Monday, March 31, 2008

Aaron's Tongue

Aaron has started talking a lot. Plenty of words and these days, short sentences as well. We have been fairly successful at sticking to the plan of Richard speaking Mandarin to Aaron while I speak English. Since I spend most time with him, English comes more naturally than Mandarin. Thats not surprising.

What is surprising is that we've noticed that it is the Indonesian sounds that he most likes to make. He doesn't spend that much time interacting with people who speak Indonesian but the language is floating about him all day long. And these days, he seems to actively look for opportunities to speak Indonesian.

Even though his Indonesian vocabulary isn't as broad (yet), I think he even asks more questions in Indonesian than in English. Who is that? What is that? Where is it? What is this? Have you eaten? With the local accent that he's acquiring, he's going to be better than me in no time.

Yesterday, when Aaron was talking to himself in Indonesian, my mother said to me "Its so strange. Thats not even his mother tongue".

He says, "No. Aaron's tongue." And sticks his tongue out.

This little guy always has his ears pricked up and listening to the conversations around him. Its no wonder he's absorbing so much language. I wish there was some way that I could surround him with more languages. It seems so effortless to him at the moment but I'm sure this sub conscious absorption will fade with age.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Once you cut, you can't stop

I asked our family hair stylist (my mother) to give Aaron's hair a trim. Then, we thought it needed a little more taken off because it was a little uneven. Then after that, we thought he looked so good with the new short style that she should just go all the way. Now his face and head look really big but at least it keeps him cool. I like his new look.

I've been thinking of asking my mother to give my hair a trim too but after this, I'm having second thoughts. On the one hand I want to go straight to a short hairstyle but I know I'll regret it. I always do. Yes, its just hair and it will grow back but after spending years with it, you literally (and figuratively) get attached to it. I'll have to re-think that cut.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Movie Night

WOW! I just finished watching Poseidon (the 2006 version) and it was gripping! All 98 minutes of it. Maybe its because I haven't watched a good action/adventure in ages but I hardly blinked through it all and at the end of it, I just sat there thinking that it was the greatest movie ever. Of course, I know it isn't but it gave me THAT sort of feeling. I watched 'Elizabeth. The Golden Age' last week and while the costumes and sets were beautiful to look at, I wasn't saying 'Wow!' afterwards.

I've been a little starved of movies since 2006 and really must catch up. I'm not sure if I'll ever get caught up since there are plenty of movies being released this year that I probably won't get to watch but I'll start here:

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
2. Casino Royale
3. The Ant Bully
4. Ratatouille
5. Hairspray
6. Lust, Caution
7. Sweeney Todd
8. The Bourne Ultimatum
9. The Golden Compass
10. Atonement

Thats all I can think of. I don't even really know whats out there anymore. Let me know your 'Must See Movies' ok.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #5

The Numbers 1 to 13 Around Me

1) One incredibly entertaining toddler.

2) Two (and ONLY two) biscuits are used as daily 'ammunition' against Aaron during the car trip home from the gym.

3) Three month membership at the gym. I don't sign up for anything longer in case I need to leave the country.

4) Four hours is the longest uninterrupted stretch of sleep I've had in the last 19 months. I've adjusted.

5) Five different types of plants in the garden that we can eat; Okra, Winged Beans, Tomatoes, Zucchinis, Baby Cucumbers. The first two are regulars on the dinner table but we're still waiting for the other three. Those just got planted a month ago.

6) Six - Size of my shoes.

7) Seven days before my mother leaves.

8) Eight years married to Richard.

9) Nine cousins in total.

10) Ten years since I left Australia.

11) Eleven chapters left on the novel I'm reading: Red China Blues by Jan Wong.

12) RM12 (~USD3.70) is the average we pay for half a week's groceries from the local markets.

13) Thirteen pet fish.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I need a 'Mandi'

Many of the blogs I visit are written by people who live in the Northern Hemisphere. So, for the past couple of months, there has been a lot of posts on snow and how cold it is. And each time I read one of those posts, I can't help wishing I was in a place like that because of the warm weather we have here.

Now on hindsight, I should have been enjoying that 'warm' weather because its positively scorching right now. This week, we've suddenly lost the clouds and the rain, COMPLETELY. So its just a constant heat that builds up as the day progresses. Its 3.20pm now and in about 40 mins, part of the house will officially be an oven.

Enough of the complaining. I've lived long enough to know that it doesn't help. Instead, I'll just go have a 'Mandi'.

