Friday, August 31, 2012

Singapore stoplights.

I love the look on Linna's face when she listens to the stoplights in Singapore. They sound like video games. Only some stoplights sound like this, and this is one of them by my husband's work at Harbour Front. It starts making this noise when the light turns green.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Linna's first music class in singapore.

This week, Linna and I attended her first music class in Singapore at Our Music Studio, located at the Tanglin Mall (in the middle of the city). They offer music classes for children age 0-6 years. We had to take a cab to the class, because there's no way I'm going to figure out how to get our stroller and Linna on a bus by myself. The cab ride was about 10 minutes from our apartment, and it was the first cab I got all by myself:) It's still so weird not having Linna in a car seat when we go places, but I'm slowly getting used to it.

The teacher trying to get Linna to join in the fun.

Teaching the kids about vibration.

When we first arrived at the music studio, the lady at the front desk checked us in, and scanned our heads with this little electronic device. When I asked what it was, she said it is used to check our body temperature. How impressive! In Singapore, they really take measures seriously when keeping people healthy, and not allowing sick children into the classroom. I wish they did this at our classes in Minnesota!

The music class was led by one female teacher, and it lasted 45 minutes. There were about eight other babies in our class (age 6 months - 1.5 years), and they were (originally) from all over the world. Some babies were walking, and others were just starting to crawl. Some were with a nanny, and some were with their moms. But all of the babies loved the music!

We used our bodies as instruments, and we also danced and sang songs. I knew a couple of the songs ("You Are My Sunshine" and "If All The Raindrops Were Lemon Drops & Gum Drops"), and everything was sang and spoken in English. The kids got to use ribbons and instruments, such as drums and sandpaper blocks to keep the beat of the music.
Playing with ribbon.
So into the sandpaper blocks.
The teacher worked each one of the children's names into the "hello" and "goodbye" songs that we sang, which is one of Linna's favorite things. I really enjoyed having Linna in a group of kids her own age, because we don't have a group of "friends" here yet like we do at home. Linna kept her distance and stayed close to mama at first, but then she warmed up and was playing with the other kids. Normally, Linna is right in the mix at our classes in Minnesota, but she was kind of an observer at this class.
Drum master.
Kids drumming.
The teacher also brought out a parachute, which is one of the things we've played with before at her class at The Little Gym in Minnesota. Toward the end of class, the teacher turned down the lights and passed out glasses of warm water to the adults. I'm not sure what the purpose of the water is, but Linna enjoyed drinking out of the cup and drooling it all over herself:)
At the end of class, the teacher pulled out 10-12 drums for the kids. Linna loved banging on the drums! The class was singing Linna's name (during the "goodbye" song) and I think Linna got so excited, that she had a little stumble with her drum, which caused a meltdown (see video below). What better way to end a fun class, right?! We can't wait until our next class on Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3 years ago today, linna's dad proposed.

And I said YES! I remember this day like it was yesterday. My parents had Papa Saigh's parents over for dinner, as they were meeting for the first time on Papa Saigh's actual birthday (August 29th). Since I was super stressed out making sure everything went perfectly, a proposal was the furthest thing from my mind. Plus, it was Papa Saigh's birthday, and like he'd actually propose on his birthday, right?! I had a couple glasses of wine during dinner to calm my nerves, and when the wine starts flowing, our "Borat" voices come out in full force (as you'll hear in this video). Papa Saigh gave a toast during dinner, thanking me and my parents for putting the dinner together, and he gave me a little "thank you" gift. Our friend Joe (Papa Saigh's roomate at the time) was there with his girlfriend (now wife) Gabby as well, and he was secretly video taping everything. Everyone knew what was going on except me. The gift Papa Saigh gave me was a little chocolate box with an engagement ring inside! Both of our families, including my brother and sister, were there for one of the best days of my life. This is a moment I will never forget, and neither will Papa Saigh, since we now celebrate his birthday and our engagement anniversary on the same day!

The Toast...

The Proposal...

Linna, at this moment you were just a hope and a dream:)

I love you AJ Saigh. Happy birthday!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Still following minnesota news.

***UPDATE ON 11/30/2012***

I am so happy that this case I wrote about back in August, looks to simply be a misunderstanding. Charges against Minnesota State University, Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner have been dropped. There are so many sad aspects to this story, but it's incredibly upsetting to know that this Mankato father of three will always be connected to the accusations of producing child pornography, after a school employee found what he/she thought was inappropriate videos of Hoffner's three children on his work cell phone.

