Sunday, June 28, 2009

Were You Wondering, Too?

A friend emailed me recently and said something to the effect of, "Your blog sounds like you're doing great, but how are you really doing?" (Thanks, Lisa!) I emailed back and told her that was definitely an email from someone who's lived on the other side of the world before, and someone who also currently lives away from her family. :-)

So, in case you were wondering how I'm really doing, too, here it is.

I'm actually doing well. :-) I do have a tendency to protect my family from any sadness and hard times I might feel by not going into tremendous detail, especially when they are so far away and can't do a thing about it!

I do have moments/sections of days that are really sad. I miss my family so much. I miss my friends so much. I miss loading my kids in the car, driving to Target, strapping them both in a basket, and walking around getting the things I need. And knowing where those things are in the store.

I'm tired of carrying Levi on my back everywhere we go (unless Justin's with us, then he does it). I'm tired of going to the grocery store and only being able to get as much as I can carry with a child on my back and chasing after a straying 3-year-old.

We're finally moving out of that stage where it feels like a vacation. We've been here for 3 1/2 weeks now, so the reality of it all is starting to sink in.

But, overall, I'm really glad to be here. Honestly. I'm in a very healthy place emotionally and mentally, which is what I prayed for so often last Spring when I wasn't. And what so many people have been praying for me!

Do I wish I could call my mom 4 times a day and ask her any number of questions and tell her random things the boys are doing? Yes! Do I wish I was going to be there when my sister goes into labor sometime in the next few weeks? Of course! Do I wish I could go get Sonic Jr. Candy Sundaes and go hang out with my friend, Kim, and her sweet kids? You betcha!

But that's where we're at right now, and I'm okay with that. God has really blessed us and given us friends here already that care about us and are going through this experience at the same time. We definitely feel protected and loved. And we are!

So, thanks for all your concern, spoken or not. I'm sure things will get harder in some ways and easier in others. There will still be sad times about things I'm missing back home, and there will be special things we'll experience here that never would have been possible there.

And did you know that you can fly from Houston to Singapore for under $700. It's true. :-)

Come see us! We have a guest room that we'd love to fill anytime!

Outings and Our Crazy Kids!

Blogger is putting the pictures in backwards order, so these are all messed up as to when we did stuff. But, here's what we've been doing lately.

Levi playing in the fountain at Clark Quay. We ate at "The Tent" Mongolian restaurant with our friends, The Stunz's. It was so yummy! Our kids adore their kids who are 18, 16, and 10. And they've been babysitting for us, which we so appreciate. There are so many things here that it's just easier if the kids are not with us, like shopping for tvs!
Caleb picked out his own outfit...could you tell? He wears his Batman cape that Mimi made for him ALL.THE.TIME. He got A LOT of attention with this get-up, so he eventually ditched the hat. The cape stayed on, though!

Sign in the MRT station. Don't jump on the tracks, people!

After church this morning, we headed to Holland Village for lunch. There was a group of kids there and one girl stopped and told us they were playing a game and asked if they could take a picture with our cute kids. She called them cute, so we couldn't refuse. I wouldn't let them leave until I had a picture, too. The kids didn't know what to think!


There's a koi pond here where we're staying, and one of the guys let the boys feed the fish the other day. The fed the fish and then threw big rocks at them. No matter how many times they get in trouble for that, they keep doing it.

Our family on top of Vivo, Singapore's largest mall. Not a great picture, but the only one we have of all of us so far. Caleb wouldn't stop moving, so he's blurry. Notice the cape. Again.

Singapore is having its River Festival right now. Justin and I had a date the other night (YAY for date nights!), and we walked down by the river. They had a strange float parade going on that we didn't exactly understand. All the lights were pretty, though. And there was a cool breeze, too, so that was nice and unexpected here.

