Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Eagle Has Landed

"That was a really good hug."
After a ten day (yes, that's right, ten day) school trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, Alexander is back to the great joy of his family (especially his sister). This is some of what he shared with us on the taxi ride home from the airport:
1) Thai food is good, but not as good when you have to make it yourself;
2) Spelling Alexander in sign language is not that hard;
3) Elephants are not as cuddly as you might think, actually they are quite leathery;
4) The real luxury about home is not having to prepare a bed and tent each night;
5) One can never pack enough cough strepsils or socks;
6) A head torch is fundamental. Extra batteries, even more so;
7) Organic farming, walking on stilts, water rafting and trekking with a GPS...all great. Caving (what with the spiders and all) not so much;
8) It's cold in them there mountains, "luckily I had that wooly handknit penguin hat you didn't want me to buy."
9) It's nice having a sister bake a 'welcome home' cake and keeping all Christmas activities on hold.
10) Shopping for souvenirs is fun. (I don't know how he found fuzzy sock slippers in a Thai night market, but the boy definitely knows me. I am typing this with a smile and very snug toes.)

"How do you say hi in Thai?"

"Now, let's see who's taller."

The Thai cook with his penguin hat on.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Questions That Could Arise in Italy

"Is this breakfast or lunch?"

"Should we have a different flavor every day?"

"Is that pigeon still following me?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Made in Italy

"I think my allergies are acting up..."

"No, I don't see the resemblance."

"I've heard good things about the Dukan diet."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Boiled Turkey in Paris

Happy Birthday, little bro!

Just like in the song, I went all the way to Paris to forget the past. I was 21 and everything that could have gone wrong, did. Then again, I was 21. When my little brother came to visit me, in late November, we walked all over the Marais, had banana splits at the Defense, chatted endlessly all over town. Julian took my mind off things, without even trying. I was staying with a French family who lived way out in the suburbs. On our way back home late that night, he commented on how dangerous the train ride was for someone traveling alone at night. When we got out at the small, deserted station and walked along the dark alleyways, he looked even more horrified. You've been doing this for two months? As I nodded, I remember thinking: "So?"
After we reached the house, we looked for the huge turkey my mother had given Julian to bring over so that we could have our own little Thanksgiving. But to our utter surprise, the turkey we hoped to roast for our delicious feast, was now in a huge pot, boiled beyond recognition. After a shocked silence, during which we wondered how anybody could even own such a big pot, we started laughing at the absurdity of it all. As quiet as humanly possible, so as not to wake up our kind, if clueless hosts, we laughed and laughed. I don't ever remember laughing so much. Not like that, barely breathing and with tears running down my eyes. It felt so good to laugh. And to know that it was still possible.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Missing School Holidays: Nostalgic or Masochistic? Your Call.

"Mom, can we check out the phone store later?"
Sometimes I find myself in a post-school holiday funk. I actually find myself missing my kids' school holidays. Not always (I'm not crazy). But there's something to be said about hanging out at a coffee shop with your kid, drinking over priced lattes and catching up on reading. Sometimes, I even get to hear what's really happening at school. Or I can finally get some help setting up my phone so that I can see the weather in the country I'm actually living in. The best part is I don't have to ask the conversation ender: "How was your day?" Because this is their day.

Alexander earning his keep on his day off from school.

If Proust's Madeleines...

If Proust's madeleines had cost as much as cherries cost in Singapore, he probably wouldn't have eaten as many and we wouldn't have that expression. Quel domage.
I especially love how it says 'offer' ends in a week. That's thoughtful. And caring. Especially since this price apparently saves you 24% from the usual price.
When calculating that each cherry costs more or less a dollar, be careful to not choke on the pit.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cross Country Final or Sale at Smiggle?

"I heard everything is 50% off."

And they're off! Cross country finals at Bedok Reservoir. The kids were all great! The whistle at the starting line did remind me of why I never liked races as a child. The shaky feeling in my legs and the absolute certainty that I would be the child coming in last. And this is why I turned to books...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Humidity-Defying Runners!

"We can do it!"
Bedok Reservoir Race. The runners...hoping for a win. The parents...hoping to not die of heatstroke.
The school's first ever cross country team, coached tirelessly by Mr. Andrew, displays uncommon courage (considering the humidity), sense of adventure (there is talk of potential cobras lurking in the reservoir on the bus ride over) and team spirit (let's just follow each other) on the 2.2 km course!
Congratulations runners! And for those of you with desert marathons in your future, I say things are looking good!

P.S. One of the runners, Jessica, is mysteriously missing from the photo above. Looking for some shade? Likely...

Monday, October 27, 2014

But Why?

