Friday, February 27, 2015

Little Ms. Sunshine In The Shadows

I’m a glass half full; find the silver lining person by nature. I’m a spin master. Give me a problem and I can help you see the bright side. Not today though. My problem is we’ve been told that we are being repatriated when the school year ends. This really isn’t the end of the world. We have a position when many others aren’t so lucky. We have our health and each other. We will be moving back to fam… wait… there I go again… Little Ms. Sunshine. Not this time. That’s next post. That’s moving forward. Right now I’m going to wallow. No apologies.

(No particular order)
·      Family Closeness- Packing up all your stuff and moving around the world makes your family a tight knit group. When living as an expat you know everyone is transient and the only people who will always be around are your family. One of my favorite things about moving to Singapore was how it is totally normal to see teenage/ young adults girls and boys holding their parents hands. It is a small thing, but what an act of love. My kids do this too. My almost 13 yr. old son has no problem expressing love to Dax or me by holding our hand or hugging our neck in public. My teenage daughters are the same way.  
·      Public Transit- If you had asked this Texas girl 2 years ago if giving up her car sounded like a good idea, I would have said Hell No! I love the ease of the train, busses and taxis. You can read a book, listen to music, chat with a friend or even make a new friend all while getting from A to B. ***Warning: chatting with friends may make you completely miss your destination and late for a doctors appointment. *** Chatting with Taxi Uncles will inevitably end with learning about politics of your home country… often things you have no clue about and will google later to fact check and they are normally correct! Oh, it could also end in you learning about your lunar zodiac and that of your husband (best ride EVER)! Really, those Uncles are amazing and have wonderful stories to tell.
·      Friends like family- We are all away from our family and in similar boats. Friendships are formed so easily. You meet someone and 10 minutes later you know their “story”. Our family is so lucky to have friends like family around the world.
·      My Helper (live in maid)- Donabelle, has been a saving grace! A local had told me that Singapore only runs so smooth because of the helpers. They were so correct in that statement. This woman knows the ins and outs of Singapore. My home has and will never be so clean and well run again. She cooks like a gourmets chef and loves my kids fiercely.
·      Travel- Living in South East Asia has made it possible for us to travel to so many wonderful places. We’ve been exposed to cultures and religions in real and meaningful ways.
·      Tolerance- It is easy to become set in your ways when surrounded by people who think and act exactly like you. I love that this experience has given us an opportunity to live along side people with extremely different points of view. Our family has a world perspective that I will hang on to with every fiber of my being.
·      Food- Hawker food, Indian food (pratha with dahl, samosas, chana masala), Din Tai Fung (steamed buns and dumplings), Thai food (Pad thai, coconut curry), Indian Food (Did I already say that?) QQ Rice, Real Food (beet burgers), Original Sin… I could go on and on. No drive thrus… Ok maybe a few on the island, but we never use them.
·      Boot camp- Cheryl, my trainer, and my workout partners have made me stronger inside and out. Through sweat and tears these women have become so dear to me. I cannot even imagine not having Tuesday and Thursdays at Fit @ The Fort to look forward to. Fort Canning is a dream like place to work out, but even if we were in a swamp these ladies are a blessing! The name of Cheryl’s company is so appropriately named Eat, Train, Love.
·      Tea and Coffee breaks- I love afternoon tea or coffee, alone or with a friend. Oh and the scones, they are to die for!!! It’s a perfect time just to slow down and unwind.
