Sunday, September 16, 2007

Those thieving missionaries!

Help! These stepping forward missionaries just showed up today and took all of our stuff! Look at 'em. There's Cami, Noemi and Noemi's 2 month old daughter Isabella. Don't they look like crooks?Our stuff was last seen inside (and on top of) a beat-up blue Dacia pickup.
Ok, you're not going to believe this...but I'm just kidding. The missionaries really didn't steal our extra stuff. We've been in Romania for almost 2 years and we acquired a lot of excess stuff that we already had at home. There was no point in shipping it back and besides, certain items like our tiny washing machine wouldn't be much use in the states. So we donated it all to the cause.

And now the apartment looks pretty much like it did when I first got here in January 2006. The only difference is nearly two years of time has gone by. Take a look at this before and after photo - focus on the rubber plant in the center.

Well, that's it for me. Dana has committed to a wrap-up post after we get settled in the states next week.
La Reverdere,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Handicap Accessible

Big changes at the apartment bloc during this last full week for the remainder of the Jutton family (me) in Bucharest. I came home from work on Thursday to find all sorts of excitement outside the main entrance. Several men were in the process of pouring a handicap ramp. Both of our building administration ladies and several residents where on hand for the event.

I stayed a bit for some chit chat and watched the action. The ladies asked about my girls and said several times that they were very sorry to see us go.

Here's a picture of the finished product. It is actually the law in Bucharest that all apartment entrances must have these, but many still don't.

Ours came out pretty good. Roughly, I'd say it drops about 4.5 ft over it's 10 foot length. This may seem steep to us Americans but I've seen them much shorter and steeper in Bucharest. They even have a few pieces of re-bar stuck in there to help slow down and out-of-control wheel chair. I haven't seen any others with that added "safety" feature - ours is fancy!


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Visiting the Orphanage

First, a quick travel update:

Hello everyone! Just wanted to let you know that both of my "girls" made it home. According to Dana ,the flights were on time, and with the exception of the luggage transfer through customs at Dulles (apparently a good workout for the girls due to the lack of carts), it was a good travel day.

Steve's Orphanage Visit
So, the missionaries at Stepping Forward felt bad for me being alone after reading one of my desperate emails, ha ha ha. Cami Mather and Scott DeWeerd decided it was about time I visited the orphanage where the kids they take to the summer camp actually live. They picked me up near the Titan Metro at 10:00 this morning and we headed out to towards the edge of Bucharest. This area is definitely what you would call the "low rent" district. Many of the streets here are not paved, except for some recycled asphalt they dump out as gravel in the worst places. Many of the dwellings including large apartment blocs do not have basic services like indoor plumbing.

As soon as we pulled in to the facility, the kids came running out and were ALL OVER Scott and Cami. You can definitely tell immediately how starved they are for attention. I brought my camera and as soon as I took the first picture, they were all over me too. Every one of them wanted a picture. Mostly they wanted pictures of themselves alone, but it did get ugly when one kid would want a picture with this friend and NOT that friend. I'm glad I brought an extra set of batteries, because this went on throughout the entire visit.

After the lengthy greeting process outside, we went in to do a craft project with the kids. Cami had brought some stuff to make sock puppets. When I wasn't taking pictures, I was put in charge of holding the glue. Cami and Scott make the decision (a really good one) not to give out the glue bottles. I also had a chance help a small child (who was mute - picture on the right) make his puppet. Steve Mather (Cami's husband) showed up during the project. This was great, since we were overwhelmed and needed an extra hand (or 10). The only problem was that Steve shares my first name and as soon as he showed up the constant call of "Steve, Steve, Steve!" was out-of-control. The craft project, for some kids, went pretty well but it was total chaos in the room. A few of the smaller kids had their socks stolen since these cheap socks were better than what many of them had in their limited wardrobes.In this orphanage, there are about 80 kids and there are about 30 other similar places in Bucharest holding a few thousand kids total. According to Steve Mather, the bulk of Romania's (50,000+ range - estimates vary) orphan population is outside of Bucharest where the cost of keeping them is less. Most of the children here at his location are in the 10-14 age range with a few younger and a few older. One of the saddest things to me is that some of these kids actually have parents. Their parents just don't want them and turn them over to the state-run orphanage system. Some kids will run away from the orphanage only to return a few days later when they realize they weren't wanted back at home. Many of the kids are also "Roma" people (gypsy) and their chances of adoption here in Romania are slim. International adoptions have been banned in Romania since about 2001 due to concerns about human trafficking (some of those concerns were justified), but this has kept many more children from finding adoptive parents.After the crafts were done, the goodbyes took as long as the greetings. Even though the missionaries will be back next week, you would think they were leaving for good. Kids were literally hanging on the car as we pulled away.
If you want to find out more about this important ministry (to come here and help, or donate, or pray), you can go here to the Stepping Forward website. Cami & Steve and Scott & Noemi are really doing some great stuff here and can always use more help. As I was reflecting about the Stepping Forward ministry, this quote came to mind.....

Matthew 25 verses 35-40
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

That's all for now. I may go back to the orphanage next week. I just might post again, but I won't be bringing the camera!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Things We Learned

All of life is a learning experience. The past two years has put us in situations and cultures that were outside our present realm of experience. So much to take in and apply in our lives. I imagine that more will come to us as time passes.

These are the things we learned:

1 - To appreciate the high standard of living we Americans enjoy.
2 - We can be happy, even in a small apartment in a crowded city.
3 - To appreciate the quality of our US government despite its flaws.

1 - I learned that we don't need all the "stuff" that we have in the states. It's nice, but I can be completely happy without it. What I missed most was Stephen when we were on opposite sides of the ocean at times.
2 - That missionaries are real, ordinary people. I grew up in mission friends, GAs, and Acteens. All missons awareness groups within the Baptist church. In my mind, missionaries were set up on a pedestal. Now that I have lived in a tent next to them, cooked over an open fire with them and for them, and listened to them debate the best way to solve a problem, I realize that they are just believers following God's will for their lives. It was great to really learn from them over these past months.
3 - I learned that I can parent without "the Granny" living next door. This isn't anything against her, she encourages my parenting and has never stepped over into my authority with Maria. When we decided to take this assignment both my Dad and Stephen questioned how I would be without my Mama living next door. And while Maria and I have both missed her terribly - we survived - and thrived. The nagging little doubt in the back of my head is silenced and now I can just enjoy the benefit of having a close relationship with my parents. **Jill on the other hand is spoiled rotten and will probably never be the same again!**

1 - You can do many of the same things in another country.
2 - Blogs are cool! (Thank you sweet girl)
3 - Small apartments are nice.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Things We'll Miss

Even while we are counting the days (we're down in 2!) and looking forward to returning to the states, there are things we'll miss about our time in Romania.

