Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mailboxes in Palembang

Did I ever mention that the majority of houses here do not have mailboxes? Its true. (Bilbo, when your letters come, the mailman throws it in the same way the paperboy throws the morning papers.)

I've asked several people and nobody has given me a satisfactory answer yet as to why this is the case. One person mentioned that it is because the mail that people get is usually registered mail that needs to be signed for anyway. So, there is no need for a box.

As for things like the electricity and water bill, a guy comes in to read the meter and hands you the bill anyway. So, no use for a mailbox there either.

The good part to all this is that there is almost zero junk mail. Occasionally, I still get something like the latest Pizza Hut menu. The menu is put in a clear plastic sleeve. A piece of string is then tied to the sleeve so that the menu can be hung on the front gate of each house. (By the way, this is the same method that we have adopted to distribute our Toy Drive flyers. Lots of work!)

Alright, since I know a letter from Bilbo is on its way, perhaps I should try to do something like this:

I took the photo last January when we went to Pangkor Island and have been meaning to copy the idea ever since.

Monday, March 30, 2009

News and Young Children

So far, Aaron doesn't watch any normal TV at home. I play Wiggles, Thomas & Friends or other DVDs for him but thats it. And, whenever he's awake, we don't watch TV (except his DVDs). I'm not sure why I started off doing things this way but I am glad that he doesn't really know that there is so much more to the TV.

Recently, while waiting for me in the foyer area of the gym, he watched the news. And as you all know, this world is full of violence or disasters. The images were either of the dam that burst in Jakarta (killing 98), a bloody man in some war torn country or some other similarly disturbing image.

I'm glad I finished my workout when I did and he didn't watch all that much. Aaron is at the stage of processing images, stories and any conversation around him. I could see him trying to make sense of all the news clips but not quite understanding it. Its hard enough for him to watch any 'scary' scenes in Thomas let alone these real life ones.

I definitely don't want to coddle him or bubble wrap him. But, I'm not about to explain the news to him at this age either. We have our whole lives to be disturbed by the horrific crimes and unexplained sadness that the news often reports on.

Now all I need to do is figure out when and how to tell him about the big bad world. I'm sure there will be many instances where he 'accidentally' watches something and reality will slowly seep into his perfect world. I wonder how other parents deal with this.

Its all about happy endings at the moment. How much more time do I have to push this aside?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This Week's Foot Reflexology

It has been a busy couple of days over here. I'm finally making a move on the Toy Drive I mentioned three weeks ago.

We've also had some little visitors over for Aaron to play with. I get a little nervous when that happens but I know he's got to learn to socialize sooner or later.

And somewhere during the week, we must have come in contact with somebody with a cold because Aaron has picked up his second one in 3 weeks! Whats happening to his immunity?? Has this got anything to do with weaning?

Richard gave me a nice afternoon off by watching Aaron while I went for some relaxing foot reflexology. After what happened last week, I went to a different place today. At IDR 75,000 (USD 6.52), it is IDR 30,000 (USD 2.61) more expensive that the last place. These prices sound so cheap yet it is all professional and extremely relaxing. I'd go every day if Aaron was willing to sit quietly beside me and read or whatever.

The new place has a much wider range of massages and other pampering packages. Here are a few interesting points that I jotted down from their price list.

1) 4 day Beautiful Bride package costs USD104. Amongst the massages, facials, waxing and hair treatments, the package also offers "pelvic floor exercises" (which I always thought were internal exercises that only be done personally) and "intimacy care" whatever that means! I'm too much of a prude to ask....

2) They also have a 4 day Groom's package for USD87. This includes everything the bride gets, including pelvic floor exercises but not the "intimacy care".

3) And finally, there was the Post-Maternity Package (6 days). I forgot to write the price down but I think it was much more expensive at around USD350. Now here, they will give you "Back re-education" and "Pelvic Preneal or Uro-gynocological re-education". I copied it down exactly! I think the "preneal" was meant to be "perineal". What exactly do they do?? LOL!

I asked for the book with their price list and was reading through it while the lady was massaging my feet. After I got over the giggling and smiling while I studied their packages, I got out my pen and paper so that I wouldn't forget. I liked the therapist, very professional. She would discreetly look at what I was doing but never said anything. Unlike last week's chatterboxes!

