Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Planning a couple of trips

It is nearly a month since we returned from our holiday in NZ and obviously it is time to start planning some more trips. We all love to travel - even Miss Scarlett fortunately. One of the big draws of Singapore for us was how close so many wonderful destinations are.

We have some very good friends in KL who visit us regularly and we are long overdue for a trip up there. I was hoping to get there in February (which is tomorrow... how did that happen?) but Tet's travel schedule in February is insane so it looks like we might have to wait until late March or early April now. I have not been to KL for years so it will be good to see how it has changed.

Our big trip for this half of the year is a trip to Japan in March. Tet has to go for work and monkey and I will be tagging along. Last time we went we were there for the 9.0 earthquake so fingers crossed we do not have that again! We will be there for about 12 days of which Tet will only be working 4! We are hoping to spend most of our time in Tokyo with some short side trips to visit family in Yokohama and Kobe.

The exciting part for Tet and Scarlett is that we are going to spend a day at Disneyland while we are in Tokyo. I am pretty sure I have mentioned it before, but Disney is totally not my thing. I do not like the characters, the cartoons and the Princesses are wrong in so many ways.... I will stop my rant before it really gets going. I have never had any desire to go to any Disney themed park but in the interests of family togetherness I will suck it up. The exciting part for me is looking for Japanese scrapbooking goodness - mainly in the form of washi.

We are in the throes of organising hotels for the nights not covered by Tet's work and deciding whether flying or taking the bullet train is the best plan when travelling to Kobe. I love this kind of planning but not as much as Tet. He is never happier than organising a trip and scheduling all the travel, accommodation and side trips.

I haven't told him I have plans for us to head to Thailand for a long weekend mid year. I will save that joy for later.

Last day of eating rubbish today and I am trying to be good. I did have plans of popping out and getting a couple of last hurrah foods but we have had torrential downpours here since nap time so I have to be good. Monkey is finally on the mend - this is day six of her coldy coughy thing. Hopefully she will sleep better again when her coughing stops waking her up.

Tet is booked in for a mammoth photo printing operation this evening and with luck I will have some photos of week one project life to post tomorrow. I was going to share my title page today but the heavy rain means we are sitting with lights on inside - not ideal conditions for taking pictures through page protectors I am sure you will agree.

Sorry this is a very wordy post today. Does anyone else have any holidays in the pipeline? I would love to hear your plans. US readers I will be picking your brains later in the year as we are heading to the US next July to celebrate the lovely husband's 40th.

I will leave you with a picture taken a few weeks ago in Singapore during rain just like this. Friends live in a condo backing onto a nature reserve and it felt like we were in some tropical rainforest rather than in central Singapore.
Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Mummy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow...

Well that is what I was singing the night before our zoo trip last Monday. We are so lucky that Singapore has one of the best zoos in the world. We all enjoy going especially Scarlett who is an animal nut! Her favourites are the giraffes, the monkeys and the elephants. Fortunately the zoo has dozens of different monkeys and apes and a number of them are free ranging round the zoo which is pretty exciting.

I have to admit that the journey to the zoo was a little bit stressful for me as it was the first time I have driven in Singapore. It is about a half hour journey from our house so it was a good chance to get used to the car, the GPS and the motorway. I come from a city which does not really have motorways so it was a bit scary. It was also the quietest day of the year in terms of traffic being the first day of Chinese New Year so it was the best time to bite the bullet and have a go. Tet took a photo to record the moment.
Please ignore the nearly white knuckles!

We spent a couple of hours wandering round the animal exhibits and saw a sea lion show and part of the domestic animals show. It was pretty warm by this stage so we stopped by the water play area at the zoo. This is a fantastic free water park with lots of small slides, water blasters, climbing frames and a giant bucket that drenches everyone around. It is right at the back of the zoo and usually full of kids and their parents. I decided not to bring my togs but Tet and Scarlett got changed and spent a lovely hour playing in the water.

Scarlett watching the pygmy hippos

 We then had a bit of a run around in the dry playground before heading to the lovely zoo animal carousel. Scarlett had decided giraffes are her favourite this particular day so it was easy for her to choose which animal to ride on.