We have a shower here but I prefer to do what the locals do. The houses here have a permanent tub that is a fixture in all bathrooms. This tub is always filled with cold water. So when it gets hot, I just go in there and dump water down on me. It feels a little like being under a waterfall, except that I have to be manually scooping the water out of the tub. Thats the 'Mandi'.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A friend for Aaron

I've been on the look out for little friends for Aaron for months now. So far, I have failed to setup any play dates and the only interaction Aaron gets with other kids is on Sunday during Mass. And these days, thats very limited because I'm trying to get him to stay quiet.

All that has changed now. Aaron has a daily play mate. Meet Linmas:

The maid quit last week to look after her sick mother so I engaged this other lady to help out with the housework for a couple of hours each day. Linmas is her 4 year old son. This lady works at several homes in the neighborhood and Aaron has 'met up' with him many times while on his morning walks. They just never played together because Linmas used to hide behind trees, pillars, bushes or his mother. He's different now!

Most of their play is parallel play but they are slowly learning. Aaron tried to talk to Linmas in English on the first day but he's figured out that Linmas only understands Indonesian. So today, there was a little bit of back and forth banter but mostly it was just loud squeals (eventually screams) of excitement.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fun Monday - The ABCs of My Happiness

Swampy's Fun Monday challenge is to pick a theme and then list down, using each letter of the alphabet, all the words, phrases or photos related to that theme.

I really had a hard time picking a theme for this challenge but in the end settled on 'Happiness' because it is what we all need and sometimes, it is easier than we think to attain it.

A - Aaron. Of course.

B - Blogging.

C - Cheesecakes.

D - Deep fried food. Unhealthy but the occasional treat definitely makes me happy.

E - Exercise. It releases endorphins.

F - Figuring out a Sudoku puzzle.

G - Giving gifts.

H - Hugging.

I - Internet. Just a few minutes can often perk me right up from any bad moods.

J - Joining online communities. Living in Palembang often has me feeling isolated but once again, the internet has solved my problems.

K - Kellogg's Special K. I love these. They are my favorite breakfast cereal.

L - Listening to Michael Buble.

M - My family. Any and all time spent with them is full of laughter.

N - Noticing something special on somebody else and complimenting them on it.

O - Overlook annoyances. Definitely easier said than done.

P - Planting my own vegetables. I started this last year and am amazed by how happy I get eating food from my garden.

Q - Q from Star Trek. All the episodes with Q are my favorites.

R - Reading a really thick fantasy novel.

S - Simplicity. I can be fussy but for most of the time, I try to keep my needs simple.

T - Talking with an old friend.

U - Using my hands. It makes me feel like I'm doing so much more and gives me a really full sense of accomplishment.

V - Visiting Friends.

W - Walking in the morning sunshine.

X - X-tra time to myself whenever Richard is home.

Y - Yellow. Its a happy colour.

Z - Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. This song always makes Aaron laugh and that makes me happy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My son, my teacher.

I've changed a lot since Aaron came along. I've become more serious. I worry more. And I am infinitely more patient.

Today, I realized that he has also been chipping away at my disgust for certain cold blooded creatures.

I really REALLY dislike frogs. Always have. Yet, I'm now alright with closely examining frogs before buying them for Aaron's dinner. And, not long ago, a friend and I were in the garden playing with a baby frog for Aaron's benefit.

Lizards are something else that usually sends me jumping on a chair. Yet, I now happily point out lizards to Aaron and take him closer for a better look. Yesterday, we were nose to nose with a dead gecko that was being slowly eaten by ants.

We also dig for worms on a daily basis. He can't find them most of the time so I end up being the one looking for them and lining them up for him to look at.

I feel some sort of pride in being able to do these things now. In the past, these small creatures would literally set my heart pounding from panic. Yes, its stupid....but I just found them so disgusting. In a roundabout way, my wanting to make sure that Aaron didn't develop irrational fears ended up with me mostly overcoming my own. Win-Win.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why is Good Friday 'Good'?

I have no idea. I've been wondering this the whole day and Google hasn't really given me any really satisfying answers. The only real answer is that 'Good' is perhaps derived from 'God', just like 'Goodbye' is derived from 'God be with you'. So maybe its God's Friday...

Other reasons are to do with all the good that came of this day. Yet, I still can't really reconcile such a painful day with the word 'good'.

