Friday, August 29, 2008

The post about my blog's new look

I spent way too much time today clicking around from blog to blog to blog today. Yes... I had more important things to do but I figured with the busy weekend we have coming up, I wanted to spend some time being unproductive today to make up for it. I'm thankful for the opportunity to "waste" some time and don't plan on making it a habit. Trust me... I know what it feels like to not have time to spare for such "leisurely activities."

As a result of my blog visits, I found Leelou Blogs. She has wonderful blog designs and I managed to figure out how to change mine, using one of her **free** (!!!) layouts.

I think it is much prettier than what I was using before. However, I think it is a little more difficult to read. I made a few changes already in an attempt to make it easier on the eyes but I'm not really sure if it's enough.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. (Unfortunately, I can't change back to my layout from before because I didn't bother to save it, but I could try to make some changes when I have time to muddle through the HTML. I don't know how to write the code but I muddle through by guessing.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two Embarrassing Things That Happened to Me Today

I don't know why but I feel compelled to share my embarrassments with the world (wide web, that is). I hope you get a laugh, or at least a giggle.

1. I fell into someone's lap when I failed to hold on or sit in time before the bus started driving after I boarded. What can I say... the whole "riding on the bus" thing is pretty unfamiliar for me.

2. I had to jump back on the curb when I almost got run down by a car because I was looking the wrong direction. (In case you aren't aware, they drive on the opposite side of the road here in S'pore than in the U.S.)
YES, I realize I should have been looking both ways,
which I actually kind of did, but apparently I didn't look hard enough the right way. At least in London they have arrows/signage to remind you which way to look for traffic. No such luck here. I've got to be more careful because this one had the potential to be more than just embarrassing.

I'm sure there will be many more "embarrassing moments" to share some time soon. Feel free to share your own in the comments. :-D

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

RESULTS- "The Price is Right" Single Serving Horizon Milk

Sorry for keeping you hanging so long. I know you must all be dying to know the actual cost of the milk. (See this post if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

First, I want to say thanks to everyone who played! I'm so glad you joined in the fun and I hope you'll play the next time I do this. (I already have in mind the next item but I'm going to catch up on some other blogging topics before another round of "The Price is Right.") Anyways, thanks again for leaving comments. :-)

Next, I'll announce the price of the item, which was a single serving Horizon milk (any flavor)...
S$5 = US$3.52
[I used "Coinmill" to convert the
Singapore dollars to U.S. dollars.]
Can you believe it? Almost 4 bucks for a little thing of milk. Yeah, sure, it's organic but, come on! That is nuts, if you ask me.

Next - - THE WINNERS!!!!
1st - Jenny in CA
(She barely beat out the next two contestants by a difference of 2 cents.)
(2-way tie) for 2nd -
"3boysmama" (Crystal) and Lisa G.

Jenny guessed US$4 and Crystal and Lisa G. guessed US$3. If I were doing "The Price is Right" TV rules, Jenny would have been eliminated because she guessed higher than the actual price. However, this is "The Price is Right" blog-style so she remains the winner, though only by 2 cents.

Honorable Mentions --
*Melanie - Extra points for trying to guess the size. You guessed 6 oz. but I THINK it was actually 8 oz., though I'm not certain.
*"justnessa" - Kudos for knowing how much a case at Costco costs AND how much Starbucks (in U.S.) charges for one. You didn't mention how many are in a case though. I'd be interested to use the per case cost divided by the number of milks in one case to calculate the cost of one milk purchased at Costco and compare it to how much I'd pay here.

General Comments --
*No... I did not actually purchase this item. Anyone who knows me could probably guess that there is no way I would pay that much money for a little thing of milk.
*Not all milk in Singapore is that expensive. It's the fact that it's organic and it's from America (I think) that makes it so expensive. In case you are wondering, a half-gallon of organic milk costs about S$16 here. That's a little more than US$11. Nope. Not buying that either. The non-organic is much less expensive (though still not cheap), but not enough to make us switch to soy or rice milk. Thankfully, we don't use much milk. I think cheese will be more of a problem. That's more than S$10 for a small block of cheddar. Yikes!

