Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Friday, December 13, 2013

We're Moving to Saudi Arabia

I guess I haven't announced it here on the blog, but I think everyone already knows. We're Moving to Saudi Arabia!! We're excited about the new adventure and have been connecting with people who live there. I have yet to talk to a single person that didn't love it. Of course a few of them warned me that if you can't adapt to change and accept differences and the challenges of expat living then frankly it may not be for you. In the end they figured if I could handle not having Wal-Mart or Target here in Singapore and know the glories of hearing "no stock" at the grocery store and reworking my entire week menu because they were out of broccoli, sour cream, flour, marshmallows and green peppers all on different days when I went to pick up things at the shops then I could more or less hack it there.

So we accepted the assignment about 2 months ago and commenced the waiting game. Now that the move is within 4 weeks they should be making plans soon. That is SHOULD. Not WILL BE. Just SHOULD BE making plans soon. Our lives have been in flux for weeks. The soccer term finishes - do I enroll in the next one or is it a waste of money? Will I have time to take the kid to soccer when I really should be spending my time preparing to move? Will the kid be in my way if I don't have things for them to do? Will he be better to slow life down and be family centered in the last few months to make them feel secure and safe? Or should we carry on as normal to keep them active and engaged in life and help them feel safe and secure in the routine they have been existing in for 3 years? It's so hard to know. And each kid is different. Completely different.

It's even harder to help the kids know what to expect when we don't have any answers.
Our moving plans seem to change by the day. Here is how our last week has gone:

Thursday – Brian leaves mid-Jan for Saudi Arabia, we follow 70 days later meaning probably end of March

Friday – Good news. HR says there is NO possible way to get visas cleared that fast. Brian has a business trip mid-Jan then officially moves mid-Feb to mid-March, we follow 70 days later probably in May.

Sunday – (he’s working weekends for start-up at the plant) Bad news. There is a big project and the submitted a big batch of 30 or 100 or something “no name” visas to assign as they got people. They are all approved and they decided to give one of those to him. His visa is ready NOW and he leaves mid-Jan for good. We follow mid-March

Friday (today) – Visa is now unsure again if he has it or not. Business trip planned for Jan 11-26, home 27-31, moves permanently Feb 1 but that visa is also not cleared yet. We follow mid-March BUT there is no house for us so there is nowhere to live. We need to wait until another family leaves the house so there is space therefore we move in June and finish school here without Brian.

Brian and I went Christmas shopping today and I asked him to buy me a Magic 8 Ball I saw at Toys R Us to help me make decisions. I think it may be more reliable than the HR plan has been thus far. Gotta love corporate moves.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ashlyn Sleep Schedule

Ashlyn was mad and wouldn't settle forever this morning. She woke at just past 5:30am. Finally I brought her down and for her breakfast with us at 6:15. She was fussy and angry still. Finally I asked if she wanted to go back to bed with a binkie and she said yes. I put her down and didn't hear a peep for 2 more hours. I felt strangely like I won a large victory today.

Serious Accusations

Today I took Ashlyn to visit a good friend, Virginia, who had knee surgery on Monday. She is a big time game player so when I arrived she had a game of cribbage all set up for me. It was a brand new set she had purchased as a gift for me. She had to teach me how to play and we had a nice time.

Brian's uncle plays cribbage in actual tournaments and makes money at it but I wasn't aware that Brian knew how to play. After dinner we played a game and he kept calling out points for, well, basically everything. Virginia had mentioned that her husband Rosh calls cribbage the "points for anything" game so I took it all in stride until it seemed he for points for something and then wouldn't give me points for the very same thing the next round. I started to tease him a bit and told Ashlyn, "Say 'CHEATER!'" To which she proclaimed, "Mommy!!!" What a little punk. 

Stealth Mode

Completely silent. I truly couldn't find her.

She sleeps with 4-7 Binkies every night. One in her mouth. One in each hand and she feels around the bed near her body to check that there are more nearby. It reminds me of how you move your arms to make a snow angel when she lays down and searches for them. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkey

We didn't do well at all on our turkey feathers on the wall. Life was so busy that I forgot nearly every night for a month to put our feathers up at dinner. Still, some of the thoughts make me smile so I will share them here.

I am thankful for...
My bed - Jacob
Not having to wory wher my food will come - Ben
Ink to stamp on paper - Jacob
I'm thankful for: a famiLee - Madison
I'm thankful for the Earth - MM2 (backward Z)
We live in a developed contry - Ben
I'm thankful for Jesus dying for us - Ben
Food to eat - Jacob
Everyone can have a mom - Jacob
That food can make us healthy and strong - Madison
that we could rase $ for the Philippines - Ben
That the Philippines can pray to God that he can help them build their house - Jacob
Daddy's nice Saturday breakfasts - Angie
I'm thanekful of: a school to lrn in - Madison


Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Across the Globe

Just called a customer service line about shutting off power in our house in Houston since we just sold it last week in the US. Guy asked, "How was your Thanksgiving?" I chuckled and said I live in Singapore so it was great but a little different. I asked how his was. "I live in Mexico." was all he had to say and we both laughed. Funny how connected the world is. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Poor Ashlyn

Cute Ashlyn had a fever today but got drug along to Ms Jennifer's place to "shop" for hand me down clothes for Gina and her fam

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Now I'm the Rock Star

Walked into Ben's class this morning just a few minutes before class began to thank him for walking Jacob to the bus stop and hanging out with him while they waited. All the students were seated already reading the board but Mr Hunter wasn't teaching yet so I snuck over to his desk. As I entered the room Aiden said, "Welcome to our class!" Then all 22 kids looked up at me and started clapping. I was a bit befuddled. Not sure what to do I quickly delivered my message. As I walked back to the door they applauded again. Hilarious. I must be more famous that I had previously thought.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ashlyn Sleep Schedule

Ashlyn was mad and wouldn't settle forever this morning. She woke at just past 5:30am. Finally I brought her down and for her breakfast with us at 6:15. She was fussy and angry still. Finally I asked if she wanted to go back to bed with a binkie and she said yes. I put her down and didn't hear a peep for 2 more hours. I felt strangely like I won a large victory today.

