31 January 2019

What Level of Winter are You?

As my beloved Midwest faces some rather frigid weather this week, I've been reminiscing (from the safety of my 85 degree tropical home)  about my former lives as a Michigander. And the distinctly "Winter" experiences I've had there. I'm sure that to the Minnesotans and Alaskans and Canadians out there, along with the polar bears, could say, if they wished: "That ain't nothing. Wait till you hear about..."

But that's exactly the point of this post. What level of winter have you achieved? Have you done all of these and more? Or have you spent most of your life in sunny Texas, weathering only the occasional ice storm?

(My former home, Winter 2014)

During winter I have:

+ Spun my car 180 degrees my very first time driving on my own while it was snowing (I got my license in December). And then calmed myself down and continued on to school.

(view from outside the house, standing in the driveway, looking toward the garage and street, Winter 2014)

+Desperately shoveled as much of the snow out of our long driveway as I could, so that Angel's car wouldn't get stuck out in the road. When the snow was bad, I'd only manage to get about one car length semi-cleared so that he could at least pull in and not have his car in the road. And he'd come home from the hospital after 8 in the dark and finish the driveway.

+ Tried to go into school on a horrible blizzard day because the school would charge me $30 if I didn't show up, but couldn't get my car out of the driveway, so went right back in the house and called my school to say I wasn't coming in. My life wasn't worth $30.

+Slid off the highway while driving alone to visit my grandparents on Christmas Eve.

+Closed my eyes and white knuckled the door handle while Angel drove through a horrible November blizzard from Michigan to Chicago to pick up my parents from the airport.

+ Worried about Angel driving 27 miles each way to the hospital. A couple times I got snow days and school got canceled, but nurses can't have snow days, and he had to leave at 6 a.m. or earlier, before the sun came out to start melting the ice, and he'd be home after 8. Every day he'd call me before he left work so that I'd know around what time I could expect him to arrive home.

+Spray-painted messages into the snowbanks that lined our driveway.

+ Got into an accident with a sign after the car slid on black ice (I was a passenger, not the driver). I hear that the sign is still bent, all these years later.

+ Kept our thermostat at 65 degrees normally, turning it up when we had guests visit. Also, closed off part of the house during the entire winter to save on the gas bill.

+Related: Bought a new pair of slippers each year, after wearing my previous pair to shreds every single year before spring would arrive.

+ Wore wildly weather-inappropriate outfits for photos outside because I wanted pretty pictures on Christmas day!

+ Dressed properly for the weather, which obviously involved a 20-year old jumpsuit layered over winter clothing and my coat and gloves.

+Went sledding. With our cat. Because of Angel, of course.

+ Walked around with a blanket wrapped around me at nearly all times indoors.

+ Had an actual boot collection with a variety of boots: some for wading through deep piles of snow, some that were okay for just a couple inches of snow, and others that I didn't want to be salt or water-stained so I'd only wear them when it wasn't actively snowing or icy.

And here, for good measure, is an ancient home video of me and Angel playing in the snow with our cats:

So, tell me, what are your winter claims to fame?
28 January 2019

How to Be as Normal as Possible

This list is mostly useful if you are a spy and/or an alien trying to blend in with the general population. Also applicable to androids and transmogrified flora and fauna:

1. Drink coffee. 2-3 cups a day.

2. Run slightly late for most appointments. Not egregiously late. 2-4 minutes. Alternately, be on time, but rush like crazy to make it.

3. Monday is your least-preferred day of the week.

4. Believe that small animals are extremely cute and that large animals are also quite adorable.

5. Say "Good morning" or "Hi" or at least nod your head at strangers if you pass by them in close proximity but do not, under any circumstances, greet strangers if you see them but they are not very close to you. That would be precisely the opposite of normal.

6. Be a staunch fan of several famous people that you have never met in real life, but, to balance things out, also be a staunch antagonist of several famous people that you have also never met in real life.

7. Occasionally take social media breaks, and always apologize for your "absence" afterwards.

8. Definitely be wearing your most-comfortable and least-attractive clothing whenever the mailman delivers a package to your front door.

9. Use the snooze feature on your alarm on a regular basis. (This will help with accomplishing #2)

10. If you experience bad traffic or parking situations, be sure to tell others that you encounter.

11. Respond to text messages, but not immediately, even if you saw them immediately. Make sure to close the messaging app and wait anywhere from a few minutes to a few days before actually responding.

