Monday, March 30, 2015

Singapore digs

We got a request from Brennan's work that we post pictures of the apartment for prospective future rotates. So here they are, in no particular order and with some pretty horrible lighting.

The dining room with the lovely purple wall. 
 The entryway. (There is a shoe closet on the right as soon as you walk in the door.)
 Living room.

There is a balcony that runs the length of those curtains. Here is the view from it.

 View of the kitchen from the dining room.
 There is a door at the end of the kitchen that leads outside. Our washer is out there and then two rooms that would be used for our domestic helper, if we had one. This would be the helper's bedroom, but is our dryer and storage room.
 Helper's bathroom.
 Master bedroom. Another balcony off this bedroom.
 Master bathroom.
 Hallway bathroom.
 Tatum's bedroom.
 Declan's bedroom.
Declan's closet, just to illustrate what all the closets are like. 

There are two tennis courts in our complex, right below us.
There are also four pools, one of which is an aqua gym, as well as a normal gym. Brennan is in the shallow kids pool. The pool behind him is half aqua gym, half tables and chairs in water. And the glass behind those trees is the gym.

That's about it. If you are a rotate considering coming out here and have any questions or different pictures you would like to see, just leave a comment!

Brennan's birthday

Brennan had a birthday! The old man is 28 years old. For 6 months I get to call him old. :) His birthday fell on a Sunday, so originally the intention was for him to be able to choose Saturday's activities. That quickly changed when we were invited to a BBQ/pool party for a friend's birthday and we decided to do a babysitting swap so he hung out at our friend's house Saturday night while their little girl slept so they could go out. He was a good sport about the whole thing. Plus we got to go out to 'celebrate' on Friday night without our kids! He chose a Thai restaurant nearby and the food was super yummy! The service was less than stellar but I'm told that is pretty standard for Singapore.

I told Brennan he had to choose a birthday dessert that was NOT cake this year. But lucky for us there were cupcakes at the birthday party we went to on Saturday. Declan sure enjoyed them. It took him quite sometime to decide to actually eat it. At first he mostly just painted himself with the frosting.

Sunday morning I let Brennan sleep in. Let me tell you, that is a rare treat for him. He almost always gets up with the kids on the weekend. I didn't realize it was fast Sunday (oops!) so I made some smoothies and oatmeal banana bars for breakfast. He FaceTimed with his parents that morning and then headed to church early with Tatum for choir practice.

After church he got to play some hide and seek with the kids. Here is Tatum hiding under her bed.
And Declan giving it away.
I misread the rising part of the roll recipe so I was scrambling to get dinner ready on time. Brennan was a good sport again and rolled out the rolls for me with his trusty sidekick. We usually have a hardfast rule of no working in the kitchen on your birthday. Oh well.
For his non cake dessert he chose apple pie. As pathetic as it might be, I have never made a pie before. I went with a crumble top so I wouldn't have to worry about making the top crust look pretty. :) It certainly wasn't perfect but for my first pie I was pleased. I think he was too. :) We didn't have candles. Yes, wife fail. So he pretended. 
Brennan is a pretty stellar guy. I was glad to have an opportunity to celebrate him and treat him extra special. He is such a hands-on dad and I don't know what I would do without him. I love seeing how much the kids adore him and how excited they get when he gets home everyday. He is so patient, with the kids and wth me. He is so quick to forgive, something I could certainly do better at. And my favorite thing about Brennan, when it comes to food he always saves the best for me. :) Seriously, does it get better than that? Happy birthday Brennan! I love you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

the rest of Malacca

After Alias dropped us off back at our hotel we thought we would take the kids for a quick swim and then get ready to head out and explore the main parts of Malacca. Luckily we decided to go check out the pool before getting everyone ready. This is what we found:
Green water. No thanks. Tatum's heartbreak was easily fixed with an episode of the Berenstain Bears and we were good to go.

The Malaysian flag is pretty much everywhere. I liked this one with the blue backdrop on our walk.

We stopped and got the kids happy meals. I know, I know, we were in Malaysia, quite likely for the only time in our lives and we ate at McDonald's. But it was there, it was safe, it was insanely cheap and we knew the kids would eat it. This is actually the first thing Tatum likes to tell people about our trip, it was pretty much the best for her. :)

We explored the ruins at A'Famosa. It is a Portuguese frotress and is among the oldest surviving European architecture in Southeast Asia.
Brennan teaching Tatum about cannons. It was fun to then have her try to teach me what she had learned. She's like a little sponge.

I read somewhere that you should try to go in the early morning or later in the evening to avoid the heat but totally forgot that fact until we were climbing the stairs. It was a hot day!

St. Paul's Church

So pretty.
These rickshaws are quite popular in Malacca. They reallly go all out decorating them. There were a lot decked out in Frozen paraphernalia as well as Hello Kitty. And many of them played music quite loudly while they rode around. We ended up passing up this opportunity. After Tatum's incredible disappointed that "our whole family" didn't ride the ferris wheel I figured she wouldn't be too thrilled that we couldn't all fit on the same rickshaw. We had fun admiring them all though.

Dutch square, with Queen Victoria's fountain and Christ Church in the background.

Cooling off with a yummy coconut smoothie.

Outside the Maritime Museum. It wasn't anything to write home about, but Tatum loved feeling like she was getting on a real ship. In fact she asked several times when the ship was going to get in the water.
We found some super adorable kittens outside the museum and spent quite a bit of time letting the kids watch them. Declan could hardly contain his excitement.
Excited to find some more cannons.
And yes, Tatum is turning into an Asian tourist. :) Makes me wonder what other things she will have picked up by the time we move home at the end of the year. Silly girl.

After the museum we headed to the Riverboat Cruise. I'm not sure I would recommend this unless you don't have small kids and you are looking for a nap. It was cramped, stuffy and uncomfortable on our boat and the kids were treating us like a jungle gym. There were some pretty views but between my bad seat, awkward angle, and crazy kids I hardly got to enjoy them.

The Pirate Park, which we read was officially shut down. I was kind of annoyed to see it looking up and running as that would have been a much better alternative to Asia Fun Park.
More cannons. :)
Next we crossed the river to check out Jonker walk. It's just a stretch in Chinatown that sort of comes alive with a night market on Friday and Saturday nights. Lots of street vendors and LOTS of people. Tatum spotted some small bracelets and decided she just couldn't live without a new bracelet so we let her pick out two as her "Malacca souvenirs". We bought Declan some sunglasses since he loves wearing Tatum's around. Too bad Brennan stepped on them the very next morning. :( The weirdest thing about Jonker was at the very end there was a huge stage and blaring music, but no one on stage. Then I spotted an old Chinese man sitting to the side of the stage in front of a computer screen belting some Chinese karaoke into a microphone. Weirder still was that all the chairs in front of the stage were full of people just sitting there enjoying this awesome karaoke. Song after song, the same guy, not even performing, just sitting out of view singing into the mircrophone. It was so strange. We were only nearby for 5 or 10 minutes and it was starting to give me a headache!

We stopped at yet another McDonald's, they are everywhere, on our way back to the hotel for some ice cream cones. This one had a playplace and the kids were in heaven. Up and down, up and down, a million times. So let's see, the best parts of the trip for them were getting happy meals, watching the kittens, and the McDonald's playground. They couldn't care less that we were in another country. :)
As we were walking back to our hotel I suddenly thought I should document what the walking here was like. It was dark and I was trying to make sure Tatum and I didn't die while I took this picture so it doesn't really do it justice, but at least it will serve as a reminder for us. Everywhere we walked we were literally just inches away from most of the cars that went by. Not too big of a deal for adults, but a little freaky when you add kids to the mix.
Both of the kids ended up in bed with us that night and look how cute they looked in the morning. :)
Sunday morning we took a taxi back to the bus station and chased the kids around while we waited for our bus. The bus home was super ghetto and stinky. It was also full which meant Declan was on our laps for most of it. Both of the kids slept for several hours which was nice. I read a whole book on the bus there and back! It feels like it has been forever since I've read a novel. Here are some pictures I took of the kids sharing some crackers after they woke up.

Not sure what was going on here, but I kind of love it.


Customs and immigration was a pain this time around. Leaving Malaysia wasn't bad it just took a long time and then there were two options for which direction to go depending on which bus bay you were supposed to go to. Of course the bus driver didn't warn us of this and we had no idea where to go. Another couple from our bus was waiting for us by the fork hoping we would know which way to go (we were the last ones through). Brennan said he thought it looked like more people were going down then to the right so we went with it. Lucky guess, Brennan. :) Thank goodness. I have heard that bus drivers will sometimes leave without passengers if they take too long. Eek! The Singapore side is where things really got fun. This bus driver made us take our stroller off the bus too, even though the last one didn't so between a backpack, a suitcase and a stroller I figured Brennan had his hands full which meant I got both kids. There is nothing Declan hates more than being held in a line so there was lots of shrieking and writhing. Tatum had started saying on the Malaysian side that she needed to go to the bathroom but we didn't come across one so we told her she would have to wait. So by the time we were in line in Singapore it was an emergency. We kept encouraging her to hold it and finally it was my turn. I hand the man our passports and he asks for our immigration paper (I have no idea what they are called but it was some paper we had to fill out on the airplane. For the record, I didn't think we needed to fill it out this time. But the bus company gave them to Brennan and he couldn't find any instructions for who does and does not have to fill them out.) So the guy looks them over and asks "how many days will you be here?" I was like "How many days? We live in Singapore."
"For how many days?"
"How many days have we lived there? Or how many days will live there?"
"How many days you visit Singapore?"
(We went back and forth several times.)
"We live there. I don't understand. We will live there until December. So 7 months. However many days that is."
"Okay...I put 90 days."
Keep in mind that every five seconds Tatum is telling me she needs to go potty and holding herself. I am pretty much sweating bullets, afraid that we are going to leave a puddle of pee right there in line. Ahhhhh! Long story short he didn't even need those stupid papers with a spot for how many days we were going to be in Singapore. When he saw we had dependent passes, he just tossed them aside! Finally we were free to go. Of course the only bathroom available are port-a-potties, right beside the bus parking. So I open the door for Tatum but she is slightly afraid of port-a-potties and they are a little high so she needs help, but I have Declan. So I put him down and he immediately bolts. I hurry and put her on and tell her I'll be right back and run after Declan. I run back and open the door to find Tatum bawling and saying I scared her. I'm sure it was quite a scene for all the people already waiting in their buses.

Another forty minutes or so on the bus and again, he just pulls over to the side of the road and gets out without a word. Such an odd way of doing things. But we made it! 

P.S. The immigration stuff reminded me of what happened on the way there. On the Singapore side the lines were loooong and slow. Everyone was admiring our kids and one lady in the next line over got out her camera and took a picture of Tatum. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed and she got caught. Lots of yelling, pointing fingers, blaming others, and other genuine ridiculousness ensued before she finally just handed over her camera and I would assume the security guard deleted it. I know they are cute, but a picture of our kids is not worth breaking the law in Singapore lady! :)