Monday, July 28, 2008

Aaron's first trip to the barber

It only costs RM 5 (USD 1.50) for Aaron to go to the barber here in Ipoh. This is my father's regular guy and for adults its RM 12. My brother also stopped by here for a haircut last week. The both of them came back looking decent so we all went along to let Aaron have his first haircut by a professional.

He was as still as a statue as he observed everything. Didn't even blink his eyes. That lasted for exactly half the haircut. The second half was all about exploration. Trying to see what the barber was doing, trying out all the other chairs, looking in the can imagine. The end result wasn't too bad, only a little lopsided.

I saw this at the side of the mirrors. What do you think its been brushing?!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ipoh's Limestone Caves

After the beach and the mountains, Mike left a comment last week that caves would be the next place we visited on the weekends. He was right!

Ipoh is actually situated in a valley and is surrounded by limestone hills and caves. There have been temples built into several of the larger ones and they are always interesting to visit. For those more adventurous, there are hundreds of other non-temple caves that can be explored. Some of these were used as communist hideouts in the early 1950s.

I'll take Aaron on one of the adventurous cave visits in a couple of years but for today, we took the easier route.

This is the first temple we visited:

Here's one of the many depictions of hell that this temple had lining the walls of an inner cave.

This is from the second temple we visited. These caves definitely should organize some guided tours so that! Anyway, I think these are Taoist deities (?). Malaysia's Buddhism is very mixed with Taoism and the people often pray to both sets of deities even though they are distinct religions.

And here's the third and largest cave temple of the day.

This is a view of the beautiful 'backyard' that the temple had. Its an exercise park with jogging track, two ponds and lots of beautiful green grass for Aaron to run about on.

By next Saturday, we'll be back in Palembang so, this is the last of the wonderful weekend escapades.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Photostory Friday - Bold Steps

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

We're getting there. Slowly but surely, we have had progress with the toilet training. This week, we have been taking bold steps out of the house - diaperless. A couple of times, it was because the mother was a little forgetful and forgot to put one on the toddler. However, the important point is that there were no accidents (until this morning).

Aaron has been able to call out for all his No. 1s so far. And, he has been willing for other people, apart from me, to take him. He's gone to the mensroom with my father several times now and has taken to calling himself a 'Good Man' after each successful visit.

This photo was taken at the exact moment that a No. 2 accident was taking place. Usually, I can tell by looking at his eyes that something is about to happen but because of that too-big-cap, I didn't see it coming. Thankfully, we were the only people at the park. I'll spare you the details but I do have to mention that the two of us were a perfectly calm team in the aftermath cleanup operation.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Have you ever seen this much Lego?

I certainly haven't. This box was generously given to Aaron by one of my cousins. It is just one of 3 boxes of Legos that I'm going to 'ration' out to him.

He was pretty hyped up about all the little bits an pieces in here. The surprising part was that I was even more excited than him. I'm going to have so much fun building stuff. I think my lack of interest as a child could have been because there just weren't enough pieces to be mixing and matching. I know, Lego sets are expensive and its not that I needed any more toys when I was growing up.

This huge present from my cousin is going to save me THOUSANDS of Ringgits and provide Aaron and me with hours of fun. I'm even looking forward to sorting all the pieces out. Y'know, trying to work out which ones were originally part of the same set.

Today has been a great day. We got to the box of Legos at the end of the day and had so much fun with it I really didn't want to put him to bed. Earlier in the day, we spent some time shopping with my mother. Aaron was super energetic the whole time but we had an incredibly enjoyable time at the mall. He's really becoming a little companion that I can have conversations with and enjoy things together with. We did use the Naughty Square once today but there were no hard feelings. He went to bed after giving me hundreds of little kisses and cuddles mixed in with sighs of contentment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Naughty Square

I think I've mentioned before that Aaron seems to have sudden spurts in his development each time we go on a holiday. This trip is no different and I'm of course the proud mother, marveling at all the new things he's learning.

I'm also fast becoming an exasperated mother because he seems so much more uncontrollable here than in Palembang. Our routine in Palembang never changes and I guess he just knows what to expect next. And, also knows whats expected of him.

