January 31, 2009

"Will You Marry Me?"

It’s not quite that simple here!
To get engaged here is a big to-do. Not that it’s not in the states, it just takes more time and effort, with more people involved here than in the states.
We went to an engagement ceremony back in 2007 when Kakak’s younger brother got engaged. This time we were on the “girl’s” side and learned a bit more.

First. I (Sharon) got to use my crafty side and made a “hantaran.”
“Hantar” means “to send,” and when you add the suffix “an” to anything, it makes it a noun.
So a “Hantar+an” is “The Sent Stuff.” (we don’t have an English equivalent really). Hantaran are gifts that the bride and groom give one another at their engagement.

My language teacher is good at making hantaran and the like, and he helped me make a hantaran for my friend Rina’s engagement.
Usually hantaran is made by one person- kinda like a wedding coordinator/planner- so that they all match. I volunteered to make one for my friend and she agreed. So it didn’t match exactly, but it didn’t look too terrible in the end either. I made a chocolate tower of sorts, because the hantaran set needs to have something “sweet” included for your sweetheart.

Here’s me making the hantaran with our language teacher.
Day 1

Day 2 The finished product!
The Engagement Day
So here’s my friend’s living room with her professionally done hantaran with mine added (later another of her friends brought a pretty basket with some muffins too). She liked it and was glad I made it. All that stuff is for her fiancé-to-be. His family comes to her house and brings hantaran to give to her as well. But the engagement is more about the bride-to-be.
She was in the bedroom getting her make up done and getting dressed. Here the girl gets all dressed up (not quite like her wedding day, but pretty close). When her fiancé-to-be family shows up, she stays in the room.

Here’s his family arriving. Rina’s fiancé is (If I remember correctly) the 9th of 9 children! His parents are professionals at the engagement thing by now. (notice he gave her a full line of Clinique skin care products! Holla!)Both families crowd into the room. All the hantaran is placed together. Then the fathers discuss the bride price. That’s right! The bride’s family negotiates a price for the hand of their daughter…she’s valuable! I’ll have to clarify, but usually I think the bride gets to keep most of the money and usually she buys jewelry or other things like that to mark her wedding day. If you’ve ever read the parable of the “Lost Coin” in the book of Luke in the bible, the reason the woman was so freaked out that she lost her “coin” was because it was something she received on her wedding day. The jewelry a girl will buy is kind of like that I think (not coins, just special). It would be like an American woman losing a diamond out of her wedding ring. Sorry, that was a tangent.

After the price is agreed upon (which is actually really already known before the ceremony, but the formality makes it special) everyone quotes/sings a prayer (Muslim style). Then the girl comes out and sits as her mother-in-law-to-be puts a ring on her finger. (the bride’s dad inspects the ring during the “price” discussion).
After that the couple is engaged! Then everyone eats:)

Where is the groom-to-be during all this? He’s outside! Traditionally he’s not allowed in at all, but now when people start to eat, he’s allowed to eat and mingle with the guests. Here’s the happy couple. They’ll actually have a two-year engagement while she finishes law school! Whoa!
And just to make this post even longer. Here’s some pics with my friend and I and her younger sister.
If you’re wondering if the whole thing feels as special as a guy dropping to his knee and popping the question, the answer is (no pun intended) “Yes!” When I went to take the above picture with Rina, she looked at me all excited and squealed, “I’m ENGAGED!” just like any newly engaged girl would do in the states.

January 22, 2009

The Force Is (Not) Strong With This One

**We've posted 2 posts at once, so make sure to look at the post after this :)

For those of you who follow this blog because of the fun info about our life overseas, this post will disappoint you…just fyi in case you keep reading expecting some sort of deep spiritual or cultural connection…there ain’t none.

I admit it.
I stink at video games.
Since the beginning of time I have been a delinquent video game player.
It’s true. I’m craptacular.

My first experience with video games was when I was in probably about 3rd or 4th grade.

Julia Howard (now Julia Roberts…seriously, here’s their blog…there Jules, now you have to update it because lots of people are going to click on it!)
Julia Howard got a Nintendo. Super Mario Brothers was the game.

I can remember being in her room with the bunkbed, seated on the lower bunk watching her and (insert anyone’s name but mine) ----------- playing the game.
“Dah dah dah duh dat tada, duh da tuh da tuh da tuh da tada…” went the music.
When it was my turn I’m sure I was Luigi because who wants to be the sidekick right?
Anyway, I would shrink within approximately 10 seconds or so and then die. You know what I’m talking about.
And I had NO CLUE how everyone else seemed to know which of the pipes you could go down.
Still don’t.

