Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More Malaysia

More Malaysia...
Today we had a late lunch at the highest restaurant in Langkawi.
Quite possibly the slowest restaurant too. They served two people at a time with a good 15-20 minutes before the next two people were served and so on.
We had a total of 10 people with us! You do the math!
I had to tear apart a cardboard gum wrapper for Shi to write on to keep her busy. (She made me a card, how sweet! ;-)
Thankfully I had a mini etch-a-sketch that entertained Vivian.
The view from the restaurant. It rained off and on but we still had a decent view.
Then someone had the brilliant *ahem* idea to take a photo of the four kids on top of the vehicle. (what?!)
This is about two seconds before Shiloh started crying.
Poor kiddo, she has my family's grounded traits...as in, we like our feet on the ground.
BTW: I did not take this photo, I was standing just out of frame trying to keep Shi calm.

We saw lots of monkeys today.
Also tons of wild and tame cows all over the roads today.
This bull was tied to a branch....which he decided to take with him as he sauntered down the road, with two calves following him.
He was huge!
 
We found a Kenny Roger's restaurant here. In Malaysia!
Kind of crazy.
They had spaghetti, and salad with 1000 Islands dressing, and pasta salad.
The girls were pretty happy! ;-)
 
We were supposed to go to the beach today, but it ended up being overcast and rainy most of the day.
On the up side though, it was the first day we didn't sweat ourselves into a headache!
Anyways, hopefully we'll be able to do the beach tomorrow...although I think it will be mostly sand play since it's the salty ocean water and all those sea creatures. eek!
If there is one jellyfish around here, Miss Shiloh would be the one to find it!
Poor kiddo had these little bruises on her upper arm and I couldn't figure out where they came from.
The only thing I can think of is that they've come from the many times she's slipped in the bathrooms and I've grabbed her arm to catch her!
Ugh, at least they aren't bruises on her head or worse if I had missed her!
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Visiting Malaysia

We're currently on a little vacation within our vacation.
Flying to Malaysia...
This was a little commuter flight and the girls were disappointed to not have pillows, blankets, video monitors and footrests. They've been spoiled by the big planes, I think! :)
 
Malaysia has a lot of beautiful scenery.
And if you looked below the dock (not the one pictured above)
Huge Sea Urchins!
So neat.
We've also seen wild monkeys (a little scary when they come running at you looking for food!).
Wild Buffalo (not like American Buffalo, more like steer), wild dogs, wild cow herds.
You ever see a cow jump backwards?
Well, they do when they are almost hit by a minivan.
The cows, buffalo, monkeys, and dogs are all over the roads.
The monkeys get into the trash too, makes the pesky squirrels back home not seem nearly so bad.
We walked past giant centipede...like on National Geographic or something.
A huge black and white spotted bug that I have no idea how to identify.
We also heard the unbelievable loudness of a tree full of bats.
I really don't want to know what variety of bat either...especially around Halloween.
The roads are also covered with motorcyles and mopeds...Kids riding them, and parents with a couple kids. People carrying all their groceries...and not a helmet in sight.
 
It actually seems hotter here than in Singapore and I didn't think that was possible but adding to that is the fact that some of the stores have no air conditioning at all so there is not the usual reprieve from the heat.
 
Today we took the Langkawi Cable Car.
Such a hot day too.
Vivian gets really flushed and quiet when she is too hot, so then I take her to the bathrooms and drench her and she perks up....it's nice to at least have an over-heating warning with her.
 
At the top of the cable car ride. The sign reads 700 meters above sea level.
Your ears pop on the cable car ride!
Cooler up there too.

 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Musings on Singapore...

