Following Ratih Journey

My eldest girl, Ratih, is a very active girl. She is very enthusiastic about everything. I want to write down her journey here so one day when she is older she can recall all of them. So, this one is for you Ratih :*

She always love drawing. So, she joins GlobalArt, a visual art academy that provide creative art lessons including drawing, coloring and handicraft making. She often joins drawing and coloring competition held by her academy or other organizations. The competitions are held in various places, mostly in big atrium in shopping mall. So, our family who usually go to the nearest shopping mall, get to go beyond our normal territories 🙂 I can recall that we went to Ciputra World, Pakuwon Mall, Grand City Mall for her to join the competitions.

In addition to drawing, she also loves performing. She tries everything from choir, musical drama, poetry, and more recently she even tries pantomime. For these kind of activities she often perform in Taman Remaja Surabaya. But her latest adventure is when she and several of her friends join pantomime competition in local community close to her school. She was excited because it is part of an initiative for Green Community and it was hoped that our major, Bu Risma will come to open the competition. Although in the end, our major could not make it due to other commitments, Ratih and her friends were so happy because she got first place.

Then, two weeks a go she participates in story telling competition. Because of that I got to go inside Airlangga University Rectorate building and even join a writing seminar from Tere Liye, a famous writer. I wrote about it my previous post here.


Today, her journey has brought me and my husband to Aula Bengrah, in Komando Daerah Militer – (Regional Military Commands) Kodam Brawijaya, where she is having a test to gain her Yellow Belt. Again, it is the kind of place that we would not visit. First she and her fellow participant get ready. As many other test like this, she must wait patiently before she can get her turn.


When she does, it gave me goosebumps seeing her doing all the Kata moves.

To me, she really nailed it. She has done so many things I can only imagine when I was a little girl her age.

Hopefully, you will have many more journeys that we will cherish forever.

Your most loyal supporter

With Love

Mom, Dad and Hita



Be Strong Working Mom!

About 6 years a go I wrote my thoughts on working mother struggle to balance motherhood and work. I wrote it when I just had my second daughter. I am sure that many working mothers in Indonesia face the same problem. In Indonesia, women are allowed 3 months maternity leave (there are no official paternity leave). So, come the third months we must make a tough decision on how to take care of our baby when we go back to work. Some are lucky enough to have their family, usually the grannies to help look after the baby. But, for those who live far from their parents like me must seek other help such as hiring a baby sitter or a maid. That was the choice that I made. But, I have a friend who prefer to put their baby in a day care. Each method has its pluses and minuses, and I would not go into details about them, because either way it is a difficult choice.

Today, I read an article about a member of parliament in Kumamoto, Japan that is barred from bringing her 7 months old baby to the parliament. So, it does not just a challenge in emerging economy like Indonesia. It is a universal challenge for working mother all over the world.

I can really relate with Ms. Yuka Okata struggle. There were times when I have to bring my girls to my workplace because of so many reasons. But, I was lucky that my colleagues and workplace is quite understanding. Nowadays, two of my friends often bring their babies to campus. But, in other situation where the workplace does not allow for this option, then juggling between work and motherhood can be a constant struggle for the mother, baby and the family. This will also affect the employer.

Other countries offered better solutions. If you read on to the story from the Telegraph, member of Senator Larissa Waters in Australia is allowed to bring her baby and even breastfed her baby girl inside the Chamber. During my IVLP trip to America, I got a chance to speak to a female senior faculty at MIT. She said that in the US there has been a move in the university to allow female faculty member to take longer maternity leave. At the same time, female lecturers are given longer period to obtain their tenure to allow them to focus on raising a family. Swedia, is at the front of this issue because parents are allowed 480 days paid parental leave and 60 days are reserved for the father.

Other solution that would also helpful is to provide more childcare units. In Indonesia, it is still very scarce.

I just hope that working mother are not left alone making the hard choice to care for the child or continue working.

Until that time comes, let us working mother encourage each other and stay strong!





My Latest Hobby: Crocheting

On the last week of July I promised myself to write in my blog more regularly. I managed to do that for two weeks.

But one day I visited my former student Fitrah blog and read her experience of Knitting and Crocheting as activities for her pregnancy…

I was really amazed! She created many cute things…but what surprised me even more is the fact that she learned knitting and crocheting via YouTube. Well, she had the basic before..but I still find it intriguing. I have always wanted to be able to Knit. It looked like fun watching people knit. I have looked at several knitting courses but they are either too far or the time is never right.

