Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More About Me

Tagged by Jae! (Thanks you saved us all from a rambling post about pilates, guess I will save it for later!)

Things You Possibly Didn't Know About Me (or maybe you did, but I'm telling ya anyway ;))

1. What is in the back seat of your car right now?
3 car seats, some kids books to give the kids something to do in the car (like hit each other with the books), jumper cables, a couple of diapers just in case, and my driver's bottle of water

2. When was the last time you threw up?
Shortly after moving to Jakarta, about the same time I learned the phrase "Jakarta Belly."

3. What's your favorite curse word?
Can't say because I don't use profanity here, some of my kids friends read this blog, so it will have to remain a mystery!

4. Name three people who made you smile today.
Today – easy!! Alonzo, Colin, Grayson, David, and Cody

5. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Getting dressed for pilates!

6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Eating lunch

7. What will you be doing 3 hours from now?
Taking my 6 and 7 year old to tennis lessons, IF it ever stops raining!

8. Have you ever been to a strip club?
Nope, but I did have a stripper at a bachelorette party, does that count?

9. What is the last thing you said aloud?
"It's OK Mommy's right here." It is thundering right now, the scary, hateful, cracky thunder that Grayson is most scared of.

10. What is the best ice cream flavor?
Ben and Jerry's Phish Food or Ben and Jerry's One Sweet Whirled (or anything Ben and Jerry containing any combo of chocolate, coffee, and caramel (marshmallow and nuts optional)

11. What was the last thing you had to drink?
Black Cherry Tea - hot

12. What are you wearing right now?
Hot pink cotton top and ancient denim skorts, no shoes in the house.

13. What was the last thing you ate?
Pasta with homemade red sauce, leftovers for lunch

14. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Nope. Not this month either!

15. When was the last time you ran?
Last time one of the boys came up to me holding some gross creepy crawly! My poor pembantu Ibu Dwi was right behind me!

16. What's the last sporting event you watched?
Does David playing badminton with Alonzo count as a sporting event?

17. Who is the last person you emailed?

18. Ever go camping?
Yep but not in countries that have cobras or monkeys! Already shopping for camping gear for Germany!

19. Do you have a tan?
I live in the tropics and swim several times a week, so yeah, but I wear rash guard so my tan line is a little weird.

Don’t know where 20 – thru 23 went …

24. Do you drink your soda from a straw?
Yep, when ever I go to a restaurant in Jakarta that I have not been to before I avoid ice and order bottled soda and a straw. (see #2 for explanation)

25. What did your last IM say?
I haven’t IM’d in forever. My last SMS was about going shopping for exercise clothes

26. Are you some one's best friend?
Hope so but probably not since we live overseas and move so often.

27. What are you doing tomorrow?
9:15 will find me helping out in my son's second grade writing class, just like every Wednesday morning.

28. Where is your mom right now?
I hope she is at home asleep in her bed, it's the middle of the night in Texas.

29. Look to your left, what do you see?
Cat tree, a VERY fat orange cat, and my knitting basket with the scarf I am knitting for Alonzo.

30. What color is your watch?
I don't have a watch, maybe David and the boys will buy me one for Mother's Day. HINT HINT!!

31. What do you think of when you think of Australia?
beaches, Uluru, clean air, and big lizards

32. Would you consider plastic surgery?
YES! Anyone know a good surgeon? Sign me up.

33. What is your birthstone?
Topaz, it's yellow UGH!

34. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
Neither- McDonald's and KFC deliver. ;)

35.How many kids do you want?
I have 4 boys I don't think my sanity would survive another kid

36. Do you have a dog?
No, just 2 fat lazy cats. I want a dog but it just doesn't work with this lifestyle.

37. Last person you talked to on the phone?

38. Have you met anyone famous?
I don't know, are ambassadors considered famous? If so, then yes, otherwise no not really.