Some tips I have learned from our travels to this tropical rain forest, Singapore.
  • If you are a warm person, or from a cooler place than the tropics. Cut the makeup down to a minimum. Clear mascara...waterproof won't cut it. Lots of antiperspirants, bring extras because I've had some melt before. Yes, melt! (FYI: Just about everything melts!) Forget the lipstick and stick with chapstick which holds together better, and make sure you take lipstick out of your purse as it will melt the instant you leave the airport.
  • Buy good sandals. I purchase a new pair for every member of my family. A few weeks in Singapore equals about a whole summer's worth of wear back home.
  • Buy shoes at home and bring with you. I am about a size US 8 and that is like Sasquatch here. They have to go to the back to find shoes for me...a little embarrassing. Though I must say, that some shoes here are so cute that they're worth the embarrassment of sitting next to little size 4 footed women.
  • Standard US bra sizes are also  big here...and they also have to go to the back for those bras. But if you are any larger than maybe a C? You probably won't find a bra.
  • As soon as you get here, run to one of the many little bakery/bread shops and pick up a pork floss bun or a croissant, even a donut. Put in a fridge if possible and then when you wake at 2am with jet lag, you will be able to eat something.
  • Mosquitoes, geckos, and cockroaches happen. Bring bug spray, and not that wimpy stuff. I'm talking DEET! The geckos like to chirp all night, and if you get one in your room...well, bring ear plugs and try not to think about it.
  • The lighter the clothes the better, but beware of strapless bras. Even the best-fitting one is likely to slide down your sweat-slicked body and end up as a belt. Not a great look.
  • Do not leave the flat/hotel whatever without: A bottle of water, lots of tissues (there are no napkins in the food courts...and sometimes no toilet paper in the bathrooms), wet wipes, gum (it's illegal here so be discreet!), sunglasses, camera, and a plastic bag. Don't ask about the plastic bag...just bring it.
  • Another note on the gum. Bring the kind with the hard shell, regular gum melts into a gooey puddle in your purse. ick.
  • Another word about the toilets. If there is a long-line (and there often is) sometimes your kids will get you ahead in the line...sometimes they won't. Either way, even if your bladder is the size of a soccer ball, don't try the squatting toilet. Just don't, it's not worth it, it takes skills we haven't honed this side of the equator. Your shoes will thank you.
  • Watch out for swinging doors, elevator doors that shut whether or not someone is in between them, and escalators that want to eat your shoes. (Shi lost a chunk off the sole of hers)
  • The traffic comes from the opposite direction here, so be careful when crossing the streets. I look both ways because I still can't be sure where the cars are coming from.
  • Watch out for bicyclists. They have bells, they don't always use them. I have been run into before.
  • For foods, Exotic and tropical fruits are cheap here, but most everything else is expensive.
  • You can travel by taxi, train, bus, or walking. The best way is probably a taxi. The train is very crowded though it's neat to get an elevated view of the city. The bus is very lurchy and makes too many stops. Walking is hot!
  • Follow the natives. From seeing which food stalls have long lines and which are avoided to following their paths to avoid the sun...whcih might involve walking under the MRT (train) or through the grass.
  • Umbrellas are nicer than a hat at keeping the sun off you.
  • Don't try the durian, or do. I'll leave that up to you. I can eat it if I plug my nose, but then I can't stand my breath afterwards so it's not worth it!
Just some things I have been thinking about. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Singapore

Last night we visited "Henderson Waves" an 899ft. long pedestrian bridge.
The views of the city lit up at night, was pretty neat though you don't quite get the "wave effect" of the bridge when you're seeing it at night.
Looking between the floorboards and seeing the traffic whizzing far below me was a little unnerving.
Also unnerving, the "Beware of Wild Monkeys" sign.
 And the fact that the warning also said to not take photos of the monkeys or carry plastic bags with you.
Um...I can't carry a plastic bag?
Really? 'Cause I'm thinking a plastic bag isn't going to be much monkey protection anyways...
Can I carry a bat? mace?
The girls thought the walk to the bridge...up a steep incline through the woods with jungle sounds all around you...was pretty creepy and scary.
I concur. :)
 
We also took the four oldest cousins to a kids play area.

They enjoyed that! :)
 
Then to Toys 'R Us where they had the National symbol of Singapore...made out of Legos!
Now toys are very expensive here, you'd pay at least double what you pay in the U.S. for any toy and the exchange rate really doesn't change that, so that is really a pretty pricey Lego Lion!
 
Shi was really emotional yesterday. Most everything made her cry but today she's come down with a cold or something. She's had a sore throat for a few days but there is always a burning smell around so that's what I thought caused it, but last night the cough and runny nose started.
She is also homesick as is evidenced by what she wrote in her journal work for today.
"I love my home in our state."
"I love my Mom."
I love Vivian."
She had to make sure she pointed out that she loved our home in the U.S. because when we leave a mall here and head back to their Grandma's house, there is a tendency to call that "home".
Ahem, she's making it clear that it's not.
Of course when you don't feel well, everything is worse and you want your home.
Thankfully I brought some cold medicine from home, so she's been able to at least have some relief from her cough and get to sleep at night.
 
