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Sunday, 31 July 2011

End of the Line

Regis thought I should name this post as such, which is fairly accurate really since it is the end of the train line for Singapore. This train line runs from the southern most tip of Singapore to the northern most point, where it runs into Malaysia and then Thailand. The line through Singapore has now been closed and the rail line is being reclaimed and incorporated into a big project offering trails through Singapore. So for this month, the now-closed rail line has been open to the public to walk along the tracks before they are removed. This probably doesn't seem like a very exciting prospect to you, especially if you live anywhere in the middle of America where train tracks would be readily accessible. However, if you grew up in Singapore, there is a good chance that you have never had the opportunity to walk along train tracks.

Since Adrienne falls into this latter category, and since she is almost two and everything is exciting to an almost 2-yr old, we thought it would be a fun outing to walk the 3km tracks open from Rifle Range Rd to the Rail Mall. Seeing as this was the last weekend that the tracks were open and that it was a FREE event, we anticipated throngs of people to come marching out. However, we were pleasantly surprised with a nice walk and not too overly-crowded to enjoy (Although there is one guy that is totally ruining my picture of Adrienne posted here. Any suggestions on how to crop him out?). You can tell that Adrienne enjoyed herself; I think she was really getting in touch with her American roots. Regis didn't want her laying on the tracks but I thought it made for a cute picture, and besides, it can't be worse than half the things she normally tries to lay on, lick, rub her hands on, etc...

As a side note, I cannot walk along train tracks without feeling a 'Stand by Me' moment.  Its probably because my siblings and I watched that movie over 100 times growing up. I kept expecting a train to come while we were crossing the bridge and for someone to say "Chopper, Sic'em boy!". Incidentally, I think we taped and watched the TV version over and over. Later in life I saw the unedited version... the train tracks in these photos have nothing compared to the dirt on some of those lines! 


P.S. Thanks a lot to Hannah for driving us to the start of the tracks!  I'm sure you were regretting that offer after the jam getting there... 

Thursday, 28 July 2011

He Who Nose Best

We had our 25 week check up yesterday. Everything looks good. Baby boy is growing and kicking and has a steady heartbeat. He weighs in at 800g, which probably means nothing to most of you but I have finally learned after 4 years in Singapore that it's around 2 lbs.  I won't tell you what I am weighing in at (especially after my sweet week last week), I am a lady after all. Our shy guy finally decided to show his face yesterday, long enough for our OB to take a 3D picture. So proof that he has more than just fingers and toes (since my mom and sister weren't seeing anything in my last ultrasound photos).

Anyway, I sort of have mixed feelings about these 3D ultrasound pictures.  I mean, for one, every single one I have seen looks THE SAME. Of course they are all neonates in a black and white reconstructed picture from sound waves, so what can you really expect? For all I know, the Dr could have a generic 3D baby picture on his computer and just prints out the same photo for each patient that walks through his door. Also, if you are like most expecting moms, you start staring at the picture for too long, trying to see your future son in the picture and wondering why it's not invoking the appropriate feelings of love and adoration towards this little face.  And worse, you may start thinking, gosh, that is an awfully big nose...  I hope he is not ugly.  Is it possible to have that big of a nose and not be ugly? Then you chide yourself for being so vain. But later you might start staring at old men with big bulbous noses on the train and try to picture these noses on a newborn, and then you feel guilty because the image is horrible and you know that you should love your big-beaked neonate unconditionally and think he is handsome, even if he does have a face that only a mother could love. You would be that mother, right??  And it might even drive you to go digging through all of your daughter's birth forms and medical records until you find her 3D ultrasound picture so you can compare your daughter's nose to your son's nose.  At which point you might breathe a big sigh of relief, because sure enough your daughter had a huge honker on her too while in the womb but she came out with the most perfect and proportional little nose you had ever seen. So you are confident that your son is going to be absolutely adorable too....hopefully.

