Wednesday, 30 November 2016

We Gather Together

This Thanksgiving is one that I will remember, but want to forget, which makes me sound ungrateful, but I'm not I promise. Every single one of us got the stomach flu, but Raphael, a couple days before Thanksgiving. It was really miserable. Lyndon had taken the week off just to hang out and actually spend some time seeing Singapore, but then got sick. Silver lining is he used sick days instead of vacation days, so maybe we can squeeze in another few sick free days (fingers crossed) this holiday season. That is something to be grateful for. The kids bounced back fast, and Lyndon and I took a few days to fully recover. We did recover in time to celebrate Thanksgiving, minus having an appetite (at least for me).

Our friends have an annual Thanksgiving bar-b-q that we attended on Thanksgiving. If you have never had bar-b-q turkey you are missing out. It is a Thanksgiving tradition that we might keep going once we get back to the states. It felt more like the 4th of July with swimming and bar-b-qing, than Thanksgiving. But that's Singapore for ya.

Easiest Thanksgiving shopping. 

Getting snuggles from this guy is the best kind of medicine.

That Saturday we got together with some friends from Lyndon's office and had another Thanksgiving dinner. We made pumpkin pie, which I did not get a picture of and I am so sad about. It was a beautiful pie. The kids helped me cut out leaves and turkeys with the extra pie dough and we placed it on top of the pie. It was a Plothow culinary masterpiece!

That was our expat Thanksgiving 2016.

I am majorly grateful that we have all regained our health and no one else has gotten ill (knock on wood). I am grateful for my three beautiful babes, even though they give me a run for my money they give me more fulfillment in my life than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful that Lyndon is a hard worker and loves to explore the world as much as I do. I am grateful for all the time and energy he has put into his job this year to provide for us. I am really lucky to have him. I am grateful for my Grandmother. Her health is not what it used to be and I am so grateful for all the time I got/get to spend and talk with her. She is a wonderful wonderful woman, who has raised strong daughters, who in turn have raised another generation of strong women. How grateful I am to be part of that tradition.

We moved into our apartment a year ago on Thanksgiving, and thinking about this past year I don't even know how I made it through. There have been times, even recently, when I have struggled to find something to be grateful for even though I am grateful for all that I have and done. The world is not an easy place to live and sometimes when I am so tired, but cannot even sleep I struggle to find something to be grateful for. Then I have to sit there and rationalize everything in my mind and remind myself to remember times when I did have a lot of gratitude and to think of all the sacrifices that people have made for me. And then I think of my kids and am grateful that I have them, because I would be a nobody without my little family.

I tried, and failed, to do a ten day thankful "challenge" with the kids where we would say one thing we were thankful for everyday up until Thanksgiving, ten days in total. I did do it some, and pretty much Cosette was the only one who participated with me. But here is a little video of things we are thankful for. Just for the record, Raphael is thankful for pie.

And after watching this, I just have to say that I am grateful for way more than just my raincoat, haha. 

Happy Thanksgiving! We are grateful for all our friends and family to reached out to us over the holiday. It is nice to hear from you. Xx

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

365 Days of Singapore

The last week of October was our one year mark here in Singapore! It feels like a pretty big milestone to be living here for a year. Cosette still does talk about going back to New York, and my heart hurts when I see my friend's pics on Instagram. But then it hurts thinking we only have a year left here.

The things I miss from the US other than family and friends are: the New York Public Library, fall, Greek yoghurt, and that's about it. I really like the summer weather year round. I am not missing those New York winters, or winter in general at all. It's so easy with the kids to just throw on shorts, t-shirts, sandals and we are good. No extra half hour to get everyone's winter gear on before leaving the house. And after writing this I will admit that the heat is getting to me a little bit. It is hot and we are constantly sweaty, but at least we got aircon.