Friday, August 22, 2008

"The Price is Right"- Single Serving Horizon Organic Milk

Can you guess the price of this item?
It doesn't matter which flavor. They are all the same price.
You are guessing the price of only one of these and they are the single serving size.

For directions on how to play, see this post:

How to Play "The Price is Right" (blog-style)

I thought it'd be fun to play a little game - - my blog version of "The Price is Right." I'll show/describe an item I've seen in the store here that I know will be familiar to my American friends. To play, leave a comment with your guess of how much you think the item costs. (You can guess in American $ if you like.) [Please don't cheat and try to find the item online.]

In a few days, I will have a "Results" blog-post where I announce the actual price and who guessed the closest to it. (I'll tell you the price in both Singapore $ and an estimated U.S. $ equivalent.)

I'm sorry but I don't have any prizes. I hope you'll enjoy playing anyways. (To be honest, I hope this isn't a flop. Please leave a comment with a guess. Pretty please!)

If you post an anonymous comment, be sure to sign your comment with you're name so I can credit you if you have the closest guess.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Intro to Electrical Switches in Singapore - Course 101

I know this is all pretty inconsequential and of little importance to you but I thought I'd share anyways. Here is what I have had to learn about operating electrical switches in Singapore.

1. Many of the light switches are outside the room. You don't know how many times I've reached to switch on the light in the bathroom just to have to stop and remember... "Oh yeah, I have to walk back out of the bathroom to turn on the light." Or, as I understand it, in Singapore, I ought to say "...walk back out of the bathroom to on the light." On and off are used as verbs.

2. The switches are quite a bit smaller and you have to press them with force rather than just gently flip them up or down as with traditional light switches in the U.S.

3. See the switch with a red light next to it on the right side of the photo? That is for the water heater. We have three of those switches in our apartment. One for the master bathroom, one for the common bathroom, and one for the kitchen. I have to admit, I actually like this because I can see why they do it this way. You don't waste money as with a whole house water heater that is on all the time and has to cycle on and off to keep the water hot and ready at a moment's notice. However, it is hard to get used to the need to prepare to shower or wash dishes by turning on the water heater ahead of time. It also makes it difficult to wash hands with warm water since we don't leave the heaters on throughout the day. Whenever the girls come up from swimming, the first thing I tell them is "Go turn on the water heater so you can take a shower."

4. Every electrical outlet (you know, where you plug things in) has a switch. Not only do you have to plug in whatever it is you want to use, you also must move the switch to the on position. (This has actually resulted in a few laughs for me. Just the other day, Gander couldn't figure out why the iron wasn't heating up. He had forgotten to switch on the electrical outlet.)

5. The on position is opposite how I think it should be. You know how in the U.S. if a light is on the switch is pushed up. Well, here if the light is on, the switch is pushed down. (In the photo above, everything is off.)

So now you know more about electrical switches in S'pore then you ever wanted to know. At least if you ever come visit us, you'll be prepared, right?

A few random photos

This was the Friday of the girls' first week of school. Smiles!! A good thing. :-D (Elly is wearing her PE uniform, which they each wear twice a week. GG is just wearing a different uniform option than the first day.)

I thought I'd post a few random photos. Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another post about one of my favorite topics - FOOD!

I'm starting to think that I should have given this blog a name related to food. Jenny originally suggested "All this and an eggroll, too" as a blog name. I'm starting to think I should have gone with that. Oh well. (Interestingly, I haven't yet had an eggroll in Singapore, though I did have some spring rolls on Saturday. Maybe they are considered the same thing. Not sure.) Anyhow... I thought I'd share some photos of new foods we've tried in Singapore.

About a week and a half ago, our housing agent took us out for a wonderful meal at Jumbo Seafood at the East Coast, overlooking the Singapore Strait.

These two pictures show "otah"
(fish paste wrapped in a banana leaf). Pretty good warm but not so good after it cooled off.

