Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I’ve always been interested in politics.  It was great to live near DC where it all happens.  I really love it all.  I think I like it even more here.  We just got notice that Maddie’s school will be closed on Monday, May 9.  Singapore is holding their general elections on Saturday the 7th and in order to increase voter participation they make it mandatory that companies give a day off to their employees.  In my reasoning I think it’s so they can spend the day before researching and make a good choice when they cast their ballot.  Notice however that Maddie’s teachers have the day off two days after the election.  Oh well.


I forwarded the email from her school to Brian.  He replied back that he also gets the day off but in the form of a vacation day he can take any day in the year.  Nice.  I love politics!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mind Games

On our trip to Bintan this week I found myself at the end of the day lying on my bed watching nothing important. I was planning what I needed to do when I got home. Top of my list was to run to Wal-mart on Roberts Road to pick up some stuff. I had some subconscious recollection that it had been a long time since I had stocked up on things.

Later the same night I flipped through the news which showed the political candidates running for office in Singapore. They were canvasing and talking with people in the markets and hawker stalls. For just a second I thought how it had been fun to see people live like that and now we head home the next afternoon. Then it hit me. That is my life now. Hawker stands on every corner. No Wal-mart to be found.

Isn't it odd that the mind can play tricks on us? I really did think I was heading back to Fairfax, Virginia today. I'm not sad exactly. The Hyatt family arrived last week. That will be fun for us and we are having fun in our new life. We had Easter dinner at our house with Shon and Juli's family and the Hyatts. It was a fun and rowdy dinner party for 20. After dinner Jana said she thought that I look deeply happy here. She's right. Now if my mind can just remember there is no longer Wal-mart in my vocabulary.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Indonesia Here We Come!

Bintan Indonesia is just a 50 minute ferry ride away from Singapore. My brother and his family are here for just over a week and he promised his kids three new stamps their passports. Singapore. Check. Indonesia. Check. We return Wednesday. Thursday or Friday will be a quick trip to malaysia.

I am so happy here. It's like were finally getting around to fulfilling the terms of our verbal prenup. I got married at the ripe old age of 20 but didn't want life to be "over" then. I wanted to finish my college degree (took 3 more years), work a bit as an engineer (worked 2 years), wait a while to have kids (waited 5 years) and travel the world (only just beginning this one after 12 years marriage). Traveling is much more complicated with 3 kids but still so totally worth the wait.

For the record, Brian had conditions too. We had to have out infamous finance date. It was that day that I was first introduced to the software program Quicken. We had to input every penny we would spend as a married couple each month to make sure we could afford to live as a married couple. It was that day I learned my true value. We ended up $84 in the red every month in our electronic mock up of our life. He proposed anyway and we're still happily in love twelve years, twelve moves and three kids later.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Mom, I need to have squatting lessons.”

She tried the squat toilets at the office building we had dinner in.

“I had to take of my pants and underwear so they didn’t get wet.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Electric Bill

I almost croaked when I saw a $623 electric bill for 17 days of service. I try to open the windows as much as I can but sometimes I just need air con! It is hot and miserably humid 24-7 here.

On further inspection $300 was a new account and it includes water and trash all on one bill. Unfortunately that will probably just be the size of our bills here. I hear $600 is conservative. $700 is normal. $800 and up is liberal use of the air con. I've got to make sure we always turn them off when we leave a room for sure now!


Laundry - I tried hanging my laundry to dry on my new drying rack.  Should save energy and money.  Went okay. Last night I sprayed Ben’s school uniform with stain removing stuff and left outside on the washing machine to let it work overnight.  This morning it went in the second load of the day.  When I picked it up it was positively yellow almost over the entire front and right sleeve but white on the left sleeve, collar and spot in the middle where I hadn’t sprayed.  Washed.  Still yellow.  Soaked in oxidizer for a few hours to whiten again.  Slight change.  Not sure what to do from here.  I guess bleach is my next step.


