November 2012 Archives

Lunch Day at SAS

The marble track is a big hit with these two today!

Some of the streets in Woodlands area. This was on my walk to the school.

And the marble track was still going strong at the end of the day (although it had to be repaired a few times).

Parents were invited to come eat lunch at the SAS cafeteria today. So, I had the babysitter come again today so I could do that with Anna. I'm still feeling run down (sore throat is getting better, and I took some allergy medicine for the rash and that seems to be helping some). The lunch was fine. This lunch room is huge. I don't know how Anna's doing so well at SAS with its large size; I felt like I was being swallowed up by it! This lunch experience was much more relaxed than the last two schools Anna has attended so I liked that, but it was pretty darn loud (ten 2nd grade classes all eating at once!).

I stopped by the admissions office to see what was going on with Sarah's first day of Kindergarten. In her acceptance letter it just said that she would start at the second semester. I don't know if it was coincidental, but about ten minutes after I left the office (they told me I should hear something "soon" and before the end of this semester although the admissions office would be open during the winter break, too), I got an email with new student orientation information. All new students will have orientation on January 14 and their first day on January 15. (First day back for the semester is January 14 although it is a late start so Sarah will just start a day later than Anna goes back.) Now, if I could just somehow magically get them to email me that they have a spot for Henry!

We are really torn on where to live this coming year. On the one hand we'd really like to live near SAS and be able to walk to school. On the other hand, we'd really like to live nearer to downtown, the MRT, have a shared pool at our apartment complex, etc. We go back and forth continually. I am really hoping that after our house-hunting tomorrow we'll just know what to do. If not, I think I'm going to put our options in a hat and choose the winner that way. It's a lot of stress for a one-year assignment.

Craig did get a temporary car for us yesterday. It is a blue Honda Odyssey. It is shaped more like a wagon than a minivan though. It is pretty nice and seats 7. He is doing really well driving on the left-hand side of the road; I'm not sure when I'll try it. Since I get around by subway for the most part, I have no sense of direction. My runs to the Botanic Gardens have helped a little though. We have our GPS so as long as I choose the correct lane and look both directions before I go, I'm sure I'll be fine.


Orchard Road.

Our new car: a Honda Odyssey.

We went to lunch at Cedele before heading to Cold Storage for some much-needed groceries today. Sarah & Henry sometimes get along great and other times they start feeding off of each other and cause me problems when we're out and about. I could see that things were building up when we were in line at Cold Storage but we paid for our things, separated the shopping into manageable portions for each of us to carry something, and then went home.

They were lobbying to go to the pool when we got home, I was starting to consider it but I've been feeling kind of yucky the past couple days (sore throat, run down, a rash on my torso that goes crazy whenever I step into the sun). When we got home and I pulled the elevator card and apartment card out of my wallet, I saw that my debit card was not in my wallet. I unpacked all the groceries, cleaned out my wallet & bag and declared that we had to go back to Cold Storage to see if I had left my card there.

So, we went back to the MRT and to Novena. As soon as I approached the cashier she knew I was back for my debit card, but she didn't have it. She had to call for a manager who then had to get a key from customer service and then she disappeared for several minutes. I have no idea where she went to get my card but she had it. I didn't feel like we were gone that long and I don't get why the cashier didn't see me just a few feet away for several minutes when I was rearranging the shopping. Regardless, I was just happy to have my debit card back!

Unfortunately, we didn't have time for the pool by the time we got back. We agreed to go tomorrow.

This evening we had our first night-time babysitter. It was the same lady as on Tuesday so Sarah & Henry already knew her. Craig & I went out to dinner with some people from his office. It was really nice to go out for a nice dinner and relax! I didn't realize (I mean, I did, if I am honest with myself) how much we needed to do that! It has been a super crazy month and it doesn't seem like we have any time to slow down. Hopefully that will change soon.

Unfortunately, we're going house-hunting again this weekend so it won't be too soon. I really prefer the assignments we've had where they just tell you where you're going to live (or, as was the case in Okpo, there were just fewer choices). I feel really scattered and unfocused (trying to settle in the temporary place a bit, trying to get into a new routine knowing it's going to change soon anyway, trying to figure out Henry's preschool situation, planning a trip to Thailand (which also seems wrong since we've only just arrived, but it's better if we don't spend all 3 weeks of winter break in this apartment, we think!), etc. I do realize all of my problems are good problems to have.


Henry keeps getting songs from his preschool stuck in our heads all day. He was singing Skinamarink today and I just cannot get it out of my head! I can tell that he misses his preschool very much and I hope we can find him a spot in a nice school for January (still crossing our fingers that someone will move and he can get a spot at SAS).


Sarah, Henry, & I had kind of a lazy day at home (pool, reading Christmas books, puzzles, etc.) as I think I'm getting a sore throat (I don't think it's strep again)... Craig surprised us by coming home a bit early so we all went out for dinner. He had scoped out a food court at Somerset. We got some Thai food thinking the kids might like some pineapple rice and some cashew chicken. They didn't like the rice or chicken, but Anna loved the random 3-4 pieces of shrimp that were included in the rice. So much that she asked to go get more! Sarah, Henry, & I were less adventurous (Sarah did try the shrimp but didn't care for it) and stuck to plain rice and spring rolls. Anna declared that any time shrimp is on the menu, she is going to order it.

Christmas Decorating

There are usually 2 or 3 of these cats that remind us of Chopstick & Clementine near the Newton MRT.

