2. ALWAYS have a camera with you. If you are travelling alone and suck at selfies, just make a friend for a day. Stop every time you see something unusual and pose in front of it. Remember, if you don’t have a photo, you weren’t there
    PROTON. never seen that before. gotta get a pic!

    PROTON. never seen that before. gotta get a pic!

     

  3. You can wear whatever you want because you don’t understand the customs. If you want to be a bit respectful, there are several ethnic groups who will not only push the limits, they will stomp naked on those limits then pose for pictures. Use these groups to help determine what isn’t appropriate.
  4. If something bothers you or you get cheated, feel free to yell about it. The seller won’t see you again, so no harm right?
  5. Try any weird food you can. If it tastes terrible, comfort yourself with the knowledge that you tried something cultural.

    who am I kidding, these prawns are the reason I would move to Thailand

    who am I kidding, these prawns are the reason I would move to Thailand

  6. Spend exorbitant amounts on purses. They are real leather after all.

    I can't believe it's not leather!

    I can’t believe it’s not leather!

  7. Make friends with other tourists. You can swap stories about all the things you have done and comfort yourself with the knowledge that they know as little about the culture as you do.we wore these hats to fit in...

If you follow these 7 easy steps, you will be a successful tourist. Just a reminder, if you are caught doing something rude or disrespectful, please lie about the country you are from. Since your main goal is to have a blast without having to get with the culture, you shouldn’t be worried about setting a good example, so make sure the tags on your bags don’t reveal your true identity.

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Holidaze

Happy (belated) Hohohoholidays! We’ve been pretty busy partying it up in Bangkok: The Portly Princess particularly enjoys rockin’ out at 4am (and 12am and 2:30am and 6am). It’s a good thing she’s cute…

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Are you criticizing my sleeping habits again?!

This was our first Christmas in Bangkok (we spent Christmas last year picking fights in India). It was sad to be so far from our families, but fortunately, we have a bunch of great friends in Bangkok. We thought it would be fun to give our new child-centric social life a test drive, so our dinner guests included another newborn, a one-year-old, and an extremely pregnant lady.

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Some prolific procreation goin’ on here, folks

We weren’t ambitious enough to tackle a turkey dinner. Instead, we had a potluck with “food” as the theme. While it was sad to miss the usual butchered clucker, the assortment of substitutes were pretty great.

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Part of the spread

I didn’t realize it during my pregnancy, but December is the best month to give birth – already having a wonky post-baby body PLUS the insane calorie requirements of nursing means feasting with no guilt! At least that’s what I told myself…

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My first plate. Is it bad that I went for thirds… (not including dessert)

The combination of two newborns and a one-year-old meant that someone was always soothing a floppy bobblehead or prying The Anglican Book of Common Prayer out of little clutching fingers, but a good time was had by all.

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Whoops! I think Rina and I mixed our babies up…

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Soon-to-be-father Zach practices his infant feeding technique

New Years Eve was simultaneously less and more eventful than Christmas. Less eventful, because we were lame and stayed home on New Years Eve, but more eventful because a visitor arrived unexpectedly…

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She does a lot of unexpected things

My sister Sarah’s flight was supposed to arrive on New Years Eve just before midnight. Turns out that itineraries are not always accurate. As I was rocking Zoe at 5am on the morning of New Years Eve, I heard a knock on the door. Even in my sleep-deprived stupor, the timing seemed a little weird, and when I looked out of our peephole, I was surprised to see our apartment’s maintenance man. He’s a very helpful guy, so I figured he was there for a non-nefarious purpose, and opened the door. In his extremely limited English, he informed me that my sister had been sleeping in the lobby of our apartment building since 2 am. Oops. Turns out her itinerary was off by almost 24 hours. Fortunately, Sarah is nothing if not competent in strange situations, and she managed to find her way from the airport to our apartment building. She phoned us and knocked on our door several times, but her sister and brother-in-law are apparently a couple of narcoleptics, and didn’t hear either. She awoke to an anxious sister hovering over her prone form. Fortunately, the visit has improved since then…

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“Soothing” her niece with the recorder

Todd went back to school today after 2 weeks of holidays – Zoe is already missing her favourite napping buddy.

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Now that the weird holiday schedule is over, it’s time to enact one of my New Years resolutions: getting my Portly Princess to stop sounding like a geriatric goat when she sleeps and keeping us all awake. The number of blog posts you see in the near future may depend on my success…

The due date that came and went

Well, it is three days past my official due date, and Bannock is not showing any interest in making an appearance on this terrestrial sphere. I knew before I hit the 40 week mark that it is quite common for first pregnancies to run over term, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the psychological toll this would exact. It’s kind of like running a marathon, and then having “someone” (*ahem* Bannock) tack on an extra mile at the end. Instead of a mini-me, I’ve been hanging out with this ugly dude:

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Only a mother could love this face…

Also my more-human, but less toothy Momalot, who arrived last Tuesday. Since she has no baby to cuddle, she has been forced to fill her time by cooking butter beef, and buying me ice cream. This is healthy pregnancy eating at its finest.

