Weeks 39 - 42: Status Quo
(09/25/06)

Many people find the predictability of a life governed by routine boring. They feel that a life without surprises, without unexpected changes, is beyond banal. I suspect that these people do not have young children; or that, at the very least, their children are more amenable to flexible schedules and nebulous expectations than ours are. In our family, a good solid routine is a precious thing. And now that school is in full swing, we are comfortably settled, secure in our knowledge of what the calendar - that small part of the future we can control - holds. At least for this semester anyway.

The boys are very happy these days. They are enjoying kindergarten even more than they enjoyed pre-K, which is quite a surprise, because the workload this year is significantly greater than it was last year. In kindergarten, they race around from one specialized classroom and teacher to the next - art, music, Mandarin, science, library, perceptual motor (a.k.a. "the fun room"), and P.E. - learning how to read, write, and add in between. They are flourishing, once again in separate classrooms - a division that is beneficial to their development and critical to their peer's education - and they love their homeroom teachers, both of whom are from Australia, and both of whom have that wonderful mixture of kindness and authority that seems to be so effective for teachers. I wish there were a way to bottle and sell that personality so unique to educators of young children - I know I'd buy some.

This week in P.E., our energetic kindergartners started working on the climbing wall - the sight of which, way back in December (when we first toured the campus) was the deciding factor in the boys' enthusiastic acceptance of the Singapore American School. They liked the materials at the Montessori school we visited, and they liked the teachers at one of the local preschools; but the climbing wall - that was something special, and they have been asking when they might scale its hallowed faux stones since January. Unfortunately, they have not been able to do anything but touch said stones thus far; apparently baby steps are not just for learning how to walk.

Next week our children will start taking an extra Mandarin class twice a week after school. They have already asked me when we can start talking in Mandarin as a family - apparently English has become rather boring. Since my grasp of that beautiful, but very complicated language is limited to counting from one to four, a feat I learned from the boys, I guess I have some work to do. I have a whole set of language CDs, the seal of which is barely broken, from which I can presumably learn a little Mandarin, if I could just make myself listen to them.

Like the boys, Greg and I both are enjoying our theoretically diurnal labors. Greg was promoted at the end of last month, and he now manages the launch team for both inkjet and laser printers. It is his first foray into the difficult realm of staff supervision, but he has quickly adapted to the new responsibilities, despite the increase in late-night overseas conference calls. Having had my contract extended through the end of October, I am now working on site 30 hours per week - thanks to the new and extended kindergarten school day - and I am still having a great time wallowing in the vast array of spreadsheet opportunities Dell has to offer. Ahhh, Excel…

And what do we vapid folk do nowadays for entertainment, when we are not toiling away on our employer's products of choice that is? No, we do not skulk about the island, searching for a glimpse of the thankfully elusive black spitting cobra; we do what we did when we first moved here, what we frequently did back in Texas: we watch TV. Most nights, we actually watch while we toil. I know that I reveal this tantalizing morsel of our personal lives at great risk of boring you even further - if that is possible - with the mundane details of our insipid lives, but it is the truth. Sadly, I can't even say that we watch interesting TV; although we are, as I have mentioned before, completely hooked on reality shows - the only programs shown in Singapore that are current. Until last week, our Wednesdays and Thursdays were governed by Rock Star: Supernova. I can't tell you how disappointed we were in the outcome of that show! Admittedly, we are probably not the target audience for the subject band's material - although I loved their first song - but still… The terribly attractive young Australian would have been a much better choice.

Fortunately, this week heralded a new season of The Amazing Race, a season premiere as diverse in its cast as it is in its itinerary. We were very sad to see the only overtly non-Christian teams eliminated the first night - such a wonderful opportunity for education about the beauty inherent in religious diversity was dashed to the curb in just over an hour. I am sure Jerry Bruckheimer was cursing the outcome as well. At least the two unbearably cheerful cheerleaders were the next to go.

We do have some potentially entertaining vacation time coming up: all four of us have a few days off in late October when Singapore takes time off for two major holidays: Deepavali, the Hindu "Festival of Lights," and Hari Raya Puasa, the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan. We had been planning a return trip to the charming Thai city of Phuket during this abbreviated vacation time, but the recent coup, bloodless though it may currently be, has thrown a bit of a wrench into those plans. Political turmoil trumps beautiful beaches, I'm afraid. We are now looking at Bali as a possible destination - equally close, hopefully less dangerous.

As always, we are missing all of you, and hoping you are well. I'll leave you now with a poetic, rather than photographic, representation of our week:

Supernova the band has anointed
A new singer - we're so disappointed
We prefer the Australian
Not the gloomy Canadian!
Now our sad little lives are disjointed.


Take care,
Shannon et al.