Friday, January 30, 2009

Stop-My-Eye-from-Twitching-and-Tummy-from-Growling Smoothie

This is delizioso! First recipe for Nourishing Traditions for the Dorm Room Life.

1 Avacado
1 Banana
4 chunks of pineapple (or half a mango)
2 big spoonfulls of probiotic rich yogurt (sorry, I'm a dump-and-go...more like pour-and-pray...kind of cook. It's an artistic release for me)
5 second queeze of honey from my bear friend
5 cubes of ice
Water as needed

Blend and enjoy! This gave me more energy then my espresso that morning and I was so full I had to force myself to eat some bread for dinner. I made it again this morning and have it in my stainless steel canteen to drink while I am in class.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting Creative and Being REALLY Thankful!

I arrived at FPO yesterday! I was so excited to unpack everything in my own room. Living out of a suitcase for so long really gets old and I have never been so thankful for drawers in my life! I had some time in the afternoon to just get settled in, which was nice. I have also enjoyed seeing the friends I made at conference again! A bunch of us stayed up and played Apples-to-Apples in the common room last night. I don't know why I haven't played that game sooner!

The only downer is I was really hoping to be able to cook during my time here to avoid the nastiness they serve in the cafeteria. When I visited Taylor and Heidi, they were in a quad, which is four apartments joined together by a big living room. Each apartment has a mini kitchen. When I got here, however, they told me all the Western Europe people with no children are in the dorms where there is one super mini kitchen per hall. I was really disappointed...especially considering I had some beef and chicken bones in my trunk (I know, that's really creepy) ready to be made into broth! So, I decided I want to write a Nourishing Traditions for the Dorm Room Life and just get creative! Thankfully, there is a wonderful Whole Foods right down the street! After a dinner of "beef-groseenough", my friend Jennifer and I made a run! I got avacados, pears, bananas, yogurt (they had a really neat kind that has 6 grains soaked in it. I had it for is really, really yummy!) oatmeal, espresso, and a locally made spelt bread that is FABULOUS! It tastes super fresh. I also got a bar of dark chocolate that will probably be gone by the weekend.

My plan is to soak the oatmeal overnight in yogurt and cook it in the morning. Megan says it cooks really fast if you do it like that. I'm going to steal some raisins from the dining hall. (to follow the honey I stole last night!) I've got a blender, so I am also planning to make some smoothie type things too. I have had several people tell me that banana with avacado and either mango or pineapple is really good! I think I'm going to try it!

I am kind of laughing at myself...I'm not usually this much of a health nazi...and I know Amanda is laughing right now too since we topped of my last night with them with a dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme! I think after traveling so much and having a cold for the last week, I am really wanting some good food. It also makes me feel a little more "settled" if I can cook myself anyway.

Does anyone have any ideas for what I can do? It can't require anything else besides a blender, a small stock pot, a salad bowl type thing, one pan, and one pot. I am trying to limit my use of the fridge to the tub of yogurt already in there and maybe one other small thing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Here, It's Here!!

My visa came today!! Looks like all the praying and haggling was worth it! Thanks for the prayers. I am two months and 3 days away from Milan!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wooo Hoooo!!

I got the document from Dudley, printed it off really quickly at the hotel, and dashed back to the consulate. When I got there, they were only open for another hour and there were 3 people in front of me who had been waiting for a while. The lady looked at me through the glass, pointed, and said quite harshly, "What are you doing back here?" I told her I had the document she wanted and she called me to the front of the line. She was shaking her head and pursing her lips like she had already decided she wouldn't accept it. I gave it to her and she read it....and read it...and read it...then took it to the back....then came back and read it again. Finally, she asked for the rest of my paperwork and I gladly gave it to her. She scrutinized every letter of every word of every line for what felt like an eternity! It was then that I noticed she was dripping with relics and catholic jewelry on her arms, neck, fingers and nose!  She eventually signed everything and then told me to leave now. I smiled and thanked her profusely and waltzed out of the consulate! 

Thanks for your prayers! Minor freak-out there! I would have HATED to be stuck here until friday or have to come back later. (which would have delayed my departure date!) God is good and....unless something unexpected happens when they mail my papers back with the visa....looks like I am Milano bound!!

Please Pray!!!