So, that's what we've been up to. We're so ready to move to our permanent place and have our own furniture and belongings. Today I was scrubbing crayon off the wall here with laundry stain remover. It worked really well, but we need to get out of this place before the boys destroy everything!
And, lastly, here's how a conversation with Levi goes lately. He's really picking up sentences...using two and three words together. But he's also asking lots of questions.
Me: Levi (calling to him)
Levi: Wha? (what?)
Me: Come here
Levi: Why?
:-)






Sunday, June 21, 2009

Random, Unconnected Thoughts

Sunday we ventured out to church again. It was about a 15-minute taxi ride, which was MUCH better than the sweaty, long walk we had to church the last time! This one started at 9am, then at 10:30 had a fellowship break (snacks, drinks), and resumed for the Lord's Supper at 11:00. The break was too much for the kids...they thought it was over and they became very hyper. They had been good until that point.

When we went back into the service for the Lord's Supper, someone was up front reading a Scripture passage and Caleb took off from our seats at the back of the auditorium, ran up the side aisle, up onto the stage, jumped off, continued running across the front, then ran down another aisle. All this time Justin is chasing him to no avail. Caleb finally came back where we were sitting and was headed up for another round when I was able to reach out and grab his shirt to stop him. Justin and I were mortified!



We went to a waterpark recently called Wild Wild Wet, and it was "Transformer Day," apparently, because this guy was walking around. Caleb saw him and ran around the corner. But this was as close as he'd get.



Levi's learning to ask questions. His favorites, which he repeats all.day.long are:


What?


Where'd it go?


Why?


Really. Another why child. Caleb asks enough questions for 5 kids, and now Levi's asking questions, too. Pretty much all day long I answer the same questions over and over and over.


We got to see my friend, Bui, at church on Sunday. She and her family were on vacation in Singapore (from Thailand). I hadn't seen her in almost 8 years, so a lot had changed in my life since then! We're hoping to make it to Thailand in October, so we'll get to see her again!

Blogger isn't letting me upload any more pictures right now (and for the past 2 days), so this will have to do.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh, I wish you could have seen me

I got my workout in for the day. Just a little while ago the boys and I returned from lunch and the grocery store. I had Levi strapped to the front of me in the carrier, two grocery bags in one hand, and holding Caleb's hand with the other. And then it started raining.

It was a LONG walk from the grocery store to the MRT, then from the MRT to our apartment. Needless to say I was soaked with sweat (and a little rain, too), and my arms are still shaking from carrying almost 30 pounds of Levi and two heavy grocery bags. Probably should have taken a taxi home! (My husband would be proud of me for trying to be thrifty.) :-) I've already lost 8 pounds since we got here from all the walking and sweating, so maybe today will help a little more!

We're going to a Mongolian BBQ place for dinner (SO yummy...surprise, Justin!), and Caleb has been asking for a week to go to the restaurant with the fountain you can play in. Better remember to bring a change of clothes for them!

I'm wondering if my friend, Andrea, who just arrived in Singapore this morning has realized why I only wear mascara and lip gloss now. The rest just sweats right off my face. Plus, the heat and sweating gives you a nice "glow" and "rosy" cheeks naturally. At least that's what I tell myself.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bad News & Good News

The bad news is that I dropped my camera tonight and it's not working. I'm hoping it's able to be fixed. *fingers crossed*

The good news is that when I signed up for cell service here in Singapore I got a really expensive phone for a not-so-expensive price (about 1/4 of the original price). That phone has a great camera and I'm able to upload from my phone to the computer. Ah, technology is great.


Here we are walking to dinner, and Caleb is giving his "face." It's pretty common these days. I love age 3.


"Singapore Litter Free" :-) It IS clean!


Here's where we're headed for dinner...The Newton Food Centre, aka "The Newton Hawker"

Here we are. This is one of the nicer food centers, and, therefore, more expensive. Our dinner was S$29 for three plates of food and 4 bottles of water. Not too bad, but expensive for local food.

Our yummy food..chicken fried rice, sweet & sour chicken, and fried buns (not pictured). Levi LOVES rice. Caleb is our picky eater and won't try anything that looks "suspicious." Once he takes a bite, he almost always likes it. Getting him to take a bite is hard work.
This is the stall where our food came from. What you can't see inside that little cage are live crabs. Fresh seafood, indeed!
And just for fun...Caleb asleep with his sock monkey. I was testing out the flash on my camera. :-)
Levi in the Baby Hawk baby carrier at the train station. I really need to get a Beco or Ergo Baby Carrier because this one ties on instead of snaps on and it's hard to get it right.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vocabulary and The Swine Flu

Caleb has a whole new vocabulary now that we're living in Singapore.j

"Are we going to take the MRT?"

