Thursday, April 30, 2009

Four Less Teeth For The Perfect Smile

I'm running late today and I don't have a stash of cartoons to dig into like Bilbo does. Or even saved email jokes as Mike seems to have.

So instead, I have this link. Its about a petite politician who had her legs broken so that she could grow an additional 8cm. Obviously, it must have been extremely painful but 8cm sounds incredible. Initially, I thought her actions were drastic but then I remembered the two horrendous years I spent with braces.

What is the difference between having your legs broken and have four perfectly good teeth yanked out for the sake of a perfect smile? I don't know if they still do that but when I was 14 and my brother 12, we both had 4 teeth extracted. That day is forever burned into my mind. Those four teeth were SO HEALTHY that the dentist had to shake them back and forth endlessly. I could hear cracking sounds every so often and catch glimpses of what he was doing from the reflection in the light above.

So after all that, we had our teeth wired up - for more pain. Each month's visit to the orthodontist was excruciating. If anybody is in need of a torture technique, they should just put braces on a person, tighten it, and then force them to eat a big loaf of chewy stale bread. Not that our parents fed that to us but no matter what we ate, it hurt.

On top of that, I had to have the external head gear thing that wrapped around the back of the neck and hooked to the side teeth so that you couldn't close your mouth properly. There was no way I was going to wear that to school. And I mustn't forget to mention the clear plate (saliva collector) that I had to wear for six months after the braces came off.

Oh, I haven't mentioned that I didn't have crooked teeth in the first place. Just a mild (to me) overbite. I don't remember asking for the braces - must have been my parent's idea. Anyway, after all the suffering, I had a perfect smile, that people noticed, for about 5 years. And then two annoying teeth started to move. I believe its because I grind my teeth when I sleep. So now, instead of an overbite, I have almost perfectly straight teeth, except for the two rebels that are becoming more obvious as I age.

Its still good to smile. Lets all practice one now. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Threety Three Today

Its here. I'm officially thirty three. Richard gave me a surprise birthday party last Saturday - his first ever! And I was impressed. He arranged for a decoy to get us out and then the remaining friends gathered here in our house. I really enjoyed the afternoon and felt so blessed to finally have some friends here in Palembang.

Today is just like any other day except that I've been told I don't need to cook any of the meals. Great! Thats as good a birthday present as any.

Friends from all over the place have been sending birthday wishes today. One particular one sticks out. Somebody actually wrote "So, what does it feel like growing old?". First of all, I'm thirty three. And secondly, we live in the 21st century. That is NOT old.

But what have I got to show for my thirty three years? Plenty! I'm contented, in good health and have everything I need. I have a fantastic family. And, I don't have a boss (really hated having one!). I like where I'm at now.

I don't have much to show by way of material wealth or rungs climbed on the corporate ladder. However, as I was thinking about that today, one of the measures of what I've achieved is actually the fact that I can honestly say that I don't carry any envy or jealousy towards other people who have "made it". They worked for it, they got it and I am happy for them.

I am sure people sometimes see this as being unambitious but it is really all the comparing and "why-not-me" attitudes that make people lose sight of what they already have. Or even what their potential is. Of course I have ideas and plans for us but its going to be our own motivation that drives us and not a scramble to have what somebody else has.

Anyway, I'm going back to Aaron. The one thing I wanted to do today was have an extra special day with him. Thats my present to me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Perks Of Being A Mother

All the news on the swine flu is worrying me. Yes, we can do our best to avoid crowded places and keep clean but all that thought about a pandemic has been weighing heavily on me. I feel particularly uneasy being here in Indonesia because if anything breaks out here, I doubt the authorities would be effective in putting any plans into action. As it is, there has been so little awareness or action taken on the dangers of the bird flu here and that virus has already been making its rounds around Indonesia.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on this. A few days ago, Tanya tagged me for a meme that aims to hear from blogging mothers around the world. Something like "around the world in 80 clicks". I checked back to the blog where this originated and it has surpassed 80 already but is still going on.

