I wish you were a little girl…

Roman: “Mommy? I wish you were still a little girl.”

Me: “Really? Why Roman?”

Roman: “Because when I hold your hand I would be able to look you in the face.”

Me: Melting on site and wishing I were three years old again so when I held his hand I could look him in the face too.

The things you see on Pinterest…

And then you try to do at home in general have about a 50% success rate. There are even entire buzzfeed lists dedicated to Pinterest fails and they are really funny! Normally the photos of the failures are captioned “Nailed it” as the exact opposite is true. I love when people air their DIY failings because Pinterest really does create unrealistic expectations.

The stair slide was about a 50% success in and of itself. I managed to get the cardboard cut and secured. The problem was that I wasn’t working with short carpeted stairs, instead we have tall hardwood-on-concrete stairs. I also needed thicker cardboard; like the kind they use to pack refrigerators. But not to be defeated I figured it would at least be good for one run and one photo/video. In reality it was good for about 10 runs and had we owned boogie boards it would have been a right riot.

When Steve saw my crazy idea he was like, ok, this is amazing but remember what you’re working with here. He was torn between admiration at my idea and determination, but a bit horrified at the prospect for a complete fail (and broken body parts). He walked out the door hugging the kids extra hard and saying that he wanted to memorize them as they were – all in one piece.

E couldn’t be persuaded to go down head first even though I tried to make him believe the distribution of body weight would make for a faster slide, but of course R was all about it (he’s too young and foolish to realize he’s not invincible and that adults ARE fallible and can be equally foolish). R got stuck in a divot about halfway down that required me to pull him along but he still loved it. The slide also had the smoothness of a ski mogul course.

Like I said, it was good for about 10 runs at which point I declared it a sort of fail and dismantled the apparatus. Will they even remember this? Moms! We really are in a special category of crazy.

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Five Boys, Two Moms…

I know we’re a sight. You can see people doing the math in their heads. It’s not hard to count to five but there’s just something about numbers of small children greater than two that make one feel like they are standing in a herd. It’s probably also the disbelief. “No that can’t be right. Let me count again!”

7 people on their way to mamak. 2 female adults and 5 boys trekking the MOST hazardous 800 meters of Jalan Tun Razak. Honestly you would have thought we were journeying to Middle Earth. Pint-sized Hobbits aged 6, 4, 4, 3 and 2 meandered along as we traversed many an obstacle. We encountered an endless array of grates, a double two-lane highway crossing, sidewalks under construction, entrances to buildings, gas stations, and parking garages, etc.
Did I mention everyone is walking?

We don’t need strollers. We don’t need baby carriers. We’re concrete jungle warriors. A speeding lorry may garner about as much attention as a blink; a weaving sidewalk hogging motorbike a head nod. What would have taken a normal able bodied adult took us twice as long. Not because the stunted legs couldn’t power along but because some members of our crew had the sheer focus of an unchoreographed interpretive dance. Grates needed inspecting (there were no less than 15 of those). Chain links needed petting. Curbs begged to be jumped – with about as much warm up as bravado. But the dance, as frustrating as it was to the adults involved, was a riot for passing pedestrians to witness. People smiled and laughed. Some reached out to ruffle a small head of blonde hair. Others counted with outstretched index fingers (Wait! I lost count).

When we finally made it to our destination, NZ Curry House in the basement of the G Tower, the staring, awed smiles doubled as we were clearly the entertainment of the day for the otherwise bored office workers.

We persuaded our brood to behave by giving them this speech:

“Guys. You see all these people sitting around us. They are looking at us and they are saying, ‘that’s a lot of kids, a lot of active boys, and not a lot of adults. I wonder how they will behave?’ Let’s impress these people! Deal?” (Handshakes of affirmation all around.)

“Oh and you can have ice cream if you’re good.”

Ha! Even we’re human.

