just keep swimming

I’ve been sitting on a blog draft, that’s so depressing that I just couldn’t bring myself to press “publish” because I didn’t want anyone out there to be worried for me.   It was pretty bleak.
I want to be honest about how hard the past month has been, while also conveying that life is still good, and I know we are okay.  More than okay.  But we have been initiated into singapore by fire (and by fire, I mean walking pneumonia), and Max is in a phase, and I am in a phase, and I think Jon might be a little over being the only one trying to have a good attitude lately.
I think it’s fair to say I’m homesick.  And exhausted from everything being new.

Okay, backing it up.  It’s been a quick little eternity, the past four weeks.  Max started to school, and to our great relief, really seems to love it there.  The teachers type up an online journal entry every single day to share what the kids are showing interest in, the sorts of questions they’re asking lately, and to put pictures of their games & creativity.  It’s been a fun way to keep up with how Max spends much of his week, especially since he “can’t remember” anything that happens at school every single day πŸ™‚



Shortly after he started there, we wrapped up our time at our temporary apartment, and eagerly moved the fifteen minutes northwest to Bukit Timah. We didnt even have dishes yet, or internet, and wouldn’t for a couple of weeks, but we were so thrilled to be in our permanent place.  The boys were excited, Max loved his new bedroom & of course the fun pools downstairs.


  I was so happy to learn early on that there’s a little girl in this building who goes to Max’s school.  We all wait for the morning school bus together, and her mom is just about the sweetest thing on earth.  (we came to find out that our balconies are literally next to each other, which is kind of fun…and kind of weird when I’m hanging up laundry and absentmindedly gaze down into their house)  Max & Annika get along really well and have soccer together after school on Mondays.   (He even gave her a love note!)

 Her mom & I seem to have much in common, like both having lived in Seattle for 10 years!  I’d love to get to know her more, but there hasn’t really been a stretch of good health long enough to allow that.

We were allowed less than 24 hours in our new place when Remy came down with a really high fever for a few days.  We were halfway living here, and still halfway living in our  other apartment, and of course I’d left all of our children’s medicine over there.

Let me take a second to mention Larry.  Or, as I have him in my phone contact’s list, Uncle Larry.  In terms of our relocation services, things have not always come easily or smoothly.  They have done so much for us that I’m so thankful for, but they also issued us a pretty bunk shipping company who let a lot of things fall through the cracks (even now, we suspect they lost a couple of boxes of ours).
But, in terms of assigning us a housing agent to make the move here….we were given a winning lottery ticket.  Larry has been the best thing to happen to us in Singapore, with how above and beyond he has gone to get us into a great unit, personally work out all the details between the owner & us, and he just goes so far beyond what we would ever think to ask of him.  He’s helped drive us around to a ton of places, help drive Max to school, take care of things around our house before we moved in, left us stocked with lots of bottled water, forwarding contacts of possible babysitters (my high hopes about a babysitter were dashed, when the girl suddenly committed herself to another family full time.  still on the hunt for someone we can trust with our kiddos from time to time), he’s taken Jon to breakfast, just popping in on the weekend to see how we’re making the transition, random texts to Jon & I to make sure we’re okay….we love the guy.

So when Remy came down with a high fever, Jon was at work, and I’m out in a new neighborhood with no medicine or way to get some.  Who did we call?  Uncle Larry.  And without a moment’s hesitation he told me he’d see what medicine he had at home and would be right over.  And fifteen minutes later, him AND his wife were in my house, hands against Remy’s foreheads, asking about anything we need.  They ran out and got meds, his wife put me on the phone with the pharmacist, and when she got back she scooped Remy out of my arms and swayed with him to cheer him up.  These people.  I want to be like them.
It was after that fever that we finally dove into the world of finding a pediatrician, and we’ve been frequenting that office every week since.  After the fever, remy spent the next few days breaking out all over into scary-looking hives (didn’t end up being a big deal)