39. Any plans today?
Pilates this morning and tennis this afternoon but it is still raining.

40. How many states have you lived in?
States: Texas and Virginia
Countries:USA and Indonesia and soon to add Germany

41. Ever go to college?
Yes Even got my BS from SWT in '94

42. Where are you right now?
Sitting on couch in living room

43. Biggest annoyance in your life right now?
Getting ready to pack out without knowing our housing assignment at the next post. How big is it? How many closets? How big is the oven and will my cookie sheets fit or should I just send them to storage? How many bedrooms? .......I hate moving!

44. Last song listened to?
We Are the Dinosaurs Marching by Laurie Berkner (thanks Jamie, ow that sounded sarcastic, really I mean thanks, Grayson loves his music!)

46. Are you allergic to anything?
I used to get really sick after eating shrimp but I don't seem to have a problem with it anymore.

47. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
My clogs by Dansko I wear them with jeans they are so comfortable.

48. Are you jealous of anyone?
Anyone who doesn't have to move in the next 5 months

50. Is anyone jealous of you?
Yes but only because I have a maid

51. What time is it?
1:43pm Jakarta time

52. Do any of your friends have children?
Yes, most of them!

53. Do you eat healthy?
Most of the time

54. What do you usually do during the day?
Enjoy the kids, stay out of Dwi's way, practice guitar, try and learn German (at least enough to ask "where's the bathroom") with Rosetta Stone, sort through the endless amount of junk we have and try to decide keep donate or storage, shuttle my kids to various lessons and school activities, volunteer at school, cook dinner, blog

55. Do you hate anyone right now?
No not really I don't think hate is healthy but there are people I try to limit the amount of time I spend with them for my own mental health

56. Do you use the word 'hello' daily?
Yes, also Selamat Pagi (siang, sore, or malam depending on the time of day)

58. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?

59. Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Once, my dear friend Cynthia (who will never read this) took us last summer. So much fun!

60. How did you get one of your scars?
When I was a kid I was playing with our bulldog Major, I was running he was chasing. He jumped on me and knocked me into a barbed wire fence leaving a big scar on my thigh.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Corwin Wanna Be(s)

We went to the Sailing Club at Tanjung Lesung for the Chinese New Year holiday. One of the things my family loves best about the sailing club is how it allows them to channel their inner Corwin. All the men in my family, from the youngest to the oldest, seem to be suffering from the illusion that they are really wildlife show hosts and should (frequently) catch innocent wildlife to keep their skills up. I swear if you listen closely you can hear the collective wildlife scream as we drive up, "OH NO! NOT THEM! NOT AGAIN!"

Here is a gallery of their latest victims:

The first of many, many toads to be caught, terrorized, and released.

Crabs are the most plentiful wildlife and and so crabs are the most frequently caught wildlife at the sailing club. We transport our beach toys to the club in a large blue plastic tub. The tub doubles as a crab cage. Colin and Alonzo will catch dozens of small sand crabs and dump them in the tub. They will add sand and watch them frantically dig holes to try to hides. They will add shells to decorate the crab house. Then they will dig up all the holes just to see them do it all over again. We have to watch Colin though because he will suddenly decide the whole crab thing is boring and go dig up a really big crab to put in with all the little crabs. Colin is a bit bloodthirsty and really likes to watch the big crab eat his fill of baby crab sushi.

This time there were lots of baby frogs hopping around. They were in every mud puddle in the grassy field between the beach and the bungalows. If you look closely at the picture to the left you will see Colin holding one. Go ahead click on the picture to make it bigger. Did you see the frog? No? Ok, here is a better picture of the frog.

Cute little thing, isn't it? We originally thought it was a baby toad. We decided maybe it was a tree frog when Colin put a bunch of them in a bucket and they used their sticky little toes to climb right up the side and hop away.

The Great Frog Escape
Up, up....

And away!

