Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tai Tai Bonus

My understanding of the phrase “Tai Tai” is that it’s the rich wife who never does any work. It’s what is assumed that all expat wives here in Asia qualify as Tai Tais.


Last week I finally caved (after a year plus of asking) and went with my girlfriend to get a pedicure. Sitting there in the cushy chairs getting our feet worked on the ladies teased us that we were just Tai Tai out for a day of fun with all our money. My friend goes for a pedicure a couple times a month, so they are friendly with each other and can tease her.


Tai Tai. That’d be me for sure, right? I don’t do much at all. Just a “lunching lady” who shops and goes to the spa. Ummm…NO. I have a good life, make no mistake about that. Gina has made it better to be sure, but in my western mind that has only freed me up to go do more volunteering and be more involved in the school lives of my kids and read and play with the short people I share a life with.


Today I got an email from Madison’s kindergarten teacher. It was the chaperone list for the Chinatown fieldtrip next week. There are 22 kids in the class and 20 have a parent coming along. The other two are working parents – who I happen to know because they come every single chance they get, which is most of the time.


Is that NUTS??? Nearly 100% chaperones. Rock on Tai Tai’s of the world!! (And the dads that are taking work off to come are also pretty stellar.) This world I’m living in is pretty great.


I’m curious to see how it all plays out as they age though. I also arranged chaperones to Jurong Bird Park for Ben’s third grade class this week. Of 22 I had 6 offer. And it was PULLING TEETH to get support out of them for our class project – just email me a recipe their kids like. We had SIX deadlines before I gave up, but that’s a topic for another post about my cultural analysis of cooking in a country with helpers….

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pasta and Bread

Kristie has a rule that no pasta can be consumed unless you also provide bread in some variety - like rolls or a slice of bread. Tonight we didn't open the bread loaf until we had basically finished dinner so the kids asked for a literal crumb so that they didn't get in trouble with mean Aunt Kristie.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Glasses for Ashlyn

Good bye baby face. Hello glasses. Here is Ashlyn with her new look. We picked up her glasses tonight and she's not a fan. Notice to get the picture, we had both her hands held down. We will take baby steps on this one. Hahaha. Just wearing them a little at a time until she learns to accept them. Meanwhile she's taking her own baby steps and getting lots better at walking on her own.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


We celebrated 12-12-12 12:12:12 today. That is December 12th, 2012 at 12:12 pm. We are a bit late but we enjoyed it just the same. For some reason I was in Ben's classroom when I received a text from Brian celebrating the moment in one with a picture of the date displayed on the corner of his computer screen. I told Ben and the kids in our vicinity and we started to discuss how we could celebrate that kind of a date. We decided tht the best way to honor the 12-12-12 was to have ice cream with 12 toppings. And on 27-01-13 we finally got around to celebrating it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Motivation Part I

What motivates you to do something? I mean, what really gets you up out of your seat and moving toward an end goal--especially when that goal may be somewhat difficult or time consuming to accomplish?

I recently made it through the nearly six-month process to obtain a new motorcycle license in Singapore.  Singapore has a strict course structure that anyone desiring a motorcycle license must complete before they can take the final police tests for riding theory and practical skills.  I will describe the entire process in another post.  I knew going into it that the classes and tests would not be easy.  This knowledge delayed me a bit in starting--I debated whether it was worth going through the process.  I finally decided to do it.  I kept pushing through the process and am glad to say I came out a victor!

I have several motivating factors that helped me make it through this process.  First, I have always wanted a motorcycle license.  As a teenager, I drove my dad's motorcycle off-road in the bushes near our house.  I enjoyed the feeling of freedom and excitement that driving a motorcycle gives.  After I got married, we moved to Houston, where the weather supports riding a motorcylce to work for most of the year.  It took me several years to convince my wife to support me in getting a license.  However, before I had a chance to act, we moved to Virginia.  I ran into two new obstacles--the warm weather period is much shorter and we lived in a townhome with limited parking.  I considered getting a license for six more years, but apparently this motivating factor was not quite strong enough.

My second motivating factor is the cost of ownership.  A motorcycle costs considerably less than a car (yes, there are motorcycles that cost more than a car, but I am not talking about those).  A motorcycle also consumes much less gas and costs less to operate. 

The motivating factor that finally pushed me to take the plunge was the reduction in commute time I could achieve.  We have one car here in Singapore.  On days that I drive the car to work I can make it from our front door to my building in 40-60 minutes, depending on traffic.  If Angie needs the car, then I take public transportation.  This means a 15 minute walk to the train, a 20 minute train ride, a 5 minute walk to the company bus pick up point, followed by a 30 minute bus ride to the Jurong island checkpoint, where we disembark the bus, pass through the badge and thumbprint activated security gates and metal detectors, and then climb back on the bus for another 15 minute ride to the front gate of the refinery.  At, the refinery we pass through another badge activated gate and wait up to 15 minutes for the next internal shuttle followed by another 5 minute ride to my building.  This full process takes a minimum of 90 minutes if everything lines up and traffic is good, and a bit longer if when it rains or we experience traffic problems.  At the end of the day, I get to go through the same process, only in reverse. 