The meme is to share the 5 things you love about being a mother. So, here are mine...

1) Getting cuddles, kisses and "I love you's" out of the blue and for no reason.

2) Being able to fix (almost) everything with a smile and a laugh. Life is still so simple for Aaron. Even if I send him for a time-out, he doesn't hold a grudge and all is forgotten once I smile at him.

3) Watching his purity. Aaron is all honesty and sincerity at the moment. He doesn't know anything about wearing masks. When he's happy (which is everyday), he can't contain it. Sometimes, even watching his sadness is amazing because it is so raw.

4) Introducing Aaron to new food. I love eating and am fairly adventurous. Aaron is also turning out to be quite the food lover. He's willing to try anything I'm eating and often ends up liking it too.

5) Watching him imitate us. Almost everyday, we get a funny moment when we see him either repeating something we have said or imitating something that we do. I know there will be the inevitable embarrassing moment but 90% of it is good stuff at the moment.

I usually don't tag anybody when I do memes but I thought I would pass this along to at least one other person to help this move around the world. So, I'm tagging my dear friend, Kelly, in Malaysia. Her blog is actually in Chinese, so it will be interesting to see where the meme goes from here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MLM-ers scare me!

You all know what MLM is right? Multi Level Marketing? Those pyramid schemes that promise unimaginable wealth without needing to do much work at all?

I acknowledge that there have been many success stories (and I applaud those people). But for each success, there must be hundreds of downline hopefuls that just fizzle out. And while they are fizzling out, they're probably making many of their friends and family avoid them.

Back in Malaysia, there was a period of time where meeting up with friends became a little like navigating through a landmine. You were never sure just which get together was going to blow out into an MLM sales pitch and hold you hostage for the next 2 hours.

These people were often friends. I liked them. I wanted them to like me. So, I used to be polite. Make a lame attempt to buy the product and "think about joining up" later. But of course, these people are motivated, enthusiastic and chased down every lead. I ended up avoiding those people.

Things have been quiet on the MLM front since we moved here. Although, I admit thinking that the market potential must be huge with the large population size here.

Anyway, an MLM-er has emerged here in Palembang. The difference this time is that I am genuinely happy for that person because it looks like one of the success stories. However, I am older and wiser. I have made it clear up front that I don't get into these things and never will. This is just not something for me. I can't sell anything. I couldn't pretend to sell anything. I don't want to convince other people to sell things. And more importantly, I don't want the few friends I have to shun me! I know I won't be avoiding my friend but I'm stronger these days. Not getting into that pyramid.

I do have a gripe about the product here in Palembang though. The sales pitch is definitely misleading potential customers. Its a hobby of mine to try to double check claims that MLM brochures make. But, I'm not in it and its not my place to point anything out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Glimpse Of Palembang

Yesterday morning, I asked Iwan to show me how to get around with the public transportation system in Palembang. In a way, it is the easiest system I've come across. Even though the angkots are modified minivans and buses are buses, the fare is the same. Its also the same fare whether you're in them for 1 minute or 15 minutes. There aren't any designated "angkut/bus stops" so you just stand by the road and wave either an angkot or bus down anywhere along their route. To get off, you just call out to the drive. On the bus, you have to knock on the roof. The only problem would be finding out where the routes are but thats easily solved by asking anybody on the streets. Oh, there are also no timetables but it doesn't really matter because there are plenty of angkots on every route.

So, we went from our area to Pasar Perumnas. From there, we took another angkot to a place called Kenten. Then, we took a the bus from Kenten back to Perumnas again so that we could get another angkot home.

I've blogged about angkots before so you can go here for photos.

Today, I have a video instead. We were put in the front of the angkot on the way home. I think it was around 9.30am and we were just leaving the Perumnas market area.

video

Friday, April 24, 2009

Its Time To Sit Back

These few weeks has seen a surge in Aaron's independence. Little by little each day, he has started to make up his own games. All these photos were taken today. After waiting over two and a half years for a day like this, I didn't know what to do with myself so I just watched at first then thought I should capture the moments.







