Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just Take a Breath and Adjust

New Hobby: gardening.  Growing tomatoes cause the ones here are NAYSTAY.
So we are doing great.  I am adjusting to being a free lady to do whatever she will with the majority of the day free of children.  I have been exercising more, eating more, shopping more, trying out new hobbies, and coming up with business plans to expand my career as an instructional designer.  

Tiger is getting used to full day kindergarten.  He comes home rubbing his eyes and just beat.  For the first two weeks he kinda just checked out, wouldn't answer questions, and always was daydreaming but it seems like he is returning to the real world now.

Last night he cried himself to sleep with homesickness.  He misses his old Virginia life.  He misses his old preschool teacher (hi Gina), his old preschool friends (hi guys), and his old neighborhood (hi Greyson, Max, and Doug).  He was just mourning and I felt so sad.

Today he seemed better.  He told me he still misses Virginia but Malaysia is fun too.  It was what I needed to hear.

For a school celebration of Hari Raya in a few weeks I bought some Malaysian native clothing at a market.  The ole Manila bargaining tools are coming out again and Sunny is haggling like an old pro.  I took a taxi (pronounced TEKSI) today and just told the dude I would pay him $5 and it was no big deal.  City life is pretty awesome here.  Here are the kids in their clothes.

Central Market

Tried to barter for this but they would not budge.  My good looks got me nothin' but higher prices.

However, my honeymoon may be ending.  My bathroom has 200 degree hot water.  It scalded Stella the other day and she had first degree burns from it for several hours.  I tried to get it fixed and was basically told to get in line and that it up to my landlord, who I am at his mercy of timeline.  Then  our ceiling started leaking Monday morning in our powder room and no one came to fix it until Wednesday.    Now it is fixed but in about three days the beginning of a mold problem will start, oh yeah, and there is drywall damage.  I tell ya, nothing like housing annoyances to burst your bubble.  But I am reliant, I am okay, I am happy.  Housing annoyances will not destroy my honeymoon buzz.

In other news, I have been travel researching all day and night for a week and I am so excited and paralyzed by options, it hurts.  Where would you go in Asia for school breaks?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Put a Coat On It!

Did you know that motorcyclists in Malaysia are safer than they are in Utah?  Well, in some ways anyhow.  Their driving is similar to the scurrying of mice but they do wear their helmets.  In Utah, not so much.

Did you also know that in Malaysia motorcyclists wear their coats backwards.  In Manila, nope, in Hong Kong, nope, in Malaysia, coats on backwards...always.

Check out this dude with a backwards coat on.
Here is a close up:

The reason behind the coat backwards has to do with wind and bad elements or spirits getting into you, so the only logical thing to do...put a coat on it.  Heat and humidity be damned!  So, people from my hometown, take note, put a helmet on and wear your coat backwards.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The First Week

We have had a whirlwind amazing week here in Malaysia.

So, the kids started school.

They both came home happy.  Tiger was missing the entire contents of his backpack on day one but other than that seemed to be doing great (it returned day two).  He drew an amazing x-ray machine and his teacher sent home a nice note.

Stella has a super nice Canadian teacher and made a friend her first day.  Something happened over the summer with her.  We read but with every night being family party night we were not as consistent as I wanted to be, but in those four weeks something changed.  She has improved so much since school ended in June, and she was doing great in June.  Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the free play, maybe it was the hot dogs but that girl has it going on.  I love my Stella.

700 pounds of our stuff came.  With only a few problems, I am so happy to see my sheets, knives, plates, pots, pans, blenders, and all sorts of stuff I had missed.  

I drove for the first time here and it was surprisingly easy.  I felt like I was driving a motorcycle with a sidecar.  It just feels weird to have to be aware of my left side of car instead of the right.  Navigating isn't so bad, I just copy the car in front of me and it is fine when I turn.  

I think I may have hired a maid/cook.  She is older and Malaysian of Indian descent.  She has been cooking for ambassadors for years so I am excited to see what she can do.  We'll see, she starts next week.