I tried accepting the fact that public transport is a normal part of life here and that many other people are doing the same thing every day.  However, I could not get over the simple math--I waste around one and one half hours each day I take public transportation to get to work.  If I could drive every day, I could be with my family that much longer.  What's more, my daughter told me several times that she wishes we were back in Virginia so she could see me more time every day.  Purchasing a second car here is financially unviable--we wouldn't even have the first car if the company didn't provide it.  I saw a motorcycle as the only workable solution. 

I finally made the decision to go for it and asked Angie for her support.  She was not (and still is not) thrilled with the idea of me riding out in traffic on a motorbike, but she did give her consent as long as I agreed to ride safely and not dart between the cars.  I started the motorcycle course in May and passed the Singapore's final skills test on November 1.  My excitement to stop relying on public transportation built as I progressed through the classes.  This excitement kept me looking forward to the successful completion of my goal.

Even when the rain is pouring down (as it does so many days here in Singapore), riding the motorcycle is so much better than relying on the public transportation.  I love getting back home earlier and having some time with my family before dinner and bedtime.  I love the feeling of freedom as the wind whips past on the expressway.  I also love pulling up to the pump and purchasing a full tank of gas for only $10 compared to the $100+ to fill up our car.  This was one goal that was well worth the commitment required to reach the end.

Motivation Part II

What motivates you to do something? I mean, what really gets you up out of your seat and moving toward an end goal--especially when that goal may be somewhat difficult or time consuming to accomplish?

In "Motivation Part I" I wrote about the motivation factors that moved me to obtaining my motorcycle license.  While I was working toward obtaining my license, I met another person on the same path.  I told Angie about this person and she made me promise to post about this encounter and this other person's motivating force, so here it is.

The first class I was required to attend was an orientation class.  During this class we were introduced to the training center and the Honda motorcycles we would be learning on.  The instructor taught us useful information such as how to use the motorcycle controls, how to start the motorcycle, and how to get the motorcycle back on its wheels after a fall.  We had not yet obtained our learner's permits so we were not allowed to actually get on the motorcycles--that would be covered in the first real skills class.

I looked around my classmates and noticed something--I was a bit out of place.  First, I was the only "ang moh" (Caucasian) in the class.  Second, I was a bit older than all of the other people in the class.  In Singapore, the minimum age for a drivers license is 18.  Since cars are so very expensive, the first license many people get is a motorcycle license.  Therefore, all of the other people in the class were probably very close to 18 years old.  Well, almost all--I noticed there was one other person that appeared a bit older than me.  I have not quite learned how to judge an Asian person's age, so I had no idea how much older he might be.  His was a larger man with his head completely shaved--so I couldn't even use his hair color as an indicator.

A couple of weeks later I was able to attend the first theory class.  When I entered the classroom, I recognized a familiar face--this same person that was in my orientation class.  Happy to see at least one familiar face, I waved hello.  He smiled and appeared to recognize me as well.  I sat down in the desk next to him and we began to talk.  I found out his name was Christopher.  Like me, he had a car license and several years of driving experience.  Christopher has a couple of dogs.  He is Singaporean and has recently retired--turns out he was quite a bit older than I had originally thought.

A few days later, I attended the second theory class.  I entered the room and sat down.  Within a few minutes, Christopher appeared at the doorway.  Seeing a familiar face, he walked over and sat down next to me.  Again, we started talking.  This time about why we were gettting our motorcycle license and what type of motorcycle we wanted to get.  I told Christopher that I wanted to get a cruiser style bike and that I was getting a motorcycle so I could still drive to work when my wife needed the car. 

Christopher then told me that he wanted to get a bike with a side car.  I found this a little peculiar because the motorcycles with side cars are usually smaller bikes.  Christopher was quite a bit larger than the typical Singaporean and seemed to me to be disproportionate to the bike he was describing.  When I asked him how he planned on using the side car, he told me his motivation for getting a motorcycle.  Christopher wanted to get a motorcycle with a side car so he can transport his dogs.  At this point I was envisioning this large man on a small motorcycle with two dogs in the side car with their riding goggles over their eyes and riding scarves waving in the wind trailing behind. 

Christopher continued his explanation by telling me his dogs suffer from motion sickness.  When he has to take them somewhere in the car, it turns out to be a messy experience.  If he can transport them in the side car, then he will be able to clean up after them much more easily--he can simply hose off the side car and let it air dry.  I found this a very peculiar motivation for a retired man to decide he needed to get a motorcycle license after all these years of driving a car.

