Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dressing Little Boys

I thought that having a little boy meant that there would be less fuss about what to wear. Certainly, its been the case so far. And while the shopping has been more challenging, since stores only stock about 20% boy's stuff versus the 80% cute, pretty, adorable and attention grabbing girl's stuff, it has at least been relatively inexpensive.

Usually, when its time to get dressed, I'll say something like "Lets see what we can wear today". Recently, Aaron has been answering that with either "Let me see" or "Aaron pick". And, surprise surprise, he's quite fussy!

He has his favorites and tries to pick the same ones every day. He has even tried getting them out of the dirty laundry basket. I don't ask him what he wants to wear anymore. Previously, it was just a question that I didn't expect an answer to, more like talking to myself. But now, he will inevitably answer "Wiggles Shirt!". Thats the No. 1 favorite.

He also zooms in on whatever new clothes there are. Maybe new clothes are like new toys.....NEW. On a couple of mornings, he has asked to change out of what he was already dressed in when he saw something else he wanted. Needless to say, I didn't fall for that trick. He'd have me changing him all day long if I did it just the once!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thirty Two

How did I get here? The last age I remember being was about twenty three. After that, the years seem to have gone so much quicker. Started work, got married, moved a couple of times, quit my job, started life with Aaron....

I don't really have a problem with being in my thirties. Maybe I'll start thinking differently when rounding my age means rounding it to forty but, I really doubt it. Each year that passes has been eventful and fruitful. While I still have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with my life or whether I contribute anything to this earth (apart from waste), I don't mind getting older. From the age of about fifteen, I've looked forward to being thirty three. I thought that by then, I would know exactly what I wanted and be absolutely in control of my life. So, one more year for me to get things in order.

So did I do anything different today? Nope. Not at all. I did get a present from Richard in the morning. No comment there. He tries so hard to shop for me but I guess I need to consider the thought above anything else.

And, for the first time in years, he sent me some flowers at lunch time. They do make the house look a lot prettier unfortunately, the scorching weather is going to mean that they'll all be wilted by tomorrow morning.

Finally, a romantic dinner for two? Nah! We'll be feasting on a barrel of KFC instead.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Family Motorcycle

Usually, we hear about the family car. Over here in Palembang, many families cannot afford cars so they go around on their motorbikes instead. I was out each day last week (during the weekdays) to get these photos but didn't see any families. My guess is that the kids walk to school, mom stays at home and dad uses the bike to go to work. Anyway, there were plenty of families out on Sunday.

The babies are always in a sling with the mother:

Still very comfortable with a single child:

They can still handle the two kids now but it looks like the mother is about to fall off the back. I wonder what families with 3 children do:

These two families appeared to be going somewhere together:

So thats all I have for today. By the way, check out the cute Vespa in that last photo. Palembang is FULL of old Vespas.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

An evening with new friends

For those of you who visit here regularly, you'll know that I have almost no friends here in Palembang. I must admit that I haven't been putting myself out there enough but my excuse is that I try not to disrupt Aaron's schedule too much.

This evening, we went for the monthly English Mass at St Joseph's. Its only my second time there because they haven't had it for a few months and the other times, I wasn't around. Anyway, the last time I attended was sometime last year. And, I didn't get to talk to anyone much after the mass because we rushed home due to Aaron's extremely early bedtime back then.

Today happened to be the first anniversary of them starting this monthly English mass and they had organized a little get together afterwards at somebody's house. We didn't really know anybody but they were so inviting that we tagged along anyway. I guess this is the only way we're going to get to know anybody. No sense in being shy now!

The people were interesting, open and I really enjoyed the conversation. It was only this afternoon that I was complaining that we've been here too many months without a break. The hostess was an Indonesian woman who is married to a Filipino guy. The guy is in some band and is rarely home so it was his Filipino friend that helped her with preparing the food. The food was a tasty mix of Filipino and Indonesian Chinese style cooking.

That nun in the photo is a Brazilian that has been in Palembang for 2 years trying to start their mission here. I didn't catch what order she belonged to. She said that they haven't really got things going yet but she did have one postulate and another girl waiting to become a postulate. You can see them in the background, at the sink. So, I've volunteered my services with them for whenever they needs help :)

We didn't stay too long after dinner because Aaron was starting to 'fade' but at least we know a few more people now. People that we can have easy conversations with. There were even two other little kids for Aaron to play with.

