Saturday, November 24, 2012


We have really tried to stay away from princesses. We haven't bought anything of the sort - really try not to have too much pink, definitely don't call Samara a princess, etc. We got an amazing gift of hand-me-down children books from a family in the Jewish community here in Singapore, and in between the Little Bear, the Berenstain Bears, the Mercer Mayers and all of the other goodies...was Cinderella. ONE princess book out of maybe fifty or more books. Somehow Samara spotted that one, and she wants us to read that one all the time. She loves Cinderella. She loves the prince. She loves that Cinderella "lays keppy" in the prince.

In the last two days I went to Mustafa and H&M with Sam. We looked for baby books at Mustafa, and immediately, she was drawn to the princess books. She said, "mommy, I want this one." She opened them, found the princesses and the princes and she had a hard time putting them down. At H&M she found the princess shirts and daughter has been princessified - completely against my will - and I have nearly no idea how it can happen so strongly. Shall we move to a mountain top?

She has completely memorized Madeline, The Mouse and the Buddha, the Giving Tree and she's not all princess, but still, I'm pretty shocked that it happened so early...and in Asia! I heard this person on NPR more than a year ago, and I was like, "not my daughter. No way." Right...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bangkok...sans parents

I generally don't want to post about my parents coming to Singapore until it's know, as it's not safe to post about one's whereabouts in the internet. Well, this time, they didn't come, so I can post away. My parents were supposed to come two weeks ago for a long visit in Singapore and then a mountain biking trip in Vietnam with their friends. Unfortunately, my dad had some sort of problem with a disk in his back (looks to be temporary but not healing SUPER quickly...), so they couldn't travel. I was super excited to spend time with them, and mostly to watch them spend time with Samara, and I was SUPER bummed that they couldn't come. Hopefully we can reschedule soon.

In the meantime, around the time they were meant to arrive, as I returned from Hong Kong, Sam got the stomach flu. Then three days later, I got it. Two days after that, Matt got perhaps they were happy they didn't come! Man, taking care of a kid even a few days after a stomach flu is miserable! That was not a very fun week...

We had planned a trip to Bangkok, when they were in town, as it's a super easy place to go, cheap to stay and so much to do - we LOVE Bangkok. Matt and I decided to go anyway, and we had a super fun weekend with Samara, and we were all feeling totally normal by Friday night.

I actually extended my personal trip so that I could attend the World Blind Union General Assembly and learn more about visually impaired people's needs (as this is part of my job - supporting our employees and also our customers). It was fascinating to be in a place where probably more than 50% of the people had visual impairment. It made me think about completely different things that I usually do (presentation style, my appearance (or not think about it, really), conference materials, signage in a hotel and general accessibility, etc.). For no good reason, I also got upgraded into a CRAZY nice hotel room for that one night, and I had the best night's sleep of the last few years. When my wake up call came, I was thoroughly confused.

Once Matt and Sam arrived, we decided to go to a few new places. We took a boat down the river to go to an antique mall, we went to a new area to walk around in (though it kinda looked like the rest...), had some really nice food (thank goodness I felt better and could enjoy it!), went to Chatuchat market (the BEST!), relaxed, shopped more, went to the park (multiple times...finding new playgrounds...), and generally had a REALLY nice family weekend. I stress about Samara's eating and sleeping on holiday, but she slept like a champ, and she didn't wither away (though she didn't really eat, either...). That makes for a happy Melanie. Samara entertained herself on the plane with a pad of paper and crayons, drawing letters, shapes, snakes, dots, turtles.

We saw the King's motorcade, but we didn't see Obama. We did see the traffic he caused, though, as all of the streets around him were closed.

Sam having a snack in chatuchat market 

weird, right?

mommy - this is my table. you have your table.

Sam kept taking headbands from the front of the store, putting them on, going back to the auntie with the mirror, looking, saying, "nice" then putting the headband back and taking a new one...repeat.

Random people taking photos with my daughter.

eating coconut ice cream in the market

tuk tuks are THRILLING!

playground at Lumpini Park. Heaven.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tot Shabbat

Our progressive Jewish community has just over 100 families. They're mostly from the US with a smattering of UK, Israel, Australia and a few other European countries thrown in. Matt and I have met many of our friends through this Jewish community, and on an island 24 hours flight (at the shortest...) from home, this has been our family here. Our community has Shabbat services and dinner once a month and a few other activities, like talks, holiday parties, a book group (sometimes)...and Tot Shabbats for the little guys.

Yesterday Samara and I hosted Tot Shabbat. I had been to around four or five tot shabbats in the past, and usually there are around 8-10 kids and an adult for each kid family. Yeah - everyone else who hosted had huge apartments or houses, but turnout was really never all that big, but it was low key and fun. Eh - I'm working part time now, so I have time, and I'm sure we won't get so many people...

As RSVPs came in, I was becoming more unsure about the capacity of our 1100 square foot apartment. I decided to not cut it off, as someone is bound to be sick or get stuck in traffic and not show up. In the end, we had 12 kids and 10 adults. It was completely nuts and crowded, but it was super fun!

Kids mostly just play together, and parents mostly talk. As it turns out, they don't actually need so much entertainment. We did have challah dough ready, though, so that each person who wanted to could braid a little challah - that ended up being really fun for some of the kids, and we had sheets with the parsha (Torah portion) of the week to colour and a few other activities. Before anyone left we did the blessings over the candles, wine and challah. All in all, for two hours, it was really nice, and I would definitely do it again.

Generally we light shabbat candles when we have shabbat dinner. Though I often think about getting back into the routine of lighting them every night...I'm definitely not in that routine. This past Friday, after Tot Shabbat, Matt and I had tickets to this local theatre production. So we scarfed down some food, quickly, and ran out. On the way, Rose SMS'd me and said, "Ma'am, should I keep the candles burning or blow them out?""Just leave them, please" was the response. This definitely made me laugh. With a two year old, the idea of blowing out shabbat candles comes up a lot too!

If you're reading this from somewhere out of Singapore, you may be shocked that I am called, Ma'am. This is for another post, which I have been talking about doing for about a year and a half, about having domestic help here in Singapore. It is clearly such a sensitive topic, and so so complicated for me, so I want to make sure it gets the attention necessary before I throw it on my blog.

Basically, I call myself Melanie. I call Matt, Matt. I have told Rose she is welcome to call us Matt and Mel or whatever, and when she speaks with us, I think she actually prefers not to address us in any way in person (no Ma'am in person, and I don't think I have heard her say my name either), but in writing it's Ma'am and Sir. Definitely takes some getting used to, and I'm definitely still not used to it (nor do I plan to be).

Cynthia and Maddy making challah

Amit and Liyah making challah

Samara learned about welcoming and taking care of guests from the parsha, where Abraham welcomes the guests (by serving them meat and milk, but that's another story...). Here she hugs Maddy goodbye.

Alexi and Ruth

Amit pulled out his drum, but only for a few minutes. Sam loved it. More more! She had to go tap his shoulder and say, "Excuse me. More please."

Friday trip to Mustafa, earlier in the day. Sam needed her dinosaur in her shirt, her bag, hat and of course her watch.

Even earlier in the day, this is her best friend, Nathan. They still spend most days together and love each other.