The Cluj-Napoca Botanical Garden

Knowing that I was feeling stressed with all the packing and planning and preparing for our move and furlough, Paul graciously took Sienna for a morning out. Plus, Sienna needed an outing, too. The botanical garden in Cluj is a cheap, but nice place to go this time of year. You get to see all sorts of things at different times of the year in bloom. The last time we were there was a year ago (see the last picture). There were so  many things to see.

Sienna was excited that she was going with just Daddy. She loves to go, go, go, but wants to be able to come home to the same place every night, at least, most of the time. While they were away looking at flowers and bananas and looking over bridges, jumping off benches, I was cleaning and packing. Who knew we had so  much? Well, actually, we don’t really have that much, but it feels like a ton when you are packing it all up.

I found things that I thought were lost, I found things I thought Sienna had broken. It was  amazing what I found! Packing can be such a tiring job and a discouraging job, too. Just when you think you’ve made some progress you step into another room and realize that there’s more that should have gone in that box you just taped up! I’ve tried to be organized about it, but in the beginning I got behind on my schedule and just haven’t gotten caught up. I read a quote that said only amateurs hurry, I must be an amateur! My mom used to say, “The ‘hurrier’ I go, the ‘behinder’ I get.” I so know that feeling!

I think part of the problem is that I keep thinking I’ll need to use this or that and so I can’t pack it up yet! Then when the time comes and I realize that I haven’t used it and I won’t be, we’re getting so close to that deadline that it’s a hectic scramble to get everything in a box and out the door to the car to be carried and packed into the garage.

Maybe next time I’ll have learned my lesson, maybe. I find that I have trouble learning my lessons, sometimes.

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What the Surprize Storm Couldn’t Kill

Back in July, we had a surprize storm that left some pretty green damage in it’s path. We weren’t sure if the flowers would bloom or if the tomatoes would be able to make a comeback and produce anything, especially before we leave the first part of September.

It was  a huge disappointment because we were really looking forward to all the tomatoes that we were going to be munching down.

In the end, the plants were able to revive enough to produce some, and they will probably still be producing for those we will give them to before we leave!

Since the ground is super hard, like clay, I wasn’t sure if my flowers were going to be grow enough or have enough water and nutrients to bloom. I was so excited because I had found sweet peas (the flowering kind) and they reminded me of growing up. My sister was the sweet pea planter in our family. I had also found the European columbine. Sadly, they aren’t doing too well, and they were protected from the storm.

We’re looking forward to a month of tomato eating, and I know Sienna is, too. We’ve often caught her out there munching them down like candy. Paul keeps telling her she needs to ask because she’s been picking some that aren’t quite ripe, plus he wants to get some, too!

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Baking Project

Sienna loves to play with the girls upstairs. The same ones we took kite flying, Alexia and Sara. Sienna calls them ‘Lexia and Sala. She has trouble with the rolled “R”.

The girls love to do things for their mom. So, when I suggested that we make some cheesecake brownies they were thrilled. They helped measure things, mix things, and everything in between. They really were good helpers as most children want to be. The finished product turned out so well, I was really pleased.

While the brownies were baking the girls waited in the livingroom. Alexia is playing the piano, Sienna was playing with an American flag that I had out for 4th of July, and Sara is drawing in Sienna’s letter book. They were very happy to be able to tell their mom that they helped and especially to eat the finished brownies.

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The Tricycle and The Soldier

Sienna has had this tricycle since her 2nd birthday, but we just hadn’t been able to get her to use the pedals. Finally, this summer she started understanding how the pedals worked and started using them.

You’ll see the common yard that we had. This is after some rain, hence the water puddles. You’ll also notice our dog, Bago, making sure we weren’t going out the gate and making sure no one was there to bark at, just in case, ya know?

Sienna, just as she’s coming back, says that she’s going to go really fast like ‘Lexia. Alexia is one of the neighbor girls from upstairs. I don’t know where they are this day, but they were probably gone on a trip as they were on most weekends, since this day is a Sunday.

Maybe now that she knows how to pedal we can get her a bicycle for her 4th birthday.


