Friday, May 23, 2008

Problem solving

Grayson loves to climb on me. He has Mom confused with a piece of playground equipment. It drives me nuts! This morning he was trying to climb on my legs while I drank my first cup of coffee. Physical contact with me prior to sufficient caffeine input is dangerous and may result in bodily injury.

I put my coffee on the coffee table next to my feet (Mom, calm down, it's my furniture I will put my feet on the coffee table if I want to!) lifted him off my legs and put him on the floor. Then I looked him in the eyes and told him, "Stop climbing on Mommy you will spill my coffee."

Grayson stopped and looked at my coffee. I thought "Oh My Gosh he is going to follow directions!" Ha! He carefully and very slowly moved my coffee to the center of the table with out spilling a drop. Then he climbed back up on my outstretched legs. "Coffee Safe" he announced bouncing up and down on my knees. Ouch!

I don't know if I should be proud of his problem solving skills or just irritated he is still touching me. Is it wrong for the mommy to whine to the daddy "He's touching me!!"  Yeah, I thought so!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday-Cowboy Boots

American Food

I was cleaning out a few of the 1000s of messages in my e-mail inbox this morning when I found this e-mail I sent to David back in October. It was so funny I had to share. Hope you enjoy!

Dwi cooked.  She made chicken cordon blue, sort of.  When I came in she showed me what she was making and asked if I knew what it was.  After a glance I said chicken cordon blue.  She glowed!  I recognized her attempt at western cooking so it must be pretty close.  Normally it has ham and swiss cheese tucked inside chicken.  Tonight it had cheddar and Oscar Meyer salami in chicken.  It actually was pretty good, salty, cheesy, and crispy on the outside, but I think I understand why chinese people say Americanized "Chinese" food isn't Chinese!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Strange Tropical Fruit #3-Jambu Kluthuk

It has been a while since I posted about the cool fruit here. When I did the first post on rambutan I envisioned a series of posts about all the produce available here. There are so many fruits I have never seen before. Many of them I have not had the chance to taste and since we will be moving soon I guess I never will. I will try to do a few more posts, I have promised myself that I will not leave Jakarta with out tasting the dreaded durian! That should be a fun post!  Oh well, onto the jambu kluthuk or as we call it in the west, guava!

I had heard of guava before moving here, and have even had it in fruit drink blends back in the states. While I like the juice fine (in a blend) I find the fruit itself to be a bit overpowering, or rather I find the smell of the fruit to be a bit overpowering. The smell permeates the kitchen when there is one of these in the fruit bowl. For me it is not a pleasant smell, it always reminds me to put on deodorant (yeah, that's my way of saying it smells like stinky pits!).

The flesh is a bit gritty sort of like a pear, actually like pears it doesn't have a very strong flavor, slightly sweet but not very strong. I think it tastes like....hmmm....well... it tastes like GUAVA!  My tropical fruit book describes it as "crisp but not very sweet" I often see guava slices sold with a dipping sauce. I guess the sauce adds some flavor. I have had it with a sweet, hot (very hot) sambal over it and it was yummy, I liked it much better that way. Sort of disguised the smell for me, I was too worried about my taste buds going up in flames to care about the smell.

My boys like the fruit fresh from the tree. I think this is mostly because we have a guava tree right outside our living room window and sometimes I will hear a noise, glance out the window and see legs hanging out of the tree. The guards, pembantus, and gardeners have all climbed that tree at times to grab a quick snack. This is usually a signal for my kids to run outside and beg for a guava. As I am typing this on the compound guards is outside using a long piece of bamboo to knock down a ripe guava from the tree. Grayson is standing on the piano bench yelling through the window and waving his half eaten guava. I think he is telling the guard "Me too, I like guava too!"

