Thursday, 30 March 2017

India!


This is the first of several posts I am going to do about our trip to India. This was the trip I wanted to make when we decided we were moving to Singapore. I told him the night we decided "Okay, we will go, but you have to take me to India". I have been dying to go since I saw Bend it Like Beckham, when I was 15 (yes, you can all laugh, but hey it got me interested in a different and new culture so two thumbs up for that movie). India has been at the top of my travel list for forever. At first it was just that would be so cool, but as the years past I and I learned more about this place, I knew that I would one day make it there. And we did!!!

We left Singapore in the morning and had a direct flight to the Indira Ghandi International Airport in Delhi. It was about six hours. We almost didn't make it. We slept through our alarm, and had to jump out of bed, book a cab, then get dressed, run down to the cab and pray all the way to the airport that we would make it. The check in desk said our gate was closed and was working on getting us onto later flight that day, but then magic happened (Harry Potter is real!) and let us through. We still had thirty minutes till our flight took off when we made it to the gate, but that set the tone for our trip. We hit the ground running.

Once we got to Delhi, we had booked a tour with Melissa Tours. We met our tour guide, Praveen, and our driver, Raj, dropped our stuff off at the hotel and started touring Delhi! 

We were starving, so we first had lunch at a restaurant I cannot remember the name too, but it was on the road with a bunch of the embassies, so it is where a lot of diplomats eat. The food was amazing. We got sweet lassis, tandoori chicken, mutton rogan josh, rice, and so much naan bread. I could eat naan bread everyday. That got our blood sugar back up and we were ready to start sightseeing. 

The best way to describe India is ordered chaos, at least traffic. Raj said that "Americans drive on the left side of the road, the English drive on the right, and Indians drive down the middle". He was totally right. There really weren't any traffic lanes. Everyone just went for it, and it works. 

Raj sent me this selfie. Had to share it since I will be talking about him a lot. He was with us the whole time we were there. 
Raj dropped us off at the gate to the Lotus Temple. It is a Bahai temple. Bahai believe in one god and the spiritual unity of mankind. The way it was described to us made it sound like the Unitarian faith. It originated from Persia. We learned so much on this trip. The Temple looked very similar to the Sydney Opera House. I saw a picture of it and actually thought it was the Sydney Opera House. It had a similar shape, color, and design on the building. There was nothing inside, just rows and rows of chairs for people to sit and pray. It is a place of prayer, and all were allowed to pray to whichever god you believed in. Past a certain point we were not allowed to take pictures inside. We also had to take our shoes off, which was not surprising. A lot of different temples in Singapore make you take your shoes off. 

There were a lot of tourists there, mostly Indian. Lyndon was surprised at how few Western tourists we saw the whole trip. A little girl asked me to take a picture with her. I obliged, but then these two grandpas jumped right next to me (like right next to me. No personal space whatsoever) and had their friend start snapping photos, then the little girl's family wanted some photos, then some other grandpas wanted some photos, and I finally had to say no more, and walk away. Like I said, most of these tourists were from India, and I was the first white blonde person they were seeing in real life. Raj told us that. Makes sense, since India has almost as many people as China does. They were nice, but I was on vacation too. One of our later tour guides told us that we should start charging money and they would run away. We did not try that, but said "no" when we were not feeling up to it. I didn't mind the photo here and there, but this was  a little much. I am used to being started at and people taking pictures of me and the kids (someone actually took a video of us on the train today), and it really doesn't bother me. I just keep my head held high and look forward, but in India it was a different story. Those Indian men are very friendly. Lyndon was feeling very protective of me as the outing went on.  


Next stop was a tuk tuk ride into the old city to the spice market. It was a ride to remember! A tuk tuk is a small buggy looking thing that is attached to a bike and someone bikes you around in our case. We started our tuk tuk ride crossing through like three lanes of traffic, if there were lane lines. I felt like the Grandma in Mulan, when she was testing to see if the cricket was lucky. Like her, we were lucky too. It was crazy! We were on the road with cars, buses, people, everything! We were holding onto the sides, but then sometimes had to let go because we might be next to a bus, or car and our hand would get smashed that's how close we were. After a while I just kept my hands, arms, feet inside the tuk tuk at all times. 






