Monday, June 30, 2008

You know you've been watching too much CSI when....

... you tell your husband not to 'contaminate the crime scene'.

... you leave the lights turned off and use a torch to look for evidence.

... you re-enact the supposed crime.

... you question a person from different angles and at surprising times.

... when you tell your husband to be the 'bad cop' while you're the 'good cop'.

... you try to see if a person's pupils are dilated or not, if they have their arms in a closed position, if they're scratching, if their pausing too long, if they're breathing too hard, if they're repeating your questions back to you, and the list goes on....

All this may mean that I just really need to get a life. Or its what happens when you no longer trust somebody.

Things have escalated since my 'Benefit of the doubt' post and now there are allegations of voyeurism and lots of he says/she says. Lots of drama. Tears. Accusations. Denials. A fake cousin who is really a boyfriend. Its like my very own live soap opera.

I hope we can sort it all out tonight.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photostory Friday - I'm his everything

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I took this photo yesterday morning. There is nothing really special about the picture but I wanted it as a reminder of what Aaron was saying and doing lately.

"Do like Mama"

Right before I went to get the camera, I was pushing the earth up around my little plants because they were falling over. Aaron was right there trying his best to be helpful. Before that, when I was picking up dead leaves from around the place, he was also helping me with that.

I feel so special to him right now. I'm his everything.

He wants to do everything with me.

He wants to be like me.

He wants to help me.

He wants me happy.

The other day, when he saw that I had finished my portion of the watermelon we were having, he offered me some of his. When he sees that I've accidentally knocked myself or cut myself, he tries to make it better. He is so sweet and so adorable.

I'll enjoy it while it lasts....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #16

13 Facts about our house and our neighborhood
(Bit of a long one this week)

1) When we have a power outage, it also means that we have a water outage because the pump won't be working to get any water into the house.

2) These beautiful lilies have been blooming around the house for 2 weeks now. I didn't plant them and there weren't this many last year. All of them are in little ledges of that stick out of the walls outside.

3) The bathroom next to the kitchen must have been what the original owner designated as the maid's bathroom. It has a squat toilet and no flush. The other two bathrooms are normal toilets that flush. Just another reminder of how some people can have such low regard for another person who helps them out 24 hrs a day with chores that they'd rather not do. Plenty of people like that around...

4) The drains in the neighborhood are filthy and mostly so bogged up that water flows nowhere. We stupidly cleaned the muck out of the drains immediately in front of our house but unfortunately we're now at a lower level than other places 'down-drain' so we have even more water stagnant. Still working on a solution.

5) These horrible drains have a lot of wildlife in them. In addition to the germs and diseases, there are also little crabs, fish and supposedly some sort of small eel. The eel is something that Richard told me about but I can't imagine that it really is an eel. Maybe just some big worm....

6) The neighbor's son recently caught himself a pair of doves and has been 'training' them. The doves are a craze amongst the kids this year. They're all walking around with a bird in hand. Last year it was kites.

7) I'm supposedly getting a new neighbor, two doors down, that is from Singapore. Don't know yet if its just a single guy or a family.

8) I live 200m from a mosque. Five times a day, when the prayers are broadcasted, a neighbor's dog howls his own prayers. He does this 5 times a day, every day. None of the other dogs are as disciplined as he is.

9) Directly opposite the mosque is a house inhabited by a Canadian man, his Indonesian wife, 3 daughters and about 5 maids. The man is oldish and has been in Indonesia 30 years. He's friendly with lots of good stories but its hard to chat with him long because he never wears a shirt (and has a HUGE beer belly) and his pants are always falling off him. One day, we drove past the house and were treated to a view of his entire behind. EEW!

10) All the names of the roads here are animals. We live on Bear St.

11) The clanging has stopped but the past few nights have been noisy with cats mating.

12) The housing area we live in is 'gated' and takes about 30 mins to walk the perimeter at a leisurely pace.

13) So far, we've only heard of 3 thefts in the 16 months we've lived here. Haven't heard of any other types of crimes in the area.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pimped Up Motorbike

We saw this bike while out for a walk in the morning.

