Sunday, August 29, 2010


Our kitchen in the US was really special. We could look at bowls, and know that each came from a special person in our lives. We knew our everyday dishes came from special ladies who threw our wedding shower. Each piece came from someone else who means something. And all the rest was Bubby's.

Since we were only moving to Singapore for a year or two, we decided not to take our kitchen with us (other than a pot, a pan and the obligatory knives, obviously - who can live without amazing knives?). I thought it best to leave them to stay kosher at home and away from this traif country...and we knew we were "getting moved" there, but we didn't know if we would get moved back, and that stuff is important (and heavy=expensive!).

So, here we are, three years later, and we definitely have no plans to come home for the next two years (at least). But, as a good, nesting, entertaining (not the fun part - but the "I like to have people over" part) woman, I/we have had to build up a new kitchen. I didn't realise the uniqueness of it until Thursday night when we unpacked all of our kitchen, washed each item, and put them all away in our new home. This is why it sort of blew my mind:
  • Plates and bowls are from our "babymoon" in Lombok
  • Some mugs from Chiang Mai - when I went with Jer in Dec, 07
  • Some mugs from a cool bar in Bangkok - they're shaped like tubas
  • Wine glasses from the weekend market in Bangkok
  • Serving bowl from a random street in Seoul
  • Three other serving bowls from the weekend market in Bangkok
  • Mugs from: a co-worker at AWARE that hated me and probably got it for me as a "good riddance" gift, Marc and Arthur who left a really long time ago, Google (I just love Google), SAIS, GW, the Fed...
  • Ceramic kitchen spoon holder from Nachalat Binyamin in Tel Aviv
  • Mortar and pestle, and masala set from Little India (don't worry - we still live in Little India)
  • Measuring cup from my tripping days at Camp Ramah (not that kind of tripping...)
  • Measuring spoons, grater, measuring cup from Bubby
  • 9X9 from Langkawi, an island off the NW of the Malaysian peninsula (it's not especially cool - but they just had one for a good price, so why not!?)
  • Two plates from the Dominican Republic - one of our first big trips that we took together
The moral of the story is - nearly everything in there makes me happy and reminds me of something neat that we have done (mostly together).

In other news, we moved on Wednesday, and all went smoothly, though it took much longer than expected. We are now settling in our new home, which is nearly three times the size of our old place, and we are slowly (or quickly, really) acquiring our first furniture. Most major things have been taken care of, but we are headed today to find a bed and dresser for our helper, a desk and chair, and possibly some rugs. Yesterday we acquired a neat Indonesian day bed (trundle!), a tv console, a neat piece with drawers for the front door area and a bookshelf/buffet piece. We also had our couch delivered yesterday (which I'm sitting on, and it's fantastically comfortable).

In yet other news, our stubborn little baby (takes after both of us?) has yet to turn into a nice birthing position, so we are currently doing what we can. I have:
  • sat in a "all-fours" position with my arms down (polar bear position) for hours over the past few weeks
  • swam, belly-down
  • put frozen peas (and a frozen loaf of bread) on the baby's head. The doctor said that only makes its head cold (oops)
  • visualised it flipping (a lot)
  • asked it nicely
  • tapped in the lower regions
  • Matt has talked to the baby from the lower region, to try to get it to move closer to his voice
And now the doctor has said to sleep with the foot of our bed elevated, so we have raised it about four inches, and hopefully this will "dislodge" the baby's bum from my pelvis, and then apparently walking around all day will then encourage it to be head down, since the head is heavier.

If the baby doesn't flip by two weeks from now, the doctor will try to flip it himself, which apparently could be quite uncomfortable for me and the baby, and the trauma actually makes many women go into labour. Hopefully it will flip itself. I have always wanted to naturally birth a child (or two, three or four), and though I know it's not the end of the world, as long as everyone's healthy...I would really like to avoid a c section. On the flip side, Matt's worried about all of the money we have spent on hypnobirthing classes and our doula (birth coach).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big Changes

Tomorrow morning the movers are going to pick up the furniture that we bought from this random British couple who are returning to the UK. Then they're coming to our apartment to pick up our 20 boxes, three bookshelves, two fans, ironing board, Kitty and Matt, and then they'll drop it all off at our new apartment.