  
It’s a huge weight off my shoulders to have established primary care for our kids, at a place that we like…but the frequency we’ve had to visit has started to take an emotional toll on me.  I hadn’t expected to wrestle with so many illnesses straight out of the gates when we arrived here, and I’ve made jokes that I think Singapore is trying to kill us.
We are all currently trying to get over the cough that we contracted last week, which expats refer to as “mycoplasma” around these parts.  You might have heard it called “walking pneumonia.”  It comes in varying degrees of severity, and thankfully for Max it’s just a wicked sounding cough, but no fever.  He’s been able to go to school with it, actually (doctor said so!).  Remy’s took the form of a fever for the first few days, and he struggled with some pretty bad croup because of it, all of which jon handled all by himself in the middle of the nights, last week.  Poor Jon felt really lousy, as he had some nasty aches & pains that came along with his bout.  And I, personally, got taken down for the better part of a week with a fever unlike any I’ve ever had.  You guys probably know all about that already, as I pretty much whined my way thru snapchat the whole week (yeah, sorry about that.)  It got a little scary at a couple of points for me.  After two trips to the doctor, they finally ran some tests on my blood and put me on some antibiotics that really turned things around.  It was bleak.
Jon was such a champion, taking most of the week off a couple weeks ago to parent solo.  I can’t express enough how thankful I am for him, for how he cared for our kiddos, and continually sent me back to rest when I’d feel like I wasn’t doing enough to help. Max was a little heart…sneaking in the back guest room (infirmary) with a giant jug of orange juice, or a sandwich that “he made for me” (actually just his lunch, but what a sweetie.)  He found some flowers for me, and just looked for little ways to cheer me up.

 I dont know what happened.  Until I got sick, lots of things hadn’t gone our way, but I was still rocking the positive attitude.  I was still excited about life here, and trying to make the best out of every situation. I was taking great joy in my kids, and feeling adventurous…or glass-half-full at the very least.
But then that fever.  It just cut me down at the knees, physically and emotionally, and I’ve been trying to climb my way back since.  I just felt so sad and defeated afterward.  I felt like I couldn’t be a good mom to my kids…I’m struggling with feeling lonely, isolated, and overwhelmed.  And…I feel like it might be normal that I’m feeling this way.  Is this normal?  I feel like the weight of what we just did, moving out of the U.S. to asia…leaving everyone we love, I feel like it’s finally caught up with me.  I slowed down enough for it to catch up, and now it’s just kind of hanging out.

I’m trying to put one foot in front of the other, each day.  Trying to find our groove with food, and groceries, and errands, and fun outings.  Continuing to set up our house and make it comfortable.  I’ve tried a couple of different avenues to make some friends, but it hasn’t really panned out yet.  I know that’s normal too… making new friends just isn’t something you can rush or force.  It’ll happen organically in it’s own time, but I think there’s a natural insecurity with that.

We’ve got Max involved in so many extra curriculars.  After school on Mondays, he’s got swimming lessons & soccer, Tuesdays he takes mandarin after school, and he tried a trial tae kwon do class on sunday, and loved it, so we signed him up for those on the weekends now too πŸ™‚  This little part of me is so jealous of him for getting to experience all this!  I think it’s a pretty clear sign that I need to find an outlet for myself too.  I need to think about what that should be, and how I can fit that into our lives.
Little Max, though.  He comes home from school every day, totally worn out!  Usually the helper on the school bus has to wake him up when the bus pulls up in the afternoon.  Little guy πŸ™‚

 Last week I was feeling like Max & I need some alone time together to really connect.  We’d been struggling with “missing” each other lately, so him and I went on a little date down at Marina Bay on friday night.  We got pizza by the Fountain of Wealth (at one point was the biggest fountain in the world), and then happened upon a chincy carnival, where Max had a blast zooming around in some kid bumper boats.  He was up way past his bedtime, but it was nice to do something spontaneous with him.  He’s turning into a pretty good traveler, and it’s fun to watch him grow and to do new things with him.



Remy has a super go-with-the-flow personality.  He’s just happy to be around us, and absolutely must eat anything we’re eating.  Pretty much the only time he gets mad is if we’re eating something in front of him and don’t share.  He has zero interest in walking yet, and while Jon thinks it could happen any week, I feel like it could be a while yet.  He turned 1 a couple of weeks ago, and we had a sweet time celebrating our unexpected Remy.  We love this baby so much, and he makes us laugh constantly.

  
  
A couple of weeks ago we were able to explore the Botanic Gardens a little bit.  That was so much fun to do together.  I think that’s what I look forward to most on the weekends, is all going somewhere new together.  I have a running list of all these things I’d like to see, but it can be tough to work around health constraints, or Remy’s nap schedule.

