Saturday, 31 May 2008

The next step

We now have no more babies in our house. Linnea is fully potty trained! Yay!
On day four, she all of a sudden just went, all by herself; and ever since she has been going to the potty and the toilet like she has never done anything else! So clever! Our big girl!

The next step will be to get rid of the dummies...



But we've said that we will wait a bit with that considering there is going to be a lot going on the next few months and she has just gone through potty-training. We might work on it up to Christmas, so that she will give Santa her dummies. I think that is a good plan.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Networking Lunch

Yesterday I went to a Networking Lunch at the "other" Yacht Club at Kota Batu. (The "other" because it's far from being child friendly, concentrates completely on the grown-up clientele, so we rarely go there). It was arranged by the BCL, the British Community Link, and we were about 40 ladies from all different places here in Brunei who met, to network and get to know new people.



It was a very good initiative. I got to meet a few people I hadn't met before; and catch up with others I hadn't seen for long. Some were people I see several times a week, but since Brunei is so small, that was unavoidable.
It lasted most of the afternoon, since we had a four-course lunch with wine and there was a lot of chatting going on. We also got a little "goodie-bag" which was mostly appreciated.

Hopefully this was the first of many events like this. It was really nice to get out of the normal circle of people and get to know some new faces!

In a land far, far away

Sometimes it feels like we are living at the end of the world. We have been here now for almost 10 months, and we haven't had a single visitor yet...
I know it's not that easy for most, you can't just pop over for a weekend - but still, no one?!
Feels like everybody have visitors, all the time, apart from us. Our Danish friends out here who arrived months after us, have already had three sets of visitors, and the Scotts (who have been here 1 1/2 years) have lost count already... but none for us. (Hear the violins? Boo-hoo...)

Seriously though, it feels very weird for us, cause our house in the UK was almost like a hotel at some times. We had so many visitors coming to see us, most of our friends came at least once a year, many even more often. It was wonderful, I like having guests!

I am really looking forward to having people coming to see us here in Brunei. My parents will be coming in the fall, so even if I don't know exact dates yet, at least I know they are coming!
I have so many plans for any visitor that comes, there is so much to see and do, and Brunei is so special in many ways. As you probably wouldn't go to Brunei otherwise, being able to come and visit us here is a fantastic opportunity to experience something different! You can go to Thailand or Bali on charter anytime, but Brunei - see, that's exotic!

So what are you waiting for?! Book your trips now people! Nuestra casa es su casa, you know!

(Edit: Anna (Scott) just told me today, that tomorrow they are receieving their 13th set of guests... 13th!)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Do you speak Swedish with your kids?

I've had this question now so many times, and I keep getting amused and bemused about it every time. I really don't understand this question at all.
The answer is simple: "Yes, of course I do!" I'm Swedish - I speak Swedish. That's my language.

Unfortunately no, Nathan doesn't speak Swedish so we have to communicate in English; and the kids speak English with most of their friends and at school. But all that doesn't affect my relationship or communication with my kids, we still speak Swedish with eachother.

Someone even wondered if I choose to growl at the kids in Swedish so that other people wouldn't understand that I'm telling them off? Ehm, no - I tell them off in Swedish, because I'm Swedish. It's that easy. (Besides, there is no doubt about when I'm angry with the kids, you can for sure tell that by the tone of my voice anyway.)

You would think that down here people would be more used to bilingual children, but apparently it's still confusing and strange to some. Maybe it's because Swedish is such a small language, they wonder if it's worth it? Maybe the question arises simply because they have no knowledge about Swedish or Sweden, it's not as strange to be English/Malay bilingual.
I don't know. But yes, I speak Swedish with my kids - anything else would be unnatural.



-"Hörsti-börst, bork, bork, bork!"

Durian season

I went to SupaSave the other day to do my shopping, and realized already outside the supermarket that we are in durian season now... The durian fruit has a very distinctive (and not so pleasant) smell that you can scent from a very long distance, apparently it can be detected by animals from half a mile away!