Last Saturday I was sitting inside alone, enjoying a moment of calm, when I heard a loud thump from the roof.  This usually means that someone has climbed onto the roof from the tree and is picking fruit.  I glanced out the window and what do I see? Colin in the tree yelling up at someone on the roof. Now Colin was either harassing a gardener in hopes of fruit, in which case I should probably intervene, or my husband was up on the roof. I grabbed the camera and ran outside. This is what I found:

Yep it was my husband on the roof trying to spot the ripe guavas. Usually who ever climbs the tree looking for fruit ends up on the roof because the tree is crawling with ants. Stepping to the roof gives you a moment to spot the fruit before climbing onward. Sitting in the tree while trying to spot the fruit gives the ants a chance to crawl all over you. ICK!
Once Dave spotted the fruit he wanted to pick he climbed back into the tree and climbed even further up. Between this picture and the last Colin jumped out of the tree and did the I-have-ants-in-my-pants boogie. You can see what a great example we set for safe play!

Alonzo is holding a half eaten (dirty) guava. Fruit bats ate this one last night. The bats like the guava too. The fruit bats will grab a fruit and eat a bit then when they are tired they will drop it, it will land on my roof with a thump, and slide to the ground. I love to watch the bats but I can understand why fruit farmers hate them. They never finish the fruit and every morning we find bits of half eaten fruit in the compound.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teach the Children

This week I had a chance to sit in on the weekly assembly at the elementary school. WOW! They were celebrating Earth Day. I thought Earth Day had already come and gone but I think it must have occurred when the kids had a day off so they celebrated it this week.  In any case, I was truly moved by the school's dedication to saving the Earth.  One of the school's stated goals is to foster responsible world citizens.  They are involved in several yayasans (charities) that help out those in need. They also teach the kids to take responsibility for their personal impact on Earth. The assembly had the kind of energy I remember from high school football pep rallies.  (Hey I'm from Texas we take our football seriously!) Lots of energy at the assembly.  

The youngest members of the school Prep-Receptions and Prep-Juniors (3-4 year olds) performed the "Recycle Hokey Pokey"  You have never seen anything as cute as a 3 year old singing "Put your plastic in and recycle all about..." and acting it out with recycle bins on stage. It was darling.  

The second graders sang "The Year of the Reef" song they learned while studying the coral reef. They also reported that they had raised enough money with the bake sale to print and distribute 250 eco-coloring books and crayon packs. These books teach sustainable fishing practices that are reef friendly.  These were given to children in fishing communities in Bali, Tanjung Lesung, and Surabaya.  

We heard an update from the yayasan that works with the school recycling project. The school collects recyclables and sends them onward to a charity that works with street children.  The recycling helps to fund the formal education of the street children, they in turn learn to recycle garbage, from papers and plastics to composting organics.  The students at Pattimura are aware that the trash they bring in to recycle not only helps the Earth but also helps other children as well.  We learned that we had finally received our color coded recycling bins. This will help to separate recyclables before they are sent to the yayasan.

Finally we heard from the student leaders (pretty much like student council) on ideas to help further the recycling efforts at the school.  Several classrooms have purchased reusable plates and cups for use in class room parties to eliminate the need for paper and styrofoam plates.  They performed skits encouraging the other students to choose reusable materials rather than disposable when possible, for example using a tupperware container instead of plastic sandwich bags

In addition to the assembly I have seen the school make other efforts to back up the claim that they are educating "responsible world citizens."  The elementary school has garden plots that the kids use to learn about growing plants.  Currently they are planted with rice, a major crop here in Asia. (Check back in a few weeks for the details of a Balinese rice harvest ceremony)  The high school performing arts had a concert, instead if paper programs, the program was projected on screens to either side of the stage.  Only the seniors for whom this was the final concert received a hard copy as a souvenir. 