I have "shifted house" as they call it here, many times in my life. In fact, I lived for almost two years in three different apartments (Ann Arbor, New York, and Bedok), but other than that, I have moved every year since 1996. Moving to New York, together with Matt was a biggie. Moving to Singapore was also a biggie, and now we have our next real biggie - maybe the biggest of all. This will be our first "family home" (no offense to the Kitty - it's not that she doesn't count, it's just that she's such an easy roommate...).

It feels very significant, like we're leaving our simple, couple life, and everything is going to be different. We will be moving from our one-bedroom, super simple, but fantastic apartment to a three bedroom place in a practical condo with lots of families and kids, right near a grocery store and other things that are important when you have kids. We will be filling our house with our new helper that we found this past weekend along with our baby, of course, in the next few weeks. We have a lot of really big changes coming up.

In the meantime, we're saying goodbye to what has been a wonderful year. Save about six weeks where I had the worst job ever, there was very little bad that happened here. I came back from Dena's wedding in Israel to this apartment, found my current job, which I love, conceived, and have had a pretty great pregnancy (if only this baby would flip, it would be even better!); we have hosted a bunch of fun meals, played a lot of Settlers, had fun visitors, and generally been super happy in this apartment.

So, tonight is our last night here. Today was my last swim in this fantastic pool. Tomorrow is my last commute from this apartment. Though I'm excited for what is coming, it's much much scarier than this simple life that we have now. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Apartment

We have lived in two apartments in Singapore. The first Matt found in about two weeks - before I got here. The second we found in about two days. Easy. No problem.

This time, we actually started thinking about moving in March or April. We thought about buying a place, so we spent a few weekends looking at apartments to buy until I totally freaked out at how much they cost, and we abandoned that idea and decided to rent. I think I wrote about this, but I just couldn't go from the most expensive thing I own being an engagement ring or computer to it being an apartment that's more than 1m in a city that I don't even feel very attached to. It was emotional (I am with Ariely that most money/general decisions are), and maybe not smart, but there was no option for me.

We decided to start looking to rent in mid-July in order to get an idea of which condo/s we would be happy in. We found two condos in a great location that are cheaper than similar condos, and we decided to limit our search to them. Our criteria were:
  • Short and easy commute
  • Oven (DIFFICULT to find in Singapore!)
  • Bathtub
  • 3 bedroom with a helper's room that is not a bomb shelter and is humane
  • Near a grocery store and ideally a wet market
  • Reasonable price
Most apartments in Singapore are available immediately, so it wasn't useful to look until the beginning of August. Both condos are big, so we figured there would be no problem. We figured we would find one our first weekend. So we did - Philip's apartment that allowed no Indians and no mainland Chinese...and apparently no cats. Under any circumstances.

We saw a ton, but some were nasty dirty disgusting, and others had weird furniture or other things that were not negotiable. We tried to find a solution with one apartment (with a fantastic view!) in us paying for monthly storage of some of the horrible (and mouldy) furniture. It just didn't make sense. We expanded our search to include weekdays. Finally, the second (or third?) weekend, we went back to one dirty one, and we looked beyond the dirtiness (which after seeing others didn't seem so dirty afterall), and we realised that it was totally fine. We went back for a second look, and we decided it would be great.

Next steps in Singapore - we sign a Letter of Intent and put down a month's rent and tell them what we want them to do before we move in (i.e. CLEAN the entire thing, check appliances and air con, mend curtains, etc.). We went back to draw up the letter of intent, and we ended up meeting the landlord (we had previously met only the agent), and it turns out he's from Medan, where Matt's family lived in the 80s in Indonesia. Perfect - everyone was happy. I was especially relieved.