Not only does he play by himself, he's able to get himself a drink and later on, go pee as well. I know I won't be out of a job anytime soon but it looks like I might be able to take on some other jobs soon. Or maybe, I can start delegating things like folding the laundry. He seems interested in that!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, April 23, 2009

If Only 13 was Onety Three

Aaron is getting to like numbers. He likes counting things and he enjoys writing numbers. One to ten was easy to teach him. I think he's known them for close to a year now from the count down to end a nursing session.

Once he could write and recognize the numbers one to ten, we went further. Eleven and Twelve were ok. Thirteen to twenty were manageable.

It wasn't until I started introducing all the numbers above twenty that he started to get confused with all the teens.

After learning about double digit numbers like forty five or sixty seven, he started to draw a blank whenever I wrote a number beginning with '1'. I also need to lead him a little for the twenties and thirties.

I've been telling him to look at the first digit, for example in 53, say whatever that number is, "five", and add a "ty" on the end. After that, just read the second digit normally. If that number is a '0', you don't need to say anything.

Of course, this only works for numbers 40 to 99.

There is some sort of explanation for all the confusion here. Unfortunately, the link to further information seems dead.

But wouldn't it have been easier if they just did this:

10 - Onety
11 - Onety One
12 - Onety Two
13 - Onety Three
etc

20 and 30 can be twoty and threety. That sounds pretty cute. Doesn't it?

Cute doesn't cut it though. Tomorrow we'll have to persevere with reality.

On a separate note, I wanted to show off the new award that Bilbo passed on yesterday.

I think I started reading Bilbo's blog around August 2007 and have done so almost every day since. He's full of funny stories and colorful rants. I never thought we would end up pen pals as well. Thank you very much Bilbo!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chillis In The Markets

One of the things that I have grown to like about Palembang are its markets. Initially, I was always tense and on the look out for icky stuff that I might step on. Now, I can relax while I look out for any icky-ness. Its also the dry season now so things are much cleaner without the mud.

As a precaution, I stay away from the chicken area at our usual market. This is together with the beef and fish, so, I usually stick to the vegetable section. When we do need some fish, I'll go to a different market that seems to have a cleaner fish section.

One of my favourite scenes comes from the chilli vendors. The reds and greens, combined with the onions, garlic and tomatoes make it the most vibrant. And, I'm always amazed at the little hills of chillis that are on sale. The Indonesians cannot live without their chillis.





Here is an example of the various types of chilli sauces available on the table at one of the local restaurants we go to.



The two jars with white tops are pickled green chillis (I think). One was whole and one minced. The orange and green bowls with covers are also different types of chilli sauces. The taller green bottle with red cap is yet another different chilli sauce. Towards the right of the photo, there is a white roundish thing (its a sort of cake) and next to are two small packets of chilli sauce that are specifically for that it. There is another bottle of chilli sauce hiding behind the chopsticks too. The rest of the sauces there were soy sauces and vinegar.

By the way, the sauces, tissues, soya bean drink (white thing behind the tissue box), steamed glutinous rice (greenish pointy thing behind the soya bean drink), steamed fish with chilli and coconut milk (green leaf packs to the right of the photo), chopsticks, toothpicks, little sauce plates and soup spoons took up half the table. Richard, Aaron and I had to squash on the remaining half.

I should be more adventurous with the chilli but my tongue needs more training!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Long Days Can Be A Good Thing

A couple of days ago, a close friend and I were chatting over Skype and she mentioned that life expectancy in China was only 35 years in 1952. She is living in Shanghai at the moment and I said that if she lived then, she only had a year left. Immediately, she came back with a statement that she would only have a few months to live, not a year!

