June 24, 2008


I was looking at my photos of Morocco tonight. Luckily just before our computer crashed I was able to share them on snapfish with our group that went down, and thus they were saved. I was reminded of an experience that I thought I would share here on my blog. On one of the last days in Zagora the atmosphere in the clinic was getting hectic and stressed because we were running out of time and there were so many people still wanting to be seen. I remember they locked the front gates so that we wouldn't have crowd control issues. Then the press showed up with video cameras and they opened the gates back up to have people to shoot on camera with us. That created some problems when we were not able to treat everyone inside now and they simply wouldn't leave when told to. We were only supposed to see patients with the correct paperwork. (Unless told by the one in charge- Eileen, that it was okay for them to be seen). There was this handsome young teenager who kept zeroing in on me and asking for a cleaning. He had no papers, so I kept telling him "no" and shrugging my shoulders apologetically. I could see the reason for his urgency about wanting to have his teeth cleaned. He had what so many of them have-brown stain all over the front surfaces of his teeth. Stain that we had been trying to remove earlier from one of our translators teeth. We had some intense bleaching solution that didn't even put a dent in the stain. So in addition to wanting help he was also not going to get what he wanted- simply impossible. Finally he just asked with gestures if he could have a toothbrush as he had seen others in the streets with new toothbrushes. That I thought I could get him, but when I looked in our supplies- we were fresh out of them. He didn't take the news well and hid his tears from me on an abrupt walk around the school yard. My heart went out to him. I had a translator go and get him, took him to my backpack and took out my personal travel toothbrush (used one time). Told him to take it home and boil it if possible. Told him it would not remove his stain. He was so grateful to me! What an experience this was for me to have the opportunity to touch someone like that... I will never forget it.

June 22, 2008


So for father's day one of T's 'gifts' was a nice pair of shears for cutting hair. I used to cut his and the boy's hair all the time and got quite good at it (although there were some pretty bad early haircuts too as I recall). Since we can afford it now, I usually send the kids to a salon in the mall and we traditionally go get salted pretzel bites as a treat afterwards. Troy manages to find a barber somewhere to do his hair, but always complains that they don't do it the way I do (which apparently he prefers). Maybe it's the cost-savings he prefers. He's thrifty! So that's why I replaced the shears with a new nicer pair with the idea that from now on I would cut his hair the way he likes it. The old pair we had was getting pretty horrible- barely even cutting the hair anymore due to dullness.

So last night we put the new shears to the test and they work great. The dramatic part was when I cut Big Boy's hair. He has a big aversion to haircuts lately (teenagers). I don't mind it being a bit long over the ears and in back, but he has so much thick curly hair that keeping it well groomed is a bit of a problem. I noticed a new problem last night. I don't really know how to cut longish hair and keep the longness in tact. I don't know how to trim. I thought by using the clippers on a long setting and trying that first would be a good move. Not so good. I ended up having to even it out by going shorter than planned. Oh the drama that followed! He held it together in front of me complaining mildly (for him), but then he went downstairs and came unglued! Poor Big Boy. Middle Boy had a fun time being the 'good natured' one not minding his too-short haircut. He was rather wicked in his not botheredness. T didn't complain about his haircut at all...

June 19, 2008


Here you see me with Ya Ya and Pa Po Kartsakalis. They were our old next door neighbors in Silver Spring when we lived there 3 years ago. We also visited 2 other homes (all geriatrics), this was the only one we took pictures at though. He was the friendliest man. Always smiling and taking a minute to chat with us. We had a tearful goodbye when we left 3 years ago. They are Greek and not so good with the english, but we did a lot of charades and what-not to get around that. Ya Ya was the funniest. She got pretty much all she wanted to get across with about 5 words and lots of hand movement. "S'okay" was a big one. She would compare her flowers to mine (her's being the best of-coarse because she's Greek and they are superior), but mine were "s-okay too." Well we paid them a surprise visit while we were in town house hunting. I was so touched when Pa Po first saw us and was overcome and had to put his hands in his face and cry a bit. We talked about his fig tree. He ran and got our Christmas card photo from his back room. How nice that he had it some place handy. He did take the time to scribble out thank you cards for the ones we would send each year. He is not literate so it was pretty special. Here's hoping we will be as blessed with good neighbors in our new neighborhood. I also took photos of their garden to make them feel good.

