Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Singapore Christmas

If it weren't for the temperature and humidity, this December would feel like any other. The malls have been decked out in Christmas finery, Christmas music is playing in every store, and B3 squeals, "Santa!" every time he spots him in an ad, on a store counter, or even in person.  Indeed, it's been looking a lot like Christmas around here for quite a while!

We brought a small Christmas tree with us since we didn't know what we'd find when we got here, and it was a thrill for B3 and AK to decorate it Thanksgiving weekend.  We paid S$20 a strand for lights; they would have cost even more had we waited to find the LED kind.  It's decorated with some ornaments from home and lots of homemade ones from AK's last few school years.  She seems to remember a story about each one, so it's a trip down memory lane for her every time she pulls one out of the box.  There are her fingerprint angels from the year she turned 2, snowflakes made of beads during a Colorado ski trip, and the glitter bell from last year's class.




Singapore's main shopping street, Orchard Road, gets a fancy light display every year.  It's a big deal; the president switches on the lights during a festive celebration.  Each year, the lights are different.  This year, Ben says it looks like a Dr. Seuss Christmas.


The malls are decorated, too. 






Sometimes, it's easy to forget where we are; by looking at the stores, we could be in any American mall.  Although, I wonder who's wearing the wool sweaters and boots from the Gap around here.



AK and I celebrated the Season with a trip to see The Nutcracker last weekend, too.  It was our first visit to the Esplanade theaters, which are architecturally unique buildings on the Singapore River.  Our seats stunk, but we managed to fix that during intermission, and the show was terrific.  The story was a bit different, but it was similar enough that we didn't get lost.  She loved every minute of it!



Then, this week, AK performed in her school's Winter concert.  It was an experience to hear them sing, "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" as we sweated and fanned and searched for cool water, but she was thrilled to be on stage with her friends. Santa showed up, too, and he even spoke to B3 on his way to the stage.  B3 was starstruck!



Here's a video of her performance; bonus points if you can find her!


video

In addition to the Concert, her school had a little event last weekend, too.  She was able to shop for us with an Elf and choose her very own gifts.  She also had a chat with Santa and reported that she knew she would get a Barbie on Christmas morning. How could she be so certain?  "I whispered it in his ear!", she replied. 



Cookies were also enjoyed after her visit with Santa.


She also took a moment to show off her newly acquired, mad hula hoop (or, as she calls it, hulee hoop) skills.


video


AK was thrilled to buy her own gifts, and she managed us to con us into opening them on the 14th of December.


She chose the perfect gift for her Daddy:  a light up snowman ornament that changes colors.  They both love it!

She bought a turtle puzzle for B3, which he seemed to really enjoy.  He's into counting now, so the five numbered pieces were a hit.

Lastly, she chose some lovely beads made from recycled paper for me.  She was happy to model them for me. 

 All of the local condo complexes are also decorated for Christmas, and some are really nicely done.  Just down the street, there's a great big snowman and some lovely lights.  Our complex is decorated with a certain flair of its own.  The red, white, blue and gold stars are more reminiscent of the Fourth of July than Christmas, but it's festive. 



And then there's this...
We keep wondering if there's going to be a dance with some 70's music, but nothing so far. 


We've enjoyed the sights, lights, and sounds of Christmas this year.  We haven't missed the busyness and stressof Christmases past; it's been blissfully slow and quiet.  Amazon has taken care of most of our shopping, and we're looking forward to enjoying the Holidays in Georgia.  While I'm not looking forward to the long flights, I can't wait to hear the giggles of cousins playing and  watch Grandmas in the kitchen with AK and B3.  I'm looking forward to unlimited Dr. Pepper and small town Mexican food, a trip to Target, and driving a car (for the first time since August 5).  It's certain to be a busy nearly 3 weeks, and we'll be glad to return to our routine on January 4.  One thing is for certain:  it will definitely be a Christmas to remember!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Warning

While English is spoken everywhere in Singapore, sometimes it's the phrasing that makes me laugh.

This sign was spotted in a toy store, and I like it. No doubt what the message is!

Going Back in Time

I don't even know where to start with this one....


Have you seen these?


They're handsets for a cell phone.  I first saw them on Pinterest, and I thought it was a joke.  You know, one of those things you'd open at a Christmas party gag gift exchange. 
 
