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#TopSecret (part 1)

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So, big apologies, I have been completely remiss in my updates. I’ve got some good (and some not so good ) excuses for being away. Lots of changes in our lives the past few months. We’ll have to get back to China adventures with Aunt Mac in a bit.

First off the big, exciting, super awesome, happy fun time news….Paul and I are Married!!!!!!

That’s in part because of our other big news, we have moved to London!!!!

Those two event are intertwined so bear with me for a bit of a story…..

We had been planning on moving in 2016, with the idea we were headed to Seattle. Why Seattle? Why not? We visited a few years ago and liked it (it was the pre Singapore destination in fact) But then, over dinner out with co-workers Paul found out about a job opening in London. Now, in the past when discussing places to move expensive cities were always ruled out, so no to NYC, and no to London. Paul came home and we talked about it, but felt no, London was not the place for us. This went on for a few days until one Wednesday morning, Paul says, are we sure London is a No? Well, over a bowl of Cheerios we decided, what the heck, let’s do it! and Paul put in that morning for the position. Really, it was like that. A week of no, it’s not for us, to OK, let’s do it, just like that. And the saga started.

One of the key factors in our decision was that un-married partners could come on the type of Visa Paul was getting and thus I could work. Great! So the interview process starts. And it continues. And continues. And Continues…….you can go grab a cup of coffee if you like, cause it Continues for quite some time. This was in August.

As some of you may or may not know, I am notorious about having trouble keeping secrets. This is especially true about happy secrets as I love hearing and sharing good news. So, after the second interview, I was BUSTING to tell someone about the news, but Paul was much more reserved about sharing until the ink was dry on the new offer and since that goal was taking FOREVER I was really having trouble keeping this under wraps. So…I had start telling someone so I started telling people, but then told them it was #topsecret and they could not tell anyone. Now the problem with that is that I did not tell just one person. I told a LOT of people, and soon #topsecret was the #worstkeptsecret in town! sigh. A career in the CIA is not in the cards for me.

Time marches on the corporate wheels slowly turn and low and behold Paul gets the job! (well done sweetie). We are now in September. As a side note, what felt like an eternity for us apparently was considered ‘a fast track’ by the corporate team. Is this what Einstein by time being relative?

So, next step, visa applications. We speak with a visa consultant and he says for unmarried partners we need to provide some original documents that show our intertwined lives. Easy enough we think, we own property together, have joint bank accounts, ect. We look into getting past statements from the bank and the consultant drops this bombshell on us. When he said original, he means ORIGINAL. As in the ones that come in the mail. As in W.T.F.?! first off, most of that comes by email in this day in age, and second, who keeps two years of records?! sigh. So, slightly panicked, we ask what happens if we are married? Oh, that’s easy we are told, 10 days application, review, and approval barring any problems. But, he says, no need to panic just yet, let’s see what we can do. So, about this time, we have unexpected holiday in Singapore due to elections (elections are a public holiday there) and Paul was able to get us a room a the Conrad in Maldives. That Friday before we leave, we are having dumplings at Din Tai Fung. Hemming and hawing about what the visa guy had just told us, I finally laid down the law. 1) either we are able to use documents that we can obtain easily to prove our un-married status or 2)

this is when Paul interrupts me and says “or we cancel London and head to Seattle” I kid you not, that was his suggestion. Keep in mind, he’s been offered and accepted the job at this point….

I say, no! 2) we get married and be done with it. Of course we are not going to abandon London. Now eat your dumpling and stop being silly.

Now, I know, that’s is not the most (or even close) romantic thing. Really, I do. It reads worse than it really was, I promise. We had talked about marriage on and off for some time, but since we could not in Singapore, and it only became legal nationwide in the US in 2015, I think we assumed when we headed back to the USA we would tie the knot. This just pushed our plans up some. Keep in mind we have been together for 13 years, so we weren’t going anywhere at point 🙂

So, the next day we head off to Maldives. More on that later. Saturday morning we wake up and as we head to breakfast, Paul says to me, he says “come on let’s go to breakfast and we can start planning the wedding”

Wait, what?

What do you mean? Planning the wedding?

He says, yeah, we talked last night, about getting married right?

At this point I’m quite confused. I said yes, that was Plan B. He tells me Oh,I did not think Plan A would work, I figured we would go on to Plan B and get married.

