Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dear Cathy or Shall I Call You "crc"?

Cathy, I assume your comment/note meant you put your kid in the Spanish Immersion Lottery this year at Laurel Ridge Elementary and didn't get picked? Then you googled it and my blog came up? I can't think of any Cathy I know who was applying for the program and you commented on a post that is about a year old. Just trying to put the pieces together in my head. In any case, you left no email address and your profile is blocked, so I can't reply to you directly. As of the last day of March 2011 we have not yet made it into Laurel Ridge Spanish Immersion. We moved to Singapore in January, but we haven't gotten anything forwarded in the mail and our stateside phone number still works and Laurel Ridge still has it. How do I know that you may ask? Well, they called me once two weeks ago in the middle of the night or during school hours there in Virginia because I was the emergency contact for a good friend there. At 3:30 am some lady is trying to get it through my foggy head that one of the kids needs mom and do I have her cell number. Well I might have it, but it's on a slow moving ocean freighter right now. If the sweet girl can wait three more weeks I can get it to the poor secretary who likely thought I was an idiot. It is actually all pretty funny now that I'm coherent, but the answer to your question is "No." We are still on the wait list. We have never heard if we moved up from slot #7 on the list, but I never called to ask. Just assumed if it happened they would call. Hope this helps if you check back on my blog. Good luck. I hope your kids number is smaller than 7 or the families are more transient this coming year. The program is a great one and we're sad not to be in it. Instead my kids are now learning Chinese. Never would have thought we'd do that. Angie

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Jacob loves his two blankets which we call his woobies. He loves to be wrapped up in them and carry them around with him all the time. He bites or maybe sucks on one or the other though he definately favors the yellow one. My favorite thing he does is the way he asks me to spread them out on top of him. "Spwinkle it on top me, Mommy, okay?" I do my very best to sprinkle him just right with woobies. He's just too darn cute.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ronald in Thailand

Some things never change. McDonalds is everywhere on the planet and yet it has its own special touch where ever you go. Love how Ronald has his hands!

That Boy Was Built for Richfield

Ben is such a people watcher. Today we went to the park down the street from Mali's house in Bangkok Thailand so the kids could run and play a little. The playground is at the entrance to their compound where everyone must pass and it was time for the US Embassy shuttles buses to unload like clown cars and some kids were selling lemonade by the swimming pool trying to catch the workers as they came in the complex. Ben's play kept getting interrupted because he couldn't help but stop to watch people coming and going. Brian and I were laughing about it when Brian said, "He is the perfect person to hang out on the porch with my grandma." Brian is right. Those two could have sat on the front porch swing for hours and hours together talking about people as they passed by. Ben would be full of "Why do you think that person does...?" and Grandma BerDella would never tire of answering because she would have all the answers and a story to go along with it too since she had been porch sitting and people watching for such a very long time. She would never tire of his questions but enjoy the time together with him. Makes me smile to think of them together on a porch somewhere in Richfield, Utah where she spent most of her life. Truth is Singapore is Brian and my exciting dream not his. We are the ones who want to see and experience the world, not Ben. He has a quiet soul that doesn't require much in the way of adventure. He would have been quite happy to spend seventeen years at school in Fairfax on Roberts Road (elementary, middle/high school and college are all within one mile on the same street).

I count his transition going so well here to positive support at home, amazing teacher(s) and school counselor and mostly generous blessings from a God that knows Ben's soul much better than me. Life is good here and my people watching boy has lots of new people to study. Maybe someday he will have stories to tell grandma when they meet again in heaven.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Maddie told me a few weeks ago, “I dreamed about Jayda every night.  We play in a tree house in my dream and then I wake up and we didn’t really.”  Today she wandered over while I had the Roth’s blog up.  She smiled and pointed, “That’s the girl that I always dream about in my tree house!”

Cori – tell Jayda she is missed. J

Did You Guys Change?

I have a clock set up to pop up on the computer telling me what time it is back in the states if I mouse over a certain corner of my screen.  I noticed just this morning that my clock says a different time difference now than a few days ago…I think.  Now I am exactly 12 hours different from Virginia?  I must have missed daylight savings/spending time.  Hope everyone has recovered from loss of an hour of sleep a few weeks ago and all the toddlers naps are getting adjusted.  I HATED shifting toddler nap time.  It was torture.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ben's Wardrobe - A Few of My Favorites

We don’t have dressers here.  We have built in wardrobes for the clothes.  That means we need a lot of hangers and don’t fold things anymore and stuff them into drawers.  I tried having Ben put his clothes in nice orderly piles on the bottom of the wardrobe but it just didn’t work.  Every time he would change clothes he would just throw the old stuff on top of the folded clothes. The mound would grow and grow.  Then Jacob would play hide and seek and mess up any shred of organization that might have been left at the bottom of the pile. It just wasn’t working.