*sigh* Its been a good afternoon. I hope you all had a relaxing weekend too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

When the boss is in town....

Richard's bosses are in town. I hate it when that happens. It means that Richard is away for lunch and dinner and we only get to meet up in the mornings before he leaves for work.

From the little I hear, the mornings at work are full of talk about how the doom and gloom of the current world economy is going to impact the business.

Yet, each night is filled with expensive dinners, more expensive karaoke sessions (with accompanying girls) and then 1am forays into the local discos. I find it odd to use the word 'disco' but thats what they call it here.

The bosses are in town with some suppliers. So, they don't need to pay a cent. In fact, they take full advantage of the fact that somebody else is obliged to pick up the bill for everything. Food, girls, multiple bottles of whisky per night....I'm sure all this is eventually billed back to the bosses through expensive spare parts!

I don't care. I'm just ranting. I know Richard doesn't care for any of this either but he's obligated to join in. Supposedly he hates their visits as much as I do (I wonder...)

His bosses are both in their 40s. Both with several kids at home. They behave as if they have been let out of prison! I usually refrain from commenting on people's body size but Richard's boss is one extremely rotund person with a matching bowl haircut. So imagine the middle aged, rotund man with bangs, prancing into the disco after midnight. He makes it sound as if his home life is so horrible that he mustn't waste a single second asleep when he is on business trips (which is something like 2 out of every 4 weeks). Sleeping can be done at home.

OK then, its time to make dinner for one and a half.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Exercise DVDs and Me

Years and years ago, my mother (or was it my father?) bought a Jane Fonda workout video. I remember the first time that the video was played, the whole family joined in. My parents must have been in their 30s (perhaps just a little older than I am now), my brother around 7 years old and I was around 9 years old. I remember thinking that it was something fun to do.

When we moved from Ipoh, Malaysia to Brisbane, Australia, that video moved too. In my teens, a chubby me would dig that video out on occasion and slog away to it in the summer heat. I hated it! And it didn't work anyway.

Then came the years of joining a gym and going to group fitness classes. I loved that. Really really enjoyed it. But, that all came to a screeching halt when I moved back to Malaysia after graduation. I did join a gym but it wasn't very well equipped and there weren't really any good classes. So, I went back to exercise DVDs.

Group exercise to a DVD to be precise :). We got a few friends together, used the empty aerobics room at the gym, and played the DVD there. Its a bit pathetic when you think about it but the little group we had was disciplined. We were there almost everyday after work. And I felt that the DVDs did a good job on me.

When I moved to Klang (another city in Malaysia), there was no more gym. So, it was just me and my library of exercise DVDs. When I got pregnant, one of the first things I did was jump on to Amazon.com and ordered myself some pre-natal ones.

Why am I blogging about this today? I don't know. After a two and a half year break from those DVDs (after Aaron was born), I dusted them off last week. We've met up regularly since then and I'm enjoying it. Yes, it looks like we're best friends again. So far, I've been doing the Yoga ones. DVDs in the morning, gym in the afternoon.

(I can't believe I'm nearly the same age as my parents were when they bought that Jane Fonda Video!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


There was a scene outside our house this morning that reminded me of the old Looney Tunes cartoons where an axe wielding man would yell out "TIMBER!" and then you see a tree fall side ways.

The neighbor is clearing all the trees from his garden. Unfortunately, this means no more shade on our side!

They called in the same guy that we had called in to fix our roof. Anyway, he shows up with the helmet he wears when he rides his motorbike and his parang.

First, he climbed and cleared all the branches away. He did all that alone, without even a ladder. His friend just watched this initial part. No good pictures there because of all the branches obviously!

After that, he started working on the tree trunk.

Here, you can see the other man holding on to some rope that is used to pull the top part of the tree down once its been chopped enough.

If you look in the middle of the photo, you can see the top part of the tree on its way down.

Its not that I've never watched a tree being lopped down before. But all those other times, it usually involves 3 men, one of those cherry picker machines, and a chain saw.

This is one of the things I like about living here. You never know what you might see just looking out your window!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Famous Sate Soepardi

We've finally tried the famous satay restaurant in Palembang. Well, "sate" as the locals call it. In Malaysia, we call it "satay" but its pronounced the same way.

According to Wikipedia, sate may have originated in Indonesia. However, I see a lot more of it in Malaysia than here. In any case, several people we know in Palembang have raved about this particular restaurant but it has taken us 2 years to give it a go.

