Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy 8th Birthday Maria!

We went to dinner tonight for Maria's 8th birthday. Her choice was a little place right down the road so we walked there and she ordered the chicken and mamaliga. I love that McDonalds isn't her first choice!

For some reason during the dinner we were talking about laughing and smiling and I said, "I think it makes you healthier so you live longer". Then I said, "Granny should live for a long time". To which Maria added, "she might live as long as Methuselah!". I just love the fact that she can add meaningful conversation!

She opened two presents today. One was a pair of pink tennis shoes for her doll and the other was an add-on for the computer game Zoo Tycoon. She loves running and managing a zoo.

Tomorrow we have church and then a get together at the Bucur's house. Tomorrow is Florin's "name day" and it's also Palm Sunday.

A Photo to Smile About

I love to keep a photo on the desktop of my computer here, to remind me to smile and that life at "home" is good!

The photo below is my current favorite. For those of you that don't know, this is my Daddy and my dog, Jill. She is staying with them while we are here and she and Papa have become co-workers. He is semi-retired and so she helps him with all his projects around the house. She lays in the sunshine close by while he works! And she definitely takes all the snack breaks with him too!

In the photo Papa is checking on the neighbor's house to see if he knows the car in the yard. (He is our own personal neighborhood crime watch). Jill is looking too, but probably for a squirrel. I think it's hilarious that they are in the exact same position!

Happy Birthday Papa!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Let the Party Begin!

Maria's 8th birthday is this Sunday. Yesterday we made cupcakes. They were much better than the ones we made last year!

We took some to gymnastics this morning and the girls and coaches sang the Romanian Happy Birthday song. They were going to sing in English, but we asked for their version. We can hear the English for all her other birthdays!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Farewell to Vienna

We got an early start this morning to make up for missing the day on Saturday. We headed over to the Schönbrunn Palace for the Imperial tour. It is a beautiful palace. You can read about the history of the palace on the website. Maria thought it was cool to hear about people on the audio tour that we had studied in school. For example: JFK met with Kruschev at this palace and we had just read about them the past few weeks.

They were also having an Easter Market on the grounds so we walked through it and looked at all the neat stuff and bought a pastry to share.

Then back to the apartments to pick up our stuff and head to the airport. We arrived over 2 hours early. Steve had looked at the map of the airport online this morning and already knew which gate and everything. To quote him, "we aren't even going down the wrong hallway this time!"

We made our flight and it was a wonderfully short return trip to Bucharest. Flight time was 1 hour and 5 minutes. Sure beat the 24 hours to get there!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Baden for the Day

We took the train to Baden today. This is a small town outside of Vienna. The scenery was very pretty on the ride out there.

We just strolled around the town. We went through a park and found a playground. We played for about 30 minutes or so.

Then we went to this neat little cafe for lunch. You can see the restaurant in the background of the lake. We tried two Vienna specialties, a chicken dish and a beef dish. Both were very good.

Then onto the big surprise. We headed toward the Romertherme. You can see the building in the background in this strategically placed photo.

When we started going in Maria asked what it was and I said something that Daddy wanted to check out. She said later that she thought it was an airplane museum or something.

We walked in and she said, "wow, it's a big swimming pool"
Me - "Should we go swimming?"
Her - "We don't have our suits!"
Me - "Oh, yes we do!"
Her - "Cool"

We bought tickets and headed to the unisex changing room. Yes, you read that right! They had these "changing closets" but everyone was in one locker room. You gotta love Europe...or run screaming to find something to gouge out your eyes with!

The pool was awesome!

Afterward, we headed back to the train station with a short stop in the Gruner Markt (Green Market) for a snack to eat on the train.

Quick stop in the grocery store for a roasted chicken and salad and we're back in the apartment.

Sunday in Vienna

We headed out to the race around 9 am. Oh. My. Word. There were over 1000 people in this race! Steve started his semi-marathon mid-pack. It was mind boggling to watch the people, literally,stream past us. I asked Maria if she had ever read the phrase, "a sea of humanity"? She said yes, but she didn't really understand. I explained and then pointed at the race. She smiled - perfect understanding! We settled down to watch.

The course had a loop around a river that they had to do three times. So we were able to see Steve several times during the race from one of the bridges. Gabi and Florin counted and at the end of the first lap he was in 753rd place. Very good! He still looked great.