1 - Fornetti!
2 - Shoarma's
3 - Fresh Bread.
(yes, it's all about the food baby!)

1 - The forced time spent at home with just the three of us. We have no real commitments here. Even though I love our life in the states we have to guard our time there. We tend to be over-committed and over-scheduled. September is already filling up with great activities and people. This is fun but I want to remember to spend some time with just Stephen and Maria. I will be saying "no" more!
2 - Being able to walk to the grocery store and back in less than 20 minutes. It's nice to run out and get a forgotten item. In the states if I'm missing something and my Mama doesn't have it (they live next door) then I'm out of luck!
3 - Being able to easily travel to other countries. It's actually cheaper to go to another country from here than another state in America!

1 - Friends
2 - Fresh Produce
3 - Going to cool competitions

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Three Really Cool Things!

We saw so many different things during these two years. Here are the top three "cool" things we were able to see.

1 - Pyramids (Egypt)
2 - Sagrada Familia (Barcelona)
3 - Eiffel Tower at night. (Paris)

1 - The Pyramids
2 - The Anne Frank House
3 - The Roman Forum and Colosseum

1 - The Pyramids
2 - The Eiffel Tower
3 - The People's Palace and a fun one here.

Although, today we are looking forward to seeing some of your smiling faces in only a few days!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Three Ways God has Blessed and Provided

God blesses and provides for us everyday, no matter where we are living. Here are some of the ways that stand out in our minds:

1 - So many friends to assist my transition here, especially when I realized my first temporary apartment was in the SAME BUILDING as a friend we had just met before we left Greenville.
2 - Providing opportunities to help out and get to know some missionaries here, especially being able to meet the Mather family.
3 - Safety on the roads. Accidents were quite common on the team and traffic is just crazy here.

1 - Cristina, the lady who owns our stateside gym, is Romanian. She contacted her cousin who lives in Bucharest and Anca went everywhere with us when we first arrived. She and her family were so helpful in getting us set up and adjusted.
2 - A lady on my home school eloop knew a missionary from her church who was teaching at the Christian School here in Bucharest. We were able to meet her while she was home for Christmas. She let me know lots of things that I should pack. When Steve called her after moving in they were in the same building for the first two months! She was a great encouragement to him and also cooked for him some until I arrived.
3 - This whole experience has been a blessing. I believe that everything we experience in life the Lord will use to His glory. I can't wait to see why this experience was important for either Steve, me or Maria. I'm thinking Maria has something cool lying ahead of her that this experience will have prepared her perfectly.

1 - Friends at gymnastics
2 - A nice apartment
3 - A church with both English and Romanian speakers and teachers.

I am so impressed!

We have all had to work and live in a very different culture. This is a list of the things that impressed us the most about the other two members of our family.

I was impressed with Dana and her ability to adapt to the difficulties running a household here is amazing, especially finding ingredients and cooking stuff from scratch. Also, her ability to get things done here (riding the public, paying bills, etc) independently instead of sitting in the apartment and waiting for me to get home each day.

I was impressed with Maria's fearlessness in walking into her gymnastics class for the first time, not knowing the language, and with the high quality of talent all around her. Also, her ability to learn Romanian fast and willingness to converse with the Romanian kids and adults.

I was impressed with how well Stephen learned the language. He can carry on a conversation in Romanian for hours! It is amazing how many people in our building he knows and speaks with on a regular basis. It is also impressive how he can navigate around in another city when we travel. He has found and planned some amazing adventures for us!

The thing I was impressed with most with Maria was how she handled walking into a Romanian gym to practice. She has NEVER been in a gymnastics class without either me or her Granny there with her. She went from that, to a Romanian practice where the coaches didn't speak any English and the parents weren't even allowed to watch! I was also impressed with how well she handles long traveling days and is able to entertain herself sometimes with just her mind!

I was impressed with how Mama adjusted to Romania and her cooking.
I was impressed with Daddy's running and his desire to move to Romania.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Weekend

We spent the weekend at the Romanian Nationals for Juniors. It was fun to cheer on our girls. We did quite well.

Today was kinda hard. We had to say our final good-byes at church and then at the competition. Even though we are ready to head home it's still hard to say that final farewell. This is the first time Maria has had to leave an entire segment of her life behind. Steve and I had to in High School, College, and when we left Connecticut. It's tough at age eight. In all honesty it's tough at age 35 too!

Hopefully this week will fly by and we'll be on a plane heading home!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Top Three Funnies!

There were moments that we had to laugh to keep from crying or laugh while we were crying. But some moments were just funny. Here's our top three funny moments, I'm sure we forgot some!

1 - Dana falling twice during her first week in Bucharest, the 2nd time carrying a pizza (which she protected during the entire falling sequence).

2 - Missionary Steve Mather's daughter Sarah telling me and Eli (the intern) to "Be a Man!" and get into the freezing cold creek for our baths.

3 - During English class at the Bucur's working on the "ee" sound in English, Maria's 6 yr old friend Alexa pronounced the word "sheet" loudly with her Romanian accent. Her older brother Florine, realized what she said sounded like something else and told Gabby his Dad. Gabby told him to "shhh".

1 - The Romanian Easter Bunny. Read the full story here.

2 - Accidentally buying A LOT of fornetti due to a translation issue. Read the full story here.

3 - Riding the horses to the pyramids in Egypt. Amazing, but I laughed so hard I was crying! Read the full story here.

1 - When Mama forgot to weigh the apples. (This was last week and for some reason, I guess I thought I was already home in the states, but I didn't have my apples weighed and tagged in the produce department. The cashier just looked at me and we all started laughing. Then I jogged back to have them weighed!)

2 - Daddy got a speeding ticket. Read the full story here and here.

3 - When I was mistaken for a gypsy girl! Read about it here. I wrote the post myself!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rainy Sunday

It's a rainy Sunday here in Bucharest. That's great since it's been so hot! This cool rainy day is a welcome relief. This is what we've been doing most of the afternoon.

Stephen is playing Civilization III and Maria is watching!

12 more days!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Living Abroad

Traveling in Europe is very different from living abroad. Many people, including us, have traveled in Europe. It's great! You stay in a hotel or nice apartment. All of you are off work and on vacation together. Actually living somewhere is different and hard. The "usual" jobs must be done, only in a different country and with a different language.

This is the list of the three things that we each found to be the hardest about living overseas.

1 - Being away from family and friends - missing stuff!

2 - More stress when simple tasks get complicated (like driving, taking public transport, etc), especially if you are not in a 1st world country.