Me at this point: ‘WE’RE GETTING MARRIED?!” I repeat that a few more times before giving him a big kiss.

Seriously, this is how it happened. Over Din Tai Fung soup dumplings and before breakfast at the Conrad Maldives. Sigh.

So, now we are engaged and Paul has as new job. It’s all down hill from here right?

Coming soon…part 2 AKA who in their right mind gets married in Chicago in January and the birth of #topsecret2

Aunt Mac comes to town #NiHaoYall

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Aunt Mac comes to town #NiHaoYall

Whew! What a whirlwind month March was. Quit my job, found a job, went to Bora Bora, and then had a awesome visit from my Aunt Mac and we went to Beijing for a week.  What a hoot it turned out to be! We had so much fun, showing her around, exploring Beijing, trying new foods, and just making some awesome memories. I made a hashtag called #NiHaoYall for all out photos, so if you search Instagram you well all our adventures 😉

I’m going to turn things over for a bit to my Aunt who was kind enough to write out a few things from her visit.

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First I have to say how excited, and proud I was to have Ryan and Paul invite me to tag along with them to Bejing.  (China – I was really in China!!)  My friends were all telling me how blessed I was to have nephews invite me for such a trip, and all I could say was I know.

As you may know I flew to Singapore first (all by myself for the first time) and Ryan and Paul already had a tour set up for me on my first day (they still had a couple days to work before vacation started for them.  With directions in hand – I was off to meet the tour guide.  It was a wonderful experience going through Little India and learning so much about Singapore and yes seeing the sights.  We toured the Buddist Temple and I learned so much.  I was especially enthralled by the story the guide told of Ganesh – the elephant headed boy. There was a huge fish in the wet market, one of Ryan and Paul’s favorite places, that had another large fish sticking out of its mouth like a tongue.

On the way home, even with directions I got turned around in the subway.  As I was looking at my directions, a lovely young Singapore lady asked if I needed help.  She looked at my map and the map on the wall and said she knew which exit I should take and she was going that way.  She held my elbow up the steps and across the street putting her umbrella over me to protect from the sun and insisted on walking with me almost to the front door of the apartment building. I was very impressed with the friendliness of the Singaporeans.

The next day I was off to the Gardens by the Bay and to explore the MBS (Hotel that looked like 3 towers with a ship on top).  The Gardens were exquisite with tulips in full bloom.  Off to the MBS to the top to see the infinity pool and the breathtaking view.  I explored the waterfront, of course, saw Merlion where an Indonesian lady asked (with hand motions and camera) to take a picture of me.  Guess it was old white haired white lady that was so strange to her!!  I saw the line of people waiting to pass the body of LPK the former, much loved and respected prime minister of Singapore.  The guys had recommended taking a taxi back but I saw the bus stop first and figured out to get back.  Off I went – no problem but Ryan and Paul  were amazed that I had done it.

Ryan had taken the day off on Friday to personally be my tour guide.  Off  we went to Little India and as we crossed the street the first thing I saw was a big circle with “ALBERT” on it.  Ryan took my picture and it made me both sad and happy knowing that my much loved husband, and Ryan’s Uncle Al could not laugh with us, but he was indeed with us.

New job, AKA, I’m being paid to do this!?

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So I have a new job. After 3 yrs at my current place, it was time for a change. In a way my job had been a real blessing. After the disaster that was my first job in Singapore, this was a safe harbor away from drama and stress, with some decent work and trips to India, and a small but friendly staff and office environment. But over the last year I’ve felt I was starting to just ‘tread water’ Our work was tapering off some, my big project was wrapping up and it seemed like there was not much on the horizon that tempted me to stay. About this time Paul and I had been discussing leaving Singapore to explore a new part of Asia, or even move back to USA. I thought I would stay on thru 2015 and then in 2016 we might make a change. So I asked for a raise, I figured with a little bump (I had not had an increase since I started there) I could hang out a bit longer and be happy. But that was not to be. No raise was granted and I told the boss on the spot I could no longer stay if that was the case and it was time for me to go. No, I did not have a new job lined up at this point. No, the resume and portfolio was not assembled yet. And No, I did not have any job leads. Paul was away in China, and this was the first bit of news he got when he came back. Yes, that went over about as well as you might expect. 🙂

But fear not, I have landed on my feet and found a new job. I’ve joined a new firm here in Singapore and I start the first week of April. The new job found me via LinkedIn, and after a Skype interview, followed by a brief meet and greet, terms were agreed and new job was obtained. In fact the email with the offer came thru while we were swimming with the Whale Sharks.But there was a catch…. it seems that they needed someone rather quickly for an upcoming meeting that would overlap with my 4 week notice period at the old job. It seems they needed me to go for one week to….Bora Bora for site meetings!! I mean really! Are you kidding me?