12. Periodically resolve to drink more water, cut carbs, and reduce sugar intake.

13. Agree with others around you that studying Shakespeare in high school was really quite pointless, and that you never understood anything he was saying, anyways. (Unless you are in the company of experts in English literature, in which case, pretending to be normal is not going to be helpful to you).

14. Complain about stores setting out holiday merchandise WAY TOO FAR in advance of said holiday.

15. Have seen Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and The Office, and do not be surprised by incessant and seemingly random references to the above works of fiction.

Additional advice from readers:

From @verytrulyana : "Talk intermittently about your planner" and "Announce publicly that you are an introvert"


What could you add to this list? If you have a brilliant suggestion, I will add it into the post and credit you. Aliens need all the help they can get, these days, as acting like a normal human is not quite as obvious as it once seemed.
24 January 2019

Stories from Life this Month

+ I did a lot of sewing in early January, during our break. And I didn't even buy any fabric! I went on a stash-busting sewing spree. And if break had been longer...I have even more fabric I need to use up...

I made three shirts using the same pattern. This was the first one I made. It looks cute with a pair of skinny jeans, I wish I had a photo of me wearing it! Aspects of the pattern frustrated me and didn't fit quite right, so I adapted it the second time I made it, and made a shirt for mom. Then I adapted it again, giving it a boatneck instead, and made another shirt for mom. I don't often make the same pattern multiple times, but it's a good practice. The shirt definitely got better each time I made it.

I also made 8 simple chair covers to slide onto the backs of the chairs we have at the learning center. These little metal chairs we have are great for the kids, except that they often get bumped into the wall and leave marks. The chair covers will help protect my walls.

+ I really don't like our grocery store. I just don't. The aisles are inexplicably sticky, they are often completely out of sugar or cinnamon sticks or tortillas or beans or whatever random food item I really need...just happens to be completely out of stock whenever I need it. Unpackaged meat and fish is lying on ice in the open air in the middle of the produce section. The fruits and vegetables are of very dubious quality (usually we buy our fresh produce from the wet market instead). You have to bag your own groceries in your own bags that you bring (Which reminds me of Aldi's, except for the low prices and speedy checkout service). I don't like the grocery store, but it is a necessity, and I'm glad it exists, and I'm glad I can get the food I need to make dinner for my family.

Well, the grocery store just added coin-unlocking mechanisms to their carts, which don't work unless you have the smaller 50 cent coin on you (there are two different 50 cent coins). Odds are, you will probably have to go to a cashier to change out some other coins for that small 50 cent piece before you can get a cart. And now I dislike grocery shopping even more. My feelings about this may be unreasonable. Maybe this was a reasonable thing for them to do, maybe not. An employee told us that they did it to prevent people from stealing the grocery carts, which I don't think could be true, because 50 cents sounds like a good deal for a shopping cart if you really wanted one of your own and had no moral objections to theft.

Maybe my growing dislike of the grocery store is only partially based on reason, but every once in a while I daydream about not-sticky Meijer's aisles with delicious snacks like Skinny Pop White Cheddar Popcorn and kiwis that aren't rotten.

+ Another grocery shopping story. I was shopping with Cyrus in the carrier, which threw me a little off-balance, and as I put a carton of milk in the cart, I slipped slightly and ended up dropping the milk on my eggs.

And then I had a box of broken eggs.

So I went back to the egg section, got another, unbroken, box of eggs, and proceeded to the checkout, where I bought both boxes. The cashier was very skeptical about my purchase of the box of broken eggs, which was dripping goo by this point, but I tried my best to explain to her that it was my fault, I'd broken the eggs myself, so I wanted to buy them, but I didn't want to actually take them home. I wasn't communicating quite right, but I ended up being allowed to purchase the box, then dumped it in the trash can right outside the grocery store as soon as I got out so that I wouldn't continue to have raw egg dripping on the rest of my purchases.

+ Another grocery shopping story (can you tell what I do with my life): I discovered that rice krispies are called "rice bubbles" in Australia. Who knew? I mean, other than all of Australia.

+ Our educational creative activity of the day earlier this week was to bind a little paper book with yarn and then write and illustrate an original story. We had read a book earlier about L.M. Montgomery, and her desire to be an author, so I wanted to give them their own author experience.

