Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meal Plan...Tuesday?

Oops... We were traveling yesterday and I meant to post this from my phone.

Monday: Turkey Burgers
Tuesday: Book club- potato bar
Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken Chili, corn bread
Thursday: Black Bean Tortilla Bake
Friday: Out/Leftovers
Saturday: Italian Wedding Soup, bread

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Last night David went to Kentucky for work--it was a short trip.  He was gone less than 24 hours, but it did leave me to do bedtime and morning all by my lonesome.

Earlier in the day, before picking up Mac, I deep cleaned the bathroom.  That night,I gave Mac a nice long bath...playing and killing time. He let out a MONSTER fart and I was relieved that it was just a fart...until 15 seconds later, when he pooped in the bathtub.  My nice, clean bathtub--no more.

I got out the bleach twice in one day.   Stinker.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Haircut

On Saturday, my little man turned 15 months old and had his first hair cut.

I wasn't sure I wanted him to have a haircut--I have always been a big fan of the baby look and worried that he would start looking like a toddler without his mullet.

So here it is, one last shot of his glorious mane.

 Is it bad that I LOVED that I could put it in a pony tail?  It was so curly and blond!
 But also so in his eyes, all the time.

We went to a speciality kid's salon.  Because I am a sucker, we opted for the 1st haircut package.

Yep, sucker, but Mac enjoyed the continual stream of milk, fruit loops, and fruit snacks.  I had a long conversation with the hairdresser about how it was VITAL that Mac still look like a baby after the trim.  We made it through with minimal tears.

 Well, maybe I got a little teary.

After the haircut, we decided to capitalize on the nice day and go to a pumpkin patch.  Since we have been out of town nearly every weekend this month, I had been HOUNDING David for weeks to go to a pumpkin patch.  I'm not really sure why I thought hounding was the way to go--he always agreed and has enjoyed pumpkin patches himself.  Maybe I was worried that it would be something we would just forget to do and I would wake up in November, full of sadness and regret? 

Who knows?  All I know is that our now short-haired little man LOVED the pumpkins,

the wagons,

and the trackers.  Although David looks like the happy one in this picture :)

 We even got my favorite picture of the day--can you believe everyone was looking at the camera??  It's a Halloween miracle!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Here we go again... meals for you to love.

Sunday: Taco Chicken Bowls (a crockpot AND freezer meal)

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Dip, Celery, Snackies (we're snacking while hoping the Cardinals win game 7)

Tuesday: Spicy Chicken Pasta Bake, Salad

Wednesday: Turkey Spinach Enchiladas, Salad

Thursday: Leftovers!

Friday: Mac and I fly to Kansas City--David's on his own

Saturday: In Kansas City... Celebrating my father's birthday

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back Home.

I've been absent for a week.  I've decided to take this week off weekly Peace Corps emails in favor of a life update.

On Saturday, my little sister flew into St. Louis and we drove to Kansas to be with family after the death of another family member.  It was a sad reason to get together, but it was good to be able to support each other and remember Adam.  Growing up, he was one of my favorite people to spend time with at family events--always with a joke to crack and enthusiasm for whatever food he could convince Grandma to send home with him.  He had a kind heart and I will miss him.

Mac came home with me for the trip.  I was hesitant to bring him, but it turned out well.  He sprinted back and forth in my grandparent's home, laughing and grabbing for breakables.  He made things a little less somber at time and it was good for him to spend some time bonding with his great-grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, and the plethora of extended family we have.

Plus, he got to ride a tractor.

We returned to St. Louis on Tuesday evening.  Since Lindy's flight wasn't until nearly 8pm on Wednesday, she opted to watch Mac all day on Wednesday.  Around 11:30 I got a text saying, "Should I keep feeding him until he stops eating?  He's had a big lunch."  Turns out, my little stinker ate 8 mini corn dogs, a package of Easy Mac, a banana, a package of mandarin oranges, AND some applesauce.

I said that she could probably end lunch.

Mac definitely knew he could convince Aunt Lindy to keep feeding him.  :)

Thanks for your patience while I was absent.  I'll try to get things running better next week--and give you some meal plans by Monday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Peace Corps Email #13

Original Sent Date: May 4, 2005

Turkey, Easter

Hello America…

Time for my mass e-mail home…

I just returned from Turkey on the 1st of May…barely in time for Easter here.

Turkey was just wonderful…I’ll send out my pictures soon, but the sheer volume of pretty things to look at just amazed me after nearly 8 months in this communist-minded country.  I went to at pretty much every mosque in the city, plus the Hagia Sophia and the Cistern.  Plus, I got to see Kyle—which was a treat in itself (even though he informed Mom my hair is too long and I have turned into a hippy. Thanks Kyle).  Kyle, Matt, Brian, Mark, Nate, and I spent every day walking through the city while spending time with all the Australians who were there to commemorate Gallipoli Day—which was explained to me as their version of D-Day.  I wouldn’t necessarily think of taking a vacation to Normandy for commemorate our D-Day, but all the Australians I met thought of this as no more than a vacation… Turkey was so pretty—so much art and all these huge buildings.  I went to the Grand Bazaar (the oldest mall in the world) and then did a Turkish bath.