Here are some random bits & pieces that I dont know where to fit into this post, so I’ll just list them as bullet points πŸ˜›

  • There was a dengue alert going on in the building right next door to ours.  I actually met and talked with a lady who contracted it, and it pretty much sounds like the worst thing ever.  The condo managed to get the situation under control, and they were downgraded to a “green” status…which is a good thing.  It’s just strange to be living in immediate proximity to diseases we’ve never encountered before.
  • Our landlord is a super nice and generous guy.  Every time they come over to collect any mail of theirs that is piling up here, they will arrive with food for us.  Haven’t figured out if that’s a cultural thing, or just a nice person thing.  We mentioned that our washing machine leaks every time we use it, and without any questions, he’s having a new washing machine delivered to us tomorrow.  So wonderful to have ended up living where we are.
  • Along the same lines, it just makes the most sense here to hang up all your clothes to dry, rather than using the inefficient dry cycle on our machine.  That takes 3 hours and only does a mediocre job, so we hang everything out on our balcony.  Why does that feel so novel?  America has really done a number on us, I’m afraid, that hanging our clothes out to dry feels so hipster and grass roots.  Really, it’s just economical and what most of the world does.  (now if i could only remember to get the clothes inside before the rain hits every afternoon!!)
  • I feel like we may be exiting the “cool season.”  It’s suffocatingly hot by 8 am every day now, and even just standing outside makes my face sweat like I just worked out.  It’s not unbearable…but I definitely have had to get used to the fact that I just sweat all the time.  I’ve never considered myself the kind of girl who just casually wears dresses all the time, but this kind of heat will change a person.  Dresses: yes please.  The only time I’ve worn long sleeves in the past two months  is when I had a fever and my body temperature was all out of whack.  If you come visit, leave your pants and hoodies at home.  Maybe just for the plane ride.  I promise you will not use them otherwise.
  • Neighboring Indonesia is hard at work slashing & burning their forests, to clear land for new planting.  They do this every year, to the chagrin of the rest of the world and mother earth.  How this directly affects us, is in the form of the famous “haze” that makes it way up to singapore every year.  Everyone here will tell you that last year’s was the worst & longest bout they have had yet, and in the past week, we’ve seen the haze creep up on the horizon.  Lots of people are claiming to smell it already, although I can’t say I have (or know what it smells like)…but even I can agree that the sky is not as clear as it was when we arrived.  They tell me this is just the beginning, and that the air quality will become quite awful.  Like stay inside until this is over, awful.  School has even been known to be cancelled on really bad days.  My neighbor has advised me to stock on up face masks for us & the kids…I need to do that soon.
  • I really do hope to put up some pictures of our house soon. I know many of you have been curious about what our place looks like, but for some reason I’ve been dragging my feet about doing it.  Know that I’m thrilled to facetime or skype with any of you, any time!  I’d love to give you a real-life tour if that sounds fun to you πŸ™‚

Overall, I am still really glad that we decided to come here, even if it’s been a harder start than I expected.  I feel like it’s bringing our small family even closer together, and we really are making so many memories together already.  And Singapore is so beautiful.  But yeah…it isn’t all roses and rainbows.  It’s definitely hard and frustrating at times.  I think that would be true of moving anywhere new, though.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Piper says:

    I can only imagine how hard it is to move to a new place and adjust and amidst all that sickness comes around! Sending good thoughts your way and hope everyone stays healthy.

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    1. punchykara says:

      Thanks, Piper πŸ™‚ I’m actually in awe of YOU! Traveling to Asia with 3.5 kids all on your own…you Wonder Woman you πŸ˜‰

      Like

  2. Yvonne says:

    Your are an amazing mom/wife/friend! Know what if you hadnt done this there wouldn’t be this new adventure and all the growing your whole family is doing together! And all the awesome things your kids are learning….what a great experience to grow up in another country! You guys are doing amazing!
    The sicknesses I would not be a fan of but let’s hope they are in the past and onto some fun times! New germs you guys need to get used to!
    You guys taking on such a big adventure is just amazing to me! I thought moving to IL was a big deal but now that we have done that I think we could go anywhere!
    If you ever need to talk I’m always around or will get back to you as soon as I can.
    Before you know it Singapore will feel like home!

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    1. punchykara says:

      Thanks, Yvonne! That’s really sweet of you. I know this is such a great experience and moving always takes an adjustment πŸ™‚ can’t wait for fun times to come. How are you?

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  3. Amie says:

    Kara,

    As I read this post tears were streaming down my face. The kids and I (we hardly ever) keep getting sick and it feels like it won’t leave us alone. I am lonely and tired and sad. Yet it feels so terrible to feel these feelings and then write them because I know our move is a great thing and where we’re supposed to be. I am trying to feel my feelings and also keep going forward. This post was perfect timing thanks for showing me I am not alone.

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    1. punchykara says:

      😦 no, you are not alone. I’m sorry you guys have been sick too. It’s like our body’s way of shouting “Take me back to where I’m comfortable!”
      I think this is worth it tho. We will all adjust. Sending positive thoughts to you, jon, and the kiddies.

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