Confessions of an Expat Mom

Confessions of an Expat Mom

…or should I say “mum”.  Five months ago, my family relocated back to Singapore.  It’s been two years since we’ve lived here.  This time around, things are different.  We have a baby.  So I am officially an expat mum.

IMG_7588

It’s been far too long since I’ve written anything on the blog, let alone something relating to Pilates or fitness.  My time for the past five months has been devoted to James, our now eight month old son, and setting up our new life in Singapore.

Yes, I flew 10,000 miles alone with my 3 month old baby.

It all started with a 26 hour journey half way around the world.  Alone, with a three month old baby, I put on a happy face as I entered the first class cabin of Singapore Airlines.  I know, I know, first class seems a bit much.  But it was the deal I cut with my husband; if I fly alone with James, I have to fly in first.  Deep down though, despite the luxurious accommodations, I was terrified.  Terrified to be bringing a baby into first class, spending the entire flight on edge that at any moment this little monster would start screaming.

IMG_7546

IMG_7524

James was an angel and slept almost the entire journey.  The flight attendants even set up an entire bed just for him.  Gotta love a cabin that only has two of the eight seats occupied.  Word of advice for mammas traveling on a long haul flight with a baby?  Cash in all of your airline and credit card points for a business or first class seat.

IMG_7537

Landing in Singapore, I finally took that deep breath I had been waiting for since we left the US.  Steve greeted us at amazing Changi Airport and our new life began.

The dreaded move in day.

Our container arrived about three weeks after James and I arrived.  Yes, that meant we were all living out of a suitcase (or 7) in temporary housing for 19 days.  Most of which were without Steve, who was traveling for work.  It was the worst 19 days of my life.  So I will not elaborate.

The day came that I’m sure Steve was dreading; showing me our new house that weeks before I arrived, he had picked out.  Good news is I loved it.  Bad news is I was going to have to manage move in day alone; Steve would be in China.

The truck arrived and as one would hope the team unloaded faster than I could keep up.  One would hope; not me.  I had no idea where anything was going.  So before I could even decide where I wanted the toaster oven that we couldn’t even use due to its American voltage, we had dozens of other appliances stacking up.  The result? A whole house literally dumped into the rooms of our new home.

IMG_0219

Home is where all of our furniture is.

After probably 2 weeks everything was in its place.  Our high rise Tanjong Pagar condo was now beginning to feel like home.  This so far has been the biggest difference between Singapore 1.0 and Singapore 2.0.  (1.0 refers to the first time Steve and I lived in Singapore, 2012 – 2014.  2.0 refers to our current stint).  The first time around we were in a tiny furnished apartment; it felt more like a hotel.  We were both always itching to leave the island and go on an adventure.  Now, I look forward to our weekends home, lounging on our Pottery Barn sofa.  We have the space to host guests, to let James run free, and even a few outdoor patios!

Don’t get me wrong.  One of the major advantages to living in Singapore is the travel we get to experience.  And to have James along with us is something that I am so grateful for.  James has already banked stamps in his passport from Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia, and will soon get some from the Maldives and Indonesia.  After all, this is exactly what being an expat is all about.

IMG_1917

IMG_2731

IMG_2693

IMG_2646

IMG_1820

The true confessions of being an expat mom. 

When news first came out that we were moving to Singapore with our new baby, the first question out of everyone’s mouth was “…but your family will be so far away! Do you have any idea what it’s like to not have any support system?”  Well, yes, actually I do.  Living in California, our family was still on the other side of the country.  So what was another ocean, right?

But I will be blunt now; in Singapore we have a live in “helper”.  A good helper can do it all.  She is a maid, a nanny, a dog walker, a cook, a shopper.  I will not hide it; I will be completely honest.  Beth, our helper, is the glue that holds our house together.  I will not lie and say I am the glue.  I do not do it all.  Far from it actually.  In fact, I am a better mother because of Beth.  I am amazed when I look at friends and family back home, and they do do it all.  They are superheroes.  I may be selling myself short, but I really don’t think I could do it.  Not without Beth.

