Category Archives: Laura Blinkman

Send Out Cards

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http://www.SendOutCards.com … have you heard of it? Well, it’s my new project, and let me tell you about it!

Send Out Cards is a USA based company that I am using as a customer, and also as a client. It’s the fastest growing network marketing companies in the world. It’s a pretty simple concept as an on-line greeting card and gift company, the idea being to send a personalized greeting card, upload your own photo to be printed and included, add a gift, make someones day, make a difference in their lives.

Why did I choose to be part of this company? Because when I moved to Singapore, I found it virtually impossible to find a store that sells cards. I have only seen one store so far, and it had a very small selection of cards. If I am able to find an appropriate card, now I have the stress of finding a post office, buying a stamp, paying for parking.

There are literally thousands of cards to choose from, including birthday, holidays, wedding, new baby, get well, sympathy, special occasions, and many blank cards that you can fill in with your own message. There is a wide range of gifts, from cookies and brownies, flowers, stuffed animals, books, jewelry, I could go on and on!

And the best part is that Send Out Cards is extremely affordable! In fact, it’s cheaper than buying a card at the store and mailing it yourself. I know many people who use other sites to print out their Christmas cards, and I’m telling you, Send Out Cards is much more cost efficient. My friend Julie made this chart that breaks down the costs of several companies.

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Basically, you purchase “points” that you exchange for cards & gifts, and then you have an expense account to cover postage. It’s a straightforward and simple program!

When I learned about http://www.SendOutCards.com, I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be part of this company. Now from the convenience of my home, I can buy a card, or postcard, personalize it, add a gift, plug in the contact information, and the next day it’s printed (in Utah) and in the mail. Cards can be sent from anywhere in the world and delivered to anywhere in the world. Because I joined the company, I am also earning income!

This is the perfect business to be part of, but especially for the expats who are living throughout the world, who have relatives & friends living in every corner of the world. This is the easiest, most affordable way to stay connected with them, and also make money doing it!

If you want to learn more please click on the link below. From there you can sign up to be a customer, or even to be part of this amazing company!

http://www.SendOutCards.com/Blinkman

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Marine Ball

We were graciously invited  to the Marine Ball here in Singapore to celebrate the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corp.  Scott and Susan both work at the United States Embassy, they were able to invite guests, and we are so happy that they chose us!

Having never been to a ball before, I set about trying to find a nice gown to wear, which I quickly found to be a near impossible task, for several reasons.  

First, I had no idea where shop for a formal dress.  There are no big department stores here like in America, instead each store is an individual owned independently.  So I had to look in a directory and see many stores with names that are completely unfamiliar, it was like looking for that needle in the haystack.  

Second, there are a ba-zillion malls here, each with a ba-zillion stores in them.  I spent many hours walking through malls, looking in stores.  I am not a shopper, and so I found this to be exhausting.  

Third, when I would finally find a dress that I liked, I would be shooed away and out of the store from the owner, with them saying to me that I was “too big lah”.  Yes, I have broad swimmer shoulders, and not once in my life have I been considered small, but I am in no way big. And when I would find a dress that fit, but I didn’t like, the shop owners would become aggressive with me when I didn’t buy it. One lady even chased me out into the mall, yelling at me to come back. I managed to get on the escalator, and when I looked back towards the store, there she was, waving her arms at me, to come back!

I was considering not going to the Marine Ball, just scrapping the whole affair, because the effort of finding something to wear was overwhelming, when I had a brilliant idea:  Use Maria as my personal shopper!!!  So, after one of Marias eye check ups, our sweet eye physician, Dr. Fu, was talked into giving Maria an excuse from school for a full day!!  She wrote “Maria is certified unfit”!   And with that note, we used the rest of the afternoon shopping on a school day!  

With one mall stop and three shops later, Maria had me try on nearly 20 gowns, and then wah-lah,  we found it.  Maria made it easy, and with her keen fashion eye, I knew I couldn’t go wrong.  After all, this wasn’t the first time I had used my sweet daughter as my personal shopper. Ever since she was a little girl, she’s had a clear fashion sense of what looks good and what doesn’t. She just gets it.  

I randomly picked a place to get my hair done, because the name of the salon sounded American to me … Sweeny’s.  Armed with a photo that Maria cut out from her Seventeen Magazine, I bravely walked into the salon, and let a Chinese man with a long pony tail do my hair.  When I showed him the photo, he exclaimed, “Seexieee!” and then began chattering with his co-workers. After a bit, my curiosity got the best of me, and after asking what they heck are they talking about, he said , “you hair real?  black?  you no dye?  everyone talk about your hair”.  So funny, they love my black hair here!! IMG_1566IMG_1568Anyhow, we attended the Marine Ball last Friday, and had an absolute blast.  Here is a picture, taken by Maria,  of the four of us, before we left. 

The evening began and ended with “free flow”  … meaning open bar.  Which meant loads of fun!  There was dancing, and carrying on, until the wee hours of the night.   I was determined to get a couple selfies (photos taken of myself by me, it’s all the rage, the kids do it all the time.)  Here are two :

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Trent and I both agreed that it felt like we were in America that night, and we were so honored to be there.   We especially loved the 20′ x 40′ American flag!
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Thank you Susan and Scott for such a fun, memorable night!!