So, the idea to learn knitting without leaving the house, in my own free time and pace sounds really cool. I searched for knitting tutorials in YouTube and there are plenty of them. But, at first I must prepare for the kit and materials. I rushed to the closest store that usually sell materials for student projects. They have the hook (with different sizes) but not the yarn 😦 But, I just bought those yarns anyway cause I really want to start.

As I started I found out that there are Crocheting and Knitting which involves the same materials and kit but different technique. For simplicity lets just say, knitting involving two hooks in each of your hand but crocheting use only one hook. I started with knitting. But, since my yarn is not the type for knitting, it did not turn out well. With the same yarn I tried crocheting and found that it was easier 🙂

I ended up searching for the closest yarn store in Surabaya to get the proper yarns! I found the closest one here:

It is actually a small shop in a residential area. But, it has quite a collection of yarns for beginner like me. The shopkeeper also happily help with some basic questions.

Now that I have the proper yarn, I decided to learn crocheting first before knitting. I picked up the basic lesson like doing a slip knot and a chain.

I started with this video:

But, when I wanna continue from a chain to do a single crochet, I faced a lot of difficulties. So, my suggestion is to check different videos in YouTube, cos different YouTubers may have different way of explaining the technique. I found this YouTuber’s video as very clear:

Having tried the single, double and triple crochet I started with more complex project (Be careful with the term single, double and triple crochet as there are different terms used in the US!)

First i tried to crochet a flower. It works! Then, I started getting ambitious. I tried to create a Granny Square. I am so happy that I can do it too!

The next project is to create Amigurumi Bear.

I managed to do it, but the head is not quite round as in the video. But, my two girls really like it, so I can call it a success 🙂

Then I tried to do Barbie’s clothes. My girls have a lot of Barbie, but they like change the clothes and ended up losing them. So, I tried this project:

I must be honest that sometime I get lazy in checking the hook number and the type of yarn. It turn out that if you are doing a crochet with specific size as a dress/clothes you really need to use the proper hook and yarn as specified in the video. In my first attempt, the dress did not fit the Barbie…but, I refuse to give up so I innovate and do something to make it work! I made several skirts and tops…I also made a collar for the girl’s favorite puppy doll. In the end my two girls suggest that the three barbie, the puppy and the Amigurumi bear (named Rainbow) create a band callled THE RAINBOW.

We did a photoshoot of the band. Here they are:



Playlist for Rainy November in Surabaya

After a long spell of dry season, finally, rain fell in Surabaya.

It really cool the air that has become unbearably humid over the past couple of weeks.

Rain always bring certain memories to me. In the early 80s, I live in an area in Denpasar, Bali where rain always resulted in flood. I remembered clearly, in one particular day when I was in elementary school, it rained really hard and the water level was up to my knees. It was the last day of school and we were supposed to take our report card. Our grandpa, dad, uncles gave us a piggyback ride to flooded-free areas so we can get to school. I remembered that we kinda enjoy the whole process 🙂 The flood ceased as the local government cleaned up and develop the river in our area.

From early on, whenever rains, I always feel lucky that I have a home..

Then, during my teenage year I began listening to a lot of music. Come to think about it, there were two songs that came to my mind. First, is Lady Rain from Indecent Obsession (such a weird name for a Band right). The second is November Rain from Guns ‘N Roses. Yeah, what can I say, that’s how old I am.

I got to experience a different type of Rain while I studied in England. Its usually drizzle, rather than heavy rain…and it can go on and on and on…Its not surprising that during this period I get to know two more songs about rain from Brit artist 🙂 First is Why Does it Always Rain on Me from Travis. The second one is Its Raining Men, originally from the Weather Girl. But I knew Geri Halliwell’s version from the Bridget Jones’s Diary soundtrack 🙂

Back in Surabaya, I added Please Dont Stop the Rain from James Morrison and Set Fire to the Rain from Adele…Both British…what a coincidence, right?

These days, I started listening to the radio again. It really reminded me of how the music has changed. Many of the songs are sung by artists I never heard of. Lots of musical collaboration, so artist A feat. Artist B…The genre has somewhat changed to EDM and dance…but thankfully there are some that I can relate to…and they are also well suited for the Rain theme…

The first song is from The Script called RAIN 🙂 I loved the band since I heard their songs, The Man Who Cant Be Moved and Breakeven. Though, at that time I did not know whether they will continue producing great music or became one, err, two hit wonders. I was really happy that they will then follow up with more great songs such as Hall of Fame, and now Rain!!