We started out this morning by trying out a new babysitter so I could go run with the American Women's Association running group but the sitter was late and I couldn't get to the meet-up spot in time. I decided to just run out the the Botanic Gardens again and had a much better run this time (I think I was better hydrated and that made a big difference). I also found a slightly better way to get across Scotts Road and took stairs (good addition to the workout) and a pedestrian overpass to get across Stevens Road. I made it 4 miles today and felt much better than Sunday. And I feel less nervous about having already signed up for the 10.5k race in January! I was too sweaty & stinky to go out though so I came home and showered and went back out.

I went to Somerset to get stamps from the post office and then just relaxed a bit (found some nice teas and Christmas biscuits (cookies) from Marks & Spencers; had an iced mocha at Charlie Brown's Cafe) and came home so Sarah, Henry, & I could go to the Christmas tree decorating party at the apartment. They really liked this! They both got some festive headbands (I was actually surprised that Henry wore his) and had lots of treats and got to put some ornaments on the tree in the breakfast room.

When Anna came home from school we decided to put out all of our Christmas decorations as well. This was definitely the highlight of the day for everyone. (We don't have a tree yet so we just put out the house decorations.) The kids were all super excited about everything that came out of the box. Henry just loved going over to the mistletoe and could hardly handle the anticipation of someone coming to give him a kiss. I tried to get a video of this but I don't think I captured the true adorableness of it.

Art Class

I liked that these hangars are "slightly convenient."

Now, I can't for the life of me find the art class advertisement that we used to sign up for Sarah's "tile art class" with a picture of mosaic tile art next to it to see if we (that's me) read it wrong or if we really were mis-led...

We went to her class on the subway (the kids always choose subway over taxi even though it typically takes 3x as long. Oh well, it's an adventure! I am glad I have my smart phone to use as a map so I can see just where I'm going. We got to Sarah's class and I dropped her off (she seemed nervous but after a couple of minutes told me she was ready for me to leave).

Henry & I walked back over to the little mall right by the MRT and got a few things at DAISO, picked up the rest of the books in a series that Sarah discovered at the book fair (his Christmas gift for her), and sat down for some drinks and to just rest a minute. When we picked up Sarah from her class, I saw that the kids painted on a small (maybe 4x4 inch) tile. Tile art. I asked Sarah how she felt about that and if she was confused... I "cleaned up" for the Thanksgiving dinner and now can't find the catalog to see the description. I'm pretty sure the neo-cubism art class next week will be that though. ?? Anyway, Sarah painted a flower and she is excited about it and we have to go back next week to pick it up.

Sarah & Henry definitely seem more content in our apartment with more puzzles and games on hand. Today they made their own puzzles and played with the Legos a lot. It was good to spend a little one-on-one time with Henry today while Sarah was in class. I need to schedule some one-on-one time with Sarah, too.

Tomorrow I plan to run with the American Women's Association running club but I haven't gotten any info on their run yet! If I don't hear, I'll go on my own (probably the same run I did on Sunday because I'm super adventurous!).

Thirty Six!

I started off my 36th birthday with a good run. My first outside run in Singapore and it was so much better than running on the treadmill but it is still super steamy outside! I'm glad I know I like running so much because if I didn't already know that I might never run again since I'm so out of shape... I ran to the Botanic Gardens and back. I hope to be able to run farther and farther inside of the Botanic Gardens each week but I have to build up to that.

After several phone calls home, we decided to head out to the pool since it was sunny (it's monsoon season so I've learned that we ought to go to the pool while we see it's sunny or we might lose our chance). We went to Cedele for lunch and birthday cake and then got a few groceries at Cold Storage. Craig took the kids home and I went to Orchard Road to see if I could find Le SportSac for a better-sized purse that will hold a little umbrella. I just got a new purse in Houston but it was intended for living out of a car, not for traveling by subway. I found Le SportSac right away but they didn't have just the right bag. I spent a long time looking and had just about given up to go home when I found something that is the right size, had the right pockets, and is the right price (I saw a LOT of really pricey bags today!!).

We went to the Newton hawker center for dinner tonight. The kids & I had Indian again and Craig had Thai. It was a great day!

Tomorrow I am going to try to sign up the girls for some after-school activities for 2nd semester at SAS. Anna's choices (in order of preference) are: chess, swimming lessons, & yoga. Sarah's choices (in order of preference) are: tae kwon do, swimming lessons, yoga, and junior engineers. Registration starts tomorrow at 10 AM right when I will be taking Sarah to her tile art class on the other side of town. Hopefully I'll be able to get them into one of their top choices after we return from Sarah's art class.


Craig started off the day by going on a ride with a cycling group (this time he went with a group that went his speed!). Just before he got home, our air shipment was delivered! We were all so excited and the kids were playing with each toy/solving each puzzle one-by-one. When we asked them later though, what the best toy was, they all said, "the boxes!" They set up the boxes to be their individual apartments and they all lived in the same complex (there were five large boxes).

Just after lunch, the babysitter came and Craig & I set out on a marathon house-hunting day. We saw lots of great houses and lots of not-so-great houses. A lot of them had a similar problem of having a nice-sized master, huge "Jr. Master," and then two really small 3rd & 4th bedrooms. Always with one kid's room on a different floor than the other two. For many of the houses we thought Anna & Sarah could share a room. There were a couple of places with small pools and one even had a koi pond in the middle of it! There were two that we really liked up in Woodlands but we're not 100% decided that that's where we want to be. We looked at one super nice place in Bukit Timah (it had an elevator!) with a community pool and right next to a nature reserve (we saw a stray monkey cross the street on our way to look at this house!).

Exhausted from looking, we came home and went to dinner where the headache I had at th end of house-hunting turned into a full-blown migraine. I went to bed at 7 last night and I think the headache finally went away around 2 AM (thank goodness!).

