Monday, December 31, 2007

Ta Ta 2007

As usual, the year has just zoomed past. Why does time past so quickly? I don't remember it being this way when I was a child? Its as if there is a hard slog to get to the top of a hill (end of adolescence) and then after that, its a downhill run from adulthood to....the end!

It has been an extremely eventful year with the move to Indonesia, holiday in Bali AND two and a half months in Brisbane. And don't forget the couple of trips back to Malaysia that we also had. No matter how much I dislike AirAsia (thats the budget airline I use), its thanks to their cheap fares that I've been able to have so many trips.
On top of all the travel, I have the ever evolving Aaron to keep me on my toes. He has definitely provided us with a continuous stream of new experiences and amazement. I know I make everything revolve around him and I mark each stage of my own life based on what he's doing but I'm comfortable with my life being that way for now.

Here is my mother giving Aaron his first taste of solid food. Photo taken on 19 January.

And here he was yesterday when we were trying out a Dim Sum place.

No wonder 2007 has just disappeared. I wonder what sort of surprises 2008 has for us all.

Happy New Year Everybody. I wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

We're up to 132

car, busy (he uses this to mean 'driving'), walk, water, Wiggles, Aaron, xie xie ('Thank You' in Chinese), eat, play, jatuh ('fall' in Indonesian), pray, bubbles, key ...

If Aaron could blog, those would be just 13 out of the possible 132 words that he can choose to use now. Its amazing! It was only on October 30 that I was marveling at his first few words. His pronunciation still isn't correct but its good enough for us to know what he's saying. Sometimes, he uses the words by themselves. Other times, he uses his signs only. And then other times again, its a combination of both. Bottom line is that his communication skills have really kicked in.

My favorite combination of signs and speech is when he slaps his chest with both hands splayed wide and then says 'sit' to tell me to get off his little chair so he can sit. I usually ask for a 'Please' but I'll get a 'Pees' instead. You'll have to trust me when I say it is really cute!

I Googled toddler speech development and supposedly, by the time he's 18 months, he'll pick up 10 new words a day. And shortly after that he could even pick up a new word every 90 mins! I think there are a few bad habits I'd better break RIGHT NOW.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The straightforward people of Palembang

The people of Palembang are definitely honest, simple and straightforward. Its something that I really appreciate about this place. Off and on, this also provides some 'interesting' situations. In July, I had a post about a lady who basically told me that my boobs weren't big enough to feed my son.

Today, I went for a massage and when the masseuse started on my head, she exclaimed 'You've had a nose job!'. No, she didn't ask me. She just said it as if she was really surprised. Just to be sure I heard her right, I pretended not to understand and she said it again. This time with some hand signs indicating a scalpel on my nose. I told her I had not but she didn't seem to believe me. She went on about on about how narrow and 'high' it was. That must be their idea of a good looking nose in Palembang.

I'm not going to post a photo of my nose here but I don't think its all that narrow or 'high'. Richard thinks its a cute nose, except for when I make myself look like a Klingon. The wrinkles forming on my nose (from the Klingon impersonations) distract me from its actual shape but I guess I'll take the masseuse insistence on my having a nose job as a compliment.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A delayed post - Hari Raya Haji

I actually wrote this post last Thursday (20 December) but just felt that I was in too much of a Christmassy mood to post it. So, I've saved it for AFTER Christmas. Like now.


Today is Hari Raya Haji and here in Palembang, its a public holiday. This is the celebration that marks the end of the Muslim pilgrimage rites in Mecca. Everywhere else, Muslims start the day with prayers in the morning, followed by sacrifices of cows and goats. The sacrifices are to commemorate Abraham's test of faith when asked to sacrifice his son. The meat is then distributed back to the people who donated money and also to the poor.

So....I have been curious about the sacrifices and was looking forward to going to watch. BUT, I'm glad that Aaron was sleeping and I couldn't make it. I sent Richard to get me some photos instead. I'm not going to post them all here because they were just too gruesome. I have no idea how animals are normally slaughtered and I don't want to know but these seemed so cruel. Here are some of the photos from the day:

Morning Prayers

Waiting around for the sacrificing to start

Holding the cow down

Cow slowly bleeding to death on the right. Children all watching on the left. Can you imagine that?! Maybe I'm 'bubble wrapping' but I don't think I want to let Aaron see that sort of stuff until he's 18.

Maybe I didn't grow up in this culture so I couldn't share in their excitement but for the Muslims here, it really was a joyous day. They spent it with friends and family, watching the sacrifices, chit chatting and making curries out of the meat.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

4 straight days of Christmas Shopping

I can't believe we're back home again. The past few days in Kuala Lumpur went by so quickly because we had an AMAZING time. The bad news was that it rained for most of our time there so we didn't go anywhere outdoors and I have no photos of the real Kuala Lumpur to share. (Bilbo, you'll have to keep imagining it for now.)

Instead, we spent almost the whole trip in the malls, shopping, shopping shopping. There was so much to see and so many play areas that even Aaron didn't complain. The Christmas decorations were more elaborate this year than in previous years. I did feel they were a little too 'Western' but I guess thats what happens when all the movies, cards and other images of Christmas comes from the west. Still, they were wonderful to look at and Aaron hardly blinked when he first saw the displays.

We did make a trip to Klang (30mins from Kuala Lumpur) to visit our old neighbors. Our 2.5yrs there are filled with memories of these good friends. So far, this is the only place where I have lived and gotten to know the neighbors so well. Seeing them makes me realize how much I miss living there. Here are the two girls that I taught piano to and played with almost every day. They were so little when I first met them!

Here we are having dinner with all of them at a local restaurant. Kids are on the table in the foreground and adults in the background. I wish I could have spent some time with the kids, they've always made me laugh!

So its back to the routine life for now until our next trip at the end of January for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Friday, December 21, 2007

YAY! Its Pre-Christmas!

We'll be heading to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow so pre-Christmas has officially started. Pre-Christmas is the time when we are officially off work (as in the 9-5 one) and the only 'work' we do are related to Christmas. The only tunes we hum are carols. The colors I choose to wear are also brighter. I really like to getting into the swing of things over the last few days before Christmas.

Sometimes I feel that the pre-Christmas atmosphere is more fun than Christmas Day itself. Its all about the travel home and the anticipation of fun and laughter with loved ones. Its also about the last minute shopping, gift wrapping and hope that the recipient will genuinely enjoy the gift. People are generally in a festive mood and there is a feeling of happiness floating around. I know that this isn't how everybody feels but I have been lucky to enjoy this type of pre-Christmas every year.

This will be my last post until we get back next Wednesday so let me wish you all a Merry and Blessed Christmas now. Enjoy this time with friends and family. And for those of you who live where there is snow, please go out and roll around in it. Jump around in it. Make big foot prints. And of course, think of me while you're doing all that because I'm still waiting for my White Christmas.

'Do you hear what I hear?' has been going around and around in my head since I commented on Bilbo's blog last night. Here's the last verse....

Said the king to the people everywhere,
"Listen to what I say! Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say! Listen to what I say!
A Child, A Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Noodles and Cars

Its a public holiday today and Richard spent the day with us. Instead of having lunch at home like we normally do, we went to Palembang Square. Its not a place we go to often because of the crowds, noise and the fact that it makes Aaron irritable. Still, we went today because of the new noodle restaurant that opened up there. All sorts of noodles; Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese....and Pasta. We had a good time and the food was a welcomed change from the normal rice we have. I give it a 6/10 for taste but 8/10 for fun.

