Wednesday, February 28, 2007


We noticed that this time last year, all these tables were set up on the street corners and they were selling these little trinket type things. We didn't really understand and then they disappeared.

Well, they're back! So I set out to figure it out this year. It started when Maria's competition was called the First of March Cup and it is to be held on the second. Sounded fishy to me so I asked and yes March 1st is a holiday. Below is the official entry I found on the Internet.

The first day of March is the celebration of MARTISOR (mar-tsi-shor), a day when gifts of small objects--plants, shells, flowers, animals, snowmen or tools--as well as a red and white ribbon symbolizing life and purity--are given to young girls and women. The little gift brings good luck, it is said, during the month of March and throughout the year ahead. Overall, Martisor signifies the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

Romanians are very big on "luck". Now I don't really do luck, but the red and white reminds me of Jesus' sinless life and His blood that covers my sin. Sounds much better to me!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Odds and Ends

I finished my first toe shoe! It looks very close to Mihaela's. Mine is on the left of the picture and hers is on the right:

It's a little small because it's from different thread but I think I know how to make the next one fit better! Any of you Rhythmic Mamas that want to learn, I'll be glad to help at Nationals. I figure we'll be sitting in the stands for a while and might as well multi-task! For those that want to learn you will need a #5 crochet hook and thread from Hancocks (back of the store on a spool No. 10 white or ecru). You can go to this website and learn the chain stitch, single crochet, and double crochet. Then we can quickly "whip" up some shoes! The hardest part for me was holding the thread.

Maria has been enjoying a computer game that she purchased with her own money. It is called Roller Coaster Tycoon. It's a strategy game where you build and manage your own amusement park. She had been playing Civilization IV but that had gotten old and no one squeals with excitement on it! Ha ha!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Isus, Tu Esti Sfant!

Isus, Tu esti sfant! Jesus, You are holy!

"Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!"
Revelation 4:8

I do not know what language the four living creatures are proclaiming it in but I know that we proclaimed it in Romanian and English this morning. I will truly miss singing and worshipping in dual languages once we return to the states.

One of the missionaries from our church was here on furlough from Tibet. He gave a presentation this morning on his work there. It was very interesting. It amazes me that we have 5 missionaries from our church here. We are a small group but these people really catch the fire of the Lord and desire to help in spreading it.

We also travelled to church in a light snow! Isn't that just so...well...Romanian.

And once again I proclaim, "Isus, Tu esti sfant!"

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ice Skating

Maria convinced me to come freeze in the ice rink again so I could see how much she had improved. And she was right! After a couple of "warm up" laps holding Daddy's hand she was on her own. And she is flying now.

I think Stephen has the most fun chasing Florin around and playing tag. And he is working diligently on a pivot on the ice. I'm pretty sure he will either master it or we will get to post a blog entry on the ER in a Romanian hospital!

Here are some pictures:

This one is of Stephen and Florin playing tag. Stephen is the one in the middle facing the "wrong" way. Florin is directly behind him. Maria is passing them in the pink jacket.

This ones shows Maria as she flew past me. She's a little blurry. It's getting harder to catch her in motion!

Miheala and Alexa. The Mothers hung out on the edge and chatted!

The kids - do they look like they're having fun?

The Daddies - do they look like they are breathing heavy? (They were, they had been racing with the kids. They're both in good shape but neither is a "skater". Gabi plays soccer and Steve is a runner!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A New Skill

Since Maria has fallen in love with the crocheted Romanian toe shoes, guess who is learning to crochet? You got it...the Mama!

I took a new pair to Grandmother June when we were home at Christmas and she figured out how to make them. She whipped out about 5 or 6 pairs while we were there. But since Maria goes through about a pair every two weeks we'll be needing some more. So I bought the big yellow book, "Crocheting for Dummies" and two hooks and the thread - that was step one. Otherwise known as the "easy" step!

Grandmother June taught me the basics and I left for Romania with my supplies.

I ordered four more pairs from Mihaela, the cleaning lady, at the gym. (Lots of Mihaelas here!) I asked her if she could teach me to make them. She said, "Sure, it is easy". I had my second lesson today. It is not so easy. My fingers feel very clumsy and she keeps telling me to relax and go "easier". I finally got the idea and left the gym with the tip of a shoe in progress.

