Friday, May 23, 2014


 There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Rudyard Kipling

This morning we all lost a cherished member of our family.  Never has a dog been as loved as much as our sweet KD.  One of the very hardest and perhaps worst decisions of my life was deciding it best to leave our almost 12 year old dog behind when we moved to New Zealand.  I thought it was best to spare her the long flights and the period of quarantine required for what originally started out as one to two year plan to live abroad,   We would be back in the States to pick her up and enjoy her twilight years we thought.  As it turns out, things in NZ have worked out pretty well for us, and here we are still, three years later with no immediate plans to return to the US.  Depriving my family of the experience of seeing KD through to the end will likely be one of my biggest regrets in life. While we have very much enjoyed our travels and adventure, there has always been an un fillable hole in our lives.  For 11 years that dog did everything with us.  She would have loved New Zealand as well and I wish we could have brought her here. She was an ever present source of unconditional love, companionship, gentleness, and joy.

 KD came in to our lives when Lindsey was one and was there with us though the births of Skyler and Owen.  She helped us raise these kids and the lessons imparted by her we will all carry forever.  Dogs, without any intention, teach us some of the most important lessons of life don't they.   About living each day with joy and exuberance.  About really learning to appreciate the little things in life and realizing that those are the only things that ultimately matter.  A tennis ball, a walk in the park, a romp in the snow, a swim in a creek and a bit of love from her family is all she ever needed or cared about.  The way her butt shook, the way her feet slid on the wood floor and the way her tail wagged when you walked in the door, like you just got back from a trip to the moon would make all of the stresses of daily life melt away.  I feel some what ashamed for any time I may have pushed her aside because all she was trying to say was "I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU" as passionately as she could.  She taught us about being a good friend, patient, non judging, and always there for a cuddle.
 She taught us about selflessness and patience.  She was dressed up countless number of times, had her toenails painted, was ridden like a horse by all the kids in the neighborhood who often used her as a jungle gym with never a nip or a bark.  Just that sheepish little look of "OK one more time".
She logged hundreds of miles helping Jenny train for three marathons,  she played catch with me (literally would catch the ball in her mouth on the fly) for hours and hours, which I think was therapeutic for both of us.

 She made family road trips to east and west coasts and many places in between and never once asked "are we there yet"

Never a more beautiful Lab than KD

I have to tell my favorite KD story;

It was one fall or early winter evening, already getting dark, when KD and I went out for a routine jog on one of the trails near our home.  It was a bit blustery and as it darkened, a bit spooky running through the woods on the paved trail.  Now KD did not have tons of self confidence and was always a tad fearful of other dogs until she had had a god sniff to confirm that they meant no harm to her.  She often lagged a bit behind me on our runs as she was always off exploring some new scent.  As I went along, I passed a large man in a large black parka who had a large dog with him, a few steps past them I looked back to see where KD was.  She was frozen in her tracks about 30 yards back with this fellow and his dog between KD and I.  I said "KD come on" several times.  She looked at me as if to say "are you crazy, I am not getting one step closer to Cujo and the zombie."  With that she took off  in the opposite direction, towards home,  running like a cheetah at top speed, only faster.  She sprinted about a mile and a half across major roads and through several neighborhoods.  Jenny, inside cooking dinner, could hear her pathetic yelp as she turned the corner by our house.  She opened the door just as KD was about to crash through it.  I turned and jogged home, expecting to see her around any corner with an embarrassed look on her face.  It took me about 12 minutes to get home and Jenny told me KD had been home for 15 which means she had gone so fast she had actually gone back in time.  When I walked into the house she was still cowering under the kitchen table.  She she felt so ashamed she couldn't even look at me.

KD was wonderful and had all the traits you would want in a family dog but she certainly was not courageous.
Two days before her passing
The last three years of KD's life were spent living with Pat and Ralph, Jenny's parents,  and I know they loved her as much as we did, and she loved living with them as well.  We will be forever grateful to them for agreeing to take her into their home.  At least we knew that KD was getting as much love and attention at the end as she always had been living with us.  I know she loved her daily walks with Ralph and probably a bit of Pats delicious home cooking.

Dear KD girl,  Thank you so much for all the wonderful times.  None of us will ever, ever, ever forget you.  
We all love you.  

