January 24, 2011

What were we talking about?

One thing I miss desperately about working as a Speech Therapist is the time I would spend with the part of our population that is more advanced in years.

I'm talking that point in life where you just talk about whatever is on your mind with reckless abandon and you can totally get away with it. You pretty much have to be 4 or 84 to get away with it, but today I am going to take exception to that rule.

Because I'm 40 now. And I'm feeling.....well.....reckless.

First of all, I apparently wrote the last post before uploading all my photos and left out a very important picture.

These amazing folks are the Poseys. Her name is Michelle but I call her Posey and his name is Will but we call him Poppy. We are wild and crazy like that.

This family has provided housing for not only myself and my boys, but also both of my sisters at one time or another. We love them.

A major issue with expats is going home but not having a home. It means living out of suitcases in the guest rooms of friends and family and as much as you love being there, it can get old. The Poseys have given us a home away from home and it feels really good to be at their house and for that, I am eternally grateful. They actually go to their home in Florida for the summer and won't have to have us underfoot while we are camped out in their house...and for that, THEY are eternally grateful!

Now, for the ongoing randomness....

It took me all of a month after living here to notice a certain shoe that everyone seemed to be wearing. I had never seen this particular sandal before so to see Singaporeans and expats alike wearing them peaked my curiosity. I finally cornered a neighbor one day and asked her about them.

They are the FitFlop.

You know, one of those shoes that advertises how wearing them will make my hiney go from the size it is now to a much smaller size. Oh, how I wish it was that easy!

I went on the hunt for this very popular brand of sandal and found them to be ridiculously expensive here so I waited until I was home for Christmas and bought myself a pair. They are incredibly comfortable and I wear mine around our house because my feet ache from walking on hard floors all the time.

I am SOOOOOO 40.

Moving on.

There is a popular tradition among the Parker sisters known as the Happy Dance. It is nothing more than a hiney wiggle, but it still requires practice for a non-Parker sister to get it just right. If you've hung around us long enough, and my sister Cyndi happens to whip up a batch of her infamous chocolate chip cookies, then you've seen the Happy Dance with your own two eyes.

Sometimes I throw in a little kick at the end. Noone ever sees that coming.

The Happy Dance makes an appearance over good food, good music, good news, and good stories. It's us being giddy.

Apparently there's an actual rule in Singapore for drivers who are not allowed to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if:

"you are prone to sudden bouts of giddiness".

Suffice it to say, the Parker girls will probably never qualify for a driver's license here. Because we do like to wiggle!

The randomness continues.

Did you know that you could go to school to be a professional dumpling maker? There is a popular restaurant here called Din Tai Fung that has professional dumpling makers and they take their job VERY seriously. The exact twist at the top, broth that stays in the dumpling until you bite into it. *sigh*

I am not an adventurous eater....at all. I am actually nervous most of the time about food here. But this place?? Oh my. It is amazingness. It literally makes me giddy when I get to go eat there. *insert hiney wiggle here*

Tiffany, Lisa and I took some never-been-there-before friends on Monday because we feel it's our calling to convert people to dumpling and fried rice heaven.

They are so serious at this place that if you are served a dumpling that is imperfect in any way, they will replace it. Hence, this photo of the lone dumpling.

The original one had its shrimp fall off when served.

I seriously think that's the funniest sentence I've ever written, but it's the truth!

Since we are talking about food, let me just share with you my little slice of heaven. There are no big giant birthday cakes with loads of buttercream icing and big flowers here in Singapore. At least, not that I've ever seen. This obviously created a stressful situation when my birthday was approaching so I flat out asked Tiffany to make me her infamous, hands down best carrot cake ever. I wanted to share it with all of you.

If coming to Singapore to visit me or to see a new country or to travel to neighboring countries isn't enough to get you here, this cake ought to do it. It would be worth the flight just for a bite, I promise you!

Just make sure to pack your FitFlops.

And start practicing your Happy Dance now. You are going to need it!

January 14, 2011

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words........

......then this post could qualify as a book.

