Monday, October 29, 2012


Although the leaves aren't changing and the weather hasn't gotten much cooler, we're still trying to maintain a sense of Autumn in our lives. The other teachers and I spend lots of time reminiscing about our favorite parts of the Fall season. We figure if we talk about it enough, maybe it'll happen here. Haha. We are planning a "Fall Day" one of these weekends where we're going to turn the AC on real cold, wear sweatshirts, drink hot cider, and eat everything peach and pumpkin that we can think of! I'll be sure to document and share the occasion when it happens!

Since we use an American curriculum, part of my students' required learning is to know the four seasons. So, every morning for the past month, we've had a discussion about what season it is in America. They've got the basics down pretty well (leaves fall off the trees, weather gets colder), but still don't really have a concept of it.

To bring some Autumn to Malaysia, I decided to so some Pumpkin Math with my students this week. Today, they had to weigh the pumpkin before and after carving out the innards, measure the height of the pumpkin, estimate and measure the circumference of the pumpkin, and tomorrow they'll estimate and count the seeds! It was so fun and exciting to see their faces during the whole process. A few of them didn't even know it was a pumpkin. (In their defense, the only one I could find in my price range was still green... the big orange ones are $30 US each! No thanks!). Then, when I started to cut it open they were on the edges of their seats to see what it would look like inside. When they got to scoop out the 'guts' they were making the expected "it's so mushy" and "it feels like brains" comments! It was adorable, like a lot of things they do!


When I got home, I decided to try my hand at using fresh pumpkin for baking! After lots of Google research, I just ate my first oatmeal pumpkin cookie. Scrumptious! Hellllllo, Autumn!

Friday, October 26, 2012

How Bizzare-o Is That?

(For all you Miss Congeniality fans who read the title in the correct tone, thank you.)

I like to think I've lived a pretty eventful, atypical life. I've witnessed tribal warfare, climbed mountains in my backyard unaccompanied when I was 7 with my then 9-year-old brother, been to the farthest corners of the Earth, and too much more to count. With this track record, it somewhat amazes me when things happen that I find "bizarre". After the events of September 29th, though, I think I need to find a word stronger than bizarre.

My sister Stacy was visiting from Jakarta. I wanted to show her a good Malaysian time, so naturally I suggested we go to the local Board Game cafe. All my nerdy friends, be jealous. :) I had never been, but it sounded neat and had a legit website, so we went to check it out. Had we known that we'd walk through the Twilight Zone and back during that time, we may have thought twice.

It started with the elevator. I live on the 19th floor, so stairs aren't an option. We rode the elevator down to the ground floor, but then I remembered that I needed to stop by the management office on the 3rd floor. We got back in and as the doors were closing, we heard a loud knock come from behind the inner wall. It was not just a creaky old elevator sound, it was a definite "someone's behind the wall and wants to get out" knock! (Our building is <10 years old anyways, so the elevators are pretty new!) Naturally, we stared at each other, stared at the wall, held our breath, stared at each other some more and bolted out off the elevator when the doors opened. We were only on the first floor and there was a lady waiting to get on. We stared at her, not sure whether to warn her of the impending dangers or not. We didn't, but decided to skip the office and walk down the stairs to get out of the haunted building. As we're walking up the road to the game cafe, laughing and wondering about what we just survived, we heard the sound of gunshots in the distance. I lived in Newport News for 8 years, so I can't say this is necessarily a new sound to me, but it's NOT something I want to hear while I'm walking down the streets of Malaysia! But, naturally, we just laughed it off.. and started walking faster.

At least, I THINK it was a cat...
The shortcut to the game cafe involves cutting through a neighborhood park. Not a big deal. I've seen kids play here before, it's well-kept, the basketball court is often used for pick-up games, and the streetlights provide enough light to keep it safe. Note: never take a Malaysian shortcut. We weren't even 10 yards in when we noticed some bones on the ground. Not chicken bones leftover from a cook-out. Not bones that had been fed to a dog and forgotten about. Cat bones. In fact, a FULL cat skeleton, lying complete and untouched in the middle of the grass. How long must it have been there?!

We snapped a few pictures and kept walking. We noticed to our right a group of Asians having a party (or work-out session, hard to tell the difference some times!) in the clubhouse. Not a big deal, except that within 15 seconds of listening to the music they were blasting, we heard the lyrics "Mary's boy child, Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day". That's right. They were having an Asian work-out/hang-out session jamming to some Christmas Classics. WHAT? It was at this point or slightly before that we decided instead of asking "WHAT IS GOING ON?!" We'd simply look at each other and ask, "Where are we again?" Seeing as living in Malaysia was the only explanation for any of this chaos!

As the finale to our adventure (before we got to the game cafe, which actually turned out be AWESOME!), we were at the edge of the park, when I noticed a man sitting on the ground, leaning against a park bench with a walker nearby. I watched for a few seconds before it became clear that he was handicapped and he was struggling.We walked over and motioned/asked if we could help. He muttered something along the lines of "Yes. Lift." We each took a side, were blown away by the alcohol on his breath, and lifted him onto the park bench. He muttered something else, but we couldn't make it out, so we smiled, waved, and quickly walked away. Simply shaking our heads and reaffirming that "bizarre" takes on a whole new meaning in a foreign land.

