Saturday, December 31, 2005


Until recently, my scrapbooks have sat on our shelves due to a drop in creativity on my part, as well as my energies put to other pursuits, like transforming my bedroom from blue to shades of brown, red and orange. Yesterday, we realized we'd been spending too much money on redecorating, so out came the scrapbooks!

Sometimes I get a burst of inspiration for my scrapbooks, so I have to take advantage of it. I did four pages and finished 4 others that I had started but not completed. Then today I did 2 more from scratch and completed 2 others. I'm ready to give myself some sort of medal. Actually, I'm just really happy. For me scrapbooking combines a lot of my talents and interests - photos, writing, creating, and a desire to preserve all things nostalgic. So I'm a satisfied Gina right now.

Menace to society

We received a notice in the mail last week from our friendly management company. It listed out several resolutions they are puting into effect for the coming year. Some of them meant improvement, such as the replacement of bushes throughout the complex (though I can't see anything wrong with the current ones). However, one spells the end of fun times for our little folks here in Kentish.

There have, it says, been reports of people riding bicycles throughout the complex at "high speeds", particularly into the car park. Therefore, from now on there will be no riding of bicycles within the premises. All bicycles must be walked to the front entrance.

So gone are the days of our children riding races around the fountain, because even though no one has actually been injured or even had to step aside to avoid our kids, it seems the mere thought of people biking in an open space is abhorrent and dangerous. We'll have to venture out to find other open spaces to ride in until a notice is posted there . . .

The amusing part about this notice was the last line which read, (specifically regarding the bike riding) "with your cooperation we can stamp out this menace!" I've never been a menace to society before. I feel like a reckless American outlaw.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Joy to the world!

Merry Christmas!

No, we're not just pretending it's winter. These are from our trip to China. It's so cute to see our kids bundled up!

Emma, Megan and Lucy on the only day it was warm enough to play outside

Me freezing at the dirt market

Ethan and Jackson together again

Megan and Emma enjoying the swing

Merry Christmas to me

Merry Christmas! I have to say that it didn't phase me to wake up this year on Christmas morning to a full on lightning storm. Last year it was so surreal to have 80 degree weather on Christmas.

The weather cleared up later and it was quite beautiful, but I was unable to enjoy it. Within about 20 seconds of standing up in the morning I had an awful stomach ache which lasted until about an hour before I went to bed in the evening. I get this kind of stomach ache often after my body has settled down from periods of high stress. It' s like an ulcer, but it isn't one (I've been to the doctor for it). My body just overproduces acid or something. I've described it as like something is exploding in me, someone's taking a blowtorch to the inside of my stomach, or like someone is stabbing me in the gut. Sometimes I can find a way to lay down that alleviates it. Being upright is torture. No amount of Tums like medicine helps either.

Hopefully by now I've aroused a full chorus of pity, but let me say that I'm ok today. Erik was gracious enough to take care of the kids who were mostly occupied by new toys. He even made a fabulous looking salad for our potluck dinner with friends. He took the kids there while I laid on the couch, ate saltines and drank a diet coke (when I have this pain I can't actually feel if I'm hungry or not so that's about all I ate yesterday) and watched Cinderella Man. Not the best Christmas I've spent, but it doesn't alter what happened to us when Christ came to earth.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New pictures

In case you haven't looked recently, I posted some new pictures at our website. We had some good friends leave this week (one of the hazards of having expat friends overseas - they get transferred often!) and we had one last big swimming blast with them and others from our group. There's actually a picture of me, finally. Please make no judgments on my new haircut based on this picture - I hadn't washed it, and it was raining that day. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Traces of control

There have been moments this week that remind me of the tight hold Singapore has on its systems and people.

The first came on Tuesday when I was out to lunch with some friends. I ordered the set lunch, which had a choice of appetizer, main dish and drinks. The drink choices were some kind of barley wheat drink, and ice lemon tea. I don't like either of them. At first I asked the server if I could get something else. Of course the answer was "no" because there just isn't life outside the box.
Our ensuing conversation went like this:
Me: That's fine. I'll just have water then. I don't want either of them.
Her: (deer in the headlights look) But you need to pick one of them.
Me: No, it's fine. I don't want either one. I'll just have water.
Her: Can you please just pick one?! (bordering on panic)
Me: How about this - don't worry about it. Just keep the drinks, I'll just have water.
Her: But you still have to pay the $9.99 . . .
Me: That's ok (I feel like I'm talking a cat out of a tree)

The second thing happened a friend of mine. She went to one of the Christian bookstores here to buy the book Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. This is not a controversial book. Ravi Zacharias is a theologically sound man. However, when she asked about it, they sheepishly admitted that this book is not allowed in Singapore. What?! There is no explanation.

