Saturday, 11 October 2014

The day Malala wins

I think the world could smile for a minute today knowing that Malala has won the Noble Peace Prize. After a few head scratching moments on the name of the recipients before – Al Gore, Barack Obama, everyone? – seeing such a young recipient with such a bold message is very uplifting. 

What moved me is the fact that Malala stood up to education and terror at such an early age. She started by writing a blog when she was 11-12 years old about empowering women education and her fears. I am in my thirties and my goodness, I did not even wrote about women empowerment or my fears! Looking at the cases of teenagers who died in the area for standing up for themselves, I believe that Malala standing up for her believe is actually part of conquering fear itself.
My wish for Malala is that this will not be the end of her journey and that all will not come to just lip service- as some of the previous recipients. And hopefully more Malala would come from other parts of the world.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Being a mom and a world citizen

I For the past seven years, I have been a "world citizen" and lived in three different countries: Singapore, Germany and US. Before that, I spent a year in Belgium and 20 something years in my home country, Indonesia.

In three of those countries, I was a Mom. The thing about living in a country and trying to understand its culture is that, you spontaneously copy a lot of their routine or their habits. Including habits in raising children and the family. Here are some of the habits that I noticed during my time as an "International Citizen" of the world, or so I say ;)

-Kids are treated like precious artifacts in Indonesia. Babies are usually carried in front with a special cloth called "jarik" and letting a baby cried for long time is a big No-No.

-In Singapore, I found that people are not really fond of babies. Whenever I took my baby out in public transport in stroller, no one ever bother to give space for us or to look into the stroller, let alone to comment on "how cute she/he is." In Germany, the first morning we went out, an old couple saw Rania in her stroller and commented on how cute she was and how big her eyes were. I received comments similar to this for the two and half years while we were there.

-I found Germans kids to be very active and fearless. The first time Rania went to the playground in Germany, she was shocked for a minute, she was two at the time and all she tried was the swing. While toddler smaller than her tried the monkey bar, climbed the spider web and the see-saw. Mothers would just sit and let their toddlers play. I freaked out on the idea of letting Rania played alone.

-Health and hygiene is a big thing in Singapore. Every morning the teacher would check the children's hands for HFMD (Hand Foot Mouth Disease) and head lice. Parents had to wash their hands of the children before coming into class.

-On the contrary, on the first day of kindergarten in Germany, Rania hardly eat her lunch: no hand wash, all they did was dipped the hands into soapy water and then towel dry.

-The definition of kid's lunch differs between countries. In Indonesia, I always had my lunch at home: rice, protein and a bowl of veggies. In Germany and here in US, kids have lunch at school. I was surprised to see the cafeteria menu in Rania's school and the 'Lunchables' pack they have here in supermarket, in my days those kind of foods I will consider as snacks.

-During my school days in Indonesia, on conference day (which usually happen in report card day) teacher never beat around the bush and always brought up the negative aspect first. While here in the US, teacher always brought up the positive aspects, and sometimes only positive aspects of the child. Nothing negative would be mentioned and even if it is, it would be sandwiched so comfortably between all the positive comments. I could not count anymore how many times Rania's teachers have commented that they were so proud of her during the school years.

This list can go on and on, but I think I have to stop here for now. I shall continue to learn the fascinating cultures of raising a kid abroad and put them on this list J

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The not so little cupcake

The little cupcake is not so little anymore and she is starting the first grade this year! How time flies! It was like yesterday I carried her with Bjorn carrier and stroller, and now she's big enough to ride the school bus all by herself.

So far, she has been a "star student" and "student-of-the-week". It is a big recognition for someone who's afraid of talking so I've been a proud Mama! Each day she would bring home her works from school and sometimes we need to review her works together because I need to explain to her some complicated idioms they use. Rania is a naïve little girl and has a straight forward thinking and sometimes this is not helping. One time, she could not answer a review question and I asked her to think "outside the box", she snapped back and said "outside the box? Why a box and not a ball?" Oh, well, that wasn't easy to answer.

She is a good reader though –her reading level is that of end of first grade- and she loves reading. I just focus on that for now and hope that she grows up to be someone who loves reading, like me. My mom has always love to read and I think that contribute to her well-being – never argue or be on the opposite side from my mom because nobody won an argument with her – the power of reading I guess. Another funny fact is that, when my mom was pregnant with me, she read the book "Close Encounter of the Third Kind" and I grew up liking science fiction and all.

One of the books I read during pregnancy was Jenny McCarthy's "Belly laugh". Maybe Rania could end up being a comedienne or a comedic person? And hopefully a comedienne who thinks outside the box.