I'm 32 right? RIGHT? Wrong! I had automatically added on two years from my own age to get hers. However, I forgot that I'll be turning 33 in the next few days. Funnily, this is the age that I always wanted to be. Well, when I was 19, I thought I wanted to be 33. I imagined that by the time I was 33, I would definitely not be doing any exams and I would have my life in order and be living happily every after.

Anyway, the conversation with my friend went along the lines of how time flies. She mentioned wanting to push the "Pause" button. At the time, I responded that I didn't feel I needed to.

I've been thinking a lot about that conversation. Why wouldn't I want to "Pause" things? I definitely also feel that time has zoomed by much quicker than anticipated. My friend and I used to be 12 and 14, staying out past midnight after Christmas caroling. Yet, I find that the past few years have gone by at the "correct" pace.

Maybe the snail's pace speed of life here in Palembang has its advantages after all. Our days start at 5am and drag, seemingly endlessly, until 8pm and then it speeds up a little until 11pm each night. I often find myself sitting and staring at Aaron, wondering what we can do next. It gets frustrating and boring at times but maybe this is really our chance to take things slow and savor each day. [I'm trying to convince myself here :)]

We won't be here forever and once we move away, I am sure it will be to a place with lots more to do. Perhaps I will go back to work someday. Working would definitely contribute to time zooming by again because I might end up back in the pre-baby lifestyle - surviving until the next deadline!

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that being a stay at home mom, especially one in a quiet place like Palembang, is challenging but is full of potential. I know I waste a lot of my days being hot and grumpy. And I regret it at the end of the day. I just need to remember to be to be positive and see each day as an opportunity. Opportunities for small chunks of accomplishment are still counted as opportunities.

It sounds like one of those posts where I'm talking to myself isn't it? Well...thats what staying at home does to a person :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Children in Palembang

I often meet kids in Palembang and try to talk to them. They usually become shy or ignore me because I speak to them in broken Indonesian while they are more comfortable with the Palembang dialect.

Well, I found the key today. My camera.

I didn't say anything to them initially, I just took their photo and then showed it to them.

See how they are all lined up nicely here. This was one of the first photos I took.



Now look at these few shots from a few minutes later. They became extremely playful. And chatty too although I really couldn't understand everything they were saying.







This was the opposite of what the paparazzi do to celebrities. Here, a mob of "celebs" was chasing the lone photographer for more and more photos!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Two Cars And A Rope

Very often, we see one motorcycle pulling another one along with a rope. Recently, we saw two cars doing the same thing. I don't know enough about cars but wouldn't it ruin the gearbox or whatever thingi in the car if you just drag it along on all four wheels?

The traffic moves so slowly here that having these two cars on the road didn't slow things down noticeably. There is always lot of traffic, a lot of motorcycles in between and a lot of huge potholes so, everyday speed here is about 40km/h. When we hit 60km/h, I start to feel like we're speeding!

I circled the rope in white but its still hard to see. If you click the photo and see it in its original size, you can see the rope quite clearly.



PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nations Of The World

I'm pretty hopeless at geography. Apart from the "common" countries that we frequently hear of, I'm terrible at pin pointing other ones on the map.

My cousin passed this to me a few months ago and I was hooked on the tune then. I started memorizing the countries and locations but eventually got distracted by other things. Aaron didn't seem all that into it at the time either.

But now, there's been a revival...



It was originally aired in 1993 so its pretty old and some of the countries, like Czechoslovakia, no longer exist. However, most of the other countries are still valid and this has been a really fun way of teaching Aaron about countries. Aaron seems to find it a lot more fun now and tries his best to sing along. I'm about a quarter of the way through learning it. Sounds like a waste of time but its good to exercise my brain once in awhile.

I get this mini sense of accomplishment when I manage to find some little country like Burundi on the map. (Try doing it without looking at where Yakko points.) Oh yeah, we have a huge wall map so it makes things a lot easier.