Over here, not everybody can afford cars but most people have a motorbike. I'm not referring to those huge rumbling biker gang type motorbikes, just scooters (think vespas).

Anyway, whether a person here owns a bike or a car, most of them cherish it as their most valuable possession. And I mean 'cherish' as in 'loving and adoring' it every single day for its entire lifespan. Not just the first few weeks when its new. I'm always seeing people cleaning and polishing their bikes or cars. It doesn't seem to matter how old or new it is, they really take pride in its cleanliness and shininess. The only time when I don't see this behavior is when the person owns a truck. Those seem to always be left dirty.

I've no idea who the owner of this motorbike is. I do wonder if it belongs to a person who can't yet afford a car but has a bit of extra cash to splash out here instead. The bike looks a little feminine to me but I'm pretty sure that the owner (and rider) is a guy. Its only the guys who would put so much work into a motorbike. Would he then give it to his wife/girlfriend/daughter?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Benefit of the Doubt

I am a really big 'Benefit of the Doubt' giver. Its what comes most naturally to me. Sometimes I have suspicions but just forget them. I guess thats what it means to give the benefit of the doubt.

I learnt from the last girl who worked with us that giving too much of this will just cause people to draw on it more. They even get slack with their deceit and blatant in their lies. I suppose they start to think I'm stupid. And this is when a person like me starts withholding the benefit of the doubt.

Its stupid to stupidly give the benefit of the doubt all the time. I feel bad for trying to trap people but some people just will not admit to it if you don't catch them in the act. I'd rather just have it out in the open and address whatever the issue is. Most of the time, I know that people lie because they feel they have no other choice.

In case you're wondering, the trigger for all my thoughts today is Aini. She's the girl that started to work for us about 2 months ago. The same one that we have encouraged and given time off for completing school. Everything has been good but in the past week, she has found some excuse or other to not work on 3 days. There have been several other odd occurrences in previous weeks too. From past experience, I know we need to address this now or the behavior will just continue because she'll start to think we're easy (or stupid!).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shop Assistants from Palembang

The thing I dislike most about shopping in Palembang is the 'helpful' shop assistants. These are the ever present, in your face or right up against your backside shop assistants that tail you around the store until they finally drive you away with their breath down the back of your shirt. They're chatty too:

"These are blouses."
"Here's a white pair of shoes."
"We also have the long T-shirts."

Whatever! Leave me alone if you want me to buy something! I can see for myself. I know they think they are being helpful but it is just so annoying. Especially when you finally have to ask them for something important, like if they have it in a different color, they usually only answer in the negative.

Today, I went to the pharmacy to get a simple bottle of Vitamin B complex. They have a sales assistant for each brand they carry (as if one wasn't enough!). Each time I ask if they have a different brand of the B available, a new person showed up. Eventually, I had 4 different people around me, flashing their brochures and telling me that their product had more of such-and-such blah blah blah. I told them I could read it for myself so, they all crowded behind me. Why? I don't know. To give me moral support as I made my decision?! Now I can just imagine the next part in a scene from some cheap movie. I tell them that I can read it alone. So, they all look at me, and then take one step back, just one, but continue staring in anticipation. Its as if they will win some prize if I picked theirs. In the end, I said I had to go across to a competing pharmacy to see what they carried.

It was the same scenario over there. And, since they had almost exactly the same products, I didn't need to do any more comparison and just picked the cheapest one. In a flash, all the 'losers' suddenly had sullen and slightly resentful looks on their faces. At least the 'winner' still had the smile, a genuine one too.

I may sound ungrateful but it is really really annoying....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

T-Shirt Marker Pen-ing

A couple of days ago, Aaron was invited over to the Kims house. I was thrilled when I got the SMSed invitation but was hesitant to go because it mentioned T-shirt painting and I could just see him walking all over their house putting his little hand prints everywhere. Well, they were smarter than that. It was actually T-shirt drawing with permanent markers. And it was FUN.

He did the front and I did the back:

There were about 6 other Korean children there and the activities were led by two Korean college girls who had taken a year off to travel around Indonesia. Supposedly, they have been visiting all the Korean communities and organizing a couple of days of kids activities at each of their stops. Aaron even got presents at the end of it all - a whole big stack of Korean snacks (guess who'll be eating those?) and a Magna Doodle board. I tried to pay them in the form of a Chinese Red Packet but they returned the money (keeping the Red Packets) saying that they had sponsors.

