Monday, March 30, 2009

Same & Different

I have a confession to make. A total, white-trash, nervous laugh, embarrassing confession...

I have Christmas lights up in the kitchen.

They've been there since December and can't bring myself to take them down. It's a single string of simple white lights on a white cord, so they're pretty unobtrusive during the day and blend into the background of the tile. But at night, when it gets dark, I turn off the kitchen lights and turn on this little string of magic and I'm instantly transported to a bizarre sort of state-of-perpetual-relaxation where nothing can penetrate my serenity. That silly little string of lights in the dark makes me sigh and smile softly and release my wrinkled brow (that tends to crop up at some point or another during the children's bedtime routine) while I stand mesmerized and tranquil, even if it only lasts about 10 seconds. It's worth the social faux-pas embarrassment to be able to end my day that way.

I just wanted to share that.

And onto to completely unrelated news.
Some small comparisons of my children and why they are different. Or really the same.

This one LOVES the pool.

So does this one.
Well, don't all kids? By the way, there is nothing cuter than a baby's chubby little tummy sticking out in a swimsuit.

This one LOVES being outside but HATES the grass.

This one couldn't care less about grass, dirt, sand, long as he can play ball.

This one LOVES playing with everyone's shoes. Wow, I REALLY need to shave my legs. (Haha! Just kidding! That's Michael's leg. But for those that really know me, you believed that for a second, didn't you?)

Oh, wait, this one loves to play with shoes too! Yes, those are my heels for church. And a stocking footie. (And yes, Michael is appalled with this picture.)

They BOTH love to play and/or eat in this little cupboard that I've left bare in the kitchen exactly for this purpose. Little peas in a pod...

And since this has been a string of totally random, unrelated posts, let's end on something completely different. It's...THE MYSTERY MEAT OF THE DAY!!!!

We went out with friend's this weekend and ordered this dish for everyone to share. It's pretty covered with scallions and a few huge strips of ginger (mmmm...) but would anyone care to guess what kind of meat it is??? I'll give you a hint: it's not chicken, beef or pork. And it was actually quite delicious. OK, those aren't really good hints, but they narrow it down a bit for you.
I would love to hear your guesses, although I don't think anyone would get it. In fact, I'm so confident that I'll give a prize to anyone who guesses right. Let's hear it, any ideas???

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Name that creature!

This is the side of our house. It appears that giant pipe carries rain water from the roof so our home doesn't fold in half like wet newspaper.

Check out those black smudges all the way at the top of the pipe.

What ARE those things...are those...

...wait...are those FOOTPRINTS?!?!?

Why, yes. Yes they are.
And they wrap around EVERY pipe like this around our house...probably a dozen of them.

It took me the LONGEST time to figure out what these were. I immediately thought of monkeys, but the footprints are wrong. They look like CAT paw prints. Those are just TOO oddly placed to be cats. Then, one day Michael saw one of these on the wall around our house:

And it all fell into place.

Wait, what? What IS that thing???
Are you telling me you'd never heard of a civet? Me neither. So I looked it up on Wikipedia.

WIKIPEDIA says: "Civets are omnivorous, supplementing a meat diet (both hunted and scavenged) with fruit, eggs, and possibly roots." Of course, it's I had to find a better source.

And I did. HERE.
This site says the civet "stalk their prey and pounce on it from a hiding place in the underbrush." Great. Good to know they have a perfect hiding place ON MY ROOF. The site also calls them "timid creatures" that prefer the "flight" of the Fight-or-Flight instinct. Unfortunately, that provided little reassurance a few weeks ago when one of them crawled up on the roof at night (apparently they ARE nocturnal creatures) and crawled around for a good 1/2 hour. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with this, but:
a) I still haven't seen the civet(s) so I have no idea how big it/they is/are.
b) This was pre-Google search so for all I knew they could eat babies for brunch.
c) The noise this civet made crawling across my roof at night was disturbingly similar to the sound a dead body might make as it was drug right over my head on the roof. *shudder*

Actually, now that I think about it, that doesn't make sense. These guys are more cat-like and would prowl lightly on their padded feet. Maybe it had killed a chicken and was dragging that? Man, that would have to have been one BIG chicken. Shoot, there goes my civet theory. Gulp...what if it was a snake??? That would have to have been one BIG snake. *bigger shudder*

We have a contractor coming to fix a leak in the roof tomorrow. Maybe I should warn him first...

