Saturday, February 25, 2012

Underwater Dogs.

I have recently discovered the work of Seth Casteel, a photographer based out of LA. 

To say I'm obsessed with what he produces would be an understatment. These photographs are HILARIOUS and I love every single one. What a great idea! If I had a dog, a pool, and some money I would hire this man immediately. 

Take a look!

Check out his website for more amazing pictures.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Thoughts.

TGIF Ya'll!

I'm sitting here writing a "to-do" list and it's looking rather daunting. 

For a Friday at least. 

There are some things I've already checked off the list, like doing my p90x work out for the day and the mountain of dishes that were in my sink are now sparkling and set out to dry. But there are many, many other things that I need to finish this weekend. Working on one of my main secondary projects is a big one, completing necessary Peace Corps forms is another, and lesson plans need to be worked out for the next few weeks.  I would probably benefit from finishing the laundry sitting in piles on the floor-and I'm pretty sure those bed sheets I hung up to dry on MONDAY are, in fact, dried.

I've been sleeping in my sleeping bag all week...laziness at its finest.

I usually love writing to-do lists. I love being organized (ignore the fact I just said I have piles of laundry on the floor) and checking things off the list after I do them is rewarding. I think I get that from my mother. Speaking of lists-did I ever mention that during my childhood when we had snow days off from school my dad would write LISTS OF CHORES for each kid which were to be completed BEFORE WE WENT TO PLAY IN THE SNOW?!

At age 10...11...ok..16-that is a kind of list you never want to see.

Anyways, today I am struggling to get motivated about my list. Instead I'm focusing on some trips that are happening in the very near future-and I'm so excited I can't stand it. You KNOW that I get that itch to travel after a few months and after the winter that we just had, I'm ready. So here they are: my distractions for the day.

 LONDON: So excited to see my family there for EASTER! It's been almost a year since I've seen them and lets be real-can't wait to take the obligatory "Phone booth" photo. Adorable.

 MONTENEGRO: Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. Can't wait to go with my Romanian friends to this paradise in May.

 SANTORINI, GREECE: My absolute dream destination is going to happen this summer. I have been researching this place since I saw "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (don't judge) and I cannot wait to see one of the most amazing sunsets in the world.

SALZBURG/VIENNA, AUSTRIA: Need I say more? Can't wait to see some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe, visit Mozart's birthplace, and take a billion pictures.

But for now, I think I'll try to get back to my to-do list while rocking out to Foo Fighters.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What a Wednesday.

Yesterday was kind of...well, weird. 

You see-if there is one thing I've learned here in Romania and during my time in the Peace Corps, it is that you can plan all you want, but usually (most likely) something will happen and you will have to make do with whatever life throws at you. Flexibility right?

What is that famous saying? "God laughs when we try to make plans"?

But let's back up, shall we?

Wednesdays are usually my "long day". I have two classes in the morning, a break, then two more classes until 2:30PM. Then, I teach an Adult English class for my professors until around 4:30PM. After that, I teach an Adult English class for my community from 6-7:30PM. So after all is said and done, I'm usually working from I said, a long day.

I had worked hard to plan for this past Wednesday. My lessons were ready and papers were printed out. I was told that there would be a reporter from Timisoara coming to see my Adult Community English class and to interview me, so I had prepared some statements and practiced them in Romanian. I was set. 

I walked into school yesterday morning and everything changed. Five teachers were absent so classes were switched around, hours were changed, and after all was said and done, I was finished at 11:30AM instead of 2:30PM. Sweet. This ended up being perfect because after two weeks of wondering when the plumber would actually show up to work in my bathroom, he decided to come at 11:30AM on a Wednesday, the one day I told him was my "bad day."

God is laughing.


I ran home to meet the plumber and told Vali to call me and let me know if we were still on for the Wednesday Professor class at 3:00PM.  I met the plumbers at the door, and after picking up my shoes and trying to hide my laundry piles,  showed them the bathroom. I then made some lunch while I watched "Downton Abbey". I'm obsessed-thanks Dad!

After some time I started to smell Mr. Clean. Excuse me-"Mr. Proper" is what it is called here in Romania. I keep a full bottle under my bathroom sink to clean with, so I didn't think much of it and continued watching my show while the men worked. In the meantime, Vali called to say we won't have the class as so many teachers were absent, so I was now free until my 6:00PM adult class. Cool.

The Mr. Proper smell is getting stronger and stronger, but I figured they were just cleaning up the floor after working on the pipes. I simply opened my kitchen window and continued watching my show.

After about 2 hours, the men said "We're finished!" and quickly left my apartment without any other explanation. I walked into the bathroom to see the finished product.

And found myself stepping on chicken feathers. Lots and lots of chicken feathers.


I also see my bottle of "Mr. Proper" sitting on the floor. It was full on Tuesday but now has about 1/6 of the bottle left.

Mr. Proper and chicken feathers. Really?!

I will never know what happened in that bathroom, but I know I have a new meter for the hot water and it smells fresh in there. Really Fresh. Mr. Clean Fresh.