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hawkers' Market

We went out shopping for the day.
A mall or two, a bit of an outside market, and also a hawkers' market where they sell mostly herbs, and dried things like fish and fruit.
The hawkers' market is on an open 2nd or 3rd floor, and it's just dead-air hot, there are a few fans but those just seem to circulate the hot air around.
Added to the heat is tons of pungent aromas from the herbs, dried fish, dried octopus, dried apricots and nuts, dried flower blossoms and incense just to name a few.
It's rather overwhelming and unless you're very tolerant of heat and odors it's not a place you can stay for too long without feeling rather ill.
 
The girls didn't fair much better than I ever have at the market.
Soon Shiloh had decided that the heat was unbearable and she wanted to leave, not only the market but head back to our Country. ;-)
Vivian just drooped, from walking to being carried to finally laying her flushed cheeks on her Daddy's shoulder...at that point I told them we had to find some A/C pretty quickly.
 
If it wasn't for the oven-like heat, the aromas wouldn't be too bad and the market would be quite interesting to browse around.
They had lots of samples and you could try both dried American apricots and dried Japanese ones side-by-side for example.
They are both nice and sweet but the Japanese apricots seem to be a little more tender.
There were also dried mushrooms in every shape and size, and a lot more dried things that I didn't have a clue what they were. lol
Somehow they manage to keep the flies away which you would think would be everywhere.
But maybe that has something to do with the underlying smell of the Country...which is mothballs.
Most of the markets and streets have the odor, strong or faint, of mothballs.
They even sell them in the stores in rainbow colors.
The small markets kiosks use mothballs around their clothes to preserve them, and the city puts mothballs in its drains and ditches to keep away mice and other pests.
Though probably the geckos take a big chunk out of the fly population too? ;-)
 
We also saw a bicycle rickshaw business.
Didn't seem to be too busy and I think I would feel too awful having someone pull me around in this heat and sun!
We ended up just taking a taxi home. :)


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vacation and Cousin photos

Finally able to upload a few photos.
On the layover in Germany (yay for no people eating knockwurst this time!) 
I brought out new coloring books and crayons for the girls.
That empty container on the table is the way they give you water with your meals.
(They also will pour a cup for you when the drink cart comes through, we like to save these sealed cups for the layovers. The airports are just as dry as the planes and they overcharge for everything)
The girls and their cousin Reina. She is a little older than Vivian.
The girls and another cousin, Reina's sister Clara who is just turning two.
They have had a lot of fun playing with their cousins.
I've been constantly surprised at how easy-going the girls have been too.
If one of their cousins disagrees with them they've just been saying "Okay, lets not fight. Let's play nicely."
So proud! :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Steamy days...

We took the girls out shopping today.
Whew! Steamy hot day! It started to rain just as we came back and those raindrops felt so nice and cool. :)
We exhausted the girls, not to mention the fact that they're still getting over jet lag.
They both just collapsed tonight and are both sound asleep now, and it's just 6pm.
It seems like they/we are having a harder time getting over the jet lag this time.
The only difference I can think of is the fact that the girls don't normally take naps anymore.
I think those naps must have helped them and us regulate faster before.
 
We took the girls on the MRT train, mostly just because the girls really wanted to ride it. ;-)
Vivian was concerned though because she didn't know who was driving it and because she couldn't see anybody she really wasn't content with our answer that there was an actual Driver.
The girls have been eating pretty well this time.
Vivian loves food any way so she's usually pretty easy.
Shiloh wants a detailed description of what it tastes like, why it is the color that it is, what the temperature is, whether it was grown locally....well, you get the idea. ;-)
 
The girls have been having a lot of fun with their cousins.
The oldest two tend to fight and bicker a lot, and it interesting to see my girls becoming the moderators.
Shiloh pulling one back and saying "Let's just play nice! Let's share! Let's all play together nicely!"
and Vivian right there copying her words and actions. :)
I rather thought they would just stay out of it or come and get me and not jump in to fix it themselves.
They have been great with the two babies as well.
One is about 16 mos and the other is about 23 mos.
When we came home from shopping, Vivi was upset because she couldn't find Rui Rui (Ray Ray) and she was concerned about where she was.
She's also always watching them and letting me know if they're doing something that they shouldn't.
Shiloh's also been really good about watching where she's going and not rushing in her usual way, so she doesn't bowl anyone over. ;-)
 
 
 


Friday, October 19, 2012

Watching Oz in Sg

The Internet connection has been spotty at best, it comes and goes and even varies depending on the laptop's location so I haven't been posting nearly as much as I expected too.
We took the girls out to breakfast this morning and found some "moving grass" along the way.
I don't know the real name and this connection can't handle me opening another page to search, but the fine leaves of this plant close up as soon as you touch it.
Fascinating!
I remembered it from last time so I had to try to find some to show the girls again. :)
*I finally got a chance to look it up and it's called  Mimosa or shy grass.
You can see videos of it too. :)
 
We also found a huge snail with a beautiful coiled shell that was just on the sidewalk.
There are also other things to contend with in this tropical climate.
Like waking to a giant foreign bug on the bed, having a gecko run across your feet on a midnight potty trip.
Hearing geckos chirping all night or weird jungle bird sounds shouting at you from a tree over your head.
 
