When I travel, I love to try the local cuisine. But I have to admit that I also have a soft spot for trying global fast food chains in different countries. I liked having fritessaus with my fries in the Netherlands, I tried a bulgogi burger in South Korea, we visited Subway and Domino’s in Japan. So when Burger King came to town, I was always going to give it a go. A Sunday evening after a disappointing afternoon of cricket viewing was the perfect time to pick up some burgers and the dessert menu gave us the opportunity for a challenge: the Taro Turnover.
After an underwhelming Whopper, and some really good fries, we broke into the turnover. The filling was not hot, as promised on the box, but was purple, as expected (although it doesn’t look it in the picture).
There was nothing left but to try it. The Engineer went first, and pronounced it too sweet. He has much more of a sweet tooth than me, so my hopes weren’t high.
So when I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was sweet, but the pastry was like a classic fast food pie (i.e. fatty and delicious), and the filling was vanilla-y or pandan-y or something that made it quite appealing. It wasn’t strongly flavoured, and I liked it.
In fact, I made this the only challenge so far in which the challenge item was finished. No food wastage today!
Except for the very small piece that we offered to The Engineer’s Baby. She seemed to side with her Papa, and was not too impressed.
It was her first “Weekly” Challenge, and I for one think she did a stellar job with her facials. Which is, after all, pretty much the point.
I might be on my own here, but I’m giving the Taro Turnover a big thumbs up. And best of all, next time I won’t have to share it (if there is a next time that is – the burgers weren’t really nice enough to go back for…)
Friday afternoons are my time off. I love this for me (a break! A mani pedi or a coffee or a long shower or whatever the heck I want!) But I also like it for them. This is time where The Engineer and The Engineer’s Baby get to hang out without me getting all up in their grills. They get to develop their relationship more. And she LOVES her Papa.
I often sit in another room, but occasionally I sneak back in to watch them together (yes, I’m a creep). Today I took a video (and because I’m a numpty, I can’t embed it, but here’s a link).
Daddy Daughter Fridays: http://youtu.be/oAgqZAIC32A
Then I left them to it, and went to take a really long shower (complete with phone in a plastic bag playing podcasts; I’m a genius.)
Sometimes I forget that taking space isn’t just selfish. I feel bad for wanting/needing a break. But watching this video reminds me that my breaks are good for all of us. They need time together without me. I love her desperately, but I need time without her. It’s a win-win.
And with that in mind, I think I might go and get a coffee!
I love me a blog series, even if I’m not always great at keeping up with them (see the “Weekly” Challenge series on The Engineer’s Wife!). So I’m going to start one here, and after
much some a little hardly any deliberation the chosen topic is My Favourite Things (parenting things, that is). The things I talk about in this series may not all be actual physical things. But they’ll be the things that I’ve found most useful as I get used to this parenting thing.
When I thought of the topic, the first “thing” was obvious. If there is one tool we have used more than any other in the last eight months, it is a baby carrier (more accurately, less grammatically correctly, it is baby carriers). From the very start, we have carried The Engineer’s Baby a LOT. In fact, almost every nap The Engineer’s Baby has taken has been in a carrier. Naps were pretty haphazard for a long time here, so I don’t know how many naps that is, but my estimate is approximately 900. There have also been times we’ve carried her when not napping, so this baby has probably spent nearly 1000 hours in a carrier.
She started off nearly 10 pounds, and is now well over 20 pounds, so I am amazingly glad that we have a stash of comfortable carriers.
We started off with a stretchy wrap. When she was little and squishy, it was just perfect. People always said it looked like a pain (it is 5 metres of fabric, after all), but we got very efficient at tying it, and after a week or so it was really easy.
We then moved into a soft structured carrier with mesh, because it’s so blimmin’ hot here. It was great as she grew. Easier and quicker than the wrap, but still nice and cuddly.
Then we got another one of those (because it had beards on it!) and a woven wrap and a ring sling. And we moved onto back carries.
And basically, it’s been amazing. The woven wrap hasn’t had as much use as I thought (after how much we loved the stretchy). But the combination of carriers has had huge benefits:
- She gets enough sleep, even though it doesn’t always come naturally to her.
- We didn’t have to lug around a big bulky pram when she was little, and just moved straight into a lightweight pushchair when she could sit well.
- We became somewhat “famous” locally, and get LOTS of attention. (Actually, I don’t know if that’s really a positive, but it’s certainly been interesting.)
- All the walking and bouncing and carrying involved in carrier naps has made me much fitter than I otherwise would be at this point.
There are a few downsides too, though:
- Now we have to wean her off it for day sleeps. This is scary.
- When we were out and about when she was wee, we didn’t have anywhere to put her, and there wasn’t always a helpful baby-holder around.
- There are lots of things I can’t do while she sleeps. Mostly yoga!
- It’s an expensive habit!
So there we go, my favourite parenting thing. Watch out for another post in the series at some point, hopefully soon!
Parenting a small child is a pretty constant cycle of sameness. For us the cycle involves two (or three) naps a day, an activity out of the house each morning, chores and chilling out in the afternoon, dinner and bedtime. That cycle can seem fairly relentless some days. But when I stop, notice, and enjoy the moments within the cycle, it is so easy to find the joy.
Some recent moments in the life of The Engineer’s Baby:
– Big giggles for me saying “cricket” when New Zealand won the World Cup semifinal.
– Babies sitting in a circle and grabbing toys off each other at playgroup.
– A very serious conversation with a stick of capsicum at dinner time (made more hilarious by the globs of hummus on her face).
– Lots of long sleepy feeds as we get used to a new nap routine.
– Grabbing a wrench and “helping” her Papa install the new gate for her bedroom door.
