Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - A year in review

I am writing this blog on the cusp of 2016. It's been a good year, with big ups and downs. Since I haven't blogged for a long time I thought I'd publish our calendar pictures for the remainder, which is nice a synopsis of the rest of our year. 

Wishing you all a Happy 2016, and many blessings in the New Year. 

In May Peter, Margo and I saw some Dutch Heritage. Here we see the old Dutch drawbridge from 1912 (about?) It’s not safe to walk across, but we did anyway.  I later made it back to St. Louis, but not in time for the They Might be Giants concert that Katherine and Christopher really enjoyed. The family took Bob to church for one last time. Bob is a member of our church whom we picked up and dropped off at church every Sunday about six years. All of the Kirbys made it to the Renaissance Fair where we met up with Christopher’s friends Max, John, and Alex. Christopher played his baritone in an outdoor school concert after which we got a picture of the middle school sign, and Katherine had a last meeting with her Girl Scout troop

June was a month of travel and packing and getting set up again. The kids got a last use of their backyard swing, and before our stuff was picked up the house was a mess of boxes and partially disassemble furniture. Before leaving we all made sure to photograph some of the favorites in the house, like the dragon painted on Christopher’s wall. The kids and I flew together while James flew separately transporting Smokey the cat (no pictures, he hides a lot). The airline tickets that we got from the government did not allow a cat to travel with us. We got an unexpected layover in Seoul Korea, where everyone was tired, but we got a nice room in The Nest Hotel. One of the first things we did in Jakarta was get a new local kitten named Carmine. Her legs were almost as big as all the rest of her body, but she grew into them pretty quick with good food.

 In July Christopher turned 13 and we took him to Chili’s for his birthday dinner. A lot of western food chains are represented in Jakarta – it is a very big city. At home he got a home baked gluten free four layer chocolate cake which was enjoyed by all. Our big event for the month was a trip to see Krakatoa, or at least what is left after a volcanic explosion removed the island and made the loudest sound in human history. First we went to spend a few days at an Indonesian national park. Most of our time was spent on a little island called Deer Island. There were some nice cabins – nice but a little run down. Wild animals hung out near the cabins all the time, deer, monkeys, and some pigs too. We went with some other members of the American community and James got a nice night photo on the beach with Jonathan, you can see that we are very close to Java proper – that is it in the background. Later we took a boat trip over to the main national park to see some of the wildlife, but we didn’t see any. Our guide thought it was because they had been scared away by some students’ science experiment – brightly colored bug catchers spread through the grasslands. We got a picture of Katherine on the beach at sunset and the dock on the Java side. You can see Deer Island in the background, the dock is pointed at it. After that we went to the new Krakatoa Island called ‘Child of Krakatoa’, which only came out of the waves around 1912. You can see me showing off her muscles with a piece of lava stone. Carmine continued to grow and continued to be cute

In August the kids and James went to the Maritime museum and took very similar pictures as the ones I took earlier in the year. Turns out that it just isn’t well enough lit inside to get good pictures in most places. Still worth visiting though. We finally got our stuff that had been shipped from St. Louis! But then we realized just how much stuff we had. You can see that Katherine’s bed is almost completely hidden by the boxes in her room. Carmine loved ‘helping’ unwrap all the stuff. Lots of paper and boxes to play with – not enough mice. Christopher is very happy to have a cat that will cuddle with him. The kids started school at ACG Jakarta where they have to wear a school uniform. In Jakarta uniforms mean batik and shorts. Finally, some good use was made out of the playground slide that is next to our house with the help of a garden hose.

Carmine the cat is fascinated by water anywhere. Being a Jakarta cat bred for generations to look for food anywhere she is probably hoping for fish. Poor kitty. Near our house there is a metro under construction and an extremely interesting scaffold has been setup. No idea how it is supposed to work; there is a very large statue about 40 feet in fcat tree to save the furniture James looked all over to find lumber. No Home Depots here, but he did find a little shop where you could go and pet cats for a small fee. We call it the Rent-A-Cat place. Katherine and I took a tour and saw the famous Istiqlal  Mosque and the Jakarta Cathedral

We had a trip to Bali and Komodo Island scheduled for October, but James got Med Evaced to Singapore instead to have a kidney stone removed. Indonesian Medical facilities are not always the same quality we’re used to, and you can’t be sure that you will get the good doctors. The rest of the family decided not to go without him and had a stay-cation instead. James was too out of it to get pictures in Singapore. We did manage to make a trip to the Situs Megalith in Cianjur, a site that may be older than the pyramids. On the way we checked out a hand dug train tunnel in Lampegan from 1882 that is still in use. We had a nice scenic stop on the way back to change a flat tire. We celebrated Oktoberfest at a local German restaurant with some embassy people. For Halloween James and Katherine went to help at the American club and James was very happy to not be the only adult who dressed up. Later the kids got some trick or treating done in our little American complex. Jim and Katherine visited the Rent-A-Cat lounge where Katherine spend time with a big orange guy who was huge and kind of resembled a mountain lion.

November is the season of Thanksgiving, and the Marine Ball. I took Katherine to the Marine Ball this year which gave us both a chance to dress up and look beautiful.
Carmine decided that one of the most comfortable places to rest in the house is on top of the towel rack. 
We all enjoyed a wonderful gluten free Thanksgiving dinner where Katherine certainly ate her fill and afterwards Christopher got tickled by Dad, and a pair of dancing lizards after which they played chess.

I had a business trip to Singapore in December, and managed to see a lot in one afternoon. Singapore has an especially cool Ferris wheel. 
The whole family helped decorate our Christmas tree this year – including the new kitten. Since it is an artificial tree we can set it up early and keep it up all season without fear of mess or browning. Advent calendars are hard to come by locally so we made our own by printing out foldable paper houses numbered 1 through 24 and hiding chocolate in them. A lot of fun.

Christmas brought another intimate family weekend as we spend our time in our jammies playing the computer games that Santa brought.