Our new approach was to have Ben hang his clothes in the closet.  It has a half height bar that is just his size.  I helped him get all set up and agreed that he could continue in the future.  It has been a struggle for me to let things go, but life is a process of learning and this is a first for him.  He really does try to hang stuff up, but gets lazy more often than not.  I hate even looking in his closet because it’s such a mess, just not on the floor.  Yesterday he came to me saying he was out of hangers so he couldn’t put his clothes away.  He had recently got two more pairs of pants out of his luggage so I figured I needed to bring him two more hangers for pants.  I got them out and took them to his room. I found 13 empty hangers before I stopped counting. I told him he needed to look harder since there are probably only 40 hangers in the closet all together.

Here are a few of my favorites just today.

·         Scout shirt – buttoned the top button then hung it with the top hook below the button

·         Button up church shirt – got one arm/shoulder in properly then used the tag at the neck to hook into the part of the hanger that is supposed to hold tank tops and such up

·         Shorts – hung carefully on a hanger made for shirts

Monday, March 14, 2011

Meet "The Chunk"

Here are pictures of the big Pinewood Derby day.  There were 175 cars to race.  Ben named his car “The Chunk” because when he sawed the block of wood big chunks of wood came out.  He raced four times and got 2nd, 2nd, 3rd and 3rd.  He got a front row seat at the finish line and was very proud of the turn out.  His guess was that he would get 4th every race.  That is our fault, not a natural lack of self-confidence on his part.

Sometimes Brian and I forget that he’s turning seven years old in a few weeks and totally knows exactly what we are saying.  I suppose without thinking about it, we talked down his car a lot to each other, even though we only said supportive things directly to him.  We just kept focusing on the lack of good work space, tools and time.  Poor guy, I feel bad for making him so deflated going into the race. He was so proud of his car. Another parenting lesson learned on this one.  Ben is an awesome kid.  He deserves the best, especially when he’s being only positive and totally excited about something.

One of my favorite cars was the Hershey Chocolate Bar.  Check out the picture.

Kids Win

We gave the kids a $1 raise for their allowance here because things cost so much more.  Now they get $3 each week but have to put half into savings.  Then I took them to cheap places to buy toys ($2 store and Chinatown).  Translation?  They got some good stuff here so far.  Ben is in love with the Lion Dancers we saw all over the place for Chinese New Year in February.  He wants a lion dancer costume but settled on a puppet for $8 of his allowance money.  We looked at about 10 shops in Chinatown before deciding looking for the best price.  He could pay $10 for the blue one he wanted or $8 for the purple one.  He chose purple and is pretty happy with it.

Weird Thing of the Day - Military Time

Holy cow.  You wouldn’t believe what a hard time we had finding alarm clocks here.  We were told that if you bring them from the States they may work but with the power difference they will always run slow.  We looked at a couple stores with no luck finding what we wanted.  Seemed like such a simple thing to buy.  Now we know.  All digital alarm clocks read in military time. No use searching for an alternate, it doesn’t exist. How obnoxious is that?  You’re tired from a long day, look at the clock to see what time it is and are hit with a math problem.  It is “X minus 12” o’clock.

Brian finally bought two.  One normal one for $40 and a large print edition for his blind wife so I could see at night without contacts in for a whopping $60.  When he came home and told me he had just spent $100 on two alarm clocks I almost fell off my chair.  I figured they better have some crazy great bells and whistles.  Nope.  It’s as generic and no frills as they come.  And it’s military time.  Dang it.

Email Hit Again

Just because I’ve posted about this in the recent past, I thought it was funny.  I got nine separate emails today from this cute family.  From the looks of it, someone is leaving on a mission in the next few weeks.  Wish them well.  Never met them, but wish them well. Hahaha.

Need to Run

While walking around on Saturday shopping at the stalls in Chinatown Maddie looked over then growled at me and said, “Mom, I need a place with big, big grass because I just need to RUN and run and run for a long time.”  It made me smile because it was such a weird thing to say, but it’s so incredibly true.  Singapore is small.  Almost everything about it.  This weekend she can run and run and run at the beach for three days.  We’re looking forward to it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I already find it weird that cars drive on the wrong side of the road on TV.  All of our TV shows are from the US and I’m accustomed to driving on the other side of the road now. Kind of funny.