I do not personally know any of the people involved in this situation. I still feel this school employee acted appropriately, because it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to children. However, I do hope this family is able to recover from these allegations, and that they are stronger after going through this terrible ordeal.


Although we are 13 hours ahead of Minnesota in Singapore, I'm doing my best to keep up with the news in Minnesota, as well as what's happening around the world. One story that has grabbed my attention, is the story of the Minnesota State University Mankato (this is my alma mater) football coach, accused of producing child pornography, after a school employee found what he/she thought to be inappropriate videos of Hoffner's three children on his work cell phone.

My initial thought after reading the story was that of disgust, and I immediately compared this case to the Jerry Sandusky case. However, when the news broke that Todd Hoffner's (the MSU football coach accused of producing child pornography) wife was planning on speaking out, I decided to give the story a second read. As of right now, Hoffner is accused of having videos of his three children playing naked, on his work phone.. According to the police report, two of videos show the couple's son and two daughters dancing around naked. A third video allegedly shows one of the daughters being woken up to go to the bathroom. The video shows the camera focusing on the back of the girl's underwear. At one point the report says that the videos show some of the kids bending over and exposing their anuses.

Personally, nothing in these videos sounds perverted or abusive. In my opinion, kids will be kids, and some kids think it is funny to bend over to show their butts to the camera. Some kids and even parents (including myself) think it is silly to have their child running around naked with a football helmet on (this is what one of the videos showed, according to the police reports). NO WHERE (that I have seen) does it say that Hoffner was making his children do these things in front of the camera, nor was he abusing them in any way. To me, this just sounds like a bunch of kids being silly, and a father capturing these private family moments on camera.

Melodee Hoffner speaking out Monday morning. Courtesy: Mankato Free Press

If this is a case of a father capturing private family moments on camera, I do feel that it is his job as a parent to teach his kids that it probably isn't appropriate to bend over naked in front of a camera. But again, kids do weird things, until we teach them differently. Although I don't have video of my one-year-old running around naked wearing a football helmet, or bending over in front of the camera, I sure do have a lot of videos of her naked on my phone. Naked babies are adorable, but I'm sure there are people out there who could consider these videos that I have of my daughter, as child pornography, simply due to the fact that she is naked. Come to think of it, I DO have a video of my daughter playing naked in the back yard, and she does bend over to pick up a rock. Is this private family moment that I've captured on video, child pornography?! I also have video of my daughter, where she is naked and crawling away from me, and I've zoomed in on her little tushie because, let's be honest, baby tushies are the CUTEST! Does this make me a criminal?!

I am thankful that a school employee, after finding these videos on Hoffner's phone, stepped in and reported what she saw to the police. She could have simply said nothing. Instead, she did the right thing, by letting the police and court system decide if the children in the video were actually being exploited. She had the best interest of the children in mind, and stepped in to protect them, if in fact they were being abused in the video.

If Hoffner is innocent, his reputation is tarnished forever because of these accusations. His family will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. Imagine if your husband's mug shot was splashed across TV screens and newspapers around the world, for simply shooting videos of your kids goofing around naked (if that is all the videos actually show). HOWEVER, I have NOT seen these videos, so I don't know what the exact nature of the videos. I have only read the police report. If Hoffner in any way is directing his children to do inappropriate acts, or using these videos in some perverted way, then I will "eat my words" for even thinking about second-guessing this man. No child should EVER have to go through sexual abuse, and it is our job as parents to protect our children from predators. Until we actually see these videos that Hoffner allegedly shot, or hear more about the content, I don't think it's fair for people to immediately assume that this man is a sexual predator. I hope that for the time being, the children's mother or some other person steps in to protect them, while the facts in this case are sorted out.

Food in singapore.

This is where we've gotten most of our "fast food" so far.

Besides the high prices on food at the grocery store on many items we're used to eating in the US, the food in Singapore is pretty good. AJ and I are trying our best to eat like the locals, but some of the food selections are a bit to "out there" for our tastes. There are so many types of foods to select from here: Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, etc., and we're beginning to find some of our favorites.

Minced Chicken with Lemon Grass.

Today, Linna and I had some Vietnamese food from a place called The Orange Lantern. This food was DELICIOUS! We ordered the Minced Chicken with Lemon Grass, and the Spring Rolls. Lemon Grass foods are very popular on menus in Singapore. It's a very fresh, lemon, "earthy" taste, and I find that it has similarities to Fruit Loops cereal of all things. Linna and I both LOVED the Minced Chicken with Lemon Grass, as it tasted kind of like the meat inside a gyro, with a hint of Fruit Loops:) The Spring Rolls were very crispy and filled with vegetables, including carrots and mushrooms.

