Friday, March 30, 2007

Back to Desaru

In a serendipitous moment, we planned a vacation several months ago with another family here, not knowing that by the time we went, they would have made the decision to move away in June. So our four days in Desaru, Malaysia, were especially precious as our days with the Hausman family are numbered.

We took the 10 a.m. ferry on Sunday which put us in Malaysia at about 10:30 (you can actually swim to Malaysia if you want to, but we were going a little further north). A van took us to our resort, the Pulai Desaru, where we immediately donned swimsuits and jumped in the pool while they finished making up our rooms. Our fun in the sun lasted so long that all of us were much more red than we should be. The kids even blistered on their noses. For those of you who don't know, I am the Sunscreen Nazi, so the fact that I forgot to reapply filled me with remorse for the rest of the trip. They are now quarantined inside the house until it is completely gone.

But back to our trip. Erik and I went to this resort last year during monsoon season. We thought that was why it was basically deserted. Turns out it's always deserted, except on the weekend! So our two families had the run of the place. We enjoyed the beach, the pools, the "kid's club" indoor play area, and a nighttime firefly tour on the river.

One highlight for me though was a Kampong tour. We drove 1/2 hour to a traditional Malay village and our guide showed us the various indigenous trees they harvest, including rubber, starfruit, mangosteen, curry, and coffee. He graciously gave the kids samples of each, which they clutched in their little hands like treasures. Megan made the mistake of poking her bit of rubber through the grates of the chicken coop, where a curious chick took it from her. Ethan was kind enough to share some of his stash with his distraught little sister.

After looking at the trees, we had lunch with a Malay family in their house, which is 100 years old! Up on short stilts, it had low ceilings and an open feeling to let the breezes through. They entertained us after lunch with a traditional drum song.

Another reason Erik and I wanted to return to this resort was because last time we ate the best food ever there. Unfortunately, they seem to have changed cooks. The food was ok - I stepped out of my comfort zone and ate Malay food like Mee Goreng and something else I can't remember. The kids had so much junk food that we are doing two days of detox with lots of fruits and veggies.

All in all though, very relaxing and enjoyable.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Celebrity Sighting!

I had my first Singapore celebrity sighting tonight! Thank God I let the money on my cash card run so low that we couldn't leave the car park without topping it up. We went to eat at a hotel restaurant, and I had to run down to the first floor to add money to my card. On my way back up I caught the elevator which had four other people in it, including the man above. This guy is most famous! Not only was he the main character of a Singapore sitcom that ran for eight years here called Phua Chu Kang, but he is one of the MCs for Singapore Idol! I vaguely recognized the others in the elevator too, but I couldn't decide if they were Singapore Idol judges or other cast members from the show. As I was leaving the elevator, I realized they were probably from a TV show, or maybe just some of his assistants, because he was wearing the wig in this picture (he doesn't normally sport that hairdo). I was pretty sure they were thinking that being a foreigner I had no clue who they were. But I did, and it was very fun.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Caught in the Rain

I had about 10 seconds from the first drop until the moment it was a confirmed downpour. That's the beauty and swiftness of tropical weather. Unfortunately, I was about a mile and a half from home and outside.

It is a blessing in Singapore that the only real weather question is, "Will it rain or not?" I found a website that shows where it is currently raining and where it will rain in the next three hours (the answer to that question this morning is, "Everywhere.") Obviously I didn't ask that question this morning before I chose to go exercise. On the other hand, I don't know that it would have changed my actions. I started to run when it began to rain, but quickly realized it was in vain - how fast can I run a mile and a half? Certainly not fast enough to avoid getting soaked in pouring rain. So instead I kept running and decided it was somewhat pleasant, given that I was already soaked from sweat and this at least cooled me down.

