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!

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.

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


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.