I got to the consulate 30 minutes before it opened to make sure I was ahead in the line. I was the second person and things seemed to be going smoothly. When 9:00 came, the doors opened and it was soon my turn. The lady behind the desk looked at my papers and asked me if I was catholic or protestant. When I said protestant, she got a smirk look on her face and handed me back my papers. She said they need some other documentation that I never heard of and didn't really understandand. She gave me back my papers and said I had to leave and come back later with that info. I asked he if she could talk to Dudley, who handles all our visa stuff, and she said she wouldnt talk to him. I could barely understand her english anyway and she really didn't seem to care if I understood her or not! I called Dudley and he is faxing me some certificate at the hotel. He said he has NEVER heard of them asking for that in all his years of doing this. Plus, Taylor went to the exact same consulate with the exact same paperwork and it was easy-peezy for her. (of course, things are ALWAYS easy for Taylor! It makes me sick!! :)
It is 10:15 am now and the consulate closes in less than 2 hours. If I can't get in today, I will have to wait until friday before they open again! Please pray this paper works and God gives me favor with them!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Off: Stage 2

Just so you know, my family has asked me to post my schedule play-by-play so they can keep up with me during these next few months of craziness. So please bear with me! 

I managed to make it through the senior citizen life with great ease. I enjoyed every minute of it and was literally crying my eyes out when I had to say goodbye. I loved being able to spend an extended amount of time with my grandparents: listening to family genealogy stories, asking them tons of questions about "the good old days" to satisfy the curiosity of this history buff, singing wonderful hymns, talking lots of walks around the property, discussing the book of Isaiah, learning new southern vocabulary I had never learned for some reason (like "she peeled off") and laughing oh so much! My grandparents and Uncle Ron's family prayed for me before I left and I probably used up half a box of tissues. 

Because of the 2-4 inches of predicted snow and ice threatening to reak havoc on this over-zealous southern state, I decided I probably should drive back up to Raleigh a night early to catch my flight to Philadelphia the next day instead of risking it by driving from Columbia to Raleigh just in time to get on the airplane. So, I am back home now and will leave to get a self-addressed, stamped, priority envelope from the post office and the money for my visa from the bank tomorrow. Then, onto the airplane that will take me to my visa and a philly cheesesteak. 

Please pray that I am able to make my flights. The consulate is only open MWF from 9-12. So, if I don't make it for some reason, I have to wait until friday before I can go again... Also, please pray I don't get stuck up there! I think the high is supposed to be less than 18 degrees so hopefully there won't be any rain to ice everything down. As much as I love to snow ski, this Carolina Girl would rather be in 130 degree weather in Egypt that 18 degree weather in Philadelphia. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Life at the Grandparents!

Key theme: DOWN TIME!!! 
This was the schedule for today:

-Wake up around 8:30 thinking of all those years I had 8:00 classes. 
-Lots of time in the Word without noise or interruptions! 
-Couple hours of Rosetta Stone.
-Jog around my Grandparent's property with Marly, the family dog. (until she abruptly stops in front of me to smell something and I run straight into her. Probably to get me back for speaking italian to her because I have no one else to practice with!) 
-Lunch (made some yummy pasta with olives and capers)
-2 or 3 more hours of Rosetta Stone. 
-Brain dies.
-Hang out at my grandparent's office and meet lots of people who are distantly related to me or those who still remember me though I have not seen them since I was 5. First question: so, are you married? Why can't people get off that question! Thank goodness for the "journey-nun" card I can play. 
-Yummy southern cookin' for dinner. Eating half of a banana with my Grandaddy. Hearing the lecture about how a banana will heal itself if it is cut in half. 
-My Uncle Ron, Aunt Stacy, and cousin, Ryan, came over from next door. (they now live on the house on my grandparent's property that was originally built for my great grandmother) My Uncle usually comes to talk to me for one of two reasons: 1) to try to indoctrinate me in covenantal theology, or 2) to try to convince me that Ryan's 17 year old friends from RUF are marriage potential. 
-Spend the evening watching old movies I used to watch when I was little. 