Singapore Flyer

I took the kids to the Singapore Flyer today. It is 42 stories high, with a total height of 165 m (541 ft), and it is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. I was a little concerned that Henry would freak out on the 30-minute ride but he did not (he has expressed a fear of heights for just about a year now). There was a bench in the center and he was happy to sit on that and look out the window. Anna asked him to come stand at the window with her once but he was cemented to the seat. This post will be enhanced by pictures at some point in time!

After lunch, we went home and played in the pool for a while. Then a huge thunderstorm came through (the biggest and longest one we've seen here so far--it rains every day since it is the monsoon season but it doesn't always come with lightning & thunder). The kids gobbled up the Thanksgiving leftovers tonight, too.

The best news of the day is that the air shipment is being delivered tomorrow morning! It's supposed to come between 9:30-10 and then we have a sitter coming at 11:45 so Craig & I can go house-hunting. I am also researching alternative preschools for Henry in case a spot doesn't open up for him this coming semester. I'm intrigued by the German European School and the Canadian International School. We'll see what happens!

Botanic Gardens & Thanksgiving

We met up with some new friends at the Botanic Gardens today. Sarah's best friend in Texas had a neighbor move to Singapore two years ago so we became friends on Facebook and finally met up today. Actually, Anna rides the same bus to school and back with them so she had already met them/seen them. Anna & J. sat next to each other on the bus but didn't speak. They did today and Anna said next time she sits next to her on the bus she'll talk to her.

Anyway, we took the MRT there (Anna was super excited that we got to transfer trains to get there). There is a subway entrance/exit right at the Botanic Gardens entrance so it really couldn't have been more convenient! There were tons of centipedes outside the subway entrance and well into the Botanic Gardens. The kids were so worried about stepping on them and I told them to just walk with me... until I stepped on a couple and they were really gross to step on (I could feel them squishing!). Finally, there were fewer and fewer centipedes so we could walk normally again. We saw so many interesting plants and some neat little birds. We also spotted some GIANT leaves. At last we made it to the Children's Gardens and it was really impressive. I can't wait to go back and see the rest of the Gardens simply based on the fact that the children's area was so very nice.

My gang was pretty wiped out and Lisa gave us a ride back to our apartment. It was only 8 minutes back to our place (it took about an hour from our place to the chidlren's gardens). There was a case for getting a car right there, BUT I'm really glad we took the MRT there so we could see more of the park than we would have otherwise.

We came home to take a break and then start to prepare for our Thanksgiving feast. I had purchased some little activity/decoration kits from Target and brought them in my suitcase on the plane. (I sent the rest of the Thanksgiving decorations in the sea shipment--I'm glad I didn't send them in the air shipment since they wouldn't have gotten here on time!)

I had ordered our entire meal (turkey (breast only), gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry, broccoli au gratin, rolls, mixed green salad, and two pumpkin pies) to be delivered at 4:30. It arrived in three large boxes at about 4:25. Our first guests came just around 5 and we ate around 5:30. Terri & her kids brought flowers, wine, and two different salads; Kimberly & Erik brought wine and four extra dinner plates and four extra dessert plates (our apartment only came stocked with six of each).

Everything was perfect! I will say the pie wasn't the best I've ever had, but nothing to complain about, really. I would totally order it all again next year. It was really nice to not have to slave over the dishes and stress about it all. Also, there's no way I could have pulled it off in this kitchen with only two serving dishes and limited cookware. All three of our families recently arrived in Singapore and I think that that also helped to make it a bit more special.

Now, what to do about Christmas? I haven't decided yet! Our Christmas decorations are in the air shipment and we just got an email tonight that they want to deliver them on Saturday. Craig & I are going house-hunting on Saturday so I'm hoping they can come early that day or we'll have to wait until Monday afternoon or Tuesday. I'm also researching a trip to Thailand for winter break. It feels weird to try to get away from Singapore when we've only just arrived, but it already feels like we're in a hotel and the girls have three weeks off and we're only here for a year so we want to get out and take advantage of some awesome places close by!

American Women's Association

We walked over to the American Club to join the American Women's Association today. It was only 1k, but we sure were sweaty when we finally go there! Anyway, I signed up because they have a running club, book club, and playgroups so I figured it was worth the membership fee. I got a membership directory and saw that there was someone in it who lives at one of the places we will look at this coming weekend so I took a chance and emailed her some questions about it. She was so nice and told me a lot of info about the place so that right there felt worth it!

After the AWA, we walked to Orchard MRT but had lunch and did a little shopping before we got on the subway (Muji, Zara, Art Box, Daiso again). Finally I got those tired little legs back to the apartment to for an afternoon rest. We wanted to go in the pool when Anna came home from school but it was starting to rain by the time her bus came so we had to skip it.

Tomorrow we are meeting some friends at the Botanic Gardens and Anna is super excited because we have to transfer subway lines which we have not done yet. We'll come back early afternoon to get ready for our Thanksgiving dinner!

Lunch Date, Babysitter, & Art Classes

I still can't believe we just missed my cousin Greg performing in Singapore!

Sarah, Henry, & I walked over to the community center right next door to our building to see if there were any classes to sign up for while we are in limbo. There aren't many classes for them at that location, but I was able to sign up Sarah for a Tile Art class next Monday and for a Neo Cubism Painting class the week after (also on a Monday). She is super excited and I just hope they're as awesome as they sound!