Wonderful.  I can’t even describe…

One day, Kyle, Nate, and I took off to walk to the Dolmabance Palace, which turned out to be almost in Asia.  The day, including the 2.5 hours at the museum, took over 6 hours.  Exhausting, but this palace was so worth it.  It had been where a bunch of Sultans had lived so we got to see a harem and a bunch of fabulous art (I am rather starved for art in Moldova…).
Plus, we also saw the bed where Ata Turk died, the hero of Turkey.  We also found a statue of him at some park and all sat on his lap.  I just really think it’s cool that the hero of Turkey is named Ata Turk.  The small pleasures, right?

The entire vacation, we managed to eat nearly all of our meals on the street.  Maybe that wasn’t the best idea, as Kyle, Brian, and Mark all ended up sick at some point, but I loved the sheep kabobs.

Actually, the best kabob I had turned out to be made out of sheep intestines.  It was tastier than you would imagine…yum.  We also made the smart choice of eating clams from some guy on the sidewalk.

It seems like all the choices I make are just stellar, but I never got sick.  My stomach must have toughened up in Moldova.  Oh!  If any of you has a lot of free time, we found the best Doritos (mind, I had not eaten
a Dorito in over 7 months) called a la Turcia.  I think someone should start a campaign to bring those to America and then mail them to me in Moldova.

I came home to Easter in Moldova…which actually was Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday full of celebrations.  Wooof.  Most of the Moldovans didn’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or oil for the entire season of Lent, so Easter is basically an exercise in gorging yourself in meat.  Overwhelming.

Monday morning I was woken up at 9 and told it was time to start eating…and only meat.  My host parents tell me that sometimes it’s hard on your system to try to eat so much meat after so long of a break, so you need to drink plenty to help it along.

So, we drank everclear along with my breakfast.  I went back to bed immediately after…only to be woken up later for a brunch of ice cream and beer.  We do have 15 newly hatched chickens at my house, so it really feels like a Hallmark Easter (only we’ve replaced chocolate with meat and eggs with alcohol).

Since they were only hours old, they slept in my host dad’s bed.  I’m not sure where he slept, but I figure I should mind my own business about some things.  As long as they’re not in my bed, I have no problem.

Well, I hope everything’s going well back home for you all… take care!


PS—I am still looking for financial help for the camp for my kids.  I would greatly appreciate it if some of you would be willing to pass along the information I sent out earlier to friends, family members, or employers who might be able to help.  If needed, I am very willing to send the information out again.  Just let me know!  www.peacecorps.gov--- donate now button.

Romania got the best concerts

Kyle and I on Ata Turk's Lap

The broken down car provided a ton of entertainment

Where I had my fancy Turkish bath

Me and the boys

I got charged for this picture.  Such a tourist.

Nate eats seafood from a street vendor.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We had the best day yesterday--we went to the Cardinals Playoff Game!!

 David's dad scored the tickets so we went to the game with both Dan and Mike.  It was a GLORIOUS was to celebrate David's 32nd birthday.

Other than the Cardinal's win and fantastic all-around game, the highlight of the night was that Dan accidentally grabbed Debra's jacket.  It didn't quite fit him :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy birthday to the love of my life, David Kent!

He's the greatest father, husband, and man I could ask for.  I'm lucky that I get to spend his birthday with him at the Cardinal's play off game.

Happy birthday, David!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Meal Plan

It's Meal Plan Monday-- on a Sunday!

Wow!  I'm so on the ball :)

  • David's Birthday!
  • SANDWICHES at the Cardinal's game!!!
Wednesday-- Slightly fancier dinner night :)
  • Steak
  • Twice-Baked Potatoes
  • Salad
  • Out and/or Leftovers

Friday, October 5, 2012

Peace Corps Email #12

Original Sent Date:  April 7, 2005

More Various Chicken Parts

Hello everyone back home!

I haven’t been very good at keeping you all updated.
I’ve been crazy busy planning camps and writing grants in Romanian (which surprisingly much harder when it’s not in your native language!).  Thank you all so much for donating to Opening Doors—it’s great.  But, more help is still needed.  I’ll put the info at the bottom of this e-mail.
On Saturday, I helped my host mom kill a rooster. Ok, well, actually, I watched while she killed it.  This was new for me, as I usually try to avoid being around when things are dying or being murdered with a rusty ax.  So, she chopped off its head and the thing ran around squirting blood while it was going out of style… very cheesy 80’s horror movie.  I helped pluck that sucker bald.  While Doamna Natasa was butchering it into those tasty sections we all just assume chickens are naturally born pre-packaged in.  Yum.  So I got a tutorial in various and assorted chicken organs.  She seemed surprised when I had told her I had seen the inside of animals before since Daddy-Pot-Pie is a vet (of course, I didn’t mention that I usually faint when watching Dad operate—mostly because I don’t know the verb “to faint” in Romanian).