When I was around 8, I had this annoying habit of ending each sentence with a question, "But why?" As you can imagine, my parents loved it. Even when I knew it made no sense to ask, I still had to: "But why?" Over and over again.
A habit that was as difficult to break as biting my nails or looking under my bed for the wicked witch of the west.
In hindsight, it wasn't the answer I really craved but keeping my parents' attention for as long as possible.
I remembered that feeling this morning.
"Are we in space right now?" my daughter asked on our way to school.
"In a way. But we're held to the earth by gravity. "(Score!)
"Where exactly is gravity? " (Darn)
"Good question, Eliot (always answer a question you're not sure about with this comment). I learned this technique my first year as a teacher. Puts students in a good mood and buys you time. Win win.
"And where is heaven?"
"That's easy. You see those clouds? Beyond them."
"Before space or after space?"
"Definitely after space. Or maybe before..."
"And where is God? You know, his home?"
"Hmmm, in heaven."
"How do old people die?"
Oh good. Finally an easy question...
"Well, let's see, they go to sleep after a very nice, long life and wake up in heaven."
"Can people speak to each other in heaven? Can they see us? When you die will you still see me?"
Silence. "Of course, I will always keep my eye on you. And cheer you on."
"Like when I run cross country?"
"I almost forgot, if I go to space will I be cold?"
An easy one, thankfully. "No, you'll have your space suit on."
"Those boots look very heavy. Will I sink into the moon?"
"No, pretty sure you won't. Look at Neil Armstrong how well he did."
"How do people know the sun is so hot if they've only been to the moon?"
I love when space is being studied at school. I really do.
And that's when I remember, it's not the answers that count, it's the time spent answering them.
But just in case, I better brush up on the solar system today.

Not Their Best Look...

Never trust the labels on expensive face creams...HappyHalloween!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If Only Tuscany Weren't So Darn Unattractive...

Chairs with a View,  July 2014 (creds to Alexander).

The man didn't smile this much on my wedding day. Seriously.

Mothers-in Law Plotting the Next Meal

Friday, June 27, 2014

Big Brothers Rule

"He's my brother."
Picking up a little sister has never been so fun, now that Alexander (who goes to another school and already on summer holiday) comes equipped with a soccer ball and all of her friends want to play with him.

Having a big brother can be very cool. Reminds me of when my older brother visited me for the first time in college. "You have an older brother...who goes to Yale...who is on the swimming team?"
I guess the sweatshirt he was wearing tipped them off. These were not Math majors. "And you were going to mention this when?" Commencement?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Holiday Queries

"Maybe the boy does get enough protein."

"Maybe he did learn something in Geometry."

"Maybe I should have read this book before him..."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

School Over...Almost

Second to last day I wake up at the crack of dawn with Alexander for his 6:50 bus.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bucket List of a 12 Year Old Boy

(Alexander, age 12)
  1. Go Vegetarian for 1 week 
  2. Rope Swing in to a lake 
  3. Have a snowball fight 
  4. Go to winter wonderland in London 
  5. Watch a tennis game
  6. go to a nutellaria 
  7. send a message in a bottle
  8. let go of a floating lantern
  9. Visit the walk of fame
  10. get a cotton candy frappe (Starbucks)
  11. Go zip lining
  12. Go snowboarding 
  13. learn to fish 
  14. Become a pro at zorbing

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Room With a View

"If only I could remember where I parked the gondola..."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Singapore: Most Expensive City in the World

"I should be charging for this."

According to The Economist, Singapore is the most expensive city in the world. Of course, this dubious honor comes as no surprise to those who like cheese. And, I'm not talking about burrata imported from Puglia...but a simple mozzarella stick (at $2 a stick that tiny packet of 10 comes to $20). Frankly, I would like my child's questionable snacks to cost a lot less. Which reminds me of a conversation I had with Eliot as we walked to school yesterday.
"Mommy, how come we don't have a car?"
Well, considering a Toyota Corolla here costs as much as a Porsche elsewhere, let's just say, we choose to go green and leave it at that. Think of your parents as environmentally conscious people who like using public transportation.
"But when we move back to Italy we'll have to get a car, right?"
Most likely yes.
"Can we get a safari?"
A what? Wait, do you mean a Ferrari?
"Yes, a safari."
Eliot, do you have any idea how much a Ferrari costs? No, we are not getting a Safari, I mean Ferrari.
"Oh, okay... can we get a Lamborghini then?"
Have you been talking to your brother?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If "Breaking Bad" Was Set in Singapore

"I said Katong laksa."

1) Instead of cooking meth amphetamines, Walter White would be cooking pork dumplings.

2) Instead of using Pollos Hermanos as a front, the drug cartel would be using Din Tai Fung.