I hired a babysitter for Sarah & Henry today so I could go out with my friend Minsue and have a bit of a break. (I feel guilty for writing that, but, as any parent knows, sometimes you do need a break!) The kids seemed to like the sitter and I definitely liked going out with Minsue! We had a great lunch and she showed me around the city a bit more. I am still totally disoriented but it was good to get out in her car and really look around as she pointed things out for me. I also got to check out her apartment and get a feel for where she is. I still have a ways to go before I'm ready to say I want a car though. Maybe after we move into our permanent place I'll finally be ready.

Anna had another great day at school today and discovered that one of her classmates lives in one of the apartment buildings at our complex. She just sounds like she is enjoying SAS so much which is really the best news ever. I worried it would take her a while to settle in but it seems like she has had no issues whatsoever. I hope it is as easy for Sarah in January.

This Feels Like Home

Nearly every time we walk back into our apartment, the kids all sigh and say, "this feels like home."

Book Fair & Bus

Sarah, Henry, & I hung around the apartment for a while this morning and then went up to SAS for the book fair. This was good timing for us since we're getting a little bored with what we brought in our suitcases! We met Anna there and got some good books to read. Sarah chose an early reader about plants because that was what they were studying at Vista when she left. She was so happy when she realized that she could read the whole thing by herself (and I was impressed!). We had lunch and then took the subway back to our apartment to rest up a bit before it was time to go back down and meet Anna at the bus.

I got up earlier than usual this morning so I could run on the treadmill (I hate running on the treadmill but I don't want to run in the dark in a city I don't know well, either!) and I've chosen my first race (January 27--a 10.5k trail run). There are a lot of great running races and tris to sign up for so I'm going to use them to keep me motivated! My run wasn't awesome (I took a long time off of exercise after having strep three times back-to-back-to-back and then the stress of the move) but it was good to get back at it. The treadmill had its own TV and personal fan built in. I'd say it was the fanciest treadmill I've ever run on but it didn't make treadmill running any more desirable!

I served dragon fruit with our dinner tonight and the kids were kind of weirded out by it, I guess, because I thought it was flavorless but very watery. They all tried a few slices and then passed on more. I plan to keep buying it! We've also got some star fruit & mango in the fridge. These are things I could get in Texas but they are much less expensive here (and fresher).

Tomorrow is going to be a banner day because Anna is buying her lunch and her snack (she has only purchased snacks so far). I'm also going out to lunch with my friend Minsue and I've hired a sitter for Sarah & Henry so I can actually enjoy Minsue's company and get a much-needed break. Also, I don't have to go up to SAS now that Anna is taking the bus both ways and we're not going back to the book fair.

Henry made great strides today with his new stools: I saw him go to the bathroom three times on his own! I am so excited about this development!! He was so reluctant to use the toilet in Texas and now after a week without his potty he is just dealing with it and moving on. Way to go, Henry!

Singapore Week One (Anna)

This is Anna's impression of our first week in Singapore.

Singapore is fun. We get to go to the pool at our new apartment. I was showing daddy what I knew about swimming. We tried to make the biggest splash ever.

I love my new uniform because the pants and the shirt are so comfy. I made a new friend named Aria. We both bought snack on Friday. My new teacher's name is Mrs. White. She has a British accent. She is very nice.

My first swim class was so short it seemed very short. My first music class was fun. I got to play a piano in a room full of pianos and everyone had their own headset.

At home, Sarah & me are making sticker charts for each other. If you get a sticker lower five times you won't be able to change it until the next day.

The subway is fun. I like looking out the windows and the subway comes up out of the ground! There is a reserved seat for people with a baby on their lap, or a cane, or people that are pregnant, or people that are injured. There aren't usually those people there so we get to take the seats instead.

The subway is called the MRT. Our subway stop that we live closest to is called Newton. You need a subway card to get on and off the subway.

I miss that it is cold in Texas. It never changes the temperature here.

Me and Sarah share a room and Henry has his own. Mommy & Daddy share a room, too. There are only two bathrooms in the house. It is sometimes annoying. Sarah always wants to go first before me when we go to the bathroom before we go out because she doesn't want to be last in shoes.

We have a new table at our apartment and sometimes we get to go upstairs to have breakfast that the apartment makes for us. I don't get to go there on Saturday and Sundays because they aren't open. And I don't get to go there on the weekdays, either, because I go to school early. I get to go there this Thursday and Friday when I'm off for Thanksgiving break!

First Sunday

It's hard to believe we haven't been here a full week yet! We went down to the pool first thing this morning (I swam laps for 30 minutes, too) and then we went out our first hawker center for lunch. There weren't many places open yet (we tend to eat on the earlier side of mealtimes!) but there was an Indian place ready for us. It didn't happen to be as good as the Indian I ordered the other night, but it did the job.

Next, we decided to scope out the Fair Price near Somerset MRT and we stopped at H&M to get Sarah some new sandals and the girls some hair bands to keep in my purse since it's so humid they always want their hair up when we go out and about. We stopped for coffees & desserts at Oriole Cafe before we got on the subway and went a little farther out to Ang Mo Kio to check out that Fair Price Xtra (this was what we were looking for--the full hypermarket, not just the grocery store). We got two stools for Henry to use the toilets, an alarm clock for Craig's & my bedroom, a clock for the family room, and some other random household stuff.

When we finally came home, Anna & Sarah spent a long time playing Mancala and Henry solved puzzles and played Go Fish & Rush Hour. I ran back out to Cold Storage for a few more groceries and I was able to carry a lot more home since I didn't have to hold on to anyone's hands!

The Power of Information

Upon closer inspection of the microwave manual, it is not just a microwave: it is a microwave, convection oven, & broiler. Christmas cookies are back on the agenda!

