Brian was reading the scriptures tonight to the family at bedtime. He was talking about Jacob being a prophet. Out of nowhere our little Jacob called out, “NO! I NOT A PROPHET!!” And I thought he wasn’t listening.
Monday, May 30, 2011
As if Sacrament Meeting wasn’t enough yesterday, I teach primary too. Our congregation is so large that there are 25 kids born just in the year 2004 (6 girls and 19 boys). That should merit three classes, but because our building just doesn’t have that kind of space (most the other classes from three year olds to ten year olds have a similar problem). For now we are split into two classes, leaving me to teach twelve kids each week and unless someone is traveling, all twelve families are active and they attend weekly.
My class is a bunch of wiggly, active kindergarten and first graders. It’s been a challenge establishing expectations of behavior. I guess they haven’t had a long term regular teacher in a very long time. I’m making progress, but sometimes I’m just not sure what to do. I even have a set of twins that are super busy. They are real cute and want my attention all the time. I’m developing good relationships with all of them. They smile and yell “HI SISTER ZUFELT!!!” across the school yard when the ones at Ben’s school see me.
Yesterday during Sharing Time (the kid meeting with music time and a fun lesson and all the classes together) Eli wouldn’t stay sitting and his mouth was going about a mile a minute no matter what I said to him about listening or singing. I often have to put my arm around his shoulders to keep him focused and seated. Actually, I have to do it often anyway because despite the amount of room on the pew, he scoots right up next to me or tries to sit on my lap and nuzzles his way under my arm on purpose.
With one arm around his shoulders already, I finally took the other hand and covered his mouth with my other hand. “This is what I should be hearing right now during the lesson, right?” I said to him. He looked me straight in the eyes so he knew I was paying attention and slowly licked all over my entire hand. Yuck. Using my superior intelligence, I then slowly removed my hand, revealing a huge grin on his face. As he began to tell me, “See, you shouldn’t cover my mouth,” or something along those lines, I slowly wiped my hand dry across his nose and forehead. “That’s disgusting!!” he exclaimed. “Yep. Sure is gross when your face has slobber all over it.” I said. Wonder if he’ll do that again. Wonder if they’ll fire me. J At least I’m having fun with my cute bunch of ruffians.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
I can’t say for certain, but he was smart to take the overpass railing instead of try to dodge the cars on the eight-lane expressway.
Driving yesterday I saw something that made me do a double take. Approaching an underpass on the expressway I saw a dark silhouette crossing the top of a bridge crossing the highway. It looked like something I would picture seeing in National Geographic film. It was a monkey skillfully running across the top of the metal railing.
I still cannot get used to seeing monkeys everywhere. They are like the local squirrel. We hear there are squirrels around as well, but the monkeys just appear to be everywhere. They run around everywhere, including backyards in some portions of the island. I saw a monkey at the Pottery Jungle (a local pottery store). Near the cashier is an ice cream freezer. I understand a local monkey sneaks into the freezer and steals the ice cream. The shop owner hisses at the monkey to try to scare it away. The monkey just hisses back.
Our Sunday services are designed to allow time for personal reflection and introspection each week. We partake of the sacrament every Sunday to remind us of Jesus and his atonement for our sins. After opening song, prayer and announcements are made we sing a reverent sacrament hymn and the congregation is quiet as first the bread and then the water representing Christ’s body and blood respectively are passed to each individual. It can be a wonderful time to ponder God, life and how I am doing or what things I need to reconcile with the Lord over and repent to become more like Jesus. Here are the first two verses of the hymn we sung today:
Reverently and meekly now,
Let thy head most humbly bow.
Think of me, thou ransomed one;
Think what I for thee have done.
With my blood that dripped like rain,
Sweat in agony of pain,
With my body on the tree
I have ransomed even thee.
In this bread now blest for thee,
Emblem of my body see;
In this water or this wine,
Emblem of my blood divine.
Oh, remember what was done
That the sinner might be won.
On the cross of Calvary
I have suffered death for thee.
Here is what I think I sung today:
Reverently and meekly now,
Let thy head –Jacob quiet
Think of me, thou – No. Stop.
Think what – Give me that. – have done.
Don’t hit the bench with the markers – like rain,
No. I’ll take it away if you don’t stop.