Cupcake walk

Well, what do we have here? It's been a while since I post something.

Definitely not the first time that I am late in posting, but from now on I'll try to post as much as possible. *scout's promise*

It's been too long since I actually sat in front of my screen and wrote something with the intention of publishing it in my blog – not in social media.

Ok let's see what I have…

I gained weight. Ha! This is nothing new. I guess living in the land of cookies and sweet savory stuff a.k.a. USA has contribute to the 10 pounds of fat in my love handles. Please don't laugh, it took a big courage from a-used-to-be-size-2 person to acknowledge the fact that she IS (perhaps a little bit?) overweight.

Maybe this is nothing if I live anywhere else. But I live in the county of plastic surgeries and mannequins – you should see how the other moms dress up when dropping and picking up their kids in the bus stop. 6" tall with bareback maxi summer dresses, hoop earrings, the whole nine yards and all.

So another mom and I made this pact that we would brisk walk every morning for 30 minutes to an hour, every single morning. Unless it's raining, or we are in dire need of cupcakes and coffee.

So far it's been going on okay, I'm not expecting to shred gazillion pounds but eliminating some tummy flabs would be nice. Wish me luck! Or at least wish me of not wanting cupcake after the walk.




Thursday, 16 January 2014

Catching Mitch Albom to get The First Phone Call From Heaven

No, I'm not interested in clairvoyance or anything similar to it. The "First Phone Call from Heaven" is the new book from Mitch Albom, one of my favorite writer. I started following his work since I bought his "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and was hooked on his interfaith writings ever since. I felt that I could relate to his books and agree on one thing: being religious does not mean that you need to be a religio-chauvinist to be a good person. In fact, being religious means that you respect God and your faith by cherishing humanity regardless of their race or faith.
I met Mitch the first time in Singapore, 2009 (wow that was long time ago!) when a friend, a writer, asked me to see his book signing in a mall in S'pore.

So when Mitch started a new book tour and visited Miami as part of it, of course I jumped at the first chance to see him. I begged my husband to drive me to Miami and asked Mitch to take another picture with me (or more like I asked Mitch to take another picture with him, ha!).

He was surprised enough to see an Asian lady in one of the attendees, let alone this lady had met him 5 years ago in Spore. He, of course did not remember the picture, but kept thanking me for coming and remembering him and the picture, all this time. Of course Mitch, you are one of my fave writer!

Regarding the new book though, it was not as good as his previous books. The premise itself was interesting and the plot is a mix of religious ideas with a hint of mystery and adventure. But the plot and the twist was thin and easily guessed. Good enough to read it before bed but not one that will remember years to come.

I wonder if Dan Brown is coming to town any time soon?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

100 days in Florida..... and loving it

It's been 100 days in Florida and we could not complain. The sun does not always shines, but it is not cold. I enjoyed going to the malls (ahem, so Asian of me!) and the shopping. I like the TV too and I could relate to the culture, a lot.

The whole family just joined a fitness club... and boy this fitness club is fantastic! It has a yoga studio, a pilates studio with all these crazy things, strings, etc. Plus heated swimming pool, and a kids-town for rania. So while Mommy and Daddy are having their thing on the gym, Rania could play in the club with supervision.

Rania has been improving a lot in school. Yesterday and this morning she insisted that she would go home from the bus stop by herself. Yeah, right kiddo! Her learning curve is uncanny too, when she first came she did not know how to spell and now she can ready simple sentence. So yeah, I'm happy. She just needs a little push in terms of speaking though. This part is still a problem but I am so hopeful that one day, she will break those barriers. She has her best friend, G, from next door neighbour and both they would do mischievous little things around the house.

If I could point a complaint, it would be lack of public transport. Therefore, I would go everywhere with my bike and people would rolled their eyes every time they see a crazy mommy on a bike. Last week, on the way home from Rania's school, the tire went flat and I had to drag myself, my lazy butt AND the bike on the way home, 2 miles of it! Perhaps it's time to start those driving classes. :P

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Project of the year: moving to Florida