Bills – Got a bill from Fairfax County regarding our personal property tax for the cars we sold in January.  Brian had already notified them we sold them.  Tried to update their records using their online system again.  Did two different transactions, one for each vehicle.  Got the same confirmation number for each transaction.  Obviously it didn’t work right.  Again.  Decided I can still make the May 1 deadline if I mail today.  Set it aside on the kitchen table and went to get Ben from school.  Come back to address the form and it’s missing.  Search all over.  Give up.  An hour later I notice it on another table near the front door.  Or was it.  There was a part of the letter/bill.  Maddie had taken it to make me a Mother’s Day card while she made the ones for the grandmas.  Sweet thought.  Now I have no form to mail back.  Unless I can scavenge all the scraps from the recycle bin and tape it together.  That could actually be funny if I included it with a note about why my form was all chopped up.


Mother’s Day – thinking I would be amazingly organized I had Maddie decorate the cards for grandmas today.  She drew a picture of her in one card.  In the other one she says, “I drew some scribbles so they would think it was from Jake.  I don’t want them to think he didn’t love them so they will think he sent a card too now.”  Oh yeah, she totally denies it, but the Mother’s Day cards are a little chopped up too around the edges. “It wasn’t me, mom. I don’t know who cut up the edges of grandmas card.”  Lying has been a bit of a problem this last week in particular.


Cleaning – Yesterday I got a lot of work done on the unpacking again.  Everyone preforms better with deadlines it seems and mine is that my brother and his fun family arrive early Thursday morning to stay for a little more than a week.  We’re totally excited but I used that as an excuse to make myself get a few more boxes put away.  It worked.  Jakes room has one half full box left (just need a smaller box to compact things into then put it in the closet).  Ben and Maddie’s room is box free!!  Don’t open the wardrobes though.  Something is likely to come tumbling out.  I also cleared the wet kitchen almost completely.  Too bad the main living area is still a bit cluttered.  At least it’s all boxed and along the walls.


Exercise – Jake started begging first thing this morning for a walk.  “It walking time.  It walking time mom!” he said all morning long.  I held him off long enough to get Maddie on the bus before I had to cave.  We walked the hot and humid streets for over an hour.  He rode his bike and was completely happy.  When we got home he “helped” me sweep the leaves off the grass since we don’t own a rake.  Then we scooped them all into a bag and the front of the house looks lots better.


Humidity – Part of cleaning off the wet kitchen counter was tidying up the storage room and trying to make strategic decisions about what I could store in our outdoor storage.  We already have just the tiniest little bit of mold growing on my vinyl casserole dish carrying case.  Time to reorder and organize instead of just throwing stuff on shelves to get rid of the boxes.  I closed up the storage room and put a couple Thirsty Hippos in there.  I’ll check it in a week and do a mold check to see if that will cut it or not.  My honest guess is that it won’t work.  Not sure what good the space is if I can’t put anything in there at all.  I know, it’s the maid/helpers room.  I’m just not ready for that yet.


Dejunking – I can hardly wait for the community yard sale in just three weeks.  I’m trying so hard to be patient and wait to get things.  I have to borrow a vacuum each day the cleaning ladies come until I buy one.  Patience.  Patience.  I figure 20-30% of the neighborhood probably moves out each summer back to their country so we’re hoping to score lots of great things like a vacuum, toaster, iron, etc.  Because of the power difference those things won’t work for them when they leave.  One thing I didn’t expect was that in the unpacking, I’ve come up with quite a pile of things to get rid of myself.  I tried to pack strategically.  I did pretty well, but I’m still finding stuff we don’t need and it’s just taking up space in our house.  Precious space in the “no mold indoor zone.”  Okay, the “less likely to mold indoor zone.”  It’s just too humid here.


Time to walk the neighbor home, borrow a vacuum and make dinner.  Back to real life. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Curse of the Cheap Man

Being cheap like we are we bought the powder like refill for our color laser printer. It has been giving us warnings that it is almost out of ink since January. Finally it quit so Brian refilled the cartridge. Today I got the prettiest print job I've ever gotten. If it was for a cute little handout for a Sunday school lesson maybe it would be cool. Not quite so cute if it's for finance records. Sigh. Sometimes taking the cheap route has it's down sides. At least the yellow isn't leaving pretty speckles. I guess we only have to clean two cartridges instead of three.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jakey Quotes

Can you believe I can title a blog post “Jakey Quotes”?  He’s no baby anymore and like his two older siblings, he speaks incredibly well.  In fact sometimes I laugh at his extreme enunciation and his word choices despite his random stuttering.


Tonight Maddie Mae was screaming and crying in the bathtub because I was making her lay down and tilt her head back to keep the water out of her eyes when I rinsed her hair.  Jakey says, “Don’t worry Maddie Mae.  I still love you if you lay down over there.”


