Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.
Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.
Before I became a mother, I’ve heard from my mom that most of those expats where I grew up do not like people touching their babies. With my naive thoughts, I’d say “Why not?” Now I know why!
Yes, babies are cute, they smell good and their plumpness seems to act as an unwritten invitation for strangers to touch them. Strangers who just came up to us in public places and starts holding his hand makes me cringe. Why? Well, …let me try to break it nicely, people. First, God only knows where those hands have been. Second of all, who knows what kind of germs those strangers might carry around?
When we were still living in Dothan, AL. and Lil’ A was just a baby we did not experience much of these. Some will just stop, hold his little foot and say a few nice words.
Now, here in Indonesia…where sadly hygiene senses still below the par and most people still don’t practice basic hygiene & sanitation (i.e. washing hand after a toilet trip). This is scary! For moms with small babies these facts are enough to make you paranoid but at the same time, you wouldn’t want to come out as too strong. From visiting some Asian countries, I concluded that it is affectionate ways when strangers come up to you and start touching your baby. It’s considered a normal thing to do so when you flat out tell them NO some will easily get offended and calling you a snobby mama! For first time moms here, it’s not easy to balance protecting their babies and not offending others.
I used to worried too much about these germs before Lil’ A was a year old because, for me, a baby will not be able to verbally communicate what bothers them when they got sick. Dealing with a sick infant is a horrible guessing game! Is it a stomachache? Is it stuffiness? Yes, there are germs everywhere but if we can minimize the exposure coming from strangers that would at least make life a little easier, no? Lil’ A was a preemie so…
Back in August 2007, Parenting magazine published little tips to avoid strangers from touching our baby:
Since I had a bit of a hard time finding the right pediatrician at first, I made a short list of things that might be helpful when you are in need of a new pediatrician for your child especially if you are new in Jakarta or you are considering to switch doctors.
Please do keep in mind that you are really looking for someone who is going to care about your child, listen to and respond to your needs, and be available when you need him/her.
Friends or family members can easily provide you with recommendations for pediatrician based on their own experiences. Ask what they like about the doctor and judge for yourself if you would like that or not. Keep in mind sometimes what works for other families won’t work for yours. Always try to get the reason or explanation behind a recommendation to make sure you understand why someone likes or dislikes their pediatrician. Also, forums like Living in Indonesia will be helpful for newcomers.
Sometimes this will help especially if you already narrow down some names of the doctors you are interested in.
Okay, this may sound daunting right? But believe me, it will do good if you can meet your ‘future’ doctor first and ask a couple of questions. Your pediatrician should also be knowledgeable in proactive qualities such as disease prevention, and child development. Keep in mind that while most parents like to think that they are looking for a good pediatrician, you are mostly looking for a pediatrician who is good for you and your family. And that often comes down to how well your personalities fit together. Here’s your opportunity to get the ‘feel’ of the pediatrician. Does the pediatrician make you feel uncomfortable or stupid when you ask for additional details? That’s not a good sign!
Ask these questions to put your mind at ease:
Nothing beats your parental guts when it comes your child’s health care. If you find that the pediatrician is not making you or your child comfortable at all then it’s a sign that you need a new one. And while you may have to initially trust your instincts that you found the right pediatrician, it may take several visits or even several years to know for sure.
Before Lil’ A was born, Mr. X and I had made an agreement that we will both teach him our native languages. Meaning, I’ll be talking with him in Indonesian while Mr. X in English. Sounds easy right? Not so much!
When we were still living in the US, I have to admit that sometimes I speak to him in English simply because it’s easier to say things like “No!” or “Please, don’t do that…” than to say them in Indonesian. Living there means he’s more exposed to his father’s native language but that changed after we moved to Jakarta.
Although my families mostly understand and can speak English, it is of course much easier for them to talk in Indonesian. Lil’ A quickly picked up the language too at a lightning speed.
Living back in Jakarta did make me a little worry that he might ‘forget’ his English. Even after Mr. X convinced me that he won’t, I noticed his Indonesian getting better by the day. While Mr. X was still working in China and I mostly stays here I would be the one that speaks English with him although sometimes I still speak in Indonesian. I’m trying to balancing his bilingual environments by speaking to him in English more and reading his books in English also Indonesian.
Maybe my worrywart self have to stop worrying about him forgetting his English because lately, I noticed how he would always speak in English to his father (sometimes he used Bahasa for some words he didn’t know in English) even if his Daddy talks to him in Indonesian.
“Alex, kamu bicara dengan Daddy bahasa Indonesia atau Inggris?” asked Mr. X one evening, it means Alex, are you talking to Daddy in Indonesian or in English?