The general rudeness of the people is something I haven't missed.
Yeah, you don't miss people swinging their bags or purses into your childrens' heads or running their carts into you without so much as an apology...rather a dirty look for being in their way!
I realized I was the only in the entire Mall (so it seemed) that ever said "Excuse me."
 
Also rather surprised that the kids aren't more...I'm not sure what the word is, maybe focused on as much as in the US. At least in this house.
There are six little girls in this house this weekend, all ages 1-6 years old.
(It gets a bit overwhelming!")
So I would expect there to be more toys available and probably a running cartoon or kids movie on.
Nope.
Toys are brought down one at a time (even for ALL these kids) then picked up promptly and the adults watch whatever they want on the TV.
I think maybe these are DH's brother's "Rules" but I can't be sure.

Anyways I have four little girls (including my own) in our room now watching "The Wizard of Oz" and playing a fishing game. :)
 
Also hate...no LOATHE, the bathrooms here.
Squatting toilets are really ewie...and I would never even think of taking the girls to one of those. :-S
But my main problem is the slipperiness! My goodness I'm surprised half the population hasn't died in the bathrooms.
Shiloh fell during her her first shower, and our almost 2yr. old niece fell last night and badly gashed her gum when she hit the toilet on the way down..
They don't have the medicines or anything that I would use to treat this injury on my girls either.
We couldn't even find her popsicles! :(
Constantly wet tile floors are just the worst design ever.
 
Anyways I think she'll be okay, but really it could have been so much worse!
She's a sweet baby too. Randomly singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" all day long and she was very concerned when the lion was crying on the "Wizard of Oz." :)
 


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Travels...

We started our travels with a ride to NYC to catch a plane.
We went over the George Washington bridge (costs $12!)
Then Shiloh wanted to know if they had a bridge for every President and could we go over the "Obama bridge" next? lol
We rode in a Sienna Minivan, of which we saw quite a few on the road, and I was trying to tout its many features to DH.
I don't think I was able to convince him any though. ;-)
There were carseats for the girls and they fell asleep pretty quickly...that was great because it was quite a long drive with lots of heavy traffic made worse by the odd widespread power outtages and emergency vehicles.

We only had to go through security one through our flights, which was a first for us.
Usually we've had to go through security at the layover as well which is a pain with kids...and DH. ;-)
There were lots of movies for the kids and they were at a much easier age for traveling than previously.
I had some concerns about Vivian and the airplane potty and also with her possibly waking inconsolable because that has happened...especially if she's eaten something that bothered her stomach.
But she did great!
I brought new coloring books and those kept the girls happy during our layover. Plus some new books for Shi to read and their favorite treat of lollipops and they were really good travelers.

It has been stormy lately which actually is nice because it keeps it cooler.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gingerbread hats

I did manage to finish the girls hats.
I worked last night and this morning and got them done.
It's already getting chilly enough to wear a hat, so I thought it was best to push and get them done.
 
Gingerbread hats!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Kids say....

The girls were so cute today.
Vivian asked me "Mama, do you have any more of that delicious Tornado soup?"
Shi comes running over "What's Tornado soup?"
"She means Tomato."
Vivian: "I want some more Tornado soup!"
 
Shiloh was complaining to me and Vivi ran over.
"No I didn't, Mama! Shiloh is lining!"
Shiloh: "No, I'm not....What? I'm lining?!?! Do you mean lying or lining, Vivian?"
Vivian: "Yes Shiloh! You're lining about me!"
Shiloh: "Mom, I can't line about her. I don't even know what that is!"
 
Then later on I was explaining to Shiloh what an "addiction" was.
She suddenly yelled "I know about that! It's like me and Lick-a-sticks! Once I have one, I can't stop and I want another one!"
So funny! Kind of odd that she picked Lick-a-stick as her candy example though since I haven't bought those in a long time!
 
