Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween...sort of

Happy Halloween...sort of. Austria has it's share of festivals and holidays, don't get me wrong. In fact, as I write this the kids are off school for All Saints Day (today, 11/1) and All Souls Day (tomorrow, 11/2). Still, we're all missing the St. Andrews Fall Festivals and trick-or-treating we are used to. For me, an October 31st without rallying the youth to construct a giant fun maze out of refrigerator boxes and 15 rolls of duct tape (and having to subject myself to hearing the story re-told of how an idiotic youth pastor severely damaged his back while deconstructing the maze of '03), an October 31st without getting to bark in the microphone using the sportscaster voice for 2 1/2 hours, well, let's just say it's not the same.

So here's our attempt at a make-shift celebration...Austrian-American style:

Here we are cleaning out our pale-orange "pumpkins" and all getting the first layer of skin sizzled off our fingers...I'm assuming it was the acidity of the "pumpkins".

Here is Daniel and Tabea...all dressed up for the occasion!

Levi and Abby's final carving creations...

All our Lil'Pumpkins

So that's it! Happy Halloween...sort of.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm admitting it...

I have a problem...
I am a procrastinator! There, I said it!

I like washing the dishes, but hate putting them away.
I like writing letters and buying gifts for others, but I hate the process of finding the right packaging to put the present in, or finding the right address and then the process of going to the post office in another country is another issue entirely! (Don't ever expect any birthday gifts on time as long as we are living overseas!)

My laundry is no exception. I like washing it, don't mind folding it, but I have a hard time putting it away! Until yesterday, I knew it was a problem-but it wasn't staring me in the face...
Let me explain. After living here for 4 months, yesterday we finally got a mirror for our bathroom. This is not just any mirror. It is a mirror purchased at our neighborhood discount grocery store, Hofer. Why would we purchase a bathroom mirror at a grocery store one might ask? Well, because of this whole procrastination problem.

See, without a car, it makes it difficult to just take public to your favorite store, pick out a mirror and then drag it home on the we have been putting it off. We just happened to find the mirror yesterday, as we were checking out a fish tank in Hofer, and while Brad and I were together (which is an important piece of information in this drawn out story, as we both needed to be there to lug this sucker home!)

Ok, back to the point of this story! Laundry staring me in the face. You see, now when I look in the new mirror, I can't even see my all I see is the reflection of the piles of laundry that need to be put away! My procrastination has been exposed!

Don't we all hate to be exposed?!? Far deeper than a silly mirror and a pile of laundry, How I hate to have my sin exposed and how I procrastinate in confessing my doubts, fears and sins to the Lord. Why does something have to stare me in the face before I realize what is happening? I think because I love to be in control, and when I see a struggle (either something little like saying the right thing to the bakery lady or something big like imagining how I'm ever going to share Christ in German), fear and doubt become my tools to get by. The problem, of course, is that God doesn't call me to "get by", but to bring my weakness and doubt and discomfort to Him, and to boldly risk failure because my greatest security and my greatest success are wrapped up in the person and work of Jesus.

Sure I would love to "get over" my doubts and fears. But even more importantly, I want to face up to my doubts and fears right when they begin to surface, so that I can run to Jesus with them and rest in the knowledge of 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Not just forgive us...but also cleanse us from unrighteousness!

"Thanks, God, not only for a Hofer mirror to see my tendency to procrastinate, but for the many mirrors in my life that expose my 'little' doubting and fearful tendencies that attempt to control me!"

So that's my prayer today. Would you pray this for me as well? (You can leave the Hofer part out!) :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recuperating from the adventures...

After Abby's stomach virus, Levi's trip to the ER and having to say goodbye to Abel and Misha, we decided to lay low this weekend and recuperate. It was the perfect weekend to rest, as we gained an extra hour of sleep with the time change! How great is that!

Amidst the resting, the kids somehow convinced me to make sugar cookies. I applaud those moms who enjoy making sugar cookies from scratch with their kids, but this weekend I was wanting the tube o'dough from Pillsbury. Anyway, we got lots of rest and the kids were happy to eat their "sweets"! (which is how the Austrians say it)

This is the main reason why I don't particularly like making sugar cookies...the MESS!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New breakfast of Champions

I don't know if I am turning more "Euro" or more like my Grandma...
MeMoo, I know you are laughing right now, as we used to make fun of Grandma for eating her cereal with yogurt! Well, right now I am enjoying a bowl of Muesli with dried banana chips over vanilla yogurt. Yummy!

I guess the lesson here is we should learn from our elders:)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Always an adventure...

I feel like we may have to change the title of our blog to "Always an adventure". There never seems to be a dull day in the Hunter house, and yesterday was no exception. Our neighbor Gritt was to be picking Levi up from school and bringing him home because I needed to stay home with Abby, who was still recovering from a stomach bug. I was a little surprised when I answered the door and Gritt was there all by herself. She proceeded to tell me that Levi had fallen and cut his forehead and there was lots of blood and could I come with her...a little wave of panic came over me. Once I got to the school, (which fortunately is just right across the street) I knew with one look he would be needing stitches.