Later, we went out to the village for the evening service. For the week of VBS the team from the U. K. had used the Roman soldier as an example. They had the breastplate, the shield, the sword, the girdle, the helmet, and one of the ladies decided that Sienna needed to wear it. She had a great time fighting with one of the boys who was using a inflatable microphone as his sword. Oh, and all the Roman soldiers had lollipops, dangerous way to be a soldier.

Sienna at one point decides to attack the one taking the pictures — RUN! She sure has fun playing with the kids there and they have fun teasing and playing with her.

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The Meadow

Today was the last day of a VBS that a group from Britain was doing for the kids in the village. We went along for the picnic and had a great time. It was a warm day, and knowing this, I decided to take along the shade tent. I’m glad we had it along.

We took our car to the bottom of the hill, if we had had our ARO, we would have just driven that up, but it’s a jeepin’ road and the car wouldn’t have handled it well. From the bottom we walked up. Along the way Sienna got a bug down her shirt that started stinging her. We don’t know for sure what it was, but it left some pretty big welts. It was about this time that I started wishing I had something along for the sting. The problem, it didn’t just happen once, it happened at least twice, not counting the bite she got at the house before we left. Now she’s a little skiddish about bugs and doesn’t want to go in the grass because of the ants or anything else that might bite. Especially things that fly.

The event started with the kids reviewing what they had learned that week. Most of the kids were well behaved, there were a couple of the boys that I thought should be sent home for their acting up during the review time. But since it’s not my call to make . . . .

After that they served lunch. Nothing super special, just sandwiches and fruit and yogurt. Sienna was really liking the yogurt.

Once all that was cleaned up they broke out the games and the kids got to playing. David, the boy in the blue that Sienna is chasing and vice versa was a having a grand time playing with Sienna. They were playing swords with the rackets and then the bigger kids came along and took one of the rackets so it became a game of keep away. They kept running back to the shade tent for safety. Some of the older girls came along and sat with us later and tried to talk to Sienna, but she wasn’t in the mood for talking then, she wanted that racket back from David.

All in all it was a good time and we enjoyed the walk down the hill as well. It’s a nice meadow (it could use a lawn mower, but then it wouldn’t be a meadow any longer) and it’s a good place for the kids to have plenty of room to run and play.

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Surprize Storm

We all took a trip to the mall to get out of the house and to get to a cool place. Little did we know we’d come home in much cooler temperatures.

I was running at the gym when it started to rain, I could see it out the large windows while I was running. I saw it turning to hail as I went towards the locker rooms. I called Paul and asked him if he thought we needed to head home to rescue our garden plants that we’d been moving in and out of the rain (we keep them in pots because of the size of our yard and the kind of dirt we have). He didn’t think we needed to go, but once we all got in the car and left the parking garage we realized that the storm was a lot worse.

As we were coming home (we live on a hill) the water and the hail were running down the street. The temperature had dropped, the hail was piling up in the low places.

The moment we arrived home we knew that things were going to look pretty bad. The grape vine in front of the front house was just shredded, we walked on a carpet of green all the way to the house. Just beyond the cement we saw this pile of hail.

The backyard looked horrible. I had left clothes on the line to dry, they were soaking wet and really dirty from the splattering. Sienna’s toys had been out, we were not expecting it to rain let alone hail.

I saved a big bag of the hail. My thought: Boy, ice here sure is expensive to buy. I have room in the freezer and the next time we make ice cream we can use this hail. It’s nice and uniform, smooth, it’s perfect!

There were tomato leaves, little tomatoes, blossoms, etc. laying everywhere. My morning glories were all growing mostly vertical,  so they weren’t hit as badly.  We definitely mourned the loss of the tomatoes.

Paul went through and pruned all the broken branches and tried to get them to a point where they might recover. It was a sad day.

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Flying High

The wind has been blowing here. We’ve had rain.

What do you do when it’s a rainy day and you have an energetic 3-year old? Well, you look on the internet for ideas of what to do. You cannot just sit and watch cartoons all day! YUCK!

