Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bed Bugs

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Magic Passwords for Dealing with Credit Card Companies

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


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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Successful Potty Training

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's A Short List

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Simple Arithmetic

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

Alphabet Soup Traffic Jam

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

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

Slave Labor for Holiday Cards

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


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


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


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


Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

He Loves Me

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

Happy Birthday Jesus Party!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011


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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hard Day Today

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


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


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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Little Lady

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

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

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



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


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


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

Wiggly Baby and the Grey Period of Pregnancy

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

Pregnancy = 40 weeks

Month = 4 weeks

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


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


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


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


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


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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Worms. Again.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rain Delay is Over

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

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

1. Lift the seat.

2. Flush the mess.

3. Wash your hands.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Do You Think About Singapore?

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Buddies After Swim Lessons

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mom! I Did It!!

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

Malaysian Adventure

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