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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Not that kind of mummy - A day at the zoo

The note came home. Aiden's class was going on an excursion to the Zoo. The Singapore Zoo. This is the place that everyone asks if we have been to yet. No we haven't. We have been trying to get our life in order, you know after moving countries? There hasn't been time to play tourist so when the note came home and parents could also come on the excursion, I thought "I'm in!" I filled out that permission form, filled out an annual leave form at work and dug some money out to pay for our entry. Aiden and I were going to the Zoo. The Singapore Zoo.

Last Friday dawned with much excitement. Aiden because we were going on a "coach" and me because we were going to the Zoo. The Singapore Zoo. We donned our hats, our suncreen and our packed lunches and boarded the coach. On the way I got the skinny from one of the other mums on season passes for the zoo and Universal Studios. Sweet.
Ready to see the animals
We arrived at the Zoo and while waiting for the tickets to be sorted we all had snacks and at this point I realised that neither Aiden or I had insect repellant on. Luckily there was a good mummy close by who offered some of hers. Phew! Dengue fever be gone. While still sporting my smug "you mozzies won't be get me" look, another mum inquired who I was looking after. Huh? I'm just here to see the animals with Aiden. What do you mean I have to look after some of the kids? Luckily said mommy (notice the American spelling) had taken a photo with her phone of the chart allocating children to parents and could tell me who I was looking after. Great. I ended up with Myra who could probably be mistaken for a 8 year old because she is so smart and so conscientious. She so lucked out with me.

After the shock of having to be a responsible mummy I am then handed a clipboard and a pencil. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS (I think while trying to keep a serene responsible and willing to contribute look on my face). I have to work?!!! I have just taken an annual leave day!!! What is wrong with these teachers? Really? I am supposed to write down what the kids noticed about the animal enclosures and what the children are curious about. Give. Me. Strength.

So after the shock of having to be responsible for another kid AND having to work we finally get entry to the Zoo. Note that it's 10.30am and we haven't seen an animal yet. One of the Zoo workers join our group to take us on a tour. En route we see a lizard. In the garden. We make our way "behind the scenes" to this utterly stupid static display of dusty photos and stuff of animals to learn how many animals the Zoo has. Over 9000 apparently, not including the lizards in the garden.  We then learn about parasites and darts while all the kids are saying "I can't seeeeeee....I can't seeeee....." My kid can't see either (because he can't see) and I am running the risk of coming across as a pushy mum by trying to get Aiden to the front of the crowd. Ugh!

It's now after 11am and we haven't seen any animals except for the lizard in the garden. We head to the animal hospital. This could be good. We tip-toe through an operating room where some sort of monkey is "under" and being operated on. COOL! I stop to take an action shot of the surgery with my fancy pants camera and completely get in trouble with one of the fun police Singapore Zoo workers. After a 2 second glimpse of an actual animal we are whisked into the X-ray room where everything is painted cream.

We then head to the animal kitchen where they prepare the food for the animals. How exciting. WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE ACTUAL ANIMALS?! Not in the kitchen apparently unless the animals are dead and about to be fed to other animals. While spending an indeterminable amount of time in the kitchen Aiden get's a nose bleed. I furiously dig into my bag knowing full well that there is nothing in their to mop up blood except his sun hat, which he needs to wear in the sun. Luckily there are organised  mummies close by who provide little packages of tissues and antibacterial wipes. Then Aiden, probably overwhelmed with the crapness of the Zoo so far and the fact that his nose is bleeding a lot, starts crying. So I join him. It's hot, it's a rubbish excursion, he can't see (though apparently most of the class also can't see) and I have turned into a pushy mummy. I decide it's ok to wear my sunglasses for the rest of the excursion.

It's now after midday and we still haven't seen any animals except for the lizard and dead chicken pieces  but we are heading to the polar bear enclosure for lunch. It's an awesome enclosure - big aquarium style piece of glass where you could watch the polar bears swim under the water or play on dry land. Kids and adults alike are excited. There are no bears. None. I eat my dead chicken sandwich.

The "behind the scenes tour" with no animals took so long that after the no-polar-bear lunch we head back to the bus. We went via the Orangutangs where Myra wanted me to write stuff on the clipboard and Aiden was more interested in the Zoo Tram. We then saw some other sort of Monkey and Myra again wanted me to write stuff down. Seriously, what is wrong with this kid? I told her I lost the pencil so she proceeded to search my bag for it.  It may have worked out better if Myra had looked after Aiden and I. I bet she had tissues and antibacterial wipes in her bag!