Next we have chili crab. I thought it was excellent!! I made a mess but it was worth it.

Eric's favorite was the black pepper crab. I enjoyed it, too. I just liked the chili crab better.

We had several other dishes but I did not take photos. They were all wonderful but I was feeling slightly embarrassed about taking pictures of food so I stopped. Sorry to disappoint you. ;-)

Mmmmmm . . . Morton's

Is this the look of someone who is enjoying her food, or what?

We were eating a heavenly chocolate dessert at an amazing restaurant called Morton's Steakhouse. They are worldwide. We've been to Morton's in the U.S. several times and were not disappointed with our first time eating at the Morton's in Singapore.

We can't wait for an excuse to go back.

This is the object of our delight - -

We loved our Cajun ribeye steaks, too, but there is just something about a lava-flow of chocolate combined with vanilla ice cream that makes one temporarily forget about everything else.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Catching up - When we went to Raffles Hotel and the Long Bar

One of the finest hotels in the world is located in Singapore. It's the Raffles Hotel. Located within Raffles Hotel, is the Long Bar, the place where the cocktail "Singapore Sling" originated. Being the suckers we are, we had to go just to say we'd been there. I say we are suckers because the place is WAY overpriced!! While Singapore is expensive, this was even more expensive.

Gander had a S$25 Singapore Sling and a S$21 Tiger Beer, ate the free peanuts, and had a few "nachos" (if you can call them that). Elly had a S$9 glass of coke. GG drank water and ate peanuts. I drank water, had a few sips of Tiger Beer, and ate a few chips from the so called "nachos." These "nachos" were the worst I've ever had. (I'm talking not even Taco Bell quality.) We should have known better than to order nachos in Singapore. At least we know now.

Oh, by the way, the Long Bar is probably the only place in Singapore where you are allowed to litter. Your supposed to throw your peanut shells on the ground. GG liked that part. She got a little carried away and started throwing her shells at Daddy but, as you probably guessed, that was only after Daddy threw a few shells at her.

Here is a photo of Daddy and his little girls --

It's definitely overpriced but I will give them credit, there is gorgeous outdoor dining area (in a
kind-of-like plaza type area in the center of the hotel property). (See the top of this post. The photo doesn't show how pretty it really is but you get the idea.)

Poor Elly couldn't keep her eyes open the night we went to Raffles. She is so cute when she falls asleep sitting up, don't you think?

2 out of 4 - Getting to the school bus on time

So far, I'd say I'm not doing too well with regard to getting the girls to the school bus on time. They literally had to hold the bus for GG and Elly as it was pulling out of the driveway. They saw me running to the bus (probably not a pretty sight) and, most likely, heard me yelling to the girls to "HURRY UP!! It's leaving! RUN!!!" Poor Elly was in tears. I guess the positive side is that they did  get on the bus without having to run down the street trying to catch up to it as it was driving. In all honesty, though, it probably wouldn't have been the girls chasing down the bus, it would have been me and we all know I NEVER would have caught it. 

In my favor, though, I have to say that I have not been late picking up the girls at the bus yet. :-D
Yeah for me!! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Overdue - the post about our first day in Singapore

As promised, here are some more photos. These are all from our first day in Singapore.

The building in the center of the photos is where we are living right now - - on the SIXTEENTH floor!! I kind of have to keep my distance from the windows. I don't mind looking out the windows as long as I don't look down.

In the bottom left-hand corner of this photo you can see part of a large shopping center that is home to a department store called Takashimaya. The tall tower is part of the development. I *think* it is condos but it might be offices. I'm not sure.

Here is what is hiding in the basement of the Takashimaya shopping center. Well, I guess it isn't really hiding but, from the looks of the rest of the mall I wouldn't expect to find this here. This is a store full of children's items.
Do these people like to shop or what??

The pictures here are inside another shopping center, just across the street. It is The Paragon. I feel like I'm in Beverly Hills inside The Paragon. It is full of extremely upscale shops - A/X Armani Exchange, Tod's, Cartier, Coach, etc. See how many people are shopping? Crazy!!

