A Coffee Chat

_1050236-2It’s Wednesday and my fingers are slathered in olive oil and the scent of fresh rosemary. Today, I officially cross the threshold into the third trimester of this pregnancy, and I’m celebrating by making summer tarts inspired by this recipe. I can’t really say I followed the recipe, since I mostly just used it for inspiration and went my own way with it, making one tart with lemon, rosemary, and zucchini, and another with eggplant, basil, tomato, and mozzarella. I served them for lunch with lamb chops leftover from dinner last night. I’d show you pictures, but the family was too hungry to tolerate waiting for me to set up pretty pictures. There are times for looking at your food and times for eating it, I suppose.

I always wonder how food bloggers stave off a hungry clan long enough to take well set-up photos in natural light.

_1050239-2Truthfully, I’m having a little difficulty coming back to real life after our weekend getaway. It was only a weekend, but somehow that was long enough to make the everyday an adjustment again. I’m coping by immersing myself in food. Lamb chops and summer tarts were just the beginning. Orange and cardamom cake is also on the menu this week, as possibly is this fascinating goodness.

The funny thing is I actually took me a little while to get into the weekend getaway too. We physically arrived on Friday, but it was well into Saturday, if not longer, before I really arrived and relaxed into vacation. (Thankfully it was a 3-night stay, so I had the time to relax into it.)

IMG_0049It’s weird how long it can take to let go sometimes, isn’t it?

The infinity pool overlooking the mountains sure helped though.

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We also took advantage of the weekend to snap some maternity shots of me. I got Toby to take a few, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they turned out. (I’m vain, what can I say?) As I’m starting to get to the point where I feel like I could take out low-lying objects and small children with my belly, it’s not so easy to feel sexy these days. But putting on a pretty dress and heels, and having your husband pay you a little attention with his camera can do a woman good.

Here’s one he snapped with my camera, as a sneak preview._1050270In Thailand, women are generally expected to cover up, and they give you the most shapeless, unfeminine frocks to wear in maternity. Need a bigger bra? Try the post-war refugee granny style. It’s all the rage. Oh, those pretty lace ones? Yeah, those are only in size AA.

I read somewhere that, in France, maternity is no excuse for frumpiness. Don’t you dare eye your husband’s comfy shirt. Sex appeal must be maintained–never mind your body is morphing daily, in ways far beyond your control.

There must be a happy medium somewhere, right? How was it for you fellow mamas? Did you cling to whatever sexiness you could pull off, or did you dive straight in for comfort in soft tees and bowls of ice cream?

Mmmm…ice cream…Would it be bad if I just had that for dinner tonight?

IMG_0031Anyway, it was a fabulous getaway and I’m ready to do it all over again {if only I could!} I might just have to content myself with looking back over the photos and imagining I’m still there.

Meanwhile, work is beckoning me. I have workshops to prepare for SOLD, and I’m trying to gear up the guts to do something bold with my writing. If I do get up that nerve, you’ll be hearing about it soonish. Or…I may continue to procrastinate via baking.

What’s going on with you this fine Wednesday?

A Coffee Chat

photo(1)This morning, I’m drinking an ice cold latte–though I could only get down about 1/3 of my drink before Mister Bean started acting up and I had to quit the caffeine. The icy coffee was good though, because by 10 a.m., I was already craving A/C. I don’t know what happened to this year’s rainy season, but up here in northern Thailand, it remains HOT and DRY. It’s still flooding down south, as it always does, but here we have a drought instead.

_1050165Friday was my 33rd birthday, and I got spoiled properly as my parents took us out to dinner at Farang Ses, a fancy French restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi. If you have a minute to check out the link to the Dhara Dhevi, I’d encourage you to do so. Normally, I don’t go much for luxury resorts, preferring to focus my travel budget on food and adventure rather than hotels, but a stay at the Dhara Dhevi is on my bucket list. I’ve eaten at a couple of their restaurants, had cocktails at one of their bars, and I go to their bakery whenever I have a hankering for macarons, but that’s about as close as I’ve gotten to staying there (seeing as how rooms start at roughly $700 a night). The grounds are stunning, and the appointments are so tasteful. Normally, luxury places feel a bit cold and too Disneyland for my tastes, but MODD is simply superb.

_DSF1157Then Toby took me out for a shopping spree on my birthday, where I picked out some new mama-friendly clothes, some for casual wear, and some for our getaway weekend coming up, to celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary (I’m so excited; can you tell I’m excited? I think I’ve only mentioned that every week since we booked the place…).