IMG_0882

IMG_1497

Since James, I have put my full time career on hold.  You probably have noticed a lack of Pilates and fitness inspired posts, a very slim teaching schedule, and more and more photos of James.  So why the need for Beth?  Well, like I mentioned earlier, to help me be the best mum I can be.  I am happier, healthier and stronger because of the help she gives us.   We can go out with friends, without thinking about a babysitter.  I can workout without feeling guilty.  I can have some alone time to enjoy a long shower.  And I can go out to teach a few classes.  The time I then spend with James (and let’s not get confused or the wrong idea, I am with him most of the day) it is more cherished because I don’t feel like I am being put on the back burner.  I will never be ashamed of admitting I have help.  I never forget how lucky we are to have the opportunity to live in Singapore, where we can have this help.  I also think about how hard it is going to be when we do eventually repatriate back to the US.  Which is why we must stay in Singapore until James can take care of himself…so at 5 years old, right? They are pretty self sufficient by then, aren’t they?

IMG_1453

IMG_1278

Adventures with a baby; not so adventurous. 

There are some pretty crazy places to go in this part of the world.  Tree houses in the jungle, beach chalets with no locks on the doors, dusty temples in the equatorial sun, and endless hours snorkeling the world’s best reefs.  Well, we quickly realized after our first trip to Phuket with James, that these trips are few and far between.  When the simple task of washing a bottle becomes a 20 minute endeavor, you think twice about where you want to travel.

Kid club? Check.  Shady beach and pool cabanas that shield you from the sun? Double check.  Overpriced big name resort that purifies its own water? Jackpot!  All things that we would have run away from in the past are now at the top of our list.

The ultimate expat mum adventure? Bringing your helper on your holiday.  Now that sounds like a plan.

There is no place like home.

Every now and then I think about home, and what we are missing, and what James is missing.  He doesn’t get to grow up with his cousins, or his grandparents.  There are no Sunday dinners with all of them.  His only perception right now of them is on a screen.  We don’t get to keep a car seat permanently installed in a car, let alone drive him to soccer practice.  And I do miss that.  I am so grateful for everything we have here in Singapore, especially Beth, and the time that I get to spend with him, not working full time.  But I do look forward to the new experiences we will have as a family back on the homeland.

We will see you this summer!  James and I will be back Stateside on June 30th. We will spend a week out in NY on Long Island with my family, and then a few weeks in Houston, and will finish the trip in Boston in August where we will be reunited with Steve!

Advertisements

Hola From La Jolla!

Hola From La Jolla!

It is one month since our move from San Francisco to San Diego.   My husband and I decided to get a place for the year in La Jolla right on the ocean.  We thought, we might as well do this right as we try to
FullSizeRender get acclimated and get a better sense of where we ultimately want to buy a home and start a family, and dare I say it? Settle down.  I must say, we picked the absolute perfect place to live.  The Ocean House on Prospect is a new building that overlooks the ocean on the famous Prospect St. in the Village of La Jolla.  We can walk to all the shops and cafes, meet people walking the dog, and most importantly, walk to the beach.  I was told La Jolla is full of retirees, so I was a bit nervous to see what the demographic of our building was going to be like.  Fortunately, many of the residents are just like us; young professionals, most with dogs, transitioning to a new place.  After the first week of meeting everyone, it is clear; we are in our own little “Melrose Place”.  Reality show anyone?

FullSizeRender1I can’t tell you that it is an easy, seamless change.  Southern California really is dramatically different than Northern California.  Sure the scenery is different, it’s warmer by about 20 degrees and the sun is always shinning. But the whole vibe and way of life is different too.  It is more laid back than I could have ever imagined.  Even in fancy La Jolla.  People walk around with no shoes on for starters.  OK, fine, I get it; we have some of the best surf breaks in all of the US and people are crossing the street with board under arm, ready to literally just jump in the water.  But to get out of your car with no shoes on, to then walk down Girard Ave. to get to your yoga class?  Really?  Not even flip flops?  OK, that little bit of the Northern Cali / New Englander in me may stay forever.  I’m OK with that. It’s just another nuance that makes this place unique.

Now, in terms of my world of fitness and Pilates.  Just as you would imagine, people here are very much into fitness and health and most importantly, looking good.  With that said, there are small boutique studios and gyms on every block, sometimes multiple on a block.  I can’t keep up with them all.  I’ve tried several, not just to potentially teach at, but to work out at myself, and to be 100% honest, none have blown me away.  It is the weirdest phenomenon.  More on that to come in a future post.