This year is really turning out to be a year of new friends and new activities for us here in Palembang!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blogging led me to an English Library !!

I had such a surprise when I checked for comments on my previous post. Comment #4 contained directions to an English Library, right here in Palembang. I've always found blogging fun and it has led to many new friends but I never guessed that it will lead me to this little gem. I called the number right away and spoke to Ria. She was so friendly and spoke flawless English.

We headed over there in the evening and I signed up right away. Its name is actually 'Chit Chat Corner & Library'. True to its name, there were lots of people in there chit chatting, practicing English. Talking is not usually allowed in libraries but thats what makes this particular one fantastic. I won't need to keep telling Aaron not to talk. I think Ria mentioned there were about 7000 books there, including a huge collection of children's books. Aaron was getting a little too 'enthusiastic' with the books for comfort so I couldn't browse for too long. I was so excited about the prospect of being able to introduce new stories to Aaron that I forgot to ask how this wonderful place got started or where the books come from.

I still can't believe how lucky I am to have Ria stumble upon my blog. I was really running out of fresh ideas to keep Aaron occupied in the house (hence the previous post) and this new infusion of books is definitely going to help. And who knows, maybe I might have a new friend too. One that I can ask questions to about Palembang and get answers that I actually understand fully.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #15

Sometimes I find that I use these Thursday Thirteen posts as a sort of planning / list making tool for myself. So today, we have:

13 New Activities I'll Try With Aaron

1) Fingerpainting.

2) "Pretend" fishing in our pond. I just need to make a fishing rod.

3) Gluing some colorful shapes onto paper.

4) Negotiating toilet paper barricades or 'detours' around the house.

5) Walking on a low (and wide) balance beam.

6) Finger puppets.

7) Get a magnifying glass so we can look at things.

8) Playing with a flashlight.

9) Drawing with chalk on the driveway.

10) Typing in Microsoft Word using big bold fonts.

11) Toddler hopscotch.

12) Marching and funny walks.

13) Word "treasure hunt" while we're reading.

There can never be enough activities when it comes to occupying a toddler's time, so, leave me a comment on any other indoor fun ideas you may have. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ampera Bridge Again

We had a friend visit us for a couple of days and I took her to the touristy side of Ampera Bridge. Since this bridge is famous throughout Indonesia, I thought this girl (an Indonesian from a different city) would like to go check it out. The esplanade over looking the bridge is supposedly where all the dating couples of Palembang can be seen in the evenings. Thats where we went.

We went in the late afternoon when only a few snack stalls were up and the area still devoid of anybody except the people who worked there. These two buskers creeped up behind us and started singing.

They were AWFUL (but don't you think the guy on the right has a head of attention grabbing hair? tee! hee! hee!). All I could hear was a couple of murmured words here and there and the occasional twang of a guitar string. I gave them a tip thinking that they would go away but instead, I found out that because I paid them, they were obliged to finish the entire song they were murmuring. And then, because of me tipping this particular duo, we were approached by several other duos. All we could do was stand around uncomfortably until they decided to leave.

Monday, June 16, 2008

1, 2, 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, *CLANG*

I've got a bit of a rant today.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been woken up at 1am, 2am, 3am and 4am. This happens almost every night and it isn't Aaron thats waking me.

The security guards do their rounds every hour and supposedly, their way of telling the main guard post that they are at their stations is to bang on a lamp post in their area. Haven't they heard of walkie talkies? Its not just the one *CLANG* each time either. They do it to each of the lamp posts they walk past. Lucky us for having one right outside the bedroom window. One *CLANG* for 1am, two for 2am and so on for EACH lamp post.

We've complained and were told that we have a new guy in the area that doesn't know how to *CLANG* softly. And, that he will be 'trained'. I'm wondering what the point is if he does it softly and nobody hears. How come I never heard it before? I think its a new practice that the guy in our area is having fun with. Still, why haven't they told him off yet!

My suspicion is that he does this to warn any would-be burglars that security is on the way and they should either hide or run. That would save the security guard some work wouldn't it?