I continued on with my classes as fast as the class and test schedules would allow.  I ran into Christopher a few other times, but he seemed to be progressing through the classes a bit slower.  I hope he was able to make it through to the end.  If you see a motorcycle travelling down the road with a couple of dogs in the side car, wave hi for me.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Too much whipped cream

During the christmas break we took a trip to Vietnam. The day we returned we didn't have a meal plan and didn't have a lot of groceries in the house, so we scoured the fridge to come up with an idea for dinner.  Angie found a can of whipped cream.  She had wanted to make Santa Claus pancakes for a while, so she decided that would be the perfect night to do it.

We sent the kids upstairs to put on their pajamas while we prepared dinner.  I jumped in to help by making the pancakes.  Angie enhanced my nice round pancakes with banana slices and chocolate chips for eyes, banana slices for ears, a whipped cream beard, and a red nose and had made from strawberry jam.  Quickly we had three masterpieces for each of the three older kids.

Angie called the kids to dinner.  Their first response was one of excitement at the colorful masterpiece that was at their dinner spot.  They quickly recognized the Santa Claus face sitting on their dinner plate.  However, their second response was to ask if they had to eat it or if they could just have a normal pancake without the whipped cream. 

Jacob's response was best.  Lately he has been very excited to be the one selected to offer the dinner prayer.  He requested the priveledge to pray that night and I was happy to oblige.  During his prayer he said, "Please don't let us have any more whipped cream because we already have way too much."

Apparently, the kids are not big fans of whipped cream.  In the end, the adults got to eat the delicious Santa Claus pancakes, while the kids had plain ordinary pancakes with maple syrup.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Couple of Suckers

I walked up to the kindergarten waiting stairs today and saw Madison and her buddy Anna talking, each with a finger or thumb in her mouth. It was a rather serious conversation I could tell and I listened in to discover they were discussing which finger was the best one to suck on. You'd think at the age of six they would be over it, but they both say it just tastes good. Weirdos. Who talks about stuff like that but two cute kindergarten friends cut from the same mold.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Brian

Happy birthday to Mr. Zufelt. We love you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ashlyn Is Walking

On January 10th Ashlyn officially took her first steps unaided. She loves to be moving. Even after she was too tired of walking to me alone she still wanted to cruise from one side of the room to the other on the walker. She's one adorable little lady.

FHE David and Goliath

Tonight for family night we took turns killing Goliath. It was epically cool.

Yellow Slow Down

Standing. looking at the automatic flushing sensor yellow light. Peeing. Says, "Green go. Red stop. Yellow slow down... I can't slow down my pee!"

Picture of the Day - Ashlyn at the Hỏa Lò Prison

This is Ashlyn at the "Hanoi Hilton" which is the name the prisoners of war used for the prison they were kept in during the Vietnam War. The prison is actually called The Hỏa Lò Prison. Her face is just perfect. She looks so stressed at being locked up in the shackles. I couldn't stop laughing while I took the photos. No one else was small enough to stick their feet into them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Funny Picture of the Day

I found this today. I don’t even remember taking it but it made me smile.

Must have been patch day for everyone with glasses!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Thanks

This year we built a turkey on the wall during the month of November again. We all said things through the month and wrote them on feathers and by Thanksgiving day we had a really awesome, colorful turkey. Here are some of my favorites this year.


My God – Madison

Airplanes – Grandma Zufelt

Eyes – Jacob

Our house – Ben

Gina! Friendship and her amazing help – Angie

Baby Ashlyn but without her slobber – Jacob

Walking to school with my kids and talking to them – Angie

Jesus dying on the cross – Madison

Job to provide for our family – Brian

Earth – Madison

Money to buy toys – Ben

Food – Ben

My train from India – Jacob (toy from a recent trip)

The Zufelt 6 (Ben, Maddie, Jake, Ashlyn, Brian & Angie) – Grandpa Zufelt

Freedom – Grandma Zufelt


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Nativity

Here is Brian's primary class of Sunbeams and CTR 4s. All boys all the time.
Jacob loves having dad as his teacher and I think he does a pretty good job
considering the wild creatures he gets each week. The Sunday before
Christmas they acted out the nativity play in class. They were all a bunch
of wise men and shepherds and I think he said there was a Joseph but no
Mary's in the lot.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Airport Weigh-In

Happy New Year! Here are our latest stats from our airport weigh-in the first morning of January 2013.

Ben 22.9 kg (50.5 pounds) at 8 1/2 years old
Madison 17.2 kg (37.9 pounds) 6 years old
Jacob 17.0 kg (37.5 pounds) 4 years old
Ashlyn 6.6 kg (14.6 pounds) 10 months