Driving didn’t turn out to be as hard as I had imagined.  At first I was really nervous about it.  After two weeks of occasional errand running with Brian driving I was ready, but he still took the car every day and I didn’t have anywhere to go.  By the time we hit the fourth week and I still hadn’t driven I had sort of psyched myself out.  Totally scared.  Not so much to drive on the road, but to get in and out of teeny tiny parking garages with our long minivan and especially to back into parking spaces.  That is what everyone does and it sure does make it easier to get out, that’s for sure.

Finally I had to drive Maddie to her trial day at preschool.  Brian had figured out how to get to work using public transit.  Driving went quite well.  The streets are so busy that it’s just a game of follow the leader.  At first, as long as I wasn’t first in line at a traffic light I’m perfectly fine.  Now it’s not a big deal anymore other than I have to pay attention to what I’m doing and what lane to be in.


Listening to the radio here is funny.  There are stations in lots of languages but many in English.  No country music for me.  In fact the stations don’t tend to have much in the way of a specific style or genre.  Pick any station on the dial and you get Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” followed immediately by “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” by the Temptations.  It’s like going to your company Christmas party where they hire a band to do cover songs from bands from the last 50 years so that the new hires will be just as happy as the big boss that will retire in six months.  Or maybe that’s just what Exxon does.


Loving our new church here.  Same God.  Same community support.  New friendly faces.

Playgroup is real fun and a great chance to sit and get to know the other moms in my shoes and get their thoughts on all the big decisions I have to make like where to live, what school and preschool are best and if I can really survive here without a helper (live in maid) and if I choose not to have one what other options are available to help me out.  Great resources these ladies are!

Few weeks ago the Sunday lesson for the women’s group (Relief Society) was about the value of hard work.  It is necessary to help us be productive and happy contributing members of Gods great world.  Then we broke into small groups to have discussions on questions.  I think my head was about to explode.  Here we are talking about how people had to have their helpers (live in maids) stop doing this or that little thing so their kids could learn to work.  I know I’m new here but I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what I was hearing.  The helper does the laundry, all the house cleaning and often lots of the cooking and dishes unless you enjoy cooking.  They also care for your kids if you need to run an errand or help at the school.  They will do the grocery shopping via the bus.  And we are talking about the value of work.  I think I need more time to process my new life.  I’ve got fresh American eyes here and they are spinning.

This week the teacher was welcomed back after she had a baby about two months ago.  My friend had asked me if I thought it was okay to nurse her baby during the lesson.  I figured it was okay.  All women, mostly have all been there, done that.  The teacher gets up to give her prepared remarks and begins by saying, “I hope you all don’t mind, I’m doing on demand feeding.  At any moment my baby could cry and I will have to feed him.  On top of that, I just felt let down.  Anyway, I may have to pop him on and keep teaching.”  Okay then.  Nursing in the back row apparently no big deal.

Heartless Dog Hater? Maybe I Can Love a Fish

I feel kind of bad about it, but I don’t get people that love pets.  Part of the fun of kids is that they grow and progress and change.  In my eyes that makes them fun.  Dogs seem to pretty much stay the same after they are one year old.  My brother keeps sending me pictures of endless reasons to not have a dog.  They have some serious damage ability.

We always had dogs growing up. I had the job of pooper scooper for many, many years. I figured I’d have one when I had a house.  Our dogs could always come indoors.  Brian’s family had outdoor only dogs.  That stopped us in the beginning, we couldn’t agree.  Now Brian has legitimate allergies (his eyes swell up and anywhere that touches the dog turns red and itchy). Finally though I realized I don’t really like animals.  My little brother was the animal lover and in time took all the dog duties in the family.  They truly loved each other.  Realizing this I figured dogs are nice to pet once in a while, but the amount of work involved is too much for me.  I don’t really want to pick up poop and take them for walks when it’s hot and humid or frigid and cold.

Families pay large amounts of money to move their pets overseas and make sure they are legal here.  Airfare, licensing, shots, vet visits, etc.  Then the houses are so small that people actually pay for a van service to pick up their dogs and drive them to doggie day care to exercise their dogs.  I think that is actually quite good, these big dogs shouldn’t be shut up in tiny condo type homes.  It’s just the expense.  Yikes.  All this for what?  A nasty tongue lick on the face.  No thanks.  I would really like the companionship I just can’t handle the messy shedding and the slobber.  Maybe if I could get me a really, really clean dog I could change my mind.

I’ve ended up quite thankful for Brian’s adult onset allergy problem.  It ends the question in a jiffy.  “Nope.  We can’t get a dog, Daddy is allergic,” say my kids without prompting.

We have promised them a fish for about a year though.  I think Jake is finally old enough not to try to pick up the fish and hold it and kill the fish.  I think we’ll have to get one when we settle into our new house.