I was wrong.  Last week, I was walking B3 down the street to a playgroup.  There was a woman standing on the sidewalk with her iPhone in one hand and one of these in the other.  Her model was a lovely bright blue color, and she was carrying on a conversation with a 1986 handset connected to her iPhone. 
 
Certainly, this is not what Apple had in mind.  But someone's making a mint off of what I thought was a joke.  But the lady on the street?  She wasn't laughing.  She was chatting.  Crazyness. 
 
I guess our kids might know what those things are, after all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

For PaPa

While Ben was travelling recently, I threw some packing paper and art supplies on the floor in hopes of cooking dinner without interruption.  I should probably admit that I kept a few sheets too many of packing paper when we unloaded our boxes; I couldn't help it.  It's big, it's free, and it's perfect for craft projects.  I have a bit of a problem when it comes to throwing things out.  Some might say I'm destined for an episode of Hoarders, but I just like to think I learned it from a school teaching mom who could (and did!) repurpose nearly anything. 

Anyway, the paper went on the floor with the markers.  (Whenever we move from here, I'm going to miss these marble floors.  I haven't turned AK and B3 loose yet with anything from our art cabinet that hasn't cleaned easily.  Hooray!)  Dinner was cooked, and I was then called in for the Art Show.  As I always do, I asked AK, "So, what do you call your picture?" 

Her answer?  "Memories of America".  I may have wanted to cry for a short second; I worry about what she's missing:  playing with cousins, sharing secrets with grandparents, playing with friends she's known forever.  Then I saw her drawing and instantly knew what she was remembering. Instead, I laughed.

It's a picture of the bonfire her Uncle Stephen and PaPa built earlier in the year.  The fire was, in reality, not that close to her playhouse, but I love that she included that detail.  If you look closely, you can see AK and her cousin hiding behind PaPa.  "It was hot", she said.  "We didn't want to get too close."  She has a healthy respect  dislike for fire, so I suppose the big fire certainly made an impression on her. 

I think it was worth saving the paper for; don't you?

B3's drawing was a bit more abstract, but he insisted I take its picture as well.  If he knew I was blogging, he would want it included.  So, here it is.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bangkok Fever

A few months ago, I signed up to go on a trip to Bangkok with the American Women's Association of Singapore.  It was guaranteed to be good; three days of shopping!  No meals to be cut into little bites, no complaints about the heat/walking/shopping/food choices from anyone except me!  The best part?  Our group of 10 would be guided by a professional shopping guide.  From what I've heard about Bangkok, we would definitely need one of those to make the most of our time. Unlike Singapore, taxis aren't required to take you where you want to go, and the traffic is horrid.  Indeed, it sounded like a great trip.  Thankfully, was that it was scheduled when Ben was certain to be in town, so I could confidently pay my registration fees and begin to plan.

Then the floods came; Bangkok has been under water and surrounded by sandbags.  One of the main attractions, Chatuchak Market,
which is touted to be the world's largest market, had a river running through it.  The safety of attempting such a trip was even questioned . The trip was cancelled.  Then, last Friday, I was shocked to open an email that told me the trip was once again a "go".  What a surprise. Our shopping guide even said that stores and markets were hanging signs proclaiming great discounts to try to gain back some revenue lost during the floods.  A weekend getaway AND bargains?  A dream come true! Let the research begin again!

Just look at this market.  As a child, I thought that a weekend trip to the Jockey Lot in Anderson, SC was the best entertainment ever - barnyard animals and boiled peanuts and so much more.  By all reports, Chatuchak is huge and wonderful, so it was sure be a thrill (but I bet they don't have boiled peanuts).  It's the kind of place I could wander around in forever, but it's the kind of place that the other 75% of our family would be completely done with in about 3.7 minutes.  And it would only take that long if there were good snacks.  So, the opportunity to go alone was fabulous.



Yesterday, the day before we were set to leave, I finally realized that what I thought was the same virus that B3 had last week and AK had this week was not improving.  They were both 100% better in 48 hours; I was on day #3 and feeling even worse.  I don't ever get a headache that doesn't have an identifiable cause, but this one was 3 days old, getting worse by the hour, and had brought a persistent fever along for the party.  A trip to the doctor confirmed that I had a virus, technically a type of meningitis, that is going around.  Evidently, there have been lots of folks who don't get headaches in her office this week.  Lucky me.  The best part of my doctor's visit?  Not the part when she said, "It is NOT advisable for you to travel anywhere tomorrow.  Stay home!"  I may have cried, but I'm not sure it was the searing pain in my head or her admonition that brought on the tears.