*sigh* It was a boring Sunday to start off with but turned out to be pretty fun in the end. I had planned to post some photos of the Family Motorcycle today but I'll do it tomorrow instead.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I need to bite my tongue!

Aaron is repeating more and more of what he hears. Its not just words but full sentences as well. A good example of what not to do, is what I did this morning.

Each morning, we have oatmeal for breakfast. Sometimes, we have it with bananas, other times plain. Today was banana day, Aaron's favorite.

We have a rectangular table and Aaron sits at the head with Richard and I on either side of him. This is supposedly so both of us can help him out whenever he needs something. Unfortunately, today, I felt that I'm (always) the one doing all the helping. At least, this is my side of the story and I was a little grouchy this morning. Anyway, Aaron was asking for the 1000th banana top up. So, I said to Richard "Can't you hear that?!" Of course he did! It just doesn't register in brain. He gave Aaron more banana.

Not two minutes later, Aaron says in a loud voice "Can't you hear that?!". I don't think the actual meanings of those words meant anything to him. He just felt that it was the quickest way to get more bananas.

So this situation didn't backfire in any embarrassing ways but it did make me feel guilty for teaching Aaron to say something so rude. I know that you're not supposed to argue in front of your children but what are you supposed to do if you get mad? Just keep it in there to explode later? What if you're just mildly annoyed and the situation can be diffused by a sarcastic word or two? For the moment, I think the tones of our voices say more than the actual words so if I'm really good, I could be sarcastic in a cheery voice I suppose....but what happens when he has full understanding of all the words? Then what?

I guess this is one way of teaching me patience, tolerance and how to look the other way. Plenty more to learn!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #9

13 Things I Never Thought I'd Be Doing

Lets go back 13 years. I was 19 then and I never thought I'd ...

1) ... be a housewife. I had hoped to be a 'wife' but didn't think I'd be the stay-at-home kind.

2) ... be a mother. I thought I decided in high school that I didn't want to be a mother. BUT, I also remember thinking if I did end up one, I'd want to be the stay-at-home sort. Talk about being a confused teenager.

3) ... be planting my own fruit and vegetables.

4) ... not be working. I always imagined working in a cleanroom environment and enjoying every moment of it.

5) ... be cheering while looking at somebody else's number 1s or number 2s in the toilet.

6) ... count countries as varied as Costa Rica, Philippines, China, Japan, Korea and the US as places that my short lived career had sent me to. I'll forever be thankful for those trips.

7) ... live in a place where I have no friends. Back then, I had so many friends I used to wish I had time to just be alone.

8) ... be trying to figure out if cookies can be made without a microwave. Can they?

9) ... mute the volume whenever a movie has too much suspense buildup.

10) ... choose to go to bed early instead of watching TV.

11) ... be enjoying the Wiggles as much as Aaron does. Initially, I thought they were ridiculous but now, I'm as into the Wiggles as he is! Toot-Toot-Chuga-Chuga Big Red Car.....

12) ... become meticulous about tidiness. I just find that its so much easier to meet Aaron's needs if I knew exactly where everything is. So now, even his toys are always kept in the same groups and all members accounted for before being placed in their allocated space. I find that its easy for him too because he can zoom straight to whichever one he's thinking of.

13) ... be this contented and happy with my simple life.

Safety Last

One of the main concerns I have about living in Palembang is the general attitude towards safety and hygiene. I'm sure there must be some sort of safety regulations around but nobody seems to abide by them. There is just very little awareness by the people of what can happen.

These are some examples of what I've observed:

- Many motorcyclists ride around with no helmets on. OR, they have it on but its not buckled up. Here we have a father (helmet without any straps) and his daughter with no helmet on one of the main roads with heavy traffic.

- People only put on their seat belts in the car when they know there are policemen up ahead. (Actually, its the same way in Malaysia.)

- The little take away shop down the road from us had one of its workers accidentally mince up three of his fingers because he was joking around with a friend while working.

