Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Hardest Things...

While there are many challenges to living overseas, the hardest thing for me lately, seems to be navigating the healthcare system here in Austria. It is one thing to take public the wrong way, or not be able to find something in the grocery store, BUT it is entirely another thing to not know what to do when your child is sick.

Even though I have asked all of my friends for pediatrician recommendations, no one has without hesitation, given me a recommendation. So in the 18+ months we have lived here, we have gone to our family practice doctor and the ER. As of today, I have now been to 3 different hospital's ER's...all with Levi. And all of the experiences are not some of my favorite memories of our time here.

Over the last week or so, we ALL have had the flu and colds that have settled in our heads, but this morning Levi kept crying and saying his ears hurt...he also was running a high fever. If we lived in the States, I would just call my pediatrician who has weekend hours of course, and take him to be seen. But here, I don't have a pediatrician, and I know of no one who has office hours on the weekend. And to make matters worse, MY FLUENT GERMAN SPEAKING HUSBAND HAD A MEETING IN SWITZERLAND THIS he is not here to take me and translate. ugh!

The second hardest part of living overseas...swallowing my pride, admitting I am incompetent, I can't do this alone and that I need help.

So I asked one of my Austrian friends to take me to the ER (ON A SATURDAY WHEN SHE COULD BE HOME WITH HER FAMILY) and sit with me for 4+ hours and find out that Levi has a DOUBLE ear infection, and then drive me to a pharmacy with weekend hours, so I can pick up Levi's prescriptions.

Of course she is happy to do it and really does understand what it means to be dependent on she lived in the States for many years. She understands what it means to learn another language different from what you grew up with, and she understands what it feels like to have to learn another culture, she understands what it feels like to be an outsider. Her friendship is a real gift from God, and true empathy is not something I take for granted anymore. The "hardest things" are also teaching me how to better die to myself and develop a deeper compassion for others. Funny how the hard things in life have a way of doing that...

P.S. Also, a BIG thank you to Jodie (our teammate) for watching Luke and Abby while I was with Levi!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Yesterday...

Wasn't it just yesterday that you were taking your first steps?

Now you wear the same shoe size as me...


Monday, January 26, 2009

More on our Milka Pooch...

Anytime we are out with Milka, we draw a crowd. Grown women stop to kiss her on the mouth.  Yes, you read that right-on the mouth.  Adult men talk to her in a really high voice.  Kids point, stare and ask if they can pet her.
Europeans love dogs.  No question about it...

A few days ago, Luke, Abby and I were on a walk in the 1st District of Vienna.  In a 15 minute time period, we were stopped 12 times!  One woman even asked to have her photo taken with her. 

I really don't understand the fascination with dogs-but it has been fun to see the smile she brings to faces that often stare straight ahead, carefully avoiding eye contact.  Or to hear people tell us that she is a "real life toy and a precious treasure".  It has also been fun to watch my kids respond to questions like "how old is she" or "what kind of breed is that" auf Deutsch. (in German) 

Milka is fun, spunky, loyal and loves to cuddle.  She certainly has provided unique experiences to talk with people, that otherwise wouldn't have been possible in this culture.   And even though she is just a dog...she has the ability to break down barriers and melt peoples hearts...

yep, you might say we are becoming "dog" people.  The kind that dress their dog in sweaters and take pictures of them with sunglasses on... :)


MeMoo and Neena went to a "Peacemaker's" conference last year and really enjoyed the content. So much so, that they sent us The Young Peace Maker: Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict God's Way. Even though it is intended for intermediate and middle school students, we have been able to break it down and use it in the evening for family worship. The kids love the comic book style stories and we love how it is teaching our kids how to better handle conflict. Check it out at, click on resources, and then Young Peacemaker.

Just Because...

Me: "Abby why do you want to wear such a nice dress to school?''

Abby: "Just because..."

Abby: "And can you do my hair in those twisty braids too mom?"

Me: "Sure sweet girl"

It's not everyday that the conversation goes like this in the morning. Usually I have to pull one grumpy bear out of her bed and physically help get her dressed, as she remains in her stupor.

This morning was different for no apparent reason..."just because"
and I will treasure this sweet picture of her standing in her velvet dress and twisty braids and I am thankful for the differences between my boys and my girl...just because.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The "bug" that keeps on giving...

It started with our teammate Jodie, moved on to Luke, then Jeff, then me.  Next was Brad and now Levi is the latest victim.  The "bug" presents itself at first as a cold and then knocks you on your back for a few days (unless you are as strong as Jodie, who continued to tough it out while remaining upright!) with aches, chills, a fever and a general miserable feeling.  Levi seems to have a messier adaptation of the last night I was cleaning up expelled pizza in the elevator. No fun, no fun at all.   

