Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday 31st may 2007

This is what I saw today.......

  • The first is actually from Tuesday, our gorgeous neighbour on her 4th Birthday. Ben and Indry can't understand each others language, but spend hours playing with each other.

  • The next is a mobile hairdresser. The barber rides his bike around and stops and sets up where ever he is needed.

  • The next is a group of men that yelled out when I took the previous photo and wanted theirs taken as well!

  • This is the toy that has been most popular at kindy this week- a cardboard box! All the kids have spent hours playing in it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shameless show-off

I can't help my self from showing these off, I just got them from the framers today.
I bought these antique fabrics last month at a private showing at Mrs A's house. They are from Sumatran wedding pillows. I am still researching the exact names, origins and uses.
The first photo is a Tirai cloth from Sumatra, it is still being finished (I will post a photo in all its 2.3m glory next week)
I had them framed properly as they are so beautiful and I want our kids and grand kids to have a beautiful piece from our life in Indonesia.
The photos don't do the colour and vibrancy justice. Now I just need GJ to get out his drill and hang these on our solid brick walls.


This information is from Mrs A

Tirai are found especially in the Lampung coastal region and in central Sumatra, but show up throughout most of the island. Tirai are wall hangings, usually about 30 to 60 cm wide, and ranging from one meter to 10 meters in length - though this last is unusual. A very common size will cover the top frame of a standard window, about 1 1/2 meters, or a door, about 1 meter. They're often red, with covered with elaborate embroidery. Many have a row of richly decorated hanging strips (shaped very much like the end of a man's necktie), in reds, blues, yellows, greens and white. They have a vivid, festive grace.

Ornamentation on a tirai is often of metallic threads, couched onto the fabric base. Flowers and birds are favorite designs, as are geometric patterns. The base is often velvet, stiffened with layers of newspaper, coarse stiff fabric, or simply multiple layers of muslin, and then backed with either plain cloth or a piece of batik which hides all the embroidery stitches and stitches securing the stiffening, sequins and other decorative items on the tirai.

Tirai were hung for both ceremonial and festive occasions. Honored guests would be met in a home hung with tirai, as would college graduates, wedding parties, etc. The house would be decorated with tirai also for selamatan. Not every homeowner would have enough; so they were often borrowed for special occasions. For this reason many tirai have the owner's name in indelible ink on the reverse side.

Tirai are an interesting example of 'travelling cloths'. They look very like the mirror work so famous in Gujarat, and mimic very neatly the toran door cover and chakla window covers popular there. The original cloths, and possibly many still found in Sumatra, came from India. Their popularity and the difficulty in getting a steady supply of cloths from far-away India, however, ensured that they were soon produced in Sumatra as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A motor bike moment in Jakarta

Ben holds Suhermans hand all the time while playing, Ben drags him along when they the kids play hide and seek. You can see him grabing Suhermans hand in the below photo.
Look at their happy faces....

We have a great team of security guards at our house, two of which come to work on motor bikes. Often at shift change over there can be two bikes here, which really excites Ben.
Mr Suherman lets Ben sit on his bike and press the horn (continuously......luckily the air is full of noise otherwise we would be known as the Bad neighbours....) and occasionally rev the engine.
Last night they upped it a notch to my horror.
We live at the end of a culdasac on quite a steep road; it is great as there is no through traffic at all- its like a private road.
GJ called me outside urgently on Monday night to see the kids having joyrides up and down our street


I was horrified, yet the kids were screaming with joy and begging for more turns!!!!!
It is usual to ride motor bikes in Jakarta with small kids in front and bigger kids at the back, even newborns in pouches ride motor bikes.
I am use to seeing it as I drive through Jakarta, I am not use to seeing my kids on a moving motor bike though.
It is something that I would prefer not to ever witness again.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tex Mex night at the ANZA club

We went to our first function, Tex Mex night, at the Australian and New Zealand Association last night.
It was a great night, we had a ball!!! GJ modeled his costume on John Wayne and I was a cowgirl.
The club had a frozen margarita machine and the catering was by Amigos. We met up with some really nice people and are looking forward to the next function.
There was a pinatas for all the ladies, I managed to get a few whacks in...
We have bought tickets to the ANZA ball later in the year, this will be my first EVER ball.
Now I face months of thinking about what to wear, shallow I know but it is my 1st Ball....LOL

Thursday, May 24, 2007

GJ is getting behind on his guest posts....

