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!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend in The Parks

It's budget time, which means long hours of work for Ben.  Even the weekends are reserved for work, so Ak, B3 and I went on a little adventure all our own on Saturday.  They both love the bus and train, so we took one of each to get to Pasir Ris Park.  Singapore has a large network of parks, and this one looked worth investigating.

The beachfront park was full of tents and bicycles and walkers.  There's a network of boardwalks through the Mangroves, and AK's keen eyes spotted a crab hanging out on a treetrunk.
We ooh'ed and ahh'ed and wondered why he was up a tree (high tide, we think).  Little did we know that spotting this little fellow was much like the Great Pronghorn Spotting of 1984; he was just one of many.  Before long, AK wouldn't even slow down to look when I announced that I had found another one. 
"They all look alike...and I'm hot..," she growled.

I kept stopping as she kept walking.  B3, our little Border Collie, couldn't stand it.  He ran back and forth shouting our names. He wants all together at all times. 

The seashells covering the trunks were also intriguing. 

After two months I've finally realized the two things necessary for an outing (especially solo) with these kids:
  1. Low Expectations
  2. Lots of Snacks
So, when we found some shade, the snacks came out while we enjoyed the view.

After a few hours in the park, we set out to find some lunch.  On the way, we passed an amusement park.  At least, that's what they called it.  If you're picturing Six Flags, you can now stop.  Instead, picture the carnival that randomly appears in the old K Mart parking lot.  The one you wouldn't ever dream of taking your kids to, because it doesn't look safe and you're running low on hand sanitizer anyway. Yeah, now you've got the image. 

 Once the Ferris Wheel was spotted, I caved - all in the name of wasting more time so Daddy would have more quiet hours to work in peace.  Four dollars later, we were climbing aboard.  At least if we were going to be maimed in an unfortunate carnival mishap, it would be at minimal expense.  We were walking towards our little, swinging capsule when the operator (who looked 12) informed me that AK would have to ride solo as B3 and I would be in a separate car. Stunned, I simply said, "OK...".  I didn't think to tell her to sit still.  To not lean or rock or stand up or, heaven forbid, look out the open (as in no glass, no bars, no barrier at all) window.  Fortunately, she's either not very brave or is very sensible, because she sat completely still, in the middle of the car, and never even glanced towards the open window.  I probably wouldn't have worried about her at all, if the operator hadn't looked at B3 as we sat down and said, "Just make sure he doesn't fall out, okay?"  Fabulous.

We survived, and AK was thrilled. 

It was a fun day, and we'll definitely keep Pasir Ris Park on our list of inexpensive places to go.  I just think we'll skip the Ferris Wheel next time. 

Halloween 2011 -Sneak Peek

I'm not really a fan of Halloween; goblins and ghosts aren't my thing.  I don't want to be scared or tricked, and the treats that aren't of the high quality chocolate kind are not for me.  I have always loved, however, creative costumes.  My mom was the best at creating costumes as we were growing up, and I fondly remember being a Hershey Kiss, Pinocchio (for a book fair, not Halloween), a skeleton, ladybug, and others.  I'm enjoying carrying on the tradition with AK and B3.

This year, since we're in a new place , I tried to con AK into givng an encore performance as The Man in The Yellow Hat by simply recycling last year's costume.

She resisted, of course.  I finally caved when I realized that her sleeves were now 3/4 length, and the pants would only work if she never tried to sit down. Besides, we don't have boots and it's far too hot for George to wear that costume. 

So, today we went shopping.  Want to know what the Marion Kids will be this year?  Here's a hint:
I better start sewing!

By the way, I'm keeping the yellow outfit.  I think I can con B3 into wearing it in 2 years!  Besides, we moved that hat 10,000 miles.  Someone's gotta wear it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Furniture -1, B3- 0

Somehow, the furniture always wins, especially when it's a little boy's head against a wooden magazine rack.  He missed the bean bag, his target, when he leaped off of the ottoman.  Instead, he introduced his forehead to his Daddy's high school wood shop magazine rack masterpiece. His dad, still at work at 6 pm on a Friday night after a late conference call, gets a text that simply says, "Head wound 911 call me!"  I must say that was remarkably effective.

The sister shrugged; denying any responsibility.  "He was just following me, but I was sliding off of the ottoman.  I didn't tell him to jump..."  I'm fairly certain that blame was still placed squarely on her shoulders. 

It was a fitting end to a long week, especially since we had family pictures to take about 14 hours after the bleeding stopped.  I wondered (still am, actually) if he needed a stitch or two, but his Dad said no.  Besides, he says scars just add character.  I'm hoping we're done with character adding for quite a while. 

Two days later; this is the "cheese!" face.  I hope he didn't make this face in all of our pictures on Saturday...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Singing Girl

Recently, AK has been giving our nightly family prayers a little touch of dramatic flair.  She sings, she dances her feet and arms, and we do our best not to giggle.  After several nights of hearing her sing-pray about everything from popsicles and butterflies to her brother and her favorite Pancake bear, I decided to try to surreptitiously record her in action.

I managed to successfully capture her prayer without her noticing, but she was a little brief that night. I don't think she mentions her favorite dress or art class or a single friend in this one, but I think you'll get the idea.  Enjoy.