Favorite things about Singapore: the beach, the zoo, our pool, the food, the people. There is a lot to love here. I don't wake up everyday and think "I love Singapore", but there are some days when I definitely feel like that. There are other days when I just don't want to get sweaty when I got outside. It comes and goes, but those frustrations are only fleeting.

And talking about frustrations, I am going to be honest, being an expat is challenging. Usually husbands work a lot more than they would back home, there are language barriers, lots of cultural differences, and just a lot to get used to living somewhere different. I go to the grocery store and I think what the heck is that? And then I have to stop Henry from squishing all the fish eyes on the fish heads in the cold section. And then I got off the bus the other day and there was a monkey a tree and I was worried it was going to jump on my bag, ah! Singapore life, lah.

I talk a lot about the good things that are going on, and it is all mostly good. We have a lot to be grateful for. And I do probably give the impression that everything is hunky dory, but it's not always. Life here is just like living anywhere else. The big difference is that everything here is a new experience. Some good, some bad. Durian was such a bad experience, haha. Never again.

Everyone in our little family has had to go out of their comfort zone. Cosette and Henry both with school. They are the only white kids in their entire school. They have Mandarin everyday where they can only speak Mandarin in class. That's not easy when you are three and five years old. People speak English here, but it's not the English we speak. A lot of people look at us and think we are made of money because we are white. It was like that in the Philippines too. People stare at us, and take pictures of us every where we go. I always have tried to not notice because it makes anyone feel awkward when a stranger is staring at you, but that is how it is here. And all of this is not a big deal. Life continues on. We have a lot of amazing experience and opportunities here that we are taking full advantage of. I think all of us can say that we love living here, or at least enjoy living here.

Never in a million years would I have thought that our lives we would be like this. We have been so many places it is incredible. I have this fear of missing out on things and I just want to see everything and travel every where, especially because we have this rare opportunity. And I really have to channel all that in. This year has taught me my limits and that I do not have to do everything. Even though I am still trying, haha.

This current situation we are in is very hard. Lyndon works around the clock, I am pretty much by myself with the kids. We hired a live in helper, which has taken a lot of stress off both Lyndon and me. We can enjoy our weekends more, and not have to stress about the house. It has been really beneficial for me to be able to relax and my focus on the kids. But there are challenges with having someone not part of your family in your home. We made the decision to hire a helper because of my health. It was pretty necessary, like kind of scary necessary. I have been on the brink of a break down or just in the middle of a break down. There was one Sunday I was so tired that I could not get out of bed. I slept the entire day with a briefly waking up when everyone got home from church and then back into a deep sleep till 6:15pm that night. I think I was a little tired. And then there is Lyndon who works from dawn till dawn the next day and the next. There is hardly a moment when he is not on call. And that is just how the job is right now. Gotta pay off those student loans. We have come to accept that this is our life right now, but it has been a very emotionally challenging year. Being in Singapore has not been the problem, just our life situation. It would pretty much be that way whether we stayed in the States or went somewhere else.

These 365 days in Singapore have really taught me to just accept people as they are. Singapore is a melting pot more diverse than any place I have ever been. People here respect one another and don't criticize people for their beliefs or how they live, aside from Henry trying to pull the emergency brake on the train. I went New York on that lady for that. This has been my experience here. I have not had people say much to me, except for a couple times, and I try to be as polite as possible, or just ignore them and play the dumb foreigner. But that is the rare exception. Mostly people are kind and smile at me and my kids. They tell us how capable we are for having three children, which still makes me laugh. Some random man gave Henry two dollars just because one day. People here are really great. They might look at me and think I am crazy, but whatever. Living in a place where you are so different from everyone else, you just have to hold your head up high and keep walking (a lesson I learned in the Philippines).

And some photos from a year ago when we first got here. 

And a couple from recently. Henry and Raphael have changed so much this past year. Henry's little chubby face and little belly are disappearing and it makes me want to cry a little bit, but then it's a good thing because he is growing up and his crazy phase is slowly dissipating.