3 - Finding things to do during free time, since most cultural events and attractions are communicated in a foreign language.

1 - Finding ingredients for our favorite meals. Basically when we first came I tried to make our stateside favorites. That doesn't work, it only makes us homesick. The key is to just create new dishes using the local ingredients.

2 - The staples of a kitchen are slightly different here. For example: the sugar is more granulated, the flour is finer, and the yeast isn't "double acting". All recipes have to be "tweaked".

3 - Paying bills. Here we actually go to the utility company to pay the bill. We don't have a checking account here so everything is handled in cash. I am used to paying bills online for the states.

1 - Same. (I thought this was a great first response. Her world is close to the same no matter where she lives. I'm thankful we were able to make her feel secure in another country)

2 - People don't smile at you in the streets.

3 - Gymnastics.

It's Official - Steve is READY TO GO!

It's been a while, so I figured I would go out with a bang with one last "ugly American" rant. We went grocery shopping this morning at a large hypermarket (think Super Walmart - Euro style) called Auchan.

It's a grocery cart, not a bumper car dude!

It was here in Auchan, that it became clear to me. I AM READY TO GO! I don't know exactly what moment this thought hit me this morning. Perhaps it was getting rammed in "the behind" by a grocery cart while waiting in line for checkout (3 CONSECUTIVE TIMES!). As far as I could tell, the only thing I was guilty of doing was NOT ramming "the behind" of the person in front of me. Seriously dude, where was I going to go!? Anyway, I didn't budge and kept my "behind" right where it was, thank you very much.

Reach out and touch someone

Of course, that wasn't enough. This 50-something yr old gentlemen (the age is important - I'll get to it) was not content with ramming my "behind" with his cart. After the 3rd try, he then moved to the side of his cart and put his body RIGHT BESIDE ME. Then, of course, he had to make contact and procede to ram his chest into my left shoulder (AT LEAST TWICE!). Are you kidding me? What is wrong with these people? As a final insult, you should know that in Europe (especially in Romania) 50-something yr old men are not known for their liberal use of deodorant. I can attest that this fact also came into play during this whole episode.

Steve J (ugly American)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Top Three Travel Destinations

We considered the city/area itself, what we got to see, the cost, and anything else we deemed important.

1 - Barcelona, Spain. Read about it here, here, here, and here for trip 1 and here and here, for trip 2.
Definitely my favorite of the big cities.
2 - Florence (Tuscany), Italy. Read about it here.
Would have been nice to visit other areas in Tuscany.
3 - Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey. Read about it here.
The least expensive, if you can get there!

1 - The Belgium Area. Read about it here, here, here, here, and here.
2 - Barcelona, Spain. One of Stephen's favorites too! The links are under his list.
3 - Vienna, Austria. Read about it here, here, here, here, and here.

1 - Cairo, Egypt. Read about it here, here, here, here, here.
2 - Pompeii, Italy. Read about it here.
3 - Barcelona, Spain. See Stephen's list for the links. Evidently we ALL liked this trip!

We enjoyed all our trips but for many reasons these three stood out for each of us!

Only 14 days!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The final days

As all three of us near our final days here in Bucharest, I wanted to do a final wrap up. I've chosen 10 different topics and all three of us are answering on our own. I'll post a new topic every few days. (That's very specific isn't it?)

The Top Three Things We Have Missed About Living in the USA:

1 - Pizza without ketchup, Buffalo Wings, Good Steak
2 - Roads big enough to actually fit cars
3 - People who know how to stand in line

1 - My family living close
2 - My Kitchen (with all the gadgets and conveniences I enjoy)
3 - My washer and dryer

1 - Home school activities
2 - Family
3 - A big house

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Daddy is coming too!


Steve got the "go-ahead" to have Lockheed book his final return trip to the states for September 19th! Only 12 days after me and Maria!

When we booked our tickets we just had to take a guess at when he would be finished. Lockheed only pays for his tickets so we needed to book round-trip for me and Maria to make them as inexpensive as possible.

I think 12 days apart is pretty good. We were dreading a possible 2 months.

It will be so good to all be home together again!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Camp Report

We spoke with the Mathers at church this morning. They were tired, but pleased with how camp went this week. These are the things they mentioned that I can remember:

Weather was great - no rain at all while the kids were there!

They went through 80 loaves of bread daily.

None of the kids had the "stuff" they needed for camp. Last year the missionaries went in and packed for the kids. They thought they would remember what to bring. No. Most didn't even bring a change of clothes. Some had tennis shoes but no flip flops. Some had flip flops but no tennis shoes. It has to be so hard to remember that these kids don't have an adult to help them pack.

The bus cancelled 18 hours before picking up the kids so they had to schedule two vans instead.

They had 6 year olds up to 18 year olds.

They had more discipline issues than last year. Perhaps due to more kids at once and the boys were added to the mix this year.

Several of the children had "melt downs" during the week.

They really seemed to absorb the Word of God. The focus of the Bible study was on trust.

One boy decided on the last night to run away so he could stay, instead of going back to the orphanage. It took three grown men to literally drag him back to camp. Then Cami just sat on the ground and wrapped her legs and arms around him and just held him until he would listen. She had tears in her eyes telling me...I did too.

The last day all the kids were just weeping because they had to leave camp.

Praise the Lord for men and women who offer their lives in service to the Lord! You can tell that they pour out their heart and soul to these kids on a regular basis.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Poor Lonesome Jill

Our dog, Jill, has been in the states these past two years. We live next door to my parents and Jill was a "free range" dog. Meaning she goes out when she wants and she comes in when she wants (and we want too). So when we got the offer for Romania we asked if my parents would just let her come in their house when she wanted. They agreed.

So we bought her a pillow for their house.

Now it has come to this....

She also has a pillow at my Grandparents (seen in the picture), my Dad is now semi-retired and Jill pretty much just hangs around with him all day. Evidently, according to the picture, she also has a chauffeur service to and from the garden as well.

You can tell by the smile on her face that she misses us terribly, and is counting the days too.

And if she were counting the days she would know that it is down to 21!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What a man!

This was Stephen right after work today. Our light in our bathroom quit working today. I had to take a shower in the dark. He wasn't too happy to have to fix it. He had a really bad day. At some point today at work, he stood up from the floor of the airplane and cut his back on a screw. Thankfully, it didn't go through his shirt, so no germs other than his own.

Then on our way to Auchon to buy a new switch, so we can see to brush our teeth tonight, he bumped another car in the crazy intersection. When the guy got out of his old and run down car he took one look at Steve's nice lease car and suddenly the broken tail light was a major deal! They discussed it. Again I am so thankful that Steve can actually carry a conversation in Romanian. The guy wanted money for the light and since it was our fault that sounded like the easiest option. He wanted more than Steve offered but he told him that was all he had to give. They finally agreed and we went on our way.

