Thursday, July 30, 2009

For Mimi, Granddad, Poppa, and Grandma

We miss you so much! With love from Caleb and Levi.


If you're having trouble viewing it, go here.

A VIDEO!!!

I'm finally posting a video. The quality is not good and neither is the lighting, but I figure the grandparents won't complain! This phone of mine is good for so many things. :-)

Daddy was late coming home from work, and dinner wasn't going so well. Life with little boys is always interesting. And loud. (Oh, and "proomp" is Caleb's new word. It has lots of meanings. In this context it obviously means "hit." Joy.)



If you can't view it, go here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Now that we don't live near an MRT station, the bus is the best/cheapest way for us to get around. This book comes in really handy...(especially now that I know how to read and use it!)
Last weekend we had to go down near Little India to pick something up, so we decided the bus was easier than trying to find a place to park the car. One of the bus #s that comes by our place...


You can search by street name, and it shows all the buses that come to each stop. Ours is at the bottom..."Holland Gems."

We scored and got a double-decker bus. Caleb was super-excited to ride on the top, even though he's giving his angry face here.

Levi looking down on people at Plaza Singapura


Just had to take a picture of this, since some people think that's where we got Levi's name. (Although a Jewish woman at Holland Village the other day said we need to pray and ask God if we're Jewish since both our boys have strong Hebrew names. She was really sweet, and pretty persistent about us being Jewish.) :-)

It's always an adventure getting around the city. I had coffee with a sweet lady yesterday (who's a friend of a friend of ours in Houston), and I picked her up in our car. We drove to Starbucks and had to wait about 10 minutes for a parking spot to open up. It felt like I was in school at A&M again, sitting in my car and waiting for a parking spot to open. Except here, there were only about 20 spots in the lot.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Indian Food

We went to an Indian place tonight...CURRY GARDENn (spelled just like that!), and Caleb was not too happy about the choices for food. There was a pizza place just a couple of stalls down that had chicken nuggets, but we wanted them to try to eat the food, so we didn't mention the chicken nuggets.

LOOK! He ate it. He's super picky, so this was quite a feat. (It may have involved a little bribery.)





And another thing...we found a FREE parking lot next to this place, and a FREE parking lot right in front of Giant (Singapore's Wal-Mart). We pulled right up there, did our shopping, loaded the car and went home. It was almost like we lived in Texas. A great find, indeed!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All Moved In

We moved in last week. It's been a long process to unpack everything and find a place for it. We're so blessed that we were able to bring things from home; it helps a lot. I still haven't washed all the dishes. I wash as many as can dry at one time, and then we eat and use those up...then I have a kitchen FULL of dishes again. :-) It'll get done, eventually, right? Good thing I'm not type-A...it would drive me nuts.

The boys got all their toys back! They haven't seen their toys in two months, so this was like a HUMONGOUS Christmas morning. (By the way, humongous is Caleb's new favorite word!)

Here they are enjoying their "new" toys in their playroom...

This is the new bookshelf I bought them at IKEA. We could open up a children's library out of their playroom. Makes this former English teacher really happy. :-)
I'd like to tell you it doesn't look like this all the time...
They take turns hiding in the toy box their Granddad made for them, which of course means all the toys end up on the floor. What are playrooms for, right?
Today I asked one of the teenagers whose dad works with Justin to watch the boys while I did a bit of grocery shopping and had some time to myself. I walked to the bus stop on the other side of the street (about a 10-min walk...down and under the overpass) and headed down to Holland Village. My first stop was Starbucks. A vanilla latte and a blueberry muffin later and I was on my way. Saw a foot reflexology place that had been recommended, so I stopped in. They had a special for "first timers" that included a 30-minute foot massage and a 30-minute back and shoulder massage for S$38 ($26 US!). I couldn't say yes fast enough. It was wonderful! After that I headed to get a Brita water pitcher (the water here doesn't taste very good, but it's perfectly safe) and then to the grocery store for bread and milk and bananas.
I'd like to write an open letter to the Singapore radio stations. It would go something like this:
Dear Singapore Radio Stations,
As an American citizen, I appreciate good American music. You play a lot of American music from the 70s and 80s, most of it not the best from that time period. I am often puzzled as to why you have chosen those particular songs. Do you know that decades have passed since then and lots of new music has been played? There are thousands of songs, millions maybe, that you could choose from.
Please, I'm begging you to find something new.
Thank you very much.







Friday, July 17, 2009

Monkey Wrench

Caleb came over to me holding his tool box that he had put some of his daddy's tools in.

"Wanna see?" he says.

"Sure."

He opens the box, and I look in.

"Do you know what that one is?" I ask.

"No."

"It's a monkey wrench."

"Is it for real monkeys???"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quirks

I'm starting to learn all the quirks of living in this new apartment. You know that saying, "you learn something new every day?" Well, when you live in a foreign country, you learn about 10 new things every day. On Wednesday when we had to take a taxi to Ikea, I learned that in Singapore you don't pronounce it "eye-key-uh," you pronounce it "ick-ee-uh." Good to know. The taxi driver and I had a hard time communicating about where I wanted to go. I wanted to scream, "It's the BIG BLUE BUILDING on Tampines Rd." Except you don't pronounce Tampines "tam-peens," like I thought. It's "tam-pin-ess." Good grief. Are we speaking the same language or not? Definitely not.