The boy looked up, silent for a minute then with a huge big grin said “English!”
I also noticed how he will speak in Indonesian when he’s around my family or just talking with other Indonesian people. Even if they asked him in English he’ll reply in Indonesian. With me, he mixes things up…most of the times in English.
Being a ‘product’ of a mixed marriage, I do not wish for him to grow up not mastering his Indonesian or English. I wish he would be fluent in both! Unlike some ‘artist’ whose Indonesian accent is so poor it became a national joke!
One problem I noticed Lil’ A is having is with the letter R. He’s used to the English way of pronouncing R which is rather soft, unlike in Indonesian where we roll our Rs. This has caused some people to teased Lil’ A when he says things in Indonesian with a soft R and I always have to remind these people they don’t need to make any remarks. Most Indonesian kids always have a hard time rolling their Rs in the first few years of their lives anyway. Second, it is wrong to make fun of little children in learning to master any language! He will eventually grow into it but let him do it at his own time. I never once criticized him for saying it the ‘wrong’ way…I will show him how to roll his R and he is trying but he just can’t master it yet.
Raising a bilingual child is not easy but it is doable and I’ve seen plenty of success stories from my friends who are in the same situation. Plus there are plenty of good reasons to teach our kids more than one language. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language :
I personally would add other advantages: it will allow the child to know and understand two cultures, of being able to communicate with a wider variety of people and of possible economic advantages in their future.
Trying to keep the balance is probably the key. To raise a child here with just one language like in English but does not introduce them to the native language…I personally think that’s just wrong. Why put a limit to our children’ capability of mastering more than one language?
Although I have been blogging for nearly 10 years now (gasp!) it wasn’t until last December – January that I started kickin’ it up a notch by getting my own personal site and learning more blogging tips. Two years ago I would go “Huh?” if someone mentioned the word SEO.
Still far from a pro blogger or a pro mommy blogger that I admired, I find learning to manage my site is actually fun and I’m happy to have my ‘own’ place to dump my thoughts at.
Some people, especially Mommy Bloggers out there will agree with me that writing is simply therapeutic. If you would only read between the lines, see pass all our beautiful cute little kiddos you’ll see that Mommy Bloggers are not that much different than other bloggers out there. We have our thoughts and opinions about stuff (from which diaper bags are the best down to the US Health Care Plans!) even after tons of stinky diapers to change, sleep-deprived state of mine, or being walking targets for projectile vomits…we are human after all.
So when I saw the article in New York Times about Mommy Blogger, it left a bad taste in my mouth!
Maybe it hits much closer to home because I can identify myself as a Mommy Blogger now but for someone that’s been blogging since my single-date-juggling-days some of my friends already know that I just love to blog/write, period!
It reminds me of one particular event in my life when I’ve only picked up the role as a mommy for 13 months and Lil’ A was hospitalized for 3 days due to Bronchiolitis. After a mad rush to the ER in the middle of the night, because he was wheezing so bad and was so miserable, he got admitted pretty much right away due to low oxygen level. For a first time mother, this freaked the crap out of me! I stayed with him that night, he had to be put under a special oxygen hood (looks like a plastic tent). My poor baby was so uncomfortable and scared from the loud sounds of the machines, he was traumatized by one inexperienced nurse who had to stick his arm 3 times trying to get the IV in and finally gave up, went to get her senior after I loudly complain and successfully keeping my hands from strangling her neck, it was combination’s of many things but he was pretty much inconsolable. His cries ripped my heart to pieces! Probably only mothers can relate to how horrifying it is to feel so helpless and powerless not being able to take your baby’s pain away. That night I didn’t sleep at all as I had to sit there inside the hood, holding him on top of me where he would stop crying and screaming for a few minutes, fell asleep and at the slightest sounds or movements will wake him up and started again. We were both badly traumatized, to say the least!
Morning came and DH took over, he couldn’t stay with me since we have another son at home and a dog to be taken care of. I stumbled outside the hospital, went home still shaking and worried sick for our little boy. Got home, made myself a cup of coffee then get online, posted on my then blog asking friends to pray for our boy. It wasn’t even a long post and I didn’t add the picture well until he was released from the hospital, 3 days later.
Within less than 2 weeks after he was discharged, we took him to see his pediatrician again at the night clinic because of his cough. He started wheezing and had retractions (drawing in of the neck and chest with each breath), oxygen level was low and we were sent to the hospital immediately. Quick update on my blog seems harmless, right? Oh, not so much, people!
Weeks after those horrible scariest times of our lives, I started hearing some buzz about what a terrible mother I am. “Can you believe that she still blog when her son was in the hospital?” you know somewhere along those lines.