“Dat my money fwum Ginia.  I got that money in Ginia because I got it in Ginia,” was what he said when he saw a one dollar coin on my night stand.  All money in the house that he finds is his money.  I guess he bases his earnings on the finders keepers philosophy.  He usually carries around whatever coin he has confiscated for about an hour before he misplaces it or loses interest.

Told Ya So

See. My mailman really does drive a moped.

Sufficient Motivation

I have thought many times that the helpers and maids sure do wash and vacuum the cars of their employers a lot. Now I find out that if you eat in your car it is not uncommon to get roach infestation in your car! Holy cow. The things I am learning in this place never cease to amaze me.

I have since vacuumed our car thoroughly and will now seriously consider banning food from the car entirely. I'm pretty sure i would have a car accident if a roach crawled across my arm while i was driving.

Harmless Afternoon Fun with a Crossbow

We found the marshmallow crossbow about a week ago. Only just the day before Maddie and I had eaten the last of the marshmallows. Wednesday Richard brought more. Thursday I put them away and Ben couldn't find them. Today we have time to burn so he loaded it up and asked what was permissible in our new house to use for target practice.
So here I lay on the couch with my two boys. Ben and i taking turns shooting marshmallows up to the second story balcony, laughing our heads off and Jake does the fetching. It's a happy Friday on Beechwood Grove.

Ahhh...Normal Life

I looked at my calendar this morning and thought "Wow that is busy!" Then I realized I'm back to a normal Angie life and it made me laugh. I'm watching kids three times today and have cub scout pack meeting too. I guess we must be settled so let the crazy begin!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Maddie Ballet Class

I signed Maddie up for ballet class today. She loves it. The commute is not bad at all and Jake can come with her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Am the Toaster

In keeping with tradition I was missing one staple ingredient for dinner tonight. The things you don't put on the grocery list because you already have it at home. Tonight I made Absolute sure that I had everything to make BLTs. Then it was time to make the toast. Dang it! We don't have a toaster! Curses! Luckily Brian stepped up to save the day. "I am the toaster!"

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Winging a Nack

This morning Jacob wasn't in the mood for the typical apple, orange or banana snack I offered. Instead he wanted to attack the treats he found at the playgroup Easter egg hunt last week. I figured we might as well. He gets Left out of plenty of things the big kids get and heck, it's his candy anyway. He is really happy today going back and forth from me at the table to the kitchen table. I love it when he says "I wing a nack!"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Missing This

Claudia posted about her amazing photo safari.  I would give most anything to have gone with her.  Her pictures are great, even if it was a frigid morning.  I hate knowing I missed the blossoms this year.  It’s one of my favorite parts of spring in DC.

Friday, April 8, 2011

State of the Union

Ben has a play date over this afternoon from his class/our street/church.  Carson walked into our house which is still a bit strewn with the remnants of boxes mostly unpacked on the main level.  Those pesky things that don’t have an actual home yet, things that could be considered accessories to life by some and junk by others.  He looks around and quickly assesses the situation with the comment, “Your house is still a little bit boring.”  Not sure how that should be interpreted I asked what would make it not quite so boring to which he replied, “You should probably clean up all the stuff all over the place.”  Then he went into the tv room upstairs to play Wii with Ben, “Yeah.  This room is boring too.” 

I’m totally cracking up.  If boring was all it was, I’d be okay with it.  To me it’s cluttered, ugly and looks unsettled.  Still working, but we’ve come a long, long way since last Monday morning.  It’s been a busy day today.  We got Ben off to school, then Maddie Mae on the bus, Jacob wanted to go swimming in our little pool, then the handyman showed up, then the landlords agent to check on the handyman, then the picture hanging guys, a good chat with Lucinda until the middle of her night, got the kids ready for a bike ride to pick up Ben at school and finally we’re home.  Not much time for unpacking. 