Well, luckily my old boss was a nice guy and had no hard feelings about me leaving. He gave me a 1 week off to go with the new job, and thus our hero finds himself in freaking Bora Bora! for a week to do meet and greet with new client and start getting up to speed on my new project. #blessed is an understatement.

So, there you have it. New job obtained, first project is in Bora Bora, my week with the new boss went well, and I am off on a new adventure. I look forward to seeing what the future holds as always.

A few pics from my trip. It’s an amazing place.

Christmas in Sri Lanka

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Our hostess with the mostess

Our hostess with the mostess

Christmas found us in Sri Lanka this year. Our good friend Barbara had moved there earlier this year for work, so it was a great excuse to visit here and explore the country.

Luckily, Barbara did a WHOLE bunch of planning for us, and had arranged for transport and hotels for our visit so all we had to do was show up and enjoy. Also, she packed a goodie bag FILLED with Christmas Cookies for our long road trips!! Not to bad a way to spend the holiday if you ask me. We spent a few days in the Cultural Triangle area seeing old temples and sites, and then a few days in Bentota which is on the beach, followed by a quick ½ day in Galle which proved to be the most charming old town we saw and I want to visit again in the future. Also we spent a week eating wonderful Sri Lankan rice and curry which was delish!

The only slight downside was the weather. It was raining season and we had LOTS of rain. I mean, 4 days worth. Drizzle, heavy downpour, drizzle, heavy downpour, repeat. For four days. But, that did not deter us, in fact it made the temperature sublimely wonderful, so I love it. It was cool, but OK in shorts and we spent a week NOT sweating. After the heat of Singapore, it was great. There was only one day the weather kept us from seeing much, so we too that as a Spa day, way to make lemonade from lemons huh? J

So, Merry Christmas (belated) to you and yours, hope you had a great one like we did, spent with family and friends surround by laughter and love.

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We may be cursed….

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Well, there’s no easy way to say this to be honest. We are cursed. For the THIRD time now, someone coming to see us from the USA has had to cancel their trip at the very last-minute (as in days before arrival!) due to a family illness or injury. Our friend Greg had to cancel mid-flight at a layover when we were meeting him in Turkey. Last year my parents canceled due to the death of my grandfather when they were coming to see Singapore and Bali, and this November, our friend Tammy had to cancel a few days before arriving due to an unexpected illness with her mother. Oh man!

I don’t know who we upset in the Universe, but I promise I am sorry! Don’t let this discourage you kids from booking some tickets to come see us though OK?

Well, even though we were sad about Tammy, all the arrangements for Bali were made and paid, so we forged on and took a week to enjoy my favorite place on earth, Ubud. We’ll continue to say that this is research the next time we have guests come to visit, assuming we can break this curse….

Fun, but noisy

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I may have mentioned that I work next to a Temple. The temple owns our building in fact with the lower floors reserved for the Chinese Association that runs the temple, and the top 3 floors (it’s only 5 stories tall) rented out to other people like our company.

It’s the temple’s 88th year anniversary, and if you know 8 is a lucky number in Chinese, so 88 is doublely so. Lots of parties and blessings happening around here.

This video was taken from my office window. Notice how loud it is? That’s what I listen to most of the afternoon this week. They are set up stage do to Chinese plays for the temple gods. No audience (at least not that we can see) but for the spirits. Full blast Chinese WAILING (aka Singing). It’s not great.

Nap time

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Napping workers

I can’t blame these workers one bit for catching some zzzz’s. You will see this often around mid-afternoon. The workers get up and start early, and then take a siesta in the mid day heat. They will grab nearby cardboard to make a mat, kick off the shoes, and grab some shut eye. Honestly, I don’t know how they work outside all day the way the do, it must be grueling.