Went to my adult class still baffled, and found out the reporter wouldn't be able to make it. So all that Romanian preparation? Yeah.

God is still laughing.

I love that my life here is never boring, nor predictable.

And I wonder if they found a chicken stuck in my water pipes. 

Just a few of the feathers, and the almost empty "Mr. Proper".

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sara Escapes!

Preparing to break the window means dressing the part. Swim Cap...obviously.

So while I was waiting in my apartment for Sara M. to figure out what she was going to do, she called a few people to see what she should do. 

The medical doctor on duty told her to call the principal, who had a spare key. (We already decided that wasn't going to work because her keys were in the door, meaning no one could come in from the outside with a spare key)

Her dad and brother told her to call the fire station and get some firemen over there to break down the front door. (The thought of calling 112 and trying to explain the situation in Romanian put us off a little bit..."how do you say 'locked'?? Is it the same as 'closed'??")

The safety and security office said: "Well-this is a first..." Then proceeded to tell her to break door's window, and to send him the bill.

"Is he serious? I can send him the bill?" Sara asked me.

"WELL-this is truly a safety and security issue so yeah, PC is all over that" I assured her.

So, determined to break the window yet keeping safety a number 1 priority, Sara started to dress for the big break.
Well, now she just looks like a thief.

The flashlight decided to use to break the glass.

Gloves. Mismatched. Oh and a scarf
 "Are you ready?" she asked, and before I could answer-BAM! She threw the flashlight and the glass shattered EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. I have no idea what the neighbors could have thought...

She ended up having the throw a book and something else (porcelain figure?) at the window to break it entirely, but here she is after the first throw.
 Finally, she was FREE!

Never to put a p90x band in the door again.

Now, she just has to explain this to her Romanian.

Thanks Sara, for letting me tell this ridiculous story on my blog. 

Glad you don't have to pee in a jar for the next week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sara is Stuck.

I was working on my lesson plans just now when I got an IM from Sara, a good friend and fellow volunteer here in Romania. Here is our online conversation:
 Sara M: ahhh i am locked in my living room/bedroom
  me: WHAT?hahahah
 Sara M: i was doing p90x
 me: good girl
Sara M: and i locked my band in the door
  and now it wont unlock
 me: bahahaha
 Sara M: what should i do?
 me: omgg
  i dont know!? you will need a bathroom
  omg skype me i gotta see this. I'm so supportive right? Such a good friend. My first response is "you will need a bathroom" and oh yeah, by the way "I GOTTA SEE THIS." So she got on skype and this is what I saw: 
Yes, thats me taking a picture of my screen since my screen shot wasn't working.
not freaking out JUST yet...
  Yeah, she was stuck alright. You can see her p90x band in the door which apparently had the door so jammed that she couldn't get the keys turned or the handle to move. We decided to brainstorm.  Me: "Ok, what can we do here..." (meanwhile, I'm 12 hours away-on a good travel day) Sara M: "Well, I thought I would get my counterpart, who has a copy of my keys, to come over and open it from the other side. But right now my main keys are in the front door so she can't even get in from the outside-right?" Me: "Yeah, that's not going to work. OK so no one can save you from the outside, we have to work from inside your bedroom. What about the hinges?"   Sara M: "They are weird...they don't look American and there is nowhere to put a screwdriver. Plus I don't know if I have any tools in here."  Me: "How bad do you have to go to the bathroom?" (I'M SO THOUGHTFUL.)  Sara M: "Well, not really yet. But I could always live in here for a week with my homemade p90x weights."  Me: "What? What weights?"  Sara M: "My p90x weights that I made. They are borcans (glass jars) filled with corn meal and beans."  Me: "Oh that's good, and I guess you could always pee in a jar..."  Sara M (Giving me a blank stare..)  Meanwhile, she's still working on the door. Jiggling the handle, trying to turn the key, etc. This is what I'm seeing: 
  Sara M: "Thank god the door has glass in it, I can always just break the glass if worse comes to worse, right?"  Me: "Yeah, that's true. But PLEASE cover yourself with a jacket or something before you break it-and how are you going to break it?"  Sara M: "I thought I would just throw a sheet over my body."   Me: " No, no no, something thicker. Jacket. Comforter. Extra Person. need to just break it."  Sara M: "But what will my neighbors think? Actually, (thinking aloud) I do have a bunch of ugly porcelain figures from the past tenant...that would work. And then what do I do with my broken door afterwords?"  Me: "Uhh....take a picture? This has got to go on my blog" (AGAIN, so helpful)  Sara M: "Do I break it from the top or bottom? Maybe I should call the medical doctor on duty."  Me: "Yeah, I would consider this a medical emergency if your bathroom options are jars for the next week...go for it. "   At the time I am posting this blog, Sara is still stuck in her room. Will be back with part two ASAP. Will there be broken glass? Freedom?  Eating corn meal and beans?  Just another Sunday night in the Peace Corps...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"I Have a Dream Too!"

Last week my 10th grade students and I discussed the significance of Black History month and specifically, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his lasting impact and legacy.

