Thursday, January 31, 2008

Phraselator

As I am cleaning up in the kitchen I am listening to NPR and there is an interesting story on a device called the Phraselator. LA Police are using them to spout off commands in other languages...I just need one to go to the grocery store and when I interact with my children' s teachers! For I think a mere $2500 I could score one!
Just yesterday I was at the grocery store and the cashier struck up a conversation with me...very unusual since they always seem to be in a hurry. Anyway, she is scanning my items, asking where I come from, why am I in Austria, what do I do for a living and so far I am able to respond back in German. She is scanning my items, I am throwing them back in the cart (as you bag your own groceries here) and she says something that I don't understand. I graciously nod, smile and act like I know what she is saying. She repeats her phrase again. I nod and smile again. She then proceeded to stand up, lean over the scanner and take the milk out of my cart and ring it up. She was trying to tell me that she hadn't rung it up yet!
Thankfully we both laughed! Which is something I have learned to appreciate in situations such as these. If you take yourself and the mistakes you make too seriously, you really could get down!

Still, I think one of these little Phraselator thingies might be worth investing in:)

Faschingsfest!

Today Abby was still the only one well enough to go to school. Fortunately, the boys are on the mend and will be able to go back to school just in time for Faschingsfest tomorrow. From my limited understanding, it is basically a time of carnival, when kids dress up and have fun parties in school. It is similar to Mardi Gras and a preparing to "let loose" before lent.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cookies Recovered!

Yep..they will be coming home to momma! :)
Oh, and Rick got to change his clothes too.

The Latest...

So far this week, we have been well-loved by those near and far! We have received countless e-mails stating that you "are in"...as being willing to pray for us this week while Brad is in America. We have felt your prayers abundantly. Thank you!

Here is a little update...

Luke and Levi continue to struggle with a virus that has kept them both out of school all week. The blessing in this, is that they have been laying around a lot more than usual and I have not had to run back and forth to school and hort as much, because our friends have been willing to pick Abby up and bring her home so I can stay with the boys.

Our friend, Joanna came from Hungary to see a friend in Wien and it worked out that she could also stay with us and help with the kids! It was a sweet encouragement to all of us!

Dali spent the night last night, and watched the boys all morning so I could get to my German class today! Another big blessing.

Last night I also received a phone call from our field director just checking to see if I was doing ok. He is currently in Prague doing a Sonship week, and yet still took the time to see how we all were.

From what I have heard from Brad, he is having a great time! In between sessions at GCA, I am sure he is finding time to eat some Taco Bell. He has had some really encouraging times with potential teammates and has enjoyed concentrated times with Jeff.

Brad's brother and our pastor from our home church, flew up yesterday to Orlando to spend the night. I just received an e-mail from my sister-in-law that they lost Rick's luggage. I don't know how this happens...but the bummer in all of it is that all of our special requests were in that luggage. That means unless they find it, we will not see the Girl Scout cookies, the Juice Plus vitamins or the thoughtful Valentines' gifts that my sister-in-law took the time to get! I know there are bigger things in the world to pray for than cookies and vitamins, but if you feel lead to pray, we would love that those things would be found!

Thanks again for all of you who have loved us well!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Visa Approval!

I guess your prayers are working! We just received word today that our visas were approved! Hooray!

Today Luke really turns 9!




Happy Birthday Luke! You are such a sweet boy with a tender heart and a love for others and the Lord. You are growing taller by the minute, and before long you will be taller than Mommy! Smarter too, I am sure! :) You need the littlest sleep of any of us in the family, and yet are usually the happiest! When you get on the phone with someone you are always sure to ask, "How are you doin?"
You love Dr. Pepper, kebabs, playing Game Cube, riding your scooter and being with your friends. We are so proud of you and your willingness to try new things and dream big! We love you Lukey!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Could be a long week...

I'm trying to be optimistic..but when Levi started throwing up last night and Luke was having problems with the other end...I had to think (and laugh) that this could be a long week! It is 7:25 am and Daddy is on the way to his conference....Levi has already played Play-Doh and is asking "What are we going to do now momma?" Here we go...

I'm stating the obvious here, but keep praying!:)

P.S. Fortunately for me, Brad is bringing a BIG supply of this and this when he comes back!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Luke's 9th Birthday Party


Luke had his 9th birthday party today with a few of his friends from school and hort. They had a great time just being "boys", as they played Game Cube, darts and even a game of American baseball! His big present from us was a new fish tank...which he has been asking for since we moved here! The newest member of our family is a fish named "Whiskers". Here are some more pictures from the party.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Start your day off right...

