Swimming with the fishies in Sanur, Bali

Little Brother Monkey has not arrived so we took him snorkeling. We went off to Sanur for the day. It's about an hour from Ubud in average traffic. No plan really, just need to get out of the villa and do some more traveling. Within moments of arriving on the beach we got hit up about a snorkeling trip. While we undoubtedly did not get a *great* price, its wasn't very much either and it was well worth it. What a great way to kick off a beach day!

One of the best parts of our non-backpacker budget snorkeling was we got to ride in a boat. Nava LOVED this part. She kept patting dad's hands away because she wanted to stand up wihout help. We were going over ocean waves, sea spray coming up, and Nava was peeved we felt the need to hold her hand. This girl, I tell you...

Nava LOVES this new pool float (I keep meaning to write a post about it; it's that good). In the pool she growls at us to let go because she can do it herself. In the open ocean she at least allowed us to hold hands still. We threw some bread in the water so the fish were swimming right next to her. Not really snorkeling but a pretty good approximation for a 2 year old! Now I just need to get some prescription goggles!

Supernanny Noi really enjoyed her first snorkeling trip. We had a rough start with a too-loose mask but as soon as that was sorted she was off and had a great time.

Later back in the boat Noi was throwing bread into the water with Nava so the fish would come near Dad. Noi was so enjoying watching the show she didn't see that Nava had started sneaking the bread for herself. Miss Naughtykins was busted by the boatman...who was totally cracking up.

The speed at which she became a full time walker still boggles me. She has a wide stance (penguin walk comes to mind) and needs to practice to get rid of it but otherwise? She still likes to hold hands but more often than not she's just holding a single finger and its just for fun or confidence. Quite a few times on this walk she refused to hold hands in fact. 

Walking in the water, in the sand, with little waves, seaweed, fishies... all CHECK. Again, here, my hands weren't strictly necessary but just part of the fun!

38 weeks and 4 days here, in case you're keeping track ;)

Nava has been to the beach at 3 months (not a lot on interest in sand), at 21 months (allowed others to play sand near here and kinda touched it slightly), and at 24.5 months ('yes, it's sand. so?'). This trip was the first where the play value of sand finally clicked. What a great milestone :) So much fun. Lots of tasting occurred as well as sand building of course...

Every good day at the beach ends with this right?


Happy Father's Day

To the head monkey.
We love you.

And to Nava's Grandpa (or Grandfa as the case may be) who tragically just isn't as photogenic...


Bali Baby: Today's the Day...

...that Nava came.

Today, I am 38 weeks and 4 days pregnant with Little Brother Monkey; the gestation at which Nava decided it was time to get the party started.

Apparently Nava's little brother finds my tummy more comfortable than his sister did. Luckily for me, little brother generally allows me to sleep and eat in relative (for late pregnancy) comfort so I'm cool with him taking his time.

Tick tock.

And for the record, I am having no signs he think he should get a move on. Zilch. Nada. The boy is comfy.


Nava's favorite local delicacy

Given Nava's excellent track record as an adventurous eater, we never really had to worry about what she would eat on this trip. And we guessed that in the hop across Asia, there'd probably be more same same than different.

And so far that's been true. Us adults are missing some of the super spicy delights of Lao and Thai food but generally we've adjusted. Except for Sout and rice. The man is crazy particular and can you believe it?! They don't generally eat the exact same species here as in Lao. Pffff....

Luckily Nava has clearly established a favorite. We never have to think twice about what to order her when we're out.

Because we're in the land of satay. Satay is the perfect food because:
1. It's BBQ
2. It's in small, easy on toddler teeth pieces
3. It's served on a stick which makes a great handle and requires no pesky fork or spoon
4. And best of all? It's served with a side of peanut butter (or something very close to it in Nava's book)



An excellent day out at the Bali Zoo

We decided to hoist our family tourist flags high and head off the the zoo. The website said it would be educational. And we're all about education don'tyouknow. 

Google revealed it was only about 20 minutes from us so we called up the friendly neighborhood taxi and scooted down to see the animals. Up close and personal like. The Bali Zoo's claim to faim is letting you pet and take pictures with some of the talent. Unfortunately, Nava wasn't so into getting that close to Where the Wild Things are. But Supernanny Noi and I bravely took up the challenge and went to pet the baby lion. Awwww...

We tried again with her when it was time to pose with the Bearcat. But that was a fail in the lighting, focusing, smiling, and posing department. But boy, don't we make good cheesy tourists!!?!!