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Not quite sure how I ever fit in her torso

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Todd and I spent my due date at the hospital. My doctor wanted to make sure that everything was still looking normal, so he prescribed a non-stress test for Bannock. Basically, I had a couple of monitors strapped to my impossibly large mid-section in an effort to determine whether Bannock was still moving normally. While I appreciated the diligence, I could have answered that question on my own: Bannock and her best friend Placenta are throwing a rager.

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Only in Thailand do the birthing rooms and nurses look like they belong in a soothing spa.

I took the test in the room that I will most likely be giving birth in. It was nice to get a feel for it in advance, but also an annoying reminder that we weren’t there for the actual event. So I made Todd placate me with more ice cream.

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If you haven’t tried Haagen Dazs’s salted caramel flavour yet, do yourself a favour and buy some immediately. It may be trendy, but you won’t care once it’s in your mouth.

The rest of my recent pre-child days have been filled with bad photo shoots, bouncing on my birthing ball, and giving Bannock lectures about the importance of respecting other people’s schedules.

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In the battle of the bulge, Bannock is clearly dominating.

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Ok. That’s probably enough whining, and more than enough revolting photographs of me. I’ll try to enjoy these last, fleeting moments of butter beef bliss, and start preparing the ultimate sermon on punctuality that I will preach to Bannock throughout her life.

Butter Beef and Other Treats

Well, the blog has been a little mother-centric lately, and I’m sure she’s starting to feel just like Todd sometimes does (“why does it feel like YOUR blog is always about ME?”), but I had to do one last post on Momalot. Actually, it’s more about the food that she cooked while she was in Bangkok than it is about the gal herself. Homecookin’ is no mean feat when you are operating in an Elfin Kitchen in a strange land, but she rose to the challenge. Momalot has never been one to let a few minor roadblocks like emergency hospital trips prevent her from feedin’ her chilluns. Here are a few of the gems she produced:

1. Butter Beef

Butter Beef is one of my favourite things in the world. It’s exactly what it sounds like: beef cooked in butter. Momalot learned this handy trick from her Dutch mother-in-law: buy some meat (any kind will do), and huck it in a pan with a bunch of butter. Let it simmer for a few hours, then serve it alongside a pile of carbs. You cannot go wrong. This was one of my favourite dishes growing up, and due to its fat-bomb consistency, Momalot would only make it on birthdays. Remembering the few times that I chose something other than Butter Beef for my birthday supper leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

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First, simmer the butter. Don’t skimp.

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Make sure you’re wearing a cute apron when you add the meat.

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Let it cook…

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And cook some more. 6-10 hours should do it. A Canadian potholder will greatly enhance the flavour

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Momalot wishes to state that the meat shouldn’t be quite this black – our stove didn’t offer a low enough temperature to properly cook it. The blackness tastes amazing, though.

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Get yer carbs ready (Yorkshire pudding in this case)

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And mow down. I apologize for the lack of artistry in this shot, but if you knew how hard it was for me to resist eating while I took a photo, you’d forgive me.

I am salivating as I write this. Fortunately for us, Momalot was not content to rest on her laurels. Once we’d digested the Butter Beef (this took a few days), she got to work baking

2. Bread and Cinnamon Buns

My parents are basically the original hippies, minus the drugs and free love – they had a manual push mower long before it was trendy. When I had to mow the lawn as a child, I wished that they were a little less “progressive,” but now that I have no lawn to speak of, I have fond memories. They also bake their own bread from scratch on a weekly basis. It was no problem at all for Momalot to bake bread in our little oven. She hucked some flour and some yeast into a pot, let it rise in the Bangkok heat, and bob’s your uncle: ready to bake.

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“Are you dissing Uncle Bob again?!”

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And apparently we consumed the finished product so quickly that I didn’t even get a photo. Dang.

Finally, Momalot repeated the steps for making bread dough, but this time she also made her own sauce, lined one of our wire mesh racks with aluminum foil, and voila, cranked out a

3. Pizza

This was probably my second favourite meal as a child (after Butter Beef). Unlike Butter Beef, we would often eat this on weekends, as apparently it was not as rough on the ol’ arteries as fat-drenched animal protein. I often wished that we could order takeout pizza instead, but now that I am an adult and have eaten my share of truly dire pizza topped with mysterious meats, I see the error in my ways. There’s just something about knowing where all the ingredients come from that allows you to stuff your face with far more panache.

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Momalot also stocked our cupboards and made us numerous salads, but sadly, I did not document this with my camera. If you want more specific instructions on how to make Butter Beef, let me know, or ask any Dutch Oma who lived through the war. Just like Momalot, she’ll probably have some buttery tricks up her sleeve.