Ashlyn Sleep Schedule

Ashlyn was mad and wouldn't settle forever this morning. She woke at just past 5:30am. Finally I brought her down and for her breakfast with us at 6:15. She was fussy and angry still. Finally I asked if she wanted to go back to bed with a binkie and she said yes. I put her down and didn't hear a peep for 2 more hours. I felt strangely like I won a large victory today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Teleconference Helper

ExxonMobil has recently hired a new young consultant to help daddy with his work. Ashlyn happily consults on a 9 pm teleconference. She's silently listening, ready to give her input on pressing issues at work.

She thinks the best part is the pay. Extra snuggles. Especially on a night she has a fever from her imminizations so gets to stay up with the grown ups.

Drive In General Conference

Madison started vomiting this morning at 4:30 am. That means our regular Sunday plan of going to church was axed for the day. The boys went and the girls stayed home this time. We watched some general conference videos and I repaired Ashlyn's pop up car with duct tape. When it was done the girls changed regular conference watching into a drive in movie. Everyone was much happier then. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christmas party oops invite

At church last week they announced the church Christmas party coming up in about a month. We were told to invite someone and that it was also a talent show of sorts but whatever we did should be related to the Jesus portion of Christmas.

Right then I leaned forward in our bench to get something from the floor for Ashlyn just as Cameron in the row in front of me leaned back so I whispered, "That means you. What are you going to do for the talent show?" He chuckled and pulled his phone up to check his calendar where I could see. I looked up in horror as he said, "I don't think I can make it since I have to fly home on Thursday."

It wasn't Cameron at all. It was a random visitor from the US!! We hadn't ever met. So I just played it off and told him he should check with his company and see if he could extend a month in Singapore because he had some obligations to take care of. He laughed and the meeting went on.

I totally think that should count as my "invite a friend" to the Christmas party. Don't you?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guinea Pig Guests

We've got visitors named Mango and Jelly for the week while the kids are on school holiday for Fall Break. Jacob's class pet guinea pigs came home with us on Friday afternoon and it took a few days for them to get used to our house with all the newness. Likely the most unnerving thing was the excited, ear piercing happy shrieks and screams from Ashlyn every time she saw them. 

They are doing much better on day 4 here but apparently not quite enough to satisfy everyone. Jacob got dressed this morning and came down in his school uniform. He went to play with the guinea pigs and came back to tell me, "Mom, I got dressed as my school self and they STILL didn't recognize me."
"How do you know?"
"I showed them my body and they didn't even come out of their hiding spot in the house."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Results

2 hours and 5 minutes handing out candy
3,308 pieces handed to 3,308 people
3 people to manage the crowds at the gate and keep up with them -
Gina and Brian's intern and coworker
Had to close our gate while there were still massive crowds on the street at 8:00 pm
Awesome party with 56 dinner guests
30+ extra drop-ins that just visited other people they knew at my party
Wild night but everyone had a blast.

Walking was sometimes like when you are trying to leave a concert and people are jam packed in the aisles - only they were full sized streets.

Found one of my Besties on the street. She has 5 kiddos. Can you guess what the other 4 kids and her husbands costumes were?

Brian couldn't resist being a street magician. As Madison put it, "That's BORING! Come on! Let's WALK!!" because she wasn't getting any trick-or-treating done with Dad distracted showing tricks to everyone.

Maddie got to be the mummy at her class party.

Ben was the only kid in his class that DIDN'T wear a costume. Still not sure why exactly. It was in his backpack. Oh well, he still enjoyed the party.

Jacob had a great time doing all the crafts at his party.

Another of Kristy, Me and Sylvia. Can you tell she's SOOOO done with being pregnant. And apparently so is the baby!

Last but not least, our family at the Monday night "Private" Trick-or-Treat". You have to sign up in advance and only go to houses participating. It's much more like a REAL American Halloween and just Jacob's speed.


Happy Halloween!

Banana Ghosts Snack

I made banana ghosts for all 3 kids class parties today.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Honor in Singapore

It never ceases to amaze me the honor and respect shown by the Chinese people toward their ancestors and gods. I happened across this while we were trick or treating on Monday night in the drizzly rain. Their little space to burn offerings had a little mat and they had put an umbrella out to protect it from the weather. They are such good people here. I've heard it said they are 20 years behind the US but it's only said in a positive way. They have iPhones and laptops and all the technology here but the decline of the family and morals in general is not like it is in America. What a blessing that is. They still have respect and honor here that would do my country a lot of good to get back. Singapore is a wonderful place to raise a family.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Great weekend