In case you're wondering, that KFC bucket is really a Captain's hat. OK?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crazy Kids

I went to Kecamatan Gandus today. This is one of the poorest areas in Palembang and it is the location that we had selected to distribute the donations we received from our "Toy Drive". Actually, it turned out to be more of a Toy, Books and Clothes Drive.

I went there to meet with the head man of the area to discuss the logistics of how we would get this stuff out to his people.

While we were looking for the place, we were stopped for awhile in front of these kids. At first, there were only four of them. When they saw my camera, they started smiling for it.



And after awhile, I think they called their other friends to come look at the crazy lady in the car with the camera!



They were cute. When we finally moved, they followed us. Some scrambled over the gate and a couple managed to squeeze under it. Giggling and laughing all the way.

I'll have more photos of the area on Sunday. I didn't take any photos once we got into the area today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Thirteen - Stop Thief!

I'm usually full of respect for this country. There is plenty here that annoys the heck out of me but I ignore it all. 99% of the time, I like it here and I accept their way of life. I accept their religion, their straightforwardness (bordering on rudeness sometimes) and even their chauvinism. I try to keep an open mind and not judge. But something happened today that just ticked me off tremendously.

Someone stole my papaya! Again! I have very little space within the gates so I have a tree that I plant outside. Its actually no more than 4 meters from the house itself as we have a very short front garden. Four months ago, I watched and waited anxiously for the first fruit to ripen. It of course did and I decided to wait until afternoon to pick it. By then, somebody else already took it.

So when a second fruit looked like it would ripen soon, I covered it up with an old shirt. I was told that this is what you do so that people won't know when it is ripe. After I did that, the fruit seemed to stop maturing. It stayed green for 3 months. It started to look a little yellower last week. This morning, I woke up and it was GONE!

What gives other people the right to go check on my fruit and take it? I don't buy that they were poor and hungry. If it was the kids that play in the neighborhood, then their parents haven't taught them anything about respect. And if this was done by an adult, well, you can imagine the type of children they will bring up.

You may think I'm over reacting. Afterall, its just a simple papaya. Maybe the thieves just caught me on a bad day. That papaya was something that I was waiting to eat. I waited three long months for it!

So even though its Tuesday, I'm doing a Thirteen list. Things I don't like about Palembang!

1) Elevators. People crowd the doors from both sides. The people trying to get in can't wait to be the first in. So much so that the people can't get out to let them in. And the people getting out, well, they all want to be the first out.

2) People talking about other people, in front of them.

3) People pushing past when I open a door to guide Aaron through.

4) People pushing through from the opposite direction when I still have that door open, hoping to get Aaron and me through.

5) Spitting. Through the mouth and also through the nose. Out their car windows. From their motorbikes. As they walk. While they sit. In the middle of their workouts.

6) Smoking anywhere and everywhere. And sometimes blowing the smoke right in your face.

7) Using the car horn when they anticipate the red light turning green.

8) Throwing rubbish everywhere. Once again, out their car windows. From their motorbikes. As they walk. While they sit. Used tissues, plastic wrappers, papers, whatever!

9) Picking their noses in public. Sometimes with one particular finger where they have grown the nail extra long. Its gross!

10) Thinking that its the woman's fault if men have affairs. Wives who are not at the beck and call of their husbands, who do not maintain their beauty or who do not immediately get pregnant are inviting them to seek out other women.

11) People who pick off my four angle beans when they walk past. Its growing on my fence. Can't they see its MINE!

12) People who think I won't mind them taking my guava because I have a number of ripe ones. Just ask!

13) Finally, people who probably feel the ultimate satisfaction when they steal my papaya from under its covering! Maybe that person is now thinking "WOW! The papaya's rightful owner went through some lengths to protect it but I got it anyway!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Only Going To Say Things Once

I have a terrible sore throat. Had it since Friday and I think, it was somehow triggered by car fumes. We were stuck in a 20 min traffic jam getting out of the church car park and even though I had all the vents on 'close', I kept smelling that awful smell. And shortly after we got out of the church grounds, my throat started to feel strange. Anyway, it could be that, or it could just be a co-incidence.