- At Richard's workplace, there have been careless accidents where people have been hurt by sacks of fertilizer that have fallen down from being stacked too high.

Here are a few photos with an overloaded theme to them:

I do realize that the three 'overcrowded' scenarios may be such because of an employer's attitude towards safety and the employees may not have much say in it. The thing is, I really wonder if the employees themselves feel that their safety is compromised.

So, what do I do about all this? Nothing much. I try to tell those around me whenever I see something but they always have a reason for doing things the way they do. We had a funny situation in the car last week with Aaron insisting to the babysitter that she had to put on her seatbelt while the girl kept insisting back that its fine and the police won't catch her. She didn't put it on until I told her she HAD to.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fun Monday Hangover

Yesterday's Fun Monday post got me thinking about my last moments. Initially, I thought I didn't have a problem at all with dying. My only regret about leaving would be that Aaron would lose the one person that he feels completely secure with. We have been trying to get him to go to Richard for comfort but so far, its still just me. I know its because I am the constant in his life and Richard only spends a little time in the morning and at lunch with him each day. If anything were to happen, it will be rough on Aaron but I know he'll adjust. I hate to think of the agony that he'll have to go through while adjusting. So now, in a roundabout kind of way, I guess I do have a problem with leaving.

An even more morbid thought than the one above is if anything were to happen to Aaron. I don't think I would be able to adjust. Several nights ago, I had a dream (more like a nightmare) where Aaron was taken away by another family. As if that wasn't bad enough, I spent some time during the day imagining things even worse than that. Imagining these horrible situations stirred up such vivid and even physical feelings. This must be how parents feel when they say they would 'do anything' for their child. In my brain, I've always known that as a mother, I will always protect Aaron. However, I never realized how deeply I felt about this and how much worry it generates. Maybe I have slow mother instinct development and I've been taking things for granted.

Suddenly, almost over night, I have heightened paranoia over kidnapping, disease, and accidents. Who will I call? Which hospital would I rush to? Would I rush to the airport instead? If there are no flights to KL, I'll have to find flights to Singapore. But that means I have to go via Jakarta. Would it then mean that I should just wait until the next flight to KL? Do I go into this panic mode for broken bones as well? OR is that over reacting? Would they still let us fly if he gets dengue?

Is it me or blogspot?

I've been having intermittent problems accessing the blogspot sites. It that just me or are there other people out there experiencing it?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fun Monday - My Final Moments Movie

The challenge for this Monday comes from Tales of a Southern Doll.

What have you done in your life that was worth doing? I want to know the moments in your life that you hope will be the ones to pass through your mind when your time comes. I hope that doesn't sound too morbid. This doesn't necessarily have to be items you have checked off your Bucket List, it can be those small moments that made you smile, or the time you got that huge promotion you deserved, or the first time your baby smiled at you out of pure joy. I want to know all the moments, big and small, that make life sweet! If you don't already have a running list of these in your mind, you should! These moments help you remember how much your life is worth living, and we all deserve to enjoy it.

So, here is what I hope flashes before my eyes when my time comes:

Moments with my family. The trips I've taken with my parents and brother. The tricks that my brother and I played on my parents. All those times when we laughed till we cried. The long road trip from Tasmania to Canberra that only my brother and I went on.

Meeting Richard and thinking that he had the most smiley eyes I had every seen. Age and stress seem to have done something to the 'smiley' part these days but its still visible on certain days. I'd like to remember all those everyday moments when Richard had made my life just a little better. Like making my Milo, doing the dishes, giving me a massage, cleaning my shoes and so many other things. He makes me feel so loved and that would definitely be a good feeling to have when I reach the end.

Of course, Aaron is my biggest accomplishment to date seeing that I GREW HIM. So, I'll need lots of images of him flashing at the end. Watching Aaron bounce around inside me during one of the first ultrasound sessions. Aaron's first steps at Dunmore Park in Auchenflower, Brisbane. It was just me and him and he had an incredibly triumphant smile on his face after those two steps. His dancing and singing. His BIG HUGS. The face he makes when he's crying. EVERYTHING.

