Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sorry for the lack of Meal Plan Monday this week.  I just returned to town after going to a work conference.  Since it's already Wednesday and I'm going out to eat tonight, there's really no need for a meal plan.  I'm going to pop into the store for some fresh fruit and eat some freezer meals for the rest of the week.

My conference was at Tan-Tar-A, and, because that is close to David's hometown, we decided to travel together.  Mac spent Monday at Tuesday with his grandparents while I was an adult learner.

Before we left, David modeled a hat and some hair (?) he found in his parent's house.  I'm not really sure where he was snooping and why he felt the need to put this on, but who am I to judge?

Before David left town, he and I made a special trip up to the outlet malls, where I scored my Valentine's day gift a little early.  It's beautiful and I love it.  I might love it more because it was 50% off the sale price plus another 30%.  
 It matches the wallet he got me for my birthday.

I am a lucky girl, no doubt about it.

Before the conference, I had conferred with some of my buddies to plan runs. I figure if I had to eat out for most of my meals and sit in workshops all day, I needed to counteract that with some planned exercise.

The first day, about 5 of us headed out.  I thought we were going to run 4 miles--2 miles out on a 5k path and 2 miles back.  While some people stopped to walk the hills, one girl and I ran on...completely missing the fact that everyone else planned to only do a 5k AND the 5k turn around.  Oops.

When we finally did turn around, no one was behind us and we had no idea where the 5k path was... so we got lost.

We made it back to the hotel at 4.6 miles for the run--our lost portion only added on .6 miles!

The next day, Erin and I took a picture at the 5k turn around.  We still ran 4 miles, but at least we saw the marker this time. 

Our conference included some karaoke time...which is just as dorky as you might imagine. You know...a conference full of teachers with karaoke...very cool.  I am not a dancer and some one made a joke about chair dancing.  Courtney and I felt the need to clarify and photograph what chair dancing actually is in our world.

 See?  Dancing while seated on your chair. 

I'm not sure what is going on with my arms here.  But I did buy the sweater in that picture for $4 at the outlet mall!

Since I was away from my baby boy for about 48 hours, I bought him a present.  In the hotel.  At the gift shop.  But it was a gift shop called Wood'n Ya Wanit and it was the CUTEST wooden tool kit.  All cut and nailed together by a person--you can't beat that!

Plus, look how cute my little man looks trying to figure out what to do with his hammer and saw!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Day Off

Yesterday, I had the day off work for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 

It was glorious. I love a day off!

I woke up at 6am and managed to get a 5 mile run AND a shower in before either Mac or David was out of bed.  I know that waking up at 6 isn't most people's idea of a good day off--but that's a full 90 minutes later than my usual time, so 6am felt amazing to me.

Since Mac had an overactive bladder the night before, he needed a morning bath.  After the bath, we decided to dress casually.

He's a stud, yes?

 We then attempted to take his 18 month sticker photographs, but he was significantly more interested in putting his milk on his head.

After that, we loaded up and headed to JCPenney for his real 18 month pictures.  Let me just say that he is getting WAAAY too active for studio shots.  Mac spent the majority of his time trying to run into the hallway.  Cute, but not helpful.  I'm glad we had family portraits taken in December outdoors with a real photographer...these were not really up to snuff.  On the plus side, I only spent about $20 on the whole shabang.  Pictures are way cheaper when you don't really like them.

In the afternoon, during nap time, my friend Tara came over and we sewed some curtains for her nursery.  She's due in 2 1/2 weeks and I'm excited to find out what she's going to name their little man!

Before dinner (a crock pot dinner, thank goodness), Mac and I headed to the Y where he went to his second swimming lesson.  The kid does not know fear.  It is a zero-depth entry pool and he just walks right in--as far as he can until he can't touch.  I kind of wanted to see what would happen when he couldn't touch--if he would start swimming or something--but the other moms were giving me the stink eye so I redirected.  But the kid LOVES swimming lessons.  It's like extended bath time in a HUGE tub. 

After Mac's bedtime, I headed to my Busy Mom's Core Group through my church.  Whew, it was a long day.  I kind of wish I had today off too. :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Sunday: Mushroom Barley "Risotto"
Monday: Lentil and Chicken Sausage Stew, Corn Bread
Tuesday: Beefy Spinach Lasagna Rolls, Salad
Wednesday: Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin, Cooked Carrots
Thursday: Leftovers or Freezer Meal
Friday and Saturday: Gone.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Peace Corps Email #20

Another Peace Corps Email home.... I think written in December 2005.

Happy winter to everyone back home!  Mom says it's cold and should snow any day now.  Here, its surprisingly mild outside.  Last December at this time is was freezing and a 6-nch layer of ice covered every
surface.  However, it's still pitch black out by 4:30 everyday.  Does it get dark this early back home?