While we were standing there in the hall of the gym and working and laughing and trying to find the words to communicate I asked her if this time last year she thought she would be teaching a crazy American Mama to crochet and she said, "no...did you think it?" I said, "no, isn't life fun?!?" (And it is...isn't it? After living across the pasture from a woman who knows how to crochet, and would have been willing to teach me in any of the past 34 years, I had to come all the way to Romania to learn. Shows you what we will do for our children doesn't it?)

I came home and after we got school finished for the day I worked again and got about a third of the shoe finished. I know there are mistakes in it but it looks VERY close to Mihaela's work. I'll take it for her to see tomorrow during practice. I still have to focus very closely but it's getting easier and I'm starting to think that I can actually learn how to do this. Maybe Maria won't have to switch back to the hot, stinky leather toe shoes when we leave Romania.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Have Lurkers!

I installed a "site meter" to my blog...and yes I installed it and then helped Stephen install one on his blog!

The next morning I eagerly clicked on my site meter button to see who had logged onto my blog. I expected to see about 3 or 4 addresses in SC and maybe 1 or 2 in NY...if I was lucky.


I have someone in Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Connecticut, somewhere in the middle of the states, lots in NC, and two in other towns in Romania reading my blog - regularly.

Now there were several that I think I can guess on...but...who are you people? Do I know you? Do you know me? And how come the only comments that are ever posted are from Granny and Allison?

So here is my request for the week: Please post a comment. I am "calling out" the lurkers. I want just one comment, cluing me in to who you are. It's ok if we don't know each other. I read several blogs of people I have NEVER met for some unknown reason. (Now I'm thinking they probably wonder who in the world knows them in Romania - Ha ha) Some of them have called me out and I posted a brief note stating who I am. Please do me the same courtesy.


Even if you read this blog simply because you can't believe a family would, willingly, pack up and move to Romania for a year...well two years but who's counting! Ok, Granny is counting.


I'm waiting... Come on you can do it!


Did I mention that everyone who has posted has received a handmade glass ornament from the glass factory in Romania?


DISCLAIMER: Ok, Stephen "wigged" out when he read about the ornaments! He is concerned that this will make it to the internet at large and we will have to buy over 300 ornaments or something. I don't think it's possible but....we have a limit on the ornaments. Maybe a postcard would be the second award or an email from Romania. Or just a smile on my face as I read your comment!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

End of the Anniversary Re-cap

We went to church this morning and had a good time of worship and fellowship. After church, Stephen took us to the good swarma place. Maria had KFC and Stephen and I got swarmas. Then we headed home with full bellies and a bag of leftovers.

The adults took naps (Maria quit napping around age 2 and hasn't looked back since!) and then Stephen went out and ran a mile for every year of marriage. (He might need to rethink this celebration style in another 12 years but we'll see!) Maria and I baked a pumpkin pie. I managed to squeeze in the luggage from our Christmas trip to the states: a pie plate, two crust mixes, and the makings for two pumpkin pies! Yummy!

If you look down on the left hand side you'll see my Anniversary present. Steve found me a "weather pixie". She will evidently dress for the weather conditions in Bucharest. So when you look at her you'll have some idea of what I look like standing at the bus stop each day! The temperature is listed there, along with the wind speed (which is a critical factor in determining what to wear each day).

Only a piece of pie for my night snack and then bedtime! A calm and relaxing anniversary. Just what I wanted!

Happy Anniversary to Us!

We are celebrating 12 years of marriage today. This is quite a long time by "modern" standards. I loved the man Stephen was 12 years ago, I love the man he is today, and by God's grace I will love the man he is going to be in another 12 years.

Here are 12 reasons I love him:

1 - I love him because I am commanded in Scripture to do so. Do I even need to go further? I don't...but I will!

2 - I love that he isn't afraid to change his opinion on things. Not because his view isn't popular but because he has studied and meditated on it and the Lord has opened his eyes.

3 - I love that he still gets really excited about a good meal. He will eat ANYTHING I prepare and tell me truthfully if he likes it or not.

4 - I love his physical body. Yep, 35 years old and he is in outstanding shape!