Great.  I think I actually went to the doctor just so someone else would tell me not to go; I knew it wasn't a wise decision.  Honestly, I think I would have been truly frightened to fly feeling like I did yesterday.  I don't think I'm a wimp; I trudged (and enjoyed every minute of it!) through London with my sister for 5 days in June while fighting (unsuccessfully) a particularly unkind and persistent stomach bug.   I might have been pale but greenish when we got to the top of St. Paul's 529 steps, but I did it. I gladly dined on a plain baked potato in Canterbury while she enjoyed what looked like absolutely delicious fish and chips.  I did what I could to make sure we got to see and do all that we could.  But yesterday?  A different story all together. 

Today, I'm feeling better, but I'm glad I cancelled.  Not only would I have been mostly miserable, but I'm afraid I might have passed it along to my fellow shoppers.  I hear they're planning another trip in the spring since this one was so popular, and I'll cross my fingers that I get to go. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

**Note - this one is mostly just for a record of our first Thanksgiving in Singapore.  Not much to see here.

Thanksgiving 2011 has definitely been one to remember.  We started the day in a doctor's office, and we closed it out by attacking our refrigerator with a hair dryer.  Thanksgiving might as well be synonymous with tradition, and we managed to fit a bit of that in, too.

B2 arrived home after 10 days in London only to be greeted with a text that said, "B3 is throwing up.  Welcome to Thanksgiving.".  He shouldn't have been surprised; someone is sick everytime my immediate family gathers together.  Every Time, Every Holiday.  Ahh, the memories.  His symptoms looked an awfully lot like Strep, so we visited a doctor to have him checked out.  Since it was a holiday, we made a family outing of it.  B3 and AK wandered over to a mall to wait on us, and AK decided that a mac and cheese lunch was just what she needed.  I've heard some families wouldn't celebrate Thanksgiving without macaroni and cheese, so I suppose she started her own tradition. 

The bus ride home was a thrill for AK and B3; it was a double decker, which is the ultimate ride if you're under 6 (or 40.  Right, Alicia?)   Unfortunately, B2 was struggling with jet lag, and I must have had sympathy sleepiness.  A dose of Motrin revived B3, and he showed no signs of his persistent lethargy.  Two hyper kids in the front upstairs seats probably made for a less than enjoyable ride for the other passengers, but we finally made it home about an hour after a taxi would have brought us home. 

While we always look forward to Thanksgiving, the traditional pumpkin and cranberry aren't our favorites. We're looking for dressing and gravy and strawberry pretzel salad.  We compromised with dressing for us and cranberry sauce for the kids.  There was no strawberry pretzel salad; while we could certainly have eaten the entire thing between us, it was a better choice to wait until Christmas when there are others to help us enjoy it.  I couldn't bring myself to buy a $40 turkey breast, and my source for cheaper ones ($15 - much cheaper!) has been out of stock for weeks.  So. our meal was roasted chicken, dressing, gravy, fresh green beans and cranberry sauce shaped like the can it was in. Simple and delicious.  AK ate her share of all of it and went back for Ben's and my portion of cranberry sauce.  She loves it!

After dinner, the moment AK has looked forward to for months finally arrived.  She got to help her dad put up the Christmas tree!  Its ornaments will be added tomorrow, but both she and B3 were absolutely thrilled to see it shining before they went to bed. 

Since our fridge has been creating a river of water across our kitchen floor for about 2 weeks and I wasn't ambitious enough to fix it myself while B2 was travelling, we decided to tackle it after the kids were in bed. A quick google search pointed to the problem, and we got to work unloading the fridge, only to discover that the problem spot wasn't accessible from the inside panel.  So, we refilled the fridge and pulled it out from the wall.  Ben figured out the problem was an iced up drainage hole in the freezer, so the hair dryer joined in on the fun.  After at least an hour of Ben mopping up water while I was de-icing, the drain was unplugged, and we were in business.  Until he opened the fridge again.  It was flooded. There was standing water in the door shelves, and everything was completely soaked.  Once again, everything had to be emptied and dried before we could call it quits.  Over two hours after we started, we were finally done. 

