August 2010


Yesterday was a big day!

  1. Miles cut his first tooth!  It’s the bottom right one, and is just a hole in the gum with little razor sharp stalagmites poking up.
  2. Miles started hands and knees crawling.  Guess he was sick of dragging his belly across the marble floor (sticky!).  I’m glad because then his clothes won’t get as dirty.  I also think its the cutest thing ever.  I’ll post a video soon.

We are still without internet in our apartment, so I apologize if I am slow responding to your emails.  Thank you so much for the comments to the blog, and for the emails.  We’re still settling in, and can use a little lovin’ from home.  ❤

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Tim and I like to think of ourselves as pretty worldly, but there is one arena where we are one hundred percent American: our obsession with peanut butter.  It appears in at least 2 meals/snacks a day, on toast or in a shake, or is eaten directly from the jar off a spoon.  Not only are we obsessed, we’re snobby too.  We like Trader Joe’s salted natural peanut butter.  Two ingredients: peanuts, salt.  Many of you know Austin has no Trader Joe’s.  We import it.  From Michigan.  My parents brought down a case at Christmas.  Maybe you have a little idea now about our PB habit.

We had 3 jars in our luggage to Penang.  Our first dinner was PB&J, and we cracked open jar number one.  The very next day, I began looking for a source of natural peanut butter.  I looked at every grocery store.  The closest I came to had the ingredient list “peanuts, oil, salt, approved conditioners”.   What the hell are approved conditioners and who approved them?  At this point we are halfway through our second jar of TJ’s.  I’m starting to sweat.  I glare when Tim goes in for a spoonful. I consider calling Karen who will be here in 2 months and ask her to pack a second bag and load it with the good stuff.

With no natural source to be had, and with inspiration from the Little India bulk foods and spices store we found, I decide to go down a different route.  I had already purchased a food processor for the purpose of making baby food…  What if we made our own peanut butter?  Yesterday I picked up half kilo of raw peanuts, brought them home to be roasted and salted.  I poured them into the processor and hit go.

It took a while, maybe 5 minutes of grinding, but magically it turned into peanut butter!  Natural, two ingredient peanut butter!  And the total cost: 2.50RM (about 80 cents).  I think I still have some tweaking to do on the recipe, roasting times and amount of salt, but I am so pleased with our own peanut butter I might just go have a spoonful right now.

Anak ku is Bahasa Malayu for “my son”.  Anak ku has been quite a celebrity here in Malaysia.  People are not at all shy to come up and touch his reddish mohawk or chubby feet, pinch his cheeks, or grab him out of my arms to hold him.  Besides the questions about his eating habits, people ask his gender, age, and tell me he looks just like me.  Most of this is done while he is in the snuggled comfort (or the sweatbox) of the Ergo carrier.  I don’t know where I would be without that thing.  No one is afraid to dispense child rearing advice, either.  In the morning, I’m told it’s too cold to take him out (where’s his hat? bare arms! bare legs!), even though its 75 degrees, and in the afternoon it’s too hot (where’s his hat? bare arms! bare legs!).

Our temporary apartment was right next to the Methodist Girls School, a primary school with open to the outdoors classrooms that has a pre-teen students from Malay, Indian and Chinese background.  The Malay girls dress in a white headscarf, long sleeved white tunic, floor length blue skirt, and usually some sparkly pink jelly sandals.  The Chinese girls are mostly in a white peter pan shirt with a short blue jumper uniform over, and the Indian girls are in one or the other, with their heads uncovered.  They all love Miles.  “Cute baby, auntie,” a Malay girl with incredibly long eyelashes told me from the other side of the gate.

The move has probably been hardest on Miles, and he is really taking it in stride (not literally, yet).  Just like at home, days when we stay quiet and nearby are the best days.  Unfortunately those have been few and far between so far in the past 3 weeks.  He’s endured hours in cars driving around or in the Ergo.  He even tolerated the stroller for a while the other day.  Hope that continues.  He smiles at strangers, and I think he is winning over the heart of Penang.  I love our little Anak ku!

As I mentioned briefly in the 7 month update, Miles is starting to get a little separation anxiety.  Maybe more than a little.  I know this might have a little something to do with being in 6 houses in 10 weeks, starting a new routine, 13 hour time difference and moving to a place where he recognizes nothing and nobody.  Still, it’s trying when I can’t leave him with a friend to use the bathroom, or a neighbor to take out the trash.  Linda told me Tim suffered from extreme separation anxiety until the age of 4.  I just hope that Miles, being one half Tim, will not inherit this trait.  In the meantime, I’m trying to be there with him while he is with other people so he can start to get used to it.  Maybe I should just enjoy it, there will be a day in the not too distant future when he will want absolutely nothing to do with me.