To greet us on our first day in Singapore, this orchestra from a middle school played outside The Paragon. Actually, they were performing to celebrate the 43rd birthday of Singapore. There were various groups performing the whole weekend preceding "National Day" (on August 9) to honor their country.
Finally, we found a restaurant for dinner about 8 pm. We left my parents house for LAX about 4:00 PM on Thursday, July 31. We arrived in Singapore at about 5:00 AM on Saturday, August 1 and took a short nap so we could make it through the day on Singapore time. So by 8 PM we were all exhausted. The poor girls couldn't even stay awake to eat. But at least they (mostly) slept through our first night here and had a good start adjusting to the new time zone.

The post about Elly's first day of school

My baby is officially a "big girl!" This statement is accompanied by both smiles and tears. I can't believe it's been more than 5 years since I looked on "Elly's" beautiful face for the first time. You would think that I would have felt this last month, on her fifth birthday, but I guess it took watching her ride away in a school bus to bring it on. I wonder why I didn't feel the same way when GG rode away in the bus but I guess maybe it is because I was so relieved that she went, I didn't have a chance to feel sentimental. Or maybe it's because she is older so, even though it was the first day of school for both of them EVER, it just felt different.

As I suspected, Elly had no problem at all with saying goodbye. She hopped on the bus like she'd been doing it her whole life and smiled at me through the window. Can you see the top of her sweet little head in the picture below? I can tell she is smiling. :-D

Here is my confession - - The girls almost missed the bus. It's barely the second day of having to get to the bus on time and they almost missed it! I barely had time to snap a photo of Elly before we ran to the waiting bus, after everyone else had already boarded.
What kind of a mom am I? I guess I'm the kind that used to homeschool - - and one of the many, many reasons why is that I always thought (and now have confirmed) that I would have problems getting them to school (or the bus, in this case) on time. I've GOT to manage my time better.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You might be wondering...

. . . why only GG had her first day of school today.

Elly is in, what they call K-2 (second year of kindergarten). The children in kindy had a non-school day today. We got to go to a brief meeting with her teacher and the teacher's assistant today. Just the five of us met in the classroom so she had an opportunity to get a little comfortable in the setting before the craziness of a classroom of 23 little ones starts on Tuesday morning.  

Elly is going to have a blast!! She was already making herself "at home." I'll update you on her first day tomorrow.

If today is any indication, this is going to be a great year. I am so excited for all of us. I'll miss homeschooling, I know, but I am feeling like this will be a very good experience.

GG's First Day of School Update

I'm thrilled!! GG had a good first day of school. :-D

Before school started I had e-mailed her teacher to give her a little "insight" into GG, hoping it might help things go more smoothly. She e-mailed me back about a half an hour after school was dismissed with this message:

"Just to let you know that G.. had a very good first day. She was quite shy initially and chose to hold my hand in the line -up this morning. Once she was introduced to her buddy ( H..) however,she seemed much happier and was chatting and laughing throughout the rest of the day! During the afternoon, G.. was putting her hand up and participating in our discussions.

I know it's still early days,but I'm extremely pleased with the start G.. has made in Grade Two
Well done, G..!"

The post about GG's first day of school

Today was GG's first day of school . . . EVER!

She went to a co-op preschool run by the moms of the kids involved and she went to learning center classes when we were homeschooling but none of those are the same as "regular" school.

While I can't say GG was excited about going to school, I am happy to report that it went more smoothly then I was expecting.
We had to get past the tantrum stage but at least that was while we were still in the privacy of our apartment. Here is what GG looked like shortly after the tantrum stage.
A few of the complaints GG expressed this morning were:
"I hate EVERYTHING here!!"
"I never want to go to school, EVER!!"
"I don't want to make any friends - - I only want my real friends from home."

But I have to be honest - I can't say that if I were in her shoes I would feel any better about the circumstances. We've all had to adjust to a LOT of changes but I think that it has been most difficult for GG. Overall, I'd say she is handling it pretty well for someone that normally
has a tough time with any type of change, much less a complete life change.