The agent noticed right off as she saw me attempt to unload a box and get called away to help Jacob time and time again for drinks, carrying something, cutting his paper, helping with glue, fixing a toy.  “I bet you can’t get much done with your children here, then they probably take apart everything you just put away,” she said as we gingerly stepped over the Dora doll house to assess the awful noise the air con was making in the playroom.  Yes!!  And thank you someone for noticing!  Sometimes I need a little validation that I’m doing okay around here.  My only help is the cable TV.  I used it a lot last week, but decided after the big push to find basic essentials to live here that I needed to not use it so much as a crutch this week.  Net result is lots less accomplished.  Hopefully the relationship building we’ve done this week spending one on one time with each of the kids outweighs any degree of cleanliness and order in the house that would have been obtained by one more round of Mickey Mouse Club on the boob tube.

Oh yeah, a side note.  I doubt I’ve ever hung pictures in a house before I have been there about six months.  I’m pleased to say that part of our moving package was picture hanging and it was an absolute dream.  Twelve days after getting the keys to our place we are nicely decorated!  Thank you ExxonMobil.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Living the Dream Life - It's Not My House

We do all our own home repairs.  Basically have since we bought our first house in 2002.  Today I typed up a little email detailing all the random stuff that is not working in our place here and sent it off to the agent to tell the landlord.  Things like the air con in two rooms is really, really loud like something is off its track, the back door doesn’t actually lock, bathroom door is warped so bad it won’t shut, etc.


Can you say dream life?  If we had bought this place, I’d be making a mental list of all the home projects and fix up things we need to do in order to make the house in good order.  Basically a list of all the things that would suck up all available time on every single Saturday.  Sometimes home ownership stinks.  I had to smile as I hit “send” knowing it wasn’t my problem.  Sweet life I tell you.


If my blog had a “like” button, I would have totally pushed it for your comment about our geckos. 


Courtney - “I’m still trying to decide if this is better or worse than a mouse... I'm going with my standard expat answer/judgement "it's just different" “


It’s the PERFECT answer.  They scare the heck out of me when they bolt out of corners in front of my path, but they do gobble up the bugs in the house.  Good?  Bad?  Yep.  Just different.


When do you move?  And where???


I forgot to wheel the trash can to the road.  Diaper/trash update will have to wait until tomorrow.  Don’t worry, it’s already on the curb now so I can’t forget tonight or in the morning.  I so totally wanted to run after the trash guy as I saw them drive past this morning.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Load Two of Four

So excited!

Trash in Singapore

When we met with the landlords I asked what I thought was a totally normal question.  “What day is trash day?”  They looked at me a little weird and replied, “Everyday.”  My response?  “What?  You mean they pick up trash every single day?  What a waste of resources (time, money, gas, manpower)!!” 

Of course I have no say in the matter, so I dutifully put my kitchen trash out in the green bin provided and delivered it to the street to be emptied.  They took it.  Blah, blah, blah. After a few days I noticed that we were getting flies in our trash can.  Didn’t take long to realize that there were stinky diapers sitting in there.  Ugh.   I guess they’ll dump them tomorrow.  Nope.  Still there. Now we have three, four, five days of diapers in there.  What am I doing wrong? This morning I happened to see the trash truck come through and watched.

Turns out they open the lid, take out the sack and put it in the garbage truck.  They don’t lift and dump the cans at all.  No wonder the stinky diaper pile was growing each day.  I immediately undertook the unpleasant task of retrieving a weeks worth of dirty, stinky diapers that had festered in the heat for nearly a week in the can in the hot sun.

Tomorrow is the big day.  They are bagged and ready.  Trash can on the road.  Please, please, please take those stinky diapers away from my front yard Mr. Garbage Man.  I chalk this up to just one more bump on the learning curve of life in Singapore.  I thought I was doing a good thing by taking the stinky diapers outside and tossing each one into the trash each time I changed Jacob.  Lesson learned.  Bag it with the rest of the trash or it’s gonna stick around a long, long time.


Side Note – Recycling is only once a week.  After eight days they haven’t taken my recycling either and I haven’t caught the truck to know yet.  I bagged all my recycling and will leave it out all week to figure that one out too.


Other random things? 

**The streets got swept twice last week. That’s what you have to do when there is no change in season.  There is no autumn so leaves fall down all year round and they have to be cleaned up somehow.

**My mailman rides a moped and a helmet to deliver the mail.  Does that make you laugh as much as it does me?

Wish List

We’re into our new house in Singapore.  We were told to plan on a much smaller and more compact living space.  We were told dressers wouldn’t fit but that each room would have a wardrobe.  We planned accordingly. I sold stuff and left lots of things home.  Even downgraded our crib and changing table to be smaller and lighter (downgraded size only not quality, actually it all matches now and we love it – thanks Lucinda!).

