Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tid Bits

Today, Hailey had an orthodontic consultation which had been recommended by her dentist. I allowed Logan to stay home and read, draw, or play with his toys because I thought he would be bored (they said it would be 1.5 hours for the appointment). I took the other kids with me as they are not old enough to stay home alone. Actually, Logan is old enough to babysit Corbin for a bit, but Corbin does not listen to his big brother well enough for me to trust leaving him here! Anyway, I needn't have worried about boredom. The office is rather large, with one room devoted to video games and another room just for movie-watching. The kids were ecstatic. They tried to watch a movie, but of course were interrupted. However, it's good to know they will be kept busy when we have appointments later (in a year or two). The orthodontist does think Hailey needs braces, but not yet due to still having so many baby teeth. There are a few things they are concerned about, but the main two are that she has an overbite causing her bottom teeth to touch her top palate and that her top two front teeth are tipped forward instead of straight up and down. Pardon my description and it's lack of dentist-speak but I cannot remember the medical jargon! ;) I'm sorry to say, Hailey got my bad teeth...I had those problems too and that's why I had to have braces. Who knows? You may see me with them again as I did not complete my 'program' and as a result still have some problems with my teeth.

I've been requiring Logan to post on his blog more before he can use the computer for other purposes...so check it out. I have to give him credit for brevity at least! He is forming a good habit of writing though, and ultimately that's my reason for allowing him (and Hailey) to start a blog in the first place. I plan to start doing the same thing with Hailey too. I can count it as writing for school, they get experience with the various programs on the computer, and I can feel they are doing some 'work' before they play on the computer. It's a win-win situation!

Karl had a dinner tonight with his contingent from Singapore...the same folks he was working with while he was out there are in town now and he has been spending some time helping entertain them after work hours. He went to Niagara Falls on Sunday to stay overnight...I think he had a good time. The kids and I were going to go and tour town with him on Sunday but we could not find Corbin's birth certificate so did not try it. (We don't have passports yet, just Karl.) I guess I need to order another copy. We have all of the rest of ours...I'm thinking it got lost in the move (which one?) some how. We also have been unable to find the beautiful hand prints we had done of Logan and Hailey as babies. I'm hoping they are in the few boxes labeled dishes/glass that we have not opened yet...if not, I fear they are gone forever. I will be terribly upset if that's the case because obviously the kids will never be that tiny again. So, prayers that we will find them intact would be greatly appreciated. We do have Corbin's, and we've done Emma's but have not sent them off for bronzing yet.

I have to say, baby swings are so great. Logan and Hailey absolutely hated their swings, Corbin loved his. So while Karl was gone to Singapore I decided to purchase a swing, because honestly, I needed the help it would provide! I had my doubts that I would be able to put it together but I had to try. It was a daunting task...I am not a great direction-follower. However, it only took about an hour plus it worked and held together. Hooray!! She is a little fussy in the evenings, and daytime, sometimes...... ;) ...so I have her in the swing. Most of the time it puts her to sleep and I can get some things done. I should be cleaning or doing laundry right now as a matter of fact. Instead, I am blogging to the peaceful hum of the swing and the sounds (silence) of a happily snoozing baby. Love the swing....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An update

While I have the time I'm going to try to tell about what we've been up to lately.

Last Saturday we all took a walk on the canal path...along side the Erie Canal. It's about half a mile or so from here. We ended up walking all the way into town which is about 3 miles, so round trip 6 miles. It was nice weather and the kids had fun. Hailey found a crab claw, a 'crystal', (she insists it's a crystal but we aren't sure..need to look it up I guess...) and a goose feather. We saw two geese, a snake, and ducks. Plus, we discovered that part of the path is actually a road used to access a couple of houses that are right on the canal. I guess they have been there a long time and can't be forced to sell? I don't know...but it was interesting. We ended up having lunch at Salvatore's, a pizza shop we had not tried yet, and it was delicious. We were gone from home much longer than we had intended but it was a great day. I so enjoy time spent with the family, and I'm especially glad we're (well, me...they have been all along) able to get out now and get some exercise.

Emma has begun to be a little more active. She makes eye contact...and she loves to stare at her Daddy! :) She smiles in response to our smiles and coos some. She's very cute...

Hailey has learned to pick her up properly and can move her around as needed while holding her. She also practiced picking her up from the floor and standing up with her, walking from room to room, and getting her out of her cradle and bringing her downstairs...all while I watched from a near distance. She likes to help and I thought it would be good to teach her how to care for her sister. Now I can feel confident leaving Hailey watching her if I need to get a shower, do laundry, etc...and I can still hear her call if she needs me. I try to do most of those things when Emma is sleeping but I figure it's a good learning experience for Hailey anyway, and it creates another pair of arms in the house for Emma.

We went to church today. Emma has done pretty well during the services we've been to, but since she's getting older she is awake more. So, today she really wasn't sleeping during the service and I had to take her out since she started fussing. The good thing is that there's a 'quiet' room where we can sit and still hear and see the service. So, I went there with her for the remainder of church. I think next week maybe we'll just start in that room, that way we won't have to get up and leave, disturbing others in the process.

I have something I've been wanting to share that Corbin asked me a couple of weeks ago. The kids often go outside to play in the afternoons, and practically wall day on Saturdays and Sundays. They really enjoy playing with the neighbor kids and many times our house is the 'center' of play. One particular day they were out in the garage goofing off. I have some boxes of toys out there that I am saving for Emma, but Corbin is sometimes still interested in them. Musical instruments, kitchen toys, etc. Suddenly the door opened and Corbin asked, " Mom, is it okay if I play with the tangerines?" Now I had to pause for a moment, but I soon realized what he meant. There is a toy tambourine in the box of musical instruments. That's what he wanted to play with! I was able to keep a straight face until he closed the door ( after I had said yes) then I looked at Karl and we just laughed. I love the things kids come up with...especially when they're mine 'cuz they're just so precious!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day by Day

I know I've been MIA lately. I just haven't seemed to find the time for writing. I love to blog but my days have changed drastically recently and it is much less of a priority. I feel sure in the weeks and months to come things will get back to 'normal' and I can post more. In the meantime please try to understand....we're all busy living life and not writing about it.

We're still doing bowling...Corbin got 81 points yesterday. He seems to be our star player. ;)

SAT's are the first week of May. The kids are looking forward to it...for some reason they love testing! And I'm looking forward to seeing how well they do. We're usually blown away by their scores; it's fun.

We've been trying to get our basement organized so things will flow better, both for school and play times. We made some good progress over the weekend but have a bit more to do.

more updates another day........

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inagiku

Karl Back again. So I didn’t have a lot of time to update during the second half of my trip, or really any of it for that matter. During the twenty something days that I was in the region, I think I got to bed before 2 am less than 5 times. But I promised to share a little more, so just like the last time, I will post a few retroactively. I also did not want to leave the impression from my last post that I did not enjoy my culinary experiences in Singapore. To the contrary, with few exceptions, I thoroughly enjoyed the food here. First up- Singapore dining redeems itself at Inagiku. This is a vary nice Japanese restaurant in one of Singapore’s many shopping malls. (I’m told that shopping is the national pastime of Singapore)

A starter of Tuna, Tuna belly, and Salmon Sashimi. Yes there was more on this tray before I remembered to get out my camera. Give me a break here. We were hungry!


The senior chef at Inagiku is Chef Eric. Again, not his given name. From my vantage point Chef Eric seems like a large fellow by Singaporean standards. He looks to be about 5’10” and probably weighs in at about 190 – 200 pounds. He obviously takes his profession very seriously and really enjoys cooking. He also is good friends with my host in country, Joshua.

Although this is a pretty expensive restaurant, Josh tells me the trick is to not order from the menu. When you do that you are locked in to the prices as listed. We walk in and greet Eric, and Joshua says “make us whatever you like.” Now I don’t know if such an approach would have worked for me had I been on my own. I think Josh and Eric have actually taken their families on vacations together. It’s good to have connections. Like I’ve said before, when traveling to foreign places, having a local to rely on is the only way to go.
This was a teppanyaki setting, it is commonly called Hibachi in the states. This is where there is a large bar style table that is directly in front of a large flat griddle surface. The chef (Erik) stands at the griddle and cooks the food in front of the dinner party. The difference here is that where in the US, the chef concentrates on showmanship (tossing food around and juggling knives) here it’s all about the quality of the food. Every Hibachi place I’ve been to in the states, the show is phenomenal (aside from the occasional dropped knife, or shrimp that misses the plate) but all the food just tastes like teriyaki sauce. At Inagaku the food is prepared with little fanfare, and carefully plated at the grille before being brought to each patron. This is where the added bonus of knowing the chef comes in. Just as with my trip to Madrid last year, because I was with a friend of the restaurant, I was treated like a friend of the restaurant. First off, the food just kept on coming. I have no idea how many courses were served. I think I lost count at 7. Second, most of the dishes were not on the menu. With each dish, Chef Eric’s assistant plated the course and brought it to us, then Eric walked out from behind the grill and described every item on the plate. A soft spoken man, he almost whispered the description as he leaned over the table and pointed out each part. “These are fresh prawns, that I’ve cooked in a so and so style. And what you have here is a plum sauce that I’ve been working on. Tell me what you think of this one, I’ve not served this before.”

Absolutely unbelievable. We had Tuna, Salmon, Scallops, Prawns, Beef, some sort of clam... I didn’t even like scallops when I walked into this place. When I was served a dish that included them I quietly asked Joshua if he wanted mine, because “I don’t care for scallops.” He said, “Try this one first.” Wow, that was unlike anything I had ever had before. I decided to retract my offer, to Joshua’s delight. But it was just so much food. By the end I was really just eating to indulge the chef, he was obviously showing off at this point. But everything was just so good. Total price was roughly $100 US per person. This is much more than I ever pay in my private life, but based on the menu prices that I saw before Josh “ordered”, this meal would have easily been about $250 each had it been available in the menu. Always travel with a local.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Are ya dead, mon?"

For those of you who are wondering if we're still in the land of the living, or if we've dropped off the face of the earth...yes, we are still here. ;) I did not realize it had been more than a week since I'd posted anything myself....sorry. Time passes by so quickly these days with feeding the baby every 2-3.5 hours...we have a schedule but sometimes she does not stick to it! When I'm not feeding her, holding her, or changing her I am trying to get laundry done, toilets cleaned, counters de-cluttered...plus fit in school time and fun time with the older three. In short, life is busy! So, here is a run-down of what we've been doing lately:
  • baked banana bread with the kids
  • made home made pizza for lunch today
  • laundry ( at least 2 loads every day)
  • change my clothes (4 times yesterday due to spit up...dear little one is a spitter!)
  • change baby's clothes (same reason as above)
  • go over English/Math with Logan and Hailey, daily except weekends
  • reading out loud for history, science, and story time
  • church attendance
  • preparing paperwork to turn in to the school district for 3rd quarter
  • grocery shopping as needed (minimal since people have been bringing us meals, but there still have been some things we've had to have)
  • return library books
  • looking for lost library book
  • help Hailey try to understand origami directions...and failing miserably...likewise with Logan's math directions the last 2 days_we need Daddy home!!
  • talking on the phone with Karl in the middle of the night and any other time I can
  • chatting with all the wonderful people who have come by to drop off food for us...thank you so much, God has used each of you to bless us mightily in the last few weeks!
  • Hailey Dr. appt. (just a check-up)
There are many more things I've done, ,we've done that I'm sure would not interest any of you. That's our past week though, so now you know. I'm sure you're all very grateful for that info. ;)

I haven't told the kids yet, but Karl gets to come home a day early. I think I will surprise them...they can wake up Friday morning and find him here instead of Saturday. They will be thrilled!

Well, Emma has decided she wants to be up now so I have to go. Maybe I can finish my lunch before I have to feed her...no, I don't think so!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Jellyfish, anyone?

Karl here, finally with a minute to spare for some cultural sharing. So aside from the business aspects of my trip, the last week or so has been dominated by the food. I’ve eaten Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Korean, and the Asian attempt at a western breakfast. Most good, all different. I will say that I have eaten things that I would previously not have considered food. One example: My host for the first week is a man who goes by Joshua, although that is not his given name. He is Chinese Singaporean, and as such has an appreciation for Chinese food that I will likely never match. We met one of his friends for lunch the other day at what was a very upscale Chinese restaurant. In this region, the concept of the “set meal” is very popular, and because of this, I never have to worry about deciphering a menu that in written in a language other than my own. One person orders for all. The set dinner is inclusive of all courses and is served to all members of the party, often family style. In this particular restaurant, meals were served in individual portions, but all of us were eating the same thing. The first course to arrive was the appetizer, which was some sort of wanton served with a side of pickled jellyfish tentacles, served cold. They were of course wet, but slightly crunchy, a hint of sweetness, but definitely tangy. Not something I would sit and eat during a football game, but not as bad you might think. This would be the only dish that I correctly guessed during the meal.
I forget the next course, but the third was some sort of soup with large hunks of onion. I had only chopsticks and a plastic soup spoon, and not wanting to fumble around trying to break these large chunks into manageable pieces, I just began eating the small pieces of onion, thinking I would just leave the larger ones in the bowl to be removed by the server. They didn’t taste exactly like onion, and Joshua eventually stated, “Oh, I did not mention. These little pieces there, that is shark fin. This is Chinese delacacy.” Really? I have heard of this before but never seen it. It was nothing like I imagined it. I always pictured large meaty chunks in a bowl. Not so. They must only use small sharks, we’re not talking "Jaws" here. These were just tiny little fins. What they do is remove the skin, and eat only the underlying cartilage, which taste almost like a crunchy onion if you hold your mouth just right. I didn’t like this as much as the jellyfish, but not terrible.
Next up is the course that I am never likely to forget and the only one that I will likely never try again. It was a small piece of abalone and this large brown, not really gooey, not really solid, chunk of something. I took one bite and instantly decided that I was not going to ask or think about what this thing was until I had finished it completely, because I definitely did not want to know what this had once been while it was in my mouth. Good call.

It was a Sea Cucumber.

If you don’t know what these things are or what they do, here is a brief description. They come in many different forms and colors, but they are sand sifters. A sea cucumber is basically a big slug that writhes through the sea floor eating fish waste and detritus that is mixed in with the sand and muck. Not to be too gross, but it was kind of like biting into a cross between a kitchen sponge and… no that is too gross. I don’t really remember what was included in the subsequent courses. I think I blacked out. I would love to show you guys pictures but I felt it would be rude to take them at the table. Usually it is no big deal, because it's "wow, I've gotta show this to my family" but I'm afraid this whould have come across as "wow, I've gotta show this to my family." So i included links in the text above as well as a picture I downloaded off the net. enjoy.

This was one of the most unique meals I have ever had, but sadly one of the least enjoyable. Fortunately it only got better from there. Next up, Japanese Teppanyaki with a personal touch.