When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


10/23/14

On a positive note...


Today was a great day on so many levels!  First, I left a group on a social media site that was creating a ton of negativity in my life.  I had joined the group to obtain information about the expat community in my new home, and to be fair, I did learn some very useful things.  However, on the whole, it was not good for me.  I allowed the "squeaky wheels" to color my view of all Singapore expats.

No more!  I will happily find my new friends one face-to-face encounter at a time.  I spent the entire day today with some awesome expats.  We went on an outing to the Gardens by the Bay children's park.  The park was truly incredible.  I've been to spray grounds before but none exactly like this.  It was huge!  Music was playing, and the kids were having so much fun, I decided to join in - fully clothed!


Then we went up inside these enormous tree-like structures crawling with beautiful vines and flowers and walked across a suspension skybridge for a gorgeous view of the city.




We finished with lunch and ice cream for the kids.  I didn't even get lost on the way home.  So thankful for such a positive day!

P.S. For those of you who might have been wondering, I never felt slighted or judged by anyone here.  My previous entries reflected my frustrations about expat comments regarding the treatment of their helpers (which I viewed as incredibly prejudiced and ugly).  In my pride, I, too, unfairly judged an entire group of people.





10/22/14

To my friends back home

To my dear, dear friends and family,

I.miss.you.  I know, I know; it takes time to develop true, close, lasting friendships.  Blah, blah, blah.  In our Amazon-Prime-2-day-free-shipping world, I was kind of hoping I could just place an order, and *poof* intsta-friend would be on my doorstep.

Don't get me wrong, I have met some really nice people here, and we are beginning to become friends.  It just takes time.  And at times like this, I want you all back.  I want to curl up on your couch and have a cup of tea.  I want to sit around a sticky table littered with Crayola masterpieces and chat.  I want to have you you over for a big cookout and offer this toast:

To those of you who refuse to gossip and tear others down, thank you for teaching me what it means to be a woman of character.  To those cheerleaders who listen and smile and don't participate in one-upsmanship, thank you for showing me how to be happy for others.  To those could care less about the size of my home, the brand of clothes my kids wear, and the number of cars in my driveway, thank you for teaching me that a person's worth is never tied to her bank account.  To those who scrimp and save and work the long hours to put a decent meal on the table for your family, thank you for demonstrating there is no shame in getting your hands dirty.  To those of you who take the time to make eye contact with those who serve you and call them by name, thank you for reminding me that everyone matters.  To those who humbly serve others week in and week out, thank you for reminding me there is a hurting world just outside the doors of our cozy homes.  To those who introduced me to Jesus, thank you for taking the risk and saving my life.

Friends, I miss your honesty, compassion, love, humility, grace, and generosity.  I am so thankful God allowed you to touch my life.  I hope one day I can introduce you to the new friends He provides in Singapore!

10/9/14

So much!

So much to blog, so little time.  I should be napping right now...

Both Jack and Caleb are asleep, and I am bone tired.  However I know that if I lie in bed, my mind will be swirling with half-written blog posts.  No, I haven't give up on my "Around the world in 80 days."  I simply have no time to write it.  We discover new things every day, and I usually snap a few photos, but that's the most I am able to do at the moment.

Aaron has been traveling this week, and even when he's home, he's not.  He gets pulled into late meetings or has late night phone calls with folks in the States (who are just starting their days).  Maddie started rehearsals for the Nutcracker.  I joined MOPS and a women's bible study.  We have had play dates with new friends.  The endless coin laundry in the basement continues....

But it's ok.  I'm ok.  At least, I'm getting there.  When the kids smash their fingers and toes in the huge, heavy wooden doors here (an every day occurrence - I promise I'm not exaggerating), I don't automatically tear up and wail, "I hate this place!"  When I send the wrong item to school (Is today the swimming pack, the library pack, the word folder, or the reading pouch?), I don't cry.  I have released my death grip on the steering wheel.  I can navigate that awful, ginormous underground mall.

Those changes have been great.  But the real saving grace always comes from the same source.  It's always God.  How wonderful it felt to be in His house, singing praises with tears on my cheeks.  To be reminded of my blessings.  To receive the love and support poured out by fellow believers.

