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!!)

Tie-Dye Birthday: Partying like we’re 8 years old

The teachers that T-bone and I live with are great. They are just a happy, happy crew of (mostly) Americans. The unrelenting niceness really expresses itself on birthdays – everyone’s birthday gets celebrated (unless the birthday person firmly and decisively opts out). Because there have been so many birthdays in our building, the celebrations get progressively more unique (see, for example, my crocodile birthday). When Kinder-Thai* Teacher Ellen’s birthday rolled around this week, we knew we were in for an interesting time: Kindergarten teachers are unique folks + the person planning the party has a penchant for turning herself into a human paintbrush. And that’s how we ended up with a Thai-dye tie-dye party.

The Kinder-Thai Teacher cannot believe her luck – being born + a tie-dye party is a powerful combo

We all brought white clothing to Kim’s school art studio. Our items for dyeing ranged from basic white t-shirts to mouldy cargo pants; sweat-stained wife-beaters; and worse-for-wear sports bras. Such was our hope in the power of paint. I hadn’t originally planned on dyeing anything (because I had to leave early), but as soon as I saw the vibrant pots of dye, my 8 year old self returned – I just had to get my hands stained. Plus, dye was pretty much the only thing that would revive my favourite North Face t-shirt after spending 8 months in Sweat Central.

We started off by soaking our clothing in water:

Southern Belle Jacqueline demonstrates both good technique and good levels of creepiness

Then, we tied rubber bands around sections of the fabric in either a uniform or completely haphazard manner (depending on the artiste).

Most uniform thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This is a look of COMPLETE concentration. It takes all my abilities to do ANYTHING in a uniform manner

Next, we put on rubber gloves. If I were on my own, I probably wouldn’t have thought of wearing these, but I’m certainly grateful that Kim did.

And fortunately we have a Canadian around to demonstrate proper glove-wearing technique

Next, we ladled dye onto our balled up clothing using creepy hand-shaped scoops.

Nothing like a helping hand when you’re dyeing moist clothing

And wrung the dye out of our lumps/posed for photos.

Katherine’s shirt reads: ‘Sorry I’m Isolated.’ Well, I’m sorry, but I’m going to make you literally give me the shirt off your back, because it is amazing.

Someone is telling me that my photo-taking is getting out of hand.

And finally, putting those beauties out to dry.

The mostly-still-white shirt has dye on the armpits only. Someone had a profound artistic vision.

The finished product! Woohoo! I can wear my shirt again.

 

The North Face should take some design tips from me

Kim’s hands agree that the tie-dye party was pretty rad. Word.

Now that I’ve experienced the joy of tie-dye, I’m kicking myself for not bringing more items. Like, all the towels in my house. It would have been awesomely psychedelic.

*She teaches Thai kindergartners

North Face Khao Yai Trail Race

I hafta tell you all, I was a pretty decent wife to begin with, but my sacrifice this past weekend basically assured my position in the stratosphere of wifely superstardom. For the second time this year, I hauled myself out of bed in the wee hours to cheer at one of T-bone’s races. Neither the fact that this race involved spending a weekend with 15 of our friends in a gorgeous national park nor the fact that I still owe Todd approximately 10hrs of cheering time should detract from the enormity of this sacrifice.

Anything for you, dear.

The race took place in Khao Yai (literally: “big mountain”) national park, an area 2.5 hrs north of Bangkok. The race was put on by North Face, and the main focus of the event was a 100km trail race. North Face also, however, kindly provided a few events for mere mortals: 10, 25, and 50km distances. All the runners from our group signed up for the 10km event, except Cheerleader Michelle, who chose to race the 25km. Cheerleader Michelle has so much energy, though, that 25km to her is like 5km to the average person. Here is a quick visual of her unparalleled perkiness as she heaves our friend Sean into the air:

“So basically you just get your spirit fingers going…”

“and BAM! You start to fly. So easy.”

I wasn’t quite a good enough wife to show up for the start of the race, but I did roll in before the finish. My fellow Super-(almost)Wife Jaime joined me on the sidelines, and we took it upon ourselves to make up for the cheering deficit that seems to be a feature of races in Thailand.

So excited that I’m unexpectedly giving birth.

The start that later became the finish.

Things got pretty exciting pretty quick: would the organizers manage to find the finish line tape before the first runner blasted through? Would the van cruising down the race course realize its mistake before blocking the finish line? Would the children’s dance troupe safely cross the course without getting trampled? And how much swag could spectators safely snag?

And would Todd (with Josh) be able to hide from his wife’s camera behind a bit of safety tape? Negatory.

These were the important questions that we pondered as we waited for the runners. It didn’t take long – first up was Todd’s little running buddy and student, Alex, who showed the adults how its done by coming in 12th in a field of 500. The teachers pushed their aging joints to the max, and while they didn’t quite catch Alex, they posted some very respectable times.

Eli finishing strong. You know that when both the object AND the background are blurry, you have achieved photographic mastery.

Lisa hammers it home. This gal actually takes decent photos, and she was not giving my point’n’click ANY eye contact.