The same story continued in Middle School.
This time at Heidi Lunn’s house (she’s now Heidi Del Real…married a Panamanian and has a BEAUTIFUL son…anyway…I like her name, very exotic)
You see, Heidi’s younger brother was into video games. They both were really.
From what I could tell anyway. We didn’t have video games at my house…but we’ll get to that in a second.
So it seemed like they were into them. The fact that they even had a game system makes them “gamers” in my book.
Anyway. I believe Super Mario Kart was the game. Or at least it changed to that from some other cooler game when I told Heidi I couldn’t play very well. I think she had a Nintendo 64.
So, in pity, we did the “fun” and “easy” game Mario Kart instead.

Awful I tell ya. At least I could kinda make the thing go. But I was off the road so often, it didn’t matter if Donkey Kong threw a banana peel in the road, I dang sure wasn’t gonna hit it. Too bad it wasn’t called like Super MarioLandRover…

And it wasn’t just the screen that evidenced my sub-parness.
Oh no.
My arms.
My face.
I’m sure if there was a blood-pressure cuff available, it would have proved it as well.
Ya know in the movies where kids are playing video games?
They just sit there, blank expressions and push buttons with their fingers on the controllers.
Not me.
If I needed to jump, my entire arms would go up.
If I needed to jump real high, my arms would go up REALLY high.
You didn’t even have to look at the screen to tell where I was going.
My arms were like sign-language interpreters to what I was trying to accomplish on the screen.
And my face.
Between my mouth being open and my neck muscles being tight at all times, you could tell I was just trying to keep Luigi from being got with one of those red-turtle-shell bombs.

So there was Heidi on her side of the screen waiting for me at the Finish line in first place as usual while I, flailing and using much more intensity with my facial muscles than is necessary and relegated to last place attempted to try and make something of my clearly inept gaming skills.

Mercifully, or pitifully, (not sure which) it wouldn’t take Heidi long to suggest something else. We’d practice our cheers or something. That we were both good at.

I’m pretty sure the Nintendo people heard about people like me and created the Wii so as to remove the shame of a population of gaming losers who unconsciously move their controller.

Then. It happened. The high point in the story.
My parents bought us a Super Nintendo, with Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Kart.

My younger sister and I were a team.
It took us approximately 1 month and a cheat-book to beat the game. (Anthony just scoffed and said, “You had to get a cheat book for Donkey Kong?!?”)
At one point I had blisters on my thumbs. I’m not kidding.
I can’t even remember how old I was or why my parents chose to buy it for us then. (probably because it was on sale because the new 64’s came out)
I grew up as one of 3 girls. We just didn’t have video games. I can’t ever even remember wanting one.
Probably because I was scarred from the beginning stinking at Duck Hunt at Julia’s.
After we beat those 2 games, I think we got a Star Wars video game, but I was so bad at it I didn’t want to play. It didn’t make sense.
(insert foreshadowing music here)
There were no bananas.
No red turtle shell bombs.
My sister didn’t ask for anymore games either. I think we lost interest at the same time.

Fast forward approximately 15 years or so.
I’ve been married for 4 years, moved to another country, and given birth.
We’ve either been too poor or too busy to buy a gaming system or games.
But then Steve Jobs did a number and made a MacBook, then some other genius made STAR WARS LEGOS computer game.
Since getting our newest Macbook (yes we have the cool new aluminum one☺) my husband decided to buy a computer game.
I told him, “This is all you. I’m so crappy at video games.”
He didn’t believe me.
Some how. Some way, we’ve made it through our dating and married life of 6 years without ever playing a video game together.
So we leave the Mac Store with STAR WARS LEGOS II in hand.

It’s the game version of the original trilogy. (Luke, Leia, Han and the whole gang)
I’m a Star Wars geek, so I didn’t mind.
I thought, well, it has been a few years. I am older. Maybe I’ll play.
So when he was out and Isaac was asleep, I attempted it.
All by myself I even set-up the key controls how I wanted and started.
After it took me 5 minutes to figure out that I had set the controls for “Player #2” who, mysteriously, can’t be controlled when there’s no player #1, I gave it one more try.
At that point Anthony showed up and started watching me.
He was like, “Shoot that guy!”
I tried.
I really did.
I don’t know if he understands how hard I really did try.
That stupid Leia with her bun-head wouldn’t move where I wanted.
And since I was controlling from the keyboard, I couldn’t engage my special spasm moves.
Afterwards as we were searching for a game controller compatible with Mac’s, I was defending my case.

