Wednesday, November 28, 2012

At work today, 4 people told me I looked "professional" before 9am.  I thought it was interesting...mostly because they used the word professional.  You know, not nice, pretty, lovely, tired.  Just professional. 

I was slightly worried because I planned on wearing the top part of this outfit for pictures on Sunday. So I did what any red-blooded American woman would do... I went to the bathroom and took a picture of my outfit.

Here you go.

And then I texted the picture to David, who was, as always, grounded in reality.

* To be fair, around 11:15, someone told me I looked fancy.  Better than professional, right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


You may or may not have noticed that I mentioned being out of town for 10 days in my meal plan post. 

David and I went on a cruise...without Maclin!  I didn't mention it here (or facebook, or anywhere really) before leaving because I have ridiculous fear that someone is going to read that we're gone, connect the dots, and rob us.  Not that we really have anything worth stealing, but that's not the point.  People out in internet land don't know that, right?

At any rate, we went on a cruise!  It was fantastic... a little rough to leave my big man, but altogether a good time.  David and I hadn't been anywhere alone in a very long time (I'm thinking it had been over 2 1/2 years since even a weekend trip) and it was great to reconnect as a couple, not just as parents.

Maclin stayed with my parents for the duration.  Thank goodness for grandparents who are willing to take your child at the drop of a hat!  Because, you see, David and I left for this trip on the 17th...and booked it on the 6th.  Nothing like short-term planning, right?

In order to get Maclin to my parents, we drove to KC on Friday the 16th, handed Mac off at my brother's house, and drove to David's grandparents where we slept for about 3 1/2 hours before heading to the airport.  On the plane I napped while taking breaks to stop David's snoring. 

We arrived in Miami, where it was wonderfully warm...and suddenly the lack of sleep didn't matter.  We were on vacation!  Woot!  Woot!

 We spent a day at sea, where most of our pictures looked like this.

Yep, self-portraits of us in the same position but with different clothes.  Because nothing says vacation like 13 variations of the same picture.

The day at sea was fantastic... we slept in until 11:30, ate, swam, read, played bingo, drank, listened to music, and took pictures in all the corny photo booths.  Pretty much we just enjoyed each others company.  Glorious.

On our third day, we went to our first port in Jamaica.  We had a blast there.  First we took a mini-boat tour of the island, where David served as captain.

We got to see Mick Jagger's old house, Mick Jagger's current house, and some shed where they filmed a Bond movie.  Oh, and the pretty island.

At the end of the tour we got dropped off at Dunn River Falls.  OMG.  Have you ever heard of this?  We WALKED up a waterfall!

It was, hands down, one of the coolest things I have ever done.  Wikipedia tells me that they are 180 feet high and 600 feet long.  It was so awesome to climb these and play in the water. 

The next day we went to Grand Cayman, but I took a lot of pictures that day on a different camera and have to wait to get the pictures.  I'll give you guys an update on that when the pictures are available.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meal Plan Monday!

We are back in St. Louis after our ten day absence. Here's what we're eating this week.

Monday: BBQ Chicken Corn Soup and Salad

Tuesday: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Sausage with Salad

Wednesday: Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Carrots and Potatoes

Thursday: Turkey and Sweet Potato Soup with Salad

Friday: Lasagna and Salad

Saturday: Out or leftovers

Friday, November 23, 2012

Peace Corps Email #17

August, Also August in Romanian

Original Sent Date: August 3, 2005

Greetings from Moldova, the hottest spot in the world!

What is new back home?  I haven’t heard any big news lately, so maybe that’s for the best!  How is everyone?

The other day, my host ma told me that it was 48 degrees Celsius on the hill in the sun.  I didn’t really think much of it, until I found my phone to do the math…and that’s about 118 degrees Fahrenheit!! The weird part is that it really doesn’t seem all that unreasonable at all.

I have discovered and quickly accepted the Moldovan solution to the heat—sleep.  It’s wonderful.  You  wake up in the morning, do what absolutely has to be done for the day, and get ready for lunch. After lunch, it becomes difficult to both breathe and function, so you go back to bed until 5 or so.  After supper, you eat ice cream and piddle around.  Maybe it’s not the most productive schedule, but what to do?