5 - I love that he isn't bashful about being first in line to fix his plate or eating the last bite of a dish. He was the first person to "line-up" in front of Will at our family gatherings. And don't you just hate it when that last piece of something is wasted because everyone is afraid to be "the one" that ate it!

6 - I love that he is willing to live next door to my parents. Not that they're not the coolest but my ENTIRE family lives within about 15 miles of us. Over 50 people total...not counting distant relatives!

7 - I adore the fact that he makes my coffee each morning even though he waits until he gets to work to drink his. There's nothing like being pampered in the morning.

8 - I love that he laughs and plays with Maria. He can be extremely goofy when playing with his little girl.

9 - I love that he has never once called our household income, "his money". Once we decided that I would stay home he has never brought up the income I would have been making if I had remained an engineer.

10 - He's not afraid to laugh at me or himself. Really, don't we ALL just take things a little TOO seriously?!?

11 - He loves to travel and find the bargains, which enables us to travel MORE!

12 - He appreciates my role in the family and allows me to live out my responsibility as helpmeet with joy and pleasure!

Happy Anniversary Honey! I love you and I'm looking forward to our big date after church at the cool swarma place. As we said last night, it's not like we haven't done LOTS of cool stuff this year!

Friday, February 16, 2007


Since we have come through the valley, I'm ready to tell you about our week at gymnastics!

It all started on Tuesday. We needed to add another toss in Maria's rope routine. I emailed the coach's daughter (who speaks fluent English) so there wouldn't be a confusion in the translation. So during the practice on Tuesday, they reworked the ENTIRE rope routine. I had left the gym to go home and shower. When I came back in one of the Romanian girls came to get me and ask me to "come please". I looked at her and asked, "me???". She smiled and nodded. You see the parents aren't allowed in the gym. The coaches don't like us to even LOOK in the glass door! So I followed the gymnast wondering what in the world was going on.

As I walked into the gym there stood Maria on the floor with her rope, barely holding on to her composure. I looked at the coaches and they motioned for me to JOIN THEM on the FLOOR! I immediately kicked off my shoes and went to them. I avoided looking at Maria (you know that makes things worse sometimes). They wanted to show me the changes they had made. Several of them Maria had already gotten and I was VERY impressed to say the least. A few they wanted us to work on at home. One of the skills I didn't know how to do so I took the other gymnast's rope to give it a try. HA HA!!! It required me to do a cat leap (small jump) over the backward turn of the rope while actually turning my body too. Yeah right! I tried and it kept getting caught on my last foot coming over. The coach started yelling at ME, "sus!", which means "up!". I tried it about three times with her yelling louder at each attempt. After the third time I just cracked up. I mean I had three things going against me:

1 - The rope was the right length for a gymnast 4' 10", I'm 5'5".
2 - I had on my "European" jeans (read straight leg, no extra room!) that I found at Goodwill.
3 - I am 34 years old and it has been almost 20 years since I did Rhythmic Gymnastics.

When I stopped laughing, I looked at the coach and said, "Nu sus!" - "No up!" She just smiled and the other gymnasts laughed, although I think they were impressed that I tried. It was discussed in the locker room for two days after that.

Needless to say Maria and I went home and worked for two hours after school and she got all the skills. I even got the cat leap thingy twice!

The next day, Wednesday, they took on the ribbon routine. And made LOTS of changes. Maria could do all but one of the changes right away but she was coming off a hard day so Wednesday was hard too. And again I was out in the gym.

Thursday was just minor tweaking but Maria was tired of all the changes and I was asked to the gym yet again. She did both routines to music with only minor mistakes. The coaches were pleased but of course Maria thought they were just being nice. She is a perfectionist, and she was right in the fact that they weren't perfect...YET!

Today was great. Her rope routine is outstanding. Very exciting to watch and she is already doing it well. The ribbon is beautiful and she is already "fine-tuning" it. The coaches seemed pleased with the routines and Maria got through the practice without any "extra" emotions.

I was the proudest of her, not because she got the skills, but because she forced herself to endure some VERY hard practices working on skills that she couldn't do at first. This is very hard for a perfectionist. She was also up at 6:45am each morning and getting ready to return to the gym without griping or worrying or anything. My little girl is growing up!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Awww, the humanity!