Great weekend. Minimal squabbles and maximum fun. Cub scouts swim day, Girl Scout kite day, soccer games, bday party at build a bear, water play with Ashlyn while we waited for Madison at the party, snuggles, laughing, Halloween coloring pages, gave a good lesson on gratitude to my girls today, Ben toured a US Navy air craft carrier docked in Singapore with dad and took all the pictures he could handle, baby giggles, 4 year old giggles, 7 year old giggles and 9 year old laughing. Busy and fun family weekend.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Funny Marriage Plans

Overheard while the kids were getting ready for school.
Madison: “I can’t find anyone that I want to marry except Ben.”
Ben: “Ewww.”
Jacob: “I don’t know either.”
Madison: “You could marry mom.”
Jacob (depressed): “She already got married.”
Madison: “You could just marry her again.”
Jacob (smiling): “She could just wear TWO rings!!”
Madison: “What would her name be? Angela Swiss Cheese Zufelt?”
Jacob (laughing): “Then her name would be Angela Zufelt Zufelt. Of course.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bus Driver

Jacob’s dreams.
“Mom when I grow up I’m going to be a bus driver.”
“Cool! Can I ride on your bus.”
“Only if you come to the bus stop.”
Ben listening in asks, “Can I get a free ride?”
With a voice that dripped indignation Jacob replied, “I don’t give FREE rides.” If he was a 10 year old girl he would have most certainly inserted a dramatic eye roll here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More Reading Giggles

Today he read "sit" as "shit". I couldn't even correct him. Just let it go with his cute little chubby fingers. I love morning reading when he's a happy boy. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cultural Parenting

I had the most fascinating discussions this week about parenting. I helped in Jacob’s classroom yesterday and then joined him for lunch. Since Gina is away for a week holiday Ashlyn came along. My Chinese friend Zoey was in the classroom as well yesterday so we sat together with our kids at lunch. Jacob sat with his lunch box on my right. I bought a little yogurt cup for Ashlyn and since she’s too short to sit and eat I placed her on my left and held my arm around her waist while she ate her yogurt. With my right hand I cut and ate my chimichanga. Nothing special and I would bet every American mother could picture the scene as normal.


After a bit, Zoey commented how amazing that was. “Huh?” was my very intelligent response. “She can feed herself?” I looked at Ashlyn to confirm what she meant. “Yes,” I said, still not sure I understood. Then she told me they spoon feed their kids until they are quite old. As in 7 years old. I’m sure my face must have had shock and horror. “WHAT?!?!?!” Regaining my composure I asked, “Why?” Basically I gathered it was because they needed it because they didn’t know how. My smarty pants self wanted to say that’s because you won’t let them. Hehe. It’s just not what I was taught was normal.


My neighbor, Chinese-Singaporean, has her helper follow her 5 year old around the yard as he plays and she spoon feeds him. At first I took this as beyond ridiculous and bordering on abusive to the helper to make her appease a child in that way so he could be so lazy. Imagine my surprise when, after months of seeing the helper do it, I saw the mother do it. I was floored. It must be cultural. It wasn’t a make the helper do it thing, it was a someone must feed the child kind of thing. Wow!


Then I went to a coffee later this week with two other moms, one Malay and the other Indian. The Malay mother said she had been strongly spoken to about helping her child. Mom and child both seem to have a serious separation anxiety producing crying fits on a daily basis, frankly it’s a bit nuts because he’s fit as a fiddle as soon as she’s gone from sight. So she was asked by staff about feeding him and told he needs to physically lift a spoon with food on the spoon and put it in HIS OWN mouth. The Indian mother concurred she had had the very same experience the year before.


She shared her experience about how letting her son do that had turned meal time into a happy time, as she put it, “he had such JOY in meal time” after he became independent. The two moms talked over other issues I hadn’t ever thought of. They felt putting a TV on during meals or providing a game or some coloring sheet and crayons was vital to meal time because the kids were so bored they got naughty and always were in trouble. They had to do something to keep the kids minds and or hands out of trouble.


All this has been so fascinating to me. On this one, I’m choosing the Western way. And in the end, I think the new mom will see how much better it is. She already tells her own kid, “See, Jacob can put his own pants/shirt/shoes on.” And other things like that. I LOVE that my kids are independent. I’m a bit more than most, expecting my 4 year old to be able to take the trash to the road and wash his own plate and put it in the dishwasher, but wherever a parent may fall on the spectrum I bet we could all expect a bit more – if we take the time to lovingly teach them how to do the things they are capable of doing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Boring Love

Jacob is having a rough time lately. I think the root cause is the talk of moving our family. He's a worrier by nature and I think he's feeling unsettled. I tried to cut the move talk because we genuinely think there is a chance we won't move until June. The construction delays on the project are most certainly in our favor and school is already paid for the year. Plus that's what we want. So because we want it I'm using all my positive brain waves to will it into reality.

Each morning at the bus stop or as we leave the house he gets real clingy and teary eyed and tells me how much he wants to stay home and he doesn't like school anymore. He has decided the main culprit is Mr Geoff. That's plain nuts to tell the truth. Mr Geoff is the perceptual motor guy as in PE. And not just wiggle and run like when I was a kid. This is expensive private school with targeted goals for them to learn gross motor skills and balance and such with SUPER cool equipment. They even call it Mr Geoff's Fun Room and it's full of all the stuff PE teachers in the US would only dream of. Bright and colorful bouncing, climbing, tossing things made sturdy to withstand preschool loving. HOW COULD HE NOT WANT TO GO TO MR GEOFF's FUN ROOM? 