This was so fun. After they finished their stories, each student did a reading or presentation of their story to the rest of the class. The stories ranged from the tale of a cat who went shopping at the mall, to a mermaid who fell in love, to a prehistoric creature who went extinct.

But my favorite story was one about an alien sighting, in which the boy and and alien end up becoming best friends, before the alien had to leave and go back to the star where he lived.

+Sometimes I wonder why I love Angel so much, and then he asks my dad out on a father-son date in the weirdest way possible, and I find myself literally rolling on the floor, crying from laughing too hard, and I remember why. It went something like dad asking the family, "Hey, should I order pizza?"
 and the family saying "Yeah!" and then Angel saying, "Wait, Dad, do you want to go out for dinner with me tonight or tomorrow night?"

Everyone looked at each other  in confusion. Angel said, "Hey, the girls always get to go out with Mom for coffee and stuff, why can't I go out with Dad?"

He had a point, and I think they had a fun time on their burger outing, but it was just so unexpected and random that it was startlingly amusing at the time.

+ Cyus is up to a total of 3 busted lips and a chipped front tooth. And I'm still hoping these are just flukes and that he isn't a rough and tumble little boy who is going to give his mother too many heart-attacks. His most recent, and worst, bloody lip happened while I was literally sitting next to him playing with him. He was standing next to a chair and wanted to pull some loose threads on the cushion (this chair has seen better days). I put my hand on the cushion and said "No," and he turned away really quickly and went down to the floor--I think he was planning to crawl away, but instead hit the tile floor with his face because he was moving too quickly. There was blood on his shirt, my shirt, the floor, and this happened about 5 minutes before Angel walked in the door from work.

So I'm sure that was a peaceful arrival home. Or not. I guess this is the reality of a little boy who loves to move fast and lives in a world where everything is tile instead of carpet. I'm very cautious but he has not yet discovered caution.

What stories has your year begun with?

20 January 2019

Baby Must-Haves that We Haven't Used

My first year with Cyrus is ever too quickly drawing to a close, and I found myself thinking about what baby things have been most useful to us and what baby things, while probably useful, we've done without.

Many of the things we haven't used--I have nothing at all against them. They are useful and even extremely necessary for many babies. It's just that, either because of our climate, the location where we live, or the cost...I haven't had a need for them.

So, here's what we've found we can live without:

Baby Monitor

Is it just me, or do the baby monitors that looked like walkie-talkies that I remember from childhood no longer exist? I looked for a baby monitor, but the selection that I found was limited to extremely expensive video monitors that were fancy-schmancy and connected to smartphones and stuff like that, and I said, no, we can't spend $200 on a baby monitor.

And even though I thought a baby monitor was pretty much a must-have, it's been fine without one. Cyrus slept in our room for the first 8+ months. Our apartment is pretty small, so now even that he's in his own room, we just keep the bedroom doors open and I can hear him any time of night. In a bigger house I think a baby monitor would be needed, but we've gotten along without one.

Changing Table

Again, I think this would be nice to have, but space is at a premium and furniture that looks nice is expensive. And I don't want to buy something cheap and then have to look at an ugly thing...I'd just rather have nothing at all. Does anyone else feel like that? I bought a travel changing mat and just use that wherever I want to change him. I guess that's why having kids in your 20s is great, you can get up and down off the floor after changing him.

Sleep Sack/Sleepers

I'm putting these together because these are climate related. These are sold here, and I see babies out wearing sleepers all the time...but this boy has never worn one. It is not chilly at night in the slightest and and he doesn't like anything touching his arms or legs while he sleeps.


Again, this is largely because of our climate and the fact that being barefoot indoors is pretty normal here. Even at some shops you have to take off your shoes before you go inside, so nobody blinks twice at a barefoot baby. He has been given a couple pairs of shoes, but he hasn't grown into them yet. Once they fit, he'll wear shoes more often. For now, when he is going to walk on grass or somewhere that's not very clean, I just put socks on him.

Wrap Carrier

I wanted a carrier that could be used by people who weren't me and could be used at many different ages of the baby, so I opted for an Ergo. The wrap carriers looked like they'd be ridiculously hot to wear in a house with no air-con in the tropics. Cyrus is not very snuggly, even since he was a newborn, so I think it worked out well for both of us that we didn't do a wrap carrier, although the Ergo is a lifesaver for shopping trips and traveling.