This got me infuriated! What the heck?
Apparently, some people failed to see that for me (and for a lot of people), writing/blogging is one of my coping mechanisms! It only took me less than 30 minutes to post something, around the same amount of time others need to take a shower (hey, a long relaxing lavender-scented-bubble bath might even take up to an hour!) After all the stresses from dealing with a really sick little boy, blogging helps me pouring it out! Yes, I cried my eyes out during those times in the hospital and I can’t sleep, not even when I switched ‘duties’ with my ex-husband and I got a chance to come home for a quick shower and get the much-needed sleep.
These people have no idea what’s going on in my house yet they dare calling me a bad mother because a few lines I managed to share and obviously published with tears rolling out of my face asking them to pray for us?
Unless you had walked a few hundred miles in someone else shoes, please try not to judge other mothers! It’s hard enough juggling between being a mother, a domestic diva, a dutiful wife to her husband, some even managed to threw a job into the mix of their responsibilities, so when we mommies managed to write something and published it on our blogs that doesn’t mean we left our children running around like wild animals in the background! The sad part is sometimes the worst critique on us comes in a form of…surprise surprise…another mommy!
So what if these mommy bloggers wants to learn more about building a better blog? So what if they can make extra income for their families in doing so? Heck, if I was still in the US you bet I would’ve join these other smarts, innovative, creative mommies, for their Bloggy Bootcamp!
Forewarning: This entry is created for entertainment purposes only. If you are easily offended, feel free to close the window or browse along other topics.
After observing some of the fashion trends in Jakarta, I had an idea to put up a list of things you should not try to pull (with some exceptions of course!) in Jakarta.
The last time I went to Makassar was in 2007, I went to visit my Oma (that’s how we call our Grandmas in the family) there with my Mom and brother. Lil’ A was a baby. We wanted to make sure my Oma got to see her first great grandson since at the time we were all still living in Dothan, Alabama.
This time when I walked into the nursing home, they were having their daily sermon (the place is run by a church) and although I told them we can wait outside, someone did go in to get her. From the distance, I could not believe my eyes…that can’t be my Oma! She looks so frail and someone had to help her walk, she was so skinny. Her changes break my heart! As hard as I want to deny it, she has aged so much since the last time we met.
Tears came out pouring when I saw her and held her fragile little body. She cried too. Sadly, Lil’A was afraid of her…of the whole place. He screamed his head off the moment we tried to walk inside the nursing home. One of my Aunts stayed outside with him where he happily played in a becak (rickshaw). Oma said not to push him and to let him be, she said she’s happy she could see him from afar.
We sat down at the porch and she started talking in Indonesian, usually she’ll speak more Dutch to me. The first thing she said to me was “I don’t know why Jesus hasn’t come and call me home…I’m so tired…” my mouth felt numb, thankfully my Aunt Jane was there and she’s a church activist that actively involved in nursing home visitations. It was my Aunt who rescued that awkward situation and said “That’s because Jesus still loves you, Oma. Jesus wants you to see your families and when it is His time, you will be going home.” Again, tears just flow out of me. My aunt Jane asked how old Oma is and she replied in all seriousness that she’s 297 years old. She’s 94 (for some reasons I always thought she’s 97!).
When I asked why she’s so skinny now, she whispered “The food here is not good!” I asked her what she like to eat, “Chicken satay!” she said. So I told her that she will get her satay tonight or any other night she wants to! That’s when I slipped her some money. My mom had told me not to give her a 100 thousand bills (the 10 thousands bills and 100 thousands have almost a similar pinkish color) since sometimes she got confused and people will take advantage of that. Shame on you to lied and steals from an old lady! Later, I told supervisor there to please let her eat whatever she wants to. Being 94 years old and in her conditions, I would try to make her happy!
“You know, my husband went to sea and never came back…” she said with a faraway look and I was hit with such a huge sadness because I know how my Opa (Grandfather) died so young in 1973 and I never get to meet him. I never really know the details as it was never discussed in my family so I never ask thinking that it was too painful to talk about. She went on to say that he had ‘visited’ and asked her to go with him but she said not yet. Superstitious or not, I’ve heard similar conversations about how the passed away loved ones ‘came back’ to the near death family members. My other Opa (from my mother’s side of the family) said the same thing a few days before he passed away. Her words gave me goose bumps! The lady who works there told me that the week before I came; one of the nursing home residents woke her up at 3 in the morning because my Oma was in the bathroom. When she was asked what she was doing she said “A man had told me to go and get a shower, it’s time to go.”
