Car shopping

After seven months of buses, taxis and trains (MRT) we broke down and bought a car.

IMG_4904As I have discussed in the past, cars are very expensive in Singapore.  Part of the reason is that you have to buy a COE, a special license for the car.

The COE is only good for 10 years.  After 10 years you turn the car back into a car dealer who then gives you back a portion of the COE (the government decides how much for each type, make and model of car and reimburses the dealer) and a little bit of money for the car body.  The dealer then sales that car onto another country, usually Malaysia, or sells the car for parts.  Therefore the only cars you will see on the road older than 10 years old are taxis which have different rules.

We did our research and priced out renting a car ($1400-$2000 sing dollars a month for the car which includes insurance and maintenance) and buying a car that only had a 1 1/2 – 2 years left on it’s COE.  Every year closer to the end of the COE the less you pay.  So you don’t have to pay for all 10 years just what’s left on the COE and what you would pay for a used car.  It’s a bit confusing but we did the maths and even with maintenance, road tax (which you pay every year on top of the COE) and insurance if we got a 2005 car and drove it for the next 1 1/2  years or so until the COE ran out it would be cheaper than renting.  Once the COE runs out next year we can get different used car for how long we decide to stay here in Singapore.

That all sounded good until we started looking.  There a couple of places around the island that are basically used car malls.  There a bunch of dealers with all their cars lined up next to each other.  You go look and figure out what you want and who has it.  We knew we wanted a 2005 car that had a COE until at least next Summer.  I didn’t want anything too large because the parking garages and lots here aren’t made for big cars and I was a bit nervous driving here anyway (more on that later).  Something that gave the girls plenty of room and that we could bump a lot of stuff in the back.  Gas is pretty expensive so I wanted something that wouldn’t cost a fortune to drive.  I wasn’t asking for much, was I?

We looked and looked so much my brain started to hurt.  I think we may have over thought and looked it but in the end we got a 2005 Honda Airwave.  It’s a small Honda station wagon that looks big and feels big inside but is really very easy to drive and park because it is small.  It’s perfect for us.

No one was happier than the girls.  No more two buses home from school for Ellie.

IMG_0046It has a very groovy whole roof sunroof that they love looking out.

IMG_4906 IMG_0048Having a car has opened the whole island up to us. I was a bit nervous at first.  Think driving in Northern New Jersey during rush hour, on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car while being cut off by Maseratis, Benetly’s and Farraris.  That’s what it feels like driving here.  I think after a week with the car I’m beginning to get the hang of it but I don’t think I’ll ever master the Singaporean back into parking places trick (you can always tell the Expats in a parking lot they are the only ones that pull into parking places Singaporeans ALWAYS back into places).

There will be times that we still take taxis and buses and the MRT but mostly we will to be driving everywhere.  Ken says having a car makes him feel like he actually lives in Singapore and with what we will be able to explore now I can see why he says it.

 

 

A few of the decisions

Many things have had to be decided in this whole moving to Singapore thing.

Two of them so far have been where we are going to live and where Ellie will be in school.  Since we aren’t from Singapore,  Ellie can’t go to public school and must go to private school.

In April, Ken made a trip over to check some things out before the final decision to go was made.  He luckily was able to visit a few of the schools and we narrowed it down to two.  In the end, Ellie looked at everything and as a group a decision was made.  After receiving her records, testing and a letter of reference from her current awesome second grade teacher Ms. Banks, Ellie was accepted into her and our school of choice, Nexus International School- http://www.nexus.edu.sg/.

Another thing to sort out was where we were going to live.  Ken looked at a few places and we were offered a three bedroom at Kent Vale I – http://www.nus.edu.sg/ohs/future-residents/staff/kent-vale/photo-gallery.php.  Of course we will post more pictures and details once we get there.

 

Leaving Connecticut

This move by far has been the hardest one I have ever made.  Since we are moving so far away and shipping costs are so crazy we are only taking what we can take on the airplane with us.  A few things like pictures and china are going to my parents the rest was sold or given away. It’s weird to have so few possessions left.  It’s the first time in 20 some years I haven’t owned a car.

Luckily, with help from my parents and visits from many friends the last week, we were able to pull it off .

The last weekend we were there my parents came up to help.  Dad helped Ken with a bit of DIY and Mom helped me pack.  We did sneak in one last trip to Lenny and Joe’s for a final seafood feast.

The girls had one last walk around the neighborhood which would have been lovely except in my typical graceful fashion, I took a spill and sprained my ankle and scraped up my knee.  Not exactly what I needed the last week we were there and I finally said I’m not wearing the darn cast anymore the following Friday but we did it.

The girls and my parents left on Monday for Virginia.  That gave Ken and I till Friday to finish packing, getting rid of things and finish up projects around the house.