Diaper Pail

We just have a small kitchen trash can the size of a dinky little wastepaper basket, and we take out the trash every day, sometimes more than once. Because of rodent and insect problems near the can't keep any sort of garbage in your house anyways, no point in buying another trash can, fancy or not.

Nursing Cover

Again, climate. Once in a while I was out in public and had to use a light cotton blanket (his baby blankets were all very thin, light cotton, and I loved them!) as a cover and it was so hot and so not fun, and even while nursing him under a blanket, people wouldn't leave me alone, kids would ask to see the baby and he'd hear my voice or other voices and get distracted and it was all around stressful. So mostly I just opted to nurse him in the car or standing up in a public bathroom stall or in a room shut off somewhere. I discovered which shopping malls had nursing mother rooms, so that was handy. Anyways, I'm glad I didn't bother buying a nursing cover since as much as I could avoid it I just nursed him alone.

Books about How to Care for Babies

I worried a great deal about Cyrus before and after he was born, and specifically chose not to buy or read any books about birth or taking care of babies because I knew that in the state of mind I was in, I would just start worrying unnecessarily about him. With the internet and knowledgeable humans there if I had any specific questions, I decided that was a better choice than trying to over-indulge on all the info there is.


So, I think my take-away is really, for new moms, don't just look at other people's lists of what you need to have when you're preparing for a baby. I totally had in mind that Cyrus needed sleepers--don't babies automatically need sleepers? He had three...and yeah, never wore them. I forgot that I live in the tropics, apparently. Look at the lists, but then think about your own living situation, your own personality, and what's going to be a priority for you (i.e. I knew it would take me a really long time to let Cyrus sleep in his own room, so yeah, I knew that a baby monitor probably wasn't going to be needed right away). Some things that I am really, really glad we have, like a baby swimsuit diaper, a high chair, and a mix CD of old Spanish songs that Cyrus loves...might not fit your lifestyle.

What are your favorite baby products?
16 January 2019


When I contemplate what it feels like to be a parent to a small person named Cyrus, bewildered is the word that usually comes to mind.

I'm in that phase of parenting where every day of added experience with a baby primarily teaches me that I don't understand much at all about babies.

It's a mystifying experience, raising a human. They are not robots to be engineered nor standardized tests to study for.

Is this normal, the "the more I do it, the less I'm sure I know anything at all" experience?

I tend to be a 'by the book' person in many areas of life, so because there is no "Book of Cyrus" I sometimes feel a bit at a loss.

There is only your baby, and figuring out what to do about him. It probably doesn't help that much of the time he hardly seems as if he is a baby. When my 8 month old tips the scale at 20 pounds and takes his first independent steps without holding onto furniture at 9 months old and smiles at every stranger he's ever met...I sometimes even wonder if I actually have a baby.

And it's no help at all to realize that even I were to figure out Cyrus completely, the next baby would be nothing like him and have an entirely new set of personality traits and needs. I think if I've learned anything in the first almost-year of parenting, it's that. That there is no such thing as "babies are like this" and "babies do this" and "babies want this" and "babies need this."

I'd heard that it can be pretty hard to wean a baby off of bottles and pacifiers. I don't doubt that at all, but Cyrus chose to give up bottles at 4 months and the pacifier at 5 months, and that was somewhat startling.

I'd heard about "separation anxiety" and when he started crying when I left the house, I thought, oh, how cute, what a normal baby thing for him to do! But then I quickly realized that he cried whenever anyone, including delivery men and random visitors, left, but if he was the one leaving, and I, or anyone else was staying home, Cyrus didn't cry at all. So it's not so much that he missed me, it was that he wants to go on all adventures.

He eats so much food. I did not expect a baby to eat so much. I think he eats more than I do. This morning, he woke up, had milk, followed by zucchini, a handful of shredded pork, half a jar of pureed veggies from the night before, two handfuls of baby puffs, and entire piece of french toast, a jar of pureed fruit, more milk...all before his 10 a.m. nap. I kept thinking "surely he's not hungry anymore!" whenever he finished the food I'd given him, but in five minutes he'd be in the kitchen, crying in front of the food cupboard (he's figured out where we keep food), and so I'd think "maybe he just needs a little bit more food." So that explains the rather random collection of foods. Tomorrow I ought to just scramble up a half-dozen eggs for his breakfast and call it good. Except he doesn't like eggs. That's the one thing. He'll eat sushi, and anything the grown ups are eating, but not if it's scrambled eggs. He hates them.