We are here, still smiling, taking things day by day just like we would anywhere else, we just happen to be in Singapore. And I am grateful for what living here has taught me and opened my eyes to. Here is to another 365 days on our island in the sun.

Friday, 18 November 2016

School Time: Children's Day

Children's Day is celebrated on the first Friday of October every year. The primary children (we are on the British System here in SG) do not have school. It is a day for them to spend time with their families, and be a kid. Essentially it is a day that celebrates childhood and brings awareness about children's rights to health care, education, etc. Many countries all over the world celebrate it, and it was a great cultural experience to have in Singapore. That weekend our community held a Children's Day festival with a little fair. I did not get pics from that, but Cosette had a lot of fun with her BFF Crescent. 

The kid's school celebrated Children's Day at the beginning of October. I volunteered to come in and sing some songs with the kids. There was a note in their communications book (basically school planner. The teachers will stick permission slips, and notes in there for the parents) that said parents were welcome to come to class that day, so I did. I am really grateful for primary songs from church because I did not plan any specific songs. I just thought, I'll sing some primary songs and that should work out. And it did! Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes was a big hit in both classes. 

I went to Henry's class first. His class is so cute. Since it was a school holiday they got to wear "party clothes" aka regular clothes. Henry did not participate with us. He was in the back making mischief, which is sad because he missed out on some pretty awesome stuff. My favorite part was at the end, all his cute classmates gave me a big group hug. It was the sweetest. 

I have grown to love all Cosette and Henry's classmates this year. We have spent a lot of time with them, and they are all the sweetest kids. I say this everytime I talk about the kid's school, but I love their school!

Group picture with these cuties. Henry was pulling my hair out. It was painful. 

Next, Henry came with me to Cosette's class. I have a lot to learn about handling a classroom full of kids. Their teachers are amazing to get the kids to calm down. I got them really rowdy with Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. We went super, de-duper fast. Then they requested London Bridge, and I obliged with a complicated hand motions. They loved it though. 

Cosette was thrilled to have me in class with her. She came up to the front and helped me lead everyone. We did London Bridge, Head-Shoulders-Knees- and Toes, Popcorn popping, Green speckled Frogs (thanks Dad for teaching me that one when I was a kid), and Do as I am Doing. We got a lot of wiggles out. 

The crazy london Bridge.

Popcorn popping. 

Cosette is the best and most enthusiastic helper I could ask for. I cannot remember what she was doing in this pic, but she did not need me up there. She could have done this thing on her own.
The School put out a little news letter all about our Singing and Movement Session. It says:

"To celebrate Children's Day, we were delighted to have Aunty Christine*, one of the K1 Gymnast's parents to come forth to the class to spend time with the children on 6 October 2016.

Aunty Christine, together with Cosette, engaged the class with a number of fun and catchy songs such as Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, If you're Happy and you know it, Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree, and Five Green and Speckled Frogs. Aunty Christine was able to capture the children's attention with her sweet singing voice and everyone participated actively. 

Aunty Christine also provided opportunity for children to make choices on the songs to sing. The children requested for songs like London bridge is falling down and Aunty Christine was quick to attend to the needs and request of the children. She quickly got the children to find a partner each to make a long bridge for them to go under and through it. This has given opportunity for children to practice teamwork, patience and turn taking. Thank you Aunty Christine for your time and patience with the children. They truly enjoyed your company and you have definitely brought lots of laughter and fun to the children this Children's Day!"

The proof that I did not write that myself. 

Today was the last day of school and I am really going to miss their teachers, and classmates. Good thing is that they will both have the same teachers and kids in their class next year. I am so happy about that. 

*Aunty and Uncle are used here in SG for any adults. We call our cab drivers Uncle and the ladies at the grocery store Aunty as well as people we are acquainted with. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Happy Birthday Lyndon!