He did get the light fixed and had supper. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for him.

I must say though that he was looking like the hunk of a man - that he is - while fixing that light!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Setting up the Camp

We spent this past weekend helping our missionary friends, the Mathers and the DeWeerds, to set up for camp this coming week. They are expecting 34 boys and girls from the orphanage and around 25 adult helpers this week at the camp. It would be easier for me to give you a day by day idea of what we did. Because, let me tell you, we WORKED this weekend!

Thursday Evening - Cami calls and tells Steve that Steve Mather, Eli (their 22 year old summer intern), Renee (their 12 year old), and McKenna (their 10 year old) are already at the camp. All the other adults are arriving Sunday at supper time. She asked if we could bring supper for Friday night for the 7 of us that would be at camp. No problem!

Friday Morning - Maria's foot was still a little itchy from the spider bite, so we skipped ballet and gymnastics and just did school. I went to the grocery store and bought chicken drumsticks, pasta, pesto and tomatoes for supper. When I got back to the apartment I started the chicken to marinating in a mesquite flavored marinade and packed our bags. Steve arrived home around 12:45 and we were out the door before 1pm. It is crucial that you get out of the city of Bucharest early on Fridays!

Friday Evening - We arrived at camp around 4:30pm. We inspected the cabin for the first time and were informed that we had an actual BED to sleep in that night! Yipee! Steve Mather started the fire and we cooked our supper over the open flame. That's right you just set the pot of water right on the fire and make pasta. So basically you cook everything in a full squat. My legs were so sore after this weekend!

Right as supper was finished cooking, it started raining so we ate in the cabin. I was so thankful that we were able to set at a table, inside, to eat our meal. We even had a light so we set up, playing cards, until around 11pm.

Saturday Morning - Steve Mather made bacon and eggs for breakfast, then went over our "to-do" list for the day. My main job was to set up a kitchen for Noemi's mom to use to feed 60 people for 4 days. They have a metal storage shed that we used for that. First we had to clean all the stuff out of it, sort it, organize it, and re-store it in various locations. I went through the 6 plastic bins of kitchen stuff and threw out all the old stuff and got everything set up in the shed. The men were building two soccer goals and 8 beds for the upper floor of the cabin. Renee and I got lunch ready around noon. Just sandwiches. One of the men walked to the spring (about 1/4 mile away) to get us some cold water for lunch. After lunch someone carried up some creek water for me to wash dishes. The creek is about the distance of a football field.

Saturday Afternoon - The men finished up the beds in the cabin. McKenna and I cut the foam pads for the 8 beds, swept out the upper floor, and started making up beds for the people who were at the camp already. I also cleaned out a few more bins and set up the outside kitchen area with all the pots, pans, and long handled spoons for the cooking fire. The men added a shelf to the serving table and put up hand rails in the cabin. Around 3pm we took a break and I asked Steve M. what was for supper. His response was, "whatever you found in those bins". Yikes! Did he want me to provide a meal for three hard working men and four hard working ladies without a plan? Uh - that would be a yes. So I went to the storage shed and decided on pasta. Then I saw some tomato paste and decided I would whip up a red sauce. So I laid out an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, basil, and oregano. Then I spotted the extra loaves of bread. Oooo, garlic bread! So needless to say, supper was plentiful and eaten up to last crumb! That evening after washing the dishes we feasted on real graham crackers (from the states, you can't get them here), jet puff marshmellows (again states, not in Romania), and good dark European chocolate (we really need to increase our chocolate quality in the states!).

Sunday Morning - The Jutton family had the camp fire going and coffee on by 7am. I was sitting there deciding what to fix for breakfast so I went back to the shed to poke around. I came up with fried potatoes and onions with scrambled eggs. That was a big hit too! Then we worked on setting up some sun shades over the picnic tables. Steve Mather spent the morning cutting down weeds with a weed eater. Eli helped him some with a sickle! The camp was really starting to come together. We also set up the volley ball court and two 12 person tents.

After another lunch of sandwiches, I washed up the last of the dishes and got everything as ready as I could for the other women to walk in the camp at supper time and fix spaghetti for 30 people, as quickly as possible. I hope that the way I organized everything made sense to them. We started back to Bucharest after lunch. Around 3pm we met one of the vehicles heading to camp with all the volunteers.

They should be in the middle of their camp now. Lift them up in prayer as you think of Romania. They have a great opportunity to present God's word to these children in an uninterrupted environment. It will not return void!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Spider Girl!

Maria commented yesterday that her foot was itching. It looked a little red, but she had been scratching it so I didn't think much of it. Until she got up this morning...

She couldn't walk on it!

I looked at it and it was warm, red and itching like crazy. I vote spider bite. I did some research online and it seems she is having a mild reaction. Nothing to do it, hydrocortizone, elevate it, and benedryl. I had everything but the benedryl.

So I called our doctor here. They were on vacation in the states but the nurse basically told me what I already knew to do, and that claritine was the closest to benedryl in Romania. Cool - I already had that. So I gave Maria a dose.

We have kept it elevated most of the day. We have iced it and kept hydrocortizone on it too. She's had a dose of claritin and tylenol. I also stripped her bed, washed the sheets, and looked, in vain, for the spider. No luck!

It looks better already. And in case any of you are overly concerned...

She didn't feel bad enough to miss licking the bowl from the chocolate cookies we made this afternoon!

We are looking forward to seeing what kind of "super powers" this gives her! Ha ha

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Secret Hideout

Maria has made a secret hideout. It probably has something to do with the fact that we are together in this apartment 24/7!

There are entry cards and Steve and I have cards but we usually leave her to her own space. I must admit it looks quite comfortable. I would have done something similar as an 8 year old too.

What does she do in there? Read...what else?

30 days to go!!!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Let the Countdown Begin!

Last night I made a countdown paper chain for Maria. I loved these as a kid and would countdown to everything fun and exciting. Our chain of the last days here is long right now but it's already shrinking as of this morning!

We started school this week. We typically school year round and this will help to fill our days these next few weeks. We aren't going to the Romanian gym anymore. They announced while we were in the states that our tuition was going up to around $400 a month. I just can't pay that for gymnastics. Plus, they are preparing the older girls for their Nationals which is in early September. I know they wouldn't be working much with Maria during these weeks anyway.

So in lieu of that, we are doing the Romanian ballet that she learned in our apartment and working the turns, balances and flexibility skills with the equipment for the coming season. I think this will be fine and she won't lose any ground during this time away from a gym.