"There's the Newton hawker."

"Where's your hand phone?"

And he knows that we tell the taxi drivers that we're staying at "The Orchard Scotts on Anthony Road."

:-)

Even Levi has a new word, "taxi." And Levi has three new teeth.

They are VERY serious about the Swine Flu here (H1N1). There are signs in the taxis and MRT stations and just about everywhere warning that if you came from an H1N1 infected country or are going to an H1N1 infected country that you should avoid large crowds and take your temperature regularly. Oh, and if you have a fever plus cough/congestion, call and ambulance. When I'm in the taxi with the kids by myself the drivers who speak really good English will chat with me, and one of them asked where we were from and then also asked about the Swine Flu and the economy. (It sort of feels like when I was in Thailand in 2001 and all anyone would talk to me about was the World Trade Center. Now it's the economy and the Swine Flu. I guess they're just trying to make conversation.)

We went to view a condo last week and at the guard's gate they had a sign that said all visitors and contractors must stop at the guard gate to have their temperature taken before entering the complex. They didn't make us, but I thought it was funny.

They were serious about it on the airplanes on the way here, too. When we stopped in Japan, they had fully masked inspectors come onto the plane to determine if anyone was sick. We had to fill out little health questionnaires that asked whether or not we'd had a fever in the last 10 days.

Well, we found a condo that we really like and have submitted the LOI (Letter of Intent) to the owners. We should find out today or tomorrow if they have accepted our offer. They are replacing the air con units in the whole complex, so they don't want us to move in until July 15, but I'm hoping they'll let us go ahead and move in a couple of weeks when our furniture arrives. We're ready to sleep in our own beds and have our own stuff!

The boys were up late last night, so it's after 9am and they are still sleeping! They have finally returned to their normal sleep habits, so we are thankful for that!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Other Earth

Caleb: "Mom can you buy me one of those pools in the other earth?"

Me: "Is Texas in the other earth?"

Caleb: "Yeah. Can you buy me one of those pools when we get back to Texas."

Me: "We'll see, Caleb, when we get back to Texas."

You've seen the pics of our corporate apartment, and now for a few pictures that are distinctly Asia...


These are light switches, a water heater switch, and the big thing controls the air con in the master bedroom. Each room has its own air con unit, and you only cool the rooms you're in (otherwise you're electric bill is HIGH). The two sets of switches on the right are for the sink and toilet areas. I can never remember which set goes to which, so I'm always turning on the wrong ones.

If you can tell, the kitchen is enclosed behind a door. In most cases, you don't cool the kitchen. It's gotta be lovely to cook in a hot kitchen with no air conditioning!


Shoe rack. Our temp apartment has a little closet for shoes right inside the door. You always take off your shoes when you enter someone's house. The maids, delivery people, and anyone else leaves their shoes outside our place when they enter.


And our air shipment arrived today. They asked me if I wanted them to unpack it, but where in the world would we put all this stuff??? (and Levi's giving you his "cheese" face)

That's about all for now. Its quite an adventure living here! We haven't ventured to local food too much because of the boys. We're trying to get them adjusted to living in a new culture before we go places that don't have spaghetti without sauce (Caleb's favorite) or chicken nuggets. Caleb's a pretty picky eater, and we've found that if they don't eat a good dinner they won't sleep well.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Things Caleb Says

I'm seriously going to start writing down things Caleb says, especially now that we're in a foreign country. And, for future reference, if you have a child that asks about 1000 questions a day, DO NOT take them to a foreign country. You cannot imagine the number of questions that child has. Naturally, of course, but I think I'm going to start counting and limiting him. There's only so much a mama can take! :-)



Here are some things he's said recently:


"Is Singapore in the world?"


"Can we take a taxi?" (he's really tired of walking everywhere!)

