Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
To keep the kids from total hungry and tired meltdown we made a picture list of what they have to pack for our beach trip to Krabi Thailand tomorrow. They are all anxiously working to get everything they need into their backpacks. Jake brought down his Bob the Builder and proudly declared that he has "everything dat I need". Now he is showing me "here is all my tings but where is my spoon?"
He has a plastic spoon from the kitchen and two woobies (his favorite blankets). Two year olds are precious.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
We start potty training in three weeks when the big kids go to school. I think I'm already in love with an entire house of hardwood and marble floors. Easy clean up compared to shampooing carpets and trying to soak it all up. I am however still finding fluffy bits of cotton from the middle of the night clawing all over my room.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Ben did it once. When we moved from Texas to Virginia we needed our phone until after the pack out so we brought it in our luggage. When we got into our apartment which would remain empty for a week until our things arrived we plugged it in and were ready to leave when the phone rang. It was 911 stating they had just got a call from our phone. Totally baffled we realized 12 month old Ben had somehow got the phone in his hands and managed to dial, what else, but 9-1-1. They were not amused and I apologized a bunch of times as he lectured me about keeping the phone away from my kids. Heck, he must have grabbed it behind my back while I was plugging it in on the bar height countertop.
This week Jake called 9-1-1. Maybe it’s a boy thing. We have a two line phone and I was on the Singapore line with a neighbor working out a play date for Maddie. I switched to the cell phone because something weird was happening to the regular phone. I went upstairs to the TV room because Maddie and Jake were fighting over something and as I walked in I saw Jake tapping buttons on the phone again. I hung it up and continued my call. Soon I realized I had FIVE missed calls on the US line. And it was ringing again with a Virginia number – mind you it was 3:00 in the morning. I told my I better pick up. Something wasn’t right for me to get five calls from Virginia in the middle of the night. I answered and lucky for me this time it was a friendly 911 guy. Of course once he explained who he was I told him that we were in Singapore. He snickered and said, “Yeah. I heard your message explaining that every time I called you back at this number.” I could feel my body shrinking, wishing there was somewhere to run and hide. How embarrassing.
I doubt if Jacob actually got as lucky as Ben though in his random selection of numbers. See, our local hand phone numbers (that’s cell numbers to you Americans) begin with 911. From the second we got those phones I wondered if our kids were gonna screw that up someday. We’d be in the states on vacation and Ben would try to call mom or dad on the hand phone and get 911 on accident. Never did I dream that it would happen right here in Singapore, or that it would be Jacob. I figure he pushed the address book and since we are last because of our sweet last name starting with “Z” he just dialed the last number in the address book. We get butt dialed all the time actually. My family butt dials us all the time. Since Kristie’s kids have been at my mom’s house we’ve gotten at least five messages where I can hear mom and the kids in the background talking about this or that for three to five minutes before the message system times out.
Zufelt. It’s a bit of a curse. In fact, the guy I thought I might wait for when he went on his mission didn’t like the name either. When I “Dear John-ed” him to tell him I was engaged to Brian while he was still on his mission his only response was classy. He didn’t say I should wait for him because we were a great pair or that he loved or even liked me. He said I shouldn’t marry Brian because my kids would always be at the end of the lunch line in school. Way to fight for your girl. I think I made the right choice. Brian rocks! Haven’t regretted that choice once in twelve years. Ooh. That reminds me. Our anniversary is in a few days. Didn’t even realize it but we’ll be in Thailand at the beach for our anniversary. Now that’s good accidental planning!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Jacob has lately been convinced he needs to learn to roller skate but it’s hard and he’s two and the skates are WAY too big for him. Yesterday he caught me at a good moment asking me to help put them on his feet. I obliged and then, of course, he needed help. I figured he needed something akin to a walker to keep him balanced but lacking that I grabbed the next best thing – a stroller.
