Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

For the holiday season, I'm taking a small break from blogging so that I can focus on family time.

Merry Christmas from us to you... see you in 2013!

Unless, of course, I find some time and decide to post since I won't have work...but let's just assume no blogs, ok?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Celebrate

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I'm not the world's most melodramatic person.  I don't really cry at movies and seldom get really worked without a huge reason.

Friday, though, I was a mess. I work at a school and now school shootings hit a little closer to home.  It was more than that though-- it's that I'm a mother now.  Having Maclin's life in my hands on a daily basis creates an empathy that I didn't have before.  I cannot imagine the horror, the shock, the impotence felt by the parents that day.  But maybe the problem is that I can--all too easily.

Last night, after most staff and students had left the building, my school was placed on lock down mode.  A suicidal, armed man was in the woods outside of the building.  No one was harmed and the man never entered the building, but it brings into shocking clarity that events like this are far too close too home.

I can't live my life in fear and I can't control every environment I enter.  So, today, I choose to focus on what I have-- a healthy, wonderful son..

I celebrate my son's life because he laughs at funny voices and says "shoes" with a silly inflection that makes me laugh every single time.

I celebrate my son's life because he tells me he's done with meals by throwing the rements of his food on the floor and then promptly asks for a cookie.

I celebrate my son's life because he is joyous, silly, kind, and sensitive.

I celebrate my son's life because watching him learn new things brightens my days.

I celebrate my son's life to honor every parent who has lost a child, and to assure you that I do not take my gift for granted.

I celebrate my sons's life because I am grateful to God that he exists.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Here's what we're eating this week!

Sunday: Beefy Spinach Lasagna Rolls, Salad

Monday: BBQ Chicken Corn Chowder, Salad

Tuesday: I have book club--David and Mac are on their own :)

Wednesday: Turkey Spinach Enchiladas, Salad (Bumped from last week)

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Out!  We're going to the David Nail concert!

Saturday: I'm cooking a big turkey dinner!  Turkey, Corny Cheesey Casserole, Crash Hot Potatoes, Rolls, Salad, Veggie Platter, Raspberry Chipotle Dip, Hot Spiced Cider, Bundt Cake, and Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cheese Cake.  (Don't worry... I have a crock pot plan...and help from my Mother-in-Law)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Peace Corps Email #19

Rather than sharing an email home this week, I found a statement I wrote about my leaky eye syndrome.  Since I usually tell the story of my eye drama whenever I tell people I was in the Peace Corps, I thought it was interesting.

I was attempting to be "adult" and "calm" when I wrote this-- the nasal-lachrymal unblocking was far more traumatic than I let on--the tiny metal rods I describe were gabbed into my eye socket and came out my nose with a TON of blood and tissue. 

The Moldovan eye specialist was a short little man wearing what I swear to God were women's glasses--complete with pink frames that didn't fit his face.  Allowing him to JAB a metal rod into my eye was one of the most horrific experiences of my life.  It might have been compounded by the fact that he didn't speak Romanian or English--only Russian--and also didn't warn me of the upcoming trauma.

It was more terrifying than painful...but I needed Valium for that second appointment.  And I shot of whiskey.
Funnily enough, Leaky Eye Syndrome didn't turn out to be pink eye or an issue with my nasal-lachrymal canal--it was a simple allergy to chicken feathers.  See, my pillow was made out of chicken feathers (that my host mom plucked herself) and I always slept with the right side of my face smooshed into the pillow.  With 1 minor allergy drop a day and a new pillow, my NINE MONTHS of eye drama was over.  Oh, and when the AMERICAN eye specialist realized it was an allergy, I allowed him to cut off my wart/cyst.  It hasn't come back, thank God.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13...

And we're at the park. Who would have thought?

Also... Happy birthday to Grant, or as Mac knows him, Grunkle.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meal Plan Monday!

We're home all week and all weekend, so I'm going to do a little bit of cooking.

Sunday: Turkey Meatballs (one of David's absolute favorites), salad

Monday: Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Tuesday: Goulash, Salad

Wednesday: Turkey Spinach Enchiladas, Salad

Thursday: Potato Soup, Salad, Grilled Cheese

Friday: Tuscan Chicken Soup, Beer Bread

Saturday: Out/Leftovers

There's lots of salad in our meal plan--what can I say?  We're trying to eat healthier.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Peace Corps Email #18

Whew, who had any idea that I wrote so many emails home?  We haven't even gotten to the INSANE volume of emails I wrote to other volunteers!

It’s Getting Chilly

Original Sent Date : October 17, 2005

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been informed I am way behind in sending a mass e-mail.  Though I doubt you all are checking your e-mail every thirty seconds, hoping to hear from me, I will oblige.  Honestly, I would have obliged without the reminder. 
It makes me feel special…
I returned to Moldova on the 12th of October after a three week vacation in AMERICA!  On my flight into Mother Moldova I sat across from a guy wearing shorts and looking very American.  Unfortunately, I was wearing my grumpy pants that day (you may know them; they’re a sordid  green color) and chose to stare at him rudely rather than speak.  I’ve learned this in Moldova.  You’d be surprised how well it gets people just to leave you alone.  After getting off the plane and going through customs, I meet my buddy Aaron and his fiancĂ© Nata at the gate… turns out the American I was glaring at was Aaron’s brother, visiting from America.  I need to wear the grumpy pants less…
Incidentally, Aaron is engaged to the Moldova who was our language teacher (dum da dum).  But don’t worry Mom; both of our language teachers are women…no Moldovan fiance for me. 

