Heart Day 2013

It’s been seven years.  Seven long, yet short years since Ken and I sat in a waiting room in Boston Children’s Hospital first waiting to hear what surgery they were going to perform and that it was complete.  It seems like yesterday, at the same time a lifetime ago.

Every year Ken and I go back and reread my blog entries and all of the comments from that days and weeks following surgery.  It means so much to us the support we got and continue to get from all of you.  Some years Ellie asks to see pictures. Hopefully one of these years she will go back and read the entries and know how much she was, and still is, supported and loved.

I wanted to link you all back to those entries in case you would like to reread and revisit again with us this year.  Start at the bottom and work your way up.

This year, like every year, it is celebrated in our house like a holiday.  We figure if she hadn’t had the new life that the surgery afforded her, we wouldn’t have her – so it should be a holiday.

The day started with a bus ride to school and then back in the afternoon.

photo(1)The girls and I met Ken back at home and headed out for our traditional Heart Day fare, chicken wings.  I know – not the most heart healthy, but it’s what she always wants so…  This year we were scared we wouldn’t be able to find her the buffalo wings that she really likes but with a little internet search on Ken’s part we found the perfect spot, Smokey’s BBQ and American Smoke House.  It’s actually really close to us, only a short bus or taxi ride away.

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We were not disappointed.  The wings were big and spicy and very good.  Ken and I partook in a green beer called the Monster Green lager by Red Dot brew house here in Singapore.  It is green because it is actually made with algae called spirulina.  Believe me, it doesn’t taste like algae at all.  It’s a very good beer.

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We sat at an outside table on a deck surrounded by tables full of Americans. There are not a lot of Americans living here in Singapore and there were more Americans at Smokey’s last night than I have seen anywhere together at one time except for at Ken’s college. Almost like if we were at home at a wings place. We stuck up a conversion with the table of 8 Americans sitting beside us. They asked what we were celebrating and Ellie said Heart Day.

The lady beside me spoke up and said really?  My son across the table had open heart surgery 16 years ago.  He had Tetralogy of Fallot and had surgery when he was 7 months old. It’s amazing that there would be another American at the next table with a child with a congenital heart defect and that we would meet them on Heart Day. She told me the doctors they like and trust and numbers and email addresses were exchanged.

I firmly believe everything happens for a reason.  I believe we got the gift of Ellie for a reason, she was born in Leeds so she could have Dr. Thomson who pushed for the best surgery, we went to Boston so they could do a repair that no one in all of England or parts of America would attempt, and now I know deep down that we sat by that woman and her son at a buffalo wing place on Heart Day in Singapore for a reason.

What an amazing end to Heart Day.

It’s here

A little slice of heaven in my mouth.

One of the things I have been missing are little tastes of home.  While we were down on Orchard Road the other day doing some shopping, look what I found! Krispy Kreme! In Singapore!!!!

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It’s only been open since the beginning of October and the line is crazy if you just want to buy single donuts.  If you buy a dozen, it’s only a 5-10 min wait so, we had no choice but to spring for a dozen, right?

HOLIDAY!

Since we haven’t had a family vacation since, well since I don’t even remember, we booked a midweek break to the island of Bintan, not too far away in Indoneesa.

It still seems weird to me that we can take a 50 min ferry ride and be in Indonesia, but that’s what we did.  The ferry over was smooth and it went so fast we hardly knew we were on it (the one back was a bit choppy and poor Ellie didn’t fair well, next time sea sick bands).

There's our ride

There’s our ride

On the Ferry

On the ferry

Once we got to Bintan, we cleared immigration and took a bus to the resort.  The resort we went to, Nirwana Gardens, offers a large main hotel, huts off the beach, luxury villas, and huts on the beach.  We went with the Mayang Sari Beach Resort which were the huts right on the beach.  It was the totally right choice for us.  We were able to sit on our front porch and watch the girls playing in the sand and shallow surf.  It was so easy with the kiddos.

Our hut was right behind that orange life ring

Our hut was right behind that orange life ring

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That’s Ken chillin’ in a chair on the beach

The side of our hut

The side of our hut

Towel Hut

Towel hut

Now that's a palm

Now that’s a palm

Before

Before

After

After

Bintan is a popular getaway for people from Singapore.  It is so easy that loads of people go over for long weekends.  The fact we were there during the week was great.  We practically had the beach to ourselves, it was so calm and relaxing.

When you stay at any of the resort properties, you get access to the all of them. We went over to the main hotel and Ken and I enjoyed the infinity pool while the girls played and joined in activities at the kids club.

DSCN1435 DSCN1445There was an activity center at the resort as well.  The package we got included a huge buffet breakfast (YUMMY) each morning and an activity pass to allow us to do everything at the activity center.