We found the wallabies were friendly.

Well hello to you too!
Of course we waved back.
38 week belly in full force!

Sout was drawn to a slightly less cuddly animal. Men. A zoo teeming with tigers, lions, crocs, bears...and the only photo I get of my husband is in front of a grumpy camel. Figures.



Bali Baby: Maternity Photography For The Win

With Nava, we got maternity and newborn photos done at a place that specializes in school pictures. You know, the yearbook mugshots?

This is just perhaps a *smidge* better.


Any picture of yourself heavily pregnant that surprises you by making yourself look better than you remember being as your younger, skinnier self? TOTAL WIN.

Pregnant mamas in Bali-Make an appointment with Suxy.  And no, this is not a sponsored post!

Suxy Photography
Denpasar - Bali


Bali Baby: Eating Well in Ubud

Everybody ready for a little food porn?
(I may regret using the P word when I see the report on search terms leading to this post but for now, I'll live on the wild side).

We have been enjoying eating out a fair bit since our arrival. I'm actually really enjoying cooking most of the time but sometimes the lure of the new wins. A few places we've enjoyed so far:

A local style cafe just a few hundred meters down the street from us. They offer mostly Indonesian food with a few western dishes thrown in the mix and have yummy daily specials. From the street its not much to look at (looks noisy as its right on a busy road before the bridge in Nyuh Kuning) but there's a back garden that has a low table which is perfect for dining with a kidlet. 

We asked for their recommendation and got this super yummy special-tuna steak with a spicy fresh relish type topping that kid of reminded us of Lao/Thai food.

Next we went to the super trendy Kafe. It wasn't meal time and I was craving something sweet. This being Kafe and Ubud there were dozens of 'healthy' choices. I wanted to split with Nava who doesn't do wheat so I decided to risk the healthy and got a raw chocolate tart.

Raw chocolate makeup

It was yummy and rich but just not hardcore chocolatey enough for my non-health concerned palate. I'm sure it was good for us though. The patrons and staff alike enjoyed watching Nava taste it. While Ubud is hip, apparently baby goths aren't so common... The whole menu here is awesome. I just have to order less healthy next time.

After a few days here, Supernanny Noi was getting a little disappointed in local fare. There's only so much fried rice and noodles a girl can take. She was flipping through tourist advertising magazines one day and ever so casually turned to me and said, "You know, I think I saw an advert for THAI FOOD!"

I can totally take a hint but I tried to warn her that Sout often finds Thai food abroad disappointing. Thai restaurants that don't serve Thais much tend to not meet our (spoiled and exacting) standards. So instead we searched out a place I'd heard about.

Melting Wok Warung
A tiny 8 table cafe with a chalkboard menu of only a handful of items-that nevertheless holds the #1 restaurant spot on Tripadvisor. For that reason alone we had to try it. But then reading the reviews a few people mentioned that its owned by a Lao-French couple so we *really* had to go. Its super busy and often full so we waited until 3pm to try our luck hoping that in-between meals would mean a) a table and b) service within toddler time limits.

We arrived to an empty place (yay!) and were immeadiately taken super care of when we explained we were from Lao. Supernanny Noi was gutted to hear that special the day before was Laab and Papaya salad - two very big Lao favorites. The special that day was more pan-asian fusion. Luckily the chef took pity on her and offered to make her something off menu. I got coconut milk curry noodles. It was all fantastic but between chatting with the owners, keeping Nava occupied and digging in, I didn't get pictures of the main course.

The advantage to eating at 4pm though is we had time to chat until we could fit in dessert. Lao doesn't do great desserts usually but thanks to the Frenchness we could have crepes, creme caramel, fondue, creme mocha....ahhh...not a raw/vegan/health food option in sight. Nava and I split the fondue and stole bites of Noi's creme caramel with coconut milk.

Nava recommends the fondue highly. Before I could get situated she decided to test the chocolate with her fingers so we got a complementary sensory OT session in as well. Bananas dipped in chocolate dipped in peanuts or sesame. What's not to love? The only hitch was when I got so distracted talking I offered her banana sans chocolate. That came right back out with a face that said, "Mom. Who the hell do you think you're kidding?!?".

We did find another good local place on the main street but of course I lost the name. The highlight here was satay. Nava loves to eat with her hands and bbq that comes with something similar to peanut butter on the side is just about heaven in her books.
have no idea why this is so grainy...
 The bonus was the menu had fish soup that tasted like home to Noi.