David finally caught a monitor lizard. He has been trying to do this since we arrived in Indonesia. He has chased them at the sailing club, at the botanical gardens, and at a resort in Bali. This time he got lucky and was able to catch a baby monitor. It looks easy enough when Corwin does this on TV. David learned a few things: Monitors have very long sharp claws (in this picture the lizard has sunk them into the end of Dave's middle finger), monitors have sharp teeth and are eager to bite, monitors are grumpy, and a lot stronger than they look! He was bleeding from several wounds when he turned this little one loose.

And last, but not least, the ones who got away:

Actually the first thing to get away an almost three foot monitor that we ran across on road into the club. David saw this monster as we drove into the sailing club. He threw the van in park jumped out, and started running down the road after it, before I even knew what was going on. I kept waiting for him to yell, "By Crikey! What a little beaut!!" (OK so that would be Irwin, not Corwin...close enough, it even rhymes)The lizard took one look at Dave and made tracks into the nearest rice padi. After David caught the little monitor above he was REALLY glad this one got away!

This is not a lizard I would want to chase!

This is Dave watching another lizard get away!

Colin saw a SNAKE on this trip. (EEEKKK! THERE ARE FREAKING COBRAS IN INDONESIA.) Ok, so he didn't see a cobra. What ever he saw had stripes. Cobras don't have stripes. If they do have stripes, please don't tell me, just let me live in ignorance. Please! He swears it was a harmless flying snake. He knows because he saw a show about flying snakes on TV. Of course, he is an expert, whatever was I thinking??

I didn't see the snake, but I saw a TV show about kraits, they have stripes, they can kill you, and they live in Indonesia too. After I finished freaking out I treated Colin to yet another lecture about not touching snakes at all, ever, for any reason, seriously just don't do it!!! Lest you think I am one of those who hates snakes, all snakes, I would let my kids handle snakes back in Texas. Wait, maybe let is a strong word, it might be more accurate to say I didn't totally spaz out, mainly because I could accurately and from a distance of at least 4 feet identify all 4 species of venomous snakes native to Texas. I can't tell which species species here are bad news and which ones are (relatively) safe. Ok, I guess I could probably tell you it was a cobra AFTER someone pissed it off and it hooded up, but that would probably be too late to do any good, so my rule stands, NO SNAKES, NOT EVER!!! *** Important note: Colin swears he didn't try to catch the snake. For some weird reason I simply don't believe him, so I am putting it down as one that got away.
One of these will kill you, one is harmless. Can you tell which is which? Yeah, me neither! Actually my Mom would claim both are dangerous. One would poison her and one would give her a heart attack! Bad either way.

This critter didn't so much get away as refuse to come down where he could be caught. If you look closely you will see a large gecko in the middle of roof beams of our bungalow. This is a tokay gecko. It is considered good luck to have a tokay in the house. Perhaps because they eat bugs. Bugs are yuckier than lizards so I generally don't mind the tokay. Besides as lizards go they are sorta pretty, orangey with blueish spots. This one, however, was not a good house guest. At 2:00 each morning he began calling for a mate. It's mating call sounds something like a 3 year old child yelling TOE-KAY... TOE-KAY through a bull horn. At least now I know how they got their name.

I am sure there are other poor creatures that crossed paths with my men but I don't know about it, and I don't want to know about it. In some cases ignorance is bliss! I just hope the wildlife recovers before our next trip out to the sailing club.

**All animals were released back where they belong, traumatized, but mostly unharmed. We are a catch and release family.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm So Proud!

Bedtime for the youngest 2 found me marching up the stairs singing (to the tune of Onward and Upward to Zion)
"We're marching, we're marching,
we're marching up to bedtime.
We're marching up to bedtime,
'cause it's that time of the day."
The youngest refuses to climb stairs without marching. He refuses to march with a song. So we sing and march to bed. It is either that or carry him kicking and screaming all the way. I am just glad there are no witnesses. The second youngest was following along not singing.

About half way up the stairs Grayson looked back and said, "Sing Collie!"

