Magıcal Istanbul

We made ıt to Istanbul a few days ago and wow, what a magıcal cıty! The archıtecture of the major buıldıngs ıs dıstınctıve, as one would ımagıne, and the spıcy smells of the food assault you as you walk down the streets.

We dıdn't arrıve untıl dınner tıme on Thursday, but we acclımated quıckly. Wıthın a few hours ıt was sunset and from our hotel rooftop we took ın the beautıful sıght of old Istanbul. The Blue Mosque and Hagıa Sophıa were lıt up beautıfully. It was quıte a sıght. Whıle we were takıng ıt all ın, the call to prayer went out over the Mosque loud speakers. It felt very exotıc.

We met up wıth Sandy and Cevdet, she ıs from the U.S. and theır 1 year old daughter, Sarah, for lunch. We had a wonderful tıme chattıng wıth them and hearıng about theır work here ın Turkey. We wıll meet up wıth Mıke and Mıchelle Moore on Monday and stay wıth them whıle we are ın Selcuk.

The most amazıng thıng to us was the Grand Bazaar. It ıs a labyrınth of over 4000 shops! Hawkers try to draw you ınto theır shop ıf you so much as glance at anythıng ın theır tıny shops. You don't dare talk to them or you're ın for an earful. James keeps talkıng wıth them and ıt takes forever to get very far ınto the bazaar. We hope to vısıt the Spıce Bazaar on Monday before we leave.

Havıng fun!


Last Day in Romania

We've been to two orphanages and two schools. Yesterday's visits were to two schools that were in better sectors of the city, so they weren't as run down as the two we visited on Tuesday. There were hundreds of children in each. Some of them stay each night during the week and some do not. They are all poor. The children loved the gifts of clothes. James has purchased tons of candy and we gave our suckers and lollipops to them all. Lots of big smiles. The children all tried out their English with big a "thank you" and "my name is ..." it was precious.

Yesterday reached about 100 degrees and then there was a quick thunderstorm and rain which cooled the city down considerably. Whew. It was hot. No air conditioning either. My tolerance of that kind of heat is not good, but God was with me. I was fine. James struggled much more than I did!

Our hostess, Imogene (72 yrs old), took a very hard fall in one of the schools that had just mopped the tile floors. She fell hard on her hip, smacking her head and elbow as well. We were very concerned for her, but she rebounded just fine and within about an hour was back to her spunky self. She absolutely amazes me with her energy, humor, and heart for the children. She clearly loves them all. Her babies.

We work 12+ hours a day getting the packages ready and then delivering them to the children. We could easily work more. There is so much to do to get packages ready for the 2500 children. It is daunting.

One place we visited had some disabled children and they put on a little play for us to say thank you. They wanted so badly to bless us. The children danced like little flowers to music, then mushrooms, then bumble bees. It was adorable. Clearly the school had very little budget. The teachers had all pooled their money to buy some costume materials. The children tried very hard and were very happy to have us there. That day at lunch when we were blessing the food, James was overcome by tears for the plight of the children. Our hearts really go out to them. There are so very many without love and nurturing.

Well, our internet time is up; as they say in Romania: Pah Pah



We left Seattle at 9:55 pm on Thursday night and got into Bucharest around midnight on Friday. We were very tired from the trip.

The last two days have been interesting; not fun, but interesting. We were met by Eugen at the airport and he graciously helped schlep our bags to his little truck and then carted us about 30 minutes to the apartment we've been loaned for our stay.

The apartment is in one of hundreds of concrete blocks of buildings resurrected by the Communist government decades ago. They are aging and, for the most part, in sad shape. They are quite ugly. The city is dirty and the people seem fairly poor and not very happy. I would smile at people walking down the street and they never smile back and look at you rather suspiciously. Romania has only been free from Communism since 1989 (The revolution). Capitalism is taking its time to take hold.

We woke early on Saturday morning and took a long walk trying to find food. We ended up eating a chicken hamburger at 8 in the morning! Strangely, they put greasy, limp potatoes on the burger.

We met up with Imogene, our host, around 10. Her cheerful face and strong Southern accent were a great comfort in this very strange place. She immediately packed us up in her car and carted us over to the church where she put us to work sorting children's clothing into bundles for delivery to the orphanages.

We worked all day, met a few helpers, had a lunch of bread, cheese, ham and cake, then back to work!

We have to put together packages for over 2500 children in the next few days. We have a feeling we won't get them all done. It seems a daunting task.

By the end of the day I was pretty burned out, having only about 8 hours sleep in 2 days. We found a restaurant not to far from our apartment that seemed decent (most places seem very dirty and not sanitary). No one spoke English, so we pointed to a word we understood: Spaghetti. It was ok, not great though.

Back to the apartment and try to sleep....

Sunday was beautiful. We went to church with Imogene and Dale. The people were so very friendly! They all came by to kiss our cheeks and say hello. Some spoke English and were very proud to talk in our language. They were some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Imogene and her husband Dale took us out to the only American restaurant in town: Ruby Tuesday. Loved it. We toured Bucharest for a while and then visited a family where the girls all had lots of cross stitch items they sold to help raise funds for schooling. We bought some items from them and had a wonderful time with the family. There were 6 girls, 3 of which had been adopted from orphanages a few years back. It was a lovely afternoon. 2 of the 3 adopted girls were still following the Lord.

