Saturday, June 28, 2008

Occupying the kids

A debate is raging in our household this summer break: How do we occupy the time of the kids? I am of the opinion that, for the most part, the kids should find their own way of filling their time. They should figure out their own games using what is available around our house. For example, the kids enjoy playing in the dirt in front of our house as well as riding their bicycles around the compound. We try to do other things, like go swimming, but for the most part I think the kids should learn to play on their own.

Lori, on the other hand, believes that the kids need far more structure in their lives, so that summer break is similar to school time. Lori has looked into getting the kids into swimming lessons, singing lessons as well as other sorts of activities. These haven't really worked out so far, for a variety of reasons.

This past week has been a bit tough since several of their friends have been gone. However, the kids have started to figure out different things to do. From friends we received a play kitchen set and so they have been playing 'restaurant'. And of course they play in the dirt. (See pictures.)

But the debate rages: Should kids have most of their time filled with structured events or should they work on finding their own ways of occupying their time?


Thursday, June 19, 2008

School End of Year Program

The girls had their end of year program last night. The program was originally planned to be held at the school with a potluck supper, however the person who runs the Hyatt hotel here in Yogyakarta has a child at the school and so we ended up at the Hyatt last night. This was the first time we had been at the Hyatt and it was beautiful. The people at the Hyatt went out of their way to accommodate about 50 very excited kids.

The program had a 50's theme and the teachers did a great job of organizing it. Katie had a special role as Elvis. It was a bit scary just how good Katie did, doing the rock star thing in front of a large crowd. Mia had a lot of fun doing the hand jive with her friend.

It was a curious experience because of the diverse group of people that make up the school. On the one hand, there are relatively ordinary Indonesians. I say relatively because government regulations allow only Indonesian children with a father holding an international passport to attend. Then there are expat business people as well as expats connected with NGOs. So, the mix is quite eclectic. One of Mia's classmates is from Belgium but moving to Morocco. Another classmate has a father who is from Guatemala and mother from the former East Germany. There are children from the U.S., Senegal, Australia and Korea. With this mix, social events are an interesting experience as we meet people from all parts of the world and from different paths in life. More importantly, however, is that Katie and Mia are able to have friends from very different places and learn to get along with people who may do things differently.

We had a great time and the kids did a great job.

See our web album for pictures of our rock star!


Friday, June 13, 2008

From Katie

Hello everybody! This is Katie!!! I’m having fun in school. At the end of June my whole school is having a Rock’n’Roll program. It’s gonna be so fun!! There will be 5 Elvises and I am one of them! First I will be wearing a poodle skirt for the first song, but then after I have to go back stage and change into my Elvis clothes. The last 2 songs everyone will sing. The last song’s words are hard for almost everybody. I always practice that song so I know it very well. I’m gonna be done school soon. Starting last week I didn’t have any homework. There are three kids that live beside us. When we had homework from school we couldn’t play after school (that ended at two o’clock) until three thirty because we had lots of homework. Now we can play whenever we want to until five thirty. At five thirty we have to go home and eat supper. Tonight my class is having a party named Seven Eleven Night. It’s when we have to go to school at seven p.m. and our parents pick us up at eleven p.m. We can bring snacks like chips, and ice cream. Our teacher is bringing soda and smores. She is also bringing a huge chocolate bar the size as a computer screen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lori's Diary

Friday May 30, 2008

Friday evening, Katie and I, and some of her friends from school went to a Hip Hop Concert. It was sponsored by LIP (Lembaga Indonesia Prancis), the French Cultural Institute in Jogja. What a show! There were seven young men undulating, twirling, and flipping to music with spooky, insect, and African themes. The moves were creative and the group had no problem keeping us entertained for 2 hours.
Afterwards, Katie and her friends went up to the stage to get autographs. That moment gave me pause – seeing her there, among other excited young people, I could see that she is growing up. I hope she stays young for a while longer.
It was a great evening.

Tuesday June 10, 2008

Weather today started out a bit overcast, and more comfortable. This morning, went to the Post office at Gadjah Mada to mail a letter. As opposed to my experience in Salatiga, the post office here has been easy. This morning I walked in, was the first in line at the Post biasa (Standard Mail) booth. The girl sitting at the desk spoke to me in English and understood my own. She stamped my letter and I walked out within 2 minutes. Then, I took a becak (pedicab) to UKDW, Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana to finish up some editing.