AND he got me a new iPhone. I had been using the 3G, but without a data plan…basically just as a plain phone with Wifi. But over time, the phone got to be more and more of a pain: getting slow, most apps becoming outdated and unable to upgrade without a new operating system, and doing anything fun required being near Wifi. Which means I pretty much almost never used my phone. But there was a really good deal on an iPhone 4 if you signed up with a data plan…so now I have a functioning phone! And internet! And I can do fun things like post photos on Instagram!

(I signed back into Instagram and discovered…WOW…THAT’S where everyone is! Seems like people used to blog a lot more, but now it looks like all the action is on Instagram instead.)

Toby's growing out his beard

Toby’s growing out his beard

Speaking of which, are you on Instagram? I’ve revitalized my account and will start posting more on there. Since most of my contacts on Instagram are mommy bloggers, I will post more mama & baby-related stuff on there, like the diaper changing stations and stashes of baby clothes we’re putting together, which those of you who are my contacts might have already seen. It seems a more appropriate place than Facebook.

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, I’m jadekeller_1050151

Today I’m 27 weeks along, which means I’m just one week away from entering the third trimester. I’ve been reading about how pregnancy shifts your center of gravity and makes you clumsier, but I hadn’t really experienced it–until now. Suddenly, the past week or so, I’ve turned into a veritable klutz. Not only knocking stuff over, but tipping my own self too. I totally fell and ate sh– on my birthday, tweaking my ankle, bruising my foot, and bunging up my knee. (And did the man who watched me fall move to help up the pregnant lady? No…) And then I nearly fell two days later, and yesterday almost slipped again. I’m trying to remember to go slowly and look carefully where I walk, especially as Thai sidewalks are about as smooth as a snaggle tooth, but I swear, sometimes tricky spots seem to just jump right out at you.

_TMK3057At least I can still safely bake without maiming myself. Yesterday, I made these spiced oatmeal raisin cookies. I did a half-batch following this recipe, and adding some nutmeg and cardamom along with the cinnamon. Then I chopped up some pecans and soaked them in maple syrup (not much, just enough to lightly coat the pecans), and tossed them in when I added the raisins. I made 23 cookies yesterday, and there are only 3 left today. I think they’re a hit with my husband.

No cookies for puppy though.

No cookies for puppy though.

Anyway, that’s about all that’s going on over here. We’re still anxiously awaiting the completion of my parents’ new house so they can finalize the details and start moving into their new place. And we’re still waiting on the shipment of stuff to arrive from the U.S. It’s supposed to arrive next week or so, which would be exciting because then I can get all the baby stuff we have coming…but also problematic as there won’t be any place to put all my parents’ furniture and things if their house isn’t ready yet. So we WANT it to come soon…just not too soon!

That’s what’s going on over here! What’s happening in your pocket of the world?

 

A Coffee Chat

_1050136wish we were having this chat over coffee. But alas, I think I need to cut back on my caffeine intake again. After I got through the first trimester, I started drinking coffee again, telling myself, hey, once a week or so won’t hurt at this point. HA! That might have been true IF I could actually keep myself to a coffee a week. In no time at all, I was back to a coffee a day. The problem is me drinking coffee turns Mister Bean into a total tweaker. Within minutes of imbibing caffeine, he starts partying up in my belly, throwing kicks and punches like he’s Tyler Durden. Sometimes, he kicks me so hard or so much I get bruised spots on my belly.

While I enjoy some activity, sometimes mama just needs a break, you know. He’s supposedly about 1 2/3 pounds now, so that’s almost two pounds worth of baby squirming around in there.

Thus comes the tossup: I need coffee to stay awake more’n a couple hours at a time. I need to get off the coffee if I don’t want my womb to turn into a boxing ring. Or have the little one pop out a caffeine addict from the get-go.

The sacrifices I make for you, child.

_1050127In other news, the long-awaited Promenada Resort Mall finally opened and my mom and I were so excited to go, we went on opening day. We battled traffic for nearly an hour, and had to park so far out we were in the dirt, the crowds were so thick. But it turns out, this “Grand Opening” wasn’t so grand. Only one wing of the mall was open, the rest still under construction, so only about 3 stores were along far enough for shoppers to actually shop (Uniqlo, a sports store, and the cinemas). The food court was barely functioning, and while they did have uber, UBER loud entertainment and free champagne, the only restaurants that were there were serving food out of a cold station just outside their door, as the actual restaurants hadn’t been built yet.