Rough Night of Tantrums

Timer is on for five minutes.  Bedtime.  They go down no matter the state of their preparation.  It’s been an absolute disaster evening.  The kids (all three of ours plus the two that were dinner guests) wouldn’t eat their dinner.  Brian and Lyndi had to trick, bribe and bamboozle each and every single bite for the entire meal times five kids.  Exhausting.  All this amidst ample amounts of whining. 

We thought having friends to dinner would be fun.  Turned out to be pure misery.  Then they went to play after dinner. All five of them. Fight.  Fight. Kick. Fight.  Tattle tale.  Fight. Push.  Shove.  Fight. Fight. Hit.  Tattle.  Fight. Finally seven o’clock came around and we gave up.  To be fair I doubt we would have had much more success if we had only our three instead of the extra friends.  So the friends went home across the hallway at the hotel and our kids were instructed to get ready for bed.  Tantrums followed. Many, many tantrums. “Time outs” for both Maddie and Ben.  Screaming louder and louder about the unfair and abusive world that is so oppressive to our young children.  Brian began a countdown with which they are quite familiar.  Three.  Another defiant remark or kick or hit.  Two.  More disobedience.  One.  Last straw.  When dad says zero the world ends.  In bed exactly as they are.  Play clothes on, no teeth brushed, whatever they are.  Bedtime.

Still Ben cannot do the simplest thing and is wildly flailing his limbs all over the place making it dangerous to be in a five foot radius anywhere near him.  He screams, “I know!!!  Do you think I don’t have a brain?”

Brian: “I do know you have one, but it isn’t showing right now.”

Ben: “Oh yeah? Then how do I know that two plus two equals four?!?!?!”

Brian: “Well do you know what one minus one is?”
Ben (still screaming): “ZERO!!!”

Brian: “Yep.  And if I get to that number you’re going to bed just like that.”

Ben whimpering goes to brush his teeth.  I’m grateful to be washing dishes so Ben doesn’t see me laugh at his attempt to logically reason with his father.

It’s going to be a long, long night until they fall asleep.  They ultimately lost the privilege to clean their room.  Not so bad one might think, but the maid comes tomorrow.  I tell them that anything they leave out may not be found again when she is done.  It isn’t her job to care for their toys and they could get vacuumed up or stuck in the bed sheets she takes away.  It’s served as a sufficient threat so far.  Ben is beside himself with worry now that his toys are lost forever.  The only comfort I can offer is that if he behaves in the morning he will have time to finish cleaning his room and all will be saved.  If he didn’t doddle in the morning he would actually have about forty minutes.  He’ll be just fine.  It’s just tonight we have to make it through.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Everyday Reactions On the Street

It is very unusual to have more than one child here.  I get noticed a lot here with two kids.  Not only do I have two kids, we all have fair skin, my kids are much chubbier than Asian kids (especially Jake), we have light hair (Jake is near blond and the sun is lightening it again with all our pool time) and we all have glasses. 

We get stopped approximately three times every time I go out.  People ask, “Why specs?” pointing at Jake. “Why specs?  So young?”  I’ve learned to tell them (and a bit of an accent is starting to come out – yikes) “He’s quite long sighted.”  Long sighted means far sighted here.  One lady knew enough to play with him today in Chinatown and ask him to point to his glasses rather than his specs so he was able to play along with her, usually he just stares at the people.

Maddie gets lots and lots of looks everyday.  She takes it in stride and doesn’t realize that it’s weird to me.  She just thinks everyone is friendly.  Without realizing it, she wore her traditional Chinese dress to Chinatown today.  Oh my gosh was that girl a HIT!!  Near every Asian person we passed pointed her out to whoever they were with.  It took me a while to figure out why she was getting so much extra attention today.  Finally I got it and had to laugh.  She loves that dress.  It’s hard to get it into the laundry she wears it so much. (Then when I do get it, I ruined my other clothes because the dye leaked onto everything else.)

We only had one photo op today in Chinatown.  People will really stop us on the street or in the mall and ask my permission to take my children’s photo.  I thought it was funny and it happens once or twice a week to my children.  Then my new friend Brenda came to Chinatown with us today.   She is super bright blond and so is her cute four year old daughter, Claire. I was bargain shopping at the time, but the other ladies in our group told me something that made me laugh out loud.  They had an entire tour bus come over and ask permission to take photos of them. So the entire group of 30 people were snapping away, getting pictures.

Buses and Trains in Singapore

I am finding people so extremely helpful on the bus.  I have to help Jake and Maddie up and down the stairs plus lug a stroller, backpack and whatever packages we bought.  I rarely have to carry the stroller up the stairs.  Someone ALWAYS grabs it for me and carries it both on and off the bus then wait for me to see how else they can help.  If we board a bus people see us immediately and we are all three given seats.  It’s fantastic.