With hundreds of fitness studios around, naturally there also has to be juice bars and cafes.  And that there are.  Juice, acai bowls, smoothies, super foods and boosters oh my!  I love it.  I can go to a different juice bar every day.  So far, and I do have a lot of testing to do, but the best acai bowl comes from Nekter Juice Bar.  The best smoothie comes from Juice Crafters.  Again, another blog post with my absolute winners to come soon when I get through them all.

Most people come to La Jolla to visit the famous La Jolla Cove and see the sea lions.  It is a daily walk for
FullSizeRender us now, which is awesome.  Minus the horrific smell.  However, one afternoon we decide to go snorkeling in the Cove. We joined all the tourists and jumped in.  I was surprisingly shocked at what we were seeing. Bright colored fish and coral.  Luckily, no hammerheads.  Pretty damn cool.  Just steer clear of the sea lions.  They really are everywhere, and although they are used to humans, please, do not try to pet them.  They will bite you.

FullSizeRender3Beaches.  Oh, the beaches.  So many beaches.  My happy place.  I have realized that I can never live some place landlocked.  It has a calming power, like nothing else.  After contemplating getting the ocean view or street view apartment, we decided to splurge the extra money every month to see the ocean 24/7.  Best decision ever.  Especially because when we do buy a house, the chances of us having an ocean view are slim.  My favorite part is that when I am in the kitchen preparing dinner or washing dishes, I look up and see the ocean.  I also strategically put our big mirror on a wall in our bedroom so that when I am getting ready, I look in it and see the ocean behind me.  So, back to the beaches.  My favorite beach so far, is the Del Mar Dog Beach.  Yes, of course it is because Paya can come with us.  It doesn’t feel right going to the beach without her.  Not only is the Del Mar Beach my favorite because of the abundance of dogs, but because the ocean is calm enough on this beach to swim and not get plummeted by crashing waves.  They also host the annual Dog Surf Competition.  Paya is in full training mode.

FullSizeRender2

IMG_4608

I have to pinch myself when I remember that I live here and am starting a life here.  Next year, Equinox will be opening their first club in San Diego where I have accepted my position again as Pilates Coordinator.  Nothing like Equinox exists down here, and we are going to blow San Diego away.  I cannot wait to get back into the swing of teaching and build up my business, creating a name for myself in the Southern California community.

IMG_4300

IMG_4303

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Well, we all made it through another year.  I don’t know about you, but 2014 was a whirlwind for me.  I made it through my first year of marriage, traveled to eight different countries, relocated halfway around the world and started a life in San Francisco.  Looking back a year ago, I never would have thought I would be where I am today.  So I begin to think about this time next year, and get so excited about all the possibilities 2015 will bring.

image2

IMG_1973

IMG_1971

IMG_1969

IMG_1967

IMG_1972

IMG_1970 IMG_1968

IMG_1975

image1

So like everyone, I have made a few new years resolutions.

One | Travel more.  My husband and I are missing the expat life a bit, mostly because of all the travel we did, and all the amazing things we got to see and experience.  Don’t get me wrong, San Francisco has dozens of amazing things to see, but I want to explore more.  This doesn’t necessarily mean I need a stamp in the old passport every month, but a two hour drive outside of the city to the gorgeous Santa Cruz Mountains or a road trip to Lake Tahoe.  I also want to visit our neighbors up north in Portland, Seattle, and even Canada! Yay, passport usage!

wine-tour AlpineRanch-2-POST12

TWO | Me time.  Starting a new job, and getting the Pilates studio at Equinox up and running has been a huge and exciting challenge.  I will be the first to admit I have, more times than not, put that studio and my team ahead of myself.  I will continue to do that, because I love my job and my team is absolutely amazing, but I am going to make more of an effort to push the pause button and go on a weekend trip or take a class outside of the studio.

THREE | Make juice.  My husband wins.  He bet we would not use our juicer that we got as a wedding gift before 2015.  We have taken it out of the box, but it is still sitting happily on a very high shelf.  I’m not sure what’s holding us back; the huge mess it will make and cleanup it will require, or just simply getting on a step ladder and lifting the huge thing off of the very high shelf.  We live in the land of farmer’s markets, and have access to the country’s best fruits and veggies.  There is no excuse. We WILL make juice.  And it will be delicious.

FullSizeRender

I don’t like making huge resolution lists, because let’s be honest, it’s way more rewarding to conquer all than just a few.  To me, the new year means new beginnings, a fresh start, and most importantly becoming a better, healthier YOU.

