Monday, February 26, 2007

Things I never imagined I'd say

At snack time today, "No! Ethan! You cannot launch your muffin!"

Sunday, February 25, 2007

No Place for South Paws

A nice worker woman from Mustafa was helping me with my bags yesterday morning (bright and early - the only decent time to go to Mustafa). She stood on the curb and handed me my bags. Several times she said, "So sorry ma'am, left hand" when she passed something to me. For a minute I was confused. Is there something wrong with your left hand? Is it weaker so you're afraid to drop it? What's the deal?

Then I remembered. In Indian culture, your left hand is dirty. It's the one you use for, among other less pleasant activities, wiping yourself. So you should never hand someone something in your left hand. It's extremely offensive. This made me consider the numerous times - probably every time - I have brought my cart to a checkout in Mustafa, grabbed things out of the cart with my left hand, and placed them on the counter. Maybe it's ok if I'm not giving it directly to their hands. I don't know how it self-cleanses between hitting the counter and then them picking it up. But come to think of it, most of the counters are arranged in such a way that they are always picking it up with their left, I guess so they can enter in numbers with their right.

I want to respect their culture, so today when I was there (at a time when you should only go if it is absolutely necessary) I was conscious of using my right hand as much as possible. If only they knew - I don't wipe with my left.

A trip to Chinatown

More Birthday pictures

"Dad look! Knight's Kingdom!!" Ethan is totally into this kind of Legos these days.

Steve gave the boys a thrill by repeating throwing all of them into the pool.

Does he look older to you? It's hard to believe he's seven already!

Megan can't get enough of her best friend Faith!

Ethan's 7th Birthday

Ethan happily presides over his party and his Superman birthday cake. Thank God the rain held off until after the cake eating!
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lion Dances

The first day back to work after the New Year holiday means lots of Lion Dances. People are hired to come perform this dance at businesses with drum and cymbal accompaniment. We saw this one at our local hardware store. It's meant to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. When we ran errands, we heard and saw this several times yesterday. This is the Chinese zodiac year of the Golden Pig. It's a very auspicious year, so if you're thinking of having a kid, this is the year to do it!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Our new toy

A long time ago, back when we had to load film into cameras and we still feared things like exposing it by accident, I owned a nice camera. I had fleeting ideas about a career in photography, even doing a mentorship at our local paper my senior year of high school. Then somewhere along the way, I had kids, and they seem to lack the patience to wait for mommy to focus the camera or fiddle with the shutter speed, so I went back to a point and shoot. Then someone, presumably a parent, invented digital cameras, so we could afford to take millions of pictures of our children and mess all but 12 of them up without regret. So the thought of a digital SLR crept into my mind.

Last weekend my dream became a reality. We are now the proud owners of a Canon Rebel XTI and we're having fun. I am quite rusty when it comes to aperture and shutter speed and all that, and I really must take some time soon to refresh my memory or all I will have is a very expensive point and shoot camera. But it's coming back to me a little at a time with trial and error (thank God for digital!) and here's the proof. (Erik took some as well - can't have all the credit!).

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Celebrating Chinese New Year

How cute is this little one?

Megan and her girlfriends Faith and Abby

Cub Scout pinewood derby preparation

The obligatory tropical flower picture

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Glimpses of Thailand

A quiet moment at the wood carvings village
These are for sale, if you want one
Altars like this are a common sight

A woodcarver in the Wood Carvings Village
Here I am waiting for my lime shake (twenty baht! - about 60 cents). I was quite sick this day, hence the hesitant smile

So far, so good

After a year of having cable TV in our house (previously we had nothing but static) I am relieved to say I unhooked the cable box three days ago and set it by the door. It's going back. We thought we should get cable originally to do noble things like watch the local news and educate ourselves about the country in which we live. I have watched about 1/2 hour of the local news in the past year. On the other hand, I've clocked more than my share of hours watching the E! channel.

Already I feel like I can breathe again. I can hear myself think. My children haven't asked for it beyond the first "Why are you taking the box away?" No more listening to another synopsis of Scooby Doo (don't my kids realize every episode is essentially the same?) or theme songs from kid shows that get stuck in my head. I find myself turning toward a book, my husband, my kids, hobbies. TV is too easily the path of least resistance in life.

It feels good. Sure, I won't know who wins American Idol this season, or at least I won't see it happen. But I may finally write that book I've had in my head, now that I "have the time."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

School at the beach

Ah, the beauty of homeschool. Sure, there are days I want to pull my hair out, or threaten to put them in public schools, or make plans to rob a bank so I can pay for a private international school (ok, I don't do that). But today was a good day.

We went to East Coast Park after lunch with the intention of collecting shells to make picture frames. This is a Cub Scout project Ethan can get credit for, so he was excited. Once we got there, I realized that this wasn't just a fun outing - it was biology/geography/weather/geology/physics class all rolled up in one. What animals lived in these shells? Look at this crab! Why do these little rocks get washed up this far onto shore? Is it going to rain? Hey, a sun shower! What path will these peanut shells take if I put them at the top of these rocks and they get washed out to sea? (seriously).

I kept wondering what the average 7 year old is doing in school at 1 p.m. and I thought my son has it pretty good. Now if only he realized that . . .

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm Good Luck

At the night market in Thailand, I noticed a strange phenomenon, which my friends explained to me (given the number of times I've shopped at markets in Thailand, you'd think I would have picked up on this before). If you are the first buyer of the night at a stall, they will give you a good deal. They do this because it's lucky, and then they take a special stick and lightly smack all their goods to spread the luck. At least that's how I understand it.

Well, we went to the market early, and I happened to be the first buyer at no less than four stalls. I was spreading the luck like crazy! They were quite pleasant and fast interactions, win-win all around.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

To Thailand and Back

If you've wondered about my cyber-silence, it's due to my presence in Chiang Mai this past week (and thus my absence in Singapore). I did take my computer, but I neglected to connect to the internet at all. I just used it to watch movies and, yeah, I guess that's it.

Chiang Mai was good. I was there for a homeschool conference - my first! - and then to spend a few days with my husband, who was there for another conference, ironically. (Thailand is the place for conferences because it's cheap and somewhat central in southern Asia). I would write more, but I caught a cold while there and feel pretty miserable. Yet I still have to plan homeschool tonight from all the fabulous ideas I learned at the conference. Pictures to come.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

True Colors

For those who think they know our little girl as "sweet, shy little Megan" let me correct that erroneous belief. For some reason she still clams up in public (we're working on that) but at home, she can best be described as a silly, song-singing, face-making, ham. So now you know.

Whirling Dervish

In a rare move, Megan asked to wear her princess costume the other day. She got it in her head that she should spin, so here she is.