·      A different pace- Sure if you are trying to get on or off the train during rush hour, it can be overwhelming. Ion can send your senses into over-drive. One minute it seems so fast paced, the next you are behind someone doing the Singapore shuffle and the world slows to a snail speed. My dear local “friend like family”, Jaja, has told me numerous times to slow when I walk. Walking fast makes you sweat more she explained. Great tip… it’s still painful to walk that slowly sometimes… but I love it! I also adore that dinner, coffee or a quick meet up often turns into a long event. Restaurants don’t rush you in and out. Heck, it is hard to get them to take your order and then give you the check in the end. I love it. Maybe this is another reason you make friends so quickly; you always have plenty of time to chat.
·      Never needing a designated driver- Remember that public transit, it makes a night out so easy! Date night and guy/girl’s night allows everyone to have a drink and not worry about getting home safely. 
·      Celebrating other’s holidays- Singapore has a huge number of public holidays that celebrate different religions and cultures. It is a wonderful thing to be able to see your Muslim or Jewish friends fasting and then watching them celebrate as it ends. I regularly find myself in awe of their devotion and love for God. I now know a little more about Deepavali, Vesak Day, Hari Raya and the Lunar New Year.
·      Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street, Bussorah and Haji Lane- Very touristy, but so fun to shop, sight see and people watch. Plus, these areas have some really good food!
·      Buddhist Temples, Hindu Temples and Mosques- I love the architecture, the smell of incense, the bustling markets that set up outside during religious holidays. Yet again, I find true beauty in witnessing the devotion of others in prayer. It makes it easy to see how alike religions are despite differences.
·      Doctors and Hospital Care- I love that we can walk into the A&E (which is just the ER) and be seen in minutes. In this case, I know we are privileged because of our excellent insurance we can use a premier private hospital. Although, I know the public ones have exceptional care just longer waits! I love that all doctors have most of the medicine they prescribe in their office. No extra trips to the pharmacy required.
·      Driving- So this is just the little kid in me. I love getting into our car on the right side and driving on the left side of the road. Singapore is an amazingly easy place to drive. The roads are really marked well.
·      International Schools- I love that my kids have had the opportunity to attend school with students and teachers from around the world. They have had amazing school trips to Siem Reap, Cambodia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Bintan, Indonesia; Tioman, Malaysia; and slept at the zoo. They’ve gained a world perspective that will always be with them. Each has learned a new language and has aspirations to learn more.
·      Rainforest- A quick bus/ car ride or a good walk away and you are in the rainforest. It's full of beautiful trees, scary monkeys, monitor lizards, snakes and birds. One minute high-rise housing, the next nature surrounds you.
·      The Weather- Ok, sure I’ve complained about the heat or rainy season; but wearing tank tops and shorts all year round is pretty amazing. The tropics are not a hard place to live. What will I do when I have to put on real shoes again?!?!
·      Style- You have so many people from so many different places around the world that wearing something different doesn’t really stand out. Show up to a lunch and 3 people will be in shorts and tanks, 3 will be in dresses, and 3 in totally different outfits. I rarely stress about what to wear! Men can carry bags (purses) and it is not a crime. You know they have often have loads to carry too. My boys can wear skinny jeans and capris and no one looks twice. They are skinny and those jeans actually fit them.
  There are so many other wonderful things about this beautiful Country I have called home it would take me forever to write and some things just can’t be explained.