Are you trying to tell me that's not the typical mother's response to these pictures?
Oh....well....that's not how I responded either... 

Here's the picture of our little man.  We are looking forward to meeting you, no matter what your nose looks like!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Eye of the Tiger

Some nights after Regis and I get home, we like to walk Adrienne over to the local playgrounds before dinner. It's a great time to be out in Singapore as the hot sun is finally down and people start to slowly emerge from their afternoon hibernation. These community playgrounds are a great place for toddlers to climb and explore (and despite the general emptiness of these pictures, they are typically full of playful young kids). I think I mentioned in an earlier post how much Adrienne likes the slides at these playgrounds. She has since discovered the joys of monkey bars and how fun they are to swing on. Sometimes she and Regis (since he is really just like a big kid) like to have contests to see who can hang in there the longest. You can tell from Adrienne's face that the competition is ON. I think Adrienne won this particular round. While they were competing, I was snapping a few pictures with my iPhone and thinking about how cute the two of them are.

But then I started looking at these pictures a little closer.  I mean, there is Adrienne hanging like a funny little monkey and looking adorably sweet...but look a little closer, at her eyes. There is a seriousness in them, a plan of sorts, the eye of the tiger. I think she has realized that the only thing between her and total chaos freedom is some core muscle strength.  I can see it in those eyes: she is envisioning herself catapulting out of her crib and onto the dresser containing all her beloved stuffed animals; she is scaling the dinning table to reach the forbidden and highly-desired pens and markers that we keep just out of her reach; she is climbing the kitchen cabinets to eat all the delicious goldfish crackers and chocolate cookies hidden on the top shelf; she is mounting the shelves to have constant access to her cherished Dora DVDs. Oh no....this is not the look of child's play; this is the look of a champion with a plan. Watch out world! Things may never be the same....

See, the proof is in the pudding: what kind of 20 month old does leg lifts?? 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Gettin' my Betty Crocker on

I have always enjoyed baking but don't often find the time nor am I particularly good at it. This week, however, I did some serious baking. I'm not sure what inspired this sugarfied productivity kick; maybe it's a by-product of the nesting syndrome that I have been experiencing lately? No matter.  Its a sweet reward for those around me.

I first decided to attempt to make the Almond Mixed Berry Cake recipe that my aunt sent me (Thanks, Jan!). We had a discussion in Europe about how much we like almonds and berries, so this recipe seemed like a genius combination.  Plus I had a tube of marzipan in my freezer that was in mortal danger of getting the ax the next time my hubby went on a freezer cleaning streak. (Regis is afraid of the freezer.  We may have to save that phobia for a separate blog.) I did have to make some minor adjustments to this recipe, since the key berries were blueberries and raspberries. Unfortunately I could find neither of these berries (fresh or frozen) at the store that day, so strawberries it was! Since I was using a tube of marzipan instead of almond paste, I reduced the sugar to 1/3. I also inadvertently added too much flour, which I wouldn't do the next time. Anyway, even with my alterations, this cake is nice and I would recommend it with coffee.  (recipe at bottom of page)

Next up was peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  This was because my husband thought I was in the kitchen making cookies one night when I was actually just preparing lunch for the next day.  But once he put the idea in my head, I just HAD to have some cookies.  I originally just planned to make plain peanut butter cookies.  Because they are more healthy, right?  I mean, all that protein from the peanuts? But then I found a half-full bag of mini-dark chocolate chips in the back of the fridge and they just really seemed like they wanted to be together. (Its almost like a reverse Reeses peanut butter cup, and we LOVE Reeses.)