So we left with full bellies and faith that we shouldn't give up on the local stuff just yet.


A Job To Do

I mentioned in my recent State of the Bub report that Nava had begun helping to clear the table now that she's walking.

She's now got it down. Tonight she cleaned her plate (I still have to feed bites most of the time-girl still has a serious princess complex sometimes) and then as I was asking her if she wanted more or was done she jumped ahead of me a step. She leaned way over to confirm the plate was well and truly empty and then grabbed it off the table with both hands. Real breakable plate mind you.

And then just sat there holding it straight out and looking at me.

I took my cue and picked her up out of her chair and lowered her to the ground. All the while she kept the plate perfectly flat and straight ahead. As soon as her feet hit the ground she marched straight to the kitchen door to hand the plate to Noi (the doorway, as is common here, is very high and requires a hard full body climb so that's the logical stopping point). She then came back to the table for her bowl, delivered it similarly, and finally came back for the 3rd plate and spoon.

All heavy and breakable. All carried with military-level stern and serious caution. Two hands without being prompted.

Girlfriend has a job to do. And she likes it.

Now what are some other jobs I can start outsourcing? Do tell.


Bali Baby: Finding a Place to Stay

Finding a place to stay in Bali sounds like one of those problems you want to have, eh? I did a  full write up on this since I’ve been asked a lot about where we are staying, how we found it, etc. It’s a novel because this is the kinda stuff I nerd out on. You’ve been warned ;)

For me the decision was narrowed by a few clear factors:
1.     I wanted to birth at Bumi  Sehat (not really thinking homebirth at that point-another post!) which is in Nyuh Kuning, Ubud.
2.     I’ve only been to Bali once before and on that trip the only place I went was Ubud and the airport. And in Ubud I stayed in Nyuh Kuning.
3.     With Nava’s birth I stayed 650m from the hospital and felt very confident about not moving until labor was well progressed. And I was glad it took but a few minutes in a taxi to get to the hospital.
So yeah. it will come at no surprise that I was planning to stay in Ubud and most likely wanted to be in or near Nyuh Kuning village.

I eventually narrowed down what I was looking for in the way of amenities to…
1.     Enough space for Nava to play.
2.     A real kitchen. Nothing fancy but not a kitchenette either.
3.     Air conditioning. I boiled in March in Ubud without air con and spent April and May boiling in Laos. Pregnant lady in hot season is just not a pretty picture. I knew the weather was supposed to be mild by when I was moving to Bali but I was beyond reasoning. Plus I figured less mosquito issues with the air con option.
4.     In Ubud.

1.     A pool.  This was a very strong preference and seemed doable but if some pace was perfect but poolless and had options nearby we could easily walk to I figured I might budge.
2.     Two bedrooms. Thus Nava could sleep without being disturbed by newborn care. Plus maybe Suernanny Noi could come with us. Again a ‘very strong preference’.
3.     Wifi. But if not I could get a data plan for my ipad and deal.
4.     Nyuh Kuning or quite close to it.
5.     Maid service. Oh yes. Now is not the time to do housework (is there ever a time to do housework if you don’t really have to?) If not included in the villa my plan was to hire one separately.

There are thousands of villas for rent in Bali (maybe just in Ubud?) listed on the internet. I found a ton of great options but was challenged by my timing. A lot of great villas are booked way ahead with regular customers coming back to them year after year. I was looking for a place in less than 2 months and would be there coinciding with the beginning of high season.  There really is something for nearly every budget but of course cheaper places aren’t as prominent on the web and were more likely booked out. The cheapest I found online searching were $500-800 per month and didn’t have pools or air con and sometimes didn’t have much living space (more like a bedsit arrangement). The high end pretty much had no limit but places that were nice enough for me to dream about without being Hollywood-style fancy went for around $3000 a month.

My budget was based on what I had been expected to pay in Bangkok. Perhaps a silly way to do it but it gave me a great gut reaction to go by. As long as it wasn’t more than I’d pay in Bangkok then the whole Birth In Bali campaign could stay arguably in the Why Not? column. Sure I'd rather spend a lot less but as we own our home free and clear in Laos paying kinda high rent for 2 months wasn't too hard to stomach. And at this point in my research we definitely hadn’t decided 100% on Bali and proving we could get a nice place to stay for the same or less was a big part of my decision making. I had found a place in Bangkok for $1200 a month for 2 bedrooms, meters from the hospital, with shared pool but no wifi and no maid so I had a clear mission.