So far Malaysia is great.   The weather is warm but it is not oppressively hot.  It rains, but never more than 30 minutes.  There is dengue but they spray for bugs so vigilantly at my apartment complex that I have only seen dead bees and roaches.  

Frankly, after Manila, Malaysia is quite impressive.  It is clean, the water is drinkable, I can buy pretty much anything I need at the grocery store (hello, they freaking had Marshmallow fluff) and there is no EDSA.  It is nice.

There is crime and almost every other person I talk to has had their bag grabbed, so I try to avoid needing a bag.  Purses are for squares anyway.  

The people here are direct in a way that I wasn't expecting, and that is a bit of a relief.  So much of my frustration in Manila was from this miscommunication of yes means no.  Here, it's not that way.  Maybe it was the British influence, maybe it's the spice in the food, either way it was a welcome surprise. 

We moved into one of the most social and lovely apartments in town.  Our neighbors have potlucks and drinks every weekend.  It is such a warm and welcoming community and surprisingly we are one of the only diplo-families in the building.  Us and a few Aussies, who may be friendlier than Americans.  It makes for an interesting mix and it has been fantastic.  

Today I got a massage at my complex and I can now move my neck again.  Yes, it was double the cost of the Manila but it was still only $30 for a 60 minute massage.  I think I am going to like it here.  

Monday, August 04, 2014

The First Weekend

So far I am in love.  Yes, Tiger and I are still waking up at 4:45 am.  Yes, I have eaten at the food stalls two days in a row now and I have had calamansi juice both Saturday and Sunday. MMMMM.
For those who have not tried Calamansi juice, it is a small round lime the size of a kumquat.  It is super sour but when you squeeze 3000 of them and add sugar it makes a limeade for the gods.  I am in love.

Today we found our local congregation.  Without getting too much into it let me just say church overseas has easily been the hardest part of my prior tours.  I am excited because for the first time EVER we will be in an English congregation overseas. I am also excited because it was just raw church.  People trying to be better people, no hub-bub, just church, it's a breath of fresh air.
These suckers are in our hood.  

Because it is Southeast Asia everything is about the malls.  The food at the bottom level of Pavillion Mall is amazing.  So much food to choose from and so so cheap.  Love it.  Plus there is people watching.  I call this photo: Pirate Booty.
Seth gets credit for this beauty.  

Tiger found a giant leaf for his collection and wanted to give it to his preschool teacher Ms. Thorson.  Hope you like the pic Ms. Thorson.

Our house has the British style plug but lacks outlets.  And it was just built.  There is one outlet per room.  ONE.  We will be investing in extension cords.

Microwave and tiny oven.

That took me two hours to figure out how to turn on. (Switch INSIDE cupboard).

Very big kitchen with cabinets up the ceiling.

The wet kitchen is where the action is.  I call it the hot kitchen.  This is where they are keeping my dishwasher until I hire a dish washer, which I am feeling wishy-washy about (pun intended).  The exhaust from the dryer just spits into this room, making it even hotter.  This is also where the maid's quarters area.  We do not currently employee a maid.

My 'hood at night.

This bathroom is an open concept bathroom.  The water from the shower runs all over the floor and under the tub.  It was designed this way.  Then it is supposed to drain, it is like showering in an aquarium.

Panorama of the tub and shower.  It is not striped in real life like that.  My phone is just weird.

I have a bidet.  Is it wrong I let Tiger use it as his toothbrushing sink?

Don't forget, No stepping on the toilet bowl.

This is just a taste.  More to come soon.  

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Arrival

We arrived in a palm field.  It was hazy, humid, hot.  My mind was hazy from the trip.

We were met by Seth's colleagues and somehow miracle of miracle we were able to get all eight or our bags and two car seats.  Our bags were the VERY last ones.  I had a pit in my stomach watching the bags roll by, which could have been caused by my nut and Cheezit diet for the 30 hours prior, I was terrified they were lost in translation and transit.

Surprisingly due to Hari Raya most of the city was on vacay and we were able to sail home from the airport.  No traffic at all.

Our house is great.  I need to actually take pics.  This is the view from my living room:

I live walking distance to the nicest, biggest malls I have ever seen and the biggest park and playground I have ever seen.  Pics to come when I actually take them.

