Zufelt Family Sept 2013

Zufelt Family Sept 2013

Monday, October 20, 2014

We Are Under 30 degrees Centigrade!

This morning for the first time since we arrived at the first of August I saw a temperature display under 30 C (86 F). It was 29 C first thing in the morning on the drive to school and during the fifteen minute drive it went up to 30 but I'm still pleasantly optimistic about the coming months. Last night Madison asked when she can wear all the cute winter clothes we bought her. I wanted to say soon but didn't dare. This girl was built for Anchorage, Alaska.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Abaya Shopping

Vanessa and I decided to venture out again and try to upgrade our abayas. We had some trouble finding the Mustafa style dollar store shop the weekend before but eventually got and it was supposed to be across the street and two doors down. We found it just where it was supposed to be and started browsing the shop.

Obviously everything is all black, long sleeves, to the floor so really you are looking only at fabric choice, embroidery, zippers vs snaps and you can have them put in pockets. I was lucky to be short. There was a wide selection of size 54 but Vanessa is tall and needs a 58. I think we found two in the whole shop. Luckily the guy can make anything you want so we both ordered new ones made with pretty stitching down the front and at the sleeves. They should be ready in two weeks.

The listed price was 280 SAR for the one on the rack but when he rang us up with all the accessories and ad ons we had made the bill was 170 SAR. Lesson gleaned? This is a negotiating country! I didn't realize an abaya shop would do that. Next time I'll ask at other shops too. 

So how do you get a custom order? You have to give the guy your measurements. And how does a male shop owner get a woman's measurements in Saudi Arabia? I didn't know either but he sure as heck doesn't take them himself! Lucky for us while we were there four of our neighbors who are veteran Saudi dwellers happened into the same shop as us and showed us the ropes. One fun gal is Muslim and wears the full cover including hair cover all the time even when she's in our compound. She was a blessing for sure. She took everyone's measurements for us and told the guy what we wanted. He would try to add length or shorten sleeves as he saw fit for and she'd ask us how we actually wanted it to fit and then tell him to make it how we wanted. Things I hadn't even thought of. My abaya is wide and has four to five extra inches of fabric on either side of my body. I hadn't even noticed. He was going to take off three inches. I was so glad we ran into the friends and she was able to help us. I'm hopeful when we show up next week we will get what we thought we were getting.

After we had that all squared away then I asked where I could get a full body length zipper to put in my current abaya because it won't stay closed with the three buttons it has. It flaps open all the way to my waist which is a major problem. If I wear even capris then my legs show when the wind blows the abaya around and it makes me nervous to climb in and out of a car.

We walked down the road and went into a shop or two but they only had fancy fabric. They told us where to go and we walked the other direction and my girlfriend got her butt cheek grabbed as we passed a man. Pervert. Proof the abaya doesn't exactly solve the issue. In any case they had loads of super long zippers but not a single one in black. Tons of white ones though. The shop owner was real nice though and helped me find more buttons to match the ones I already have and some cord that isn't black to match but would coordinate with the deep red so I can create button hole loops.

Another successful adventure complete.

First Sick Doctor Visit

Ashlyn has had a fever since Sunday. Normally three to four days of fever wouldn't phase me and we would just wait it out. Only problem was she seemed to be feeling worse and worse each day. I could tell on day two that she was achy because she whimpered when she had to move her limbs or if I had to carry her somewhere. So today, Wednesday morning, I decided to brave the new experience of visiting the doctor. Buoyed up with confidence and advice from others I went on my own and tried it out.

Overall I think it was pretty smooth. I did have trouble finding the Paediatric spot and how to check in but found someone to ask. Can I just say for the millionth time that speaking English is such a blessing. Even if everyone doesn't speak English someone always does in hospitals, airports and markets. So I found the female registration desk and paid 100 SAR ($26) up front for a paediatric consult and asked where to sit and wait.

I took a seat on the chairs. I thought it interesting that the women's waiting rikm was empty at first but then I noticed almost every single woman was accompanied by a man. Hmmm. I waited in the general area - which was just the hallway lined with chairs between the doctor office doors.