Around the front yard we went. Him holding the stroller for balance and me holding the stroller so it didn’t roll away from him too quickly, occasionally lifting him up to realign his little feet in those gigantic skates. He was so pleased with himself! Brian watching through the window had to come out and take a picture and tell us just how silly we looked using a set of wheels to “stabilize” him. Yeah. I know, but it worked.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
My kids miss their old life. They are quite happy here, but I know they would move back home if they could. Frankly, by the time we move home the feeling will be the same only in reverse. It’s all about establishing your life. Having friends. Knowing what to expect. All of that is a bit shaky here still.
I had to change my language lately. If we were going to the pool I might holler, “Time to pack up and get your swim suits.” Maddie and Ben instantly ask if we are going back to Virginia today with bright happy faces.
Then there was the day last week I decided that I wanted to rearrange things in the closet on the main floor. I tossed the luggage in there the week we moved in and hadn’t really organized it. I wanted the luggage on the second floor above the wardrobes since we don’t need to get to it often. I pulled every suitcase and backpack we own out into the dining room and then called the kids to help me take them up the stairs. Maddie was beyond elated! “Are we moving back home today?!?!?!” Ben thought it too and Jacob, who usually just follows along, asked if we were going on an airplane.
It all sort of rips at my heart. I know they are fine. We’re over the tantrums and into our routines but they miss their friends. They miss their big grassy field out the front door. They miss having our pool literally next door to the house. They miss the summer swim team. They miss Oak View Elementary. They miss the Hyatts who just flew out of Singapore last week (actually that’s made it worse for the kids to know they left and we aren’t). They miss Costco pizza. I miss the momma’s big red truck (I’m glad it’s getting all the love it deserves from Doug because this wanna be minivan just doesn’t do it for me). They miss Anthony, Becca and Reagan being free for play dates any day or time. They miss Claudia and Aimee doting on them every time they see them. They miss the Hertig family dog, Teddy who loved to play with them in the field. They miss sledding in the snow. They miss their moon bounce. They miss their townhome. Their church friends.
Moving is hard. They’ve done well. I need to remember to reassure them that it’s still okay to miss that stuff. I know I do even if I totally love our new life.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I saw a diesel pull around the corner this morning and I held my breath hoping against all hope that maybe a new family was moving in. Checking out the back window I saw a container has been dropped at one of the larger empty houses. That was the most beautiful sight I’ve seen all summer long. My children are bored. They are lonely. They just want friends to play with. It’s been a long, lonely summer so far as friend after friend boarded airplanes westward bound to the US. I swear we are the only ones left on the planet that stayed in Singapore. We just need some friends. We’re at the point of desperation here.
I heard a rumor back in May from Melissa Bradford as we cleaned the pews in the chapel one Saturday morning that a nice Mormon family is moving from Switzerland to my very street at the end of July and they have five kids aged about 2 to 14. Her husband has worked with the husband in the past though she doesn’t really know them. Right now it doesn’t really matter if they are nice or mean. I’m thinking more along the lines of a warm body count here. We just need PEOPLE to play with even if we don’t make life long connections.
So I have inventoried our street over and over this summer. There are only about 20 houses. I’ve taken note of where this magical family could possibly be moving into. Five houses were vacated this last June. Five houses remain empty after all the painting and turn around crews finished their work. Empty those houses sit just waiting to be filled with seven year old boys and four year old girls and miracle of miracles – dare I ask – a two year old boy? It’s nearing lunch time now and I haven’t even showered but we all want to go meet our new neighbors. I know it’s bad timing. When the movers are hauling boxes in and waiting for direction on where to put each and every box you can’t be bothered with meeting new neighbors. So we wait. I’ll shower. And hope the movers take a lunchtime break so we can sneak in real quick to say hello.
Ben wants to bring over cookies right away. You have to understand the true sacrifice that will be. See a batch of cookies is expensive here. A cup of chocolate chips is $9. Plus the sugar, etc. And I just took in someone elses food storage flour stored in a #10 can since 1997. Technically it should be fine, but sometimes stuff like that takes on the metal taste of the can. Do I risk it? So I make cookies with $18 of chocolate chips and risk that the flour is metallic and have to throw the cookies out? Maybe we’ll find a snicker doodle recipe this time just in case until we prove the flour is good. I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing out that much chocolate brought over in my carryon luggage. Snicker doodles it is. And a shower so I’m ready for the lunch break “Hello!”
