Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bed Bugs

We have had more "stuff" here than I've ever had to deal with. Today we have a confirmed case of bed bugs. Brings a whole new meaning to the "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" little ditty people say. Before we left for our Christmas trip I had three bites in a row across my belly and they itched like crazy!! Like itchy, stretched out pregnant bellies don't itch enough I though I was going to go nuts. Of course I didn't know what was going on so I used hydrocortizone cream and happily went on my way and all was well.
 
We returned on Sunday night and by Tuesday I was itchy. Wednesday I told Brian how I felt and showed him the bites that looked like big, tall mosquito bites.  Problem was I rarely get mosquito bites where my clothing covers. I don't know what made me think of it (other than the misery of itchy bites all over the midsection of my body, but I had the random thought we had bed bugs. I made an off handed comment to Brian about it and he grabbed his phone and googled it and within minutes we had concluded we probably did in fact have bed bugs. We inspected our bed but found nothing. Changed the sheets and went to bed.  The pest control guys were coming on Friday anyway and I'd talk to them about it.
 
Today my good pest control buddy Thomas came to save the day.  Oh the up side, he found one bed bug, confirming what we wanted to know so we have a clear path forward to solve the problem and it's not a major infestation yet. On the down side, Maddie had a few bites I found this morning so he had to treat the kids room too instead of just ours. Hopefully I'll get some relief really soon.
 
Bed bugs just add to the running mental list of Singapore delights along with pinworms, rats, cockroaches, geckos, ants. Luckily we have thus far avoided lice and hand foot and mouth disease which is incredibly common at the school. Ben's class has had multiple infestations of lice over the last two months. Lucky for us only the eleven girls have had it, no boys yet. I'm hoping that this three week break gives everyone a chance to clear it up and no one brings it back to school in January.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Magic Passwords for Dealing with Credit Card Companies

I guess we’ve been here long enough to make a few things permanent. We have two credit cards we can’t use here without international fees and even when we visit home we have another card available. I called today to cancel those two credit cards but had delayed the call for weeks and weeks because I hate the typical high pressure script they read to try to get you to stay a member, offer new cards, entice you with junk.

 

Today I had the perfect get out of the call fast and efficient solution. I began the call by simply explaining I have been living overseas for a year and can no longer use the card. I also do not get paid in US currency so I won’t be using the card. Only question she asked is if we were returning soon to the US. I told her not for many years. Done. Over. No pressure. No “let me just let you talk to my manager about this decision” excuses or delays. She just cancelled the accounts and I was off the phone! I may be using this excuse the rest of my life no matter where I live!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Successful Potty Training

Third day of successful toilet using for Jacob. Then I hear this...
Ben: "Mom Jake is trying to stand up potty!"
Maddie: "That's okay. He has a p____ so he can."
Jake: "Yep. Sure do! I go like this."
Maddie then interupts him running in the bathroom and proceeds to try and teach him how to do it. At this point I had to intervene. From what deep well of knowledge and experience is she drawing in order to qualify her as the teacher?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's A Short List

Sitting at dinner on Tuesday night in Siem Reap Cambodia with seven children between two families, Chris said it best. It's a pretty short list of people you can call up and ask to meet you in Cambodia in a couple weeks over Christmas break. It's true. Everyone has friends, but not everyone has friends like that. We love the Patches!
 
The Patches are some fantastic friends we still keep in touch with from our days in Fairfax.  We both moved into the ward there on the same day, along with eight or nine other couples. When we went around the room introducing ourselves during the womens meeting that Sunday I tried to pick out who might be living nearby and be my new friends and neighbors. Turns out eveyone was my neighbor, they were all trailing spouses of pest control sales people or capitol hill interns. A whole bundle of short timers and when I announced we were there one to two years I actually got a round of applause. Then there was Gretel. She was sort term, probably.  They were a new Foreign Service here (DC/Virginia) for quick training, then their assignment would ultimately decide how long they would need to stay to do any language trainng, etc. They lived walking distance from our apartment on "the Wegmans side of the ward."  It didn't take long to become close friends. She had a daughter, Bronte, just a few months younger then my 12 month old Ben and a cute son, Ravi, about 3 1/2 years old.
 
Somehow we started doing things together and she was just what I needed to help me through the transition of the move. Soon we added Cara Glassett, pregnant with her first, to our group and we would sit and let the kids play while we made Family Home Evening kits full of cute and colorful ready to go visual aids and googled stories and scripture verses and put together laminated lesson plans to use to teach our kids about Jesus, the church and scriptures.
 
I couldn't even guess at how many hours we spent together. Anytime I needed someone to watch Ben, Gretel was there. Whenever she had something to do, Bronte and Ravi were at our house. They even kept Ben for five days so I could meet Brian after a business trip and explore London together. When we came to pick him up, he was completely not interested and clung to Chris's neck for fear we were really going to take him away from his new, happy family.  I kept their cute kids while then spent time in NYC. Our kids were the best of friends.
 
I remember the day Gretel went with Chris to the big reveal meeting. Everyone was so excited, I waiting at home with the kids to see exactly where in this big wide world their first assignment would be.  When she finally made it home, she told me, "We're going to Djibouti!" "Wow! Congratulations! That's awesome!  What continent is that on?" was about my response. So it was off to do some major Costco shopping and then a short six months later they were off to a tiny, tiny, hot, hot, hot country in Africa that earned them a plethera of hardship points.
 
We only spent a short nine months together but they left their mark on our family. We kept in email contact and when blogs came about, I followed. After two years in Djibouti they had a quick stop in DC for Chris while the kids and Gretel stayed with her family about an hour from Brian's parents in St. George, Utah so we got to see everyone again before they were off to Sydney for two more years. Then back to DC for a year of language training. This time we left first. In January we moved to Singapore and they joined us in Asia in July when they moved to Nepal.
 
About a week before Thanksgiving I got a message from Chris asking if we'd be around Singapore for them to drop in and visit the first week of January. Of course we would! I sent them our US phone number and we talked about his plans that morning. They had a big one month plan for their State Department R&R to tour about all of South East Asia while the kids were on Christmas break. They were heading to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Singapore.
 
Feeling bold, I asked if they would mind if our family joined them for one of the country stops. Making our best estimate with his tentative flight schedule, my kids school schedule, Brian's vacation days left for this year and wanting to be home on Christmas Day for Santa we selected Cambodia and waited to hear when he got final flight details.
 
In the end I sacrificed Christmas Day because all flights were totally sold out for a Christmas Eve return but we're all happy about it. I think the Patches took the last six seats out on the 24th so we'll be here Christmas morning. I've found a church to attend though so it will make our experience all the more rich. Hopefully the program will have lots of familiar Christmas tunes since we won't understand a word of the speaking.
 
Santa made his delivery as we were leaving while dad locked up the house and I walked the kids to the neighbors to deliver thank you cards and we had called a taxi to go to the airport. Brian said he was RUNNING the entire twelve minutes we gave him. Good thing I had everything sorted, bagged and organized for a dump and run variety spreading of the loot. One treasure each and a stocking stuffed should be awaiting our late night Christmas Day return for the kids to disover if they aren't already asleep in the taxi ride home from the airport.
 
We are so excited that we could meet up with the Patches again! Our kids are having a delightful time and Maddie (5) has found her new best friend in Bronte (7). They are inseperable. Ravi (9) has a fantastic imagination that keeps the kids busy in games of good and bad teams, princess and robbers so Ben (7) loves playing with Yared (4) and Jacob (3) and Addie (2) just love to trail along all the adventures and be included.
 