With my body on the tree
Maddie, don’t laugh at him.
In this bread – Both of you quiet. – now blest for thee,
Please use a whisper voice.
In this water – No. That is not an inside voice.
Emblem of my blood divine.
Oh, remember – The Jesus pictures are at Jakes house in the other bag.
On the cross of Calvary (while Jake screamed “I NOT JESUS!”)
I know you’re not Jesus. I don’t have the pictures. – death for thee.
I just sung my new version of the hymn to Brian and asked how his side of the bench was today during sacrament. He said, “I had a little bit of that too. ‘Jacob, Maddie. Go back over to mom’s side.’” Punk husband I got, huh?
Maybe when they are teenagers I’ll get more out of church. There is a time and a season for everything, right?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I just spent the last few minutes searching online for pictures of “lizard poop” so I know what I’m looking for. Last week I finally bought a vacuum and put down ant bait/poison. The vacuum has made clean up better than when I swept I guess because I’ve seen almost no ants under the kitchen table all week. I scraped something black and sort of sticky off the floor earlier today. Now I’m thinking it might not have been food the kids spilled after all. Ewww!!
Today the cleaning lady said I probably have a lizard problem and should get traps for them. She said she found lots of poop all over the house. Not sure how much qualifies as “lots” because I hadn’t necessarily noticed any, but then again, I don’t know what I’m looking for. Thus the google search for poop. Of course I know we’ve got them. I’ve seen them. Several times. In the last week I’ve started to see lots of little baby ones too. And I’ve cleaned their poop off the walls (it doesn’t really come off all the way and leaves a discolored mark in the paint).
I also searched a bit for “lizard traps” which all seem to be means of trapping them with something sticky. Great. So I’ll wake up in the morning and have to kill all the lizards I caught because if I let them go they’ll come right back in the house. Plus, I need some lizards around to keep the other bugs away. I’m not sure how many I need though. Oh yeah, and do they really eat cockroaches. We’ve seen some of those disgusting bugs around the house too.
I may have to cave and pay for the exterminator after all. But at $120 every six weeks I’ll see what I can do on my own for a little while longer. Every new location comes with its learning curves. This is just one of them.
Welcome to the jungle!!
Monday, May 23, 2011
Jacob has been screaming for thirty minutes too. He napped an extra hour. Maddie has been first class whiny this afternoon. Let's hope they all don't have it.
Good news though. Power bill came in lower than I expected. Only $579. I was expecting $750-$800. All that sweating I did from April 11 to May 11 paid off after all.
I haven’t read a single blog in over a month. I decided after volunteering at the school this morning that Jake could watch a little Wonder Pets and Dora while I read. Kathi and I were talking over all our Houston friends last night so I started with my old young women/young men from church in Houston. I feel like such a slug now. Here I am on my couch with the laptop reading their blog updates. Guess what they are doing? Sewing everything under the sun for a baby that will arrive in a few weeks, graduating college, doing group projects, cleaning their houses, delivering new babies, working at their jobs, vocal performances, testing for Bachelors and Masters Degrees, helping their friends and setting goals.
These people are amazing. I had so much fun teaching them and loving them and am so proud to see all the good they are doing now. I should be more like them. J
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Maddie randomly called out to me at the kitchen table from the toilet yesterday.
“Mom, there is a tank inside my body and the poo is bigger than the tank so I just have to push it out.”
“Okay. How did you learn about the tank?”
“No one told me. I just figured it out by my own self because poo is smaller than my whole body but the toilet isn’t big enough to fit a poo as big as my whole body.”
Not really sure what I’m supposed to say after that.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Since our first summer interning in Texas during the summer of 2000 I have referred to hard rains as “Texas rain” to emphasize the huge quantity of water that can be spontaneously dumped from the sky. It was amazing to a Utah girl born and raised in the desert mountains. I think by the end of my time here in Singapore I may have edited my phrase to “Singapore rain.”
