Friday, August 29, 2008

Voluntary Simplicity

I have been thinking about voluntary simplicity and what it means for me and our family.

For some, voluntary simplicity means eschewing all of the material trappings of life, getting back to the land and living super frugally. For others, voluntary simplicity means getting closer to the earth, reducing your footprint. For others, it is a practice of spirituality, perhaps Christian perhaps Buddhism. For a different group it means frugal behavior or spartan homes. I guess for everyone who thinks of Voluntary Simplicity as a way of living your life, it is different.

So, what does it mean for us? I am not sure anymore, I used to think it was a way of being more frugal, of using and consuming less. But as our lives have changed, I notice the creep of possessions. We sold it all and moved to Asia with 6 suitcases. We now have a container full of stuff. Does that mean we are no longer interested in simplicity?

It boils down to this, a re-evaluation of things that are important to me. The joy that I have found working from home (although not without complications). Working from has been an unexpected joy. The constant monitoring of what we purchase and why, in fact, it is time for some re-evaluation of my personal shopping habits again. It is looking at the things I do, the places I travel, the path I walk. It is slowing down again to look at what I enjoy- a good book, or movie, good food-well cooked, but not pretentious-, good wine and good company. While I often look at those better dressed, driving a car rather than sitting in a taxi or on the bus, I think again about the costs (and not just that of the money). Do I want to have to keep up, to buy the newest have the newest designer shoes? Does that make me a better person?

Simple living for me is about my choices, they are not right or wrong, they are constantly being re-worked and sometimes thrown away all together. But as I think about it again, I think about why it made sense to study simplicity 12 years ago when I was a new lawyer struggling to find my place in the world. It makes more sense now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Simple Birthday Parties

Birthday parties are big deals here in Singapore. particularly amoung the expat familys. This is really one of those keeping up with the Jones's type situations where for a starting fee of 500 bucks you can go to this children's gym and they will entertain the kids for 2 hours. Now you need to have a minimum of 25 kids, you get charged per head for each kid over the minimum and you are required to bring your own cake. Honestly, it is not just the money, it is the thought of all of the over consumption that takes place. My son doesn't need 25 presents. In fact, the 4 her got last night (2 from us and one from grandparents W&L and one from Nancy) are more than he needs. We have way too much stuff as it is!

So, I thought long and hard about birthdays. I want to make it meaningful, I want it to be fun and I want it to be manageable, from a cost as well as a consumption perspective. The solution. A home party.

A home party, with a jungle/Indiana Jones theme. I think we will do a scavanger hunt, water balloons game on the grass, snake decorations and a home made cake (A dinosaur), home made punch (with jelly worms) and a total invite list of 6 kids, plus our 2. Pizza will be ordered in (not the most healthful of foods, but hey.... it is a birthday afterall!)

Today I will go and get stuff for the goodie bags, and may try to get some stuff about Singapore's parks and wildlife. Will follow up with pictures!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

7 Years ago

At 6:43 am on this very day, I became a mother. I experienced true love. I knew what it meant to do anything to protect my baby from harm. I also was very very tired.

7 years later my boy has gone from this,

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and grown to this.

with this along the way

Monday, August 25, 2008


Lina Jones "Watkins"

Lina was her Shelter name, and on the way home we heard the theme song to the Indiana Jones movies, Kiera thought Lina's last name should therefore be Jones.

Lina is a local cross, but she we believe has a fair amount of Lab in her. with the exception of potty training in the middle of the night, we are totally in love. Simple Living has just got a lot more complicated for a few months!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to normal-but now it is going to be a crazy weekend

Ok, so excuse the rant yesterday. I still love Singapore and love where we live (maybe not the neighbors, but hey it all can't be perfect can it?) this is what is on tap for the weekend. It involves lots of love and not much sleep and adjustments for the whole family.

First a trip to the store to buy... food and supplies for the new addition to our family.

Second, a trip the a special place to see the new member of the family

Third, naming of the new member of the family and bringing it home... is PUPPY TIME.

2.5 years ago we lost the love of my life. She was my heart and soul, she was my everything (well my real babies of course would beg to differ). Just sitting here typing about her now brings tears to my eyes because I still miss her so much. She will never be replaced, but it is time to find a new pup to share our lives with.

Today I will be going to the SPCA to look for dogs and then tomorrow we will be going to an adoption drive on the east coast. I would love a lab cross again if we can find one, but we are just looking for the right dog, one that fills our hearts and brings joy to our lives.

In the meantime, I know that JD is watching over us and has told us it is time to find the kids their special friend, just as she was to me.