Thankfully Brad had just finished his class and was on his way home with Abel and Misha, who offered to watch Abby, Luke was being picked up and brought home by Alice's mom, and Gritt was insisting she go with us to the hospital and wait while Levi received the treatment he needed. So off we went . The hospital was no Joe DiMaggio, but we received prompt care at an amazingly inexpensive price! They cleaned Levi up, put in one stitch and bandaged him right up! He looked like he was all ready for Halloween! And once again we were able to feel God's hand of protection over our family in providing for all of our needs abundantly!

Here he is proudly showing off the results of yet another adventure!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dreary last few days...

Lots of rain and darkness the last few days and we can feel that winter is fast approaching. The time will change this weekend and it will be around 5 pm when the sun goes down...
this is new for us Florida folk who are pretty used to sun, sun and more sun!
It has even been a bit dreary around the house, with Abby fighting the flu. I think it was a 24 hour thing, as she seems to be on the mend today. Earlier in the week I made some yummy potato can find the recipe here. It goes really good with the beer bread from Tastefully Simple! Enjoy your day, maybe see the sun and possibly some soup!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Family Worship

The last few weeks during family worship we have been studying the Ten Commandments. Brad has done a great job teaching them a few tricks to help remember all 10 and they have done a great job of memorizing them. Last night we started a book called "10 Commandments Family Nights Tool Chest". It is put out by Heritage Builders. It does a great job on explaining the importance of the Commandments in a kid friendly way, and then unpacks each of the Commandments. It gives warm-up exercises, activities and even helpful hints for adjusting activities so they can be age appropriate for your kids.

Along with that, I have started reading "The Family Compass", with is authored by Kurt and Olivia Bruner .(the same authors of the Family Night Tool Chest series) This is what the back cover says about the book:

The Family Compass can help Christian parents develop an easy to understand "theology of parenting" and a user-friendly plan for giving their children a spiritual compass. Filled with practical ideas for passing the faith to kids of all ages, this book is designed to help you put into practice the biblical instruction to talk about God as you "sit at home...walk along the road...lie down and get up..."

I think both of these tools can be helpful in being intentional about teaching our kids biblical truths. Let me know if any of you parents out there have any more resources that you have found helpful!

Monday, October 22, 2007

That time of year again...

Is it that time of year again? You know...Girl Scout cookie time? Living overseas now, I already can't remember when a lot of things are, but I was reading a magazine this weekend and it ranked the Girl Scout selection from healthiest to least healthy. Before I get to the list, let me just dream about how I used to eat my favorite...the Thin Mint (really is there any other?)

I usually would be the one the girl sitting at the make shift table in front of the grocery store would make eye contact with. Plus my own rugrats would run up to the table begging for "COOKIES"! I would get 1 box of Samoas, 1 box of the Tagalongs and then 3 or 4 of the Thin Mints. As soon as I would get home, I would take the Thin Mints out of the box and immediately put them in the freezer. I don't know what it is about a Thin Mint from the freezer, but it is extra minty, extra crunchy and extra yummy! Once frozen, I would proceed to chow about 5 (this would be before dinner). Then after dinner, I would take about 4-5 more and delicately crush them and put over vanilla ice cream. Oh WOW! Nothing like it! This would go on for a few days straight, then I would have a few Samoas, then it was back to the Thin Mints from the freezer. Now you can see why I bought way more Thin Mints than any other kind! So here's the list...let me know what your favorite Girl Scout cookie is!

1.Cafe' Cookies
3.Little Brownies
4.Thin Mints :)
7.All Abouts
Ranked by Laura Otolski,registered dietitian

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fall Party FUN

Levi makes a spider
Levi, Luke and Alice, Abby's friend from school, play dress up
Candy Concoctions
Gummy Dracula
the big kids
the munchkins

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cafe Central

It is a rainy day here in Wien. Perfect weather for hanging out in a coffee house.

That was just what we did after praying with Misha and Abel at the Stephansdom. We headed to Cafe Central. Which if you ever visit us...remind us to take you there. Yummy food, great coffee, and wonderful atmosphere.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jakob comes for a visit

Every night during dinner we ask what everyone's High and Low was for the day. High being the best thing and low obviously the worst. Tonight Abby's high was Jakob, the bear. This bear belongs to her teacher at school and every student gets a chance to bring him home and spend some "quality" time with him. Then the student gets to document their time together in a special notebook (in German none the less).
We of course celebrate everything with ice Jakob got to indulge as well.

Weekend overview

At first I thought it was a sinus headache, but then the "dagger in the eyeball" feeling let me know that in fact it was a dreaded migraine. I only get them once every year or so, but when I do...they put me out of commission. So my entire weekend was spent in bed sleeping the days away and listening to a few good sermons on my ipod. If you get a chance, download the one on Esther, by Tim Keller. Fantastic!

Brad and the kids were extra gracious to me and kept the noise to a minimum as they played and played and played. The train set was the attraction of the they all worked together to make this creation...

