Saturday, February 28, 2015

County Fair

I've spent a lot of time at the school lately, and so my posts have mostly been about school. Do not fear.  I have some travel planned for next month!  I don't think I've ever been able to say that I'll be in three, no wait, four countries in a month... this crazy expat life!

Anyway, This weekend we had County Fair at SAS.  This fair is to raise money for different organizations by selling craft projects that the classes make.  Then there's the regular fair stuff like rides, games, and fried food!  It was a great time this year, and very hot!  I'm definitely going to miss this kind of thing.

Evan's class made the green-framed artwork "Peace on Earth"


Each child painted their own animal.  

Ryan's class decorated this elephant with logos from SAS.  


Ryan on the bungee basketball

Evan riding the mechanical bull

Ryan in the obstacle course

Evan in the obstacle course


Ryan climbing the rock wall

Evan on the rock wall


Ryan up a little higher. 

My boys at the county fair! 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chinese New Year Assembly

I was substituting in first grade this week for the last day before Chinese New Year break.  It just so happened that first and fourth grade had their assembly together so I got to see exactly what the boys saw.  There were dancing Chinese teachers, a lantern dance, a lion dance, a game-show quiz and some audience sing-alongs.  It was pretty fun!  I sort of felt bad for the Spanish students who didn't know the songs or understand the Chinese spoken but they did everything bilingual so that was nice. 

Gong Xi Fat Cai!

Evan and Lucy

Dancing Chinese Teachers

Lantern Dancers

Lion Dancers


Finale by the Chinese Teachers




This is a song they teach the kids in Chinese class.  It's about Chinese New Year and it has actions! It's a little bit like "We Wish you a Merry Christmas"


Just a snipit of the Lion Dance at the assembly


This is the most popular of CNY songs.  Leading up to CNY and all throughout, you hear this song EVERYWEHRE in the grocery store, on the radio, and yes, at school too!  Here's the Chinese department and the kids involved in the assembly singing "Gong Xi Ni" as the finale.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Our Daily Life in Singapore

I've often thought to myself that I wish my mom or my sister could see what my daily life is like here in Singapore.  So much of what I do every day is the same as what I do back at home in Utah, but so much of it looks differently.  There are some big differences, and there are some little differences but when you add it all up, it's a beautiful life and I love it.

I've tried to capture bits and pieces of our daily lives here in Singapore so that you can get a glimpse into it.So, here it is!

A day in the life of the Dean Family- 
Singapore version!


Get Ready for School: The kids' school starts at 8:00.  I think that's the perfect schedule; 8-3.  We leave the house around 7:30 am.

Walk to School: We live 1 kilometer from the school.  I love that we live so close and I love to walk my kids each morning to school.

my sweet boys on the way to school

One of my favorite parts of the day is greeting everyone we see on our walk.  All of the families in the neighborhood are walking their kids to school and I say "Good morning" to as many people as I can see.  

About twice a week I substitute at the Elementary school.  I absolutely LOVE it.  This is an amazing school and my humble words cannot do it justice.  The school is incredible, the campus is beautiful, the teachers are dedicated and loving.  I can't say enough good about it.

our school

a classroom I have subbed in

When I work, we all walk out together.  Then say goodbye to Dad with a hug.  

  
Colin's commute to work is pretty long.  He leaves our house and take the bus, then rides the train, and then walks about a block to his office.  One way trip it takes him about 70-90 minutes. On his commute he likes to check emails, listen to music or pod casts, read e-books, etc.
City bus

The inside of an SMRT bus 


This is the train.  Here in Singapore it's called the MRT: Mass Rapid Transit

You're having an amazing day if the train looks like this... 
But usually it's a little more like THIS! 