GJ has done a few trips in the last month or two and has heaps of

things to share; of course he is just too busy to compose.

I am hoping that this "teaser" of photos will spur him on.

Beach at Thailand
Floods from February
Mud flow in Surabaya
Wo-Man competition in Thailand. These gorgeous girls are actually men!

More of the flower seller, Kemang

I went back to the flower seller today and this time took some closer photos. The colour is just magnificent.

This is such a country of contrasts. Behind this stall is a wide open ditch/drain with foul liquid flowing slowly through the clog of litter. Across the road is a queue of bright orange, dirty bajai's and yet this row of flower stalls is so beautiful. Jakarta seems to be like this all over; pockets of amazingness surrounded by greyness.

Soto Ayam

This is the tray of condiments and add ins
The onion chicken soup
Steamed rice and vermicelli noodles Shredded chicken
Home made potato chips

We had our third wonderful meal by our wonderful housekeeper, Ibu S.

IT WAS DIVINE, out of this world.......

We assembled our plates at the table according to our individual tastes. Of course GJ and I had everything, TWICE.

The soup was a broth style full of spices and lots of garlic.
We had vermicelli noodles, rice, chicken, tomato, shallots, coriander, bean shoots and sprouts, chili and fried garlic. This was all put into your bowl, condiments added (yes Georgie added Tomato sauce to hers) then the broth ladled all over. The exciting news is that in the freezer there is another family style meal for another time........
Here is a link to a recipe I found on Google

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kite flying, Jakarta

It is slightly windy in Jakarta at the moment, I don't know whether this is the usual for this time of year or not.
Of the last few weeks we have seen lots of kites flying in the street behind our home. A few of them have gotten stuck in the barb wire on top of our 3.5 metre fence. Pak S. got them down the other day and the kids have been having so much fun with them.
This afternoon Chelsea still had home work to do, and as she didn't want to miss out on the fun took it with her.
I found her book and pencil out in the middle of the garden and her running two laps then doing two maths problems, again and again.......

Remember this post on the strange fruits on our vine, it turns out that Adele was right. They are loofahs. We are all going to have a home grown loofah for the bathrooms.
You can see a few more in the tops of the photos.

Flower sellers at Kemang

These aren't very good photos as I took them out of the car window as we were driving past. It does however show you the colour and vibrancy of what is available. One tip is that the lily's are imported and the seller wanted 300 000RP or $50 for a double bunch, so stick to local grown varieties.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Internet is back on

I am sure that you have gathered that I am connected again.....

At last the Internet is back on!!!!!
11 days with no Internet in a foreign country with the phones out as well.

Our landlord has heard about our problems and came out with the real estate broker to sort it all out. Ibu R is a lovely lady who is the kids new best friend, as she came with a bag full of treats.
We have worked out that there is faulty wiring in the walls somewhere which is causing all the problems. Her phone technician spent three hours here hopefully fixing the phones. Kablevision kept not turning up to fix the Internet, and now it has just come back on.......for how long I do not know. As soon as I told them on the phone that they can recompense me for the 11 days of no cover the Internet was switched on. We pay around $100 per month to Indostat for service, that is a lot of money in Indonesia.

We have a small vacant lot next to our house that we have permission to clear and use as a vegetable garden. Our staff and next doors all want to grow things and the kids want to help. It will look allot better than the tin fence and shanty that is there now. Sarinah wants chooks, as do the kids. I will have to do a lot of research for this as Indonesia is the world's hot spot for bird flu.
We are settling in well here, it really does feel like home. GJ and I both see us living in Asia for the foreseeable future, it is a very exciting place.

When are you coming for a visit?
Yes, I do mean you and you and you.........

We have planed two trips...
In the summer school holidays we are going to do a 10 day car trip to Yogyakarta and in October we are going to Singapore to meet GJ's dad on his return from his first ever overseas holiday.

We are ready to do some weekend getaways but don't know where to start.
Any suggestions would be welcome
(please keep in mind that as there is 5 of us and our driver, budget family escapes are what we are looking for).

