Home for the Holidays

mrbrown's two daughters, Faith and Joy, on their recent family holiday

The family just came home from Semarang, Indonesia, from our family vacation. It was beautiful, not too warm, and the air was lovely, especially in the hills of Bandungan.

I wish we had stayed longer.

Yup, we came home to PSI 401 haze caused by Indonesian forest fires. The irony is not lost on me.

We are making the best of things. I managed to find some N95 masks for everyone in the household after some searching. Those masks are the new Hello Kitty, as limited edition as they come. Nobody seems to have any stock.

My wife took one look at the N95 mask I bought and said, "A bit ugly leh. Don't have the thinner one ah?"

I glowered at her and said, "This was really hard to find, and they filter better than those paper ones. Besides, everyone will look silly soon, because everyone will be wearing one, so you won't feel awkward."

The kids are taking it all in their stride, even Isaac, who is down with a fever and some respiratory problems. My mother is even more relaxed. When I asked her, "The PSI just hit 400. You have your N95 mask with you?"

She replied, "Yes. And I'm going to stay indoors… to play mahjong. Don't worry! Aircon room too! Muahahaha!"

That is my ever-practical and paikia mother for you.

We are trying to think of indoor activities for them to do, that don't involve vegging out in front of the TV or playing computer games (besides, Papa needs the computer to play computer g—, er, work). The Children's Season at the Museum is a good place to go, if you want some suggestions. We also took the kids to the Art Garden at the Singapore Art Museum, always popular with my brood.

Running around Botanic Gardens is probably out for now.

I let the kids sleep in my study too, because the air-conditioner there is working (theirs is broken and the replacement aircon system is only coming in July). They seem to like the adventure, dragging their mattresses there like it is some camping trip. Faith looks a little bewildered because she likes her bed a lot, but even autistic kids need to adapt to new environments, especially when air quality is concerned.

The house looks a little odd now also because the sofa is missing. Faith took out a bottle of honey from the fridge (she's been raiding the fridge lately like some always-hungry preteen… which she is, actually), and you guessed it, spilled a whole lot of it on the sofa and some shoes too.

No wonder my wife's face was black when I came home from work that night, and all she said to me was, "We need a new sofa, and a lock for the fridge."

I didn't get any honey that night.

It's just as well the sofa was ten years old already. The replacement sofa hasn't been bought yet but the kids have already dragged a mattress out to serve as one. I had to make them put it back in the room and learn to sit on the kitchen stools. The upside is that they watch less TVbecause there really isn't anywhere comfy to sit there. All they can do in the living room now is draw and read.

Hmmm, I may delay the sofa purchase a little longer, maybe.

In the meantime, I am amused by how times have changed.

Last week, PSI 250: Wah lau eh, we gonna diiiiiiiie!
This week, PSI 250: Wah, the air is better already! Not 400 leh!

One needs to be adult about adapting to the haze, right? We wouldn't want to be accused of being childish and being in a tizzy about it.

Anyway, I have some indoor plans tonight that involve staying in my bedroom for long hours, with the air-conditioner on, and some nice music playing.

Yes, wink-wink, I am going to play some of my new computer games in the bedroom. The kids are occupying my study and I can't play there.

  • Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report
    Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report

    Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of 2014, thrusting itself into a market already crowded with Apple and Samsung models, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company aims to announce its new product by the end of June and ship to customers by the end of September in time for the holidays, the Journal said in a Friday report, citing unnamed people briefed on the matter. Amazon, it said, hopes to differentiate its phone from other models with a screen that displays hologram-like three-dimensional images, which can be viewed without special glasses. Earlier this month the retailer unveiled a new media streaming device, Amazon Fire TV, which it touted as simplifying the experience of watching video online.

  • One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks
    One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

    South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast. "The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue. Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.