Aaron had fun too. We were early and managed to get one of the limited Toy Car/Trolleys. At this mall, he's usually very clingy and refuses to sit in the pram. Today, there were no problems with sitting in the little car. He enjoyed it so much, we just kept walking around for the sake of his 'car ride'. No chance to whip out my Shopping Cart Cover today though...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Shopping Cart Cover

The Good News:
I finally got to use the Shopping Cart cover. It has been semi-finished for several weeks but I didn't have the elastic to put in until today. So, here it is:

The Bad News:
Aaron kept trying to pull it off the cart. It took a long time before he would allow himself to be distracted by other things. And then, he'd just start trying to pull it off again. He did settle down a little by the time we got to the checkout so maybe he'll get used to it.

OR, maybe this is going to be payback for my own childhood. Apparently, my mother made me several dresses that I refused to wear.

Babies are just so honest. If they don't like something, they immediately let you know. There is no faking it or trying to say something nice just to avoid hurting someone. No cover ups. And the best part to their honesty is that we all love them for it. I wonder when we start wearing our masks and sometimes even resenting people for their honesty.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Look at these curls!

Eggplants are one of my favorite vegetables. I have them all the time and usually they look normal with just a bit of a curve in them. This is the first time I've seen them this curly. Have you ever seen anything like it?!

I just had to share this photo even though its a little dark. I've eaten the eggplants so theres no chance of a second shot.

Loss of Blog

Have you ever been spooked by the sudden inability to pull up your blog? I have. This morning! At the beginning of the year, when I first started blogging, it was just to see what the hype was all about. Now, at the end of the year, I'd be heartbroken if I lost the year's 'work'. And then there is the whole thing about how all my regular readers would find me. But of course, all I'd need to do was go visit each of them and tell them that I had moved. Hopefully they like me enough to go change their bookmarks.

Would I really go into paid web hosting choices? Blogger has been stable and reliable most of the time. It was only this one time that I had problems with it. I browsed around anyway for webhosting choices. There is a website ( that helps with comparisons but I hope I never have to actually pick one. That site even had a 'Learning Center' which included information on Scams and Cheap Hosting. Its a good site for those who are serious about finding a paid web hosting service.

I'll be staying put for the moment. After all, its just a hobby, no sense in forking out extra cash when I don't need to.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Flashback

Christmas 1977
This was only my 2nd Christmas so I don't have ANY recollection of it. I imagine that it would have been a warm time with my parents and grandparents. In that year, I was still the first grandchild on both sides of the family.

Christmas 1987
It was on this Christmas day that my mother, brother and I left Ipoh, Malaysia to make our new home in Brisbane, Australia. My father had already gone ahead several months earlier and we were joining him for Christmas Day. I remember that our last meal in Ipoh was at a Thai Restaurant. We had the usual, Pandan Leaf Chicken. My main memory of Christmas in Brisbane was this incredibly small, one room apartment that we all crammed into. We only had a radio, no TV, and the song that was playing repeatedly was La Bamba. I think we stayed at this place for a couple of months before my parents bought the house that they still live in now.

Christmas 1997
Ah...Fresh out of university and back in Ipoh for the usual summer holidays. I had no intention of moving back to Malaysia but on Christmas Eve that year, I was offered a job at Intel, Penang. Just like everything in my life, it wasn't planned and I just went with the flow, accepted it and have yet to move back to Brisbane. Afterall, it was my dream job. Back then, I had imagined myself working in an environment that was clean and white. This was the exact job for me - Manufacturing Systems Engineer in a cleanroom environment (only 10k particles per square meter and EVERYTHING was white)

Christmas 2007
I've finally re-ignited my Christmas spirit and am looking forward to lots of food, friends and shopping in Kuala Lumpur. Only thing lacking will be extended family but I'll have Richard and Aaron.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sleep Laughing

Some time ago, I posted on Aaron and his night terrors. Last night, we saw the opposite. Richard and I were watching Aaron and laughing (quietly) at sleep posture. He still tucks his hands and legs in and sticks his backside in the air the same way he did when he was a few weeks old.

So, while we were laughing, he must have heard us because he lifted his head, opened his eyes and looked at me.

"Oh No! Now I'll have to deal with his crying and have to put him to sleep again"

No, that didn't happened, he actually started laughing. Then he put his head down again and kept chuckling and finally, just had the sweetest smile on his face as he closed his eyes. There were a few more chuckles before he was completely quiet again. It was the strangest thing. Just like the night terrors, I don't think he was really awake even though his eyes were opened.

I wouldn't mind a few more of these cute episodes!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Routine Questioning

Chinese New Year (CNY) is about two months away but we are already starting to plan for it. If we don't book our flights and hotels now we probably won't get any seats/rooms. Each year, CNY is a time for huge gatherings of friends and family for the annual catch up. Its always a boisterous time with lots of laughter but the questions that tend to be asked are always the same. Maybe these questions are the same all around the world whenever people gather.

When you're a kid, the question is always "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

When you're grown up and working, the question then becomes either "Do you have a boyfriend?" or, if you already have one "When are you getting married?"

When you are married, its immediately "Are you having a baby yet?"

And when you do pop out a child, they don't wait to ask you "When are you having another one?"

I wonder what question comes after that one....

My thoughts today are that many people are no longer living those lives of grow up, get a job, get married and make babies. There is nothing wrong with that, and many of those people are proud of the choices they have made. But these questions undoubtedly make them feel awkward. They make me feel awkward too even though I have started down that well trodden path. These aren't simple questions. The decisions behind each of them are life altering and I've always felt that they aren't meant to be small talk material.

This coming CNY, it would be really refreshing if people would ask me something other than when I'm going to have another baby. I think I would prefer questions like "Are you still breastfeeding?" That will make for some lively debate. It will definitely lead to "What for?" and "How long more?" and "Whats the point?"

I'll go brush up on my breastfeeding facts anyway. Bilbo's post on getting the facts straight has reminded me of how much I dislike listening to people spew facts that I know aren't all true. Don't want to end up being one of them!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Watch your step

There is a bad baaaad habit that I am surrounded by everyday here in Palembang. Spitting. A person gets out of his car, SPIT. Hops on his bike, SPIT. Exits the department store, SPIT. Wash their hands, SPIT. It is everywhere, all the time. Sometimes when we're stopped at the traffic lights, I look left to see the guy on his bike spit and then look right to see the guy in the next car wind his window down to do the same thing.

All the obvious spitting is done by the men. They are ALL (and I do mean 100%) smokers here and perhaps that contributes to the habit. I don't know. The slightly less obvious, but still very visible, spitting is done by women. They spit as frequently as the men. And its acceptable. I don't understand it and I don't really want to ask anybody about it.

Its not that I'm unaccustomed to spitting because Malaysia is also a country where there is a lot of spitting going on but its just not as frequent. I've grown deaf to the sounds of it over here in Palembang but every so often, like today, I'm reminded by it when I feel that my foot was narrowly missed! Just another aspect of the life we're experiencing here I guess.

Splotchy's Story Meme

Serina Hope tagged me for this installment of Splotchy's Story Meme. According to Splotchy, "Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out." You can read all of the details here.