Last week, my site mate Maria and I put on an English Camp for the children in Calarasi.  It was such fun!  We had 35-ish kids show up for the camp (all were required to speak conversational English)… the activities were things like pictionary, Simon Says, and all those leadership games we do all the time back home.  I, however, was in charge of arts and crafts (how appropriate!).  It’s amazing how different it was to plan arts and crafts in Moldova than in America where you can’t just run out to Wal-Mart and pick up ANYTHING you need (with 5 brands of everything to add variety and price difference) and without hardly any money.  But it went well, I think.  I taught how to make friendship bracelets, collages, sand (actually salt, because it’s cheaper) art, and how to dye fabric with plants and flowers.  Maybe I should pursue a job in arts-and-crafting when I come home instead of that whole master’s thing!

In this past month, I also began an English Club for the kids in my community.  These kids don’t speak any English or have maybe take one year or two in school, so it’s completely different than the English Camp was.  I have about 8 kids come twice a week—I am always in such a good mood after they come!  There’s one little boy, Danu, who lives in Italy during the school year (like 1/3 of all Moldovans) so it’s really interesting in the class when he likes to shout out the Italian words for everything!  Can you imagine being 8 years old, speaking Romanian, Russian, and Italian while trying to learn English?  It boggles my mind!

On the 17th, the camp that you all helped me finance, Opening Doors, begins.  I can hardly wait—that might have something to do with the campsite being near a beach!  Again, thank you so much for all of your help. 

I plan to take tons of pictures for all to see!  So excited!

And, finally, some of my biggest news: (I was testing you all—you had to read to the end to know this!) I’ve planned a vacation home!  I’ll get in on September 20th and stay for two weeks.  Who would have thought a vacation home to Kansas would be the most exciting thing I can imagine?

Take care and I hope to hear from you all!


Human Knot...always a winner.

A list of phrases that one of the boys said.

Playing a game I made up...they made a line with things they know, shirts and shoes.

She died this fabric with leaves and berries.

Skit day.  Here Bush and Vironin dance fight.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Peace Corps Email #16


Original Sent Date: July 8, 2005

America, America, America,

Great news!  My grant which was on the internet is now fully funded!  Joy!  I am so happy and thankful for all of you who donated…thank you so much!
I’ve had a pretty busy last month!  My center, Dorinta, finished up the school year on the last day of June.  I have all of July and August pretty much free.  It’ll be nice, but I’m going to miss those kids!  

I’ve also been to camp GLOW (or Girls Leading Our World).  It’s a 10 day camp for 120 girls from all over Moldova.  I was in one cabin of 20 girls and we just happened to have the only evil girl in the whole camp in our cabin.  It all turned out just fine, but I’ve never had to threaten to kick a girl out of a leadership camp before.  Crazy.  But I guess if you have a group of 120 girls and only one is actually pure evil, those are pretty good odds, right?  The camp is run in Romanian and Russian, so all of the classes I taught were in Romanian.  I taught First Aide, Conflict Resolution, and Puberty.  It was fun, but I had to have a little dictionary time to learn words that I don’t use everyday.  Oh, and internet time to make sure I actually knew what I was talking about!  Ha.
 At GLOW, I was also in charge of the Halloween celebration.  All the girls found costumes from whatever they had and it was so creative—one girl was a salad (she taped tree branches to herself) and another was day (she wore a white sheet and had a yellow balloon on her head).  I made them bob for apples—which is really confusing to Moldovans.  Fun, fun.

All in all, GLOW was a lot of fun—but I’m really glad it’s over.  I’m a little scared for next year when I’m supposed to be in charge of it—I think that will be a lot more work than I bargained for!
 I also just finished helping to run a Fourth of July Barbeque (it was actually on the 3rd) for the FLEX  students I am working with.  These students all have physical disabilities and will be coming to the United  States as Foreign Exchange Students.  I was really surprised to find that one of the girls is going to be living in Liberal, Kansas.  Small world, right?  I made a surprisingly non-ridiculous piñata for the BBQ which turned out to be a bird.  However, maybe a piñata wasn’t the best idea since the game was a little too easy for children with sight impairments.  The bird, Squawky, was dead after one hit.  Also, before we killed it, one child fell.  Actually, only one child fell once in the entire day—and Sasha managed to fall right on the piñata.  Huh, maybe that was why it died so easily.  