It is about 9 am and we're heading off to work again. We will keep you all posted.

Kat and James


More Cool & Geeky Stuff

Before I get started on the cool geeky and weird finds, I have to point out the funniest sign I saw the other day. On our way to my Grandma's 100th birthday party, we passed a grocery store that had a huge reader board with the daily/weekly specials. It read "Hot Legs and Thighs" and then a price. Who cares how much it costs?? I almost looked to see if there was a line of men (maybe I should be politically correct and say "people") stringing out the door and around the block. I couldn't resist a giggle and tried to get a snapshot of it with a camera I had with me. Didn't work. Oh well, you'll just have to believe me. James saw it too, so I know it wasn't a figment.

Ok, on to the fun geeky gadgets that have caught my eye this past few weeks.

Cubicaller (see photo above) - require a civil entrance into your cubicle space with this bad boy.

Bad Breath Detector - does this really require an explanation?

Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope - This is like Google Earth only for outer space. Users can pan and zoom across the galaxy in 3D, right from your own computer. This is pretty amazing. Everyone should give this one a try.

Floorplanner - I found this when I was looking for online tools to help plot out possible remodels for a house recently purchased. They have a free version where you can create a couple of different floor plans and save them or share with others. Pretty amazing technology on the web. I love Web 2.0!!!

Talking Lips - This is hands-free taken to a whole 'nother level. Simply synch up your phone to this ridiculous gadget. It's a glorified speaker phone where the lips talk in time with the sounds from your phone!

RSStroom Reader - need that news fast? Anywhere? Now you don't have to take that hours-old newspaper or magazine with you to the John. You can get your RSS feeds directly to an RSS reader right in the bathroom, printing out on your toilet paper no less. If you don't like what you're reading...

Earwax Camera & Cleaner - ever wonder if you're getting all the waxy build up out of your ears. While Momma always said never to put anything smaller than a football in your ear, we repeatedly shove cotton swabs in and swirl regularly in order to divest ourselves of the stuff that God put in there to catch bugs. Well now you can look inside your own ear! I've heard that the Asian culture is fastidious about ear wax removal; I even saw a special (probably Discovery Channel) where there are specialists devoted to the craft. Folks go in for regular ear cleanings. Maybe that's why our kids and spouses don't hear us! Clearly, this is the solution.

Honorable Mention:
Cake PC
Racing Grannies
Fartacus T-Shirt
iPood Baby Romper


Name That Prescription!

I would love to be the person that gets to dream up the names of new drugs. I am always seeing ads on TV for drugs and noticed that sometimes they don't even tell you what it is for. Although I now assume if a man is opening a car door for a woman, or having a picnic at a park it is probably for some Viagra-type medication. I've noticed they take care to not have him look too happy; merely content and having a nice time.

I love it that now they spend over half the ad trying to tell viewers of all the possible side effects too. They're not even very clever about it. Doctors are walking the halls with young interns explaining that patients might lose the use of thier arms, throw up, experience death defying diarrhea, or become blind after prolonged usage. It's enough to keep anyone from trying out a new med. That stuff could kill you.

I've been fascinated by this for years. I personally believe that most of these names make for good online gamer names. In fact, about 5 or 6 years ago, I suggested one to my daughter that she still uses today. It had that "Godzilla" kinda ring to it: Nostrilla. Sounds like something you'd want to run from, right? That's what I thought. It is actually a nasal decongestant. I never told her though, and have had a secret laugh about it ever since (shhhh, don't tell). Pretty much any nasal medication make for a great laugh.

Just last night I saw an ad for one that is mystifying: Abilify. I suppose it helps you do things better. Maybe we all need a little of that!



I just had a birthday. I've noticed that the older I get, I tend to become conflicted about birthdays. If no one celebrated them, I'd be ticked. But if someone mentions how old I am five times during the day, or "hey how's it feel to be getting really old?" I get ticked. Maybe I should realize that I can't have it both ways. But wait, maybe I can!

One helpful event occurred yesterday, I attended my grandmother's 100th birthday party. I now realize that I am positively young and vibrant. I'm full of life, and as my dad likes to say "vim and vigor." (What is vim anyway?) I'm not even half way!

One point of discussion between James and I was what the perfect age to leave this earth is. Do we want to live to 100? How about 90? Is it earlier? It is sobering to think about how one will live, eat, and where we'll be when we reach truly the twilight years. I'm not so sure I like to think about it.

Now on to a less sobering thought - vacation! As many of you know we are leaving for our 3 week trip to Europe here in a couple of weeks (May 22). If we go by James's counting schema, we leave in 9 days. You can't count non-work days, the current day, nor the day you leave; hence 9 days. But those of us who count correctly know that the 22nd is actually 11 days away. Either way, we leave soon and I'm excited.

I will be blogging as I can throughout our trip, so stay tuned to this blog to read all about it.