Me- “Ok, but you were there. The guy was catty-corner to me and if I hit left I turned too much to the left and hit right once but ended up too far to the right! How do you explain that!?!”
Anthony- “You mean you didn’t hit two keys at once?”
Me-“What? That’s dumb. Plus how did you know that?”
Anthony- “Love, you can combine keys. But don’t worry. After we get this controller, it’ll make it easier on you.”
Me- “I don’t think it’ll make a difference” then repeating to him what I told you above about my gaming calisthenics
Anthony- (pitifully) Laughs

I have as yet to touch the game controller. Anthony is sitting next to me making comments like, “Wow Darth Vader’s fast.” which you would think would indicate some sort of stress or Luke/R2/Yoda dying (He’s on Degoba, where Yoda lives).
No stress. You can barely even hear him hit the buttons on the control. He’s winning.

Seriously people.
I write all this because…I’m not sure.
It’s just one of those things I have to come to terms with, I guess.
And this is me, coming to terms.

Unless I find out that there’s some video game playing guidebook that’s like a Video Game version of Lonely Planet. Like “Lonely Gamer.”

It’ll read: “Relax those muscles on Matel’s new “Dress-up Barbie” game where you get to choose the clothes and accessories for Barbie. There’s no need to partake in the stress of the surroundings as there are only 2 buttons required to play the game at maximum ability. If you are searching for something a little more spontaneous pick up “My Little Ponies 2: Glue Castle Revenge.” It’s got all the sparkles and rainbows of the first edition, but with an added bonus level where you spear 3 glue makers with your horn.”

If there’s a book like that, I’ll be on it like Donkey Kong.

Also, my sister has a Wii now (and I think a guitar hero?) So in a few months I’ll probably have to revisit this deficient aspect of my life again. I’ll try to get me playing my (almost 6 year-old) nephew at Wii Tennis on video. If he’ll stoop so low.
Stay tuned.

Until then I’m content to watch my husband fly his X-wing Fighter with all the skill of a Jedi Master.

Thailand Trip

Here's a video of our trip to Thailand. Enjoy!

January 03, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Here are the greatest things about 2009 so far:

We celebrated the New Year in Thailand this year. We had forgotten that the Thai people light paper lanterns that float up into the sky – that is, we forgot until we looked out our hotel window and saw hundreds of them lighting up the sky high above a nearby mountain. It was one of those moments when we remembered that our life is really cool.

We can't take any credit for that awesome picture - we ganked* it off the internet.

One of the temples near our hotel room. We did take this picture... no ganking here.

Actually, there are two main reasons we like Thailand (well, 1/3 of us don't like Thailand – it’s not Sharon’s favorite country… sorry to all the Thailand lovers). One is this beautiful drink:

That’s lime soda. We cannot find this particular kind in any other country. We’ve tried other lime sodas, but none come close. We’ve been here a little less than a week and we're on our 3rd six pack. Sad. Don’t stare at the picture too long. I’m pretty sure you can get a mouth sore just looking at it.

Number two is the Mexican food – our country has a severe lack of it, so anytime we’re in Thailand we eat Mexican (yes, we eat Thai food too… but sometimes you just need something cheesy and guacamoley). So far we’ve eaten Mexican food in 3 different cities in Thailand and all 3 have been amazing.

The Dolphins are in the Playoffs!
From 1-15 last year to 11-5 this year. Yeah, we were shocked too. Isaac was so stunned he passed out.

He took not one, but two steps in a row today… he’s taken steps before, but they were more of the “I’m taking a step but I’m really falling and if mama or daddy wasn’t there to catch me I’d fall flat on my face” kind of steps. These, however, were real steps. We will post a video as soon as we can catch him doing it again.

Isaac has also learned how to turn on the lights in the hotel room.

He showed us that little trick at 6:30am.

This is the most exciting – if all goes according to the way we feel that God is leading us, we will begin the process of adoption this March. From the beginning of our marriage we knew that we’d adopt, and it looks as if we’ll do it this year. It won’t be easy – we’ll have to be in the States and away from a job we love for longer than we thought, we’ll have to get jobs in the States for a while, etc. But we couldn’t be more excited.

It’s hard to describe our emotions about this: It’s like looking at the pregnancy test and being beyond happy that the “+” is there, but at the same time we know there’s a woman who will give up her child. The whole ordeal is heartbreakingly happy. We’ve heard that adoption in a MESSY business, and we’re beginning to understand why.

Ok, there’s a little 10 month old telling me it time to play with him. Happy New Year!

*ganked: verb, past tense, to grab ahold or take something, usually without providing compensation. A North Florida slang word.