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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Merry Christmas Thai You

Knowing we were not going to be home again this Christmas, we booked a trip to Koh Samui Thailand back in August to avoid the inevitable holiday blues we get every year while far away from friends and family. Of course, back in August, we were still a family of 3 with a bun in the oven. Which is quite different than a family of 4 when it comes to traveling...especially when 2 of the 4 are still in diapers. That being said, we managed our trip with very few tears (and none from Regis and I), problems, or lost items. Christmas day was celebrated with mass (in english!) in an open air church in the pouring rain, followed by a 6-course Thai style lunch, and afternoon family naptime. All in all, it was a pretty good Christmas; not very traditional, but fun nonetheless. We did end up with one unfortunately-placed bug bite on Adrienne's eyelid. She looked like she had a black eye for most of the trip. We were telling everyone that it was from Thai boxing....you should have seen the other guy! This swollen eye lid didn't hamper Adrienne's ability to charm everyone within a 5 km radius and, as usual, she left the trip with way more friends than we did. Overall, I would say that it was a success. We managed to do most of the things necessary for a proper Thai island vacation: playing at the beach, lounging at the pool, consuming hot curries and cold beers, eating sketchy hawker street food, and enjoying a bit of nudity. Well, that last one was pretty much limited to Adrienne. Here are a few pictures from the trip. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Remember how I told you we needed to keep Adrienne away from Nate for a ridiculous 2 weeks to avoid spreading RSV to our little one? Well, we pretty much managed to keep them apart. We made our bedroom the 'isolation room', a safe place where we could put Nate that was free from Adrienne's germ-y hands and virus-spreading cough. So between the isolation room and the fact that 2-yr olds are super easily distracted, Adrienne basically didn't touch Nate for 2 weeks. She has taken this all pretty well and remained in good spirits despite the being sick, feeling lousy, banishment from our room, hiatus on our daily park trips, and cancellation of all play dates with friends. It is a bummer to get sick and feel like you are being punished on top of it. Well, you know what they say: you harbor the enemy and you become the enemy. Anyway, last week I decided Adrienne was likely beyond contagious and frankly I was tired of keeping the kiddos apart, so I welcomed Adrienne back into our room and reunited the babes. She was so thrilled! She wanted to hold 'Baby Nate' and kiss 'Baby Nate' and give all her toys to 'Baby Nate'. It was very sweet, really. Then she licked his forehead and landed on his legs while jumping up and down so I started distracting her with toys again.  

I had almost-immediate regret over the above event since the next day Adrienne had a fever and spent the day vomiting. How could Nate not get sick?? But by evening she was looking better and managed to keep down some dinner. So I thought/hoped it was a short-lived flu bug or a bad tuna sandwich or something. But then these little blisters started popping up on her hands and feet. We first thought they were ant bites, but then more and more of them popped up and, really, our place doesn't have THAT many ants. So I did what every good mother does and went to web MD to diagnose her. Hand, Foot and Mouth, I'm pretty sure... Seriously, I would like to know where she got HFM considering she only left our apartment for about 45 min the last 2 weeks.

So now it's isolation and banishment, distraction and sanitation, in the Covey household again. It's going to be a true Christmas miracle if Nate manages to stave off all of these viruses! Speaking of Nate, yesterday was his 2 month birthday. I took him to the pediatrician's office for his check-up and vaccinations. I'm starting to feel like this office is our home away from home. I practically consider the receptionists to be my friends. We talk about the kids and shoes and our holiday plans...When I walked in yesterday, they greeted me by name. Then she informed me that the "lady doctor was in" and "was I OK with that?" I gave her a serious and concerned face and said, "Oooohhh, I don't know...a lady doctor?!". Obviously we are not that good of friends because she missed my sarcasm totally. You should have seen the look she gave me. Now she just thinks I am a sexist jerk. The good news is that our 'lady doctor' said that Nate is perfect, and I have to agree wholeheartedly. Look how handsome he is! And he is starting to smile, which I love. I really can't help thinking every time he gives me that smile: Aw, he likes me! (I take my affirmation everywhere I can get it). 