An elusive animal
On the way out I ask Aiden's teacher what she thought of the day. She tells me it was much better than last year. I may have attended my last excursion.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Secret homes of Glebe, sorry Singapore!

So. That was a big week. Mostly. And this is my first blog post from steamy, hot Singapore!

We arrived Monday night absolutely pooped! We left our temporary accommodation in Bondi at 6am on Monday morning to catch our flight at 9.30am. All was going well. A visit to the first class Qantas lounge on arrival  (I'm sure the other guests appreciated Mr can'tstoptalkingabouttrains and Mr cuteasabuttonbutIliketogrizzle) was followed by some quick duty free shopping and then onto the plane, where we waited for 2 hours for some part of the right hand engine to be fixed. Ugh!

Boys were angels on the plane, except for Aiden wanting to talk to me every 15 minutes right at the moment I was dropping off for an afternoon nap. Arran and Charlie both had a lovely afternoon nap. Typical. I was thinking that Aiden would be sitting next to Arran on the flight back, but then realised we weren't coming back, well at least in the short term.

Over a hour in a mini van to the apartments we are staying in and we were here!

Highlights of the week!
  • Getting a car, that Arran and I were both too chicken to drive, until I had to drive to go to work on Thursday. Thank goodness Singaporeans drive on the same side of the road as Australians and thank goodness a GPS was included with the car!
  • Finding a place to live. We spent many hours getting in and out of an air conditioned car on Wednesday looking at apartments. We were hot and bothered and fed up at the end of that day. We went for a swim and had pizza by the pool. But we found an apartment close to Aiden's school with a pool that is clean and modern and hopefully big enough for all our stuff. It costs a lot.
  • Charlie having a poo explosion on Wednesday morning. Yep. That was a 2 person clean up job. It was on the toys, the carpet....
  • Took Arran and the boys to Jumbo for their famous chilli crab. Was awesome. Boys ate fried rice and sweet buns.
  • Spent 2 days in office and actually feel like I have caught up a little bit
  • Aiden and Charlie got to go on the MRT (Massive Rail Transit). A TRAIN!!!
  • Sunday night we cooked a meal. So good.
  • Charlie got sick. Croup. I got sick with something similar.
  • Arran bought "old chinese man thong/slide things". Yep.
  • Love all the tropical plants and trees.
  • We have already seen some amazing paintings that we probably won't have the room to hang.
Observations of the week!
  • Asian women seem to like skirts on their swimsuits. A bit like tennis skirts. Modesty wins over fashion.
  • I have already seen a better range of swimwear here than in Australia. Sweet!
  • Supermarkets are small.
  • Driving and parking is pretty easy
  • Singaporeans like to give lots of advice to new people in Singapore. Some Most not that helpful
  • A form is always required, often accompanied by a cheque. Who uses cheques anymore?
  • Traffic back from work (on the very west side of the island) is awful
  • Food is expensive. Apart for the $3.50 duck and noodles I had at a food court on Friday with my new work colleagues. Even supermarket food is expensive. 
  •  Wine is even more expensive. 
  • The shops don't open until 10. With Singapore 2 hours behind Sydney we have been waking up early with not much to do.
  • I like getting outside into the heat. 
  • I'm tired and need a holiday.
  • Can't wait to get our of the serviced accommodation we are in, and in to our place with our own things.
Lisa xx

Friday, 18 July 2014

Leaving, on a jet plane......



What do you do when you write a blog about living in Glebe, when you are not going to live there anymore? Or at least for the next few years. What do you do?

I don't really know. I have made so many decisions recently. Many small. Lots small. And some big. Moving to Singapore was big. But not a hard decision. At all. I have always wanted to live and work overseas. Same for Arran. We have talked about this a lot. Why is it that the small decisions are harder? It's like Arran and I have things upside down. Buy a stupid expensive house on a whim? Sure! Order Thai or Indian takeaway on Friday night? Can't decide. Pack up our whole life including 2 small boys and move to Asia? No problem! Should we take a BBQ? No idea!

This is the theme of our life.