I don't know. Maybe Bilbo's linguistics skills can help me out here :)

Here's a photo of the 3pm Good Friday service that we attended. We were late and had to sit outside. They had it fully enclosed and had a portable air conditioner every few meters so it was cool. I was surprised at how effective their simple cloth enclosure and temporary roof was.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #4

13 Phrases I don't like saying (and hearing)

This is a list of phrases that I try not to say. They've come about because I feel that what we say has a subconscious effect on how we behave. Some of these are also derived from me not liking to hear these things said to me.

1) "I don't know..."
Sometimes, this phrase gives me the impression that the person can't be bothered to have the conversation. OR, it give me a lazy impression. Everybody (almost) has access to the internet and you can find out almost anything. Its just a matter of how deeply you know the topic.

2) "I don't care..."

Its just lame to have this sort of attitude.

3) "You're lucky..."
This one always makes me feel as if the work I put in had counted for nothing and that whatever I'm enjoying now is purely because I had luck. I don't like the way it makes me feel and I try not to put other people's good fortune down to their luck.

4) "If only..."
There is no point dwelling on something that can't be changed.

5) "I'm bored..."
I always think that if you feel bored, its most probably because you are a boring person in the first place.

6) "I'll let you decide."
This one can get so irritating whenever there is a decision to be made regarding things like where to eat. But, sometimes, I feel I have to say this out of a genuine respect or deference to the other person.

7) "I want..."
Just the opposite to #6. Some people are so demanding and leave no room for compromise. This too can be irritating.

8) "You should..."
I really dislike this one when it has to do with people telling me how I should raise Aaron, especially when it comes to our breastfeeding.

9) "Its too hard, I can't..."
By saying this, I'm likely to give up before I even try.

10) "What are we having for dinner?"
Now I know how my mother feels. We used to ask her this every evening and now, its getting thrown back at me. My solution is to make up a meal time table and just point to it whenever I get the question.

11) "Are we there yet?" or "How much longer?"
I don't think I said this much when I was a child. I knew how much it annoyed my parents. Yet, these days, I find that I simply must know how much further there is to go so that I can set my expectation regarding the sitting time in the car.

12) "Do I look fat in this?"
OK. I really don't like saying this but I have to admit that I say it all the time. I can't help it. I really need to know sometimes.

13) Name Dropping
So, I don't have a 13th one but I do dislike the use of name or title dropping during a conversation. I know that I make it a point never to do this.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let Us Pray

I'm not an overly pious person. In fact, I frequently forget to say my prayers at home but I do manage to keep God in my thoughts and know that He has been there for me my whole life. We do go to Mass each Sunday but these days, I'm not as focused because I spend the whole time trying to keep Aaron inside and quiet.

What has surprised me the most is Aaron's enthusiasm for prayer. We hear the Muslim prayers over the loud speaker five times a day here and Aaron knows what it is. Of course, he doesn't know the difference in the religions but he got the idea that whenever he hears the prayers, he should also pray. So, I taught him that we pray by putting our hands together and bowing our heads.

He's seems to have even taken it one step further now. Yesterday, he was sitting outside in the garden with my mother when he suddenly put his feet together, and asked her to do the same. Then he asked her to stand up and put her hands together as he had. She asked him why and he said 'Pray'. Then he closed his eyes and started 'praying' except it was all his made up words.

He's been doing this during his morning walks around the neighborhood too. He makes Richard and my mother line up against the side of the road and then he says 'Pray'. And they comply because he's so earnest about it.

Whenever I forget to say the little prayer before putting him to sleep. He reminds me. He is SO CUTE when he is 'praying'. Eyes, squeezed shut, hands pressed together and his little mouth mumbling.

I feel that instead of me teaching him about prayer, he is actually reminding me of what I need to be doing more of. Hopefully, I'll be able to nurture his enthusiasm into a lifelong relationship with God. Sometimes, I get the impression that people who are born Catholic (like I am) tend to grow lazy (and also question the rules/rituals/positions of the church) as they grow older. I want Aaron to be like me and just maintain the simple relationship with God without getting side tracked by debates on whether a religion as old, as large and as corporation-like as Catholicism is worth his time, respect and obedience.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Rich and Poor of Palembang

Every city has its own spectrum of rich and poor. There are many cities in this world where the spectrum is narrow but there are also places, like Palembang, with a very broad one.

The Sick
The rich here fly out of the country for their medical needs. The planes to and from this city are almost always full and many of the passengers are actually seeking medical treatment in either Malaysia or Singapore.