Our townhome in Virginia was about 2100 sq ft.  This place is 3300 sq ft.  And we have lots of “stuff” with no where to put it.  TVs are on the ground.  The kids books are piled on the floor.  The laptop is always on the kitchen table messing up eating time because I’m always in the middle of a project with papers strewn about (okay, that part is exactly the same as Virgina).  We have no desk for the kids to color on so they color on the floors since they are all hardwood or marble.

Each day Brian goes off to work and I stay home to organize the house.  It’s getting really hard to organize the place with no where to put stuff.  I’m definitely in that stage of unpacking where you’ve done the absolute necessary for survival stuff and now you wonder what to do with all the rest of it.

Saturday we found ourselves at Ikea making a wish list of furniture pieces we would like to make our space both more useable and attractive.  The big kids got to stay and play in the Ikea kid play place while we shopped with an overly energetic Jacob.  We settled on a couple pieces we liked well enough to keep long term. I’m so grateful we have the same basic taste in furniture.  We never disagree on style, just sometimes on functionality.

Tuesday morning I check my email and the Woodlands yahoo group came to the rescue.  Someone is selling almost exactly what we wanted in a dark wood stain instead of black.  Right now Brian is making four trips to pick up the four pieces of furniture.  (Darn mini-van.  I NEED my truck back.) 

Original price tag of all new items we picked about $1,000 (that’s why it’s called a wish list). 

Actual price paid for used furniture in pristine condition - $300

Score one for the Zufelts!!

The Nag

Have you read any of those funny auto corrections that cell phones do with your text messages?  Sometimes they are really hilarious.  This one is not.  When I sign my name on an email or text with someone I know, I typically put just “Ang” instead of Angie because it’s shorter.  It gets auto corrected to “Nag.”




Our New Helpful Friends

Meet one of our new roommates. This guy is small. The one I almost stepped on this afternoon was tiny. The one I startled the other night on the ceiling was huge and ran really, really fast. Then he jumped from the ceiling to the round banister in the middle of the stairs, landed perfectly, ran around to the bottom and stuck there for at least half an hour or longer until I went back upstairs to bed.

Bike building

I think if you have to work for what you get you appreciate it more. To that end I taught my two year old how to assemble his own bike today. Just kidding. He sure had fun helping though. This kid is incredibly interested in doing and touching everything.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Upgrade Your Education

Frankly, I thought Fairfax County was offering a pretty good education.  I was totally satisfied with what I saw and thought our teachers both years and the office staff and principle were fantastic.


Then I went to Singapore American School.  Something about it just screams upgrade.  The quantity of laminated stuff on the walls, each teacher has an assistant full time,  nice tidy campus, zillions of extra offerings (of course at a cost, but they do offer swim, yoga, karate, science masters, soccer, dance, etc.), student trips to Cambodia or China to experience the culture.  I walked over to pick up Ben on his first day as a walker and went with the teacher to pick the kids up at the science lab.  It was amazing to see all the tanks and plants and models and things in the room and a dedicated science teacher to go with it.  Even the elementary school has a swimming pool and it is part of the curriculum.  Because they have so many specials with teachers, the regular classroom teacher has more room to manage and concentrate on the kids in their class.  With the help of the teacher’s assistant they not only do individual reading rooms like in American classrooms, but spelling test are made for small groups too at individual levels.

I can’t put my finger on the real, big difference, but that tuition definitely does make a difference.  I’ll be happy back in Fairfax but we’re going to enjoy SAS for now.



Friday, April 1, 2011

[SgFreecycle] Digest Number 2894

I’ve been a member of Freecycle for many, many years.  It’s a group that tries to keep things out of landfills by giving away things they aren’t using anymore for free to other Freecyclers.  It’s been great so I joined here in Singapore.  I almost always get a laugh reading the postings here.  I obviously speak a different language that these people, even if it is still English.  What do you think?  Should I reply to this guy and hand over all my diaries with my deepest innermost secrets to a total stranger?




Posted by:

Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:17 pm (PDT)

Hi am interested in your diaries... the one slightly smaller than A4. Actually if you don't mind can I see them to see what type of format they are?

Please call me at ********. I will definitely take one off your hands.