31 January 2016

Running Update

Now, when I say the word "running," you all know I'm not talking about myself! I remain staunchly not-a-runner, but Angel exerted enough peer pressure to convince certain members of my family to sign up with him for 2 races in the month of January. They started training on the 15th of December, training which was especially necessary because no one in my family has ever run a race, and even Angel hadn't run regularly in nearly a year.

On the first Saturday of the new year, Angel, Dad, MaryGrace, and Rebekah participated in a 5k Glow Night Fun Run.

Angel 'won' the race, being the very first finisher, quite possibly because he was the only person who decided to run a "Glow Run" seriously. Everyone else was just there for the fun...and the glow sticks.

The 2nd race of the month was on the 31st--for this one, the two girls were running in an under-18 6k, while Angel ran the 10k. It was a very early Sunday morning for us, we were in the car and headed to the race site shortly after 5:30 a.m.

The whole family came out to cheer, which was a good thing, because there was practically no one else cheering for the race, so we cheered for all the winners.

Unfortunately, the winners didn't include any members of our crew, but they all finished! Rebekah finished the 6k in 43 minutes, MaryGrace in 55 minutes. Angel came in with 48 minutes for his 10k, a time he's not happy with, but he figures it was the best he could do on a course that had "rolling hills" (that's the description from the race website. The rolling hills were big enough to dismay quite a few of the runners, by all accounts.) and with only 6 weeks of training. He was hoping to place in the top 10 for the Men's Open, but he came in 24th for Men's Open and in the top 50 overall. He's now planning on signing up for another race in April and then will have no more excuses.

I created a video of our race day experience. Watch for running footage as well as complaints about the size of the hills.

The race ended with a trip to McDonald's, after which everyone went home and showered, and made it to church only a few minutes late for service. Angel headed off to work right after church, taught for three hours, and in the evening we went to a birthday dinner for a friend.

So if Angel can run a 10k, go to church, and teach a 3-hour class on Sunday, what's your excuse?

Mine is that running is boring and not fun. :)

29 January 2016

Marriage and Other New Experiences

 Friday morning dawned bright and early, with Angel and I at the outdoor market. He was buying our usual weekly supply of veggies and fruit and chicken--I was perusing the flower selection.

There's a first time for everything, and this is the first time that I was tasked with the responsibility of creating a bridal bouquet. I didn't even carry real flowers at my own wedding (if I had, it probably would have been a homemade bouquet), but this Wednesday, two days before the big event, my friend's mom called and asked if I could make the bridal bouquet. She didn't give any preferred colors or flowers...which is good, because it's hard to predict the flower selection at market on any given day. I decided to go with "colorful" as a safe theme, and picked out 4 different kinds.

The best way to know you're attending a wedding for a very old friend is when you're given work assignments to complete. Getting married is a group project, you know. The last marriage ceremony we attended, last August, we were part of the bride's 'family.' This time, we were there for the groom's side.

This is a friendship that spans more than a decade. For proof of the longevity of this association, I dug into the archives and found this photo of us having steamboat with Suku in 2009. Anna's changed more than all of the rest of us combined, though.

Once the flowers were ready, we were headed out in our finest for the marriage registration office. They wanted to be the first marriage of the day, so that we didn't have to wait in line, which means arriving promptly at the 9 a.m. opening time before any other couples arrive.

But how shall I keep the flowers hydrated during the car ride? A mug with an inspirational slogan seems just about perfect.

My friend's lovely bride had woken up even earlier than us to get ready--but she confided that she hadn't really slept last night, anyway, due to the excitement.

It took several opinions and several sets of hands to get the cuff-links and sleeves arranged just the way we wanted them. You can see my opinionated index finger in the foreground.

The groom's mother. At one point, she introduced my mom to her nephew with, "And this is my son's adopted mother."

That explains why, at a small family wedding at the legal registration office, approximately 1/3rd of the attendees are American.

Reciting vows and signing the marriage certificate. Which, incidentally, I ended up holding onto at one point after the wedding. I gently suggested to the newlyweds they might not want to let just anyone (persons named Rachel included) hold onto that very important piece of paper.

That smile.

The ring was a tight fit. No wedding ceremony would be complete without a few laughs, right?

After the ceremony was completed, we all convened at an Indian restaurant for breakfast. Surprisingly, considering that we consider ourselves experts on finding a good Indian breakfast place, this was a restaurant we'd never been to before! Yet another new experience. We sat down to eat outside but the sheer size of our party earned us a private room at the restaurant. which was fun.