Turns out he claims it's the exercise at the beginning that's so terrible. It hurts his legs to sit and open and close his legs in front of him. Then it was it was too hard. Then it was just too boring.

We talked it out yet another day and I convinced him to get on the bus. I told him sometimes we have to do things we don't love, like eat vegetables or do exercises with Mr. Geoff so we can have desert or play the fun games. He gave me a big huh and his parting words as we saw the bus approaching our stop were, "Mom, I really do love you every day even though it's SOOOO boring to love you I just still do it."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shoes Tied - Take Two

Brian and I are 0 for 2 on teaching kids to the their shoes. Ben showed us one day out of the blue that he taught himself and this week Madison surprised us by showing us she could tie her shoes. Apparently Gina taught her.

Now we are trying to figure out how to get out of teaching Jacob and Ashlyn too. 

First Grade UN Day Project

Each child must decorate their plain skin toned doll (they painted to match their own skin). The costume should be from your heritage and culture. Maddie decided she didn't want a cowboy this year so she chose a pioneer woman which actually fits exceptionally well considering we have a touch of mormon pioneer stock, though as Grandma Robinson always reminded us we were the smart ones and waited until the transcontinental railroad was completed across the beautiful USA.

Madison was great with ideas then I had to invent paper patterns of everything out of my head. From the dress to hair to bonnet and apron she was really involved. She did her very first ever needle and thread sewing project. She stitched the skirt together on her doll and I showed her how to gather it to make ruffles. She was incredibly impressed with how awesome it looked. She also learned how to braid yarn hair and was very pleased with the success. She also tied the red hair bows and designed the dolls arms. She wouldn't glue anything in place though because we used a hot glue gun and I kept burning myself with it so she was too scared to touch it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Jacob was reading to me this morning from his Hooked on Phonics before school. He was laying on the floor in the kitchen while I packed lunches and snacks.

The page was the "id" combination so he was reading "rid, lid, did" when he stopped short and said, "This is the one we need to use to say ID-iot. See...

you just need a few more letters to make the 'iot' part."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ashlyn Tries Warm Clothes

17 Aug 2013
This morning we are taking the kids to Snow City to go sledding and be cold for a change. Five of us are really excited. Ashlyn however is just confused. She went from this:

(a diaper, hat and gloves). To so bundled up she couldn't walk properly.

 I'm sure she was thinking "What the heck? What's wrong with my clothes? I can't walk!" And like all my babies and toddlers, she kinda hated the whole thing. Either Brian or I had to hold her the whole time. And the boots were so big on her that we put her sandals on them put them inside her boots. And the didn't stay on anyway so she couldn't walk on the slippery ice. Her coat was huge and her hands only went half way down the sleeves. She did look adorable in her snow cap though. Of course no cameras are allowed so we have no pictures to show. They have a ton of photographers that snap photos that you can then purchase. At $20 each we passed. We had a great time sledding though and want to try it again. Preferably in the actual great outdoors. 

Sick Mama

"...for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." (Mosiah 4:27)

But that's what I have been doing. Running faster than I had strength. Taking phone calls through dinner and bit eating with my kids. Getting the kids to bed and then working 5 hours more each night knowing I would still have to get up at 6:00 to get them to school on time. Not having a date with my husband or really even seeing him after work for the last three weeks because I was glued to the computer screen and phone. I missed him and he was there standing next to me the whole time washing dishes, making weekend meals and doing bath time. He's the best. 

I really thought that with Gina here I could so this Cub Scout registrar thing but it totally kicked my butt. Last event was yesterday afternoon and all that is left is to put the last 30 names in the rosters. Nearly done but my body finally protested. I have been vomiting for 2 hours. A much lighter case but very reminiscent of when I killed myself at YW camp three years ago. When it was done my body let go and I was so, so sick. Slept for 36 hours and vomited for 24 hours and got so weak I could barely stand to go to the toilet to throw up again.

I am grateful for Gina still though. That's where I would have been without her. Wanting to check into a hospital. I cant imagine doing this with having to di laundry, dishes and cooking on top of it. i thonk the main problem is that I planned to do lots of the work in the day but I never got the time. Ashlyn still needed to be played with, kids still needed pick up and drop off and doctor and dentists kept needing to be visited. So where to go from here? I love helping out and doing great things for groups that I believe in, but I obviously can't find my happy, healthy limit.

Now poor Brian has to go to his morning church meetings and return back home to grab our kids for services. That adds another hour to his day of just driving. Because we only have one car I can't even deliver them on my own. I thought his suffering was supposed to end yesterday. Super Man is going to have to be super just one more day I guess. And I predict he wil do it with a smile. He didn't complain about his mid-night duty tonight. He's a saint in my eyes and I love him to pieces. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Signs of Assimilation

I sign my emails with “Best Regards” now. And reply to items simply with “Noted” as my only comment to let someone know I got the message. Used to sound so formal and standoffish to me. My other one that really did use to kinda hurt my feelings was when someone would send a “Gentle Reminder” to do something. I know they said gentle, but if you have to say that are you really being gentle? It felt so pushy. Haven’t gotten to the gentle reminder stage of assimilation yet, but maybe someday I will.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Magic Review

I’ve hooked Brian up with a few people looking for magicians for parties in the next few weeks. The wanted him to tell him about his show and he asked for my help, “How would you describe my magic show to someone?”

“STUNNING!” was my reponse.

Ben piped in, “Well if you watch it…about 20 times then it gets kinda boring.”