Then: Doamna Natasa took the chicken stomach, cut it open, and feed the insides to the rest of the chickens. This is thrift in an entirely new sense of the word.  To take half-way digested food can re-use it for the nutrition of another.  Kind of like a momma bird feeding her offspring, only a heck of a lot bloodier.  And, man, those chickens really seemed to like that digested corn.
On the 23rd of April, Kyle and I are going to Istanbul.  It will be my first trip outside of Moldova in over 7 months (can you believe I’m been here 7 months as of the 10 of April?!?!), so I think I earned it.  And Kyle, with big important med school man, he probably deserves it as well.  We’re going with four other guy volunteers, so it will be me and 5 men.  I’m not really sure how that happened, maybe it’s because I’ve somehow morphed into a 13 year-old boy, but it’s going to be really interesting.  A priest I met in my village told me that if we buy a sheep and cut his throat (this is a literal translation) and have a feast we will make friends for life.  After all that chicken blood, I’m not sure I want to cut anything’s throat, but, hey, maybe I’ll buy a sheep and Kyle can cut it.  He’s going to be a doctor, right?
A few weeks ago, my counterpart “a facut o sauna” meaning she has an actual sauna in her house (that’s not unusual here b/c it’s so COLD!) and fired it up for me and my host mom to come over and sit in.  It was a crazy experience: I tried to wear a swimsuit but got totally denied and mocked extensively for being “rusine” (shy/embarrassed—sorry that I keep typing in Romanian, sometimes I have trouble with the English words now), so I got a big sheet.  Doamna Maria kept pouring water with herbs over the hot rocks and I thought I might suffocate.  In that house, there are specifically timed intervals in which we leave the sauna.  After 15 minutes, we get out and drink beer and eat nuts, after 15 more we get out and eat some borscht, and after the final 15 minute interval we drink juice.  To me, that seems like a lot of thought/rules to go through for what should be a relaxing evening.  Of course, how relaxing can it be in a tiny room full of naked people?
Well, I think that’s it… have great times in America, eating at Applebees and shopping at Target.  Drink a mochafrapucino for me!  And, while you’re at it, help my really cute, super deserving kids have a camp!  I promise, if you all donate a little, I’ll stop sending e-mails solely about this camp.
Go to http://www.peacecorps.gov, click on “Donate Now.”  Chose the Region: “Europe and Asia.”  Scroll down until you find Moldova, Opening Doors Camp for Disadvantaged Youth with my name (D. Brownback) next to it.  Or, call this number and specify this camp (#800-424-8580 ext. 2170) Give, Give, Give!  I cannot thank you all enough! This will really help these kids sense of self-worth!


Most of my pictures from this time frame are close-ups of other random volunteer faces. Apparently, I was going around with my camera judging profiles and trying to pic a winner based on side-by-side shots.

I had a lot of time to come up with random projects.


Yep, just taking my picture with a random chicken.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2.5 Months Later....

We have some photos from Mac's first birthday party!

I completely forgot to bring my camera...which is probably ok considering how busy I was. 

His fabulous cake, made by our babysitter...

 Here comes the cake eating...he didn't really SMASH it the way we were hoping.  I think the little stinkbug was getting overheated.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Over the weekend, we traveled to Kansas to spend time with my family and go to a Chiefs game.

Mac and I flew in because David had a work obligation on Saturday.  Flying with a walker is a lot tougher than when Mac was immobile.  He still did pretty well--likely because I downloaded the Muppets movie and he got to watch that most of the 45 minute flight.

Mac got to hang out at the clinic with Mom, Dad, and his fur-sister, Maggie.  Mag LOVED it, but especially loved playing in buckets of water while being dressed up like his grandpa.

We spent the day Saturday with both sets of his maternal great-grandparents...it was awesome, but, sadly, I forgot to take pictures.

Sunday was all about tailgating and the Chiefs.  My father recently purchased an old, converted uniform delivery truck that now serves as a tailgating vehicle.  With a tv, awning, microwave, toilet, sink, speaker system, grill, and several couches, we were in the lap of luxury.

Mac enjoyed playing bags--turns out he's quite good when he walks up to them and plunks them in :)

Nana is much more patient than I am. 

 We even managed to snap a color-coordinated family pic!

During the game, Mac ate, drank, played with towel-owl, and walked around with Nana.  He was a fairly good sport until it was time to leave.  Then he made it quite clear that he was no longer interested in fun.

So we left at halftime.  In a very out-of-character move, Mac fell asleep in David's arms before we even left the stadium.
After we left the game, we went to David's grandparents for a short visit.  Mac discovered cars and became quickly obsessed.

He slept for the ENTIRE 4 hour drive home...waking up happily at 7:30.  I was terrified that he would be fighting bedtime until 1 am, but we got him down around 9pm.