We spent one whole morning exploring over there. Ken and Ellie did the Flying Fox – a very high, very long zip line adventure. Ellie was a bit scared at first but she jumped and zipped and had a blast.

The tower they jumped from

The tower they jumped from

Ken

Ken

Superman er I mean Ken

Superman, er I mean Ken

 

Ellie

Ellie

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After the ride

After the ride

The girls did archery.  Ellie keep commenting on her being as good as Katniss.  Er, not there yet, but keep trying.

DSCN1430There were pony rides.

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Finally there were elephant feedings and rides.  The girls fed them bananas and then we all took a ride. I have to admit it felt weird and wrong. (The elephants were clearly well taken care of and there were lots on handlers hanging out with them, feeding them and making sure they had water. Also, the elephant rides were only offered for a few hours a day and there were six elephants so that no one elephant was worked too much. )

Pre- Ride feeding

Pre-ride feeding

First off, you are really high off the ground.  There was NO saddle. The girls went on the elephants’ heads in front of one of the handlers and Ken and I rode behind the handlers.  You sat on a blanket and held on with your hands on the handler’s shoulders. My poor guy probably had bruises the next day I was gripping his shoulders so hard.  The handlers held on with their toes through loops in a rope that went across the elephants’ back.  Now, I’m afraid of heights and with every move the elephant made, I was convinced I would fall to my death. The only thing keeping me from freaking out was the girls. That’s the great thing about having children – not wanting to pass your fears on to them, you can’t freak out whenever you want.

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Ken and Sadie's stopped for a drink on the way back

Ken and Sadie’s stopped for a drink on the way back

I was never so glad as I was when that was done. I can check that one off the list but, I don’t think I will be doing that again, ever.  The girls on the other hand LOVED it.

Elephants hanging out resting later in the day

Elephants hanging out resting later in the day

The best part of the whole holiday was the beach and chill time. Hanging out with the kiddos, playing in the water and the sand, just having time to be together without the rush of getting to school and work and groceries and cleaning and washing dishes.

The sunsets were awesome

The sunsets were awesome

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Hangin' on our front porch

Hangin’ on our front porch

It was a wonderful four days and I can’t wait to go back.

School Holiday Fun

As Ellie continued to have school holiday, we/I continued to come up with things to fill the days.

We went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. It was awesome and I liked it even better than the first one.  This was my first movie in Singapore and I have to say that is an experience.  The movie theaters here are very nice.  The seats are very comfy.  They are also preassigned.  You don’t just walk into the theater and sit down.  When you buy your ticket, there is a seat assignment on the ticket and you sit there.  Because of that, everyone buys their tickets online in advance.  You can even buy popcorn and drinks online and just pick them up at the theater.

IMG_0509You also went and checked out Universal Studios Singapore. It’s located on Sentosa and is only about a 20 minute cab ride or 30-40 on a bus.

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I have only been to the Universal Studios in Florida and that was a very long time ago.  So it was like a whole new experience.  We realized that if we went 2 1/2 times in a year it would be worth it to pay for the yearly pass. Because the weather is always warm and the park is open year-round, there is no real season pass, just yearly pass. We splashed out and got it!  We also did the Express Pass. Lets face it, it’s totally worth it.  No 8 and 4 year old want to wait 60-70 minutes to ride the best rides. The Express Pass gave us access to a special line and we were on the rides in 5 minutes.  You do feel a bit bad walking past all of those waiting in line but…

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The cool thing about Universal is that Sadie can ride everything except two rides (one of which was closed anyway).  That is so awesome because we can all ride together and have fun.  The other neat thing is the shows.  They are very well done.  The Water World show was amazing.  Like a movie with lots of action. We were all very impressed.

IMG_0531They had Mel’s Diner with old cars and yummy food and a Sesame Street themed New York City area.  It was fun and the perfect size park for the girls.

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An awesome time was had by all and since it is so close, I can see us going back there on a regular basis.

Botanic Garden

One of the things I’m still getting used to is how small Singapore really is.  There are so many amazing things to see here on the island and even on the bus most take only 30- 1 hr to get there.

Ellie and I were out and about today and I knew on our way to pick up Sadie on the bus we would be passing the Singapore Botanic Gardens. So I asked if she wanted to stop in and check it out since we had a few hours to kill before getting Sadie.

It was awesome.  So much to see and the Orchid Gardens were so beautiful.  The main gardens are free and open to the public everyday to wander and enjoy the Orchid Gardens are only $5 a person for those over the age of 12.  It was so worth the price to get in to see the over 1000 kinds and 2000 hybrids of orchids on display.