The poor are left to the local hospitals. There used to be a free government hospital that supposedly had the elderly as well as babies in the same ward. It didn't matter if they were contagious or not. I heard a rumor that this has closed down. So the poorer people now have to pay and very often, they can't and have no choice but to go home and hope that they can hold on until money can be found.

The Workforce
Many of the rich don't even need to go to work. The rest of them just come and go as they please. I don't think any of them have any fixed office hours. Maybe they don't even have fixed office days.

The poor here work long hours, seven days a week. They usually don't have any leave and only get time off if they fall sick. We have a live in maid here and let her go home every weekend but this is unheard of in the Indonesian households and people are almost appalled that we allow this. Their maids either don't go home at all or only go home once in several months, for a day or two. Their average monthly salary is USD44.

The Homes
This is one house. Not a complex of apartments or two homes joined together. Its HUGE.

And here are some government built flats that are rented out to the poor.

There are also many housing areas like this one with many homes that seemed to be built/repaired with whatever scrap pieces of wood or zinc that could be found.

I know there are many countries like this in the world but its my first time living so close to both the incredibly rich AND the incredibly poor at the same time. I can't imagine what its like to be one of the poor here and witness the inequalities that they face each day. It does make me count my blessings and constantly reminds me to do more to help whenever I can. I wonder if the rich here feel the same way or perhaps they are already immune to the scenes of the poor they encounter each day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fun Monday - In our own words

Nikki from My husband calls me weird is hosting this week's Fun Monday challenge:

I don't know about you, but my family is great at creating strange words that only we know the meaning. Some were created when the kids were first learning to talk, others came about when our tongues were twisted and the word came out funny. Either way, the words stuck and we still use them in our daily conversations. What created words does your family use?! Please share the story behind the word if you remember.

I remember a few from my own childhood and our 'family vocab' seems to be increasing these days with all of Aaron's additions.

Gili (the Gi is pronounced like the Gi in Give)
This is "armpit" in our family. It probably came about from my mother tickling us when we were kids and the word that we used to express the ticklishness was something like Geli. So, its stuck and this is now the word I use with Aaron too. Richard is also using it now calling deodorant Gili Paste.

My brother and I went through a stage of saying this instead of 'Let's Go'. It is actually the last and first sounds of those two words. We thought it was so cool that we didn't have to pronounce those two whole syllables.

Cut Cut Egg
This is my father's invention. Its his style of scrambled eggs that is cooked on a wok and is seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, black pepper and sesame oil. This is a favorite breakfast food in our house. For now, only he and I know how to make a good Cut Cut Egg; you need to be fast and know exactly when to turn the flame off.

So thats about all I can remember from my own family. Aaron has a lot of words that we use now but I don't know how long they'll stick around for. I think they're only about at this moment because he is still learning how to pronounce words properly.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Limas House - The Original Palembang Home

After living in Palembang for a full year, I had come to believe that I would never be able to see some of its original houses. They were all made of wood and were burnt down in a huge fire in the 1980s.

It was the new driver that asked me one day if I wanted to see the original houses of Palembang. Of course I did! I went there thinking that I would see some old house that was about to collapse. Instead, it was brand new. So, it wasn't an 'original' but it is an exact replica and fully decorated in the original style. Supposedly, it was also made using the same techniques as in the past.

The original house would have been home to an aristocratic family with at least three generations living in it. Internally, it is divided into 6 areas with the upper floor had three tiers to it. The tier that you were allowed to hang out at was dependent on your rank as family member or guest.

This place is now a boutique on the lower floor. The upper floor is decorated in the original style and is going to be rented out as a wedding reception venue.

I was totally blown away when I entered the upper floor of the house. The decoration was so elaborate and the gold was glittering from everywhere.

The formal reception area for guests.

The traditional 'women's area' at the back.

This is the extremely gaudy wedding chamber. The wedding couple doesn't actually spend the night there but they have set it up this way so they can perform some of their traditional rituals.

What surprised me the most about this house was the strong Chinese influence on their furniture. I shouldn't have been surprised though because Admiral Cheng Ho (ancient Chinese Muslim explorer) visited Palembang about 600 years ago and supposedly had a large part to play in bringing Islam to Indonesia. And, after him there were plenty of others in search of new lives and opportunities. Even their famous Pempek is actually of Chinese origin.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Do you need to go?