(Can you even imagine this happening in the U.S.? Mall opens…let’s have the general public walk around the construction zone!)

So that was kind of a bust. Now I know I don’t need to go back there for at least another 6 months. And when the next new mall opens (scheduled for November), I’m definitely not expecting it to actually be open and functioning on opening day.

Pretty views though

Pretty skies that night though

In the meantime, we’ve had a busy week. Toby and I did a bunch of shopping for supplies to make two diaper changing stations for the baby (one for upstairs and one for downstairs)–we have some fun projects in mind, and he took me on a little mini spree to scope out stuff I might like for my birthday, which is on Friday. Then yesterday, a friend of my parents’ flew into town. She was on a business trip from the U.S. to Japan, and thought she’d take a few days to pop down to see us here in Chiang Mai, so we’re spending this week catching up with her and showing her around a bit.

_TMK3055On that note, I’m going to see what I can scrounge up for lunch. What are you up to today?

A Coffee Chat

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I got some new Lightroom presets, so I’ll be playing around with some different photographic styles. There’s so much choice! It might take me a while to settle on what I like best.

Every morning, I have a ritual. I come downstairs, sit on the couch in front of my laptop, and check my email and Facebook, getting caught up on what happened in the U.S., while we were asleep in Asia. It’s a habit I have from when we lived in the States, but the ritual takes longer now that all the activity happens while we’re still sleeping. I suppose it’s a mark of the digital age that, 2.5 years after moving abroad, my central orientation is still split between two continents: me, living my life here, yet keeping tabs on what’s happening 12 hours different over there.

It’s only after I get caught up that I go to our kitchen, with its bright red walls and gray cabinets (a color combination I never would have picked on my own, but have somehow come to appreciate for its quirks), make a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal, and then retreat back to the couch to enjoy as I begin my workday. I figure most people need their coffee before they can tackle what’s in front of them for the day. Somehow I need this ritual to clear my head before I can properly appreciate my coffee.

_TMK2118If we were really meeting for coffee today, you’d probably hear me kvetch about the construction that’s going on along the road we take into the city. About two weeks ago, they (whoever they are) decided it was a brilliant idea to start tearing up the only road that leads from our area, which sees a heavy amount of traffic, into the city. The road was perfectly serviceable, mind you, but somehow it was seen fit to tear up the perfectly fine asphalt and start replacing it with…can you guess? Concrete. Concrete, which does not flex with the weather as does asphalt, easily gets cracks in it, and will soon be destroyed. The four-lane road is now cut down to a two-lane road as they do this, and when I had work meetings in town last week, a drive that normally takes less than 25 minutes took me an hour and fifteen. Every time we need to do anything–since everything, including the grocery stores and restaurants we frequent even when we don’t go into town, lies past the construction zone–requires driving through this schmuckus.

I get so pissed off every time I see the construction, or even think about it to factor in how long it’s going to take me to run a particular errand, because when I mention it to Thai people, their immediate reaction is “Oh, they must have just had extra money in their budget they had to spend, and the concrete guys probably strong armed them into spending their money on a contract with them.” And that is Thai politics for you. Let everyone suffer for the sake of some bureaucratic boondoggle.

In other news, I love that “boondoggle” is actually a real word.

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Do you remember a few weeks back, I mentioned how well a shock collar has been working with Dot to keep her from barking at the neighbors? I may have to revise that statement. While she has certainly stopped barking and been exceedingly good about coming home when we call, she seems perfectly happy and at ease with the collar on,  and we’ve really only had to use the beep sound with her so the shock has largely been unnecessary, there’s still one little thing that’s been off. Lately, Dot has seemed a bit mopey. She does tend to get in mopey moods from time to time, but this one seems a little longer lasting. I’m starting to wonder if, though she understands now that we don’t want her barking so much, she might feel a bit sad because her “job” has been taken away. She probably viewed it as her duty to protect house and home (and the pregnant mama), but if she can’t bark, she can’t do her duty. She might feel lost without a job to do. I know that can easily be true with some breeds. As she’s a street mutt, it’s hard to tell what her natural inclinations might be. But, knowing how strong her protective instinct is, I’d be willing to guess that curtailing that does upset her to some degree.

So it looks like we might need to find our dog a job.