Scuba diving in 'Anemone City' at Pulau Redang, Malaysia. Beautiful, colorful soft corals EVERYWHERE. It looked just like Nemo's neighborhood and definitely the scene that always comes to mind when I think about diving. I hope there are some good dive spots in the afterlife! Anyway, this would be a good backdrop scene for looking back on life.

None of these are "accomplishments" in the original meaning of the word but its the 'Final Moments Movie' that I'd like to watch. I definitely would not want thoughts of work, no matter how big those accomplishments were, to be wasting my precious last moments.

You can check out more of the Fun Monday participants at Tales of a Southern Doll.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Definitely not a day of rest.

What a day this has been! We started at the usual 5.30am and we....

... went for Mass.
... came back, put Aaron down for his nap.
... did the laundry.
... watered the garden, took care of some odds and ends.
... cleaned all the fans.
... cooked Aaron's meals for the day.
... ducked out for little grocery shopping.
... came back for lunch.
... had a short nap with Aaron.
... made some tomato sauce (from scratch!).
... made a curry to freeze for later this week.

After all that, I just didn't feel like cooking dinner so we ordered in. I may have slacked off with dinner but I still feel a great sense of accomplishment today. Many people do lots more on than that on their Sundays/weekends but lately, I rarely get to fit in so many things in a single day. I'm feeling GOOD!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A glimpse of "Why?"

Before Aaron started talking, I, like any other mother, tried to encourage him as often as possible. I remember my mother saying something like "Enjoy the quiet time now. Before you know it, it'll be "Why Why Why" all day long". Well, he's not at that stage yet and without knowing what the future holds or what I'll be thinking at that time, I say this: "I wouldn't mind it at all since it means he is curious and anxious to learn about this world."

I remember an annoying little boy who used to ask that very question ALL THE TIME. He used to annoy the heck out of all my friends with his cheeky antics and his endless "Whys". I think some of them were ready to choke him to death! Anyway, that boy was my brother.

Last night as Aaron and I lay down for bed, and I asked him to close his eyes, he asked "Why?"

Amanda: Because its time to sleep.
Aaron: Why?
Amanda: Because its late.
Aaron: Why?
Amanda: Because its dark outside.
Aaron: Moon is out. Why?
Amanda: Because it wants you to start dreaming.
Aaron: How?
Amanda: Close your eyes.

Phew! I think the first "Why?" was actually Aaron's first ever "Why?". Immediately, my mother's words and my brother's cheeky face flashed across my mind. And as he asked the subsequent "Whys" I thought it was the start of a big long "Why" cycle that will last for who knows how many months/years!

Funnily, he broke it himself with a "How?" and there were no more "Whys?" last night. Maybe this is the trailer for "The Why years of Aaron"...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #8

13 Things I Learnt in April

1) There are 9 tones in Cantonese, as opposed to the famous 4 in Mandarin.

2) People in Palembang assume that being called for an interview means they've got the job.

3) The short cut to picking the husks out of rice is to soak all the rice you want to cook. The husks will float to the top. Background to this is that the rice we buy here are so full of grains with the husks still on that it is really annoying to eat if you don't sort them out first. A real pain!

4) If Aaron does not wake from his morning nap before 10am, he will not be able to fall asleep for an afternoon nap and the rest of the day will be difficult with an overtired toddler. This is irregardless of the morning nap duration.

5) Tomatoes (and perhaps all fruit) grow from the spot where their flowers bloom. NEw to me! This shows you how ignorant a gardener I am :)

6) Cabbage belong to the same family as broccoli and are also a super food. Supposedly, it "stimulates the immune system, kills bacteria and viruses, and is a good blood purifier."

7) Mother panda's need to help their young urinate and defaecate. They also er...ingest the product afterwards. Talk about dedicated potty training! I learnt this from a friend who was watching some panda documentary while chatting with me.

8) Buses in Panama sound as garishly decorated as the ones here in Palembang. Bilbo, was the one who left a comment on my Angkut post and shared this piece of information.

9) Looking after one toddler is a walk in the park compared to watching over a toddler and a four year old. I can't imagine what it must be like to be a mom of two! Getting my practice now watching over Aaron and Linmas.

10) The flip-flop style slippers sold in the markets here are colored according to size. Meaning that you don't have a choice of colors, it all depends on how big your feet are.