And I wasn’t doing too well on my mission. It was really hard to find availability in my price range for the specs I wanted. These places existed all right—but they were full. Cue sad music. And then I stumbled on a new website called Airbnb.com. At the time Google found it for me I’d never heard of it. Since then of course I’ve seen ads for it and heard references and found out it’s a bit of a silicon valley darling at the moment.

And that’s when I struck gold. I found a villa. Across the street from Bumi Sehat birth center. With availability.  For $1000 a month. Aircon, maid, wifi, pool, and a real kitchen. Check! The only catch was it was really just like a large one room studio (2 big beds) with a separate kitchen. So we had a decision to make. Could we deal with Nava in the same room as us? Same room as a newborn? Living and sleeping in the same room? No nanny coming with us?

I got very excited but I really wondered if I’d be kicking myself when faced with a cranky toddler lacking sleep while taking care of a newborn. Then I found a friend who not only knew of the villa in question but had been there and whose friend had stayed there for her birth. And the word from that mama was: TAKE IT.  Sout, of course, didn’t see the one room as a problem at all so that was it. Decision made. We had a real, good, affordable place to stay for the same it would cost to go to Bangkok for this birth.

Postscript: How do we like it? We love it. It is exactly as advertised and we hoped. Check it out:
Nava's 'bedroom'

Note the TV to nowhere- No DVD player and a cable connection for local TV only.

The master bedroom

The parlor

The front yard :)

The porch
Postscript #2: How's the Nava sleep situation turning out? Well, we did end up bringing Supernanny Noi for these first 2 weeks before Sout comes (Yes. I'm LUCKY!). She willingly agreed to rough it without her own bedroom in exchange for a trip to Bali :)

But I'd had a month to think about how to best create a good set up for Nava. She can and does sleep with us at times but usually it means a disturbed sleep for everyone as she's noisy and likes to kick! No crib wasn't a problem since she already has a floor bed back home. In fact we all still sleep in one room like this at home anyways--but there it's not the living room as well. I decided to bring a tent for her. A mosquito net tent that we got years ago for Grandpa fit the bill perfectly. It would keep her contained and allow us to dim the lights on her if we were up late with #2.

Ta da! It works. Now if only there was sound proofing...


Still here, still chillin'

it's Bali time and the living's easy

Life is good. We've spent the last days mostly at the villa, getting in and out of the pool since the sunshiney weather has been breathtakingly beautiful.

And now that I've spent the last 2 hours cajoling technology into allowing me to upload a week's worth of pictures, I hope to blog about some fun details in earnest in the next day or two.  

To stopgap blog til then though...here's the Clif Notes.

Whileing away the days of Babywatch 2012 has mostly consisted of:
-Cooking lots of veggie stir fries. So nice to be have a decent if basic kitchen and the time to cook and enjoy sitting down to eat.
-Checking out the local organic market. Ubud's Organic Farmers Market is TINY in comparison to the roaring mega market we have in Vientiane so we were a little disappointed at first. But we've enjoyed what we've picked up (mostly very boring foreign standards like carrots and brocoli) and will continue our hunt for good local herb and veg options.
-Going out for ice cream after dinner on nice neighborhood stroller walk.
-Renting a motorbike. We got an automatic scooter for a month for $75. Petrol is less than half of the cost in Laos (half a US dollar a liter). Noi worked up the courage to take it out for a spin today and made it all the way into the center of tourist town and back. The roads are tiny here but they are paved and people drive fast so Noi was a bit nervous at first (not to mention its the other side of the road).
-We bought a hammock and Nava approves (photographic evidence above). Its hung up in the most temporary, lazy arrangement imaginable right now so only the 13 kilo'd ones among us are able to use it. Sout's first honey-do on arrival will be to sort out a proper arrangement so I can get in it.
-Trying to establish some sort of vacation schedule for Nava. She has been dodging naps, taking them late, being super cranky at times, and regardless of how late of a nap she gets she hits the wall of pissy at 6:30 and there is no placating or reasoning with her (with one lovely exception-go figure). Today she was up around 7:30, didn't nap til 2, did nap well for a full hour, and the 6:30 timer bell went off with a large whingey bang. It doesn't help that she's got molars coming in.

My walking's gotten so good I can do Ubud sidewalks with only one hand to hold. That's *seriously* good.

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