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Did I tell you our good news? I have something for you to look forward to in the post-holiday blues: The Covey family biennial trip home! That's right, we are packing up our 2 small babies and boarding a 24-hr flight from the temperate tropics to frosty North America this January. Crazy, you might think? I suspect you are right. Which is why I am trying not to put too much thought on the getting there and the jetlag and the freezing, short days, but rather trying to focus on seeing family and eating delicious food and introducing the kids to some winter activities. We are grossly unprepared for winter weather, by the way, having been in Singapore the past 4.5 years. The last time I saw snow must have been sometime early 2007. I have been thinking about the coldest temperatures we have experienced since leaving for Singapore in Aug 2007. It might have been in Stockholm in Oct 2010 or in Berlin this May 2011 (Brrrr! Don't I look cold in the pictures!?) or any of the times we went to the movie theater in Singapore. Because of this and some naturally poor circulation, my body thinks it's cold when it's in the 70s. I wonder what poor Adrienne and Nate will think of the weather...especially given that the warmest things in their collective closets are a long sleeve onsie and a puffy vest. (BTW, if you happen to be in the Chicago or Twin Falls areas and have winter clothes that would fit a small 2-yr old or a big 2-month old, we are gratefully accepting donations for the duration of our stay).

Stockholm, 2010
Berlin 2011

Speaking of going home, Regis tells me we need to get in shape for our trip back. I'm not really sure what he means by 'we', since one of us has spent the past year training for and completing triathlons while the other one of us has been eating chocolate covered almonds and ice-blended coffee milkshakes under the (legitimate) excuse of growing another human being. However, taking this (not so) subtle hint and also feeling the need to try to chase away the blues, I pulled out my running shoes and participated in our local, monthly 5K hosted by the US Navy this past Saturday. I am happy to report that 1. I finished 2. In a not-so-shabby-if-I-do-say-so-myself time of 33 minutes 3. and I didn't pee my pants. You laugh at that last one but that is what happened to me in my first run after giving birth to Adrienne. I came home in tears, sure that I needed to give up running or invest in Depends.

The best part of the race (besides the bladder success) was that following it the Navy had hired a Santa for all the kids. This was very fortuitous since we, as neglectful scrooges, have not ventured to a mall to introduce Adrienne to Santa. Mostly because the malls are so crowded here and I lose all semblance of a Christmas spirit in these situations. But in this case, we just had to wait in a small room with a handful of other candy-craving children to see Santa. This was enhanced by the fact that I got to hear what the other kids were asking for, which was exactly: I don't know, I don't know, a basketball, I don't know, long hair, and I don't know. ('Long hair', how cute is that?!) Given Adrienne's history of performances, I thought she would definitely forget her line under pressure like so many of the other kids apparently had. But no, she warily sat with Santa but loudly proclaimed that she would like a "Racing Car!" when asked what she would like for Christmas. She was given 2 suckers (candy canes are a tad expensive in Singapore) and returned to us. I asked her how it was and she replied, "Scary". I think she actually meant "Merry'. 

I hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas week and we are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possibly in January!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

These photos can be organized by date, right?

For future reference and organizing purposes, Adrienne is the baby with the comb-over and Nate is the baby with the pompadour....

Friday, 16 December 2011


I have been a bit melancholy as of late. Maybe it is the weather (rainy) or our general health (viral central), but I've been a bit in the dumps. Or maybe dumps isn't the right descriptor...sadly reflective? A lingering malaise? Either way, it's not been conducive for keeping up with this blog. Yesterday I was going to write but Adrienne ate the internet. OK, maybe she didn't technically 'eat' the internet, but she did somehow manage to destroy the wireless cord to our place. I discovered this while comfortably nursing Nate on the couch. So rather than investigate the internet problem (which would necessitate getting my butt off the couch), I decide to browse through old pictures on the computer (a sedentary solution). I wouldn't recommend doing this while in a melancholy mood because, for me, the walk down memory road seemed so bittersweet. I sort of relived Adrienne's 2 years in 45 minute. It left me wondering how it is that she has turned into this small person so quickly. It went so fast...And if it went quickly with Adrienne, it will likely go even faster with Nate. I went to bed with that intense feeling of how fast life goes, you know where you futilely pray for time to slow down just a little, that your kids won't grow up quite so fast, that life has a pause button. I know the answer to this feeling is to live in the present, to be aware of the moment, to have no regrets about missing things. I do this, I think. I really try, anyway, but find I still regret that time goes so fast. I had one of these live-in-the-moment moments a few nights ago when we were getting the kids ready for bed. Regis was reading Adrienne poetry aloud on the bed, his solution to his wanting to read poetry and Adrienne needing a bedtime story. Adrienne, not terribly interested in the picture-less poems, did headstands and somersaults and cannonballs all around him. Meanwhile, I was sitting in the rocking chair next to the bed holding Nate, listening to poetry, and enjoying the whole scene. At that moment, all I could think was that in 20 years from now we will think back fondly on nights like tonight. I am not sure of the exact poem from Czeslaw Milosz Selected Poems, but I then heard Regis reading aloud "One life is not enough. I’d like to live twice on this sad planet....". Although out of context from the poem, it is a sentiment I can relate to.   