It has been a long time since I've posted and I feel like I have lived a lot of life since writing about the phenomenon called The Helper. I normally post picture-heavy experiences on Facebook because it's easier, but I wanted to be able to chronicle this trip on the blog because it's the closest thing we have at this point to a scrapbook. In fact, I may throw in some pictures of Nathan's first 5 years at some point since he has no photo album or scrapbook to document the fact that he was actually born into our family.

The boys and I have been back in Singapore about a week after spending 3 weeks in the states. School started the day after we got back and I literally spent the entire day on the couch watching back to back Law & Order episodes. Call it jet lag, call it exhaustion, call it a touch of the blues.......all I can say is that throwing the murder weapon in the bushes outside the crime scene is going to get you hauled into the precint for the good cop/bad cop routine every single time.

One thing I have to mention before parading you through our time in the states.

I am completely humbled and surprised at how many of you actually read this thing. It truly is the most random collection of thoughts and the fact that anyone besides my mom wants to read it amazes me. I have purposefully made it so I don't know how many or how few people read this blog because it keeps me from basing what I post solely on approval or popularity. It not only keeps me humble but it keeps me authentic. If either of those characteristics ever start to slip, I have a very dear friend that has no problem "thumping this curly head of mine".

Now for the parade of pictures.

The day before we left Singapore we went to the American Club for a morning of decorating gingerbread houses. We went with two other families and had a really great time. It became apparent how differently boys approach a project like this about halfway into our decorating process. The other two families both have two girls who did an amazing job decorating and adding personal touches.

We were following the rules too. Lots of concentration....an occasional taste of icing or two.

Some school spirit thrown in for fun.......

And then it all went downhill from there.

Santa falls off the roof and leaves a blood trail. If you notice the directionality of the blood splatter you can surmise that we have a murder on our hands.

I really need to stop watching so many crime shows.

We left bright and early the next morning and headed to California. We were meeting my family to celebrate the life of my Grandma. There were quite a few plans that didn't happen because of the torrential rain California was getting while we were there. My whole family did get to spend time together and we did get to share our thoughts and memories about Grandma June and the rest just didn't matter so much.

Garrett did some serious wrestling with his 4 1/2 year old cousin.

And somewhere in the middle of all the wrestling, Milan told Garrett that he was his favorite friend in the whole entire world. I am so incredibly thankful that I got to hear those sweet words.

I happen to be a part of a family of foodies. If we aren't eating food or making food, we are talking about food.
Apparently my "little" brother has been perfecting his pizza dough recipe and we proceeded to make a ton of pizza from scratch with some crazy toppings that my brother cooked on the grill.

The most amazing pizza I've ever eaten.

Cyndi and Dave having a sweet moment in between creating some culinary magic.

Don and Milan.......In a few short weeks I'm going to have a new baby niece and I'm crazy excited about that!!
All 7 of the original Parkers with Scot and Monica, my sister-in-law, and the 3 boys sat around a table and ate and laughed and had a sweet moment toasting the amazing life of my Grandmother.
The aftermath......

The next day we headed up into the mountains in Southern California to stay in Lake Arrowhead for a few days. It's where my parents met after being set up on a blind date by their moms. There are a lot of roots in our family tree up in Lake Arrowhead and it was a good place to go to spend some time together. With the rain being as bad as it was it took us hours to get there. I have never been so scared going up that mountain as I was driving it in the dark in torrential rainfall with fog so thick I couldn't see more than two feet in front of me. I even drove through a mudslide. Thankfully all three of our cars made it safely and we settled into our cabin with fires in the fireplaces and the promise of some serious down time. The cabin was even decorated for Christmas which was a HUGE bonus!!

Our last day there we were getting a touch of cabin fever so the boys went to the movies and the girls headed in to The Village. There were not many people around but we found a wine shop that was open and settled in at a table with a glass of wine to wait out the rain for a bit.

We were amazed at how high the lake was. Nothing like having a bunch of ducks swimming on the sidewalk!
Less than 30 minutes later we looked outside and saw this.....

There was a whole lot of excitement over the snowfall!