I have to go as there is a huge, magnificent lightening storm over head and I don't think I should have the computer on...........

Mufti day at school

I just love this shot, This is Chelsea with her new school shoes and frilly socks.
Georgia has been complaining of a very sore tummy over the last week. We couldn't work out what was wrong until I saw her at school with a hula hoop.
Ben decided to go to school on mufti day (free dress day) in his spider man costume.
Mufti day was on my day for playground duty. All the ninja turtles, Superman's, spider mans etc decided to act out there superhero skills through the playground after a big rain storm. I was not nice Miss Jenny by the end of the recess...I was hoarse from forcefully breaking up super battles, keeping boys out of deep puddles and stopping joint use of toilets.....
This is the kindy room. It is for the kindy kids only, but all the bigger kids love to sneak in.

This is Ben and one of his gorgeous little friends.
The kids love this shop front. We all save our box's and packets to stock up the shelves with groceries,
Chelsea and her friend have snuck into to Kindy and are doing some stamping.

click on photos to see larger views with captions

We got stuck in a traffic jam yesterday afternoon. As we don't need to drive we can spend the time enjoying the sights. There is ALWAYS something interesting going on out side.

We had a quick trip to Pondok Indah mall in the morning for haircuts. We finally got around to buying a vase so we can start to experience the flowers of Indonesia. GJ and I bought some flowers for the hostess of a dinner party we went to last night, as well as buying some for the new vase. I realised that GJ had no idea of the flowers I liked. There is the most magnificent collection of tropical blooms, and GJ thought that I would prefer gerberas or crysthanthums.............Now he knows-ginger, bird of paradise, unusual exotic foliage.
Note I will take photos of the flower sellers next week to show the dazzling array
In Queensland the flowers were very expensive, over $20 for a small basic bunch from the supermarket that would last 2-3 days. This bunch of sweetly smelling tuberose's cost $2. (14000RP).

Friday 18th May

We are having a four day weekend this weekend. It was a public holiday on Thursday for Ascension Day and the school decided to close on the Friday for a bonus long weekend. GJ had meetings scheduled for Friday so we don’t have any major plans.
Today I went to Carrfours and just got home in time for the most magnificent storm. As we left the supermarket the air was so oppressive and heavy; we knew we were in for a BIG one. The rain started 5 minutes from home and the roads were covered with 30cm of rain almost instantly. The thunder was so loud it was shaking the car, which as we have a mini van style of car and the rain was deafening, was no small feat.
The rain lasted for a good hour, the pool was overflowing, the fish pond at the front was filled up and the river close to us rose at least 4 feet, it was nearly over the banks.
Our phones decided to work this morning for the first time in a week, and now with the rain they are out again………At least I have the technician here for this. The BLOODY INTERNET is still not working, tomorrow they have promised me yet again………
I left my camera at home this morning which is disappointing because I could have taken some great storm shots. I haven’t had any Indonesian photos on my blog lately; I will try and get some interesting shots for next week.
We are having Beef Rending again tonight. Sarinah saved all the spices in the freezer so all I had to do was buy the meat. The smell coming out of my kitchen is SO amazing.


Wednesday 16th May 2007

I know what I am, but I do struggle with not being stuck in a box so to speak.
I am an Australian mum of three surviving on one wage, paying off a nice home in the suburbs, trying to provide our kids with all the opportunities we can. But I don’t want to just be the sum of this; I still want more out of life.
I like to do things that challenge, make me think and get outside the square and live a global life.. (Although the blonde streaks and giggling after only one glass of champagne could refute this). One e.g. of this is our move to Jakarta
A quote that I found a while ago sums it all up for me,
"Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things you didn't do than
by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."
--Mark Twain

I am not interested in TV that makes me think; to me it is for escapism and light entertainment. I like reading things that make me think. I like blogs because I get other peoples real life thoughts, feelings and views. I also have a very eclectic taste in books.
I have just read a book that is amazing for its difference-ness. Although I no way draw all the same conclusions that the authors do, I did find it SO compelling and fascinating.
Their author’s conclusion that pro abortion laws are the most indicative reason for the falling crime rate in USA is fascinating.
Some of the chapter titles are
What do School teachers and Sumo wrestlers have in common?
How is the k* klu* klan like a group of real estate agents?
Why do dr*g de*lers still live with their moms?
I recommend this book just for the “turning on your brain’ aspect, as well as the interestingness.