Fresh apple juice!

 And paper tosai. 

And then the morning's past, and another friend is embarking on married life. 
26 January 2016

A Return to Creativity

As 2016 dawned, I determined that I wanted creativity to characterize my year. I know that goals are supposed to be "SMART," and declaring that you simply want to live more creatively is probably the direct opposite of a "smart" goal. But it's what my heart desires.

The past two years have been much more about simple survival than the added bonus of creativity. They've been very, very good years--some of the most joy-filled years of my life, ones that I'll always treasure in memory, but there wasn't a lot of room for luxuries like creative expression.

A photo posted by Rachel G (@randomlyrachels) on

For the first half of 2014, we were figuring out what country we were moving to, applying to jobs, filing paperwork, systematically giving away and selling all of our possessions and living in a nearly empty home. For the second half of 2014, we were living in a hotel (for nearly a month) and then in a small-yet-efficient dingy apartment in a neighborhood in ShenZhen--speaking Mandarin everyday and falling in love with teaching and the new world around us. Living in China was, to some extent, living in the constant state of feeling, "Well, I literally have no idea what's going to happen next, so I'm just not going to worry about it." Get interviewed for television? Be asked to dance in front of 3,000 people? Go on a 20 km hike without any warning/preparation? Perform a dramatic reading in the school talent competition? Check, check, check, check. 'Twas an amazing adventure.

When we moved again in 2015, that brought another empty house and another round of paperwork to wait on, and a busy life adjusting to Angel's new and much more challenging workload. In China, we saved every bit of our income that we could because we knew we'd soon be facing a pay cut and the necessity of setting up house again--a decision that served us well during our early months in Malaysia, as we were able to buy a vehicle and needed appliances and furniture. 2015 was a year of acting like real adults as we made big purchases and found new habits and new roles in the community that forms our third home.

I've long been the kind of person who has a few artistic endeavors stewing somewhere in the background. My parents are engineers, not artists, so they found me somewhat of an enigma, but still faithfully encouraged me in smaller or larger ways: bought me paints, taught me embroidery stitches, let me join a theater club.

Leaving America, packing up my life into 2 suitcases meant getting rid of all the tools of my trades--the beloved sewing machine I bought myself as a college graduation present, the paints and brushes, the pliers and papers and string and scraps of fabric. Of any 'stuff' we had, that was probably the hardest to say goodbye to. Since moving, I've contented myself with the creative expression that is blogging and digital writing--the creative hobby that is most easily transported. All I need is access to a laptop and the internet, and I can write and create all I want!

But in 2016, I crave a little more than that. It's always hard to predict which way life is going, but it appears to be settling down somewhat once more, and I want to feel free-er to invest in the kinds of supplies that I love being creative with again, and I want to learn new and more versatile creative skills.

A photo posted by Rachel G (@randomlyrachels) on

I'm excited to spend this year looking for ways to be creative in my everyday life--in ways that end up brightening both my own days and those of others. I think I'm off to a good start. For Christmas, I asked for and received a coloring book and pencils, along with embroidery thread and cross-stitch fabric, so I've started out with coloring and embroidery for two of those 'easy' creative endeavors that can be accomplished while watching an evening movie with Angel. I hope to find myself a sewing machine one of these days.

The Youtube channel is another potential avenue I've opened up for creative expression, and when it comes to work, I'm dedicated to writing my lesson plans and executing preschool in a creative way--one that I actually enjoy and one that will hopefully have great benefits for those learning. I'm adding different vegetables into my usual recipes. I'm wearing mismatching earrings. I'm painting my nails again. I'm no longer letting the need for the housework to be done and the budget to be balanced and the confusing bills to be paid trump my need to be creative. Because even though I occasionally forget it, it's perfectly possible to do both; I can, if I only remember that I have the ability, accomplish the hum-drum tasks of life in a unique and colorful way.

What are some of your favorite ways to express creativity? What tools or resources do you find most helpful in encouraging you to choose to be creative rather than choosing the shortest route from point A to point B?
24 January 2016

Ordinary Days

I've always been a big advocate of dressing extraordinarily even on the most ordinary of days. However, recently, I've found my long-held resolve in this area slipping slightly.