I asked her if I can go inside and see her bedroom. We went inside and she told me to grab this big black suitcase sitting collecting dust on top of her closet. It was heavy, and when she told me to open it I found a lot of her photo albums, some are really really old. She wanted me to keep them! I was honored and sad at the same time. Those are her legacy, her precious memories well kept in hundreds of pictures. When I hugged her tightly and cried thanking her for the pictures, she rubs my back and said “It’s ok Non, this is life. Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down.” She always calls me Non it’s from the word Nona (means miss or girl). I find that moment very emotional and sad that it was her who comforted me as I was too sad to comfort her.
Her condition is fast deteriorating and I realized, we might not have long before we have to bid her farewell. She asked about my father, her only son left. She only has 2 sons and the eldest, my Uncle Jimmy died awhile ago. From Uncle Jimmy, Oma have 2 grandchildren, one of them too had died of a sudden death in 1991. So that left her with one granddaughter who’s now living in Makassar too.
She said every afternoon, she’d sit down by the porch waiting to see if someone would come by and see her…I can sense her loneliness. Although I had spent 2 precious days with her, and I know that made her really happy as she clutched my hand on our last day there before we had to go to the airport, I wish I could stay longer.
In my heart, I knew she’s waiting on my Dad to come and see her, maybe for the last time. She kept telling me how my Dad always works so far from her. I left her that day with a very heavy heart filled with guilt and regrets because for nearly all of my life, we always live far away from her and she’s too settled there to move anywhere else. My Dad promised he would come and see her when he’s home for his leave the end of March. He’s currently working in Zambia, Africa.
Going through her pictures I had a rude awakening that I really didn’t know all that much about her, especially about her past. These precious pictures went back as far as the 1920s, when she was a little girl. I cried for not having the chance to listen to her stories, some that she might have forgotten already and I’m sure she has a lot of memories to share. Her neat penmanship in some of these photo albums might permanently be a mystery to me since I can’t read Dutch.
She was born on May 6, 1916 in Palembang, South Sumatra. This country was still under Dutch colonialism, no wonder she speaks and write Dutch fluently. From her stories, I know she still have relatives in the Netherlands but I don’t know them and sadly will probably never will. She went there once a long time ago with my cousin.
From her pictures, I can tell that she was a smart young lady back then even for that era. She traveled a lot and had lived in beautiful parts of Indonesia. Some of her childhood pictures stated Malang, Surabaya and other parts of Java Island. I will have to wait on my father to read the rest of it.
Assuming she took some of the pictures herself, I can tell she’s a great photographer because some of them are so stunningly beautiful. In a way, I found where this love for photography came from!
She’s 6 years older than her husband, which was something a little uncommon back then when they got married. For as long as I could remember, she’s always sewing or stitching something. She was a great seamstress too and that’s how she managed to survived for so long after my Opa died. She was a single mom. I believe most of her dresses are handmade. The strong independent woman is still in there somewhere behind that frail little body that trapped her soul now.
I can only pray that God will given my Dad a chance to see his mother this April and he would be strong enough to let her go if her time comes.
My grandma passed away on 7 July 2011. Rest in peace, Oma. Ik hou van je voor altijd, je zal altijd in mijn hart, Oma!
Knowing that I was born and still have families in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Mr. X decided to took us along with him for one of the outstation audit program. Since my mom and bothers couldn’t make it, I took my aunt with us.
We suppose to leave Jakarta at 4:30 PM but around 10:00 AM, Mr. X called and told me an accident had happened with one of their fleet so he will have to stay behind and took care of things but he will try to hop on the last flight to Makassar that night or the first flight out in the morning.
We had to do a 15 minutes transit in Surabaya. I never been to Surabaya’s Adiscipto airport before, but OMG that place was filthy! I mean FILTHY with garbage cans overflows and scattered garbage on the floor of their waiting area. We reached Sultan Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar after 9:00 PM local time. Someone from the airline was already there at the bottom stairs to pick us up. He handed our luggage tags to another guy and we were ushered inside the arrival terminal where my Aunt Jane, her husband Uncle Ferdy and their daughter Ella greeted us. I was impressed with the new airport, it was modern and big.
After the staff collected our entire luggage, we parted ways with my Aunts. They went to go get dinner then meet me back at the hotel. The staffs drove me and Lil’ A to the hotel, I wasn’t familiar with the roads anymore but I was flabbergasted when we got off the new toll road and passed rows after rows of pubs and clubs with so many ‘chicks’ looking for their ‘job’. Too bad I couldn’t reach my camera from my bag since Lil’ A fell asleep on my lap. Never seen a red light district in Makassar before but then again I haven’t been there for ages.