June 16, 2008

thanks for all the calls

We are still okay. Thanks for all of you who cared enough to call and check on us.

June 14, 2008


So in case you were wondering.... we are not flooded yet. Nor do I think we will be in trouble since there is a freeway and ravine in between us and the river. Cedar Rapids Iowa has been severely hit in the last 24 hours though. They are just 30 minutes north of us, and over 100 blocks in the down town area are now under water. The Iowa river (closer to us) is dangerous and several areas of Iowa City have been evacuated. The Coralville resevoir has spilled over and levies have broken... T and the boys went to help sand bag on Sunday. Those houses are halfway under water probably by now. That was riverfront property. They probably bought them time to get belongings out of the houses. It's so sad, and the storms just keep coming. Luckily there is sunshine today though. I had to take Baby Girl in for an ear-check today and decided to go downtown to see if I could check on my kids art that I was having framed. I remember talking to the guy about his location and if he thought it would be a problem. He seemed pretty confident at the time, but I couldn't get near his store today cause the road was closed off. Poor guy. I also had the chance to see the river and cross over it (2 times) since I could not turn onto riverside drive. It was a bit nerve racking since I had heard rumors that they would close the bridge at noon and I looked down at the clock in my car at 11:57 as I was approaching the bridge on my way back. I made it, and heard later that they didn't close the bridge after all. I took a picture with my camera and will try to post it later. Then it put me in a frame of mind where I started to charge my cell phone and I went to the ATM to get cash to have on hand. My tank is full and we have plenty of water. Feels good to be prepared. Feels awful to see your fellow citizens in peril.

June 13, 2008

For Kathryn

So my friend Kathryn wanted to see the asian-looking bamboo forest and pond in the back yard of the home we have on contract. Since she lives in Korea she will appreciate it I am sure. She is also a plant lover and so I am throwing in a shot of the culvert landscaping job and the plum tree since it's nice and shows the fantastic (do I sound braggy?) new fence they put in recently. Sure beats the rickety old fence we had in Silver Spring that the boys used to tear pieces off to sword fight with. Those were some good times. Funny how I can smile about it now, but it was maddening at the time. We went to visit our old Maryland home and noticed they still haven't switched out that fence. Hard to get around to everything isn't it?

June 11, 2008

Iowa sky

If there is one thing I will miss about Iowa, it's the sky. Maryland has awesome trees, but the rolling countryside and beautiful sky here is unbeatable. This is what Troy and I encountered on our short dog walk around the block yesterday. Amazing! It was gone in a brief amount of time as well. Like so many things in life, you have to stop and look or you will miss it. Like Jack Dawson said in the movie Titanic, "here's to making it count!" (a bit sappy- but so true!) And isn't it nice to have a DVR to record things (like the movie titanic that you haven't seen in a while) so you can see them at your leisure and make it count all the more? Food for thought my friends...

June 05, 2008


Well I am happy to report that we have had success on our house hunting trip. I was beginning to wonder if everything would fall into place for us. We had a lot of house-frogs to kiss before our house-prince came along. A 1972 split foyer home with tons of personality inside and an addition over the garage that will make one nice playroom. The landscaping is also fabulous-pictures don't do it justice! The one obstacle was the fact that the sellers were not working with an agent and they had overpriced their home for the area. Lucky for us, it's a buyers market right now. The poor owners had a sad reality check when our realtor showed the comparable home prices that had sold in their neighborhood recently. So after a day and a half of negotiations we came to something we could all work with. It was totally worth all the stress. I am so excited to be in this home and spend some good quality family time. It's set up in such a cozy way with many rooms that can be used in flexible ways. The schools are good, the neighborhood is nice. Older homes with large lots and mature trees (LOVE IT!). Walking distance to 2 schools! The church we attended felt like a perfect fit with strong youth for Nathan & Evan to make friends with. Who could ask for anything more? (Well I could ask for larger bedrooms, especially when we just purchased a king-sized mattress and bedroom set this year- but something's gotta give I guess). We have had angels on our side this week, and I am truly grateful. I really missed the large trees of Maryland. The first thing I am going to do is hug the trees when I get there. Just a little something I do.