Weeks 12 & 13: If You Move There, They Will Come

First, a little disclaimer: the views expressed by the guest narrator in the previous posting on this site in no way reflect the opinions or beliefs of the host author. Except, maybe, they kind of do. Any names, characters, places, or political beliefs discussed in his rantings and ravings are the product of the author's wild imagination and wacky conspiracy theories, except where they are obviously real. Any and all perceived connections between the thoughts of the guest and those of the host, whether real or imagined, and especially if said thoughts are offensive, should be summarily ignored, unless, of course, you agree with us. :)
That being said…

Sunday nights, as I get ready for bed, I think about the week ahead, what the schedule holds, what I need to do, how much sleep I think I'll get, etc. And I reflect on what has happened with our family the preceding week, frequently wondering just where, exactly, all of my time went. What did I accomplish? Did I parent the children well? What did I do all week anyway? Recently, though, I know exactly where my time has gone: work. Over the past few weeks my cute little part-time job metamorphosed from a very manageable 20 hours per week into a blood-sucking beast, straight out of Little Shop of Horrors, requiring 50 hours per week in its all too successful efforts to sustain itself. I know many of you can probably put in 10 hours a day with both hands tied behind your back, but consider my situation as you read this, in the middle of the night I am sure, while you try in vain to respond to the endless flow of work-related email traffic.

Getting to and from my job site takes a total of one hour each day. The boys attend school from 8:00a to 1:25p during the week. They go to bed around 8:00p each night. So, 20 hours of work comfortably fit into my not very flexible schedule. 50 hours, however, have to be crammed in, quite painfully, at the expense of meal preparation and clean-up, laundry, general housekeeping duties, and, most importantly, time with my precious children. Fortunately, I had help.

When Greg and I first entertained the idea of upgrading our ecological hazards, trading in the fire ants of Texas for the black spitting cobra of Singapore, our families encouraged us to make the 9,828-mile journey with flowery talk of travel opportunities, multi-cultural exposure, educational adventures, and the like. Once the decision to move was irrevocably made, however, the unspoken condemnations ("how could you take our grandchildren away from us?!") took the driver's seat in the Singapore conversations, with the not so friendly queries as to the exact cost and duration of a visit to the Far East riding shotgun.

Yet despite the four figure ticket and 24-hour travel time, we have enjoyed our first visitors: Greg's dad and step-mom, Troy and Sherrie, or, as they are now widely known at the Singapore American School, Mema and Pawpaw. They arrived mid-February, and departed, despite our attempts to hide their passports, in the first week of March.

While they were here, we suckered them into walking the boys to school in the mornings, so we could head off to work a few minutes early (did I mention Greg and I work in the same building?), and picking them up from school in the afternoons, so I could work a few hours late. They volunteered for feather-painting day in the boys' classroom, and Sherrie filmed the eager-to-be-on-camera class in action, even giving the grateful teachers a copy of her DVD. Upon returning from work in the evenings, we were greeted at our front door on several occasions by the sights and smells of a home-cooked meal, and a beautiful pile of clean and folded laundry. Every night we were welcomed by happy children, who have sorely missed their doting grandparents. There is no way we could have endured the past two weeks without them, and we are very grateful for everything they did to keep our little family afloat while they were here.

It wasn't all work (theirs and ours), though. We did make a trip to the zoo, where we got to ride an elephant, see a hornbill swoop down from the sky, and creep up on a giant monitor lizard out for an afternoon stroll. We went to the night safari, where two Malayan tapirs passed close enough to our tram to touch, and where there were, thankfully, no bat incidents. While Greg and I were at work, and the boys were in school, the grandparents went on several adventures of their own, including a trip to the orchid garden and a free-range trip around the island on the public transportation vehicle of choice: the city bus.

And, during the second week of the inaugural grandparental visitation, Greg and I got to go out, by ourselves, on a date, for the first time in almost three months. We ate dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant in the famous Orchard Road district, then walked down the street to a little German microbrewery for some drinks. We sat on the patio, listening to an Asian cover band sing Sweet Home Alabama and soaked up our night of freedom with at least one too many beers. I paid for it mightily the next day, but we had a great time.

As you can probably guess, we were very sad to see the Elgin Bennett contingency leave after a two-week stay that really was too short. Fortunately, we have more guests on the way: Greg's mom and step-dad arrive at the end of March, so we can get another family fix. Although we have started to really enjoy our time over here in Asia (I speak mostly for myself, since the boys have enjoyed it from the second we landed), we have missed our family and friends more than we could have possibly imagined.

Take care, and let us know how things are going in North America…

Take care,
Shannon et al.

Gibbon, so relaxed... 


Shannon & Greg, on date night

Pawpaw & Cameron, watching the elephants





Hamadryas Baboons



Pawpaw & Cameron





Macaw & Cameron


Alec & Mema, playing slap-jack


White Tiger




Pawpaw & Cameron, playing slap-jack


Alec, feeding the elephants


Saki monkey - reminds me of someone..



Cameron & Alec

Elephant Ride


White Tigers


Alec & Cameron, with an owl and a civet


"Animals at Work" show


Cameron, feeding the elephants