"When we were at our hotel in the world..." (he means the one in Houston)

And Mr. Independent wants to do everything himself. He wants to scan his own MRT card, ride the escalator w/o holding anyone's hand, and JUMP off of every surface he can find!

Our First Worship Service in Singapore

This morning we went to church for the first time here as a family (since Justin and I have both been to church here in years past). We took the walk to the MRT station, rode the train, and then walked to the church. A walk Justin had advertised as a 5-10 minute walk. Oh, he has a lot to learn about being in Singapore with a family. About 15 minutes and two VERY cranky kids and a VERY sweaty wife later, we arrived at church. We were late, but thankfully they do not start on time.

When we sat down and started singing, I was so glad to be back in an Asian church. The singing was beautiful and we even sang one of my favorite worship songs, "In Christ Alone." Their voices were so full and beautiful and the room just echoed with praise.

And then all chaos broke out as our two kids started behaving like we haven't seen them behave in a long time. They were AWFUL! They whined, cried (both of them), screamed a little, and just generally ruined the worship for most everyone around us. And if you don't believe me about how awful they were, here are the comments we got after church (from some of the sweetest, most gracious people you'd ever meet):

"Don't worry. We all (the people in the two rows behind us) have two boys. We understand."

"How old is he (Levi)? Yeah, I thought he was in his twos." ;-)

"Are they jet-lagged still?"

So, needless to say we didn't stay for Bible class since it was 11:15 and Levi had been up since 6:30 (AGAIN!). We tried to get a taxi, but couldn't find one that would stop, so we made the sweaty walk back to the mall to grab some fast lunch and GO HOME for naptime. The kids and I all took naps, and if you know Caleb, you know he doesn't nap EVER. We're all pretty tired.

Even though the kids were cranky, I loved being in church today. It was a small church and the people were incredibly sweet. We had so many offers to help in any way...keep our kids, help us find our way, etc. Hopefully our next church experience will be better for everyone involved.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Going To Breakfast...Quite An Adventure

(Click on the picture to make it bigger. This is the best way I could get all these pictures on the blog.)


Top Row: We start walking to breakfast, walking, walking, Levi takes a detour, we arrive at MRT station (note the stairs)
Second Row: See that white building across the street--that's where the elevator is, take the escalators down, walk, wait, ride train
Third Row: Get off train, ride escalators up, come out of station and this is what we see, eat breakfast at Burger King, view across from Burger King
Last Row: Repeat process...escalators, view outside MRT station by hotel, walk, arrive hotel, Caleb looks longingly at pool that he cannot swim in today because he got in trouble so many times yesterday.

Whew. I'm tired. Are you?

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Singapore, Day Two

I'm going to start with something positive because today has been a really hard day and it's only 3pm.

Our boys get lots of looks here in Singapore. While we're walking around people are always craning their necks to see them. More than a few people have stopped to ask us if they are twins. We tell them that the younger one is just big. :-) We're also very aware of just how LOUD Levi is! You can hear him from a mile away...probably why people are always staring at us.

Caleb now knows who President Obama is; apparently it took us coming to Asia for that to happen. We never really discussed it with him before, and we don't generally watch the news with him, but here in Singapore Obama is on tv all the time! (and there are tvs everywhere...sometimes even beside elevators.) Apparently this part of the world is very interested in his recent trip and report on it all the time. At breakfast this morning, the tv was on and it was showing Air Force One arriving in Germany. President Obama got off the plane and Caleb said, "Obama." I was shocked that he even knew who that was.

Levi woke up at 3am this morning. Caleb quickly followed. Both of them were so tired from jet lag last night that they didn't eat dinner and were cranky beyond belief. We had planned to go to the grocery store to get a few snacks but decided against it because they were spent. At 3am when they were both hungry, we were wishing we'd made that trip. So, in the middle of the night, my children were eating rice krispie treats (thanks, Kimberly!) and fruit snacks. The grocery store was definitely high on our list of things to do today. So, from 3-5am, we had a little party. The boys wanted to watch cartoons, but we don't get any of the cartoon channels here at the hotel. We tried to get on nickjr.com to watch them, but apparently you can only watch those if you are in the US or its territories. Big bummer.