They apparently have some kind of Thai Fruit Festival at the supermarket this week, and although the durian is not native to Thailand, the country is currently one of the major exporters of durians so the shop was full of them:



Durian flesh packed for sale, with an exposed seed.



The durian is a seasonal fruit, unlike some other non-seasonal tropical fruits such as the papaya which are available throughout the year. The season for durians is typically from June to August and prices of durians are relatively high as compared with other fruits.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Bye Ms Sunita

Last Friday at Kindy they held a Pirate Party to celebrate the end of Pirate week, and the beginning of the holidays. But they also had to say goodbye to one of their teachers, Ms Sunita, who is leaving the school.
The kids had made a very pretty "handprint-picture" for her, and handed that over with great pride.







I'm not sure the kids really understood, but it was a bit sad anyway, cause she has been a really good teacher and the kids all seemed to really like her.
Mind you, next year the are all going up to Reception so they will all have new teachers anyway.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Budding garderner?

At playgroup the other day, they had been doing a little planting, and Linnea came home with a pot of green beans. It's grown very quickly, every day more and more, and she has been very pleased with her little project. I guess this is something we will have to do more of.

If you gotta go, you gotta go...

The potty training has taken a turn, for the better! Yay!
On day four Linnea all of a sudden just went all by herself when she needed to, and had no accidents all day. Today has been another successful day, and now there is definitely no going back!
We still bring her potty though, wherever we go, at least for a while yet. Just in case it's too far to the toilet and we wouldn't make it; or like at the hash yesterday, where there is no toilet:



Then it's really good to have your own one in the back of the car! :)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

School holiday

This week it's Midterm Holiday, so no school for a whole week!
We don't have any big plans though, cause Nathan is working a bit, and I have my scrapbooking projects going on. A few playdates here and there, and the return of Malthe and Daniel at the end of the week, which will probably going to be the highlight.
We spent all day at the Yacht Club yesterday, as the only ones, it was actually _just_ us there, which was nice in a way and a bit lonely in another.
Nathan and I went for sushi and a couple of drinks at some friends house last night, which was really nice. Had been a while since our last sushi frenzy.

Today it was Kids Hash again. We all had a great time - especially the kids, of course. Lucas has made himself some good friends there that he looks forward to seeing every time, and today they spent ages digging in the sand, getting dirty.
Linnea has had three hits at the potty today, and (*knock on wood*) no accidents, as of yet! So maybe she is actually getting it sooner than we thought!

Tonight is pizza night, as so many other times after a late Sunday out. We are eagerly awaiting the "pizza motorbike" and having a slouchy evening.

Mors Dag

This morning the kids handed me a present, and Linnea chanted loudly "Happy Birthday to youuu...". Well, it's not my birthday, but it's Mors Dag (Mother's Day) in Sweden, and "the kids" had lovingly remembered that, and got me this:


(Image from www.kaboodle.com)

So now I'm sitting here smelling beautifully! I did get celebrated for the NZ Mother's Day too actually (always 2nd Sunday of May) - it's got it's advantages to be a part of a multi-culti family!

And, Kära Mamma - Grattis på Mors Dag till dig också! Hoppas blommorna var vackra och att de står sig länge! Kram

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Potty training - Part 2

We have decided to give the potty training another go. Last time Linnea didn't show much interest, so we gave up almost before we started. To be honest, she still doesn't seem to keen - but this time we are sticking with it. We have simply taken her out of nappies, and we are not planning on going back now. Sooner or later she must get it!


(Image borrowed from www.supercoolbaby.com)

It is a bit daunting, and I think it also seems like hard work with her, since we remember how Lucas understood it so quickly. He was a lot younger too. Linnea hasn't once these past two days managed to actually do anything on the potty - but always on the floor, preferably just next to the potty...
Ah well, we are not giving up! It's time, for sure, and we will all be a lot happier once she is on the toilet instead of in nappies!