Once we got past the tantrum stage, GG did really did pretty well until she had to get on the bus. But even then, at least she didn't have to be dragged, kicking and screaming. She walked on her own two feet and I don't think she even cried. (Although I could be wrong since I wasn't actually on the bus with her.) In the photo below you can see that she needed some gentle help to get on but, like I said, she didn't have to be dragged!!!

And for that, I am thankful! Very thankful!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The post about blogging and my new MacBook!!!!

It seems I can't go anywhere without thinking about blogging. I am finding myself, more and more, thinking, "I should blog about this," or "_____ would be a good name for a post about this." I don't suppose this is a bad thing but it IS a frustrating thing. It has been difficult to get online. My last post was about overcoming the obstacles related to using a different electricity supply for our computers. Now my problem is actually getting an internet connection. I'll spare you the details and just say... it's a pain in the toosh.

So, just so you know, my plans for blog entries are grand and you won't be sorry if you come back to read them (I hope)! I just need:
1. more time to spend blogging (which I will have next week when the girls start school),
2. to figure out a way to get my photos from my old computer onto this computer or figure out a way to get my old computer to connect to the internet.
3. a more reliable way of connecting to the internet.

For now, will you accept my apologies for not blogging about more interesting things and a promise to do better in the future?

OH.... and I almost forgot. I was going to tell you about my new MacBook!!! Well, it's not actually "mine." It's more "ours" (for me and Gander) but since he will be working and traveling so much, I expect that I will get to use it more (lucky me!).
Here it is - -

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back Online!!

The lengths we will go to in order to get online - - -

*1 blown out electrical supply/cord/thingymadoodle
*1 time blowing out the electricity in the outlets on the wall we were plugged into
*1 purchase and subsequent return of a converter that didn't solve the problem
*About 5 different stores visited by Gander to find a transformer/converter that would work
*1 purchase (almost S$300, by the way) of an adapter for laptops that seems to be working

Now we are finally back online!!

I still haven't been able to fire up my computer; I've just been using Gander's. I don't know how to download photos onto Gander's computer so, I'm sorry but you will have to keep waiting to see pictures. Maybe I can get to that tomorrow or the next day.

I just wanted to check in before bedtime. We need to get an early start tomorrow. Our "agent" (realtor + local guide type person) will be taking us to see 9 condos tomorrow so we need to get our rest.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A little funny

Before we go on our errands, I had to share a quick "funny."

In an effort to be helpful, Gander e-mailed some people (not sure who) with a 800 number for the serviced apartment where we will be living until we find a permanant place. He did not notice on the website where the number was listed that it is a local 800 number, and thus would only work when making the call from within Singapore. So......... it turns out that when this number is called from within the United States, it is a number for some association of some type for "consenting adults." (LOLOL! I'm a little nervous about posting that phrase on my blog. If anyone does an internet search for the phrase, I hope I don't come up. Yikes! Wouldn't want people getting the wrong idea.)

So far, my dad is the only person that I know has tried to call us. He so kindly shared the experience with us when we called to let my parents know we arrived safely. He asked Gander, "What kind of place are you guys staying at?" Gotta love my dad. (I do love you, Dad!)

Anyhow... if you have that 800 number, now you know you can't reach us that way!!

The VERY FIRST post written in Singapore

I'm just checking in quickly to let any faithful blog-readers know that we made it safely. The flight went very well and, in my opinion, GG and Elly were terrific. I only had to tell GG"shhhh" a few times and other than that they were perfectly behaved. We all got to sleep for a good part of the flight.

We touched down at Changi Airport in Singapore at exactly 4:59 AM on Saturday, August 2. Funny. I think when I post this it may show that I am posting it on Friday, August 1. I haven't changed my location to Singapore yet in my settings.

Now that I've checked in it is time to go shopping for a few essentials, grab some lunch (it's already 1:20 PM), and, hopefully, take a few photos to post here.

"See" you soon. :-)