Then we rounded out the week with Martha Stewart's key lime pie bars with Graham Cracker crust.  Except, of course, we don't get key limes here in Singapore. But we do get Malaysian limes, which are small and tangy and must be very similar to the key lime.  So it was Malaysian Lime Pie Bars, if you want to get technical. Anyway, these were made to bring to a wedding shower for our friends (Congrats Sharon and John!).  I actually don't even know if our bride and groom like key lime pie, but I can tell you that I am pregnant and it sounded delicious to me. Everybody knows you don't mess with a pregnant lady, and I figured I should take advantage of it. I would highly recommend giving this recipe a try if you are a fan of key lime.  It was so easy and really good.  Also, you really can't put a price on Graham Cracker crust because its SO yummy...but I would like to inform you that one measly box of Graham Crackers costs $10 in Singapore. Sorry, Adrienne, that will be the last of the Graham crackers that you get to enjoy while we live here. 

Now as I am writing this up with my belly up to the edge of the table, I am starting to have baker's remorse. Because, you see, this week brings with it my monthly check up at the OB. After this saccharine spree, I am really NOT looking forward to getting on the scale at the doctor's office. However, I do hope your week was equally full of good things!   

Mixed Berry Cake
9" spring-form pan
350 degree oven
50 to 55 minutes or until done

One 7 oz tube of almond paste (grated)
1 C. sugar
1 stick plus 2T. butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 3/4 C. flour
1 1/2t.baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 C. mixed blueberries and raspberries
3 T. sliced almonds
Mix  almond paste, sugar and butter and beat til smooth.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each egg.  Beat on high 3".
Add flour that has been combined with the baking powder and salt and mix til combined.
Put about 2 1/4 cups of the batter in the pan.  (The dough is quite stiff)
Sprinkle the berries over the dough and top with the remaining batter.  Sprinkle top with the sliced almonds and bake.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Travel Options

Regis and I have a bit of a travel problem, in that we like to do it semi-regularly.  It has been a bit more difficult to manage this problem since Adrienne came along, although she has stamps in her passport ranging across four continents so she certainly hasn't been a total hindrance. However, seeing as Adrienne is rapidly approaching her second birthday (which necessitates a purchased air ticket) and the impending arrival of number two, we are considering some options that might make our travels less troublesome. The following is one of our ideas. For the trial run, we let Adrienne pack her own bag; as you can see, she packed all the essentials.  Let us know if you have any other ideas. I am worried this solution is a bit too much in the proverbial box.          

Monday, 18 July 2011

Waiting for Waves

Last weekend, we all got up early and ventured out to the East Coast Park in Singapore.  We were motivated by a triathlon swim training session for Regis and Adrienne's love of anything related to sand, dirt, and especially rocks. While the hubby was off doing swim training drills and Adrienne was digging holes and moving piles of sand, I could sit back in the sand with a lazy eye on both of them and enjoy some early morning sun. Eventually Adrienne apparently got all the sand sorted so it was just right and wanted to venture down to the water. While she is a 'head-first' sort of gal in a lot of things, she is always  cautious when it comes to the ocean shore. She grabbed my hand and pulled me down to the water's edge, just close enough that big waves would greet our feet but we were otherwise safe from the water.  This, like so many other seemingly trivial things, is endlessly fascinating to a 20-month old.  So we would stand there waiting and guessing if this wave was going to reach us or not, all the while the excitement building and climaxing in squeals of laughter once the waves hit our feet.  

Waiting for waves is a fun game to play with Adrienne, however it sometimes seems that we have been doing this figuratively in our life for awhile. Waiting. Our plan was to come to Singapore for 2-3 years. We are now rapidly approaching our 4 year anniversary and yet still no immediate plan to move back. This past year has brought a lot of good-byes to our Singapore friends; friends that have now come and gone in the time we have been here. That has been hard for us to see, both in seeing friends go and in being left behind. We are anticipating that wave of change to come for us soon, waiting sometimes hopefully and other times abjectly. But I realize that, like the waves, change has come and is always coming. We have grown, we have worked, we have traveled, we have become parents, we have met great people....hell, we have even started saving for retirement. Now if that is not change, I don't know what is! While we stay hopeful that our lives will move in a westward direction, life is happening now and happening so fast. The thing about kids is you feel like there is so much to teach them but then they surprise you with life's little lessons. In this case, like my daughter so enjoys, that it is important to remember to savor the sand between your toes while you are waiting for the next big wave to hit. 