Over here, we have different routines daily, we meet different people and are in different places throughout the day. He has had several mini tantrums and has developed an annoying habit of ignoring instructions. This is especially true if there are other people (like my parents) around. He's still manageable 80% of the time if I'm alone with him.

So today, we have started to give him a 2 minute Time Out. There is a dedicated 'Naughty Square' in the house and we tried it out for the first time today. I'm not sure if he understands the whole concept but he definitely got more upset after we kept putting him on that square. I don't know whether to interpret this as him learning a lesson or just him getting very confused, hence upset.

I keep hearing about the infamous 'Terrible Twos' and felt I had to do something to prepare for it all. I believe that my parents smacking me did me some good but I'm going to try not to do that with Aaron because he has already smacked me back once when I did something he didn't like. So, the Time Out seems to be something that many parents claim to work (and about the only thing I remember from Supernanny episodes). Of course, I have no idea if it actually works at this age but its worth a try.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Inevitable Old Age

We had a stay-at-home day today. Well, part of it was at my parent's home and the other part was in my grandparent's.

My grandfather (89 years old) and grandmother (85 years old) live 5 minutes walk away. He had a mild heart attack a couple of weeks ago and she's really too old to be nursing him back to health at her age. Each morning, my mother, Aaron and I have been walking over with some Chia Seeds. I've also been trying to cook them part of their other meals each day. This is what I stayed back in Ipoh to do. The both of them are healthy but old age and a general lack of interest in food seems to have slowed them both down significantly in the past 6 months.

I feel so sad seeing the both of them suddenly so old. My grandfather seems to have gone 60% deaf overnight and my grandmother can't remember things from one day ago. Just 6 months ago, they were both much more vibrant and my grandfather was still going line dancing several times a week.

Here in Malaysia, it is very common for old people to have live in maids to help them out around the house. For some unknown (and probably insanely trivial) reason, my grandmother won't have one anymore. She did have one a few years ago but when that contract ran out, she refused a new one. This really bugs me. I wish she would just tell us WHY so that we can work around it and they can both enjoy their old age.

Nothing much else to blog about today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fathers Guest House

We spent the weekend at Cameron Highlands (about 1hr drive from Ipoh, up in the mountains) and stayed at the Fathers Guest House. This place was built by a French priest and has been used as the residence of Catholic priests in the area. Sometime during the past ten years, the last priest of that order retired and there are now no priests left in Cameron Highlands so the church leased the place out to an enterprising couple who have converted it into this guest house. Occasionally, visiting priests will still spend the night here but they usually just come up to say a single mass and then go back to their own parishes.

My photo is of the ex-chapel area, where our rooms were. There is a much nicer photo of the entire are here.

Just like Pangkor, this place also brings back memories from my childhood. We stayed in this house a couple of times when I was about 8 or 9 years old because my father is friends with the last priest, Fr Surmon. It was here that I first watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and was so scared I couldn't sleep for nights. It was that scene when the priest pulled the beating heart out of the man that kept replaying in my mind. It was also here that I first heard of Nostradamus, thanks to Fr Surmon. Something else, that kept me awake at night. In fact, the 'stories' that he told about Nostradamus gives me the shivers till this day and I avoid hearing anything about that topic.

So, last weekend we were at the beach and this week we were in the mountains. I wonder where we'll be next weekend?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pangkor Island with the Family

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

This was taken at Pangkor Island, Malaysia where my family had 3 wonderful days by the beach earlier this week. My parents, brother and I spent many weekends at Pangkor when we were growing up. Memories of camping there are some of the most vivid I have of my childhood.

Now, both my brother and I are married. And, there is a grandchild in the family. We no longer camp but this small motel by the beach provided just as much fun (or even more) than the tents. I'm just waiting for my brother and his wife to add another grandchild into the picture and this family will be even richer than it already is.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

1 Wedding, 2 Birthdays and 5 serves of Calamari

Has it really been 1 week since we got back to Malaysia? This holiday zoomed past even faster than usual. We've been to Ipoh, Penang, Pangkor and then back to Ipoh again. I've decided to spend an extra two weeks in Ipoh but Richard is already back at work in Palembang. My brother and his wife were back for the wedding but they too have headed off to Philippines already. It has been HECTIC!