Small decisions have been about:
  • Do I take the outdoor furniture? Will there be room? Will it be too hot to sit outside?
  • How many beds do I take (when I have no idea about the size of apartments)?
  • What clothes will we need? I'm guessing track pants and ugh boots are out?
  • Will there be a hairdresser who can do pink? Just wondering....
  • What do I do with a blog called "Secret homes of Glebe?" when I no longer live in Glebe?
  • Should I get my rings cleaned 3 days before leaving Sydney?
  • Should I have a massage because my head might explode if I don't?
  • Should I get some new bras because the chances are that getting big boob bras are small in Singapore? Hah!
  • Where do we stay between selling our house, having our house packed up and leaving on a jumbo jet (it's really an A330 but the boys are excited about it)? Arran was quite stressed about this aspect.
Stuff like that.

Overall though we are excited. Small boys are excited about pools and trains and new schools and going on Jumbo jets. I'm excited about new cultures, being part of a new team and learning about a new culture and doing new things in my job. Arran is excited about riding his bike. No news there. Overall though, on the Friday night before we leave, we are exhausted.

While we contemplate our future in some (very nice and cheap) temporary accommodation (Bondi Eco Garden Retreat), we don't really know where we are heading and where we will end up. But that's cool and that's ok.

I think I will rename the blog "Secret Homes of Singapore". What do you think? The housing and lifestyle will be so different to Sydney. Our lives will be different, and interesting and fun and do you want to hear about it?

Lisa xx

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Holiday House Envy

It's been a long year. A big year. I spent the year working long hours, doing lots of travel and neglecting my blogs. Arran spent the year riding his bike a lot and completed the Tour Divide. He wrote about it here in a 3 part series. We are pooped. We needed a break. A little getaway before the onslaught of 2014.

A month or so ago when I was traveling somewhere Arran found this holiday house and sent me the link. No brainer people. We arrived 2 days ago. We had to do two drive bys to find the house and pulled into the driveway to be greeted by one of the owners Kim. We liked her instantly and even more when she informed us there was fresh milk, beer and champagne in the fridge and olive oil, balsamic vinegar and tea and coffee in the pantry. I knew at that point it was going to be a generous holiday house. You can read about generous holiday houses here and here.

The house is a little piece of Bali in Kiama. Not that I've been to Bali. It is thoughtfully and beautifully curated with paintings, books, objects and statues that are unobtrusive. It's a modern house with new and modern kitchen and bathrooms blended with large timber Balinese doors, tables and bedheads. Large bi-fold doors lead to a timber deck with BBQ's, table and a small pool. The garden is lush and tropical with thought given to the vista from each window; a beautiful tree, a seat and a pot plant, a Balinese statue.

It's a short walk to the beach, maybe 400 metres. It's not a short work with Charlie who screamed and cried the whole way yesterday morning. I don't know why. It's also about 1.5km to the main street of Kiama. That's a long way when Aiden is in the back seat of the car continually asking when are we going back to the holiday house so he can go in the pool. Sigh.

Any-hoo...we are here, on holidays close to the beach. Nice.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

We're going on a bear hunt......and found vomit

The day was going well. Arran left for his bike ride at stupid o'clock; some time around 5am and didn't wake me up. I woke at a completely respectable 7.10am with both boys still in their room happy. Sweet.

We had a calm breakfast together after discovering there is no bread in the house and having to head over the road to the best bakery around to procure some. Life's tough in Glebe people.

I packed a little lunch box with peanut butter sandwiches, muesli bars and tiny teddies, filled up two water bottles, assembled the nappy changing kit, slathered the boys in sunscreen and set off to catch the bus to Circular Quay. We were off to see we're going on a bear hunt at the Opera House. I wish I could say that I'm one of those mummies that regularly takes their kids to such events. The few I've been to have been really good. I just don't get around to it and most of the events are on during the week (or so I thought), which doesn't work that well if you work.

I have friends who had double booked their cultural events so the boys and I scored the tickets. The show was true to the story, humorous and with second row tickets in the middle, the boys could easily see and enjoyed themselves very much. Well until the bear arrived and then Charlie wasn't so pleased, but I guess you get that.

After the show we headed into the Pitt St Mall where I had promised hot chips. Charlie fell asleep in his pram on the way so it was just Aiden and I for lunch. We managed to negotiate the seemingly thousands of people crammed into the Westfield food court (what was I thinking 2 weeks before Christmas) and was able to order food and find somewhere to sit relatively unscathed.