I still love you pupperdoo

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life at Dairy Farm- The Pig Stye Edition

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This just pisses me off. We get to look at this out our Kitchen window.

Rather than be able to see our kids, playing in the woods, some inconsiderate cretin dumps his trash out the window. We have complained and the managment cleaned it off yesterday. This morning there was new crap. What is it about Singapore that makes people think that dumping shit out of windows is acceptable behaviour? I see it is HDBs and I see it in Condos. Now before anyone takes this as a politically incorrect post, please note... we pay thousands a month to live in a nice condo. A condo if we bought that would cost over a million US (no we are not buying because the price is ridiculous), but the point is for that much money you would think people would realize that window ledges are not your FLIPPIN Garbage Can. Seriously, open the Garbage Chute that is located in the same room from which you through your crap (a mere 3 feet from your window) and through it AWAY.

This practice is really linked to the Singapore Kiasu mentality. The Kaisu mentality can be summed up as follows: I am the most important. You are not important. I am racially superior, so I am forced by the father of my country to live with you, even though I hate you and talk about you behind your back. I force my kids to study until 1am and then get them up at 6am so they will test well, but not learn. The goal is only to improve my status. How much will you give me if I have another child, if "no enough" no child. It is all about me being number one and you, well, you are not.

Kiasu behaviour is the worst thing about Singapore, the thing that I am only faced with once and awhile. But when I am faced with it, I long for a rude American, a surly French or a filthy Thai city any day over the one I live in. These cities don't put on airs or pretend to be anything more than what they are. Singapore has to force its people to be nice in order to keep up the image (dare I remind people that we have to have "smile" campaigns in order to teach civility?

Pigs. Just Clean up after yourselves. I don't through crap in your yard. Don't do it in mine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Blog

In order to keep the portions of my life a bit more structured and regulated, I have created a new blog to cover the travel portion of my life and more specifically the travel we do with our kids. There is LOTS to still write about our trip home, but i have started it here. Go check it out and tell all your friends ;-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DVD Organization

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While I was home this summer, I saw a little box filled with my Step-mother's DVD collection. I thought to myself...hey that would be a great way of taming the hundreds of DVDs in our colletion.

The first step was to find some boxes... not as easy as it seems. I wanted drawers/boxes that would allow the DVD to hang without the jewel boxes in numbered sleeves, like the box at my Dad's house. I finally found some (at Popular if you are interested) and the next step was to go through all of the DVD's weeding out those we have outgrown, don't work, are of dubious origin or are duplicates. I then organized them into four basic sections: Classics (generally oscar winners from the past (we bought a bunch of these in Costco in tawian at a great price), movies Jeff and I watch, Family (sub divided between cartoon and regular movies) and TV shows.


I then was able to find a great freeware (cause I am all about free) software to organize the DVDs. It is called Movienizer and I really love it. So, I sorted all the DVDs into rough alphabetical order, took them out of the jewel case and dropped them into the box. Nancy and Kiera helped with the cartoons.

At the end of the day, I ended up with two full boxes of DVDs, sorted by my rough categories and in rough alphabetical order. The TV series did not get sorted. I have input all of the classics and Jeff and my movies into our database and now have an alphabetical list of all of the DVDs with box and sleeve number. So... anyone want to guess what the total is (without the kids movies or TV shows??)


Needless to say, I feel good about removing a bunch of clutter, getting one area of my life organized and in shape. Now onto the next project (Scroll down for more)....

and the answer is


. 198 (will give an update after all of the kids shows and TV shows are input)

Friday, August 15, 2008

First Day of School



Wow, I can't believe how quick these kiddos of mine have grown. Look at Kiera, she is all dressed up and ready to go to her first day of school, just a mere 5 years ago she was a bitty baby depending on us for everything. Now, she and her brother are full of opinions, ready to face the world and sure that life is pretty much what it is and that is alright with them.

Gotta love that!
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A reminder


This is what being in the moment is all about. Kiera on the beach in Seaside Oregon
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Wow what a trip

I have started a new travel blog that I plan to use to update people on our multiple trips around the region (and the world). This last one was a doozy! We spent almost three weeks in the US traveling in Oregon and a brief one day trip to LA. Today, we are recovering from Jet Lag (the kids woke up at 4:20) and I have a stack of work to do.... both TI and FFC stuff, and a training to write today....

It is going to be a long few days, but I have renewed myself, feel ready to tackle the next steps of simplifying my life and living more authentically in my environment. back with pictures soon...

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