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's 4am...

So this is what I'm doing at 4am...watching Twilight again (for some unknown's like a train wreck...I can't look away), catching up on Google Reader, laughing at Pioneer Woman, reading scriptures, watching Ugly Betty, listening to Michael snore, and wondering how long it will be before this blasted room actually cools down to an acceptable sleep-appropriate temperature without a working air conditioner.
These are the serious issues that keep me up at night.

OK, just that last one.

Maybe this is a good time to post a "Grateful List" for the day:

-for overhead fans, how would i live without you?
-for an awesome pizza dough recipe that i used for breadsticks tonight. they were a big hit.
-for kids who go to sleep at 8...shoot, that just means they'll be up in 3 hours. dang it.
-for new sheets from ikea. and a pillow that cost more than it should have but still makes me smile.
-for canned veggies...taco soup, how i love thee. one day i'll use fresh stuff from my OWN garden.
-for homemade banana bread. mmmm....bananaaaaaas...
-for internet that works...sometimes.
-for kisses on my arm by my little boy.
-for crazy dancing as a family to john mayer.
-for clothes from friends!
-for dried cranberries & cadbury chocolate.
-for finally being tired.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We Want You! lose some weight!

Michael & I were cracking up over this Malaysian headline found at MALAYSIASUN.COM (click on the link to read the article)

"Malaysian Army Wives Urged to Join Slimming Programme"

This program sounds innocent enough (slimming offers abound at spas here, nearly standard fare along with manicures and pedicures) and a nice perk for the spouse of someone working for the government. However, the article claims that the purpose for creating this program (which is not offered at a commercial spa, but is a unique program specifically targeted at the wives of army officers) was bluntly the unattractiveness of the women. One of the key phrases in the article mentions the women as "unable to catch the attention of their spouses" which said to me that they were having problems with philandering officers and decided (as per usual fare in the muslim community) that it is the fault of the woman for not being attractive enough. So instead of teaching the men self-control or fidelity or any of that mumbo-jumbo, the Malaysian Army officials have decided that the wives need to make getting makeovers!

My favorite part is that the title of the program (which the article says is a rough translation from Bahasa to English) is "From Fat, Frumpy and Lumpy to Slim, Fashionable and Glamorous." Sign me up, I'm ready to label myself Lumpy! And Michael's favorite quote says that the participating women were "found to be lacking in the area of personal grooming and unable to catch the attention of their spouses"...nothing says "I love you" like a trip to the slimming spa because I think you lack proper grooming habits!!!

If you click over to the article be sure to read the (two) comments at the bottom...they are entirely true and also hilarious (from a politically motivated sense). You're in the Army now...

Just wondering...

Rainbow of Batik, originally uploaded by Annievict.

Would anyone be interested in some cool Asian fabrics? I found a place where I can buy them fairly cheap and I could either bring them back to the US with me (if we manage to get there this year) or I could ship small amounts. If you're interested in buying some just leave me a comment. If there are enough people I will take photos and post them here so you can see the selection.
Thank you, that is all.

ps- if you want some cool ideas on what to do with batik fabric, just do a general search on flickr for "batik fabric"...the first couple of pages alone have enough projects to keep the most craftiest crafter busy for a few weeks.

You have to be a parent...

(I apologize and warn in advance about the, gross...nature of this post.)

I was just thinking about how life changes so much when you become a parent. There are stages of growth for a baby, but the parent grows with them at each step: learning how to recognize certain cries, learning about feeding them, learning how to set boundaries, learning how to teach sounds and letters...and then you try learning how to potty-train. Oh. Everyone who has done it is sitting there nodding their heads right now. And depending on how recent their experience was they are either grimacing or laughing. Jerks.

But seriously, it has been MONTHS of figuring out how to do this with our now-3-year-old-boy. In the course of that time he learned that he liked to pee in the potty but NOT go #2. In fact, he adamantly refused. Every day I would ineffectively plead with him to poop in the potty before he took a nap, and every day I would resign, put the diaper on, only to be summoned by his calls about 45 minutes later when he would have woken himself up from a VERY short nap by pooping in his diaper. Not only were we being ridiculously unsuccessful at the potty training, but he was grumpy from having short naps as well. Argh.