Maybe I had some unrealistic expectations after hearing so many good things about it because I'm not raving about the place yet. Richard and Aaron seemed to enjoy it but, while it was good, it didn't seem particularly special to me. I'll have to try it again since my expectations have now been lowered to a more reasonable level. I hate that about myself. I'm always building up my expectations on things.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm Right Here!

I went for my usual Saturday afternoon foot reflexology today. We've been doing this regularly so instead of finding it painful, its now very relaxing. The place is dimly lit, comfortably air conditioned and smells pleasant. I really look forward to this one hour of peace each week.

Unfortunately, today's session was anything but peaceful.

I had to get the one and only chatty therapist there. As soon as I had gotten her chatting with me under control, she started chatting with the guy in the next chair to me.

And if that wasn't bad enough, my therapist, the guy and his therapist and the lady on the other side of the guy were all eventually talking about me.

Now I know why we're (usually) taught that its rude to talk about other people. And also that its rude to speak in a language that others around us don't understand. And worst of all, to talk about another person, in the vicinity of that person, in a language that the person doesn't understand.

Okay, I get that everybody around here is going to be speaking Indonesian. I don't mind that at all but I think what happened today really crossed the line.

My understanding of Indonesian is pretty good, I just don't understand the Palembang dialect. Its similar to mainstream Indonesian but has a lot of other words mixed in.

So, as I'm sitting there, they would ask me the odd question, and then go back to their own conversation...

... She usually comes with her guy. He's probably getting a massage...


...She's Malaysian. Understands a bit of what we say but if we speak quickly, she won't catch it...


...How old to you think she is? Not more than 27. Nah, she looks over 30....

They finally ask me: How old are you, Mrs.? And I answer, truthfully, hoping to be included in their conversation so that I don't have to listen to, and understand, bits of what they are saying. Yet, they just go back to their rapid blabber in the Palembang dialect.

...Look, she just sits there, smiling. Thats all she can do I suppose...


...She looks too relaxed, put more pressure on her...

...Is her flesh flabby?... (C'mon!!!)


I was so glad when it was finally over. There is no point in being nasty so I said something friendly to those people when I left. I also told my therapist that I liked her style but I think I'll request not to get her next time. Or I'm just going to go to a different place.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photostory Friday - Great Grand-ness

Everything is back to normal now. My mother and grandmother went back to Malaysia this morning. Things feel a little quiet at home but we'll get used to it soon.

Usually, Aaron is constantly on the move and bouncing from one activity to the next. It surprised me that he was able to slow down his pace to match his great grandmother. He seems to know that he has to be more gentle with her and cannot demand the same sort of high energy games. Sometimes, when we're out, he insists on "helping her" and tries to provide some sort of support when she walks.

I'm thankful that the both of them have been able to spend so much time together. I took this photo of the both of them when Aaron was about 8 months old.

And here they are, two years later.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Buildings in Palembang

Is it Wednesday already?? I wish time would slow down. My mother and grandmother are leaving in two days! The both of them, and Aaron, are now watching Hairspray on DVD so I finally get some time here.

I don't have much time for a wordy post so here are a few photos.

I definitely like colour but maybe not so much of it! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so, this must be what some people in Palembang like. Maybe they feel that if they have the money to paint a place they really need to make a statement with it.

On the other hand, many places in Palembang are old and poorly maintained.

I didn't bother taking any photos but there are also many newer buildings here that are painted in more neutral colours (like bland beige). While I may be more accustomed to looking at bland buildings, I'm glad Palembang is dotted with colourful as well as faded buildings. Without them, I'd have nothing to look at during traffic jams.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Four Generations Under One Roof

We have a full house here for this week. My mother and grandmother are visiting which means that we have four generations hanging out at home together all day long. Well, not all day, but we are home for a lot of the time because both Aaron and my grandmother need to nap!

Its already 11pm now and I need to head to bed. The old and young ones may get to nap but I still need to be doing all my daily chores! There isn't much time to blog because there is also so much chatting and laughing going on here.

Here are two photos from a Pempek shop we went to yesterday. The food wasn't all that great but look at all those calendars!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Wedding

On 25 February, my post was about the drama surrounding an 18 year old girl that was being forced into marriage. Today, just 18 days later, she's married.