And if by chance this isn’t the magical family they will come someday but please let them have elementary aged kids. Please. Please. Please. And if all else fails today, at least the sea shipment crate parked on my road gives me some shimmer of hope that we have survived this long and dreary summer. The houses will soon be filling up with new families and old friends will return in four weeks. I feel like the little engine that could…”I think I can. I think I can. I think I can make it through this summer.”
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Maddie ended up with a fever today. She was limp and weepy. Then I gave her magic juice (ibuprofen) and told her she could lay on the couch and rest instead of do her writing. About 15 minutes later she was up and bouncing around. After two hours like that I decided we probably still shouldn't go to the water park for playgroup like I planned but we could at least go return our library books and hit the travel agency for a quick visit to book a beach getaway next week. She’d be fine.
Library was quick and fine. Only fifteen minutes. Then off to the travel agent at Causeway Point. We got ourselves there at lunchtime and grabbed McDonalds where the kids are totally doted upon like nowhere else. They have never gone to McDonalds here where they didn’t leave with a balloon and a free toy – no not the toy in the happy meal. A free toy.
They did okay at the travel agent while I tried to book some fun in Bali. It was coming to over $5,000 for a three night stay. WHAT?? I guess I came with the wrong idea. Wasn’t Bali supposed to be a close and cheap getaway? Nope. Just close. We started looking at other places to go and we settled on Krabi. Yep. We’re heading back to Thailand. Before booking the hotel I came home to book the airline on my own since the agent said she had to charge me $25/person if she did it. Sweet. Cheaper vacation AND save $125.
When we got home I read stories to Jacob and put him down to nap. Then I spent a full hour trying to book our flight online. It wouldn’t go through. And I had to enter all the data including everyone’s passport numbers and expiration dates a zillion times. Grrrr.
In addition to it locking up and then not processing the payments I kept getting messages that all the “non-credit card on the internet” methods were currently not working so if I chose to book anytime in the foreseeable future the only way was to incur the $70 convenience fee of using the credit card. (This means I can’t pay cash at the 7-11 like last time to save the fee.) It would book it no matter what I tried and kept telling me to call them but listed no phone number. Grrrr
Finally I was able to dig up a phone number to call and trust me, they didn’t make it easy. Grrrr.
Sit on hold. Grrrr
Lady confirms I didn’t purchase a ticket. That’s good news that I didn’t pay for twelve sets of airline tickets. I ask her to book a ticket. “We don’t offer aldsjflask;jdf;ladjfl ticket.” Pause. “Sorry can you repeat that?” She repeats twice more something I totally can’t understand then without warning she drops me back in the hold queue. Grrrr.
Purchase ticket. I try so hard to spell everything I say using Z-zebra U-umbrella F-frank E-England L-Larry T-Tom. She was soooo patient and so was I. I thought we had everything worked out. She kept calling Brian Brain. I confirmed the spelling. Okay. Hang up and wait for email confirmation.
Twenty minutes later it arrives.
Brain and Madifun will be traveling with us. Oh yeah and Beechwood Grove has turned into Dee Wood Road for the billing. Grrrr.
Fix it. Spell all three items slowly and I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Wait for email.
Brian is now coming and our address is fixed but Madifon, another fun variation on her name, is coming on the trip now.
Wait on hold while they confirm.
It’s all correct and it only took three hours (uninterrupted by children – what a waste of that golden time).
Now to book the hotel. I’m exhausted.
I HATE having an accent!!!!! It’s so hard to communicate sometimes. That’s the whole reason I tried to book tickets online in the first place and that I drug all three of my children down to a mall to talk to the travel agent instead of calling them. I KNOW I need body language and clues to confirm we are saying the same thing to each other. I did not chose to take them down there because it was easy, fun, a good chance for family bonding or any of the like. Because I have an accent. Being a foreigner sucks sometimes.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I’m mostly over the rotten sickness that leveled me for a few days. Just tired and so incredibly hot all the time. Our air con bill may go up again this month. We went swimming with Hyatts before they head to the airport for Poland tonight. Then came home and are chilling at the house now while I do paperwork and computer stuff.