I am editing papers for faculty at the university who are doing PhDs overseas, and need to write their dissertations in English. This work is a bit tricky. I need to correct grammar and spelling, but sometimes I can't do this without changing the meaning of the sentences. As Indonesians tend to speak and write in the passive form, I often have to wait till the end of long sentences before realizing the general gist. Sometimes, I am left scratching my head as to what the writer is trying to say. As these are all theologians, could it be that I am unaware of specific theological terminology, that doesn't make sense to the lay person, like me? Or is it just plain poor English? As a result of this, I can spend about 1 hour doing this before getting a headache.

We had another pembantu issue yesterday. As we are relatively new to having Indonesian househelp, we are continuously encountering situations that need addressing. Our cook (who is a bit of a tattletale, and very territorial) was trying to get my attention in the kitchen yesterday. The other one, who helps with cleaning and looking after the kids, was once again, working in her kitchen. She was making fruit salad, using the papaya, (which the cook brought from her mother's house 1 hour away on bicycle) and other fruits (which the cook just bought at the market in the morning, for our day's meal). Granted, we had plenty of fruit, but the cook was not happy that the nanny was helping herself, both to kitchen space, and also to food which was meant for something else.

Most of the time, we let issues like this go, as we don't want to amplify a situation that could better be left alone. This time, we are wondering whether or not to say something.

June 11, 2008

Re: the pembantu issue yesterday, contrary to our dynamic, zealous natures, we have decided to do nothing, just wait and see what happens!

I had an interesting discussion with a friend from the university today. Her son has a developmental disability, which no doctor really seems to be able to diagnose. He isn’t able to sit yet, though he’s almost 3, and the latest CT scan shows that his metabolism is compromised, so that he is losing his eye sight and can’t hear. Something about amino acids. She is struggling to understand what the doctor says, and the doctor keeps apologizing to her and telling her to have another baby! There is much better health care in Singapore, but if she had enough money to get there and take him to a doctor once, she wouldn’t be able to continue treatment in Singapore indefinitely. It is clear that she wasn’t asking me for money – this is someone I see several times and week and get along with quite well. I suspect she is bringing up the subject with me, partly because I, as a foreigner may have some knowledge of what may be hurting her son. As a mom, my heart aches for her, its clear that she loves him very much.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gita Gutawa

For the first time, I was dragged to a bubble gum pop concert. Katie and her Indonesian friend, Tika, have been listening to the self-titled album by Gita Gutawa. Tika found out that Gita would be performing at a nearby mall last night and so the two of them had been conspiring as to how to get there. Tika's parents refused to take her, so the two of them ganged up on me. I resisted as long as possible. I can tolerate one or two songs on the album, but listening for too long makes me want to break something.

Well, as I said, I resisted as long as possible but resistance is futile in the face of two determined pre-teen girls. The crowd was primarily high school aged kids so I stood out as both a foreigner and an old guy. I let the girls go up to the stage while I stayed in the back. The girls had a great time. The set was only five songs so it wasn't that long but it included the girls' favourite songs. When Gita finished, Tika managed to shake her hand and give Gita her cellphone number. In the car, Tika kept looking at her hand in disbelief as well as her cellphone in expectation. Katie just kept shrieking, overwhelmed with excitement. I had a headache.

While the music was terrible, it was an interesting cultural experience. In many ways the concert was what I would expect at a N. American mall. Girls dressed not quite enough and boys in baggy pants that defied gravity. Ironically, many of the girls were wearing jilbabs, suggesting that the covering has more to do with culture than religious conviction. There was also a 'flirt message board' where kids could write messages to their loved ones and it would be posted on a large electronic message board. The messages were typically adolescent but I was surprised at how public it was. This is a country that considers itself Islamic and came very close to having Sharia installed in its constitution. There are parts of the country that have Sharia police who will punish Muslim women wearing clothes that are too revealing. Indonesia is not an easy country to label.

Katie went to Tika's house for a sleepover and no doubt they stayed up late into the night staring at Tika's cellphone hoping Gita would call.