It was during this time that I had the thought about what a good mummy I am. Heading to the city with two small boys for some theatre and shopping. Warm comforting feeling.....

Charlie woke up at the end of lunch and we set off to Sass & Bide to purchase a T-shirt I have been thinking about all week and then on the way out find some summer sandals on special. Again, sweet. The real purpose of heading to the city was to buy Christmas presents but sensing the small boys were at the end of their patience we set off for the bus. I know. I only got presents for me.

At home close to 3pm we were all pooped! Aiden wanted to have a rest in his room watching Chugginton on the iPad, Charlie didn't put up any protests when I put him to bed and I had nearly an hour's nap on the lounge. Gotta love that.

We all surfaced at about 5.30pm and that's when the day fell apart .Aiden started complaining about having a vomit in his tummy and wanting to come to work with me on Monday. On average Aiden has a vomit in his tummy about 15% of the time he complains. Working with these averages I made the boys put on their sandals so we could head over the road to get something from the local IGA supermarket for their dinner. Halfway there (50m from the house) Aiden started crying that he was feeling sick. I made him push on, feeling annoyed that he was putting on a tantrum and thinking to myself that these boys needed to be in bed early.

Halfway down the isle with the frozen meals and milk, Aiden starts crying and screaming and then does a big vomit on the floor, on his feet and my mine ensconced in Lanvin ballet flats (for the uneducated Lanvin ballet flats are very fabulous and very expensive). The first vomit was followed up by two additional vomits and lots of crying and screaming. I nearly had a vomit in sympathy. My Louis Vuitton purse and the frozen pizza I was buying was also covered in vomit. The nearby supermarket worker contined to stock the shelves.

I was provided with paper towels and plastic bags to clean up the mess while Aiden continued to cry and talk. This kid talks non-stop. After a whole roll of paper-towels and quite a number of retching on my part we were able to pay for our items and skulk home to hose off the lower parts of our bodies.

Aiden would only eat yoghurt for dinner and refused a freddo frog which wasn't a great sign. He looked and smelt much better after a warm bubble bath and cleaning his teeth. Was just about to put some fresh pyjamas on him when he vomited again. Mostly in the toilet but he managed to hit his and Charlie's clean PJ's. 

Any thoughts of being a good mummy had completely vanished as I cleaned vomit off the bathroom floor with small boy pyjamas and the bath mat. My only thought was getting the boys to bed and retiring to the lounge.

I hope Arran is enjoying his bike ride.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

We didn't get the memo!

I love living in Glebe. I must, hey? I write a blog about it! So because I love Glebe it doesn’t enter my mind to leave the suburb, say if I had children, for example. Some would say that children need space to run around and do stuff. The great Australian dream would have us living on the quarter acre block in a 3 bedroom low set brick house in “the suburbs”.

Arran and I have decided that we very much like living in Glebe in a Terrace house with a very small yard. We have a larger yard than most in Glebe but it’s still small by Australian standards. It’s a very convenient place to live. Within 200 metres of our house we have:
  • an Indian Restaurant
  • 3 Thai noodle restaurants
  • A cocktail bar
  • A pub which claims to have Sydney’s coldest beer and fantastic pub food
  • Two small supermarkets
  • A fish and chip shop
  • 5 cafes
  • A French inspired restaurant
  • A bank
  • A drycleaner
  • 2 Japanese restaurants, which we never go to because I don’t “get” Japanese food
  • A German bakery
  • A Vietnamese/French bakery
  • A nail and waxing shop – best mani-pedi’s going!
This is in addition to heaps more restaurants, shops and facilities within a 1km walk. It’s very convenient for two people who are not particularly organised. Over the years we have been living in Glebe the City of Sydney council have spent many rate payers dollars upgrading the street scapes and parks which means that there are many many beautiful places to be.

So this is all pretty nice isn’t it? Except we didn’t get the memo, that we were supposed to move to the suburbs once we had kids! Apparently that’s what the city planners expect us to do. Young professional couples move into the inner city suburbs to live and to work and to get married.  All good. Then when you decide to have kids you are supposed to need more space and you then move further out of the city.