The Indian food that I ordered. Not a fan.

AJ's rice omlet with salmon on top. He liked it. Me, not so much.

Yesterday, AJ and I decided to get lunch at the food court above Vivo City (the mall near our place). The food court is pretty interesting, as they have so many different kinds of food to choose from, all in one place. AJ got an omelet with rice inside, and a piece of salmon on top (I can't remember what it was called). I decided to be adventurous and get Indian food. Back home in Minnesota, I have eaten and enjoyed Indian curry dishes that aren't too spicy. Well, in Singapore, Indian food is VERY spicy. I decided to get this potato curry dish that was wrapped in a crispy bread shell. I can't remember the name, but it was gross. Linna enjoyed the outside of the dish though (it was basically crispy bread). There were two other side dishes that came with it and they were both SO SPICY. I don't think I'll be getting Indian food in Singapore again.

Linna enjoying a butterfly roll.



No matter what type of food court we go to in Singapore, we see food just sitting out without being heated or cooled. Meats, eggs, vegetables, etc., are all out on display. In the US, this wouldn't happen because of our food prep and storage guidelines, but in Singapore it's completely acceptable. It's quite the site to see! There is also so much FISH on the menu here. From fish balls (I have no idea what this is) to fish soup, fish is a very popular dish in Singapore, but not a "flavor" I'm really into. One day while AJ was out with his new co-workers, they got him to eat a chicken foot. After he ate it, one of his co-workers told him that she's never even tried that before, and that AJ is slowly becoming Chinese;) AJ won't be eating chicken feet again anytime soon!

Soya Milk.

Chocolate Singapore Pancake.

Linna gives the pancakes here two baby thumbs up!

Linna and I also got to try a soya milk from Mr. Bean, along with a chocolate Singapore pancake. The soya milk was pretty good, but very rich. Linna and I both liked it, as it tasted like coconut. I ordered it, thinking there was coffee in it (boy was I wrong). The Singapore pancake is very different from the pancakes we're used to eating in Minnesota. In Singapore, it's more like a muffin or cake, with filling inside. They were ok, but kind of bland tasting. Linna enjoyed the chocolate!

My favorite, handmade dumplings on the left. Chicken and fried rice on the right.

Fresh juices.

Two of my favorite things that we've eaten at the food court or Food Republic, are the fresh-squeezed juices and the handmade dumplings. The fresh-squeezed juice (I ordered carrot, apple, and orange) reminds me of the juice stands in NYC. I used to order a juice every morning on my way to work! The handmade dumplings are steamed with pork, spices and chives inside. They are spectacular! Also, food that is sold as a meal in Singapore is called a "set", instead of a "meal" as we would say in Minnesota.

I LOVE this lychee drink, but at 220 calories per
bottle, this was a one-time treat.

The apple juice at the grocery store has aloe vera in
it. Maybe it's for the people who have sun-burn on the inside?!

Singapore also has fast-food places that we're used to seeing in Minnesota. AJ has been to Subway, and I actually got us KFC one night (we needed an "American fix"). Places like KFC and Pizza Hut have different versions of the foods we're used to seeing in Minnesota. Pizza Hut has baked rice dishes like Curry Zazzle and the Chili Crab Baked Rice, as well as pizzas like Curry Chicken and Ocean Catch. Although we only got chicken tenders and french fries at KFC, I saw that they have Shrimp Stars (fried shrimp in the shape of stars). There's so many different things here, that you don't see on the fast-food menus in Minnesota. Who knows, maybe one day right?!

Fish Donuts from KFC anyone?!

We have yet to venture into the city farther, to explore the markets and outdoor food stands. There's still a lot of time left to enjoy all of the tasty treats in Singapore! I think Linna is enjoying these new foods, just as much as we are:)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Learning new things in singapore.

Even when we're just hanging out at "home" in Singapore, Linna is having fun and learning new things. The other day, I took out this caterpillar-book toy that Linna got for her birthday, and she could literally play with it for hours. She just presses the caterpillar's nose, and dances to the music. I think she has some wicked dance moves, and must get them from her mama;)

She's also learned to make the noises that a puppy, cow, and duck say. When we go on a walk in the morning, we work on these noises, and the locals probably think I'm crazy making all these weird noises! Sorry the video is so blurry, but I'm just learning how to focus the video on our Canon camera (I'm used to shooting on my iPhone).
Linna is also learning how to be a good little helper. If I ever need someone to find my shoes for me and put them on my feet, I know who to ask;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

High prices in singapore.