Here are some things we're learning about our new place:

1. If you go outside the front door and it closes, you're locked out even if the deadbolt isn't locked. There is a button you can push on the door itself to be able to use the door handle from the outside, but as soon as you've locked the door, the button releases and you've got to do it all over again. Luckily we've only been locked out when an adult is on the inside.

2. The doors on the elevator close very quickly. I'm the only one who's been crushed by them yet, but I've put the fear in the boys that they've got to hurry when we're getting out. No dawdling, Levi!

3. There's not an air conditioner in the kitchen. During the morning and early afternoon, it's not too bad if you leave the door open and let some air in from the dining room. But by late afternoon and with a gas stove going, it gets HOT! We're definitely going fan shopping this weekend!!

4. We only have one plug in the laundry area, so only the dryer OR washer can be used at one time. The ladies who turned our apartment over to us said we could just get one of those plug adapters that allows you to plug in two things at once. However, the men at the electronics store said you cannot plug a dryer into one of those plugs because they pull too much electricity and we'd need to get an electrician out here to create a double plug. So, for now it takes all day to wash and dry two loads.

5. I'm going to wash every dish we own by hand today (no dishwasher) because they're all dusty from the packing paper and have been touched by two sets of movers. I went in there earlier to get things organized and realized we have no drain stopper.

6. I bought a coffee pot in Houston before we left that I could use here without an adapter. It's a Black & Decker. When I opened it up a few days ago, I realized that everything printed on the pot is in Spanish. It's a good thing I know a little Spanish and coffee pots aren't too difficult to figure out! I still laugh every time I look at that coffee pot, so it's good in the mornings when I'm not in a very good mood. :-) It tells me where to turn the lid to "servir" and how to "abrir or cerrar." It's a hoot!

7. We have 7 air conditioning units in this apartment. They are sort of like window units in the States because they only cool that space, but they are actually installed into the walls. We've been experimenting all week with which ones to leave on (there are 3 in the main living space) and what temperature is comfortable.

8. There are quite a few kitchen cabinets, for which I am very thankful! My big dinner plates even fit nicely, so that is a plus. The only thing lacking was a pantry space. All my cooking stuff and dishes took up all the cabinets, so I was lacking space to put food. I found two bookshelves at Ikea that were the perfect size to go against the wall in the kitchen and serve as a pantry. And they were only S$29 each. (Thanks Tori, Jakeb, and Andrea for helping put them together! And thanks Anna for keeping the boys occupied!)

It's fun getting to know a new place. I've been able to navigate two taxi drivers here from various locations, so that was a relief!

In this week's episode of "What My Kids Have Broken," we add one laptop. (Before you freak too much, Justin was able to fix it!) Levi decided it was a good idea to put play coins from his cash register into the DVD player of the laptop. Daddy was NOT a happy camper when the computer wouldn't even turn on at all. He took it apart, and was finally able to slide them out with a rounded knife w/o hurting the computer at all.

Let's just hope next week's episode has to be cancelled for lack of material. *fingers crossed*

Thursday, July 09, 2009

We Found A Preschool

We looked at two preschools today for the boys. One was a local preschool, which was nice and very structured. It was a 5 days a week program. I just couldn't put Caleb (let alone Levi) in school 5 days a week from 9am-3pm. That's like real school! I'm not ready for that and neither is he.

So, we checked out one of the more affordable international preschools and really liked it. We got a very quick tour and some information to take home, which I was thankful for because I wasn't feeling well (more on that later). Caleb and Levi will be able to attend the same school, so I'm very thankful for that! I wasn't sure how I was going to manage getting them to different schools without a car. I'd lose my mind for sure!

Caleb's tuition is included as part of our "expat package" because he's school age here. For Levi to go we'll be paying about 4 times what we paid in the States for Caleb to go last year and that's still very reasonable by Singapore's international preschool standards!

So, I've had a stomach virus this week. It's been awful. For three days I only managed to choke down 6 saltine crackers, 1/4 piece of toast, 4 bites of Rice Krispies cereal, and 5 grapes. I drank enough 100 Plus (the closest thing to Gatorade here) to keep me just barely hydrated. I was finally feeling hungry this evening and knew my weak stomach could not stand the smell of local food, so we headed to Chili's. We had the skillet queso and it was awesome! I needed a little taste of home for my sick tummy. My stomach shrank quite a bit this week, so I only could eat about 1/4 of the chicken breast I ordered, but now we have leftovers. I lost 6 pounds in 2 days, so that makes my total since we've arrived here at 16 pounds lost. Not the best way to lose weight, but I'll take what I can get!

We drove to Chili's tonight! I cannot tell you the pleasure I had at taking the elevator down to the carpark in the basement of our building, driving to Chili's in the mall (of course it's in a mall!), parking in the basement, and riding the escalator up. Very little walking. No waiting. And NO sweating! It was glorious!! We definitely took our cars for granted in Texas.