Sometimes you fight it, other times you just sit back and scratch your head.

Friday, December 16, 2005

In the Presence of Greatness

The other day Ethan came into the kitchen and started to pour himself a cup of water. I thought, "I love that my son can not only pour himself his own drink, but his drink of choice is water" so I said, "Ethan, I'm so proud of you. You're turning out even better than I imagined!"
He replied, "You mean, when I was in your tummy you thought I'd be great, but now that I'm out I'm even greater?" Exactly.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Death by Gingerbread

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, all due to the intense and relentless desire of our son to make a gingerbread house. We made one once, in the U.S., before we knew that you could preserve your sanity and use a kit. I vowed that I would never again make one from stratch. I would have used a kit here, but IKEA ran out before we got one, and the other places are too expensive.

And so here I am, so exhausted, frustrated, and stressed that I resorted to taking a few old potatoes and hurling them at my shower wall as hard as possible. I need more potatoes.

I thought that it might be hard to make a gingerbread house here because of the high humidity. That was the least of our issues. I thought it would help to use a box inside for reinforcement. Yeah, that wasn't much help. I could list out the problems, but let's say that in the end, we have a gingerbread house precariously held together with not just frosting but also tape, glue, staples, nails, and sewing pins. It is a house that any inspector would instantly condemn. I'm afraid to let the kids decorate it because I know the second someone touches it, it will collapse. So it will remain undecorated. In fact, when I get around to it, I'm pitching it. I'd like to pitch it against my shower wall too, but I still have to clean up the potatoes. And the nails might scratch the enamel.

Ethan has been informed that we are never ever going to attempt to make another gingerbread house from scratch. I think seeing the crazed look on my face convinced him not to argue. I told him that maybe we could just paint a box brown and decorate that. He said maybe we could just eat the decorations. Hey, even better! The biggest bummer is that I was at a Christmas luncheon on Thursday and part of the dessert was these really cute little figures made of sugar - trees and people. I asked everyone at our table to give me theirs so I have a virtual sugar forest and village. They will be homeless this Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cat Lady

There's a woman across the street who often approaches people with pleas for money to feed her cat. I've been one of the approached. The first time she wanted me to buy something for her so she could use the money to feed her cat. The second time she tried the woman in front of me in line for the ATM, then me. She didn't ask me to buy anything that time - just a flat out, "Give me money feed my cat?"

Now, call me insensitive, but if you're reduced to begging to feed a cat, wouldn't the humility of doing so override the desire to own the cat? Why not give the cat to someone who could feed it regularly? I don't know - maybe there's a whole history with the cat here that I'm unaware of. She does seem a bit unstable though.

Anyway, that was just one of many odd things that happened yesterday. If I have time tomorrow I'll share them.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fun in the Middle Kingdom

We're back and defrosting from our trip to the big country of the east. This morning I looked in my closet, saw only shorts and t-shirts and thought, "Great, I'm going to be cold." Then I remembered that I live on the equator.

There's too much to tell because I hate long posts, so I'll just tell you one story that made me want to scream, "I love China!"

I got my deal of the week at a place called Golden Five Star. Picture a huge one story building with a thousand stalls selling things ranging from bathroom faucets to purses to bicycles. We went there to have some pictures reframed, but I found a curtain store that had this gorgeous silk material. You have to understand that usually these places don't have any material that you might possibly want in your home. But this was exactly what I was looking for. I thought it might cost up to 60 yuan per meter (about $7.50 US) but when I asked her, she said, "10 yuan" ($1.25 US). I ordered 10 meters. It's now draped over the curtains in my bedroom. Pictures to come, once my bedroom transformation is complete (that's what happens when you buy a new bed).

But what really made me want to scream, "I love China" was seeing all our great friends there. We stayed with a family who has kids the same age as ours, and live in the same complex as our closest friends there. The fact that it was freezing outside was fine with us because all we really wanted to do was be with all of them. We love Singapore, but being back there was like being home again. I feel like breaking out the Cheers theme song when I think about it.

I know what you're thinking, "I bet it wasn't really that cold. They're just cold wimps now." But really - it dropped down into the teens while we were there, with really strong winds. Our friends there were complaining right along with us. Ethan kept asking when it would snow. Unfortunately it never did. Cold without snow is so pointless.

So we had a great time, but I think we'll save our next vacation time to go somewhere warmer. Actually, we're thinking of going to the island where they filmed South Pacific. That's fodder for another post though.