Going to the grocery store (Cold Storage) was a reality check, too. We'd taken the MRT up one station to get there, so we could only get just a few things (whatever we could carry back with us). We got some fruit and a few snacks so we'll be prepared if they kids wake up in the middle of the night hungry again.

It is quickly becoming apparent to me that unless the boys and I take taxis everywhere, we won't be venturing out much without Justin. Singapore is a walking city with great public transportation. It's ideal and pretty easy if you don't have small children, but trying to get two kids (that get tired easily and must be in a stroller most of the time) up and down out of the MRT stations where only one entrance has an elevator is difficult. It seems like the elevator entrance is always across the street from where we want to be and crossing the street is not always easy. Just going to McDonald's for lunch was a huge undertaking. First, we went to the wrong building. So, we had to go down two escalators (balancing 60 lbs of children on one escalator step in the stroller) to the underpass, walk through the underpass, repeat balancing of stroller up the escalators to the street level. Walk down the street to McDonald's. Realize that there are about 20 steps down to the McD's. Get kids out of stroller. I hold Levi while Justin carries the stroller down and Caleb walks on his own. In McDonald's, Levi threw a huge fit and literally threw his box of chicken nuggets and apples across the restaurant. Then he threw his toy and nearly hit a lady.

Later, he threw my drink on the floor in another building while Justin was taking Caleb to potty.

We're so proud.

And I thought getting in my car in my driveway in Houston, strapping the kids in their carseats, driving down the street to Target, parking close to the door, getting them in the cart and walking inside the store was hard. I'm so naive.

So, we're finding our way around and trying to figure out how it's all going to work. Thankfully Justin has been here enough to know where some things are. We're all tired still and hoping to get a good night's sleep tonight.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Singapore, Day One, Part Two

Pics of our temporary apartment, continued from last post...

The view from our apartment:Caleb looking outside and telling me which pool he wanted to swim in:

The other half of Caleb's room (see last post), which I'm calling "Suitcase Central." We brought 12 suitcases--the max allowed for a family of four traveling in business class. We also have an air shipment arriving next week and a sea shipment in a few weeks. You just don't know what you're going to need and wish you would have brought!

Master Bath:
This pic is for my sister. She appreciates a good shower head. This one is incredible. Of course it could have felt so good because I hadn't showered in over 24 hours.

Dining table:

Caleb's room, complete with sock monkey!

Here's me trying to get a pic of my super curly hair to show you. Caleb's saying "cheese" if you couldn't tell. Look at those blue eyes!




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Singapore, Day One

Our first day in Singapore is going well. Our plane landed about 1am this morning and we were settled at the hotel with kids bathed and in bed by about 3:15. Justin and I got to bed around 4, and then were both wide awake at 7 since our body clocks are seriously messed up. We've had a busy morning, which started at the Ministry of Manpower getting Justin's employment pass and our dependent passes (like green cards, and they're actually green!). We've walked around all morning, so now Levi is napping and Caleb and Justin are headed down to the pool. The boys are doing so well!

Here are some things I've noticed about Singapore in the half-day we've been here:

1. Getting around with a stroller is difficult, especially at the MRT (Singapore's subway system, stands for Mass Rapid Transit) stations and various other buildings. Lots of escalators and not always a convenient elevator.

2. I don't wear a lot of makeup, but what I had on this morning was running down my face in about the first 30 minutes. Sweet. Add tissues to the things I'll be carrying in my purse.

3. I have to get used to the signs they use here. I didn't recognize the one they use for elevators...my sweet husband had to correct me when I thought I was headed toward the elevator and was really taking us all to the bathroom.

4. They call elevators "lifts." Singapore used to be a British colony, so their English is more British English with an Asian accent. And with their own special additives, of course.

5. I love it here. It just feels right. What a blessing that peace is!

And now, a few picures.

Levi at the airport with his harness monkey looking over his shoulder:

Our corporate apartment we'll be staying in for the first few weeks, until we find a permanent apartment. It's swanky!

Living Room:
Kitchen and Laundry Room:
Master Bedroom:
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