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In the meantime, my nesting instinct is giving me a real kick in the butt. I’m DYING to start readying the house for the baby, to make some pretty storage & display additions with our wedding dishes that are currently being shipped out, and to organize various things that have become a little disorganized as our house has grown. The itch. It’s BAD. But I can’t do anything about it right now because I really should just wait until the shipment arrives to see what all I have. That’s what I SHOULD do. What I WANT to do is go shopping and make our house pretty. I shouldn’t be in such a rush–I mean, who is there but me to really enjoy and appreciate it? In the grand scheme of things, waiting a few months should make no difference at all.

But then again, I never said patience was one of my virtues.

So what’s happening in your pocket of the world? If we were meeting for coffee, what would you tell me?

 

A Coffee Chat

_DSF0914Happy Wednesday everyone! How has your week been going? Did you have a nice holiday weekend?

If we were really meeting over coffee, I’d share this fantastic coffee our favorite coffee shop owner brought back to share from his recent trip to Japan. It’s so yummy–it reminds us of jam-filled cookies: that kind of buttery flavor with a hint of berry sweet.

I’d tell you how we spent our Saturday scoping out and booking a room at the resort where we plan to spend our 5-year wedding anniversary, which is coming up in just a few weeks (already! can’t believe it!). We had fun checking it out, and getting in a little lunch at the restaurant overlooking the infinity pools. It makes me very excited for our romantic getaway weekend. I can’t wait–and boy, will we appreciate it! Probably our last bit of real alone time that we’ll have for quite a while, with the baby coming soon.

_DSF0915Speaking of the baby, today marks 6 months of pregnancy. Normally, I’m really excited for the coming of another month, but this time I feel more ambivalent about it. I feel like the second trimester bliss is coming to an end, and after that, the business of birth looms large and, well, shit’s going get real, y’all.

But I’ve been really good about doing prenatal yoga on a regular basis (about 3x a week), and that helps me a lot. I’m getting stronger and more flexible, and it helps relieve tension and sore muscles in my back, for which I’m grateful.

_DSF0916In a little bit of fun, I came across a pin on Pinterest that led to the discovery of this free app called Tagxedo, which takes any text (your favorite poem, a meaningful excerpt, etc.) and puts it into fun, customizable shapes. Here’s what I made with a selection of my favorite things:

wordbird2

 

 

I think it would be cute and fun to print something like this out and display it on a shelf like this lady did, or to have it printed on a nice coffee mug for myself. If you could do something like this, what words would you use?

Today, I’m a little crazy wired because I went to a workshop attended by other organizations working to combat child trafficking in Thailand, where we discussed assessment tools to help screen children and identify potential mental or situational health problems to better serve them, and they served instant coffee, which I don’t normally drink. I didn’t realize how much more of a caffeine kick it has than the coffee I usually drink. By 11 a.m., I was being tortured. I couldn’t sit still for anything and the baby was throwing all kinds of punches inside my belly. I felt better after some lunch, I guess it helped diffuse the caffeine, but wow, did it really take me out for the day! Note to self: instant coffee is no bueno.

Anyway, hope you all have a fabulous Wednesday! Tell me, what’s going on with you?

 

A Coffee Chat

Fresh home baked bread

Fresh home baked bread

This week has been one of those weeks where I felt like we’ve been really busy, but when I try to remember what all it was that we did, I just draw a blank.

We did go furniture shopping on Thursday and on Saturday. My parents were browsing for items to fill their new house while I was looking for shelving units I can use to store our nice wedding plates once the shipment arrives and to make a couple of diaper changing stations for the baby’s stuff (one for upstairs and one for downstairs). No purchases to show you, though. We just got an idea of what’s available and prices. We didn’t find exactly what we were hoping to find, so I think we’ll just keep looking.

That’s something that’s still a bit hard, living in Thailand. In the U.S., I’d know exactly where to go to find pretty much anything I need and the variety of options is usually more than plenty. In Thailand, especially if you’re looking for something for the first time, it can really turn into a scavenger hunt and luck is pretty hit or miss when it comes to finding exactly what you want. No telling too, because sometimes you can find some really great, obscure items for really cheap. And sometimes it’s a challenge just to tackle the basics. I remember entire months when powdered sugar simply was unavailable.