Race is a funny thing. I’ve never had to click the “Other” box in my life. Available races on forms here on this particular day are: Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian, Others. Sometimes there are other things but they are never what I am.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Because I totally have the proper credentials I have diagnosed myself with dengue fever.
Wednesday morning the government officials came through the neighborhood inspecting properties for standing water. We passed the test but since this is my first visit from them I asked why there were checking. They said there were reports of dengue fever in my neighborhood.
About three hours later I smashed a mosquito on my arm while sitting on my couch in the living room and fresh red blood came out of the mosquito. Thursday during the day my body started to feel achy and only got worse until I called tech support about my laptop overheating about 9pm. By the time I finished with them at 10:30pm my body was hurting so much I was ready to cry. Brian and I went upstairs where we discovered that I had a fever of about 100F. I took some fever reducer with sleep aid and crawled in bed. Brian laughed and said he would have to make sure I was awake before he left for work. We both know that the sleep aid stuff really works for me.
Friday morning he woke me about 6:40 as he was ready to leave but I was not doing well at all. He ended up taking a sick day and watching the kids all day for me. About 9am I came downstairs to lay on the couch where I proceeded to sleep for the entire day. The TV was on all day long but I didn’t see more than 10 minutes of any given show in the 11 hours it was on. My fever went as high as 104F. We googled dengue fever and I don’t see anything much different about the symptoms than any other fever except that it’s not contagious person to person. So I may or may not be actual dengue fever. Eventually it was time to go back upstairs for bed. About 2:30 am I started vomiting and then again at 4 am when Maddie came in to our room because she had a bad dream. Knowing I didn’t feel well enough to share a bed with her in my spot I went down and slept on the marble floor in the living room.
Today I’ve been achy and sick still but I’m not sleeping the day away. It’s almost bitter sweet. I have to prepare to speak in church tomorrow and teach my lesson to the 6 and 7 year olds. I just don’t feel well enough to prepare properly. I think I’ll be better enough to go to church and that’s the bad part. I can’t convince Brian to double the time he has to talk yet though I’ve been trying since Friday morning. Welcome to the tropics.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Without the benefit of a county library system we have to make our own reading program. We have homeschool everyday. Ben reads from Hooked on Phonics for school in the morning and then just for fun he usually reads some Junie B Jones chapter books in bed at night. He is always so proud to announce what page or chapter or spot in the book he has currently passed. The ultimate excitement is for him to tell everyone in the house that he has finished another Junie B book.
Today Maddie kept sneaking off when we were supposed to be folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher. She would be looking through Ben’s Junie B book. She just came over to me, smile ear to ear, and announced, “Mom! I just finished this WHOLE book!!” I smiled and told her how fantastic that was. She followed up with dramatic pauses after every word when she told me, “And I did the whole thing WITHOUT EVEN READING!!!”
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Angie asked me to blog about my experience last weekend with the scouts, so here it is:
My current calling in church is the assistant leader for the 11 year old scouts. Last Friday evening our scout group went on a camping trip. We have a somewhat small group so I took Ben with me to the campout. Camping in Singapore is quite a different experience than camping in the Utah mountains.
Our experience started at the boat pier. There are a few places to camp on the Singapore mainland, but to really get away from the city you pretty much have to go to another, less populated, island somewhere. Our scout group met at the marina, where we hired a “water taxi” to take us out to Pulau Subar Laut (Malay for “Big Sister Island”). These boats for hire are not created for comfort since they haul people and equipment out to the big barges and/or other islands in the area. The boat took us along the Singapore coast for about 15 minutes to one of the sister islands just south of Sentosa. We had a great view of downtown Singapore the whole way.
As we docked and disembarked from the boat, the natives all gathered around the pier to greet us. The boys were a bit intimidated by this gathering—very understandable if you know how aggressive the monkeys can be (see Angie’s previous blog posts for some examples). Who knows how long it has been since the last camping group came to the island, so the monkeys were probably excited to have visitors and speculating what food we might give them. Someone eventually started stomping down the pier and the monkeys scattered to let us pass.