Storm rolling in from our balcony

Monday, 12 December 2011


Sorry we have been MIA the past week. Between Adrienne's bronchitis, then my bronchitis, keeping the babies quarantined and sanitized, there hasn't been much time for keeping up with this blog. The good news is that (knock on wood) Nate has remained healthy despite all odds of him catching this virus from either Adrienne or myself. Adrienne seems to be back on her game and I am hoping to follow suit soon. All this time at home has made me realize that it is already the 13th of Dec (!!!). How can that be? So I forced us to pull out some Christmas music and put up the decorations that we have. I normally don't think of myself as a Christmas scrooge, but it really does seem to sneak up on us every year that we have been in Singapore. My excuse is that it's the product of no change of seasons--I seem to constantly be stopping and asking myself, now what month is it? We were reminded that this will be our 5th Christmas abroad. While we really want to be home with family for a more traditional Christmas next year, it did bring up some funny stories. Like the first year we were traveling in Cambodia over Christmas. We went to Christmas mass in a dressed-up wooden shack and my shoes were stolen by the time that it was over. I had to leave the church in one of the nun's shoes, which were 3 times too small for me. Or the next year few years celebrating with friends while grilling steaks on our patio, a much more 4th-of-July feeling than Christmas. And decorating our palm tree with Christmas lights and ornaments. Finally this Christmas will be spent with our  little family of 4 in Thailand. It's funny that I get the feeling that we keep missing Christmas while we are abroad, yet all the while it seems to find us anyway. Here's hoping the Christmas spirit catches up to you as well!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Welcome Back, Adrienne!

Seeing as my last post left you in the hospital, I thought I should update you on Adrienne's release yesterday evening, a long 5 days after she checked in. I'm not going to lie, I honestly thought it was a bit of a formality when we checked her in on Wednesday. Like they might just watch her overnight and she could come home the next day. But then they determined that she had RSV bronchitis and this warranted a longer stay. If you look on the bright side, this was 5 easy days that we could keep her away from Nate to avoid cross-contamination of our babies. Especially since RSV bronchitis can be very bad for little ones. She did, however, manage to successfully pass the virus to me. Not that I should be surprised, seeing as over the past couple of days she barfed phlegm on me, coughed in my face, and rubbed her snotty nose across my shirt--which may disgust the average person but I consider to be true badges of motherhood. So congrats to me for standing strong in the face of new levels of YUCK. I don't think Adrienne thought the whole thing was too terrible (except for the getting medicine part). She got to eat garbage for 5 days, watched a million episodes of Dora and Peppa, and got unlimited access to this sweet purple car (shown below). Once we were giving the green light to go home, Adrienne promptly buckled herself into the car and refused to budge. So much so that one of the nurses had to drive her down to the taxi stand in it before we could convince her that I was leaving with or without her.

We are obviously happy to have her back home again. It really wasn't the same without her sweet face and funny antics. The challenge now is to keep Nate and Adrienne apart for the next 2 weeks, which is apparently how long she will likely still be contagious.  Oh, and remember how I mentioned that we are becoming THOSE parents?! Well, its never been as obvious as right now. We are bathing in sanitizer and switching clothes between holding kiddos.  I am tempted to spray Adrienne from head to toe with Lysol, especially her snot-dripping nose and dirty little hands. We are scrutinizing Nate's every move for sign of infection. And we almost went all Velveteen Rabbit on Bear-Bear after his stay in the hospital (but that would break Adrienne's heart; she called for him all night last night even though I told her over and over that he was just in the bath).

