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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Romanian Nationals - Day 1

Let them praise His name with the dance
Psalm 149:3a

We had a great first day at the National Championships. Maria was the first gymnast to step foot on the floor. She did great! She scored a 17.6 on her floor routine which based on the other scores that the Mamas had written down (I, of course, couldn't listen fast enough to the annoucer to understand on my own) she would have placed 3rd out of almost 60 competitors.

This afternoon she competed her rope routine. It was very good as well. She was competing against the next level in this routine. She scored a 16.975 which I thought was great. That would have ranked her around 22nd out of 56 gymnasts.

She isn't eligible for any awards since she is a foreign athlete but the thrill of competing at this huge meet is awesome.

I don't have any pictures. Every single one of mine turned out blurry. The video is great but I didn't bring the correct cable with me from the states; so hopefully one of my Romanian friends will have mercy on me and upload them for me at some point. If not, it'll have to wait until we return to the states to visit in a couple of weeks.

Tomorrow is ribbon and the closing ceremony. I'll try to do better about getting some pictures tomorrow.

The scripture at the top was part of our Bible reading two weeks ago in school. It just seemed so perfect for today.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Podium Training

We had podium training at the competition today. Our team had an hour and a half to go through their routines on the competition floor. It was very exciting. Maria looked good, a little nervous at first but by the end of the practice she was ready for the days to come!

We'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 11, 2007

This Morning...

Scene: Mama in the kitchen preparing breakfast "doings". Maria supposedly just waking up to start her day. The time is 6:25am.

Enter Maria (trying to look sleepy)

Mama: Good morning, did you sleep well?

Maria: Yes, what's for breakfast?

Mama: Eggs and bagels.

Maria: Call me when it's ready, I'll be in my room. I built a fort in my bed and all the pollys are in there set up in their houses.

Mama: (quickly figuring the time required for such a set up) What time did you wake up?

Maria: I just came out of my room (trying to, not so subtly, avoid the actual question)

Mama: Were you awake when Daddy left? (This was 5:25am)

Maria: (smiling angelically) yes, but I promise it wasn't in the 4's!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You do what you have to do!

I've been craving bagels for about a week now.

So today I went to the garage, hopped in my car, drove to Simpsonville, parked at Panera Bread, ran in and ordered a half dozen to go with a latte on the side.

No....Wait.....that is the states......we are in.....Romania.

So this is what I did. This morning while drinking my plain coffee (at least someone else made it for me - thanks Honey!) I logged onto my favorite recipe site and typed in "bagels". I looked at the recipes and picked one.

This afternoon Maria and I made bagels, from scratch! How cool is that?

To quote Stephen when he came in the door tonight, "you guys are out of control!"

They are yummy! The only thing we'll do differently is flip them half way through baking so they bake more evenly. One side is a little too brown, the other not brown enough.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Wonder Why...

Maria is currently undergoing some "intestinal issues". I'm usually the one that is struck with this problem. Something in the water gets me every once in a while.

It was a daily issue until Stephen starting making the coffee with bottled water. After living here for 18 months you just have to try once in a while.

I use the Romanian water to make rice and pasta (it boils after all) and we brush our teeth with it.

After having a day with a yucky tummy this is the sight that greeted us when we went to brush our teeth for bed:

To quote Maria, "I am NOT brushing my teeth with that!". After letting it run for 10 minutes we gave up and went to get the bottled water.

By the way, the picture was taken after it had run another 10 minutes. Just imagine how brown it was when we first turned it on!

Saturday, May 05, 2007


It was a beautiful day today so we headed to the park to rollerblade. It went even better this time and I only "woup"-ed a few times! We skated around the park and looked at all the flowers in bloom and enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine.

Steve and Maria even dug out shorts for the occasion but I just didn't have the heart to subject everyone to my winter white legs. I've never gotten over Kirk's laughter at my very white legs in early summer.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What an Honor!

We just got word that Maria has been invited to compete with the Rhythmic Gymnastics team here at the...

Romanian National Championships

Oh. My. Word. We thought it wasn't going to be possible since we hadn't heard anything but evidently the coaches have been working on it behind the scenes.

There is an extra fee for being a foreign athlete, but it is so worth it. Maria has worked so hard and this is the "icing on the cake". I mean, come on, what other eight year old is doing ballet EVERY morning by 8am?!?

What fun and excitement for the Juttons!

Anyone want to come and cheer with us?