Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crazy Storm

There are two situations in which I am most grateful for my car. Both of those situations occurred yesterday. The first is driving to a faraway location only to discover it is closed for renovation. You'd be surprised how often this happens. Our venue of choice this time was the Reptile Park. Normally I'm frustrated by this, but the Reptile Park was long overdue for a tune up. I'm thankful for my car, because I fool myself into believing that it didn't cost me anything to drive that far and be turned away, even if gas is $5 a gallon right now. I know that's not true, but it feels true.

We decided instead to go to IKEA. I wanted to find a Swedish Christmas tree (if you don't know what that is, google it). Where else but IKEA? Yet they disappointed me. Only real trees with sparse branches. Upon leaving IKEA, we encountered my second great-reason-to-have-a-car: torrential downpour.

We planned to drive down Jalan Bukit Merah to get to the Central Expressway. Theoretically IKEA to our house should take us about 25 minutes. After waiting at a light for 15 minutes before the CTE, I started thinking something was up. Ethan said, "Hey! Look at the flood!" Sure enough the ditch to our left was flowing with several feet of brown water. Then he said, "Hey! Look at Megan's side!" On our right, the water on the other side of the road was level with the median. The kids were thrilled, but I thought, "This might not be the best place to stay right now." Thinking that the stall probably meant deeper waters ahead, I turned the corner . . . only to find two of the four lanes completely submerged! I hadn't been there more than a minute when we were forced into one lane. The kids continued to think it was fascinating until I suggested we pray that God protect us and get us out of there. I took the next corner and realized that although I was out of the worst, I had no idea where I was.

I navigated back to familiar territory, but that meant I was downtown, nowhere near a fast street. I found myself stuck at another stop light because of a blinking light and what looked like three buses in an accident. After sitting there for 20 minutes, I took a left to what I hope was a faster way (still had to wait for the light to change 5 times). Of course to make the story more interesting, my gas light came on while waiting for the first stoplight. I know we can drive for awhile with the light on, but I wasn't sure how long my car could be running, sucking down that precious petrol, before we became another casualty of the rain.

It reminded me of driving through snowstorms in Minnesota - the same number of stalled cars and accidents, the same slight feeling of "I really shouldn't be driving in this." Yet as I drove by the 30 people long taxi queues at every store, I was still thankful for our car.

Altogether it took us an hour and a half to get home. You're hard pressed in Singapore to drive anywhere for an hour and a half. On a good day, I could be a fair bit into Malaysia with that amount of time. But to drive in one direction in Singapore for that long? Hopefully that will never happen again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I tripped

I told Erik a few days ago that I felt like I was on a treadmill that was set just a little too fast. Do you know that feeling? Like you could sustain this for a few minutes, but eventually it's going to catch up with you and it's quite likely you'll trip, fall flat on face on the treadmill and slide off the end into a heap on the floor.

Today I think I hit that point. All week I've felt like I was just running from moment to moment, trying not to be overwhelmed by all I had to do, knowing full well I couldn't get it all done and feeling frustrated by all that I was letting go. Are my standards too high? Oh, quite often. I don't think that was the culprit this week. It was probably just the fact that I hosted about 20 people at my house for Thanksgiving and my life normally has very little margin anyway so that pushed me over the edge. Or off the end of the treadmill as it were.

I woke up this morning a full two hours later than usual, ate breakfast and went back to bed. If it weren't for the fact that I have two kids I simply can't ignore I'd spend the whole day horizontal. As it is, it looks like I just have to pick myself up and get back on that machine with a hearty "Help me Lord!" Thank God we decided not to do homeschool today!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pasir Ris

This week marks another holiday we don't celebrate (Deepavali, or Diwali as it's also known) but which affords Erik a day off. In the afternoon we drove up to the northeast coast of Singapore to Pasir Ris, which is what they call that area. We intended to go horse back riding, but found that for $10 we only got a ride around the corral. Megan was desperate to go, so we paid for just her. Ethan in the meantime petted a horse nearby. It began as an amicable relationship, but the horse took a nasty turn all of a sudden and nipped Ethan in the stomach. By bedtime he had a large swollen bruise there. I think the chances of us getting him near a horse again soon are slim.

Megan was thrilled though with her 5 minute ride. It would be great to do riding lessons for her, but they are US$25 for 45 minutes. We'll have to think about that one.

We ventured down to the beach and poked around, then did a quick geocache. We finished our outing at Pasir Ris Central, which is a big shopping area. Thankfully it was overcast (it's getting into the rainy season now) so it was "cool."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I miss autumn

I am a cold wimp. Really, I always have been. I think living in Singapore just . . . set it free. I'd love to say it's because I don't have enough fat on me, but I think the more likely culprit is my ridiculously low blood pressure and flow. There's just not a lot of action inside my body keeping me warm. As Erik and I say, "I'm cold from the inside."

But this cold from the inside girl has been longing for some nice fall days lately. I've become so accustomed to constant weather that I am astonished to open my msnbc webpage and see that my hometown is 33 degrees right now. Granted, it's 4 in the morning there, but I don't even remember what that feels like. Right now, I want to remember.

I want to rake a pile of leaves and feel the dry stiffness of the grass as I do it, then jump in the leaves. I want to step outside and smell snow in the air. I want to huddle under a blanket at a football game with my hands wrapped around a cup of something hot. I even want to wonder at a sunset that starts before dinner.

In all my time in Singapore, this desire has been almost void, except in our first few months here when it felt strange not to have seasons. Now I feel like experiencing that would feel completely new to me.


Here's Ethan, in the back room of my parent's basement, doing what he does best and most. We finally set this up in the summer to avoid having Legos everywhere, under couches and inside dogs.

This is Ethan's obsession. Every morning it is the first thing he does. Whenever he's instructed to spend some time alone, he finds his Legos. Not only is it what he does, it's all he talks about (as he himself admitted earlier today).

On the one hand, I'm glad to invest in this. It's sparked his creativity like nothing else. Even though he has a lot of sets, he often combines them, or challenges himself to take all the pieces of one set and make something original. But when every conversation revolves around which set he'll buy next, what level he's on in Star Wars Lego computer game, what Exo-Force character can do what, it gets a little tiring. Still, there are worse things that could occupy him so for now, this is his world.