I have my excuses, we all do, but the truth is that I haven't dressed up as regularly since we moved here. The kind of clothes that are comfortable in 85 degree heat with 85% humidity in a non-airconditioned home while chasing little ones around all day are not necessarily the clothes that also look amazingly pretty. And when you no longer have conveniences like a dryer at your disposal and have to hang-dry everything you wear (and hand-wash everything that won't survive the washing machine)...laundry conservation becomes a little more important.

So sometimes, even 'dress up everyday' Rachel slips into the default mode of wearing denim capris and t-shirts Monday-Friday. At least I wear my black leather belt with the metal studs and that makes me feel cool. But I only wear it because the capris won't stay up without a belt, and I only have one belt. Getting dressed out of necessity is boring. And it's so annoying to feel boring. So on Friday I wore this outfit to the grocery store, and then to the library...that's inside our apartment complex. More of a 'book room' than a library, if' I'm honest. Because even ordinary days deserve pretty clothes.

Sometimes people ask "What's the occasion?" or "Oh, are you going out?" when they see me dressed in a manner incongruous with the ordinariness of my days. For me, the occasion is that I've got lovely dresses in my closet and colorful sashes in my dresser drawers. I strive to find the perfect balance between comfort and practicality on the one hand, and fabulous, colorful ingenuity on the other. Because what's the point of having beautiful clothes if we let them get moldy in our wardrobes while waiting for extraordinary occasions?

I love ordinary days, but I must admit, I love them a little more when I remember to wear the clothes I actually like wearing.
21 January 2016

Youtube Channels I Use for Homeschooling

These are the Youtube channels I use regularly with the preschool-age girls that I homeschool. I don't prefer to include a lot of screen time in our daily school tasks, but the fact is that videos, songs, and computer screens garner a lot of excitement and attention, and I've found these channels to be very useful in reinforcing the concepts I teach. We typically watch 3 or 4 videos a day from a variety of these channels, cycling between new songs/concepts and reviewing old ones.

1. Teacher Tipster

This channel is definitely more designed to give teachers rhymes and strategies for teaching, but the 4-year-olds think he's utterly hilarious and love watching his videos. We use his clock rule and the 3D shapes rhymes consistently.

2. Music Express Magazine

My girls love music and dancing. This channel provides a number of fun, kid-friendly choreographed routines for kids to learn and practice. It's good to get a little coordination practice in and sometimes the little ones have a lot of energy--a dance video can help burn some of it off in an approved manner.

3. The Learning Station

-Nursery Rhymes and songs to memorize information. We've used "Seven Days in a Week" and "12 Months in a Year" with great success.

4. All Things Animal TV

-I'm actually not a huge fan of this one, as the animated aliens, in my opinion, add nothing to the show, but it's the best consistent channel I've found thus far to help the preschoolers really get a feel for what different animals look like in real life versus in cartoon form, without it being too in-depth or above their heads. I wish they had something more like Zooboomafoo or Kratt's Creatures available here! The closest zoo to us is several hours away, and the girls always respond really well to the chance to see animals that they've never seen in real life in action on the computer screen--seeing penguins or polar bears after reading about them in the book is really exciting!

5. Have Fun Teaching

So far, I've primarily used the individual letter songs (i.e. this week we're doing the Letter U Song). They are very repetitive, which is exactly what you need in preschool.

6. Didi and Friends

Songs in Bahasa Malaysia. Since our preschoolers need to gain some familiarity with the language of Bahasa, I frequently have them listen and sing along with these videos. Most of them are Bahasa versions of classic songs that I learned as "The Wheels on the Bus" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" as a kid.

7. Little Pim

These videos are aimed at really little kids for language learning--somewhat reminiscent of the Rosetta Stone method of teaching a language through images rather than translations. Fun! We have used the Mandarin videos.

8. Growing Up With Chinese

This series is aimed at somewhat older-than-preschool students, but is still kid-appropriate, and is my favorite of the kid-friendly Chinese resources I've found online. It starts from a fairly basic, beginner level, but by the 100th episode, it's advanced enough to challenge my level of Mandarin comprehension, which is pretty cool. I linked to the site where you can find all videos in the series, but many episodes are also on Youtube, if you prefer. I used to use this channel for my own Mandarin practice, and have plans to use it as I work on giving the little girls and my nine-year-old sister more of a solid foundation in Mandarin. We're taking a slight pause on Mandarin language learning until the girls are a little better at writing/reading letters, just because of the possible confusion that could be caused by the vastly different writing system.