I'm grateful for "the short list" of friends.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Simple Arithmetic

Just look at the size of that drink and the size of Jakes tummy. We had to use the toilet three times during the ninety minute movie today. After the first trip I realized I had a problem on my hands. I thought to myself that if I just hurried up and drank most of it we wouldn't hit his high level alarm again. But he loves "daddy drink" as we call soda in our house. The second trip to the bathroom I remembered that I'm pregnant and my bladder space, like Jake, is limited at the moment. My racing him to drink all the soda had consequences.
When we got back to Ben and Maddie in the theatre I tried hiding the drink from Jacob. He searched. So I swapped his for an empty cup. He popped the lid off and ate ice for a few minutes before he wiggled down off his seat and went to trade Maddie for her drink, which was nearly full. All told he had a super successful potty training day!

Alphabet Soup Traffic Jam

Waited for rain to ease a bit before heading downtown. Almost cancelled the morning plan in exchange for picking up dad from the MRT so we could all go to the IMM and shop the big Daiso ($2 store).

I was heading on the BKE to the PIE when the GPS said take the SLE to the CTE. Of course there was more heavy rain and a big accident at the SLE-CTE-TPE interchange. Finally we got past the CTE onto the AYE and on to Plaza Singapura but instead of having time to shop we went strait to the movie. This is the first sit down movie for Jake and we are potty training. No success before we went into the theatre. We'll just have to see how this goes.

Slave Labor for Holiday Cards

This overseas stuff throws a wrench into everything “normal” I try to do. I thought I was doing great. Got our family pictures in October. My friend who took the picture designed a custom card in November. Check out her website – she’ll be here for another year, then back in Utah. Then I had to write the letter with updates on everyone in the family.

 

Finally I tried to print our holiday cards here in Singapore first of December, but that cost plus international stamps gave me heartburn. I considered. I waited. I found a cheaper option (stamps go on sale here). I patiently waited for the stamp sale to start. Then I find out people who used sale stamps the last few years have the cards arrive in the US in February. Plus delivering the cards to me IN Singapore FROM Singapore cost nearly $50 and took 3 weeks! Seriously? How big is this island? Or a “rush” delivery still takes 5 days but costs $100.

 

So I shopped online in the USA to have things automatically stamped and mailed. Headache. I have a custom card ready to upload and no one will take it without adding their own border/holly berry/snowman/ribbon/text on top of my already designed card. Eventually I went into denial mode. If I wait a day or two things will get simpler/cheaper/easier/better, right? And here we are…Christmas in a week. Nothing ordered.  Leaving tomorrow on a short trip tomorrow while our kids are out of school for holiday break.

 

I finally ordered the cards this morning for bulk delivery on Saturday. Then I sent off an email seeking slave labor from my nephew and maybe his siblings to stuff the envelopes. Not really slave labor I guess, since I’ll pay them. He’s trying to earn money to go to Washington DC on a school trip. Of course we lived there six years and he goes after we leave…but still, he’s going to go see a pretty cool place and I’m all about helping that happen! Don’t worry, Brian’s mom will do it if the kids won’t. She’s great like that. So they may be late (my fault), but they will arrive, hopefully by New Years. For now, here’s the preview of the card.

 

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

He Loves Me

Brian just spent a few house finishing the project I started at 5:30am. He hung a spice rack out of sight. He's the best. Not a simple task since we had to rearrange lots of stuff and reengineer the thing we bought from ikea. It included making parts from one hanging system fit on another so we could get the functionality we need but don't have to crack all the wall tiles in the kitchen. Then drill and tap the shelving units stainless steel holes to make the shelves fit spice bottles. See why I didn't finish earlier? Brian is the best!!

Happy Birthday Jesus Party!!

We had a super fun Happy Birthday Jesus Party at the Reeves place today. Kids had a blast. I was incharge of the games and thought I would share in case others are doing the same this holiday season. Enjoy.
Angie



Here are the things I pulled together for the Happy Birthday Jesus Party today. Maybe it’ll save you some work!


Snowman Race –
Supplies: toilet paper, carrot felt nose with elastic, three felt buttons, roll of tape, scarf, hat.
Directions: Give each team a roll of toilet paper and have them race to wrap the snowman in white. Then they must decorate him with items provided. Cut orange carrot nose from felt, snip holes in each edge of carrot triangle and run elastic through it big enough to go around a childs head. For buttons supply a roll of tape and three colorful felt button circles.


Christmas Symbols Memory Match Game –
Supplies: print book from here http://ministry-to-children.com/free-printable-christmas-book/ or in the attachment, make cards by cutting clip art pictures on cardstock or gluing onto cute Christmas scrapbook paper squares (see attachment for clipart I found in Word, I also included the characters of Christmas which you could make into memory cards and use as well)
Directions: Play memory match game. When the child gets a match read the meaning and scripture associated with the symbol.


Pin the Tail on Mary’s Donkey –
Supplies: print 4 page donkey then cut and tape together, donkey tails, tape, blindfolds
Attached from internet search.


Candy Cane Pass Relay –
Kids must hang the candy cane on their index finger, run from one side of room to the other side and pass it to the next team mate without using their thumbs or other fingers. Continue on until everyone has had a turn.


Snowball Relay –
Supplies: Pom poms, cups and plastic spoons
Directions: each team must take turns carrying pom poms across the room on a plastic spoon and dump in a cup then race back and pass the spoon to the next player


Christmas Pictionary –
Play Pictionary with icing bags on big sheets of paper and Christmas themed items or titles of holiday songs.


Shepard and His Sheep –
Play Marco Polo with slight variation. Instead of calling out “Marco” and responding “Polo” the shepard will call out “Sheep” and the sheep must answer “Baa”.  Because this is likely to be played indoors without running space, tell the sheep they can vary the volume of the “Baa” and move their upper body to duck and move but cannot move their feet.






Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recess


What exactly is it that makes school children scream, squeal and run wild when they hear the bell to signal the end of recess? It's loud and shrill and hurts my ears at the same time it makes me smile both inside and out.


It is genuine surprise over what a boring adult would call a highly predictable bell? Is it excitement over who they will stand by in line? Who will be the line leader today? Is it joy knowing they are off to another fun lesson inside? Or is it just releasing one last voluminous yelp because in the building they know they can't run around like the wild monkeys that they are? They are so free to express themselves. When does the desire to be cool supersede the natural instinct to be loud and wild and crazy?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hard Day Today

I’m having a rough day. You see, Brian found a corn dog on July 2nd at the Navy Base Independence Day celebration. I wanted one so bad, but I’d already gorged myself on an incredible heaping plate of Pilipino food and just couldn’t eat another bite. I’ve been on a hunt ever since.

 

Saturday night we were at Tanglin Mall and after we got on the escalator going up the little snack stand on the side had two sitting right there. We were heading to Chili’s for a fun family dinner, but I was so excited I turned around really fast and exclaimed while pointing, “LOOK!! A corndog!” Unfortunately for the woman who chose to insert herself in the middle of my family got whacked in the face by my hand. I was a bit embarrassed, but still, A CORNDOG!! I almost chose to forego the amazing Chili’s quesadilla for a cheap corndog.

 

So any expat can now understand why I’m having such a hard day.  I need a corndog!  Today I’m half way wishing I had the corndog on Saturday night. It might be time to swing past Tanglin Mall today for a quick errand.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Little Lady


Maddie is becoming quite the little lady. I caught her crossing her legs today in the car. She loves to wear jewelry any chance she gets. Changes outfits often because she wants to wear all the pretty things she owns everyday. Most recently she got a pair of cute black buckle shoes that, according to her, have high heels. Not a day goes by that she doesn't want to wear those fancy shoes to school. Never before has this girl been willing to wear boring black. Things with ribbon, lace, glitter and sparkle always catch her eye.