The good news however, is that all of the family except me was able to participate in serving alongside a ministry to refugee kids on Friday evening. Please check out what Jeff and Jodie had to say about the evening HERE and I am sure Brad will add some more thoughts to the mix once he is feeling better.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good News...

This morning we went to drop off our visa paperwork and already found out that we are approved for another year! We pick up our new Visas on Feb. 9th!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Productive day...sort of

Luke has been sick the last few days and Milka has managed to take complete advantage of the extra blankets that have taken over the couch.  Even though I have wanted to join them...

*I managed to do LOTS of laundry and actually put it away when it was done

*Send a few Christmas gifts to friends in the States that had been on the floor in my bedroom since...well, before Christmas

*Take some clothes to the dry cleaners that I wore this summer (that were also in a bag on my bedroom floor) so sad I know...

*I vacuumed the dust that accumulated around the boxes and bags that were promptly taken care of today

*And finished off the rest of the chocolate chip cookies that we had in honor of the inaguration
last night...

not too bad, since all I really wanted to do was snuggle in the covers with Milka!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic Day...

We watched history tonight...
took time to pray for the United States and it's new leaders...
sang the National Anthem, those of us who knew all the words...
and ate a Patriotic salad and chocolate chip cookies...yep, you get a little more sentimental about events like these when you live overseas...

Monday, January 19, 2009

A weekend to remember...

The fun from this weekend really wore us evidenced by Milka pooch-or "Milka poochey" as Liesl lovingly calls her!

Here is the run down of what we were up to...
Levi officially turned 5 and we had BLAST at his party on Friday night

Then on Saturday we were off to the Ball with our neighbors, Gritt and Alfred. Remember our experience last year? Well, even though we took dancing lessons, our ability to keep up with Austrians on the dance floor still proved to be a challenge. It still was an amazing evening and so much fun! And now Monday is here, and Luke has a big interview at a bi-lingual school (for next year) this morning...I'm sure all he'll have to do is flash his winning smile and he'll get in right? Well, more on this experience a little later...Have a good week my friends!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Girls' half-day out...

We have spent a lot of time with the McMullens since they moved to Vienna, but it is rare for just Jodie and I to get out together.  This morning we had a "girls" breakfast, and then we were off to a swanky hair salon within walking distance, for some haircuts.
Here is Jodie's new Euro look... she of course debated on the same look as the model behind her, but thought it might be a little too trendy...and difficult to see with her right eye:)

Then it was back home for mom duty and party we have one special little guy turning 5 tomorrow. 

 The reality of packing goodie bags and baking a cake for tomorrow's big a moms work is never done... :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ice Skating times 2...

Ice Skating  (Eislaufen in German) is a BIG deal in Austria.  Kids start as soon as they can walk, most folks own their own pair of skates and the schools even take their classes and go skating together.  On Saturday, we went with the McMullens to get some practice time in.

Then, even with the temperatures at -7C  (19 degrees F) yesterday, it couldn't keep us from getting out on the Alte Donau and ice skating again, this time with our neighbors.  It really was super fun!!!

Even Milka pooch got in on the fun!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Is it really the second week in Jan already?

Seems like just yesterday that we were ringing in the New Year with friends.  Then we were celebrating my 36th birthday...yep, I am that old.

Then we celebrated some more out at Herbert and Maria's with more yummy goodies...
The kiddos finally went back to school on the 7th...and I finally feel like I am spending a little less time in the kitchen and doing laundry.  We are starting to get back in the groove of getting up early and the routine of school.  Our holidays were filled with fun and festivities, but we are glad things are a little more back to "normal". Certainly, we are looking forward to see what God has in store for 2009!

Gotta love a girl who takes her eating seriously!

                                             Little Liesl

Monday, January 05, 2009

My Uncle Ron...

Yesterday my Uncle Ron and Aunt Karen called to wish me a Happy Birthday. We talked for quite awhile about how they were looking forward to a fresh start in 2009, as Ron lost both of his parents last year and that they were hopeful to come see us in Vienna this Spring.

This morning my Uncle Ron had a stroke. Currently that is all I know. Please pray for Karen and Ron... for healing, rest and peace during this difficult time.

Tuesday-8 pm Vienna time

I just talked with my mom, and Ron remains in the ICU. His right side and speech are severely affected and he is going to need intensive therapy. Please continue to lift them up, as they have a long road ahead of them.

Saturday-January 10th

In the next few days, I am told that my uncle will be moved to a rehab center that specializes in stroke patients.