Riding the giraffe

It is a gorgeous old fashioned carousel

Finally we got to the main event enclosure (as far as Scarlett was concerned) and saw the giraffes. Our wee monkey was pretty tired by this stage. We had been at the zoo for over four hours so Daddy decided he would carry her out to the front gate. It was just as well as she was asleep in his arms within a couple of minutes. We decided to have lunch later and put sleeping beauty into the car seat. She slept for a good 90 minutes so we did a great job of wearing her out.

It was a great day out although I did manage to get sunburned. That will teach me for forgetting to wear a hat!

On a crafty front I am making headway on week one of Project Life. I hope to have some pictures for you by the end of the week. Scarlett has been sick since Thursday so free time has been in very short supply!

And in the interests of accountability I have finally signed back up to Weightwatchers. I will be doing it online this time and plan to start on the first. January was the month to move more which has been less successful than I had hoped. February is the month to eat better and really start taking better care of myself. I have an enormous amount of weight to lose but have set my goal as 5 kg (11 pounds for those playing in the non metric system) and will try and lose it in smaller chunks with a decent reward at the end of each 5 kgs. The first reward will be a facial and massage at the Bliss Spa in our local Sephora store. Surely that will be enough motivation!

Hope you all have a happy week.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Life keeps getting in the way

Do you ever feel like you are fighting a losing battle? I had the best of intentions to craft and blog this week. A long weekend should have made it easy right? Sadly no. We made the most of having Tet home and really got out and about with an excursion planned every day. I had allocated my evenings for crafting but sadly Scarlett had other ideas. We are spending up to two hours from putting her into bed to getting her to sleep every night. By the time she goes down it is my bed time too. 

A friend recently reminded me that this too shall pass and that I will probably miss this in a few years but at the moment it is very hard and unrewarding work. Tet and I always do bedtime together if he is in town but Scarlett has taken to saying "Go away Daddy!'" leaving me in there alone!

So anyhoo I thought I might share a few photos of the first half of our weekend. I fully intend to add some of them to my Project Life spread that I will be working on on Sunday no matter what!

I guess since my blog is called Adventures in Singapore I really should show some evidence that we have some.

Saturday was a mixture of routine (Scarlett's gym class) and the excitement of our friends' son's first birthday party. We had a lovely time and Scarlett really enjoyed the cupcakes we ate in place of birthday cake. They were actually every bit as delicious as they looked.

Sunday we started the day going out for breakfast at one of our absolute faves - Brunettis. It was a total disaster. Monkey was in a very playful mood and sitting down for breakfast was not in her plans for the day. Tet managed to eat all his breakfast but I gave up and Miss S was frog marched to the car. Typically she fell asleep within five minutes of hopping in so we decided to go out to Pasir Ris Park for a look.

Singapore is a very small island and although I have lived there for 12 years of my life I have never been to Pasir Ris before. We had been told great things about the park and we were not disappointed. It took us about thirty minutes to get there and we spent another thirty waiting for Mischief to wake up. We decided to just have a wander round the park and see what we could find.
Our first stop was the boardwalk through the mangroves. It was fabulous. Lots of butterflies, crabs and fish to look at. The crabs were mainly sitting on these mud castle like structures that they occupy. A type of lobster builds the towers and then the crabs use them as homes and hideouts. The lobsters remain well underground and are rarely seen apparently.

I am not sure if you can spot the crab sitting atop the tower in this picture. They are really tough looking creatures and we saw a lot of them climbing the trunks of the mangroves. 

Our walk took us to the ocean. It is not safe for swimming there but it was still very pleasant with the palm trees and sea breezes.

There were people camping by the beach and it really was an idyllic spot.

We continued walking through the park and stumbled upon a mall - this is Singapore after all. It was nice to cool down and have a drink in the air conditioning. As we explored the mall Scarlett realised that there was an indoor playground there and was very keen to have a play. Tet does not usually get to go to these establishments as I tend to take her during the week so was keen to have a look. Scarlett had a lovely time and completely exhausted her father who had to accompany her on the main climbing apparatus. As always the ball pit was her favourite activity.