But guess what? Arran and I don’t want to do this. Apparently there are lots of other parents living in the inner city who also don’t want to do this. Hmmm….so?

Well next year Aiden starts school as do many other kids in the area. This topic has been consuming mother’s group conversation for the past 6-9 months and frankly, I’m over it. I’m over talking about the same topic over and over and I’m over not having a range of education options. You see the small inner city schools are not able to cope with the fact that we didn’t choose to move out to the suburbs and send our kids to schools that are probably better equipped to enroll larger numbers of kids.

So here we are in Glebe. When Aiden was about 4 months old I paid $250 to put him on the waiting list for an Independent school in the area. Because we turned down a place for Aiden for pre-school we have to wait until October to see if he is going to get into Kindergarten. Welcome to Sydney people. Apparently I should have put him on the list when I conceived!

We are in the catchment area for a public school that doesn’t have a good reputation and doesn’t compare well academically with the other schools in the area. Every parent wants their child to go to a good school and I also want a school that is going to be able to AND happy to provide extra support for Aiden’s vision impairment. I don’t get the impression that this is the school for Aiden.

 The school that is within a 5 minute walk of our house and we are NOT in the catchment area for took 6 “out of area” enrolments last year. The admin person at this school happily informed me that there was no chance of getting Aiden in at this school as there is 44 kids already on the waiting list.

I attended a Kindergarten information evening at another school in a nearby suburb, which comes highly recommended and has a good reputation. I was solely there to find out the chances of getting Aiden in as an “out of area” enrollment, as were half the parents there. This topic was not covered as part of the “information” and I found myself with 10 other desperate parents grilling one of the teachers and Administration Managers. One parent was so desperate she was enquiring as to when she would be considered “in area” if she bought a house in the catchment. But when would she be considered in area? Would it be when she signed the contract to buy the house? Or would it be when the sale settled? What date would matter to get her child into Kindergarten in 2014? That’s commitment.

I have found another little school in a nearby suburb which is lovely and the principal was willing to meet with Arran and I. It would be a great school for Aiden and I have filled out the “out of area” enrollment application. Crossed fingers.

I know it will work out and the best option will come up for Aiden, but gee wouldn’t it have been handy if we had got the memo?

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Does Arran need his head read?

So when your best friend/partner/husband says to you that he wants to travel to the opposite side of the world to ride his bike from Canada to Mexico for oh, about 5 weeks or so...well you can't but think IDIOT! FOOL! WHY?? Seriously. Why would anyone want to do such a thing? We had the winner of last years event here for dinner a couple of months ago and by the time he got to the end of the event his body had started to eat itself. Yep. Spent 5 days in hospital to try and turn around the effects of his body eating itself. Yep.

So Arran left yesterday to make his way to Bamf in Canada to start the Tour Divide and I'm left wondering how the next 5-6 weeks are going to be? I have spent pretty much all the time leading up to him leaving wondering if I will:
  • Lock myself out of the house?
  • Get really sick and have to look after the boys by myself?
  • Get stuck at work and not make it in time to pick the boys up from daycare?
  • Forget to drop off the daycare photo envelope in time, though that could happen if Arran is here or not. It's happened before.
  • Have to travel overseas because the company I work for might acquire a business...I can see two small boys dusting off their passport.
  • Want to watch Game of Thrones but can't work out the complicated tech set up Arran has going on with our Arran's big TV....
So really, nothing I can't handle. I'll be OK. Probably a little lonely but fine. I have the bed to myself. That's a positive.

Arran on the other hand has set off to do something kinda amazing. It wasn't until his mate Adam MacBeth wrote this post that it really hit me. Arran hasn't really been enjoying work over the past couple of weeks and its probably fair to say that he has been getting some pressure to not go on leave as the project he is working on seems to be at a critical stage, or something. But you know, when he looks back and remembers his life, he will remember the trip to North America to attempt something that not many attempt. I don't think he will look back in the same way on a software implementation project. Truth.

Arran, Aiden and Charlie (in the chariot), 2012 Sydney to Woolongong
So, while I think riding a bike for that length of time and having to carry all your own shit while not being eaten by a bear is not really my glass of chardy, I reckon Arran is really going to miss me and the boys and will really have a great time. This is a once in a lifetime (seriously Arran, you ain't doin it again), what dreams are made of kinda experience and I hope you chill out and lap it up.

Lisa xx