Really Long Day

Craig got up early and went for a ride with a cycling group. He just did 18 miles since he's been off for a few weeks. I really want to get out for a run but don't know my way around yet so might have to start with the treadmill. He is definitely more confident/aware of the layout of the city than I am!

Craig's work arranged for us to take an "all day" tour of Singapore today. This was to show us where to shop, how to do certain things, and just get the lay of the land. It might have been awesome if we hadn't had the kids with us! I did find where a post office is that I can manage and a few more grocery stores, too. We also learned about buying parking tickets in advance at the gas station or 7-11 to avoid getting fines for not having pre-paid parking. This was good info to have! We had lunch on a neat little street in Holland Village (I wanted to move there!), and went up to Woodlands to see that in a little more detail, too. We stopped to see the Merlion and the Chinatown wet market, too. Craig started to feel nauseous so we decided to call it quits before we got to Little India and we were home around 2 PM. This is actually longer than I had anticipated making it!

We rested at home for a while and a big thunderstorm came through. Then it was time to go to Terri's house for dinner. It was a a really nice evening. The kids had fun playing with Terri's 8th & 10th graders and we got to see their really cool apartment and have a good home-cooked meal. (To be fair, I made some really good pancakes this morning for breakfast, but I haven't had much success in the kitchen partially due to lack of ingredients since I haven't gone for a real trip to the store yet!) Since it had rained and probably also because it is Saturday night, we had a hard time getting a taxi to and from Terri's. We managed to get one both times though and it all worked out OK.

Terri & her kids will come to our apartment on Thursday for Thanksgiving dinner. Thank goodness I found out about SAS catering for our dinner because it wasn't going to happen with that microwave we've got in the kitchen!

Christmas Cookies

It just occurred to me that I packed a lot of stuff in our air shipment to make Christmas cookies. And I only have a microwave. I might have to get my toaster oven now instead of waiting until we get to permanent housing...

Reheating Leftovers

Tonight when I went to finally figure out our oven to reheat the Indian and pizza leftovers from this week I discovered that we don't actually have an oven in our apartment. There is a microwave under our stove top. It's a nicer microwave than the ancient one we left behind in Texas though! Don't worry, I got the dinner re-heated nicely.

Anna enjoyed her second day of school and discovered that one of the girls in her class is on the same bus as her so that was a great start to her day. She also had swimming at gym and really seems to enjoy her Chinese class.

Sarah, Henry, & I went to Novena for lunch and to Cold Storage for a few more groceries. They were sweet and each took a bag to carry for me (his had clothes pins & plastic boxes for food storage; hers had tissue boxes and some crackers). All of the kids are professional subway riders now. They know how to tap their MRT card and walk though the turn-style and hop on and off the (pretty fast-moving) escalators. Henry is finally learning to take the stairs using alternate legs instead of always using his right leg to step up.

Sarah spent a long time working in her math workbook I got for her (it's starting off way too easy so she's having a ton of fun with it--I'm hoping it will catch up to her level soon so that it's not all review). Henry played with his Automoblox and solved puzzles for a long time. We also mailed some letters (I haven't figured out the post office yet so we just took them to the concierge--cheating a bit, but we got the letters mailed!). Every time we come back to our apartment the kids all sigh and say, "this feels like home." I'm glad! Henry has mentioned one time that he wanted to go back to our yellow house in Texas but it was only a half-hearted request especially when I reminded him how empty that house is now!

Sarah, Henry, & I took a taxi to get Anna again (this time it was raining when we left). Henry nearly fell asleep on the way there, too. We started walking back to the MRT and Henry started complaining that he was hungry so there was a KFC across the street and all the kids had a popcorn chicken & fries "snacker." Finally, we got on the MRT and came back to the apartment. I really wonder when the novelty of riding the subway will wear off for the kids because although they are acting like pros with the whole process, they still get super excited every time our train passes another train and they just love counting down the stops until it is ours, etc. I love that they are so excited about it.

There was a Deepavali party at our apartment tonight (I might accidentally call our apartment our hotel sometimes because we all keep doing that in real life, too! It really feels like a hotel in many ways. Maybe once our air shipment is delivered it won't feel like that so much?). Anna & I got henna tattoos (Sarah thought it would hurt so declined) and we three girls got a sticker for our foreheads (I tried to ask the woman who gave us the sticker the significance of that and she had no idea). Henry was happy to just people-watch (he refused the sticker and put his hand up to block his forehead when the woman tried to put it on his forehead). We stayed and watched some belly-dancing and then had to come up to go to bed.

We all slept in until after 6 AM today but we're all still just a little more tired than usual. It's getting better each day though! We have a full day planned tomorrow, too! A tour of Singapore through work that Craig was told is really good and worth it (the tour is scheduled from 10-4 but I don't see all of us making it that long!) and then we are going to dinner at a friend's house (my Texas neighbor's daughter just moved here this summer--we've never met!).

First Day of 2nd Grade at SAS

Anna loves her new uniform (it is more comfortable than the one from her school in Texas).

At the bus stop.

Fancy school bus!

Watching construction outside his window with his Robin.

Looking at his friends from Texas (the "Robins" class).

Not diggin' the local snack stuff we picked out.

One of the playgrounds at the primary school.

Doing homework with Anna.

I really should have Anna write out her experience here... maybe I'll ask her to write it out tomorrow to share.

Anna is still waking up super early (3:30 AM today) and it doesn't help that she was so excited to start school this morning! Craig took her down to the bus so I didn't get to experience that part with her, but it sounds like she enjoyed the bus ride (I'm not sure exactly how long the ride is, but it takes 25 minutes by taxi to get to SAS from our apartment).

