Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh for nasty

Imagine you're having a nice conversation with your maid (ok, or just someone) in your kitchen about Halloween. You're idly handling an orange, wondering if its rind is thick enough to make into a little tiny Jack O' Lantern since the pumpkins in this foreign country are so expensive you want to cry.

Then, you feel a little tickle on your forearm. You look down to see something big and brown scuttle back behind your elbow and it strikes you that it's a giant coackroach which is crawling on your body so you start screaming horrid little non-human sounding screams because NOW YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS OH FOR THE LOVE GET IT OFF!!!!! You finally manage to brush it off. It tries to make its escape on the counter, but it's no match for Lisa the Maid.

Now imagine how long it will take for you to lose the feeling that there is still something nasty on your arm. Keep imagining . . . .

There's No Word for This Kind of Rain

I thought since it was raining it would be a good time to hit the library and get some new books. Aside from being thwarted by Deepavali (see the post below) we were almost turned back by the intensity of the rain. As we waited in a long line to get into the carpark, the thunder and lightning clapped simultaneously above us over and over. We were in the eye of the storm. I said, "So Ethan, what word would you use for this kind of rain?" He said he didn't think there was one. It was more than buckets. It was like being in a car wash. Even with the wipers on full blast, I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of me, and that was when I wasn't moving.

So I'd say it's officially the rainy season here. This comes around in November or so and hangs out til late January. It means we have to get out in the morning for play and exercise because most afternoons are filled with raining, pouring, sprinkling, drizzling, plopping, buckets, sheets, you name it. Hopefully not plooping though.

Not Another One

"Is today a public holiday?" I thought as we stared into the darkness of the library. Sure enough, it's Deepavali today (known also as Diwali). That explained the huge number of people braving the rain to get into the carpark at the Bishan Mall.

This happens so often - I go out to a public place, only to find it closed because someone in Singapore is celebrating a holiday of which I am unaware. There are just too many of them! I read recently that there is a debate about letting Muslims have some of their holy days considered public holidays in America (or at least for them to be off on those days to celebrate). This is apparently quite threatening to many people, but my opinion on that is not part of this post. Let me just say that here we do celebrate everyone's religious holidays and it gets a little tiring after awhile. Especially when it means we can't check out any more library books.

And So It Begins

I'm excited to be going home for Thanksgiving for the first time since 1998 this year. My enjoyment of it was a little confused though yesterday when the elevator doors opened into the United Square mall and there was a jazzy version of a Christmas song playing. You thought it was bad in America - here they have no Thanksgiving to deter them, so they jump right in as soon as they can. I momentarily had a thought of, "Wait, are we doing this yet? I thought we had a couple more holidays to go before then."

Where's Home?

I made the mistake recently of saying something about, "When we go home" in front of the kids. Megan looked at me and said, "What home?"

I have tried to refer to Minnesota as simply, "back in America" to avoid this confusion. The reality is, as many times as my kids have been there, as much as they love it, it is not home to them. Really, it's not "home" to me like it was before. This is yet another aspect of being third culture people - a sense of displacement. This isn't really my home, but that isn't anymore either.

As a Christian, this doesn't bother me much. As I quote from C.S. Lewis the other day on my homeschool blog, "Our Father will refresh us with many pleasant inns on the journey, but he would not encourage us to mistake them for home." We are citizens of heaven, and if my home on this earth is less than ideal, well that's fine with me. I'll get a better one later.

In the meantime, I watch what I say and direct my kids toward their real home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better

Ok, so the global economy may be about to crumble and we'll all have to live in cardboard boxes or something, but the dollar's up to S$1.50 buying power and gas dropped again down to S$1.71 per liter. I'm a happy girl.

The Cost of Peace of Mind

When your daughter has had a fever for three days and suddenly starts complaining that her neck hurts a lot, the wise doctors on the web say "Go to the hospital immediately!" So I did.

I suspected it might just have been stiffness from lack of activity, or too much movie watching (she's been a pretty tired little girl) but it was 7 p.m. and I didn't want to wait until midnight, realize I really should have taken her in, and then spent a miserable night in the ER, or worse yet, have a really sick little girl.