When we got into the old city, our driver started taking us down these tiny lanes. People were walking, pulling wagons, riding motorcycles. It was busy and bumpy. I really liked it. Seriously best way to see Delhi, and really the only way to the spice market. I would jump on a tuk tuk and do it again in a heartbeat. It was really an adventure. Most things we do I do not think of as really adventurous, but this one was an adventure. Above the streets the electric cables were just layered on top of each other. It was like a roof of cables over the streets. It was really busy, we passed a lot of shops that were for weddings in one area, and so on. It took us a while to make it to the spice market. On our way we saw, dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, camel, ox, and monkeys. All those living in one of the busiest places probably in the world. Seriously like Shibuya busy, but in India.





Like you can imagine the spices were in sacks displayed out in front of shops. The shops were selling nuts, dried fruits, all sorts of teas. The smells were very strong. As our guide took us to the top of the spice market building everyone was coughing because the smells were so strong. We were coughing, because we are not used to it, but the people who were hauling the spices around that are used to it were coughing as well. It made me want to laugh because we were all coughing novices and professionals alike. Lyndon asked me how my grandma (Baba) would take to the smell. I started laughing out loud because she would have died from how strong the smell was. She cannot handle strong smells. The spice market would have killed her it was so strong (I love you so much Baba. It is a running joke about smells in our family because Baba cannot handle them. Gotta air out the kitchen, Baba's coming over. Nothing mean. We love her to so much.). Anyway, our guide took us to the rooftop of the spice market and we had incredible views. Saw a monkey going into someone's home, that stinks, also saw a courtyard to a mosque. It was just incredible.











We took the tuk tuk back to Raj and the van. Went back to the hotel, and went to bed. India day one was incredible. 

I was worried that the trip might be a little much. I was not focusing on the trip until the day before, because kids. I had to retrain my brain a little bit because India is the most foreign country we have visited. People do wear western clothes, but most still wear the traditional Indian clothes like the panjabi and sari. Men wear dress pants and button up shirts. And it is poor, and dirty, and people asking you for money because you are Western, and just very very different. I had to remember that this was not a tropical paradise vacation. And that was totally fine. We wanted to experience India, and we did. It was incredible! I wish we could have stayed a lot longer than we did. I just do not want to paint a picture like it was this paradise. For our mouths it was, Indian food is amazing. There is a lot to take in. We just sat back, took it all in, and enjoyed ourselves. India is incredible and we started on a high and it just kept getting better and better. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Cosette's Ballet Open House


Cosette has started ballet again. She did one term last year and then started again at the beginning of this year. Parents are not allowed to sit in on classes, unless it is their child's trial class. They do have the open house for parents and family to come and see what the teacher does in class and what the kids have learned. 

Cosette has been talking about the open house for the last two weeks. She would remind me almost everyday that she had her ballet open house on the 21st, and the make sure I was there. I made sure, and Lyndon was able to make it! Her face when she saw that her daddy came is priceless. 



Hamming it up most of the time. She was so excited to have us there. She kept running up to us in between routines to give us hugs. I loved that. 

Tada! 


Grateful for opportunities to get to watcher grow and learn. She is an artist through and through. Love you baby girl and all your fabulous dance moves. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Spring School Holidays Video

The kids had their spring school holiday the last week. What a week it was. Last year I had some outing planned everyday and we had so much fun together. This year I decided to do the same, especially since our time here is coming to a close (insert crying emoji face). We spent the week at some of our favorite places in Singapore. Cosette wanted to go to the Art Science Museum and Jurong Bird Park. Henry wanted to go to the River Safari. We did that and a lot more. 