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

"That's strange," I said out loud to no one in particular. My fingers slowly reached towards the jar again. My body experienced a wave of apprehension as weighted blanket covering me as I did so. The jar was completely frozen.I picked it up and stared at it, my fingers stung with little knives of chill.
"What the..." again I spoke aloud. Then I realized what had happened with a shock. Suddenly the jar flew from my hand. It shattered creating a collage-like mixture of frozen applesauce and glass shards on my kitchen floor, the lid lazily rolling to a stop across the room.(FranIAm)

I half noticed at first glimpse that there was something odd amidst the solidified apple sauce as I reached for the broom and the dust pan. As I knelt down to clean up the frozen mess, I could clearly see a tiny figure within the goopy mess. It was a human eye, with tiny arms and legs! I resisted my initial urge to pick it up with my hand, and then reached down to scoop it up with the dustpan. The eye looked up at me in horror and gave out a frightening high pitched screech as it ran for the living room.I was dumbfounded by this turn of events.
I didn't even like applesauce - And I had guests coming for dinner! It would not be proper to have a homunculus eyeball running around during the appetizer - I had to think fast. I crept into the living room so as to not startle the small creature. The eyeball was under the coffee table, peeking out from behind one of table legs. When I approached, it quickly darted under the couch!I got on my hands and knees to look under the couch, but I could not see the eye through all of the old newspapers and dust bunnies that had accumulated under there. I had to hurry! the guests were coming at seven o'clock, and I had not even started the buffalo chicken skewers with blue cheese dipping sauce yet! Not to mention the couscous and the broccoli noodle salad. (Zaius Nation)

I shook my head and leaned back against the wall. Surely this couldn’t be happening, surely there isn’t an anthropomorphic eyeball running around under my couch. It just couldn’t be real, could it?
“Ahem,” a little voice squeaked. “Ahem.”
I looked all around for the source of the voice. I finally found that it was from the eyeball peering around the back of the couch. I leaned in and looked at it closer. It still appeared to be uneasy (I mean, I’m sure that’s how it appeared, but then again I’m not all that certain about behavior patterns of walking eyeballs.
“Did you say something?” I asked it.
“You’re not going to poke me are you?” it asked. “I hate getting poked.”
“Uh no,” I answered dumbfounded. “I won’t poke you.”
“And you’re not going to lock me away in a jar of applesauce are you?”
“No, I’m not going to do that,” I replied, still bewildered by the sight in front of me.
“OK.” He made the eyeball equivalent of a nod, hitched up a pair of nonexistent trousers, adjusted the chimerical hat on his head, and walked up to me. “I am forever in debt to you, sir, for freeing me from the confines of that jar.”
“OK, sure,” I smiled lamely. “How’d you get in there?”
“The evil wizard trapped me in there,” he answered. “He knows the only way to trap a geneye is to use a jar of applesauce.”
“You’re… you’re a geneye,” I managed to blurt out. I may not get the appetizers done, but this may be one heckuva party anyways.
“At you service,” it bowed. “And to thank you for freeing me, I would like to reward you with two wishes.”
“Oh, so you’re like a genie.” It all started to make sense to me now. No, not really.
“Yes,” it rolled its eye. “Like a genie, only we’re geneyes. They sure do know how to warp a good story in Hollywood, don’t they?”
“Yeah,” I agreed, again dumbfoundedly. “So I get two wishes? What about three?”
“Ugh!” the geneye slapped the top of its head, or the top of its eyeball at least. “You get two. Two. Only two. That’s how it works. And no wishing for more wishes, we’re onto that. Aladdin tried that once, it wasn’t pretty.”
“OK, so I get two, let me think,” I said thoughtfully. Screw the party, this is way more interesting.
“Yeah, hurry up, I don’t have all day,” the magical homunculus eyeball tapped it’s foot. “I’ve got places to go.”
“OK, OK,” I answered. Well, I could always wish for a lot of money, except that never works in the stories. The villain always wishes for riches and gets trapped in the cave with the gold, or sent to the bottom of the sea with it or audited by the IRS because of it. As much as I’d like to pay off the mortgage, I don’t think I can.
“Well?” it asked impatiently.
“I want peace on Earth and good will toward men,” I say with a forfeiting shrug.“Peace on Earth and good will toward men?” it repeated.
“Is that one wish or two?”
“One,” I replied. “You know, ‘tis the season and all.”
“Nice choice,” it nodded. Then the geneye snapped its fingers.
“It is done.”
I felt it. For one moment, I felt nothing but peace and joy all around me. Others felt it, too but no one would ever be able to explain it. All around the world, people stopped what they were doing and just enjoyed the moment. Evil men stopped thinking evil thoughts and just smiled nicely. The hurt, the sick, and all who were in pain be it physical, mental, or spiritual, felt the warmth of a brief reprieve. Bells rang. Angels sang. Then I felt it end.
“Hey, that was nice,” I said. “Why didn’t it last?”
“Come on,” the magical being snorted. “I’m not that powerful. You got one more wish.”
One more wish. What should I wish for? Hmmm. (Jon, Intergalactic Gladiator )

"How about 'as many wishes as I'd like?"
"Hey! That's cheating." the Eye said, "It's not allowed in the Geneye Code Of Conduct. It's one wish only, and that's your lot."
"How about 'trying to understand the opposite sex?'" I suggested.
"Too tough" it replied, "No being is as capable of such an undertaking."
I sighed and thought. This was going to be harder than I imagined. I wanted this wish to be a good one that was value for money.
Suddenly I thought about it. Friendship."How about friendship?"
"It's possible." said the Eye.
"Would it last a long time?"
"Oh, sure." the Eye replied, "It's not like that peace and goodwill one where it applies to all. A wish like that means you'd always have good friends."
"That sounds great." I said, "I'll select as my other wish to always have friends, and no enemies,"
"Fair enough" and the Eye clapped his fingers.Suddenly the telephone started ringing.... Captain Picard

"Let me guess, that is a friend calling?," I inquired with a raised eyebrow towards the Eye.
"Well, it definitely isn't an enemy.," the eye said shortly, rolling around to check out the room as I sank down onto my knees. "Aren't you going to get that?," it asked after the third ring.
"I couldn't possible talk to someone else right now.," I said shaking my head. I couldn't quite shake the feeling that I was losing my mind. I had to get rid of this eye.
"You seem to be doing a fine job talking to me.," the Eye said as is sauntered over to check out a magazine that was lying beside the couch.
"Now that you mention that...aren't genies..or geneyes..or whatever supposed to leave once the wishes have been made?," I asked slowly.
The Eye scoffed at me, as much as an eye can scoff at least, and sauntered towards the bookcase.
"You have a lot of books. These could keep me busy for a while.," it said simply as it began to check out a few of the titles on the lower shelves.
"Don't you have somewhere to go? Somewhere to be?," I asked, struggling to keep the desperation out of my voice.
"Where in the world would I need to be? I am an eye with legs. I have been cramped up in a frozen jar of applesauce for the last hundred years. I just granted YOU two wishes. Surely I deserve a little break, don't you think?," the Eye asked as it focused its unblinking gaze directly on me.
The phone began to ring again. I could also hear my cell phone ringing from the bedroom. I couldn't look away from the Eye. (Serina Hope)

"So, have you got any eye drops? I need a bath to get rid of this applesauce. Its really starting to sting." Both of the Eye's arms were swishing around like a pair of wipers. I continued staring at the Eye. This GENEYE. Meanwhile the phones are all ringing and I can hear my Yahoo messenger pinging with people wanting to chat.
"Hellooooo. I'm starting to weep here." said the Eye while impatiently tapping one foot.

I had an opened bottle of Visine in the refrigerator. Probably more than 30 days old but I'm sure he'll survive. All those years in the applesauce didn't seem to do much damage. I squeeze all the Visine out into a shot glass and take it back to the Eye.