Here is our new schedule for the next 5 weeks:

7:00am - Breakfast, clean up kitchen, make beds, brush teeth, dress, and put up hair
7:30am - Bible reading and prayer
8:00am - Ballet and equipment handling and new skills
10:00am - Free time
10:30am - School instruction
11:30am - Lunch
12:00 - Finish up school and assign independent assignments
12:30pm - Free Time and independent assignments
3:00pm - Independent assignments due if not already checked

Typically Maria does her independent work right after school so she is "free" for the day.

Here are some pictures of our workout this morning:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Is this the que?

**For those that don't know: the word que is the British word for line. I personally LOVE the sound of it. Doesn't it just sound better to "stand in the que" than to "stand in the line"?**

On the return flight to Romania I think we finally, successfully handled the Romanian way of queing, without losing our minds. It has bothered me since arriving, that the "queing manual" hasn't been translated into Romanian. You know the manual I'm talking about ... the stand in the line don't pass or cut and be courteous to those around you ... that manual?

It started in the que for the shuttle bus in Venice. This French couple broke in front of about 100 people. After standing there for over an hour we finally got our luggage on the bus in the undercarriage compartment. We then moved to the line to actually get on the bus and sit down. Well the French couple broke in front of me and Maria, with their 150lbs of baggage, and started onto the bus. At this point Stephen John had lost his patience (this would be about the third time I have witnessed this in 17 years of knowing him) and "helped" the gentleman back down the steps and pointed out that his luggage was already on the bus and now his wife and daughter would be getting on the bus too. The Frenchman tried again to board ahead of us and I thought Steve was going to really lose it, but when he helped the guy down the steps again (this time a little more forcefully) the Frenchman decided he really didn't want to take on Steve and he let Maria and I board the bus ahead of them.

We got to the airport and to the gate no problem. We knew what to expect when returning to Romania with a plane load of Romanians. This is the gate at the airport:

No we aren't boarding...this is what happens when someone in uniform approaches the gate. The Romanians stand and crowd the gate. And they stand there until boarding starts and then they jockey for position. This would be a "line" in Romania. Now get this - we are only getting on a bus that WAITS in the broiling sun for ALL the passengers. Even the last three who sat and watched the hoopla and made pictures...yes that would be the Jutton family. We were some of the last on the bus and squeezed in right at the doors. So that made us one of the FIRST on the plane.

This whole process is repeated on landing. As soon as the wheels hit the ground you can hear seat belts clicking as they unbuckle. Then when the plane stops moving, they stand and crowd the aisle. Then they literally crawl over the slower people to get to guessed it...bus. Then they stand there and wait for the last passengers - again that would be us.

It was so much less stressful this time since we just waited until the end every time. I have finally gotten over the assumption that those behind me in line will stay put and be patient and that those in front of me trust me to do the same!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cruise Finale

Our final day was at sea. We took advantage of a lazy day. Maria went to Adventure Ocean some. She and Steve built a boat together at one of the activities. Steve and I attended a cooking seminar.

At dinner last night Maria slipped and told the waiter that my birthday was coming so they brought out a cake and sang to me.

We docked in Venice on the 28th and are staying in the farmhouse again. Tomorrow we will return to Bucharest. Maria and I only have 39 days left in Romania before returning home for good!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Corfu, Greece – Day 7

We had the morning on the ship. We “slept in” until 6:45am and then helped opened the breakfast at 7am! After breakfast we attempted to climb the rock wall and play a round of mini-golf but they were closed due to high wind. The wind was so strong that Maria literally couldn’t stand still on deck.

We returned to our room and read for an hour or so and Maria decided to play board games in Adventure Ocean. We picked her up around 11:30am and headed to a quick lunch before docking around 1pm.

We took a shuttle bus into the town of Corfu. Once there we wandered the streets and saw the old and new forts as well as the churches.

We also had Maria’s name made into a silver necklace with the spelling in Greek. I also purchased a small bottle of olive oil that I will use and then save the bottle for decoration. After an ice cream we boarded the shuttle bus back to the pier.

We had time for a quick swim before dinner. The pool wasn’t crowded at all with most of the other passengers still on land. We don’t sail until 8pm so I think many passengers will eat a late dinner tonight or even eat in Corfu.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Santorini, Greece – Day 6

Spectacular Santorini -- scene of one of the world's most violent volcanic eruptions around 1450 B.C. -- is arguably the most scenically dramatic of all the Greek Islands. Best views are from the cliffs bordering the caldera, which was formed when the centre of the island basically collapsed in onto itself. It's worth remembering that the bay surrounding Santorini is actually the world's largest volcanic crater, created 3,500 years ago by a massive eruption of the Thera volcano (which is still active!). I was amazed to see how much this area has changed just in the very recent history.

We did a ship excursion where we were picked up from the ship and taken by boat to Erina Cove. From there we hiked up the path of volcanic sand and lava fragments to the summit of the crater. Along the way we saw steam and sulfur coming from the side of a crater and lots of black rock from the last eruption.

After hiking down we boarded the boat again and set sail for the thermal springs of Palea Kameni. We anchored and were allowed to swim about 50 meters to the thermal springs. The water was only around 70 degrees when we jumped in but it felt great after the hot hike!

We did a little souvenir shopping on the pier before taking the tender (small boat) back to our cruise ship. After lunch, and a short nap for the adults, we started getting dressed for the final formal night on board.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ephesus, Turkey (Kusadasi) – Day 5

The primary appeal to Turkey's Kusadasi is its proximity to the ancient Roman city of Ephesus, the best preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean. Just 30 years ago Kusadasi was a sleepy, traditional Turkish seaside village, dependent for its living on fish, farming and honey production. Since then, though, the double-edged sword of mass tourism has brought wealth (its main street sidewalks are now finished in marble!) and, with that, mass commercialization. Thronged with traffic and lined with ever more expensive carpet and jewelry shops, you can still find pockets of old-style Turkey amidst the narrow, winding streets of its old town, which house vibrant markets and traditional Turkish baths, and offer a chance to bargain for Oriental carpets.

A trip to Ephesus; it's the best-preserved ancient city in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Virgin Mary is believed to have visited here between 37 and 45 A.D., and the fabulous Temple of Cybele at Artemis -- which Alexander the Great visited during its construction in 334 B.C. -- was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Located just eight miles from Kusadasi, Ephesus at one time was the most important commercial center in the region. The city was built on the river Cayster -- a strategic trade route to Anatolia. The ruins range from a theater and library to private terrace houses with magnificent mosaics and frescoes.