Maddie spends hours creating and has a great imagination. Her skill is really developing and some days I think she is better at art than Ben despite him being two years older. It's probably also because she tries so hard to make things perfect and he rushes through to be done with it and do something else as fast as he can. The other day she used up almost an entire ream of colored paper making gigantic flowers with full sheets of paper glued in circular shape. They were all about fifteen sheets big and she was so proud. Her life is just like those flowers. Colorful. She loves spice in her life. Variety. Change. Mostly she loves beauty.

She has told me lots of times lately that I'm the best mom is the entire world. When I ask why she always says its because my clothes are so pretty that day. I think she is a big fan of my maternity wardrobe. I admit it's a nice step up from the old, worn T-shirt selection I am otherwise found wearing. Maddie loves pretty clothes, dishes, jewelry, art, toys, shoes and everything else. It's fun to have someone notice and appreciate when I do put extra work into making something special. We love her in our family.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hungry? It's Friday Night - Pizza Night at the Zufelts

Brian’s been gone all week working in Malaysia. Phone woke me up at 4am this morning after I was up doing cub scouts until 12:30am. I’m tired so it’s pizza night. I logged onto Pizza Hut to get delivery and saw a new pizza option for the holiday season, “Jolly Glee” pizza.  Curious what this holiday offering was I clicked.  Tell me if you are salivating…

 

JOLLY GLEE

With a cheese-stuffed crust sprinkled with parmesean cheese, the Jolly Glee Pizza is baked on a bed of mashed potato and cranberry sauce. Topped with turkey bacon, roasted chicken, capsicums, pineapple and onions, it comes with cheesy pastry strips and juicy cherry on top.

 

Yikes!  I’ll stick with a the Hawaiian or maybe a supreme. Even supreme has some interesting additions (and a few sad subtractions – we miss American pepperoni). Actually, those are the only two pizza flavors I will order here. Makes selection pretty quick when you don’t want Chicken Curry Pizza, Ocean Catch Pizza or Chicken Supreme (chicken ham and spicy chicken chunks with onion, capsicums and mushrooms).

 

Oh yeah, we tried the stuffed crust pizza last weekend in Malyasia. Imagine a tube of velveta off the shelf. Open packet, squeeze the rubbery wanna-be cheese around the pizza and fold over the crust. Don’t need to try that again!

Wiggly Baby and the Grey Period of Pregnancy

Fourth time around but it still gets me. Just how long is pregnancy? And how far along am I?

Pregnancy = 40 weeks

Month = 4 weeks

Therefore pregnancy is 10 months, right? I know, the 29th, 30th and 31st ‘s of the months throw off that simple calculation. Plus you’re not actually pregnant the first two weeks and I’m delivering two weeks early this time, so this time really is 9 months. Still, here is where I have trouble.

 

I just finished my 24th week. I’m showing. People are asking, “How far along are you?” And, “How much longer do you have?” Well if I’m 24 weeks then I’m six months, right? But if I’m supposed to answer how much longer then I have to say 16 weeks and that’s four months. And it’s depressing to have four months left.

 

I noticed three days ago, Dec 6, that I’m three months from my scheduled delivery date of March 6 (two weeks early because it’s the fourth c-section). Boy did that ever make my day! There will be an end and it’s in sight.

 

I thought, for the kids sake, that I wanted this baby to move like Ben did so the kids could feel him/her and get excited. Maddie was turned wrong so she kicked my pelvic wall and bladder. Jacob jabbed sharply at my rib cage and upper body for months on end.

 

Well, he/she is properly aligned to entertain the siblings. And sometimes it’s a bit obnoxious. I’d forgotten that part after eight years. My laptop gets kicked (effectively pinching my skin between the baby and the keyboard) and I see my belly move out of the corner of my eye sometimes and it catches me by surprise.

 

What a wiggly baby! I sure got what I asked for so far. The kids are totally connected to this baby. They hug and snuggle and kiss my belly and talk about how to make it happy when it “comes out.” Ben is still quiet and reserved when talking about it. Maddie plans things for the baby. Jacob tells me all the things he will to “to make my baby happy.” I didn’t realize how excited they would really be and it makes me happy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Worms. Again.


If my count is correct this is four times in about eight months. Grrr. Pinworms seem to be plaguing Jacob here.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rain Delay is Over


I'm calling it a rain delay but even that is over. After the original ban Ben was caught THREE times in the same offense. On the third strike of peeing without lifting the seat during the ban I added another week. At least I never caught him doing it in the banned convenient toilet. What is a mom supposed to do? Requirements are not new. He's been doing the same thing for five years. No surprises.


Maybe I need to cross stitch the rules and hang them on display.

1. Lift the seat.

2. Flush the mess.

3. Wash your hands.

4. Wash them again because we both know you didn't use soap, you little punk. Love you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Do You Think About Singapore?


Today we were reading Chris Patch's blog about their family adventures in Nepal and showing the kids who we will be spending a few days with in Cambodia in two weeks. We were noticing all the things that are different there and I thought to ask the question of Maddie what she is enjoying about Singapore. She couldn't immediately think of what she likes (as opposed to the USA) so I began suggesting things.
This is the face I got, accompanied with a dramatic eye roll, when I asked if she likes the squatters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Buddies After Swim Lessons

What do you do after swim lessons while your mommy talks to another mommy and the coach for almost, well, FOREVER? Spread out your towel on deck and giggle with your cute friend while you catch some sun and pass the time.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mom! I Did It!!

Someone is bored. Immigration leaving Singapore this morning took an hour. Then shopping. Then we got lost coming back. Followed by an hour waiting in line in the car for immigration again. Ben found something to do. He has been thinking a lot lately about how he wishes his legs would grow but his body should wait a few months to catch up. Then he could finally put his legs behind his head. I told him he should stretch and practice in his bed every night. Maybe he's been trying because he did it today while we waited in the long, long line.

Malaysian Adventure

We got hit by someone just getting in line to go through immigration. This could be a real adventure!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lemonade Stand Finances

Teaching our children can often be fun, but sometimes it is hard. We've taught our kids about the scriptures, in particular, God's commandments. Some of those lessons have been excruciating this week. Two posts. Two examples today.

There are several places tithing is mentioned. We are to pay a tithe, or a tenth, of our increase annually to the Lord. Not because he needs our money, frankly he'll be just fine without it, but because I need to learn to give it and recognize what is mine is really the Lords anyway.
When all the lemonade stand sales were done and the pitchers were empty Ben brought in the dishes and was off to play. Now comes the hard lesson.  Sunday morning he reminded me that in the craziness of the day I hadn't paid his allowance on Saturday.  True. We handled that and as he put his "Fun Money" into his piggy bank after paying his bills (tithing and savings) I remarked how he sure had a lot more money than I remembered him having last week. He is saving for a Nintendo DS and is keeping meticulous track of his progress and reports it proudly to me each week. He had about $22 last week. This week, after allowance he had about $32.  I asked where it came from. The lemonade stand. Of course. I forgot. He had made $7.50 selling lemonade.

Now what?  Yuck. Parenting can be rough.  I mentioned that he hadn't yet payed his bills on that money yet. He was dumbstruck. What bills? Tithing. Of course he had to pay on the money I give him. I guess it's just part of the deal in his mind. I pay him and then I take his money back.  He hadn't ever thought about it before that you had to pay tithing on other money. Luckily this time Brian was around. I asked, "Dad, what happens to your money when you get paid from work?" Sensing exactly where I was going, he gave an appropriate response about tithing first, then taxes, then bills, then fun.  I explained that the Bible says we play on our "increase" and increase means what more we have than we had before. Did he have more on Sunday than he had on Friday? Yep. So the Lord expected that he would need to pay a tithe on that money.