She really is in here somewhere!

And the clubber's version of the ball pit complete with constantly changing light colours.

We headed for home shortly after, retracing our steps through the park. We will definitely be returning there and next time we might hire some bikes and see more of the park. Scarlett fell asleep on the way home as well (2 naps in one day - unheard of!) and was ready for yet more action when we arrived home. Daddy was on pool duty while I cooked dinner. 

Singapore has some wonderful open spaces to explore. We really enjoy getting out in nature and showing Scarlett some of the amazing wildlife and flora that the tropics have to offer. And it is kinda nice to know that air conditioning and a cold drink is never too far away!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai ! Happy New Year!

We are on day three and a half of a four and a half day weekend here. Gotta love Chinese New Year. It is really the only time that most shops shut in Singapore. The roads are deserted (so much so that I actually drove for the first time in Singapore including on the motorway!), people seem relaxed and mandarin oranges are everywhere.

This year is the Year of the Dragon. It is considered the most favourable year to be born under the Chinese zodiac and most  hospitals here are totally fully booked with dragon babies to be and their mothers. I keep telling myself that a Snake baby would be fine (that is next year) but somehow I do not quite believe it!

It is still a bit of a craft wasteland here. I have completed another couple of days of my December Daily and started working on a couple of crafty activities to do with my daughter to decorate her bedroom. On the up side I have also decided to start my Project Life a couple of days early as my daughter had her very first haircut on Friday and I definitely want that in there. We have had a super action packed weekend too attending a first birthday party and visiting Pasir Ris Park. I spent much of the trip near the Ikea out there craning my neck to see if I could spot Sasha but no joy!

I will end with a couple of photos from Miss Scarlett's first trip to the hairdresser. She was so engrossed in Toy Story on the in house DVD system that I don't think she even knew her hair was actually being cut!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Coffee, Stress and Pre School Places

I am feeling much brighter today. Thanks for all the kind comments yesterday ladies. Normal transmission has now resumed!

We are now the proud owners of a working coffee machine once again. Our old one died just before I left for New Zealand and as the main coffee drinker was gone, my husband decided to wait and get the new one when we returned. Big mistake! The first week we were back, instead of having my usual one or two flat whites each day, I was having one of these:
and I can never say no to the cream! Is now the time to remind everyone that my One Little Word is "Health"?

We bought a Krups machine and it is great. It makes lovely espresso and froths the milk quickly. Even the 0% fat stuff (that I have started using this week in an attempt to undo the damage caused by frap week) froths like a dream. It is probably just as well as the machine is getting hammered.

One area of my life that I have decided to focus is on is getting a little more Me time. This definitely falls under the category of Health - although more mental than physical. Much as I love my daughter, being with her 24/7 is starting to wear a little thin. Both hubby and I feel that Scarlett could really do with a bit more socialisation. We do attend gym classes, a weekly play date and a playgroup but the time has come for something a little more structured.

Before we went away I contacted our local preschool a few times to see if they had any vacancies. They kept promising to call me back but they never did. I should have been more assertive and followed up but life carried on and my focus went elsewhere. Anyway, I finally managed to speak to the principal yesterday. Of course they are full. There may be places available in April but no guarantees.

I have spent the last couple of days trying to find an alternative preschool that even offers a half day programme. Almost all offer a full day from 18 months on. I just think that Scarlett being at school for 6 hours a day from age 2 is a little extreme! Call me old fashioned. I want a bit of me time but not the whole day. I have found a couple of possibilities but both involve a commute. I have access to a car here but I have not driven once since I moved here. I have my Singapore licence but I have tended to take public transport. If it is an hour round trip to class and she goes for three hours that will only give me an hour of free time anyway.  Living right in the city is a bit of a curse as obviously most preschools are in the burbs. You can see my dilemma.

Scarlett is oblivious. She seems reasonably happy with the status quo. Our intention is to have her start preschool at one of the international schools here next year. She really does not need to have anything prior to that. Maybe I just need to pull on my big girl panties and get over another year of being a SAHM with the emphasis on SAH. I would so like a little time to craft and read and be a grown up. Sigh.