While it isn't the Thanksgiving we would have planned, it was a good day.  B3 didn't have Strep after all; it's probably viral and we're hoping he's much better tomorrow.  We've got lots of Motrin to keep his energy up, just in case we need it.  AK loved the "Thanksgiving food" and her wholehearted appreciation for the cranberry sauce made whatever price I paid for it completely worthwhile (I didn't eat any, and I don't intend to!).  The dressing was delicious, and it reminds me of many family meals when we've enjoyed that same recipe around tables from Frog Pond to Charlotte (and even one Christmas dinner for Mexican friends in Orizaba).  The fridge is fixed (we hope), and our tile floor was more than accomodating of the floodwaters. 
 
We end the day thankful for what we have and where we are!

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Does a Singapore Thanksgiving Look Like?

More than one person has asked me, "Do they celebrate Thanksgiving over there?", and I've tried to be polite and understanding when I answer.  But, really...why would Singaporeans celebrate a holiday that's 100% American?  Have we forgotten the history behind the celebration?    I know other countries do celebrate their own day of Thanksgiving, but they're not gearing up to celebrate this Thursday.  However, if you take a look around our grocery store, you'd think that all of our neighbors were, indeed, getting ready for Thanksgiving. 


For instance, I wonder if there's a Singapore version of the Butterball hotline, since they're clearly going to need one:


And, if your idea of  the perfect Thanksgiving side involves Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs (Heaven forbid!), you're in luck. Don't worry about the S$7.50 price tag; it doesn't take long to become immune to all price insanity.



Likewise with the pie filling for $7.50 a can.  It's not a Thanksgiving staple for us, but it's amusing to see so much of it so suddenly in the stores.  I'll likely buy a can of cherry pie filling to keep on hand since it's a main ingredient in one of B2's favorite desserts.  One can is cheaper than a purchased dessert, so it makes sense to splurge for something special. 

Don't forget the cranberry sauce!  Whether you prefer the smooth canned kind (like my kids), the lumpy canned kind, or freshly made with fresh cranberries, you're in luck.  All three varieties are readily available this week.  Now, if I only had that small brown rectangular Pyrex bowl from my Grandma's house for the cranberry sauce leftovers, it would really feel like Thanksgiving.  It seems like every year, we ate cranberry sauce out of the same bowl.  It just isn't the same from any other. 

For some, the French's fried onions are a high priority on their Thanksgiving shopping list. My family is not from the People of The Green Bean Casserole, but my inlaws are.  As a result, I've learned to eat it (once a year) and actually enjoy it, but I'd only make it if someone requested it specially.   It must be a tradition for every other American on the island (all 19, 996 of them), however, since the stores have pallets of mushroom soup and these onions.  I did notice some of the cheddar cheese flavored ones last week, and I remembered last Thanksgiving with a laugh.  We were on our way to celebrate in the North Georgia mountains with the Marion side of the family, and were were asked to stop and pick up the onions. Of course, the Ingles in Clarksville was out of everything but the cheese kind, and they certainly added a little something to the casserole.  Again, I don't have a long history with the dish, so I'm just guessing that the cheese variety is not preferred. 




Again, just ignore that S$7.95 price tag; everyone else who wants those French's onions certainly is.  It's a small price to pay for the comforts of something familiar. Even I might admit to enjoying some green bean casserole if it was part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Singapore.

I'm not sure we're having Thanksgiving dinner; I can't bring myself to pay the outrageous price for a turkey that no one is really even passionate about. Spending a day cooking for just the 4 of us probably isn't the best use of my time, either.   I'm beginning to feel a need for cornbread dressing, however, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be making cornbread for dressing after tucking kids into bed on Wednesday night.  I've made a shopping list of ingredients to have on hand...just in case!

From all indicators, it appears that a Singapore Thanksgiving looks an awfully lot like an American one. 
Maybe the next time I'm asked if we celebrate Thanksgiving over here, I'll just say, "Yep."  Want some green bean casserole?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Much do Chicken Feet Cost?