We went to Penang for my cousin's wedding. He's half Greek/half Chinese and his wife is a Chinese from China. So, there was a church wedding, followed by the traditional Chinese tea ceremony and then the reception at night. There was Greek dancing, disco, weird wannabe ancient Egyptian struts, and just your 'normal' dancing that night. The youngest there was about 1 and the oldest (my grandmother) was 92. EVERYBODY had fun. Here's a photo of the bride's beautiful dress. This was at the room where we had the tea ceremony.

The day after the wedding, we had a surprise birthday brunch for my father and Aaron. My father didn't expect it at all and was so confused he said "I forgot it was my birthday" when in fact, his birthday isn't until September. We were doing it early because all his siblings were back for the wedding. I wish I had a better photo but there was just too much excitement with the two of them blowing the cake.

After all the celebrations, we went to Pangkor Island for a couple of days by the beach. The beach was more for Aaron. The rest of us enjoyed the food they had there. We had this deep fried calamari dish a total of 5 times in the 3 days/2 nights we were there!

The rest of my time here is mainly going to be spent with my grandparents. They are old and not as healthy as they used to be. Time is precious.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm Packing My Bags

Very often, people pride themselves for being very light travelers. They carefully select each outfit so that it can be mixed and match as efficiently as possible.

I'm quite the opposite. My last job required a lot of traveling and yet, I was still known for my big bags. Nobody can forget how much I carried with me when I went on a trip. Am I proud of this? Yes. I had more than enough of anything and never once got charged for overweight baggage. I could try on one outfit, decide I didn't like it and try on something else.

I still have the same style of packing now except that I pack Aaron's stuff before my own. So, he's getting the benefit. He's such a little guy but we need double or triple of everything just because he gets them dirty so quickly. Then, there is always the need to pack the most likely books or toys that will keep him entertained while away from all his other toys. So in the end, I just throw in more than enough for him just in case I picked the wrong things. I'm always left with just a small corner of the bag to fit my now efficiently selected clothing.

So, I'd better get back to the packing. We're leaving for Malaysia tomorrow morning and there are some tough decisions to be made.

Its going to be a big family get together week with a wedding and a birthday party thrown in so I probably won't get a chance to blog till next week. Till then, have a good week!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Indonesian Rupiah

Today's post was inspired by the horrible stench that attacked me when I unzipped my purse a short while ago.

It only happens when I've got an especially dirty batch of notes in there. The worst notes are the smaller denominations. They get so grubby and smelly that your hands stink after touching them for just a few seconds. Those were the culprits in my purse. Obviously, the larger denominations (RP50000 and RP100000) tend to stay much cleaner. I always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer to clean off that smell after each transaction.

The photo doesn't really do justice to the filthiness of the top two notes. And if they had some smell mechanism embedded with the internet, you'd all be knocked off your chairs.

In case you were wondering about the pictures:

RP1000 - Captain Pattimura who led a rebellion against Dutch forces.

RP5000 - Tuanku Imam Bonjol. Another hero against the Dutch.

RP50000 - Beratan Lake in Bali.

RP100000 - Sukarno (the first president of Indonesia) and Hatta, (vice president)

In the end, money is still money, so no matter how much it stinks, we're still not going to be throwing it out or giving (too much) of it away.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Would you like to come over?

This weekend has been very enjoyable for the whole family. The theme was 'New Friends'. We invited some new friends over on Saturday afternoon and they brought along their 4 year old daughter. She was a little shy at first but eventually, we found out that she shared a common interest with Aaron; The Wiggles. Later, we all went for a walk and let the kids play around with Aaron's tricycle in the basketball/soccer area in the neighborhood.

Along the way, Aaron stopped by his new friends house to ask them out to play. It was funny to see this little (almost) 2 year old standing on his tiptoes and pressing his face through their gate. He called out in Indonesian for the girl (Pani) and her brother (Fredo) to come out to play. Later on, he invited them (un-prompted) over to his house to play. He has done this for several days this week now. Soon, he's going to have to learn to ask me first but for now I'm still thinking its cute.