Everywhere you looked it something interesting to see.  I know we will now be making the 30 min. bus  journey (15 in a cab) back to the gardens for picnics and just to enjoy the beauty on a regular basis.

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The turtle park, Part 2

I had taken Sadie shortly after we arrived here to the Chinese garden and Live Turtle Museum.  This week is the first week of Ellie’s Fall break (they get two weeks in the Fall).  When I asked her what she would like to do the first thing she said was go to the turtle museum.  So off we went on Monday to the Chinese garden to explore.

Ellie L-O-V-E-D it.  I knew she would think it was cool but she really enjoyed seeing all the different turtles and luring them all in to have a snack.

We hung around the gardens after we left the museum, explored and had a snack of our own.  I’m so glad I got to take her on her own and it was a great start to her holiday week.

Museum bound

Museum bound

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This snake turtle still freaks me out

This snake turtle still freaks me out

Ellie's favorite- the largest fresh water turtle

Ellie’s favorite- the largest fresh water turtle

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Lure them in for their snack

Lure them in for their snack

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My own little budda

My own little budda

The coy circling after their feeding

The coy circling after their feeding

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A Mystical Picnic

Last Saturday we headed down to West Coast park for a really fun event.  The tickets where $40 per family but somehow I entered a contest and won free tickets.  The fact that it was so close to home was an added bonus.  The girls dressed up and actually kept the dress up dresses on for about a hour before they got too hot.

There was a picnic basket with a few treats handed to you when you first checked in, but we brought our own stuff to add to it.  There was live music as well as dance and acting shows. It was all free once you had tickets.

Loads of stalls with cotton candy and balloons but the by far the girls favorite was the “Unicorn” rides.  The only problem was that the line that didn’t seem really long was in fact a 2 1/2 hour wait.  Which I did, with a smile on my face most of the time, while the girls ran around and had fun dancing and watching the entertainment.  At the end of the wait the sun had set but the girls still say it was worth it to ride the unicorns (which Sadie whispered to me were actually horses and ponies with horns tied on their fore heads).

Nothing like a high five from a fairy

Nothing like a high five from one fairy to another

Another one of the park fairies

Another one of the park fairies

Ellie catching bubles

Ellie catching bubbles

Ken chillin' and Sadie doing no one knows what

Ken chillin’ and Sadie doing no one knows what

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Cotton Candy

Cotton Candy

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Unicormn rides

Unicorn rides

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They even talked Sadie into letting go

They even talked Sadie into letting go

School Fair

Last week Sadie’s school put on a fun fair.  Well actually the sr. kindergarten class put on the fair.  Every year, the sr. kindergarten class is responsible for doing a community help project.  They help organize and run the project to raise money for a cause.  They collect count and give the money every year. Since the school year runs from January to January at Sadie’s school like the public school system here in Singapore the project is usually done in the Fall nearer to the end of the school year.

This year they chose to do a fun fair at the school and the money raised went to help children battling cancer.  When we asked what to expect we were told “oh all the normal fun fair stuff.”  This was funny to us because we had no idea what the normal fun fair stuff really was.

The children had food stalls and arts and crafts they had made and sold.  They manned all the tables and took the money as well.  There was a bounce house, finger nail and face painting, henna tattoos, photo booths and fun games like bowling and ring toss with little prizes to be won.

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Bounce House

Bounce House

Nail painting

Nail painting

Ms. Nadine Sadie's teacher

Ms. Nadine Sadie’s teacher

Sadie getting a Henna tattoo from her teacher Ms. Nadine

Sadie getting a Henna tattoo from her teacher Ms. Nadine

Fun on the playground outside

Fun on the playground outside

Play ground fun

Play ground fun

We had a great time and so did Sadie.  They also raised $1386for the Arc Children’s Centre (in aid of children with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses).  Very impressive for a group of 6 year olds.

 

 

Things I miss and the not so much

The first question get asked is “How are you all settling into life in Singapore?” The second is often” Are you missing anything?”

The second is much easier to answer.

I miss:

My family and friends

Target, T.J. Maxx/ Marshals, Jo Ann’s/ Micheals

Crystal light

Fall – the smell, crunch and colors

Pumpkin patches, pumpkin hunting, pumpkin lattes, pretty much pumpkin everything

A cool crisp night- the weather is never different always the same so it’s hard to track the passage of time

Rain storms that actually make the day feel cooler and better not steamer and hotter

Being able to jump in a car to go where you want to go and not relay on buses and cabs

Shopping for clothes where ever I want and not just the few shops that carry over a size 3.

What I don’t miss:

Raking leaves and shoveling snow

Cold weather

Driving

This is just the beginning of the list I’m sure it will grow and grow…