I've been try to toilet train Aaron for some time now but without any significant success to brag about yet. Just like with anything else, I constantly consult Google for more tips. I haven't come across much new information lately but I had a few good laughs about how the various sites describe the process:

From Parenting and Child Health:
Spreading poo around
* Doing poo feels good, and parents show a lot of interest in poo while toddlers are being toilet trained, so it is very normal for toddlers to be interested in their own poo.
* Most normal toddlers get some poo on their hands and spread it around at least a couple of times.

When you demonstrate for your toddler, it's helpful to explain what's going on as you're using the bathroom and let her see afterward what you "made."

Dr. Greene
If your child is afraid of failure, it is paramount that when he or she does make a mistake, your response is not an exasperated or a punishing one. Instead say something like, "Oops, there it went. Someday soon they're all going to land in the potty. We'll try again." (This one sounded funny but is actually something I'll have to try.)

I thought that being nappy free during his waking hours would speed up the process but so far we're keeping the place dry only because I'm constantly watching him and taking him to the bathroom. He has only made the dash to the bathroom door on his own twice so far.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #3

13 Tidbits on Palembang

1) I think 99% of the men in Palembang smoke. The remaining 1% probably don't have any money to buy smokes but as soon as they have some cash, they'll head straight for the cigarettes.

2) Unlike Malaysia, the fruit seasons here are more distinct. Right now, we're having rambutans. I think the sequence after this is something like dukus, durians, magosteen, mangos, salas, and finally oranges. Since we don't have the change of seasons to look forward to, these changes of fruits are at least tasty. (I'll try to get the English names to some of those fruits I mentioned and blog about it some other time.)

3) There are no public parks or playgrounds here.

4) People here are still oblivious to their unhygienic practices. For example, a lady in the market this morning cut into the flesh of a coconut (that would have been eaten raw) with a knife that was sitting in a basin of either fish or chicken guts.

5) Medicines here are dispensed from pharmacies that still pound up the various drugs with a mortar and pistle to create the mixture prescribed. These are then wrapped into tiny packets for the customer.

6) There seems to be a mosque in every square kilometer.

7) People here are still very superstitious. They also believe that there is magic out there capable of turning a man into a stingray. This story was in the news a few months ago and each person I met genuinely believed it to be true.

8) Many people still live in homes with no running water.

9) The broadband service to our house has surpassed all my expectations. It is fast, reasonably reliable and not too expensive. When it does breakdown, the technician comes to fix it within hours.

10) The Chinese community here is very close knit and converse in a unique blend of Indonesian, Mandarin and Hokkien. I have problems understanding them because their intonation is quite different. In the end, I'm more comfortable speaking Indonesian to them.

11) Good Friday and Ascension Day are both public holidays here. I found this interesting because Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority country. I think very few countries in the world have Ascension Day as a holiday.

12) The people of Palembang are incredibly proud of their Pempek. In fact, people throughout Indonesia rave about this wonderful food that Palembang is famous for. Its a type of fish cake and is cooked in a variety of ways. Anyway, its the one thing here that I really don't like eating. BUT, its what everyone will keep asking you to eat here and I have to politely find excuses each time.

13) They all love children. Young or old, man or woman they are all good with kids.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pillow Talk

Recently, I've been trying to introduce a little pillow to Aaron. He doesn't really get the idea of the pillow yet and keeps sitting ON it before laying down and then worms his way down until his head is on it. That lasts about 2 seconds before he's up and trying to position himself on it again. I'm not fussed about it. The pillow was just another gimmick I was trying out to get him to sleep.

Maybe the pillow's success is also hindered by the fact that I sleep on a completely different type. And he wants something like mine.

I started sleeping on the ancient Chinese style porcelain pillow about 6 years ago. My father had been sleeping on one for several years by then when I gave it a go one afternoon and never looked back.

This type of pillow first appeared in the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD), reached a peak during the 10th-14th Centuries and then were phased out during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) when supposedly 'better' pillow making materials emerged.

It may look hard and uncomfortable but in reality, it keeps you cool during hot and humid weather and provides the perfect support for your head/neck. I used to have a lot of neck and shoulder aches, probably due to bad posture, but after I started with these pillows, they're all gone. If I travel and have to sleep on a regular pillow, I wake up the next day feeling stiff again. What I do is grab either the telephone directories or something similar for that perfect nights sleep. I've even seen my father sleep on an overturned bowl once when he couldn't find anything better. This pillow is hard to get into but addictive.