My three weeks in America were wonderful.  It’s weird that going to “Kansas” can be construed as a vacation, but it is.  Yay. I got to see almost everyone I wanted to (and if you’re reading this and I didn’t see you—that almost is for you, darling), go to two football games (regardless of the fact I didn’t return to either after halftime), go to the bars (and realize that I am far to old, at almost 24, for the college bar scene), meet our EIGHT labradoodle puppies (well, now there are 7 since I hid one in my purse and it lives in my room off of scraps now), and become cured of my nine-month struggle with leaky eye syndrome and the wart (yes, wart—I know) on my eye.  It was a productive and exhausting three weeks.
The day after I returned, I went to the training session of the newbies and gave a speech over camps.  I learned the perils of American fashion, as my new sparkly shoes immediately gave me a blister.  I will, however, continue to wear them.  I am stubborn.  It’s nice, though, that there is a new group here and I am now the older and more experienced volunteer.  Woo!

I went back to site late Thursday night. My host mom told me it felt to her just like her daughter had returned to Moldova (her daughter has been in Italy for 5 years without coming home).  I gave away my presents.  My host mom followed me to my house and talked for what felt like 4 hours.  Luckily, I didn’t forget Romanian.  That could have made the long conversation a little rough.

Friday was my first day back at work…we had a celebration for “Fall of Gold” and the kids all dressed up like vegetables.  Cute.  The little girls I love—Adriana and Oxana actually fought over who would get to sit next to me.  Coming back was a lot easier since I was missed!
Friday afternoon I went to the Town Days of Chisinau the capital. We went to a masa at a friends house and I drank a little too much cognac.  Either that or the time difference really got to me, because I fell asleep on the ride home and was mocked by my counterpart and her husband.  Oh well.

This weekend is the Health Expo, and I am somehow involved in that.  So, I’m going to spend Thursday through Sunday in the capital meeting with doctors and medical students.  Luckily, I do not have to give any information out, since I am, surprisingly, not a doctor.  I plan to wear my sparkly shoes and suffer.   

I hope you all are doing well back home!  Take care and feel free to send me e-mails/packages with reckless abandon!


Helping the kids attack the pinata I made.

Olea wearing the remains of the pinata.

Oxana doing PT.

Tom and I posing in front of "Big Steve" (Really called Stefan Cel Mare) the hero of Moldova.

I had a very tiny cell phone while in the Peace Corps.

The girls at the center.

The big boys at the center.

One of the boys and his grandmother at his home.

Another student at her home.  I think their grandma slept on the outdoor bed.

Tailgating in AMERICA with some of my girls!

And here are the puppies I obsessed over.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What a difference a year makes...

Last year...
No hair, not even crawling, thrilled to be held by anyone even a stranger.

This year...
TONS of hair, running, and thinks that Santa might be trying to kill him.

The difference is amazing.  My little baby is a toddler!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Grand Cayman!

I'm back, with my developed under-water camera, to talk about the rest of our vacation.

In Grand Cayman, we opted to do an excursion called Sea Trek.  Basically, you put on some old-school looking scuba helmets and walked underwater.  It was FANTASTIC!  The battery on our camera died just before going down, so there aren't many pictures.  However, it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.  We drove out to the middle of the ocean, climbed down a 30 foot ladder, and spent an hour walking around coral.  How cool is that?

After Sea Trek was over, we had enough time left on land to journey out to Sting Ray City.  We went on a cheap tour, so it's wasn't as fancy of a trip as the time Mom and Dad took us.  Still cool though.

Here are the underwater disposable shots :)

Not a bad time, even though David got bit.  Poor David :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Ugh, I totally spaced on Meal Plan Monday. It's probably from the best--I'm not doing much cooking this week.  I made stir fry last night and will make White Chicken Chili tonight or tomorrow.  Otherwise, we're doing the sandwich/leftover thing.  My poor family :)

Yesterday, it was 75 in St. Louis!  I couldn't believe the crazy weather, but man--was I thrilled for it.

Mac got to go to the park and it was probably the 13th time this year I've said it was the last time until spring.  I'm not saying that this time--because I can't help but hope we'll be back.

 Sorry for the iPhone pictures--- I was too spacey to remember to do the camera thing and it was almost dark at 5pm.
 Mac REALLY liked this ladybug.

And, on the same day I spent 90 minutes at the park, I came home and decorated for Christmas.  It was seriously the most bizarre day.

 We spent a long time debating whether to put ornaments on the tree or not.  I'm thinking that Mac is not the best age to practice self control.  In the end, we left several of the more breakable/precious ones in the box and decorated mostly with soft or sturdy ornaments.

My goal this year is to get a tree topper that I like and is special.  And to get a "real" Christmas tree skirt.  I'm thinking I'll look at after Christmas sales for those things.  I would rather get nice ones that crappy but have to balance my cheapness.

In an attempt to keep Mac off of our tree, we made him a tree of his own to play with.
It's just some felt.  Every time he tries to touch our tree we tell him that his tree is this one and take him to this tree.  It's a long shot that it'll work, but I'm hopeful.