Friday, 15 July 2011

Get this girl an Acadamy Award!

This morning as I was packing up for work, Adrienne saw the corner of my iPad sticking out of my purse.  I try to hide it there since Adrienne believes that it is her personal $700 toy.  She, like all other babies we have met, love the iThings.  I have even seen her giving my iPad a big hug and kiss, which I don't mind too much because it's pretty darn cute. But babies have a funny way of showing their affection, so I have also seen her throw it to the ground and jump on it in a bout of excitement (probably from managing to shoot an angry bird in the correct direction, which is apparently really hard for her to do. Shooting them the wrong way--no problem). Another downside to sharing 'toys' with a toddler is that I often find that my iPad is covered in crumbs and some questionable dried substances.  I try not to think too much about what this film could be since its most likely some gross combination of milk, snot, and finger dirt. This is the real reason I also carry hand sanitizer in my purse.

But back to my story.  This morning, when my sweet little angel saw the corner of my hidden iPad, she rushed to me and started tugging on my purse.  That is when this transformation happened right in front of my eyes.  First the tugging at my purse, then the whining, followed in rapid succession by big alligator tears forming in her eyes, her face flushing, the whining turns to wailing...As the final act, her arms and legs turn to spaghetti and she drops to the floor in a full-on screaming tantrum.  Meanwhile Regis and I are standing over her relatively stunned at what has happened so quickly.  See Adrienne, at 20 months, has just begun testing the deep waters of the tantrum. Usually when this happens, we just ignore her in hopes that she will realize this behavior will not get our attention.  This morning, as an experiement, I bent down beside her and tried to make eye contact and said, "Adrienne, if you say 'please', I will let you play with mommy's iPad for 5 minutes."  

Poof!  Just like that, she is on her feet, her tears dried up, her face returns to normal color and a big smile across those chubby little cheeks. "Pleeeeeaaaassssseeeee!" Watch out Hollywood, we have got a talented actress on our hands! I have made a mental note of this moment to draw on when she becomes more skillful with weilding the tantrum. Remember, Self, she does NOT need the iPad/french fries/permanant marker/etc no matter how convincing she gets...  

We have yet to catch her in full acting mode, but proof that she can say please.  Also, if you are prone to motion sickness, I apologize in advance about this clip.

As a final qualifier to this post, I realize that you might find some parenting flaws in this method I was experimenting with, as Adrienne may think she should always get her way when she says please.  There is also a good chance you will find other parenting flaws in older posts or future posts if you continue reading. If you feel compelled to point out these flaws and/or offer parenting advice, especially those of you who have never had children or who are not in the midst of raising a toddler, please feel free to email me directly at my account: idontcare@mindyourownbusiness.com  
I will be sure to get back to you promptly.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

We Always Need our Moms

I have this fear that Adrienne will not need me one day.  In some ways, its crazy, right?  I mean, she is only 20 months old.  Her entire world still revolves around me and Regis.  She literally couldn't even get out of bed in the morning if it weren't for us.  But in other ways, its the inevitable.  Someday, in the not too distant future, she will not need me to get her out of bed, to feed her, to wipe her bum. These things, I suppose these will be good milestones of independence and I will cheer her.  But the ones that terrify me are when she will no longer want to hold my hand and show me things, when she will not think its exciting to see me walk in the door, when she will no longer want to tell me things because she has her own friends, or, god forbid, when she wants to move half a world away from me where I can only see her on rare occasions. These are the things that make me want to freeze time. Why does it have to go so quickly?

Yet, when I think of my own mom, I do not think that I have or ever will reach an age where I do not need her. Of course its a need that is ever changing. She doesn't have to feed me or clothe me or (FINALLY!) pay my bills anymore.....well, usually, anyway. I mean, I admit that nothing beats a home-cooked meal by mom....and I did get a package with some clothes in it just this week from mom...and my mom still has to write checks for certain bills for me (although I do put money into the account first, so not the same as before). This is my point exactly! You always need your mom. No one is ever too old for a mother's love, advice, and shoulder to cry on.     