Brian does not have the same experience during rush hour traveling by himself.  He’s recently stopped taking anything beyond his bus pass to work.  I’m sure it makes things easier to not be carrying anything when you have to stand for an hour swaying back and forth trying to keep a good footing on the MRT (subway) and 3 buses just to get to work.  The good news is that since few people have cars, buses come about every 10 minutes.  He often walks from one to the other without any wait at all.  Even though his commute is long, he does keep moving the whole time.

It is very unusual to have more than one child here.  I’m sure I must look like a bit of a circus with my standard two. Cracks me up to think in my head that I’ve actually got another one, just isn’t out and about with us most days.  If they only knew, they’d think I was definitely nuts.  Today I played tour guide to a few fellow residents here at the Great World Serviced Apartments.  We had four moms, four umbrella strollers and seven kids between us.  Five of the kids wanted to sit on the back bench of the bus. Unable to persuade anyone to sit by me, I stashed my stroller and another one in my seat and went to supervise the back row bunch.  Half way through the ride my stroller rolled out into the aisle and smashed down.  Multiple people helped pick it up and set it properly back in the seat.  The kids were super excited to be out and on a bus.  They were good, but loud.  We must have looked like such a circus.  At least the ride is only seven minutes.


The $2 Store Adventure and Buses in Singapore

After school today we got Ben from the bus.  On the way up the elevator I announced by grand plan.  The kids had allowance money they were dying to spend and because it was the weekend we didn’t have to rush to do homework, dinner and bedtime. We were going to go home, drop off the backpack, use the bathroom then rush out to catch the shuttle a few minutes later.  Ben had a gigantic smile on his face as he thought of the possibilities of all he could buy at Daiso, the $2 Japanese store.  He told me, “Okay.  I’m going to get ready by pushing it all forward to the point but not quite out yet. That would make a mess.”  Took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about.

Maddie started getting allowance when we arrived here, so she had a bit less than Ben.  I reported to them what they each had in their piggy banks before we left.  Maddie $4 = 2 items.  Ben $14 and suggested he only spend $4 for an equivalent 2 items so he had some money for later.  He must have a bit of me in him because he decided that it wasn’t fair that he had lots more money.  He offered to buy Maddie one toy and give her the $2 to pay for it.  Maddie was elated and said a lot of “thank you’s” for his generosity. 

At the store she thought for ages over that really important third toy.  She wanted a small stuffed toy but wasn’t sure which one to get.  Ben started to tell her which ones would be most helpful when they play house together. Finally she selected a dog.  Ben paid for it and as we walked away from the cashier desk she told him, “Ben I actually got the dog for you.  It’s like my present to you.”

“Wow! So it actually WAS worth buying you a toy. I actually got to keep the thing I bought with my money so it’s like I got my money back. Thanks for the dog, Maddie.”  This is the second time the exact same thing has happened with these two.  They are so sincere and cute sometimes.

We took the bus home.  The bus drops us off at the shopping mall that is connected to our apartment building.  The bus pulls into a two lane drop off/pick up zone full of private cars, buses and taxis.  When we board or exit we must cross both lanes of traffic.  It’s not too wild, but it can be busy.  Jacob has a healthy fear of the taxis and their honking so as soon as his feet hit the ground he bolted behind the bus and in front of a stopped taxi in an attempt to get out of the road.  He tripped on the lip of the curb and plowed into some random guy. 

About 5 people all rushed to pick him up and wipe him off.  I assured them that despite the tears he was just fine. Mostly he was scared of being in the road close to a blue taxi.  Before I could do anything the guys female companion starts pulling individually wrapped chocolate frosting and sprinkle covered donuts out of her shopping bag.  I tell her it isn’t necessary, Jake hit into them, it was his fault.  She is worried about his tears and totally adamant that we take it.  Then she sees I have two other children.  Pulls one out and hands it to Maddie who smiles at her prize.  Then she’s out.  She offers Ben a chinese something we’ve never seen before and feels just terrible she has nothing else.  I can’t believe my kids are getting sweets from a stranger because they got hit.  All of this in about 60 seconds and we walk home to split the two donuts.

More Love

Maddie was worried that Jake would feel left out if he didn’t get his own love post.  He tries to copy everything his big sister does.

Can You Tell That I Love You?

“Can you tell that I love you?  This is what I do to show you that I love you, mom.”

