Sunday, December 16, 2007

In Calder's footsteps

Here is a mobile that Lula made that has an uncanny likeness to the one by Alexander Calder shown in the second photo.

Also, there is a mixed media piece I made that is hanging above our couch. It is my Singapore piece. I used newspaper cutouts from all the major languages spoken here and taped them down creating a sort of fringe. Over that I painted a unifying red.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Maya hammming it up. The one with her grinning at me she asked me to take her photo. So that's her camera smile.

Mermaid & Friend

This is Lula & Aiden playing dress up. Lula loves dressing up. We have some new friends that we hang out with a lot. Lula calls me Queen and she's princess. It helps when we need her to do something to talk about whether or not a princess would also do it.

Singapore: More unrelated updates

Biggest and best news first: Maya's lead levels have gone down to < 2ug/dl for the first time since she have been continuously testing her since last of March. It was rising from 5 to 6 then 7.7 and now it is very low so I am so happy about that. Two things have changed: She cold-turkey stopped putting her fingers in her mouth. She was doing this all day long between wiping her hands on the ground, the playground and everything in between. The other thing is that I have been feeding her garlic and selenium every day and that is supposed to de-toxify the body.

Maya decked Lula with a toy box so Lula has yet another eye cut - this time surrounding her right eye instead of the left eye.

Lula is switching schools. The Chinese children at the local school never seemed to welcome her into their clique so she's going to another school where she already has at least one friend. She starts tomorrow and she's very excited.

We went to the dive-est bar I have ever been to in my life called the Mitre Bar at Killeney Hotel near Orchard Road. The walls were full of grafitti. The room filled with broken and over-turned furniture. I suspect they never threw anything away and might be aspiring to Collyer brother status.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Singapore: Tidbits

Maya has bronchitis. I put her down for a nap two hours ago and now I can hear her singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

Maya can now count to three - up from two. Counting to three came easily to her because something big always happens at three.

Lula quote: "Why is my belly so big and fat from eating pasta?"

Lula is pulling sparkly items out of my closet to wear. A sequined tank top makes a nice flapper dress.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Vietnam: Hanoi Airport

I couldn't find on this money collection box whether difficult 'sometimes' would still qualify.

Vietnam: Hoi An Marketplace

Vietnam: Hoi An second trip

It's nice when locals get pleasure from looking at Lula & Maya.

We went back to Hoi An despite our flood experiences in order to get some hand tailored clothing. Rob phrased it aptly when he called us "Fashion Refugees."

I had to send my clothing back 3-4 times to get what I wanted but was ultimately pleased with the results.

Hoi An was still somewhat flooded and threatening to flood worse than before.

Here is a photo I call Bridge to Nowhere along with a couple of others.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Singapore: Visits to Farms

School is closed for "Spring" cleaning and so I haven't had time to update lately. One person asked me what order the seasons went in. "Was it Winter, Fall, Summer then Spring?" Another person laughed when I inquired about availability for the Spring semester. "HA HA We don't have seasons here! When are you talking about?"

Lately I have been yearning for a little countryside so yesterday we went with some friends to Bollywood Veggies Farm at the Northern edge of Singapore where they grow organic vegetables and have a restaurant called Poison Ivy. We latched on to a school tour during which the highlight was the killing of a black cobra. It took quite a few whacks and got thrown into the air in our direction. We were all warned to get back because they can spit venom in the eye from 3 meters away.

Today our visit to the Crocodile Farm proved to be a much safer expedition although no less scintillating. The Crocodile Farm was in the middle of Singapore in a suburban setting. All the crocodiles and alligators were in rectangle pens over which could peer. There were signs saying not to put our hands into the pen. Our guide said that they can jump 6 feet into the air. "Then why are the pens 4 feet high?" "We feed them everyday and they're pretty lazy but if they feel threatened they will muster up the energy to attack." Maya's newest word was "scary." It was scary to peer at them. They fed them chicken heads while we watched.

I knew the guide must have heard this a thousand times but when we left I could not help myself from saying "See you later Alligator" and "See you in awhile Crocodile."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lula: The Bruiser

My dear, dear Lula fell today at the White Tiger exhibit at the Singapore Zoo, scraping her face and bruising her forehead.

Furthermore, I did not mention that she rolled off the bed in Vietnam while sleeping and woke up with a bottom lip 4 times the normal size. It was too disturbing to photograph and the swelling went down in several hours.

The good news is that she's still cute.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Halong Bay

Having left Hoi An early to escape the floods. We got a tour booked to Halong Bay a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Bai Tu Long Junk boat for two nights.

There are little floating fishing villages that I would have liked to explore. Also, there are grocery boats that try to sell their goods to people on boats.

Thanksgiving and new families

For a moment there I forgot it's Thanksgiving! It's very low-key here as you may have guesssed. We're celebrating with some new friends who we were put in touch with because we have similarly aged children and are from New York.

While in Vietnam at breakfast in Hanoi one morning we were privileged to witness the final signing of papers certifying the new parents of a happy little Vietnamese girl who would be moving to Atlanta that same day. I was so excited for them that I cried a little (not so unusual for me.)

Meanwhile, news from home, my cousin Rachel Slack originally from China is turning 13 and celebrating her Bat Mitzvah very soon! You may read more about her here and here. It's very exciting because I get to say I knew her when she was a little little girl and now she's very mature and well-spoken.

Lula & Maya are talking a lot and remember everything about everyone back home even beyond one year ago. Maya is repeating the last one or two words of every sentence I say which. I love to hear her toddlerese versions of "polyester" and other words I throw in to keep it interesting.

They are very loving with one another and play together well punctuated by much screaming, pinching, pushing and fighting. This photo shows how a fight for the front seat of the stroller ended well and in a nice compromise.

Lula is tiring of only having friends who speak "Mandawin" and would like more "Engwish" speaking friends. She's switching into an English dominant curriculum next month and hopefully she'll be more comfortable. She has a French friend Lea who lives in the same apartment as us on another floor of our building. They play together very well despite not sharing much language.

I have also included a photo of Chandrika. She invited us to celebrate Deepavali with her family. She's the flight attendant for Jet Airways who I kept running into at Ananda Bhavan vegetarian restaurant.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Charms of Hanoi

After we got out of Hoi An we went on to Danang to the aiport and we were able to get on an earlier flight to Hanoi.

The Old Quarter of Hanoi is nice. A lot of quaint French influence mixed with old Vietnamese and newer ugly industrial decay. At first I didn't like it but I did grow fond of it and I would liked to have stayed longer.

Dangers of the Road

It was very challenging to get around with the children because crossing the street was really hard. The sidewalks are filled with parked mopeds and motor cycles so it wasn't worth it to use the stroller. The way the locals cross the street is to walk really slowly while vehicles whiz around them. It was too scary for me to do so I'd wait ages for a break in the traffic. Shocking to me the crossing signal did not mean vehicles would stop. During the time I was there I didn't figure out what the traffic lights were for.

Two nights ago we drove around a motorcycle accident with a person lying in the middle of the highway (dead or alive, I don't know). Rob suggested to the driver we call the police but he didn't not speak English. Everyone just drove around him and I suppose eventually the police came.

On average 38 children/young adults die a day in Vietnam due to head injuries resulting from auto bike accidents. We drove by 4 accidents during our 8 day trip.