These are extremely poorly paid people who have no vested interests in keeping us safe. Why would they risk anything? We know that they sleep on the job because they are still asleep when we go for our morning walk. Note the fact that I didn't mention a 5am *CLANG*

Poor Richard, I'll be sending him out sometime tomorrow morning to go ask the guy "Why?" and tell him to stop. Richard sleeps through the noise but I'm not about to go out there and confront the night guard in my PJs.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Can I bring my groceries in?

Take a look at this photo. See anything that doesn't belong?

Yup. Trolley with add on 'car' for toddlers loaded with our groceries. I caught a few strange looks cast our way but we didn't care that we pushed our groceries into a dimly lit and smoky pool hall. Anyway, we did ask first if we could bring it in.

We happened to have Aini with us for lunch today so afterwards, I asked if she would help look after Aaron for awhile while Richard and I spent 30 minutes pretending we could still play pool. I won the first game but we were so slow that we couldn't finish a second game before the time was up.

The 30 minutes took us back about 8 years to when we were first married and had all the time in the world to perfect our game. Made me feel so much younger that I had to take off my glasses to play. They were in the way!

We definitely need to do this more often. Palembang is littered with pool tables. There are the crappy neighborhood ones (which I am definitely willing to try), lots of middle range pool halls where teenagers hang out and then a few expensive ones about too. We don't fit in with any of the crowds there but who cares? We like playing, even if we have to bring our groceries along.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Photostory Friday - He's NOT balding!

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

This was taken in January 2007 when Aaron was about 5 months old. Obviously, he was balding but at the time, I just couldn't see it.

I'm serious. Everybody would ask me what happened to him and I'd look at him and wonder what they were talking about. I could not see it. He was still the cute little baby with a head full of hair. Everybody must have thought I was in denial or something because I'd always say "He's not balding. I don't see any difference."

I really wasn't denying anything. For a long time, I just couldn't see that he only had that thin furry layer on top.

Its funny how the brain is able to process the image such that it matched what I had stored in my mind instead of showing me reality. I hope I'll be able to recognize other more serious things in the future like me spoiling him too much or him acting out unnecessarily. It would be terrible if I just continued to see the things I liked to see....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #15

13 Things That Change My Bad Moods into Good Ones

1) Reading fiction. I find it hard to read non-fiction if I'm in a bad mood. On the other hand, a good fantasy story allows me to completely escape my world.

2) Eating anything crunchy. Usually unhealthy deep fried stuff :)

3) Going dancing. I don't get to do this at all right now but in the past, this always made me happy. Its just not the same dancing around the house.

4) Foot Reflexology - This works with getting your circulation going and I'm always in a good mood after one of these sessions.

5) Exercise. Everybody knows that exercising releases endorphins and I make full use of them everyday. I'm just wondering why running after a toddler in the house (which seems like exercise) doesn't seem to release the endorphins.

6) Eating cold fruit. Sometimes I think I get a little grumpy just from all the heat and humidity.

7) Looking through all the photos I have of Aaron.

8) Finding a friend online to have a good long chat with.

9) Exfoliating. Somehow, scrubbing all the dead skin off my body makes me happy.

10) Tickling Aaron. His laugh and scrunched up little face will bring anyone out of a bad mood.

11) Listening to Michael Buble. So many of the songs he sings are happy, toe tapping ones.

12) Thunderstorms. I love sitting and watching the rain, lightning and thunder. Now, I do it together with Aaron and its all the more enjoyable.

13) Finding out I have lots of comments on my latest post.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A mouse, a bird and a boy

Wow! We've had an infusion of excitement into our routine lives these couple of days with three visitors.

Everyday, I put Aaron's high chair near the door so he can look out as he has lunch. Yesterday, I saw a little mouse scamper past. Then a few minutes later, I saw the mouse scamper back in the direction it had come. I thought I saw something in its mouth but I wasn't sure.

A few minutes later, the same thing happened. Back and forth again. This time I was sure there was something in his mouth. And then, much to Aaron's delight, the mouse did the same thing again. This went on several more times before I went out to take a look at what it was picking up but it disappeared. I went back to Aaron and told him the mouse was gone.