If one of your 2015 resolutions is to get fit, check out my group class schedule at Equinox Union St., recently voted one of the best gyms in America!

Monday 

12PM | Pilates Barre

4:30PM | Pilates Power Play

7PM | Reformer Semi Private *fee and sign up required

Wednesday

6AM | Barre Bootcamp *Equinox Pine St.

5:30PM | Pilates Power Play

7:30PM | Barre Burn

Thursday

6:30PM | Reformer Semi Private *fee and sign up required

Friday

8:30AM | Mat Pilates

Saturday

10:30AM | Pilates Power Play

image1

SG, You’ve Been Good to Me

SG, You’ve Been Good to Me

As an expat, you wonder when this moment will come; saying goodbye.  It’s quite bittersweet, actually.  I am so excited to be back in the US, closer to friends and family.  But, at the same time I am so sad to have to say goodbye to the place I have called home for the past 2 years.  When my husband and I would fantasize about our grand departure from Singapore, it included a 2 week holiday in New Zealand, and weeks of goodbye festivities leading up to departure day.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t work out the way you think it should.  John Lennon said it best when he said, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

My husband, Steve’s, job will be taking us back to the US at the end of May.  I wish it wasn’t happening so fast! I haven’t even had time to get excited about going back, nor have I had time to weep about having to say goodbye to friends and clients.  I did, however, want to take time to tell you all how much I am going to miss you, and how much you have helped make Singapore feel like home.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve seen clients get engaged, get married, work through injuries, have babies, have more babies, and I’ve seen some go through their own Pilates instructor training.  I’ve seen their their bodies change, and I’ve seen their whole self change.  Looking back, it is so incredibly rewarding to see not only how you all have grown, but how you have helped me to become a better teacher.

IMG_0444

IMG_1832

IMG_1895

IMG_0564

IMG_0812

IMG_0883

IMG_0599

These past 2 years have also been so insanely crazy, when I think back.  Steve and I have been so fortunate to have been able to see so many parts of this part of the world.  Our travels started with a weekend trip to Bali, which turned into going back 4 other times.  It then turned into 2 trips to Phuket, 3 trips to Rawa Island, Tokyo, Cambodia, Laos, Saigon, Bintan, Melbourne, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Borneo, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Central Java and the Gili Islands.  Not only when I stop and take a moment to look back to where we have been, do I realize that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and really only one that you are only able to get while living out here.

IMG_0354

IMG_2223

IMG_3715

IMG_3469

There are so many things I’m going to miss about Singapore, it would be hard to list them all.  Most, though, are things that only the expats living here would truly understand.  I am excited for the first moment I meet a former Singapore expat in the US, when we can talk about how the things that annoyed us the most are the things we miss the most.

If you are in Singapore for the week of May 26, please come by my last few classes.  I am teaching a special last class on Thursday May 29 at 7PM. Pilates on the Patio will be held at Upside Motion, City Hall.  I really hope to see you all at some point next week.  And THANK YOU so much for all of your hard work, friendships and awesomeness.  Bye bye Singapore.  We will see you soon, lah. Can?

 

Anticipation…

Anticipation…

You always hear about people’s holidays after they return.  But, what is more exciting than the weeks and days before that highly anticipated holiday?  The ways you prepare for the big ski trip, volcano trek, or beach holiday are so exciting! I’ve had so many clients come in to class wanting to train for a specific trip, focusing on the specific muscles needed for skiing, hiking, or even just to look amazing in that bikini!

I decided to share with you how I am preparing for my upcoming holiday, from workouts and diets to shopping for the essentials.  Where is it I am going this time?  It is a place I have wanted to visit since learning of their existence.  A place I thought I would never see.  A place that I knew I had to get to now, before they disappear.  The Maldives.

Constance_AerialView04

 

Constance-Moofushi-Resort-Maldives4

I don’t think I have been this excited before a big trip since last summer when we were going back to the US for our wedding.  Every time I think about going to the airport and boarding the plane, I get a surge of adrenaline, and I can’t stop myself from looking through pictures and videos of this magical place that somehow exists.