11) Pluto was downgraded to "dwarf planet" status in August 2006. This means that there are only 8 planets in our solar system now. I guess I missed that news because the decision was made the same month Aaron was born.

12) A popular method of weaning in Indonesia is to rub a particularly bitter leaf on before each feed so that the baby will be too disgusted by the taste to continue. A little drastic! Wonder how the women then dealt with the engorgement.

13) A 'tare' is a term to describe the weight of an empty container or vehicle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Public Transport in Palembang

Today was a fantastic day. I have been meaning to try out the public transportation here in Palembang for some time but never had a reason to. Until our car broke down today. YIPPEE!!!!

The driver was so worried and couldn't stop apologizing. He couldn't understand why I was suddenly so excited. I, of course, had the bright idea of catching an "Angkut" back.

The Angkuts are minivans and co-exist with normal buses. Well, the buses aren't exactly 'normal' here but I'll blog about that only when I've been in one. Anyway, the Angkuts service the smaller routes that the buses don't cover.

There isn't an 'Angkut Stop'. Just an area at this intersection where they are known to pick up passengers. Luckily I happened to have the babysitter with us today so she lead the way.

Here's our Angkut making the U-turn to pick us up:

We were the first passengers in there and the driver seemed to trawl the street looking for more. That wooden box you see in front of the orange door actually seats two passengers. I think they're partly there to keep the door open for the trip. There was some techno/bollywood style music blaring out of the speakers they had installed and the driver was bopping around in his seat as he drove.

He made the same loop several times until we were filled to capacity. By the time we got going, there were 15 adults, 1 toddler and 1 big suitcase on that minivan.

In the end, our trip cost us USD 0.20 per person and took us about 20 mins to get home. The actual travel time was only 5 mins, the rest of the time was waiting for the Angkut to fill up.

I wouldn't like to have catch this to work on a daily basis but it certainly made my day today. I didn't mind that it was hot and suffocating inside, or that the dust from the zooming traffic flew right in the windows up my nose. I was just having so much fun observing all the people and enjoying the bumpy ride home.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sleeping like a baby

I wonder who coined that phrase "Sleeping like a baby"?

Yes, many people have babies who sleep well, soundly, through the night, peacefully and plenty of other adjectives associated with a good nights rest.

Aaron definitely isn't one of those and never has been. And, the more I read about it, the more I find out that there are plenty of other babies like him in the world. Its comforting to know that we're not alone.

At the beginning, it was as if he didn't have an 'Off' switch. He'd try and try to sleep but it just seemed like he didn't know how to. We got through that stage and he's good at falling asleep now. Its the staying asleep that we still need to work on.

The problem now is with what happens in his little head while he sleeps. Last year, we had many instances of night terrors where he would scream, sometimes with his eyes open, yet not see me and not respond to any form of comforting. Thankfully, those have subsided.

These days, its his normal dreams that interrupt his sleep. Sometimes, its really funny. There have been a few instances where we've heard him laughing and chuckling in his sleep. Other times, he has pushed himself to a sitting position, then actually stood up before flopping back down again. There must be some unpleasant dreams in there as well because he also whimpers and seems frustrated with whatever he's dreaming of. Very often, I find his head wet with sweat and the sheets around his head soaked through. This is with the air conditioning on quite cool.

I've noticed that his good/not-so-good sleep is somewhat cyclical with a couple of weeks of sleeping soundly followed by a couple of rough weeks. Maybe its to do with his normal development cycles. Who knows?

I've often been told that I made the 'mistake' of co-sleeping with him (and therefore teaching him to rely on me) but I actually like having him there. Of course there is the odd night when he's woken me up one too many times but on the whole, its probably just once during my night's sleep and I don't even remember it in the morning. Nothing beats being woken up by a fresh little baby grin and leftover words from his last dream. He literally jumps out of bed each morning and is full of energy and enthusiasm to face his day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fun Monday - 5 photos, 25 words

This week's Fun Monday challenge from Nekked Lizard Adventures was a lot of fun. The task was to pick 5 photos and describe and/or explain it in 5 words. I ended up looking at ALL of Aaron's photos and reminiscing for the whole weekend but didn't want this post to just be about him. So, here are my 5.