"Ah.....whats this?" asks the Eye
"Visine. Its for irritated, red, dry, itchy eyes. Should help to clean you up"

At this, the Eye dips both hands in to the glass and starts sloshing Visine out onto himself. "Do you mind? A little privacy please." I didn't realize I was still staring at him. I turn away while thinking about what privacy he was referring to. He was an eyeball with two arms and two legs. He didn't have any clothes on in the first place.

I turn as I hear the shuffling sound of papers. The Eye has finished his bath and is trying his best to turn the pages of one of my People's magazine. He succeeds and walks up to the top of the page. The Eye is now walking around the page eyeballing all the photos of Jennifer Love Hewitt...(The Milk Bar)

Its the holiday season and I know people are busy but hopefully this story can be continued. I'm tagging:
Heidi Hyde

Even if I didn't tag you but you feel like continuing this story, please do so and let me know. I'd love to know what happens to the Eye the Geneye in the end. How will the story end anyway? How will the last person know they are the last?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feeling Un-Christmassy

I never thought that I'd feel this way. Especially with all the blogs out there setting the scene for Christmas. It feels as if everybody is blogging about the tree, the shopping, and all the other preparations. Many blogs have even put on a Christmassy background. It makes me feel like I'm looking into another world where Christmas is about to happen.

I started looking forward to Christmas about a month ago but now, there doesn't seem to be the same feeling of anticipation. I probably could have done more to help it but I didn't. I chose not to get a tree because I didn't want to have to stop Aaron from destroying it. So, while I'm enjoying the Christmas carols that I play repeatedly for Aaron, thats about the only thing we've done in this house. I'm kicking myself now for not getting a little tree. Yes, I know, Christmas is more than just about a tree but it helps.

Out and about, nobody talks about Christmas. The shops aren't decorated in any way. There was one store with Christmas carols playing but that wasn't enough to bring any mood to the place.

Maybe its the fact that I don't have a big family reunion to look forward to. This year, my parents will be in Brisbane, my brother in Canberra and we will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I shouldn't just sit here and moan about it. I need to do something. Otherwise, it will be a whole year before Christmas again!!

Here is a photo from last Christmas. Aaron couldn't even sit up back then.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Indonesian style weddings

On Sunday, one of the clerks that Richard works with got married and we were invited. This is the type of wedding reception that the typical Indonesian in Palembang would have. It is usually held in an open area near their home. I think all the neighbors must be invited since they have blocked access to all the surrounding homes. The guy in hot pink is Richard.

The festivities start early in the morning with dances, speeches, prayers/sermon by imams, and maybe a song or two by the bride and groom. The wedding couple and both sets of parents sit on top of a raised platform. The 'thrones' and other furniture you see are carved out of wood.

The bride and groom could hardly move because of all the weight they were wearing and balancing. By the way, its not real gold, just gold in color. Take a good look at the bride's eye shadow. I don't know why they do it this way but its a stiff piece of green glitter paper thats stuck on her upper eyelids. She isn't able to fully open her eyes because its so stiff.

The day ends when lunch is served. Here's a photo of one of the three buffet tables.

And here's what we had for lunch. I'm sure the Rendang there was tasty but it was too spicy for me to enjoy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fun Monday - Christmas Ornaments

Lady K is hosting this week's Fun Monday:

In the spirit of the season I would like to see your favorite Christmas tree ornament. Not to be confused with the WHOLE tree. I want you to zoom in and show me one or a few(you know I can't choose just one!) of your favorite ornaments. If you don't decorate a tree, show me your menorah or dreidel, Kinara, or Yule Log. I want to see your favorite decoration for this holiday season.

We actually haven't put a tree up since Christmas 2003. We moved and our tree got packed away and just never came out again. Since that move, we've moved three other times and now the tree is in storage.

I still have an ornament to share though. Our tree was one of those tiny 1.5 ft tall table top trees. It was just the two of us back then and I got it mainly to have Christmas lights in our little apartment. Instead of buying ornaments, I made origami cranes. The crane is a symbol of peace so I felt it was fitting for the season of Peace and Goodwill.

This crane is made from magazine paper but my 'ornaments' were made from beautiful Japanese print origami paper. I wish I had taken a photo of them!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Day of Firsts

Why is he grabbing his shorts? Probably because he's feeling a little airy in there :) Today was Aaron's had his first hour without a nappy. I know that many people, especially Asians, do toilet train babies from a very young age but I haven't felt ready to do it until now. There was just too much going on when Aaron was younger.

I started taking him to the toilet after his afternoon nap a few weeks ago and now, he regularly 'goes' at that time. I should really take him for pee breaks every hour but he keeps changing his schedule and I haven't been successful at catching the non post-nap pees. He has told me twice after a nap that he needed to go so I'm taking that as a good sign and that he's recognizing what it feels like. Hopefully, a daily nappy free hour will help me identify any cues he may be giving off and also speed up the recognition in his own mind of when he should make a run for the bathroom.

As for training on No. 2s....well, he had trained himself at 11 months but somehow, when we went to Australia and then came back again, things seemed to have gone backwards to the point where he now avoids eye contact and pretends that nothing has happened after he's done it. He'll make extra efforts in his play just to avoid having to get cleaned up. No idea on this one at the moment so I'm going to leave it for now.

The other 'First' of the day is his own chair. Here he is on his big boy chair (even though its a really little one).

Friday, December 7, 2007

A house blocked my Broadband

My internet connection has been intermittent for a couple of weeks now but I assumed that the service provider was having some problems with their server or something. I was never overly interrupted so I let it be. Then yesterday, right after posting that video of Aaron, I lost all connectivity. (Btw, Thank You for all the wonderful comments.) I tried all sorts of things for a couple of hours before calling technical support. They sent two guys over at 5pm and they soon figured out that it was the house being constructed behind us that was blocking my signal. I'm with a wireless broadband service. I blogged about the same house back in October but I guess they didn't complete all the walls until yesterday! Here's the culprit now:

The broadband service is wireless to my house and has an antennae on the roof to receive the signals. So, the guys came back today to move the antennae to a different location. Here they are: Antennae and Technician:

Everything was relocated by 11am but I still had no connection. It took them until 5pm, and many trips up and down the roof, to figure out that my humble Ethernet cable was busted. I'm WIRELESS TO the house but still WIRED INTO the house.

They might have taken a full 24 hours to troubleshoot and fix the problem but I'm completely satisfied with their service. They responded quickly, focused on the job, were polite, managed to play with Aaron AND it was all free.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I want to grow up to be a Wiggle

Its really starting to look like the 30 mins of TV a day is becoming Aaron's favorite time. And the Wiggles, his favorite people.

He's like this throughout all the singing parts of the DVD. I love watching him! This is from the Mariachi Wiggles part.

The Tupperware on his head is because the Wiggles were wearing hats and he NEEDED one too. Noisms once commented that I shouldn't torture Aaron with Tap Dancing Lessons but look.....that's his natural dance style :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baby Steps with the Pantley Pull Off

After the awful experience of 'sleep training' a couple of weeks ago, I've gone back to what I've always believed. Only gentle ways to encourage Aaron to learn to sleep on his own. No more fast forwarding the process.

Elizabeth Pantley's book 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' has a huge following and plenty of online forums dedicated to the discussion of it. There really is no crying involved in the various methods that she uses but they all need patience and perseverance. I wish I didn't get impatient and try to merge Pantley and Ferber (he's the father of controlled crying).

