Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Friday, August 29, 2014

Called In Again

Welcome back to base plant operations. Ugh. Brian has spent years supporting "projects." Now he supports day to day operations. He has been called in every single weekend to work since we arrived in Saudi. This morning (weekend) he got called and had to go to work at 3am. Poor man. And poor us. And he's late home from work a lot too. We sure had a sweet deal in Fairfax and Singapore! Now we have everyone else's life again and, as Ben would say, I don't love it. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

School Has Begun

First day solo with Ashlyn. Big kids are at school all day. Daddy at work. No Gina. Let's PLAY!

Wardrobe Fights

Madison and I butt heads over clothes. Daily. Here is what she wore today. I don't know who "won". She didn't wear nice silky skirts to play in the dirt. *Win for me* She didn't wear long sleeves or long pant variety winter clothes for the forecasted 110 def F. *Win for me* But she did successfully cover her entire leg with fancy boots so there will be no actual cooling of her body. *Win for her*

This was the third outfit she put on this morning. I can't wait for cooler weather so she can wear whatever she wants and not get heat stroke at recess. Yesterday Ben reported that she had worn the summer clothes I made her wear but came to recess in a jacket zipped shut with the hgood on. She has a good today on that t-shirt and wore it most the morning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saudi Arabia is Awesome

Driving through old Jubail my kids made up a new song. They have been singing the "Everything is Awesome" song from the Lego Movie. The new song written by Jacob is constant repeat of the words "Saudi Arabia is awesome!" I hope that means he is happy about the move. 

Saudi Arabia is Awesome

Driving through old Jubail my kids made up a new song. They have been singing the "Everything is Awesome" song from the Lego Movie. The new song written by Jacob is constant repeat of the words "Saudi Arabia is awesome!" I hope that means he is happy about the move. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Doha Now

We have had a very long day or more - I can't really tell how long we've been in transit anymore but I believe 24 hrs since we left Centerville. We have successfully separated in SLC and reconnected with Brian in Doha, Qatar. Things are changing already. It was 34 C / 93 F when we landed at 7pm and the women are covering more. The men look the same except a few in the traditional white clothing so far.

And of course the bathrooms. As I opened the stall I half held my breath having a conversation in my head. It's a nice airport - they won't be squatters. But maybe they will. I hope not. I'm too worn out to squat today. I was pleased to see a sitter but smiled to see it was all wet from the bum squirter hose. And the toilet paper was almost gone. Welcome back was all I could think.

One more one hour flight to go then customs/luggage/visa/immigration and then a one hour drive home. We will be home about 11:30 pm I would estimate. Then they can run around and tour the house and crash for a sleep in morning while Brian goes off to work.

30 Hours of Travel

August 13, 2014
We finally made it to our new home after 30 hours of traveling. We arrived at home at midnight without Brian. He had ordered two cars to pick us up knowing we had 6 people and a LOT of luggage. 14 checked pieces of luggage plus 6 small backpacks and a roller bag I kept because Ashlyn was vomiting just two hours before we left for the airport and I felt confident I had better have a suitcase full of wardrobe changes for both her and I. Luckily neither of us needed them. Then we had three lost bags and that took well over an hour to file the claim. Finally, Brian we for to the curb only to see another problem. One SUV and no car seats. Brian sent us home in the first car alone, sans car seats, and he waited at the airport another hour for them to dispatch a second SUV to the airport to get him and the remainder of the luggage.

It wasn't quite the joyful, togetherness filled homecoming we had imagined after five months apart - him handing me a key and saying good luck but that's okay. We got home at midnight and had to search for the house because I didn't actually know where I lived. He arrived a little after 1 am. We had already worn out all the light switches and found a fee surprises he left us.

Everyone got peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with bread he had stashed in the freezer before he left. Then it was to bed by 2 am. Ashlyn slept a solid 60 minutes before waking up from her nap to play. We put her in our bed and tried to make the best of it but I don't think Brian or I slept at all from 3:30 am to 6:00 am when the poor guy had to go to work. He said goodbye to Ash and then two minutes later she began to wail. Daddy had left her. AGAIN. She was so angry and heart broken. When he came back to the bedroom to brush his teeth in the bathroom she was consoled and I grabbed the iPad to distract her from his next attempt at leaving.

The three big kids are all crashed in their beds. I'm hoping they sleep very late and kick this jet lag thing in the butt quickly. Brian works today and tomorrow then it's the sabbath so at least he only has to survive two days before he can sleep in. And I hope when Ashlyn naps today that I can put on a movie for the big kids and have a long snooze myself.

Monday, August 4, 2014

More than 4,000 Miles on the Mini Van!

Yesterday on my ump-teenth long drive I crossed the 4,000 mile threshold. That's 6,437 kilometers for you foreigners. I've only been in the USA for 8 weeks. That's a lot of miles to add to an odometer. I'm grateful that rental car companies no longer charge for mileage.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Our stuff is finally here...now where to put it all?

After the long wait, our stuff finally arrived in Saudi Arabia last Thursday.  I have been living in our house since April with minimal items.  Our new house was provided furnished.  We were provided with tables, chairs, couches, beds, sheets, towels, a vacuum, and kitchen utensils.  However, many times I find the provisions lacking--especially when it comes to cooking.  I have been really looking forward to receiving our shipment so the house would be fully stocked.  It is a relief to have everything, but I don't enjoy the unpacking. 