What is my point with this long rambling post? Is it that expensive private schools overseas that are largely left out of the testing craze have more freedom than public schools in the states? Sure partially but my main point is the children are the future and if we don't teach them then the future is lost. Is all this fuss at school effective? Oh Yeah! I made the mistake of putting the boys popcorn for snack in a plastic sandwich bag instead of a reusable tupperware and boy did I hear about it! Oh My! I won't e doing that again soon. Make sure as you go about your life doing your part to protect beauty in nature, also take the time to tell your kids what you are doing and why! The children are the future!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Science Rules!

Alonzo and Colin participated in their very first science fair tonight. Science Rules!  They decided to do their project together. (Or rather Mom decided that one project was enough work for her so if they wanted to do this, they better do it together!!)  After I ruled out any ideas related to blowing up anything or creating really bad smells, they settled their favorite messy goop, Oobleck.

Much to the boys irritation I made them go through all the motions of getting ready for the science fair. They had to read about how to make it, why it works, and actually make some observations of solids, liquids and oobleck. Mostly they just wanted to get to the part where they could play with the icky goo. Colin learned that oobleck is a liquid that sometimes acts like a solid.  Alonzo learned this kind of liquid is called a non-Newtonian fluid.  LOL!  Yeah Right! What Colin really learned is you can roll it into a ball, but as soon as you stop rolling it will "melt" and drip through your fingers. Alonzo learned that even though it is a liquid it will not splash when you hit it. Seriously, no splashing!

Actual scientific value aside, I count tonight as successful experience. For almost 2 hours Alonzo and Colin didn’t fight!  Miracle!  They took turns looking at other experiments and watching over their own station. More importantly they talked about, explained and demonstrated oobleck to every passing science enthusiast. Not a shy bone in their wiggly little bodies!  Their station turned out be one of more popular mostly due to boys own enthusiasm for playing with the oobleck.
"You can touch it, Really!"

Colin explains to a passing grown-up that Oobleck is a liquid AND a solid.

One group of people learned a lot about the properties of Oobleck. The poor cleaning crew! The school covered the gym completely with blue tarps to protect the floor. Even with that precaution in place, the janitorial staff quietly circulated cleaning up the inevitable messes almost before they even happened.  The one thing resistant to cleaning? Oobleck! If you wait until it is dry, it will sweep right up.  If you try to sweep or mop it while it is still wet it doesn't spread out like you would expect a liquid to do, it just sits there in a blob. In fact the more pressure you apply trying to sweep or mop it, the harder it becomes to move. At one point we had four guys all trying their hardest to clean up the mess. It just wasn't working for them. I don't have enough Indonesian to explain that wiping softly instead of scrubbing would be much more effective. I had to walk away before they realized I was laughing at them. Eventually all of them left except for this guy in the picture he stood by all evening trying to  keep the mess under control. I hope they got paid overtime for tonight because the sure deserved it!

Bubble Drink

I found these weird drinks at the grocery store the other day. Even though the only thing I want floating in my drinks is ice I bought them for the kids. Hey they were cheap and cool looking! When they came home I gave them these drinks along with string cheese for a snack.

Alonzo (usually my picky eater) "Mom buy this again! I like it."

Colin (usually will eat anything) "Yuck! Can I put it in the fridge for Daddy?"

Grayson (the baby) drank half, poured the rest out to get to the bubbles inside, then cried because he didn't have anything left to drink.

Here is what I found out:
1. The drinks aren't carbonated, don't know why I thought they were.
2. The "bubbles" are firm and solid, not liquid filled.
3. They are really hard to sweep up. They stick to the floor, the broom, and your feet.
4. If you step on one it feels gross!
5. There is no way Daddy is going to taste Colin's drink, it's still sitting in the fridge.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Piano Recital

Alonzo and Colin have been taking piano lessons once a week since mid January. They have only had 4 months of piano instruction. Sunday they had their first piano recital. I think they did well. Colin was the very first student to perform. He panicked a bit and played both pieces without stopping in between, but otherwise did fine.

The recital was held at a private house. It was a very large house and still it was quite crowded. The boys performed on a baby grand to a packed house. I would have been intimidated too. I am so proud of them both, I could just bust!