One afternoon, roughly 3-4 weeks ago, I about had a coronary when he jumped up from play, ran into the bathroom, and came out totally bare from the waist down, declaring that he had just gone potty. By himself. Without me asking him. And when I went to flush I found he had gone pee AND poo. No pleading, no coercion, no threats. It's like he just suddenly decided he wanted to do it and that was it. Since then he has pretty much been potty trained. There have been the invariable accidents here and there, which I totally expect, but they are few and far between considering what it took us to get here.

Again, I was thinking about how being a parent changes you...because the other day when I was getting him ready for bed and he ran into the bathroom by himself, I could hear "plop-plop" coming from the bathroom and I thought how ODD it was that such a disgusting sound could make me so ridiculously happy that I would be grinning from ear to ear. It was like music to my ears. Like I said, I think you have to be a parent.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'll Drink My Avacado, Please

I must start this post by saying how much I generally despise avocados. On rare occasions I can smoosh a teaspoon of guacamole onto a burrito and mix it in with the other ingredients so I can't really tell it's there...but if you try to get me to eat a PLAIN avocado I will probably run away...after I've vomited on your shoes. In Vietnam the word for avocado roughly translates as "butter fruit" and THAT right there is a good reason to lick my own feet before eating one. Just thinking about the mushy, creamy (*gag*), butter-like flesh makes my throat close involuntarily. Agck.

Speaking of avocados and Vietnam...I was introduced to the most amazing creation today. I almost want to put this in all-caps because it's that good. In fact, I think I will...AN AVOCADO SHAKE. Seriously.

I took a day shopping with my friend Anne and while eating at a great Vietnamese restaurant, she offered me a sip of her avocado shake that she'd been drooling about all morning. After politely refusing the shake about 17 times, she refused to take the hint and made me just dip in my spoon and lick it. I agreed to do this for a few reasons:

1- I wasn't actually eating a WHOLE avocado (hence, no mushiness) so I figured I could wash it down quickly with my lime juice.

2- Anne has excellent taste and in my year and a half of knowing her can hardly recall a time she suggested something to me that wasn't absolutely, shopping, beach destinations, you name it...except durian. I don't care how much you love it, Anne, you are WRONG about durian.

3- Since living in Asia I've tried to keep as my mantra a phrase used often by my awesome friend Apryl: You have to try everything at least once. It's helped me have a better experience while living here.

So I dipped my spoon and licked. Then I dipped my spoon again and slurped. Then I dipped it again and I think I might have moaned embarrassingly. (We're friends, so Anne didn't grimace when I did this. The moaning or the double-dipping.) Can you just imagine how wonderful it was? You want a shake to be creamy. Check. You want it to be sweet. Check. You want it to be filling. Check. You want to dream about it until the next time you can have one. Check, check, check. Even after I was filled up from my meal, I ordered a shake of my own for take-away and sipped happily away until I was so full I thought I'd burst. But I would burst happily.

I am dreaming about making my own shake, which is apparently very easy to do. I found a few recipes online and they all basically involve: an avocado, some ice, some sweetened condensed milk, maybe some regular milk, maybe some sugar, and maybe some places put a touch of Hershey's syrup in it. aruaghghgabbbblbll...sorry, let me wipe that drool off my chin. We don't currently own a blender, but I'm thinking this shake might be a good reason to get one. Please go make an avocado shake. I promise you won't be sorry.

(picture found at awesome website that i read Coconut & Lime)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When Snakes Attack/Climb on Stuff...or The Dangers of Living in the Tropics

I have these pictures sitting in my hard drive and admittedly they make me feel sqeamish just being there. So here's the story.

About a week after John's birthday we were relaxing in the morning, I believe the hubby was eating breakfast and John was playing in the front room near the giant glass doors that look out to the front yard. I was in the kitchen and I heard a blood-curdling shriek from John, not like he was hurt, but like someone had sucked his soul out of his bellybutton (not unlike the noise I made when Michael tried to make me watch "I Am Legend") and we rushed out to find him doubled over, shaking and screaming from pure fear. I barely managed to decipher the word "snake" from his quivering little voice and looked at the glass door where he was pointing and I think I literally gasped in horror.

