August 31, 2012

Bikes, Colds, Parks, Cars...& Hockey

Going to the park at Luke & Simon's school is a great way to get outdoors as a family. Usually earlier morning or 4pm on is best as the sun is lower in the sky, as the mid-day sun here will burn us 'lighter' skinned folk up in like minutes. It actually makes for a tougher time taking pictures as the brightness tends to wash pictures out no matter the aperture setting.
 The pic above well describes Simon's day, as the poor little guy was under the weather...It's no fun having a cold on a hot day.
Charlotte! She doesn't know what cold is :)

 Si and Charlotte really have kindred spirits, as he loves his little sister and she thinks he's hilarious (although a little rough & tumble at times). He's being pretty gentle here!
 Luke workin' on his off-road skills!
 Charlotte decided to stray off the beaten path...
 And bailed :)
 Just so no one gets the wrong impression that Charlotte is only full of cute grins and sweet smiles...It reminds me of a certain childhood story of a certain someone (also pictured above) violently smashing a piano keyboard and all in one swift motion recklessly throwing herself backwards off the aforementioned piano bench in dramatic protest against learning piano. (Story courtesy a certain someone's mother).
This school here is one thing we will truly miss when we first move to Tarakan in October. But we certainly will be searching out new (relatively safe) ways to get the kids out and about enjoying the outdoors and getting rid of energy. These are the little things you barely think about before you move to a far away country that become much bigger deals once you arrive! The cool thing is, we trust and believe that when God orders our steps, he can also help us thrive, not just kind of survive.

In Prince George we could count 9 different kids parks in walking distance to our house - no doubt the park capital of the world!  We also used to love jumping in the van, grabbing a couple coffee's and just going for a drive. We're proud to say we've been car-less for about 10 months now. The secret was quitting cold turkey, and flying half way around the world. The irony of it is that probably what we missed most was just that ability to get out of the house and still have that privacy of an automobile. If the kids fell asleep, well hey, we could have a conversation :)

There are a lot of cars here, but there are also many, many more car-less people. A scooter / motorbike is very much more the norm. On a island of 110 million people, maybe it is a good thing that every household does not own a car.

Uh oh, I'm starting to randomly ramble about a random subject. What does it mean!? Maybe it is I've lost all objectivity in the realm of cross-cultural adaptation to personal transportation needs. I'm sure there is a chapter somewhere in a self-help book that could help me help myself.

Maybe I could self-medicate with a bigger scooter, or chrome after market parts for the cute little scooter I already ride. 

But just maybe, it is something else, like, the impending NHL hockey lock-out. What is Gary Betman thinking!? It's only been 8 years since the last lockout! How old is Gary Betman anyways? I blame him for the game 7 loss in 2011 too. Not like I can watch Hockey Night in Canada here anyways, or care that much (...or do I).

Speaking of which, guess who bought a early 90's Canucks logo t-shirt in Semarang today? If you have never even heard of "Semarang" before, that is exactly my point. I'm not sure if there are 10 people in the over 1 million people who call Semarang home that know who the Canucks are. In Canada, I probably would have not bought the aforementioned t-shirt, but over here, hockey is a part of my stereotypical Canadian heritage I happily shall embrace. The other day playing basketball I tried to explain to a high-schooler - who parents are from both Indonesia and Germany - what a Gordie Howe hat-trick was. It went something like this:

Him: "Gordie who!?"
Me: "What, you've never heard of Gordie Howe?"
Him: "No..."
Me: "How about Bobby Orr?"
Him: "Bobby who!?"
Me: "He was like probably the best defenseman to ever play hockey, he's a legend! Okay, it's like, hmmmm....Who's like some super awesome soccer player from Germany that everyone knows about?"
Him: "Uh, you mean, like Schweinsteiger?"
Me: "Yah, like Schweinsomethingoranother. That's maybe like Bobby Orr or Gordie Howe..."
(later on)
Him: "Wayne who!?"
Me: "You're joking..."

It is weird to suddenly realize that you're the only one in the room who knows what a Gordie Howe hat-trick is, and maybe the only one that doesn't know much about some famous German footballer named Schweinsteiger. Well, at least I'll have my Canucks t-shirt for comfort, and a hockey stick or two in a crate on its way over the Pacific. Someone please give Gary B. a big hug for me!

August 25, 2012

Idul Fitri

This last week our family has experienced our first Idul Fitri here in Indonesia! Idul Fitri is the Islamic festival symbolizing the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting. Here, this is the biggest holiday of the year, and maybe is best compared to Christmas in North America.

The first night of Idul Fitri was pretty hard to miss, as half the town let off fireworks. Some neighbourhood areas also had full-on parades late into the night (hopefully video to come).

Java is the most densely populated island in the world, and in the lead up to Idul Fitri a mass exodus occurs from the large cities, such as Jakarta and Surabaya, back to where their families live in the 'smaller' cities and rural areas. One mass exodus! Needless to say, we knew enough to not even try to travel anywhere during this time. This year in Indonesia (in the 10 day period before Idul Fitri), 686 people were killed in road accidents, and another 1093 were severely injured. Crazy.