Maybe it won't matter at all in the end. Scarlett developed an obsession with riding on tractors in all the rural playgrounds we visited in New Zealand. A future in farming might be on the cards and all this urban angst will not be something she has to worry about.

How did you go about choosing when and where your children started school? I am a trained primary (elementary) teacher so I should be able to come up with some sort of programme for her myself really.. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Grief is a sneaky blighter

I think that it is getting better and easier and then bam! It is back and once again I find myself crying in the middle of the day.

The worst part is this is not some recent loss. My mum died over three years ago now and although the gaps between the grief are extending the depth of feeling or perhaps the rawness of the feeling is just as intense as the day she died.

I know today it was watching Scarlett playing with her tea set and making up little conversations with her toys that set me off. My Mum would have just loved Scarlett and it really upsets me that she has missed out on her granddaughter. It upsets me even more that Scarlett has missed out on having a Nana. I was super close to my Nana (my Mum's Mum) and she lived to be 94 so I got a really long lasting relationship with her. She taught me to cross stitch and do tapestry, play cards and bake. She even took me in when I was expelled from boarding school and had nowhere to live for my last year of high school. We had a wonderful year living together, although all her baking and delicious dinners did nothing for either of our waist lines. I wish Scarlett could have just a little of that experience but it is not something she will be blessed with.

I miss you Mum.

Fortunately Scarlett knows just what to do when she can see I am unhappy. She climbed up onto my lap and rubbed my back. "Happy now Mama?" she asked. "Wuv you much."

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Christmas Day

We had a lovely Christmas in New Zealand this summer. Almost the whole family was around and it was the first Christmas that Scarlett really understood what was going on. She was utterly spoilt by our family and Father Christmas. Let's just say that we had a luggage allowance of 80 kg and we went 10 kg over that coming home and we had less than half that when we arrived! Thank goodness Tet is a gold frequent flyer with Singapore Airlines or it would have been a massive excess baggage payment!

Picture heavy post warning!

We managed to keep Scarlett away from the presents until after 10 am. We needed to give her aunts time to arrive. We let her have a good look early though. Yes that sack to one side is what Father Christmas brought her!

This is one of my all time favourite pictures of Scarlett. I adore the dress she is wearing and I love the fact that she is not smiling like a loon! Grandad put up a small tree for our benefit and Scarlett took great delight in reorganising the decorations.

Tet did a great job of supervising the present unwrapping. He only arrived in NZ the day before so was a bit jet lagged Christmas morning.

The present unwrapping continues with Aunty Yaeh (Tet's little sister) recording the event. This must be the most photographed Christmas I have ever been to!

Two of Scarlett's favourite presents were her Sock Monkey tea set and her fairy costume. She makes a pretty adorable fairy.

Tet took this shot of us all eating Christmas lunch. My Dad at this end. Yaeh and her fiance Henry on one side, my sister Anne and a very unimpressed looking me on the other. We had the full monty, ham, turkey and four different desserts so waddling was the order of the day.

Scarlett and my Dad, Alan, have developed such a close bond this holiday. Scarlett just loves her grandad and follows him around like a little shadow. He has a beautiful garden and she especially likes helping him to water the plants and dead head the roses. Here they are enjoying some afternoon sunshine on Christmas Day.

I also love this photo of Tet and his younger sister Yaeh. We don't get to see much of her these days living so far away but we are super excited about her getting married at the end of the year and coming up to Singapore to spend Christmas with us!

Part two of our trip will be more of a scenic collection of playgrounds around New Zealand. We did do other things but from our photos you might struggle to figure out what exactly! Thanks for looking.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Thought for Thursday

I am pretty excited about my One Little Word and have been taking a look online to find some quotes relating to health.

I found one that I thought I would share with you.

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

I could not agree more. When I fail to take care of myself my mind gets filled with guilt and worry at the way I am behaving. If I take the healthier path I might actually allow some creative thoughts some room to move.

You would think this munchkin would provide enough motivation to be healthy all by herself!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Who knew?