Thankfully Lisa the maid could stay with Ethan, so Megan grabbed her pink bear for comfort and we went. The ER at the KK Children's Hospital here is a slick operation. S$80 will cover everything you do during your visit. We got in to see the doctor quickly, and she ordered a blood test to rule out meningitis. We had to wait what they said would be 40-60 minutes but which turned into more like 90 for the results. You know what's cute for about 5 seconds? Those squeaky shoes people put on their toddlers. You know what's not cute after 90 minutes? Yeah.

I did get a chance to be entertained by watching I Survived a Japanese Game Show for the first and hopefully only time. Don't get me wrong - I laughed, but watching that level of shame and pettiness is something I can skip. Where do they get the people for reality shows? One of the great mysteries of life.

Before the blood test, the doctor said she didn't suspect it was meningitis, but wanted to be sure. I called Ethan because I knew he would be worried. Somewhere in his life he developed a deep fear of illness - is it post traumatic syndrome from living through SARS? I don't know. He told me he'd been very worried, and Lisa told him to read his Bible. Man, I love this woman. He said, "So I went to Lego Bible and then played a few games and felt better."
One of these days I need to convince my son that Lego Bible is not the same as the other Bible.

After all was said and done, the doctor said she just has a viral fever and it can run its course. I have to say, a Singaporean accent is sometimes hard for me to understand. But a Singaporean accent in a hospital full of screaming babies, when spoken through a surgical mask, might as well be another language. But she got the job done and we were back home by 9:30 p.m.

Going to an emergency room at 7 p.m. in Singapore: S$80. Finding out that your daughter just has yet another tropical mystery illness and NOT meningitis: Priceless.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's raining . . . or something

Ethan is our logical boy, and he often shares with us processes he's considered such as "The Eight Stages of Learning to Swallow Pills" (which he and Megan have both recently mastered) or, "The Four Stages of an Ant Bite." They're usually a series of stages. Sometimes they're just a list though. Tonight he gave us a list, which was, "The Words for Rain." It went like this,

"There are lots of words for rain. There's raining, and there's drizzling. There's sprinkling. There's pouring. And also there's plooping and plopping."

"Really? And what is plooping and plopping?"

"Plopping is when there are big drops that come down. And plooping is when birds poop on you. A lot of birds pooping at the same time is called plooping."

"Have you ever experienced this Ethan?"


"But that's what you'd call it if it did happen?"


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Photos

Since it's SO much easier to upload photos to flickr than to blogger, I'm directing you to our flickr site rather than putting all our new photos on here. I posted photos from our two recent adventures - the Forest Adventure and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Check them out!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Righteous Anger?

I just gave my management guy a verbal lashing. This is uncharacteristic of me. For one thing, I'm not a confrontational person. I didn't grow up learning to yell when I'm angry, or even be all that direct with my words. But I have to say that just now I raised my voice at him and spoke in no uncertain terms.

The situation is this: there is an electrical box not 10 feet outside our door (actually about 2 feet from our kitchen door) from which there has been a steady leak for the past three weeks. The water is actually running down the side of the electrical box and the encased wiring. I can't begin to say how dangerous this is. The management has been up to see it, and about a week ago they decided it was coming from our house. They shut off the water in our kitchen for a total of 4 days, but the leak kept coming.

Several days passed, then after pressure from the people on our floor the management came and shut off the water on the 7th floor. No change. This morning when I went out for a walk, there was a puddle 3 inches deep, and I snapped. I left a note on the management office door for Mr. Poon to come see me as soon as possible.

When I heard him out in the hallway, I went out and told him that this has gone on long enough. I am concerned for the safety of my family, as there could be a fire or other catastrophe at any moment. The man he hired previously to look at it was not actually a plumber, so I said that if he didn't hire a real plumber today, I would call one myself and send him the bill. At first he tried to give me the classic Asian brush off, with nods and mumbling about how he was taking care of it. By the end of my rant, he was insisting, "Ok, ok, I will call a plumber today."