– A giggly nudie run after we came in from the paddling pool.
– Discovering that her voice sounds funny when she talks into a cup.
– Finding the baby in the mirror all by herself.
I don’t suppose these things are as hilarious or amazing to someone who is not this baby’s parent. But all of them made me smile the first time, and made me smile again when writing them down. So I hope that even if the specific moments don’t translate well, the joy in this list is evident. Because there really is so much joy.
Five years ago today, my greatest adventure started (who am I kidding, it just got made official; it started well before that). It started with a grand occasion, family and friends, fancy clothes, the works.
Each year since, we have celebrated. The first four we went all out: a weekend away, a little luxury, a proper occasion.
This year, it’s simpler. Hanging out at home with our newest team member. A small gift. Then a dinner out, just the two of us.
This is probably not quite what we imagined five years ago. But it’s perfect.
Waking up to find the baby still sleeping.
A “happy anniversary” email.
Getting everyone ready, including yoga pants for me and her.
A nap, nice and long.
A coffee and a podcast.
Feeding, nappying, brushing teeth, and rushing out.
A “yoga” class with friends (hers and mine).
Lunching (at home again) all together.
Giggles in her stroller.
A mani pedi while she naps on her Papa.
More chilling. More feeding.
A paddle for her.
And still to come?
Dinner and bedtime for her.
Dining out, just the two of us.
Hoping she’ll stay asleep until we’re done.
Downton Abbey, perhaps.
(In other words: practically perfect)
This month marks two years since I arrived in Brunei (it also marks eight months with The Engineer’s Baby and our five year wedding anniversary). Milestones like this always make me a little pensive. And today I am thinking about the things that have changed since we arrived.
There is one particularly great change: the arrival of The Engineer’s Baby. She continues to amaze me every day, and is absolutely the best thing that has happened to me here.
There are some other good changes:
- I have learned about yoga, and discovered how much it helps me to balance and reconnect with myself.
- I have understood the importance of creativity for me, particularly through writing, and have found ways to include that in my life.
- I have met some wonderful people.
- I have travelled to new countries, and have been exposed to new cultures, leading me to question some of my own cultural assumptions.
- The Engineer’s beard has grown way more ridiculous and awesome.
But there have also been some not-so-good changes:
- Being in a country where I cannot vote or have a say in the direction it takes has made me less politically active/interested.
- The heat means we have not spent anywhere near as much time outside as we used to, and I miss it desperately.
- It is difficult to get some of the healthy foods we are used to, and we have been lazy, meaning we eat far less consciously than we used to (and eat far more takeaways and junk).
- Being pregnant with no job and no responsibilities allowed me to get into some not-so-good habits, particularly around using the internet.
Overall, it feels a little like I have been taking a break from our “real life”. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. The expat experience is different to immigrating to a new country. The temporary nature of expat life is one of its defining features. In some ways, the fixed term is freeing – we do less home maintenance, we have more opportunity to travel, friendships often develop more quickly. But at the same time, it’s frustrating – people keep leaving, we miss some of that maintenance stuff, there are some things we would like but don’t want to buy for such a short time.
And at this two year marker, I’m torn. Undecided whether we want to extend this life break in Brunei, or extend it somewhere else, or head back home to get back to real life. What makes it even more complicated is that the decision ultimately hinges on The Engineer’s work. We need to make the decision, but at the same time, it will be dictated by where he can get a job. And for at least a couple of years, we’d like it to be a job that allows me to stay home with The Engineer’s Baby.
For now, I’m trying not to stress too much about the decision. We know we want to stay another year here, and I want to enjoy that time. I don’t want to waste this year worrying about what’s next. I want to enjoy our quiet little life, travel a bit, and let the future unfold. So I’m going to move on from this pensiveness, and get back into the present!
(I’m talking about living in the present moment over at The Engineer’s Baby too. Apparently it’s a bit of a theme of my life!)
Every month we take a picture of The Engineer’s Baby lying on her sheepskin alongside her moose. As the months go by, it’s getting harder and harder to keep her on the mat, and there are more and more outtakes (like the one above). This month, the eighth, I had to rope in The Engineer if we wanted any hope of a good picture.
Taking the picture was an exercise in baby wrangling, which is appropriate, because this eighth month has involved a lot of baby wrangling. She is getting more and more mobile and capable. She crawls quick as a flash when the door to a “forbidden room” is opened. She stands anywhere and everywhere (although just the one time without pulling up on something first). She cruises around furniture and can easily transfer between objects. Most of these things she did a little at 7 months, but the change in her speed and coordination is clear.
As well as getting more mobile, she is getting cleverer by the day. Hiding something away will no longer convince her that it is gone. She is starting to understand words and gestures. She makes more sounds (a recent favourite is tssssssss).
And as she moves closer to toddlerhood (eek!), the parenting experience is changing. Gone are the days when play group was Mums drinking coffees while the babies snoozed or lay on floor mats. Gone are the days when I could leave things on tables and not have her find them. Gone are the days when she could just play with a few plastic things in the kitchen while I cooked.
But with those days leaving, I can see other days arriving. Days where she starts to talk. Where she can really enjoy a playground. Days where her amazing little personality starts to shine through even more. And at least as much as I miss the days that are passing, I am excited about the days that are to come.
This balance between past and future is a pivotal part of parenthood for me. But the more we get into it, the more I see that the solution (insomuch as a solution is required) is not finding the right balance between past and future. The solution is finding space in the present moment. The solution is enjoying the baby wrangling, the serious face she gets as she eats, the back-and-forth grabbing of babies playing “together”. To be honest, it’s probably even enjoying the middle of the night waking and sleep struggles. But let’s not get too crazy here – that part sucks!