We never could have finished that last week without the help of some very good friends.  The ladies- Alberta and Donna- from Sadie’s school – Edith B Jackson- collected stuff for their own tag sale, clearing out a bunch of things, my friend Melissa gave me loads of mental and physical support stopping by when I needed her and helping after we left with clearing out, Jeanine gave me a hug when a I needed it and a ride the the rental car place, neighbors helped with trash take out and keeping an eye on things, Themba helped Ken get organized and the with crazy 4 1/2 hour tetris puzzle load up to leave, my parents for taking the girls and giving us the time we needed and my dear friend Maureen help keep me sane by being there night and day to help in any way she could.  Without all of these people and their help, we never ever would have been able to pull this off.  Thank you all so much.

The final few hours where rough but we finally had my Dad’s pick up and a rented Dodge Carivan loaded to the gills with everything we own and ready for the drive to Roanoke and my parents.

Final load up

Good bye Connecticut

Now if we could just sale the house…

Bathroom Redo

It has often been said your house never looks as good as it does right before you sell it.  It  has never been more true than with our house.

We have done all of those projects we have been thinking of doing.  Painted the outside, fixed the gutters, painted the ceilings and the spare room so it no longer says “cuddle” on the wall, and finally redid the bathroom.

Our bathroom had duct tape on the shower wall and the original tile all the way up the walls.  The tile wouldn’t have been a problem if so many of the tiles hadn’t been cracked and broken.

We were told what we already knew, the bathroom needed to be done before we could put it on the market.  We bought it with the bathroom that way but as we all know 5 years ago it was a very different market ( the house has had many improvements and updates and is still going on the market for $22,000 less than we paid for it).  We are actually lucky the valve has only fallen that much.

There is the process to redoing any bathroom especially one from 1928.  We wanted to go original looking with subway tiles and black and white floor but were encouraged by the contractor and our realtor to go more modern.  I think we got a good mix.  We kept the original lovely tub and used fat subway tiles on the wall with a new boarder, vanity, floor tiles and toilet.   It looks lovely, fresh and new.

I’m glad we did it but I must say I’m a little bummed we don’t get to enjoy it…

Preparing

Preparing to leave Connecticut was crazy.

We had a HUGE tag/yard sale and sold as much as we could.  We sold our mini van (our VW is being bought by my Mother in law) and every bit of furniture we own.  Also just about everything in the house was sold or given away.  I became a Craig’s list pro.  Including one evening when someone drove up outside and I delievered lamps right to their car.  A drive through Craig’s List drop off.  My friend Melissa was amazed.

Everyone who came to my house in the month of June did not leave empty handed.  They had at least a plant with them when they left.  At the end we were giving things away left and right it was crazy!

A few things were hard.

Saying good bye to friends we had made and the house that we brought Sadie home to for the first time was harder then we both thought it would be.  We had to erase the the evidence of our life there and prepare the house for sale.

We painted the outside of the house

the height wall

We also remodeled the bathroom (which will get it’s own post) and painted and skimmed more ceilings than Ken will hopefully ever do again in his lifetime.

There were a few chill out times when we enjoyed the Spring by hanging in the hammock  or playing in the sprinklers but mostly it was work and more work.

Who knew leaving the country would be so hard

 

Sadie’s 4th Birthday

Time is moves so fast…

Sadie was 4 on March 30th and she decided she wanted a movie Birthday party.  I thought that’s easy and different, let’s do it.

Since the Disney movie the Croods opened on her Birthday week and it was a movie that would appeal to both boys and girls it was an easy choice.

We went to the theater to book it and low and behold they had a poster that made a for a perfect invite:

A rainbow theme is what she wanted so I made cupcakes, wands, and gift bags:

The reserved a whole row for the kiddos and provided snack boxes:

We all had so much fun and I would do another movie party, easy and fun.

 

 

Let them eat cake

Friday was Ken’s Birthday.

After I got home on Thursday morning from India, I took a couple of hours nap and started on a cake for him.  Thanks to help from Ellie and Sadie I made him a classic yellow butter cake with chocolate fudge buttercream, all from scratch.  The decorations weren’t my best, I just didn’t have the time or mental ablity to get it done this year but I did bust out him camping by a campfire.  I even got the “bright” idea to put his candles in the campfire so it looked like an actual fire when it was lit.  I was more concerned with the taste and wanted him to have a yummy cake and it sure was yummy if I do say so myself.

Predecorations

The top

We went to Texas Roadhouse Steakhouse for his Birthday steak dinner and came home to the birthday cake and pressies.

Another year done and dusted, just don’t mention to Ken he’s getting older.

Why?

When you live in one of the best places in the world (outside of Italy) to get a pizza, why would you ever make your own?  ‘Cause it’s so much fun!

Goldie’s Angles…

are at it again.  This year we are walking in the Orlando Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Goldie herself (now officially a breast cancer survivor -YAY) will be walking the 5k with us.

I’m helping to raise money by holding a raffle.

If your are interested in winning this really cool – if I do say so myself- bag

made by me and helping a wonderful cause just go to:

http://www.info-komen.org/site/TR/RacefortheCure/General?px=7867019&pg=personal&fr_id=2261

and donate at least $10 to Goldie’s Angles under my name.  I’ll enter your name into the drawing and will have Goldie herself pull the name of the winner out on Oct. 16th the day of the race.

Thanks and good luck everyone!