Bewildering. That's what I'd call it.
13 January 2019

Heresy, Maybe

Like many families nowadays, mine has a group chat.

It's used for sharing important info from one side of the globe to the other, asking questions for updates on family situations, and occasionally devolves into an endless slew of random stickers. At that point I ignore the chat for a few days until sanity has reigned once more. I'm not millennial enough to understand the texting of stickers and emoticons.

I'm here to share with you a shortened version of a recent chat, which all started because my parents asked to see a photo of the new Bible my brother was given as a graduation gift. Many of us in the chat have been given nicknames. I'm Kid 1, my brother is "Holy One" as a reference to the leg injury he sustained during a car crash in the fall. He had a giant hole in his leg, hence, Holy One. I have a variety of sisters, but the only one who shows up in this chat is nicknamed "Sleepy."

Okay, now that we have some context, let's begin:

Holy One:

Kid 1: I like big Bibles and I cannot lie!

Mom/Dad: WhiteBoy DJ? Bibles on CD??

Holy One:


Mom/Dad: My Bible is bigger!

Kid 1: Is this a Bible competition?

Mom/Dad: Yes

And I have more.

Kid 1: 

(Blurry, but hand is for size reference)

Mom/Dad: Well, Mom had her Dake's since before you all were born!

Kid 1: I'm reading a book on spiritual disciplines right now, and sending photos of your really big Bibles to your family is definitely a spiritual discipline.

Mom/Dad: What??? You're kidding me.

Kid 1: 

Kid 1: The more Bibles, the closer to heaven, because you can stand on top of the stack.

Mom/Dad: That's what I believe.

Sleepy: I love my family so much!!!


Disclaimer: The Random Writings blog, website, and the author thereof do not endorse in any way the questionable theology contained in this chat. It is shared only for the purposes of shared laughter. 
09 January 2019


No one ever told me how much I'd love the mess.

I'm a self-proclaimed neat freak minimalist, and married to one. Our home has always been clean and simple. Tiled floors, family photos on the walls, the bare minimum of knick-knacks. Only furniture and appliances that we love and use allowed--there are no 8-year old waffle irons still in their original box hiding in our closets. Actually, we don't have closets.

But now, upending the little world we've grown so familiar with is a toddling baby who never stops moving, who crawls with a car in one hand and walks while waving a block in the air. Toys live in my living room on a nearly permanent basis.

I didn't think I'd love the mess.

Everything in my house has a proper place and is always returned to that place in a prompt manner. Kitchen appliances are stored in the cupboard until used. My journaling supplies have their box. Angel's running shoes (in various stages of decay, depending on whether they are used for races, training, or rainy days) are lined neatly in the laundry area, and I make sure to finish and throw out an old bottle of soap before opening a new one.

But when my baby boy is sleeping and I see his wooden blocks scattered from one end of my living room to the other, I smile. When I sweep duplos out from under the couch, I'm in a bit of awe that this is my home--not someone else's. Every evening I'm down on my knees, packing the wooden blocks into their container and the plastic blocks into theirs. Mess lives here, now, and I love him so very much.

He'll learn to clean up his toys someday....and he'll make even bigger messes along the way. Odds are, he'll probably get in trouble an uncountable number of times for making messes that are none too easy to clean up. I'll get my "battle stories" of cupboards colored on, dishes broken, cushions covered in juice (red juice, obviously. It has to be red). I'll wonder why he's careless and he'll wonder why I believe things should always be returned to their assigned location.

Is it weird that I'm excited that I may just have the chance to tell such stories? Right now, I love his muddy feet after we take him out to walk in the grass. His zucchini-covered face and the high chair that needs a thorough wiping after every meal. The empty cardboard boxes that once would have been recycled right away now serve as temporary yet new and exciting toys. It's messy, and sometimes I can't believe that my prayers for this little person to mess up my pristine home were answered.

I didn't deserve this mess, but, oh, I love him so.

Christmas Break Adventures

It's the last day of Christmas break! Our first Christmas with Cyrus, and the first one with Angel working at a school that has a Christmas break, so it was altogether a different sort of Christmas than previous years.