We were greeted to some basic groceries and some lended cash from our sponsor and we have spent the following 48 hours trying to figure out life.

We had purchased a car upon our arrival and when Seth went to our sponsor's home to pick it up it was DOA.  We jumped it, drove it home, and found it was not going to come to life again.  So all of Saturday morning was dedicated to jumping car, replacing battery, and then driving the car to the mall to buy stuff.

I love that it has a backup camera.  I hate that it doesn't have a place for me to plug in my ipod.  I am fascinated by the Japanese owner's manual and buttons.  What do they mean?  Not quite sure but it makes me giggle at this point.

At least I can read CARWINGS.  I pushed that and expected it to turn into a flying Delorian but no such luck.

Yay for GPS.  Boo for it thinking we are in Japan and not in English.

Saturday evening we made a third attempt to set up our cell phones (T-Mobile locked our phones that we paid for in full.  Boo.) When we failed we went to the local food stalls.  OMG.  I am in heaven.  For $3 we all had huge plates of delicious food.  I think I am never cooking again.  

Yes, Tiger is eating his American sandwich and Stella goes local.  It's like he has the eating habits of a five year old or something.
That's all I have or you now kids.  More to come soon.

Selamat Datang to Malaysia

We finally made it.  It was a long, long, long flight(s).

We spent the entire morning, afternoon, and evening cleaning and packing up.  Then around 6:00 we gathered our children from their grandparents ate our last American supper and went to the airport.

The flight from Salt Lake City to LA was easy peasy.  No big deal.  We sat around for 90 minutes, browsed through the safety card and in-flight magazine and then we were there.

We had a long layover in LA so my grand plan was to pay for the lounge and hang out for four hours.

Once we got to the said lounge, the Delta reps were not convinced I should be there.  They told me the three hours I had til departure would not be enough to do everything to get on my next flight and I needed to start going in about 30 minutes.  I thought they were joking, they weren't.

Turns out TBT is not To Be Terminaled, or To Be Told.  It stands for Tom Bradley Terminal, which is about the distance from Athens to Sparta.  With Tiger literally in my arms I walked seven miles in that airport.  We were the last and/or first flight of the day so nothing was open.  Just me, Seth, kids, and a bunch of tired people.

The 13 hour flight to Taiwan was long.  My tailbone was throbbing by hour six so I found a abandoned exit row window seat.  I got a few minutes of shut eye until another passenger discovered my treasure bench and insisted on reading with the light.  Oh, I was so fuming inside.  Tiger at this point had taken over my seat and I just roamed a bit and fumed about the usurper of the bench I usurped.

It was a long flight.  The kids got about six hours of sleep and I got two or three.

I was woken up with the option of rice and fish or a watery omelet for breakfast.  I chose fish, when flying China Airlines (codeshare with Delta) always go with the local dish.

Once we got to Taiwan we were surrounded by high end shopping but very little food.  I ordered and onion pork dumpling for dinner and with a bite I knew this thing was not going down.   It made me miss Belgian croissants.

We landed amid palm oil fields and we have been in a haze since.

More to come soon!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Our Year in the USA

Today has been an emotional day for me.  I woke up very confused.  The news was saying the Malaysian Airlines flight had been shot down in the Ukraine.  My first thought was, how could that flight have gotten to Ukraine?  Crazy conspiracy theorists, but then, oh then, I realized it was ANOTHER Malaysian Airlines flight that crashed.  Malaysia,  you know the country I am leaving for in two weeks?  And then the calls came, "Are you still in the US?"  "What airline are you going to be taking?"

And the pit in my stomach began to grow.  No, I don't know anyone on that flight but I know what kinds of people were in that flight and I know it will affect me and I am heartbroken because it is awful, because it feels personal, it could have been me and my kids, it could have been anyone who flies internationally.

My kids start school in a week.  They are going to an international school and there will be people in that school who knew people on that plane.  That's the way expat life works.  It is a very small village.  I feel sick, it isn't fair.

