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 but...ice 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: