Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another week in Malaysia

It has been a busy time and sometimes a boring time for the kids at the marina in Malaysia.

One day the water was unusually clear and they went swimming off the outer dock, well away from all the berthed boats. Since we did not get into the water with them, they were forced to wear life jackets; but neither complained about that safety precaution. That same day they also played in the pedal boat again. Those pedal boats are pretty popular with the kids. I think they feel very independent pedaling off on their own and leaving us standing on the dock.

Our grandson Damien celebrated his first birthday on this day. Sorry that we could not see him on this special day. Just was not the right time of year for us to make a trip to Houston.

Zach enjoys playing poker as much this summer as he did last year when he visited us in Australia. I am not into playing cards and his grandfather also doesn't play cards often. When Zach cannot talk his Papa into playing poker, he enjoys building card houses.

On Saturday both kids tried their hands at flying kites. We had purchased the kites in Singapore and have been waiting for a day with breeze strong enough to fly them. BeBe's kite zipped all over the place, but Zach's larger kite with the long split tail just stayed in one place. What fun is that! Zachary prefers riding the bike as fast as possible over standing still and flying kites.

Sunday 20 June was pancake day. Sunday mornings usually seem the right day for making pancakes. We told the kids about the cashier in the supermarket in New Zealand that called maple syrup "mapple syrup" (pronounced like apple). So now syrup on our boat is always referred to as mapple. (Truly cannot understand how that woman got that pronunciation out of maple. I thought all English speaking people worldwide knew of maple trees.) Elisabeth decided on jelly-filled taco pancakes rather than maple/mapple (see picture). Of course since we were eating pancakes, Bill had to tell the story of Boom Boom Mancini. Our breakfast discussion then veered off into wondering if astronauts eat pancakes in space and, if so, how. Google helped; they do eat pancakes!

The rest of the day way spent reading on a rainy day.

On Monday we were off bike riding again. Elisabeth is very close to being able to ride on her own. She will go about 25 feet after Bill lets go of the seat; but as soon as she realizes she is riding on her own, those feet go down to stop the bike. Usually Bill will give her several tries on the bike, then he pedals off with Zachary and we girls are left to walk after them. This day we opted not to walk after them and instead we returned to the marina and ordered a banana split. Later Bill and Zachary joined us. Banana splits for lunch; aren't we good grandparents!

On Tuesday we had our first 2-mile morning walk since the kids arrived. I had cut my heel badly and have not been able to wear sneakers or walking shoes for weeks. The wound is still not completely healed, but I can now tolerate my walking shoes if the heel is bandaged properly. Neither Zachary nor Elisabeth wanted to go on this long walk, but they were not given an option. Both finished unwillingly.

That afternoon they attempted the row boat for the first time. First we gave them paddles to try. That was too hard for both of them. Next we gave proper oars and let Zach try his skills at rowing. BeBe said she was just a passenger and wasn't required to row. Bill tied a long line on the row boat so they couldn't get too far from the dock. We had visions of them getting off way in the back of the marina lagoon and then not being able to row all the way back. I don't think they will be asking to play in the row boat again now that they know how much work it is. Then they got in the pedal boat again to wear themselves out.

While they were finishing up their time in the pedal boat, Amy from S/V Estrellita and Linda from S/V B'Sheret walked over and wanted to play Mexican Train dominoes. We settled into the air-conditioned comfort of our boat and spent several hours playing a game. It has been a very, very long time since we have played dominoes.....the last time was back in New Zealand.

We finished dominoes just in time to leave in the marina shuttle for Night Market in Gelang Patah. I wish we had brought a camera that night. We first walked down to the Chinese food vendor section a block away from the night market vendors. We each ate a small order of roasted pork and split an order of Thai pineapple rice. Elisabeth drank watermelon juice. No one complained even once about this meal. Both kids are now quite proficient eating with chopsticks. In Malaysia people normally eat with a large spoon and a fork; a knife is never provided except in restaurants frequented by westerners. But in the Chinese food vendor section in the small town, chopsticks are the norm. Both kids were glad they had been practicing eating with chopsticks on the boat.

Then we walked over to the night market area and bought produce and wandered through the stalls. The kids bought a cup of corn kernels to eat. There was nothing else in that place that either of them would touch. Both of them thought it was dirty, smelly and crowded. Neither was impressed with night market. I explained several times that this is just the way people live here. It is so different from what they experience at home. Wish I had a photo of Elisabeth's face when she saw the chicken feet stacked for sale and all the very unappetizing meats with flies buzzing around. The next week when we asked if they wanted to go back to the night market, both kids said no. When we inquired why, they each said it was too dirty and smelly and crowded. Too bad; we returned the next week anyway.

The next morning we walked our normal 2 miles again; Elisabeth dragging along behind us the whole way. For the last few blocks Bill made up silly songs and she decided she would join us and participate. She is slowing coming to the realization that complaining doesn't work with her grandparents. Better to just do it and get it over with and be done with it. Shortly after finishing our walk, the clouds rolled in. Soon there were flashes of lightning and rivers of rain pouring from the sky.

We stayed tucked inside the boat the rest of the day and watched the new Karate Kid movie remake. It was not nearly as good as the original. The angles of filming were terrible. The effect was to make viewers think they saw things that they really did not see. Several times we stopped the DVD and asked the kids what they had just seen. We explained that they really had not seen those things at all and would replay in slow motion. Believe me, playing the karate scenes in slow motion is absolutely hilarious. This is NOT a good movie.

Yesterday we made the weekly shopping trip to the mall. Both kids enjoyed a Chinese chicken meal in the food court. They are expert at chopsticks now. The supermarket had nice large fresh shrimp and Bill hand-picked through the display case for the biggest ones. He bought twice the amount that he thought we might eat. It has been forever since we have eaten fried shrimp, so that is what I cooked for dinner last night. There were no leftovers; and we were wishing we had another dozen shrimp. All 4 of us love fried shrimp. We will be buying more when available.

Today was a rainy morning so we skipped the forced walk, to the delight of both kids. They declared it Pajama Day again. I taught Zach how to make pancakes from scratch. His pancakes turned out almost as good as mine and he wants to cook for his parents when he returns home. It was still raining and fairly cool inside the boat with the a/c running, so it seemed like the perfect day for one of them to learn how to bake a cake from scratch. Elisabeth was playing with her DS, so Zachary was chosen for a cake baking lesson. It smelled so good coming out of the oven that we each ate a piece while it was still warm. Zachary now realizes why cakes are so fattening. He was surprised by how much butter and sugar are required to bake a cake. He agreed with me that the cake was so good that it did not need frosting and add all those extra fat calories. He wants my recipe to take home with him so he can bake a cake for his mom on her birthday.

After the baking lesson, Bill gave Zachary a lesson in electricity while BeBe had her first sewing lesson with me. We have a thermal cotton blanket that is too wide for our bed and I wanted to take off a foot in width. This seemed like the perfect job for a first sewing lesson. I marked a line and Elisabeth stitched over that line, so the blanket would not ravel when cut. I helped her cut off the unwanted excess. Then I showed her how to fold over the edge twice to form a hem. Then she sewed the hem. That stitching was somewhat crooked, so I had her try it again. This time she aligned the edge of the blanket on the metal guide beside the sewing machine foot and was able to sew a perfect 1/2" stitching down the hem. She did a very good job. She wants to try to make something if we can find fabric and patterns somewhere.

I will let Bill and Zachary explain the electricity lesson. Elisabeth participated in that experiment also.

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