To help myself get lost from my sad thoughts I made a slideshow of our happy year in the USA.  I am not a huge Miley Cyrus fan but the song fit and if the song fits it fits.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Last Party in the USA

I don't want to be a blog quitter.  I like blogging.  I like keeping track of things and keeping friends up to date with our day to day.  However, when my plate is full, it is full and the blog usually gets the boot. I have been a wee-bit busy.  Here is the happenings.

I got older.  No picture needed.

Tiger turned five and had a Ghostbuster themed birthday party.

Stella turned seven.  We went to Six Flags on a Wednesday when everyone was still in school.  It was awesome!

We saw old friends from our Manila days.  Addie, Bella, Ashlynn, Sara, and Justin are as cute as ever.  It was great to see them.

Then, we ended school.  Tiger finished preschool.  I want to say there were tears but since he was going to camp the next week at the same preschool it didn't feel real.  I don't think he really gets it either, or he just doesn't care.  Both are probably true.  I can't believe my sweet guy is going to be a kindergartner.

Then Stella finished first grade.  She is such a great kid.  She has grown up to be such a little adult and I just adore her.  She is on top of everything.  She just finished reading Harry Potter and I am so proud of her.  She makes my heart swell with her awesomeness.

The day after Stella finished school we hopped on a plane and went to Utah where I am currently blogging from.  We had drove up to Wyoming for a big family reunion.  Everyone had a great time.  Then Seth returned to DC to finish fixing our house up, packing, cleaning, and getting ready for Malaysia.  I miss him like crazy.

Being a single mom is much easier when there is family around.  My brothers and sisters and I have been meeting regularly and it is so much fun.  We watched fireworks, ate smoked meat, and played with sparklers.

We rented a boat and then went to the middle of Utah Lake to practice our cannonballs.

I am now living in a basement apartment.  It is in my aunt's place but she is leaving me alone for the most part and I have to say, I love having my own place.  I love deciding when I clean it, deciding when I make my beds (mornings), and having control of my laundry.  I want to buy a pied a terre in Utah Valley someday, someday.  But I know I will never quite fit in here, for reasons like this:
Yes, they are selling purses that conceal your pistol.  Gotta love the West.

We leave for Malaysia in three weeks.  Right now it still doesn't feel real.  I love being here but I realize I don't belong here.  I love being abroad and I am hungry for our next adventure.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

How do you know you are getting older?  You buy a toilet for your 35th birthday.  That's right folks, I treated my best side to the finest toilet this side of the Mason-Dixon line.  Tomorrow this baby will be all mine.  I might have Seth put a bow on it and give me the honors.
For those who are toilet-curious this is a Toto toilet, it is supposed to be the best.
MMMhmmm, look at her curves

Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Stress Cracks

Last night she was up at midnight, screaming.  We couldn't get her to wake up.  Then at two, then at four.  Finally at four I got into bed with her and comforted her as she cried in her sleep.  The next morning she looked tired.  She has a standardized end-of-year test to see her reading level.  She went to school with bags under her eyes.

He has been crying a lot.  He keeps saying his friends are teasing him, they aren't.  He likes to lie down under things and snuggle in a blanket.  When he comes home from school he just daydreams, more than usual.  He has been a pickier eater than normal.  He lost a pound and his pants are falling off him.

While there is nothing going on or nothing wrong, both my kids are feeling it.  They feel the impending move, the stress of the move, the nervousness of yet another jump.  They are used to it, they are good at it, they expect it.  Tiger just asked me, "Mom when do we move because we have been in this house too long."

No matter how prepared you are, no matter how amazing you are, no matter what you do to get ready the stress of a move trickles down in the family.  My kids are both feeling it.  They are fine, but they are not unaffected.

I am not a freshman on this moving thing anymore.  I have done it enough that I get it.  I am no old pro either, and grateful for that.  I have tried every time to be organized and together and invested so much emotion and energy.  No more.  No matter what I do my pillows end up with my pots.  This year I am not doing it.  I am going out of town with the kids and Seth is going to do the move solo.  Maybe I am crazy, maybe I am mean but it needs to happen.  This will be my grand experiment, does my preparation make a difference? Let's find out.