Life lessons are hard, especially when you are seven years old. He took it well, after the shock wore off. He still came out ahead. The piggy bank flashes a bigger number today than it did on Friday. And hopefully it won't be a surprise next time he does a lemonade stand. I think he'll be happy to honor the Lord next time, you know, when he's mentally budgeted for the expense. Hopefully by learning the importance of tithing now will make it easier to be faithful and diligent when times are tough in college or later in his life. Those are the times that the blessings of obedience are really seen. This much I know to be true: the windows of heaven shower down blessings on those who consistently, deliberatly obey Gods laws, even when it's hard to do.

Lemonade Stand

Ben and Maddie had been asking for months if they could have a lemonade stand. They always ask at the wrong time. Twenty minutes before dinner is served and I'm rushing to get it on the table. On our way out the door to a swim lesson. When it's pooring down rain and half an hour from bedtime. Every time I tell them it's a great idea but we have to plan it. Thanksgiving weekend they finally got it right. Friday night they came to me and asked if they could have a lemonade stand on Saturday. I knew already it would be a hectic day since we were hosting 22 people for a big dinner but they had done exactly what I had asked them to do. Make a plan. I couldn't refuse.

First thing Saturday morning (I was up at 4am thawing the turkey, they came down about 6:45) they wanted to get started. It wasn't a good time and we had limited supply of ice because I had party plans for most of it. I suggested that most people would probably want to eat breakfast and get dressed before they wanted lemonade. We formally scheduled the big event for 10am. They quickly polished off a bowl of cereal each and bounded up the stairs to the craft area to make the signs they would need. By 7:30 they were ready, but the crowds, I assumed, were still in bed on a lazy Saturday morning in the middle of a four day weekend. Maddie asked about every 30 minutes if it was 10 o'clock yet and Ben asked about each thing to make sure we were ready.

As the clock ticked the minutes away, Brian peeled potatoes, I washed green beans and we both realized we needed to pick up the deep fryer to make absolutely certain our monsterous turkey would fit because going strictly by weight, it was oversized for the pot. If this plan wasn't going to work, we needed to get that bird in the oven immediately or there would be no dinner! We took the family and the wagon to get it at about 9:45. We verified it would indeed fit and headed to the grocery store to get lemonade stand cups and a couple other random groceries for the afternoon.

Beep, beep, beep went the scanner at the checkout counter and as we looked out the window into the courtyard my heart sunk. It was a downpour the likes of which are hard to explain to a Utahn. We got home from the store and unloaded the car. Ben knew it wasn't a good time so started to play and do random clean up tasks to get ready for our guests. Somewhere along the line the rain stopped but it was soon approaching 1:30 and that meant turkey time. I snagged the three little people to come and see just what we were going to eat. Everyone needed stools and it took a minute to get all situated so everyone could see the show. It was totally entertaining for me to snap photos as Brian explained the anatomy of the headless, footless bird to three wide eyed kids. Then he pulled out the neck and the innards and showed them what they were and explained the jobs of the parts.

Then it was into the pot for Mr. Turkey and within minutes the rain returned full force. Knowing my patient Ben had had enough of the months of waiting only to have to keep waiting today I suggested we make up the lemonade and have it all ready to add ice when the rain stopped. He was keen on that idea so he picked two flavors, I threw in the sugar and he happily mixed them up. Then he got a toy bin and his signs and tape and got ready to wait.

About 2:30 he'd had enough waiting. He set up shop in our driveway under the cover and waited. And waited. And waited. See, we live on a quiet, dead end circle of a road at the extreme most back corner. And it was RAINING! No one was going to be walking around. He had made signs for the main road, but didn't want the rain to ruin them so he hadn't posted them up on the light poles and trees. Finally the rain slowed to a medium sprinkle instead of a full on downpour. He opened the door and yelled, "I'm going to know tell people I'm selling lemonade!" And off he went to knock the doors of the neighbors.

Soon enough he had his first three customers and made $1.50. In a while he got two more kids to come over and at S$0.50 (US$0.38) he felt like he was getting rich quick. That was of course his last customer other than all our dinner guests who began arriving at 2:30. John and Jenna, the British couple, only had a $50 bill, which Ben couldn't break, so I loaned them $2.50 and they and their three kids all had a delicious warm cup. The ice melted instantly in the Singapore heat so nothing was cold. They thought it was such fun to buy lemonade from a real lemonade stand. It's something they had literally only seen in the movies. That made me chuckle. Silly Brits.  Really though, Silly Americans, sitting in the driveway with juice and cups on an old cardboard box.

Sabbath Day Birthday Parties

Teaching our children can often be fun, but sometimes it is hard. We've taught our kids about the scriptures, in particular, about the 10 commandments. Some of those lessons have been excruciating this week. Two posts. Two examples today.

Exodus 20:8-11
8 Remember the asabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it

If we aren't to work on the Sabbath and we shouldn't cause other people to work either then I can't justify shopping on Sunday or sports events or amusement parks or the like. That much we've been firm on.  The keep it holy is a lot more subjective and I genuinly struggle with what is in the spirit of keeping the Sabbath a holy day. We give the green light to family dinners and inviting friends over to dine with us but keep it low key and only if it's a full family event for both us and our guests or inviting someone over in need. We try not to go to parties and such where, though it may be loads of good pool party/laser tag/moon bouncing fun, we won't be drawn closer to the Lord through our attendance. See what I mean? Hard line to draw.

Now that the kids are getting older we are having to deal with this commandment more and more with our kids. Ben just accepts as a given that we won't join a sports team that has Sunday practice and games, we left the cub scout campout as soon as we woke up instead of staying for the days events, so we could get packed up, showered and to church on time (and even that attendance was debated before we decided to go). We don't have playdates with neighbor kids on Sunday unless it is a small family event where their entire family is invited to enjoy time with us our entire family.

The kicker at our house these days is the birthday party invites. He knows from the time he sees that invitation come home in back pack mail that if it says "Sunday" it's the kiss of death for him. Ben has not yet ever complained, but that doesn't mean his sweet, innocent heart isn't broken and that we haven't had tears.

We said no to a birthday pool party this week because it was on Sunday but he held onto the anticipation of another party on the calendar. Two weeks ago he brought home an invite to a party for one of his very favorite classmates. It was a Laser Tag party and it was on SATURDAY!! I was about as happy as he was that he could go.  He has been anxiously waiting for the big day this weekend. Early this week my heart felt like it was being ripped in two pieces as I read my email. The mother of the friend sent a note out that went something like this..."Oops! We are so sorry, but we put the wrong date on the invite. The party is actually on Sunday, Dec 4. We hope the schedule change doesn't mean you'll miss the party." What am I supposed to do? I know what I have to do, but I'm chicken. I waited two whole days to tell Ben. Finally I knew I had no choice but to break the news. He cried and threw himself on the couch. Not a single word of protest emerged though. He knows it's God's law, not mom's rule. And he is an obedient child.

I wish so much that other Christians felt the same as I do. I wish I didn't stand alone so often. I wish that more Christians chose not to do things on the Sabbath so that when I'm questioned and I explain my religious belief is based on the 10 Commandments my friends of other faiths didn't question me saying their (fill in the blank other Christian) friends do things on Sunday.  I know. I know they do. But I don't.  I wish so much that there were more people that remembered. It would make for so many less birthday party heart breaks in my home. For now I accept that we are peculiar. I know someday Ben (and Maddie and Jacob and #4) will hate me for our stand. But I feel like it's the right thing to teach them. I pray I have the faith and stamina to stay true. Because it's hard to make your little boy cry. His broken heart in turn breaks mine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Insurance - Explanation of BEN-e-fits

Today we got a copy of the insurance company Explanation of Benefits. My first thought was, "Weird. I have a monsterous stack of things to submit but being international means NOTHING is automatic. How could they have known about an appointment we had this year?"
 