Perhaps it does, but its never felt like night out at 4:30 to me home like it does here.
Since last wrote, I celebrated my one-year anniversary of being at site, here in Calarasi.  That means that
the Peace Corps has considered me fluent in Romanian for over a year (scary, as I was certainly not fluent
a year ago!).  On the day of my anniversary, I was harassed into drinking 50 grams (usually of vodka, but
often of coinac) by everyone.  My counterpart, her family, and I attended a Spectacul de Nonta that
day, which can only be described as a type of musical detailing every possible wedding tradition in the
Moldovan culture.  It was actually one of the best productions I've seen put on and I made friends with
the lady who was running it.  Shes currently trying to talk me into coming to her village once a week to
start an English Club.  I think that's going to start up after Christmas.
Another new group was sworn in as volunteers in late November.  I'm having a hard time dealing with so many new people in my life.  Seriously, I've gone a year without meeting any new Americans and now there's
almost 70 newbies in both groups.  I know hardly any names and, if you know me at all, you know that's hard for me! Yep, always trying to be the busiest/most important girl in the room.

The newbies' swearing-in ceremony was really nice... it turns out they're a group of overachievers, all being
able to dance, sing, and play some instrument.  I've decided that I'm ok with that...what I lack in
musical/dancing ability, I make up in being really fun.  Ha.

Thanksgiving came and went.  With the bird flu epidemic knocking on Moldova's door (being present in
neighboring countries), I was a little worried that I would have to celebrate the holiday with Wild Turkey
instead of turkey meat (a disconcerting aside: Wild Turkey is not to be found anywhere in this country.
Even if it were to be found, I would be unable to afford it.) but our medical team came through.  Dr.
Lica performed some sort of test on Moldovan turkey and deemed it safe for consumption.  My personal guess is that she cooked a turkey, ate it, and didnt die.

Thanksgiving serves as the All-Volunteer conference time here in Peace Corps land, so every volunteer was
together.  A huge meal was cooked, involving somewhere near 15-20 turkeys and 7000 potatoes.  (I can't back that up)  My sitemate, Maria, and I were in charge of the slideshow.  True to form, I became over zealous and it was 45 minutes long.  Oopps.  I also participated minimally in the talent show (since you
all know, my major talent being that I can read incredibly fast and it's not exactly a big crowd
pleaser at talent shows) by reading three lines off-stage into a microphone.  Next stop, Hollywood!

While I enjoyed Thanksgiving more than I should have, I believe three nights of too much fun and sleeping
less than 4 hours a night took their toll on me.  I returned home to site with the worst sinus infection
of my life (grain of salt: I say that every time I get sick.).  I thought my face was going to explode.
Offf.  My host mom's solution was to tell me it was my own fault because I allowed my legs to get cold
(seriously) and have me soak my feet in hot water and mustard powder.  I'm not sure if it helped, but it
made host ma happy.

December 3rd is Moldova's national holiday, Invalid Day.  To me, the concept itself seems entirely unPC,
but who am I to get offended if the people who are actually invalid are enjoying themselves?  I had
arranged for a folkloric dance ensemble to come and perform, but was canceled at the last minute.  Boo.
But the day was fun.  We had an accordion player come, several games for the children, an informational
meeting for the parents, and a huge meal.  When I arrived in the morning, one of the teachers began
dancing me around and yelping…turns out that she was overwhelmed that I had put on makeup and nice clothes for the celebration.  Hmmm…kind of makes me wonder about the daily effort I put in, which may or may not involve brushing (but certainly not washing) my hair and a t-shirt.  Maybe I'll try harder…but probably not.  Ha.

Very soon (December 18th, to be exact!) I leave to go to Italy!  I'm so excited, since I'll be spending
Christmas this year with my family.   Were staying in Rome, and that's actually about all I know of whats going on.  Excited!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, in America or where ever you find yourselves!  Take care!

Darcie "Soon to be in Italy" Brownback

Me and my first host family at the new volunteer swearing in.

New volunteer swearing in performance

Spectacle de Noonta

Random house in my village.

Playing games on Day of Invalids

Ion cut his hair in anticipation of the celebration

Dancing at the Day of Invalids

Doamna Elena is VERY proud of her wine

Some other volunteers and me at the Thanksgiving dinner

Celebrating another volunteer's birthday.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

At the park in January

Seriously, this has been the most mild winter ever. It might be chilly but could be so much worse!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Good Reader

I'm determined that this kid will be a good reader... to the extent that books are the first "toy" I offer him.

I think it might be working...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

David's out of town for a few days this week, so I'm taking the opportunity to cook some meals that he doesn't particularly care for.  I need to say, quite emphatically, that this is the only perk to David being out of town.  I do not care for single motherhood, in any form.