Our family is a big fan of protein in the morning! We used to fry up the Ol' Jimmy Dean...but I can't find it over here (even though there are more wursts than you can imagine) When you travel throughout Austria, often a hard or soft boiled egg will be on your menu for breakfast. Our kids have really grown to love these little guys! I even splurged on some egg-cups so I could make Neena proud with my presentation! :)

In case you don't know how to make a soft-boiled egg...here is a video.
It "cracked" me up! Hee Hee

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Precious Gift

At Christmas, Brad's mom brought us a precious gift painted by a good family friend.  It is a picture of our kids looking out at the spectacular view in Hallstatt, Austria.  Laura noted the picture on our blog and proceeded to paint it in an art class she was taking!  How thoughtful is that!  We are going to get it framed and put it in our entrance-way for everyone to see!

Thanks so much Mrs. Grimes!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coming off the cloud..

We have come off the cloud, after being at the ball and now just like Cinderella, we are back to the everyday things of life...caring for our children, going to school, cooking and cleaning. Posting about going to a fabulous ball is way more fun and interesting, but just not what is usually happening around here. So here is a boring ol post...of recipes I have enjoyed recently! Yes, yawn...yawn!

Go here for slow cooker sloppy joes and cheesy chicken
Click on the right hand side "labels" crock pot

Go here for orange mini-muffins with brown sugar glaze

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"We're not great dancers"


Some things in life you just can't be adequately prepared for, and it's probably best that way.  When our wonderful neighbors, Gritt and Alfred, invited us to the Pharmacie Ball at the Imperial Palace, we knew there would be a room full of waltzers, but not much beyond that.  Before we went, they assured us that they weren't great dancers, and we had nothing to be nervous about.   Note for future reference:  when Austrians say, "We're not great dancers", don't believe it for a second.

Little did we know that Gritt had been the "Belle of the New Year's Eve Ball" every year for 18 years, as she dressed up as "Empress Sisi".  Alfred still works at several balls as crowd control, possibly the only place in the world where bouncers don 18th Century pink coats and knickers.  So as their guests, we got "back stage" (free!) access to the ball, and any time anything exciting happened, Gritt and Alfred positioned us right in the middle of the action.

We witnessed the opening ceremonies where "guests of honor" are paraded through hundreds of young people dressed in tuxedos and what looked to us like white wedding dresses, then on to 10 ballet dancers from the State Opera House, to the midnight surprise with Vienna's version of the Spice Girls with mad violin skills, to the Quadrille (Viennese line dancing), many, many waltzes, plus tango, salsa, fox trot, boogie, Big Band, disco, jazz/blues, even PeeWee Herman's favorite "Tequila!"  NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE was faking it.  They all know how to move.   

Just to watch it all was supremely entertaining...and humbling.  The couple of times we braved the dance floor, we just kept laughing at how inept we are.  I'm sure in our own way we were entertaining to watch.  Our sweet hosts kept assuring us, "It doesn't matter how you look, just that you have fun."

At 3:30am we arrived home, and we told each other that we have to remember this night when difficult days come, that this amazing city is full of both brokenness and beauty.   We thanked God for the beauty we saw last night, and we pray for His redemption in the midst of the brokenness.

Final observation:  When Brad and Stacey tell their Austrian friends, "We're not great dancers", oh! for the sake of Pete, believe us. 
 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ready or not, here we come...


Check-list for the Ball...

* Long Dress (found a black one in my closet that is do-able)

* Fancy enough jacket to keep my arms warm and not scream "You don't belong here!"
(found one for 29 Euros) Yippee!

* A "Smoking" which is actually a tux (Brad happened to keep his from our wedding, complete with expandable pants, but not quite "pregnancy pants")

* Babysitter to spend the night! (Dali gladly offered)

* Practiced the Waltz (even if it was with Abby, Brad still practiced)

* Nap, since we won't get home until after 3 am. (We have drugged our children and will plan to sleep for a few hours this afternoon.) Just Kidding!

*
Small camera that fits in very small purse (charged and ready to shoot like the paparazzi)

*
Lots of anti-perspirant to keep me from sweating like a pig when my nerves go into overdrive (shipped in bulk from America)

*
Leave wristwatch at home! (Tamara "Tammy" says it's is a bit cultural faux-pas to wear one.)

Well, that is all I can think of...so ready or not, here we come!

Aim High, or at Least High Enough


As I recall, "Aim High" was the US Air Force's motto when I was a kid. Through school and college and seminary, I (Brad here) usually tried to, you know, "aim high". But when I began taking "Sociological Research Methods: Data Collection" in German at the University of Vienna, and had a hard time understanding even 10% of what the professor was saying, goals had to be drastically rearranged. "Survive" became my new motto.