I know some of my friends aren't chicken people.  You know who you are.  You don't want a whole chicken unless it's cooked and in a cute plastic rotisserie pan.  You're not a fan of raw and parts and who knows what else they put inside of that chicken you find in the meat department. Some of you might even be searching for the "back" button right now.  Never mind where I'm going with this; you're headed back to facebook or pinterest or somewhere fun and full of puppies and sunshine and anything but raw chicken.   Don't worry; I'm not going to show you pictures of the pile of chicken feet I saw at the market on Tuesday. 

But I thought you might enjoy this picture.

Can you see what the blue package says right below  "Fresh Chicken" ?  It says, "With Head and Feet".  Now that Harris Teeter special is looking better and better, isn't it?  I admit, I haven't had to mess with the head and the feet; the Chicken Man who delivers our chicken happily keeps those parts for himself. 

Even if we didn't have the Chicken Man (who is coming to see me on Saturday, by the way!), we could buy the red packaged chicken on the right in the picture above - sold without head and feet.  Now, note the price difference.  Evidently, they're passing on the cost of head and foot removal.  S$0.30 more.  That's thirty cents that I'll gladly pay all day long. 

As AK says, "we don't like the feet in our dumplings, do we, Mama?"  No, dear, indeed we do not.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vending Fun

I'm learning each day how boring our life as Americans is.  Maybe it's not that American life is boring; perhaps it's that I haven't lived in a big city (if Atlanta even counts) in 15 years.  Maybe it's just that suburbia is so different from our everyday life here. 

For example, when the Redbox video vending machines appeared in every Wal Mart/Harris Teeter/gas station in Charlotte, I marvelled at what a cool invention that was.  It was cheap and convenient, and oh, so high tech and urban.  Our movie watching increased dramatically once the we figured out how to reserve movies online.  AK even learned to choose a movie while I paid for my groceries, and I gave in to her requests more often than not.  We haven't yet discovered any video vending machines here yet, but it's a perfect market for it.  I can just imagine one at each MRT (train) station, right where commuters walk every day of the week. Perfect!  Are you reading, Redbox?  Come on over!

Anyway, we don't have Redbox, so if you get an itch to watch a movie that isn't currently in the theater or available on demand, I'm not sure what you'd do.  I guess there are movie rental places, but I haven't noticed one nearby.  BUT...if you're hungry for a sandwich and you're missing that crucial main ingredient - the bread - you're in luck!



Just go down to the first floor car park (parking garage) in our complex and buy a loaf of bread from the vending machine.  Freshness guaranteed!  While we don't use this often since varieties from this particular bakery often contain milk, it's a very convenient vending machine to have.  

Right next to it, there's a machine that vends fresh fruit.  We've never used this one, but if we suddenly have a craving for watermelon at 3 am, here's a solution.



The last vending machine I've found  that is worth sharing is perhaps the most important.  How many times have you found yourself out shopping and realized that you really, truly, honestly, right now, without delay or hesitation, must have....


a new bunny keychain?


If you find yourself in need, just head on over to Balestier Avenue.  I'm sure the selection varies daily due to high turnover and demand, so hurry!  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween in the Tropics

For a country that doesn't really celebrate Halloween, our costumes were enjoyed on three different days at three different events.  That's fairly remarkable, even for US standards.  We found a small (really small) selection of candy in nearly all of the grocery stores we frequent, but it wasn't always easy to find. 

As always, I made the costumes. I wasn't very inspired by the costume subject, but I did what I could. I knew it was going to be really hot and sticky even without a costume on, so I kept them very simple and easily removable.  Since two of our three events were a taxi or bus ride away, it was imperative that they also be easily portable.  Normally, we don't do trendy costumes, but this year we did.  AK was thrilled to be an Angry Bird - "The Blue One", more specifically, and Ben was the poor target - The Pig. 


We started the celebration on Friday night at AK's school.  We Trunk or Treated and enjoyed a few festival games.  Unfortunately, I forget how creepy Halloween can be, and most of the trunks were decorated to remind us of the darker side.  I'm a fan of happy Jack O'Lanterns, kids dressed in storybook costumes, and really good chocolate in their buckets.  Of course, not everyone shares my version of Halloween, and it was evident.  Blood and guts and bats and spooks were around every turn. Luckily, AK was too busy chasing her friends to really notice.  B3 was too busy chasing AK, so he didn't seem to mind, either. 

