Friday, March 31, 2006

Out of the box

Kudos to the employee at Picket and Rail yesterday who was able to think outside the box. I was there buying a dresser for our bedroom, and I noticed a table decoration similar to one I'd seen on for Easter. I noticed that they had a big bunch of the curled reeds they used for it in the corner of the store, so I asked the man if they were for sale. He said they used to sell them but not anymore. In a moment of boldness, I asked him if I could just have some. He hesitated, then went over and attempted to pull out a bundle for me. They were bound together too tightly so he couldn't, but I was quite impressed that he tried. He told me it was just a broom that was curled with heat and I could buy the broom at a hardware store.

So today Ethan and I went to the Chinese hardware store across the street, bought a broom for $1Sing and curled it with my big fat curling iron. Kudos to me for designing on a dime.


On the walk from here to our nearby market, there is a new smell. Ethan thinks it's gross, but I am fascinated by it because it reminds me exactly of something from my childhood. We used to go to our family cabin each summer on Upper Whitefish Lake in northern Minnesota (what I wouldn't give to be there right now - well, maybe in July when it's warmer!) and down by the lake there was a smell that is the same as this one.

While I enjoy it because it takes me back to happy memories, I am dumbfounded as to what vegetation these two places could possibly have in common. And this is a new smell too, within the last few weeks.

So that's my latest Singapore mystery.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

West Coast Park

Sunday afternoon we ventured down to West Coast Park, which, as you might guess, is on the west coast of Singapore. It's a long park which would have a beautiful view of the ocean if there weren't miles of corrugated metal blocking it. They've been working on something there for a long time. Maybe some day we'll be able to see the water again.

But anyway, we still had fun because we were joined by some of our small group from church. There isn't a picture of it, but there are several large playgrounds at this park, including zip lines and a large rope structure that kids can climb. There's also a huge open field where people were flying kites and playing soccer.

When we got there, it was just beastly hot. We thought it would be raining since it was where we live, but instead it was just hovering at around 95% humidity. After about an hour and a half it cooled down though and a nice breeze started and we thought, "This is the life." Nothing like a Sunday picnic with friends!

Enjoying a picnic at West Coast Park

The Wilson clan

Amy with her twins Jacob and Vivianne

Polly and Lindsay (married to Jason and Nate, respectively) with their boys.

Jason and Nate do some instant grill action

Megan takes a break with her friend Ethan

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The 5 C's

I learned from my pastor, of all people, about the 5 C's of Singapore. They are: cash, car, condo, club (as in country) and credit card. These are jokingly the goals of Singaporeans - all about getting ahead. I had an interesting conversation with a Singaporean the other day about the top values here. I have to say one of them is upgrading. You upgrade everything - your education, your car, your standard of living, your children (through a million enrichment and tutoring classes) - to get ahead and have success. He called it pragmatic materialism.

Though I said they are jokingly the goals, I even saw yesterday a sign for a class called "Living the 5 C's." They may joke, but it's based in truth. Looking at some articles online about this, I came across this site called 36 signs you've been in Singapore too long. Take a gander - I could identify with a few, or at least understand where they come from.

In other news, Ethan lost his first legitimate tooth this week without help from outside forces. Megan was quite upset. She doesn't want to lose her teeth. And that's all from the equator.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Reason for Kids

Standing behind Ethan in line to buy something, I put my hand on his head and rubbed it. I encountered a foreign substance.
"Ethan, what's in your hair?"
"Peanut butter."
"How did you get peanut butter in your hair?"
"I fell on daddy's toast."

This is funny to me for a number of reasons. First, the plain fact that he has peanut butter in his hair. Second, that he seems quite content to leave it in his hair. And third, how exactly did he manage to get peanut butter on the very top of his head? Did he do a headstand on the toast? How did he not hurt himself doing this?

Just another reason to have kids.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Math Skills Needed

I was in high potential everything when I was a kid, including math. Note to parents: just because a child excels in one area, doesn't mean they're smart across the board. I'm not blaming my parents - I think back then it was kind of a novelty, so they hadn't worked out the kinks.

My math program meant I took the post test at the end of a chapter before actually studying the chapter. If I did well, I skipped the chapter. I distinctly remember staring at a question about mean, median, and mode without a clue. It was multiple choice, so I guessed and passed. To this day, I don't know the difference between those three. I could point to this moment in my history as the defining moment on which my consequent lack of math confidence hangs, but that would be a bit dramatic don't you think?

Regardless, I'm not good at math. I often felt like it was purposeless. How was I going to use this in the real world? I decided to pursue liberal arts, where we like to sit around and talk and dream, and avoid numbers.

But lately I've been reminded that math skills are actually necessary. It comes to mind when, within the span of a month, I was required to convert Singaporean dollars to Ringgit (Malaysia - RYR 3.8 to US$1), then to Thai baht (40 baht to US$1) a few weeks later at a different exchange rate, and back to Sing dollars (US$1 to $1.65 Sing or thereabouts). It came to mind this morning when I watched my fruit vendor calculate the cost for my fruit at a dizzying pace. I had 3 plums which are $6 Sing/kilo, but I had only 460 grams, plus grapes at $8 Sing/kilo of which I had 900 grams. Everything else was set price, like 40c per apple, $1 Sing for a pineapple. This happened in China too, but everything had a different price - better prices too, like apples at 2.5 kuai/kilo (35c). Ah, the cheap old days.