American craft beer, a Macbook, and a dog = Toby bliss

American craft beer, a Macbook, and a dog = Toby bliss

I’ve come across a couple of interesting books this week.  One is The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. Written by the editor of Wired, it’s a fascinating look at how technology is changing the sale value of items that cater to niches. Before, when products (think like books, movies, music, etc.) had to justify their position on physical shelf space, it made sense for retailers to focus on the mega-hits, so items that cater to niche interests would be hard to find. But now, with online retailers like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, etc., there is virtually unlimited shelf space, which means it costs relatively little or even nothing to make those obscure items more available. They still, individually, won’t sell many units, but in aggregate, it ends up creating a huge new avenue for business. And it’s only growing, as people discover more and more how their tastes and interests diverge from the mainstream and they find new things they like that before they might never have come across. The ideas and observations in this book started as an article written in 2004 (and since then has been developed, with input, data, and insights supplied from leading economists, academics, and retailers).

What I find interesting, though, is that although notice of this phenomena is basically 10 years old, publishing houses are still trying desperately to cling to the old model of business, touting themselves as gatekeepers, instead of service providers for authors and readers. They like to pretend they’re the arbiters of taste…but the real irony is everyone knows a lot of what “sells” is total crap, catering to the lowest common denominator. Silly, because they’re just continuing to shoot themselves in the foot as the way we do business as top hits garner less and less in actual sales and niche markets take up more and more of the profit stream.

The other book I’ve come across is Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry). The author let her 9-year-old son ride the NYC subway by himself, a trip that left him unharmed and totally thrilled with his adventure and burgeoning sense of independence, but caused her to be nationally vilified as a horrible, lazy mother. She then set out to explain how crime statistics are at the lowest they’ve been in decades (if not longer) and how thoroughly she prepared him for the trip in advance, arguing that we over-estimate risk and helicopter-parent our kids, leaving them unable to do for themselves what kids growing up in previous generations (or even different cultures) had no problems doing on their own. As she says in a post about outdoor play reducing ADHD, “outdoor play is probably very key, and taking it away in favor of more “safety” or more “education” has caused us a number of ills. Ironically, our kids are LESS safe (from depression, diabetes, obesity…) and LESS educated (about the natural world and all the things it makes you wonder about).” I haven’t actually read the book yet, only perused her website. I’m not sure how much I need to read the book when I pretty much already agree with the philosophy she espouses, but maybe it will help add more fuel to my fire if anyone ever accuses me of negligence when I let my kid play in the dirt, teach him to help himself in the kitchen, or, God forbid, have him ask a stranger for directions.

I was telling my husband about this book last night and he said, yeah, and we wonder why kids these days never go play outside, when we don’t let them actually go anywhere or do anything.

As far as I see it, part of being safe in this world is about being at home in the world: confident and capable at managing essential tasks like reading a map, talking to people you don’t know, and knowing how to take care of your own basic needs. If you don’t learn that when you’re young, when do you learn it? If you’re always waiting for Mom to do for you, you won’t know how to do for yourself, and eventually, all your future relationships could become about finding a Mom surrogate to fill a hole you’re too scared or inexperienced to be able to fill yourself.

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Anyway, that’s a bit of our week. How has yours been going? My mom and I have been practicing yoga together, which is fun. And it looks like we’ve got a couple nights of dinners out with friends coming up. Meanwhile, we’re anxiously awaiting the grand opening of a new mall, the Promenada Resort Mall, in just over two weeks. It might seem silly to get so excited about a mall opening (when I lived in the U.S. I would have scoffed at myself), but this one will be huge, much closer to where we live, and will hopefully have more variety of shops so we might be able to get some items (like possibly shelving units for baby stuff…??) that we’re having trouble finding now.

Happy Wednesday!

A Coffee Chat

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When I looked at my calendar today, I got a shock to discover that it’s May 15. May 15 already?! How did that happen? I was barely coping with it being May, and here, it’s halfway gone. Is it just me or are the days just melting away?

If we were really meeting for coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve been reading this book on natural childbirth. I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that I had been kind of avoiding the topic because it does scare the bejeezus out of me, and so far, most things I hear about it don’t do much to alleviate that. But this book, which talks in depth about how important the mind is to the birth experience and how birth does not need to be a scary, mysterious process, has actually gone a long way towards calming me down. It has calmed me enough to make me feel more ready to be proactive about signing us up for childbirth & breastfeeding classes and get connected with midwives & doulas working here in Chiang Mai. There is a team of British and American ladies here who are all kinds of awesome, so I feel really lucky to live somewhere that has such a fantastic resource.