Sunday:  Macaroni and Four Cheeses (with the hidden ingredient of pureed squash)
Monday: Pea Soup
Tuesday: Tuna, Leftovers
Wednesday: Crispy Chicken Fingers, Roasted Carrots
Thursday: Confetti Chili, Corn Bread
Friday: Book Club-- Sugar Free Strawberry Pie & Slimmed-Down Chex Mix
Saturday: Leftovers or Soup

And, yes, 4 meals are from Ellie Krieger, again.  I can't help myself--I get obsessed.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Feeling Better

Somebody obviously feels better, as evidenced by the entire can of ravioli he ate for dinner tonight.

In other news, he's finally learned the fine art of cheesing for the camera.

He's so stinking cute!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


There are a lot of days when I wish I was a stay at home mom... when Mac is happy and laughing, when he learns new things, when (honesty here) I'm just sick of waking up at 4:30 to go to work.

Yesterday however, was not one of those days.

I picked up Mac at daycare.  While walking to the car, he threw a grade-A tantrum because the kid does not like to leave daycare.

Aside: I know it's great that he enjoys daycare but seriously, Mac, throw your mom a bone and seem happy when I come to get you!

 Since it was in the 50's, we drove to the park.  I got him strapped into his stroller and he promptly threw up... EVERYWHERE.  I didn't even know what to do at first--I just stared at him. 

Finally I managed to get him slightly cleaned up with some wipes and stripped him down.  I had a hoodie of his in the car so he wore that home while being draped with random clothes out of our Goodwhill bags.

At home, Mac got a long bath.  Once getting out and dried off, he promptly puked all over me again.

Yep, I was glad that he wasn't a stay at home mom then.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

In meal planning this week, I pulled out favorite, favorite cookbook.  I've had it for years and it's reached that beautiful disgustingness that only a well-loved cookbook reaches.  The pages have texture.

The of this week's recipes came from  The Food You Crave, written by Ellie Krieger.  I love, love, love this book.  Some of the recipes for food David asks for every week (turkey meatballs, etc) came from here.
Basically, it's comfort food made healthier.  Can't beat that!

I'm also trying to plan in one meal where all/most of the ingredients are shelf-stable.  That way, we can have an easy home-cooked meal if we choose to stay home but I won't worry about food waste if we bump it to go out.  This week, it's BBQ Chicken Corn Soup.  I've also got some freezer meals for this purpose, but my supply is getting pretty low.

Sunday: Mushroom Barley "Risoto", Salad  (This is from the Ellie Krieger book but I can't find a link online...sorry)
Monday: Tortellini Soup, Beer Bread
Tuesday: Teriaki Pork Tenderloin, Baked Beans, Peas
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta, Salad
Friday: Possibly dine out, with BBQ Chicken Corn Soup as back-up plan
Saturday morning: Texas Style Breakfast Casserole-- David requested this and brought the recipe home from work.  The least I can do is accommodate, right?
Saturday evening: Our nephew Liam's birthday party--bake a Bundt Cake.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


January 3rd isn't too late to be posting New Year's resolutions, is it?  Either way, here you go.

  • Work out 5-6 days a week.  
  • Cook meals at home at least 4 days a week, ideally 6, with a focus on the nutrition of the meals.
  • Take at least 12,000 steps and climb 15 flights of stairs each day.
  • Cut off all ties with soda...that wonderful, calorie-free, caffeinated fizz.
  • Get Mac active and outside whenever possible.

  • Put our house back on the market this spring.
  • Commit to living in our home and making it work for us...until someone finally buys it.  (It's cute, I promise!  You know you want to buy it!)
  • De-crappify whenever possible.  There's just too much stuff and so little of it is actually needed.
  • Keep it clean!  Use daily chore list to keep things under control.

  • Live within our means.
  • Plan out long-term expenses for the year.
  • Put the difference between our current mortgage and our dream future mortgage into savings each month.
  • Save and plan for experiences--trips, outings, family fun.  I would rather put our money into doing rather than having.  Except of course, for a future home :)

  •  Plan fun nights out with David, kid-free.
  • Talk on the phone, even though I hate it and would SO MUCH rather text.
  • Try to spend time with friends instead of just vegging at home, even though my couch bubble is easier.

Personal Growth
  • More time reading and less time watching crap tv.
  • Figure out my career path.  I'm happy with my job, but budget cuts are always looming just off stage.  If this job goes away, I need a direction.

  • Go to church each week we're in town, as early as possible.  It's easy to plan on going to evening church and then getting caught up in something else.
  • Join a core group or a bible study.

I borrowed these categories from a blog I read, Imperfect.  The original post is here.