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cub Scout Registration

I was just perusing through old posts making sure all was in order on the blog when I ran across this post. Still in draft mode. It had me cracking up. I see why I didn't publish it at the time. Now a year and a half and a quarter globe away from the situation I can laugh at myself (and the people that about made me lose my mind). Enjoy and have a laugh on me today.

Written August 23, 2013 - in the middle of Cub Scout registration where we topped out at 176 scouts. I was the poor schmuck who accepted the job of registrar.

If you want to see how hard I can bite just write "see last years form" on the Cub Scout registration forms and assume I will go to the hot and sweaty locker and dig through old dusty papers because you are lazy. IDIOTS!! You can't take 10 seconds to write it down? I have given up all my free time for 3 weeks to do this volunteer job and you can't fill in a critical line like that?

And NO I won't lead your den because you want to be involved in your kids life. I don't have one in your grade level and already do TWO JOBS for the pack.

NO I will not organize your uniform order. I have my stuff already and got burned when someone didn't pay me last year. And I didn't even need anything for my own kid. It was just something I did to be nice that turned into a disaster.

NO you did not pay. Like I told you before. You didn't send me any money.

NO cub scouts isn't like basketball camp where you drop them off for 4 hours and go get a pedicure. It is MANDATORY that tiger parents attend with their boys. You aren't an exception.

YES I am going to require that you complete the form. The WHOLE form. Just writing the scouts name at the top doesn't cut it.

NO we will not change the date of the pack meeting for 160 families because you can't make it one day. You aren't that important. 

YES you may need to step up and lead a den or else there won't be a den for your kid to attend. I WILL NOT LEAD YOUR DEN. Remember? I already have two jobs with the pack and you have none. Plus I am room mom and help at my church and loads if other stuff while you go to lunch with your girl friends or golf with your buddies. Volunteer organization means get off your butt and help!

I am about ready to throw in the towel. Too many idiots in this country. It's full of a bunch of unrealistic people. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kissing Hand and Seperation Anxiety

We have been inundated with Kissing Hand crafts these first two weeks of Jacob’s school. Finally today I asked him if some of the children are having a hard time leaving their Mommies and Daddies.

“Yes! The boy with curly hair is SOOOOOO annoying.”
“Why is he annoying?”

“Because he just CRIES so much each time we start class and at the end and each time you end class he cries the WHOLE time through the whole class. All the way from the beginning to the end, even when he is eating.”


Jacob’s not going to be our sympathetic one in the family I guess.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wasting My Time

Aug 16, 2013
"Mom, when you make me do work you are wasting my time."
"Sorry. Which work is wasting your time?"
Jacob wrinkles his nose and thinks for a second, "I don't know."

Afternoon Slump

Aug 15, 2013

It's mid afternoon and I've hit a slump. Laying on the couch checking my email Ashlyn came it and gave me a friendly French kiss. Then she climbed up on top of me and laid down with a knife and carrot. Then we chilled together. These are some of the moments we love having a helper here to make dinner. My life rocks today and I may be tired but I'm happy!

Young Women Camp

Aug 8, 2013
So Ben took a look at my luggage for camp and asks, "Is that how much we usually bring for one person on a trip?"
"No, I have to bring extra because I'm a leader."
"Wow mom. That's A LOT of stuff. I really hope the ferry doesn't sink because of your luggage."

Gee thanks. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Shopping Assistant

Today I went shopping at the Reeves house for hand me downs that will fit my girls. I took all four kids to give dad a break at home alone for a bit. Ashlyn didn't appreciate my divided attention so she eventually decided to "help" me put by being right in the middle of the action. Not helpful, little lady. Not helpful. But very cute.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ashlyn Bubbles

2 Aug 2013
I finally caught Ashlyn and her amazing talent on camera. Usually she stops when I come around and tries to play with me.

Jacob Engaged, Planning 1,000 Kids and Going Black

Jacob asked the other day, "Mom, can I marry Maddie?"
"Sure kiddo, but not until you are a grown up."

In the car yesterday Jacob asked "Mom, when will my skin turn black?"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"I don't like it when the people with black skin touch my chin." (He's referring to Indians and the like with darker coloring.)
"I don't think you will ever turn black but when you get bigger they will stop touching you. They never touch mom or dad and usually don't touch Ben."

"I want to have 1,000 kids."
"Wow! How big will your house be?"
"It will have a million rooms so every kids gets their own room."
"Won't they be scared to sleep alone?"
Considers my comment for a minute.
"I will sleep with each one of them."
"How will you do that?"
"I will sleep with one for half the night then change and sleep with the other one."
"But what about all the other ones?"
Thinking again.
"I will sleep with each one for one minute and change every minute."
"Won't you be tired if you have to walk to a new room every minute? You won't sleep a lot."
"Mmmmmm......no 'cuz I'll go the highest one, the medium one, then to the next one down, then to the next one down until the one hundred number kid and start all over again. I won't be tired."

Goodbyes Are Hard

We say goodbye to friends far too often living here where everyone and their dog is "only here 2 or 3 years" but no one leaves on schedule. Some leave after 10 months and are surprised and some stay 14 years on their 2 year assignment. Life is never predictable. Jonette made a great collage of a goodbye when her family moved back to Maryland. It's the perfect commentary to expat life.

