Birthdays and real life.

Happy 10th birthday to Liam! It’s hard to be the first one to celebrate your birthday in a new country. But, I think he rocked it! Despite it being a rainy day, we went to wild wild wet (which when the locals say it, sounds like “wa wa weee” which we all love). And with the virus scare. We pretty much had the place to ourselves! Liam brought 2 new friends, who are great! Ben is originally from Texas, moved here over the summer and his birthday was on Saturday! Faisal moved here the same time as us, from Saudi Arabia. Faisal’s family also joined us at the water park (including his little sister, Tulip, who is only a bit younger than Avery) which made for a fun day. Ryan and I enjoyed getting to know Faisal’s parents, who are lovely. His dad was born in Louisiana, so American as well as Saudi! Ben’s mom is also great, she and I have a lunch date on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better!

Trick candles…. mean mom!

The three stooges
Interestingly, despite having more stringent allergy protocol, they are allowed to bring in a “sweet treat” for the class for their birthday. Cupcake factory! I figured as soon as I iced 30 cupcakes, school would be called off, but nope, still on! And yes, that is a beer for myself in the mix as well!

All three kids have done an amazing job making friends. Kids are very welcoming here due to the transient nature. I hope our kids retain this open and welcoming skill as it will help them forever…

Despite the increasing paranoia about the corona virus (there was a run on toilet paper in the city this weekend. Luckily, I stocked up recently!) we’ve been having a great time. We are of the mind to keep living our life and practice good hygiene. This mostly involves good hand washing. At school, the teachers watch the kids wash their hands. Minimum 20 seconds, don’t forget the nails! This weekend coming up we are booked to go to Malaysia for the weekend. We will see how the week goes. As of today, I think we will still go. Thanks to Ryan’s Greenwich office, we are fully stocked with masks and sanitizer. Everyday brings new information. However, the government here is very open with information (they share every case, where the person lived and where they had been prior to medical care). They also share how many contacts. Right now there are about 900 “contacts” of the existing cases in Singapore. They have contacted and are monitoring 850 of them and working on the remaining 50. The other thing for everyone to know is, unlike a lot of other parts of Asia, healthcare here is first rate. EVERY case here gets seen, tested and treated if necessary. Part of what’s going on in China is their healthcare system is completely overwhelmed. The numbers that are being reported are only the very sickest of the cases. This is a large reason travel in and out of China needed to be restricted. Hopefully Singapore’s transparency and diligence will result in us not having to implement something so extreme. Also to note, our kids school is part of a larger international school company called Cognita. They are monitoring the situation very closely. We have faith they will make the correct decision for the school. Right now, we are happy life is being kept as normal as possible with school open. Also, Ryan’s company is being very supportive. We are able to fly home to the US anytime. Also, we watch American news here. In our opinion, there is a lot of extreme reporting happening in the US. my guess is this is for ratings. Please know life here is still very normal and safe. I still ride the MRT, buses and take grabs. So do the kids. The malls and stores are still very full. Things would have to accelerate pretty dramatically for that to change. Now, onto better things!

Closing out the CNY celebrations with a lion dance at our condo complex.

Saturday morning, Ella and I had a mother/daughter breakfast at Tiong Bahru Bakery. I love the Tiong Bahru neighborhood. It’s a little funky with lots of really good restaurants, a great hawker center and wet market and best of all, only 4 bus stops away!

Transporting our new lime tree plant home on the bus. We couldn’t decide if it was easier to go by bus or Grab…