One of the things I admire most about GJ is his very logical, lateral thinking. I am always mad as hell when I analyze a problem and miss the lateral solution and then he walks in and solves the problem. (When I get it right over him, you will hear me roar with joy across the planet, it does occasionally happen LOL). We are a good mix, I am very empathic, I feel the needs, and he sees the problem and the solution so usually we fix the problem and the needs, so to speak. This is a book that is like lateral thinking, it makes you take a sideways step and look at things differently.
I have really enjoyed reading it and are delighted to find out that the authors have a blog, which WHEN I FINALLY HAVE THE BLOODY INTERNET BACK ON, will explore fully.
Tuesday 15th May

Ben is a sick little boy. The cold he had last week turned into a chest infection which has knocked him around. He is coughing heavily which in turn makes him vomit. The doctor has prescribed antibiotics and expectorant to help loosen up his lungs. This means he is coughing more, but hopefully more productively. He is not impressed with the doctor, he expected to be cured as soon as he left the building and wants to know why he is still coughing………

Friday 18th May

Ben is much improved but still coughing….I am so lucky to have a doctor in training as one of our security guards. Indra has completed his paramedic training and half way through his pharmacy training and then will continue onto his doctor’s degree. He spends most of his time studying while he is on duty. Our staff all ask his advice on medical issues and today I did too. I have just realized that I have been overdosing Ben with his antibiotics, instead of one dose a day; I have been giving him three. Indra checked it all out and reassured me that Ben is fine.
We are back to the doctors on Saturday for all of us to have the last of the Jakarta immunization injections.
I am off to the surgeons on Monday night to have another skin cancer/growth thingy cut out off my chest. I have always been so carefully about applying sunscreen to my face but forgot all about the areas exposed around clothes on my shoulders, neck and décolletage during my twenties. It is pay back time. I had my first thingy cut out last year and now have another to be cut out.
I am making sure that the kids don’t make this same mistake; they are so well trained in applying sunscreen everyday and wearing hats. Chelsea in particular is SO fair. She is covered in sunscreen everyday before she is dressed so I don’t miss any spots.

Sun 20th May

The visit to the doctors went well on Sat. Ben didn't get his needles as he still has a little cough. At the end of the visit the doctor realised that Chelsea was only needed one of the Hepatitis shots not both that she had been injected with, the Dr assures me that it is all OK. We all had a laugh in the car when I realised that my band aide covered a freckle, not the injection hole.
We are all back to the clinic on Monday for the kids dental checkup and then GJ and I both have appointments with the surgeon for sun spot removals. I will have spent over a $1000 dollars at the clinic with in one week. Now I just have to work out how to claim from our company's insurance provider.

Why do kids ask WHY constantly?

Tuesday 15 th May 2007

Ben has a new word; WHY.
I am sure that most kids go through the “why” stage to some extent, the girls certainly did but Ben has taken it to an extreme.
Why is it raining, why is the ditch on this side of the road, why do workers have lunch, why does he have to have a rest, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY?????????????????????????
I usually patiently address every question with a full and complete answer; usually repeating myself at least 10 to 150 times. Even our driver mutters “why, why, why” and laughs at Bens constant chatter. Sometimes I just can’t answer the question.
Ben now angrily demands
Don’t tell me you don’t know, tell me something nice that I like to hear!
This is from a three year old boy that until recently refused to speak to any one except immediate family members.
Why examples
Why do I still have a cough? - Within two minutes of leaving the DR’s office, before we even paid or collected his medicine.
How did the germs get into my cough?
Why is the sun hiding behind the clouds?
Why does the river only run one way?