Our family.
Ekbergs - went to University of Utah with him 15 years ago, met her here 2 yrs ago and went to Bangkok for a girls weekend away
Pitman & Peterson - both here a long while and on local package home schooling and in local schools
All the kids - we MUST be a Mormon group!
Jonette & Brooke - seen Brooke around but don't live close
Twittys - been around but live far so don't know them well but want to because they're fun!
Mona - don't see her often enough, darn ward split
Lifferths - moved to Singapore two months ago and already attending a goodbye party for Jonette who they swapped child care with
Szarka - been in Singapore 7 days, still jet lagged and peppered us with questions about where to shop, how to hire a maid, where is this, how do you that.
And the pictures go on, etc, etc
And that's how we roll here in the expat world. ALWAYS making new friends. You learn quick to jump in and get to know people and if someone invites you over, it's not a pity thing, it's just what you gotta do. All offers of friendship are genuine.

Things I Don't Miss Living Overseas

Things I had forgotten I wasn't missing by being overseas. "We are currently experiencing heavier than normal call volumes. All customer care team members are currently helping other customers. Please hold on and we will answer your call in the order in which it was received." Cue crummy hold music and ads for company you are mad at. I can't remember the last time I heard that stuff on a call! Our repair men in Singapore may not show up and they don't answer their phones but I guess that does mean I never waste time waiting endlessly on hold.

Why Can't You Cook?

It cracked me up to see one of my kids go do this to someone else. My first 3 kids, of course, would come and shove their bodies between my legs and the counter as I struggled to get dinner prepared and on the table. This week Ashlyn did just that same exact thing to Gina.
We were both dying laughing. She would wedge her little head between Gina’s legs and the cupboard and push, push, push with her hands until she had gained a foot hold and then lay down and push Gina farther and farther away. If Gina stepped to the side to get away, she’d follow and keep pushing with all her little strength. The pictures are both when Gina side stepped her and she was rolling over to go at it again. All smiles and determination!
So does that mean it’s not a “pay attention to me mom” thing, it’s just a “pay attention to me ANYONE” thing. Kinda made my day to laugh at someone else trying to ballet dance over and around a 18 month old while dicing an onion and trying not trip. She loves Gina.
Don’t worry. After I got the picture, I took her away to play in the living room so Gina didn’t sprain an ankle.

14th Anniversary

I think it may put me in the bad wife category that MY MAID reminded me that my wedding anniversary was coming up. I completely forgot. The good news? Brian appeared to be just as surprised as me when he saw it coming up on the calendar the week before. We are pitiful. But still happily in love.
We went to dinner at Hatched. It’s an egg restaurant and I thought it was fun. Maybe it doesn’t rank with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Mortons for a special day, but it was such a sweet pick from Brian because he knows how much I LOVE eggs and we had tried a couple times to go in the last year before without any luck. So I decided to get a stake anyway and ordered the Cowboy Sandwich. Steak on an English muffin topped with a fried egg. It was delicious!
We were home by 8:30pm and passed Peter walking up the street to see Gina. He was surprised to see us and asked, “Isn’t it your anniversary?” “Yep. We’re old and boring and home already.” So we hung out with Gina and Peter for a bit then watched a movie and ate half a pint of $25 Ben & Jerry’s ice cream Brian bought to surprise me. You can only spend that much for a special occasion and I’m glad I ranked.
Happy Anniversary my love! I think life rocks because you’re around. Let’s take bets where we will live on our big 15th anniversary. I’m guessing we’ll be homeless. Crossing fingers to be in negotiations for a residence in some undisclosed location. I hate uncertainty, but love that you’ll be by my side where ever we are heading. I love you.

Good Day Yesterday

Life looks good. I did happy dance all day.
House in Houston is finally remodeled, repaired and listed for sale. Which means the big bills will stop now.
Gina’s boyfriend, Peter, gave us a new bike two days ago - think third world trike to haul gear to work for grownups. Kids were happy ALL DAY LONG riding circles in the yard.
No fighting.
Lots of creating. They have been crazy busy building with tape and saws and a power drill and using everything in our recycle bin then floating their creations in the ankle deep pool in the back yard. Again. 
I kept my stamina up and powered through every single medical, vision, dental receipt from Aug 2012 to June 2013. Finally everything is in quicken, scanned to pdf files, sorted, logged in excel for tracking, and submitted. Big sigh of relief inside and I’m mentally gearing up for the fight with insurance to resubmit a minimum of 50% of those claims. Thus the 1 year delay. I’m tired of the fight to get money they know they owe.
Here’s the other big one…
And to top it off, I bribed Ashlyn to say "Mom" for the first time today (she's been saying dada for about 5 months and nothing else). Yahoo!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Marshmallow Catapults

The boys have been building stuff out of Bens Cub Scout book for hours. Mostly marshmallow catapults from every piece of recycling material in my waste bin, chop sticks, plastic spoons, tape, elastic, hack saw and a hand drill. They are in heaven. I love it too.

These are our two newest friends (twins) to move to Singapore and their house is full of movers unpacking boxes so we had the four kids for the day. Everyone has been pretty happy. We are always glad to find friends with kids our kids enjoy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dog Show

Kids are out of ideas on what to do today. Stella said she wanted to play family and be dogs. Maddie had a rotten face because she didn't want to be the owner. Jacob was willing but Maddie still drug her feet so me decided not to get into it.
I showed them a YouTube video of a dog show where the dogs run through tubes and jump over poles and such. All of a sudden everyone was into it and the big boys were ease dropping and planning. Five minutes later we have Ashlyn's baby tunnel out and the furniture is moved to the side if the room. We have the poles from the back yard we use for drying bed sheets and all the kitchen chairs and stools.