Since the 25th, she had many miserable days crying over the fact that she had to get married. Obviously, she didn't feel ready. She was also a little afraid of living with her in-laws and felt that she would not know how to be a "good wife".

Fortunately, she grew to accept and I think, like the idea of getting married to her boyfriend. At least she didn't have to marry the guy that her father had picked for her.

The ceremony included short speeches by several representatives from both families. The two points that I understood and remembered from today were:

1) There will be times where you don't agree with your in-laws. Do not talk to your own parents about this. Do not talk to your friends. Just keep it all in your own stomach.

2) Specific advice to the groom: The most important job for you now is to ensure that you make enough money to support your new wife. It doesn't matter if you go about this through legal or illegal ways as long as you're earning some cash.

Here are a few of the photos from today. I didn't include many photos of the ceremony because the clothes and setup looked very similar to Iwan's wedding.

This "bridge" was wobbly and full of holes. Very scary to walk across especially when somebody else from the opposite direction pushes past you!

Here's a side view of the house where the wedding was held.

The wedding couple looked a little sad and bored but I did see them share a couple of genuine smiles.

It is sometimes insulting to pity a person but I really can't help feeling sorry for this girl. She has been forced into this situation and while she accepts it now, it probably means a hard life full of struggles to make ends meet. Her high school exams are in two months but I don't think she will be able to concentrate. So that means her chances of getting out of this rut are minimal. My hope for her is that her new husband will be fair, kind and faithful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Indonesian Language Lesson

The word for today is "Bingung". This is a word that I hear very often over here and it means "confused".

Sometimes, I hear people say "Saya bingung" and it means "I am confused".

I also hear people say "Bingung saya" and I think it also means "I am confused".

Today, I was bingung-ed by this shirt. By the way, there is no past tense to words in Indonesian so the -ed was just me using the English past tense on the Indonesian word. (Not part of the lesson :P)

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Its Official - We're Closing This Chapter

After nursing for two years and seven months, we have finally weaned. I expected Aaron to put up a big fight to keep the last feed he had. But, it all ended peacefully. I knew he would never have gone along with me explaining why it was time to stop so I opted to use some strategically dabbed echinacea. He said "Thats not nice! Something is wrong." and accepted my explanation that its what happens when milk runs out.

I am glad that I persevered through the misery of the early weeks. And now, I'm proud that I can say Aaron was exclusively breastfed for the first six months. He also never touched a drop of formula milk until he was nearly two years old when I gave him a bit in the morning. He never liked the taste of it. Now, he just drinks regular milk.

He was a small baby and I received constant comments and advice along the lines of me not being able to provide him with enough nutrition. I ignored it all and now, he has caught up and is comfortably around the 70th percentile for height and weight.

So here are some of the good, the bad and the ugly of breastfeeding:

- Obviously, it is the most nutritious and the ideal baby food.
- I estimate that I have avoided spending approximately USD2800 in formula. I don't even know how to estimate the cost of bottles, teats, sterilizing tablet etc
- Fuss free take offs and landings on around twenty plane trips.
- I could put him to sleep anywhere.
- When I accepted Aaron's wakefulness, I nursed him 4-5 times a night without getting out of bed and without fully waking up.
- Tantrums could be put under control within seconds.
- SUPER metabolic rate. I could eat LOTS of ANYTHING and not gain any weight.

- I was the only person that could put him to sleep.

- Blood blisters
- Nursing bras

When you're a first time mother, it is sometimes hard to maintain the "exclusive breastfeeding" and "extended breastfeeding" because of the pain, perceived inconvenience and frequent advice from health professionals/friends/family to supplement.

My advice is to have confidence in yourself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Straighforward Person Strikes Again

Back in 2007, I had two posts on how straightforward the people here are. You can re-read them here and here. Throughout 2008, I had mild encounters with people commenting on things like my hair looking a little dehydrated or how tanned I've become. Over here, being tanned is not a good thing.

Anyway, today, I was slapped in the face with some of that straightforwardness again.

The trainers in the gym usually leave me alone. I don't really like chatting while I'm panting away. They're still friendly and make some sort of small talk when I move to the free weights area. I don't say much so they leave me alone after that.