Upon further inspection I saw that the service date was August 2007. Yes.  2007.  That's over four years ago for a surgery Ben had. Seriously? Four years later? What rotten book keeping!!  Ben was reading over my shoulder and I laughed as I realized how OLD this thing was. Wondering what was so funny, I explained to my 7 1/2 year old that I was reading a bill, for lack of a better explanation, for something that happened when he was 3 years old.
 
He started reading to figure it out and saw in big bold letters across the top of the page and read to me, "Explanation of BEN-e-fits. Is that about me?"
"Well, yeah, but not exactly how you think." Laughing out loud I asked him, "If it was for Maddie do you think it would say, 'Explanation of Maddie-fits?'"
"Of course."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quote of the Day to Make Me Smile

I just logged onto Flylady.com to check how bad shipping would be for a 2012 calendar. The quote that came up on the screen was perfect for me.
 
"You can't organize clutter....you can only get rid of it!"
 
Baby steps. That's what it's all about and I'm making a lot of them these days. Having the kids home from school was fun and good for everyone this Thanksgiving weekend even if I started to resent ExxonMobil for keeping my husband away from the family and having him work late. While the kids played and kept Jacob totally engrossed in their imaginitive games I got through so many boxes! I was beyond proud of myself for tidying up and throwing out and organizing the things we did need to keep.
 
One time as Ben passed the office and poked his head in the room I stopped him. I happily exclaimed, "Ben, LOOK! I got all this cleaned up and unpacked!" I motioned to the nicely arranged shelf. He sweetly looked around the room and smiled but couldn't come up with any words for me.  Gazing at him I realized he wasn't impressed and didn't know what to say.  I turned my head back to where I had been pointing and then I noticed it...I had unpacked and emptied two huge moving boxes of their precious cargo, but in the process my sorting piles of "recycle," "trash," "computer shelf," "cleaning supplies for the storage closet" etc. things were piled all over the floor and other boxes had simply been pushed out of the way.

I started laughing and Ben looked relieved from the akward position in which I had placed him when I said, "It doesn't really look that great, does it?"
"No." Then he smiled and charged into the room. He motioned with his hands at the three foot by three foot square piece of real estate that had previously held a pile of boxes as tall as my head. Making a square with his hands and pointing to the floor he said, "But this spot looks REALLY good mom!"
I gave him a hug and sent him on his way, thanking him for helping me feel good.  Sweet kid.

Too Much Singing

The big kids are off to class and Jacob finished his morning chores so he can watch a movie. Diego is his usual favorite on cable. I get lots done in those thirty minute blocks. Now he's complaining about the show though and I'm cracking up at his critique.

"Mom, why rescue pack is singing all the time?"
"I'm not sure. Do you like it?"
"No. He is just singing TOO much every day he does sing."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Success

I'm calling thanksgiving a success. Twenty two full bellies. Twenty two happy people. Lots and lots of dishes. This is the kitchen after two loads of dishes had already been done. Yikes!

Cranky Jake

From the second he came downstairs Jacob has been crying about this, that or the other thing. Thought I'd snap a photo of his angry face since I don't put enough pictures on the blog. This is how he felt about getting his picture taken.

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

For dinner today we are having:
6 Zufelts (I'm including the fluffy yittle doggie baby for fun - then I can eat more)
5 Brits
4 Koreans
3 Utahns (and 3 more Americans from where I'm not yet sure)
2 Chinese interns from ExxonMobil
and I think I'll have to go find a partridge in a pear tree to round things out
 
Actual grand total: 22 people
 
Brian had to work both Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday because it isn't a holiday here at all so we rescheduled our festivites to Saturday afternoon.  So while you are sleeping at 3 am after a long day of Black Friday shopping, we'll be stuffing ourselves with turkey and, well, stuffing.
 
Maddie has been listening real close to her lessons from Ms. Kiran at school and has been calling our celebration "The Feast" all week. Every single day she asks, "How many more days until The Feast?" or "Is it the day of The Feast yet?" She is sort of making the pressure and expectation level for me to perform go up don't you think? I hope I can deliver. At 6:45 am this morning the kids (Ben and Maddie) got up and started crafting table and wall decorations for the big event. Ben's only request is that we find A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving movie so everyone can watch it. I think that's a splendid idea...now if we can find it that'd be perfect!
 
The run down on our guest list:
Jenna, the Brit, is super excited. She's always wanted to go to a "proper Thanksgiving dinner."  Say it with a British accent and it'll make you smile even more. Think of the fact that she associated Angie Zufelt with the word proper and you may fall off your chair laughing. I promised her a fantastic traditional spread of Thanksgiving food but made no committments on the "proper" part of the request. I'll do my best, but I left all candlesticks and the nice dishes (that I don't own) in storage in the US. We'll make due with Corelle dishes, everyday silverware and neon colors of Ikea cups.  We did save our Halloween pumpkins for decorations since we were in Australia and never got around to carving them. Yesterday she sent me an SMS (that means a text message) saying she'd been dieting all week in preparation - I think she's got this holiday down already!
 
Nahyun, the Korean, has lived on our street in our little American neighborhood for three years so her kids can go to the American school.  Her son Allen is one of Ben's very best friends. They had the same teacher last year and again this year. Maddie and Eun Seo are now great buddies too.  Nahyun is extremely interested in all my American cooking. She has a helper that does most of the cooking but often she will make Korean dishes and bring me some to try. She seasoned some pork for me to fry up one day that was to die for!  She often happens by around dinner time to pick up her kids and I introduced her to a new, exotic and strange ingredient last week.  Cream of chicken soup. I had to giggle. She had never seen it in her whole life. I'm not sure I could cook anything without a can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup. My recipe book would be stripped of nearly half the recipes instantly.  She loved a simple rice and chicken oven bake I sent home with her.
 
When I invited her family to Thanksgiving dinner via email she replied and then came over the next day literally giddy with excitement. She has never in her life tasted turkey and is honored to be invited to an American Thanksgiving. After three years of learning about this holiday she is finally going to see what it's all about. At least Zufelt style. She asked what she could bring and I suggested a fruit salad. Then I had to clarify. She couldn't imagine putting salad dressing on fruit so asked which kind. Our American-ness sure can mess other people up. I explained it just meant to put it in a bowl, no dressing required. Then she asked what kind of fruit my kids liked so I asked Maddie.  "ROCK MELON!!" came the enthusiastic reply. "What is rock melon?" I translated from Singaporean to American and gave it a shot. "Cantelope?" I queried. Nope. So we went to google. She'd never seen it. She knew watermelon from living in Singpore but in Korea had only ever had honeydew, which they simply call melon because there is only green melons sold. I've never liked honeydew so I asked, neither did she.  We both agree, it's never sweet enough.  I told her rock melon was not required but showed her with online pictures what it looks like and how to prepare it if she wants to try it. If not, I'll get her one next week. I bet she'll love it!
 
To keep things interesteing for the American contingency attending The Feast today we are breaking from regular oven baked tradition and going Southern.  Our neighbors are from Houston and have a deep fryer they used on Thursday for their big dinner.  We'll be taking a wagon over this morning to get the fryer and the oil. This is our first year actually doing the deep frying and I'm hoping it works out really great. My brother fries a mean turkey so I'm hoping we don't disapoint.
 
Our Chinese guests are two college interns that have been working for Brian at ExxonMobil and, well, they have no idea what they are getting into in the first place. This whole holiday is brand spanking new to them so they are just along for the ride.  I need to tell Brian to remind them we don't drink. Sometimes I forget that and it's akward when people show up with a lovely bottle of wine as a generous gift but we allow let alcohol in our house for us or others. Better nip that in the butt before we get surprised by it. Another guest offered to bring wine yesterday, otherwise I wouldn't have remembered at all.
 