9. Seven in All

Yep, I let them watch videos from our channel, too. Because they request it every day. They love watching "Akka" (Rebekah) doing crazy things in the videos and they're basically our biggest fans. Not to mention, Shiloh starred in one of the videos and who wouldn't want to watch themselves on Youtube?
19 January 2016

When I Visit the USA Someday...

These are all the things I want to do:

- Teach my nephew some cool stuff. Because that's what aunts and uncles are supposed to do, and he's nowhere near as little as he used to be.

- Eat nachos al carbon at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Michigan.

- Eat at Papa John's. Preferably more than once.

-Get caught up on paperwork, renewing driver's licenses and all that fun stuff.

- See all of our Michigan and Texas family (and family in other states, too, if we could swing it)

- If we do make it to states other than TX and MI, I'd love to hang out in my aunt's glass art studio again.

- NOT see any snow.

-Walk through a supermarket and marvel at the foods available.

- Spend some time enjoying the peace and quiet of Bois Blanc Island in northern Michigan.

- Go swing dancing downtown in the city where Angel used to work.

- Visit our old college campus and find and say hi to the professors who haven't retired yet (a shockingly high number of our professors have retired since we graduated...shocking considered I graduated less than 4 years ago).

- Visit either Disney in Orlando or Disney in Anaheim. California might be more plausible since I could spin it as an opportunity for Angel to see his old hometown and his relatives. Unfortunately, I'm not related to anyone in Orlando. Seems like I ought to be, I have family everywhere else...

- Have a family barbecue outdoors on the farm or at the park.

- Visit with all our Michigan friends, from college and church and work.

- Eat one good steak. I'm not even a steak snob, honestly, Logan's is fine with me and I know that's not fine dining. Even one that's home-grilled would be great. We've pretty much given up beef since our move due to cost.

- Angel specifically requests getting a Strawberry Limeade at Sonic.

- Go canoeing at Lake Mineral Wells Park in Texas.

-See at least some location in the USA I've never seen before.

- Stock up on stuff like easily available art supplies and school textbooks and materials and delicious SweetTarts and blue haircolor to bring home with us in our suitcases.

- See our first home once more.

 And....that's why we simply won't go back, not for a long time anyway, because we'd eat far too much unhealthy food and spend far too much money on traveling and irresponsible fun if we were back in our own country. I won't even think about the terrible Ringgit to USD exchange rate at the moment, because it'll probably be totally different by the time we're planning a trip (at least that's what I tell myself). We've only been gone a year and a half, so we're not even close to due for a trip home. I love living here, but I think the USA is a great place to take a vacation! When we do go, we'll obviously have to go in summer or fall. No offense to Michiganders, but it's just not that great of a place to be in the winter! I would know...I spent too many winters there...

What would be the first things you would do if you returned to your passport country after a long time away?
17 January 2016

Suspenders: Who Wore it Better? (2013 vs. 2016)

It turns out I'm a fan of the purple jeans/suspenders combo. I found a blog post from all the way back in 2013 of a young Rachel who had no idea that she'd spend the next couple years moving from one country to another...also wearing purple jeans with suspenders. Funny how when I only get a suitcase and a carry-on and a backpack to pack, those are the things that stay with me. (Another post has me wearing suspenders with a completely different outfit). Now the question becomes, who wore it better?

Worn with a t-shirt, sandals, and a long beady necklace, too! Different ones, but still the same general pattern remains clear. Funny thing is I only noticed the resemblance between this weekend's outfit and the one from nearly 3 years ago once I saw the photos. Either the lighting in the photos is drastically different or my beloved purple jeans aren't nearly as purple as the used to be, either, and they appear to be a looser fit these days, so perhaps the wash stretched them out, too.

I still like the turquoise tee better. Angel's always trying to convince me to wear colors like grey, baby blue, white, or cream, but the pictures seem to prove my hypothesis that such colors have a tendency to blend in with my skin.  I love 2013's haircut but 2016's hair isn't so bad, either. It'll be better when the sis's boyfriend sends me my favorite blue color. The huge glasses are probably the biggest difference between the two looks, and although I'm slightly more open to being photographed with this pair of glasses than my previous pair, I still prefer the no-glasses look. Big glasses AND suspenders at the same time lends itself a little too obviously to the fake nerd look. And I'm anything but a fake nerd.

So, who wore it better? Or do you opt for a third option, yourself? Have you ever worn suspenders and blogged about it?
14 January 2016

Angelisms, Part 11

Angel's been wanting to go tandem biking ever since our honeymoon. Five years later, we finally did it!