The staffs took us to Sahid Hotel, it’s an old hotel but it looks pretty nice on the outside and their lobby. Check-in was a breeze but I was greeted by an unpleasant smells when we stepped out of the elevator on the 4th floor. The room smells like old closet that you haven’t open in years! Since Little A and I were obviously too tired after the trip, I didn’t even bother to take any pictures or ask for another room, heck we didn’t even take a shower as tired as we were. The carpet was so dirty (proof showing on Lil’ A’s feet!), the bathroom smells so old and rusty. I couldn’t really sleep that night because the smell was strong but Lil’ A slept the whole night through. In the morning, I found out that the hot water is not running and the old tub was clogged. “We are doing some maintenance work, Ma’am.” explained the receptionist when I called downstairs. Mr. X couldn’t make it that night so I messaged him and told him I want to move to another hotel. So I spent the early part of that morning looking for a new hotel and most of them are full considering it was the weekend and with Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day fell on the same day, I guess most of the hotels are only selling twin rooms. (I should know since I was once a reservationist in a hotel!)
Around 11:00 PM I found a hotel, Mercure’s Royal Regency Hotel and we quickly checked out and I briefly called the station Manager there to informed him of my decision to move. I explained to him, I don’t mind if the room doesn’t have internet access or other little things and it’s not that I want a 5 stars hotel (although I wouldn’t refuse it either!) but if they don’t even have any hot water, I’m out! Lil’ A likes his warm bath/showers. He apologized and asked if we needed a ride to the new hotel and when I told him no thank you, my uncle will take us there he said he will personally drive Mr. X to the new hotel.
Mr. X didn’t showed up to the new hotel until after 2:00 PM. Then we all went out for a late lunch, the best Coto Makassar in town! A driver picked Mr. X up back at the hotel at around 5:00 PM; it is after all a business trip. After Mr. X left back for work, the rest of us went to the nursing home to visit my Grandmother.
From the nursing home, we all went to my other Grandmother’s house, which is now owned by Aunt Jane and her family. There, I got to meet some old childhood friends, I had spent 1 year living in Makassar to finish elementary school before we moved to Borneo. It’s quite amusing to watch Little A ran around with the other kids, on the very same little street where I used to do the same thing many years ago.
When we returned to the hotel, Mr. X was already there and he was done with his audit but he still have to do some more work on the phone and computer. We decided not to go out for dinner with the family because Little A was already so tired from the long day. After he fell asleep, I decided to ventured out and find us some late dinner. Took a becak ride down to the beach side, an area called Pantai Losari. The place had changed a lot and all the street food sellers that used to line up the beach side has been temporarily moved to one spot while the government is building a man-made island to place them in the future. All these information came from the becak driver who happily fills me in on how much the area had changed.
On Sunday, our last day in Makassar, after we checked out and left all our stuffs at the concierge, we went out to find some food & souvenirs but unfortunately because it was the Chinese New Year’s most stores and restaurants were closed. My Aunt Jane teased us that we couldn’t picked the worst timing to come there! Fortunately, we did found one souvenirs store that’s open. Boy, Mr. X went overboard with the stuffs there! Too bad we couldn’t bring home the famous pork bakpao (Chinese buns) or the delicious Makassar’s fried noodles. Mr. X asked if we could eat seafood so Uncle Ferdy took us to this seafood restaurant, I forgot the name of the area. That place was packed! It’s two stories and seems like since most restaurants were closed, people went there instead. The seafood’s were fantastic and super fresh!
We stopped by at the nursing home after lunch so I can see Grandma one last time before we left and to introduce Mr. X to her, they never met before. From there we found Pisang Epe (grilled press banana served with durian and brown sugar sauce) seller on the side of a road and we ordered some to bring back to Jakarta. At 3:30 PM a driver from the office were already waiting at the hotel to take us to the airport to catch our 5:25 PM flight. We said goodbye to Aunt Jane, Uncle Ferdy and Ella.
By the time we reached the airport, it was raining so hard you could barely see the road. Oh and since they changed our flights to the later time, we doesn’t have any tickets whatsoever, fortunately Mr. X’s badges works like charm! We checked in, and went upstairs.
The new airport kind of remind me of the Baiyun airport in Guangzhou, China, and I like the new design, way better than how it used to be. The bathrooms were pretty decent and clean. Unfortunately, I saw some spots where it leaks! I was told that they built the airport in such a hurry to finish it up alongside the new toll road that connects it to the city. Things were a little chaotic by the designated Gate for our flight because the passengers were not allowed to go inside. Some people were already complaining and the flight was obviously delayed again.
Our flight finally left for Jakarta after 6:00 PM. An hour delay!
A weekend is definitely not enough to enjoy Makassar!