Coocoo for Coconuts, not Haze!

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We had a lovely 4 day weekend (Hari Raya Haji holiday) in Bintan, Indonesia. It was so nice to escape the horrible haze that has plagued Singapore for the last few weeks. These wicked fumes are due to the illegal burning/clearing of palm oil fields in Sumatra. Wikipedia haze The hazardous smoke then blows over Singapore and coats it in a blanket of white smog. The picture that I am posting is in the Very Unhealthy range at PSI level 213. To put it in perspective, school activities outdoors are canceled at 150. While Robert’s soccer association cancels practice over 101. School gets cancelled altogether if it reaches 300, which it did last Friday while we were in Bintan.

So our little getaway was just what we needed! I’ve been on this recent fresh coconut water kick ever since I found out the health benefits after a workout. Much better than Gatorade, 100 Plus, etc. Since fresh coconuts are readily available in our grocery stores, it’s a no brainer! While in Bintan, we were able to watch a guy climb up the coconut tree (he’s actually in the picture of the tree), cut down the coconuts, and slice it open for our enjoyment. So, I know I like coconut water, but what was with the spoon they gave with the coconut? Well, I’ve seen all the seasons of Survivor and never have I seen them use a spoon. It was very easy to scrape the inside of the coconut to get a clear thin gelatinous scoop of coconut. It tasted about as good as it looked…bland. Well, I will still drink the water, but am not a fan of the gelatinous pulp.

Did I mention that we are so excited for our next visitors! Haha…don’t let the haze scare you away! Hoping this clears out within the next few weeks. Ugh.
Below are a few trip pictures!

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22 Legs

We escaped the summer without one single airline catastrophe!  I think that is pretty darn good considering we flew twenty two, yes, TWENTY TWO legs on United Airlines this summer.  The Denver airport was becoming our home away from home.  Even before we began our summer adventure, Bill and I were already discussing the need for a “home base” next year, We thank all our family for being so giving of their homes and putting up with us.  It’s was a logistical nightmare trying to bring luggage across the country for each two week visit.  Do we leave the huge suitcase with Bill in Phoenix? Will Emily need two suitcases, one for rowing camp and one for the college tour? Will Kathy need an extra for all the crap she bought to bring back?  All would be YES!!!!    I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to slip right back into the normalcy of american living.  Being with family, reuniting with old friends, and meeting nieces and nephews for the first time, were the much needed antidote for my longing to be home.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel once we landed back in Singapore.  I’m happy to report that it was pretty seamless.  What a difference a year makes.  Last year I was gagging from the smells of the hawker center and this year I know exactly what to order.  I’m still surprised daily by people and situations here in Singapore, but now am gaining more of an understanding as to why.  The kids have gotten back into their routines and friend groups which makes us all happy.  Bill is traveling a bit less this year. YAY!  As I write this he is heading to Dubai for the week, but at least its not the US.

We hope everyone is doing well and remember you are always welcome to come visit us here, one degree north!

Kathy

Family picture taken in Branson, Missouri

Family picture taken in Branson, Missouri

The Real “Expat” Wives of Singapore

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And so it begins…the story of our Expat friendship that started on Facebook.  Michelle and I have added to our little group with the addition of Frances (the Irish Lassie), Lisa (Southern Belle), and Kristin (California Girl)  For whatever reason, our paths have crossed and I couldn’t be more grateful.  We are the Fab Five!

What is the definition of an “Expat Wife” anyway?  There is not an official definition that I could find, but here is my personal simplified definition.  Expat Wife – A woman left to figure out a new country because her spouse is traveling for work.  For some, this would be the ultimate new adventure.  For others, sadly the final straw in an already faltering marriage. Luckily, none of us are in the latter category.

Our friendships developed quickly.  We bonded instantly over husbands travel schedules, kids adjusting to a new, more rigorous school, the struggles of getting a bank account, weighing the pros and cons of getting a helper, the list goes on.  When you have no family or husbands around, these ladies become your lifeline.