So here's to hoping for a healthy and hospital-free week!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

We support our local hospitals

Remember how Nate got to stay 11 days in the hospital? Well, never one to be left out of the action (unless it involves stage performances), here is Adrienne enjoying her first stay in the hospital with bronchitis. It is a terrible picture but she is running on something like 8 non-consequetive hours sleep over the last 2 days and isn't in much of a mood for cooperating. Mad props are going out to the hubby for taking the night shift at the hospital with Adrienne. Seeing as the doctors are giving her medicines every 2-3 hours, neither of them are getting any sleep. I am pretty grateful for breastfeeding right now because it gives me a legitimate excuse to skip the night shift at the hospital. Granted I also have to work every 2-3 hours on the feeding night shift, but at least I can do it from the comfort of my own bed and it involves a happily suckling baby instead of a furiously screaming toddler. Never a dull moment, I tell ya! Some people believe in charity work, community volunteering, or other philanthropic organizations, but we are proud supporters of our local hospitals. In this way, we can stimulate the local healthcare economy and add value and feedback to the care-giving community. We are generous like that. What can I say, it's just how we roll. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Passport Photos

Chances are that, unless you live abroad with your off-spring, you probably haven't had the pleasure of getting your newborn baby a passport. You likely aren't that crazy (i.e. stupid) to plan international travel with a new baby if you don't live abroad anyway. However, if you live abroad, you must get your baby a passport within 42 days of his/her birth. Otherwise he/she will be stateless. And illegal, for that matter. The former just sounds scary and the latter comes with a possible $2000 fine and/or 6-months jail time (for you or the baby? Because if you have a colicky one, you may just send them along for a few months reprieve). Also terrifying, without a passport your child will be unable to travel across boarders. So in the unlikely event that the US Embassy needs to evacuate you suddenly or in the more likely event that you are dying to soak up some rays while laying on a white sandy beach and drinking mai tais, you would not want to be in the predicament of having one of your children ineligible for travel.

Now there are rules to everyone's passport photo, which you may or may not be aware of. For example, these rules include:
  • 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
  • Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. 
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
These are pretty simple rules for anyone over a couple years of age. However, applying the "full-face view directly facing the camera" with "both eyes open" to a newborn photo is.....challenging, to say the least. Like, labor might be faster and less painful than getting this done. It is also mentioned that for newborns, neither your hands nor their hands can be in the picture. Which is tricky because you are trying to hold their head straight and they are twitching their arms all over. Also because newborns sleep for 80% of the day. Of their awake time, 80% of that is at some ungodly hour of the night during which the only thing you are doing is trying to coax them back to sleep. That leaves about 15 minutes of daytime when your baby is awake and you are willing to wield a camera in attempt of a photo that meets the above criteria. 

Now I had booked my appointment at the US embassy for Nate's passport application to allow myself a full week to get a good photo. For me, I chose to attempt this challenge every day post-bath so Nate is awake and alert. There are usually at least a few minutes where he is satisfied and looking around, before he becomes so content that he falls asleep or becomes so starving that he is screaming for food. However, after day 6 of repeated photo failures, I had to cancel that embassy appointment and rebook for a week later. Considering that Nate spent 11 days in the hospital and it takes two weeks to obtain a new passport, we were getting dangerously close to our 42 day limit immigration buffer period. Yet still, most of our photo shoots ended up something like this:

Not looking at camera, hands in photo
Not looking directly at camera
looking at camera but moving, head probably too small
Top of head cut off, not looking at camera

Finally, 2 days before our second Embassy appointment, I got a picture that I was pretty sure would work. I spent large portions of that day patting myself on the back at my success. Eyes open: check! Head facing forward: check! No hands: check! White boarder all around head: check! So you can imagine my consternation when I proudly showed it to Regis and he was like, 'We can't use that photo!' 
Me: What? Why not?
Regis: He looks like he had a rough night at a frat party the night before! Look at that hair and that baby acne and the hoodie?!  Also he has more chins than a chinese phonebook! (This is one of my husband's favorite jokes....You see what I put up with on a regular basis?)
At which point I promptly told him where he could shove it. 
Just kidding. I told him that I would love to have him submit some alternate photos and we could choose the best one. We went with my photo, shown below. Because there were no alternate photos. Nate will just have to spend the next 5 years looking like a party animal frat boy. We'll be sure to save it to compare to the photo he takes in his college years.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Stage Fright

