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Monday, July 18, 2011

Japanese Garden

After the Chinese Garden we went across the bridge to the Japanese Garden. Our first look was of a bunch of tires with Bonsai trees in them. It wasn't very pretty at all and I think all of us were looking for the nearest exit out of there.

AND THEN .........

When we turned the corner and saw the most amazing lily pond! It was blooming and it was gorgeous! My mom is an art lover so I have grown up with art books and art replicas since birth. Turning that corner I felt like I was seeing Monet's lily pond paintings in real life! Honestly, I'm not sure what else was at the Japanese Garden except for the pond.

We sat at the pond for awhile. It was just so peaceful. Jake, my child who is always on the go, says he HAS to come back here to sketch pictures, it's just so great! Seriously, he said that! Natalie quickly replied with what a great idea and she was excited to come back too.

Natalie took this picture of a lily flower. It's one of my most favorite pictures. She also has a nice one of a butterfly on a rock. It was like some artistic spirit just came and invaded my children's minds! I'm not complaining at all! It was fun to see their creativity.

Grey even afforded Grandma a smile. I love all the green around him. Oh, and the Japanese lanterns were also in the garden! The lanterns were okay but I don't know how you can compete with the flowers and the water! Mom took one of me too. Of course I had to smile!

This is Jake on our return trip 2 weeks later. He was so quiet and peaceful. I don't know what he was thinking but he talked non-stop afterwards. The pond wasn't so much in bloom this last time so I need to do some research so we can go when it is blooming again. Even not blooming it was a heck of a good time. It was by far one of my favorite spots in Singapore.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program.....

My laptop has been hijacked. The one with all my pictures on it! We have 2 computers and 3 laptops in this house but it was MY laptop that allows us to watch some of our missed American shows. So, my kids are currently watching Disney favorites that haven't made it here to Singapore yet through MY laptop that is hooked up to the TV. I can't get to my computer to give you the awesome pictures of the Japanese gardens or the Terra Cotta Warriors or the fireworks or anything else I want to do! The joys of motherhood and always sharing!
So, I will instead refer you to a cute little post I found one day while browsing through some expat blogs. This post talks about the "ugly expat". Even the comments are note worthy, alot of comments but all really good. 
So, here are the 12 steps to being an ugly expat, blatantly copied from this blog

1. Don’t waste your valuable time researching your destination or its people before you move — a country’s history or dominant cultural values are no concern of yours. And for heaven’s sake, don’t throw away your money on any of that cross-cultural training mumbo jumbo — everyone knows what a scam that is.

2. Likewise, don’t bother reading up on the causes and symptoms of culture shock, or how to alleviate it. That’s what Valium is for. (Pack lots!)

3. Isolate yourself. Shut yourself up in your compound/condo and refuse all contact with local people. If there’s an exclusive expatriate club nearby, rejoice: you’re saved! Choose your new friends with care, weeding out any prospects who have Gone Native. (Being too chummy with the locals is a dead giveaway.) Successful candidates will have already aced the 12 steps and will embrace you as a kindred spirit.

4. show off your wealth, especially if you live in a developing nation. Your baubles and fancy toys will breed admiration and respect among the impoverished masses, who will revere you as a role model.

5. Under no circumstances should you eat local food. They eat that unsanitary crap because they don’t know any better; you do. (You can’t be too careful — who knows what you might pick up?) If you’re offered anything unrecognizable, be sure to show your disdain by peppering your refusal with terms such as “dysentery” and “intestinal worms.” Gagging noises are optional.

6. Let everyone know how backward the country is, and how much better things are back home. I can’t stress this enough — never let an opportunity to compare the two countries pass you by. It’s your duty to teach the local populace a thing or two, and opening their eyes to their own inferiority will endear you to them. (Bonus points if you can insult cultural and religious icons or other objects of reverence.)

7. Speak your own language exclusively, especially if it happens to be English. (If the locals haven’t bowed to global pressure and learned it already, that’s their problem.) In a pinch, speaking very s-l-o-w-l-y and very LOUDLY should help them understand you. Trust me, they’ll love being talked to as though they were 5 years old. If they still don’t understand, throw your hands up in disgust and walk away, muttering under your breath. There’s some body language that won’t get lost in translation!
8. Don’t try to understand — much less accommodate — local customs. If it’s not The Way Things Are Back Home, it’s irrelevant. (Let them know they’re not fooling you with that siesta thing, for example. Everyone knows daytime napping is nothing but sheer laziness. The steaming midday temperature is just an excuse.)