I've been using the Pantley Pull Off for several months BUT I was not consistent. I had no patience nor perseverance. The PPO is a strategy of unlatching the baby at progressively earlier times. You start off unlatching when the baby is fully asleep. If the baby wakes, then you just let him/her latch on again (no fuss/crying). 30-60 seconds later, you unlatch. After about 3-5 times, the baby will get the idea and just continue sleeping. So, you keep doing this at every sleep until the baby does not root for the breast when you unlatch. Then you move up the unlatching to when the baby is only half asleep and repeat the same process. After that, its when the baby is drowsy and then finally, no feeding to sleep. Voila! Its supposedly as simple as that but you can see how it takes patience and perseverance.

Well, I'm determined to give this method a proper go. No more cheating. I'm up to the half asleep baby now and I think Aaron's cold is helping out because his stuffy nose is making it hard for him to suck anyway.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eew! Whats next?!

*WARNING - Gross Post because of Gross Day*

There are three incidents in Aaron's life so far that really stand out in my memory. Yes, there are plenty of lovely, happy and cute memories that I often blog about but today, I'm talking about the other type of memory. The kind that forms because you were either shocked, 'eew-ed' (meaning repulsed but in a kinder sense), or both.

The first happened one night when I went to pick him up for his 10pm feed. I was giving him a little cuddle when I felt that his shirt was wet. I thought there was a bit of a sourish smell as I entered the room but had dismissed it. Now, that thought came back and as I looked down at his white shirt, I see a big stain across the front. WHAT?! How did all that pee get up there? Oh No...Pee would have been GOOD. To cut a long story short. It was actually an exploded diaper full of poop that migrated EVERYWHERE and has now transfered to me as well. *SHOCKED AND EEEW!*

The second happened not long after that first incident. Aaron had a really upset stomach and it transformed him into a machine gun with poopy ammunition. It fired with or without the diaper on and I ended up jumping out of harms way quite a few times because of the distance he managed. It was annoying to clean up that mess all day long but you've got to see the humor in it. After the first incident, I was no longer eew-ed. Just *SHOCKED*

Today, I formed the third memory and it has nothing to do with poop. Aaron has had a pretty bad cold for the past few days. It hasn't slowed him down at all but his nose has been like a tap. Today, he stopped letting us wipe his nose. Maybe it hurt. There was no way I could get a tissue or handkerchief near him. It would just drip and he would smear it with the back of his hand all over his face. Then he'd examine his hand or he'd stick his tongue out to try to taste it. Just really really gross stuff. The EEW memory forming came when I used my hand to clean him up and found that he was ok with that. I've had to do that all day! I'm not shocked that I had to do this but I had a big 'EEW' blinking in my brain the whole time. Long, sticky, gooey, finger clinging snot. You may think that this is nothing compared to poop but when you've got all ten fingers entangled.....*EEW*

Monday, December 3, 2007

Fun Monday

This week's Fun Monday assignment is from Robin's Nest. Here is what she has requested:

In honor of exhaustion, color and self-love, I present you with this week’s assignment. I want you to dig through your blog files and show us your best effort. Why you consider it your best is up to you. C’mon, you know you have a favorite - show it to me one more time.

I've chosen this post from 5 months ago. Aaron was 11 months and it was during a time when I really felt tied down. Now, I am STILL tied to him for most of the day but he has already matured so much that I no longer have that feeling of being tied down. We're just buddies who hang out all day long. I still like this list though, and I'll definitely remind myself of these things if I ever think of having another baby.

10 Things to do before baby arrives

Having a baby is a package deal. You get all the cute and cuddly time as well as the screaming tantrums and sleepless nights. While I am comfortable with the parenting choices I have made, I still wish I took the time to appreciate certain aspects of my baby-less life before Aaron arrived. So, to all parents to be:

1) Spend an entire day surfing the internet. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in front of the computer so that you won't waste a single second of it. After the baby arrives, there is no more time for frivolous just log on, do what you have to do and then jump off again.

2) Spend an entire day watching DVDs! Its been 11 months and I still haven't watched a single DVD uninterrupted.

3) Go out for a really expensive (and of course tasty) meal at a restaurant with good ambiance. After the baby, its either no outside food, take out food or if you're lucky, family friendly restaurants.

4) While at the expensive restaurant, appreciate the calm and quiet meal that you are having. Eat slowly. With a baby, you're probably only going to get a bite in between his/her bites.

5) Don't get frustrated if you find yourself with nothing to do and a little bored. Just sit there and BE BORED.

6) If you're a mom-to-be, glug down a can of softdrink. I miss my COKE! Somehow, what I eat/drink filters through the breast milk and the coloring/additives/preservatives would just give Aaron (and me!) a sleepless night.

7) If you're a dad-to-be, take the time to talk to the mom-to-be. After the baby arrives, all you may hear is 'SHUSH, the baby is sleeping'

8) Relax frequently with long showers or baths. I find that showers post Aaron are usually a rushed 2 mins. Don't worry, I'm still clean.....I just got efficient at showering.

9) Moms-to be, wear jewelery, especially long earrings. Wear your hair down if its long. Wear lipstick. Wear a strapless dress and heels. LOOK GOOD!

10) Dads-to-be, enjoy your current household chores. After the baby arrives, there will be a whole lot more.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Today, I followed a link from Cognitive Blindspot to This is a sister site to and donates rice through the United Nations Word Food Program based on a word game. I did have some doubts about the site and tried to google it up to see if it was a scam. So far, I haven't found any mention that it is fake and have found a link to this site from BBC News.

The site gives you a chance to test as well as improve your vocabulary. With each correct answer you provide, 20 grains of rice will be donated. The rice is paid for by the advertisers that you'll see at the bottom of the screen.

20 grains of rice sounds like very little but every little bit adds up. In just half an hour, you can accumulate thousands of grains of rice. Since FreeRice started in early October, they have donated nearly 5 Billion grains of rice. According to the BBC article, 1 Billion grains is sufficient to feed 50,000 people for one day.

There are plenty of fun meme's out there but writing a post about this site, as I have done after reading Cognitive Blindspot would be like doing a meme that also helps others. I believe the original meaning of a meme was the viral like transmission of a particular idea/topic from blogger to blogger. This looks like a good one to keep circulating.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Enjoy the Freedom of Babyhood

Last Monday, I watched the National Geographic documentary, My Brilliant Brain. The main point that I took away from that hour was that while there are gifted children out there who are born with the propensity to excel in certain areas, ALL children can be nurtured to have the same hunger for learning that gifted children do. That was supposedly one of the characteristics of a gifted child/person - they love to learn.

All of us are born with that spongy brain that absorbs everything but many children lose that inherent thirst for knowledge. I noticed this with some children I taught from the time they were 5 till 7. Prior to going to school, they wanted to learn everything. However, after half a year in the first grade, I started hearing things like "I'm too lazy", "I can't", "I don't want to" etc.

So what have I been doing this week? Going overboard with trying to find 'educational' games I can play with Aaron. Incorporating, colors, shapes, names, numbers, alphabets, music, into everything. Don't get me wrong, all that is good. I need the over enthusiasm so that when it dies down, I'll still have a lot of it.

But as it is Friday, and I think about how quickly the time has slipped away, I can't help feeling that I just want to enjoy Aaron being a baby. I noticed today that he doesn't suck his fingers or gnaw on everything he can get his hands on anymore. I did nothing to stop those habits yet they disappeared. He's also able to drink from a normal cup, with supervision of course. He tells me that he wants his bath. He's growing up!