3) Instead of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the plot would unfold in Woodlands.

4) There would be way more taxis and construction work going on.

5) Instead of rehab, Jessie Pinkman would have gone on a farm stay in Perth.

6) You wouldn't need to deal drugs to break the law, carrying a durian on a bus would suffice.

7) Instead of a drug lord, crazy gun-wielding Tuco Salamanca would be a landlord. One refusing to return your deposit.

8) Most of what Jessie Pinkman says would be censored.

9) Instead of: "Yo!" Jessie would be saying: "Aiyoh!"

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

This Is Naples

                                                                                         (photo Mario Gargiulo)

Years ago, I found myself alone, broken hearted, and hungry in Naples. I was staying at my parent's empty house in the middle of the summer and there was nothing to eat. I went around the corner to buy some tomatoes from a grocer. He asked me what I was intending to make for lunch. A fresh tomato salad? "It's the day before Ferragosto, all stores are closed. You'll never find any bread."  I mumbled something under my breath as I slowly walked away with my tomatoes.  I was his last customer and after I paid, he lowered the heavy saracinesca of the shop. Then he called me back: "Signorina! Wait here." Then, he went upstairs to where he lived with his family and brought me back two slices of casareccio bread in a napkin. "You can't eat a tomato salad without bread."
This is Naples.

Anni fa, mi trovai sola, sconsolata, e affamata a Napoli. Mi trovavo nella casa vuota dei miei genitori durante l'estate e non c'era niente da mangiare. Uscita di casa, sono andata alla fine della via per comprare dei pomodori dal fruttivendolo. Voleva sapere cosa intendevo cucinare. Un'insalata di pomodori? "Ma e' Ferragosto, tutti i negozi sono chiusi. Non trovera' pane." Mormorai qualcosa mentre lentamente andavo via con i miei pomodori. Ero l'ultima sua cliente, quindi abbasso' la pesante saracinesca del negozio, e mi disse: "Signorina! Aspetti qui." Poi, sali' le scale dove viveva con la sua famiglia e mi riporto' due fette di pane casareccio in un tovagliolo. "Non si puo' mica mangiare un'insalata di pomodori senza pane."
Questa e' Napoli.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Science Camp-Day 1

"Science is fun when you understand words."

"Mommy, did you know our tongues are covered with thousands of taste bugs?"
I am pretty sure your teacher meant taste buds, Eliot. (But, thanks for the image.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Growing Up in Singapore

"No Chinese homework?!"

"Wait...where am I from again?"

"Or we could order a pizza." (photo Martin Spreckley)

"I January supposed to be cold?"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Signs You Have a Big Brother

"Shoelaces, again?"

1) You play Minecraft.
2) You wear cleats around the house.
3) You own a nerf gun.
4) You want an app for Christmas. Any app.
5) You know the difference between normal lego and nano lego.
6) You are the first person in your class reading the Percy Jackson series.
7) You're not too bothered about laces (see above).
8) You get to hang out with the guys (see below).

"Good times!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Previously...on Breaking Bad

"I have a plan on how to make some quick cash..." (photo Martin Spreckley)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

If "The Luminaries" Was Set in Singapore

"Great book...I just wish there were more characters."

This post will only make sense if you:

a) Have read The Luminaries, 832 pg (who's counting?) Man Booker Prize by Eleanor Catton,
b) lived at some point in Singapore,
c) have been to New Zealand (preferably the west coast of the South Island);
d) none of the above, but have a twisted sense of humor.

So here goes,
If "The Luminaries" was set in Singapore:

1) Instead of being called prospectors, people seeking fortune would be called expats.

2) Instead of looking for gold in the Otago fields, those people would be working in the IT industry.

3) Instead of drinking brandy at the Dust & Nugget discussing weather forecasts, they'd be drinking espresso at Suntec City discussing sales forecasts.

4) Instead of arriving on a ship called Godspeed, they would arrive on Singapore Airlines.

5) Instead of placing ads in the West Coast Times for barmaids and missing trunks, they would scan ads in The Straits Times for chinese tutors and coach trips to Legoland.

6) A night out wouldn't be a seance in the Gridiron Hotel, but a musical at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

7) A dissolute night out, wouldn't be an opium den in Chinatown, but a karaoke bar in Orchard Towers.

8) Instead of hiding gold in the hemlines of her dress, Anna Wetherall. would be hiding frozen rib eye steaks at the bottom of her valise.

9) Instead of settling down in Hokitika, they'd be looking for a cluster house on Chancery Lane.

10) Instead of misunderstanding Maori slang, they'd be misunderstanding Hokkien slang.

11) And finally, instead of hoarding gold, they'd be hoarding cheese.