Go try it out with your telephone directories, or maybe a rectangular Tupperware.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

(Breast)feeding Carnival

Sarcastic Mom is having a (Breast)feeding Carnival today and as you may (or may not) know, I am extremely passionate about this topic. Copying a style that Serina Hope has used very effectively and that I always enjoy reading, I'll interview myself. I didn't really want to recount the whole long story of our breastfeeding journey so I've only got a few points.

What made you want to breastfeed?
The simplest answer is because I believed all the literature out there about how this is best for mother and baby. Prior to having Aaron, I had never even seen or heard of anybody I know breastfeeding. I never heard anybody talk about it, good or otherwise. During the pregnancy, I just made notes on all the things that I had to do to ensure a healthy baby. Breastfeeding was just one of many things on the list. I didn't even give it a second thought until my nipples were cracked, blistered and bleeding.

Why did you persist?
Now here's a silly answer: Because I said I would. I was in tears much of the time and dreaded each feed. Then of course, doubts formed in my own mind and also in the minds of those around me. But the overwhelming need not to be proven wrong about this kept me going. Yes, it may have been the 'wrong' reason at that time but it kept me going and I'm grateful for my pride.

So you've been nursing for 19 months now, how long do you plan to go on for?
I have no definite answer for this. It is really a two way relationship that forms between mother and baby. I believe that we'll need to make the decision together. It still works for us now and I'm sure weaning will happen when we're both ready.

Are there any perks? Apart from the nutritional value.
The two that immediately spring to mind: 1)Weight loss while seated. 2) No periods for ages.

What advice to you have for new moms?
1) Believe that you can do it. Question any advice/information that hints that you are not capable of breastfeeding.
2) Stick it out, it is worth it.
3) Reward yourself frequently for the good job you're doing.
4) Join any breastfeeding groups in your neighborhood or online. Support is critical for success.

Monday, March 10, 2008

She's here!

My mother arrived today for a 3 week visit. As usual, she zoomed in on her little grandson. I don't mind, she brought me lots of goodies (and essentials).

I wonder what's going through Aaron's little mind. He is extremely close to my parents and has spent almost as much time with them as he has with Richard. Did he wonder where she has been all this time? Do little kids know how to 'miss'?

Last week, while I was on a video call with my mother, Aaron kept walking to the back of my desk trying to see if she was there. He wanted her to pick him up. In the end he climbed on my lap and tried to launch himself at my laptop to get near her. It was funny yet sad at the same time. He really did get quite upset when he couldn't get to her.

Look at them now!

So what sort of things would I 'order' from somebody outside Indonesia? Take a look at this:

She brought the ingredients to make Tau Fu Fah (Soyabean pudding?), some chinese dried meat (something like beef jerkeys), tasty Coon cheese, CHOCOLATES, quinoa and peanuts. We can get peanuts here but she just brought some leftover from her own house.

Oops! No Fun Monday for me today.

I thought I deleted my sign up comment for Fun Monday but it didn't work because I'm still on the list. So, I apologize to any readers who are dropping by, hoping to see what my 5 lines are. I was just too excited about my mother's visit today.

March 11 - Breastfeeding Carnival at Sarcastic Mom

Today was my first time on Sarcastic Mom's blog and this button caught my eye.

I'll be participating and am putting this cute button up for any other mothers (OR FATHERS) who would like to share breastfeeding stories. And, I do think that many dads out there would have stories to share from their perspective. Just click here to find out more.

p/s I've forgotten how to make buttons clickable so please use the click here. And, could somebody out there please tell me again how to hyperlink buttons?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sundays used to be for ...

Reading my book.

Spending hours online.

Having an afternoon nap.

Watching a movie on TV.

This was what my Sundays were filled with until a couple of weeks ago. Richard used to be Aaron's primary playmate so they can spend some time together and I can spend some time with me.

Over the past few weeks, Aaron has been increasingly clingy, to me. Its not good enough if somebody else reads to him, or feeds him his meals, or plays with the Legos. Everything is "Mama do", "Mama sit", "Mama here" or something like that. In a way it makes me happy to feel this 'wanted' but I'm looking forward to the day he outgrows this phase.

So far, I haven't ignored him and left Richard to work it out. I still believe that if I can afford to give him the time and attention, I will eventually be repaid with an independent little boy who will play on his own, secure in the knowledge that I'm always around somewhere.

Nothing much else to write about today because I keep getting interrupted. I might as well just go play!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Do they honestly expect to sell those?