Edit: Yay! After 1 1/2 hours of hurling "I want my nappyyy!" at the top of her voice, she calmed down and actually came and got her potty herself, and sat down and performed! Yay!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Through a child's eyes

One way of keeping the kids occupied and happy for a while is to give them our old camera, and let them loose taking pictures as they want. (Can be recommended by the way to anyone with young kids, it's quite interesting to see how they see their world!) They love it!

The other day, we had a Skype-conversation with Mormor and Morfar, and Linnea amused herself by taking pictures of them:



It was very funny!

By the way, Skype is great! I wish I would get hold of more people more often, a nice Skype-conversation with family or friends always saves my day..! Go Skype!

The proof

Here is the (black-and-white) certificate we got, for ascending (but not reaching the top...) of Mount Kinabalu (clickable as always):



I still find the certificate really pretty, even in black-and-white!
The big flower pictured down to the right, is a Rafflesia - one of the biggest flowers in the world. In the middle you can see a Pitcher Plant. Mt Kinabalu apparently boasts of having 10 of the 30 different varieties there are in the world, amongst them the biggest one, which can contain 3,5 liter of water! Quite amazing!

(The joke was, that Maria's husband did the climb a couple of months ago and he got this beautiful certificate, in colour - that he framed and put up on the wall. Maria of course was planning to frame hers as well to put it next to her husbands, but now she didn't think so...
We were joking that she could always give it to her 3-year old and he could colour it in for her!
)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Ouch...

I wasn't aware that climbing a mountain was going to be such hard work - afterwards!
I curse the fact that we have a two-story house, cause at the moment I'm (still) having real trouble getting up and (above all) down those stairs. Doesn't help that we only have toilets upstairs either... ouch.

To sum up the climb now a few days after, when the disappointed over not being allowed to reach the summit has faded a bit, I can say this:

Best thing I packed: The hiking socks. No matter how wet my shoes got all the way in, my feet stayed nice and warm through the whole ascent, and descent.

Worst thing I packed: Well, we had far too many snacks... (I will not eat any more KitKats for a very long time...) But, the porters carried them, so it didn't really matter.

I was missing: My windbreaker. A lot. I couldn't find mine and thought I would be fine with Nathans merino wool sweater, but a windbreaker would have been nice - considering it was really windy!

Biggest disappointement: (A part from missing out on the summit) That we had no view - and I had only brought the big lens for the camera aiming to shoot some nice scenic photos... so I could now shoot none at all...

Hardest part: Freezing so much. At Laban Rata before the porters arrived with our backpacks and all our dry stuff I seriously was so cold I could hardly talk. Brrr, I get chills just thinking about it!

Funniest bit: Hard to choose! But that so many thought we were a professional climbing team competes closely with the fact that we only got black-and-white certificates "because we didn't reach the top", instead of the pretty ones in colour you normally get! (The guy had probably just run out of ink, but he was quick on giving us an answer anyway.)

Monday, 19 May 2008

5000!!!

I remembered when I was happy that I had had 200 visitors to this blog... now I have had 5000!!! Oaw!

I wonder who all of you are..? It's always nice to get little greetings in the comments box, so drop a line - even if it's just to say hi!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Kindy Schedule 19-23 May

Term 3 Week 8 – Pirates
Stories: About pirates
Pirate ship role play – how to dress as a pirate.
Making treasure boxes - Counting, adding and subtracting treasure
Making pirate stories of our own
Making eye patches / pattern bracelets / parrots / shiny cardboard cutlasses



This week at school, the pirate theme continues as you can see!
They will be doing "Pirate Cooking" on Wednesday (I'm very curious to see what that will be) and on Friday they will all dress up in a big Pirate Party Day. One of their teachers are sadly leaving, and Friday is her last day. The kids will bring food to share and have a Pirate Picnic with the other Kindy class.