Good to know.  Next time I see you like that I’m sure my heart will swell up from all the warm love I’ll be feeling.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tiny Bit Homesick

I’ve done okay with this move, much to my surprise and Brian’s I believe.  Not that I don’t miss my old friends, I’m just really okay with where I am and what I’m doing so I don’t get  down about being gone.  It would be great to be on the same time zone so I could call people.  Not that it’s impossible, but it has to be planned out.  My bedtime is a good time to chat when the kids are down, but all my friends are rushing to get kids breakfast and out the door so they don’t miss the bus.  By the time that winds down for them I’m tired and my eyelids are droopy.  I honestly think I might fall asleep on the phone if I called which is a bit rude.

Two weeks ago Brian was going to work late and a friend was dropping a new gal off at 7am to join us for playgroup later that day.  All by myself in the lobby I waited.  When they weren’t exactly on time I meandered over to the mail room to see if anything was there. To my great surprise there was something there and not just your usual boring bank statements.  We got a letter.  Our first letter.  I went back to the lobby to sit and tore it open.  It was a Valentine (Christmas) card from the Arveseth family.  Beautiful picture of their family.  It was so great to sit and think about old times.  That’s when the tears started to slowly seep from my eyes.  My heart ached to be home for just a few minutes. 

Funny though, they moved from Virginia over two years ago. It’s just that she was one of those people that come into your life at the right time and help you through the “stuff” thrown at you in life and a deep genuine friendship is forged. She’ll always be special.  And that is what I was missing about home not Costco or cheddar cheese or Special K or snow.  I want my good, close friends with history back.  I miss my daily talks with Lucinda as we drop off the boys after the bus stop.  One of my first days here I had to wake Jacob from his nap to go to the bus to get Ben and for a split second I thought to myself, “I could just call Lucinda and she’ll grab the boys.” 

Right now I look around my neighborhood and at church and all I see is near strangers. I think I’m tired.  I just don’t have the energy to put into new friendships.  Doing simple things takes all my available time in the day here because I’m tethered to our apartment for Jake’s afternoon nap and the bus stop pick up.

I have been hanging out with Jenny and Lyndi a lot the last few weeks.  It has been fantastic.  Jenny lived down the road in Virginia so we knew each other a little before we came, now she lives literally across the street.  I’ll be sad to move far from her, but I have a car and she’s becoming a good adventure buddy so we’ll still get together sometimes.  Lindy lives in the same serviced apartments as us.  She was sent here when she started having trouble with her pregnancy in Jakarta.  Her baby came about two months early and her family was in Jakarta still.  After baby Colin was released from the NICU her younger two came to stay with her making great playmates for Jake and Maddie.  She leaves for home again the day before we move. Life is about to change again in a pretty major way.

I’m not sure if I’m really homesick or not.  I haven’t been sad again before or since we got the card.  We got a fun package a few days later for the kids from Anthony and Becca.  It was a hit.  My living room widows are covered with gel clings that move around every day.  Hopefully today I will mail some things home, like the Netflix movie we forgot to mail in before we moved.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Feel...

·         Sad to leave downtown.  Our time is quickly coming to an end here and we’ll be far from everything before I know it.

·         Excited to have my own pillow and bed again after two long months with an aching neck and back.

·         Red faced.  Like a sophomore boy breaking out with acne and there are mirrors everywhere you turn here to remind me (elevators, the house, stores).

·         Tired. I could get a good nights sleep every single day and still want a two hour nap.  That is what comes to a person with a life not filled with purpose.

·         Eager to set up house.  It will be great to be close to the school and loads of young friends on the same street for afternoon playdates.

·         Grateful Ben has adjusted to school so incredibly well. He was my main worry for this entire move.

·         Distracted by non-important things.

·         Motivated to organize.  I want to dejunk all the paperwork and buy a few binders to organize them.  Should give me a head start when we get into the new place.

·         Confused about how to clean house here.  It’s just different.  I probably need to make up a schedule so I know what I’ve done so things don’t fall through the cracks.

·         Thrilled that driving is no big deal.  It’s been just fine so far, though I admit that I float to the left of the lane and have to remember to stay right.  When I hit a neighborhood street with minimal traffic I freak out and get totally confused about what side of the road to drive on.  People park on both sides of the road with cars pointing in both directions so you have to drive on both sides just to weave through the parking lot and it messes with my head.

·         Indifferent about the cost of groceries.  We just gotta eat stuff we like to be happy and survive right now.  We’ll save money later, though I am finding a few tricks and some cheaper stores.

·         Surprised every single day when the bus stop alarm goes off and we have to go get Ben.  How do the days fly by so quickly and we can only get one thing done each day?


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cooking Adventures, Grazing and Weight Loss

Sunday dinners prove to be hard here.  It’s the day I want a good, hearty, home cooked meal.  Unfortunately, cooking here feels a bit more like cooking at a campout.  Minimal dishes, sparse food selection at the store, no base ingredients stocked in the pantry.  Today was just one of those days.  I tried my best but karma wasn’t on my side.