Every day I have to pick up Ben from the school. It’s a 4 minute walk door to door so I push a stroller or let the little kids ride bikes to go get him. The majority of days the weather is good. I suppose by good I simply mean not rainy, because I don’t actually consider miserable hot and humid to be “good” weather. In any case, yesterday it stormed really hard at about 2:30. It was a decent sized dumping and though the skies didn’t clear up to a pretty blue color they no longer looked threatening to me. When the alarm on my phone went off to leave for the school at 2:45 I grabbed Jake from his nap and laid him gently in the stroller for our daily walk.
We rushed down to the far end of campus to return the library books I had from the High School library and came back to get Ben. He was ready right on time in the lobby at 3:00 and we stopped to try to arrange a play date with a neighbor. We talked about two minutes and it began to rain. I don’t think the term “sprinkle” exists here. I haven’t seen it happen yet anyway. It started as sort of a normal to medium drop sized rain and I took off for home. About one minute of walking and I started running with the stroller. By the time I hit the school gate I was soaked to the skin and the guard yelled to me that next time I should bring my umbrella for the kids to hold. I just laughed. Too late now. Time to sprint with all I have in me to get these poor kids home!
Rounding the corner to our street I was splashing in massive puddles and the roads had spontaneously turned into rivers. Maddie had begun crying about how wet she was getting. I had so much water running down my face I couldn’t see through the water in my eyes. Harder and harder it came. I had to start wiping my face to see where I was going. It was unreal. I had so much water coming down on my head that I literally had the sensation that my head was breaking the surface of the water in a swimming pool coming up for a breath of air each time I tried to wipe the water off my face. Still it only yielded the tiniest bit of relief from the torrent of water. It was the only way I could even get a breath of air. How wild is that? Rain so heavy you have to shield your nose to take a breath of air!!
By the time I got to the house it had lightened up to more of a Texas sized rain event. You know, the standard by which I used to measure rain until we moved here.
And who was parked waiting for me at the house? The guy who picks up our cars and takes them for oil changes (I know, we live the sweet life – no more Jiffy Lube for us). He looked surprised by the sight I must have been and just smiled at us. He wisely waited until I had opened the gate so he could drive into our covered carport before getting out of our car to return the keys and I grabbed an umbrella to walk him back to the road to get in the car he would drive home.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I am beginning to see what is extra amazing here at SAS (Singapore American School) now.
Laminating and bulletin boards everywhere. Anyone that knows me knows that I have a bit of a laminating addiction. I brought only three plug in appliances from the states. The things I just couldn’t leave behind. They were my Kitchen Aid, my sewing machine and my beloved laminator so you know I appreciate seeing laminated stuff. Seems like they laminate the kids projects all the time and display them. Or bind them like a book. Or provide multiple fancy plastic folders. Everything is always printed big and in full color. They also have bright and colorful bulletin boards outside every classroom that are completely updated every few weeks and typically show the kids cool art work and writing samples.
There is a science teacher just for first grade (of course there are 13 first grade classes as opposed to 4 in a regular US elementary school). She has her own classroom with lab experiment supplies and the works. You walk in her classroom and you just know it’s going to be a cool lesson day. There are lots of hands on things to do and above the lab table up front a ten foot long giant mirror hanging from the ceiling like you see in college classrooms so you can see what the professor is doing on his table.
Art class is fantastic. I helped in Ben’s class during art time a couple times and it was lots of fun, but he never came home and talked about it. He comes home and tells me all about art class here. He talks about Monet and other artists and all he learned about their lives on a regular basis. Now I have seen some of his art work and their supplies are just cool. They use expensive paint and huge paper and bright things. Remember the difference in your art class from elementary compared to junior high? It’s kind of like that. There’s just more cool stuff to do.
The facilities in the gym are super cool. They have a tall rock wall for the HS kids and for the elementary kids there is an entire wall of the gym covered with climbing space about twelve feet tall. They love it. They also have all the gymnastic mats I could only drool over as an/ elementary school kid. They were only used by the after-hours community groups that paid for them. They have hockey gear and play other cool games that require equipment.
Ben’s response to music is about the same here and in Virginia. He sings as many songs from music here as he did in Fairfax. I’ll be interested to see what comes in the future for music.
There are only 22 kids in his homeroom class and they have a full time aide. The aide handles all the homework collection, getting daily reading books for the kids to take home on their own level, delivering the students to and from their special classes, parent notes and money for fundraisers or buying kids lunch tickets, etc. Because of that his teacher appears to have enough time to be a teacher. She can prepare her lessons, reply to parent emails promptly and devote individual time to all the little things that seem to be the challenges most moms felt with the schools back home.