AK enjoyed the face painting table, but our Pig wanted none of it.


AK's favorite part of the evening was the doughnut walk. Marion family folklore tells of a B2 who always won the cake walk, but evidently, it isn't genetic.   It took AK a gazillion rounds, but her patience was rewarded with the sprinkle doughnut she had eyed for what felt like hours.
B3 settled for a Dum Dum from the treat bag.

On Saturday, The Blue Bird enjoyed a friend's costume birthday party, but The Pig refused to wear his costume.  It was strange since he didn't want to take it off on Friday night, but he wanted nothing to do with it.

That all changed on Monday night, when our complex hosted a night of Trick or Treating.  Those who wanted to participate signed up in advance, and we were given a list of units that were participating.  It was certainly different from walking down Greylyn Drive, where nearly every house knew our kids by name. I suppose it was both the elevator and cultural mix that, once again, made it obvious that we're a long, long way from where were last Halloween.


Waiting on the Elevator


It's nice to have costumes that go right over AK's school uniform. Note that The Pig is a John Deere Fan.


Headed down the corridor to the first house.  It was nice to be inside the entire time.

 Can you tell we're in Asia?  (shoes!)

This house made AK and B3 stick their hands in a bucket of "worms" to find the candy.  B3 didn't go for it, but AK was not deterred!

Checking out the Loot



The candy haul was underwhelming. The quantity was fantastic, considering we went to only one of six buildings in our complex. The quality, however, was mediocre. I suppose if you're a fan of "Taiwan's Best: Banana Rice Cakes" in miniature, however, you would have been thrilled. 


Overall, they had a great time, and they're still enjoying their candy. It's easy for me to stay out of it, so we'll keep it for a few more weeks before sending it to Ben's office or down the trash chute.


**NOTE: It has taken me a week to type this up. I'm too distracted by kids that demand to be fed and dishes that don't wash themselves to blog about all that I want to. Stay tuned for a summary of our recent trip to the beach in Indonesia and other adventures. Maybe I'll get to it before Christmas!**

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mail Call

I've been wondering who delivers the mail. We don't get much in our mailbox that is actually addressed to us. In fact, I can count on one hand (with two fingers left over) how many pieces of real, personal,  mail we've received.  I'm not including bills; we get those monthly.  Yet, we still check it daily.

If AK is around, she always asks, "Is it for me???", and all three times we've gotten "real" mail, it has been for her.  I vividly remember how much fun it was to get my very own mail when I was her age, and it's fun watching her have that same joy.  Last week, it was a Halloween card from her cousin.  It was addressed to her and her brother, and she hugged it to her heart and said, "Oh!  I DO love to check the mail....well, when it's for ME, I do...."  (sidenote:  Please believe me when I say that we work extra hard so she's not disillusioned into believing that the world revolves around her little nearly-6-year-old self.  However, I gotta say, I'm in 100% agreement with her on this one.  It's a drag when the only thing in our box is a real estate ad; we're not in the market for a million dollar condo.)

Where was I? Oh, yes.  Who brings the mail?  I haven't seen a mail truck; I wondered if they only came under the cover of darkness or in unmarked trucks.  Turns out neither is the case.  He comes by scooter.  Isn't it cute?!

I've even seen him here more than once a day, and I can only imagine that his little scooter holds the mail for only a few buildings at a time. 

He parks his scooter right outside our elevator lobby, which is adjacent to our mailboxes.
That's not the mailman, by the way.  That's the boy who can't resist trying to open every single box.  Every single day. Sometimes, he hits the jackpot, and we have to convince him not to take the neighbors' mail.

We're not sure what happens if we receive a package bigger than our little bitty box, but maybe one day we'll find out. 

By the way, this wasn't intended to be a shameless plea for our families to send us mail, but if that's the unintended result, then I know two kids who would be unbelievably thrilled. And, if you're one of the two sweet people who have taken the extra time to send a little something,  thank you!  It makes our day.

PS. $0.98 to send a regular letter from the US.  Just sayin'.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Twenty Things

Last night at supper, we had a conversation about our favorite things about Singapore.  We've been here nearly three months, and that's been plenty of time to find some fabulous things about living here.  There are definitely things we haven't quite gotten used to yet, but we'll save those for another day.