This afternoon, we went over to our Korean friend's house. Their 6 year old daughter wasn't home but the 1 year old boy was. It was so cute to watch the two little boys. On the way out, Aaron, again, tried to invite the little boy over to his house. We'll have the whole neighborhood over in no time :)

Well, 1 year olds are still too young to follow 2 year olds home. But, when we got home, Pani and Fredo were waiting at the gates to play with Aaron. I'm not sure if its Aaron they're interested in or the stash of new toys they have discovered.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Project Aaron : Week 100

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Here he is sometime in Week 1.

I can't remember what we were trying to do to him on that day! We thought we had this really quiet baby who didn't like crying. That all ended at the start of Week 2 (I think).

And here he is today, in Week 100. I bought a pack of face crayons.

I can't believe how fast all these 100 weeks have gone by!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #17

13 Strange Searches That Landed People Here

1. What clothes go with yellow shoes?
If you're an adult, I don't think ANY clothes go with yellow shoes.

2. i am looking for denim skirts that are orange and green
I'm sure this person must have a good reason for wanting something like this.

3. bar girls in malaysia
There were multiple searches with these words even if they were sometimes in a different order. They must have been disappointed when they clicked on "The Milk Bar"

4. dog grooming in sitiawan
Sitiawan is a very small town near my hometown of Ipoh. I didn't think that people there would look for dog grooming services.

5. "farter in heaven"
I hope this is somebody who read my post about Aaron praying and was looking for it again. Otherwise, I can't imagine why somebody would be thinking about farters in heaven.

6. lady boys in palembang indonesia
Maybe this person would have had more luck searching 'Banci'. I'm told thats what the Indonesian word is.

7. amanda balding
OK. Is there somebody out there who thinks I'm balding?

8. Indonesia husband
I've heard of mail order brides but never grooms.

9. husband punished wearing diaper
Er....all sorts of people in the world!

10. bar for eyelashes
I had no idea what this was until I searched it myself. Its a place where they sell eyelashes. Take a look at this example.

11. eyebrow bar brisbane
Initially, I thought this was strange but when I searched it, its actually a place where people go to get their eyebrows shaped. Still, it does sound funny doesn't it? Imagine saying "I'm just going down to the bar for a pluck/wax".

12. I had to pee during the flight
Can't figure out what this person could be searching for...

13. bilbo pregnant
Bilbo, I think this takes the cake for being the strangest!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pempek Delivery

I might have mentioned in the past that pempek is the food that Palembang is famous for. Its a sort of fishcake that is popular with almost everybody I meet here. Whenever we meet new people and they find out that we're not from Palembang, they'll almost certainly ask if we have tried their famous pempek.

Yes, we've tried it but its not something that we like. Its a little too fishy for Richard and me. So, because we don't eat it, I haven't had any photos of it until today.

Here's a photo of our driver, Iwan, with the door to door pempek vendor. Iwan is a self proclaimed pempek addict and was literally jumping up and down with excitement when he heard the pempek guy approach the house. The vendor uses a little gong to let people know he's about as he rides around the neighborhood.

I've heard a few people say that they have bad teeth because they eat too much pempek. Its not the pempek itself that they blame but the vinegar sauce that its dipped into. You can see the little red bowl of vinegar in Iwan's left hand. He drank it all up like a soup.

Here's a close up of the pempek.

If you've ever had fishcakes at a Thai restaurant, similar. Except a lot fishier and starchier.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

There are no winners

We finally got to the bottom of things last night and all the lies are out now. We thought we would be satisfied when we finally found out the truth but in the end, its lose-lose all around.

What did the truth bring us all? Disappointment for Richard and I. Shame for Aini. I think she genuinely felt very ashamed and very sorry. We were in no way harsh with her and simply said that she had to stop with all the lies. After all, we had no complaints about her work itself and none of the lies were to do with her work. It all had to do with a teenage crush and what it drives irrational teenagers to do.

Here's the irony: She risked her job to be able to hang out with this guy, while the guy (who was interviewing for a job with Richard yesterday) exposed all her lies in the hope of securing a job for himself.

I really treated her as a friend and enjoyed her company. A part of me wishes that I left the issue alone and just be more aware of potential lies in the future. But then, thats what I have always done in the past and it has always proven to just get worse when overlooked. I'm the sort of person that will forget a situation like this as soon as its 'aired', but, she couldn't be convinced to stay on.

There is no joy and definitely no satisfaction in finding out the truth here.