Now, we don’t have all the “drama” of a Real Housewives tv show, but we definitely have stories to tell and some to cherish forever.  The year has gone by quickly with it’s ups and downs, but we’ve done it together.  And now it ends, almost as quickly as it began as one of our Fab Five leaves us in June.  I can’t quite put my finger on why this makes me so sad.  We all have the common bond of arriving at the same time, struggling together, and most of all lifting each others spirits.  These coveted positions in our Fab Five can never be replicated or replaced.

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I’ve since revised my definition of an Expat Wife to –  A special woman that endures with a smile, finds a pack, and rolls with the changes.

As I look ahead, I’m excited of who will be put in our path as our journey continues.
Cheers to Kristin! You’ll be missed my friend.

Dragon Boat

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As  I peruse through the AWA tours for the upcoming month, Dragon Boating catches my eye.  I’ve watched these beautiful beasts out on the water as the crew row in perfect syncronicity.  What the heck?  I’ll give it a try.  If Emily can do crew 4 times a week, I must be able to handle this one day trial!  I successfully sold the idea to one of my friends, Frances, to accompany me. It was a beautiful sunny day and the pollution level was quite low.  We started out with some stretches and basic instruction of how to row.  Should I be this winded after stretches?  Geez, I’m really feeling my age these days.  Now, we have to walk the boats down to the water.  Luckily, they are on a trailer so it’s just a matter of not running them into anything.   Once the boats are in it’s time to get the show on the road (or water :).

I was the odd man out in the division of the boat crew so I didn’t have a partner.  Lucky me, I get to sit up front with the professional!  Well, I only felt lucky for about the first five minutes when the realisation that the rest of the boat follows the first two rowers set in.  We set the pace.  This fit young lady that I’m partnered up with is counting on me to keep up with her.   Ok, I got this.  The first two runs, not so bad.  Took a bit to figure out the oar placement, body form, and which muscles I should be using.  More rowing….and more rowing….my mind is going to its happy place. We reach this beautiful area right by the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens By the Bay, and the Sports Arena.  We stopped to rest and enjoy the view.  Singapore has amazing architecture.  Getting to know my partner (Fabi I believe was her name) while we rest, I find that she is a fitness instructor at the Navy base.  Her husband is a Navy pilot that has just left for Hong Kong for a year.  Lovely young lady that is definitely making the most of her time here.  She is giving me praises on my technique as I’m apologising for slowing her pace down (I’m pretty sure the ladies behind me were grateful for the slower pace).

Ok, it’s race time!  We’ve waited for the second boat to come meet us and now we are going to row to the bridge to start the race.  I feel sufficiently rested and ready to “do this!”.  We row to the bridge to line up with the other boat.  Uh oh, that was a lot farther than I thought.  Now I’m tired again!  Taylor Swift’s song pops into my head, “shake it off, sh shake it off!”  I shake out my rubbery arms and get in ready position…GO!  My partner is yelling, “1, 2, 3, 4” I’m digging into the water like it’s a tub of Nutella!  Dig, dig, dig.  Arms… so… tired…. More yelling, “come on ladies, we’ve got this”.  I can’t tell who is ahead, but from the frantic yelling I’m thinking we are behind.  Finally, the words I need to hear, “hold!”.  I was so happy to stop the pain, that I didn’t care that we lost.  Well, not totally true, I am a pretty competitive person.

We did do a second race and I won’t go into detail, but we lost a second time.    Now it’s time to get the boats back to the boat house.  I thought the physical exhaustion was over…um no.  Getting the boats in the water was WAY easier than getting them out.  I honestly thought I was going to toss my cookies I was that physically drained.  It’s times like these I wish I had the mind of a 40 something and the body of a 20 something. It’s now three days later and my body is still cursing me.  Am I glad I did it?  Hell yes!  When am I ever going to do things like this again.   Emily is going to be doing dragon boating in the spring (insert evil laugh) and doesn’t know what she’s getting into!