AK's 5 Favorite Things
       1.  Having a pool to swim in all year round.

2.  Monkeys in the trees.  Well, not in our neighborhood, but in some parts of the island.
3.  Satay.  Meat on a stick. She's definitely her father's child.

4.  Riding the train.
5.  Riding the bus


Kristin's 5 Favorite Things
1. The trash chute.   It deserves a post of its own, and it will likely get one before we leave this country.  Until then, just know that there's great satisfaction in throwing your trash down a hole in your wall.  Dirty diaper?  No problem!  Rotten pineapple?  Just open and toss!  I don't really know where it goes, and I don't want to.  All that matters is that I remember to only use bags that, when full, will fit down the chute.  The rest is left up to the elves in the basement who take it from there.  Ah, sweet benefit of condo living!


2.  Wet Markets.  I love them.  I've got many more pictures to share.  Stay tuned. 

3.  Grocery delivery.  In fact, this time tomorrow, I'll be putting away peanut butter, potato chips, sugar, pasta sauce, and whatever else I ordered yesterday.  It wouldn't be such a big deal if we had a car, but we don't.  Just imagine lugging everything home from about a mile away, and you might understand.

4.  New foods, and not just the local Singaporean ones, although there are many of those.  Two  grocery store favorites of the adults in our home:

Until about 10 years ago, Jiff made a chocolate peanut butter that was terrific. Now, we're loving Skippy's striped version. Yum.

And Arnott's Mint Slice cookies.  Girl Scouts? Who needs Girl Scouts?


5.  The Passport stamp potential.  There are so many countries that are just a very short, and often affordable, flight from here. I must see them all (Hint, hint...Ben, are you reading?).  Last week was Indonesia (more on that later), and I'm off to Thailand in December. 


Ben's 5 Favorite Things
1.  Riding the train to work.
2.  Working in an office building that sits on top of a huge complex of shopping malls.  Yes, malls. With an "s".  I think he could walk for about an hour and not see all of the malls that are linked to his. Under streets, over streets.  On and on and on.  It's not shopping that he likes; it's the endless choices for lunch. He's a creature of habit and could eat the same thing each day, but his coworkers are instrumental in helping him branch out a little.  A great benefit of his office location is that if I let him know what I need by lunchtime, there's a good chance he can bring home whatever it is that evening. That's service!
3.  The view from our condo.  It hasn't gotten old yet.

4.  Lots of places outside to run. There are many miles of sidewalks, paths, and parkways around us to enjoy.
5.  A tie between his job and the trash chute. Seriously.  First, he said the job, because he really likes what he's doing right now (hooray!).  But, after I put the trash chute on my list, his face lit up, and he said, "Oooh.  Good one!  Maybe that's mine, too..."  See?  I told you it needs a post of its own!


and then there's B3, who really can't tell us what he loves.  Here's our best guess.

B3's 5 Favorite Things
1.   The boat.  That's what he said when I asked him, because we had just returned from a ferry ride from an Indonesian beach.  He loved the boat!
2.   The bus: the boy loves to ride the bus!
3.  His "Night Night Train" . It's not new; it was a Christmas present last year or the year before.  In Charlotte, he required that someone push him on it each night to AK's room so he could say, 'night night'.  Hence, its very original and unique name.  Here, it moves a hundred times better on these polished marble floors.  No pushing necessary!  He rides it all day, every day, filling the back compartment with cars and trucks. Sometimes, he calls himself "Choo Choo Man" and demands that I call him that, too. ( I suppose naming yourself at 2 is genetic; let's just hope folks aren't calling him "Choo Choo" when he's 37, because those  nicknames one chooses for oneself stick around for EVER. Ask me how I know.)

(Princess wand not necessarily part of  ChooChoo Man's outfit, but the John Deere had most certainly is)

4.  The view from our windows.  He stares at the construction site all day, identifying cranes, dump trucks, dozers, and back hoes. He loves to watch the traffic, always finding the fire trucks, garbage trucks, blue buses, police cars, and ambulances. 

5.  Outside.  He enjoys any outdoor activity, and he'll say, "Not raining. Outside?", as he pulls me towards the door.


So, there are a few of our favorite things.  Perhaps we'll think of 5 more in the next three months!