My mom sent me a package that arrived today. It included Bounce dryer sheets, decaf family size tea bags, a Bible study workbook I wanted, some CDs for the kids, and a few other things. Everything smells like Bounce! Our whole apartment smells dryer sheet fresh. I'm hoping it didn't soak into the tea bags too much. One thing I don't want is April Fresh tea. :-)


Our first family outing in the car...





Chili's! Yummy!!
Check out these steak prices! They fly everything in from the US...

We get the keys to our place on Saturday and our stuff arrives on Monday, so we're really close to not living out of suitcases!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Prices in Singapore

I took this picture tonight at Cold Storage because I still can't believe Haagen-Dazs costs this much! S$15.65 for a PINT (US $11.18)! I refuse to pay those prices (until I'm really desperate), so we buy the local store brand for about S$5 for 1.5 Liters. A much better deal. :-)


Sunday, July 05, 2009

4th of July Weekend and Things On our To Do List

I'll start with the pictures. These first few are of our new place. It was previously the show flat, so this is not our furniture...

Looking from the dining room into the living room...at the far end are the bedrooms.
Entry "hallway" and bedroom doors...(the lady in the pink skirt is our realtor, Ann)
Jack and Jill bath between the boys rooms...there's a shower behind the doors


Master bedroom (you should see the built-in closets...quite big for here in Singapore! Not walk-in or anything, but a whole wall of closet space w/ a built-in light.)

The pool (office/gym/lounge area is in the two-story building).

Our unit is on the 4th floor and we asked them to install plexiglass on the iron railing on the balcony so our children cannot climb up on it! There are locks to the balcony with keys, so the keys will be hidden from the kids for sure! My mom was so concerned about us living in a high-rise building w/ our boys who like to climb! (So was I!)
I'll post new pictures once our stuff arrives and we're unpacked.

Here's Caleb upset because there were too many kids playing on the bouncy house at the 4th of July celebration.

There were people everywhere at the American Association's 4th Celebration...can you spot Justin in the background? This picture doesn't do justice to the thousands of people at this place!

This is as far as Caleb would get in to the bouncy castle. The other kids were running into him and knocking him down, and he kept getting upset. Plus it was really hot and humid!



We've had a great holiday weekend...although the 4th of July is obviously not a holiday here in Singapore!

I started the weekend by getting a pedicure with my friend, Andrea. It was much-needed (the pedicure and the girl time!). It was a tiny place with only two chairs, so it was just the two of us. I mostly understood what the girl was saying to me, and definitely understood when she asked if I wanted to add the scrub as part of my pedicure and that it would be an extra $20. Ummm...no thanks!


We had a BBQ Saturday at lunch with the other expats from Justin's company here at our temporary housing (where almost everyone is still living). We ordered meat from a butcher that Andrea had heard of, and it was SO yummy! Even with very few seasonings on hand (salt and pepper), the steaks/hamburgers/kebas was really good. We'll definitely be ordering from that butcher again, and they deliver, which is ALWAYS a plus! Andrea also got the number for the "Chicken Man," who delivers chicken breasts to your house at a really great price. Once he's delivered to you, you can just text him your future orders (or SMS him as it's called here). Cool, huh? I'm definitely finding all the places who will deliver instead of dragging the kids everywhere.

Saturday night we headed to the Terror Club (named after a British ship, the HMS Terror) for the American Association's 4th of July celebration. They had bouncy houses/castles/slides, face painting, hot dogs, balloon animals, etc. It was SO hot and there were SO many people that we didn't enjoy ourselves very much. Caleb wouldn't even lay on the bouncy things because there were tons of kids on each one...they were regulating how many kids were on there. We also waited in line for an hour and 15 minutes for a nasty hot dog. Then a balloon popped and Caleb thought it was fireworks and he started freaking out! We hadn't told him there would be fireworks because we were trying to test the waters and see if his fear of fireworks was still there. Apparently, it is. So, we promptly left before the fireworks began.

This morning we tried church #4. :-) It was great! The pastor and his wife are from South Africa, so we loved listening to their accent. It was a wonderful church with very authentic worship and great Bible teaching. We haven't made a decision yet on which church we'll attend on a regular basis, but this one seems to be a great fit for our whole family.

The next thing on our list is preschools for Caleb. It's quite an undertaking to find a preschool that is close to where we'll be living, or at least close to a bus stop w/ a short walk after the bus. Sometime this next week Justin and I will be visiting preschools to find the best fit for Caleb. There is a Christian preschool close to where we'll be living, so I hope that one will work (I'm afraid they have a long waiting list, though). Levi is too young to attend there, but I hope to find a good place for him to attend a couple of days a week as well. I love that they will be going to school with children from other countries!

We now have a car, so I'm hoping that will help in getting to some places and with trips to the grocery store! Justin will have it at work most of the time, but if I need it he can ride with someone else.

And next week we move to our permanent place! We'll get the keys on Saturday and then the movers will bring our sea shipment and unload it on Monday. We are SO excited to not live out of suitcases anymore! And we're excited to sleep in our OWN beds!!! Asian beds are really hard.

That's it for now!


Reflecting Him

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