I bought what was labeled a “slow cooker” in the store, hoping to replace my beloved crockpot.  It was obviously quite different, so I knew it would not be exactly what I had hoped.  I waited two weeks before I broke it out to use it.  Thursday night I made pork chops.  It usually takes 4 – 6 hours and they are soft, juicy and fall apart with a fork.  I put them in at 1:30pm and the whole thing was cooked and ready to serve by 2:45pm (of course Brian got home at 7pm that night).  So much for the SLOW part of the slow cooker name.

Today I had a 15 bean dry soup mix on the menu.  Knowing my slow cooker wasn’t going to be slow I waited until 4pm to begin.  I put it on low since it seems to have more heating power than I really want.  Then we went swimming for an hour.  At 5 o’clock I came back upstairs to stir the pot and add the flavoring.  I guess I put it too low.  Even though it had clicked “ON” and the lights lit up when I set the thing, it was only on the “keep warm” setting.  I cranked it up to high and started thinking of dinner alternatives which is what led us to grazing tonight.

Grazing is the term we learned from Anthony when he and my sister lived with us for a year in Houston.  It basically means cleaning out the fridge. Tonight I warmed some alfredo, spaghetti and green beans.  We all sat at the table but since the quantities were a bit small I decided to wait and eat whatever the kids didn’t finish.  Brian must have figured out what was going on because he didn’t dish up anything either.  After a while I smiled at him and asked, “Do you think if I skip dinner tonight all together that I’ll lose ten pounds?”  He smiled and asked if that was just tonight or a daily plan.  We laughed but the kids caught onto what we were saying.

Ben asked, “Why do you want to lose ten pounds?”

I explained that sometimes when a person eats too much or exercises too little their body starts to store fat.  Showing signs he didn’t totally understand what I meant prompted me to grab a chunk of flab from my stomach and point out that while I wasn’t super huge, I would probably be better if I exercised that fat away.

Maddie jumped in at that point and said with the most disgusted look I have seen on her face her entire life, “I wish your stomach was normal. It’s poking out down here on the bottom of your tummy.  I wish it was just straight instead of with a bump like that.”

Sometimes she cracks me up.  I hope she reads this some day when she is in her 30s and calls me up to apologize.


We Got A Great Parking Spot - You Can Thank Me Later

Last night I went to the adult session of Stake Conference.  Twice a year our church has all the congregations in the area (in our case the 9 congregations in the country) meet together.  Saturday afternoon the men have a meeting, Saturday evening the adults, Sunday morning everyone in the family.  Usually it’s a pretty good meeting.  At least that is what I recall from seven years ago before Ben was born.  Brian has gone twice a year since forever, but I usually got stuck with kid duty because we’re too cheap to pay for a babysitter or not organized enough to plan ahead and they all get taken.  Brian has translated the live meetings into Spanish for as long as I can remember in Houston and Fairfax and over time he became the head honcho in charge of the translating gig so he was obligated to attend.  That meant I stayed home for the bedtime routine since the meeting is from 6-8pm.  (Actually the Soderborgs watched our kids a couple times so I did go on occasion, but not since they moved in 2009.)


When stake conference came up again this weekend, Brian suggested that I could go this time.  I hadn’t been able to get a cheap baby sitter and wasn’t excited to pay $100 for a sitter arranged through our apartments.  He stayed home and I went to the meeting, which was fantastic.  They talked on parenting this time and hit on all the things I’ve been thinking through and working on with Maddie in particular.  It was just what I needed.


Since the day we arrived in Singapore they have been announcing that we need to arrive almost an hour early to get parking on Sunday morning of Stake Conference.  Our congregation alone is too much for the parking at the building here, so add in 8 other congregations and you’re in big trouble.  Last night after the meeting, I ended up going to dinner with friends.  Turns out they lock the gates at the church and it was nearing 11pm when we finished dinner.  The car stayed at the building last night.  The good news?  We’ve got a parking spot!  Just have to take a taxi to get to church this morning.  Brian can thank me later for my sweet parking spot.  I’ll bet we’re the first ones there this morning.  Well, at least our car will be there first even if we run late.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pinewood Derby Construction

Ben’s Pinewood Derby car is coming along quite nicely. We received the pinewood derby kit last Saturday giving us only one week to prepare it.  Unfortunately, when we came to Singapore we sent all of our tools to storage (not that that mattered—they would still be on the slow boat if we had included them in our shipment).  I made a run to the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself Homefix) store in the mall next door to pick up a saw to shape the car.  No coping saws available, only hack saws.  Ben drew his design on the car using pieces of the car’s box as a ruler and straight edge.  We did the best we could to shape the car to Ben’s specifications using the hacksaw, letting Ben do most of the cutting.  We did have to advise Ben to revise his design a couple of times to make sure he left enough wood so the nose and tail didn’t break off before the race.  I didn’t see any sandpaper in the D.I.Y. store so all of the hacksaw’s rough edges still remain.  Ben’s master plan is that he will decorate it tonight…with colored pencil.  Let’s just say that there won’t be any questions about if mom or dad built this car.  It’s all his and it’s totally perfect.  He’s so proud of his hard work.