Finally, for the partridge, I found some bird seed when I was unpacking boxes yesterday. Yes. I'm still unpacking from when we moved here in January and got our shipment in April. Just the random stuff that could be tossed and no one would actually miss it so it wasn't urgent. You know, stuff like birdseed.
 
Happy Thanksgiving!!

The Turkey is STILL Frozen...and We Eat at 3:30 Today

I checked online and saw I needed four days to fridge thaw our turkey. It was delivered with sufficient time to be ready for our Saturday "feast" as Maddie has been calling it all week.  I stuck it in the fridge and forgot about it until Friday afternoon. I thought I'd check it out and to my dismay there was still a thin ice layer on the outside of the turkey.  What am I supposed to do now? We are supposed to eat this bird in 24 hours!! And we've got 21 people coming over to share it.
 
I set the alarm for 6 am because any earlier was beyond my comprehension. Then, because I'm pregnant, got up at 4 am this morning to pee and just went ahead with it. I have commenced the cool water bath method of turkey thawing.  In the wee early morning hours I also found a support community online telling me it will all be okay. I can have this turkey ready. It's possible. Of course in my planning to get up at 6 am I had read it needed 12 hours of water baths. A little short on time but it had fridge time.  Perfect.  But wait...I didn't back calculate that it needed 4-5 hours to COOK.  Ugh. At this point I'm counting on the four days in the fridge to have done SOMETHING major to help me out. The outer layer of turkey was kinda squishy when we began the thawing marathon in the pitch black hours of the night fumbling around in a tired stupor.
 
Hmm... It just occured to me that I set that alarm for 6 am. It's now 6:30 am and I've been downstairs since 4 o'clock. Sorry Brian for my alarm waking you up. My bad.

Friday, November 25, 2011

That Was Not a Roast

I don't know why the package said "pot roast". It was NOT a pot roast. It was plain terrible. It was cooked through but still reddish pink. Like the crap hamburgers I occasionally get on accident. Now I'm ticked. Wasted $30 on junk meat. Gross.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Singapore Life

Did I post this already? Cracks me up the things they have to warn me about at Sentosa Island.

Movie Snack Bar Selection

Wow. Tough choice but I'm gonna pass on the fish and stick with M&Ms.

Grateful

I'm grateful for the cleaning ladies. They are fantastic. They are totally reliable. Always on time. Clean things I would NEVER get around too. (Who washes their windows inside and out every single week?) They find little things all the time that make my life better.

Scout campout was this weekend. It rained. The mud was so bad I lost my shoes in the suction cup action more than once. Literally used a scrub brush to clean my legs in the shower because it would not come off my shins. Clean up has been a long and slow process because I spent so many hours at the school Monday and Tuesday. Everything had to be hosed off, scrubbed down and dried out. Then packed and stored.

When Mary and Auntie arrived this morning to clean we still had leaves in the living and dining room despite vacuuming twice as we dried and folded the tent inside. The tarp was a quarter clean and a pile of nasty mud caked croc sandals lay by the hose awaiting round two scrub downs. I wanted to cry tears of gratitude when I glanced out the window and saw Auntie, who in America would be nearing retirement age, squatting and scrubbing a pile of crocs. Then I noticed she had finished and folded up the muddy tarp. They are angels to me. Life is good. I am blessed.

Today's Project with Jake


Tower Building with Colors and Shapes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Field Trip to the Wet Market with Maddie Mae

Today was a big day for Maddie and fifteen of her favorite friends. The kids had their first field trip this year. From the looks on their faces at the coffee shop after doing their vegetable shopping, picking flowers to secretly buy for the teacher and buying a cool lime juice at the hawker stalls it was a smashing success. Maddie absolutely adores her teacher Ms. Kiran and their aide Ms. Fitzah.

When she saw the flower shop she first wanted to buy flowers for me. She picked chrysanthemums that were dyed nearly neon green because, she reasoned, I like the color green.

Looking around I showed her what I thought looked like my moms favorite flower that she always has in the front flower boxes in the front yard. Then she decided I didn't need flowers but Ms. Kiran did and chose what I had pointed out as grandma's favorite. Two other girls joined in picking to buy the teacher flowers too. One cute girl has a tendency to boss Maddie around and either make her choices for her or copy whatever Maddie does so they are always exactly the same (from walking exactly next to each other to coloring a butterfly the same on every single stripe and polka dot).

After a bit of time with her friend at the flower shop she finally whispered in my ear that she was changing her plan and giving them to Ms. Fitzah. I was proud she was thinking on her own and being so selfless in her thoughts because most days she would have only wanted flowers for herself.

Jake of course isn't quite there yet. We now have chrysanthemums dyed neon blue in the middle of our dinner table. The kids all love them and I'd say they were totally worth $0.80.

Asleep

Jake had a messy diaper and was too uncomfortable to sit on the ride home from the play date. Too tired to stay awake for two blocks. He was dead asleep when we got home kneeling in the stroller like this.

Can't Reach

Jake is always so sure that if he holds the remote really, really high I won't be able to reach it and turn the tv off. Hasn't worked yet but he still keeps trying!

How You Know Mom Has Had Enough

Nothing else seems to be working. Maybe this will have an impact. I know I'm not the only mom sitting in surprises due to lazy boys. Thought some of you would appreciate this post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

iPhone HELP!!

My iPhone just started emailing me anytime I update anything I put in my "Notes". I didn't change anything and it never did it before since I got the darn thing in February.  Kids must have changed something but who knows what or how to change it!  It's making lots of junk mail in my inbox. If you are an iPhone wizard, tell me, what am I supposed to do?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Scout Campout Damage

Ten minutes into the drive home from church three kids are asleep in the car. Victims of a late night at the cub scout campout last night. Too bad we can't leave them in the car and go enjoy a lunch and a movie on the couch while we watch them in the driveway.

Primary Program Today

"What are those kids doing?" "Singing about Jesus in French." "Oh. They saying, 'Oui oui oui oui!'" ("We we we we.")

Maybe I've taken too much creative license with my translation/interpretation thinking he automatically switched into French, a language he absolutely does know. But the timing was fantastic and I started laughing.

By the way, Maddie and Ben remembered their parts and did great.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brian in Pink?

Brian's flight landed from Tokyo about 3am on Thursday morning so I left the
dead bolt unlocked and went to bed. He came in about 4am and was as quiet as
humanly possible...but I'm pregnant so even the slightest noise makes me
wake and then have to get up to use the bathroom. He went to sleep and I
surfed the web on my phone laying in bed. Finally it was time to get up and
shower. As I walked out the bedroom door to face the day I saw his suitcase,
unzipped but still closed, with just a touch of pink plaid like fabric.
Immediatly I was puzzled.

I knew his subwoofer went out (a certifiable male emergency) so he had been
shopping two nights in Tokyo. Japan runs off 100V power which is close
enough to the US 110V to make it workable. He didn't want to buy a 220V one
if we will only be here two more years. Since he had been out shopping were
my eyes playing tricks on me? Was it a salmon colored plaid work shirt he
had picked up? I opened his bag and was giddy with excitement!