I really need to remember to enjoy each day with him even while I try to prepare him for the future. Doesn't it sound silly to 'prepare' a baby for the future? As if it were an examination. Its a competitive world these days and he'll be in it soon enough. Now is the time for the both of us to just enjoy the complete freedom of babyhood at home.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who is Amanda?

My parents may have named me Amanda but they either call me Manda or girl. Richard also calls me Manda. My brother calls me Che (Cantonese for elder sister) or hey! Most of my friends also call me Manda but some do pronounce the 'A' at the beginning. Many people in Malaysia call me Armarndar (and sometimes even ARMADA) because the 'A' sounds there are 'Ar'. Then over here in Indonesia, most people call me 'Ibu'. The literal translation is 'Mother' but it is also a respectful term that you use for married women. If they think I'm younger and unmarried, they call me something that sounds like 'Bark'. Haven't figured that one out yet.

So, when we asked Aaron 'Who is Amanda?', he was rightfully puzzled. After all, he has never heard that word before. We just laughed at him and left it. This was on Sunday.

Yesterday, while we were in the car, Aaron said something like 'Namnanda'. I looked at him and he said it again. I laughed and he laughed and he said it some more. At that time, I wasn't sure if he was testing the name on me or just testing out some new sounds he heard.

Today, he looked straight at me and said it again. Namnanda. I think he knows its my name. But how did he figure it out?

These babies, they're sneaky. They KNOW things. Don't underestimate them and don't say things you don't want them to hear in front of them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Voluntarily Ripped Off

Its well known in Asia that if you're not shopping in a mall, you have to bargain for everything you buy. Having grown up with mostly mall type shopping, I'm hopeless at it. Occasionally, I'll make an attempt but most of the time, I just pay the price or get somebody else to do the bargaining.

Today, I've been thinking about the shopping that I do here in Indonesia. I'm automatically charged a higher price because people immediately know that I'm not local. I did start out with several attempts at bargaining but then I realized that the difference was a meaningless amount to me (especially after conversion) but may have meant a meal for the vendor. Yes, I do hate the feeling of being ripped off but if you think of it from the vendors point of view, it is an appropriate pricing decision. All businesses have different pricing models for different markets.

I don't mean this to sound condescending or patronizing but is it still considered charity if I allow myself to be ripped off? I had a post about a week ago on helping out at an orphanage but really, all I need to do is look at the people I'm surrounded by everyday and I could 'help'.

This is straying from today's subject of charity rip off but we decided to donate rice to the orphanage for now. And, I'm going to kill two birds with one stone by paying Yudi (my driver) the price that I would have been charged, and then asking him to go get the best price he can for himself and he keeps the difference. The problem now is convincing him to do it because he insists that if its for charity, the rice has to be the same price as the rice I eat. I keep telling him that it is seeing that I paid him that amount but.......we'll see.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Palembang's Tourist Attraction

Many cities in the world have a bridge as a tourist attraction. There is the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Tower Bridge in London just to name three of the many we all know. Today, let me introduce you to one more: Jambatan Ampera or Ampera Bridge if you want it translated.

I agree that it really isn't in the same category as the other bridges we know but it seems to be REALLY FAMOUS in these parts. Whenever I meet somebody new and they find out that we're expats here, one of their first questions is going to be "Have you been to Jambatan Ampera?" If I meet Indonesians while outside of Indonesia and they find out I live in Palembang, "Oh wow! Have you been to Jambatan Ampera?" Local tourists from Sumatra and other islands in Indonesia actually, come to Palembang to go take a look at this bridge and enjoy some 'fresh' air at the park next to it.

I've been here for close to 10 months now and only just decided that I should go to Jambatan Ampera. My driver was very proud to drive me there and show me around. He did make a wrong turn and we didn't end up at that park so things were much more interesting.

Under the bridge is a wholesale market. In the past, Chinese were not allowed to own any land so they built their houses over the Musi River and then traded on the banks. This has now become a major wholesale market.

And here's an idea of what the 'fresh' river breezes would have smelt like:

These children are playing right next to the scene from the photo above.

I can't help but think how dirty, stinky and probably diseased this area must be and then impose my set of standards on these happy kids (they were squealing with delight with each dive into that water). More often, I don't know what to think. Yes, they should know better and not pollute the water that their kids play in. C'mon, their outhouse is RIGHT THERE.

Finally, here is a photo of the houses along the banks and the pollution in the background.

I enjoyed my trip to Jambatan Ampera even though my driver was apologetic that I didn't get to the park. I'm not here to see a park. Its the local lifestyle and day to day goings on that I'm interested in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fun Monday - Projects

This week's Fun Monday is hosted by Blue Momma. The assignment is to share any unfinished projects that may be lying around the house. I only have one around the house and thats because I started it yesterday. Usually, if I start something, I can't wait to see the end result, even if it means cutting down on sleep time.

The project I started yesterday is a Shopping Cart Cover for Aaron. Can you imagine how many hands, that also handle money, touch a shopping cart? So, I'm going to make a simple cover that I can throw over the front part where Aaron sits in. There are fancier covers in the market with padding and leg holes but I'm just going to make mine a single layer with a leg flap. This is going to be hand sewn so I'm not going to be too ambitious.

A single meter of this cute print cost me USD 2.50 and its nearly two meters wide. I'll have plenty left over for something else. Yesterday, I got as far as getting my measurements, marking them, cutting the material and hemming one side.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Orange top, Dark Green shorts, Blue and Yellow shoes

Unfortunately, I have no photo of this because we arrived home late and Aaron was too tired for anything but a bath and sleep.

But can you imagine those colours together? Orange, Dark Green, Blue and Yellow. Thats what his father dressed him in.

Yes, he's only 15 months and I'm definitely not a fashionista but his clothes still need to match. Right?

As it is, the baby shops stock inventory as if there were only baby girls born everyday. Cute fairy outfits, purple mary jane shoes, tiny denim skirts. You name it, they've got it for the girls.

I was a just telling a friend just last week, little boys have to rely on their faces and personalities to be cute because the shops definitely aren't helping in terms of outfits. So, Aaron may have the face and the act together but I still don't want him to go around looking as if we didn't put any thought into dressing him. Its not that I'm one to follow the latest trends and I definitely don't fall into any fashionable category myself but I want Aaron to grow up knowing how to match. This seems to be a skill that all the men in my family lack.

Side note: I was just thinking to myself that blogging is so much fun because it is such a convenient medium for putting whatever thoughts you have out there. Like today, when my brain is a little tired from thinking about Captain Picard's Christmas Party, but I would still like to have my daily post up, I can do one on an everyday thing like matching a baby's clothes.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Palembang Zoo

We took Aaron to the Palembang Zoo this afternoon. It was part of an area they called a forest reserve. There were plenty of shady trees around and I could see that this was a nice picnic area when it was new. It had a small rides area for kids, a pond and several open spaces with individual huts for picnics. Unfortunately, lack of maintenance, perhaps through lack of funds, have left this place a complete mess.

The entrance fee to the reserve was about USD 0.20 and to the zoo, USD 0.30. I wasn't expecting much of the zoo but this was much much sadder than I thought it would be. There weren't a lot of animals there: 3 gibbons, 1 orang utan, 2 sun bears, 1 crocodile, 1 panther, 1 cassowary and quite a few cages of chickens/birds. All the animals were lethargic. There were plastic bags in all the cages. I can't even call it enclosures because they were just cages.

The good part about this lack of planning and care was that we could get up close and personal with the animals. The cages didn't have any additional barriers to prevent visitors from putting their noses right against the cage. However, all I saw at such close range were the sad eyes of the sun bear.