This past Friday, Adrienne had her end-of-the-year party at her school. This was celebrated by a pot-luck reception with the parents, where the kids perform a song and dance and receive their certificates of completion. Regis and I were both a little bit excited to see Adrienne with her class because 1. She is a bit of a ham on a day-to-day basis and 2. We could see her 'practicing' songs and dances from school and wanted to know what these were. So when the big day arrived, the teachers escorted the parents to chairs on one half of the room facing the kid's chairs on the other side of the room. Adrienne was only separated from us for mere moments before you could see the stage fright kicking in. I can't hardly blame her for being nervous considering what the parent's side of the room must have looked like. I mean, there were more cameras and flashes going off  and people shouting 'Hey (insert child's name here), look over here!' than at a live news conference. It must be intimidating to stare into that wall of lenses and frantically waving, attention seeking parents. Needless to say, Adrienne didn't even so much as flub her performance as she did outright fail. There were some tears and a mad dash to daddy's arms and that was the end of it. The more Regis encouraged her to join her classmates, the louder she cried and harder she hugged on to him. Not to worry, however, because Adrienne made a swift recovery once the announcement came that we could hit the food table. At this point, she promptly ditched us and found other non-suspecting adults that are much easier to persuade using her big-blue-eyed coy-faced request for "More cookies, please?" We did manage to get one photo of Adrienne and her class-mates. I am definitely thinking this is one for the photo albums, no?

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Seeing as I am in a bit of a turkey coma, I will keep this post brief. This Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for having these three in my life, even if they do drive me a little crazy by never opening their eyes for photos...

I am extra thankful this year for my daughter, who turned 2 this thanksgiving. She has a big personality, an even bigger heart, and makes me laugh every day. I believe she thought that the Thanksgiving dinner we went to was in honor of her birthday and she likely ate her weight in dessert today. So definitely her best birthday yet!

Finally, we are thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives and hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

In the line of fire

I find that I get the most interesting questions being a mommy here in Singapore. Granted I haven't been a mommy in the USA, so maybe these are typical questions every mommy gets while going about their business. I'll let you decide:

The first question, which I think I have mentioned before, is almost always the ice-breaker to conversation when someone approaches you and your baby: Girl/Boy? Now, actually, I don't mind this question so much when babies are like Nate's age. It is hard to tell if newborn babies are girls or boys by their looks. Actually, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that it's a legitimate question for the first 6 months of a baby's life. It IS embarrassing to get stuck in that, 'Oh, my, what a beautiful girl!' and have the parent's respond, 'He's a boy.' But really, after 6 months or so, most babies seem to take on observable gender-defining qualities. When in doubt, take 5-10 seconds to consider the clothing baby-in-question is wearing. You should probably be able to figure it out. People still ask me if Adrienne is a girl or a boy and she is an adorable and girlish 2 years old. However, maybe there is something genuine (although stupid) to this question from the person asking. I was actually out at the park today with both Adrienne and Nate when some Auntie stopped to ask if Nate was a boy or a girl. I responded with 'He's a boy' and she replied, 'Oh, how nice that you have 2 boys!' while gesturing at Adrienne and Nate. And, unlike yesterday, Adrienne was wearing her own clothes (a purple butterfly shirt, in this instance) and not the future clothes of her little brother. It makes me wonder how two people can stare at the same thing and see it so differently....

Another question that I get frequently is, 'Are you breastfeeding/Is the baby breast-fed?' OK, yes, I do breastfeed my babies and I am not particularly shy about it. I think it is natural and healthy, and frankly I am WAY to lazy to have to organize sterile and temperature-appropriate bottles at all hours of the day. However, for some reason this seems like a bit of a personal question for strangers to be asking when they are looking at your baby. Whether you do or don't breastfeed your babies, you have reasons for your decision that you may not want to share with every stranger that you run into on the street. 

My absolute favorite question I got yesterday while poking around our building with the babes. An elderly auntie stopped us to look at Nate, then looked at Adrienne, and back at Nate. 'Same father?' She asks me skeptically, pointing back and forth between the two. Let me repeat it for emphasis: SAME FATHER?? What kind of question is that?? I was so caught off guard that I lamely replied with an 'Ahhh....Yeah'. But now I have thought of all the better and snarky ways I could have answered, like: Ya, I think so.... or Hmmm, I'm not really sure who either of their daddy's are.... Lets be clear about something: if breastfeeding hovers on the grey area of being too personal, certainly strangers inquiring of the paternal heritage of your children leaps across the line of appropriateness. 

Anyway, I was looking at old pictures and I really think there should be no question that these two babies are made from the same gene pools.  The first is a picture of Adrienne at around 4 weeks sitting on my lap. The second is Nate at the same age sitting on my lap. What do you think, see any similarities??

Friday, 18 November 2011

Love Bug

I swear, this guy can do this all day long. What a little love bug!!