THANK YOU HEATHER GILLESPIE!! (And whomever Brian knows from Fairfax that
was traveling to Tokyo the same week!) No, Brian did not buy himself pink or
even salmon colored attire. Heather sent us a boat load of hand me downs
previously destined for Dani's Duds. I love you. I love you! So cute. You
are the best, and she got it all together with a adorable four week old baby
keeping her up at night. You rock. Shopping here is either beyond expensive
or Chinatown quality. This is a real blessing. Thanks a million!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

English

I like this sign. I glad we safe even if our English suck.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Derailed - By My Own Darn Self

I had the best of intentions today. Jake was going to watch an hour to hour and a half of kid shows on cable while I caught up on finances.  What did I actually do this morning? Got sidetracked on facebook after seeing a note about the Patches visiting us in Singapore. Then I talked with the Patches in Nepal about meeting up with his family on their US State Dept R&R leave. They are doing a tour of S.E. Asia and all the sites are close to us.  I’m thinking Angkor Wat the day after the kids get out of school for break.  I’ve always thought if there would be anyone to travel with it would be the Patches. They are always ready for adventure and ALWAYS know about cool things I would have never found out about.  I can’t wait!!

 

Then I got messaged by some of my old church youth girls who are away at college and another new Singapore friend called to plan out our Thanksgiving plans so we searched online for all the required dishes and planned who is bringing what. 

 

Jake? He got two good hours of Diego/Dora/Bubble Guppies/Little Bill/Max and Ruby and whatever else came on.  I tried to get him to go on a walk together, ride bikes outside with me, play games but he has no interest and I wasn’t overly motivated since I had made no progress on my own tasks so I let him be. I still only put in five receipts put into Quicken for the day.  Guess he gets twenty more minutes of tube time and then we’ll go pick up Maddie – officially ending the so called productive part of my day. What a laugh that is today.  Productive. Ha.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hey Elevator Lady!

We took the elevator down to Maddie's school today just like every other day. Usually when the voice inside the elevator says, "going down" Jacob gets agitated and tells me he wants to go up. Today he yelled out at the elevator voice directly, "HEY Lady!!! (pronounced yea-dee) I want to go UP!" He is so funny to spend my days with. I love it!

New Twist On B-I-N-G-O

Jake really enjoys singing the song Bingo with Maddie. They belt it out. Today she’s at school so he’s doing the very best he can do.   “F-O-Angie-O”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Negotiating with a Two Year Old

Jacob is weepy. He needs a nap. We have friends over for the day while their parents are away on holiday and Jacob just came downstairs crying.  I asked what the trouble was and he told me, “Maddie says Micah is this many,” showing me three fingers.

I replied that he WAS that many.

“NOPE!” He’s this many!” showing me two fingers again.

This went on for a bit and I tried to remind him how we had blue cupcakes at Micah’s house last week and now he was three. All to no avail. He finally ended by telling me Micah was NOT Ben and Maddie’s age and left the room. I think I lost the argument.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Switching Places

We had the Pitman kids today it was so much FUN!! Sitting in church together was fine but they were pretty chatty and happy to just be together.

On the way home Ben and Corbin switched places and Tia and Maddie did too. The girls switched as much as they possibly could switch on a car ride - hair bows, clips, sweaters, shoes and glasses. Funny part was that neither Tia nor Corbin could keep the glasses on. I'm sure they gave them headaches after two minutes or less. Of course my kids didn't understand what the problem was. I can't wait for the day they have contact lenses and then try glasses. Then they will totally get it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mini Refinery

Ben was busy this afternoon building with legos and made a mini refinery he was quite proud of.

Time for a Haircut or Dye the Roots

Jake is getting about old enough to need his first haircut. I put a pony
tail and bow in it at Shon's house. Today I noticed how when I do cut it
he's going to really darken up. All the blond must be baby hair because his
roots are much, much darker than the bleached blond hair he used to have.
That makes me sad. Not only do kids look much older once they get their
first cut but he'll no longer be my solo blond kid. Maybe he'll actually
look like my kid now.
Just for kicks I'm waiting to cut it until his birthday in a few weeks.
Seriously, who hits the three year mark and has never had a cut yet? That's
just plain nuts.

I Don't Want to Walk to School Today

Jake was not feeling like walking to school this morning to drop off Maddie Mae. Poor guy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sleeping In, Toilet Talk and Foreign Languages

Usually we get the kids up at 6 am so they are ready to leave for school at 7:30. We do morning reading and one house helper chore like empty the dish washer before school each morning. Plus they are often pokey about getting ready. Last night Halloween was wild and fun and sugar filled and LATE. This morning I'm making the executive decision to let them sleep a full extra hour. Think they can be ready in 30 minutes?

I decided it was better to scrap everything but get dressed, eat and brush teeth and let them rest. We got up twenty minutes later yesterday and no one had reading time because they were dragging too much. They did wake naturally though. I was going to give them thirty minutes but someone got up to use the toilet. They are all sooooo tired still from our trip and to put Halloween on top adds up to a risk situation of potential tears and tantrums at every turn.

It that weird of me to say "use the toilet" instead of "go to the bathroom"? It's one Singapore thing I've picked up on. Makes lift easier here to be sure. What the heck is a restroom anyway? I don't nap and rest there. And bathrooms at the mall? Aren't any bathtubs there to be seen.

In Australia, and I'm pretty sure British people too after having my friend Jenna over last night to trick or treat, say wee or wee-wee instead of pee or tinkle. Translate that for the poor people at South Bend Park in Brisbane. We had eight kids and a merry go round late on a Friday night at the boardwalk park along the river. As they spun round and round and round they would all squeal at the to of their lungs "Wee! Wee! Wee!" over and over and over. The Aussies probably think there were a bunch of crass American kids at the past last weekend. I think it's funny.

Then there were the young twenty something's on their way out clubbing. Dressed to impress this group of six or seven were saying f-this and f-that and f-her and lots more of the same in fine Aussie accents as Maddie and I crossed paths with them along the boardwalk. After they had passed us up Maddie, holding my hand as we walk, looks up in my eyes and says, "Funny how grown ups in Australia always talk in another language here, right?"
I smiled and simply agreed. Between the curse words she had never heard and the accent she had no idea what they were even saying. How can I capture that innocence and hold it forever. Maddie who began as an angel then grew into my biggest challenge for three long years has become one of my sweetest delights again in the last six months. I love being friends again with my sweet girl. She is beautiful. Her smile contagious and freely gives. She is spontaneous and oozing with love to give away. She is wonderful.

And now it's time to wake the beasts.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Still Recovering

Jacob appears to be still recovering from vacation mode. At our house in Singapore we have a rule you can't get up before the sun. Being so near the equator it works out well. It gets light about 6:45 every day of the year.

In Brisbane Australia the sun was up and it was bright as noon by at least 5am. Problem. Add to that the time zone is two hours ahead of Singapore and my kids were up and wide awake before their cousins ever were and it was only 4am by their body clocks. Jake had three, maybe four naps the entire trip because he was having too much fun to slow down and bedtime was always at least an hour later than it would have been at home. All told they behaved incredibly well for the massive amount of sleep deprivation they were suffering.

Our eight hour return flight left at 2:30am and landed at 8:00am. Maddie and Jake both had a solid six hour sleep. Ben said he didn't sleep at all though I think he got three hours. I got one hour which followed my four hour night the day before. Not cool.

When we got home I took Maddie to gymnastics only to discover it was closed for fall break. Bummer we rushed. We came home and Brian was getting everyone showered. I was too tired to use my nice words so he took them all downstairs so I could nap. Maddie fell asleep at the tv and was down more than 4 hours. Jake slept only about an hour but was one hundred percent lethargic in front if the tv for over six hours. Brian took Ben to a birthday party and he fell asleep on the drive home then slept eleven and a half hours that night.

Looks like Jake needed just a little bit more. Isn't he cute?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baby Boy or Baby Girl?

My big ultrasound is this Friday (or maybe Thursday). We’ll be able to tell if it’s a boy or a girl.  But I’m hoping to have baby number four be surprise number one.  What do you think?  We packed all our baby girl and boy clothes, so it really doesn’t matter one single bit to me which we have.  Okay - my obsession with fair does make me tend to want a girl, plus Maddie really, really, really wants a sister and I think everyone ought to have a sister.  Other than that though it doesn’t matter and thus far the boys have been loads easier to figure out than our little girl so maybe, just maybe all boys are easier than girls.