First, let me preface this by telling you a few things about me or at least reminding you if you already know them!

1 - I am an only child.
2 - I grew up on a farm with lots of land space.
3 - I was the only child on our road until 5th grade.
4 - I liked the above three things about my life!

Now, picture me, here in Bucharest. First it is a very populated large city. Second, this culture doesn't require much "personal" space.

In the morning as I wash my face I can hear our next door neighbor hacking up his "old man stuff" out of his throat. I can hear our other neighbor in the kitchen when she washes her dishes. We can hear the squeaky door of the apartment above us. I can hear the toilet water go down the wall from the floors above us. You get the idea right? So let's just say I NEVER really feel alone.

Anyway, all this is common but this week it just really bugged me. Yesterday, we got on the bus to go to gymnastics. At the first stop this woman got on and she must have run to catch it. She ends up standing facing my side while I was seated. And she literally, BREATHED DOWN MY NECK, for the rest of the ride. I not a "germ-a-phobe" but the fact that I could feel her hot breath going down my collar drove me insane!

Then on the tram it was tight to say the least. By the time we got to our stop I could feel, no joke, 5 people touching me. Granted, one was Maria but then there was a person on each side bumping me and someone behind me with his belly pressed into my back. Then an arm was over me head holding the pole and his elbow kept tapping my head. It was simply too...much...TOUCHING!

And to top off the morning as we rounded the corner into the gym driveway there was a man turned 90 degrees to the sidewalk tinkling! Here as long as the "anatomy" is hidden then it is irrelevant that EVERYONE knows you are standing there tinkling. Then he finishes and turns just as we pass him - literally three feet away. What am I supposed to do? Politely look away? Wrinkle up my nose to his face (which is what I was doing)? Or say Buna Dimineata (Good Morning)? My Southern hospitality won out and I wished the man Good Morning. He responded with the Romanian greeting for ladies which translates, "I kiss the hand". I was thinking you're getting nowhere close to my hands - I KNOW where yours have been!

So tonight I opted out of the skating rink to spend a few quiet moments alone in the apartment. I can still hear the neighbors and the traffic outside but at least I can't see them and more importantly...they can't touch me!

We also had some interesting days at gymnastics this week. I'll try to post about that this weekend. Let's just say I was even on the floor more than once this week and the coaches were actually yelling at ME!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Week of Ups and Downs

Another week has passed here in Romania. It has been an odd week of ups and downs. But I guess they're all like that! Since some of you seem to like to hear the "daily grind" stuff I'll give you a recap of 5 lows, then 10 highs. You know it's best to be positive!

1 - Maria came down with some sort of virus/cold thing and napped on the sofa all day Friday. No eating, no energy.
2 - I saved the vacuuming and mopping to do on Friday then didn't because Maria was napping all day!
3 - I had to wear my silk long johns for the first time this week as we saw snow two days.
4 - I haven't been able to find icons for the homeschool website I'm "mistressing" from here.
5 - Mihaela's brother has inoperable cancer and needs treatment in the US and they are having trouble getting him into the program.

1 - I made TWO homemade cheesecakes and they were outstanding! Even the Bucurs liked them. The kids too!
2 - I didn't fall on the icy sidewalks going to gymnastics on Tuesday. I also had remembered to bring the silk long johns!
3 - Maria is feeling better and is at least eating a little and reading on the sofa now instead of napping!
4 - I got all the coats washed since we were "home bound" all day Friday.
5 - Stephen posted his funniest blog yet. Check it out here.
6 - The website went "live" on Thursday and people seem to be enjoying our hard work. You can check out the visitor's page at
7 - Aurelia is coming today, to the apartment, to give us massages. Thanks honey!!
8 - We'll get to go to church tomorrow since Maria is on the mend and hasn't been sick to her stomach since Friday morning.
9 - Steve's parents have quit smoking. This is something I have prayed for them for years. We want them to be around for a LONG time. Maria is delighted! Well actually all of us are delighted. Keep at it Gramma and Grampa!
10 - My Lord Provides all my needs. I've felt a little "between" things in my Bible study, and low and behold, I got an email this morning that a friend from home is starting an online Bible study. I already have my first Assignment! Thanks Maggie for letting the Lord minister to me, through you!