I saw the strangest thing today. We were stopped in traffic and I was starting to get restless in the car when I noticed this:

And this...

There was actually a whole 'team' of these Gorilla Men weaving their way amongst the cars. Usually, they have people selling basic stuff like newspapers, drinks and cigarettes. But gorilla masks???

I wonder how many they sold...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #3

13 Wants I Can't Classify As Needs (Yet)

1. A new desktop with maybe a 17" LCD monitor. Unfortunately, my laptop is still working even though its a little slow and the screen not as big as I would like it.

2. A piano. Too big to move with us.

3. An ipod. I only have one hour each day that I would probably use it.

4. A new DVD player. The existing one plays most DVDs.

5. A new TV. Since the DVD player doesn't play everything, it would be nice to hook the TV up to my laptop. Unfortunately, this seemingly 'new' one doesn't have the ports for an S-Video cable. Since I'm getting neither, I'll just have to stick to watching on my laptop.

5. An oven. Another chunky piece of equipment. Maybe when we know we're living in a permanent home.

6. A heavenly bed, Westin Hotel style. We have these less than satisfactory foam mattresses at the moment.

7. A tarsir for a pet. Completely illegal and not something that I would ever do but, wouldn't it be the CUTEST little companion? Maybe if I live in the jungle one day.....

8. A new hairstyle, something funkier. Right now, I see no one and hardly leave the house so my hair is going to stay long and straight for the time being.

9. A higher car. The one we have is about 2 inches off the ground. But since we don't pay for it, I can't make the change and won't complain to 'management'.

10. A flute. I have no idea how to play one but it seems like the perfect instrument to be into because its so portable. I'll wait untill I live in a place where I can get lessons.

11. A swing for the garden. Unfortunately, there isn't any place to put this and the place is full of mosquitoes so its definitely something I like but can't have at the moment.

12. A Nintendo Wii. Sounds perfect for our stay-at-home lifestyle here but how long would we actually play it for?

13. A year long world tour, first class. I'm sure this is on most people's wish lists.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I've spend the whole day thinking about play.

A lot of my 'free' time is used to think up new games that I can play with Aaron and also how to organizing/reorganizing our play area. He has plenty of toys but most of them are hand-me-downs from ME. I haven't found it worthwhile to buy him too many new ones because he seems to pay similar attention to new, old, home made, home found or store bought toys. I might as well save that money for his school fees in the future.

So, we play a lot of make believe games or invent new ways to play with the existing toys. I have occasionally felt a little stingy for not splashing out on the latest gizmos for kids but after reading this NPR story, it looks like we're on the right track after all.

The article talks about the obvious difference in play now and in the past. Instead of being free to explore with other children, kids today are either in more structured activities or at home with high tech attention grabbers. This lack of self exploratory time supposedly causes children today to be less developed in the cognitive skill called executive function.

One of the elements of executive function is self regulation. This is how children learn to control themselves emotionally and physically. Maybe this is the reason why we often hear in the news of young children instigating violent crimes. Who knows?

Anyway, the topic of play and how I can make the most of this time with Aaron has been on my mind the whole day. Who knew there would be so much to think about play?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Is he going to be a vegetarian?

On Tuesday nights, Aaron usually has quinoa with steamed egg. Today, I thought I would try to add a little more nutrition to his dinner.

We're basically vegetarian's here because I don't like buying beef/pork that has been hanging up in the stall all day long. We don't eat chicken either because of the Bird Flu. I think its OK for Richard and me to be mainly vegetarian but Aaron is a growing little boy. We do have fish and in the past, I've also bought frogs. They are a good source of lean white meat and tastes almost like chicken. Aaron has had fish and frogs before. No problems.

Tonight, I added frog to his dinner for that added nutrition. He had a few bites of it and didn't say anything. Then, I made the mistake of saying something like "Ah, you like the frogs".

He just looked straight at me and I could see the horror in his little boy eyes. I think images of the frogs I've shown him must have been flashing through his mind. He might have also been thinking of the game we were playing today where we were jumping around like crazy frogs. It was also today that I taught him to go around saying "Ribbit! Ribbit!"

Immediately after that, he seemed to spontaneously throw up the previous mouthful he had just swallowed. He didn't make a big deal of it but every subsequent mouthful was screened and the frogs, no matter how mashed up I made them, were spat out.

He's never reacted this way to food before. Tomorrow I'm going to try fish and just to see if he's horrified at eating animals, I'll let him know towards the end of the meal that its fish.