But, it was worth the piñata dying it’s early death when we got to eat S’Mores.  You forget how much you like things like that until having them is a huge treat!

Last night I had a fun time with my host ma…we went on a walk to the spring, since that’s the kind of water she really likes.  On the way there, she decided that I had never eaten a peach before—I may have allowed her to think this since she asked me if I had tasted a peach but used the Russian word for peach, which I do not know; I only know the Romanian—and that I must must must have one.  Since the peaches in this stranger’s yard where out of reach, she simply took a hunk of leftover cement (leftover, of course, from the many empty cement buildings of the soviet era) and threw it at the tree.  After three near-death tosses, a peach finally came down.  I really thought I might die, but that was a darn tasty peach!

On the walk home, my host ma became concerned that our 100 baby chickens are not eating enough or growing fast enough…even though she feeds them eggs and sheep cheese.  So, she began “stealing” grass from the neighbors and the sides of the roads.  She looked like a crazy bag woman who really likes grass.  It was one of the funniest things I had seen, and even all the people on the street were making fun of her.  She told me that the neighbors don’t understand because they don’t want their chickens to have as many vitamins as ours will have.  I love my life here.

Today, I’m heading off to another village—Donduseni to visit a buddy of mine.  He lives 4.5 hours away, so I think there had better be a present waiting for me when I get off the bus!  That, and a lot of deodorant.

Take care and hope to hear from all you as soon as you finish this sentence!

The first set of these pictures are GLOW.  The last two are from the FLEX BBQ.

My training host sister, Viorica.  I miss her!!

Alenulu and I

The girls in my cabin.

Seanne teaches tie-die


D'Andrea and I dressed up for the costume party.

My pinata, Squawky


No Meal Plan Monday this week.  I'm eating way too much and enjoying myself too much to plan out meals.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mac loves his cousin and often treats him like a jungle gym.

It's a good thing Liam is so patient!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


For the last couple of months, Mac and I have been going to the park 2-3 times a week.  We have a great little system.  I pick him up from daycare, we walk the loop around our closest park (well... Mac rides while I push him), and then he gets to play until dinner time.

Lately, though, I've been thinking that every park visit is probably our last one until Spring.  We've been blessed with some very mild days (especially for mid-November), but it's close to dark around 5!

I'm kind of unsure what fun, active, free activities exist during the colder months.  I don't really want to just go home after I pick him up and wait for bedtime.  Any suggestions?

And, with that, a smattering of park pictures.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


It's no secret that I don't particularly enjoy football, but even I got excited to see this.

Let's go Kansas State!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Here it is... Very abbreviated due to some upcoming fun :)

Sunday: Chicken, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes

Monday: Easy Spanish Chicken and Rice

Tuesday: Lasagna, Salad

Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken Chili

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Sandwiches on the road

Friday, November 9, 2012

Peace Corps Email #15

It’s June Here!

Original Sent Date:  June 9, 2005

Hello Everyone!

How are things going back home?  I think it’s been over a month since I’ve written, which either means I’ve been really lazy or really busy.  You pick.

Moldova is finally turning warm and pretty… the cherries and strawberries are ripe.  It stays light until 9:30 at night now, much better than winter when it was pitch black at 4pm!

My host mom informs me that today is yet another holiday.  I thought, for some crazy reason, that we were through with these after we celebrated both Easter and Easter for the Dead.  Nope!  Tomorrow is the holiday for when Jesus arrived in heaven.  I didn’t realize that this happened over a month after Easter, but I figure there are some things out of my grasp of understanding.  By the way, the Romanian word for heaven is ciar—pronounced chair.  Awesome.

My host mom (who is crazy, but a good crazy) has decided that she is tired of buying chicken from the store.  Apparently, it has fewer vitamins than chicken from the house.  This theory is also true of wine—house wine has far many more vitamins than the purchased wine.  They did not appreciate my story that wine at the story is probably from SOMEBODY’S house.