My Master?

Maddie water colored this beautiful paper purse yesterday while Ben was painting his pinewood derby car.  Today she brought me the purse and asked me to write our phone number in it.  I obliged, but then asked the obvious question. 

“Why did you want your phone number written inside your purse?”

“So if I ever get by myself and am all alone, I can show it to someone. Then they will know our phone number so they can return me to my master.”
“Um.  Who is your master?”
“You, of course,” came the reply with a genuine sugary sweet smile and head tilt as she cuddled into my body so my arm wrapped around her.


Kids say the darndest things.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that Maddie had a complete and total nuclear melt down at Ethne’s house this morning.  Kicking and hitting me and screaming at the top of her lungs so I couldn’t even apologize as we left because I couldn’t be heard. I could tell Jenny was secretly enjoying it (as all moms do sometimes) because it brings joy to your heart to know your kid isn’t the only disaster on the planet.


The good news.  Maddie earned her little self a nap.  Two kids are sleeping now.  I got dinner cooking already and it is only about 1:30 in the afternoon.  We’ve made enough progress on the pinewood derby car in the last two days that we’re not frantic yet to make the Saturday deadline and Ben is proud of his work so far.  I checked my email and nothing is pressing.  Now I should sit down and relax and watch a little tv while I reconcile bank accounts.  Fun times.


·         Pencils here don’t have erasers.  You have to buy those separate.

·         Staplers only come in compact sizes like I used to carry in my backpack in high school (one random teacher insisted we staple our work before handing in and wouldn’t let us use hers so I brought one and everyone used it).

·         Elevators actually close when you push the “doors close” button.

·         Any room in your house that has water will be lowered about 2 inches so you must step down to enter and up to exit.  Careful not to trip.

·         Air conditioning is on a room by room basis.  And maids/helpers don’t ever get it in their rooms.

·         Pedestrians don’t necessarily have the right of way on the road.  If a taxi driver hits you in a crosswalk they are fined $1,000.  If you’re not in a crosswalk they get no penalty.  And they drive to reflect that fact.

I can’t ever remember all the weird and different things here when I sit down to write.  Ugh.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

As Requested....

This post is for Cath who wanted to see a picture of my generally unkept mop.  I thought this one was as good as any.  We went to her place to say goodbye when they moved in Nov 2008.  She was so cute and I was, well, me.  Probably didn’t even comb my hair before I put it back that morning in a fancy ponytail.  I just remember stopping for a picture and feeling totally a mess.  On the up side, true friends don’t really care.  Love ya Cath!!




Muttering dialog overheard while Ben was sorting his spelling words.  “sn, snail, snowman, snap, snake, snow, sw, swim, sweater, where is the homework machine, I want to find it and go break it, swing, swan, switch….”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cute Hair

Guess what.  My hair is actually cute. It looks really good today. And it can be that way every day.  Except that it is only 8:30 am and I’m still in my air conditioning.  In twenty minutes I’m taking Jacob to the neighbor’s house to play so I can take Maddie on the bus to the eye doctor for a checkup.  I have some pretty exceptional hair when it comes to the humidity frizz look framing my face. It just won’t lay down.  I hate it.

Every day I have to make a choice.  Either I can look good with my hair down and styled or stay cool in two ponytails so I don’t pass out (it’s too short to work in just one pony tail right now).  And I’ve been light headed a lot lately so I’m drinking lots of water all day and keeping cool .  My poor husband may never again see me looking good.  He leaves too early for me to be showered and cleaned up in the morning and gets home about 8 hours after I’ve first ventured outside to ruin any work I may have vainly attempted. I have thought several times that it was probably a total waste to buy a hair dryer and straightener.  What’s the point?

I am wishing for some nice cool Virginia snow weather right now.  You know, so I can look good for just one short day.  I’m trying so hard to remember how I managed in Houston, but my recollection is that I didn’t really ever look outstanding and defaulted to ponytails daily, especially when I worked in the refinery and wore steel toed boots and fire proof jumpsuits with a hard hat.  I was really stylin’ then.  Sigh.