When I first told people that I am moving to Miami, Florida, I got two mostly two reactions: Oh-my-god-I-envy-you kind of attitude and Oh-my-God-are-you-insane kind of attitude.
We moved anyway - and after moving for a couple of times, we really don't care what people think anyway actually.
Miami is not a safe neighbourhood, I have to admit. Dodgy area and rich neighbourhood are side by side to each other and 2 months I am here I have seen at least one occasion where police closed the street because of a possible shoot out. Do I feel safe, not as safe as in Germany nor Singapore. But do I feel happy happier, yes.
First, it was the language. I turned on the TV and could understand every single thing it said. I felt like having an Oprah AHA moment.
Second, the food. Eating out is cheap and I could fine ANY kind of restaurants in here.
Third, the SUN. This is my main reason to be happy. It's not cold, it's not dark. Yes, it rains a lot, but I can leave my sweater and jacket and hop out with my shorts and a nice pair of sunglasses. And the umbrella of course.
Now... since Miami is not that safe, we decided to find place in Broward county, even if it means 45 minutes commute for my husband everyday. In case you don't know, Miami refers to Miade-Dade county and Broward is a different county and it is a county where for example, Fort Lauderdale is located. We find a place in a small city ( or perhaps, village?) in Weston, one of the safest and with the best schools in all of Florida and in case of high school, one of the best in USA.
Rania had been showing a lot of change since the move. She was happy with the language and the food though she missed her friends and keep complaining of the "gecko infestation" in our homes. Yes, that one of the drawbacks of Sunny weather, gecko!
She enjoys having friends from the neighbourhood coming over, even on weekends and taking the school bus altogether with them. She would wake up EVERYDAY at 6AM and demanded me to take her to school even on weekends... I was like... WHATTTTTT.
Now, that's the short story of the move and most likely tonight I will update more stories on this blog. For now, I need to get my beauty sunbath.

Leaving Germany... yay!

I cant believe that I haven't been posting for like 6 months now... Not good at all. But, better late than never.

As I mentioned in my blog earlier, that I was busy 'researching' well, here is the reason. We moved, again!
This time we crossed the Atlantic ocean, to Florida, USA.

We heard the news since late last year and the plan was only materialized by end of May. By August, we had full confirmation to apply for visa and after our annual trip from Indonesia, we applied for visa and prepared for the move.

It was not easy, but the chills that I got from moving out of here (Germany) was different than when I moving in. I hate to say this, but there were a lot of things in Germany that I could not fit in and perhaps would never fit in. I don't care what other think of this humble opinion of mine, but seriously, when we finally had the confirmation that we were moving, it was like a two blocks of bricks had been lifted from my shoulders.

Don't get me wrong though. It doesn't mean that I did not enjoy Germany. I did enjoy living here, but I don't think I could live here for good. I still cant get the fact that stores are closed on Sunday, nor did people can be racist according to me (for example, I have seen people handed racist flyer) but considered as a free speech. Or that winter is 6 months long, super cold and that people would be frowning everywhere.

However, still, when I moved, the day I moved and the day before, I cried many times. I cried because people have been so nice to me. I had friends who cooked for me, who brought me snack for the long flight, or people who took time to take me to the station. My friends who took time to clean my apartment, even when I never asked. So on the D day at the station while waiting for the train that took us to Düsseldorf, I cried, I even cried harder than when I left Singapore.

I am not a big fan of the German lifestyle. But I missed the people from Bonn who have filled my live with love and laughter while living there.

PS: I do miss the weinachmarkt, gluhwein and reibekucken. Enjoy it while you can.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Who Moved my Cheese??

Who Moved My Cheese??

No, I'm not a mouse and I'm not looking for cheese. I'm not a cheese lover though I don't hate it either.
I'm talking about the book "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson.
It's a self help / business book about how to deal with change and the book tells the story of mice and little people who live in a maze, looking for cheese and how they deal with the situation when the cheese is moved unexpectedly. The cheese in this case is a metaphor of what you have in life; for example, work, money, relationships. Unlike most business books, it's very thin and use simple easy-to-understand words; perfect for a gal who reads for the fun of it.

We are sometimes too attached to our own 'cheese' that when change comes unexpectedly, we can not accept the fact that it is gone and therefore, unable to adapt to the change needed.

Change is healthy especially if you are already too long in your comfort zone, as if you have been stuck  for a while.
Gees, I sound so serious in this post. I think I better finish my mozzarella spinach sandwich before writing the next post.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Raining of books and books

A friend of mine went home for good last weekend and for the love of God, her suitcase was almost 20 kilograms overweight! Two years in Europe surely adds some pounds to the suitcase and her stuff. Sadly for her, she needs to leave some of her stuff here and fortunately for me, most of the stuff she had to leave are  books!
So suddenly I received tons of good books - she has good taste in books by the way- which will occupied me for the next gazillion weeks! Thanks friend! From "Freakonomics" to "super freakonomics" to "Three cups of Tea", can't wait to read them, if I have time of course ;)
In the meantime though, I need to finish my current book "Poirot Investigate," typical Agatha Christie mysteries with Poirot. My guilty pleasures! The book is a birthday gift from my friends anyway, thanks ladies!