I didn't think anything of it until I heard Iwan, our driver, grumbling about something outside. Part of his lunch was missing! That cheeky little rat had broken into his lunch bag and stole almost all his tempeh. Right under my nose!

This morning, a second visitor literally dropped in. This tiny baby bird must have fallen while learning to fly and fell down. Something is wrong with its legs because it can't stand up. We put it on the fence to see if it could fly away but it just fell in the drain, got drenched and started shivering. After drying it out in the sun awhile we fed it some water and powdered corn. It seems healthy now but isn't able to fly yet. I guess we'll have it around a few more days.

Aaron is curious about it and tried several times to pick the bird up but I think he grabs too hard so, I've stopped that. He can just look. I'm a little worried though. What sort of diseases to baby birds have anyway?

And lastly, an old friend came over for an early morning playdate. We met Linmas while out on our morning walk and he followed us home. This was at around 7am in the morning. The both of them seemed to miss each other after not playing together for 3 weeks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who's the boss?

As usual, Aaron's development keeps me on my toes all the time. I do enjoy this constant change even though I get dragged down sometimes by that little energy draining being. Part of growing up must be the development of increasingly challenging behavior to make sure that your parents are constantly tested.

One of the latest roles that Aaron has taken is "Guardian of Mama's Belongings". He's still very amicable about this and will diplomatically retrieve my cell phone, or my remote control, or my used plastic bag, or whatever it is that the other person has taken. And by the way, he thinks EVERYTHING is mine :) Its kinda cute and not too hard to deal with.

Next is the Exclusive Rights he thinks he has on me. Yes, I know he's used to having my undivided attention but now, he's started to 'complain' when I have conversations with other people. If I happen to be sitting on the floor at his level, he'll turn my head to face him only. And if I still continue the conversation, he ends up saying "No whatever-the-name-of-other-person, Mama talk to Aaron". Talk about jealousy reigning its ugly head! This one is a little tougher to deal with because its of course not just the talking to other people. Its the doing of anything else that doesn't involve him.

As some sort of extension to his 'Exclusive Rights', I'm now considered the only person that can do anything for him. If I'm not in the room its fine but if I'm there, nobody else is allowed to lift him up into his high chair, change his shirt, brush his teeth, wipe his mouth, take him to the bathroom, feed him, get him a drink, you get the idea. This one is really tiring. Have to nip this one in the butt soon!

I titled this post "Who's the boss?" but really, nobody is. I am not Aaron's boss and I don't want to be. I'm sure he isn't intentionally acting 'bossy' and is just learning about boundaries and where he can assert himself. I suppose each disappointments or frustration he faces will teach him that he isn't the boss either. There are no bosses in this house. Having said that, we still need some sort of order and balance on who gets more say. The balancing act in parenting huh?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vote for me!

Today is the election day for Palembang's next mayor. I don't know much about the politics here to make any comment at all about whats going on politically. All I know is that there are 4 parties and all the posters show the leader and the deputy together. We've also been told that it will be better to stay at home tomorrow just in case of people acting out from disappointment.

So, here is a photo of the polling booths in our area.

The process is to go 'sign in' at one of the tables, and I guess they'll mark your name off, then go sit down and wait. They'll call out your name when its your turn.

The individual voting booths are those silver things in the middle of the photo. Over here, the word they use for 'vote' is 'coblos' (pronounced choblos), which also means to pierce. The voting slip has photos of the 4 parties and you stab at the one you want. Those booths are actually equipped with nails!

After you've nailed the guy you want, you have to go get your little finger dipped in some ink. Thats how they make sure you only vote once.

Friday, June 6, 2008

His own wheels!

I've been looking out for a tricycle for several months but all the ones I came across were two seater and had a lot of useless ornaments about it. As soon as I saw this one, I grabbed it.

He looks pretty happy on it doesn't he? That photo was taken a few days ago. Guess who is more excited about it now? Him, or me? I've been so enthusiastic about teaching him to pedal but he hasn't got the hang of it yet. And he also doesn't seem to know how to just walk himself along while seated.

