Monday, October 28, 2013

Princess Ruthie Turns 3!!

Princess Ruthie turned 3 last week!  She is way into anything princess, pink and girly right now!!  So, of course the theme was princesses!!  We made crowns, played pin the crown on the princess, ate pizza and cake and opened presents!!  Princess Ruthie loved the scooter we got for her!  The castle cake with the princesses was also a big hit!!  Ruthie stayed over the night before her birthday.  That morning she really wanted to decorate a pumpkin with the Mrs. Potato Head princess set that I have.  So, of course, we ran off to the market to buy a pumpkin!!
Birthday Breakfast: bread with peanut butter and a candle, of course!!
She wore this wig for a long time this morning....I think she liked it because she felt like she had long hair!
Emi is her very best friend and she couldn't wait for him to come to her party!!
Princess/Castle Cake
She loved this game and would have done it over and over again if we would have let her!
Happy Birthday, Princess!!!  I love you!!

H2H Staff

Here are all of our precious little faces!  Enjoy!
Fall 2013

Pumpkins and PreSchool at Voluntari

Since we don't have a girl's program this fall and no fall teams, Jen and I found ourselves with a little extra time on our hands (how can this be?)!  We decided that since the preschool kids at Voluntari weren't going to school yet, that we would prepare a program for them two days a week.  Wouldn't you know it?  The week we showed up with stuff planned for them, they started going to their school!!  We adjusted our plans a little bit and are still going to Voluntari with Corny and Talitha, just working with the school age kids instead.  We go on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and work with whoever is available for part of the time.  The other part of the time Jen teaches clarinet lessons and I work one on one with two boys who should be in school, but, are not.  I'll talk about them a little later.  Here are some pictures of the fun lessons we did about pumpkins and leaves:

Nica and Florentin are two boys at Voluntari who should be in 1st or 2nd grade, but, for various reasons like bad behavior and stealing, they are not allowed to go back to school.  I discovered that Nica did not recognize his numbers and could write his name, but doesn't recognize the names of letters. Florentin knows his numbers but is inconsistent and sometimes guesses and cannot write his name at all.  This is a disgrace for 8-year olds.  So, my mission for right now is to teach these boys!  They are thriving with the one on one attention that I'm giving them, even if it is only 1/2 hour, two days a week.  Both of them practically run into my arms when I arrive at the only place they know as home!

New School Year

September and October always bring the beginning of a new school year here in Romania, but, it is nothing like how it was when I was teaching in the U.S.  Gone are the days of bulletin boards, teacher in-service, and back to school night, yet, in its place are schedule planning, interviews for the transition houses and an occasional team.  I always get a little excited at the beginning of October because I know that we have a new batch of kids coming into our transition program.  This year we have six boys; all six from Rosiori de Vede.  We opened the boy's house on October 1st.  I made the trip down south to Nenciulesti to help welcome them to their new home for the next nine months.  We took hygiene items down that they would be needing, some clothes and of course I baked a cake!  Everyone loved the cake and I of course had to give out the recipe!  The boys were both nervous and excited to begin this new adventure.  They have been there almost a month now and they seem to be adjusting.  Please pray for the amazing things God is going to do in their lives this year!
The boys from left to right: Vasile, Amo, Florin, Bogdan, Alex, Dosin
Staff with the boys

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dream Vacation to Thailand

This last spring, as Jen and I discussed where we were going to go on vacation this year, we talked about several different options.  Thailand kept coming up, but there were also places in Europe that both of wanted to go like Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal....the list is endless.  We had a team here in early spring and they have kids that work in Hong Kong and they had told us about this place in Thailand called "The Juniper Tree".  After looking into "The Juniper Tree", we were convinced that we should go to Thailand.  So, we started looking for deals.  Jen found a deal on Travel Zoo to stay at a 5-star resort for three nights that was incredible.  We bought the deal.  We didn't have airline tickets, but we had a place to stay for three nights in Thailand.  I, then, emailed "The Juniper Tree" to see what their prices were and availability.  After much research, we determined that we would not stay there because they did not want guests that looking for a bed and breakfast and, also, we could find cheaper lodging elsewhere.  We bought our airline tickets and researched, researched, researched!!  We kept telling ourselves that this was a dream vacation.  We basically had four goals going into to this trip: to ride an elephant, to zip line, to snorkel, and to get as many massages as we could (because they are so cheap).  And every time we came up with a new idea, we were just like, "This is a vacation of a lifetime....we have to do it!"  We did all four of those things and much more!  We of course did some resting and relaxing!!

The basic timeline of our trip was as follows: Bangkok for three days, an overnight train ride, five days in Chiang Mai, and six days in Khao Lak. We really enjoyed each location and the different things we did in each place.  

At the Grand Palace in Bangkok....mere hours after I fainted on the river taxi!
Yes, there is even Starbuck's in Thailand and we were even able to use our gift cards that we had from the US!  Yeah!
These pink taxis were all over Bangkok!  So cute!
We visited a private AIDS orphanage.  These little girls just came running up to us with open arms.  This orphanage is run by Americans and so here I was singing the ABCs with them.
We stayed with Sara in Bangkok for three nights.  Jen knew her from college and we became fast friends.  What a blessing it was to stay with her and her little family!
Overnight train ride to Chiang Mai!  Let's just say this was an interesting experience!
The Old City of Chiang Mai
Making Massaman curry paste at our cooking course.  Thai food anyone?
We got to enjoy what we made!!  Yummy!
Yes, I really did this!!  It tickled when you first put your feet in the water, but you got used to it.
Zip Lining through the jungles of Northern Thailand

Enjoying one of the many massages on the beach front
Khao Lak white sand beautiful!!
One of the highlights of this trip was riding this elephant!!  What a gentle giant!!

Feeding Mr. Elephant some bananas!  He was hungry after our journey!
Bamboo ride down the river...really cool and fun!
This is Maya Beach where the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed.
We snorkeled with the fish.  I had a little piece of banana and they would just come right up to my hand and grab the banana.
All dressed up in our snorkeling gear
Relaxing at the Le Meridian
The Le Meridian waterslide
We had so much fun taking pictures in the hotel pool!  We laughed and laughed at how funny they turned out.  This is probably one of the better pictures except that I have a funny smile on my face!
The last morning we took a bike ride to a rubber plantation and to a waterfall.  This was probably the prettiest waterfall that we saw the whole trip!
So long Thailand!  It was fun, relaxing, beautiful....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ioana and Alex's Wedding

On Friday and Saturday, H2H had its fourth wedding and the second one to be in our courtyard!  Alex and Ioana both grew up at Peris and both went through our boy's and girl's programs this last year.  Jen and I quickly became the wedding planners/coordinators/hosts/mothers of the bride and groom!  We had a lot of fun putting together this purple and turquoise wonderland for them and preparing the food, cake, and arranging the entertainment!  We could not, however, done it without all of the H2H staff, family, and graduates!

The whole week before the wedding we had people here helping us with cleaning, food prep, shopping, decorating, making flowers and all the other preparations!  
Cookies with little purple flowers for the Civil Ceremony!

Flowers, flowers and more flowers!  They made our courtyard so beautiful!
Putting the cake together!
The finished product
At the Civil Ceremony!  They are legally married!

A fun game to see how well the bride and groom know each other!  They did pretty good!

The Happy Couple
We took leftover cake and fruit salad out to the kids at Peris!  They absolutely loved it!!