Colin looked up and got this absolutely wicked look on his face. I had just enough time to think, "Oh No!" before he launched into song. Here is what he sang:
Goin' down the highway, goin' 44,
My mother cut a big one and blew me out the door.
The tires couldn't take it, the engine fell apart.
All because my mother cut a supersonic fart.
Colin and David found this to be absolutely hilarious. Of course Grayson laughed right along. I just stood there and glared while they giggled like drunk hyenas.

David finally said, "What? I didn't teach him that, my song is about my SISTER'S fart, not my Mom's." Sometimes I think I might be the only adult in the house.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No Sympathy!

I cut my finger on a can of Campbell's tomato soup while cooking dinner. My dear hubby heard me squeal, came in kitchen, said, "Yup" and slapped a band-aid on it for me. Ain't he sweet? At the dinner table Grayson noticed my band-aid and was upset so he kissed my boo-boo. Now he is sweet.

Colin looked at my finger after Grayson kissed it and said "Ohh! Mom you have the Japan flag on your finger." Not quite the reaction I wanted (OK I wanted sympathy, lots and lots of sympathy!) but seriously I want to know how many kindergarteners back home have even heard of Japan much less know what the flag looks like?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Late Breaking News Flash!

Alonzo lost his first tooth today! He is anxiously awaiting bedtime and a visit from the tooth fairy. We are uncertain of the going exchange rate for teeth.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


My long time friend and fellow blogger Jae posted something over at Chaos Ensues that set me off on a rant. High stakes standardized testing and "no child left behind". Here is what she had to say:
I so wish that Texas wasn't so FOCUSED on TAKS - wish they'd let the kids just enjoy, and be kids. At least, until 2nd grade for crying out loud! But THAT is a whole 'nother issue tied tightly to "No Child Left Behind". As Newsweek reports, it's cut school field trips, it's cut play learning, it's cut so much. Obviously, I am not a huge fan. I get the point ... but I also get that my kids should paint, play and enjoy their learning. And cutting the trips to museums, theater and more, well I think it's folly.
I was a Texas teacher in what now seems like a former life. I taught when Bush was governor and he was using Texas as a testing grounds for "no child left behind." My last year of teaching he was, as president, revealing his educational master plan to the nation. When I taught virtually every teacher training, every assignment or project, every aspect of classroom practice was focused on one thing and one thing only: TAAS Testing and improving scores. (the current incarnation of the test is know as TAKS-Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, but I will use TAAS-Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, since I taught in the TAAS era)

What makes a test high stakes? Well this test can be used to retain a student even if their grades are passing, teacher's annual evaluations are directly linked to student performance on the TAKS, seniors cannot graduate from high school if they do not pass the test EVEN IF THEY HAVE PASSING GRADES, (ever hear of test anxiety, well this is bound to make it worse!). The data from the test is used to rate schools and accredit districts. The state can come in a take over a school if the scores are too low. It is not unusual the morning of the test to see kids crying just from stress of it all, we even had children get physically sick and vomit.

Now I took standardized tests as a kid in school. I remember carefully filling in the little bubbles. I don't remember spending a lot of time talking about the test or taking practice tests before hand. I don't remember being particularly stressed, bored, but not stressed. A few months after the test I remember taking home a test report to my parents, but I certainly don't remember sitting in class going over the report section by section.

The bulk of my years teaching were spent in second grade. This is not a TAAS grade, testing starts in third grade. This did not mean that my classroom was free from the effects of the TAAS, far from it. From the first week of school we carefully formated questions on assignments to match the format of the TAAS. We gave TAAS practice mini tests every Friday. We carefully included extra information in math word problems (the TAAS math test is all word problems -which makes it also a reading test- on top of that most of the problems contain extra information to confuse the student). Every week for homework there was at least one day of TAAS math and one or more TAAS formatted reading passage. We gave the second graders last years TAAS test to make sure they were on track to pass in third grade. For the vast majority of students this was very discouraging since we were essentially giving them a test which they had no real chance of passing, it is a third grade test given in the spring, over half way through third grade. It is a test designed for students in third grade. It is not intended for second graders, but we gave it to them anyway. I was even told by one administrator that if it wasn't on the test she didn't want to see it in my classroom.