One craft I came across was a miniature kite. Unfortunately, even though they said it would fly, it didn’t. This started something. Paul got out the kite we have and it wouldn’t fly in the yard either; too much circular action with the wind between the houses.

So, we planned a day to go on the hill. We decided to take the neighbor girls. We had a BLAST!

Paul helped the girls make some kites, but they didn’t fly. But a couple of the ones he made did.

Sienna wanted to fly a kite until she spotted something really fun. SAND! She was soon playing and having the time of her life in the sand. Too bad we didn’t have a bucket and a shovel, we would have brought some home with us.

One crazy thing, while we were there someone was taking a 4×4 on a test drive and drove right past us, two or three times. We all wondered why he had to drive near us when there are miles of hills around.


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Culture. Shock.

Most of the time when I read something about culture or I attempt the write something about culture, I know almost nothing. If I understand a particular man correctly, culture is that that is true, good and beautiful about a people.

But most of the time we talk about things like style, salaries, traditions, accepted practices; and we call this culture.

Since I don’t know what else to call it, I have to call it culture, at least in a very general sense. Missionaries tend to experience culture shock. And then when they return to their home/citizen country they experience reverse culture shock.

I experience culture shock at least on a weekly basis. Even after 6 years living here.

We took Sienna to one of those indoor play places. You know, the ones that have all the germs possible for your kid to come in contact with? Yep. That one. There is a little cafe area for the parents/guardians to have a snack or get a drink.

I’ve seen this before, but it still takes me off guard, even for a moment.

As I peruse the menu wondering if I should order something or just stick with my water bottle, I see that corner of the menu. And while I’ve seen it before, I was in the perfect position to whip out my camera and take a picture.

A run down of the menu goes like this. One the left are the different kinds of coffee you might be inclined to order. (Definitely not your Starbuck’s menu.) Upper right are the all the cold drinks ranging from water to Coke.

It’s the lower right corner that always makes me pause for a moment. I asked myself, Why? Why does it surprize me that there are alcoholic drinks available at a place where you bring your kids to play?

My answer always goes back to where I grew up. No, not the state, the country. At one point alcohol was illegal in my country, no so here. Everyone here still makes their own plum brandy. I would call that moonshine, hooch, white lightening.

McDonald’s in the States (to the best of my knowledge) and other “family type” restaurants don’t serve alcoholic drinks.

There is such a division between children and alcohol that if a bar were within a certain amount of distance from a school, a petition can be signed and the bar has to close or move.

That just isn’t the case here. Unfortunately, too many children are exposed to alcohol and face the horrible affects from it even before they’re born.

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This and That

Do you ever have those days when you know you need to update the ol’ blog, but you just don’t know what to write. This is definitely one of those days. I can think of things I might tell you, I might write about, but none of them seem to be worth taking the time to write about.

I could write about the weather, Sienna, my allergies, Sienna, my latest new recipe, Sienna, Paul’s adventures with his restoring the veneer on an old table, or Sienna. I wonder which one will win out? Oare?

We’ve been getting more rain the past few days. This really slows down my laundry process. And it’s even slower since the little 1/4 dryer that we  bought doesn’t work anymore. Paul thinks it might be the switch, but he’s too busy under these woodworking projects to have the time to check it out. The dog has “haired” up more blankets . . . she’s shedding. I’m looking forward to some more days with more sun. With the rain comes the wind, so we might go and fly some kites tomorrow.

Sienna is growing like a weed. Her “new” pants from her 3rd birthday are quickly becoming capris. I thought for sure they’d last a little longer . . . sigh.

With the warmer spring, my allergies have been more severe. Ugh. It just means more sneezing, more itchy eyes, itchy nose,  ears itching and making weird noises and sensations, more sneezing — did I say that already? Paul’s solution? A dust mask. So you remember the pictures from the news of the Chinese when the bird flu hit there? That’s what I look like tonight trying his idea.

Sienna seems to have slight allergies,but doesn’t seem to be bothered by them. We made some miniature kites the other day. They didn’t fly. Paul said we’d have to drag them behind the car to get them to fly.