There is a lesson in that. We have so little control over so much in our lives, other than the control we have over ourselves and our choices. Choosing to accept it made the last leg of my journey much more enjoyable. Now I need to teach this lesson to my children, who were hoping to go to the zoo this morning with some friends.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Occupational Hazard

Living overseas is a blessing, both for us and our kids. I feel like it is changing us in positive ways. We see the world in a different light. It is not, however, without its downsides. One of those has become quite apparent lately in our son, and that is the desire to protect his heart emotionally from the transient nature of our relationships.

I have been watchful for this since we came to Singapore, because I've done some reading on third culture kids, which my children are. Third culture kids, or "global nomads" as they are sometimes called, are kids who have spent a significant portion of their formative years outside their country of origin. So they don't belong to their host culture, nor do they completely identify with their home culture. Therefore, they are part of a third culture with others in the same situation.

It often happens, particularly here in Singapore where many business people come for 2-3 years, that goodbyes become common. I find myself asking, when I meet someone new, "How long will you be here?" In the back of my mind is, "Will you be here long enough for us to really be good friends?" A detriment of being third culture people is that you get so tired of goodbyes that you learn to guard your heart and sometimes not let it grieve as it should.

Ethan has made comments lately that betray the fact that he's been doing this. Some of our good friends left the country today, and he didn't want to go to the airport to say goodbye because "it would be too sad." We have friends visiting next week, and when we told Ethan, his first comment was, "How long will they be here?" And often, he sighs and says, "Why do people have to keep leaving?"

We can't change the fact that this will happen. We can only help him deal with it. It seemed cruel to take him to the airport - like saying, "Here kid - cry!" But we did, and he did, and I think it was good for him to face how he's feeling.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bread Upon the Waters

I was reminded tonight of a favorite passage from Ecclesiastes. I went through a period of time one summer many years ago when I felt like everything was pretty meaningless, so what better place to spend time than in that book? I camped out on chapter 11:1-6 which at first glance makes little sense at all. Here it is:

Cast your bread upon the water, for after many days you will find it again.
Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

So yeah, pretty strange. But this is what God said to me through it: You can't possibly understand this life or what I'm trying to do. I am sovereign and that is for Me to know. Your job is just to be filled with Me and to let Me use you however I desire. I will bring fruit from your life.

A good reminder for me these days, so I'm going to go dwell on it, right after I tell my daughter to quit trying to climb her doorframe and get back into bed. So I'll leave you with the poem I wrote about this passage, let's see, about 11 years ago.

Bread Upon the Waters

Blow you winds where you will
Only let that it may be
Upon my back, pushing me onward
Causing my life to be
As bread upon the waters
Poured forth heedlessly, yet anchored to You.

I will take no thought of it,
For where I fall, there I lie.
As I am filled, therefore will I rain.
Rain upon the waters, life back to life.
Take me, fill me, cast me out on the path of Your wind
O Maker of all things.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Go Go Party

I have the coolest friends. This is evidenced by the fact that we decided to have a Go Go/Disco themed going away party for our friends the Monsivaizs who will be leaving us in a few weeks to move back to the States (let the mourning begin!). And while other people might SAY that they were going to have a costume party but not really put any effort into it, here is photographic evidence to prove that we take our parties seriously. I was shooting for a "Jenny in Forest Gump" look, minus the drugs. You unfortunately can't see my sweet gold chain belt or my cool gold sparkly shoes which completed the outfit. Erik was disappointed that I didn't have time to get him an outfit, but with two small kids there's only so much shopping I can do.

Can you see my funky belt and shoes? That's why I put this picture in. And also to show you how cool our hostess's house is. I just bought a similar saree to hang over my bed like this too.

Take note of Tony's fabulous chest hair. Nate is jealous - you can see it all over his face.

This guy actually has a really respectable job. I'm fairly impressed by his sitar.

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby

Ethan had a great time racing his "bat racer" at the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. He came in 4th out of 17 of the Tiger scouts, and won "Best Design." He was pretty proud of that. The person who should be proud is Erik, who did most of the work!