Then, we woke up the next morning and our agents had sent us the final version of the letter of intent. Matt had signed it before the details were filled in - it's our third apartment with these agents, and they had taken us around for months, literally, so we trusted that they had our best interests in mind. When we read through it, it was perfect - save one thing. It said that we would pay our agents S$2500. Um, what? Divide that by 12 months, and we just added $200 to the monthly rent/cost of living there! Granted they had negotiated the price down S$500 per month, but still - we had no idea. We called the agents, and we said how happy we are with the apartment, but that we had no idea that we were paying them. They had previously explained that if the monthly rent is above a certain amount that the landlord pays the agents and the tenants pay nothing. They had known that paying an additional agents fee had actually helped us decide not to take another apartment, as it adds on quite a bit. Where did this come from? Well - they knew all along that this landlord wouldn't pay them - he was straightforward about it. But...they just wanted us to have an apartment, since I was getting a bit antsy, and I'm pregnant, and whatever, so they didn't want to bother us with the details - they just wanted us to get in. "Don't worry - you don't have to pay us. We're friends, and we know you'll give us other business, and we're happy to help you out. Just think of it as a gift." So...if we don't pay you, you won't get paid for all of the time that you took us to look at places? "Yes - but we're really happy to do it." We KNOW there is something cultural going on here, but we don't know what it is. We didn't want to be American and push and push it, and yet we were being American by understanding that we were now legally bound to pay them this amount of money...we decided to deal with that later and get the apartment in order.

The Letter of Intent says that we will sign a lease within seven days. After seven days, we had not, and apparently the landlord was travelling...anyways - though I was nervous until it happened, FINALLY, earlier this week, he signed the document and emailed it over. So today, at noon, we will go sign a lease and get possession of this apartment.

I am NOT the most laid back person, and I don't claim to be, but this saga was particularly rough for me, and I do think that I can blame some of it on hormones. I want to be able to picture where we will be in labour and where we will bring the baby back to, and I want to be able to try to understand (though I know I won't really understand) what life will look like when the baby's born, and not having a picture of an apartment (or any furniture or anything) was really difficult for me. Plus, as I get bigger I realise that 1 - it's REALLY hard for me to pack and help do anything and 2 - this baby can come at any point, and I want to be really ready at 36 weeks, which is in two weeks...

All in all, it seems to be working out - we bought a beautiful dining room table and chairs, king size bed and coffee table from this couple who is moving back to the UK, and we bought a couch two weekends we have all of the essentials, and we're moving on Wednesday. I'm hoping for no major glitches. If something does fall through, I'm taking a flight to Bali (or Lombok) - assuming they let me on the plane - and staying there for a week until Matt can sort it out. I can guarantee that I wouldn't even be useful at this point.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Full Time Job

Finding/signing on an apartment can be a full time job.

Seeing up moving arrangements/packing can be a full time job.

Finding a helper can be a full time job.

Furnishing an apartment can be a full time job.

Preparing for a baby can be a full time job.

Having guests can be a full time job.

Gestating can even be a full time job.

So when am I supposed to do my real full time job (and exercise, sleep, relax and see friends)?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A few weeks ago, when I finally started feeling pregnant, I decided to check out the prenatal yoga class at my yoga studio. The woman who teaches it usually doesn't teach the most challenging classes (she taught me for a while on Monday mornings), so I was a bit reluctant, since I thought it wouldn't push me enough...but then I realised that I didn't really want to push myself anymore - and I'm not sure I'm even capable of it! In the regular classes, when we go from sitting to standing, or bowing to downward dog that's position enough when you weigh an extra 18 pounds and you're just unbalanced, awkward and big. One of the women from my hypno-birthing class goes, and she told me it was nice, so I thought I would check it out.

It's M-W-F at lunch, so I do have to leave work for an hour and a half (to go to yoga and then get lunch), which I'm super not comfortable with, but I just don't want to stop doing yoga. I think it's been really good for my body as well as my brain during the whole pregnancy so far.

So, it is a LOT more low key. There's upper body stretching - opening the shoulders, some squatting, to open the hips, and then there's usually quite a bit along the wall - doing some half moon, triangles, and a few warriors. It's slower, it's much easier (I don't think I have broken a sweat yet - except for this once, which I'll get to below), and I love it. I absolutely love being in a room with 10 or so other pregnant ladies. About half or more are due right around when I'm due, so we all have big bellies, and we're all sort of going through the same thing. It's a really powerful experience. The teacher seems to love the class, and she has a three year old, so she clearly remembers what it's like. It's not only about us and our bodies, but it's also about our babies, which is just so cool. It gives me time, three times a week, to really think about the baby and our connection. The most moving part is the end. After shivasana, we all sit up, put our hands on our bellies, and we sing this song (click on the link and listen - it's beautiful). To be in a room with so many other pregnant women, all bonding with their unborn babies and sort of saying a prayer for them is really moving. The first time I cried, and I even cried when I told Matt about it later (okay - I'm also really hormonal, so maybe that was part of it...). He made fun of me, but seriously, it's cool. I now love the class. I'm still doing what I can in the regular Hatha 1 classes twice a week, but it is definitely much harder. Today I realised I can't do child's pose anymore. There is no space for my belly. I have switched to polar bear, which doesn't do the same thing, but at least it makes my back relax.