I go in the afternoon and more often than not, its the most chatty of the trainers on duty. His name is easy to remember because it sounds a little like "towel" in Indonesian. Anyhow, as I was there, doing my squats, he comes up and says "Your legs are good. They're the hottest part of your body! Calf, thighs, behind...GOOD." I'm not kidding! That is a direct translation of what he said in Indonesian. I was a little uncomfortable but he said it like it was the most normal thing to say. Anyway, I took it as a compliment. Why not, eh?

Immediately after that, he launched into something like this:
"Its your upper body that needs work. Its way too skinny. You've got absolutely nothing there. You need to work on your chest. You should pull your shoulders back more, stick your chest out." He then tries to show me a series of exercises that will help in that department.

OK. OK. I get it. So I'm no Pamela Anderson. No amount of exercising or sticking my chest out is going to change that!

I wasn't insulted though. This is just the way people here sometimes talk. They mean no harm and he was trying to be helpful I suppose.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Raising Boys

I've just finished reading "Raising Boys" by Steve Biddulph. Its a thin book, only 203 pages, and very easy to read. The last 3 books I have read were all "instructional parenting" books so this one was refreshing. Instead of giving step by step instructions on how to deal with situations A, B and C, it focused more on the issues that boys faced growing. I was getting a bit tired of those books with various strategies to try out (and fail at). This book was a little more high level and I enjoyed it.

I bought off Amazon.com and the shipment here cost as much as the book itself but it was worth it. People always talk about how having a boy is different from having a girl and this book describes it all in detail. From the physical differences in the brain, to hearing (boys supposedly don't hear as well), and to how boys relate to women and each other.

The book broke down development into 3 stages:
Birth to Six - when they are learning to love. Mom is the major player here.
Six to Fourteen - when they start wanting to learn to be a man. Dads count most here.
Fourteen to adulthood - when mentors, in addition to parents, are needed.

I've always felt good about devoting my time to Aaron at home but now I feel even better. Supposedly, its best that a boy stays home with a parent or close relative until about age three. Thats good ammunition for me to answer the people that like to imply I'm wasting my time at home.

In certain ways, this book has given me the impression that little boys are 'fragile'. Y'know, all hard on the outside but soft on the inside. I've seen this in Aaron occasionally when he's outwardly defiant but I see his heart breaking on the inside because he knows I'm disappointed in him.

As a mother, obviously female, there are so many aspects of little boys that I didn't think to think about. There is an entire chapter devoted to testosterone and its role in each stage of a boys life. Lots of stuff I didn't know about there! Its not my intention to give a summary of the book here. I just wanted to let other parents know about this book.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thats Mine! And Thats Mine Too!

Just like us, Aaron has been socializing a lot more this year. And, the recurring theme seems to be "Sharing". I'm finding it easier to teach him to read than to teach him the concept of sharing!

I have been trying to understand his little mind and I do see him making some progress but nothing soothed my mind more than Googling the topic tonight.

The Dr. Spock website says :
A two-year-old is just beginning to understand about possessions. That's why everything is "mine." It takes years to understand that you could own something, but still have to share it. It is as unlikely for a toddler to learn how to share at age two as it is for him to learn how to read when he first picks up a book.

A Babycenter article has this to offer:
As exasperating as these episodes can be, try to be philosophical about them. Your child is acting in perfect keeping with a 2-year-old's view of the world, in which her own things (or anything that strikes her fancy, for that matter) are an extension of herself.....Sharing is a learned activity, and mastering it takes some time....

In another Babycenter article:
When your toddler refuses to share his favorite truck (or even his least favorite truck), he isn't really being selfish — he's just acting his age. Sharing is a skill he'll develop over several years. In the meantime, struggles over toys will be common.

PHEW! Why didn't I do the Googling earlier? And why is it that I don't remember this from all those parenting books? This whole issue (non-issue) about sharing has been gnawing at me for a few weeks now. Its been a little embarrassing when Aaron just goes about claiming toys that may or may not be his.

A couple of the articles also mentioned not to punish a 2 year old for not sharing. Well, I did that before I read the articles so, its a bit late. I told him that I was too tired to read or tell him any stories before bed because I was all worn out from telling him to share. He was upset, of course, but I think he understood.

I did observe that he has an easier time sharing if the other child is older than him. Perhaps its because they have already learned how to share with him.