Oh well.  Anyway, in an attempt to not purchase any more chicken until the end of time, we have hatched 95 chickens and 6 turkeys.  This is far too many birds in my opinion, but watching them has become one of my favorite pastimes.  My ma and I like to chase them around the chicken yard, grab them, and feel their gullets to see if they are eating enough.  My life is very odd here.

On the 20th, I’ll head off to one of the camps I’m working at… this one is called GLOW (girls leading our world) and 120 girls from all over Moldova (age 14-17) are coming to the camp.  It’s crazy.  I’m really looking forward to it, especially the Halloween night I’m going to run.  That should be interesting…the Moldovan I’m working on this with speaks very minimal Romanian (meaning maximum Russian) so communicating was difficult.  Finally, we just had to get a Russian/English dictionary… it was pretty comical, but it helped my self-esteem to realize I was better at Romanian than a real-life Moldovan.  Yay!

The camp for the disabled children at Dorinta starts in August… and I am still hoping to solicit donations from you all.  Please, pass this request along to everyone you know.  Anything you can give would help—instead of going to a movie, rent one and donate $20 to Opening Doors.  I would be forever grateful!

This summer I am also working with a group of 7 students going to America as foreign exchange students.  However, this group is really unique because all of these students have physical disabilities, mostly blindness.  This is the first group of such students to be going from the former Soviet Union and they will spend a month in Chisinau (the capital of Moldova) before departing to the US.  During this month, we will work on perfecting English language skills and helping with ways to assimilate into American culture.  I am in charge of the 4th of July BBQ, so I get to make a piñata.  When it’s done, I’ll have to send pictures… I’m sure it will be the ugliest piñata ever! 
My counterpart celebrated her 50th birthday last week, and it was the biggest masa I’ve ever been to!  We had actual BBQ and mushrooms (which, technically, I’m not allowed to eat by Peace Corps law)—I bought some new shoes for the event and my ma was very excited, saying they are in fashion.  She also told me that I’m young and need to have pretty things instead of the ugly shoes I brought.  They’re beige colored with designs in the leather and pointy, curved-up elf toes.
So, yes, they are in fashion. And they only cost 100 lei (or $8) Fashion here is very different than home—for instance, Mom said she’s going to mail me a pair of those Crocs (which have been described to me as colorful nurses shoes) and I’m sure the Moldovans will hate them.  But, they hate most of my outfits anyway.  Argh.

Also today, a new group of volunteers comes into Moldova.  I’m not sure how many there are or if they’re cute or not…this is very important.  All of them will be English or Health teachers.  Another group of EODs (what I am) and Ag will come to Moldova in September too.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Moldova nearly 9 months!

Take care, all—It would be wonderful to hear from you all!


My host mom waves at a birthday party.

D'Andrea (another volunteer), my counterpart Maria, and I at Maria's 50th birthday party.

Doamna Maria getting lifted to celebrate her birthday!

Some other volunteers and I pose with a nice case of wine.

Me and a statue of Lenin.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Push Up Challenge

One of my friends challenged me to a 100 push up challenge with her.  Basically, you do a single push up on the first day, two on the second day, and so on until you hit 100. 

I started on August 1st, so...unless I counted incorrectly, I finished today!

I did 100 (girl) pushups this morning and it was no big deal.

On November 1st, I started the 100 sit-up challenge.  It's much easier for knowing how many to do when you start on the 1st of a month, so here goes nothing.

Because this is a boring post, here's a video of Mac mastering his own physical activity--going down a slide without assistance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my 31st birthday!

I spent the day at times.

David and Mac were asleep when I left this morning, but I did get this video when they work up.


Tonight, I'm hosting book club at my house and we're having a fajita bar.  It's exactly how I want to spend my evening...with great friends, eating yummy food, drinking good drinks, and relaxing.

This weekend, David and I are having special date night where we're doing.... I don't know. But it'll be fun, mark my words!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Hey, hey, ho, ho it's Meal Plan Monday!

I think I really like this because it means I post a blog post but don't have to do any real thinking.