It's so refreshing!  Though I am physically exhausted, my spirit has been renewed.  And I know things will only get better from here.  Pretty soon our helper will join us.  Then we will be moving into our own home.  Then we will be getting our things.  Then Grammy comes for a long visit (Yay!).    I feel like I'm finally getting my feet on the ground.  I'm looking forward to what God has planned next.

Will keep you posted when I can!  P.S. We miss you all!

10/1/14

Help!

Many moons ago my friend, Mandie, and I memorized the song "Help" and performed it for her mom (a huge Beatles fan) along with an undoubtedly well-choreographed dance routine.  These day, I hear those lyrics in my head nearly all the time...

"Help!  I need somebody.  Help!  Not just anybody.  Help!  You know I need someone.  He-eh-eh-eh-elp!"

That is how I feel all.the.time.  I never imagined a move overseas would throw me for such a loop.  Especially since we had averaged a move every 2 years for the last 14 years in the States.  I was a pro at moving, right?  WRONG!

I am good at moving within the U.S., no doubt about it.  Give me a week or so and we would have our church, library cards, and frequent shopper cards at the local grocer.  We would have cruised around in the minivan and found a few parks, registered for voting and school, and found a pediatrician, doctor and dentist.  You name it, I could get it done.  

And then we moved here.  To Singapore.  And it feels like another planet.  Prior to the move, every Singapore expat I met raved about how wonderful and beautiful and easy it was to live there.  I think they must be suffering from some sort of tropical amnesia.  Maybe it's just me, but I don't happen to find it easy at all. 

Everything is a process.  Banking, communication, government agencies, internet access, mail, shopping, transportation, doctors, school, parking.  Each aspect of life is suddenly filled with unexpected difficulties and delays.  Even play dates can bring me to tears, as I am inevitably 45 minutes late because I get lost every stinking time.  Every day is a learning experience, and this momma is downright exhausted.  

I never intended to raise four children in a big city.  Before kids, it was a lot easier to be adventurous.  With kids, give me the ease of the [boring] burbs any ol' day.  Give me huge, free parking lots and quiet streets with big, empty sidewalks.  Give me ramps and elevators for my strollers, reasonably priced food and drink, and well-marked public restrooms in every major store.  Give me some one-stop shopping!    

Now I know why people in big cities don't have large families.  Now I know why every single time we go out on the street we are a spectacle to behold, with people constantly asking, "Four?!"  

Yes!  Four!  Four children, people!  They are all mine.  Yes, I know it looks crazy.  It is crazy.

So is coin laundry in teeny tiny washers and dryers in the basement of our building.  Do you know how many loads of laundry this family creates every week?

Going to the grocery?  Always an adventure.  Not only is the food ridiculously overpriced (I'm talking $8 for a box of cereal!), but getting the groceries home is a challenge.  I even bought a rolling cart because the bags were so heavy.

Tonight I rushed through the kids' bedtime songs with tears in my eyes.  Because I desperately wanted to stay longer and cuddle with my babes, but I knew I couldn't.  Because I still had three loads of laundry to finish and businesses to call (that were just about to open in the U.S.), and email to finally check. "I'm sorry," I choked, "Mommy doesn't have any extra to give tonight." 

So here I am.  Exhausted and humbled.  Realizing I really, truly can't do it all.  If I were in the States, it would be a different story.  Here, I need help.  

We have decided to hire a domestic helper.  Wow!  Never thought in a million years I would write those words.  This from the girl who adopted her mother's motto: "If your house it too big for you to clean yourself, your house is too big!"

Well, mom, I'm crying, "Uncle!"  I can't do it here.  I just can't.  I have to let go of my pride and accept some help for now.  

Our decision is not just about the chores or errands.  Aaron's real travel schedule has yet to begin.  With his new job he will be traveling about 25% of the time.  He's never been gone that much.  I can't even imagine what evenings would be like alone here without another person in the house.  I don't want to.  What if a child had to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night?
  Who would stay with the kids?  

We interviewed a few candidates and settled on a sweet woman with a lovely disposition.  The kids seem to like her.  It will be interesting to see how we all adjust to another person living in our home.  I won't share her details on here to protect her privacy, just as I hope she won't share information about our family online.  

I felt I had to write about it a little bit anyway.  Hiring a helper, someone who will move into our home and be a part of our daily lives, seemed to be a pretty significant detail I couldn't leave out of our blog.  It's also good for my humility!  Will keep you posted!