On the one hand, I'd like to say that if you don't have the stamina and the funds to maintain such a place, then don't have a zoo in the first place. But on the other hand, a bus load of children arrived while we were there and I think plenty of schools have excursions there. These children will have nowhere else to see these animals if the zoo was closed.

The children are in the orange and brown uniforms.

One sad sun bear.

One orang utan begging.

One baby gibbon sucking his toe.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sleep Training - Who needs it?!

Aaron fell into the habit of feeding to sleep when he was around 6 months old. At that time, it really felt like a gift because prior to that, we'd be rocking and walking him for anywhere up to 3 hrs before he fell asleep. The feeding to sleep gave us all some much needed rest.

He still feeds to sleep now. I don't have a problem with it because I need to give him a feed before bed anyway. He just calmly falls asleep after he's had enough. No fuss. Just peaceful slumber in the arms of his Mama.

So why would I even want to try to get him to sleep on his own? I don't know. Because its the thing to do? Because people keep telling me that its time? I basically have no reasons of my own.

Yet, I've tried it for two days now. Yesterday was encouraging because after 30 seconds of protest, Aaron was happy to play around the bed and then 30 mins later, fell asleep without much fuss. Today, I had 30 mins of screaming, kicking, tears, begging, rolling and having to look at his extremely hurt and rejected face. In the end, I caved and fed him. He was so distraught he sobbed for some time before drifting of to sleep.

I don't think I can continue to do this. Its too heartbreaking. Many people don't realize just how secure and comforting breastfeeding is from a baby's perspective. Yes, they do get the pacifying effect from it but they also feel rejected and confused if they are suddenly refused a feed. I'll have to try some other way. Go back to the Pantley pull off perhaps. There is no short cut to this. I'm not going to have him go sleep so miserably every night when he's such a perfectly happy child.

How often do you wash under the car?

When we moved here, part of the package was that we would be provided with a car and driver. This is Yudi, our driver. He's with us every day and has shared with me so much about life here. I thought it would be interesting to share a little about him here.

He's 28 years old and is married with a 6 yr old son. The car belongs to his brother-in-law (who has the contract with Richard's company) and Yudi's responsibility is to drive us anywhere and also to take care of the car.
Yudi started working full time when he was a teenager. He's been a newspaper boy, full time busker, cook, gangster (yes, gangster with tattoos), mechanic (cars and bikes are his passion), labourer and now a driver. I'm sure there were lots of other odd jobs in between but you get the picture. He is desperately poor and always has been. His brother-in-law is considered rich and by selecting Yudi to drive his car, has given him an opportunity at an easier life with reasonable pay. More than this, the responsibility makes Yudi feel trusted and respected. He takes his job incredibly seriously and really takes pride in it.

I chose this photo of him because it shows him washing the tyres and underneath of the car. He does this practically everyday! At the beginning, he washed the car twice a day until I convinced him that I didn't need it so clean. On rainy days, he wipes the car dry every time the rain stops. Unfortunately, the rain over here has a habit of stopping and starting the whole day long. The mats inside the car are also washed regularly and the seats wiped and polished. I think the paint on the outside is starting to fade from all his washing and polishing!

His philosophy is that it is much more comfortable to sit and drive in a spotless car. Its his job to keep us comfortable and the car well kept. Its as simple as that. My point is that while this job may seem a simple and mindless one, it is a rare person who values it so much and takes as much pride in a job as Yudi does. The world is full of 'educated' people who can't be bothered with what they do and just hope to get buy doing as little as possible. I often think of Yudi as the personification of the idiom "Whats worth doing, is worth doing well"

Keeping Cool in Palembang

While the thoughts and facts below genuinely reflect my life here in Palembang, this post is brought to you by your friends at

I've complained about the Palembang heat numerous times on my blog. It would be great if we could have the air conditioning on all day long but due to the power constraints, we seem to only be able to run one at a time during the day. So, of course, Aaron gets priority for his naps.

Instead, I have the standing fans on all day long to try to keep the house cool. I don't particularly like them and they aren't very effective but thats what they seem to use here in Palembang. The ceilings in this house are too high for any ceiling fans to be effective but I find that in general, they work better than the standing variety.

During the nights, I have the A/C on because its too hot and humid to fall asleep. However, I often wake up, take a walk out to the garden to check on the temperature and then decide if I can continue sleeping if I turned the A/C off. I just prefer sleeping without the hum of the A/C if the temperature permits. The ceilings in the room are lower than the other areas in the house so I have the option of looking into ceiling fans if we can get approval from Richard's boss to pay for it! Some of these craftmade ceiling fans may fit in nicely.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A future elf to clean, cook and fetch?

Its not just Santa who has elves helping him out at this time of the year. It looks like I have a little elf developing very quickly in my own home too.

Monkey see, monkey do ALL the time now. Here he is doing some cleaning. He'll also ask for the ladle so he can 'cook' and when we say its time to go out, he'll go fetch my shoes for me. I know, I'm a proud Mama. But I can't help it. He even tries to arrange his own little shoes in pairs, side by side!

Online help for....Blackjack?

I was first introduced to blackjack when I went to an international school in Ipoh, Malaysia. There were only 4 in our class and things were sometimes ... dull. Poker was too complicated for 10 yr olds so blackjack it was. It was good for our math skills and the teacher didn't seem to mind! Till this day, its the only card game I know.

Of course, the online gaming (casino style) industry is huge now. And I'm sure there are plenty of people getting addicted online. The internet makes doing anything so easy. Just like with all other internet related services, there is even online support. The Backgammon Masters company launched a Live Customer Support feature that will eventually be available in 12 languages. You just log in to play and you immediately have access to instant help. Just like calling the bank or PC support online, the operator will ask you a few questions and then direct you to suitable support. It does make me wonder what help would be needed for blackjack though.

I'm definitely not one to gamble (although I like playing without the money) but I can't help thinking how effective it is to not only setup a gambling facility online but provide it in 12 languages. The support now is only in English but their software package already supports the other languages. I'd say that would just about cover the whole connected world. And the world is full of gamblers. Plenty who can't make it to real casinos! Not sure if its a good thing because gambling has ruined so many families.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Aaron's Christmas Story

Aaron's grandmother bought him a book from the Little Golden Book series before we left Brisbane. It was 'The Christmas Story' and for the past two weeks, its his favorite book. He pours over this book cover to cover. We go through it 3298 times a day from front to back and back to front again. And, don't forget looking at every detail on the front and back covers. Like I said, COVER TO COVER.

I usually point to the pictures and tell him who they are and then its his turn to point at things. Yesterday, something funny started happening. He would point at the baby in the manger and then point to himself and say 'Aaron'. After pointing at the baby, he will point to Mary and then point to me and say 'Mama'. I can't figure out if he's identifying with the baby or he really wants to be part of the story! Maybe he recognized the mother-baby relationship. Who knows? I just found it so cute that he's conveniently found himself such a choice part in book.

The identification doesn't end there. He found the parish newspaper lying around and it had some different images of Mary and Jesus. Once again, he called them Mama and Aaron. Funny little guy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fun Monday

I've been reading Fun Mondays on other people's blogs for sometime and they have been fun. So, today I'll give it a go to.

The host is Karisma and she has asked for a story:

"I want you to take a trip down memory lane, and keep right on going, right back to your childhood. And I want to hear "THAT STORY". You remember the one? Yes, you do! The one your parents, siblings, extended family or friends, would never let you forget, live down or get over!"