Here are the cute dogs ready for the show.

The Ready For Action One


The Artistic One

Madison Mae

The Helpful One


The Adorable One


Ashlyn's Goggles

Brian reports that even though Ashlyn won't wear her glasses she will wear Jacobs prescription goggles forever.

Chop Stick Wizard

Ben has mastered the art of the chop stick. Brian was pleasantly surprised when Ben made quesadillas today using his chop sticks to move the flavored chicken chunks into the tortilla. We are living some mutant sort of Chinese American Tex-Mex culture here at our house.


Ashlyn's getting more teeth. When we came back from China she had pushed several more out. She had the two top middle and the four bottom middle. Then last week she got her first molar. That girl is addicted to the oral numbing gel. She brings it to me and signs "mas" (more). (We still do American Sign Language in Spanish.)

She's losing that baby look with this mouth full of chompers.

Word Stones - The FHE Lesson that Keeps on Giving

So the point of that FHE lesson the other day (the Jedi Jesus one) was to talk about judging each other. It was my feeble attempt to address the rudeness, blaming and tattle telling in the house. We talked about stoning the woman taken in adultery and our unkind words are also judging. I related those mean words we are hearing all day long at our house to "word stones" and we need to stop throwing word stones at each other.

This morning I showered and came out of my room to screaming downstairs. Unfortunately this is the status quo when the Zufelts have a four year old in the house. This is our round three and I'm thinking it's probably realistic to see one last round in the upcoming future with Ashlyn.

I called Jacob away from the fight and all the way up to the third floor to give him time to cool off by the time he arrived to discuss with me. He began to unleash the injustices done to him as he rounded the last corner. I put my hand up and said "Shhhh." Again the protests. Again a hand and "Shhhh." "BUT!!" "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." And he was quiet.

"What happened?"
"Ashlyn almost knocked a chair over so I RAN TO STOP"
"I ran to stop it and Maddie said I almost knocked it over but I DIDN'T!!"
"That's what this is over? There is no pushing or shoving? Just what she thinks and what you think?"
"So if she thinks something different than you think it's ok. She can say her thing and you can say your thing and if you think she is wrong then you can ignore her and she will be quiet."
"SHHHHHHH. Does it hurt you if she says something you don't think is right?"
"I mean does it hurt your body?"
"Yes. I don't want to get hit by a word stone."
I grabbed him and hugged him to my chest quickly to hide my smile and little giggles. He's right. Word stones hurt too.

Where to do we go from here? He "got it" but it hasn't changed behavior yet. We'll just keep plugging along. So far the other two kids have outgrown being four years old. I know he will too. In fact, Ben is turning out to be a rather stellar kid and Maddie, who I wasn't even sure I liked for a few years (she was a real struggle for me), is often really sweet and kind now. Jacob will be the same in time and stop instigating fights, looking around to make sure no one is watching and then punching people in the head and over reacting to every tiny thing by throwing his body on the ground. Just hoping it's sooner than later.

Yesterday he spent a LOT of time in time out for lying about the stupidest thing. The story got more and more elaborate and impossible. No matter how we proved said things couldn't have happened, he embellished and made up more to the story. So frustrating. It would have been such a simple thing to end it in two seconds but it took 30 minutes of him screaming.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jedi and Scripture

Tonight for family night we learned about when Jesus said of the woman taken in adultery "let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Discussing that the men were trying to trick Jesus with words we asked what should he have said. Ben was quick to put up his Jedi knight hand and slowly wave as he said, "You will go away now. You will not follow Moses law. You will let her go." I think we had too much Star Wars this weekend if he wants Jesus to be a Jedi.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ashlyn is Texting

Ashlyn sent her first text message today when I set my phone down and looked away.
" Zsxehnr tiujjjuumbbbvjanrrfxfddfrdhafggu" to Na Hyun our Korean friend. It's likely Ashlyn knows Korean and she totally understood what she wrote but the meaning was totally lost on me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Home School on Hold?

It's 8:30 and I'm still in bed. The 3 big kids gave up and went down to find their own breakfast. I'm still sluggish after our trip. Had a little fever yesterday but not high and its gone now. Just so tired.

Tuesday I was the responsible party and stayed up nearly all night while the others slept. It was my job to be awake so we didn't miss checking in for the flight and then boarding. I finally slept a little on the 5 hour flight but needed a 3 hour nap in the afternoon at home. Wednesday I was so tired that I lauded on the couch the entire day. Feeling to exhausted to do a single thing after home school was finished in the morning. Yesterday I wanted to abandon home school but didn't want to tell them. They just kept bringing me workbooks and asking, "Can I do these four pages for hand writing?" And "can I do fraction wrap-ups Forsyth today?" No matter what they suggested, I just said Yes. It was defiantly a zero resistance sort of day.

Today I want to throw in the towel again. The fighting got bad yesterday though so I don't think I can abandon completely. I will have to push through some sort of structure this morning to maintain the balance. Yuck. I'm sure by Monday I'll be my normal self again.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fat Americans

Catherine, our tour guide, told us that Chinese people often say Tienamen square is so big that it can fit 2 million Japanese people, 1 million Chinese people or 0.5 million Americans. Of course that is funny enough as it is but it was proven later that night.