After arriving in Penang Wednesday night, we went out Thursday at noon to look for a place to live.  Stephen is our agent and he had shown Tim around before.  We had 8 properties on the agenda for the first day, focused in the Gurney area, which is on the northern coast of Penang.  This is one of the best areas for expats, but unfortunately is a little far from Tim’s office.
The first place we saw we put on the top of our list and it stayed there.  One Pesarian Gurney (1PG) is at the end of the Gurney drag, is well established (in other words, its not new), and is special because of the grassy grounds with a little jogging path.  The apartment itself was newly renovated and had a gorgeous kitchen, nice master suite, and ocean views.
The second place we saw was the only other that we seriously considered.  Located next door, Eleven Gurney was our “dream” apartment.  Bright, open and airy, it has floor to ceiling windows on a 270 view of the ocean, city and hills.  There was an open patio for private outdoor space.  The pool is on the 4th floor and is 50m long.  And all of this outdoor wonderland was easily accessible by balconies. Now, babies and balconies do not mix.  Especially with a climbing baby and a balcony with eight access points that is constructed with slats 6 inches apart like rungs on a ladder.  Not on the 5th floor, and especially not on the 34th floor (although a fall from either height would be equally fatal, I’m sure).  We decided that 11G was not for us.

Imagine Miles on this.

On Sunday we moved into our new home at One Gurney.  So far its been great, we have wonderful local landlords who have been responsive to our requests.   Also, there is the best washing machine I have ever used.  We are on the lookout for a maid, so hopefully I won’t be using it for too long 😉  Pictures of the new place coming soon!
Seven months and 3 stamps in his passport (transit in Hong Kong, and entry to Malaysia).  Not bad.  Here’s Miles during his first ocean experience, in the Straits of Malacca (part of the Andaman Sea, in the Indian Ocean) at the white sands beach of Penang National Park.
And some updates about this month.  So much is changing and developing, I feel I could write one of these every week!
  • Sleep.  (Not to jinx it)  We made the most strides in this area.  As a 6 month old, Miles was acting like an infant and waking up every 2 hours to nurse.  This left one tired momma.  In a state of desperation (or was it diversion?) I checked out every book the Austin Public Library system had on baby sleep, and in the pandemonium of packing a moving actually found something that got us to a livable solution.  I know this is a very controversial topic, and let me tell you, the last thing I wanted to do was put Miles on a schedule or let him cry.  Well, guess what worked?  He now has a 2-nap schedule, bedtime routine and we endured a week of crying, but everyone is sleeping better now.  We even made it through the jetlag.  I hope.
  • Standing.  The little man learned to pull up this month, and does this on whatever upright object in his path, his favorite being my leg.  So I am now that momma barefoot in the kitchen (Malaysians don’t wear shoes inside) with a baby hanging on my skirt.  I love it.  He is also experimenting with letting go, and can expertly fall on his cloth diaper padded bottom, which is a good thing given these marble tiled floors!
  • Mobility.  Miles has the army crawl down.  I am not sure if we will ever see a hands and knees crawl, he’s pretty quick on his belly and it seems to work for him.  He can cruise a little while standing and holding onto furniture, depending on what is motivating him.  Electronics seem to be the best motivators.
  • Eating.  Miles still nurses every 2-4 hours during the day, and it seems to be for longer periods than before.  Solid foods are coming slowly as during the move it’s been a little inconvenient to do, but he still takes something once a day.  Bananas have been key.  We’ve also tried pears, mango, papaya and carrots.  He also gets water several times a day, mostly out of my kleen kanteen or a glass at the table.
  • Play.  This boy is totally into play right now, and will make a toy of almost everything.  When we visit other kid’s houses, he dives into their toy box and is not shy to put all of it in his mouth and leave a little slobber behind.  He is most interested in whatever toy someone else is playing with, too.
  • Interactions.  It’s becoming obvious that Miles has his own personality.  He gets frustrated (grunting), angry (yelling), happy (waving arms, kicking legs), excited (jumping), and tickled (chuckling).  When daddy comes home at the end of the day, Miles puts on his biggest smile and waves his arms and jumps.  It’s really sweet.  i am also trying to be conscience of not just pulling things out of his hands because I can overpower him.  I want him to be polite when he has the means to be so I better start teaching him now!
  • In other news… I am happy to report the hair loss crisis seems to be over.  Miles is growing in a baby seal’s slick of reddish blond and I am no longer clogging shower drains…. We had a month without poopy diapers but have not been able to get on a good toilet schedule yet in Penang, luckily the toilets are equipped with sprayers, since the washing machines here can’t handle solids :-/  We’ll keep trying diaper-free, but its a long road… Still no teeth… Separation anxiety is setting in, and Miles spent an hour crying with another expat mom while Tim and I moved the other day…  We’re loving the weather here and are spending lots of time on walks, in the pool and just sitting in the grass.  Outside time is still Miles’ favorite (so many tropical plants to explore and try to eat!) and I try to get him out for a few hours every day.

My attempt at interesting photography.

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