Here are a couple of photos from my trip to the market to get the extremely fresh frogs.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fun Monday - Movies and Me

This week's Fun Monday host is From the Planet of Janet.

Write the brief synopsis of this film that you might use to pitch this project and cast the principal players. Who would play you? You can either cast or ignore significant others, children and/or pets. This is, after all, YOUR movie about you you YOU! Illustrate as needed with casting photos or filming locations. Your life not interesting enough? Hey, this is Hollywood. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

I found this one really hard and had to make it entirely fiction. So here goes.....

A young family moves from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Palembang, Indonesia for a two year assignment. Filled with optimism and a sense of adventure, they embrace their new life but soon find themselves adjusting instead to an incredibly uneventful lifestyle.

Not long after they arrive, a powerful earthquake rocks Palembang. This happens during the daytime when the wife, Amanda, is out with their son Aaron. Their driver abandons them and runs for his own safety. The initial quake leaves many old buildings in ruins and the roads impassable.

Of course, the networks are all jammed and cellphones are useless. Long before their move to Indonesia, Amanda and Richard have a conversation about emergencies and how, if separated, they will both make their own way back home to meet. Amanda needs to find her way back alone. She is still unfamiliar with the roads and relies on the direction of other panicked people. In the chaos, thugs are out looting and robbing wherever they can. Amanda soon finds that she is an easy target because she doesn't look local and more importantly, she looks rich.

After an arduous three days stumbling around and hiding whenever needed, she finally reaches her home. Luckily Richard is already there.

Amanda - Shela Majid (This is a Malaysian singer that I've been told I look like :P)

Richard - Takeshi Kaneshiro (Looks nothing like Richard except for the eyebrows but I've always thought he was cute)

Aaron - Aaron (Nobody could possibly be as cute as him. And besides, he's a born actor)

OK. Now go visit The Planet of Janet for more blockbusters.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Look here, Aaron. Smile!

I have spent this weekend backing up Aaron's photos. Of course, they are on my laptop but even though they've been backed up before I still haven't deleted a single one. Unfortunately, I'm running out of room. I also have them copied onto my external hard drive. And then right now, I'm burning CDs of all the photos. JUST IN CASE.

I think my mother managed to fit all of my 0-2yrs photos on a couple of photo albums. As of today, we have 8.13GB of Aaron. What does that mean exactly? How many photo albums? I'll discount 3GB of this as video files and average each photo size to 1.5MB. So, if I my math is correct (5,130,000,000 / 1,500,000), we have 3420 photos. WOW! Kids today!

No wonder he's been flashing us fake smiles lately. I don't mind. They're funny and I think I like them almost as much as the real ones.

Thank goodness for the digital camera. After multiple fake ones, I usually manage to get a genuine one.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Phew! Internet is BACK

Yesterday's internet connection was so frustrating. I'd have it one minute and then lose it the next. It was sick like this the whole morning and then by afternoon, it was gone. Richard rang up and was told that the construction workers building a flyover in town had accidentally severed the main fiber optic cable. Now why was it on/off in the morning. Did they saw slowly into it? Who knows? Anyway, its back and I'm relieved.

Loss of connectivity made me think of a conversation I had with my friend who recently moved to Shanghai. She's complaining that the internet speed is extremely slow there and directed me to this line from Catshanghai to describe what it was like:

Using the Internet in China is like being constipated with someone else’s bowel.

I had a good laugh at that and realized that I actually have it good here in Palembang. Before moving to Indonesia, Richard and I were obsessed about finding a way to live and work in China for a while. I know I now live in a somewhat 'backward' little town and Shanghai is a modern and exciting mega city but maybe living in Palembang is better for me after all....for now.

With my current lifestyle, as in the one where I stay at home all day with Aaron, the internet has become an indispensable part of my life. We have no friends or family here so the Internet is a HUGE part of my social life. You may think thats sad but I enjoy it and it suits where I am now.

There is also Google where I go to for all my medical questions. Yes, it does feed my paranoia but its the most knowledgeable doctor I know here. More seriously though, the internet came in very handy last year when Aaron broke out in a rash all over his body. I was able to take photos of this and email it to his pediatrician in Ipoh. I did take him to a local doctor too but they have a tendency to over prescribe. So, the Ipoh doctor was able to look at the problem and then let me know which of the multiple drugs prescribed needed to be taken. He also gave me a long email explanation on allergies and babies.

YAY! For the Internet!