Race The Dead 5K Zombie Run

First, let’s make this clear: I am NOT a runner. Oh, I try to fake it at the gym, and a couple of times I have run outside. I’ve always said, my entire life, that I don’t run. I will only run if a monster is chasing me. And even then, I may just drop over and let the big bad monster have me.

Well, I guess I put it out there … and this past weekend it came back to me. Race The Dead 5K Zombie Run on Sentosa Island, Singapore … a 5K on the beach, chased by zombies. When I first saw this, back when we were still living in the states, I thought that it sounded like fun! But registration filled up within a couple of hours, and we didn’t get in. Then, lucky for Trent, they opened up a second day, and this time we got in!!!

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A few weeks ago we picked up our race packet, and, after waiting in the queue, and I finally get to the front of the line to get my size medium shirt, I ask the gal, “how do I survive this run? how do I not get caught by zombies?”

Her answer?

“You no worry. Zombies go after smalls. You big. You survive”

I walked away from that table, thinking, what just happened? I asked a question, and was in turn, insulted? Of course, when I take into consideration that the tee shirts for this race vary in size from XXXS to XL … my medium is on the big end of things. Too funny!

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Anyhow, the zombie race was this past weekend, in 90 degree weather, on the beach, wearing black tee shirts. And being chased by zombies. Here is a quick description of what happened:

Trent and I arrived early, queued up, got registered, and were bussed to the starting point of the race, where we waited for our wave of runners. Every 5 minutes another round of 100 runners would start. My heart was pounding, and by the time we were scheduled to start, it was nearly noon and the hottest part of the day. I felt like I was already dehydrated, but I didn’t want to drink. I know how I am. But it was so hot, so I did drink some gatorade. And then a little bit more, I mean, it was really hot, and I was thirsty!

Now it’s time to start the race, and we are queued up. Again. They countdown the seconds on a loud speaker, and we are off. All 100 of us start to jog a bit. But it’s really too hot to run. So after about 200 meters, we all start walking. Not knowing what to expect, there was some light chatter in our group, but mostly everyone was quiet. The anticipation was killing us.

Then, up ahead, we see a zombie. Then another. And another. Everywhere. Behind trees. Behind trash cans. All over the beach. And we realize that that we now have to face the zombies to continue on, while the zombies try to pull off one of our “lives” (sort of like flag football, we had two tags (lives) hanging from a belt). We all stood there, paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.

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Then two kamikazes in our group took the lead and ran ahead of us .. and we all stood there and watched them, darting this way and that way, trying to get away and past all the zombies. Once they made it through, we all knew we had no choice to but to get moving, after all, another wave of 100 runners would be right behind us.

Slowly, one by one, we started off. Then all at once, we all realized that we were safer in a group, and so our 98 strong group moved towards the zombies together … until the zombies became aggressive. Oh, they were out to get us. It became everyone out for themselves. Look out for number one, me, myself, and I.

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There was full body checking, there was tripping, screaming, people getting knocked over, wipe outs in the sand. Loose shoes, lives lost.

Trent made it through that area of the 5K with both of his lives. I lost one of mine, and I also lost a bit of my sanity. All of my nightmares of running in a crazed, mass crowd came true. And I drank too much gatorade pre-race. My fears of peeing my pants came true too .. but just a little bit. I quickly gained my composure, and carried on, and lucky for me there was a water obstacle next where I was able to clean up, if you know what I mean.

Now the unlucky thing about a water obstacle … is now we have soaking wet shoes, and we are running in the sand. Oh, it was pretty yucky. And I decided right then and there that I was going to be a survivor. I was going to end this race with a life. Come hell or high water, I was going to get a “Survivor” tee shirt. Size Medium, thank you very much.

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So I cheated. Yep. I tucked my remaining life tag in my waistband, and I carried on.

My warrior husband also decided that he was going to be a survivor, and he dug in and did what he had to .. he jumped, hurdled, sprinted, did some moves that would have made his sons proud, and he knocked over a poor little gal when she got in his way (she wore an XXXS tee shirt). And Trent did me proud .. he finished with both of his lives!!

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So did our friend Scott … although I believe that he was one of the kamikaze dudes from his wave that took off in front of everyone.

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Two shoes

Okay, so it’s true, I just figured out how to upload pictures to this blog directly from my iPhone.  This picture is pretty funny, I think  that it is something I really must record in this journal.

This picture was taken on the second day of our landing here in Sing.  We were all extremely jet-lagged, almost to the point of being sick.  The kids and I spent the entire day at their school doing orientation things, while Trent met the movers at the condo, and with the heat & humidity, exhaustion, emotions,  and sheer stress of being moving to the other side of the world,  it was a humdinger of a day.  By now my legs and feet are swelling, still recovering from the 20 hour flight, not drinking enough water, and the heat.