We took a ship excursion to Ancient Ephesus. After a short bus ride from Kusadasi to Ephesus we began our tour. We were able to see the Odeon, the Fountain of Trajan, the five terraces of the apartment houses, the steam baths of Scholastika, the temple of Hadrian and the impressive library of Celsius. The library was adorned with columns and statues.

The last highlight of our walk through the ruins was the Grand Theater, where Paul preached. It is the largest theater in antiquity with a capacity of 24,000 seats. It was amazing to stand there and imagine the Word of God going out from the mouth of Paul to a stadium full of eager listeners. I would have loved to have heard him today.

After leaving the ruins we headed back to town and to a famous rug making gallery. They gave us an excellent lesson in rug making and purchasing. We even had a sample of Turkish hot apple tea and a pastry. We enjoyed the display very much. It was mind boggling to see these rugs that are hand made and to hear the time and labor required. The top rug we were shown took three women, three years to make. Prices weren’t mentioned but I’m fairly sure that it was out of our price range!

We had lunch on the boat, rested in the room, and then Maria decided to head to Adventure Ocean in time for the ice cream party this afternoon.

With our visit to Turkey today we marked off continent number 5! The only continents we haven’t set foot in are Australia and Antarctica. Maria still needs to get to South America but that’s much closer to home!

At dinner tonight the wait staff serenaded us with the Italian love song, “O Solo Mio”. This is a cruise tradition on Royal Caribbean and maybe other boats as well. We laughed and cheered and hooted and clapped. It was lots of fun to see them being goofy.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Iraklion , Crete – Day 4

According to mythology, Crete, Greece is the mythical land of King Minos. It is where the Minoan civilization started, one of the most important civilizations of the world. They built palaces and established a naval empire in the Mediterranean. This great civilization was stopped by the huge waves caused by the eruption of the volcano of Santorini, Greece in 1450 BC and by the invasion of the Achaeans and the Dorians.

From there Crete has been handed over to the Arabs, the Venetians, and the Ottomans. Around 1900 they were declared an autonomous state and, in 1913, were united with the newly built independent Greek State.

We had scheduled an easy day at a nearby resort to enjoy their beach and hotel facilities. We drove for around 30 minutes from the port along the North Coast of Crete and saw row upon row of olive trees as well as figs. The area seems to be very rocky and dusty.

We arrived at the Creta Maris Hotel and Resort and claimed two chairs under an umbrella overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The water was clear and around 80 degrees. The sun was bright and warm in a clear blue sky. The tour guide gave us each a voucher for a soda and we were on our own.

Steve and Maria headed to the water to swim and I “held down” our beach chairs. After about 45 minutes they came in to rest in the shade for a few minutes and we shared soda #1. We saved the glass bottle since it was written in Greek. It will eventually make its way to SC and the top of my kitchen cabinets. I just love free souvenirs!

Then Maria decided she needed to find a rock for Grandmother June so they took off again. The beach was small stones in various shades of brown. They were very hot so flip-flops were a must.

In another 45 minutes they returned, rocks in hand. We split soda #2 and a banana and two rolls I had brought from breakfast.

They had about 30 more minutes until we needed to change for the ride back to the port so they made for the water again. After a quick change we shared soda #3 and made our way to our tour bus.

We arrived back in time for a late lunch and then headed to the room to rest and shower for supper.

After his shower, Steve announced that he had burnt his belly. I think my sunscreen is a little old and the Mediterranean sun was VERY hot today. Maria is a little pink too. Oddly enough I didn’t get hardly any sun! That umbrella was awesome.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday – At sea

Maria spent the morning and late afternoon at the Adventure Ocean club enjoying the activities. There are quite a few English speaking children on board. She seemed to be having a great time each time we arrived to pick her up. She has even spoken to several of the children at other times on the ship when we would see them again.

She was with us for lunch. After lunch, she and Stephen tried out the rock climbing wall. They both did well but thought this wall was harder than the one last year.

Tonight was formal night and Maria looked beautiful in her Chinese dress that our friends Sue and Joe brought back from China.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Day 2

We started our day with breakfast and watching as we approached Croatia. We arrived around 9am and began the tenders around 10am.

Dubrovnik is a bit like Venice without the canals. It has that same aura of ancient, tiny "streets" filled with life rather than cars, but it's laid out on a much smaller scale. One of the major distinctions of Dubrovnik is that the medieval-era city is a walled city -- completely encircled. The atmosphere is lighter here, perhaps as much due to its gorgeous setting -- on the shores of the Caribbean-blue Adriatic -- as for the sand colored stone of its buildings. Dubrovnik is still being restored; the city was seriously damaged as a result of shelling that occurred during the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian war in 1991 - 1992.

We took the ship excursion to “walk the wall” of the city. The stone walls that completely encircle the city -- as much as 81 ft. high and 1.5 miles around -- have stairs at two points. The views were breathtaking; we could see forever over the Adriatic, the over-the-terra cotta rooftop town, and even peek into the backyards of some of the private homes and apartments that line the edges of the walled city. We started at the entrance to the walled city -- the Pile Gate. We were also able to visit the Fort of St. John Maritime Museum.

Dubrovnik was so beautiful with the terra cotta tile roofs. Walking the wall was extremely hot but worth the effort. After returning to the boat we had a light lunch and headed to the pool before it was too crowded. We swam and enjoyed the water in the shade for about an hour before going to the room to shower for supper.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday - Day 1 of Cruise

The picture above is the Venice Resort where we stayed before leaving for the cruise. It was lovely. We spent all day Thursday hanging out here since Maria was feeling a little yucky. On Friday morning after breakfast we took the public bus down to the pier and had no problem finding our way to the boat.
We boarded the boat at 11am. It was very quick and smooth since we were one of the first families to arrive. After eating lunch on board we changed into swimsuits and spent the afternoon enjoying the pool and sunshine. Thankfully the pool water was much warmer than the cruise we went on last year. Hopefully the ocean water will be warmer too!

By 4pm we had all the luggage in the room and everything unpacked and put away.

4:30pm was the Muster Drill and then supper at 6:30pm

A good start to the week.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Breaking the Law!

We found out on Tuesday that the airport personnel in Venice were going on strike the next day...the day we were scheduled to Venice.

Not good!

So we spent the next 24 hours watching the flights take off and land...or be cancelled. Steve googled the driving directions to Italy. And praying...lots of praying.

The flights were looking good and we headed to the airport around 7pm. We checked in and tried to check all 4 of our bags. Since we were flying on a low cost airline, we could check 45 kg of luggage. We were slightly over. We could either pay a surcharge or carry one on the plane. I grabbed the smallest bag to carry on and we took off for the security line.