When we moved to Singapore we were given a 40-foot container as our shipping allotment.  At the time we had no real understanding of how much stuff could fit into a 40 foot shipping container.  We divided our household up into to groups:  1) our furniture, clothes, and other items we used frequently to be shipped to Singapore (about 2/3 of our stuff), and 2) the remaining items we felt we could live without for three years.  These items were loaded up into two moving trucks and taken away to be packed into the shipping container or sent to long-term storage.  Once the shipment arrived in Singapore we found out we had used about 26 feet of the 40-foot container.  We could have fit much more.  Many times we found ourselves thinking, "I wish I just had that [name an item] that we put in storage.  It sure would be useful today."  Sometimes we ended up purchasing the item we needed and sometimes we just made do without.  Overall I believe we were glad we did not bring much more than we did because our Singapore house just did not have a lot of storage space.  If we brought more we would not have had anywhere to put it.

As our Singapore chapter ended and we prepared for the move to Saudi Arabia we were informed we would only receive a 20-foot container as our shipping allotment since our Saudi house would already be furnished.  Wait a minute, we have to leave Singapore with only half the shipping space we received when we arrived?  I asked for clarification to the policy and eventually received authorization for an additional 20-foot shipping container to send to the USA for storage.  Then came the hard part--what to take with us and what to send to storage?  The furniture, of course had to go to storage.  We knew we were still probably over our limit for the Saudi shipment and needed to reduce our Saudi shipment a bit more.  Angie did a great job of selling/gifting/trashing many items in an effort to trim down the amount of stuff we had. 

Finally the packing day arrived.  We loaded the back of our car with our suitcases packed with the clothes we would need for the next two months and opened the house to the packers.  After only one day of packing nearly everything was boxed up ready to go.  On the second day the two shipping 20-foot shipping containers arrived on one trailer:  a blue container bound for Saudi Arabia and a green one for the USA.  Our house is on a bit of a hill, so they parked the trailer at the top of our neighborhood circle where the road is level so they could load both sides without the boxes falling.  The movers finished packing the remaining items and started loading them into the containers, starting with the Saudi shipment.  Because the containers were a little distance from our house, they loaded in a two-step process:  first they loaded the items onto a moving truck at our house and then offloaded the truck into the container.   

I imagine it must have been hot moving the stuff from the truck to the container.  In Singapore it is common to call taxi drivers, grocery checkers, movers, etc. by the name Auntie or Uncle.  One of the uncles moving the boxes would take his shirt off during this part of the move.  Ashlyn saw the guy with his shirt off and started calling him "naked uncle."  When they came back to the house for another load the uncle had put his shirt back on.  Ashlyn kept asking where the naked uncle had gone.

Even after all of the great work Angie did to reduce our stuff, we could tell our Saudi shipment was going to be tight.  I grabbed some of the larger and lower priority items and set them aside to load last if room remained in the container.  After three truck loads the blue shipping container was completely full.  We were not able to add back any of the items I had set aside.  The packers forced the door closed and then moved on to fill the green container.  There was plenty of room for the items headed to the USA--the shippers did not have to work nearly so hard to fit it all in.  In fact, they purposely spread everything out across the floor of the container so it wouldn't shift while in transit.

With the house empty, we had a few days remaining before leaving Singapore.  We cleaned the house and prepared it to turn back to the landlord.  We were also able to enjoy our kids' last days at school.  Then Sunday morning we all headed to the airport and parted ways.  The family went to the USA to spend summer vacation with grandparents.  I returned to Saudi Arabia to work for a couple of weeks before joining the family in the USA.

After two weeks of work I made my trip to the USA.  On my second day there I received an email stating that my shipment had cleared customs in Saudi Arabia and was ready for delivery.  I was very surprised it made it through customs that fast.  I had heard stories that sometimes it takes weeks a shipment to clear customs because they will search the shipment for magazines and videos and remove or black marker over anything they considered inappropriate (basically any woman not fully covered).  Our shipment must have slid through without any inspection (once we received the shipment it appeared that not a single box had been opened).  I had to ask for the shipment to be stored for a month until I returned to receive it.

Once I returned to Saudi I was able to receive the shipment.  It arrived in two moving trucks:  one closed box truck and one open flat bed.  Both trucks were completely packed--the flat bed truck had boxes stacked slightly higher than the fences on the sides.  Within two hours of arriving both of the trucks were completely empty, the bikes were reassembled and lined up in the front yard, the contents of the kitchen boxes had been emptied out onto the kitchen counters and dining table, and the movers hauled all of the trash and empty boxes away.  The rest of the boxes were scattered through the house, with some in each bedroom and a large pile of boxes containing toys and office stuff in the center of the main floor.

I was now left all alone with a massive challenge:  Put away as much as possible in the next week before leaving for the USA to pick up my family.  I started by targeting two areas:  the kitchen and living room.  One of the things I missed most was my stereo system--the house has been very empty and quiet over the last four months and I was really looking forward to listening to music again.  I had identified the boxes containing all of the audio equipment as they were brought into the house and had them set aside so I could easily find them.  Once I got the music going then I moved onto the kitchen, which was the second area I had missed moset.  After two full days of unpacking and organizing I pretty much had the kitchen and living room taken care of.  I celebrated being able to cook again with a fresh fruit smoothie in the recently unpacked blender. 

Next I cleared the bedrooms and was able to empty most of those boxes.  Finally I opened all of the toy and office boxes in the center of the main floor.  I didn't put them all away because it would take too long to make it through them all.  However, I did organize them so we could more easily find things as we needed them and so we could live in our house as we continue to unpack the remaining items.  After just over a week of unpacking I have opened every box and emptied around 70% of the boxes. 

As I unpacked I did come across one item we did not expect to be in our shipment.  Apparently one of the Singapore geckos was excited to travel the world and jumped into our shipment.  Unfortunately he did not make it--the month in storage was just too long and hot for him.  I feel bad for the little guy.  Someone should have told him it was not a good idea to stow away.  Now I wonder how many more we will find when we finally unpack our USA shipment a few years from now.