Ella and I also went on Saturday to pick up a Bass for her to have at home. I was hoping she would be able to practice at school (there is a bass at school for her to use) and we wouldn’t need one at home. We were spoiled in Fairfield as the district rented us 2 basses, one for at home, one for at school. The rental for the year was $125 per instrument. It’s the secret of the large instrument, it’s cheap in Fairfield! Here, not so much. Music here is a different ball game. The kids that play string instruments here typically follow the Suzuki method and most started playing around Averys age or younger! Liam’s been put in a string group that’s a little above his level and the kids are in 2nd and 3rd grade! Ella’s group is a middle school group. Interestingly, there are very few bass players here. It doesn’t seem to be a focus or encouraged. But, they seem to LOVE having her. Both kids string instructors are lovely and very encouraging. What this all means is they need to up their practicing game as they are feeling a little behind. So on Saturday. Ella and I took a 45 minute MRT ride to pickup a bass. We are “renting” the bass, but what this means is we had to pay the full fee for the bass. We have up to 10 months to return it for a refund that decreases 10% each month of the full rate we paid. Interesting scheme. Basically, we bought a bass. We did take a grab home. Poor driver… I didn’t take any pictures, but the music store was one of the coolest I’ve ever been in. Every type of string instrument you could imagine hanging from the ceiling and all around. They even had some 21 string Chinese instrument that I’ve never seen before. So cool!

Perfect for us nutmeggers! real nutmegs, not the wooden ones that CT is known for!

My days here are both long and short. I haven’t really found my groove here yet. For me, making friends and finding connections has been slower. I’ve joined the American women’s association and have gone to a few lunches. These women are great and super fun and it’s a great community. They are also mostly 10+ years older than me. Which is fine, but most of their kids are older or grown. They’re just at a different phase of life. I will keep attending events with this group as I enjoy all the women and they are very fun!

Our condo complex seems to be mostly Europeans and Asians and so far people are a little stand-offish. the kids all seem Ella’s age or older or younger than Avery. The older kids are never around and the little kids are always with their helpers. Not a lot of friend making opportunities. I’m almost 💯 sure we are already know as the crazy/loud American family. Oh well. So far our dreams of the kids playing in the pool while we have a beer with their parents has been dashed, but maybe they’re still lurking out there somewhere…

We’re joining the American Club which will probably be a good resource. I played my first tennis clinic on Friday (sooooo hoooottttt) with 2 nice women. But, I’m missing my CT tennis buddies. Before we moved here, I was very smug and felt we wouldn’t need the American club, we can have friends from all nationalities! While this is true, there is something comforting about being around other Americans that I discounted. Americans are basically like labradors retrievers. We’re a little to exuberant but we are very loving once you get to know us..

Until I figure out what I need to do here to find my community, at the advice of the very sage Allison, I’m taking myself on an outing at least once a week. Last week I went to the national museum of Singapore. I loved it. I will take Ryan and the kids back, but it was nice to go on my own and look at what I want, at the pace I want. This is where the above nutmeg pic came from. They have a wonderful exhibit on the 200 year period prior to the British colonization in 1819 by Stamford Raffles. Everything in this museum is beautifully done. They are very adept here at using mixed media. 2 displays really were impactful to me. One was a “movie” that was 180 degrees around you and was animated in a painting kind of way. It was documenting the first European making contact with this area in roughly 1600. it was beautiful and made you feel how it was to be there. The second display I loved was in the regular part of the museum. It was describing the changing times for women in the 1920s and 30s. You stood in between 2 mirrors. On one side, a “traditional” girl or woman would tell you a little blurb about their life. Next, the other mirror would have another girl or woman that was more modern tell a little blurb about her life. Contrasting the different lives women were leading at the time. You moved between 3 sets of these mirrors. So cool.

The outside of the museum
The rotunda inside
The display outside the special exhibit. The exhibit was focusing on how the European spice trade during this period impacted the area. While I learned so much, it also made me sad to think about how much history in this area has been lost because it was not documented. I’m heading to the Asian Civilization museum next, so maybe I’ll get my fill there…
Finally, I’m writing this blog from the elementary parent cafe. I had to bring the kids to school today to drop off Liam’s cupcakes. I don’t make it up here too often as the kids typically take the bus. They do parent integration well here. Every parent and care giver is given an Id card. all we have to do is scan it, and we’re allowed on campus anytime we want. I don’t know why they don’t do this at home… having an ID card you wear on a lanyard makes all the difference as well as having somewhere to “hang out”. Much better than waiting outside the cafeteria at Burr!

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