Maybe this wasn’t dark after all; it was just my love letter to Singapore, its people, and my fellow expat friends. I will miss you. I’m glad we have 4 more months to make some more memories and slowly be ok with saying goodbye.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 5th Grade Graduation and 8th Grade Graduation

Last June, Jax graduated from 5th grade. Emma and Delaney graduated from 8th grade. They all did this a Stamford American International school. The 5th grade celebrated after with a snack and cake. The 8th grade had a fun banquet.

One Year

WOW! It's been a year since I last posted. No way I can catch up with everything thats happened over the last year. I will bullet out some of the highlights at the end of this blog with the intent of writing some throwback Thursday post to catch up on what I've missed writing about.

I've been feeling a pull to get back to documenting our life after reminiscing reading my blog book Dax gave me a few years ago. Plus, there is so much going on in our lives these days that I don't want to forget. I decided to open the blog today only to realise that its been almost exactly one year... and we just return from our second trip to Sea Gypsy which is what the post before this is about. SO... it's time to get started again.

A year in review:

  • First trip home to the States: It was a whirlwind. We love seeing family and friends, but didn't get to see everyone we wished! We were ready to return home to Singapore by then end of the trip.
  • First summer in Singapore: The kids and I enjoyed sight-seeing, Universal Studios, Water parks, and each others company. We took a quick trip to Indonesia for a beach holiday as a family.
  • Started a teaching job at the same school I had the boys in. I had wonderful students who I came to love and some of the best friends while working there. Unfortunately, the school wasn't a good fit for me and the boys so we left after second term.
  • The girls started HIGH SCHOOL!!!! Where did the time go?!?! Jax started 6th grade! Holy Cow! I feel old ;-) Ollie is in 3rd grade... can't he stay my baby forever!?!?
  • Emma and Dede were in the play The Matchmaker. They were fabulous. I love watching them act.
  • Dax and I attended a wedding in Chennai, India. We also went to Dehli and saw the Taj Mahal. It was such a wonderful trip spending time as just a couple. I am certainly lucky to be married to my friend. We just have so much fun being together.
  • We had our first visitors: Mom and Harold came for a visit! We (the girls had school and rehearsals so they stayed behind) went on trip to Nikoi Island in Indonesia. It was magical. It is one of my favorite places on earth! It was super relaxing and great family time. Unfortunately, I had to work part of the time they were here. The girls were then on break and played tour guides showing off our home.
  • The girls went on their 9th grade trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. They did a service project at the Wildflower Home, enjoyed some team building activities, and went sight seeing.
  • Dax, Delaney, and Jax attended a Metallica concert. They were all in their element and rocked the night away.
  • The boys took ukulele lessons. They learned a few songs, but gave it up after a few months.
  • We planned on spending our second Christmas in Singapore. We bought Christmas tree and decorated. Unfortunately, Dax's Granny passed away and we decided that we would fly back to say our goodbyes. Only a month before Dax's Grandma had past and we were unable to return due to both of our jobs. Both of these women helped to molding Dax into amazing husband, father and man that he is. We all loved these women so much they will be missed, but we are eternally grateful for the time we had with them. The short time we had on this trip home was fabulous and we really enjoyed spending time with the family.
  • In January, the boys started school at the German European School Singapore. They are in the European section which speaks English. They are having the time of their lives. We feel very lucky. It was a super easy transition and they made friends so fast. 
  • My high school friends moved to Singapore! We have enjoyed reconnecting and it barely feels like anytime had past even though it was close to 20 years ;-) Our kids love each other which makes it all the better. We have even joined them on 2 trips (KL, Malaysia and Sibu, Malaysia). 
  • I joined a bootcamp where I met the some of the most lovely ladies who I get to sweat with twice a week.
  • We went to the Singapore air show. It was really exciting. Dax and I couldn't help but think of the air shows he worked when he was in the Marine Corps. 
  • Ollie turned 10! We celebrated with a laser tag party and a large group of 3rd grade boys. 
  • We returned to Nikoi for spring break. This time the girls joined us. Again, it didn't disappoint... if only I could move there ;-) I guess being a boat ride away is good enough!!!
  • Dad and Tammy came for a visit. We showed them all around Singapore and even took the on a day trip to Indonesia for golfing and a day at the spa.
  • The girl's dear friend from Houston who now lives in the UK came for a visit. I don't think I've ever seen teens smile as much as they did! It was so wonderful having her here. I love that technology allows the girls to keep in touch.
  • We enjoyed family day at Dax's work where he was able to show us all his office. We enjoyed a talent show, games, food, and all around fun. I even got to be a judge in the talent show!
  • Dax and I took a long weekend trip to Cambodia. I sure do like just being with him! We both fell in love with the people and temples. We will definitely return with the kids. 
  • Emma was in The Wind in the Willows at school. She did wonderful as the Magistrate. That girl is so committed to being an actress it amazes me. She is so talented.
  • Dede has enjoyed learning how to print in 3D, being part of the Stamford eye where she films and photographs school events.
  • Both girls are on the schools rugby team.
  • Jax was Courtesan in Comedy of Errors. He loved dressing up like a girl. That kid is such a ham ;-) He also enjoyed track at school.
  • Jax went on his 6th grade school trip to Bintan, Indonesia. He had lots of fun and got to know his classmates even better.
  • Ollie went on an overnight trip to the Singapore Zoo with his 3rd grade class. He was beyond thrilled. He was totally in his element. He even got to put up a tent and sleep outdoors.
  • Ollie has been playing golf and swimming at school. He loves them both, but thinks next year he will only do swimming.
  • Both boys were taking riding lessons and learned a lot. They recently gave it up to have their Saturday's back.
  • Over the last year, we have made so many treasured friends. Our dear neighbours became more like family... sadly, they have recently repatriated and we miss them so! In the month ahead, we are once again saying goodbye to more dear friends. Although it hurts, we are so excited that the expat life allows us the opportunity to meet people from all around the world and quickly become  close friends. Big plus now, we have lots of new places to visit!