The bottom line is that it hurts to swallow and it hurts to talk. I've been overdosing myself with garlic and ginger drinks and it has helped but not gotten rid of it yet.

Now this all sounds terrible but there is an upside to it all.

I've been home alone with Aaron the whole day. You all know he's two and a half. He's a chatterbox. And he usually doesn't act until you've repeated yourself about 50 times.

For most of today, I've stuck to saying things once. Although, I had to tell him a couple of times that I was only going to say things once. And guess what? I learnt something new. If I waited, and watched, he eventually did whatever it was I asked of him without needed to repeat myself. I do remember reading somewhere that young children aren't able to react immediately because of how their brains were wired - although they will eventually come around to processing that command. I can't remember where I read it so I can't even go back and check but maybe its true.

The hard part was not being able to have any conversations with Aaron. He really has so much to say and definitely needs some sort of response but I just kept nodding, frowning, smiling or pointing. Oh and another thing, my index finger alone was enough to direct the tidying of all his toys today. Powerful isn't it?!

He's a cheeky boy but he's a good boy too. And today, he has really proved that. He was understanding and tried his best to make my day easier.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Aaron's First Easter Egg

I've actually never been on an Easter Egg hunt. Up until I was 11, I didn't even know about Easter eggs. So, I'm not really into the chocolate-y side of Easter. But then again, apart from the symbolism of re-birth, I saw today that its something fun for children.

After the 2.5hr Easter Mass this morning, they announced that there was an Easter egg hunt for 3-10 year olds. Great! Some fun for Aaron.

I thought it was a good effort by the parish to organize this. They also had other activities for older children. And for the adults, free food and a band! It was meant to be a sort of Easter party.

Back to the egg hunt. Firstly, they didn't look for the eggs. They were to look for little red flags instead. I was a little disappointed in the way they hid these flags in clusters. For example, flower pots had about 5 flags stuck in them so whoever saw it first got ALL the flags. Also, some flags were hidden in the trees where no little kid is going to look and can't reach anyway.

We let Aaron try to hunt for the flags himself at first but as other parents went in to help, Richard did too. The area for these little ones was all muddy from the rain.

Aaron is in the white shirt behind the tree stump.


Here's Richard trying to guide him. He eventually picked up a flag that somebody else dropped.


And here's the red hard boiled egg that he claimed with his red flag.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday in Palembang

If we hadn't moved to Palembang, I would never have guessed that Good Friday was a public holiday here. I would also never have realized that the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation had so many over crowded churches. According to Wikipedia, only 8.7% of the population here is Christian but, 8.7% of 237 milion people is A LOT.

On normal Sundays, the church is already full to the brim. On days like today, they put up a temporary canvas/tarp roof outside the church. There is a photo of what the church normally looks like here. Today, the outside looked like this:



Arriving at 2:30pm, we were 30 mins early and managed to grab three of the last few seats outside. There were a few TVs outside so that the select few who had seats in front of the TVs could see what was going on inside. We weren't one of those but at least we were in front of a fan. Unfortunately, 45 mins into the service, it started to rain so heavily that water was soaking through part of the temporary roof. We were shifted behind the fan. And there we stayed until 5:08pm. No no, I'm not complaining. In fact, we had a very smooth time there. Aaron was kept contented the whole time with color pencils and scrap paper. In fact, all the children I could see were well behaved considering how long they were kept there.

I hope Aaron (and the other kids) will give us a repeat performance when we go for the Easter Mass. Its going to be just as long ... or even longer.

Have a happy Easter weekend everyone!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who isn't on Facebook?

Apart from my parents, it seems like everybody else I know has a Facebook account. Many of my friends are active Facebook-ers. (Is there a name for people who actively publish on Facebook?) I'm one of those late adopters and only signed up sometime last year, and, I'm definitely not active.