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Adrienne is quite the cheeky one. We sort of knew she was going to be spirited all along, but it's really coming out now that she is more-fully developing her language. And, boy, does she love using certain words. Like 'NO!' for instance. She probably got this from her father, but she basically says 'NO!' to anything you think she should be doing. For example, the other day I was giving her a bath and saying,
Adrienne, can I soap your hair?  'NO!' Your arms? 'NO!' Your back? 'NO!' Your feet? 'NO!'
Seeing as this conversation was going nowhere quickly, I decided to change it up a little.
Adrienne, what's your favorite word? (thinking it would be 'NO!') And without missing a beat, she yells, 'ICE CREAM!'  Well, at least she is still actually listening at this point and she definitely gets that sentiment from her mother!

If 'Ice cream' is her favorite word, her second favorite word is something along the lines of 'Bubba'. We in the Covey household know that she means 'Peppa' (as in Peppa Pig). She wakes up asking for Peppa and proceeds to ask for her continuously at regular intervals throughout the day. No matter what you are doing, she has 'Bubba' in the back of her mind. Like we might take her swimming, and in the middle of splashing and frolicking in the water, it's 'Bubba? Bubba?'. I wonder if this is a question like, 'Remember that episode that Peppa went swimming?' (Of course I remember, I've seen it like 500 times!) or a question like 'Can we please leave the swimming pool immediately even though I am having a great time so I can watch an episode of Peppa?'. Anyway, when we watch Peppa Pig, I always warn Adrienne when it's the last episode in a weak attempt to avoid the inevitable meltdown that will follow. So I tell Adrienne, 'Ok, this is the LAST one. Only ONE more. (Holding up my finger here to demonstrate a ONE). ONE more.... Adrienne, how many more are we going to watch?' Then she'll look up at me with her big blue eyes and reply cheekily, 'TWO!!'. 

Speaking of two, Adrienne's second birthday is next week. Thanksgiving day, to be exact. I've been trying to teach her how to hold up 2 fingers for her second birthday. She can do this with help, but if you ask her unassisted, she will always hold up 3 fingers. And not the first 3 fingers but the A-OK hand symbol (you know, pinkie, ring, middle fingers up, pointer and thumb in O shape). So, our little cheeky monkey, I guess you'll just have to verbalize the "TWO!" and that will have to be A-OK for us.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Bad design makes bad neighbors

Apartment living is interesting in so many ways. I sort of thought by now I would be beyond apartment living. Although, I also never thought I would be living in Singapore. Plus I don't have a spare 8-10K a month that it would cost me to live in a house around here. So apartment living it is. Which is not all bad, really. For example, we get security at the entrance to our building, the availability without maintenance of a pool, no grass to mow... We also lucked out and got a top floor apartment, which means you can't have crazy loud neighbors pounding around over-head (I sort of suspect WE might be those neighbors to the floor below us). But the architectural design of our building is...unusual. For example, the designer's managed to create a building where 90% of the apartments get full-on afternoon sun blaring into their apartment. Have I mentioned it's hot here? Every. Single. Day. I guess the joke is on us since we moved into the building called SUN Plaza.

Another fun design about our particular unit is that our bedroom windows look directly onto the patio of the floor below us. Which is interesting because you could be changing into your pajamas and they could be having a dinner party on the patio and all of a sudden they have new party entertainment. This is hypothetical; it has NEVER happened. Seriously. But only because they are not the dinner-party-throwing type. Curtains can be utilized to avoid the Peeping Tom affect, but keeping your curtains closed all day is a little too hermit-esk for us. So as an additional measure, we thought it would be nice to plant some trees in the bays outside our window. That way our windows are sort of covered and we can open the curtains to enjoy the daylight. Being in Asia and because they are so eco-friendly, we opted for bamboo trees to fill the space. They look quiet lovely, right?

A few weeks after planting the bamboo trees, we had a visit from our downstairs neighbor who was complaining that large amounts of leaves were being shed onto his patio. Would we mind getting rid of the trees and replacing them with something else? A few points to remind you of before you think we are terrible neighbors. 1. We had just invested a not-insignificant monetary amount to buy our trees 2. We had also invested some time and energy in planting and caring for the trees and 3. We really liked the way they looked outside our window. But not wanting to be completely disagreeable, we offered to move the trees so long as our neighbor would buy us replacement plants of equal value. This offer was met with a scowl and a huff and a rapid retreat back to his apartment. A few weeks later, our neighbor returned for a similar conversation. To which he gave the same complaints and we gave him the same offer of moving the plants if he bought replacement trees for us. We thought the issue was likely over  once he again refused to pay for replacement plants. 