Fieldtrips. We went on a fieldtrip to Bollywood Farms in a charter bus with seatbelts. It was supposed to be basically a vegetable garden. At first glance a waste of time to a western girl that grew up weeding a garden all summer long in the heat and eating the nasty beets and green beans her mom grew. My attitude was basically “everyone knows about that stuff, duh” but I did find a way to chaperone the trip and am glad I did. As I mentioned, there are 22 kids in his class. There were 14 parent chaperones!! In your head right now you are saying, “WHAT?!?! That’s nuts.” But it’s true. And the fieldtrip was super cool. They showed us all sorts of vegetables and herbs from this area of the world. Lets just say I didn’t grow bananas, dragon fruit or noni plants in my Rocky Mountain backyard! (By the way, noni smells like vomit and they call it the “vomit fruit.” Makes you want to join the Tahitian Noni pyramid scheme now, right? It was beyond horrible!!)
About that many parents showing up. I can’t yet figure out if it’s because the expat community tends to be highly motivated people up for an adventure or what. Is it because all the “trailing spouses” as we are affectionately known are here on dependent passes and thus are not working? Most people have live in house help so they are free to be engaged. I think that plays a huge roll. All parents want to be involved in their kids’ education and here a lot people have the opportunity to do that. It’s awesome.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Some things are just so simple I guess I figure it is obvious. Friday Ben didn’t have school so it’s the prefect chance to Skype with Anthony in Virginia before the goes to bed. They didn’t answer the Skype ring on the computer, so I dialed the number and handed the phone to Ben to ask them if they had time to talk tonight or not while I took the stinky diapers to the road for the garbage man. While I was outside he came out holding the phone in his hand. This is the gist of how our conversation went.
“It just got the message thing.”
“Did you just hang up?”
“Then did you leave them a message?”
“Um. Is the phone still on?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“Then leave a message.”
“Just talk in the phone.”
The whole thing ended with Ben exclaiming in total frustration at me, “I’m not an expert at messages, Mom!”
I checked the call time on the phone at some point and saw that the call was at least 2 minutes long. That ought to be a funny message to listen to. I guess I need to make sure I don’t assume too much with Ben, even if it’s pretty simple stuff in my mind.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Why are house sizes still quoted in square feet here instead of square meters?
Why is the speed limit abbreviation kmh instead of kph like we do mph?
Why does my car have a DVD player in it? Those are for long road trips. I can cross the country in 30 minutes which is not long enough to merit turning on a movie.
Why do I have to remember to go to the weigh station with my produce to get everything bagged and tagged before I go check out and pay?
Why are paper clips triangular? We do like the lip that helps them slide nicely over the stack of papers. Genius!
Why are prepositions optional? People here don’t use of, from, to, after, for and other words like that.
Why do you drive on the left side of the road, except when you don’t? When entering many parking garages the arrows switch sides on you. People often park their cars on the side of two lane roads with no shoulder so you have to weave in and out around cars watching for oncoming traffic doing the same.
Why twice? When speaking with others, particularly in the markets or shops, they repeat everything twice. “Good deal. Good deal.” “Very yummy. Very yummy.” “You like? You like?” “Thank you. Thank you.” I’ve even done it myself once or twice. It makes the sides of my mouth turn up in a grin when I notice what I’ve done.
Singapore is a great place to live! You should all come visit. We’ll show you a great time.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
First my apologies. I don’t blog as often as I would like. On the positive side, our house is lots cleaner than it’s been in years. I have to give some credit to Mary (our new house cleaner) and the financial incentive it is to me that the house be tidy when she arrives so I only pay her to sweep and mop three stories of marble/hardwood floors and clean the five bathrooms. I feel it creates an equivalency to my previous life as far as the amount of work I have to do to maintain my home. Now, because I don’t blog often, I missed writing about our trip to Thailand, moving into our new house, Shon & Juli visiting us in Singapore, the Hyatt family arrival in Singapore from our Fairfax neighborhood and…Ben’s birthday. Ben successfully turned seven. He got a lion dancer costume and Mario Kart. He also believes he got a beta fish, which was foolishly purchased on his birthday, though it was meant to be a family gift.