Paul has undertaken the adventure of a lifetime for someone interested in woodworking. Our language professor has an antique table that had been taken to a repairman at some point who, in the end, wasn’t that great of a repairman and left it out in the weather. Horrible story. The veneer on top was cracked badly and lifted up to give  a look like wooden waves across the top of it. She asked Paul if he’d be willing to help to work on it. As is usual here, finding all the supplies for a venture like this is nearly impossible. As usual, some tools have to be handmade. One thing in particular (if you want to restore to period) is the glue. Hide glue. I’ve learned more about hide glue than I ever wanted to know. Don’t get me wrong, it is very interesting. But in the process he’s tried to make his own using a crock pot. (It’s ok, he used it with my blessing.) That stuff stinks!

He finally found a supplier in Bucharest, ordered and had it shipped. What was supposed to be about a week for the whole project is turning into 3, maybe 4.

Sienna. Precious Sienna. She’s a fantastic child. I might be prejudice. She surprizes us with what she wants to do. The other day, after numerous times of being told not to go in the neighbor’s house without asking, she, of course, went in. I went to rescue the neighbors and after we got inside and talked about it, she, alone, initiated wanting to go and tell the neighbors sorry for going in without asking her mommy first.

We were at the mall the other day and we grabbed a bite to eat. She was still hungry, so she gets up, tells me to wait and she heads off to McDonald’s to get some more nuggets. I arrive and she tells me to go sit down. I tell her she doesn’t have any money to pay for the nuggets. She holds out her hand, I put in a 10 lei bill. A moment passes. “And a coin, mommy,” she says. I give her the coin. I wait behind her (the line for all the fast food “joints” are right in the middle of the aisle — strange set up. She gets to the counter and the lady leans down and asks her what she wants (in Romanian). At first Sienna doesn’t answer. So the lady asks again. So Sienna says, “Nannie want more nuggets, please.” Poor lady, she didn’t understand, so I interpreted (in more ways than one).

She’s SO independent.

One day, Paul found her across the street. YIKES!

We have to work on when it’s ok to be independent.

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Answered Prayer

Our tickets are reserved for furlough.

Our car needed work done on the front end and the bi-annual inspection done.

Paul made the appointment. We all got up early and took the car in to the shop early Friday morning. I’d packed a bag ready to stay or we had the jogging stroller so we could walk home, too. It all depended on the time it would take for them to fix it.

Typically the receptionist, mechanic, and technician were all quite sure that since we are foreign that we don’t know how to maintain the car. The maintenance book is missing the last three entries since we changed the oil and did light maintenance on it once it was past the guarantee. We didn’t sign and stamp it ourselves, so that must mean we didn’t do these things (here, stamps, books, three scribble  signatures, and other such nonsense are most important). It took some convincing, but I think we finally got the receptionist to believe that we had changed the oil 15,000 kilometers ago and put in synthetic oil. He was still a bit fuzzy on if we wanted it changed that day.

So, we’re told that it will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours for all the needed work. I’ve watched them work, well, I’ve watched the mechanics in Targoviste work, these guys did seem to be faster.

We decided to head home. It was sprinkling and it sprinkled on us all the way home. We weren’t bothered by it. Besides the entire walk was downhill.

The money made it to our account in time for us to withdraw to pay for the work done.

On our way back up the hill (walking and pushing the stroller) it started to rain pretty hard. We waited under a tree. It let up. Off we went again. We made it more than 1/2 way there, but it was really starting to pour, so we made a break from another wait under some trees to the gas station on the corner.

We don’t call taxis, we usually just find one if we need one, so I had no number for a taxi in my phone.

We prayed. Lord, we need a taxi, the garage called and the car’s ready.

It wasn’t long and while there were taxis going every direction this one was free. YES!

Most times you don’t find people that will help you in some way. But that wasn’t true of the car inspector. He found a problem with our title and registration and took it upon himself to fix it. We didn’t even know there was a problem and he had it fixed before we knew it was there.

So, the car is all fixed, inspected, and it was clean.

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