We listened to his famous "I have a Dream" speech and afterwords, the students had to create their own "I have a Dream Too" speech for Romania and present it to the class.

I was so impressed with the work of one student, Costi Jura, that I wanted to share his speech with you.

"I have a Dream Too!"

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise from the ash and ruins it sits in today.

I have a dream that one day the government will do something for the country, not just for itself.

I have a dream that one day Gypsy, Hungarian, and Romanian children will share the same playground.

I have a dream that in the future, words like discrimination and violence will be spoken on only in history class.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every single person, from every single village and city will father and sing the national anthem, as a sign of brotherhood.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day our country will be an example for every country in this wide world.

This is my hope and faith. With this faith we will be able to realize all of our dreams, no matter what they are.

This will be the day when we will gather, and working together as one, instead of many, we will form for the first time a true country, a true nation: Romania.

So beautiful...I am amazed by this. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Educate Yourself.

From an office in New York City to the heart of the mineral conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, follow VICE co-founder Suroosh Alvi as he searches for answers in one of the most dangerous and unstable places in the world.

This conflict revolves around minerals such as COLTAN, an essential component in many electronics like video-game systems and mobile devices-technology we use every single day.

Eastern Congo contains 80 PERCENT of the world’s supply.

It's worth the watch...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snowboarding in Arieseni

Last weekend I was able to go with my kids on a school excursion to the Apuseni Mountains (Transylvania, Romania) for a ski trip. We packed eleven kids and teachers into a maxi-taxi bus and drove five hours to the mountains. We stayed in a large cabana and had a blast just hanging out, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and we were even able to see some fireworks. The kids kept us up playing pranks (toothpaste on the door handle!? PLEASE. I could teach them a thing or two...) all night and we spent hours and hours during the day outside in frigid temperatures, having a grand old time.

I have never seen so much snow in my life, and it was beautiful.

The view from our cabana in the morning.

So gorgeous.

The view from the back door...snow EVERYWHERE.

View of the slopes from the cabana.

Excited, apparently. Ha.

Our driver, Nelu, and the IT teacher, Ileana.

Our beautiful cabana!

I am standing next to the roof an a house. So much snooooow.

Loved this house.

Sign me up.

The kids heading to the slopes! Check out those snow pants!!!

These men were making spiced wine on the slopes. Yes, we all drank it.

I can't get over the snow suits!! Here are some of my 9th and 10th grade boys.

Ready to ski!

The snowboarders. Teaching Marko how to do it!

Just a day on the slope.

Snow pup!

Ok so I might not have been's been awhile.

Amazingly beautiful.

Romania is gorgeous.

You can see our cabana from here...

Last day photo shoot.

This was our ride home...just a LITTLE big scary as this was a MAIN ROAD.

Senior Skip Day: Valentine's Day Style.

On Valentine's Day, I was in the teacher's lounge getting ready to walk to my 12th grade class. All of a sudden, Vali walks in and says, "They are all gone. But they left a"

What? They are all gone? It's 12:30-they have 2 more hours of school!

This is the envelope he hands me...

It says, "For our English Teachers Sara & Vali,  From Clasa a-XII-A". They also made sure to add a "with love" heart on the bottom. Classy group.

I open the envelope, thinking "Awww...they made a Valentine for us!"


This is what the letter said.

"Dear Sara and Vali, we are a class in love, we have bussines to do and we are OUT...pls forgive us :). With love (alot) 12th's."

Well. Isn't that something. THEY ALL SKIPPED. All 34 of them.

But could I be mad? Adorable. We just laughed.

And you best believe I gave each and everyone of them an "absent" for the day. I'm no push-over....

I love those twerps.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Lisa Frank Valentine.

Do you all remember Lisa Frank products? 

There were stickers, lunch boxes, school supplies, and beads. I remember I wanted everything LISA FRANK when I was around 10. I had the jewelry, the beads, and of course, the pencil case for school. I think I might even have had the lunch box...

Anyways...before my dear friend Katie left Romania to move back to America, she gave me TONS of Lisa Frank sticker books to use with my students. "Here, take these. The kids love them." 

That might have been the understatement of the year. 

My 6B kids are obsessed. I decided to let them use the stickers to decorate the valentines we made in class. We talked about what love was, then each student wrote a sentence on their paper heart. For example, "Love is helping my mom in the kitchen." After they wrote what love meant to them, they decorated the hearts. With Lisa Frank stickers. And AMERICA stickers sent my by aunt (Thanks Aunt Mary!) 

It looks like Lisa Frank threw up all over my classroom, and I happen to love it.

Without further ado-6B ya'll.

"Love is...When you feel your heart melting for someone."

Lisa Frank...everywhere.

Yes-even the boys were into it...and apparently putting stickers up their noses.

Which one to use?! Which one!?

"Love is when I see my family."

"Love is when you feel butterflies in your stomach."

Sergiu showing me which heart is his.

Do you think they could fit anymore stickers on there? No.

Wall of hearts.
Love is....