We celebrated Lyndon's birthday this weekend. His birthday was Saturday, which is probably the best day of the week to have a birthday. No work, now school, only endless opportunities to play and celebrate. Lyndon turned 31 this year. Not that he is old, but his birthday this year has reminded me of all the other ones we have celebrated together. He is the most important person in my life, and I love celebrating his birthday. Especially with the kids, the kids make everything better. 

They have been so excited for their Daddy's birthday. They have taken the couch cushions off and built a tower for him for his birthday everyday this week, topped with their stuffed animals. Cosette made him several birthday cards the last couple of weeks. It has been the most anticipated event of the moth!

They helped me make his cake a couple of times. Henry crumbled up the first one, even though it was put away. Nothing is safe around him. We made him a Lego BB-8 cake. I found a Lego brick ice cube mold and melted chocolate and used it to make Lego bricks for the cake. Henry also got into the freezer and ate a lot of them over the last week, that kid.

A shark Lego figurine to add to his collection. This is Cosette's present to Daddy that she picked out herself. 

This little boy had so many smiles that day. 

Lyndon let the kids help him open up his presents. They were happy to oblige. 

Star Wars Rebellion board game! Someone was sneaky peaky and added it to the Amazon shopping cart. 

So many cute pictures of this guy!

The big Kahuna present, the Slave One. Pretty much his dream birthday present. I got it in the States when we were there over the summer and it has been sitting in the closet. He has patiently waiting for his birthday for a while. 

We had a party for Lyndon that afternoon. We had a bunch of friends from church, school, and work all come. It was really nice and we appreciate everyone who came out to celebrate Lyndon. He shared his cake with Henry, because Henry really wanted a BB-8 cake for his birthday, but I was feeling so sick it did not end up happening. So he got to share it with Daddy.
A close up of the cake.

Lyndon had plenty of friends to try out his new game. They were all pretty excited. Us wives were like, well see ya when the party's over. 

The kids party crew. 

Henry's friend from school and his family came. Henry was very excited that his best friend from school was there. 

Part of our party crew. 

Best dive award goes to Darren.

And I caught part of Lyndon's birthday song. 

We went to the lighting ceremony on Orchard Road to officially bring in the Christmas here in Singapore. Christmas time in any city is the best. I love it! Excited for another Christmas in Singapore. We saw the President of Singapore who arrived right by where we were standing. It was pretty awesome!
Happiest Birthday to my one and only! I love you Lyndon!  

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Saturday and a Little bit of Sunday

Lyndon was actually home. We had a family outing. We almost got soaked in a tropical storm. We had some good hawker centre food. I got to go out with some girl friends, and a date with Lyndon! It was a busy Saturday. A few photos from our weekend. 

Hawker centre lunch.

We started hiking part of the Kent Ridge trail. It was the worst hike, haha. Okay not the worst. It had just rained which made it extra humid and muggy, we walked for 15-20 minutes up hill which was miserable because I was pushing a stroller. Lyndon loved it, and that's why were were doing it. We made it through one of the many parks on the trail, and have yet to get to the bridge which is supposed to be the good part. We will see. Cosette getting a leg up from Daddy..... get a look at this view. 

Testing out the selfie stick.

Of course, my eyes have to be closed in the one picture where everyone is looking. 

Went to the opera with some girl friends at the Victoria Theatre. That place is lovely and we heard a lot of lovely music. It was actually a lecture based series on opera. The conductor would explain a bit about the piece and then we got to hear it. We heard music from Don Giovanni, Habanera, Wagner's Ring series, some Puccini. It was glorious. 

We got to see some dragon boat racing during drinks afterwards. Very different from "crew" in Europe and the States.

Beautiful building, and and elephant!
And some photos from Sunday.

The way I did my hair let me have a rather impressive half mustache. I showed Lyndon and he said "You mustache me a question," haha. We are dorks.

Cosette getting in on the mustache action. I love her! Five is my favorite age.

One more with my baby girl.

Good ending to a somewhat stinky cheese week. 

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