We went to get the kids numbers and find out where they needed to go. They were, of course, very excited.

Steve came in strong, but to quote him, "I left nothing out there". Meaning that he had plenty to finish strong, but didn't feel like he could have run any faster. He manged to trim a chunk of time off his last half-marathon. He finished 566 out of over 1500 runners.

Alexa had her race and did great! Maria and Florin were next up. They had to run twice the distance, since they were in the older age group. The girls ran first. Maria ran the first loop at a moderate pace and was around mid-pack. Then she opened it up and started passing girls. She finished in 8th place out of 21 girls her age. She was only 30 seconds behind the top finisher.

Florin ran a great race also. He ended up 5th out of his age group.

We went to eat lunch in the mall next to the race. It's a good thing too. Gabi noticed all these trophies set up and all the children runners gathering. He went down to watch and they called Alexa's name. She won her age group and got a HUGE 1st place trophy! Very exciting!

We went back to the apartment to drop off the trophy, medals, goodie bags, and stinky clothes then headed out to the zoo.

It was fantastic. We saw several animals we had never seen. The Vienna zoo does a great job of providing open areas for the animals close to their natural habitat and opportunities for people to see them up close. The kids had a fantastic time.

We headed back to the apartment. The Bucurs stayed in and napped. They nap later than we do. We headed out for dinner. We found a pizza place on the street and had some fantastic pizza while sitting on a bench in Vienna.

To quote Maria in our prayers from last night, "Thank you Lord for just a fun and fantastic day in Vienna".

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Bus Trip

2:52 am – My “internal” alarm clock went off, before the alarm, so I got up to start the water so it could be getting hot and went to read my emails.

3:00 am – I got in the shower and Steve started the coffee for me.

3:45 am – The Bucurs called to tell us that they were leaving their house and we could head outside.

4:30 am – We reached the bus station and all 7 of us piled out of the car! This is us waiting in the bus station.

6:00 am – We left on the bus to start our journey and everyone but Steve conked out.

7:00 am – I woke up and we had finally made it out of Bucharest. The only problem is that the major east-west road through Romania is literally a two lane highway. Oh yeah and it’s curvy too.

10:00 am – We took our second potty break. We all went and paid the potty tax so we could use the potty. Daddy spotted a fornetti stand and went to get us some apple fornetti.

11:00 am – Florin threw up. I think he just ate too many sandwiches and it was extremely HOT on the bus. The air is on now and the heat is off. Nothing like a puking child to get a change in the temperature.

12:30 pm - 45 minute stop somewhere in Romania. Steve and Maria used some of the time to run around a little and stay loose for the big race.

2:00 pm - Everyone spent the afternoon napping, reading, talking, or aimlessly staring out the window. Steve taught all the kids how to play Yahtzee.

6:00 pm - We ate supper on the bus. Maria and I had tuna out of the can and Steve had the quick pasta and chicken I had cooked the night before.

8:30 pm - We brushed our teeth in a bus stop. Then we attempted to sleep. Poor Steve has zero "Fowler" in him, so he slept very little.

5:30 am - We arrived in Vienna. We took a train and then the tram to reach the apartment. The apartments are great and we are settled in. Breakfast is pastries from the little shop down the road and outstanding Viennese coffee.

We're on to the race and the zoo!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Price of Ignorance

Somehow we managed to sit in the airport for the two hours before our flight to Vienna and still MISS THE FLIGHT!

They say they announced it several times in English and Romanian but I have trouble believing that! We had 4 adults and 2 capable kids and no one heard anything?!? No way! Of course they didn't post the gate number on the screens since the airport was closing soon. What???? What about the other 5 flights?

When we asked 20 minutes before our flight they said the captain had already closed the door and the boarding was closed. We could see the plane out the window, still sitting right there. The head person finally (after some persuasive talk from Gabi) radioed the captain and asked if he would allow us to board late. We could still see the plane. He thought about it for about two minutes then said no. We could still see the plane. The lady turned and said, "I'm sorry, the captain said no he can not open the door. Feel free to book another flight with my associate at the desk" and she turned and walked away. We could still see the plane. Of course, you had to pay for the next flight! Did I mention that we could still see the plane?