I think many things done in the name of the test are not good teaching practice. I felt then and I feel now that schools are creating a generation of good test takers not good thinkers. We are deliberately training children to think with in the narrow confines of the test. I am not alone in my frustration with the system. Parents hate seeing the effects of such intense stress on their children. Teachers resent not being able to TEACH!

Texas has incredibly high rate of teacher burn out. When I graduated from college in 1994 I was told look around, really look, because within five years 60% of the prospective teachers in that room would leave teaching and would never teach again. I understand the odds of making a long term career out of teaching are even worse now. I made it through seven years of teaching and when I left the classroom for the last time I certainly never intended to enter it again.

Now I am thinking I may return to the classroom. No one is more surprised by this than me. What changed my mind? My children are now attending an international school overseas. They do testing, but only as one of a number of tools used to track student performance, not as a weapon to damage children's confidence and intimidate teachers. I have been volunteering in the classroom and what I see happening there is amazing. Writing is being taught as a creative process not a formula. There is a huge emphasis on creating well rounded individuals with diverse interests. My kids attend art and music classes. They go to PE. In their computer classes they are taught actual computing skills not given endless automated computerized worksheets. They grow gardens, they take field trips, they perform plays, they attend assemblies, they have time for friends and recess. They are also taught to be aware of others around them, and seek to help those less fortunate. They call it being good global citizens.

On Valentine's Day my second grader helped sell paper flowers made by the second grade students to raise money for Tolong Anak Anak, a charity that helps with the care and education of homeless children.With adult supervision they manned the register, took in money, and made change. They even performed a "commercial" (with my Alonzo as Romeo!) during weekly assembly to remind people to by a flower for someone special on Valentine's and help out TAA. I found out today that they raised over 6 million rupiah. WOW! My children have experienced so many wonderful things at this school. Most importantly they have not experienced high stakes testing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Made with Trash

Lotus at Sarcastic Mom has issued a challenge: What small (or big) thing can you do to help clean up the Earth? What are you already doing? All this started after a walk through her neighborhood where she saw trash thrown all over and was disgusted in the ability of humanity to wallow in our own filth. So what am I doing? Nothing extraordinary, I keep lights turned off, pick up trash on my evening walk, I don't do styrofoam, and I (try to) teach my boys not to litter, we even wrap (almost) all our presents in newspaper. The new thing I am doing is using reusable shopping bags for trips to the grocery store. OK, I admit I am moving to Germany this summer and plastic shopping bags cost money in Germany. I might as well get into the habit now because I know I am not paying money for a plastic shopping bag!

Trash is a huge issue here in Jakarta. During rainy season last year the flooding was compounded by trash dams blocking the river flow causing it to jump its banks and flooding some of the poorest areas. We are talking a city where the term "trash-picker" isn't just an insult, it is a profession.

Here you can see a picture of trashed heaped alongside the river
(Yes, people live in those houses, trash is just a by product.)

There are somewhere between 350,000 and 450,000 trash pickers in Jakarta. These people don't just collect the garbage, they go through it, piece by piece, looking for things that can be resold for money or reused to make life easier. The average trash-picker makes around $30 a month. (This isn't a living wage here, either.) They have a very difficult life. This is a picture of a trashpickers kampung (compound or village) near my house. I walk by it on the way to the shopping mall all the time. It never fails to remind me how lucky I am.