First up after the race was a little breakfast – Pad Thai and fried rice. I don’t know about you, but immediately after I race, fat and spice are two of the last things I feel like eating. Mind over bladder matter, I guess…

Fish sauce and sugar sound pretty awesome, on the other hand.

Meagan, Ali, Therese, and Kim wait for the sweat to dry.

Two fun perks of races in Thailand are the Thai massages offered after the race.

And the inevitable elephants.

All in all, a good morning spent eating Pad Thai and screaming at runners. Such a good wife. Here’s hoping that next year my ankles will work and I, too, can dodge banana-mongers, vans, and child dancers on a gorgeous course.

Expat Interview: Kim J.

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to start a regular expat interview feature. If you’re already an expat, or you’re considering becoming one, this series will hopefully offer some helpful tips. If you’re not an expat or wannabe expat, you’ll simply get a glimpse of some of the other crazies who live in this steamy metropolis. I can’t lie, though: conducting interviews is not a purely altruistic endeavour – next to food and crocodiles,  I love nothing more than asking invasive questions and psychoanalyzing people. We all win!

Without further ado, I present Kim J., my first interviewee. Kim was a logical choice for my first interview – she’s the perfect alliterative combo of feisty freckled fabulousness, and she lives next door. One evening last week, T-bone and I invited her over for our favourite fish feast, and a few probing questions. As soon as I opened the door, I knew it would be a fun night, because she was dressed like this:

“Facetious? I thought you said your blog was Famous!”

I was flattered that she was taking the interview so seriously, but she finally admitted that it was a joke, and put on a t-shirt instead.

Here’s our interview:

Me: So, Kim, tell us a little bit about yourself:

Kim: I’m originally from Iowa, and I teach primary school and yearbook at Todd’s international school. In my spare time, I play Gaelic football (me: her team has dominated the sport in SE Asia).

Me: Originally from Iowa? Had you ever left the cornfields before you moved to Thailand?

Kim: Actually, yes. After I finished university in Iowa, I taught in Chicago for four years. After that, I spent two years in Greece teaching art at an international school.

Me: What made you choose to move to Thailand after Greece?

Kim: I’d always wanted to live in either South East Asia or South America, and while I was in Greece, I started looking at international schools in those two regions. When a job opportunity arose in Thailand, I decided to go for it.

Me: So it wasn’t the amazing dating opportunities for expat women that lured you over here?

Kim: Can’t say that it was.

Me: Well, then, what has been your highlight of life in Thailand thus far?

Kim: I have a couple of highlights. The first is the job. I feel like I get a lot of respect as an art teacher. In some of my previous jobs, art has been treated as an afterthought, or as being synonymous with craft time. At this school, though, I feel that my role as an art teacher receives respect both from my colleagues and the administration.

The second highlight has been the food and culture of Thailand. I love the food! Especially anything with red chillies. It’s also been really great to explore different cultural sites, and to just spend time hanging out with the Thai staff from the school.

Getting cultural with that old Thai favourite: the nose-stick.

Me: What has been the toughest part of life in Thailand?

Kim: The language barrier has been really tough. I’ve been shocked at how few people speak English. This made adjusting to local life tough – for example, not knowing if I could get home in a taxi. While I can speak a few phrases in Thai now, languages are not one of my strengths. Given the short duration of my contract, I’ve decided not to invest a lot of time learning Thai. I know that this means that I probably won’t build close relationships with Thais outside of work, which is disappointing.

Me: So, is there anything you’d do differently if you could start your Thailand expat adventure all over again?

Kim: There’s really not that much that I would change. If I could, I would spend longer at home between international placements – I had less than two weeks in the US between Greece and Thailand, which made the initial transition into Thailand life difficult. But I don’t regret the randomness of my international placements – it’s been an exciting ride, and Thailand is great.

If you could do it all over again, would you still let me interview you?

Me: What has been the most surprising part of life in Thailand?

Kim: Other than the language barrier, I’ve been blown away by the sheer number of Western man – Thai woman couples. I knew that this dynamic was common before I arrived, but I didn’t realize that it occurred on such a huge scale.

Me: I’ve also found it surprising. It’s definitely a cultural phenomenon. On that note, Kim, do you have any advice for people who are considering a move to Thailand?

Kim: Do it! I’m not sure what it would be like in a different occupation, but as a teacher, it has been a great experience. I would definitely recommend it. One word of caution, though – if you’re a Western woman looking for a romantic relationship, you probably won’t have much luck in Thailand. If you’re a Western man, you’ll probably never have better luck.

Me: One last question for you: Do you have any party tricks that you’d like to show us?

Kim: Why yes, I do. Funny that you should ask. I’d like to demonstrate how to turn yourself into a human paintbrush. This is useful for art teachers and Halloween. You’ll need a lot of hair, and an empty bottle. Here goes:

Make sure the bottle is totally empty.

Twist your locks around the bottle – it’s best if they are golden, but any old colour will do in a pinch.

Capture any stray locks…

And voilà! The human paintbrush!

Thanks so much for the interview and the handy party trick, Kim!

Are you an expat in Bangkok? Have some advice or stories that you’d like to share with the blog world? Drop me a line at facetiousfarang@gmail.com