A busy Sunday

When I landed back here at 09.30 this morning, it was straight in to a busy Sunday program for the Watsons!
Nathan and the kids had already left home, and I met up with them down at the Empire, where Lucas was invited to a birthday party by one of his little class mates. It was lovely, all the siblings and parents were there too and we all swam and hung out - and the kids got lunch and cake:



Charlie, Gilbert and Lucas waiting for the cake:



Then we went home to try and have a bit of a siesta (without luck) and back to the Empire again in the afternoon. This time to have Afternoon Tea with a lady from the Swedish Embassy in Singapore, the priest who had come over from the Swedish Church and four of the other Swedish families/couples who are living here in Brunei.
My team mates were there too of course, and we were all a little bit sore - so some cake did us well! Anna and I:



The fabulous Afternoon Tea:



The kids behaved really well over at their table:



Just another Sunday... Tomorrow it's school again, one more week before the Midterm Holiday.

Defeated by Mother Nature

No, it didn't happen. We couldn't reach the top.
Not because we gave up, but unfortunately because we had freaky weather and the summit was closed because it wasn't safe to go up there... Such a bummer...
But let's take it all from the beginning:

We left all happy on Thursday afternoon, up to KK, a 20 minute flight from here. We were all kind of giddy, this was it! Here is Claudia & myself:



We had all packed our own stuff in our backpacks, but Claudia was responsible for the First Aid kit - her bag weighed 5 kg more than the rest of the bags! We went through everything after dinner Thursday night, and made sure we had everything we might need. I must say, we had been really thorough with our packing, we had everything (F.e rescue whistles, snacks galore, tape (for broken shoes), knee protections, head lamps etc):



We got up early in the morning because we had pickup at 08.00, got ready and dressed:



We had a lush breakfast:



The funniest thing happened in the lobby of the hotel. Just as we are walking in to the restaurant, this guy shows up - and looks just as puzzled when he sees us, as we did when we saw him! Of course, we had to take a picture together:



Then we set off up to the Headquarters. It took about two hours from KK to the bottom of the mountain, and the weather got increasingly worse and worse the higher we got:



This is the view that met us, already at the Headquarters, or should I say - lack of view:



We arrived at the Headquarters at about 10.00, and got really surprised by how cold it was, already there! We all put on an extra layer of clothing straight away, and started getting a bit worried about how cold it would get even higher up. (We took off our jackets for this picture:)



Claudia trying out the poncho:



It took forever to register, and find a guide for us. As we were waiting some people came down the mountain, and we were very disappointed to hear that none of them had made it to the summit that morning.
Of course, we still had to climb, cause you never might know if we would be lucky and the weather might change, but it felt a bit disheartening knowing already from the start that we would probably not make it to the top.
Our guide talked us through the route a bit:



Then he said we could start, and he would catch up. He and his friend were also our porters, so we left them sorting out the luggage, and off we went. Here we are, all ready and suited up, it was really cold already here:



This was where we were going, to the rest huts at Laban Rata, a trek of 6 km:



Team Sweden:



Up and up...



... and up and up...



The further up we got, the colder it got. We were right in the clouds, so we didn't see anything. It started to rain, first it drizzled and then it rained more and more heavily - add to that the wind, and you are starting to get the picture on exactly how freezing it was!



The porters running (yes, some!) up and down the mountain were extraordinary! They carried so much stuff, not just peoples luggage but food and other supplies for the huts up on the mountain. Just look at this load, and he's such a little guy!



Part of the track. It was mostly rocky steps, but in some places due to the weather, it was just muddy trails, very slippery:



Tried to capture a bit of the clouds and rain:



We ended up splitting the team up during the ascent. Anna and I found a pace that worked for us, and we reached the hut at Laban Rata after 3h40, which was pretty good going! The others came in about half an hour later.
I don't have any pictures from the last bit of the ascent or of the arrival at the hut, because by that point we were so cold and frozen, we couldn't do or think about anything else than getting inside, away from the wind and the rain!
Here we are, in our room that we shared with an old guy from Penang (Malaysia) and an Australian guy:



Those porters/guides of ours, that were supposed to "catch up", didn't come until we had been waiting at the hut for half an hour! The only thing was, I had clothes in my backpack I had planned to put on sort of a bit up the mountain - so I did this climb in only two layers of clothes (my Team Swe-shirt and the rain jacket), with no gloves, warm hat or warm layer on top! I was BLUE, around my eyes and on my lips! So was Anna, we were sooo cold.
Finally the porters arrived with our things, and we could have a warm (it was supposed to be hot, but there you go) shower and get changed. We put on every bit of dry clothing we had! It was nice, but not enough.
We then hired sleeping bags, and actually sat in them like little caterpillars, while we had our dinner and drank enormous amounts of hot tea. The sleeping bags really helped, they were the only reason we started to get our body heat back. Here is a photo of the caterpillars:



This is the restaurant/reception/little shop at Laban Rata. It was supposed to be "heated", but in fact it was just heated between 20-21.00, so we were by then actually happy that we had started so late in the morning so we didn't have to spend too much time up there. We had dinner, and went to bed about 20.00, in time for the heating to come on. We all slept in all our clothes, in the sleeping bags, in the beds.



It was so funny, because several of our fellow climbers thought we were professional climbers! Someone had asked Anna & Maria "Which other mountains our Team had climbed?" and we realized at Laban Rata that others referred to us as "The Swedish Professional Climbing Team"! :) We think probably it was because we had our Team t-shirts on and looked kind of uniform, or maybe it was because of the fact that we were stretching before the climb? Maybe - it was purely because we looked the part so well!

Anyhow, we got woken up by our guide at 03.00 who said that the summit was closed, so we couldn't go up the last bit (a trek of about 2,5 km and rise of 800m). It didn't come as a big surprise, as we could hear the wind outside and it was really, really strong.
So we decided to go back to sleep, and then start the descent as soon as it got light in the morning.
We had our breakfast and then set off just after 08.00. This time around we were better dressed because of course, the weather were still as bad. I had two layers going up - but I had five layers on going down!
Unfortunately since we split up again and Anna and Maria set off in a faster speed, I have no photos of myself going down, because we didn't have any camera Claudia and I. Here is Anna though:



Here is one of the porters, carrying a bed:



Maria, in the clouds and the rain:



When we got back down (took me and Claudia 2h40 minutes) we had lunch at the Headquarters, picked up our certificates and then we were driven back to KK where we rested for a bit and all had lovely showers, mmm!

We treated ourselves to some really yummy Starbucks Coffee and some retail therapy, to make ourselves feel better for missing out on the summit. In the evening we had dinner with a friend of ours parents who recently had moved to KK - and some very nice wine with that. After dinner we went out to do some bar hopping, and had some very nice beers, and finally we ended up in a salsa club, and had some very nice cocktails and... shook the ache off our legs!







Considering the weather conditions, we have to be pretty pleased with our performance anyway, summit or not. It was freezing and the wind made the ascent very tough, so we are pleased albeit a bit disappointed.
All in all - it was a great weekend though! It was really cool to go away on a girls weekend a be really active - and get some drinks and dancing in to! Thank you Team Sweden - I had a fab time!

A short movie from Mt Kinabalu

Here is a small movie Maria shot of Anna and the weather, just on the top by Laban Rata, before descending. It kind of shows the wind and the clouds a bit so you can imagine how cold it was!

video

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Team Sweden - Here we go!

This is it! Now it's time to test if all our training has paid off - today we are flying up to Kota Kinabalu, and tomorrow we are initiating the climb of Mount Kinabalu. We should be reaching the summit some time around 04.00 am on Saturday morning (our time) - and hopefully be witnessing a beautiful sunrise!



Gosh, I'm actually nervous! Mostly for the packing, have I remembered everything? Difficult to know what you might need on a mountain top! I think we should be fine, we have coordinated our packing for days now, and we are ready! I will be back on Sunday to tell you all about it!
Mount Kinabalu - here we go!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

First haircut

Today it was time for Linnea's first haircut! No, she still doesn't have much hair, but it needed to get trimmed anyway. The bits she had were all in different lengths and she had all these whispy, long bits sticking out that looked a bit funny.
So I took her around to my hairdresser this morning. She was so good, a bit hesitant but then she just sat there and looked around her at all the exciting things. She was bribed with cookies and it didn't take long, but still - very good for her first time!