We sat for about 45 minutes or so waiting. My receipt said a doctor name and the door was open with no doctor. After about 30 minutes the lady doctor returned to her office and had a patient come in. While we waited our turn on the chairs a Saudi woman in full face cover abaya sent her teenaged son who was in an arm cast off and he returned with two snack sized bags of chips. He gave one to his little sister who was in a stroller and about the same age as Ashlyn. I wasn't paying close attention until she told him to go give one to Ashlyn. She took it hesitantly and I smiled at the woman and told her thank you. She nodded in return and I could see a smile in her eye even if her face was covered. Ashlyn enjoyed the puffy BBQ chips well enough but the taste and texture were a little foreign to her and eventually she wanted the pretzels I had brought. We got those out and she decided in her own to share with "my new friend" sitting in the stroller. The little girl looked at the pretzel and twisted it left and right. It was obviously not something she had before and she looked skeptical. Finally she ate it but her end reaction was akin to Ashlyn and the Saudi chips.

We were called into the doctors office and found out the doctor was a tall woman in a white abaya and beautiful head scarf with a bright yellow floral pattern (all medical women seem to have this dress). Her name was Dr Maha at Mousawat Hospital. She spoke great English and was quite personable. She wasn't overly concerned about what was going on and that made me happy since I did think it was time for a doctor to see Ashlyn but really it was sort of a dry run test of "How To" do the medical thing in Saudi. She noted her weight was low and asked about vitamin testing and I confirmed she'd need fully cleared in Singapore for all those concerns. She pointed out I was small so my kids might be too so I told her of my 4 kids I've got 3 little ones.

The end diagnosis was an upper respiratory infection. We walked out with 4 medications of course, just like Singapore. The pharmacy (the female line anyway) was ten steps down the hall so I got everything there for 45 SAR ($12 USD). The pharmacy gal put the sticker labels covering the English instruction and information side so I could read the Arabic. So helpful. Note to self - ask for sticker on other side next time.

Some good news is we have done the mix your own augmentin dozens of times the exact same bottle and the Panadol variety fever reducer is familiar also but next time I'll skip it because it's really just a Tylenol match and I like what I've got at the house. Glad to have a cough syrup for under 6 yr old again so that one made me smile. And nose drops. That's kiddie torture.

One thing that made me laugh was that I was advised, sweetly and gently, by the doctor to potty train. Yep. After we settle here in our routine it's on the agenda. Too much transition for August or September to add potty training to the list. She already lived without daddy since April, lost Gina in June, lived out of suitcases for 8-10 weeks moving houses every week, moved counties and houses, got her dad back in her life again and started her own school. As bad as I want it done it's enough to do for a little girl right now. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Culture Perspective

Cleaning out my email inbox I found this Facebook exchange/discussion from July 2013. Seeing it again today made me ponder how our new location plays into the equation because I’m still in a cheap labor, caste system economy but living in a expat compound that counters that economy. Cultures are fascinating to me.

I think it may put me in the bad wife category that MY MAID reminded me that my wedding anniversary is in two days. I completely forgot. The good news? Brian appeared to be just as surprised as me when he saw it coming up on the calendar next week. We are pitiful. But still happily in love.

This is the reply from Angela Clayton that really puts life in perspective. Angela wrote: "I was reading in The Rational Optimist about this phenomenon. Asian cultures were built on the assumption of cheap labor but western cultures (specifically an offshoot of England) were built on using innovation and technology to eliminate the reliance on cheap labor. In the US or Australia, everything is built to be easier to do because you do it all yourself. In Asia it is the opposite. Low cost labor is cheaper than automation. Now that we are back in the states with no maid after two years of a live in, it is incredibly easy here. Costco is a far more efficient cook. Walmart is my domestic helper. And I have carpet that doesn't require daily mopping to look good. My washing machine is much bigger here and I can dry things in the dryer without having to empty the water out. I can put my dry cleaning on the porch in a bag and it will be picked up and returned to me. I have cold water and ice built right into the refrigerator door, and I have a second fridge to store even more things. Foods here in the US last a lot longer so I can shop less often. These conveniences make life far easier than having maid did."

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

International School Kids

All social media seems to be inundated with links that say "22 Signs You Are Southern Bell" or "15 Things Only Cheerleaders Would Understand" or "18 Most Famous Movie Quotes". A bunch of stuff to waste our time and simultaneously make is smile. Today I was snared by one that said "22 Signs You Were An International School Kid" and I couldn't resist clicking to read it and it didn't disappoint.

It got me thinking of how my kids reality is so different that my own as a child and I made a list of what I see in them as it compares to me in my school days.

You Know You Are an International School Kid If:

Someone in your class is always jet lagged.

If there is a three day weekend many of your classmates go explore a nearby country with their families.