Adrienne does this funny thing when she wants my assistance. She throws out her arm behind her and opens and closes her hand real fast in that 'give me' gesture. She doesn't even look at me; she just stands there doing that, knowing I will come take her hand and accompany her in the next thing she is interested in. In a more figurative way, this is what my mom has been doing all my life.  Standing behind me, holding my hand and supporting me in my next step. It makes me happy that Adrienne knows I will come for her hand and I hope that she knows, like I know about my mom, that I will always be there behind her.   

Most importantly for today, a big Happy 60th Birthday to my mom!  I love you very much.   

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Budding artist at work

As part of my organization efforts, I decided that I needed to tackle Adrienne's pile of 'toys' in the living room; I use the word toys lightly because as I was looking at it I could see one of my shoes and a used snack container in the pile.  Also, the pile was sort of on and around Adrienne's baby play mat.  Which she stopped using when she started crawling at 9 months. As I began sorting the toys, I noticed that they were falling into 3 categories: age inappropriate; age appropriate but borrowed from a friend; and trash. So the age inappropriate toys got boxed up, along with the baby play mat, and are waiting for baby boy's arrival. The age appropriate but borrowed from a friend are cleaned and in fresh tupperware, to be used until the last second that they must be returned. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened to the last category. Man that felt good!

By now Adrienne's toys were looking pathetically thin. Also, I did this sneakily over her naptime. So when she got up and saw that her comforting pile of junk was now contained in two large tupperwares on the side of our livingroom, she looked so sad that I almost went back to the trash to start rescuing things. However, I managed to keep my wits about me and instead did what any good mother would have done 6 months ago. I got on ebay Singapore and bought a child's desk, a couple of cute little chairs, and some art supplies (a.k.a. crayons and coloring books) for my budding little artist. Now she has a real work space, just for her and her assistant Bear-Bear.  Despite making it clear that she did not like me bothering her during her creativity, I managed to take a few good pictures of her working. I also learned how much little people like little people furniture, which is a whole lot.     

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Covey is Nesting

If I were at 35+ weeks of pregnancy, this posting would mean that you should be on standby near your phone for the arrival of number 2 is imminent. However, I do not think you have anything to worry about, except maybe that Regis and I seem to have caught some sort of nasty nesting bug. For me, there were several coinciding events this past week that catalyzed this over-bearing need to organize. First of all, July 6th, along with Regis 38th birthday, represented the four-months-to-go mark on this pregnancy. Four months only. Second, this little guy has started kicking. Hard enough to keep me up at night. Finally, on impulse and with advice and encouragement of a few friends, I bought this:
If you cannot tell what 'this' is, it is a Phil and Ted's double-stroller.  See, you put your toddler up front and the new baby rides behind. I had been ignoring our impending need for a double stroller because everytime I see the side-by-side double strollers, I start to have a little panic attack. I mean, they look HUGE.  Seriously. How are you supposed to get around with those things? Since I did not have a bad reaction to this stroller, I figured it must be the one (luckily I used different criteria when choosing my husband).

So, to make a short story long, the culmination of all these events happening this week is that I actually KNOW that another baby is coming. Of course I have known for many weeks now that I am pregnant, but it hasn't quite hit home that another baby will be in our house in a short 4 months time. So now I am feeling excited but also anxious.  Because another baby is coming! And we have no space for baby boy's clothes! And what is all this stuff under our beds? And piled in corners? Why are Adrienne's toy's chucked all over the house? Who is in charge here?? I recommend you take stock in Tupperware containers because I am on an organizing mission!   
I cannot explain what brought on Regis' bout of organization but I can tell you that the upshot of it was an addition of an American sized shed on our patio. Ah, a place outside our living room to put bikes, strollers, luggage...I admit it's pretty sweet.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

What IS a picture worth?

