Life In A Foreign Land

It has been 2 months since we left our home in Singapore and I am glad that life has more or less setttled into a routine
In about 2 weeks’ time the boys will start school and they will be going to the same school
And I think it’s gonna be fun

The transition was tougher than I expected
The most stressful part has to be looking for a house and then a school, which I can trust that will teach and not just let my kids play all day
Then there were the little hiccups along the way
And I survived, though I think all this stress has taken a toll on me

For the record, I was trapped in my own house on the second day of moving in
The husband was at work and the power supply for the house was cut off
Apparently we took ownership of the house faster than the utility account

There was no water, no electricity and I couldn’t get my garage door to open when I needed to go fetch the kids from their summer program
Fortunately, the mattress guy came and the African American who was more than doubled my size held up the garage door with sheer muscle strength while I backed out the car
He saved my day but that didn’t spare us from having to shower in icy cold water for the next 3 days

Then there was the part on driving on the different side of the road
It didn’t come naturally and I went on the wrong side of the road a few times and I am still keeping my fingers crossed each time I drive
I had to drive 15 miles with the kids on the 3rd day we arrived

Racing down the interstate highway at 70 miles per hour in a rental car wasn’t really what a stay-at-home-mom does

Trucks of all makes and siizes made tiny me feel even punier
And I couldn’t say enough good things about those geeks who came up with Google Map
It gave hope to hopeless navigator like me and arguably made map reading an obselete skill

Then 2 weeks into our transition, I was told that my Singapore driving license would become invalid after a year
Didn’t matter if I had an expired lesson driving license from the country
I had to retake everything, theory and practical, no less

And you thought that the 20 years of driving experience would have helped me
but the truth was, that also included 20 years of bad driving habits, those that would unnerve a tester

So after having to wait 4 hours for a 10 minutes theory test I wasn’t in my best mood
To make things worst, I was told to go back on another day for my practical test

I realised that not all counties are made equal even for a first world country and it made me appreciate the efficiency we have back home
Insistence and string pulling worked
I got my way, they granted me the practical test

So after 7 hours of gruelling wait and having to argue with the tester the way to check for traffic,  I walked out of the shabby office with a tiny sheet of paper that certified me, Legal To Drive

Then to add drama, 3 weeks ago, while trying to decide what dress to wear for a dinner function, I realized that one of our luggage was missing (It was one with all my jewelery and my favourite watch)

We went onto a frantic search around the house to no avail
Then my husband remotely remembered how he had carefully tucked the small luggage in the corner of our cramped up hotel room
That was more than a month ago !
My heart almost stopped

We called the hotel and was put on hold
It was like judgement day

Finally after what seemed like forever, the lady spoke
What came through was like the most beautiful thing I have ever heard

They found our luggage !
I couldn’t believe it !

I don’t think my heart could take any more of these
The last 2 month was nothing short of eventful
but somehow I feel that the adventure is far from over

But isn’t that’s what life is all about
About not knowing and having to change
About making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next

So come what may
Just bring’em on, Life !

 
 

A Taste Of Home

So after our Washington trip, we were back long enough to clear up the cobwebs in our home and do our laundry so that we could have fresh clean clothes to pack for another road trip down South
About a week later, we are finally back
All the traveling is fun but it’s tiring me out
We spent hours under the hot sun and ate out everyday

We had this on the night we reached home
It was total bliss
I didn’t realize how much I missed my own cooking

Which perhaps explain why I plunged into another hasty and rash decision
I decided to make rice dumplings a.k.a Bak Zhang for a couple of friends who were coming over for dinner
I thought I could prepare everything a day before and still have them taste very nice on the day itself
Wasn’t that brilliant

I did my Maths in my head, I needed 20
How difficult can it be to make 20 Bak Zhang ?

I had my bamboo leaves and chestnuts sitting in the pantry, all I needed was to slice up the pork, dice the mushrooms, cut some garlic and shallots, stir fry them and I am set
I had to estimate though as I was clueless as to exactly how much ingredient I need to make 20 dumplings

I soon found out that dicing 300 g of mushrooms is very different from dicing 150 g
And I could be setting myself up if my estimations were wrong

It took me a morning to cut, slice and dice
Then I was caught between whether to add 5 spice powder and had to message my mom, who was already fast asleep on the other side of the world
In the end how the ingredient was mixed and cooked was purely by hunch and gut feel

By the time when I had everything ready and set aside, it was already 5 in the evening
Thankfully, wrapping the dumpling, which was the most daunting part to some, was a breeze
By the time I fished out my last batch of dumplings, it was past midnight
I was exhausted
I made 30, used up most of the ingredient and left 1/3 of the rice

As I sat down today to savour the fruits of my labour
I thought of my new Korean friends’ look of disbelief when I asked them whether they knew how to make kimchi
They uttered a harmonious no and politely told me that only their moms know how to make them
They bought their kimchi off the shelves in Korean supermarket just like me

I realised my question might have been rude suggesting they were old
And so, if the same logic holds, this might be a dead give away

Can you tell a woman’s age by the food she cooks ?

Linking up with Dino Family’s Foodie Fridays

Our First Trip

We are currently on vacation
It’s been more than a week since we left the comfort of what we have come to call home

We flew into Buffalo Airport in New York, crossed the border and checked into a hotel that overlooked the Niagara Falls
The views were majestic, the falls were awe inspiring and I don’t think my limited vocabulary would do justice

However, the area around the falls wasn’t anything to shout about
It was commericalised, teeming with tourists, and everything cost an arm and a leg
We blew a little fortune there but we thought this would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime trip

We didn’t have our own transport, and walking under the hot summer sun wasn’t exactly fun for the kids

But it was the best way to get around, especially if you want to cross the border to check out the falls from both the American and Canandian side
There were long queues for cars and cyclists to clear the custom, just like our Johor-Spore causeway

After 5 days, it was time to leave but it was not for home
My husband had decided to pack us with him for his working trip
So here we are, in an expensive cramped up room, like most hotels in big cities, about a mile away from the White House

It is our first time in D.C. and this place looked almost french, an upsized Parisien clone, only less pretty
The metro system is less complicated than the one in Paris but they were just as old and dark (MRT back home, is in a league of its own)
There are less routes and less stops which means more walking and I will be the only one bringing the kids

I gave up, after 1 afternoon and rushed down to the nearest Target to grab 2 kick scooters, one for each of them

With their new wheels, they zipped through crowded streets while I chased after them with a stroller
oh yes, I still need my stroller as the little one couldn’t last whole day even with a kick scooter

The stroller is my security blanket, my life saver
Beside serving its purpose, I used it for hanging and carrying EVERYTHING
Camera, bags, water bottles, snicks snacks, anything and everything that would come in handy for keeping the kids happy, even the scooters

We had been car-less for more than a week now and I thought I had gotten quite used to moving around with the kids and hadn’t missed a thing
Until I had to rent a car the other day to drive more than 30 miles out of D.C. to Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia

I got into the driver’s seat, a familiar feeling rushed over me
It almost made me teared
I felt … emancipated, liberated, freed

Swerving through the crazy Washington DC traffic, I felt the rush, the adrenaline
I thought I felt like one of the ‘Bra Burning’ feminists of the 60s
I was free, and I could go anywhere, do anything and nothing can stop me
Not even the two toll booths that I didn’t know how to pay and so failed to pay

I realized how much I missed driving

Control, power, liberation, freedom
Who would have thought that this skill that I had incidentally picked up about 2 decades ago would mean so much to me today