So we are catching a few hours of sleep and then taking a bus to Vienna...for 24 hours! I am still in shock. This trip has no where to go... but up!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A First in Bucharest

We saw a first tonight at Cora. An employee went up to a couple smoking, said something, pointed to the "no smoking" sign, and made them PUT OUT THEIR CIGARETTES!

We were stunned! When we first arrived, I wondered why they had the signs since obviously, NO ONE obeyed them. They are starting to enforce this law now.

Yippee for the Juttons!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I feel at times that most Romanians see Americans as the "poster child" for equality. It is very hard for the women to understand that I willingly submit to Stephen as leader of our home. In fact, this is hard for some of my friends back home to understand too!

I have tried to explain it, but until the Lord opens your eyes to His plan, you're just running around blind living by man's law (which change frequently). Then Kim at Life in a Shoe pointed to an article written by Candace Cameron Bure that totally summed up my feelings and beliefs.

Some of the thoughts I loved:

"Marriage is an equal partnership in that BOTH roles, husband and wife, are equally important. But, they are not designed to be the SAME role."

"I help him because it pleases the Lord, and ultimately, THAT is who I care about most."

"Ultimately, my husband is responsible for all the decisions made in our home before God. He'll stand before God to give an account of our family. That's a weight lifted from my shoulders and yet such a hefty responsibility for my husband. I want to do everything possible to see us succeed together."

"I choose to allow my husband to lead because I want to do it God's way. I gave up "my rights" when I gave my life over to the Lord."

I don't think I can add more - God's Truth in His Word says it all. Very clearly.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 11:15

Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Afternoon at the Park

Our weather was simply gorgeous today. We were actually warmer than Simpsonville but the breeze here makes it feel cooler.

Since we were sitting around with no plans, we decided to head to a couple of the surrounding parks. Lots of fun! We hope all of you enjoyed your Saturday too.

Can You Say Yummy?

We can...we made homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast!

My home school e-loop posted about a baking day to make cinnamon rolls. I won't call any names..ahem...Katrina...but that got me to craving cinnamon rolls.

I have always just bought the "canned stuff" in the states. Probably because that's what I had first and I tend to be a creature of habit. They don't have the "canned stuff" here. So enter my favorite website... can find pretty much anything here if you look long enough.

I found my recipe. The only ingredient I wasn't sure about was the yeast. So I headed to Mega Image to see what I could figure out. I found what I thought was yeast and after a long, difficult discussion with one of the ladies there, I bought it. I still wasn't convinced it was yeast, mainly because the lady said it wasn't. I've learned to trust my gut here though!

Back at the apartment I ended up in the elevator with a college age lady and so I asked her if she spoke English, she did, and so I asked her if this was yeast. She said yes it was and it makes the bread dough rise. Perfect!

So that evening while Steve was getting his massage, Maria and I quickly mixed up fresh bread and made it into cinnamon rolls. She did all the inside yummy stuff and I did the bready part! Then we hid them in the fridge to rise overnight.

This morning when he left to run we pulled them out to finish rising in the sunshine pouring in the windows and mixed up a quick cream cheese frosting for the top.

I loved the look on Steve's face as he walked in from his run.

Steve: (stopping suddenly inside the door) What's that smell? (big grin and a gleam in his eye)
Maria: Cinnamon rolls, we wanted to surprise you.
Steve: Where did you guys find cinnamon rolls?
Dana: I made them, from scratch, like with yeast and stuff.
Steve: No way! You are out of control! (this is a major compliment from him by the way)

They were yummy too!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Dry Run

Next Friday we are heading to Vienna, Austria to cheer for Daddy as he runs his second semi-marathon. It doesn't make much sense for him to drive home, pick us up, and then drive all the way back to the same airport he works at. That would take about three hours of vacation time and we just hate to waste it doing something like driving around Bucharest.

So Maria and I will take the bus to the airport next week and just meet him there. We wanted to time it so today was our "dry run". Maria didn't have gymnastics since the Romanian girls are all getting their team physicals. So after school and a quick lunch we headed to the bus.

We literally rode, on the bus, in the same seats, for 2 hours! Thank goodness next week we only have to ride to the airport and not home too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring has Sprung!

It is Spring here in Bucharest! Yeah!!! I am presenting a series of pictures that prove Spring has arrived in Romania:

All the flowers and trees are blooming and budding. We've been watching avidly on our morning walks to gymnastics.