After I take the kids to school, I usually like to exercise.  I love to walk.  There are a lot of fun places to walk here in our neighborhood and surrounding areas.  Sometimes, I swim laps in our condo pool.
Condo pool

PCN trail (Park Connector Network)

When I'm done exercising I do a variety of different home-making tasks.  I tidy up the apartment, go grocery shopping, check primary emails, plan meals, etc.  Household chores are a little  more challenging here.  We don't have a dish washer, we don't have AC in the kitchen, and our washer and dryer are very small.  Our apartment is older but very well taken care of.  We have less space than we did in Utah (maybe half) but sufficient for our needs.
Because of their size, I usually do about twice as many loads as back home... FUN times 

Dishes!  my most dreaded chore: keeping it real with this photo! 
I'd like to take you all inside our grocery stores here so you could experience it.  It's a whole new ball-game that has largely been a point of frustration in my Singapore life.  I'll do my best to explain it with words and pictures.  Our grocery stores here are all pretty small.  The great thing is that there's one right across the street from us AND it's open 24/7.  I think the only days they close are Christmas Day and Chinese New Year.  It is the coldest place in Singapore aside from the movie theaters.  And they always have music blasting.  Most times of the year it's 80's ballads and during Christmastime they blast the Christmas albums from 10 to 15 years ago and CNY it's all kinds of CNY songs.  Gong Xi Ni.
Our awesome shopping center.  It's a bit run-down looking from the outside but there's nearly everything you need.  A hardware store- man!  I forgot to take a photo of that!  A barber, hair salon, nail salon, bike store, florist, reflexology, dry cleaners, grocery store, Chicken rice restaurant, Chinese hawker stalls, Indian food hawker, pet store, stationery store, junk food store, 7-11 and a drug store.  Oh, there's also a clinic and a preschool or two.  It's great!  
Inside the grocery store the aisles are tiny, the products are constantly out of stock, and the prices are outrageous.  Couple that with the fact that we don't have a car (hence a trunk to put our stuff in) it makes the entire process quite complicated. Let me elaborate on the prices for just a moment.  Produce can be hit or miss but a small pineapple costs about $3, milk is $5 per half gallon, eggs are pretty cheap- $2 per dozen or so, grapes are twice as much as I paid in the States, cereal is about $8 a box and ice cream, forget about it.  The good stuff goes for $23 per PINT!  There are a few reasons why everything here is so expensive.  First of all, nearly EVERYTHING is imported.  And if you haven't noticed, Singapore is pretty far away!  Secondly the grocery stores are government run so the prices aren't -ahem- free market regulated.
Okay, maybe I exaggerated a little bit.  Ben and Jerry's is 2 for $23.85 or one pint for $13.90

The aisles are tiny and they are ALWAYS re-stocking.  
I usually end up at the local Fair Price every day or every other day.  If I do a big shopping trip I drag along this granny cart to load my belongings into.  You have to put a coin into the grocery cart to dispense one if you dare maneuver the crowded aisle with one.  Then I have to tuck the granny cart into the front of my grocery cart, do my shopping, load everything awkwardly into the granny cart, try to manage pulling it and pushing the shopping cart back to the bay to get my dollar back.  Ugh!

Insert coin to release cart

Insert granny cart into shopping trolley 


I'm not going to lie that it took me almost a month to realize I was supposed to weigh my own produce in the produce section before taking it to the register.  Not necessarily inefficient but definitely different than my home country.  
Now I get to lug all of this home without a car! 

We recently got a Warehouse club here in Singapore.  They sell a select amount of Kirkland products!  Hooray for real paper towels!  And to get there I take an hour train ride, shop to my hearts content, maneuver my heavy laden cart to the taxi stand by way of an elevator that's always overcrowded and hope that someone will be in the area to pick me up before my frozen goods melt.  The taxi ride home is about a $21 ride.  And I paid a $50 annual membership- still worth all the trouble for cheap granola bars.  Funny side note: people in Singapore are not accustomed to buying in bulk.  I get funny looks for throwing in a case of toilet paper.  What?  You don't think I'll actually use it??? I also get funny looks for loading up a full cart at the regular grocery store.  I think most people just buy a small basket full.



