Zufelt Family Sept 2013

Zufelt Family Sept 2013

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cross Eyed Madison

Crazy day here at our house as you can see. This is a pic of Madison with her party favor after her bowling birthday bash today. She is a fun girl to have around!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ashlyn's Fun

Today Ashlyn has me giggling over and over. The best few things after preschool pick up were:

Walking into the house and it smelling like something was burning. Just as I left I preheated the oven and hadn't used it in two days. The birthday cheesecake for Madison had apparently leaked juiciness out the bottom. I opened the oven and smoke poured out. She wouldn't stop asking questions. "What dat coming out?" "Why do you open da window mommy?" "You make the smoke mommy?" "Why you doing that?" (As I fan the fire alarm to ensure it doesn't go off.

Then the storage space on my phone is getting tight so I tried to empty it by deleting some apps. I have a Muslim prayer app I never used because I downloaded three and the send in one worked pretty well for my needs. When I opened the app for the first time it started doing the prayer call chant. She perked up, "The guy in OUR HOUSE! Time for prayers!" Then proceeded to chant her jibber jabber rhythmic chant right along with the app call to prayer.

And here she is waiting for me to scrub the oily cheesecake residue off the bottom of the drip pan and walking around the kitchen with slippers on her feet and oven mits on her feet.

Madison Mae is Eight!

The birthday was a good one. She chose cheesecake and I found awesome firecracker style candles. Her dinner request was French toast, hash browns, orange juice and scrambled eggs. I brought pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to her class along with Ashlyn (who has her own curb appeal in every elementary school classroom). Last night we took her to Chili's for a celebration dinner.

She got the board game Clue (English - Arabic version), Barbie doll and a hair highlighting kit that uses chalk. She's very excited over everything and we played Clue together this afternoon. She's very happy to be eight years old!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Old Friend Came to Dinner on Saturday Noght

We are finding that we eat out more here than ever in our lives. For us that means once a week. And I've gained some weight. Life here is funky and hard and sometimes depressing and nearly always stressful. There isn't much to do as far as entertainment and going out at all is cumbersome. We have to schedule a driver and be mindful of they shift changes and when we should be home so they can go home or else for hire out how to get dispatch to change the driver and have a new one pick us up. Going out to eat to a place that feels familiar helps take the edge off and we officially deemed it worth the expense of food to maintain our mental health. 

When we moved to Singapore one of our big adjustment mechanisms also revolved around food. Everything was crazy expensive and there was one particular food the kids were heart broken to have to give up. They loved a Pasta-roni boxed noodle meal called Shells and White Cheddar. I told them chances were soon to bone that we would get them so we packed four precious boxes into our luggage. Then we lived in a high rise furnished/serviced apartment that was connected to Great World Mall with a grocery store inside. They had shells and white cheddar! But I was used to paying $1.15/box USD and these were $8/box USD. That made my two dollar dinner a crazy expensive meal and it still had no actual nutritional value. After about 3 weeks of shopping and standing in my kitchen with barely any food to feed my poor children I made a mental commitment to myself. I would buy whatever I needed to fees my family. Whatever the cost. And in six months we would reassess the situation. My family had truely been hungry AFTER nearly every meal because I was trying to scrimp and save and keep expenses down. I didn't buy enough food. I didn't make enough food. That mental release was just what I needed and helped our transition.

Here I sit. Four or five weeks into the Saudi adjustment. And I declare, WE WILL GO OUT TO EAT!! Maybe even a lot for a while. It will help us all. 

There are many western food chains here and we love it after the lack of anything nearby in Singapore. The Woodlands was very isolated. So far in Saudi we have dined from Little Caesar's Pizza, Dairy Queen, Chili's and Applebee's. I have seen McDonald's, Subway, Dunkin Donuts and now I will keep my eyes out for more options because I know they are everywhere. And we will try new and local stuff too.

Last thought? God put shells and white cheddar boxes noodles there for us for a reason. My children genuinely needed them. They were only there for three months and I never saw them again in over three years. It's what I call a tender mercy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quote of the Day

Phone call:
"Hello Ma'am. This is So-And-So from Such-And-Such. I am calling regarding a note from Mr. Brian. I have tried to contact him and I think that he is too busy to pick up my call. This leaves me no choice but to talk to you. Is that okay?"

Seriously? I'm American. Yeah. You can talk to me about the size of the microwave in the house.

Side Note: We asked for a bigger one because it's so small a dinner plate fits but the splatter cover on top doesn't. We're feeding a family of 6. It's a bit undersized for this crowd. When the guy arrived he said, "Oh my God! That is ridiculous. And you have a big family. No, no, no. I brought the biggest one I can buy for you." We're all set with a nice microwave now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Silent Expat Secret

It's just a part of the deal. You will be new and scared. You will be helped. You will learn the ropes and grow stronger and more confident. Eventually you become an all wise and experienced resident expert (usually within a year or less). Then you must pay it back. No one ever commits to the deal out loud it's just how it works. It can be fun to share the new tricks you have figured out with someone new who is grateful. All in all it's fulfilling to be helpful and focused on serving other families like you were blessed when you arrived. I believe we come preprogrammed to want to connect with people, lighten anothers burden and serve each other.

I was in a very happy, stable place in Singapore. I knew the ropes. I was a "helper" after more than three years there. As I contemplated the move to Saudi there were two things I thought of a lot. One was that panic feeling of "what if" and "where do I go if I need" stuff. The other was "they will help me" because I had a knowledge as firm as a mountain that the women in my new community would see me, grab me, love me and help me. They would reach out and make sure I had been to a grocery store. They would know where to go to get an abaya altered. They would tell me where to go to buy turtle food and who can cut a white girls hair. And even call me when cottage cheese was at the store for the first time in 6 weeks so I could call a driver and go over before it sold out.

I still wish I was the know it all. But I'm accepting my place as the newbie right now and feeling grateful for the women that stop when they see me on the sidewalk around the compound and remember my name. Next year I can join their ranks and help someone new to Saudi Arabia.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


It is 7am and the temp is already 34 deg C or 94 deg F. Funny thing is even though it's hot I am dealing with it okay now. Forcast for the day is 106 F and we will be fine. I think it's because the humidity aeems to have dropped a lot from three weeks ago when the heat index was up to 144 F with actual temps in the low 120s.