After much trial and error...I completed two crochet hats.
I still need to decorate them, but I don't think I'm going to get a chance to get to them for awhile yet...(though I really want to finish them....so maybe!)
Anyways Ta da! Here they are so far.

Girls are cute, but the hats aren't much to look at...yet.
I think they'll be nice when I'm done though.
Plus I learned a lot about crocheting and became much faster and confident at it.
Just what I need...another hobby. haha!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Mission Impossible: Turtle Escapade

We had to leave the house early this morning, since Vivian had an early dentist appointment and her Dentist is about an hour away.
We were rushing this morning because we woke a little late and we had to leave pretty early.
We had a busy day with a lot of errands and when we got home early this afternoon I was running around washing the kids hands, taking off their coats and shoes, and putting groceries away.
We had picked up some fast food, so I was going to feed the girls but I decided I would take a second to feed the turtles and turn on their basking light first.
 
I brought the food over to their tank and...there's only one turtle.
Um, there's supposed to be two.
I start moving the stones around in the tank.
Still just one turtle.
I take all the plants out, rinse them out in the sink carefully.
Still just one turtle.
ACK!!!
It seems utterly impossible that one escaped so we keep looking under the rocks but the second turtle never appears.
So then we launch the big search.
 
DH asks which turtle is missing.
Well, when the turtles are together, one is dark green and one is lighter green.
But when you're looking at just one turtle it's a little harder to tell.
 I said "Well, Katie just hides and Pillow Featherbed is more active so I think it's Pillow Featherbed that's missing."
 
Ugh, we never should have named her after Pillow Featherbed.
I mean there's a whole movie on the search for Pillow!
We shine flashlights under the TV stand.
DH and I pull out both of the couches.
We check all the heating vents.
 Pull out a bookcase to look behind it.
DH goes to the basement and bangs on the air intake pipe to hopefully scare the turtle towards the entrance if she fell in there. (That leads to the furnace so there's no way to get anything out really)
We call for her, after all she's a pretty friendly turtle...and what does it hurt?
Actually it's kind of fun to call for a turtle like Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street call for fish.
"HERE! turtle,turtle,turtle,turtle,turtle!" ;-)
I pull out everything in the playroom and look behind everything.
 
Then I go take a closer look at the turtle we still have.
"Wait! THIS is Pillow Featherbed!"
Pillow Featherbed has a little white mark on her shell where it was scraped. It's hard to see when her shell is wet but it's there if you look closely.
 
"Oh No..that means Katie is the missing one." (((GROAN)))
Katie is much more shy.
She swims away from us frantically, she tries to hide under stones in her tank.
So she will be hiding and probably under something.
We move the dining room table so we can look under the rug.
Shine flashlights under the stove and refrigerator and washing machine.
Move my super heavy piano.
DH get mondo points for diving head-first into this all out search for a little baby turtle...not many guys I know would go this far.
We pull off the front vent off the fridge.
Dig through the shoe rack.
Inspect my printer, which happens to sitting on the floor since I'm working on a print job.
Go through every bag and box at floor level that she might have crawled into.
We've found one green block, one orange crayon, one spider, and three monkeys from the Barrel of Monkey's game...but no turtle.
We're starting to get really concerned because we've looked everywhere, and how long can she go without water?
Then I said "I'm going to go through the feather dusters (they are tucked next to our washing machine) and then use them to clean under the appliances." hoping to find her under one of those.
I paused to look under all the kitchen rugs and Shiloh went ahead and pulled out the feather dusters because she wanted to help me dust....and there sitting on the floor was Katie.
She had hidden herself in the feather dusters and she was just laying there with her eyes closed.
I nervously poked her and she moved but she was quite cold and covered with fuzz.
I rinsed her off in warm water and put her back in the tank, and she seems fine.
We added warm water to the tank and took out the plants that she must have used for her impossible escape.
Now the turtles just have a little island in the center.
(Below: Katie back in her tank...finally!)
(sigh)
Whew! Never think of turtles as a boring pet!
Drama, drama, drama!
I mean how in the world did this tiny turtle climb out of her tank (assuming she climbed the plants), then fall off the little table their tank is on...thankfully the floor is carpeted.
Then she scrambled across our living room, dining room, kitchen, and into the laundry room to nestle herself into the feather dusters?!?!
What in the world!
 
I need a nap.
 
Just to share, The girls made these turtles out of paper plates the other day for a craft project.
They came out so cute. Shiloh painted nailpolish and jewelry on hers.
Hmm, maybe that was my first clue that her turtle would turn out to be the Drama Queen? ;-)