Brad, Jenny, Lindsey, Skyler, and Owen

Saturday, May 3, 2014


"Don't take any chewing gum", was one of the first things we heard as jokes from friends when we told them we were going to Singapore. The fact is, a total ban on chewing gum was enacted in Singapore in 1992, apparently as an attempt to reduce maintenance and cleaning cost throughout the city. Since traveling to the country we realized  that the "gum law", is just one of the seemingly crazy laws in Singapore. In addition to the gum laws, its illegal to bungee cord jump, walk around your own home nude or smoke in public places. Your definitely not permitted  to do all three at the same time-but that is just common sense...ouch!! We laughed after reading this because in Queenstown, bungee cord jumping naked is totally allowed, permitted and encouraged!!Bungee cord jumping naked was free, until they had to change the rules because too many folks signed up for it! Back to Singapore....another law is no peeing in a public elevator, and you can be fined if you use the public toilet and don't flush. While most of these laws are things you don't have to worry about, it is evident everywhere you go just how serious Singapore is with the laws. For example, the first sign we see when we get off the plane in big bold letters is "IMPORT OF DRUGS IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH."
As bizarre as some of these lesser laws are, what was more interesting was the hefty fines for what would seem like minor infractions. $300 for jaywalking, and NOBODY jaywalks. With a population of 4 million, it is one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world, so maybe they are on to something. 

This is the subway, without eating or drinking or gum chewing allowed it makes for one CLEAN subway. The 3 second rule would not of applied here....I would of allowed  10-20 seconds with the cleanliness.  

Singapore is known for its shopping and eating. The shopping is amazing! It is hard to describe the atmosphere here, how a country that is 26 miles wide can sustain the sheer number of highest level luxury brand stores I will never understand. I know that a lot of wealthy people from China come here just to shop, but it is nonetheless mind-boggling. I googled the number of malls here in Singapore and and the number 223 came up. The most famous of the shopping areas is called Orchard Road. On the day that I shopped and Brad was in meetings, I walked past three Prada stores, in four blocks! It is crazy. I was super excited to come across a H&M store, I dropped $220 and got a new pair of jeans, 3 new shirts, and a new shirt for Brad. That is my kind of shopping. $200 would of bought a button at Prada. 

Emerald Hill

One of my favorite streets in Singapore was right off of Orchard Road, called Emerald Hill.  There were probably 8-10 restaurants located in the area, each in what was originally a private residence built in the 1920's. Nearly all have open, outdoor seating. There are a few residences in the area, farther up the street, and they are among the most inclusive in Singapore. Wealth is very apparent in most places in Singapore, it is very common to see Lamborghini's, Ferrari's, and Porches. We were blown away by the beautiful cars. We did not see one used car in the city. Driving a car in Singapore is a real privilege because of the cost. The government wants the people to take the public transport, so they have implemented something called the COE or certificate of Entitlement. Each month only a certain number of COE's are released, and it is valid for only 10 years. They price of your COE depends on the engine size. The prices range from $48,000-92,000 just for your right to own a car. Remember this price does not include the CAR! The price of the car is separate. and after buy the car you then have car insurance, car tax, registration, electronic road pricing, and road taxes. So what does this mean for driving your dream car here in Singapore? An Audi A4 will cost $182,000. So either start saving up, or make sure your company gets you a car. Only about %15 of Singaporeans own a car, and obviously it is only the wealthy.

Emerald Hill

Singapore has three seasons they say, hot, hotter and shopping. It is hot here, the kind of hot that drenches shirts in a matter of minutes, and the kind of hot that feels nausea's after only a 15 minute run. There is %100 humidity. The lowest temperature ever recorded was around 70 degrees. I will take the heat over the cold anytime, but it does suck the energy out of you.

Emerald Hill, I loved all of the greenery! 
This is the Sultan Mosque as we walked around  this area known as Kampong Glam , we could hear the chanting coming from the Mosque. It was a beautiful sound.

The Raffles Hotel, 
This is the Marina Bay Sands, it is the most expensive stand alone casino in the world. At the cost of $8 billion, it is the largest public cantilevered building in the world. It is kinda cool. The lotus shaped object is the Art science museum. Weird, but beautiful! We went to the top of the building one night for a drink. And I mean ONE drink each, considering 2 drinks cost us $52!! It was worth is though, the views were spectacular, as was the people watching.

The Singapore Flyer, Worlds largest observation wheel. It beats the one in London by 30m. 

These striking sci fi "super trees" are all part of Gardens by the Bay. I have never seen anything so futuristic and was in awe walking around this beautiful part of Singapore.