This is Colin playing "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

This is Alonzo playing "The Banjo Picker" and "The Princess Waltz"

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ken Pattern

There is an artist here in Jakarta who is a transplant from Canada, his name Ken Pattern. His medium is mainly stone lithographs, but he also does oils, acrylics, etchings and ink drawings. We have seen a lot of his works in various places like businesses and friends houses. We went to our first showing in early 2007 at the Gran Melia Jakarta. We were not in a position to buy any of his art work but we were able to get some calendars for our friends back home. Each summer Ken returns to his shop in Canada to produce new pieces and each fall upon his return he has an exhibition. When he returned last year it was at the Hadiprana Gallery. At this exhibit we purchased our first two litho’s. We got “Cow” for Shannon’s mom and we bought “Family Outing” for ourselves. We saw some great oils and acrylics, but the prices were way out of our range.

Last week we went to the grand opening of his current exhibition at the Gran Melia and as fate would have it we found a picture that said “buy me”. Talk about a statement… this picture really does speak a thousand words. It transcends all cultural barriers and really hit me close to home. As most of our dearest friends know, Shannon and I are some what of naturalists. When I lived in Washington State, I use to go hiking and mountain biking off the fire roads in the mountains. It was so picturesque driving to the parking area, all the tall green trees; they seemed to go on forever…until I got on the fire roads. It’s not until you get onto the fire road and away from the main road that you see the true forest, the partially burnt stumps and rotting remains of what once use to be a forest. This is happening to forests all across this great world of ours. The painting that we bought shows a kind of surreal image of what I might see if I were to drive down the road where the forest once stood.

I hope everyone enjoys the picture.


Mom! I have gum in my hair!

This was not the first thing I wanted to hear out of Grayson's mouth this morning. Truly I all I wanted was blessed silence while I drank my first cup of coffee. I don't foresee that happening anytime in the next decade (unless I get up at 3 am) but I can dream. Of course when I asked who had been chewing gum there was a chorus of "NOT ME!"  and much finger pointing. I do not allow bubble-gum in the house. Someone broke the rule!  I suspect I will never know which kid is responsible. Maybe they had a bubble gum party and only the baby was dumb enough to get the evidence stuck in his hair.

David immediately said, "I guess you will have to take him to get his hair cut."  

Across the room Alonzo suddenly sat up straight and asked, "You have to get your hair cut when you get gum stuck in it?"  I could see the wheels turning in his head.  You see David likes long hair on little boys but at least one of the boys would prefer to have his head completely shaved. David keeps telling Alonzo no.  The last time the boys got their hair cut was when David was out of town for a couple of weeks, I took them in to the barber shop,  then broke the news by posting it on the blog. The next time they get their hair cut will probably be when Aunt Teri gets a good look at their long hair and whisks them off to the barber shop. She doesn't much care what her baby brother thinks about long hair, she cuts the boys long hair every time she gets near them!  Yay Teri!

With visions of giants sticky gobs of gum all over Alonzo's head I was quick to announce, "No we don't have to cut his hair!" 

I have gotten bubble gum stuck in my long hair a few times and have never had to cut my hair.  The secret?  PEANUT BUTTER!  The oils in peanut butter break down the sticky in bubble gum and then you can comb it out. Thanks Heloise! You can also use mayonnaise or olive oil, they work just fine.  I plopped Grayson down in a chair smeared some peanut butter all over the gianourmous  clump of gum in his hair and tried to let it sit for a bit.  If you can leave it alone for 20 minutes that works best.  20 minutes is apparently just too much to ask of a 3 year old.  I ended up having to comb it out before it had time to work completely. There was enough screaming that I think we are safe from any gum-in-the-hair hair cut schemes for a while. Grayson is now bubble gum free and a bit oily and peanut scented.  Now maybe I can have some coffee.