She really only had positive things to say about her day. She went to music (piano lessons today--I'm not clear on what the program is--if they rotate instruments throughout the year or what), Chinese, and library today along with math, social studies, reading/writing, etc.

The best news I heard from her though was that she spoke (whispering) to her classroom teacher, the music teacher, the librarian, and at least four of the girls in her class. She seemed so pleased with the day and I'm so happy that it went well. Tomorrow is probably even more exciting though because she has PE and they are swimming.

Sarah, Henry, & I had to go pick her up in the afternoon since the bus doesn't have a space for her in the afternoon until next week. I wasn't sure how long it would take to get a taxi or really how long it would take to get there at that time of day so we left way too early! Sarah & Henry had fun playing with a couple of those new apps I bought for the plane and never used though, so the wait wasn't bad at all.

As for the rest of us: Sarah, Henry, & I went to Plaza Singapura to shop at Daiso for a few items we needed (a sharpie pen, a towel for Anna to bring to school for PE tomorrow, and some tissues were at the top of our list). We tried to get a snack at Bread Talk but it was just a little too "weird" for the kids so I ended up dumping most of it out. After Daiso (I love that place, it's just a miserable place to be with kids!), we saw a Gloria Jean's Coffee and had a much more pleasant snack-experience. We found the towel at a second store and then headed back home. We noted that it was raining outside Plaza Singapura before we headed down to the MRT and on our way out of the Newton MRT, we stopped at 7-11 and bought an umbrella for our walk back to the apartment.

Sarah & Henry had fun being together today although I could tell that Sarah really missed having Anna with her.

I spent a long time trying to figure out the best place to order Indian for dinner and when I finally did, I checked my phone for a message from the place I ordered from and saw in my email that Sarah now has a spot at SAS starting in January! I half expected her to leap out of her chair in excitement, but the kids were so busy with their "homeschool" work (even Anna after a full day of school wanted me to give her a cursive workbook to work on!) that I'm not sure it fully registered for Sarah.

Dinner was excellent (spicier and a lot better than what we get in Texas). Henry really tried to like the Chicken Tikka Masala but ultimately it was just too spicy for him.

Today was the first day that I didn't feel like I was going to fall over from jet lag all day. I did have two cups of coffee but I also slept from 9 last night until 5 this morning (with one interruption at 3 when Sarah came in because "Anna was snoring"). Craig & Anna are still waking up super early but Sarah, Henry, & I seem to be almost back on track. I'm hoping to finally hit the gym this weekend (I have not exercised at all since the 10 for Texas!) and I know that will help, too.

(I'll note that Craig had another long day of meetings, so that's all I'll say about that!)

Apartment Tour

I love this drying rack over the sink! I mean, if you have to hand-wash your dishes, this is the way to go.

Henry, particular, loves that the toilet is rectangular.

School Orientation & Employment Pass

We all went up to breakfast this morning and then Craig went to his first day of work (meetings--I honestly don't know how he stayed awake because I was falling asleep walking around outside!) and the kids & I went to SAS for Anna's orientation.

We decided to take the subway up to Woodlands today. It was a little over 30 minutes on the train but it is still novel to the kids so they loved it--especially when it went above ground (I liked that part, too, because I got to see a bit more of the country!). We walked to SAS from the Marsiling stop (I didn't time any of this but we had Henry as our pacer so we went pretty slow!) and checked in then found the lady we were to meet with. Anna got her photo taken for her card (for lunch & snack purchases), then we went to her classroom and met her teacher (the students were at language class--Anna is signed up for Mandarin). Her teacher seems really nice and like she'll be a good fit for Anna's personality. Anna will be paired up with another little girl tomorrow so she can learn the ropes from her.

After that we walked down to the PTA store to purchase her uniforms but I only had enough cash to get one shirt. After some discussion, we learned that there is an ATM in the high school building and I decided we should walk down there so we could take care of the uniform purchases today rather than dragging Henry & Sarah back tomorrow if I didn't have to. They were not pleased with my decision but that made me really not want to bring them back tomorrow! Thankfully the ATM was near the high school cafeteria and we stopped there for a snack to revive our jet-lagged bodies a bit.

We requested a spot for Anna on the bus from our temporary apartment and they are able to pick her up tomorrow & Friday but not bring her home until next week. So, I am going to pick her up on Thursday & Friday from school and she'll be on the regular schedule starting next week. (So I have to drag Sarah & Henry back tomorrow & Friday anyway!)

We decided to take a taxi home from SAS which was a bit nicer/faster than the subway but Anna looked like she was getting motion sickness (I've tucked a spare airplane motion sickness bag in my purse for emergencies now!) so she voted that we take the subway home tomorrow & Friday. I'll take Henry & Sarah there by taxi, probably.

We got back to the apartment to have lunch before we met with Craig to go to the Employment Pass Service Center to get our fingerprints taken and forms filled out so he can work here and we can be with him while he does that. This was a much nicer experience than we had in Doha for sure!

The kids & I went back home and Craig went back to work. My 3 AM start began to show early on in the day but I really was fading fast at this point! The kids went to bed tonight at almost normal bedtimes (Anna woke at 4:30 but the girls came out of their room around 6:30, I woke Henry at 7 today after he had a few fitful minutes around 4 AM). It is almost 8:30 at night now and I am going to sign out!

I just wanted to note that I have been taking pictures but I am way too tired to get them up on the blog at the moment. I'll have to go back and add them later and I'll re-tag these posts with the "catch-up" tag when I do.