One of the hardest things about my recent trip home was being away from Tet for our wedding anniversary. We got married on the 19th of December 2004 so this year was our seventh wedding anniversary. It was also the first one we spent in different hemispheres.

We had grand plans of having a meal out in Christchurch together once Tet arrived but nothing came of that. The quakes have closed a lot of restaurants, so those that remain open have reservations needed weeks ahead. 

I did manage to talk to Tet on the day but he was very busy with a project. I just assumed it was something around the house or maybe work related. He then sent me an email with a couple of attachments the following morning.

The first was this: 
I have been complaining for a while that our house looks like no one lives here as we have not put any art on the walls at all. Apparently someone was listening and framed some photos of Scarlett's photo shoot from late 2010. I love these photos and I am excited to be able to put them up as the start of our portrait wall.

The second attachment was this:

Yes, my husband who has a passing interest in my scrapbooking but no more, decided to make his first scrapbook layout. He raided my stash ( and very thoughtfully used lots of things I was never likely to use myself) and got stuck in and completed this layout. I was so touched. 

The photo is from our babymoon to the States in 2009. We had just spent a few hours in Yosemite National Park and were driving out heading to Mammoth Lakes when we saw a beautiful lake glistening by the side of the road. We got out and took a few photos. It was such a happy day and I am thrilled to have it recorded. Lots of the embellies on the layout have special significance for us and our past.

Tet said it was the hardest art project he has ever done - it took him the best part of five hours. I have been told it is highly unlikely there will be a repeat performance but he does have a greater appreciation of what I do in my spare time. I guess this just confirms to me that I am totally married to the right guy!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Jumping on too many band wagons

I am not sure if anyone else has this issue but I find this time of the year makes me really enthusiastic to get involved and try new things. Sadly the enthusiasm wanes and time gets scarce and slowly one by one these great ideas get abandoned. I know all this about myself and yet, once again, I have decided to try a lot of new things this year.

 Like every other scrapbooker in the universe I am starting Project Life this year. Unlike all those January 1st keen beans I am waiting until Chinese New Year as we were overseas at the start of 2012. I still liked the idea of starting at the beginning of the year though... I just chose the Year of the Dragon. I am planning on getting my title page underway tonight and hopefully finished by the weekend. Normally it would not take me too long but jetlag is a real issue with out daughter at present and sleep is a very scarce commodity. The latest I have gone to bed since we returned from New Zealand is 8.30. Oh the shame!

I have also decided to attempt One Little Word this year. This project really speaks to me and my word came to me very easily - health. I have really not made looking after myself a priority over the last twelve months and that really needs to change. I am working to change one small thing each month and build up to a healthier me. We would really like to expand our family this year and for that to happen I need to weigh less, eat better, move more and generally make myself a priority. January's focus is to move more. This is not too hard as much of the last year involved no movement at all. Weather permitting I am going to try and get out and walk everyday or swim as the monsoon comes to an end and the condo pool warms up a little. 

I am super excited about the January prompts Ali has posted. I cannot wait to get stuck in and make a start on the album. I need to get to my LSS and see if I can get any of the correct page protectors. I struggled online to find some of the supply list so my album may have to be a bit less "just so" and a bit more about making do with what is available in Singapore locally.

Finally I have also signed up for Cathy Zielske's Move More Eat Well 2012. I think this ties in so nicely with my general aims for the year that I would be foolish not to take the class. Again the initial info looks really great. Again I am on the hunt for supplies... there seems to be a theme! I have bever scrapbooked 8 x 11 before and both Ali and Cathy's classes are in this format...

Did I mention I have also signed up for Amy Tan's class at Studio Calico starting in February for making the most of your main kit? I cannot wait! I have many untouched main kits and I really want to get some of them well and truly dealt to this year. Ditto my lovely hubby who did point out just how much money I have been spending on supplies. No new purchases until I get rid of a good portion of stash, main kit aside at any rate.

I fully intend to bore you all with a selection of holiday snaps from our recent trip home to New Zealand but they need to be transferred onto this computer first!

I would love to hear what classes and projects you are all embarking on in 2012. I am hoping you will keep me somewhat accountable!