_TMK2978Otherwise, I’m feeling really great these days. My parents, the godsends that they are, brought this pillow with them (it took up half a suitcase!) and it has made such a difference in my ability to sleep. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first, looking at the thing, but it turns out being surrounded by pillow makes one super comfortable at night! Who knew?

_TMK2983In the meantime, the nesting instinct is hitting me pretty hard and I’m trying really hard to be patient for the shipment of our baby stuff to arrive. I would prefer to see exactly what all we have and start to sort and organize it all before I go out and get anything else. But I’m itching really bad to go and buy cute baskets and nice cabinets to put things in and set up the house for the baby. I just keep telling myself I can’t know for sure what I’ll need until I see what I have.

_TMK2981I wish I had something to share with you that was non-baby-related before I bore you all to tears with all this baby talk but I guess that’s just where my head is these days! Anyway, tell me what’s going on with you? Is the weather getting nicer where you are? What’s consuming your thoughts these days?

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

A Coffee Chat

_TMK2933Happy Tuesday! If we were really meeting for coffee, I probably wouldn’t be able to wait before I showed you this cute goodness we got from our friends, mailed to us all the way from the U.S.:

A baby onesie that says "Made in Thailand" and an Edamame & Edapapa card

A baby onesie that says “Made in Thailand” and an Edamame & Edapapa card

I totally laughed out loud when I pulled it out of the package, and isn’t that card the best?

If we were meeting in person, you might notice that I’m looking both frazzled and happy. My parents arrived safely at nearly midnight on Sunday and we’re so glad to have them here! We’ve had a lot going on between unpacking–it’s like Christmas come early in our house with all the great stuff they brought for us and the baby–and heading over to their new house, which is currently being built, to pick out floors, paint, and landscaping. Plus, they’re super excited to get Thai food again, so we’ve been hitting up our favorite spots to eat.

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But it was a bit of a whirlwind getting ready. I had been prepping things here and there through the week before they arrived, but I had left some stuff for our maid to do, as she comes on Sundays.

She didn’t show up. Didn’t call. No explanation. Just didn’t show. So Toby & I spent Sunday scurrying around mopping and scrubbing, sweating like crazy because by the time we realized she wasn’t going to come it was no longer the cool morning, it was pretty much the heat of mid-day. (Is this a first world problem or a third world problem? High class problem, most probably. I kept stewing in my annoyance that if this were the U.S. this totally would not have happened, and if it did, that maid would be fired unless there was a good reason for it. But then, if this were the U.S., it totally would not have happened because I wouldn’t be able to afford a maid in the first place. So there’s some perspective.)

_DSF0630Anyway, the rains seem to finally have come, and there’s usually a wet spell around 4 or 5 p.m., so I take that hour and sit in our comfy chair by the front porch, with my dog at my feet and everything turned off except a string of Christmas lights, and I’ll just listen to some classical music and the rain. I love that time to just be quiet, rub my preggo belly, and enjoy just being for a while.

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On Thursday, we’ll have another doctor’s visit, where hopefully (fingers crossed!) we’ll finally find out if the baby is a boy or girl. I can’t wait! Let’s just hope the baby isn’t so shy this time around!

Well, that’s what’s going on over here. What’s happening with you?

 

 

A Coffee Chat

_TMK2684I’m drinking an iced coffee today because it is STILL friggin’ hot over here. We seem to officially be experiencing a drought here in northern Thailand, which is almost laughable when I think back to just two years ago, when the problem was flooding. When it rains, it pours, I guess, and when it doesn’t…it really doesn’t.

If we were really meeting for coffee today, I would tell you I’m enjoying this brief break to chat with you in what is turning out to be a very busy week. My parents are returning to Thailand on Sunday (YAY!), which means I’m spending the week preparing for their return, airing out the guest bedrooms, freshening the laundry, and taking care of a variety of sundry items to hopefully help them feel welcome when they get here.

Cousins from Bangkok dropped in for an impromptu visit last night and we enjoyed a dinner of yellow curry & roti, white turmeric salad, stir-fried chayote, river fish soup, and crying tiger (grilled steak strips with a spicy dipping sauce), with coconut sticky rice & mango for dessert. I knew the restaurant was a hit when my cousins ordered seconds of the curry and crying tiger and one cousin, who normally would never take the last bite of a dish, hoarded the curry & roti to himself.