Singapore Day Two

The kids went to bed at 6 last night and Craig & I were not far behind at 7 PM. Craig & I both woke up between 2 and 3; Anna woke up around 4:30; Sarah at 6; and Henry at 7:30! I'm so glad it was the two of us that woke at 2 and not the kids. Hopefully we'll get on a regular schedule soon.

After we all were up we hit the pool since it was such a disappointment to miss out yesterday. I need to remember to get a picture of the pools because they are so nice it looks fake! I am not sure if having a pool will win out over walking-distance to school in the house-hunt now.

We decided to head over to Orchard Road to see some sights and get some lunch. We really enjoyed seeing all of the Christmas decorations and even I got excited about a lot of the shops I saw (I'm really not a big shopper). We went to lunch at Marche and then Craig took Sarah & Henry back to the apartment while Anna & I hit up another Cold Storage for a few more groceries.

We again filled 4 reusable bags with as much as we could comfortably carry (not much!) and hopped back on the MRT for home. I either need to plan to take a taxi back from a big shopping trip or have the groceries delivered because I can't really get a lot or a lot of cold/heavy things when I take the MRT. Anna was great helping me navigate the subway home and it was nice to get to spend a little time alone with her before she starts school on Thursday and I lose her again!

Once Anna & I returned home, we decided to hit the pool again but it was cool and breezy and then it started to rain so we didn't spend much time there. Now Henry is listening to audio books in Anna's ipod, Sarah is doing art, Anna is writing, and Craig is out searching for the right converters and adapters we need to charge some of our things. We are going to try getting something delivered for dinner (probably just pizza).

Tomorrow is a bigger day for me: Craig goes to work and I am taking the kids to SAS for Anna's orientation and then we have to meet Craig back here to go get fingerprinted and take care of other legal stuff. I'm a little nervous about navigating out of the subway (I'm fine with the actual subway it's just knowing which exit to walk out of when I get there!) but I'm sure somehow we'll figure it out.

We are really hoping to get to Little India this week to see the lights for Deepavali, too. (Today is Deepavali and it is a national holiday which is why we had Craig with us today.) Maybe by Friday or Saturday we'll be able to stay awake a little later? We will see!

Oh, I never thought I'd experience cold in Singapore but we were FREEZING in the pool this afternoon when the sun went away and the breeze picked up! And then even more-so when we got back to the air-conditioned apartment. I'll try to remember that feeling later when it is hot again.

Starting Here; Will Catch Up

I really wanted to get caught up with the blog before we left for Singapore but I didn't. I will just get started with NOW and get October 2012 on here when I get a minute. I'll post those entries under the "catch-up" tag and also make a note when it is done.

Settling In

The temporary apartment is really great. We're not too high up (7th floor) and the location really can't be beat: it's about a five minute walk to the subway and that's only because Henry walks so darn slow!

The girls are sharing a room and Henry has an amazing corner-window set-up in his. The kids were really surprised that the toilets are rectangular and surprisingly Henry hasn't mentioned his beloved potty yet (he was adamant that he would use the potty in Singapore, too--I just told him we'd talk about it when we got here).

We spent a good amount of time unpacking our stuff and getting things arranged so we can live here the next month or two. I don't know how all of the stuff in the air shipment is going to fit in here though! Ack!

First on the agenda for the day was to get breakfast (although we had about 3 breakfasts on the plane already, we thought we should try to get on the local schedule since we get a complimentary breakfast here at the apartments). Next we decided we ought to procure a few groceries to make breakfast tomorrow (no breakfast served here tomorrow because of Deepavali--a national holiday), lunch, and, well, you know for when we get hungry!

We walked over the Newton MRT and took it one stop over to Novena and found Cold Storage. Everything is pretty pricey but the selection is fairly amazing. Henry was getting pretty tired by this point though so we had to get out of there pretty quick. We bought as much as we could carry in our reusable bags (I'm so glad I thought to bring them because the plastic bags would have been really uncomfortable even though it was a relatively short distance to travel). Perhaps next time I'll bring a backpack if I'm planning to get groceries?

Craig had an appointment for work so the kids & I stayed home and I implemented a mandatory 90-minute rest time because people were getting tired, grumpy, and a little mean. Sarah & Henry slept and had a really hard time waking up, but everyone was pleasant when they woke up and for the rest of the day. We went down to the apartment playground and Anna made a friend (she spoke softly to the girl!).

Just when I was about to give up on Craig getting home in time for dinner and start a pot of pasta, he came home with Subway sandwiches. Now, a goal I have while we are here is to eat as little American chain food as possible, but I've also got to take what I can get when I've got jet-lagged kids that are also picky eaters. We'll work on this goal later!

We had wanted to go to the pool after dinner, but big black clouds started rolling in and then tons of rain. The kids were super-disappointed! I felt really bad that we hadn't gone in the morning but we really did need the groceries, too. We plan to go early tomorrow.

All the kids were wiped out and we sent them to bed at 6. Henry was breathing like he was asleep all afternoon anyway! Hopefully they will sleep well tonight (me, too!) so we can get out and explore a bit more tomorrow.

1, 2, 3, 4: Let's All Go to Singapore!

I'm posting this to November 10 because that is when we left Texas; we arrived in Singapore early Monday morning Singapore time/ late Sunday afternoon Texas time.

It's finally the big day! Henry was so excited when finally I answered yes to his daily question: "Do we go to Singapore this day?"

The kids played really well together while I cleaned out the fridge and Craig emptied the water heaters, etc. There always seems to be a ton of little last-minute things that I can never figure out how to do earlier than the last minute. I guess that's just the nature of those things though! We ate as much as we could out of the fridge & pantry before I finally threw the remaining items out at our last snack around 11 AM.