The animals are out and about. The sparrows are working and singing away in the bushes and the Romanian ladybugs are visible again. Maria is holding one on her pointer finger.

The tree trunks are getting another coat of white stuff. As best we figured out last year, it is a lime based mix that prevents bugs and small shoots at the base of the trees.

And everyone is beating out their rugs on the rug posts between all the blocks.

And the Claritin is setting on my kitchen counter so I won't forget to take it! Praise the Lord they sell it here too.

I hope it's Spring wherever you are. Sorry Grampa and Gramma that spring comes to Romania before upstate NY!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Comedy of Errors

Our trip home from gymnastics this morning was just a comedy of errors. We had taken the 101 bus. It has been going down our street this year since they are doing construction that had changed it's route. Today we were happily riding along and discussing the change in Maria's rope routine. Then we noticed that we weren't in the left hand lane to turn.

Quick - the route changed again! We jumped up to get our stuff together so we could get off. Of course, I got tickled and started laughing then the old man next to us kept staring at us which made me laugh even more. You know that Fowler thing!

After we got off we had to cross the major intersection...twice... since we were diagonally across from where we needed to be. So we decided to reward ourselves with fornetti for the walk home (basically three bus stops of walking).

We got in line and I rehearsed in my mind what to say. Basically I wanted to order three lei worth of apple so there would be some left for Steve tonight. I got to the front and said, "treizeci mie mere". The lady looked at me and said, "a;lkdjf sflsajf mere?" I only got the mere at the end so I said "da" thinking that she was just asking if I wanted apple. Well she started scooping apple fornetti into this bag and when she finished I handed her my three lei and she shook her head and said the price again. This time I caught the "cinci" at the beginning and realized I owed her 5 lei. So I handed her two more. Then she shook her head again and said what sounded like "doi" which is 2, so I thought I owed her 20 bani (or cents). I handed her a 50 bani and then it clicked that the price had come to 5,90 lei. So I gave her another lei and she handed me back my coin and then my change.

Needless to say there was PLENTY left over for Daddy! We may be eating fornetti for days.

Oh well, it gave us something to laugh about and discuss on the walk home in the sunshine.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Great Sunday

We took Florin and Alexa to church with us this morning. They have only been to an Orthodox Church here so it was quite a change for them.

Then we had a snack at McDonald's. It was fun to watch the lady's face as we tried to order. Alexa speaks pretty much no English, Florin and Maria speak the second language about 25% correctly, Stephen speaks Romanian about 75%, and I speak it about 10%. Although I speak "mamaian" very well. When I divided the kids in the back seat, my message was clearly understood by all!

Then they played in Maria's room with a light bright. It is so fun to hear their "Romaglish" as they communicated and played using both languages...sometimes in the same sentence. I loved it! They had already used the play-doh. They had a great time playing together.

This afternoon we headed over to the Bucurs for a cookout. Mihaela's best friend, Lillian, and her husband were there as well as another friend, Alex. Kashim, Lillian's hubbie, is from Turkey and did all the grilling. It was outstanding. He started with a ton of vegetables. We had peppers, tomatoes, onions, whole bulbs of garlic, and zucchini.

Then came the meats. There was beef and lamb in chunks. Also he managed to do ground meat on kabobs. These were cooked with eggplant. They were very good. To quote Gabi, "I like flesh!"

Then we wrapped them in bread. Yummy! Miheala had also made a potato dish with marinaded veggies that was outstanding. I had made homemade cookies - this is quite a novelty here!

It was quite an international gathering. Alex is from Belgium so most of the conversation was in English since that was the only language that all of us spoke!

I'm always "goofy-sided"

They do that double cheek kiss thing here and I always go to the wrong side. Always. I am so paranoid about it now that my heart beats faster when I know it's coming. I've bumped lips with too many people on accident!

I look to the wrong side EVERY time....seriously...every time. I think in the states when someone is going to kiss me on the cheek I look that way but here I need to look the other way first. Old habits die hard.

Maria has adapted to this smoothly and can now do the kissy thing like a pro. Steve and I look like...well...Americans!