I put the bag, my pocketbook, and Maria's backpack on the belt and walked through the metal detector. The scanner had her hand on my bag and asked if it was mine. I nodded and she said, "you have a scissors in here?". She had this odd look on her face. I thought a moment and then it hit me. Yes I did! I was planning on checking that bag so I had put the scissors in there. Then she said, "and lots of liquids". Then it really hit me...ALL... and I mean ALL our toiletries were in that bag.

The picture says it all....

I think the only "contraband" I didn't have in there was a lighter!

Here is the complete list of illegal items I tried to carry on the airplane:

Facial Cleanser
Bath get
6 inch Scissors

The scanners must have thought that we've been living under a rock for the past year!

Needless to say, Steve went back and paid to check that bag. So we're in Venice now and will board the cruise ship tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We're Ba-ack!

Maria and I arrived in Bucharest on Sunday afternoon. By bedtime we had everything unpacked and the house dusted.

Sleep is still being interrupted from about midnight until 3am. Typical, but aggravating to say the least.

We spent yesterday cleaning, grocery shopping, lesson planning, and trying not to nap during the daytime!

We leave at 11:30pm for Venice tomorrow. Our cruise to Greece departs on Friday. Hopefully our sleeping patterns won't be too off by then.

I'll try to post from Italy before we head out.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Camp Living Water Update

Hello everyone. Sorry for not posting lately, but I've been keeping busy during Dana and Maria's absence from Romania. This is the best way to pass the time! After my previously posted food-fest, I spent the next two weekends with the missionaries of Stepping Forward at Camp Living Water. These photo's are from both weekend trips. During the last week of May a team of very skilled carpenters representing Missouri reformed baptist churches came and built the cabin you see here. Most of the work was done in 3 1/2 days. The cabin is basically 1.5 stories with a stairway going up to a "sleeping" floor. Unfortunately, the sawmill broke down halfway through the week leaving the roof only half-done and the siding not started. The good news is that the team left the missionaries some nice equipment to finish up with including a big generator, compressor, nail gun and tons of nails.

Weekend #1 (June 9-11)

The sawmill remained out of commission during the weekend of June 9-10, but I went up anyway to help with some odd jobs. 3 of Steve's 4 girls were with him and they brought 3 friends for a visit. The group, without me, is here on the right. The guys were in the minority on this trip! Steve had promised his girls that he would work on their tree house, so he was focused on that project most of the weekend. I have to specially mention Steve's daughter Sara (age 15 wearing the blue cap) who prepared (and cleaned up) ALL the meals for the group this weekend. The next photo shows me and Sara (working as usual) carry fresh spring water back to camp:
While Steve was busy, Eli (an intern staying for the summer - back left of supper photo) and I improved the cabin stairs, dug post holes for a future gazebo (another small team is coming in late June to build this), installed shelves in the storage container and whacked some weeds. It was in the upper 80's on both days and the cool creek baths were a real blessing (after the initial shock of the freezing water). One evening, Eli and I went up to an orthodox monastery located about 5 miles even further out than the camp. As you can see, they have been putting a lot of work into it. The white building on the left is the monk's quarters and the chapel is shown below.
Weekend #2 June 15-17

For the weekend of June 15-17, the plan was to get the sawmill working and cut the remaining logs. There is another work team coming from the USA at the end of June to help finish the cabin and possibly make some headway on the Gazebo. It was a quieter camp experience since only Me, Steve and Eli went up. The first task was to get the sawmill working. At first, it didn't go well. Steve and Eli installed the spark plugs they had brought, but it still didn't work. We were a bit discouraged as we got supper ready. For the supper blessing Steve prayed briefly about the sawmill. Then, after supper, Steve and Eli headed back down to the sawmill for one last try. I stayed near the fire until, about 30 minutes later, I heard the sawmill crank. We were fired up! It turned out to be a totally different problem than we thought - just a bad switch that Steve removed and "hot wired."We went to bed happy and thankful!

So, We worked half the day on Saturday cutting the wood that the next team will use. After that, we started the tough assignment of digging around the cabin to correct the drainage situation. The cabin is on a slope and ALOT of dirt had to be removed from the back and sides. This is when I found out that Eli is a digging machine! After about 3 hrs my hands were about to fall off - but Eli kept going and we did too. Finally at supper time, Eli said he was getting tired. With seconds, Steve said "OK, we're done!". (I was already dropping my shovel to the ground when Eli spoke)

On Sunday, we made a few bed frames from some extra wood. After we were done cutting, Eli announced that only two of us were needed to assemble the bed frames and he decided to go dig some more (did I mention Eli is only 21). Anyway, Steve and I said "Great!, Go for it" and continued work on the beds. Well, that about covers it. We actually ate pretty well for just being the 3 of us, and had a good time. Next stop for me is Upstate, NY to visit my side of the family (and of course see Dana and Maria in the process). We'll be back in July!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

La Mulţ Ani Florine!

Florin Bucur turned 10 today and I was invited to represent the Juttons since 2/3rds of the family is back in the states. Yes, I had to "tough" it out during another Romanian family eating marathon. Hey, someones got to do it.

Things got started at around 2 pm with snacks and drinks as I met more friends and family of the Bucurs. I also had the chance to practice some more Romanian since I was the only foreigner there. Fortunately, many of these folks had some pretty good English language skills and made it alot easier for me. As usual, the hospitality was awesome and everyone went out of there way to make sure I was comfortable (and well fed too).

You ate what?

The first course, the soup, was by far the most interesting and something new for me to try. It was a soup called "Ciorbă de Burtă". Ciorbă (pronounced CH-EE-OR-BUH) simply means soup and "Ciorba de Burtă" translates to Tripe Soup. The main ingredient of Romanai Tripe Soup is a cow stomach along with vinegar, sour cream, veggies and garlic. The stomach pieces are very chewy and you can see one of those bad boys on the picture to the right. It was actually pretty good, but you all know I will eat just about anything anyway.

Just Grill it

From there, 2 courses of grilling followed. The first batch was grilled chicken. It was served with cucumber and tomato salad in vinegar.
The second grill course (by now it was about 5 pm - 3 hrs and counting) was sausages served with mustard and bread. You can see Gabby Bucur, the grill master working on the sausages. When it comes to eating large quantities of meat, these Romanians take 2nd to nobody, period!
Of course, we had cookies and other stuff for desert too. This isn't the first time we've had one of these all-afternoon Sunday eating sessions, so I was smart enough to eat very little for breakfast this morning. Even so, I probably won't be hungry for the next 18-24 hours!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Heading to the States

Maria and I leave for the states tomorrow.

We will spend June and most of July there. We are meeting Stephen in NY to visit his side of the family for a week in the middle. Not much has been happening here. We spent the weekend at the camp with the missionaries again. The weather was sunny and HOT! We helped prepare for a team from Missouri that is there this week building a cabin. Maria has been working hard at gymnastics practice. She has the US Nationals next weekend.