My beautitful birthday present from Janny and Tan Tan

Thursday 17th May, 2007

This is my birthday present from Janny and Tan Tan. We have named it Pondok Indah (beautiful hut). Jan and Tan wanted to get me something for my special birthday which I could keep for years to come.
I had been admiring this chair for weeks each time I drove past the shop and decided it would be perfect.
The kids love it, last weekend both the girls slept in it for the whole night. We have tied a sheet around it to make it into a fairies home!
I finally got my turn alone in it yesterday. Every time I go to sit quietly inside the kids see me and come and join in for party time. Ben was engrossed in Thomas the tank engine, the girls were on the computer, dinner was cooked so I seized the chance-a good book and chilled glass of wine with the internal light on. Yes, Pondok Indah has a light built into the top!
I had half an hour of bliss me, me, me time.

Edit, I have had another half an hour in Pondok Indah......

Soul food

Over the last few weeks both GJ and my self have been away a lot and been under the weather with tummy upsets and the flu for the kids. This has meant that not many nutritious, well balanced meals have been prepared or consumed.
I decided to revive our physical and mental well being with one big pot of soup.
It worked.
Soul food

As many vegetables as possible, roughly chopped (eg potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, leek, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, onions, zucchini etc)
At least half a clump of garlic, if not more!
A whole cleaned chicken
Salt and pepper
Water or stock

Place in a large heavy based pot and simmer for hour or two. Remove chicken and allow to cool. I normally drain off a couple of cups of the stock at this point and freeze for my next soup batch. Add a packet of split peas to vegetables and simmer for another hour. Pick all chicken off bones and shred. Cool vegetable soup and puree and then add shredded chicken. Stir in some cream if desired for serving.
Sometimes I add apples and /or tomato puree as well.

There is something special about chicken vegetable soup. We managed to ingest so many veggies that night (which the kids did not realize) and I have three more containers in the freezer for later.
The staff all were asking Ibu Sarinah what she was cooking as it smelt so good, and she has to say not me, the Mrs is cooking!

I cooked another one of the kids favorites last night; gourmet sausage sandwiches. I was outside chatting with Samino while he gardened and I bbq’ed the sausages (in the sticky, stinkin hot heat) when he mentions that he can BBQ. Woo hoo that is good to know.
We had wonderful fresh bread, tomato, guacamole, cucumber and grated cheese with sausages and tomato sauce. Yummy Australian style dinner.

I ordered some home delivery the other night as a treat for the kids from Amigos. They were most impresses, but so was I. When I said it was for me, Miss Jenny, the waiter said oh Miss Jenny; you want Margarita’s too, yes? How decadent is that, fajitas and margaritas delivered to your door. It is lovely that the staff all know me by name, but the fact that I like margarita’s…..

Monday, May 14, 2007

No internet connection, yet again

I am still having a bit of bad luck with technology here.
Both the phone lines and the Internet have been down since last Thursday.
Hopefully it won't be long until we are back on !!!!!!
GJ arrived home safely from an interesting trip to Thailand.
I have been to the framers to get some amazing things framed, I can't wait to do a big show and tell...LOL
My birthday present from Janny and Tan tan has arrived, I can't wait to do a show and tell on that too.......
Besides the communication issues, life in Jakarta is wonderful.
The school's computer is very slow, so I can't access all my emails, if it is important email GJ at work.

Edit LOL, yes I have paid the bill. As I knew how hard the whole bill/payment side off things are here in Jakarta, I have arranged for GJ's office to pay all our bill's and deduct it from his salary. I have heard of too many expats living in the dark with no flowing water to risk it! I have had Kablevision out numerous times; today they have decided to rewire my house to prevent further problems. I think the person that installed all the wiring and cables (phone, electricity, cable etc) was slightly under trained!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Last week the A/C was not working well; thankfully that only took two days to fix. I still think that life in Jakarta is wonderful!!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

TV Depravity ...Hannah Montana

Other the last few years I have read other parents comments on kids TV shows and not understood many of the references.

We did not have any cable TV at our home in Brisbane; but here in Jakarta we do....

I now know all about Barney, "Hot diggity Dog" and most of the Disney playhouse regulars.....

BUT I have sunk to new levels of TV depravity........Hannah Montana.
The girls have fallen in love with this show, and as it is on on Sunday afternoons I sometimes watch it with them. The other night I put all the kids to bed and was flicking through the 60 or so channels we have and landed on Hannah Montana AND STAYED ON IT !!!!!
Yes, all by myself, alone in bed, I watched and giggled through the show and gasped when Jake Ryan pecked Hannah on the lips. The girls were SO jealous that I got to watch the show, they don't realise that there mother is not a pre teen but a grown women with a serious TV problem. LOL

On a adult note I watched "Because I said so' last night; it was excellent!!!