Our driver was scheduled to pick us up at 12 which I felt was tight for a 2:30 PM flight considering all of our luggage (10 checked bags, 2 checked car-seats, 1 checked booster seat, 7 carry-ons, and 1 stroller to be gate-checked for use at LAX and possibly Singapore). There was an accident an a major back-up of traffic on the freeway to our house so the driver didn't actually arrive until about 12:20. Thankfully he was very communicative and kept calling us to update us (thankfully, also, he didn't get into an accident himself keeping us updated!).

All of my worry & stress was for nothing because checking in our bags was relatively painless (and they checked them all the way through to Singapore so we didn't have to do anything with them at LAX). We walked down to our gate with plenty of time to spare for trips to the bathroom and lunch at the gate. Finally now I could just worry/wonder how the trip would go.

Craig & Henry sat together and Anna & Sarah sat together; I sat behind the girls. Henry fell asleep for maybe an hour on the flight to LAX and we got several compliments on how well-behaved our kids were. We still had the long flight ahead of us though! We had to change terminals at LAX and we were glad we brought the stroller for Henry. He was getting pretty tired by this point but he was still excited about the trip.

We hung out in the Star Alliance lounge for a few hours which was really nice and relaxing but I wondered if we should have just gone over to the gate area and run the kids around and walked a lot?

For the long flight, Anna & Sarah sat together and Craig sat across the aisle from them while Henry & I sat directly behind the girls. The seats on this flight were enormous. This was a Singapore Airlines flight and all of the seats were business class. The kids were all tired and as soon as we took off and were able, we had the flight attendants turn our beds (mine & the kids--I decided to sleep when they did so I wouldn't get caught not sleeping at all!). The girls were out like lights and Henry was asleep within an hour after take off (he is a people-watcher and can't help himself). I went to sleep shortly after Henry and while the bed was hard, it was awesome. I am only 5' 4" so Craig wasn't quite as comfortable at 6' 2" but I could lay flat and totally stretch out. When I woke up the flight was already half over! Incredible!! Henry woke up about 10 hours into the flight and somehow 8 hours seemed totally manageable after that much sleep. And it was. Henry got a little antsy when we had about 3 hours to go but after I read him several books he entertained himself most of the rest of the time. I never busted out my new apps for the phone or the iPad. The girls watched one movie and Henry only watched two TV shows. ??? Anna & Sarah were almost totally self-sufficient with the excellent care of the Singapore Airlines flight attendants. I told Craig I only want to flight Singapore Airlines from now on!

(Okay, to be 100% honest, Anna started to complain of feeling sick toward the end of the flight and thank goodness we prepared and gave her the motion sickness bag as she did throw up right as we landed. This is the third time she has thrown up on an international flight; I think the time change/sleep funkiness and different eating patterns throws her off somehow.)

Before we knew it we were walking through customs and collecting all of our bags again. There was no sky cap or anyone else around to help on the Singapore end so we got three smart carts and Anna & Sarah worked together to push one of them, Craig pushed one and carried his bike, and I pushed one and drove the stroller (Henry could not be convinced to walk at this point he was pretty wiped out!). Customs was a non-event but the driver we thought we had arranged did not come. However, the problem was solved relatively quickly at the ground transportation desk with two minivans (one for us and some of our luggage, one for the rest of the luggage).

I sat backwards in the minivan so I couldn't tell any difference about the driving on the left side of the road issue and the kids & I chatted and enjoyed the different sights on the way to our temporary apartments. I was still in shock at how well the flight went at this point, too! We saw interesting cars & trucks, double-decker buses, interesting trees & buildings, and even a building called "Henry Design Center." Henry started falling asleep in the van just before we arrived at the apartments but quickly pulled himself together when I announced that we were there!

Wrapping Up

Grandma was getting indecisive about when to leave so we got a picture before it was too late!

We walked to the mall for a ride on the carousel and lunch. The plan was to wear ourselves out for a good rest tonight for a good trip tomorrow.

He still prefers the bench

Sick of eating out, but we enjoyed the lights at the water fountain in town.

Kids checked bags and carry-ons ready to go.

Goodbye: Schools

Henry & his two best friends from school

Sarah & her best friend.

The kids all brought Singapore cupcakes to school today (I was happy to pick up mini cupcakes from HEB! Anita assembled the flags for me last week.)

Miss Sarah is reading to her students.

It's really happening: we have no furniture and the kids had their last day of school!

All Packed Up

He's faking here, but it was a long day!

The movers were scheduled to come today and tomorrow but they got it all done today! These guys were seriously the best/most efficient crew we've ever had. We'll see how much stuff is broken on the other end though before I sing their praises too loudly (there is always at least one broken item). I was glad, however, that I had my mom here to help out with Henry. It's a long, boring day sitting around watching other people work and making sure the right things go and the right things stay!

Chopstick & Clementine

It was harder than I thought it would be to say goodbye to Chopstick & Clementine this morning! They are staying with some friends and we'll get them back (at least that's the plan for now!) when we return. I know that Clementine knew something was up, but I think Chopstick was in total shock when we brought them to their new house. She got out of her carrier and started exploring while he was not going to get out of his carrier. I felt so bad for him! Hopefully the transition goes well for them!


Rachel's family left today and we're getting ready to say goodbye to Chopstick & Clementine tomorrow. There is still a lot to do!


Sorry, I got indecisive here... each one is charming to me for some reason or another.

Full House!

The kids have caught a lizard in the butterfly pavillion.

Rachel's family and Grandma & Grandpa came last night, too! I guess the secret to getting people to come visit is moving away? We'd love it if all of these guests came to see us in Singapore, too!

Nana & Papa

January 2013

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