I walked back into my house a bit shaken and surprised at my own emotion. I asked myself, "Is this righteous anger that I'm feeling? Does that make the fact that I just reduced a man to apologetic promises ok?" I think there was an element of it. It's a strange thing for me, exploring this idea of expressing anger in right and just ways. I think there are times for it - Jesus made that clear when he overturned the tables in the temple. I'm always hesitant to express it that way myself, but in this circumstance with this man I felt it was the only way something would be done. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Never Would Have Thought

Growing up in southern Minnesota, the thought never passed through my mind that one day I would live in Singapore. Or that I would be concerned about the value of the US dollar. Or about the cost of gas. But today these things are all quite relevant to my life, and I'm rejoicing to see that the dollar is back up to $1.46 buying power, and that gas slipped another 4 cents. Kids, good news - you might still get to go to college!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sad Megan

Instead of writing about the book she finished today, Megan and I decided it would be good for her to write about how she was feeling since daddy left on another trip today. Here's what she wrote:

"Today my daddy went on a trip. and I'm sad that daddy left. I didn't want daddy to leave. But he had to leave. I wanted daddy to never go to other countrys (sic) unless he brought me with him. But he has to go because he has meetings in that country."

It was a very emotional time. I anticipate a repeat at bedtime.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I heart RSS feeds

Erik introduced me to this new (well, probably not that new, but new to me) concept called RSS feed. If you don't know, it's a way for you to see all the updated posts on your favorite blogs at the same place. I do mine in google reader. Every day I just open up one page and it tells me if the blogs I visit have a new post. That way I don't have to waste time opening up a bunch of pages only to find that my friends have nothing new to say. That's such a let down.

It's a dangerous hobby, though. Today my google reader offered to show me a bunch of pages that I don't already subscribe to which obviously were chosen for me because they either involved Asia, homeschooling or Christianity, or some combination of the three. Well, I found the blog of a woman in China from which I found three homeschool blogs which I also put on my reader. I mocked Erik at first because he'll open up his reader and find over 400 unread items (how does this save him time?) but I fear I could get there soon. It's a new addiction.

But all this to say that we have the option for you to RSS feed us, so if you don't already you should try it. It's fun! You just need to have a web email address and add our address to your reader page.

In other news, I had a phenomenally bad allergy week this week - Wednesday was the only day I felt normal. This was probably compounded by the fact that I also caught a cold, and when your immune system's down, you're more likely to feel your allergies. On Friday I went to my allergist who I think moonlights as a Singapore rockstar, and dropped an unspecified truckload of money to obtain more and stronger drugs, including steroids. That's right, steroids. Just for a week. He says there will be no side effects, but I'm kind of hoping that if I go for a run (which I haven't done all week!) I'll shave off some time. So far I don't feel any bursts of energy, but I do feel quite dry in my nasal passages which is a new and welcome feeling.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Megan's latest

Wednesday is dessert night in our house, which usually means either a trip down to McDonald's for sundaes, or brownies. This week the kids opted for a movie instead, and Megan asked for popcorn. At first she asked politely, but after waiting too long, she escalated to this,
"Mommy, could you please make me some popcorn? Right now? At once?! Immediately?!?!?!"

If she weren't so cute . . .

(she told me later that this is a direct quote from the Geronimo Stilton book she's reading)

Fishing for dinner

Erik took Ethan fishing today at Pasir Ris, where they caught large prawns. Yeah, they call them prawns here. We've succumbed. They caught eight of them and brought them home.

Now, this could have been a really awkward situation if we didn't have a fantastic maid who cooks like mad. We showed her the prawns and said, "Can you do something with these?" and she calmly and competently whipped up grilled garlic butter prawns with rice and green beans. The green beans, I should mention, were amazing. I do not understand how she makes these incredible dishes with items that I could just as easily find in my house. It's not like she pulls out some secret ingredient from her room to make all our food taste better. She just knows how to cook so much better than I do. And that's ok. That's why she cooks, and I don't. I bake.

But how cool is it that we caught our food for dinner? Ethan was incredibly proud. Lisa got a kick out of how often he came into the kitchen to check on her progress. Pictures to come as soon as my computer is fully functional, which is entirely dependent on Erik and not me.