So, you may ask, what does my over-privileged self have to do with Jakarta's trash picker's? And what do they have to do with saving the Earth? Maybe you are even asking how you can help? Well, there is a yayasan (charity) organization that manages to combine both helping people and helping the environment. XSProject uses the refuse collected by trash pickers to create these really cool shopping bags (and lunch boxes, wallets, coupon sorters, even laptop bags) and each item carries the tag you see at the top of this blog entry: This product made from garbage collected by Jakarta's trash-pickers. The bags are really sturdy and colorful. If you haven't made the switch to reusable grocery bags this is the time (even if you don't use these bags find some reusable alternative to all that plastic, please!). The XSProject bags are available for order online and the profits go to help the trash-pickers of Jakarta. Click here if your in the US, click here if you are someplace else. You can check out their ongoing progress at XSProject blog.

I am climbing down off my soapbox now. Time to to go play with the rugrat. Have a good day and don't forget to take time to smell the roses and hug a tree!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The World is Watching

While I was listening to Ms. Heard discussing poetry I glanced at the window and saw a child walking by twirling a blue sign. It was a campaign sign for the democratic party. One side read Obama, the other Hillary. This in itself was strange enough. If you are a regular reader you know that I don't live in the states, I live clear on the other side of the world in Indonesia and the child twirling the sign? He was Indian, as in from India, not the native American variety.

This is the first Presidential election during which I have lived overseas so I don't know if this level of attention is normal, but I can tell you that the world is watching this election, and they all seem to be watching the Democratic party.

*The fact that Obama's sign is slightly bigger than Hillary's is NOT a reflection of my feelings about the elections, it is just another fine example of my ineptitude with the computer. Don't read more into it than there is.

A Bit of Poetry

I went to Pattimura Elementary today for a talk given by poet Georgia Heard. It was a lot of fun learning about different ways to incorporate poetry into the everyday life of children. I will certainly use some of her ideas with my children. One I really like is lunch box poems a short verse tucked into the lunch box as a surprise. Ok maybe I shouldn't do this with the teenager (he packs his own lunch anyway, if I packed it I might throw in some healthy stuff ), but the littles ones would like it, maybe something like this:

It's time to eat, here's your lunch
Try some grapes in a bunch
You'll like the ham and cheese
Eat it all if you please.
Apple juice in a box,
Please don't spill it on your socks.

Hmmmm.... that was just sad. Maybe I should buy a book of poems. It might help.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


We escaped Jakarta for a long weekend to our favorite getaway The Tanjung Lesung Sailing Club. Usually the view is of fish traps, endless seas, and on a really clear day volcanoes.This time the fish traps were missing due to a rainy season storm, but that doesn't mean the view was all empty seas. Far from it! This time we got to see pirates! Lots and lots of pirates!

Click on the picture to better see the pirate fleet.

OK so maybe they weren't really pirates, maybe they were really fisherman driven into the cove by bad weather conditions, but the boats looked like something straight out of a pirate story. The kids were convinced they were pirates and really that was all that mattered.

The fishing fleet was stuck in the cove with nothing to do, so basically they had an unscheduled vacation. When ever the winds would die down a bit you could hear music drifting from the boats. Sometimes I would see a big splash next to one of the boats. Then a few minutes later I would see someone scramble up the anchor line on a nearby boat. After a bit they began to swim to shore. They used anything on board as a float to make it to shore: inner tubes were the most popular but also life jackets and what looked like lids from ice chests and an orange boogie board. Two or three guys would hang onto a float and they would all kick until they reached shore. It took them as long as 30 minutes to make the swim.

Here Cody and some friends watch the "pirates" jump ship to swim ashore.

Once they reached the beach they were doing pretty much they same thing as us. Running in the waves, picking up shells, sitting in the sand enjoying the day, walking on the beach and building sand castles. Oh, and they spent a lot of time sitting around watching the "bule" (boo-leh = westerner) and of course we were sitting around watching them. I am guessing we appeared as strange and exotic to them as they did to us.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wordless Wednesday-What the Gardener Gave the Kids

Mom! Help!

It is only about 10:30 and already it has been a long morning. There is no school today so I decided to be nice and make waffles for breakfast. Even with a treat like that there was whining. I was running low on plain flour so I made whole wheat waffles. I thought they tasted fine. More whining from child number 3 who wanted pancakes instead of waffles. Can't please everybody. Oh well.