It was beautiful and peaceful and so much fun to have snow for a night to play in!

We headed back to LA to catch a red eye to Houston. We landed Christmas Eve morning and went to the home of a dear friend of mine that had left town to be with her family. I was so excited to be home in Houston. A life that is familiar and easy for me....it was so great to be there!

Christmas morning barely happened in the morning since both boys slept until 11:30. We had just a few presents under the tree this year, but the boys were thrilled all the same!

Dad gets all the credit for the good gifts!

He also gets extra credit points for creative engraving! It says, "Nathan P. Jenkins Thou Shalt Not Steal"

Late afternoon Christmas Day we headed out to Jacksonville in East Texas to spend time with Scot's family. The boys love going there because it's all about BB guns and riding the lawn mower and pulling out the old Atari.

There's plenty of running around space out there!
I was excited too.....

I got to work on my skills!!

A bunch of Jenkins menfolk standing around shooting guns. I love being a Texan!

I got a great picture of Scot's dad with his two sons and three grandsons. His dad had a tough life growing up and has a legacy he can be very proud of! Oh, and Nathan is holding a BB gun. Just to clarify before I start getting emails about that!

We headed back to Houston and got there in plenty of time for New Year's Eve. We spent the night with good friends. Scot was in charge of the ice cream sundaes and I think he asked these cute girls who wanted the pink bowl....

Then it was time for the kid's white elephant gift exchange. You don't always get what you want.....this guy has made it around a couple of times throughout the years!

But Garrett's gift was the funniest! Just what he's always wanted!! A polka dot candle with a pink candle holder!
I love these kids!!!
And these moms!!

Happy New Year!!!

The next day we spent time with friends I've had since before I was married. We were all there except for one that lives in West Virginia. This group of girls has survived some pretty amazing things together and I always love a chance to spend time with them and all our offspring!

They spent quite a bit of time sharing their thoughts and feelings with each other........ya, right!

I have lived a lot of life with these girls!!

I knew I had plans for dinner on January 3rd. In fact, my friends had informed me we were going to a sushi restaurant and I gave them a VERY hard time about it. Seriously??? I live in the land of sushi so why in the world are we going there??

Little did I know that I would walk into a room filled with women I love who all gave up an evening to come and celebrate my birthday. To say I was overwhelmed would be an enormous understatement. I was shocked and then I was very sorry for giving my friends such a hard time!!! It is extremely hard to surprise me but they did an amazing job. I was very emotional about it all. I don't really know what else to say about it except it sure makes turning 40 in a few days much, much easier to deal with.

Cake from RJ Goodies. I did the happy dance and then ate on it for the next week!

And this I loved!!!!!

It was an amazing night.

To be honest, leaving Houston was hard for me. I felt like there were so many conversations left to be had and several friends I didn't get to spend time with at all. It was extremely frustrating. I had to rely a lot more than I am comfortable with on the grace and mercy of a lot of my friends. They were all extremely understanding but that didn't make it any easier on me!

I flew back to Singapore with the boys while Scot stayed in Houston on business. My attitude about him staying when I was leaving left a lot to be desired!

After a week back here I can honestly say that I am happy to be here. There is a TON of interesting stuff going on all around me. Our church has a free ESL program that ministers to over 400 women and I am going to be a part of that which is so cool! Wonder if we could do some reverse ESLing so I can learn some Mandarin or Japanese!

I am teaching a Bible study this Spring and I feel very honored to have that opportunity. I sat in a room with all the Bible study leaders today and had a Singaporean woman tell us how grateful she is that us Westerners are here and have brought the gospel with us. That comment made me so emotional. There's a lot wrapped up into that sweet statement.

And then there's the big 4-0 right around the corner. I have been sad about it but celebrating 40 is sure better than the alternative of NOT celebrating a birthday so I'm going to embrace it and then join a boot camp.

Whew!! What a month. There was a lot of emotion packed into this month but I'm grateful for every single second. It's going to be an interesting year and I can't wait to see what God has in store for me and my family.

I love you all!!

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