Now let me elaborate a bit on Angie and fish. I had a pretty decent fish tank in college and the first year we were married. I kept it up, but didn’t really enjoy it or fall in love with the idea of having fish. When we started moving around the country in 2000 I gave the fish away and stored the tank and gear. In time I gave the rest of the stuff away realizing I didn’t care and I had learned that fish didn’t like me anyway.
You see, I had a suicidal fish. There was one particular beta fish that would jump out of the water every time I would try to clean the tank. I was endlessly rescuing the darn thing from the dirty kitchen floor in my apartment. My roommates thought it was terribly sad that he always tried to kill himself. I’m guessing Brian thought it was funny. I thought it was gross. I was the one that had to pick it up and fish are nasty and slimy and ewww! I was not amused and because the fish would be flopping and flipping helplessly all over the floor it always turned into one of those squeamish, squealing girl moments in the apartment while I tried to catch it without actually touching it. I’m quite sure if it hadn’t all gone down thirteen plus years ago I could have written an award winning blog post about the experience with lots of fun embellishments and descriptions. As it is you’ll just have to create your own picture in your mind.
One day I went to clean the tank and the fish was gone. Fish don’t just disappear. I looked in the plants, in the filter, in the cave thing. It wasn’t there. The tank was about 3 or 4 gallons and I had purchased a heater, filtration system and lights in the hood (meaning it had a lid which kept my suicidal fish inside). I kept the whole contraption on top of my entertainment center. Not being able to find the fish baffled me. In disbelief I searched the floor of the entire room, even going behind the entertainment center and checking everywhere it could have possibly gone. Nothing. Finally I just had to let it go. The fish was not going to be found. Six months later we found his skeleton in the front most corner underneath the entertainment center when I got married and moved the entertainment center out. So sad.
Back to today. Brian is allergic to pets with hair so we couldn’t really get any sort of pet beyond a fish. (something we’re both grateful for) We promised a fish for about a year and a half, but the pet store was never convenient and we have no other cause to go there. Then Jacob got to a horrible age and he was so curious that it was a sure bet if we had a fish, he’d pick it up and kill it.
Jacob is much more mature now at the ripe old age of two and a half. Brian and I happened to be walking in the market and saw fish on Ben’s birthday. Without any kids to make the purchase troublesome we bought one. Finally after eighteen months of waiting, Ben and Maddie had a fish!!
We got that fish on April 22, 2011. He died sometime this afternoon on May 11, 2011. Poor guy didn’t even last a month. I heard him flopping around earlier today and, because of my history with fish, even went twice to check that he hadn’t jumped out when I heard him splashing today. Frankly, I had thought he didn’t look really healthy for the last five or six days but had been too lazy or not concerned enough to look up “how to care for a beta fish” online. Now he’s gone. His dried little body was stuck tight to the floor so I had to pop him up like a suction cup releasing its grip on glass. It was so sad.
I called my trusted advisor (Brian) to ask what we ought to do. See, I discovered it as the kids were heading up the stairs to bed and actually laughed that it had happened to me again. They all turned around to see what was so funny an probed and pestered me about it but I wouldn’t tell them the truth. Because, well, it’s not funny. And they won’t appreciate the situation, they will only be devastated by the loss. Brian said it wasn’t right to buy a new one. They need to know that fish die. So we’ll wait.
I wonder who will notice first. I’m guessing Jacob. He loved to pull a stool over to the table and just watch him. He would squeal, “My little fishy eating, Mommy!” Ben and Maddie will probably cry. And then, probably for Family Home Evening, we will all walk to the market and buy a new fish. Creating exactly the situation we wanted to avoid. Three excited kids in the teeny tiny pet shop full of glass tanks and living things that can be injured all fighting with each other about which beta fish to buy.
Maybe we should set up a rotation schedule. Because if nothing else, I’m a realist. It’s gonna happen again. Poor fish. I really did try. Next time I’ll keep the water level much lower so even if they jump, they can’t get out. It was almost full to the top today. Sorry Fishy #1. May you Rest In Peace.