Sunday, May 28, 2006

An Evening at the Ballet

Steve took us to the ballet at the Romanian Opera House this evening for my Mother's Day present. I just love that I can literally walk out of my apartment get on the Metro then walk to a National Ballet production in about 30 minutes!

I, of course, had us leave way too early and we got the the Opera House an hour before show time. We hung around outside since the doors didn't even open for another 30 minutes. The interior of the Opera House was beautiful and very elaborate. Steve is wondering in the second picture why in the world are we ALWAYS so early for everything?!?

The production was entitled Simfonia Fantastica. It was a modern ballet and the cast was super. We didn't understand what was happening too much but could follow along and clap at the appropriate times. And at $8 a ticket for 3rd row seats, we'll be heading back. Next time for a more classical ballet or one more geared with children in mind.

Three more days!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Groceries in Bucharest

We made a trip to Selgros (like BJs Wholesale) this morning for big groceries. I'm trying to stock the kitchen and make things a little easier for Steve while we're gone. Things like going ahead and chopping the chicken up and making the patties for burgers so all he has to do is thaw and cook.

Anyway, while all the groceries were sitting out on the counter I thought you might find it interesting to see the types of food we have here. Several products are American companies or else we have them in the US as well. Most of the directions on things are not in English however. Several products are recognizable but have different names.

From left to right: Fulga, this is milk or I guess it's milk. It has a shelf life of several months so Steve and I frequently debate what you can "do" to milk to make it last that length of time!

Cappy Tempo - a fruit drink that is not 100% juice but low in sugar and no carbonation. Think watered down juice. We all like them especially on warm days.

Bottled Water - We buy these huge bottles in a six pack because we go through quite a bit of water each week. The plus side is that bottled water is very inexpensive here.

Coca-cola - Simple American version however the small .25L can are very popular here and really that's about all I like to drink at a time anyway. You can also buy soda in .33, .5, 1, and 1.5 liter bottles.

Cappy Juice - This is real 100% juice. They have lots of varieties here. We seem to stick with the standard: orange, grapefruit, and white grape.

On to the snacks: Star brand chips - anyone recognize the logo. Yes, you guessed it! Lay's has this brand here. The flavors are a little quirky, although we are enjoying them. Let's see the flavors here are: Salted, BBQ, Sour Cream and Dill, Hotdog, Red Paprika, Cheddar. That's all that we've tried but there might be others.

Cheetos - pretty much same as the US except that chips do not come in large bags. Mostly in single serve bags and some in 2 serving bags.

Milka - Chocolate, and lots of kinds. This is Maria's favorite, it's milk chocolate.

Joe's - We all love these! They come in several sizes and flavors. Our favorite is the bite size in cappachino. They are a layered wafer cookie covered in chocolate. Yummy!

Liebz Crackers - These are Stephen's cookies. They are plain little cookies with chocolate on one side. I think I have seen them in the states at the specialty food stores.

Cleaning Products: Coccolino - I have a feeling you know this bear! Scents are a little different here but the product is the same.

Tide - Same as the states only different scents. We also have to be careful to buy the automat version. Not everyone has a washing machine so they still sell detergent in big quantities for hand washing.

Pur - dish soap. Works great, smells good too.

This is most of the "packaged" things we buy. There is a big selection of meats as well as fruits and vegetables. Most of the things I cook here are very simple, one dish meals.

The "countdown" continues with 5 days until we return to the states for the summer!

Monday, May 22, 2006

A super quick answer to prayer!

Maria hadn't been to gymnastics in two weeks so she was a little nervous this morning. Especially about her hoop routine. The Romanian coaches had re-choreographed most of it since Maria couldn't remember it very well. Maria was concerned that she couldn't remember the changes and if she did that it was too hard. (It is a challenging routine)

When we were walking to the bus stop on the way to practice we were discussing her concerns...again. I told her we should pray about it so we just stopped right there on the streets of Bucharest and had us a word of prayer. I think we both felt better after giving the Lord control over the routine and the coaches' reactions to it.

Well let me tell you how strong MY Lord is...not only did she remember the new routine after 14 days off, she caught both tosses and had super leaps. The coaches even said, "Bravo" when she finished! If they could only understand that it was actually the Lord doing that routine through that precious little girl!

I wish I could share the picture of her face when she finished that routine. I guess only I can enjoy the picture that's in my mind. But I can assure you she absolutely GLOWED!

Here's a close up after we got home - it'll have to do for now!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Glorious Morning in Romania

I hit the streets of our part of the city this morning around 8:30am. I really enjoyed being out with the morning crowd. Typically we're doing school and don't venture out until 10:30 or so. But since I am the only healthy person in our family right now, I got out earlier than normal.

I went out to get Immodium for Stephen, bless his heart...and his hiney! It was such a beautiful day that I walked on to the post office and managed to mail two letters without any "deer-in-the-headlights" looks! Not a common occurrence.

Since I was feeling so great and doing so well getting things done, I decided to try to find ammonia at our local grocery. Stephen had read that it will take that "old sweat" smell out of his running clothes. I had the Romanian name with me and asked about it. We couldn't find it in liquid form but I have sent out an email to our Romanian friends to see if it exists in this country.

Maria is now having the same "issues" as Stephen so they are sharing the sofa. One of us has been on this sofa for 10 days straight now! I wonder if they have Lysol here?

