Sunday, October 30, 2011

What does she do all day?

Last week at work my husband was asked "What does your wife do all day?" I'm pretty sure, this question was in reference to the fact that since moving to Jakarta our family has hired a full time pembantu who does most of the housework.

Over the last couple days, I've thought about that very question. What do I do? And is what I do of value?

The literal answer to the first question is:

I get up at 5:30AM, make breakfast, have a family prayer and get the kids off to school. Then I exercise for one hour (aka my therapy time).

From 9:30AM to 2:30PM I mainly take care of three year old CJ which includes getting on the floor and playing with her, doing puzzles, reading books, swimming at the pool, and occasionally teaching preschool. There's also grocery shopping, volunteering at school, and church responsibilities.

2:30 to bedtime, I greet the kids when they get off the bus, I make after-school snacks, I help with homework, I make dinner, I take kids to and from soccer practice, I spend time with my family, I pack lunches for the next day, I read aloud from a chapter book to the kids, we read scriptures together, have a family prayer, and I tuck each of my children into bed.

The answer to the second question (is what I do of value?) is simple.


Sure, I don't bring in any money. And I'm not contributing to any business, government, or corporation. But I believe what I'm doing, and what every mom does, is vitally important. Being a mom is full time job, even without the laundry and house cleaning. I'm creating a home. I'm raising five amazing children into five independent, talented, incredible people.

So what do I do all day?

I mother. And I LOVE my job.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Mayestik: An Indonesian plaza with every fabric under the sun. Satin. Polyester. Cotton. Silk. Raw silk. Brushed silk. Chiffon. Linen. Wool. Every color imaginable.

Meya and I literally wade through meters of fabric looking for the perfect black and red for her Halloween costume. We are handed disposable cups with sealed lids - there is no air conditioning. We sip water through our straws as we search. My broken Bahasa Indonesian coupled with their limited English and we leave the store with a bag of our material.

Next stop is the one-stop-shop of everything else. You want ribbon? They've got ribbon!

You want buttons?
A whole room...four huge walls, floor to ceiling of buttons!
It is like a treasure hunt. Definitely a new favorite spot in Jakarta.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happiness is...

We drive in the car past the buildings whose tops touch the yellowish sky. We take the toll road for a mere twenty cents. In the back seat of the car, the kids fight over the two leapsters. Really CJ creates the biggest scene as she screams when it's not her turn to use the leapster. But fifteen minutes into the drive, her head bobs and her eyelids droop. And I'm glad I decided to give her the full dose of Dramamine.

Soon the sky scrapers and the smog is behind us. And all I see are fields and red tile-roof houses. Banana trees line the highway. My husband and I share the ipod, one ear bud each.

Once we enter the town of Bogor we catch glimpses of mountain peaks. Purple and gray mountains playing peek-a-boo behind the fluffy white clouds. As we begin the ascent of the mountain, driving the switch backs, my stomach lurches. The steep mountain side is cultivated with tea plants, shrubs the size of azalea bushes with lime green new leaves.

The vacation house perches on a mountain ledge surrounded by a lawn of true green grass just begging for us to play a game of soccer (which we do). I breathe deeply and it's as though my lungs are tasting the sweetness of the air.

I have four days of wonderful moments (mingled, of course, with all the crazy that comes with five children).

I sit on the porch with my husband and laugh at the kids as they play tag on the grass. The clouds float in, coating the yard in white gossamer. The clouds touch my childrens' heads and settle amongst the trees.

I watch my children climb six foot tall tree roots as though they're playing on a jungle gym.

I gasp as my two most brave children, Madi and Tman, lunge in the pool at the base of the waterfall and then stick their heads under the falling water.
I scream at the animal snouts and trunks and faces coming through the car windows at Taman Safari - and I watch my husband laugh so hard he goes into a coughing fit.

I run (but mostly walk because it is so dang steep) along mountain roads with my husband in the morning. I watch him barter with a local to purchase a painting on canvas of the mountain we've so enjoyed.

Happiness is hiking for two hours and feeling the spray of a waterfall brush against my cheeks like a million kisses. Happiness is hearing the kids fight in the car followed by the peace of all of them sleeping. Happiness is wrestling a three-year old in the tub, trying to get her clean followed by a fire crackling in the fireplace, cuddling on the couch, hot chocolate, and a good movie. Happiness is being wakened way too early by CJ who pat pat pats into my room and climbs into bed with me. Happiness is the morning mist that pools in the mountain valleys. Happiness is Tman crying in the car because he's scared of the animals at Taman Safari. And then watching him gather his courage and reach a carrot out to a zebra.

Happiness is the mess of screaming children and the music of their laughter. It is exhaustion mingled with satisfaction. It is the good and bad rolled into one. It is knowing the peace because I've known the crazy. It is recognizing beauty because I've seen the horribly sad. It is savoring clean air because I've breathed the smog. Happiness is the bitter, sour, and sweet. And it's only during those moments of clarity when I truly see this, that happiness comes fuller, and sweeter, and sooner.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Good Things

Tman and I visited the commissary this week. We found Thomas bagels and english muffins! Heaven! I did a happy dance right there in the corner of the store. Tman refused to join me in my public celebration. Though thoroughly embarrassed of my boogieing, he still wanted to take my picture.

And oh the cheers I received when the rest of the kids came home from school. Bagel sandwiches galore.

There are no coin operated "rides" at the local malls and shopping centers here. But! I found this at one of the Carrefore stores: a pedal-operated ride. The swans and cars go up and down as the man pumps the bicycle. And the bike operator will even turn on music with his cell phone if you pay a little extra. Music and a ride - the Jakarta way! This is a good thing.
Finally, though the calendar says it's October, it is a little difficult to feel autumny when it is a balming 80 degrees outside. And palm trees swaying in the breeze just don't do the same thing to me as the vibrant autumn colors. Still, I opened all my Halloween boxes and decorated the house with garlands, pumpkins, and all things fallish. For family home evening, we ate caramel apples thanks to Karen who shipped me a caramel apple kit from Virginia. So even through it may not look or feel like autumn, we still were able to enjoy some autumn family traditions. And that...that is a very good thing.