Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Letter Home

Well, its Wednesday night and the children are abed, asleep! Though Lil D just woke and had to be rocked back again...he sometimes wakes up like that, no real reason but soon finds himself back again. Lil C was tired tonight and after dinner didn’t take long to go to sleep, C read her a story and I went in after and she was almost asleep, very sleepily wished me good night then turned over and eyes closed, ready to drift off...she had told me earlier that she had to have a good nights sleep to be ready for my party in the morning before I went to work!

She and C and Lil D and Patsy, our new maid, went out shopping this afternoon, bought the groceries and Lil C was full of secret delight at the presents they had bought for me! She then told me all their plans for the morning, to which C said, now you have told the secret! Lil C was a bit abashed but gave us a lovely smile, you know the sort I mean, C gave her a hug and all was forgiven.

Its been slightly strange having the family around, noise, voices, the constant chatter of Lil C, and Lil D gurgling away in his pram (I bought a pram and its become his chair in the living room). They have all settled in well and are seemingly adjusted to living here again. Lil C went back to school on the Monday after arriving, we decided to get her back quickly and she loves her new teacher and class mates. They are doing letters and numbers, and Lil C had homework every evening to catch up with the other kids, tonight she had to practice writing a “t” in running writing, but she had some difficulty...she has to follow the end dots to ensure she gets the up at an angle, then straight down then up at an angle again then a stroke across the middle.
First we practice with dots at each end point, which she gets okay, but then when we move onto just a starting dot she forgets and draws a line straight up first! But it takes practice and she is trying, as soon as she is says she is tired we stop and do something else…don’t want her to see it as a chore rather than as a learning experience.

Don’t know if kids in Aussie are learning running writing at such an age, and it is a struggle for her. At one point, almost as an after thought, I asked her if she knew what letter she was doing, and her answer was telling: “no, I don’t”. Hmm, seems we forgot to repeat the letter sound to her as she was doing it, to her it was just a shape! Oops! Her hand eye coordination isn’t great, but then again, she is only 4 and a half.

She is so forgiving of us when we seem at times to pay more attention to Lil D than to her, you know how it is, one of us is trying to settle Lil D, the other is cooking, and Lil C is left to amuse herself for a bit...but she takes a keen interest in Lil D and is forever trying to amuse him with her special dances or leaning over him and doing baby talk to him...she is genuinely fond of him which is a huge bonus for us.

Lil D himself is no longer wobbling when he sits up, his neck is now very strong and he gazes about quite alertly. He gurgles when he is happy, and had a very deep throated cry when he is tired on your shoulder, snuffling around a bit until suddenly the roaring stops and he just falls asleep in your arms. Different to Lil C, he wont fall asleep lying down, but only over the shoulder, not sure why. C and I went out on Monday and bought a cot as the traveling cot I bought was just too difficult to get him in and out of, having to bend down all that way and he is a heavy lil thing! The cot is much better and it has made getting him down easier.

Patsy the new maid is working out fine so far, she is a sweet young thing, 19 I think, always smiling, with a genuine interest in Lil C and a special place for Lil D. She loves to carry him about and play with him which takes the pressure off C who then has time to look after Lil C. I’ve seen her mopping the floors and cooing at Lil D as she works, while Lil D just kicks his little feet and smiles away. When she and C and kids go out, Lil D is wrapped in a sarong hung across her shoulders and he seems perfectly content there. C has also taken to wearing the sarong when she is carrying Lil D, takes the weight off the arms. It’s very clever, Patsy showed C how, it seems Patsy must have had a lot of experience with small children before!

Patsy is still also working for A and P, she comes here just before 7, takes Lil D and then C is able to walk Lil C to school, then when C comes back she goes down to P’s and does the housework down there before coming back up again before 10am to look after Lil D again while C picks up Lil C from school. She then stays here until around 4 or 5pm before heading off home. I’m sure she is very happy with the arrangement as she gets two incomes and is now earning more than most people in her position (Rp950,000 = AU$150.00 per mth), about 3 times the usual salary for a live-in maid, and more than our friend’s driver! But we don’t mind, she is eager to help out and does the housework etc well. She is learning English and has already a good stock of vocab, and is doing well, practicing her English all the time with C and Lil C. From Solo, she has all the natural attributes of a Javanese girl, soft spoken, very polite, and with wonderful warmth for the kids. Seems we couldn’t have asked for a better maid/nanny. Lil C has adjusted to the idea that she isn’t her nanny and is very good about it now, though Patsy will still sit down with her when her jobs are done and play with her etc.