So, how am I preparing for my dream holiday?  There is probably one thing that comes close to being as much fun as going to the Maldives…and that’s shopping for the Maldives!  As soon as I think of the Maldives, I envision  white, bright colors and soft, flowy dresses and beach cover ups.  I went straight to two of my favorite designers here in Singapore; Vamastyle and Simone Irani.  Vamastyle has great swimsuits that are so flattering and make you feel amazing.  Their dresses are also so light and comfortable, it almost feels like you aren’t wearing anything!  Simone Irani has a very eclectic style.  A little bohemian, a little tribal, all with the brightest and most beautiful colors, I found a few perfect pieces that will look beautiful in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

simone

 

vama

The clothes, though, will only look as good as the body under it feels!  In addition to my Pilates classes I typically take to maintain my “Pilates expertise”, I have increased my attendance quite a bit to feel even better.  I try to get to Options Studio every day, as long as my schedule permits me to! Options is great because they have a lot of classes at the weird times when I’m normally not teaching.  Plus, their Orchard studio is around the corner from my apartment.  I also try to force myself to do a bit more in the classes I teach during the week.  It’s so hard to get a good workout in while I am teaching because I am so focused on you! When teaching four classes a day, it’s easy to do a little arm work in one class, and then a little bum work in another class.  There is nothing better than starting your holiday on the beach feeling great.

IMG_4174

 

rollover

 

splits

Exercise isn’t everything though.  It’s all about the diet!  I’m a sucker for dessert, I will be the first to admit it.  My husband and I have both promised each other that we will be skipping dessert for the last two months before our trip.  I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy.  But there are great alternatives to a piece of chocolate or a scoop of frozen yogurt.  Lately, one of my favorites is peanut butter on celery sticks with a few raisins.  It was a childhood snack that I loved and still do!  Another little invention I came up with, although sadly I’m sure I’m not the first to discover this, is to freeze the little extra smoothie I may have in the blender when I make them for breakfast.  It makes a great little dessert! Be careful though, you don’t want to leave the smoothie in the freezer for longer than six hours, as it could get a bit icy.  The best consistency happens between three and four hours.

celery

 

smoothie

The best part of an island getaway has got to be the sun kissed golden glow you have when you leave.  But what about the moment you arrive? No one likes to get into the swimsuit on the first day feeling pasty white next to everyone else who has been there for days.  I will avoid this by getting a golden spray tan from the one and only Spray Tanner Hannah! Now, there will be a blog dedicated entirely to Spray Tanner Hannah after I get it done, but I just had to share with everyone the best part.  Hannah comes to you!!! She brings her entire set up with her and comes to your house.  If that’s not a selling point to a spray tan, I’m not sure what is!

1901393_657754757605417_380025926_n

I have to say the excitement leading up to a holiday is the best part.  You might think that I am wishing for next week to go by as fast as possible, but really, I’m okay with it just going by.  I am loving the excitement, mystery, and anticipation of getting to experience this natural wonder of the world.

 

Introducing, L2

Introducing, L2

Since 2009 I have been known as Laura Stevenson Pilates.  It was in 2009 when I decided to teach Pilates full time and turn my passion into my career.   Since then, I have experienced a lot of change in my life.  Moving to Arizona, then back to Boston, then to Singapore.  Teaching in small studios to nationally recognized studios, to creating a YouTube channel essentially teaching all around the world to students all around the world.  The biggest change happened on August 10, 2013, when I married Stephen Lampert.  I’ve been thinking for a while what I will call myself after I am married.  I knew I always wanted to change my name, but how would that affect my Pilates brand?

Laura Lampert.   LL.  L “squared”.  L2.  I don’t want to simply just be L2 Pilates, because over the years I’ve evolved into so much more than just a Pilates instructor.  I want to brand myself as a lifestyle, a way of life, a method.  This past year I have learned so much about who I am and what I want to become.  I have been on so many adventures and have seen so much of this world we live in.  I want to share that all with you!  You will get to experience some of my life abroad, looking to me for travel tips and who knows, maybe even plan your next trip off of my blogs!  It will also be about fashion, healthy eating and living life to its absolute fullest.

L2The L2 Method.  The “method” encompasses all that I am, as a teacher, person and friend.  As a teacher this includes Pilates and barre.  As a person this represents my experiences traveling around the world, my love for fashion and overall how to live a healthy happy life.  And lastly as a friend, I want everyone to be able to interact with me, no matter where you are in the world!  Whether you have questions, comments or need advice, I will always be here!

My new site is far from complete.  So stay tuned for new pages, posts, videos and more.

xoxo,

Laura Lampert, L2

Bali