Part of the Idul Fitri tradition is for Muslims to have their neighbours, family, & friends to come over and visit their home. Although a Muslim holiday, Idul Fitri is also an intertwined part of Indonesian culture. As a result, most people - Muslim or not - will go and visit their Muslim neighbours to build relationships and show respect.
Above Amy and I are at our house helps' home! Usually they start by serving treats, and then it graduates into a full on meal. If they serve a full meal, they'll usually leave and let you eat alone so you will not be shy to eat as much as you want (that took a little getting used to, as the first time it happened to Amy and I, we were like, "Where did everyone go!?")

Helpful hint: If you are visiting multiple homes: Do not stuff yourself at the first house because you're going to be in a world of hurt at the next house as you attempt to not be rude and force more food into your already stretched belly.
Above, Ibu "K" (different than the other Ibu "K" who has the same name, whom I mentioned in a previous post) and her daughter. We have been very thankful for her as she has filled in helping us while our other Ibu "K" time off to have her baby.

It really has been such an honour for Amy and I to visit the homes of our Indonesian friends, to meet their families and see how they live. Although a bit hard to control the kids when they have have had too much sugar, it actually has bee alot of fun being able to participate in this part of their culture. Idul Fitri has also been a great opportunity to get to know neighbours. We are truly blessed!
Above, Amy and I at house #2 of the day eating more food! As you can see, the food has been served, and we are left alone to gorge ourselves :)
Charlotte with a cookie in each hand.  For children, I think the whole going from house to house and eating mostly junk food rings somewhat similar to another North American 'holiday'. At least if Simon or Luke yelled out "trick or treat!!" no one would know what on earth they were talking about.
Above is another home of a friend and his family.
Above Helena and Charlotte are with Linda and Grace, the daughters of Ibu "Y", who has been helping us with Charlotte and with our home since the 2nd week we moved here. They are an awesome Christian family, and we have had the chance to visit their home on several occasions. Since we were in the neighbourhood, we stopped by!
Above is Ibu "Y" with Charlotte...Notice the cookie in hand!  Ibu "Y"'s mother was a helper to various European and Australian families for over 30 yrs, most of them missionaries. It is not often you can visit a Javanese home, and have the Grandmother serve you homemade ginger-snap cookies!
Helena checking out a bird & lizard cage in a neighbour's yard on the walk home.
A big ol' Iguana.
Stopping for a quick drink! 

Last night we kind of wrapped up all the visiting in our own local neighbourhood - above and beyond all the homes above (phew). Our other friends close to our house invited our family along with them as they did their visits. We visited about 15 more homes locally. Not bad! On a whole, we're very proud of out kids being such good sports...for most of the time :)

August 21, 2012

In Photos...

The other day I took a ride a little out of town and into the slightly more rural areas surrounding Salatiga. Reason being, I was going out to a little "Bengkel" (motorcycle mechanic shop) that currently has the better part of my motorcycle. But we'll save pictures of my new and somewhat improved (but still old) Honda CB for another time! Mostly because it is still in pieces :)
I am pretty sure these are all rubber trees, as you can see in the pic above how they peel the bark off in a specific manner. Usually they have a little cup at the bottom to catch the juice (latex), but I didn't see any in this particular forest. It reminded me of home - making homemade maple syrup! Well, to be honest, I know absolutely nothing about making homemade syrup from trees, but somehow it is a stereotypical Canadian thing to do. Maybe the longer I am gone from Canada, the more astute I'll become in knowledge & experience of Igloos, playing ice hockey, shooting & prepping large game, and making homemade maple syrup.
A couple lone farmers working in the forest. Considering it was the day after Indonesia's day of independence, and the day bay before the beginning of Idul Fitri, there wasn't much going on as far as people working. I think most of these rubber tree forests harken back to when the Dutch were here, as there is also a little local railroad nearby that was probably used to move crops in the old days.

Rice paddy's! Scattered throughout the countryside in many different ways are terraced rice farms. It is interesting to think that the terraces themselves can be very old, as Java has been farmed in this manner for a long, long time. I think the tiny little raised huts are a resting place for workers to momentarily get out of the sun and keep their feet dry.

August 13, 2012

Playing Around the Yard

Here's a little video I put together of our kiddos hanging out & playing around our yard and neighbourhood.

August 9, 2012

In Photos...

Here are some kid pic's for the Grandma's & Grandpa's, Auntie's, Uncle's, Cousin's, etc. We miss you all dearly, and thank you for your constant love and support!
 Charlotte a couple of months ago.
 Luke & Si looking to come!

 Helena's sweaty, dirty feet after a successful afternoon playing outside.
 How Helena feels about her sweaty, dirty feet...
 Below, the kids getting ready for the first day of school! Helena going by herself (with her own backpack) to play school, Simon to Kindergarten, and Luke to Grade 2!!!