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In the meantime, now that I have a bit more energy, I’ve been using it to get caught up on news regarding Thai and ASEAN policies on human trafficking, and the various economic, development, and social factors that influence regional trends. God, that sounds so dry, doesn’t it? But I love my job, and as easy as it can be to get wrapped up in what’s going on the local level with the group of 140 kids that we’re personally involved with and their individual dramas (who is getting themselves into trouble, who is being abused, and how do we reach out to this one with an attachment disorder or that one whose parents have died of AIDS), I find it helps so much to see things in context, to understand the trends in the world around them, and to make the links between what’s happening on the local level versus the national and international levels. Governments are getting marginally savvier about combatting the trade of human beings, but as the region opens up and movement across borders becomes ever easier, it’s highly likely that the forces behind trafficking will get stronger as well.

This year has been a big year for The SOLD Project, which is celebrating its 5th anniversary. Having secured sponsorship from The Nike Foundation (and its philanthropic arm, The Girl Effect) and made alliances with large, reputable international human rights organizations, we’re enjoying attention from various news sources, and we’ve been able to expand in staff and infrastructure and may even be able to move into other communities, provided we can find the local talent we need to set up and run operations there. Our president has been meeting with other business leaders to work out visions for our 5- and 10-year plans and beyond, and she asked me, in preparation for this meeting, to help her dream big about what our expansion might look like. If I could dream really big, SOLD would one day be able to use both its on-the-ground experience and international legitimacy to encourage local government agencies to meet international standards, especially vis a vis the rights of the undocumented. ASEAN’s greatest asset, its insistence on noninterference with national sovereignty in domestic affairs, is also its greatest liability when it comes to agreeing on and enforcing regulations in issues like trafficking that operate on both domestic and international fronts. This is where I think grassroots campaigns can play the biggest role, helping to apply pressure where international bodies like ASEAN and the UN cannot.

preggo

In the meantime, tomorrow I celebrate the 20th week of my pregnancy–I’m halfway done! It is both exciting and daunting, as I can feel the baby move more often and more strongly (real fun when the baby starts punching me in the bladder) and I’m that much closer to being able to meet him or her–but also am that much closer to that fun day of labor, which I’m really actually not looking forward to because, well, pain and me aren’t friends.

Anyway, that’s what’s happening in my little pocket of the world. What’s going on in yours?

P.S. OMG, is it really May tomorrow? GAH.

 



A Coffee Chat

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Today, I’m going to lay low and recover from a very busy week and weekend. My trip to Chiang Rai got a tiny bit delayed when my husband came down with food poisoning and I stayed to make sure he got properly rested and fed. But then I had to skeedaddle up to SOLD, where I stayed until Saturday and slowly drove back down. I think I had imagined a quiet weekend after that, but somehow, with one thing and another, it wasn’t meant to be, and then there was a full-day meeting yesterday, so today I’m officially taking my weekend. Yoga will be involved and I think I will do some Thai language lesson review. Probably doesn’t sound relaxing, but I’m itching to do it!

Puppy cuddles

Puppy cuddles

The body health workshop I mentioned last week managed to go off pretty well, I think, even with a bit of last minute scrambling. The kids grumbled about having to learn, at first, saying they had already learned it in school…but as is typical with their education here, they could name the parts of the body, but had no clue as to their function. Even the teenage girls couldn’t explain how or why menstruation happens. They knew all about HIV/AIDS, but had no clue there were other STDs to worry about. Plus we had some fun activities and we did an anonymous Q&A session at the end. And the Q&A lasted almost as long as the actual presentation, so what might have been just a few hours ended up lasting the whole day and they were far more riveted than they wanted to let on.

I love that little paw sticking up there!

I love that little paw sticking up there!

The other exciting bit of news here (at least for me) is that I’ve started to feel the baby move about! I can only feel it internally, which means poor Toby will just have to wait to feel any of it. It feels like a really light, gentle muscle twitch or spasm, sometimes like the baby is just pushing against my belly, and sometimes there’s a sensation like the baby is rolling over. I don’t know why people describe it as feeling like butterflies…it does NOT feel like butterflies, unless maybe they’re some kind of PUNK butterflies. It’s such a crazy sensation –two parts awe-inspiring and amazing, and one part strange and disconcerting. It makes me really realize there is another being inside of me, part of me, and yet separate and distinct.

In the meantime, it’s my sister’s birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SIS!!) and here we’re also celebrating because it looks like we might finally get some rain (HALLELUJAH!).

Tell me, what’s going on in your corner of the world?

 



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