This past Thursday was "ladies day". Sorta like Mother's day but for all ladies. We were so proud of ourselves because we had chocolates for the ladies that work with Steve and for the gymnastics coaches. Steve came home saying that he had to do the kissy thing with about half of them and he felt goofy.

I, of course, had gone "goofy-sided" and bumped lips with one of the coaches. I should just stick to hugs they are much easier!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

So what in the world do you DO in Romania?

I think Romania sounds very foreign and isolated for most of us Americans so I'll give you an idea of what we do during the week here:

6:45am - We're up and eating breakfast
7:15am - Out the door to catch the bus to gymnastics
8:00am - Gymnastics for Maria, I usually take the bus to Auchon to buy produce
10:30am - Out of gymnastics and on our way home
11:00am - Bible study then lunch
11:30am - School work
2:30pm - Finished with school, free time, talk to the Granny, clean house etc.
4:00pm - Steve home from work, he usually runs before supper
6:00pm - Language lessons with the Bucurs (Only on Mondays)

The only differences in the week are: I may stay at gymnastics and read if the weather is REALLY yucky or go to pay bills or pick up packages.

On Wednesdays, Steve meets a Missionary from our church and they run together at a nearby park.

On Thursday evenings Steve and Maria meet the Bucurs at the skating rink for the free skate.

On Saturdays we go to Selgross in the car and buy the "big" groceries. We also have a massage therapist come to the house. Hey, at $10 for two hours of massage in our own home...who could resist?!? That we play a rousing game of Monopoly, European Landmark Edition.

On Sundays we have church, usually out for lunch, and then Steve and Maria go for a run.

I hope this gave you a brief glimpse of our life here. Any questions?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Top Ten Places we have been to this past year.

Here is the top 10 list of places we were able to visit this past year. I LOVE the low cost airlines here! Our most expense flight was from SC to NY to visit the grandparents...well not counting the overseas flights!

1 - Barcelona, Spain
2 - Cairo, Egypt
3 - Venice, Italy
4 - Pompeii, Italy
5 - Rome, Italy
6 - Malta
7 - Paris, France
8 - Villefranche, France
9 - Palma de Mallorca, Spain
10 - Florence, Italy

For any of you who are new readers, and would like to see some of the places we have been able to visit, just click on the city name above and it should take you to the first entry for that trip.

Or you can search within this blog by using the search function at the top of the page.

Happy travels!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Where I'm from...

I am from a road that bears my name, from walks to the branch for the sunrise, and across the pasture to my Grandparents' house.
I am from the old home place, already full of memories and love when my parents moved in.
I am from the fresh air, the silence of open land.
I am from opening at least one present on Christmas Eve (usually more) and long toes, from Goodwin and Fowler and knowing the cars we met in the road.
I am from the opinionated (that’s not always negative) and determined.
From "don’t read while you’re walking" and "there’s nothing in the dark that isn’t there in the light".
I am from Southern Baptist through and through. Of old time hymns and having every important memory in one church. Births, baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
I am from the South, fresh ground sausage and milk straight from Betty cow strained through a cloth diaper.
From the "my Papa made a watermill and powered their house himself", the Fowler Quartet and Doodle’s Store, and the "so your Grandpa is Andy – I know him".
I am from a people that knew where they had been and where they were going. A family that welcomes yet another member until we reach almost 50 in the "immediate" family.
I am from a road that bears my name. Even though my feet have left from time to time, my heart never will.

No, I didn't really write this - it was a template from somewhere else and you had to fill in your own memories. I was fun to do though!

If you don't know where you were or where you are, how will you know where you're going?

Friday, March 02, 2007

First of March Cup

We had a competition at our gym today. It was called the First of March Cup after the holiday yesterday. No scores were given but the girls did their routines in their "cool" leotards. The National Team even competed too!

This is Maria and Coach Mihaela waiting for her turn to do floor. She did great! She missed one of the skills they added this week but she handled it perfectly.

This is the younger girls sitting and watching the rest of the competition. It's awesome to watch the top level gymnasts right there three foot away. Even warming up on the same floor as the National Team is an experience in itself. I don't have any of the pictures from the routines. I did video though - I heard that cheer Granny!

This is the whole team that competed today. This is as good as I could get them to smile. For some reason when they pose with the whole group they don't like to smile!

Good luck to our teammates in the states as they travel and compete this weekend too!