After we finished at the school,   we searched out some western food, and the only place we could find was a McDonalds.  So now, add too all the other torment to our bodies, add greasy food.   I’m proud to say that I was smart enough to bring an second pair of sandals, thinking that I could maybe switch shoes to relieve some of the aches and pains.

But, I wasn’t smart enough to switch BOTH shoes.

After our lunch at McDonalds, we decided to be super healthy and have dessert at Wendy’s (they have a copy-cat blizzard  that’s out of this world), and it wasn’t until we were standing in line that I noticed that I had two different sandals on.

Mercy mercy!

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Culture Class for Laura

The last thing I wanted to do on a beautiful summer day was attend a 7 hour culture class.  Nope, not interested.   But, knowing that I set the example for the kids, and their day of learning is next week,  I figured out a way to make this day-long class a happy occasion:  by inviting the instructor to my home, where we sat on the porch sipping ice-teas and  ordered take-out while she taught me all about Singapore!  And, it turns out, I really enjoyed Culture Class!!

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Here are some interesting tidbits about Singapore:

Singapore land area is 263 square miles (the main island-city/state with 63 offshore islands) with nearly 5.5 million people.

Singapore was originally covered with tropical rain forest & mangrove swampland, however in the last 2 centuries human development has altered most of the original landscape in line with the ever-expanding housing and industrial needs.  Only 2% of the island is forest, 2% agricultural, more than 50% is housing & office space, and the remaining 46% is marshland or undeveloped land or protected parks.  However, in an effort to increase the inhabitable land area of the islands, hills are being leveled, swamps drained & filled, and many of the small inlets and reefs have been enlarged or joined to form larger islands.

Singapore is hot and humid all year, with a low of 65 and highs in the 80’s.  It rains every day in short heavy showers!

76% are Chinese, 14% Malay, 8% Indian and 2% other

Two official language: Mandarin & English but other common languages are Malay, Hokkein, Cantonese,  Teochew, Tamil, and mother-tongue dialects.

Religions:  42% are Buddhist, 15% Muslim, 9% Taoist, 4% Hindu, 5% Catholic and 10% other Christian.

Unemployment rate = 1.5%

The kids school is in the northern part, in the Woodlands.  This is also where most of the Americans live, however, we have chosen to live in Holland Village, which is more central, near Bukit Timah.  This is also where the kids swim team practices.  Trents office is in Yishun, and the airport is in Changi.  The island is so small that it only takes 30 minutes to get from the Woodlands to Sentosa Island.

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I was told that there are no poisonous snakes or spiders in Singapore, however there are snakes and big-as-your-hand spiders.  Yikes.  Flying squirrels and monkeys (but no flying monkeys), and peacocks!  We did see a pair of peacocks on our visit, but the Chinese consider them to be good luck, and so the children chase them in attempt to pull out their long tail feathers.  It’s really a sight to see, and I found it nearly irresistible to  not join in the fun… I mean, isn’t that on your bucket list?  To chase a peacock and pull out a long tail-feather?  It’s on mine, that’s for sure!!

I learned all kinds of great information about Singapore history, the people of Singapore, their government,  Chinese, Malay, and Indian family & women,  education, how to meet and greet, gift giving,  expectations when invited into their homes, weddings & funeral customs, holidays & festivals, leisure activities,  foods & eating etiquette, health risks, laws & safety, and many many other topics!  ( look for future posts about these topics!!)

One of the items that I find to be most interesting is how the people of this country have been taught by their government to live harmoniously with each other.  In 1979 the Prime Minister launched the “Courtesy Campaign” which was designed to bring people together with harmony among multi-ethnic groups and to improve everyday courtesy.   Then in 1996 the Prime Minister launched the “Kindness Movement” after a speech directing Singaporeans to be a gracious society by the 21st century.

The children are taught about all the religions of the world at a young age, and taught to be accepting and supportive, so when they are in public and they see someone practicing their religion, say kneeling at prayer-time at an open temple, it doesn’t faze them.  They accept it, respect it, and don’t think twice about their differences.  If they do mock someone, any adult has the right to publicly chastise and punish that child!

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Trent returns home finally on July 20th!   He didn’t have the chance to take a culture class because he was sent off so quickly, and he thought that he didn’t need to spend time with a teacher.  After all, he has traveled to Asia frequently, and now he has been living there (albeit in a Sheraton) since April.  When when I quizzed him last night during our Skype conversation, it became very evident that he should make time for this.

Questions I asked him?  Why do the Asians have what we Americans considered a “limp” or “weak” handshake?  Why do they not make eye contact?  Why should you never use your left hand?  Why is it that you should never let them see they soles of your feet?   Why is it that he should expect months and month of unproductive meetings?   Why is it when Asians say “yes” it doesn’t necessarily mean “yes”?

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions &  more information about my host-country as I continue to learn!  The kids have their culture class next week, and I cannot wait to see what they are taught, what they find exciting, and not so exciting!  Our departure date is quickly nearing, and the pace of our lives has quickened as we rush to see everyone, do fun things and make memories, and get packed up!!!