My work is busy, when is it not?? And all is going well. They called me in last week and offered a pay rise starting in January for which I’m grateful and also asked me to consider extending my contract in June, so we will see what happens then.

The new principal is working out well, she is taking a soft approach, probably knowing the morale has been quite low for the past year or so and is fitting in well. She is a kind woman, though with a hint of steel underneath, but has not yet shown this so it’ll be interesting to see what she takes a stand on and how she will deal with it. She is more inclusive, my opinion is now being sought after which is welcome, and I feel as if we actually may be able to make some changes around the place as we go along. The school is still chaotic in lots of areas but here seems to be a feeling of renewal around the place which is good.

This Friday and Saturday we are having an opening day and I was asked to help write the advertising and brochure etc for prospective clients. One thing they didn’t ask me to do was check the lettering on a huge banner they had made in readiness for Friday, almost four meters across and when they unveiled it during the staff meeting this afternoon, in proud lettering across the bottom, the words “enrollment aplications…” was in huge letters. It was pointed out to them by helpful staff members (Indonesians) and there was a few red faces around the place…I felt sorry for the principal as they were trying so hard to attract new students, it didn’t look good but hey, mistakes happen. Seems the school is a bit worried as there are 2 new schools opening in the area with much better facilities than ours and they are concerned there will be a drain away from our school to the others. But they are making an effort and that’s a good thing, means they are serious about maintaining a status. We also heard today that the government has issued a new classification for national plus schools and you can apply to become a national plus school with the added name of international after it. So we are going to apply for this. Not sure just what is expected from us yet.

The year 12’s are having their graduation night next Friday night, and it will be good to see them after all this time finally become graduates! This group I know much better than last years so it’ll be sad to see them move on. Many will be going to America for university and I find myself wondering how they will cope after such a sheltered life, others will go to Australia and Canada, with only a very few staying back in Indonesia. I guess they are going to be in for a bit of a shock to the system but then again, the life of affluence will be maintained so maybe they won’t encounter too many differences.

In a week and a bit we start the break of Idul Fitri, from 10 November till 21st, so it’s a bit of a long break. We are not going anywhere, have decided to stay in the apt and just relax, and hopefully won’t get too bored!

Then its back to work but breaking up again for Xmas on the 10th December, until January 10th. Again we are not going to go anywhere, but will stay quietly here and just do things in the surrounds. Already looking at hiring a car for a week or two to get out and about, want to take the family around a bit , maybe Bogor and Puncak and Bandung and so on. We have the pool downstairs, and there is the sports complex down the road, as well as the various malls etc to visit! Plus the sights around jkt that we haven’t done yet.

Life is good though my only bug is that due to the fasting month (Ramadan) all the massage places have closed and I cant get a massage except for down the road at the hairdressers. It’s okay but not as good as my new favourite, the Puri Spa, a five minute walk from the apartment, which opened a few months ago. It’s a delightful place, decked out like a five star hotel, all marble and dark wood, private rooms, cinema, bar, hot pool and refrigerated pool as well as sauna! I love to go down there, have a hot Jacuzzi, then shower, massage, then watch a film while reclining in these huge leather chairs while being fed toasted sandwiches and coffee! All very decadent! For a 2 hour massage, then all the trimmings (Jacuzzi, sauna, cinema, snacks etc) for only AU$15.00! Ah well, roll on end of November! C is going to try a massage at the hairdressers tomorrow; she has been really looking forward to getting one.

Anyways, it’s getting late so have to go to bed, C is almost done watching Harry Potter 2 on cable and it’s going to be a busy day tomorrow. We are planning on wandering down to a local restaurant tomorrow for dinner. Went there last week and they just pounced on Lil C and took her away to amuse her while we relaxed and had dinner. It’s a nice place, very good food and well priced. Great staff as well!

Hope you are looking after yourself and keeping well,
Give our love to all.


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