 

When we were having Ben, we decided to have a surprise.  We discussed.  We decided.  We were totally on the same page.  Plus, I hated the color pink and it would prevent a Pepto Bismol colored baby shower with pink, pink, pink gifts everywhere to be seen. We show up at the ultrasound and I’m laying on the table when the tech asks, “Do you want to know the sex?” And in that instant I changed my mind.  I HAD TO FIND OUT.  This lady knew the answer and I needed to PLAN!!  Of course we (I) want to know.  I am fairly sure that when I looked at poor Brian sitting in the chair beside me I shot evil, fire daggers out of my eyes at him threatening him to even dare to go against me.  He just said, “Okay.” When they said it was a boy, we were both excited. It’s what we had both wanted to start off with.

 

With Maddie we decided it would be nice to know if we needed to get anything different for clothes than what I had stowed away in bins of Ben’s old clothes.  We thought it would be cool to have a girl so the pressure would be off if it was a girl and we chose to have any more then it wouldn’t matter. We both wanted to know this time.  They told us it was a girl. We left the holding hands but were both pretty quiet.  Brian was driving out of the parking lot when I finally couldn’t take it anymore, “Are you disappointed too?” “Yep.” “Okay. I was feeling bad about being sad it was a girl.” In my head I was thinking, “What are we going to do with a girl? I’m not fancy or pretty. I don’t even wear makeup. How will I raise a GIRL?? And what if she is artsy and likes pink and lace and dolls, not building with blocks and trains and science and math?  I can’t do GIRLS!”  We talked again the next day or maybe two days later and all our stupid fears about having a girl were gone.  We were both REALLY excited to have a beautiful little girl.

 

Jacob was supposed to be my first surprise baby.  The big ultrasound comes at 20 weeks and it’s supposed to be hard to tell before that, right?  I had a regular appointment at about 15, maybe 16 weeks. My doctor was a fun older guy and did a quick ultrasound every visit in the beginning just because he had the machine in the room.  So without Brian there he asks, “Do you want to know the sex?” “Isn’t it too early to tell?” “Yeah, usually it is, but I think it’s fun to take a look and guess, then see if I’m right, either next month or when the baby is born.” Thinking it sounded fun and like it would be a totally shot in the dark guess, I agreed.  My answer came faster than I had expected, “Well, usually it’s a guess at this stage in pregnancy, but this baby is DEFINITELY a boy.  Not shy AT ALL.”  My first thought was, “OOPS!!  Brian was supposed to be here for this! Stupid, stupid me!  Why can’t I resist the temptation to know!?!? Dang it.  Do I say nothing and act surprised?  No. I can’t keep my own secret that long, besides, that’s wrong to not tell him.”  Probing for more info and assurances of exactly how sure he was I came out with a 90-95% chance it was a boy.  So I called Brian when I got home from the appointment, apologized and announced it was a boy.  We double checked at the 20 week and sure enough.  Jacob was still a boy.

 

Right now my resolve is strong.  Very strong.  This baby is a surprise. I totally realize it’s a surprise either way, we find out the surprise on November 4th or March 6th.  Maddie is disappointed that I’m planning to wait.  So is Ben.  Jacob doesn’t care. He already knows it’s going to be a doggie and he’s even getting really sweet and likes to hug and kiss the “fluffy yittle doggie” in my tummy which melts my heart. Check back next week and see if more fire daggers shoot out of my eyes this week at poor Brian as I cave under pressure of the chance to find out. I think I can do it this time. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Pumpkin Carving

Is it bad to carve pumpkins a week after Halloween?  Does it take away from the fun of doing it?  Will my kids still enjoy it in the same way?  Because we bought the darn expensive imported things before we left for Australia before they sold out. We had about twelve total to choose from in the store – no pumpkin patch fun for us this year. Then we didn’t carve them but preserved them in the fridge so they wouldn’t be moldy when we returned. But on the drive to the airport for our flight to Brisbane, Daddy was booking a flight to Tokyo for the day after we returned.  Bummer.  Now daddy is gone and all our friends carved theirs tonight. But mommy didn’t have the energy to take on that project solo. Plus it didn’t sound like fun without dad.  Just chaos and asking, begging, needy children all needing something hard and time consuming to get it to look just right and all at the same time.

 

I think they’ll have lots more fun doing it as a whole family and who cares if we set them on the porch after the fact?  It probably just means that all the mischievous kids that go around smashing pumpkins will have had their fun and won’t think to come and get ours. Or I could save them all for my amazing pumpkin stew.  Yum.  Maybe we’ll just color them with sharpies and skip the carving.  Hurry home daddy. We miss you. Trick-or-Treating won’t be the same without you this year.

Monster #4 Has the Wiggles

The baby in my belly has been wiggly for a while, but while we were on the boat in the Great Barrier Reef things seemed to change a whole bunch.  I began feeling the baby move all the time, and with all that laying around time started to notice that I could start to feel it from the outside too.  A few weeks ago I kept trying to have Brian feel but I don’t think he ever really felt anything at all. Not wanting to be pushy I quit trying, knowing full well that the time would come soon enough.

 

Well, today the baby has been wildly busy.  Enough so that I even gave it a shot to have Maddie and Ben feel it.  Sure enough, they both felt it within two minutes.  It was so cool to share it with them.  I feel rotten that Brian wasn’t the first one, but how exciting to let the kids share in the baby with me!  They though it was cool and weird.  In time the movements will get bigger and more obvious and I hope this baby cooperates with us.  This time it matters to me.  A lot.

 

Ben was positioned right so that we could feel him move all the time and see his entire body move inside of me as my belly would lift up and a hand or foot would visually move across my belly from far right to far left.  It was mind boggling to watch for the first time in my life.  Maddie spent basically the entire pregnancy with her back laid across my belly and feet in the floor of my pelvis.  I could feel her kicking just as much as Ben but we literally saw nothing.  We were sad.  We hoped to share Jacob moving around with the kids like we had seen Ben moving but he was also a bit of a stinker like Maddie was.  His back stayed most the time near the front bottom of my belly with his feet and hands using my inner rib cage as a punching bag.  Boy that kid could cause some major discomfort when he pushed and stretched and pushed and stretched right into the bones on my left side.

 

So I’m asking this little one to please cooperate.  We want the kids to see you wiggle and move and know how real you are.  Plus, if memory serves correct, it’s a whole lot more comfortable to have you kick my belly button instead of my rib cage or pelvic floor.

Dancing Lessons from the Pros

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Candy Overload

There weren't many kids in our immediate Virginia neighborhood so we went out with the Arveseths and Miles families in their neighborhood one year when Ben was 3 1/2 and Maddie had just turned 1 year old.  We got a serious load of sweets over there and then came home. Ben had promised all the neighbors that he would show them his costume so we did a quick trick-or-treat on our little street. Not many kids had come at all that year, in fact one neighbor said she had only had four people knock the entire night, so everyone completely UNLOADED their stash of candy onto cute little Ben.


All together I think we came up with the equivalent of three and a half gallon ice cream buckets full to the brim with candy. I put it all in the pantry cupboard in the kitchen not knowing what else to do with it all.  We have never been on empty since. I tend to ration it out so tightly that even four years later my two year old Jacob doesn't ask me for "candy," he asks for a "Trick-or-Treat" in the middle of July.  Of course the bucket doesn't still have Halloween candy from 2007. It holds Halloween, then we add in Christmas, then Easter candy, repeat...


It's about time to reload our stash.  Happy Halloween everybody!