Sharon Rivers here in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. When I arrived I had just my husband’s hand to hold and a job in Sports and Tourism. Now, it seems our five children appeared quite suddenly and my days are filled with mothering duties. I blinked and it’s been 10 years here. I long for anonymity when locals stare at my colorful family, but am thoroughly convinced expat life is the one that suits us best.
All five Rivers children share a bedroom. Sanity is kept in check with this little clock keeping them in bed. At 6:50am each school morning a thundering of little feet comes downstairs for breakfast.
Baby brother Ira hangs out at the front grill door and watches as big brothers leave for school. While bars on doors are not limited to Asia, they are highly associated with Asia in my mind. It has nothing to do with safety. Our neighborhood has two guard gates, cameras, motion sensors, and electric fencing. Grill doors are my fave because they keep the breezes blowing free, the friendly neighbors within “HELLO!” range, and the toddler inside.
Miss Ivy didn’t need it this time, but the hose beside the toilet is awesome. They should make them from solid gold. From cloth diapering to potty training “accidents” to boys standing up and missing the mark (thus creating a blast radius around the toilet that continually baffles my mind), the hose is a trusted tool of my mothering of littles in Asia. Once a week or so the following thought crosses my mind:
“If I ever move back to the States, I’m installing a hose by the toilet and a drain on the floor.”
My oldest, Isaac, dutifully hanging his wet stuff from swim class that day on our wall-mounted accordion drying rack. It simultaneously harnesses the power of the sun while satisfying my deeply held belief that everything should be in its place. Organized AND Green? Yes, please. I even have a clothes dryer, but this tool has my heart…clean fresh sheets blowing in the breeze never did look so homey.
See? It’s the afternoon and that grill door is still keeping my toddler out of the street while sister Immanuelle plays outside. It doesn’t quit! Maybe this would be a good time to share that I am not an overly worrisome parent and we also have our first climber.
The Juice. Standard operating procedure for locals in villages in Malaysia is to take the kids around on the motorbike the hour or so before sunset. Our “village” has quite the view (that’s Singapore, Isaiah and I are looking at) and I have found some great one-on-one time puttering around with each son or daughter in turn. It’s a good-mood maker. Unless it’s not your turn, then you pout until your turn, of course.
Behold! The Garlic Peeler. A distinct lack of (unhealthy) boxed and canned items in grocery stores has forced me to become a chef over our ten years in Malaysia. This peeler has stuck it out with me in hot kitchens over countless meals crowning me a garlic-bosslady. It’s just a small little rubber tube, but I use a lot of garlic!
10pm + Delay Start + Me = Laundry Queen. You know that unpleasant feeling you get when you’re trying to get your children to do something — like pick up toys or clean up their room — but they’re ignoring it or taking forever and it’s like no one cares? This setting is the opposite of that feeling. It sends me off to bed like I’ve already crossed something off tomorrow’s list. Then its off to bed to do it all again tomorrow.