I started making my "Things to Bring Back to Romania" list. So far I want measuring spoons, a measuring cup (in cups), brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and a couple of other things.

I think I'll go shopping this afternoon and escape the germs once again! Two great friends of mine want me to buy stiletto heels and a mini skirt. Yikes!!! I think I am WAY past that stage of life. Ha ha. I did spot a "libarie" which had postcards in the window this morning. I think I'll start there.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Glass Factory

In Romania we have noticed that there aren't many "safety" factors. Big holes in the middle of the road are left open for days with a few long sticks in them for warning. Road construction happens without any form of signing pattern. It seems very unsafe... until your seven year old gets to stand within two feet of a glass blowing operation and can literally feel the heat from the open fire on her face! No worries, no age restriction, no OSHA - just us and the artists watching the glass take shape. Coolest field trip ever!

This morning we went about an hour out into the country and toured a glass factory call RomBlast. You can see their website at We watched them form several pieces then got to wander through the warehouse and buy items directly from the factory.

They start with a lump of glass about the size of a Christmas ornament. Then it is attached to a long metal pole. The glass is heated until it literally melts. The worker then lets it hang and gravity pulls is out long or to expand the cylinder he will blow into the end of the pole.

Then they shape it into the item desired. This lady is forming the hot glass into a three sided vase with a curve. Once the glass cools a little it holds the shape.

This box was used to form the base of this piece into a square. Then they switched the holding end and worked on the top or lip of the vase. The top was flattened out with a dry board and it would catch on fire from the heat of the glass.

It was amazing to see them working so quickly and to watch this glass take shape in their hands. We bought several pieces and plan to go back again before Christmas since not everything was available today.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Not so fun week in Bucharest

This post has no pictures - don't worry that's a good thing. We've been sick all week!

I woke up Monday morning with a sinus headache, chills, aches, and slight fever. I took sinus Tylenol all day and night. By Tuesday morning I gave up and called Steve at work to figure how to get to the clinic.

The Hansons are an older couple from our church. They are both American doctors. After coming to Bucharest years ago they have actually become citizens here and opened a clinic. It is for Romanians and Foreigners. For the Romanians they fill out a form and the fee is based on the household income. Our fee (for Westerners) was $50 for the visit.

Dr. Hanson was available for a 1pm appointment so Steve left work to come home and take me in to see him. He figured I had a sinus infection and prescribed penicillin, claratin, and these nose drops to clear the congestion (which are the best thing ever invented!). Medicine here, we found out, is very inexpensive. All this was less than $20!

By Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling much better and started doing some laundry. You can't let it build up here. :) Maria on the other hand woke up feeling horrible. She stayed on the sofa all day without an appetite and slept. By that night we decided that if she still felt warm in the morning we would head back to the clinic.

Thursday morning you could feel the heat radiating from her body. We called the Hansons at home around 7am and they worked us in for an 11:00am appt. Traffic was crazy and we were VERY late for our appointment but that's not such a big deal here. They took Maria's temperature and it was 103.4! Dr. Hanson wanted blood work done to know if we were dealing with a viral or bacterial infection. Sadly the clinic cannot afford the lab machine right now so we had to go to another clinic to draw blood and run the test. Maria must have been really "out-of-it" because none of this registered with her. I was thinking how mature and brave she was being about having blood taken. Well when we walked into the room with the ladies in white with rubber gloves, she figured it out! After calming down, she let them run the test and we waited for the result. Yeah no bacteria!

Dr. Hanson called our cell phone on the way home and said no medicine, just lots of rest and fluids. She spent the rest of the day on the sofa asleep. Around 3:30 am she woke me up and said she thought she might be hungry. At this point it had been a little over 40 hrs. since her last solid food. I got up and she ate a piece of bread and drank a glass of water. Then back to bed.

Today she's had a small appetite but still low energy. Lots of reading and drawing. I think both of us are ready to get outside this weekend and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate.

We're still planning on going to the glass factory in the morning and then just hanging around here for the rest of the weekend.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Romanian Countryside - Day 2

The Romanian Countryside is amazing! We started the day with a warm shower. This sounds very simple and straightforward, however the hot water is heated by an actual wood fire under the tank. For breakfast we had fresh bread, eggs that were gathered that morning and milk served hot. I assume it was goat's milk since I could watch the sheep outside while I was eating. I had never had goat's milk but it was very tasty!

After eating we headed to the town of Sinaia to see the Peles Castle. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside but it was amazing. There was furniture and furnishings from all over the world. It was very beautiful and the tour guide was excellent.

Next we rode a cable car up the mountain in the town of Busteni. We went up to 7200 feet! We planned on doing some hiking on the top of the mountain but there was snow everywhere. It was very windy and cold so we opted to look out from the line to ride back down. We stood in line a total of about 3.5 hours! We saw a mountain goat on the way up and down but I was too slow both times to get the picture.

On the way home I tried to get some of the farming going on around us. I loved how the men looked who were shepherding their flocks. I felt goofy and the guy was staring at me but I got his picture anyway. We laughed as we drove away. I said he has no clue his picture is going on the internet for all the world to see!

I was intrigued by these hay piles that were everywhere. Somehow, with just a pitchfork they can get the hay in the tallest, narrowest piles! There were always animals grazing on the sides of the road but I couldn't convince myself to stop and take the picture.

We are considering coming back in the fall to see the leaves changing color. I'm sure Maria will want to stay with the same family!