I recently had a friend tell me that they like my commentary on my blog and that they should do this more too, instead of just using their blog to display a bunch of pictures. I have seen lots of (enviable!) blogs with pictures that need no words whatsoever. As you know, they say a picture is worth a 1000 words. If I had these sorts of pictures, I could save us all time and energy and just post pictures instead. However, I must say that most of MY pictures are not worth a 1000 words. Lots of them aren't even worth the disk space they are taking up on my computer. In fact, I think a majority of my pictures warrant, if not necessitate, an explanation (that likely comes in the form of an excuse).  I seem to be incurring this problem more and more as Adrienne gets faster and faster and my cameras gets slower and slower. Hey--there you go! An explanation and excuse!

I have never had problems with my camera and picture-taking in the past. This is not to say that I have any sort of photography skill, not at all. Its just that most of my pictures involved stationary objects, such as a mountain or a building or a sunset. I had never before attempted targets that have one speed: Fast. My favorite subject now moves at just below the speed of light, usually streaking across the room to grab the camera and see the adorable picture that I was just about to forever capture in pixels (on film sounds so much more romantic, doesn't it?).  Instead, what we end up checking out is a picture of a blurry-looking chubby arm reaching towards the camera lens followed by a curly-haired wild creature of some sort.  Not unlike the following picture:

That being said, every once in awhile you get a picture that does speak for itself. OK, lets be honest here: when I say "you" in the previous sentence, I really mean "Regis".  If it weren't for Regis and his photography skills, we would not have a single print-worthy photo of Adrienne.  But we make a good team in this because he takes the picture, then I upload it, print it, and share it with you all. This picture below is a good example of one that speaks for itself; at least to me it does. I know this look. It is her processing look, a combination of trust and fascination and innocence. The look she gives me when I do a silly new dance outside her crib, or show her something completely mundane that she has never seen before, or when I kneel down and talk to her and she is trying to take it all in. Its the look that makes me want to wrap myself around her and protect her from everything while somehow enabling all her dreams come true. Its the look that fills my heart and also breaks it a little. It is pictures like these that words do not do justice.   

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Happy Birthday, Regis!

Dear Friends and Family,

I am attempting to make Regis a personalized card for his birthday tomorrow (July 6th).  I know he will appreciate it and also Hallmark cards cost $15 here.  If you read my previous post, you will know that I am willing to spend $11 on a box of cereal, but we seriously need to draw the line somewhere.  So, if you can help me finish this sentence "Happy Birthday to the guy that....", I will definitely give you credit for your contribution.  Unless its hilarious, then I might steal it. Opps, sorry, ignore that last part, I was just kidding anyway. Below are some examples of things I'm thinking about using.  Just a line or two from you would be great.  I'm planning on giving it to him tomorrow night, so I apologize for the short notice.  If you don't want to participate, feel free to send him an email instead (regispcovey@yahoo.com).  He won't respond to it (didn't you read my first post??) but I promise he will love it.

Thanks again!

Happy Birthday to the guy that:
--was told from an early age by his parents that the 4th of July fireworks were in honor of his birthday and who may subconsciously still believe this. 
--is still, at this age, excited by his birthday and makes a list of things he wants as a birthday present.
--finishes a half marathon and crosses the finish line exclaiming: "That SUCKED!!" real loud.
--used to think that the most expensive item meant the best item.
--is now a self-proscribed cheapo.
--may have a paranoia problem.
--has an espresso problem.
--definitely has a wine-chugging problem.
--sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night to see if I'm breathing.
--told me this morning that I look beautiful when I am sleeping.
--makes sure he tells me and Adrienne that he loves us every day.
--tears up when he looks at pictures of his daughter.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Home Sweet Home

In honor of Independence Day, I have been thinking about home and all the things I miss about the USA.  Here is my top ten list*#^.