After breakfast (everyone ate seconds in spite of the whining) I put child number 4 in the bathtub to remove the syrup. He refuses to use a fork so there was lots of sticky on him. Left child number 1 to keep an eye on him while I cleaned up the worst of the mess downstairs. I hadn't quite finished when I heard a blood curdling scream. "MOM HELP!" I ran upstairs. I found blood. Lots of blood.

Grayson had decided to try doing some gymnastics on the towel bar in the bathtub. No idea why there is a towel bar IN the bath tub. Before Cody could get Grayson off the bar he let go, slipped in the tub, and smacked his chin. The blood was pouring out of my baby's chin. Aaack!

Cody did great. He held pressure on the cut, while I called Dave to let Medical know we were coming, and some grabbed clothes for me and Grayson. There is just NO WAY I am going the embassy in my oldest jammies with a naked kid. So, yes, I took time to change clothes while my kiddo bled all over the place.

By the time we got there the bleeding was done and the cut looked nasty. Medical was happy to see us. They had gotten this fancy new skin glue and Grayson's cut gave them the chance to try it out. I was just happy there were no needles and stitches, just glue. Of course now I am a little concerned about finding one of the boys pouring Elmer's school glue into a cut so they don't have to go to the doctor.

"Look Mom, boo boo all better! "

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Boys and the Oobleck

It is rainy season here in Jakarta. What do you do with kids when it is too yucky to play outside? Normally I would just let the kids play in the rain and hose them off when they came back inside, but Friday we had scary, cracky, LOUD thunder. It is unlike any thunder I have ever heard before moving here. No one was going outside. I wasn’t even happy about them watching the lightening out the window. That thunder just sounded evil.

What to do to entertain the kids? Hmmm.... I dusted off the thinking cap. I remembered way back when, in another decade, another century even (back in the 20th century) when I was a teacher I used to read books to introduce activities. I remembered one that was always a hit, especially with boys. Oobleck!

So I read “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” by Dr. Suess to the boys. (Good thing I shipped all the kids books.) Then we made Oobleck. The boys really enjoyed playing with the Oobleck. Oobleck is weird. It pours like a liquid, but will break when you hit it, then it will flow back together again. It’s gross looking, messy, and feels disgusting! They had a blast.


1 ½ cups corn starch
1 cup water
food coloring ( it is green in the book so I went with green)

Mix everything together. Pour it onto a cookie sheet or into a large plastic container and let the kids have at fun.

*If they spill some don’t worry. Wipe up the worst, then let it dry. It will sweep right up.
**DON'T pour it down the drain! Just don’t! Trust me.
*** Oobleck will keep for several days in the fridge. Fun, fun, and more fun.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Strange Tropical Fruit #1 -Rambutan

First off let me make clear that these are fruit that are strange to me. These are fruit that I had never seen before moving to Indonesia. I mean no disrespect to anyone who finds these fruit normal and thinks strawberries are weird and exotic. (I had one lovely Indonesian woman ask me how to prepare and eat strawberries after she saw me put some in my shopping cart--should have asked her about bitter melon, I'm still clueless)

Rambutan is a hairy fruit about the size of a key lime. Rambut means hair, but the rambutan isn't hairy like a kiwi. Maybe tentacles would be a better description since they alway remind me of a sea anemone. It is usually red or reddish. The skin splits open easily to reveal a white interior with a texture something like a grape with a single large seed.

How does it taste? Well, it tastes like rambutan. What else is it going to taste like? It is sweet and kinda juicy. It has a rather pleasant, mild flavor. I like them, Colin and Grayson love them. They have been picking them up off the ground at the American Club and eating the fruit without washing it first. Eeeew!