Just for fun here are 10 ways that we know it's almost time to go:

1 - The tickets say so!
2 - The Granny has reminded us of the number of days left - several times.
3 - I have gone from the "we have more than enough room" to the "where will we put all this stuff" in the suitcase - phase.
4 - There are 10 packets of pre-chopped chicken breast in the freezer to make life easier for Stephen.
5 - There are three packages of frozen banana nut bread in there too.
6 - I have my list of rhythmic equipment ready to purchase for the gymnasts here.
7 - I have requested 10 books at the library in my hometown and they will be waiting on me Friday.
8 - I have my appointment with Beth, my "hair lady", on Friday too!
9 - There are suitcases everywhere.
10 - I am already dreading the three week separation from Stephen.

We head out tomorrow morning and if all goes according to plan we will be walking off the plane in SC around 6:30pm!

I won't be posting from the states as this is our "Romanian" blog. Stephen may guest post some, but otherwise, I'll be back the end of July just in time for our "BIG" trip for this year.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

School's out, school's out...

No I didn't let the mule out but I did see one today!

Maria and I finished up what we called 3rd grade today. It's hard to label what grade since we work at whatever level she needs for each subject. This year the range was from 3rd to around 7th grade.

It was a good year - the "field trips" were amazing! We typically finish in April but all the traveling threw us behind our usual schedule. I only count "book work" towards my 180 days. Field trips are just bonuses. Since we school year-round, we'll start 4th grade this summer in the states. It'll take at least a week to unpack the new curriculum and get some lesson plans going but then we'll knock out a few weeks before returning to Romania.

Here's an overview of our year:

Bible - We're using Balancing the Sword and covered the following books: Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Psalms, Proverbs, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Zephaniah, Matthew, Luke, Philippians, 2John, 3John, and Jude. This curriculum has you read a passage then answer comprehension questions about it. So you systematically read through the Bible allowing God's Word to speak for itself.

History and Literature - We use Sonlight and have for 3 years now. We both love it! We studied the second half of American history. Sonlight uses books to learn about the time period. Some are readers that she reads on her own and some are read-alouds that we read together.

Math - We switched to Singapore Math this year and I'm enjoying the change so far. We had to back track a little to cover some miscellaneous topics that we had missed like volume and graphs. We covered addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing up to the thousands place. Two step word problems, measuring, estimating and graphs were also included. We also started on multiplication and division with all numbers except 7 and 8s. She can go through the flash cards and only misses typically the 6,7,8 multiplied by the 6,7,8. Sometimes she gets those too, but not consistently.

Science - God's Design for Life: The Animal Kingdom - Wonderful study. I wish we had better access to materials for all the experiments here. Many activities we had to skip since we couldn't find the materials needed.

Spelling - Spelling Power - This is a program that carries you through 12th grade. The student takes a test that places them so the words assigned are challenging. Everyday we test for 5 minutes. She only has to do activities with the words she misses. Maria loves this since she is an outstanding speller. I even did this with her. Thankfully I placed the the 12th grade and finished up about a month ago.

Grammar - Easy Grammar 34 - These workbooks are ok. They're quick and we like that. Maria is usually very good at grammar since she has such strong reading skills.

Logic - We used several workbooks from Critical Thinking Press. She also plays lots of games. Both with us and simulation games on the computer. We also used Read and Think 5 Sheets from Abeka books.

Here is a list of books she read this year. I'm sure it's not complete but this was all we could think of yesterday. She also read several books for a second, third or fourth time but we didn't include those.

The Winged Watchman
The Great Turkey Walk
Across Five Aprils
Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children's Poems
Caddie Woodlawn
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Miracles on Maple Hill
Little Britches
Cheaper by the Dozen
The Great Wheel
Moccasin Trail
A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt
Lincoln: A Photobiography
Hero Over Here
In Search of the Source
William Wilberforce
The Story of Thomas Alva Edison
By the Great Horn Spoon
Freedom Train
Shades of Gray
Turn Homeward, Hannalee
Old Yeller
Helen Keller
All-of-a-Kind Family
Thimble Summer
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
Plain Girl
The Seventeenth Swap
The Wright Brothers
George Washington Carver
Sing Down the Moon
The Secret Garden
Alice in Wonderland
The Cricket in Time Square
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
The Egypt Game
The Gypsy Game
A Bear Named Trouble
Dr. Doolittle
Mary Poppins
The Twenty-one Balloons
Several Nancy Drew Series
Several Boxcar Children Series
Several Animal Ark Books
Several Childhood of Famous Americans
Several of the "Before I Made History Books"

Overall we had a great year. We are both looking forward to what 4th grade will hold for us! Our 60 lb. box of Sonlight books is waiting for us in the states!

If you want to see more information about our curriculum you can click on the links.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Only in Bucharest

This greeted us when we left our apartment for church this morning:

Try to keep in mind that we live on the 10th floor. Where did this dog poo come from? Well, yes, I know the obvious answer is....a dog. But what was he doing running around on the 10th floor? Where was the owner? Or better yet - why didn't the owner remove the poo?

We've gotten accustomed to dodging the poo on the sidewalk, but not on our way to the trash chute.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

That's just wrong!

Stephen just got a work email that there is leftover barbecue in the work room. This is usually great news for the man that has literally rescued ice cream from the trash can.

The only problem is we're in Romanian and the work room is in Greenville. Major bummer! It would have been better not to have known.

We both sat here in silence after we said, "that's just wrong".

Then I said, "with all the pigs here they really should do some BBQ"

To which he replied in his dry humor, "yeah but they'd either put ketchup or rum in it!"

The man has a point!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nationals Day 2

Today was the final day for the Romanian National Championship. Maria started off first again with ribbon and she did good. There were a few small glitches but overall a solid routine. She scored a 16.980 and would have ranked around 17th.

The rest of our Romanian team did well and the team ended up placing 2nd in the team competition.

At these competitions they serve lunch to all the gymnasts as well as the coaches and judges. Of course, Maria didn't care for the Romanian food (she brought her own tuna) so you can see who thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the Romanian competitions!

Maria was excited to march in with all the gymnasts. There were around 100 girls there. After all the medals and stuff they called Maria up to the podium to receive her diploma and goodie bag.

The team, coaches and spectators certainly welcomed us but this is what REALLY lit up Maria's face this morning. It was in my email and it certainly got our day off to a terrific start! Thanks girls in the states, we can't wait to see all of you in two weeks.

Overall it was a great experience and I think she feels much more prepared for the US Nationals that we will be at this summer.