My story is from way back when my brother was 3 or 5, I'm not really sure because we weren't so aware of ages back then. Anyway, he always brings this incident up and each time, its as if he's re-living it.

It happened when our parents left us at home with the babysitter. We must have gotten tired of playing with the large boxes that my dad had brought home for us to tumble around in. Somehow, we worked our way to the bathroom and started using the bath as a slide. Anybody who knew my brother back then would know that he was a daredevil. So, I guess it must have been too boring for him to slide down on his bum because he tried to do it on his tummy. Here comes the part that he never lets me forget.

He must have knocked his chin upon landing on the base of the bath because the next thing I know, he's standing there with blood trickling down his chest. It seems my memory is video only, no audio. I don't remember hearing him crying or saying anything.

Now his version of the tale would be "My chin was hanging wide open down to my neck and blood was gushing everywhere! And what does my sister do? She gets me a band-aid and tries to stick the gaping hole up" I don't know what he expected me to do. I was either 5 or 7!!

Its true, I did stick a band-aid on him. And, he did get 3 stitches (without anesthetic!!) so it must have been pretty bad. But at the time, I didn't see all that much blood and I thought he would have liked the band aid. And I did make the call to our parents.

I think it was the horrible ordeal of having 3 stitches without anesthetic that sticks in his mind. But why stick my face to that evil, why not the doctor's??? I wasn't even in the clinic at the time.

What a day!

Today, I had two lovely surprises from the blogosphere.

First, Kellan from "On the Upside" gave me this award. I only stumbled upon her blog a few weeks ago but its a daily read now because she really has and "upside" do everything.

I'd like to pass this award on to:
Bilbo - Every post on his blog has a message, opinion and a punch. It gets me thinking every day.
Serina Hope - This lady knows how to write! The emotions are always so apparent in her posts. And, her Haiku Friday's are amazing every week!
The Idea Dude - I always wait eagerly for new posts here. It truly is full of ideas. My favourite is the idea that each blog post is a gift.

So the second surprise of the day was this award from Bilbo. (Bilbo, I already had you in mind for the above award before I read your post)

I'm passing it on to Captain Picard's Journal. I love ST:TNG and was devastated when the series ended. Now, I get my daily fix just by visiting the Captain's Journals. Always entertaining.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pictures from my Sunday

My Sundays are predictable but always enjoyable. We go for Mass at 6.30am and after that, we'll be at home for Aaron's nap and some play time. Lunch is our weekly eat-out meal and we've been trying to have something different every week. After lunch, we usually just head home again. The afternoon is then spent playing with Aaron at home or somewhere around the neighborhood. Here are some scenes from my day:

I've noticed these boys almost every week when we return from Mass. I think they're going fishing.

This lady is a door-to-door chungkol (translation: hoe - as in the gardening tool) saleswoman. We bought one for IDR15,000 (USD1.66) then paid her IDR5000 (USD0.55) for the photo.

A common snack cart selling fried tempeh, fried battered bananas and sweet potato, fried fish cakes. Yep, ALL fried. They LOVE fried stuff here.

Roadside barber.

These kids were trying to catch some little fish out of the drains.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Finally, I've put action to words....almost.

Today, Richard and I visited an orphanage about 15 mins drive from our house. We went there hoping to volunteer our time. Unfortunately, I got the impression that they would prefer it if we donated money instead.

The place is run by one lady (with a couple of helpers) and there are 60 children there ranging from 3-17 yrs. It was basically a very big house with 4 medium sized rooms, large hall and kitchen. There were only around 10 children there when we visited as the rest were in school. It seems to be more of a shelter instead of an orphanage because none of the kids are ever adopted. Even if people wanted to adopt them, this lady doesn't allow it. I don't have any photos to share because it felt too awkward to take any.

My impression of the place: neat, clean, bare, too small for 60 children, devoid of furniture. Supposedly, the place survives on the lady's daily business of selling garlic in the markets, hiring out some donated wedding furniture and whatever donations they receive. They intentionally don't do any fund raising but hope instead that word will spread of their existence. There must be more to it but we couldn't find out anything else and didn't want to be too nosey.

I have to say that I'm disappointed because I really really wanted to give my time. Yes, money does help them get from day to day and is their top priority. I can understand that but I'm uncomfortable with just giving money because I can't see where it goes. I'll probably end up sending them some rice but what I would really like to do is help them find a way to generate another source of income. Y'know, the whole "Give them a fish and they eat for a day. Teach them to fish and they eat everyday" kind of thing.

Anyway, I'll keep thinking. And looking out for other places that need volunteers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Question for God

Two days ago, my Happy Post was triggered by a newborn baby and his mother. I'm still happy and I'm sure the new mother is also happy but I heard from her sister today that she had to go through 20hrs of labor and is now dealing with all the pain of recovery and breastfeeding. Not unusual I suppose. I went through 18hrs with Aaron and I can recall that pain in an instant. Anyway, her sister is not a mother (yet) and asked the question "Why would ANY woman want to go through childbirth?" There are as many answers to that as there are women. And thats not the question of the day anyway.

Before I had Aaron, before I THOUGHT of having him and probably around the time that I told myself that I will never want to experience childbirth, I had this question for God. This will be the first thing I ask him if I ever meet him. Its not that I'm questioning him, I just want to know.

Why do women bear the bulk of the procreating responsibility?
PMS. Pregnancy (together with morning sickness, constant bathroom breaks, insomnia, stretch marks, plus 1000 other things). CHILDBIRTH. Breastfeeding. Menopause. Notice how there is physical pain involved with ALL of these? Maybe my question is actually more like "Why is there so much pain involved for women?"

I'm not here to say that women are superior, deserve more from men or anything like that so guys, don't leave me any nasty comments. This is purely a question about our physiological differences. Plenty of men, including my own MAN, make up for the lack of physical pain they had to go through by enduring the verbal assaults from the women going through the pain. I know they also do their best to carry out all the slave duties around the house once the baby is out. Plenty of dads out there are amazingly hands on.

Let me know what you think. Maybe God surfs the internet too and will send me an answer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Drain Woman in me

I'm loud and I know it. Not over the top loud but just not 'girly'. I talk loudly, laugh loudly and hardly whisper. This is what my mother tells me. She also has this theory that its because there was a group of "Hung Koi Por" outside our house everyday when I was learning to speak.

"Hung Koi Por" is Cantonese for "Drain Woman". In the late seventies, we lived in Ipoh, Malaysia and all the houses there had an open drain (not the gross kind) running along the front. They were clean enough for my brother and I to play in when I was about five. They were this clean because the "Drain Women" worked on them everyday. Keeping the grass out of it, stopping any weeds from growing and clearing out any rubbish that might have fallen in. They always worked in groups and of course would chat. LOUDLY.

So now, my mother keeps telling me to keep it down or I'll pass on my Drain Woman ways to Aaron. I can't control it though, its just my natural voice volume. And if I'm excited....I get really loud. At least I don't go high pitched. When I laugh, I prefer the open-mouthed, full forced, laugh with all my strength type. There's no fun in a muffled chuckle.

It might be too late for Aaron anyway. He has started to throw his head back and lets out really loud laughs. I wonder where he picked THAT up from?! And for a few days now, he sometimes carries on his babbling with the volume turned WAY UP. Its so funny to watch and listen to. I guess I encourage it too but I really don't want to button up that enthusiasm.

Here he is making some sort of basketball grunt! He must have seen that in the park...I don't do that!