I guess this is going to be an indoor tricycle for now because I'm definitely not going to fall into the trap of pushing this along the road outside. Its hard enough doing it on a smooth surface in a confined area.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #14

13 Indonesian Words
Here are a few words that I like either for the way they sound or what they mean.

1) Dong - This word doesn't really have a meaning. It is my favorite because it sounds so funny. I hear it tacked on at the back of sentences a lot. For example "Don't do that, dong". If you're a Malaysian, think of it as the "-lah".

2) Choi - I think it means something like "Buddy". You only use it to call friends. For example "Hey Choi". Its actually from the Palembang dialect.

3) Kodok - Frog. I just like saying this one. Try it.

4) Chowok - Male. I think this one and the next word are in the Palembang dialect.

5) Chewek - Female. When Aaron was a baby and still androgynous looking, people used to ask me, "Chowok atau (or) Chewek?" I was always so confused wondering why they were trying to talk about Chewbacca.

6) Koki - Chef. Isn't it a cute word?

7) Balita - Toddler. This word is actually the short form of saying "BAyi di bawah LIma TAhun meaning "baby under 5 years old". Isn't it amazing how they abbreviated a 5 word phrase to just 3 syllables.

8) Kring - Cell. As in the neighborhood Catholics getting together for prayer or other fellowship. I wonder if those terrorist cells are also called 'Krings'. Once again, the word reminds me of 'Klingon'.

9) Pelit - Stingy. I learnt this word a few days ago and I've been using it a lot.

10) Gengsi - Snobbish. The dictionary has this word translated as 'prestigious' but when I asked an Indonesian how this word would be used, it had more negative uses to it than anything prestigious. Its like calling somebody a 'Snob'.

11) Yo - C'mon. This is another everyday word that is used in informal settings. I usually hear it when people are leaving "C'mon, lets go".

12) Santai - Relax. Whats not to like about this word?

13) Cicip - To try. This is used for tasting food. When you're cooking and taste to see if its right, thats called 'cicip'. Or if somebody sees you eating something yummy and they want to have a bite, they might ask to 'cicip' it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scenes from Palembang

I haven't posted many photos of Palembang lately. Its not that I've been a hermit, its just that I keep missing the good shots either because I forgot to bring my camera along or I couldn't get it out fast enough. Anyway, here are a few.

Here's the reason why I don't buy meat from the markets. I did enjoy watching the guy hack away at the ribs with his axe though:

A truck laden with all sorts of plastics. You don't need to go out to buy the bulky (or small) items, this truck will drive through the neighborhood and you can shop from the comfort of your front gate.

These two kids have been on my mind a lot lately. I see them almost every time we drive past the intersection. I've been hesitant to give money after hearing some sad stories about these beggars. The first was about adults renting kids from their neighbors to make themselves look more deserving as beggars. The second is of course the common practice of sending the kids out to beg because they get more sympathy. I'm leaning towards buying a big tin of formula and giving it to them but then my driver said that its not unthinkable for the mother to just sell it. I think I'll do it anyway. I can't imagine that a mother would throw away the opportunity to feed her children something good.

I missed a lot of 'good' photos of these two. There have been times that I've seen the older boy pulling silly faces at the baby. And also times when I've seen him rocking the baby to sleep. There was once when I saw him playing around with two other children (yes, in the middle of the road) with the baby in his sling. After all, he's still a kid. Where is the adult??

Edited to add:
I've noticed a group of 2 or 3 women who are always 'camped' under a tree by that roadside during the day time. I think they are the mothers (or maybe renters) of the children. So, thats one place where the adults may be.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thomas, Percy, James & Aaron

For the past couple of weeks, we've had a new craze in this house: Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. Aaron has had a couple of these books around for the past six months but never took a keen interest in them. Then, all of a sudden, its Thomas, Percy and James all day long (except for when its The Wiggles). Luckily one of the books is a 6 in 1 book and there is plenty to look at. Personally, those little engines just don't grab me. I also don't think its the engine that is grabbing Aaron either.

In any case, I'm now an expert at drawing trains, making train sounds and improvising household props to make trains. While all the effort seems to be focused on trains, its not actually the trains that are interesting to Aaron. He must be going through some development on recognizing emotion because its actually the faces of all the trains that he's looking at. He doesn't want me to read any of the stories or point out anything else on the pages. All we do is identify if each of the engines are sad, angry, worried, surprised or whatever. We do this page after page after page.