My playlist also consists two songs from Linkin’ Park latest album: One More Light and Heavy. I came to know them, in the wake of Chester Bennington passing (R.I.P Chester).

Other songs on my playlist these days are Thunder (Imagine Dragon), lots of Ed Sheeran (Galway Girl, Perfect and Shape of You), Superhero (Coldplay feat. The Chainsmoker). SO, plenty of tunes to accompany my rainy season.

Why do you need to write?

These days it takes something quite extraordinary to bring myself to post to this blog. As always I promised myself to write more often. But, something always came up…

But today…that extraordinary thing came in the form of inspiration from a famous writer.

It all happened without any planning whatsoever.

This Sunday morning, just like many other Saturday or Sunday I accompanied Ratih my eldest daughter take part in story telling competition. It was held by students from University of Airlangga. Though I am not totally fit (just recovering from a bad cough), I found myself actually having a good time listening to these kids tell stories from Indonesian heros including Sukarno, Bung Tomo, and Raden Ajeng Kartini. Ratih chose to tell about Dr. Sutomo. She performs really well considering that she only have 1 week to prepare for it…and in the end she got third place! Yay, I so am happy for her. But, the organizer said that the awarding ceremony will be done 2.30 in the afternoon after a seminar. So, we went back home first…

Later, as instructed we came back at 2.30 sharp. We joined many other participants in a big auditorium. Apparently the seminar is about encouraging literacy culture. Ha! It was spot on. The audience were all listening to a man, who is a famous writer in Indonesia, Tere Liye. I have never read his books. Well, I hardly give any time to read books these days…But, I came across his name several times because someone that I follow retweet his tweets :”>

The first thing that I heard from him are several facts about Indonesian literacy culture. He said that Indonesia literacy is far behind developed countries like America and Singapore. Singapore, a country with a population of a little over 5Millions, but its national library recorded far more visits compared to Indonesian national library in Jakarta (I could not remember the exact number). He then asked the audience…how many books have we read in the last couple of weeks, months or years? “There is no way that you can be a good writer if you do not read,” he said.

From there, he moves on to writing.

He shared another facts…China published over 400 thousand books in 2013. Indonesia only published around there is only 1 writer among 10.000 Indonesian 😦 Interestingly, Indonesia scores highly in terms of number of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram posts. Does this mean that Indonesian spend more times tweeting, chatting and posting on Facebook?? Well, can reading Facebook posts considered as reading? He said, yes, but of lower quality than reading books.

He asked how many in the audience have written a report, an article in mass media or write a blog. Just like many in the audience, I answered yes to the first and the last 🙂 But, to my dismay, he continued ,”how many of you wrote regularly on your blog? did you write only one or twice a year?” HA, you got me there Mr. Liye :((

He said that during his talks many people ask him, how to be a good writer, how to score a book deals and how to make money from writing. He said that with this kind of attitude you are not going to be a good writer.

He then tell a story about one of his acquaintance, “a high school students from a broken home family. His parents are divorced, and he was so angry about his situation. Mr. Liye convinced him to write all his feelings in a blog. In the beginning, it was hard for him…but then he gave it a try…at first his writings are all about anger…then after a while his writing improve until he finally write about hope and inspirations. He never get a lot of likes on his posts. But, little did he know that in another part of Indonesia, another high school kid who is also having the same problem, broken home, and even considering suicide…at one of his lowest point, came across the blog…the kid feel that he is not alone in this world and finally got inspired to pick himself from misery”

Mr. Liye concluded “A good writer is a productive one…you must write because you enjoy writing…getting a lot of readers, money and fame are bonuses. The point is to write because your writing may inspire others”

Thank you so much Mr. Tere Liye…I am taking one baby step today, by sharing your inspirations 🙂


Chicago Architecture

Once upon a time in 2012, I got an opportunity to visit Chicago as part of International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). During our free time we were taken for a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, which enables us to admire Chicago’s architecture.

We set off from Navy Pier, which offer great view.

And here are the building and architecture pictures. The tour guide explained each famous building and land mark, but I was too busy taking pictures so I did not remember any of it.

All these pictures were taken with my old Sony Cybershot digital camera. Looking at the pictures again, the neck pain that I got after looking up to take them is all worth it.