Two pals swimming at dawn.

Grandparents who lead by example.

Next time, think before buying.

An automotive theme to bathrooms.

Never too young to laze.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday in Palembang

We usually avoid going to any malls on the weekends because everybody will be there and it is extremely noisy. I find it unsettling and usually end up with a headache.

However, for some reason or other, we've needed to brave the crowds and go out there for the past few weekends. Today, I was prepared. I kept myself relaxed, drank lots of water and armed myself with a camera as distraction from all the noise and people. There weren't as many sights as I would have liked to take photos of but that always happens when you're prepared. Its when you don't have your camera that the good shots present themselves. Here are the few scenes I did find interesting.

I don't want to comment on the girl being made to wear the traditional headscarf at such a young age. All I want to say is "Isn't she CUTE?!"

Here's one of the three A&W outlets in Palembang. I was surprised when I found out that McDonalds only has one outlet. There are also three KFCs. The menus at all three fast food chains are localized to include rice and extra spicy foods.

Grammatically strange but you get the idea. The problem is that most people here don't read English. How will those women know that they have priority parking there? OK. They did have the small font translation. And the other thing, that sign only came up after all the good parking spots were filled. I wonder how many women do benefit from this but at least the thought is there.

In the end, we had a reasonably pleasant time there although our mission to get the sesame seed oil and 28 inch non stick pan failed. We did manage to leave with the Milo; our much loved breakfast drink.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Whinge about our house

I know I really should be the last person to complain about her house since we live here rent free. We don't even have to pay for electricity or water. I am grateful for how much this saves us and have grown used to some of the 'inconveniences' but on some days, like this, I really find it so hard to count my blessings.

The kitchen is terrible. Its so small that there is only room for a single sink, a bit of bench top for the microwave and then the two ringed gas stove. Everything else that you normally find in a kitchen is outside in the dining area. Fridge, cabinets, pantry, everything. And, the 'pantry' is actually some old mismatched wardrobe from somewhere. I live ok with all this on most days until something sets me off and I forget to over look things. Like today:

How gross is that? Thats the door to the 'pantry'. Who knows how many more live in there? I'll have to empty it out and give it a big clean this weekend. Eew!!!

The other thing today has to do with the ridiculous 2200W limitation we live with. The lights that came with the house were incredibly dim and fluorescent so, since we found out that we will be here for another two years, I have started to make small changes (big ones are definitely on the way too). Anyway, we bought some 100W yellow bulbs and fit them in yesterday. But guess what? The house can't handle it. AARGH! I'll have to find some other energy saving yellow bulbs.

There are lots of other things but two will do for today. We'll definitely be looking out for another house to move to but this was already one of the better ones. Anything better than this is brand new and owner occupied. Nobody here builds a new house just to rent it out. So, our other alternative is to spend a little money for some conveniences here. It doesn't make sense since we're only here for a short while but it will make things more pleasant.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #7

13 songs from the past 13 years

I wouldn't call all of these my favorite songs but they were songs that I remember liking a lot at the time.

1) 1995: On Bended Knee (Boyz II Men)

2) 1996: Breakfast At Tiffany's (Deep Blue Something)

3) 1997: I Want You (Savage Garden)

4) 1998: Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden)

5) 1999: Last Kiss (Pearl Jam)

6) 2000: I don't have a song for this year. Looking through a list of songs released in 2000 doesn't ring many bells in my head. I remember a year of a lot of travel and a lot of wedding planning. I must have forgotten to listen to the radio.

7) 2001: Thank You For Loving Me (Bon Jovi)

8) 2002: Get The Party Started (Pink)

9) 2003: Where Is The Love? (Black Eyed Peas featuring Justin Timberlake)

10) 2004: This Love (Maroon 5)

11) 2005: Lonely (Akon)

12) 2006: Home (Michael Buble)

13) 2007: Rage Over a Lost Penny (Beethovan). This piece was on a children's CD I bought for Aaron. Since we moved here last year, I haven't been listening to any new music released. We get MTV and Channel V but I haven't been watching either.