9. Treat your household staff like the servants they are. They don’t need a day off, and you and I both know that hot water would only spoil them. Since it’s for their own good, I’m sure they’ll thank you later.

10. Social networking was invented for people stuck in godforsaken places like this. Spend all day on Facebook, Twitter, and email, lying about how much fun you’re having. Then log onto Farmville and spend some quality time doing whatever it is people on Farmville do.

11. Drink. A lot. It makes life so much fun, both for you and those around you.

12. Take your frustrations out on your husband. It’s all his fault, anyway. If it weren’t for his precious career, you’d be back home among people who matter, instead of wasting the best years of your life in this hellhole.

I like this post. It makes me think about MY legacy I will leave here. It makes me become more aware of what I do, say and even think.
I do enjoy this expat lifestyle it is in many ways  a "break from real life". I try hard to assimilate myself to new ways and new traditions. I try to teach my kids that our way may not always be the best way but an open mind is! I don't want my legacy to be just another spoiled American expat. And because I see myself in some these traits I think I still have alot of work left to do for myself.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Someone special

Before moving to Singapore I worked at a school for kids with severe special needs. The ages were from pre-k to 21. I loved this job. I am very good at taking care of people and that is exactly what I did.
This week I found out that one of the students I worked with passed away last week. I didn't work with Nicole alot because she had her own full time nurse because of how severe her needs were. However, when I did work with Nicole I had a fun time. She enjoyed getting make up put on and having her hair brushed and braided. She loved Hannah Montana music and even let me borrow a CD to burn for my daughter. She was every bit a typical  teenager she just came in a different package. She was capable of all emotions and you could clearly read her face.  She had her fits and she had her joys.  She couldn't talk but she could blink for yes or no. She was a smart young woman and she touched my heart deeply. As all the kids I worked with did. I don't know her full story and what exactly made her special needs and honestly I don't care. I just know she will be missed by me. She taught me many things in the short months I knew her and I'm glad that I got to call someone so special my friend. May you have new dreams to achieve Nicole.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chinese Garden Singapore

The Chinese and Japanese gardens were one of my most favorite places to visit. There was so much architecture to look at and the attention to detail is just amazing. This is the 13 arch bridge you cross to go into the Chinese garden area. It was fun crossing it, we almost felt like we were going into a whole new world!

 These are the Twin Pagodas. We only climbed the five flights of stairs in one of them since they are twins. The view of the lake is gorgeous from way up top and there a ton of birds just sitting out on the roof. It's so peaceful in this area you almost forget the big city is just a short ride away!
My kids love record breaking and inside the Main arch building there is a turtle museum which has a place in the Guiness book of world records for having the largest collection of turtles. We seem to have missed a picture of the building itself but fear not we have one of the GWR seal! My 8 year old was in charge of the camera at this time and he thought the seal was more important I guess. We did not go to see the turtles at this time so I have to take the kids back. I'm sure it won't be a problem!

Then we proceeded to the 7 storey pagoda. It was beautiful! On the way there we had to stop for Jake to take a picture of the bird. He was very patient and got a great picture. We passed by the line of Chinese heroes which included Mulan. My kids were surprised that she was a real hero and not just a Disney Character. We climbed to the top of the the Pagoda, well all of us but Grey. This is our picture of him from the top. He did buy us some water while we were walking all those stairs!

Inside the Pagoda. Great architecture but greater kids!
Looking all the way the pagoda. The spiral staircase. Loved it!

We then walk around a whole bunch more. Argued about where we were and what was left to see. Scoped out some great sites for family photos that I"m going to get done someday! So the Stone boat and teahouse is behind my mom and kids. We didn't actually go in it but next time we will. Then we ended up in the garden of abundance which has a bunch of chinese zodiac characters and statues. There were so many nice sculptures it was hard to pic one but the picture of Grey won out. He is miserable and ready to go home but he smiled anyway. I guess a goodtime for a teenager is NOT hanging out in the garden with his Grandma, mom and siblings. Who knew?
We ended somewhere around this area with chinese characters carved into rocks. It was pretty. I love this one, I have no idea what it says but the shape of a heart is cool. We did go around some fruit trees and flower bushes but we didn't take many pictures. We were on a mission to get to the Japanese garden which will need to be it's own post.
The Chinese Garden really did have a lot to look at. It was very peaceful and calming. I love the attention to all the detail in the buildings and gates and even the roof. We all had fun and I think even Grey had a little fun.