Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photos from our trip to the US

Breakfast with Savta on the deck each morning. Looking for ducks and boats.

Walking into the water. Playing with the trucks. Getting dirty in the sand.

Matt the pilot
Feeding baby fozzy.

Making waffles with Bubbie.

Checking something out with Papa.

First canoe ride with Jer (not so successful - but not because of Jer's sterning).

Congrats to Mike and Jess!

The groom!

Sarah and Talia - seeing the cousins again after they took such good care of Sam (and me!) in New York in January/February.

Aya. Sam's singing debut.

Wow does she love that scooter.

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit.

Visiting Grandma.

Feeding a bottle to the calf.

Learning to strum with Dan.

Just Normal

I suppose life got "just normal" because there hasn't been much to blog about. Or perhaps there is lots to blog about, but after waiting so long it feels like the next one better be a goodie...too much pressure, so I'll just do a life catch up.

We have lost a LOT of friends in the last few months - like everyday friends - core people to our lives, so that has been a bit rough. I suppose such is ex-pat life, but some years are worse than others. We said goodbye to Ari, Julia, Vishal, Therese, Seth, Geri, Stella and Max, Brad, Stephanie and Oscar, Francesca, Bernard, Isaac and Lilah...People we really genuinely like. Brutal.

This is Oscar. Sam and Oscar have spent their first two years together, and Oscar left in August.

This is Stella and Patricia (yeah - I can't believe Sam is in some princess situation). While we still have Patricia, Stella and her brother Max moved back also in August. Ugh.

At the end of June, I went to London for work and then we had a looooong July as we waited for August. August was long too, until we went to the US.

Our flight this time was through Tokyo only (on the way there - and a short stop in Minneapolis on the way back). Even though we didn't get a seat for Sam, somehow the trip was totally fine. We had lots of toys and things to keep her busy - mostly things she hadn't seen before (thanks to an awesome facebook post - actually thanks to the responses!). It included small farm animals (not real of course), a magnadoodle-type thing, colorforms from Bubbie and Zaydie, crayons, stickers, finger puppets, a few new books and random stuff like a shoe lace, rubber band and other weird stuff that seems to occupy young children. She slept for about 3 hours on the second flight, and she generally was awesome.

We had a fabulous time in Michigan. Jill, Ben and Joseph came to Michigan for the first weekend. My brother came in for a few days. My grandparents came in for nearly the whole time...we got to see my cousin Ashley, Nancy and all of the usual suspects in Michigan. The first week was at my parents' house, visiting the playground everyday, playing in the water in their backyard and generally doing nothing (as much "nothing" as a nearly two year old can do). We didn't call friends. We didn't really go and do anything. It was awesome.

The next weekend was Mike and Jess's wedding (Matt's brother) in Midland, Michigan. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a fantastic weekend with everyone. We loved what we saw of Midland, and just enjoyed spending time with family. Again, Samara was a champ. Super congratulations to Mike and Jess!

The last week we spent at the Hildebrandt's relaxing some more. We ventured to a few petting farms and metro parks, but generally we just hung out, and man was it nice. Our trip back was also totally uneventful, other than Allan who sat next to us. Samara will tell you that Allan wears headphones and sleeps, but she went up and down the aisles, probably for a few hours, looking for Allan. She was calling "Allan? Allan?" turning back a little to see everyone's faces. It was pretty hilarious.

Even though it was an American airline (Delta), we had our own movie system thing on the way back, and the service was actually really good. Seats were small, but we're pretty small too, so we can all three still fit in two seats - which was totally fine (some how - I still can't figure out why it wasn't terrible since it was 24 hours of travel with a small kid and no seat - but it wasn't!).

Since we have been back I have implemented the "Make-Melanie-Happy-in-Singapore-Plan" and it's working! I have been running outside (in the dark mostly - but cloudy days work too), cooking and baking, entertaining, spending more time with Sam and stressing less about work. In fact I have been trying to limit my iPhone checking in the evenings and on weekends, and since there are rarely Diversity and Inclusion emergencies (or at least I can check when such might happen...), it's been totally fine for work, and totally revolutionised my happiness factor.

Tomorrow I will start to work three days per week. This is an exercise for me on setting boundaries, so we'll see how it goes. I seem to be doing well in my preparations. In the meantime, I absolutely can't wait to have more time with Samara and time to do other things that make me happy (see above).

In the meantime, Matt was in Vietnam, and he's headed to Mongolia tonight. He will be in Vietnam again and London later this week, before a family short trip to KL. While I'm trying to slow down my routine, Matt has a LOT going on.

Samara is at a SUPER fun stage. She will be turning two on Wednesday. Today Samara told me that she's taking a boat to India to go see the mouse from her book. She is pretty obsessed with Buddhas. When we were in Michigan, we saw a giant blow-up MSU Spartan on someone's lawn in my parents' neighborhood. She looked at it, pointed, and said, "BUDDHA!" Not exactly.

Samara is a Michigan fan. When Dheeraj came over with a Michigan t-shirt on a Sunday, the very next day she chose her Michigan t-shirt from her drawer, and said, "Dheeraj. Michigan." Then she went searching through her books for a "turtle." (I had no idea what she was talking about or looking for). She finally found the book she was looking for, called "Little Michigan" with a turtle on the cover. Now every time she sees a Michigan t-shirt she says "Dheeraj. Go Blue!"

She also recognises the Google logo. In colour or no colour - that's a cool party trick. (She can't actually read yet believe it or not).

I have quite a few friends here who are pregnant, and she is pretty obsessed with babies in bellies. Today we saw Susie's baby move in her belly, so all night she kept lifting up her shirt and trying to make her belly jump like Susie's. She insists on folding her shirt up a certain way that makes her have a baby in her belly (obviously). Sam - not ALL women have babies in their tummies...I think this one might get us into trouble soon.

We have finally ditched the morning nap - which means she can go to school in the mornings, and that we can do more on the weekends. While she naps, Matt and I have gotten back into tennis (Saturdays only - we need a babysitter on Sundays!). Sam is also eating a bit better. We added one food in the last week (baked mac and cheese muffins - only the slightly golden brown part on the top), and when that's like 10% of your diet options, that's a good thing.

This is our fourth of July celebration with Eric and Christian.

Samara and Nathan - her best friend. They spend all day, each day, together.

This is Sam with her Tita, Rose, who takes AMAZING care of her everyday. We are forever grateful to Rose for making our lives do-able. We love her.
Note the tutu under Sam's dress.

All in all, we're doing ok.