Well, the more chances he gets to practice his sharing skills, the faster he'll learn I suppose. Just like the more I read to him, the more words he recognizes.

Note to self: It will come with time. Hopefully.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Party Animals

Its 4:15PM and we've only just woken up. That was some party!!

In the old days, that kind of wake up time would have been caused by dinner out with friends, followed by a week's worth of exercise at a dance party, and ending with an extremely late supper (or early breakfast) at 2AM.

These days, its because we went to a 1st Birthday Party at 11AM. It was our little friend, Kaeden's, party. And it was just a 5 minute walk away.

It was fun for us to meet and talk to some new people. I was a little worried that Aaron might decide to act out but he was fine. Apart from some sharing issues, he was good. Come to think of it, all the children were well behaved. There were no fights or tantrums. Not even much running around. Maybe Spongebob being played on the TV had something to do with it. OK, I get that its not necessarily a good thing but it was suitable for today's party. The children were all of various ages so it would have been difficult to arrange games.

So what has all that got to do with us waking up at 4:15PM? After the 5 min walk home, putting Aaron down for his very overdue nap and cleaning up the house, the heat and humidity was just too much to handle. And once you fall asleep in that kind of heat, it makes your groggy and its impossible to wake up from.

Now that our schedule is all wrong, we're going to explore Palembang by night. Not something we usually get to do because Aaron is always in bed by 7:30pm. And that is definitely not happening tonight.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Photostory Friday - About Me

I've finally changed my profile picture.

For those of you who don't remember what it was - GOOD.

For those of you who do, start forgetting NOW.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, it was right after a trip to Bali. I just grabbed one of the only photos of Aaron and I together and slapped it up there.

Anyway, I think its time for a change to something a little more subtle. This photo is from the same trip to Bali. Now you can look at my back instead.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Thoughts On Helping The Community

As some of my regular readers know, we have tried to look for some volunteer work to do but failed. The people here seemed more interested in our money and we always end up helping out by giving rice (instead of cash).

So the whole volunteering thing sort of fizzled out and we focused on helping those immediately around us instead. So far, it has been very fulfilling. Yet, each day, I still come across situations that make me want to do more.

I need to put some of my thoughts into action. I just don't know how to do it. And I think I need some sort of local collaboration to make it effective. I don't want to be condescending about it. After all, I have absolutely no experience in this sort of thing and there is so much more I need to learn about the attitudes and culture here.

These are some ideas I've had for contributing to the community here:

1) Educating young girls (from poorer families) on the importance of an education and pairing them up with mentors that will be able to meet with them periodically.

2) Organizing a "Toys and Books Drive". I'm getting the impression here that the poorer kids literally have zero toys.

3) Setting up some sort of weekly mother/child session for kindergarten aged children. I think a free kindergarten would just be interpreted as free babysitting. So, the idea is for moms to come along as well. This will also give them ideas and activities that they can use at home. Some parents can't afford to send their children to kindergarten and those kids are at risk of not being able to enter primary school because there is an entrance exam.

4) Information sharing on :
- Basic hygiene and cleanliness.
- Easy and affordable nutrition.
- Breastfeeding (It surprised me to find out that many people here, who really can't afford it, are spending their money unnecessarily on formula because they have come to believe that this is NEEDED for their babies. It starts the whole vicious cycle of their milk supply dropping, them needing to supplement the formula with some sort of rice flour paste etc etc etc)

5) Some sort of organized employment for street kids. Yes, kids are supposed to be in school but I think some of these children have no choice. So, instead of begging on the streets, it is better to teach them about working. Maybe some sort of door-to-door service since thats so common here. Things like door-to-door car washing, gardening and drain clearing. Someone needs to organize them into a group and be the liaison to the people in the houses (set up appointments or whatever).

Anyway, I know my ideas are all up there in the air. And, I hate to be the sort of person that is all talk and no action. So, I'll keep trying. Perhaps I should start by finding myself a partner.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Palembang Needs Snow!

When I was twelve, I had a really cute little nun as a violin teacher. Today, some of her words have been ringing in my head.

"Ladies don't sweat, we perspire"

I probably haven't thought of that phrase since those days of lugging my school bag and violin up the hill to her music studio in the summer heat.

After weeks of pleasant weather, the past couple of days in Palembang have become incredibly hot and humid. Our kitchen is in the most stupid position and gets absolutely no breeze. Its also small and cramped, making the heat even worse.