P.S. – The live entertainment continued as the smallest among us proceeded to spin in a circle while eating an ice cream cone. This obviously left him staggering like an inebriated miniature hobo as cackling from our neighboring table could be heard. The moms were not much better! I look at my fellow mom and exclaim, “Seriously sometimes I feel like we own little drunk monkeys.”

I quit FACEBOOK!

Why? (Not a comprehensive list)

1. I can’t control what I view. This is probably the number one reason. Facebook has turned into a place where memes copied from the internet have become the norm. I’m not a hater of a good, funny meme but the one that demands I type Amen, or claim that most people won’t share this because they don’t care about cancer, etc., really drive me up the wall. Let’s not even get into the image of a malformed child that claim FB will donate 5 cents for every like and a quarter for every share. I find myself questioning the intelligence of the individuals who share these, so therefore it’s just not worth it.

2. They made me dependent: hook, line and sinker. They’ve reeled us in and now they’ve got us where they want us. The glassy look in people’s eyes when they contemplate leaving FB is telling. It’s why I decided to quit in all about 15 seconds flat. I couldn’t give it any thought. I couldn’t give warning. I simply had to let it go! I sang that in my head as I chose the permanently delete option.

3. I spent too much time thinking about things that did nothing to enhance my life. That doesn’t need any further articulation because you know exactly what I mean!

Since I quit Facebook I no longer use my phone as my exclusive downtime tool. I look for purposeful ways to spend that time. And I am actually looking for more creative ways to stay connected and it’s working. In reality, if I already talked to you, I’m going to talk to you anyway.

By the way, I just realized no one will probably ever see or read this post because I don’t have a Facebook page on which to promote it! *Grin* So this is what blogging into the ether feels like!

Click here for instructions on how to permanently delete Facebook as opposed to just deactivating it.

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How people look at me. I totally understand because it seems impossible. Until it’s not!

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I know! I know!

A Sassy, a Nova, and the circle of life

Sassy is her name. She’s a white Volvo. New enough to have the nerve to have power windows and a Blaupunkt stereo, but certainly vintage enough to have window motors that have gone on strike and an aircon system that recently quit in Malaysia’s unrelenting heat. And we’re riding in Sassy. The wind is whipping in through one of the 3 operable windows while the aircon blows tepid air.  3 kids under the age of six occupy the back seat in an array of forward and rear-facing seats. We’re hollering and laughing as we speed down KL’s highways and byways. We’re laughing because the wind is currently flinging our hair into innumerable configurations and hollering because the howl of the wind is deafening.

Heidi asked before I even boarded the vintage express, “Are you sure you want to ride in Sassy? The aircon has quit.” I assured her it would be my pleasure. Heidi, this is the point where I tell you why.

The location is Añasco, Puerto Rico circa 1987. My parents (like Danny, Heidi’s hubby) have never believed in new cars. If a car isn’t at least 10 years old it hasn’t started to live, so why waste the money? Their belief system was taken a bit to the extreme when the 1970 Chevy Nova became their car of choice. We never named her, oddly enough (I don’t think people were as attached to their things back then), but if I were to give her a name today it would be something super unoriginal like the Orange Machine, or Sunkist. Yes, she was very orange. An oft repeated urban myth of marketing failure, the Chevy Nova is rumored to not have sold well in Latin countries like Mexico and Venezuela because “no va” means “doesn’t go.” I was surprised to discover that this urban myth is not true and explains why so many Novas circulated Puerto Rico at this time. But I digress.

It was almost cliché  that she had a vinyl, perforated, tan interior that grafted itself to any exposed skin in Puerto Rico’s humid, sun pelting heat. She had no aircon, unless of you course you wanted to count the rusted out floorboards, long ago stripped of carpeting, that bore holes the size of baseballs and generated some air flow. Those holes were legendary. Back when littering wasn’t uncool, that’s where we would dispose our bits of trash and whip our heads around to see it become a dot on  the asphalt horizon. It also served us well when a friend fell sick shortly after a Ruben DJ concert. He had to vomit so my mom instructed him to vomit in one of the holes. Said holes were also responsible for us having to raise our feet when crossing over one of Puerto Rico’s many flooded bridges during the rainy season. “Kids, pick up your feet,” was said many, many times in the Nova.