       *Items on this list and their respective numbers are subject to change on a moment's notice.
      #Due to pregnancy hormones and the closeness of lunch, this list might have a disproportionally high number of food-related items.
       ^I accept gifts in the form of items on (or off for that matter) this list which can be sent directly to me at my current abode.

10. Chewing Gum.  This void is getting easier for me since the habit of constantly chewing gum has subsided some and also since generous guests, family, and friends keep my stocks replenished (If you were wondering, I like Trident Peppermint best).  Even if gum weren't banned in Singapore, I'm not sure how much I would buy it since the heat and humidity cause the gum to turn into a soggy mess in your purse, which subsequently attracts ants.  And ants in your purse is just annoying.  
9. Bagels and Cream Cheese.  Singapore has lots of western restaurants that will satiate a home-sick palate, but I have yet to find a good bagel shop. You know, one that offers 12 flavors of bagels and 15 flavors of cream cheese.  I miss the morning bagels and coffee and bagel sandwhiches at lunch.  The bagel I miss most: the fall-time pumpkin bagel.  Yum! 

8. Target.  Yep, I mean Target like the superstore, because it is a SUPER store. When you need 10 somethings all unrelated, you go to Target.  You find all 10 items (plus 5 more you didn't even know you needed), and your bank account isn't ravished.  We just don't have that equivalent here in Singapore.  We were home for 3 weeks in September and I am sure that I made at least 4 trips to Target, with an accumulation of over 8 hours and $500 spent.

7. Cereal.  My sister, who lives in Japan, swears we have an amazing selection in Singapore but I disagree.  Mostly because I am unable to buy my favorite cereal in the world: Raisin Nut Bran.  I have seen it before and I proudly guiltily admit to buying up the entire stock (which consisted of 4 boxes and cost me S$44/US$30.  Also, don't tell my husband how much I spent on cereal).  I also cannot find other cereals that I like such as Grape Nuts and the feel-good box of Golden Grams.

6. Mountains.  While Singapore certainly has its own interesting ecology, it is lacking in mountains.  I am a western girl at heart and my soul craves the openness and cragginess of the larger Rocky area.  Singapore's highest point found at Bukit Timah measures in at a measly 166 m or 550 ft. I'm not even sure that would be a ring on most elevation maps.   

5. Open Spaces.  This is part of the reason I miss #8 and #6. Singapore is an island about the size of the DC metro area.  Even if I were to have a car, which I don't and which is an item that probably should be on this list, you could only drive something like 20 miles before reaching a boarder crossing, necessitating a passport, immigration forms, and most likely a long 'queue' (or line, as we like to say in America).  When I get back to the USA, I want to drive from NYC to LA without my passport just to do it.  Also, besides the land space, I miss personal space.  On this island, there are 4 million people.  Who step on your toes and bump into your shoulders without saying sorry. I actually found a brief moment of inner peace at the Target in Twin Falls on a Weds morning because there were only ~10 other people in the ENTIRE store with us, 3 of which were family members of mine.   

4. Affordable rent.  OK, I'm sure some of you Americans can raise good arguements about the affordability of your rent, but *Trust me on this one*.  Singapore's rent is EX-PEN-SIVE.  Like Manhattan prices only out in the suburbs and not a very nice apartment.  Singapore also rates on the top ten most expensive cities in the world.  It depends on whose list you look at, but I've seen it as high as number 3.     

3.  Diet Soda.  I would just like to point out that Coke Light is not Diet Coke, no matter what they tell you.  They taste totally different.  Besides, I've always preferred Diet Pepsi to Diet Coke.  Unless an ice-cold Diet Dr. Pepper is avaliable, yes please!  And don't even get me started on those caffeine-low days where you would kill for a Diet Mountain Dew.  