The kids got dressed and ate breakfast at record pace, so they could play for even just a few minutes before leaving for school!

Levi is loving that the big kids had to head off to the train is all HIS!

I'm feeling better just in time for potential teammates to come. (Thanks for your prayers my sweet friends!) Abel and Misha fly in tomorrow from Florida. They will be checking out Vienna and us, to see if God might be calling them to join our team. More on them and their visit later in the week.

Now the piles from the weekend are calling...laundry, dishes and toys.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A quick visit...

Today we got a visit from the Reiner family. They were at the same conference we were at last weekend and since they were still on their fall break from school, they decided to take a quick trip to Wien. We had a nice lunch at home and then we were off to see a few sites in the city. Thomas is a pastor in Winterthur . Their visit was an encouragement to us, and we look forward to spending more fun times together. Maybe next time in Switzerland!
fast friends...

"THE" Stephansplatz breakdancers! Who really wants to see any of the famous sites, when you can see the breakdancers. :)Levi and Abby practicing some of their own moves when we got home!

A little random I got to use my new tablecloth that I got at the market when Shannon was here...isn't it pretty cool. The man even claimed to make us a "deal"!

Results of a fun day...

After cleaning up, I'm off to watch my latest addiction...Grey's Anatomy. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Deutsch (German) + English = Deunglisch

Talking with my mom yesterday she asked the question "When do you think you will be able to communicate in German?" Now that is a great question and I wish I knew the answer! Based on a recent conversation with my neighbor I think it might be awhile!

Me: Danke for the Kuchen!

Neighbor: Letztes Wochenende hat mein Enkelkind eine Geburtstagsparty gehabt, und ich habe ihm von euch erzaehlt. Er wollte euch ein Stueck Kuchen geben.

Luke: What did she say?

Me: Her grandson had a birthday and they told him about our family and he wanted to share some of his cake with us...I think.

Me again: Brad told me that your Tochter will have her surgery on Freitag. We will be praying for her...

more small talk in the elevator continued about how Levi is in Kindergarten across the street, as I hurl my arms in the direction of the school and point to Levi every time I am talking about him...

Someday, (I hope) the synapses that send messages to my tongue will be able to figure out this German stuff and I will be able to complete a paragraph and NOT just insert the few words I DO know and maybe I'll even be able to keep my hands in my pockets.

Please pray for our neighbors Tochter as she undergoes surgery tomorrow and for me as I struggle to learn Deutsch.

In the meantime, maybe I should check with the Deutsch Akademie to see if they ever use this learning style for German...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fall is here...

Fall is definitely here. I know many of you in the states are experiencing unseasonably warm weather, so I am sorry that we are in sweatshirts and you are sweating. We were in Florida for over 10 years, so I feel your pain. Now however, our kids are throughly enjoying the changing seasons here! This weekend they rolled in the leaves...

yesterday we went to the park and collected leaves for a few projects, decorated the house with our fall decorations and even made muffins. Here is where I need a little help from my friends...we would like to have a fall party for some of our friends and my creative juices are depleted. I did get a few ideas here, but would love any helpful hints, craft ideas, web sites that you like or fall recipes. (Please keep in mind that we don't have a JoAnn's Fabrics or Target, where I can get all of the Halloween goodies my heart desires.)

Below are a few signs of fall around our house...

Now as much as I would like to keep adding to this post, I need to go mop all of the leftover glitter from last night that is making my wood floors extra sparkly this morning.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Finally we have a phone!

Yes, after months of waiting for the phone/internet company to come out and set up the necessary lines, WE FINALLY HAVE A PHONE! It is a Vonage number, which for those of you with 954 area code will be a local call. Please e-mail us or make a comment if you would like our new number. We'd love to chat...please just keep in mind that we are 6 hours ahead of Florida time.
P.S. For those of you who would like to Skype, we also have that. :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fellowship, food and fun

This past weekend our family hopped in a train and traveled over 7 hours to the far western edge of Austria to participate in the annual conference of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Austria (and Switzerland). The setting was beautiful-- an old, wooden cabin situated in the mountains. It was good to receive solid teaching from the Word from Reinhard (Tammy's Dad) and another pastor, Thomas, and to hang out with believers from all over.

Brad and Reinhard

The weekend couldn't go by without a few good games of monopoly...and a super fun scavenger hunt complete with fireworks!

Maria and Bernadette making lunch

Tammy and Abby

After the conference was over we had some time to kill before our night train left, so we hung out at Berni and Reinhard's house. While we were there, we also had to chance to catch up with their neighbors...Elke and Alexander. Some of you might remember that they lived in Florida a few years ago, and we got to know them then. The kids had fun playing with Jacob and Rebecca.

The kids had never taken a night train before, so it was pretty exciting for them to have a big slumber party with Mom and Dad. There were 4 beds, the 5 of us, 4 backpacks and 3 suitcases all crammed into the tiny cabin. The kids slept very well, while Brad and I didn't fare so well! Here is Levi saying good morning to Vienna, as we arrived back tired, but grateful to be back home.