It is a common occurrence for a classmate to miss 2 weeks of school to go on holiday with their family. Teachers actually expect it to happen.

Going to the embassy or consulate to sort out your passport and visa issues is as common a reason to miss class as a doctor or dentist appointment.

You talk to non-international school kids and realize just how awesome the stuff you did at school your international school really was.

Playing volleyball/soccer/baseball/swimming against another high school may involve passports, visas, hotel, chaperones, an entire weekend and a plane ticket.

Your class is like a meeting of the United Nations with at least 13 countries represented in every class of 22 students.

Your best friends native tongue isn't your native tongue.

You celebrate holidays and traditions you adopted from countries you have lived in across the globe even though they aren't your heritage culture.

International Day celebrations are amazing with the food and the costumes everyone has to show off.

Lots of the food at Internatioal Day was actually cooked by the live in house maid.

Your friends parents are seriously important people, either in business or government. But you'd never know they were important people because they get grounded just like you.

Being the new kid in school is hard but you know that a minimum of 25 % of the entire school is also new this year so your not alone.

On the first day of school you find out how many kids made it into the country and how many are "waiting for visas still but will join us within a week or two".

Ten percent (or more) of the student body misses the first day of school because the kids or parents were too jet lagged to get up that morning since they only landed in the country in the last 16 hours anyway.

You don't stay in your "home" over the summer because the entire expat community vacates for two months. Everyone goes "home" to somewhere else and it's all over the globe.

Lunch time in the cafeteria can really tell a lot about where your friends are from because of what their mom (or maid) packs in the lunchbox.

Kids you play with have maids, drivers, cleaners and gardeners. Enough that they actually refer to them as the "house staff."

It's hard for you to answer the question, "Where are you from?" You want to clarify before you answer the question by asking in return: Do you mean where do I live now? What is my passport country? Where did I spend most of my growing up time and therefore identify with that place? Or where were my parents living when I was actually born?

You have to practice fire drills like everyone else but you also practice and discuss, in age appropriate ways, what to do if there is a terrorist situation, bombing, etc at school.

You have had to add pages to your passport because it was full.

You get birthday wishes from across the globe for a few days before and a week or two after the actual day because time zones are complicated and people couldn't catch you at the right time of day thus extending the celebration and making you feel like a rock star for two solid weeks.

You run into friends from elementary/middle/high school while vacationing in other countries.

You meet people where you live now that knew your good friends from another country three moves ago when they were good friends with them.

When you move to a new location your parents start planning trips based on who they know that lives on the continent so you could visit old friends, some of whom you've never met.

Your five year old brother knows exactly what to do to get through airport security and immigration and asks before you leave the house for a trip if your parents have his passport.

You have opinions on what airlines are good airlines and have frequent flier miles on at least 4 different ones.

You think a 5 hour airline flight is fairly short.

You have opinions on McDonalds in different counties because you know they all taste different.

You know what meats are banned in certain countries so you can anticipate which McDonald's will serve hamburgers and where you can only get a chicken burger because the cow is holy but you also know which countries won't have bacon for the BLT because the pig is dirty.

When you see the Pizza Hut or KFC sign you feel a sense of relief because at least you will know what you are eating this time instead of the sketchy street food.

You catch yourself doing something in a new country that was illegal in the last country, like chewing gum in Singapore. You quickly ask your mom if you can actually do that here in Saudi Arabia.

When searching for a toy to buy with your own money you first query, "If I wait until we go home to America this summer how much would it cost me there instead?" Then you know if it's worth the cost to have it now or worth waiting.

The end of every school year means the loss of many close friends. Either they move or you do. It's a fact of life.

You had 5 stamps in your passport before you could even speak.

You probably won't learn to drive a car until you go to college and you won't be able to have a paying part time job in high school because you only have a dependent pass under your parent not a work pass in your country of residence.

When doing homework for the first time in a new country you have to ask your mom, "Do I write the date with month first then day or day first then month?" She doesn't always know the answer.

Your little brother hears your mom tell the store clerk she will pay for the groceries with a Visa (credit card) and interrupts her asking, "Do we need a visa to come to this store?" You are able to explain the confusion to him about Visa credit cards and visas that are granting permission to enter another country.

You collect coins of all the countries you have been to and get perturbed when a county uses the US Dollar so won't give you local change because your a foreigner or coins aren't used anymore and all you can get is paper bills. Now your collection is ruined because you have nothing from the country.

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.