During December, we began little bits of Christmas traditions that we will continue and adapt in years to come. We read the Christmas story to Cyrus in both English and Spanish (how is it possible that I can even cry while listening to the Christmas story in Spanish...shouldn't I be too distracted by all the random words that I don't know?), I took Sarah and Cyrus to a Christmas play at Angel's school. We helped teach about Advent at a children's church Christmas party, attended Angel's work Christmas celebration, attended another Christmas party, hosted a Christmas open-house at our place....and then Christmas break finally began when the social engagements began winding down (an introvert's dream!)

We had our own little family Christmas, and then joined my parents and sisters for Christmas present opening as well.

Cyrus had so much fun opening presents, most of his 9 month video is footage from his first Christmas. And yes, he got presents. Clothes, which I was excited about so that he could stop wearing his too-small shirts that were fast becoming midriff-baring shirts...several books which filled my heart with glee...even a hand-me-down wheelbarrow full of megablocks which has quickly become a favorite toy!

My parents gave Angel a scale, which we have been ever so amused by (along the theme of..what's the one Christmas present you should definitely never give anybody? A scale.) But it's good for him, and he's using it as he's working on getting in better shape as track season approaches.

These new "cozy classics" are some of my new most-favorite books of all time for Cyrus. We found them for 8 RM apiece ($2) at a book sale in October, and it was love at first sight for me. Thankfully, Cyrus is at an age where pretty much he just gets whatever Mom wants him to have, whether he appreciates it or not. I get way too much amusement out of reading these books to him and explaining the entire story from the pictures (particularly in the case of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," as I'm a lifelong fan of Mark Twain).

After Christmas we went and took a baking class. A baking class? What?! Why?! Partially because it's a new place that just opened and there are not often new fun things to do on our island, so we might as well appreciate the activities that do exist. And besides that, while we consider ourselves to be adept at baking, we're really much better at baking in large quantities as opposed to baking things that look petite and fancy.

This was my dish, a strawberry charlotte, which does not involve any actual baking, but was a new recipe for me, one that I've since repeated, with great success. Having now eaten this dessert twice, I highly recommend it, because strawberries are delicious, and I'd like to try making a raspberry one sometime.

The ladyfinger cookies on the sides are optional. They make the dessert look very fancy indeed but the filling and the crust underneath are what make it delicious.

(I guess a practical girl can take a fancy cooking class but it still doesn't make her fancy.)

MaryGrace's rainbow cheesecake was my other favorite dessert. It tasted like...a normal yet delicious cheesecake, but looked extra cute. Sarah made a three-layer purple ombre cake, and Mom made a glazed lemon cake. We came home from the class and had a cake-eating party.

Other things that happened during Christmas break that were not pictured (much is not pictured because I didn't have my camera out that often):

- Game with the family: Balderdash and Golf, the card game

- A "Series of Unfortunate Events" Season 3 marathon on January 1st

- Major housecleaning and furniture-moving projects. MaryGrace now has an art table in her room, which means that my parents won't have to complain about her spreading her art supplies all over the dining table nearly as often anymore.

- Took Cyrus swimming, took him to the park, little adventures that we often can't fit into the usual schedule.

- Angel started running daily again, I started exercising daily again (can you tell that in the weeks before Christmas...schedules were a little TOO tight?)

Happy New Year! What did you all do during the Christmas season?
07 January 2019

A Grand Adventure at ESCAPE

Ever since we moved here, I've wanted to go to ESCAPE. All I knew about it was that it was a rather new adventurous sort of theme park, with ropes courses and trampolines and bungee jumping sort of stuff, and it sounded awesome (remember, I am an unashamed lover of theme parks). has never been possible.

Either I've been pregnant, or very recently pregnant, had no money for tickets (the infamous cash-flow crisis of July 2017 which should never be repeated!), or the only days Angel had off of work were days that all public schools were also off, and for that reason, on a tiny island with a large population, you know that you have to avoid any place that is remotely interesting because there will be too many people in that location already.

But finally, everything happened to align at once, and off we went, to ESCAPE. Which has long amused me, because there are signs on the island road, saying something like "Escape 10 km," making me imagine that there exists an escape route off of our island. A handy thing that would be, indeed!

Back to the point. Angel and I and my two sisters were off on our big adventure. We prepared by making sure to wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing, with the plan of tackling the 'dry' side of the park first thing, and then heading over to the waterpark side when the day got hotter in the afternoon.