I tried buying some at the store, but they weren't ripe. Peaches, melons, strawberries, even figs these I can tell if they are ripe. Rambutan's... not so much. Mom just didn't teach me how to tell if a rabutan is ripe. Haryono bought some at a kaki lima a while back and they were fabulous. Today we stopped on the way to the club and bought some. Again they are so much better than the ones from the store.

The stop at the kaki lima turned out to be the thing that made the whole outing worth while. The gentleman operating the kaki lima turned out to be a hoot once he realized his picture was being taken. Check it out!

David checks out the rambutan. They look nice.

Time to bargain! Whenever you buy something at a kaki lima bargaining is expected. We know we will pay more than if we had Dwi or Haryono buy it for us, but then we would have missed what came next. (Dave doesn't have mumps, he is eating a rambutan.)

Oh are you taking pictures? Go ahead we will keep bargaining.

My friend! Come here and smile for the camera.

Wait, one more before you go! Look tai chi!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog Day

It's Groundhog Day. Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow?  Will the long winter finally be over, or will it continue for six more weeks.  Wait a minute......I live in the topics.  It will be about 92 degrees today. Just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and the day before that, but the day before that was 96 degrees.  Guess I don't really care if Phil sees his shadow this year because there is no winter here. Ever.

Those of you who aren't from the states are probably a little confused right now.  Let me explain, February 2nd is Groundhog Day. On this day a groundhog (a big fat rodent thingy) will come out of his burrow to look around.  If Phil (the "official" groundhog weather forecaster) doesn't see his shadow then winter will soon be over and there will be an early spring.  If he sees his shadow then he will be frightened back into his burrow and there will be six more weeks of winter. Seriously!

Apparently this is a big deal.  Groundhog day has been marked on every American calendar I have ever purchased.  It makes the national news every year. Lessons are taught in schools across the nation. There is even a movie Groundhog Day  starring Bill Murray.

I remember learning about it in school (yes I had to learn about a fat weather predicting ground squirrel), but I don't have any idea who came up with this crazy idea.  A quick search of the web cleared this right up.  Various sites blame this legend on German settlers, Indians (native American variety), and a bit of Scottish poetry.  That was enlightening.  Guess we will never know.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Grayson Strikes Again

Today I (almost) finished my very first ever crocheted blanket. I made it for Grayson to replace his beat up baby blanket. I finished stitching and was working on weaving in the loose ends when the phone rang. It was raining hard. David was calling to tell me to send Ibu Dwi and Pak Haryono home. Parts of Jakarta were flooding and he didn't want them to be stuck at work. He is such a great guy!

Grayson was watching Playhouse Disney and playing with his bristle blocks so I stepped around the corner into a different room where I could hear better, leaving the newly finished blanket spread across the floor where I had been working. This is where I made the first mistake. I left a 3 year old in the room with my hand work unsupervised. Of course all the tools I had been using were also in the room. Tools like crochet hooks and SCISSORS.

After I assured Dave I would send them home, I bragged about having finally finished Grayson's blanket. I told him how I was going to have it finished for nap time today. I even told him how I was going to take a picture and blog about how I finally finished the blanket (I have only been working on it since August) Mistake number 2: tempting fate.

I peeked around the corner to check on the kiddo, and there he was scissors in hand sitting on the blanket. He smiled angelically and announced, "I helping Mommy, I helping." At this point my husband was treated to an ear shattering scream, "NOOOOOOOOO! NO NO NO NO NOOOOO!" Grayson had cut off the remaining loose ends that had not been woven in yet and in the process cut several holes in the newly finished blanket.

Maybe an expert could have fixed the holes so they didn't show too much. I, unfortunately am a rank amateur when it comes to crochet so I just made it worse. While I was trying to mend a hole in the middle somewhere a cut thread at the edge gave and the thing began to split in half. Finally I decided the only thing left to do is unwind it and start over. Grayson is watching me unwind his blanket. He keeps petting it and asking "My blanket, mine?" I am not sure who is sadder me or Grayson.

**Dave took the picture after I had undone nearly half of it. It used to be much bigger. SIGH!