She was a two door which meant the only way the people in the back were going to be able to breathe oxygen was to scoot all the way forward in their seat and squeeze their head between the headrest of the front seat and the narrowed triangle end of the front window. Obviously, that left absolutely no chance one would be wearing a seat belt while riding in the back. Oh yeah, that’s right, it didn’t have seat belts ! I think they were optional that year of the Nova. To be fair my dad installed some he rescued from a junk yard after we were pulled over by a well-meaning police officer who couldn’t believe that people still allowed their kids to ride around unbelted.

There was always a rag kept in the car for when it rained. The windshield leaked like a sieve and fogged up to blinding, so it was always someone’s task to be the interior windshield wiper.

That car, nonetheless, was famous. I was never embarrassed by that car because my mom used it to take us EVERYWHERE – Us AND all of our friends. She never used it’s hoopty status as an excuse to say we couldn’t go somewhere because it was raining or too hot. Mind you, she was the lone adult who schlepped 6 kids to a Ruben DJ concert (“La Escuela” and “El Alcohol” were his top hits); something most other parents weren’t even remotely interested in doing (Yes, that’s 3 people in the front and 4 in the back).Till this day if you ask anyone that knew the Orange Machine you will see their eyes light up and a trip down memory lane will follow. A trip filled with a ton of heartfelt laughter.

Fast forward to modern day and I find myself doing market research on luxury mini vans. Seven seaters just won’t do. I think I need 9 seats plus. And I think to myself how far I’ve come. From the Nova to now. But then I wonder, how do I give my kids those same kind of memories? The memories that force you to face your modern day luxuries and be ever thankful for them.  How do I help them to understand that nice things aren’t a right? That they are a privilege that SOMETIMES accompany hard work and dedication. And I think that maybe like Heidi and Danny I should drive around a Sassy. A car that when they do upgrade will cause their kids to appreciate the cool breeze of aircon and the wonder of functioning power windows. There may be less laughter, though, because who laughs at a perfectly operational car?

I must admit that It’s pretty poetic the current car I drive, though. What’s it called? Wait for it…A Toyota “Innova.” Phonetically in Spanish it means, “And, it doesn’t go!” And the circle of life continues.

 

 

Where do you get your food?

Whenever I go home the number one question people ask when they’ve just met me and find out I live overseas is, “What are the supermarkets like? Or do you shop in open air markets?”

Here goes a photo editorial of one of my favorite supermarkets. I’m die hard loyal to my people at Hock Choon. They were one of the first supermarkets I visited in KL. The staff is a bunch of delightful Nepalese guys who run the stocking and cash registers and a crew of grumpy Chinese aunties who manage the mart. I like them because they consistently stock the same stuff (a frustrating reality of imported products in Asia). But my absolute favorite bit is that they allow you to pay your pork purchases at the front register and not in some cordoned off cubby hole that hails back to the leprous “Adult” video section of your creepy local video rental place.

Pasaraya Hock Choon

The glorious…The wondrous…The Chooner (my friend Kyla nicknamed it that…It stuck!)

The entrance to the Chooner.

The entrance to the Chooner.

The teeny tiny Hock Choon shopping cart. I often end up using two. And my ever useful reusable shopping bags..."Ayam not a plastic bag!" Hilarious (Ayam is Bahasa Malay for chicken. Please tell me you get it?)

The teeny tiny Hock Choon shopping cart. I often end up using two. And my ever useful reusable shopping bags…”Ayam not a plastic bag!” Hilarious (Ayam is Bahasa Malay for chicken. Please tell me you get it?)

That will be another post in and of itself. No really. There are some interesting shops up there!

That will be another post in and of itself. No really. There ARE some interesting shops up there!