We walked to the far side of the island (a short 5-10 minute walk) where we sat up camp and enjoyed the night. We swam in the lagoon, cooked and ate dinner, and played some night games. Our scout troop (Troop 102) has a tradition of making “102 stew” for campout dinners—everyone brings a food item to contribute; we throw it all in a pot, heat it over the campfire, and eat whatever creation that makes. Of course, since the food was being cooked over a campfire, the boys (even some of the grown-up boys) couldn’t help but play with the fire. Even with the extra ash this added, our dinner turned out pretty good. Ben asked me to write down all the ingredients so we could make “this exact same meal” at home. All the time we could see and hear the monkeys hovering in the trees over us. Around 10:00 Ben sat down at the picnic table and quickly fell asleep with his head on the table. I decided to call it a night and took him to the tent.
In the morning I stepped out of the tent to discover that the monkeys had been close by during the night. Angie had sent us off with a great breakfast of donuts. In my quick packing for the trip, I took them in the bag from the store and tied off the top. Some monkey must have smelt the donuts near the edge of the tent—the plastic bag was protruding out of a small hole that had been ripped in the side of the tent. Luckily, the hole was too small for the donuts to pass through, so the donuts and most of the bag remained inside our tent. Note to self: Next time make sure you seal up all food in an airtight container.
After we enjoyed our delicious breakfast, I asked Ben if he would like to go for a hike around the entire island. He was agreeable to the idea so we departed. Shortly into the walk Ben found a coconut with part of the husk already removed. Ben decided it would be a great idea to carry the coconut back to camp to show everyone else. I tried to convince Ben that we had only walked about one minute from camp and he could easily return to this same spot to collect the coconut after we returned. Besides, we would probably find several other coconuts on our walk and he would probably even find one as we were returning to camp. Ben was not convinced and decided it would be best to carry the coconut the entire walk. He struggled to pick up the coconut with his one free hand since his other hand was already holding a big stick he had found a few seconds earlier. What would have been a 15 minute walk was extended to about 30 minutes as Ben struggled to keep hold of his two prize possessions. At one point I had to hold onto the coconut so Ben could climb a small rock wall near the pier.
As we approached camp we looked over toward the bathroom building to see a swarm of monkeys. The monkeys were eating breakfast—they were climbing down into the trash can next to the building and pulling out all the empty cans and other trash left from 102 stew. Now I know why we encountered several pieces of trash as we walked around the island.
Once we arrived in camp Ben proudly showed off his coconut. He then decided it was time to open it up to see what was inside. One of the other adults was kind enough to sit down with Ben and help. With the help of a pocket knife they eventually removed the rest of the husk. After admiring the seed for a brief moment, Ben stood up and threw it against the cement. It cracked and splashed a little bit of the juice. Ben picked it up again, took a couple of steps away from us and threw it against the cement again. This time the seed split in half and all of the juice splashed out—directly toward the other adult that had helped him remove the husk. Luckily, he was good natured and laughed about getting soaked. He even asked if Ben would like to try a little bit of the juice that splashed into his ear. He then picked up one of the pieces, cut out a little of the white fruit and gave it to Ben to try. Ben quickly decided that he didn’t really like the taste. However, he did want to share the experience with his family, so he gathered up several pieces so he could take them home and tell about the steps required to open the coconut.
As this was happening, one of the other leaders was busy on the beach trying to make a raft from the various pieces of wood and palm leaves he found lying around. Ben became interested in the raft and set down his coconut pieces to go help with the raft. Almost as soon as he left, the monkeys came out down of the trees to inspect his work. Ben yelled and threw a couple of rocks toward them, so they quickly gathered up all of the white fruit pieces and ran up the trees to enjoy their newly found feast. Luckily I had gathered up a couple of pieces so Ben still had something to take home to share with the family.
The rain started about an hour before the boat was scheduled to pick us up. As usual for this area, it was a very heavy rain. Several of the boys played ultimate Frisbee even in the rain. The rest of us stayed dry under one of the shelters. Once the rain let up we went to the pier to meet our boat and returned back to civilization.