At the far right edge of the glass door is about 1/2" - 1" of open space between the door and the frame, and in that tiny space were the undulating curves of a snake madly thrashing its way up the wall right outside the door. Did you ever play "snake" with a jumprope in elementary school? You lay it on the ground, grab one end and wildly shake it so that it makes waves through the rope and the other end thrashes around and you try to "bite" the other players with the loose end? THAT is exactly how this snake looked and, trust me, it was not like a jumprope. It was, in fact, remarkably creepy. Not least because it was doing this in a VERTICAL position, climbing up a COMPLETELY FLAT WALL. Now I can imagine snakes climbing in an upward motion...obviously they could slither up a tree because it is ROUND and the snake would be able curve itself appropriately around a tree or a pole or some kind of vegetation. But this wall was a 90-degree angle and completely flat!!! So with the waving/thrashing, half of its body was inside and half of it outside. Unfortunately, as it climbed higher and higher (and, trust me, nobody was going close enough to get a better look) it seemed to disappear right into the door frame and was gone without a trace.

Not the best way to start your day.

So I tried to calm John down, take him in the other room, settle him down for a nap, while my ingenious husband sprayed WD-40 all around the door frame to smoke the sucker out. It worked. After it drug itself out to the porch he attacked it with my broom. So there were 2 casualties...Snake: 0, Broom: 0, Michael:'re my knight in shining armor, sweetheart.

And here is the unfortunate culprit (right outside the front door on the patio):

Thankfully we have a wonderful lady named Tumeni who comes a couple times a week to help in the house and she cleaned up the (urp)... blood. I gave her a big hug after that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


OK, have I seriously not posted pictures of John's 3rd birthday yet? *scanning back through blog...* Nope, I have not. Well, shame on me. And here you go.

"What are you doing with that camera in my face, woman?! I was sleeping!"
This picture was actually the day BEFORE his birthday, but I thought it was nice to see what his annoyed teenage face would look like in 12 or so years when I wake him up at 6:55am to tell him about the trip his dad & I took to the hospital on the fateful day of his birth...
minus the pink mimi, of course...
on a related note, we have successfully rid ourselves of the blight of the mimi!!! we told him that when he turned three there would be "no more mimis!!" and made him repeat it back every time so it would be burned into his brain...and he bought it! we also threw in a story about how the monkeys needed them so we would go throw them in the jungle to give them to the monkeys. seems to have done the trick. after his birthday he hasn't used one since!!!

Anyway, back to birthday festivities...

After lunch the kids did a treasure hunt that took them around the house while we set up the cupcake-decorating station in the kitchen. There are a few pictures of the hunt.

Cute Janella is reading all of the clues for our fearless group because, well, she's the only one who can read.

The treasure hunt led them to the kitchen to decorate their own cupcakes.
These kids are all so adorable I want to kiss them!

After they finished their own cupcake, I let them decorate a WHOLE cake (you should have heard the shrieks of pure joy that accompanied this announcement). It was originally supposed to be John's b-day cake, but it turned out absolutely awful and so did the (blue) frosting...I'm pretty sure I spit it out when I tasted it. Thankfully I have a recipe for a SUPER-EASY chocolate cake that I can do start to finish, including baking time, in about 35 minutes, so I set the nasty cake aside and made a new one before we had lunch. I decided last minute to let the kids play with the bombed cake instead and it turned out to be a great activity for them so it didn't have to go totally to waste.
(by the way, that is my awesome friend anne in the background...yes, she is SWEEPING MY KITCHEN as the kids make a huge mess with sprinkles. i *heart* her. thanks anne!!!)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Trip to Singapore

Our spontaneous trip to Singapore a few weeks ago was great fun, even if the thing we did most was take a bath. Our kids have a mini-bathtub from Ikea at home so having a REAL bathtub is like having our own POOL. We took FIVE baths in less than 48 hours. For reals.

But other than that, some stuff we did...

We rode the train. Last time we came here, John was shorter than the sign.

We ate at this food court place in Chinatown.

And had some of these yummy gyoza.

And fruit from this stall. They have these in Malaysia can pick out whatever fruit looks yummy and they'll bag it up with little sticks to poke and eat it with. I got some red dragonfruit, water apples, pineapple and watermelon for about $2.50...mmm...
Yes, that's how we live it up when we travel abroad.