I'm becoming one of those out of touch moms already!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

From Greek Warriors to Malaysian School Girls

Aaron and I have started to play a little Hide and Seek. Its more like he hides and then asks me to find him. Anyway, it got me thinking about the games I used to play as a child.

My most vivid memories of Primary School are partnering up with my best friend and playing 'Five Stones'. I don't even know what we called it back then. AND, I only used the stones when I was learning at home. At school, everybody had little 1" x 1" bags of rice and I got my mother to make me a set too.

The game was all about hand-eye coordination. You had to throw the five stones (or bags) up in the air and then try to catch as many as you can on the back of your hand. A point would be allocated to the player for each stone caught. In between each of these point counting rounds, there was another part to the game where you throw one stone in the air, pick up another from the ground and then catch the first stone again. All this with the same hand. The first round would be picking up the stones one at a time. The second would be two at a time for the two pairs and then the single one. Third round was a three and then one. Sounds a little confusing trying to explain it here but it was GREAT fun. EVERYBODY played it. BUT this was how many 'best friends' broke up because they wanted to partner other better players.

Upon doing some research, the origins of the game are ancient and is sometimes referred to as Knucklebones (sheep's knuckles were originally used). According to Wikipedia, Sophocles mentions the game played by Greeks during the Trojan War. Imagine that!

Some ancient explorer must have brought it to Asia. But those would have been men. BURLY MANLY MEN I imagine. Its funny to think that these days, the game is played only by little girls. What an evolution for the game!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How do I look?

Aaron never misses an opportunity to look at himself in the mirror. Its not just a quick glance. More like a prolonged examination of himself. Thats understandable because he's a toddler and they supposedly like mirrors. So he's excused.

So, how often do you look in the mirror?

I come from a family of opposites on this one. My father never passes up a mirror (or any other reflection) while I think my mother only looks once a day when she brushes her hair. I'll admit that I'm a little like my father but not as extreme. I try to do it while nobody is looking but he'll just openly stand at a mirror and look at himself from different angles. (I hope he's not reading this particular post. HA! HA!)

It seems that looking in the mirror is equated to vanity. I guess in many cases, it is. But there isn't anything overly wrong in that. Is there? We shouldn't need to feel guilty about spending a little time checking ourselves out (as long as we don't end up being one of those self absorbed people). No, I don't spend so much time in front of the mirror that I need this justified. I just find it unnecessary that most people inevitably feel embarrassed if they are caught admiring OR scrutinizing their reflection. So, I'll be signing off now to go examine if my ears are identical and at the same position.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Do mothers need quarterly reports?

I didn't even realize that it was the end of the quarter until I visited John at Out of My Hat. In the old days I would have been glad that the end of quarter stress of checking my 'funnel' for the status of my accounts was over. That seems so long ago. I don't even think in quarters anymore. I'm not sure what I think in these days. Usually, I just drift from day by day. Other times, I feel that my life is now segmented by time spent in Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. The only milestones I really track these days are Aaron's.

Is it really necessary to constantly set and accomplish goals? I know why corporations need to do it and I also liked that sense of achievement when I was in that environment. But, what about life now? Out of habit, I try to set myself little (and big) goals but its different these days. Its truly an Aaron driven life.

I question myself all the time as to whether this is the right way to be. Then, I question myself again on why I needed to question myself in the first place since Aaron is technically my 'job' now. Its just a different type of job with different deliverables and very unpredictable time frames.

So, I don't exactly have a quarterly report. I just know that things with Aaron have been moving faster than I realized. In the past three months:

Sleep: Progressed from nursing to sleep to nursing THEN sleeping.

Toilet Training: Absolutely no control to Number 1s being caught about 50% of the time. Number 2s are still never caught. I think we're a bit slow in this area.

Mobility: From walking to now running without any breaks. He's been attempting to climb anything that has hand/foot holds. He's trying to jump but he doesn't quite have lift off yet.

Chatter: I counted 132 words on December 30. We're now having little conversations about weird things like his MiMi's (that what he calls my mom) new shoes and the Becak Man.