When I first joined, I was very enthusiastic about finding my friends. That died down after a day or two. Since then, I get another surge of enthusiasm every couple of months when I find one friend that opens the links to a bunch of other friends. We spend a few days exchanging messages. Then, it dies down again. Some weeks, I only login to the Facebook page if I get a notification of a new message there.

I never update the "Whats on your mind?" box and often wonder why some people feel the need to tell all their friends that they are about to go to sleep. I'm not saying that all the thoughts and updates are useless. There are plenty of tidbits out there that I liked reading. I guess everyone is free to write whatever they like in their own space. Although these days, with the new Facebook, there seems to be so much additional clutter that its hard to actually find a genuine "thought" from my friends.

I can see why Facebook would appeal to many but I don't quite understand the addiction that many of its 200million users feel. I'll use it as a tool to find my old friends but once I find them, I'll either meet up with them in the real world or just drop back to the occasional "Hi How are you?" email. Of course, I sticky beak into people's photos and get that warm, fuzzy feeling "seeing" them again but I am always reluctant (maybe lazy) to upload new photos of my family. Maybe its because I do enough of that on this blog! Then again, sharing one's life, in an unrestricted way, with friends and strangers alike is a whole other story that I don't think I want to get into.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pleasant Surprises

Everybody knows that you really should keep your eyes on a young child at all times. But, we also all know that it would be impossible to do that. So, we make their play areas as safe as possible and check on them every so often if we have to be away from the area.

Recently, when I had my back turned, I've turned back around to find him eating my lipstick. I've also turned around from grabbing some canned tuna from the shelves in a supermarket to find him biting down into a pack of raw beef!

Sometimes though, the surprise is a pleasant one. Today, I walked past to see that Aaron managed to reach a stack of sticky notes from my desk and was busy scribbling all over them. I was about to tell him he did something wrong but then he showed me that he was writing down words and labeling Thomas.

We ended up making a game of it. I gave him the spelling and he wrote and stuck the labels on.



This is something I do with different items in the house each day and he was just imitating. Can't get mad with that!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jakarta was exhausting!

The weekend was a blast! We left early on Saturday morning and didn't get home till 9pm on Monday night. Three very exhausting days! We walked, and walked and walked the malls. And since we didn't want to waste any time on naps, we took turns carrying Aaron, now 15kgs, while walking whenever he needed a nap. WHY did I leave his stroller in Brisbane???

I'd call the weekend a "shallow getaway" because we did no research on Jakarta and didn't really plan to visit much (or any) of the city. The only plan we had was the vague idea that we wanted to spend the weekend shopping and eating.

I read in the papers recently that Jakarta was home to some mega malls. I wanted to see what that was all about. They were big and shiny but very similar to the malls in Kuala Lumpur. The first couple of deserted floors are full of luxury brands, then as you move upwards, you have your more affordable ones. We ended up focusing on the top two floors where all the food was. Believe it or not, we had 9 meals (medium sized ones) between 10am Saturday to 8pm Sunday! The only thing that disappointed me was that the famous line "We're out of the xxx" was as frequently used in Jakarta as it is in Palembang. Almost every time we go to a restaurant, we inevitably pick something on the menu that they don't have. I thought this was just a Palembang "specialty" but I'm now wondering if its something that afflicts all Indonesian restaurants.

This isn't the best photo of Aaron and I but it shows you just how shiny the place was. All the photos were full of reflections.



We window shopped at the mega malls but we did our actual shopping at a very different place. It was more of a bazaar than a mall and that is where we found plenty of bargains. I think there were 6 packed floors of clothes, shoes, bags, watches, DVDs and some electronic stuff. The clothes and shoes were mostly "normal" goods but the bags and DVDs were all fakes and pirated versions.

And here's a photo of the "bazaar". In the background, there is a man in a blue shirt. Behind him, you'll see a pile of "stuff". Those were all bottles of perfumes. I don't know if they were real or imitation ones but they were all the "branded" perfumes and there were 4 little hills of them there. The people started yelling at us not to take any photos as soon as Richard got the camera out so, this was the best we could manage.