The two things that stood out the most was ArtZoo. It is at the Float down at Marina Bay. It is a bunch of bounce houses that are animal and ecosystem themed. It was amazing! Cosette and Henry had so much fun. We ran from bounce house to bounce house. Their favorite was the sea themed one. It had a giant octopus, crabs, knar whale, and some others I cannot remember. I lost Henry at one point (sadly that is pretty normal), and found him back on that one jumping all over the place. If it was only free. We would have gone back again. 

The second thing that the kids really enjoyed was going to the Marina Barrage for a picnic Sunday night. We missed celebrating pi day on 3/14, so we had a make up pi day Sunday. Friends have been talking about this place and its been on my SG bucket list, so I made it happen. Lyndon had to work, but was able to meet up with us. We had a chocolate marshmallow pie per Cosette's request and coconut cream pie because that's one of my favorites. We had a couple more pies that we left at home because three kids, stroller, toys, etc. Not enough room to transport four pies. We had a casualty with our coconut cream pie. Cosette fell into it when getting up, and then later kicked a soccer ball into it. We still ate it, haha. As my Uncle Leonard would say "it all goes to the same place". 

The barrage lived up to its hype. We have an amazing view of the central business district, and Gardens by the Bay. People were flying kites, hanging out. Reminded me of being back in Central Park at Sheep's Meadow. Cosette told her class about our picnic when they went around and said what they did for their school holiday. 

We just had the best week. I was worried when the kids started school that I would hate school holidays, but to my surprise I love them. There is no schedule we have to adhere to, there are always special events going on here. It is just the best. I have so much fun with these kids. It is not always sunshine and orchids with them, they are kids, but in the end the outing most always is a success. Grateful for the opportunity we have to explore Singapore and get to spend time together. School holidays are my favorite. And hopefully will remain my favorite in all the school years to come. Love you Cosette, Henry, and Rapha.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Raphael Update


 Raphael will be 20 months this month! He is the sweetest little cherub there is out there. I know every mother will say that about their kids, but really he is the cutest! He has such a sweet demeanor that fills our home to the brim with love. I love having him around. The big kids have school in the morning so we get one on one time and it is the best. Having one kid around is so easy, I forgot what it was like. He is just so sweet. There is something about having a baby or small child in the home that makes us more aware of the evils that are out there and try to make home a safe environment. At least that is how it is for me. I have become very sensitive to what I want around not just Rapah, but the others. It helps keep them little just a bit longer. There is no need for them to grow up faster than they already do. 
He speaks a lot. The words he says are: Mama, Dada, Coco, more, done, book, milk, go, hi, bye, please, thank you. He is starting to say more. It has become a lot easier to communicate with him. He understands a lot. Still has not said "Henry" yet, but hopefully soon that will be around the corner. He says "hi" and "bye" to everyone as we are out. He makes everyone fall in love with him, and gives me leeway when I have all three and the other two are swinging from the hand holds on the MRT. 

He is my most giggly baby. He giggles a lot and if you do something he thinks is funny he will say "again" and keep giggling. He loves to help me in the kitchen. Anytime I am in there he comes running in with his stool, pulls it up to the counter and demands to help me in whatever I am doing. And when we are finished he demands to share it with me. That is where half my breakfast goes every morning. He loves corn on the cob, rice, and watermelon. He is just a happy kid, except for when he is tired, then he becomes violent. Just look at my face right now. He got my nose good with his fingernails. He is into everything like any other toddler. Legos, lightsabers, and books are his favorites. He does not really let me read to him. I start reading a book then he takes it from me, holds it upside down, and "reads" it to himself. He is getting better about sitting and reading books. He is pretty fearless. He walked into the pool when Lyndon was swimming with them one day, kind of fearless. He survived and now is slightly less fearless around water, but only slightly. 

He has finally discovered his brother, Henry. They have started playing more together. Wrestling is their thing. It is really funny and sweet to watch them tumble around laughing and jumping on each other. Raphael can take Henry. He wears the same size shoe Henry did when we first arrived in Singapore. He is my biggest kid so far. And I love having a squishy baby, even though he is not that squishy or a baby anymore. 

