Saturday, September 23, 2006

Busy As A Bee

It's been more than 3 weeks since we arrived in Surabaya and we have been so busy that it was a surprise to realize that we have been in Surabaya that long.

I already describe the story about my son first day in his school on previous entry. Since that first few days, every night we were busy helping him with his homeworks. This is new to us because when we sent him to his kindergarden in Canada, he never had a homework. The only homework he got was from his Chinese class and I am glad that he had homework before, now it's easier to make him sit down and do his homeworks.

Everyday he came home with several books from the library for him to read. On top of that he also brought home few easy read books from his classroom's library. Then on top of that he also has math homeworks.

So we spent around 1 hr to help him read the books and do the math homework with him.

Later on our first conference with his teacher, miss Lisa, we found out that the books that he borrowed from the library was for 5th grade reading level and he wasn't expected to be able to read them, it was suppose to be our job to read them to him for his enjoyment. Amazingly, before we knew this, Kai Kai already able to read all of them on his own although he read them slowly off course. So now, before we start, I like to ask him if he wants to read the library books on his own or he rather have me read them to him. Fortunately, he still choose to read most of them on his own!

Those books that comes from his classroom's library are the one that he has to read them himself because they are for first grade reading level. Kai Kai found them too easy and not chalenging enough. He likes to just read them fast and go straight to his library books that usually always has more exciting stories to tell. Good for him !!!

For his math homeworks, Miss Lisa likes to give them in a game form so they are quite enjoyable to do. Like playing cards when in fact you are learning to count who has the highest card number, or the lowest one.

I like his school more and more now. The more I understand their system the more I am glad that I sent him to this school.

For example: to make children enjoy their school and to made them to have more balance lifestyle. These children are force or encourage to have as much physical activities as their academic activities.

Kai Kai's daily schedule usually always consist of PE classes or after school PE activities.

Again, for example, from 8 to 10, he always has to learn to read and write because for the first grader their goal is "Learn to Read" so that when they go to second grade, their goal will be change to " Read to Learn ". After that, they have their morning snacks with their teacher on the garden of the school.

Then either they are sent to learn computer skill, music, arts, science, library class, or Bahasa Indonesia, or they have PE classes like gym and swimming. The school always ends at 2:50 PM, but on 3 days in a week, they have after school activities such as gym, swimming, and French. So everyday, we have to dress him in his gym uniform or prepare his swimming pants and towel in his school bag. So when he finished his after school activities, he always so tired and just fell asleep in the car all the way home. That's good because when he reach home, we let him blow some steam by riding his bike all over the house ( more exercise! ), then by 6 he has to eat his dinner, took a bath and by 7 or 8 he has to do his homeworks. By 9, he has to go to bed. So that's is his life now and our life too ...

Beside school activities, to compensate his lacking in learning Chinese language, we enroll him with a native Taiwanese teacher for 1.5 hrs 2 times a week. Richard told the teacher that he doesn't want Kai Kai to sit and write too much at this age especially after such a long day at school. So his Chinese teacher's job is just to play and teach him daily vocabulary. So Kai Kai felt happy to learn his Chinese words by playing with the teacher. I think his teacher is excellent, she has many years of experience in teaching. When we wait outside the teacher's home, we heard Kai Kai's happy laughter nonstop.

Beside busy with my son learning schedule, these past 3 days we were busy with our stuff that has arrived from Canada. Boy am I glad that I live in my parents' home that happen to be in the same land with our company. Since we have workers and off course maids, the job of unpacking, carrying the boxes into their designated areas such as "big storage room", "small storage room", "my bedroom", "children bedroom", etc became an easy tasks. While some workers carried the boxes upstair, some other setting up my bed and one guy's job is assembling the crib and Kai Kai's bed, while the maids' job is unpacking our clothes, fold them and arrange them in the closet. The other maids stay with me to unpack, and stack my kitchen stuff into my new kitchen. To my father's amazement, all the kitchen cabinets that he prepare for me can only keep half of my kitchen stuff! So the next day we talk to the interior designer again to built more cabinets for my kitchen. When the interior designer saw all my kitchen tools that laying around outside the already full cabinets, he just sit down and take a deep breath, hahaha....

We also talk about making big book shelves for my bedroom for my recipe books and for children library in their own room.

While my father suffered through the confusion of finding space for our stuff, my mom kept hiding in her room, she couldn't stand the stress she said, poor her...

It was an amazing sight to see a mountain of our boxes stacked up in our backyard! Lucky now is still dry season, it would be fun to see what happen if now is already rainy season ... I can just imagine everybody running around carrying boxes under the tropical rain! We will look like those little ants running around with the food on their mouth when you spray them with water from your garden's hose.