These are state of the art conservatories housing plants from endangered species. They are the largest climate controlled greenhouses in the world. There are two, one is The Flower Dome, and the other is The Cloud Forest. The outside air temp was close to 100 but the inside air temp of the conservatories was very cool. The domes are cooled by chilled water pipes in the floor, and energy to power the conservatories is generated on site by the solar super trees. Many awards have been won by the buildings.
                                                             THE FLOWER DOME

These were my stall choices in the women's bathroom. The little urinal for young boys was so thoughtful. This country thinks of everything and spares no expense.


This was a 5k run we did one night. It is called the Electric Run.  We might of been the oldest people there, okay..we were the oldest people! It was more like a walk through the lights while texting your friends, listen to loud music afterwards and maybe do some stage diving while drinking the free beer they had afterwards. We had fun, got some good freebies for the kids, and enjoyed partying with the young Singaporeans.

                                                                CHINA TOWN

 Probably, more than anything Singapore's known for its vast spectrum of food choices. From Hawker centers to fine dining, one can find it all in this little country.  Hawker centers are basically open air local food courts. Google told me that in the 1950's the government did not want the unlicensed food vendors "hawking" their street food without regulation, so they forced them into these centers and provided them with running water and facilities for cleaning. There are hawker centers everywhere, some having better reputations than others. The food at these centers is considerably less expensive than "regular" restaurant food. We got complete meals for $3-5. The problem is that sometimes, I was not sure what I was ordering. Each stall has a picture of the dish and the corresponding name. One time Brad ordered "carrot cake", and it was some sort of vegetarian dish, not even close to the western carrot cake we all know. Something we learned was that there is a shortage of napkins in this country. No one passes them out, and if they do they are what westerns would call Kleenex. I am still inept with chopsticks, so factor in messy Asian food, and a  flimsy napkin, we must of been quite the site.  Anthony Bourdain has written about many restaurants and hawker centers. I like the guy, have read his books and decided to try and do food a tour going to his recommendations. We were late in booking a tour with an organized group. The the Raffles Hotel would of kindly organized one for us for the mere price of one of my children. We do love our kids so we decided to pass on the limo-chauffeur driven tour hosted by Raffles. We did our own and had a blast, we might of walked close to 100 miles (maybe not that many) that day trying to get it all in, however we did it and it was a gastronomic experience!  

Spicy fish cakes
 Something Something with Squid

Both of the above dishes came from an outdoor food stall that Anthony Bourdain describes as one of the "13 places to eat before you die". The place is called Sin Haut Eating House, and it lived up to the reputation, awesome!

This post so far makes it look like all we did was eat... and your right. But one thing I noticed about visiting the Asian countries is the lack of weight that is put on after traveling tho the country. Yes, we ate lots but it was mostly rice, noodles, chicken, fish and vegetables. Their diet is so healthy compared to the western countries. Dairy does survive in this hot, and humid climate.

Carrot Cake
Do not remember the name for this dish, but once again yummy. There was tofu, jalapenos, egg, lime, chili sauce, and some type of crunchy dried fish. 
Inside a Hawker center. 
The Famous Singapore Chili Crab
I do not know how they do it but this simple dish of Hainanese Chicken Rice was simply awesome.  

This was our dessert we got down the street. It is bean curd, dough sticks and a few egg tarts.  The bean curd was fresh, silky and warm. We got a few with peanut butter in the middle. A taste I have never had before, but it was sooooo delicious! Not my favourite consistency, but I would definitely order it again. The long things are basically warm doughnuts. 
This is the Gondola Ride we took to Sentosa Island. Sentosa Island is a dream come true for any child or child-like adult. It has anything and everything a child would think was awesome! Universal Studios, a huge water park, a luge, a zip-line, aquarium, swimming with dolphins, swimming with sharks, lakes, light shows. We went over to check out Fort Siloso. We promised the kids we would not do anything "fun" without them, hence the Fort. I would of much rather been sliding down the  cool water slides in the 100 degrees but history buff hubby really wanted to see the Fort.  It was actually pretty cool to check out and learn a little history at the same time. 

A picture I took while going over Sentosa  Island. 
The Architecture in this city was splendid. This building is a great example. 
I opted not  to do the ear digging. I probably missed out on some divine experience  but for some reason the name just put me off....a  little
Another beautiful street....
Beautiful Orchids inside the Raffles

And we thought the port in Taranaki was big!

Made it this far? I commend you! This was a long post. We hope to go back one day with the kids, maybe a long lay over to somewhere far away. I need the kids so I can do the water slide and I hear the Singapore Zoo is one of the best!