And then, over the past few days, he's started to apply that to the people around him. He keeps looking at my face and then saying 'Mama is happy'. Or when he's done something wrong and even without me saying anything, he now can recognize when Mama is angry. And he'll say it in such a cute way that it ends up diffusing the situation a little. My favorite is when he says 'Mama is sad' and gives me a big hug.

So, Thomas and Friends may seem a little dull at first but they've been very useful in teaching Aaron about the various emotions.

By the way, at first glance, there appears to be just different colored engines. But when you study their faces closely, they all look different and are in fact 'individuals'. I did find that aspect of the books interesting.

Monday, June 2, 2008

This and That

I don't really have one particular topic for today. Feeling a bit tired from a night of not feeding Aaron and a day of entertaining him. Yes, I wake up feeling super when I've fed him 4 times overnight but after a night of not feeding, I could hardly drag myself out of bed this morning. And this was after I slept in an additional hour. I'm not ready to fully wean Aaron yet but I decided to give night weaning a try. Hopefully, this will help him sleep through. The first few nights were relatively easy but last night was horrible. It would have been so much easier to just feed him and he would have fallen back to sleep in a couple of minutes but I stuck it out. It took him close to two hours to get back to sleep after waking up at around 1.30am.


One of my neighbors came over today to tell me that her sister has a whole bookshelf of English novels that I could borrow. The sister used to be an English teacher but had a stroke several years ago and spends most of her time in bed now. I didn't get to meet this lady but a whole stack of books were brought out of her room for me. I was a little disappointed to see that they were all Mills and Boon romance novels. Not exactly my type of read but I'll give it ago. I picked the three with the less 'dramatic' covers. It will be my first time reading any sort of romance novel, except The Thorn Birds. But I'm not sure if that one is in the same category as these.


My bites have almost stopped itching. Now I'm left with two polka dotted legs. I hope these marks fade soon. I can feel people looking at my legs (for obviously the wrong reason) when I walk past, especially in the gym.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Why are they not worried about the Avian Flu?

One of the biggest worries I have about living in Indonesia is about the Avian Flu. It was constantly on my mind last year and because of it, I don't even go near the section of the market that sells chicken.

Obviously, I'm too paranoid to buy any chicken home to cook but I do eat it occasionally when we are out since the danger is when the chicken is still uncooked. However, if I were to let my paranoia go further, I'd worry that the people in the kitchen might somehow have come in contact with an infected chicken when they went shopping for the restaurant. And the worst case would be that they catch the virus and it mutates in them to the strain that can be transmitted from human to human.

Initially, I did have have multiple paranoia induced scenarios in my mind all the time but after awhile, even though I avoided chicken, I 'forgot' that Indonesia has the most cases and deaths (by FAR) from Avian flu. Not a good thing. I'm all fired up again now after a conversation I had yesterday. By the way, as of 28 May, 2008, 108 out of the 241 deaths from Avian Flu was in Indonesia.

Aini asked me why we don't eat chicken. After I told her, she very casually said "Oh yeah, we had that at home. It got a few of our chickens so we moved the others to a different location". She said this with a 'No big deal' kind of tone.

What happened to quarantining and culling the remaining birds in the area??? And guess what else, she's not sure how they disposed of the affected chicken. She thinks they were just buried but they may have been burnt. Not really sure ALL ALL. Wasn't she worried? No, because the affected chicken have been removed.

There was absolutely no worry or a shred of concern from her about the whole issue. She was not aware of the dangers or the potential of a world wide pandemic either. And the ultimate worst part of it all: Even after I told her everything, she doesn't seem to feel the gravity of the situation.

Yes, she is just one person but I am pretty sure that if I were to go ask her neighbors, I'd get similar reactions. There is hardly any mention of the Avian Flu in the newspapers. Nobody talks about it. It is a non-issue here. Even last year when there was more international mention of it, the people here did not have basic facts about it.

Anyhow, my paranoiameter is back up to 'Red Alert'.