2. Americans.  Let me be clear that we love all of our non-American friends we have met in Singapore and elsewhere.  But we miss people who talk about football, quarterbacks, and touchdowns in the same sentence without referring to it as American Football.  Who grew up watching Saved by the Bell, Goonies, and Baywatch, and will catch your references to it. Who talk/shout about politics, who complain about their own government (we find plenty who will complain about OUR government), and who understand that red and blue states are not just colors on a map but political and philosophical descriptors. Who know the difference between Idaho and Iowa.... (Well, maybe that last one is a poor example since I know a lot of Americans who can't do this.  But you get the idea).
1. Family and Friends.  Truly, this is the thing I miss most about the USA.  I tell my husband often that if Singapore were located where Hawaii was, I would be happy to settle down here and stay forever.  Alas, Singapore is a 24+ hour flight away from the USA.  Have you ever done a 24-hour flight?  OK, how about with a 1-year old?  How about with 2 toddlers?  You get the picture.  We can only put ourselves through that torture every 2 years, which just isn't enough for me.  Also, I am a 14 hr time difference from my parents.  This means that there is approximately 3 hours in an entire week that we are all awake and not working.  So if you haven't heard from us much since we left for Singapore, please know that we DO in fact love and miss you.  

Thanks to the American Association of Singapore, the US Embassy and the US Navy, one thing I do not have to miss while in Singapore is a decent 4th of July party, replete with hamburgers, music, and fireworks.  My husband said he even teared up a little at the national anthem (which is why he knows he has been away from home too long). Here's wishing you a very happy and American 4th of July! 

4th of July Party, Singapore, 2011

Friday, 1 July 2011

Sleeping Beauty

 Adrienne is a good sleeper by nature, certainly not from any training that we have done.  In fact, looking back, I really tried hard to sleep-ruin her for the first year of her life.  I knowingly nursed her to sleep every night for the first 11 months.  If she woke up, I’d rush back in and nurse her again.  Lots of times I’d bring her back to our room instead, hoping we could cuddle through the night like I'd seen in pictures (or imagined in my head?).  As it turns out, Adrienne’s version of cuddling involves laying across my face, where she can sleep peacefully but I find it troublesome to breathe. So usually after a few minutes or so, I’d take her back to her crib where she would sleep the rest of the night on Bear-Bear’s face (who is much softer and compliant in this matter).

We are beyond that time now and have since established a bedtime routine that I'd imagine looks pretty similar to most people’s: dinner, bath, books, night-night.  Some nights I gather that Adrienne doesn’t want to finish the routine; she just wants to go to bed.  I can’t tell this for sure, but there are some subtle hints I am becoming aware of including: 1.Sometimes before the routine is finished she runs into her room and stands by her crib, as if she is trying to figure out how to climb into it. 2. Sometimes when we do make it through the entire routine, she actually cheers when we walk into her bedroom to put her in her crib. Like a soft, sweet “Yeeaaaaaahhhhh!!!” Doesn’t she know that the bedtime routine is important?  To me??

The other morning I got up for a shower and I heard her music box on.  We have a music box that we play for her when she is going to sleep.  I poked my head into her room, thinking she had woken up early, but there she was peacefully sleeping with her arms around Bear-Bear. Apparently she woke up, turned her music box on, and settled back down…All by herself!  I wonder how often and how long she has been doing this?

So, needless to say, it was fairly unusual when Adrienne woke up yesterday night just as we were getting ready for bed.  (My best guess is that her mouth was bothering her, because she has about 6 new teeth coming in right now, but that is beside the point, and mostly small details for Grandma and Grandpa if they are reading this.) I brought her into bed with us, hoping that would settle her but she continued to roll around, fuss, and cry.  Finally, I propped some pillows up, sat back and pulled her on to my chest.  She crawled onto me, belly to belly, and immediately relaxed with her head on my shoulder, drifting quickly back into sleep.  It was a moment quite rare with Adrienne, since she is normally such a self-sufficient sleeper, and I admit that I held her there for quite some time just quietly listening to her breathe. 

These are obviously dated pictures and I acknowledge their gratuitous use here....aren't they oh so sweet?!