Saturday, April 26, 2014

China's Golden Week: Return to Singapore

Our Singapore 7
Here are the seven highlights from our time in Singapore (the second part of our trip).

The pool!  The McClintock ladies love their time in the pool.  My girls enjoy the beach for a short time, but they would really rather play in the pool.  Our hotel had a fantastic kids area that included completely shaded water slides and a separate splash pad area.

Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo.  The zoo in Singapore has a separate park devoted to a night time safari.  We rode the tram around the park and watched the animals behavior at night.  We even walked through the bat cage.  LBean and I accidentally shrieked a bit, which stirred up some of the birds in the cage with the bats.  We decided we needed to exit ASAP.

Singapore Aquarium on Sentosa Island.  We took advantage of the aquarium that was near our hotel on Sentosa Island.  The aquarium was really nice and we had lunch Cat Cora’s restaurant so we could dine and watch the large tank at the same time.  But, what we all seemed to enjoy the most was the history museum that visitors walk through when entering and exiting the aquarium.  LBean really enjoyed learning about the famous Chinese woman pirate, Ching Shih.  We all enjoyed getting henna tattoos.   

Getting henna tattoos.

The touch pool.
Inside the restaurant where we watched the
fish in the large tank as we ate.
Cable Car Ride.  We have brave girls! They allowed Jamie and me to convince them to take a cable car over the bay and right over the top of a cruise ship.

Little India.  Many ethnicities are represented in Singapore.  Despite our girls’ instance on visiting Chinatown, they eventually agreed with us that since we live in China, we probably don’t need to go to Chinatown.  Instead we went to Little India.  We enjoyed looking at the spices, the flowers, all of the beautiful saris and fabric and the gold jewelry.  We picked up some henna to take home and enjoyed a yummy lunch.  Jamie and I love Indian food!

Picking out a few gifts for
teachers and friends.

Raffles Hotel & Singapore Sling
The iconic hotel in Singapore is the Raffles Hotel.  It oozes old-world charm and we took a refreshment break in their courtyard cafe.  Jamie and I each enjoyed a Singapore Sling, which reportedly was invented at the hotel, and the girls had a more age-appropriate treat…icecream.

Jamie's empty glass is on the left.
I savored my Singapore Sling.

In front of the hotel.  I could only
convince one girl to stand with me.

Singapore Zoo (in the day time)

We ended our time in Singapore at the zoo, but this time in the day.  The zoo was easy to manage and the girls enjoyed all the animals.  If you ever visit, be sure to pack swimsuits because there is a great water play area of the zoo.  It is perfect for a mid-afternoon break during a hot day.

Pretending to be cold near the polar bear.

Water area at the zoo...brilliant.

Did you miss my post about our first stint in Singapore?  You can read it here.  The Indonesia part of our trip is here and here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's That? Wednesday: My Love/Hate Relationship with Potty Training in China

Can I be honest for a moment?  I really, really, really dislike potty training.  It is not a highlight of my mothering career.  And, for the record, my first two children were very easy.  I know it can be much worse.  I don’t like that I have to be constantly thinking about someone else’s bodily functions and asking every 20 minutes, “Do you have to go potty?”  I don’t like having to drop everything and run to the toilet with a toddler any time there is a thought of potty running through her head.  I’m lazy that way and I’ve okay with that.  

Potty training while in China just adds a whole new dimension to the process.  The assurance of clean potties?  Nope.  Finding a potty quickly while out and about?  Nope.  Family bathrooms so daddy can share in the potty training fun?  Nope.  Holding a small child who has legs barely longer than an American Girl doll over a squatty potty…not fun (and doesn’t smell so great either).  Anticipating our 14-hour flight to the US this summer with a potty training toddler…also not fun.

And yet!  We live in a society where it is completely socially acceptable to allow your child (or adult male) to potty in the bushes, the grass, along the side of the road, in the park or, for the particularly brave, into a plastic Coke bottle while standing in front of the “It’s a Small World” ride at Hong Kong Disney (not our child or adult male).  There is great freedom in this and it almost makes up for the challenges.

If you haven’t already guessed, we have recently started another season of potty training at our house.  My past experience in potty training a toddler in China gives me confidence that we will prevail once again! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's That? Wednesday: My Daughter's Mandarin...She's Got Skills!

Since moving to China, our entire family has taken language training in one form or another.  Jamie has had private lessons at work.  I took about 9 months of private lessons in our home.  We met twice a week for an hour at a time.  I took a very looooong break (18 months) and I happy to say that I've restarted my lessons after the new year.  LBean's school teaches Mandarin 30 minutes a day 4 times a week.  Even ChinaBean hears a good amount of Mandarin from our Ayi (housekeeper) and now at her new preschool where all the teachers are native Chinese speakers.

However, it's EBean that is the most impressive.  She has attended the same school for two years now.  Half of her day is presented in Mandarin (and about half her class are native Mandarin speakers) and the other half is presented in English.  Last year she would tell us that she didn't understand or speak Mandarin.  She would not speak it at home.  This year is a completely different story!  She is our most fluent speaker in the house (and she knows it).  I've been told by my Chinese friend that EBean's tones are correct when she is speaking and even she is impressed.  EBean is much more confident in her skills and now she speaks Mandarin to our Ayi, sings and talks to herself in Mandarin when she is playing at home, and if she is being particularly ornery, she'll speak it to us at the dinner table (and we have no idea what she is saying).

Some time ago a family member shared with me that they would like to hear EBean (our 5  year-old) speaking Mandarin Chinese.  The family member had a hard time imagining what EBean might sound like speaking another language.

About two weeks ago, I was finally about to take a decent video of EBean speaking Mandarin to her best friend.  They are looking at a coloring book about the movie Frozen. Enjoy the video!