I am loving all the time I am able to spend with my family! It is so nice to be away from Wake Forest so I can actually relax while still being in a very familiar place with people I love. I am definitely a Grandaddy's girl and LOVE being with him! I am so much like my grandmother it scares me! Tonight, we discovered that we are both double jointed exactly the same way in our right ring fingers. Freaky. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"I'm Off" Stage 1

Yesterday I threw my entire worldly possessions into 4 suitcases (44...ish lbs each) into my car and said a "goodbye for now" to my family. I stayed at my best friend, Bekah's house last night in hopes that I would get my visa papers in the mail today and take the last flight out to the consulate in Philadelphia. Spending the night was great, but my visa papers did not come today! In fact, no mail came today...weirdest thing!! So, my plan is to stay with Bekah again tonight and then go ahead and leave for SC tomorrow afternoon. I first need to get an oil change in my car and get the outside door handle replaced. (to make things more frustrating, I was opening my door one afternoon and the plastic piece that you hold popped right off. To the point where I was just going to try superglue until my brother stopped me!) So, 100 dollars later, I not have a new doorhandle that needs to be installed. Thankfully, my brother and a man in our Church can do it so that saves me 200.00 in labor)

Up next: two weeks in SC with my grandparents. Then, I'll be back in Wake Forest just to have a "Last Supper" with my old Rommie and Roomie-in-Law and babysit for the Schemms while they get away for a couple days. (oh yes, all 7 kiddos...I'm so excited! There is never a dull moment over there and I left an extra 20 lbs in one of my suitcases to stick Anderson in before I leave!) Then, off to training on the 27th of January for two months. Afterwards, I am Milan bound!

Thank you to much to all of you who are praying for me. This has been one whirlwind of an adventure already. There are many frustrations, nerves, difficult situations, and emotions that have been culminating and now seems to be hitting me all at once! Please pray that I will completely rely on the Lord and draw from HIS perfect peace and strength. He has been so faithful through the last few months of trying times and I know he is my fortress and ever-present help in time of need.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

La Vita e' Bella!

Since my life is about to shift to "all things Italiana," watching Life is Beautiful is an obvious prerequisite. (Grazie, Mael, for letting me borrow it!) I can honestly say with a clean conscience that this movie is my new numero UNO!! I absolutely loved it. I have never seen a movie that made me laugh and cry quite like that. My absolute favorite scene was when Guido hijacked the loudspeaker with his son and proclaimed, "Buon Giorno, Principessa!" I had a complete "girly" moment come over me as I squeeled and then started crying! I generally do not do this in movies. (many of you can testify to my stoic movie-watching tendencies) Actually, I have teared up in a few movies in the last year or two, but have never actually "cried" before.

From an artistic standpoint, great screenplay, WONDERFUL acting...and, of course, the scenery was superb! (and I totally fell in love with Joshua! Little boys are cute, but little boys speaking Italian are adorable!)

From a philosophical standpoint, I found the movie to be interesting. The story says that even though the world is a terrible place, the best thing to do it to be optimistic. Nothing Guido did was "real." The key "dropping from heaven" was just good timing and a cute idea. He was always just barely escaping trouble. His creativity in the concentration camp allowed his son to believe he was participating in a fun game with a great prize at the end. Even when Guido was being taken away to be shot, he continued to pretend this was a game for the sake of his son. His "sacrifice" is truly touching, but is sadly the only thing the world has to offer. All "positive outlooks" must first start with pessimism: or admitting that the world is a horrible place followed by the volitional choice to either ignore the horror or "create your own reality." The best answer "one without hope" can give is to just make the best of what we have. Nothing is based in reality; everything is simply a game created in the mind. For those with hope, there is so much more to life. Life has a purpose and a meaning; it is not just something to get through before we die and discintegrate. While it is important to be creative, joyful, imaginative, and optimistic, what makes life beautiful is not the reality we create, but the reality that exists through Christ.

The Penner Family

This family is like my second family! God has blessed me so much by their friendship and I am not even thinking about how much I am going to miss them.

FYI- the credit for the captive look on their faces goes to my brother, Patrick, who was doing what sounded like back flips behind me to get their attention!

This is little "Bellina." Isn't she so beautiful???

THAT'S her smile! I've been wanting this picture for a long time. Love the dimple.

Oh yes, I am quite proud of this "action shot!"

The Girls: Mila and Bella

She's such a GOOD big sister!

This one is a "Papa's Girl" for sure.

And...The Boys: Josiah and Camden

Everything about this makes me laugh.

Even though "somebody" is a fully trained model thanks to the hundreds of pictures taken of him since he was a newborn, he was strangely rebelling against the paparazzi today...

This is a handsome one...

After kids/family shots, we gave Patrick "kid duty" for a bit while I got some couple shots of Kostya and Megan.

Can't remember what he said here...but it was funny!

Love you, Kostya, Megan, Josiah, Mila, Camden, and Bella!!