If i wanted to I could watch Spider man 3, because it is in the DVD shop already, But I would have to watch SM1 and SM 2 first.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Credit card fraud in Indonesia; Bali belly again

It only took four months for our cards to be copied and the fraud to start...
We know we live in a land with a slightly dubious reputation for credit card fraud, and have been extremely careful.
Our bank in Australia is aware that we live in Jakarta and watch our transaction very carefully and have stopped our cards with only 2 fraudulent transactions.
I think that they are pretty good to pick up a false transaction when in the last week I have used my card in Jakarta, Singapore, Cairns and Sydney....
I now have to fill out all the police paper work and organise to get my replacement cards WITHOUT using the postal service. That's Jakarta, but to be realistic, this could happen anywhere in the world.
I am going to have to get use to living in a cash based society.

The family all had a lovely weekend at home, except for me. YES, once again I spent the weekend in my bed or bathroom (more time here than the afore mentioned). I don't know what it is that is getting to me; the only thing that I can think of is salad.
I have given up the chemical vegetable soaker and use lots of salt in the first wash for the scrubbing of the fruits and veggies (with a special brush for this purpose only). Then I wash all under running water and then soak in bottled water and dry on paper towel. I do all the cooking and buy all the food in (hopefully) hygienic locations and must just have an extremely sensitive my husband would say, I need to be wrapped in cotton wool CONSTANTLY.

GJ is off on a conference to Thailand tomorrow....There is not much meaty stuff on the agenda, lots of boating and fun stuff.......lucky bugger.....
If my credit cards were working I could indulge in some retail therapy and buy myself a Mothers day present.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Lou Lou's exciting news.

Click on the photo for a larger view

On our way home from Cairns, Tan and I had arranged to have Lou to come over to dinner on Tuesday night. We both had a very sneaky suspicion that she was pregnant so we wanted to have a little celebration, just in case.
Janny and I spent the day collecting a little assortment of gifts, in exact equal quantities of pink and blue, no jinxing allowed. We even picked up a bottle of non alcoholic champagne so she could have a toast with us.
Just in case this news was not forthcoming we had it all displayed in the formal lounge behind closed doors.
After ten minutes of loud, exuberant chatting and catching up I couldn’t take it any longer…and asked her if she had any news…….
The four of us were screaming and cackling in excitement when she announced her engagement, but the noise rose at least another ten decibels when she then announced her pregnancy!!!!!
After 5 minutes of tears and hugging we dragged her into the lounge where we had our little display!!!!! This then induced another round of screaming, jumping and cackling and more tears.
We well and truly all blew our knickers off that night!!!!!!LOL

Now I am claiming the very, very slightest responsibility for this baby. I sent Lou Lou a letter with her Christmas card last year with my view on principles and life. Here is a small extract. As I re-read this when I got home, I thought how true it really is

I always ask Tan how you are going, as I love your exuberance and energy. I so enjoy sitting in a room with you and Tan and feeding off your energy! You have not changed from the little 5 yr old I met many, many years ago!
I have been so blessed by my 3 children, if GJ said to me would you still have them with out a wedding, I would say yes in an instance. This is not to say that Gj is not important in any way, but the children have completed us. Greg is my soul mate, and a little license/ piece of paper doesn’t make any difference to that.
I did have a glamorous, fairy tale wedding; it was absolutely wonderful; but I would trade it in a flash for what I have now.
I want you to experience what I have and love. Life is a compromise, but think of the ultimate reward. Please don’t miss out on a family for principles or propriety, life is too short. If you are confident that J….. is for you, take any opportunity to live life for the fullest.
I know your faith is important to you as mine is to me, but is it worth sacrificing everything for the sake of it and principles?

This was a wonderful last night in Australia for me; it certainly revived my soul a little. I wish we could have had Alicia there for half an hour (she knows Lou Lou); it would have been good for her to have a few minutes of happiness, a little break from her grief.