We went to a hot pot restaurant on the 8th floor of the building so we took the elevator. Everyone in the lobby rushed into the elevator including half of our group. The alarm was going off and the door wouldn't close meaning it was too full i.e. over weight. Two of our group got off, then one more person. Still the alarm was sounding. Bryce was the last one in our little party in the elevator and when he stepped off the alarm stopped and the doors began to close.

Shon started laughing and said out loud that once all the Americans got off it wasn't over weight anymore. Everyone inside the elevator and outside started laughing along with him. I guess we have to admit we are a bunch of fatties after all.

Birth Control

The in room mini bar has condoms you can buy at my hotel. And not just one, there are two choices. That's taking country wide birth control to a new level if you asked me. I say that in a positive way  meaning if that's what you want then they are helping people achieve the goal by having easy access. The only hotel I can imagine in the US with condoms are not places I would ever hang around.

Of course our tour guide told me there is a new law for city people that they are now encouraged to have two babies. It does not apply to country people.

Sock Lies

July 5, 2013
This is what I found when I took 30 seconds to tidy up the Barbies all over the floor today before the pest control guys arrived. Usually Maddie Mae has to do it but she's at the zoo with my in laws. 9 socks in the bin from 6 different sets of socks. Can't locate the other 3 missing ones just yet. She keeps telling me she doesn't have any socks so I finally ordered online and grandma brought some to her.

She is going to have to locate the missing 3 socks when she gets home. She's not going to be happy about it but I'm none too happy about her deceit. She routinely hides things so she won't have to clean them. Rotten little stink. 

Passing Time

July 4, 2013
We went to the SEA Aquarium today with grandparents. Jake chickened out of the tsunami movie at the aquarium so we found a way to pass the time playing drums.

Jakey And Marriage

Mom, I can reach to wash my hands in the blue stool now because I got big!
Who said you could get big?
No one.
I won't allow it.
I did. I just want to get married. No. Actually I want to be a grown up but not get married. What is that kid if guy?
(Huge smile grows on his face.)
I am going to be THAT.

Chop Stick Weight Loss Plan

There aren't many forks to be found here in Beijing. Our tour guide was asking who can use chop sticks and Brian's mom Anne said that try as she may she simply cannot make them work. Never could her whole life. Catherine just replied that chopsticks are a very effective weight loss program. She had us all rolling with laughter. So if Anne looks particularly fantastic when we return we will all have to jump on the band wagon and do the chopstick diet.

Later we were at the Pearl Market and picked up neon colored children's trainer chop sticks for her and grandpa. At dinner at our hotel the waitress asked do the need a chop sticks and grandpa said no and pulled his trainer chop sticks and they started laughing at him and went to tell the other wait staff to look at our table. We are certainly finding things comical here in Beijing!

Quote of the Day

At the Pearl Market in Beijing the sales people are aggressive and pushy. After a while we had negotiated over a few items and Maddie asked me in complete sincerity, "Mom, why are they just MAKING us buy all this stuff?"

Harry Potter in China

We got home from China on Tuesday and everyone in the country that spoke English told me Ben he looked like Harry Potter. Then we rode the overnight train to Xi'an and back and we really did leave from the platform between 9 and 10! Obviously it's the glasses and hair cut. And the fact he studies magic with his dad, right?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ashlyn Weigh In

16 months old and the little lady weighed in at 7.52 kg or 16.5 lbs. I was honestly blown away. How can she be THAT small still?

Maddie the Reader

Maddie just started reading Junie B Jones and feels like such a big girl. Reads one page a night out loud in bed. I listen through the baby monitor and smile. So cute.

I asked her tonight how it was going and she was proud to report she was on page eight tomorrow. Bad news though, I promised her it was a funny book but it wasn't funny yet. I had compassion on her and even though it was way past bedtime I read her two chapters to help get it going.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Facebook and Haze

We've been outside driving for 15 minutes and I want to turn on the radio so I turn on the system which includes GPS. It immediately says "Cannot find satellites. Are you currently indoors?" It's dark today but we didn't think the haze was THAT bad. Maddie says, "Mom you have to put that on Facebook."

Saturday Morning with NOTHING on the Schedule

June 29, 2013
Today I got ants in my pants and wanted to buy some red, white and blue spray hair color. No luck there but we landed at Sembawang Shopping Center and stopped to play for an hour at the splash pad and play ground. Not having swim gear didn't slow anyone down a bit and they had a great time. Ashlyn enjoyed the zero friction bucket that spun faster an faster every time she tried to stop it. 

Ben was a good brother and helped her but in the end she decided she wanted to be alone afterall. 

Maddie and Jake are having fun on the teeter totter.

And Dad was the protector of everyone's glasses while they were getting wet.

Now it's home for lunch and a nap for mom because I've been fighting a horrible head cold. Tonight we go to the 4th of July Independence Day and celebrate our heritage!

Time to Baby Proof

June 25, 2013
Time to rearrange the cupboards! Ashlyn swapped the diaper rash cream for liquid nail glue. Complete surprise when I saw it. That could have been a hilarious disaster!!

Famous Day

June 26, 2013
It's Famous Day! As per Brian standard protocol we arrived bright and early at the commercial shoot. 45 minutes early to be exact. Good thing there was an outdoor playground to keep Ben and Maddie Mae happy while we waited for go time.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Haze in Singapore

This is pretty accurate as to what you can see here in Singapore. The haze is absolutely awful. Hilarious! And true. The house across the street is even hazy that's how bad it is. I don't have breathing troubles but my lungs have been hurting for two days.