One thing we've learned while living in Singapore is that this is a very wealthy country. Another thing we've learned: Prices for Western food items are through the roof.

Anyone in the mood for some million dollar cereal?! How about some beer?!

That's right, a six-pack of Corona is almost $25 in Singapore. It's like this for wine and beer across the board. Even the local beer called "Tiger" is about $15 for a six-pack. Looks like Mama and Papa Saigh won't be drinking too much for three months. Also, organic baby food, as well as brands like Gerber are super high in Singapore. I'm so thankful that I brought a couple dozen fruit and veggie pouches for Linna, so I know she's getting healthy foods, on top of all the new foods she is trying in Singapore.

Anyone in the mood for a $15 pint of ice cream?! I guess this will teach us to eat like the locals, right?! One can only hope.

Friday, August 24, 2012

First night out in singapore.

Check out that hotel in the background. It has an infinity pool on the roof deck.

Last night, AJ, Linna and I went out for dinner with AJ's co-worker Dolly (the woman he is replacing at the Singapore office when she goes on maternity leave next week) and her husband Brian. This couple is so much fun and we could have hung out with them much later into the evening! Dolly is Chinese and from Singapore, and Brian is from Ireland. They actually met through working together. They're expecting their first child (a little girl) in the next couple weeks, so it was so interesting talking to Dolly about her expectations, plans, and pregnancy stories.

Dolly and Brian.

Our first beers in Singapore.

Dolly and Brian took us to a restaurant called IndoChine on the Singapore River, and the food was outstanding! Dolly described it as an Asian-fusion restaurant, and I think it was the perfect place to take an American couple, trying to ease their way into traditional Asian cuisine. We had the Cha Gio (Crispy Vietnamese Vegetarian Spring Rolls) and the Chao Tom (Prawn Quenelles on Sugarcane) as starters, and both were amazing! I would eat them both again, anytime, anywhere. We also had our first beers in Singapore, which were much needed:) I ordered the Singha beer from Thailand, and AJ had some kind of Belgium beer. I tasted both and they were superb! Beer here has a little bit of a sweeter taste than beer at home. I am a fan, except for the price! Alcohol here is VERY expensive.

A view from the river.

For dinner, I ordered the Mee Khmer, which is basically a thin noodle dish with chicken, tofu and vegetables. It's probably the closest thing to a Pad Thai, and was delicious! AJ ordered that Crispy Sea Khmer Style, and I can't say I was too big of a fan of this dish. It tasted too "fishy" for me, but AJ seemed to love it.

There were were so many expensive, foreign cars
parked in this hotel. I should have taken a photo - unreal.

Linna all dressed up for her first night out in Singapore.

Dolly and Brian also showed AJ, Linna and I the views of the hotels and buildings along the water. The views were spectacular, and are the best I've seen so far. The entire city was lit up, and since it was a Friday night, there were a lot of people heading out to clubs and bars. The photos we took don't do this city justice, as it was a little hazy out last night. AJ and I agreed that this part of Singapore reminded us of Chicago, as there are restaurants and bars all along the river. It was truly amazing!

Linna was an excellent little guest! She actually had her first ride in the car on the car without being in a car seat. This made me a little nervous, but there's no way we were going to drag her car seat and stroller around with us. Once we got her in her stroller and gave her a bottle, she had no problem just falling asleep on her own while we enjoyed our dinner and great company. When we got home around 10pm, we put her in her pajamas, and she laid right down and went to sleep in her pack n' play! Last night was actually the first night she didn't wake up crying, and I didn't have to bring her in bed with me (praise Jesus). Since she has been sleeping so poorly in her pack n' play, my friend Arleigh actually told me to try putting a soft blanket under her sheet, so I put a smaller down comforter under it. I don't know if that's the reason for her staying in her pack n' play and sleeping until 6am (she's been getting up at 5am since we arrived in Singapore), but we'll try it again tonight!

Our good little dinner guest.

It was so wonderful being in the company of two wonderful people last night, giving AJ and I an opportunity to have some "adult time". Linna was so well behaved, so I think we'll bring her out again another time!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our daily routine in singapore.