Scene: Angel is sitting down with a pen to help Mom and Dad finish writing and sending out their Christmas cards.

Angel: "So, I can just write anything I want to on the inside, right?"

*Mom and Dad look at Angel, trying to judge his intentions.*

Dad: "Uh, no."

{After 5 years, they know that Angel should never be given permission to "just write anything."}


Scene: Preschool time with the little girls, and they are coloring their daily dot-to-dot worksheets. Angel sits down at the table.

Angel: "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time my mom spanked me with a shoe?"

Proceeds to tell about 10 stories of himself being a naughty child and getting spanked for his actions. After each story, the girls excited prompted him to continue to the next one, saying, "And then? And then?"


Scene: Two days after filming our "Talent Competition" video.

Angel: "I finally figured out why I'm so sore! It's because you guys made me do a bunch of push-ups for that video! I was wondering the whole day yesterday..."

{Our initial plan called for him walking on his hands. He's pretty good at walking on his hands, but he couldn't walk on his hands long enough for the video, unfortunately, so we ended up with push-ups, which were much easier to do for a long period of time.}


Scene: I'm working on morning housework while Angel is at market, buying groceries, or so I think, when the phone rings. I answer. It's Angel.

Angel: "Hey...could you bring my wallet downstairs?"
Rachel: "How far did you get before you realized you forgot it?"
Angel: "I had already parked and was walking in to the market..."

{This wouldn't be so funny if it were the first time, but this is the third time since September that Angel has forgotten his wallet while going on errands or going to work.}


Scene: We just woke up.

Angel: "I had a dream last night that someone ate the half of a lemon that's in the fridge and I was so angry!"
Rachel: "Well, that's realistic."

{He really cares about his lemons.}


Scene: On vacation, Sarah is playing 'psychiatrist' and wants to psychoanalyze Angel.

Sarah: "Angel, what is your biggest fear?"
Angel: "Steven Spielberg."
Sarah: "Who's that?"
Angel: "A movie director."
Sarah: "Oh, okay. What else?"
Angel: "Aluminum foil."

 {I think she's found the perfect patient to start her practice with.}
12 January 2016

7 Things Never to Say to People Who Have Ears

1. "When will you...?"

Seriously. Just don't ask anyone when they'll do/experience/achieve/finish anything, ever. They won't take this question as a legitimate appeal for information, they'll instead feel judged and belittled when you ask things like:

"When will you graduate from college?"
"When will you go to the grocery store?"
"When will you send in the recommendation letter you promised to write for me?"
"When will you have a baby?"
"When will you be done reading the LOTR series?"

People don't want to be reminded of their procrastination. You'll know when it happens. Maybe. If you happen to see the Facebook status update.

2. "I think you should..."

They don't care what you think. They care what they think. Advice is insulting. It assumes they don't know everything and might need some guided suggestions along the road of life. So avoid suggestions like:

"I think you should try to pay off your students loans faster by paying more than the minimum payment."
"I think you should rinse the rice before you cook it."
"I think you should go easy on the blush. Don't want to look back at old pictures and wonder what you were thinking."
"I think you should buy a car that fits your budget instead of a brand-new Honda."

3.  "Is/Are ____ real/natural?"

People really hate being questioned as to their reality, for some reason. I mean, I feel like people wouldn't be threatened by this, either you're real or you're not and either one is okay. I mean, I'm a cosmetologist so I wouldn't need to ask in the first place--fake is visible a mile away. So, if you don't want to offend anyone but you're still curious, go to beauty school.

"Is your red hair natural?"
"Is your blue hair natural?"
"Are your sculpted, embellished nails that are .5 inches longer than your fingertips natural?
"Is this really your baby?"
"Have you really worked at this Fortune 500 company listed on your resume?"
"Is there a real person writing this blog?"

4. "Are you sick?"

If you're asking this question, either 1) the person isn't sick, their appearance is just subpar and they would thank you not to notice. 2) They are sick, but don't want to take leave from work so they are still appearing in public instead of resting at home and would thank you not to notice. 3) You are a medical professional and nobody wants to talk to you because you ask more invasive questions than anyone else on the planet.

"You look pale, are you sick?"
"You just fainted, are you sick?"
"You're flushed and sweaty and your temperature is 102, are you sick?"