From day to day, I marvel at each of his new skills but of course don't really notice his transformation from baby to little boy from a more macro level. Its only times like this when I think back to who he was at the beginning of the year to who he is now that it really hits me. Imagine, he's only been around 20 months. If he lives with me until he's 18, there are another 196 months more of developments to (hopefully) marvel at.

Anyway, its a strange job and definitely not one that easily segments into 4 neat quarters a year. For the record, 18 years would have been 72 quarters. Try doing THAT long range plan!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lazing about Stumbling

Before Internet, I guess people lazed around reading or maybe just flipping through magazines. Or maybe they sat around flipping TV channels. I've been feeling a little lazy this evening and have been doing the online equivalent of lazing.

I installed Stumble Upon several months ago and its basically where I laze these days. Good magazines are hard to come by in Palembang and I find the internet more interesting than TV most of the time. So, for the past hour, I've been stumbling from site to it the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Here are several sites that I found interesting:

A Week of Food Around the World: I'm always comparing prices of things between Palembang and other parts of the world. Last week I mentioned that it costs me ~USD3 for half a week of groceries. This site compares a week's worth of food for families around the world.

Science of Cooking: Small site but has lots of interesting bits of information and 'activities' for some of the food. I think I'll try making a 'Naked Egg' one of these days.

Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids: Not a good looking site but interesting and has plenty of fun ideas for activities I can use in a few years. Hope I don't lose the bookmark!

Philosophy Games: Definitely a site worthy of lazing time if you're into doing little tests/quizzes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #6

13 Things I've Been Wondering About

1) Will I end up preferring life without the live in maid? Its surprising how quickly one gets used to such a luxury but Linmas's mom has been coming in for a couple of hours each day for two weeks now and life has been good.

2) Is the idiom "Better the devil you know, than the one you don't" just an easy way out of making a change?

3) Do I really wish that I didn't know about trans fats? After knowing about them, I see them in everything!

4) Did I really see Aaron try to eat dirt this evening?

5) When will Aaron wean himself? WILL he wean himself?

6) How many other 19 month olds out there DO NOT sleep through the night?

7) How much longer will the Legos entertain Aaron? He has been playing with them daily, several times a day, for nearly two months now.

8) How do you give a 19 month old a 1 minute time out? Does the clock reset if they leave the spot?

9) Richard's boss has indicated that they are extending his contract here for another two years. I wonder if we will end up being here for a total of 4 years. Will we get to upgrade the car?

10) Should I spend the money on a second hand piano or maybe an electronic piano now that I know we'll be here for longer? I really want to start Aaron young.

11) Will the internet be able to teach me how to play chess?

12) Will my parents, my brother and I ever live in the same city again?

13) We need to decide where to go during the May break. I've been wondering about Langkawi for the beach, Singapore for the zoo or Kuala Lumpur for its convenience. Where else? Brunei? Thailand? Vietnam?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Victory Dance

I'm a little short of time today so here's a video that I took of Aaron over the weekend. I have NO IDEA how he developed this type of song and dance routine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shampoo, Tea and MSG

When we first arrived in Palembang and walked about the local shops, I couldn't help noticing that many had the entire store front covered by a colorful assortment of these plastic sachets. My initial thought was that the society that I thought was very conservative was actually extremely open about promoting safe sex and these were all condoms.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that they were little sachets of shampoos, teas and MSG (monosodium glutamate). I recall a conversation I had with our old driver about him not using shampoo each time he washes his hair. He said it was too expensive and he usually just used soap or water. So, I guess these little sachets are for special occasions.

The teas are mostly just plain but there are also some flavored teas there. I'm not a tea (or coffee) drinker so I can't really comment on what they taste like.

And finally the MSG. Some of the sachets there are just pure MSG while others are pre-mixes for the various Indonesian foods. Some are marinades while others are just the quick way of making their traditional meals without the tedious preparations. Either way, the main ingredient in there is MSG. The food here is so heavily laden with MSG that I have no idea what the originals would have tasted like. In supermarkets, there are more brands of MSG than there are of salt or sugar. I've found that most of the Indonesians I've met need their foods to be extremely spicy, salty or sweet before they enjoy it.

The good thing about discovering these little sachets is that the shampoos will come in very handy when traveling. I don't really see shampoo being sold like this elsewhere.