A lot of my work-free days include hanging out with friends.  Usually the Mormon girls- we have an awesome ward here.  We get together for all kinds of things, lots of birthday parties and farewells, and exploration around the island.  I wish I could tell you how much I love my friends here without sounding super cheesy.  There's something about experiencing life in a foreign country with other people in the same "boat" as you that makes those relationships form much more quickly and with more intensity than in other situations.  Most of us are here with no other family support and so we quickly become that family FOR each other.  It's definitely a mutual relationship.  I'm one who is quick to make friends anyway and for me my Singapore friends are more than friends.  They're my lifeline.
 

I go get the kids from school around 2:45.  This is another favorite part of my day.  The afternoon walks down the hill are a lot more hot than the morning walk but this is one of those times where I actually like not having a car. I love that I get to get out and walk 2 km twice a day.

This is the primary courtyard area at our school.
All of the moms congregate here to pick up our kids.
To give them hugs and ask about their days.  

Our school is very secure.
We have a wall all the way around it and security at all entrances.
Here's Ryan tapping out with his ID card.  

Another favorite part of the kids' day - certainly not EVERY day is buying ice cream from the ice cream Uncle.  He's there almost every single day selling ice cream in cones, wafers, and bread to the school kids.  This ice cream is $1.  He's the sweetest Uncle ever and always says hello to everyone- Moms, Aunties, and children alike.  His stand is all built in to the side of his motor cycle.  When he's done- he folds up the umbrella and drives away.  

yumm! ice cream

walking up the hill toward home

Even though the boys get two snack breaks and a lunch at school they still need a snack when they get home.  Then we can finish our conversations about their days and take a minute to cool off from our walk.

My kids are required to do homework and chores every afternoon.  I think it's important to teach kids how to help around the house, and to work.  This year we've added allowance to their chores and it has been very effective for us.  The boys have a little bit of homework every night.  Ryan takes between 30 to 60 minutes on Math, Chinese, and typing.  Evan has Math, and Spelling or Word Study.  Then they each read for at least 20 minutes every night.
Ryan working on homework

Evan working on his homework
As soon as the kids are done with their homework they're allowed to go outside and play.  They LOVE playing outside with their friends.  I LOVE that they have a good group of boys and girls here in our Condo to play with.
Condo play structure- I have a love-hate relationship with this structure.
It's fun but also quite dangerous.  

Night games at the condo
Once a week the boys have after school activities.  Ryan is currently in Rock Climbing and Evan is currently taking a game class- PE type games.  We do swimming lessons on Wednesdays and every third Thursday Ryan has Activity Days at the Church.  This is more than enough to keep my kids busy.  
Ryan swimming back stroke

Evan at swimming lessons

We have dinner together and the kids are allowed to play with their friends until 7:00. Then we do reading, scriptures, prayers, and get ready for bed.  We don't have a working bathtub in our apartment to the boys have switched to showers.  They do okay with that.  

Unfortunately, Colin has to work until about 7:30 pm each night an so he's rarely home before 8:30 pm which is the boys' bedtime.  It's not an ideal evening meal situation but we've learned to get used to it and we like that we can have breakfast together and see Daddy in the mornings before school.  

The boys don't sleep in the same bed.
They have bunks.
I just love this picture because I found them like this one night. 
When I'm done doing the dishes and making the kids lunches for the next day, I like to hang out with Colin before his evening calls begin.  We usually chat a little about our days and watch the morning news on Fox.  It's morning in New York when it's our Evening so we catch the morning news and the morning conference calls.  I read my book, check my emails, catch up on Social Media, and watch Colin do his push-ups.

Then it's time for bed and in the morning we do it all over again.

I sure do love this Singapore life of ours.  I wish we could stay for another year but it's time for us to go back to Utah.