We had a funny experience this week, when the regular prenatal teacher couldn't make it, and the kick-your-ass-Wednesday-morning teacher showed up. I walked in, and I said, "uh oh." He is REALLY hard. When I went to his class on Wednesday mornings, I would need at least two breakfasts. I also worried, because he's a serious flirt. He knows everyone's name and walks around and talks to them - asks random questions and what not. Flirting in a prenatal class won't get you too far...Anyways, when Anna teaches, she says, "don't push it. Stop at any time. Be careful." Plus there's the whole spiritual connection part. Vikram, on the other hand, kicked our asses! The whole atmosphere was all about the individual - no community, no baby - and we all pushed and pushed. When we all walked out, we were all sort of in shock. That day I broke a sweat. It was pretty funny.

In other news, we have put down a letter of intent for an apartment, but it seems like they probably won't take us (the whole cat thing...). We'll see. I will sleep much better when we have an apartment.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Apartment Hunting

Matt found our first apartment here before I arrived. No matter that it didn't have an oven, the air con didn't work, it was on the first floor on a little road so that everyone looked in (with no shame), it was moldy, smelly, dark and totally not my style. My commute to my first job and INSEAD was about an hour and 20 minutes...Regardless, we lived there for two years, and I don't think I complained THAT much.

Then I got a say, and we moved closer to town, to a bright, clean, private (only a few people can see in now) apartment in a fantastic location. We gave on size in order to have everything else, and for the last year we have both been quite happy in our 500 square foot one-bedroom. (The Kitty is definitely less happy, but she's been taking it like a champ. See this posting).

Now, our lease is up in about 3.5 weeks, and we need a new place. We spent a weekend looking at different complexes in different areas we think we could live in, and we decided on an area that we like best - Farrer Park, which is one MRT stop up from Little India, where we are now. It's basically the other side of Little India. The location is definitely not as good, since now we can walk basically anywhere we want to go, and this location adds 15 minutes, but it's apparently a very undesirable place to live, so rent is cheap(er...). Our current condo is across a major street from Little India, removed, and quiet. This makes prices high. Where we're looking is more in the middle of it, with tons of people around. Apparently people see that as a big drawback - especially since a lot of workers are in this area on their Sunday day-off. I actually love walking in areas that are so vibrant and alive. It's such a contrast to the rest of the island...

So this past weekend we started looking for actual apartments in a huge complex. It seemed that everything we found could work for us, but some are in better condition than others, etc. We decided on this one that had a different layout than most of them, plus a nice comfy couch and a fantastic view of downtown and the sea. We made our offer, the landlord was fine, and then we remembered we have to tell him about the Kitty. He is terrified of animals, and he said no way. We said we would return everything as is, or pay the equivalent, and he said, you can give me tons of extra money, and I still wouldn't accept. So...we lost that one.

Yesterday I freaked out that next weekend is a holiday weekend, so seeing apartments might be challenging, and then the following weekend is when we want to start a lease, and it takes about seven days to get it all going, so I asked our agents to find ANYTHING else. We saw a great apartment, and we decided to make an offer, and at 10:30 at night, the apartment's agent finally admitted that she has a company that might be putting in a higher offer, but she'll find out in the morning (the company would lease it for one of their employees).

I don't know if it's "nesting" hormones already - I thought that was the ninth month, and I'm only in the eighth! - but it's driving me crazy that we don't have a place. In Singapore moving is like this, since most apartments are for immediate move-in, but there's something in my body that is telling me we have to have an apartment RIGHT NOW! I need to be able to start setting up the movers, get furniture that we'll need to have (most are unfurnished), and just be able to picture what life will be like when this little one arrives. I'm usually a planner and don't love leaving things to last minute, but this time it's actually driving me a bit crazy.

Hopefully we will get this apartment, or at least we will find another one in the next week and get it all sorted out and I can start sleeping again.