My mom ordered our employee to built a new temporary storage room ( from playwoods! ) with locks in the employee's dormitory. For now, we have to stop unpacking our stuff because all of a sudden, lead by Richard first, my father next, and me, we all suffer ed from a bout of dysentery! Again while in the States and Canada, if we are sick, and we need to see doctors, we first have to call our family doctor first, usually when we need his help is always around the time when his office is closed so we always ended up talking to other doctor that is on duty that night and they never gave good answers for simple thing because they don't want to come to your home, instead they always told us to just go to the emergency room. Then when we arrived in the emergency room, we always have to wait forever just for them to see us. Here, my mom just pick up the phone and voila! The doctor showed up on our front door within 15 minutes! Even faster than me who at that time talking to my aunt who is also a family practitioner asking her on what medicine should I buy for Richard. Richard with his sensitive stomach is the one that suffered the most, while my father and me only suffer mild symptoms of this disease.
I thank God that none of our children are sick.

For La La, today is her 8 month birthday and boy that girl is just getting cuter and cuter everyday! She has an amazing way of showing people what she wants. She create several body languages to show us what she wants or need. For example, when she wants milk, she will pucker up he lips and start making sucking motion! Yes, I am not kidding! Then when she is hungry, she flatten her lips and make smacking sounds while looking at us! She will keep smacking her lips until she is full. Then when she is sleepy, she will pucker he lips and lower her eyelids until her eyes becomes very small then she bats he eyelashes to us! When she pooped and she wants us to change her diaper, then she won't sit still or lay quitely, she kept moving up her bottoms like if her bottom is on fire! Then to ge my full attention, she will cares my face to face her !

Yesterday La La was playing with her aunt Lucy, and Lucy was amaze at how clear La La's instructions are. La La will pat Lucy's arm or thigh to get her attention first, then she touch the toys that she wants Lucy to play with her. So first, she pat Lucy's arm, then she pat the doll. Is that clear enough or not?

When I read La La a story , usually I like to sit on the floor and I let her sit on my lap while I hold the book in front of her. Once in a while, she likes to turn around and look up to my face, then she cares my chin. Isn't she so sweet???

For her meals, I cook everything myself. Her favorite meal so far is pumpkin cook together with chicken wings or thigh for an hour so they will be very flavourful. Then I de-boned the chicken, put everything in a blender, blend it with a tbs of butter and just a pinch of salt. She loves this pumpkin puree very very much! She kept making that smacking sounds with her lips until the last spoonful of pumpkin puree. Now she has 5 teeth in her mouth too. 3 at the upper gum and 2 at the lower gum.

She ate 3 meals a day and 4 bottles of milk. Her body is so solid without being too fat.

On different section about my life. One time I read an article at a gardening magazine about natural way of getting rid mosquitoes from your patio is by planting citronella plants all around your patio. I don't remember the exact magazine where I get this information but this article that I found on internet pretty much say the same thing that the magazine's article is saying. Since dengue fever is quite rampant in Surabaya, I told my mom about the article. then she ordered our employee to buy all of lemongrass plants that he could find in the garden stores both in Surabaya or from outside Surabaya. At first I thought that citronella is the same plant with sereh, because they smell almost the same and plus, in Surabaya, they sell a lot of sereh oil ( minyak sereh ) that you can apply to your skin or your children skin so that you won't get bitten by mosquitoes. Sereh is the Indonesian words for Lemongrass.
So now, all around our garden, we planted over a hundreds plants of Lemongrass or Sereh. Let's see if in a couple of months from now we will have less mosquitoes in our house ...

There is also an interesting article that I took from Public Works Department of Annapolis, Maryland ( government official site ) that I like to share in here:

Try Growing Mosquito Repellents
A number of natural essences are found in the garden and are as attractive to humans as they are repugnant to insects. Herbs, flowers and grasses contain oils that can be used as your yard's natural line of defense.

* Catnip contains an essential oil, Nepetalactone, which has been found to be effective at repelling mosquitoes. You can also brew catnip tea to apply as a spray for outdoor areas, patios and decks.
* Other herbs with oils that repel mosquitos and insects are rosemary and pennyroyal (disliked by fleas and ticks).
* Some flowers and ornamental grasses also work. Planting marigolds around your yard works as a natural bug repellent; the flowers give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects find offensive.
* Thai lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a natural, and very effective mosquito repellent. It contains the natural oil, citronella, which is safe and effective; in fact, lemon grass citronella is considered more effective than true citronella as an insect repellent. Thai lemon grass is usually available at garden centers. It grows readily into a decorative clump about 15" across and about two feet tall.

So even though at first I thought I planted the wrong plant ( lemongrass instead of Citronella ), it turn out that I am not that wrong after all. Lemongrass is better than Citronella plants! And lemongrass is everywhere in Indonesia and they are cheap, a kilogram of the plants is only cost Rp.6000 or about less than a US dollar.

So that's all folks...until next time ...

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