(Just to start off with, nearly all of our photos of the day were taken by Escape staff. Their system is one in which they have photographers that take photos of guests throughout the day, and tell you to look up their page on facebook to go through the day's photos and find photos of your party. I appreciated that they had photo services with no add-on charge since I didn't bother bringing my camera to a park where I knew we'd spend most of the day ziplining or riding waterslides!)

The ropes courses were my favorite activity in the park--these were genuinely very challenging, and probably the reason my arms and abs were sore the next day! I did three different courses on the first and second levels. They also have a third level, where the courses are even higher and more challenging, but considering that during both of the second level courses I did...there were moments when I was not sure if I could really make it to the next platform...I decided to pass on the third level. Angel did one of the third level courses!

MaryGrace and Angel did the big zipline as well, but Sarah was a couple kilograms underweight (be aware, the weight limits are strict for some activities, and nearly every activity has a scale nearby so that you can check to make sure you're within the limits. This is a good thing! Although since it's New Year's and Angel's trying to get in shape for track season...we were joking about the scales at every ride!). While they were ziplining, Sarah and I went to go try out a maze.

I love mazes...but this one stumped us. It's pitch black inside, designed in a "cave" like fashion, and very, very tight, with occasional fake skeletons and tarantulas and stuff inside. The first time, Sarah and I probably made it 10 feet into the tunnel before turning back, worried we'd be lost forever. Then we took a happy selfie because we survived the maze. Sort of. I mean, we survived, but we went back out the entrance instead of finding the exit.

Then MaryGrace and Angel came, and we decided to try it again. How bad could it be? This time we made it probably 25 ft. in before deciding we might get hopelessly lost, or else the torch would burn out (i.e. Angel's phone battery would die) while we were still inside. And we went back out the way we came. Out of all the things at the park...the one that conquered us...was a maze. I can't believe it. I did rope courses 30 feet of the ground without missing a step but I couldn't find my way through the maze?! I might just have to go back someday. I don't recommend the maze if you have any fear of small spaces or dark places. None of us have any unusual fear of such things...but it was still pretty intense.

After playing with some stilts, jumping on trampolines, and other shenanigans, we decided to head over to the other side of the park--the waterpark--in time to watch the high dive show.

I felt like we happened to go to Escape on the coldest day in the history of Malaysia...not really. I mean, it was probably in the upper 70s or low 80s, but for us, that's nearly chilly, and the sun never came out the whole day. It was absolutely perfect weather for the dry park and rope courses, but I was chilly most of the afternoon in the waterpark, in spite of or perhaps because of my long-sleeved rashguard. For this reason, I found that I preferred the dry side of the park, although the water slides and the wipeout-inspired water courses were very fun, it's just that I was a little too cold for comfort.

However, the waterpark was the highlight of Angel's day. He and Sarah joined a diving "competition" of sorts that the park organizes for guests to participate in. Almost no one was actually diving, it mostly consisted of jumping off of the diving board and platforms with a greater or lesser degree of style, and being judged. I was super impressed with Sarah jumping off of 3 meter and 5 meter diving platforms! I couldn't have done that.

Angel also joined the "flipper" competition which you can see in the attached video. He went down this slide a couple of times, all of which created great amusement for me.

And a slight degree this a safe enough activity for me to approve of for my husband and the father of my son? Because man...that's one intense slide! Angel came in second place and did not win the t-shirt he wanted to win. Guess he needs to fly off the slide with a little more "style" next time!

It was all in all a very fun day, and very satisfying after a few years of wanting to visit the park. I'd heard from reviews that the food is disappointing, so we packed a few snacks in the car and went to our car mid-day to have some water from our thermoses and some snacks--this was a very good plan. We did opt to buy a snack at the park later in the day, and even with our previously low expectations...were underwhelmed. We pretended to ourselves to be food critics as we attempted to eat potato wedges that had probably been under a heat lamp for five hours. Escape park is better for burning calories than consuming them, let's just say that. There's plenty of other places to get food in this world. Sarah had probably the funniest comment while we ate our potato wedges: "This is even worse than Disneyland's food!" We all looked at her in confusion, "Umm, I thought the food we had at Disneyland was good?!" She said, "Yeah, it was really good! That's why this is worse."

But...I'm not sure that "worse" was really the right word to use when comparing those potato wedges to any food that was even remotely good.

We loved our adventurous day at ESCAPE!