Sunday: Mexican Skillet Supper
Monday: Dining Out!  We're going to one of my favorite restaurants, Crushed Red!
Tuesday: Book Club! We rescheduled last week and now we're eating fajitas.
Wednesday: Balsamic Chicken Thighs, Salad, Twice-Baked Potatoes
Thursday: Chicken Bacon Risotto, Salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Date night!  David and I are going to eat at a grown-up restaurant to celebrate my birthday.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Peace Corps Email #14

Turkish Bath

Original Sent Date: May 4, 2005

Another for mass e-mail story for some of you…
I would say that the highlight of my vacation would have to be going to a Turkish bath.  Since I was the only girl in my over-testosteronized group and the baths we chose were not unisex, I was forced to brave this experience on my own…yikes.
I walked down this musty staircase into a building that was probably about 500 years old (I have nothing to back that up).  Everything was made out of marble and the ceiling has a million little octagonal windows letting in the light.  So pretty.  A very very old Turkish woman greets me at the door, says “Clothes” while pointing to the closet, “towel” pointing to a towel, and  “bath” pointing to a door.  Slightly confused, after I figured out my clothes had to be removed and left behind, I was way out of comfort zone…
So I dressed in a towel and followed the old lady into a maze of marble, where she turned on the water in what can only be described as a large, low, sink, and took my towel away.  Took it off my body and out of my hands—I felt like someone had robbed me.  I almost cried.
But, I sucked it up (ha! and in!) and began pouring bowlfuls of warm water all over myself as instructed (well, gestured to do).  Periodically, through my self-bath, a random, half-naked Turkish woman would wander through and only assume what was her weekly laundry.
So, after what felt like a very long period of time pouring water over myself, my old Turk lady came back…only not wearing nearly enough clothing.
I’ll leave it at that.  Ok, I won’t… it was only a way too small pair of bikini underwear… and time had dragged her down very low.  She points me to a marble slab in the middle of the room…I lie on it, but not in the way she wanted.  After 5 minutes of gestures, I finally manage to lie on the slab in the proper Turkish-bath way.
She attacked me with a brillo-pad like instrument and it kind of hurt and felt like heaven at the same time.
The skin came off me in huge dead-fish-gray rolls.  
While I realize that my personal hygiene has declined, I didn’t realize it was to the point that my skin is gray.  Not appealing.
She finished up, (signified by a slap on my rump) so I went to rinse away that horrid skin.
After too short of a break, my old lady came back.  I got back onto the slab, and she soaped me down…it was only slightly weird at the moment to be bathed by an old, nearly-naked Turkish woman, but probably should have felt much more peculiar.  Her very strong hands massaging me the entire time comforted me.  It was definitely the best massage I had ever had and the cleanest I had been in about 8 months. 
So I rinse off again, and she comes over with a small stool.  She sets it down, plops onto it, and pats the area between her legs.  Naturally, I am a little unsure if this is really the place I want to be, but I go over anyway (it seems like all I do these day is ignore my instincts).  So she washes my hair with incredibly strong banana smelling shampoo—I’m pretty sure it was Pantene Pro  V—while massaging my scalp.  I relax, thrilled at this pleasant surprise, when she slams my face back between her large, low-slung breasts and massages my face.
I blush.  We rinse off, and I avoid her eyes.  I feel slightly violated, but very relaxed.  Hmm.
Afterwards, the sauna…I should have done a bath (just slightly less violating) every day…
I hear the boys had a slightly difference experience, which involved Nate having “the shit” beat out of him with his masseuse slapping him, yelling YES!, and meowing like a cat.  But you’ll have to ask Kyle for those details…
All right, just thought I would send a few of you this slightly more risqué story…enjoy, and let me know how your lives are!  I miss you all…


PS—We also went with some random Turkish street vendor to his apartment in the middle of the night to “drink tea.”  Probably not the smartest idea, but I still have my kidneys.  Everything works out, I guess.  

PPS—I have this quote from a boy “I will lay siege to your boundaries like the Byzantines were besieged by the Ottomans.”  Didn’t work.  I think I’m becoming bitter in my old age.