However, not too long after that second conversation, we started hearing loud construction and drilling outside our bedroom window. We started to peek down at what was going on with curiosity. Is he building a roof for this patio? Sure enough, up went an awning that covered from our bedroom windows to about mid-way over his patio. I guess an alternate solution to us getting rid of the trees is for him to cover the patio. As is turned out, the awning did little for relieving the falling-leaf-on-patio problem. The leaves would drop onto the awning until the slightest breeze would come up, at which point they would be blown off onto the second half of his patio. Truthfully we thought very little about this as it was occurring since it wasn't really a problem for us. We did get the general feeling that he didn't like us, because occasionally we would end up on the same elevator and he would either give us a death-glare or just pretend we didn't exist. But, given what I know now, I sort of imagine these leaves driving our neighbor mad. You know, like, he walks out to his patio and a shedding leaf floats down into his unkept hair and he nearly goes apoplectic. Or the sound of walking on dry leaves during his evening smoke break makes him want to burn his ears off. This sort of crazy.

I say this because, after several years, he has finally enacted his revenge. This first started the week that we brought Nate home. We noticed construction noises and loud drilling. From around noonish until 3 pm. Which happens to directly span our daughter's naptime. Such that during our most fragile transition to a family of four and extreme lack of sleep, our daughter was unable to take her much-need nap and we were unable to have the couple hours of daytime reprieve. You may think this is a coincidence but I tell you that working from noon-3pm is the WORST time to work in Singapore and most construction halts for siesta. Point 1 for neighbor. Then, when we saw what he was building, we were even more appalled. He was adding an extention to the previous awning so that there are no cracks over his patio for the much loathed leaves to fall through. But instead of starting completely over and doing a nice roof, he just threw together the second half complete with different materials and color. So the upshot is a very unsightly, ghetto-looking awning that we stare down on from our bedroom window. Point 2 for neighbor. And finally, the added twist to the revenge plot we didn't discover until the next rainstorm. Rain hitting that new awning is loud. Really loud. It sounds like a thousand tin drums playing outside our window. What an evil genius! Point 3 for neighbor.

Finally, I would just like to say that, although we are losing this battle at the moment, we may get the last laugh after all. Which is, of course, that we are mere renters and will hopefully be leaving in the not too distant future. The trees will probably go with our departing, but he will be stuck with a mis-matched covering that can't be any quieter from the other side of the awning. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Newborn activity

Having your first baby is such an amazing and overwhelming experience. You have no idea what to expect. You spend hours reading everything you can about babies, what to expect from your baby, what type of parenting model to follow. However even after all of that, you have NO IDEA what you are getting yourself into. So of course by the time your second one is coming, you do actually have an idea of what is coming. You are a seasoned parent and can take this in stride! Right? For us, we are a mere 23 months out from doing our first round of newborn duty...and I can't believe all the things I had forgotten about newborns.  For example: Newborns eat ALOT. Maybe you just don't notice as much with your firstborn, since you have only one job in the world to do which is to feed that baby. But it seems that every time Nate open's his eyes, he's looking for his next meal. Of course, as a consequence of this massive intake, they also poop alot. I mean, ALOT. I swear we went through 2 packs of diapers and a whole container of wipes in 3 days. Plus all of the spitting up that they do! For something so small in size and who does so little in activity, there is a whole lot going into and coming out of these babies. I also forgot one of the best parts about having a newborn: how squishy-cuddly they are. This snuggly time is my favorite! They don't do this for long, so its absolutely imperative to make time to enjoy it between all the feeds and diaper changes, even if it does come with a little spit up or two. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

We may be THOSE parents

Today marks Nate's 3 week birthday. Thankfully the second half of those 3 weeks since Nate has been home have gone much faster than the stressful first half. However, now that we should be second-time seasoned pros, we are more like acutely concerned, hyper-aware, bordering-on-paranoia first-time parents. Poor Nate yawns and stretches and this elicits a 5-minute scrutiny and discussion of said behavior, followed by rapid google-searching about whether this is normal for a newborn or not. We sort of have one eye constantly glued to his chest for confirmation of movement. Regis was wondering if we can rent an oxygen saturation monitor from the hospital. If he knew what they were called or how to properly use one, I suspect he would be already scourging ebay to see if we could pick one up. This has all been amplified by the fact that I have had time to google search things about Nate's birth condition. Severe Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Did you know that this is the #1 cause of infant mortality in first world countries?! Thank God, another small miracle, I wasn't doing these investigations while Nate was at the hospital. 