Our morning coffee.
In Minnesota, we're used to putting Linna to bed around 7 or 8pm, while my husband and I stay up until 10 or 11pm. All of us normally get up around 7:30 or 8am. Not in Singapore! For the last few days, we've all been going to bed around 7pm, and get up at 5:30am. This is mainly because of Linna (she hasn't been sleeping well here), but it's also because there's not much we can do at night. We get like nine channels that are mainly Asian channels, but they also have an American channel that plays reruns of shows like The Chew, The X Factor, The Doctors, Doctor Oz, etc. Yes I am upset that they don't play any of my trashy reality TV shows like the Real Housewives, AND we can't get them to play online.

Also, is so much cooler here in the early morning. Linna and I walk the Keppel Bay Bridge/Plaza, which has gorgeous views of the sea. We like to watch the Asian men and women who stand on the edge of the bay, and do this stretching, yoga, meditation kind of thing. I'm not exactly sure what they're doing, but it looks interesting! AJ started going to the gym in the morning too, since he doesn't have to be to work until 9am (he usually goes in at 8am in the US). I make breakfast for the three of us, which usually consists of eggs on toast, coffee, and fruit for Linna. We're drinking instant coffee because we have a hot water maker instead of a coffee machine (I like it, but AJ isn't a fan). We've started buying the "local" brands of food because the Western food brands are literally triple or quadruple the price as they'd be in Minnesota (more on food and prices later).

Princess Linna prefers mom's bed over the pack n' play. Can't say I blame her.

The Asian women doing their morning exercises/meditations on the plaza.

This is a photo of the Keppel Bay Bridge and Plaza, where Linna
and I walk as the sun rises each morning.

Once we're done with our breakfast, walk, and workout, Linna takes a quick nap while we shower and get ready. Once AJ heads to work, Linna and I go explore or hang out by the pool. We're discovering a lot of new and delicious foods, such as handmade dumplings that I found at the Food Republic (a huge food court with all different types of Asain foods). Linna is stared at all the time, and people love to talk to her. She talks right back, as she loves saying "hiiiiii" to everyone! Today, we stopped at the playground on our property, and Linna met a little girl name Virginia. I had an embarrassing moment trying to learn the little girls name, as her mother obviously didn't speak English when I asked what her daughter's name was. She said, what sounded to me like, "Vah-hair-gin-e-ah". I thought it was some kind of traditional Asian name, so I tried sounding it out. When I finally figured out she was saying "Virginia", I felt like such an idiot. The woman just had a thick accent:)

Linna meets Virginia at the playground.

One morning while we were out, these kids were singing, so we stopped and
listened. They then started to sing in Chinese to Linna.

After Linna's afternoon nap, we'll either go out again, or hang out by the pool. We haven't gone outside of a walking distance from our apartment yet. I'm waiting to do more "adventurous" exploring around the city this weekend when AJ is with me:)

Of course Linna found a swing/hammock at the playground.

For dinner, we usually eat the leftover food from what we had for lunch, since portions are pretty good-sized here. Last night I brought home some bread treats from the bakery and they were delicious! Tonight we're going out to eat with the woman who AJ is replacing at his Singapore office (she is going on maternity leave) and her husband. She is this tiny Asian woman named Dolly (I am in LOVE with her name) who looks like she swallowed a basketball. She could not be any cuter! She actually got AJ to eat a chicken foot the other day at lunch. He was not impressed.

Morning Skype session with MeMaw and PeePaw in Mankato, MN.

I'm so used to having a lot of help with Linna back home, but in Singapore it's just me and her, since AJ works pretty late. I'm having so much fun watching her learn, see and try new things, but I'm pretty worn out once 7pm rolls around. We usually Skype with our families during our mornings and Minnesota's nights. We leave our computers on, so when we Skype each other around 7am our time, and 8pm their time, the computers ring like phones. Linna can totally recognize who she is seeing on the computer when we Skype. She likes to clap and point at the person on the other end.

Linna on the Keppel Bay Plaza.

I got AJ and I Blackberrys today with SIM cards, so we can at least get a hold of each other during the day. International plans on our iPhones were SO expensive, so this works just fine here. It's amazing how much more I actually "live in the moment" without having Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. on my iPhone distracting me. I do miss taking photos with my iPhone and uploading them right away onto Facebook and Twitter.

This man loved Linna and kept telling her to try the new foods.

Hanging out by the pool.

Trying a Butterfly Roll at the Food Republic this
morning. I sure hope it's not made out of real butterflies:(

Well, I am off to take a nap while Linna