Contrary to all the warnings of horrendous traffic jams in Jakarta, we were lucky. Even on Monday afternoon, when it was raining heavily, we managed to get to the airport without any delays. The delay came after we got to the airport with our flight delayed an hour.

So in the end, we had a fun weekend. Jakarta is definitely a diverse place that I'd like to explore more of in the future but I'm glad that we live in a smaller city like Palembang, even if there is nothing to do on weekends here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Facebug

This is Facebug. Or maybe I'll call it "Smelly Facebug" because its defense mechanism (apart from that warrior like mask) seems to be an awful stench that hangs around long after it has left.



We found him outside in the garden but it moved too fast for me to get any decent photos. So, I put it in this container for a little while to get a better look.

Actually, we often come across different looking bugs (although this is the first colourful one) but I never know their names. I should make more of an effort to find out what they're called instead of just making names up myself.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek



p/s: My next post will be on Tuesday because we're going to Jakarta for a long weekend. YAY!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Will they like me?

This year is turning out to be a bumper year for making new friends. Its great and all but I've noticed that my self confidence has plummeted since becoming a stay-at-home-(literally)-mom. I'm always second guessing myself and wondering if people will like me. In the past, I just assumed that I was the most likable person around!

After each meeting with another family I'm always wondering if they liked us enough. Did I talk to much? Was I too pushy? Will they want to meet with us again? Did they think we were too lenient with Aaron? Or did they think we were too harsh?

I know its just me and these wonderful people probably, hopefully, didn't think anything like that. I really need to forget about worrying what other people think. If they're really not that into us, so be it. There's no sense in pretending to be people we're not anyway.

Another thing that constantly has me worrying is Aaron's behavior. I swear, he behaves decently when we are home alone. I can even say he's well behaved. However, when there are other people around, he decides to test all his limits. People are going to think that I don't teach my son....

Today was an exception. I met up with some people and there were 6 kids in total. And Aaron was normal! You can't imagine how it felt to just sit back and watch him play peacefully with the others. I didn't feel any of the usual anxiety and didn't need to sit on the edge of my chair.

Anyway, I think I need to stop taking things so seriously. And, stop wondering about what people think of me, my family and my parenting skills. Having new friends is meant to be fun!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No More Fools Here

Its 5.08pm and so far, nobody in this house has played any tricks. We've all grown old and serious. And boring. So, I don't have any April Fool's Day 2009 stories to relay here.

However, the day has reminded me of the last time I played a joke on somebody. The "somebody" was my dad and my brother was my accomplice. And, this was just 3 years ago, to prove to my parents that they're kids had not grown up yet.

During one of my trips to Australia, I helped my brother move from Tasmania to Canberra. He had to drive his car the 800kms and I accompanied him. Our parents flew directly to Canberra. Anyway, during the move, we had to re-bottle his soy sauce in a used Fanta grape bottle.

As we were unpacking, we saw that my father put the soy sauce in the fridge. Aha! He thinks it is Fanta grape. Opportunity!!

After unpacking everything, my brother and I got ourselves some real Fanta grape and made a big show of drinking it, saying how cold and satisfying it was. It didn't take long for my father to ask what we were having and we told him that there was more in the fridge. It was so easy! He went straight for it. He never noticed that there weren't any bubbles there or that it was black instead of dark purple. OR that there was a strange smell.

Can you imagine what its like to take a big gulp of soy sauce when you're thinking of Fanta grape?? Obviously, my brother and I had a good laugh but at the very last second, I did have a fleeting moment of regret. My dad wasn't laughing at first but he joined us once he rinsed his mouth out. Phew!

Over the years, my brother and I have had lots of practice playing tricks on my father. He's always a good sport with things like this. We never dared to do much to my mom though. Until now....I think she's ripe for something big.