The widest of the aisles. This is certainly the only aisle that fits to carts side by side. From here on out the customers are forced to play Frogger.

The widest of the aisles. This is certainly the only aisle that fits two carts side by side. From here on out the customers are forced to play Frogger.

British much?

British much?

American much?

American much?

They don't need refrigeration because the outer protective layer is not stripped off in a chemical wash like is done in the U.S. America...Stop washing your eggs!

They don’t need refrigeration because the outer protective layer is not stripped off in a chemical wash like is done in the U.S. America…Stop washing your eggs!

But if you want that refrigerated egg thing you're welcome to rely on the Korean technology of the Safe Egg. I'm assuming they are "pasteurized" as they do in the U.S.

But if you want that refrigerated egg thing you’re welcome to rely on the Korean technology of the Safe Egg. I’m assuming they are “pasteurized” as they do in the U.S.

Some high tech shelving systems are employed here. I think it's charming.

Some high tech shelving systems are employed here. I think it’s charming.

Queso, fromage, cheese!

Queso, fromage, cheese!

I haven't yet tried it but I hear it's yummy!

I haven’t yet tried it but I hear it’s yummy!

Can I get you a drink? Or some ice cream?

Can I get you a drink? Or some ice cream?

Frozen veggies and frozen halal meats.

Frozen veggies and frozen halal meats.

You have been warned. This is not for you if you don't get down with swine!

You have been warned. This is not for you if you don’t get down with swine!

The pork section...And you can special request from Mr. Wong the butcher pretty much any cut of meat you desire.

The pork section…And you can special request from Mr. Wong the butcher pretty much any cut of meat you desire.

Japanese and Korean goods to be found here.

Japanese and Korean goods to be found here.

Have fun getting your cart down this aisle. And don't you dare have a toddler in that thing. An avalanche awaits you otherwise.

Have fun getting your cart down this aisle. And don’t you dare have a toddler in that thing. An avalanche awaits you otherwise.

My Nepalese dudes. They are so sweet! They unpack your cart, bag your groceries, and take them to your car. My boy on the right has been my favorite since we arrived 4.5 years ago. He has a nephew and was married to his 18 year old bride (he's 23) during his last home leave. She is not here with him so Skype and Facebook will have to do for now.

My Nepalese dudes. They are so sweet! They unpack your cart, bag your groceries, and take them to your car. My boy on the right has been my favorite since we arrived 4.5 years ago. He has a nephew and was married to his 18 year old bride (he’s 23) during his last home leave. She is not here with him so Skype and Facebook will have to do for now.

Oh wait! I forgot to mention. I don’t buy my produce at Hock Choon. When we arrived in KL Hock Choon was a family owned business (now owned by Jaya Grocer) and they didn’t have a produce section. Instead you went to the other family business next door. See that! People once did work together to make a living. Well, even though Hock Choon is now well stocked with produce, I still take my business next door. They still have some of the freshest produce at J &Y so I will keep my business there!

Fruits

Fruits

It's a compact fresh little place!

It’s a compact fresh little place!

Either local or imported, strawberries are Enzo's favorite fruit!

Either local or imported, strawberries are Enzo’s favorite fruit!

These little nuances are what I love about non-commercial establishments. When's the last time you saw raisins on the vine. That's right. Never!

These little nuances are what I love about non-commercial establishments. When’s the last time you saw raisins on the vine. That’s right. Never!

Here starts the vegetable section.

Here starts the vegetable section.

Nice to have this option if you really want it.

Nice to have this option if you really want it.

Potatoes and onions and garlic galore.

Potatoes and onions and garlic galore.

And since you're tired from all the shopping, don't bother cooking what you bought. Take a little nasi lemak love packet to go! (Nasi lemak is the national rice dish)

And since you’re tired from all the shopping, don’t bother cooking what you bought. Take a little nasi lemak love packet to go! (Nasi lemak is the national rice dish)