Needless to say, nights are the worst. You know, because we are supposed to be sleeping. And if we are sleeping, who is making sure the baby is breathing? Between feedings, my own paranoia, and being awoken by my husband's crazies, our sleep is disjointed and infrequent. After 7 nights of this, we finally gave in to the paranoia. We woke a few mornings ago and I started asking, Was it just me or was Nate grunting a lot last night? And does he look kind of red? Has he always been this red? Does his tummy seem swollen? I think it looks sort of swollen and hard feeling, do you? And what about his boy-parts, is this the way they're supposed to look? This went on and on for about 10 minutes before I declared, that's it, we are going to the doctor's now. So we packed up (and by packed, I mean we put on shoes) and headed straight for our local pediatrician's office.

Upon arriving, we found the waiting room unusually packed with what I was assuming were bacterial and viral ridden children. (The type, I'm pretty sure, who do not cover their mouth when they cough). So we hovered outside, mentally calculating the risk of sitting in the waiting room versus having the doctor check out Nate's supposed redness and swollen-ness. But we did finally brave the waiting room, see the doctor, and sheepishly explain to him the reasons we were there that morning. Maybe it was the florescent light in the doctor's office or the dose of fresh air on the way there, but it didn't seem like Nate looked very red anymore. And certainly his tummy didn't look very swollen any more. And his boy parts are "Perfect" according to the pediatrician. We looked like even better parents when Nate demonstrated how to use his perfect boy parts all over the examination table and his clothes, and only then did we realize it would have been wise to pack a change of diaper and clothes. Yes, doctor, we are very worried about our son's health and well-being. Honey, would you mind putting that urine-soaked onsie back on our baby so we can go outside and bury our heads in the sand? Great. Well, a mere $60 later, we walked out with a clean bill of health, the reassurance that our guy is doing well, and some peace of mind. I'm sure the pediatrician's office was high-fiving each other and seeing dollar signs when we left. Because we exhibiting signs of becoming THOSE parents.

You know THOSE parents. The ones who bring their child in at the first sign of a sniffle. The ones who pack back-up bottles of hand sanitizer in every spare pocket of their baby gear. The ones who lysol spray the air in the room around their child. The ones who glare at you if your germ-infested child steps too close. The ones who let you look at their baby (but don't touch!) so long as you stand a safe distance away. The ones who, if they could, would put their boy in a bubble.

Which reminds me of the Paul Simon song....that I am now singing to Nate: These are the days of miracle and wonder, and don't cry, baby, don't cry, don't cry.

And some photos of our little wonder:

Monday, 7 November 2011

Adrienne's New Do

Lets just say Adrienne has always been a 'minimalist' when it comes to hair styles. This is likely due to some genetic trait that she got from her mother, who pulls her own hair back into some lazy version of a pony tail 98% of the time and who considers 'styling' her hair to consist of blowing drying it completely. I have these illusions of being a mother who would put cute braids and ponytails and accessories into my daughter's hair if she would allow it, although its probably best for both of us that she doesn't tolerate these things anyway. Truthfully, we are just lucky if we can get a brush through her hair once in awhile. As such her hair is usually some wiley version of scattered curls (not unlike the following photo). 

Being that is it hot in this country 365 days a year, I don't know how Adrienne can stand all that sweaty hair sticking to her neck. In my opinion, there are only 2 hair-styles that work here: Short or Ponytail Length. Since I am her mother and she lacks the autonomy to veto this decision (or rather, she didn't really know what we were doing and was promised candy along the way), I opted to take Adrienne for a haircut. We used the salon in our building. The suckers have a $10 haircut for children. I'm pretty sure they didn't mean 2-yr olds when they advertised this because this has to be far more work than an adult haircut. This poor guy got a 45 minute aerobic workout cutting Adrienne's hair--and all the while with a smile. We made sure to give him a good tip so he doesn't hide the next time we come strolling into the salon. 

Adrienne did pretty good during the whole haircutting process. I was a little sad to see some of the curls go--I'm not sure where she got them from nor how long they will last...But check out the final product. Super cute, right?!  OK, and that outfit was completely the little fashionist's choice. Stars for the dress, Peppa Pig wellies, and her purse. Seriously, when did she get so big, I ask you?!