We also stopped for frozen yogurt on the way, and their toppings of lychees, corn flakes, and red beans didn't even phase us after all we'd just been through!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where My Sheeps At?

I've had quite a few changes in my job between this year and the past three. I went from 4th grade to K-2nd, I went from 26 students to 4, I went from 5 teachers on my grade level to 5 teachers at my whole school, I went from wearing shoes while teaching to teaching barefoot, and the list goes on. Obviously, though, one of the most major differences is that I'm now teaching at a Christian school. Meaning, we pray in class, we have a Bible lesson each day, we sing worship songs, and we learn memory verses. It's pretty cool.
Last week, the story was about John the Baptist and our accompanying memory verse was John 1:29. "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" So that the students didn't simply memorize some words, but actually understood what they were saying, we spent some time discussing what it meant. We talked about who said it (John), who he was talking about (Jesus), and what he was doing (preparing the way for Christ). Then, I tried to take it one step further and wasn't met with quite as much success. I asked them why John called Jesus the Lamb of God. They were stumped. So, we spent the next few minutes discussing how people used to offer lambs as sacrifices for their sins. Then, trying to get them to bring it all together, I asked them, "How come we don't sacrifice sheep anymore?"
They looked at me for a little while thinking. Then, one of my sweet, innocent little 5-year-olds raised her hands and ever so earnestly said, "Because there are no more sheep?"

... And our next lesson will be a review of which animals are extinct and which ones simply don't live in Malaysia. :) Gotta love 'em.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Malaysian Moments: Post Office Edition

Those times when there is no explanation for what is happening other than the fact that I'm a foreigner living in a different land. (In case you missed them, you can find other examples in my post from August here!)

Today I went to the post office to mail a letter to my sister. The task was simple..... until I remembered that I live in Asia where there is no such thing. I wrote the card, addressed the envelope, and went to seal it when I realized that there was no adhesive on the envelope for sealing. No big deal, I thought to myself, I'll just ask them if I can have some tape when I get to the desk. Since 5:00pm on a Monday is obviously everyone's favorite time to go to the post office, I got my ticket and waited for about 10 minutes before my number was called. I gave the card to the lady, she weighed it, calculated the postage, and gave me what I needed. I asked for tape and she said, "Don't have. Glue can?" while motioning that I could put a tiny dot of glue on the lip of the envelope to seal it. Easy enough, that'll be perfect, I thought as I nodded in agreement. She opened the glue, appeared to test it out and handed it to me. I tried to squeeze a tiny drop (as she had indicated) onto the envelope. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Clearly the top is dried up, so I need to unclog it. Messed with it for a little while until I thought I had created a small hole and tried again. Since I figured a little pressure would help the glue burst through the tiny hole I'd created, I squeezed.
Now, I'm not a rocket scientist, I'm a school teacher... and an American. I use Elmer's glue and when it gets clogged, a little peeling and a little extra pressure makes the glue come out. This was not the case. Before I could blink, the entire top of the glue had shot 3 feet away and glue was pouring all over the counter, floor, and envelope.
Remember when I said the Post Office was hopping? Yeah, that hadn't changed. So, there I stand, at the counter, trying to seal shut a letter to my sister with glue all over everything and 15+ Asians STARING at me. I panicked and had no idea what to do, so I started wiping up the glue on the counter with my hand and wiping it onto a plastic grocery bag I had (thankfully!). After about 30 seconds (felt like 3 hours) of doing this, a fellow patron saw my despair and casually grabbed a roll of toilet paper that was sitting on the counter 20 feet away, set it on the counter beside me, smiled compassionately, and walked away. At this point the employee at the counter finally looked up, realized that her "tiny dot of glue" trick hadn't worked out so well and started helping me wipe up the remaining mess... with TOILET PAPER. Have you ever tried to clean up a spill with Asian toilet paper (known by some in America as tissue paper)? How about a GLUE spill? While the worker finished wiping off my letter (good luck opening that one, Molly!), I started wiping up the two huge glue puddles on the ground. I came across the evil top of the glue and handed it back to her, she stared at it in bewilderment.
So much for getting points on presentation. Consider these toilet paper shreds your Malaysian souvenir?
 After about a minute of my best efforts (while I continued to be on display for all the ever-so-discreet and helpful Asians watching), the lady said "Ok" and motioned for me to leave. I profusely apologized, grabbed my backpack and high-tailed it out of there. I spent about a minute peeling dried glue and toilet paper bits off my hand before dropping the card in the mailbox and walking promptly to the $0.30 ice cream cone shop to help soothe the pain.
I think the saddest part of this story is that as I was leaving school today, I contemplated bringing tape in case the envelopes didn't seal. A) I've been in Asia too long for that thought even cross my mind. B) Why didn't I listen to my instincts?!

On an unrelated note, Malaysia has beautiful, but unnecessarily large stamps!
The two inch long stamp cost 50 Malaysian cents, the star fruit one costs 2 ringgit. Go figure!?