5. "{Something they do or like} is foolish/boring/a waste of money/waste of time."

They don't care about your random opinions, okay! They don't care so very, very much that they will be greatly hurt by the opinions you hold if they happen to be opposite to their own opinions. So just keep your opinions to yourself. Unless you agree with theirs. Then feel free to share those opinions, but only those.

"Going to DisneyWorld is a waste of money."
"Mowing your lawn twice a week is a waste of time."
"Eating lots of donuts when you should watching your blood sugar is foolish."
"Jigsaw puzzles are boring."
"Blogging is a waste of time."

6. "You're lucky/blessed/spoiled. I wish I had your _____."

Nope. Nobody wants other people noticing what an awesome life they have and then giving the credit to luck or blessings. They've earned every bit of awesomeness in their life through their own blood, sweat and tears. Either that, or they don't actually have an awesome life and if you experienced it for a minute you'd be making some un-wishes real fast. Don't go wishing for my curls because you have no idea what they're like to live with. You might think you're just trying to pay someone a compliment in an overly dramatic way, but chances are, they'll get offended, because people like getting offended almost more than they like homemade bread, fresh from the oven. So keep your compliments to yourself, why don't ya!

"You're lucky with those curls! I wish I had your hair!"
"You're so blessed! I wish I had a job with vacation time like that!"
"You're so spoiled! I wish I had a close family like yours."

7. "Why...?"

How dare you ask them to explain their reasoning behind making certain choices. What good could it possibly do to talk through the reasoning process so that both people can understand the thoughts that are behind a decision? That couldn't possibly be a useful conversation to both parties, could it?

"Why do you want to get that tattoo?"
"Why are you majoring in Mandarin Chinese?"
"Why did you quit your job to move overseas?"
"Why don't you have a baby?"
"Why are you wearing that dress?"
"Why don't you eat foods containing gluten?"


So let's all just make one big happy community of people who don't question or advise or dramatically compliment each other, because better spare someone's feelings than make another person, perhaps one you love and care about, experience an uncomfortable conversation.

I think sometimes we forget that we are each the boss of exactly one mouth, our own. And, on average, we can barely even keep that mouth under control so I'm not exactly sure what gave us the delusion that we should feel qualified to boss other people's mouths around and tell them what not to say to us.
10 January 2016

Universal Studios Singapore Trip Report

I've never made it any secret that I'm an unashamed theme park fan. Therefore, for the other crazy theme park fans like me, I decided to give our day at Universal Studios Singapore a post all to itself.

None of us kids knew that we were actually going to Universal during our Singapore trip until the morning of. I was imagining that a trip to Universal was out of the question since we were in the country on a holiday weekend, but my parents' theory was that New Year's Day was a great time to go to Universal Studios since surely no one else would want to wake up so early after partying all the previous night. Besides that, it was promising to be a cloudy, rainy day, the kind of day when theme parks are traditionally avoided.
Universal Studios Singapore

So, we headed out, and arrived and got in line to purchase entry tickets about an hour before park opening. Once tickets were purchased, we wandered around the Resort World entry area, taking photos and taking in the sights. Sarah, who had been to Universal back when she was a little too short for some of the rides, was in a state of blissful excitement, jumping up and down, and telling Mom and Angel and I (the uninitiated) about all the wonders we were about to experience.

We got in line, about 20 people back from the main gates, and they started letting us into the part about 15 minutes before official opening. "Elves" were handing out candy canes to everyone at the gates, and we also grabbed a time schedule for the day's shows. Since it was the first of January, all of the Christmas entertainment was still going on, which meant a few extra shows and festivities.

As we'd previously planned, we headed straight for the Transformers ride, rushing through the beautifully detailed Hollywood and New York lands. We loved the details in the queue of Transformers, but we didn't have much time to see them as the wait was less than 5 minutes.

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

After that, we headed for BattleStar Galactica, where Angel, Rebekah, and MaryGrace went straight for the Cylon track while Dad and Sarah went on the less-intimidating Human track. Mom and I sat this one out. Mom waited patiently and I waited not-so-patiently for them to get off of their ride. Since I had a few minutes, I wandered back into New York and took a few photos, including a selfie with Vin Diesel since no one else was around.
Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

We headed to the Mummy ride next. Mom sat out this one again, as Sarah warned her that it was quite intense. I thought it was not as scary as Sarah's dire warnings made it seem, but still fairly intense. Disney roller coasters are pretty much my comfort threshhold, I'm not one for extreme rides, but this one was okay for me.
Universal Studios Singapore

We headed into Jurassic World next, where we braved the water ride without buying ponchos, since those cost money and who minds getting wet on a water ride? Dad opted out of this one, staying dry and carrying all of our stuff that we didn't want to get wet. This was a really suspenseful ride, but not a particularly wet one. We hopped off, still mostly dry, and went straight to Far, Far, Away, to get in line for the Puss in Boots Coaster.