Today, as I was preparing dinner, our driver's wife came early to pick him up. She's a very demure and gentle girl. Also, she has chosen to wear the Muslim headscarf. In addition to covering her head, she also always has her arms and legs covered.

So, today, she came into my hot kitchen to chat and helped me out here and there with the cooking. She had on her two layered headscarf (tucked into the buttoned up collar of her shirt), a long sleeved shirt, a long sleeved cardigan (light one) and jeans. I was in my tank top and shorts.

It wasn't long before I had beads of perspiration rolling down the side of my face. I have used the word "perspiration" but I definitely did not look like a lady in the kitchen!

It was unbearable in there. I kept telling her to go to the living room and I would be out in a minute but she insisted that she wasn't hot at all. She wasn't kidding. Her make-up was still perfect. Her nose and cheeks weren't shiny. She looked very comfortable. Of course I didn't ask her but I'm pretty sure she wasn't perspiring under all her layers of clothing either. I guess she's more evolved then me :)

I know snow in Palembang would probably indicate that the world was coming to an end so, maybe just rain will do. Please...tomorrow....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More On Street Vendors

I mentioned before that I never eat any food from the street vendors here. Sometimes, people tell me that I should toughen up my stomach by eating more of these questionable food and introducing some bacteria in there. Their rationale is that if I did that, I won't have any problems in the future.

I'm not going to do that. It won't kill me if I don't try these foods. I can have the same things in a cleaner (hopefully) restaurant where it is probably of better quality anyway. So I miss out on the novelty of eating by the roadside but at least I'm not boosting my chances of contracting something like Hepatitis A.

Here is an example of why I just can't bring myself to buy food from the street vendors. Bilbo might have had enough of cold white stuff but the kids here can't get enough of it. Obviously, it doesn't snow here in Palembang but they do have shaved ice. And this man is very popular once the school children are let out.

Here he is manually shaving the ice:

Pressing it into a round ball with his bare hands:

Pouring the food colouring on it:

After all that, he'll accept money with those same hands, fiddle around for change, maybe wipe the sweat from his brow or adjust his cap. You get the picture.

I really love watching the people here enjoy something like shaved ice from a man who rides around on a bicycle selling it but I just can't eat it. I think the people around me sometimes think I'm being hoity-toity about it but.....

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Things He Says!

Aaron is a chatterbox. He goes on about all sort of things, all day long. Recently, his perspective of life and his sense of humour has been coming through the things he says.

When asked why he won't let Richard put him to bed, he told me:
"Papa is a giant! He'll squash me."

Out of the blue, Aaron started a conversation about work.
"Next time, I'm going to go to work at Agrim. I will buy myself a blue room and a blue bicycle." Agrim is where Richard works. When asked what sort of work he will do, Aaron confidently informed me that he will be TYPING. And guess what he is typing? His BLOG!

He must have merged all he knows about work. Richard goes to work. I tell him I'm working on my blog. He sees me typing when I blog - light bulb goes on in his little head! If only life were that simple.

And here's his developing sense of humor.
"Mama, come fart at me!"

I have NO IDEA where he got that from. I had no response for him on that one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Taking A "Disciplining" Break

Some time ago, John left me a comment that described "discipline" as "teaching". I like that definition much better than "punishment".

Still, the "disciplining" that I refer to in the title is "punishment". But, I'm going to take a break from it.

Sometimes after reading a new parenting book, I find myself trying out all the strategies I just read. And very often, I feel trapped by them. Y'know, once you carry it out once, you'll have to carry it out again otherwise the child might think you're not serious about it blah blah blah blah. And worse, sometimes, out of frustration, I know I misuse things like the time-out.

I've noticed that Aaron seems to act out even more on days that I have used one of those strategies. They are all starting to backfire on me ALREADY.

On a couple of days this week, I tried keeping things positive and "reasoned" with him with a smile each time. NOT EASY. He of course cried less and was a lot happier. More importantly, he behaved (marginally) better!

I know it won't last and I'll have to change this strategy again soon. Afterall, he's changing all the time and catching on to my ways of teaching him boundaries. Why didn't God (or whoever made us) just send a little manual along with the child? (Maybe fathers can be the ones who deliver the manual.) Y'know, with specific instructions for that particular human being.