I took the one and only exam in December, complete with 14 essay questions (one an 8-parter), with a "generous" 45 minutes alloted. I was sunk. I was the last person in the room and still had 4 questions left. I scribbled something down for one of them, and the impatient professor said, "I'll ask you the other's orally." He gratefully accepted 2 of the answers.

Failure would not only mean the death of my pride, but a severe complication for trying to secure a student visa. For all of you who prayed, I have some good news, humbling, but good. I received the lowest possible grade that is still considered a passing grade. The professor called it "GenĂ¼gend", lit. translated "Enough." So for those of you who regularly pray for my pride to be killed, thanks a lot. God is working on me. And for those of you who have been praying for me to pass my classes, thanks as well. God seems to have answered both prayers simultaneously.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What to wear?

On Wednesday,  we got an invitation from our neighbors to attend one of these.  You might be saying to yourself...how lovely, that is a once and a lifetime event etc... but all I can think about is what the heck am I going to wear?  And how am I going to find something in just 3 days? 

So this afternoon I am heading to the 1st District, where all of the fancy shops are, to try and find something that fits, doesn't stand out and fits in my price range! Ha!  Wish me luck...and stay tuned.  This is going to be quite an adventure!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

All good things must come to an end...

It has been so much fun spending time with Neena and Memoo! Lots of good memories were made on this first visit to Vienna! We are so thankful for them!



Grabbing a few M&M's together from the recently restored gumball machine
Brad and Neena take some time to enjoy some treats at Demel's
Here is Memoo teaching Abby how to sew
Sweet kisses...
Getting all 4 candles out!
Neena shows off her fabulous cake decorating skills!




Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Our baby turns 4!







It is hard to believe how fast the time goes. Our baby Levi was born January 16, 2004 weighing in at a whooping 9 pounds 7 ounces, with a FULL head of hair! Levi has always been
willing to go with the flow (as long as he has his blankie). The blankie's texture and scent can take him to his happy place! Singing also makes him happy...he sings himself to sleep and he arises humming his favorite selection of Christmas tunes and worship songs. He loves ANYTHING chocolate, his friends and his Glam Grams too. He has no trouble keeping up with Luke and Abby, unless it involves walking..and then he says his legs "are tired and too skinny"! He certainly is the comedian of the family and brings so much joy and laughter to our lives! Happy 4th Birthday Levi!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back to Reality

It was very hard to get out of bed this morning when the alarm when off at 6am. It was cold and dark and my bed was awfully warm! We have had nothing but fun for almost 3 weeks now, so getting back to reality really is a struggle! All of the kids went back to school and I started another round of German. This time I am attending the University of Vienna. Brad spent the day studying for another final that he has tomorrow. Pray for him and the rest of us as we begin to descend into the valley, after several mountaintop experiences!

Tabea , Luke and Memoo at Hort (aftercare) today.


Here is Levi waving goodbye from his classroom window!


We also had the sad reality of having to take our Christmas decorations down. Here is Memoo cramming our tree into our elevator after she and Neena packed up all of our ornaments! In Vienna you take (or drag rather) the tree to a drop off site. Many of those sites are located outside of churches. Unfortunately my mom didn't see the drop off at the church right across the street from our house, and instead dragged it 4 blocks down the street to another site!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mittersill, Austria


I lift my eyes up...to the mountains
where does my help come from...
my help comes from you, maker
of heaven...creator of the earth.
Oh how I need you Lord
you are my only hope...
you're my only prayer...
so I will wait for you to come
and rescue me...

This song would ring in my ears as I would look out and see mountains surrounding me.
Schloss Mittersill was the meeting place for the World Harvest team leaders retreat, and it was absolutely beautiful! Daily we would worship, pray, fellowship and study team building together. We also took time to play together! (Click here if you want to see more photos.)



The Glam Grams came with us, and were able to meet so many of the people they had heard about! They were also a great help with the children. Luke, Abby and Levi ran freely around the castle making all sorts of new friends. It was a wonderful time of encouragement and refreshment.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Best Christmas Presents Ever!

The Glam Grams have arrived!

Neena, Abby and Levi

Memoo and Luke

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back, but not for long...

Blogger is having a few issues right now with loading my photos...which is just as well, as I don't have the time (or energy) to figure out which pictures to put up. We had a wonderful time in Innsbruck with Rick, Dede and the kids, and tomorrow the Glam Grams arrive. They are only in Vienna one day before we take off again for our World Harvest Team Leader's Retreat at Schloss Mittersill, in central Austria. I hope to get some photos up when we return!



The only photo that would load...ice skating in Innsbruck