We were just about at the front of the line for the coaster when the heavens opened and the clouds that had been threatening all morning turned into a downpour. I was worried that they'd close the ride and our time in line would have been in vain, but they didn't, and we proceeded onto the coaster, where every single one of us got completely and utterly soaked. This coaster in the rain was much more of a water ride than the actual water ride, we all agreed. I posted a photo on Instagram of a rain-soaked Angel and I after the ride.

It was still raining heavily when we got off, but we really wanted to make the first showing of "Waterworld" which Dad claimed was a really cool performance. We left "Waterworld" with Rebekah claiming that when she grows up she wants to be the actress in the show. Rebekah also happened to make a friend during the performance, one of the villains came up and sat next to her and tried to use her as a human shield. All of the rest of the family found that quite amusing. We then visited Donkey LIVE and Shrek 4-D Adventures, both of which we found less-than-amusing, primarily because my entire family universally thinks that Shrek is a highly overrated film.

After the shows, we were getting a bit hungry, so we stopped for a shared meal at Mel's Diner, where everyone else split burgers and Sarah and I discovered the wonders of cheezy fries. I still think those cheezy fries were the best food I had in all of Singapore. You can't judge until you've lived as an expat long enough in Southeast Asia to appreciate some plain old American diner food. ;)

Becausewe're only happy once we're seen all the shows in the park, we hustled straight to "Sesame Street Saves Christmas" immediate showely after lunch.

Universal Studios Singapore

And right after the show, we stayed on the Sesame Street theme and went to the Spaghetti Space Chase. This ended up being one of my favorite rides in the park, and we went back again in the evening to ride it.

Universal Studios Singapore

I loved the funny details in the Spaghetti Space Chase queue.

After that, we went to Lights, Camera, Action! with Steven Spielberg (if you saw the instagram post about Sarah trying to hypnotize away Angel's 'fear' of Steven Spielberg, this attraction is what inspired that event). Then, in quick succession, we rode Madagascar: A Crate Adventure (Loved the detail and design of the queue, good thing, too, because this line was a little longer than most on this day), and Enchanted Airways.

After that, we wandered through "A Scrooge Christmas Splendor." I love the design of this 'show,' in which actors in the costumes of Scrooge's London wandered through the street, interacting with guests. This guy, in particular, was really funny, and had a whole conversation with Sarah. Here he is inquiring how she got all the way from Malaysia to London and asking how long the boat journey took.

Universal Studios Singapore

It was after the Scrooge performance when my parents showed signs of slowing down. They opted to sit in one place for the next hour and a half until the evening Christmas entertainment started, while Angel, Rebekah, and MaryGrace opted to head off for a couple of rides, and Sarah and I headed off in a different direction to ride the rides we preferred. Angel and the girls repeated Battlestar Galactica and Transformers, while Sarah and I preferred to increase our total ride count by accomplishing the Canopy Flyer in The Lost World and Treasure Hunters in Ancient Egypt. After we got out, we wandered Hollywood, checking out the gift shops, until hunger impelled us to rejoin our parents and share another order of cheezy fries from the diner.

Once everyone had regrouped, we spent the majority of the evening watching the night's special Christmas performances, which included a light show, stilt walkers, along with a number of stage performances. In between shows, we ducked into Transformers and Spaghetti Space Chase and Lights, Camera, Action! for a 2nd taste of fun, since lines were very short by this point.

We left the park at about 9:30 p.m. after the close of the final performance, thereby, according to our definition, successfully "opening" and "closing" the park. We tend to figure amusement park tickets are only really worth it if you're in the park before it opens and stay until after it closes.

My ride count (unique rides) was 10 for the day, with 2 rides repeated. Sarah beat me by one, since she was brave enough to ride Battlestar Galactica and I wasn't.

Have you been to a Universal Studios park anywhere in the world? How did your experience compare to my tales from the Singapore park? Are you a park opener and closer like we are, or are you content with a shorter, less exhausting, day?