Imagine weighing everything at different costs and different weights, and I picture the minds of these vendors as finely tuned machines. Either that or they're just guessing and ripping me off. My fruit man added up my $14 worth of fruit in about 15 seconds. I have learned a valuable lesson. I should restrict my travel to places with a 2 to 1 exchange rate, and avoid produce vending as a profession. And I should brush up on mean, median, and mode.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Confession - we didn't sleep at our house last night. Neither did our kids. After having dinner with friends last night, we ended up staying so late that the kids went to bed and so did we. The kids were a little surprised to see that we were still there in the morning since we told them that we were going to go home late. We weren't prepared to sleep over, although Erik had brought his toothbrush just in case. Erik and our friend Dan got up early in the morning and took a friend to the airport. After breakfast my friend Missy and I watched the new Pride and Prejudice while our collective 5 kids played happily.

We got to wondering, "Is this something other people do?" This isn't the first time we've camped out at a friend's house here, and our friends have done it too. We get the feeling it doesn't happen much in the States, but we don't know. All I know is, it's pretty fun!

Friday, March 10, 2006


Ethan's current favorite TV personality is Jeff Corwin, from the Jeff Corwin Experience on Animal Planet. When I told Ethan that Steve Irwin (see below post) was going to be at the zoo, we talked about how it would be fun to see Jeff Corwin in person too. His response was, "You mean Jeff Corwin is real?" I didn't know that was up for debate.

He continued, "I know that Steve Irwin is real. You know how I know that mom?" Enlighten me. "Because when we saw the Wiggles in China, then I knew Steve Irwin was real too." This is because Steve Irwin was in Wiggly Safari, the Wiggles video where they visit the Australia Zoo. It's by far the best Wiggles video, but that's beside the point. So he made the connection that if the Wiggles are real, so must Steve Irwin be.

He's still a little shaky on the existence of Jeff Corwin. Now he's really wondering how Jeff gets into the TV and into our house. That got us onto explaining how satellites work. Oy.

Random happenings and musings

Yesterday at Mustafa a woman kissed Megan on the cheek. I think she thought she was being sneaky because my back was turned while I was examining the overripe capsicum yellow peppers. But above the peppers are mirrors. It didn't bother Megan so it didn't bother me. It just made me laugh, how surreptiously she did it.

This morning Ethan did an experiment to see which of three batteries was strongest. He put each of them by turn into a toy car to see which one made it run faster. He wrote down the times of each and awarded them gold, silver and bronze. We've finally convinced him that silver and bronze are not "loser" positions. A bit of competitiveness in that one.

Our fountain is still pink. They wanted to paint the bridge next to it peach or lavender. One of our friends went into the office with a book of paint samples they gave her and presented the expat approved colors (neutrals!). We'll see what happens.

Last night Ethan told me that he likes to sleep because it's "SO comfortable!" Amen to that.

We saw Steve Irwin at the Singapore Zoo yesterday. For you uninformed, Steve Irwin is the Crocodile Hunter. He was presenting in the marsupial pen, which was disappointing to many of the children present who were hoping to see him wrestle a croc, and with any luck, narrowly escape losing a limb or something.

Some time ago, my beloved brother Christopher posted about the song All the Way My Savior Leads Me by Rich Mullins who is one of my favorite artists. I'd never really listened to that song much, but it has since then become one of my favorites. It is particularly expressive of my desires of late as I find myself in a place of confusion and frustration regarding some activities I'm involved in. Without going into detail because it would be long and tiresome, let me just say I need wisdom to know what to do, and this song comes to mind. I'm reminded also of Jeremiah 6:16, "Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." This is my hope - God's goodness in leading me all the time, knowing that He has brought me here and He will lead me on to places of even greater fruitfulness.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lessons Learned

Disclaimer: the following is not an illustration of my proudest mommy moment.

Today Ethan and I put together a bookshelf we bought for his room from IKEA. We painted the back of it red first, and it looks pretty cool. Before that, while we were waiting for the paint to dry, Ethan and Megan started playing "post office" in his room by dropping "mail" into the slot in his easel. Soon, Ethan came out screaming with a cut on his foot. He explained that he was using the hammer (see disclaimer) to break off pieces of cardboard from the IKEA box to make the mail.

After he recovered and got bandaged, he sat at the dining room table with me and said, "Mommy, I learned a lesson today. I learned that little kids shouldn't play with hammers unless there are big people around." He told Erik the same later. You know, it's not how you want a kid to learn a lesson, but it certainly works.

Ethan was on a roll with the quotes today. The kids had some peapods for lunch. A full two hours later as we walked out of the house, he said, "You know what mom? I'm still eating a little bit of teapod!" (not a typo).

We walked over to the hardware store, and on the way back as we were walking into sunlight he put down his sunglasses and said, "Let's get ready for a little sun action!" And the hits just keep on coming. :)