He is an animal lover just like his siblings. He loves to see the dogs as we go around the neighborhood. He will always point out the birds to me. He is loving Singapore's animal parks just as much as the rest of us now.  





Forever my baby. 



The reason Henry has nicknamed Rapah "Climber".

I could go on and on about this sweet boy. He has brought a lot of light into my life when it has been particularly difficult to find joy in motherhood. I love all my children with my entire being, but man it's a hard job. His sweet, joyful demeanor has really filled my motherhood cup. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Japan Sister Video!

Yeah, so I have taken my time getting this video done. But better late than never. I am just one of those people where I start a project, and I finish it. It makes me feel accomplished to reach my "goals" or finish projects. 

Anyway, Japan again amazing. I noticed when I was putting all the clips in every time I talk I say, "here we are at". Bear with me on that one. I am laughing at myself for that. But really Japan is amazing. Ellen and I had such an incredible trip and it has really strengthened our relationship, not that it needed it. It was nice doing something together. Hopefully we can make sister trips a tradition and include all our wonderful sisters. We got to experience so many once in a lifetime things. Glad it was with Ellen. 

Enjoy the vlog. It is the longest video I have done, but it is jam packed with our week of traveling. Hopefully it keeps you interested. The music is piano compilations from Kiki's Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro. I am so Studio Ghibli obsessed, especially with Totoro. 

Japan is incredible and sisters are the best!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Gong Xi Fac Cai!

Happy Chinese New Year! 2017 is the year of the rooster, and we have seen our share of roosters everywhere. CNY began January 26th and the festivities lasted all the way through February. We had our last CNY event February 26th. It is one of my favorite times of year here. Everywhere gets decked out in CNY decorations like we do for Christmas in the States. It is so fun, colorful, loud, exciting, and so much to do. We barely even scratched the surface of all the CNY activities. Here are the ones that we did. First stop to kick everything off, naturally for us, was a trip to the zoo.  

It's the year of the Golden Rooster. 

The Zoo has the "zoo-diac' trail with signs by all the animals that represent the Chinese zodiac. We had fun seeing a few of them. Sadly could not get to all. 

Babirusa aka boar.




The kids on Chinese New Year Sunday. I made the boys matching vests, and Cosette a skirt with the same material, and her shirt. This was the best picture we could get of the kiddos. Church was only one hour that day because of the holiday. 

 Bringin in the new year at the Flower Dome. We saw the dazzling dahlias exhibit.

Checking out the floating River Hong Bao. 





We got lucky and Daddy was able to meet us down there. 

We had to get a picture with our zodiac animal. 






Rooster donuts to celebrate!

CNY market in Chinatown.





The lion head for the lion dance. I want one so bad!




Our Community Center CNY celebration. Cosette and one of her bffs from school, Cresent, and Rapha.


The Japanese cultural booth demonstrating how Japan celebrates the New Year. It was really fun to take the kids there and show them some of the things that we had growing up. They spent a lot of time there playing the games. 


Pad Thai.



Henry was so excited about his tiger face. He kept looking at himself in the mirror when the lady was done. Then he ran around the community center pretending to be a tiger. 


Our local mall's lion dance. The big kids were in school, so it was just me and Rapha. Gotta start them young. I love the lion dance so much! It's my favorite CNY tradition. 

They started off with the dragon dance. 




He loved the touching the lion. Super soft!

Traditional lo hei celebration at our friend's. Lo Hei is the traditional salad at CNY. It has all sorts of ingredients and sauces all mixed in. Everyone comes together and listens to someone talk about all the ingredients and why it is included in the salda. Then we toss it up!

Cosette right before the tossing of the salad. 

Tossing the lo hei. The higher the toss, the more good luck you will have this year.

 I am so glad we have been able to celebrate CNY in Singapore. It is now my second favorite holiday, after Halloween. I absolutely love the traditions, the color, the lion dance (I'm obsessed).  Happy Chinese New Year! Gong xi fac cai!
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