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Entry 32C-1 - Romania - Orphans - third week

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Entry # 32 C – Third Week in Romania

Saturday, December 16

Slept in until 10:30 and left the room at noon.
Walked to Banca with Bernice at 2 and we were accompanied by strange, short man who kept clutching Bernice’s arm and talking a mile a minute. My vibes told me that I was feeling uncomfortable, so we turned back and took our walk in a different direction
Back by 3pm for a white hot chocolate and more PD James.
Bernice knocked at 5:30 and said that Helen and her husband had arrived and invited us to dinner at their apartment. I had hoped for a quiet day, but went and had a good time. Helen’s sister, Tantsa, is a hoot and recited all of her English words for us. Her best response was after being complimented on her marvelous cooking, she would get the cutest look on her face and said “Nothing” meaning it was nothing.

Home by 8:30 and the finale of PD James. Lauren’s room was occupied and they had found the music station on the TV and had it turned on high. Luckily, they turned it off at 10:45 just as I as getting ready to go to sleep. THANK YOU ANGELS!

A lovely day, not thinking too much about the kids and spending a lot of time by myself.

Sunday, December 17

Slept until 10:30. Thought about putting henna on my hair, and then decided that the drain system might not be up to it. Henna may happen in London.

I was internetting in the morning and it is amazing how within 24 hours, I can end up with 58 spams. Luckily I am on apple and not Microsoft as it would most likely be worse.

Gabriella arrived in a cab around 12:15 and we went immediately back to Barlad and her apartment for a wonderful lunch.

All of the apartment buildings are high rise (4-6 stories), grey concrete with minimal ornamentation or distinguishing marks. Some have little porches and occasionally there are bow windows, but not often. Someone from Romania told us that Ceuachesque?? had only one design he liked and during his 25 years, all the construction took on that look.


I have been in two different private apartments during my stay and their exterior look and inner staircases and floor hallways were the same. Most people begin to decorate their apartments by adding a marvelously carved wooden outer door. Upon entering, you are in the hall with a short walk to your left to the very small kitchen. Behind you and to the left is the living room with one window. Gabriella’s had a marvelous plaster ceiling plate around the central light and it really made the room look nice. Back in to the hallway, the bathroom was immediately ahead of you and to the left next to the bathroom, the entrance to the bedrooms. Small and cozy, the apartments are usually purchased by their owners and tend to be within walking distance to work.

Gabriella’s two children were at the apartment and had lunch with us. Her daughter, Reluca, is a second year college student in Iasu studying psychology. It is a three-year program for bachelors, but you cannot practice after that, you must go on for a 2 years masters program. She thinks she will specialize in corporate psychology, I believe that means that she will work within HR and possibly be the EAP person for the company. Gabriella’s son, Sergiau, is in 11th grade and wants to be a pediatrician. Both spoke wonderful English, as does Gabriella.

They showed us pictures of international trips to London and Denmark. They are very well traveled, as Gabriella always took one or both of them on international trips.

Gabriella had dinner with us last Thursday and everything that was unavailable on the restaurants’ menu was on her table. She made not only the stuffed cabbage rolls, but also the stuffed grape leaves. We had marvelous beet salad with fresh horseradish and fabulous sour cream. That would have been enough for me, but she also made chicken schnitzel followed by a fabulous cream cake for dessert. In addition to all this, there was white and red wine and crusty bread. Both Bernice and I were stuffed when we left at 3:15.

We stopped by the ATM as we both needed an influx of cash. Neither of Bernice’s cards worked, so we planned to go to the bank during office hours tomorrow and exchange some money. Luckily, mine worked for me and I was ready to loan Bernice cash if it became necessary. It sounded like her problems might have been a combination of the ATM being out of funds on Sunday, her magnetic strip or also that her bank is very cautious about her cards as her purse had been stolen recently.

We had called Helen, Bernice’s friend from last night, and had made an appointment to visit one of her husband’s friends who carves wood. We went in Alexandru’s new Opal again, this time without crippling fog, and went into a small village with dirt roads close to Barlad. The man Ion, had played rugby with Helen’s brother and is a self-taught craftsman. He likes to find natural wood in the forest and then carve what he sees from it.

We entered his gallery that he had built himself with a beautiful tiled floor. Every piece in the room he had made by Ion down to the rolling wooden bar cart, central glass topped table with 4 different and unique stools, shelving for his items and even the two bulb light fixture above our heads. So many of the pieces maintained the natural flow of the wood with a little bit of carving to bring out the image that he saw. My eyes went to a small piece on the center table that looked like a lizard. He told us that this was his first piece that he did when he was 17. None of his items were for sale as this is his private gallery. There was one piece that was in a special handmade glass case that was entitled the Holocaust. It was a twisted pile of bodies all made out of one piece of wood. He had been recognized by the local arts council with a certificate. He had been asked to display his art both locally in Barlad and also in Bucharest but he refused. He said that people who wanted to see his art could come to him as many of his items were delicate and he did not want his pieces damaged.

He is a wonderful craftsman and we both signed his visitor journal and had Helen translate our messages to him.


Our final visit at his place was to the small upstairs bedroom and balcony made entirely of wood that his 7 kids use when they come home to party with their friends.

It was dark by the time we left the workshop and we made our way to Helen’s for hot wine made by her sister, Tantsa. It was good, but half way through my cup, my head was beginning to pound. Not sure if it was the quality of the wine or the added sugar, but not a good combination. Alexandru very generously offered to drive us home. He is feeling much more confident with his new car.

After a quick dinner, we both retired early.

Monday, December 18

After a wonderful restful weekend, I think both Bernice and I were looking forward to being back at Tutova. I know that Bernice goes to sleep dreaming about the twins, Denisa and Larisa, and is always wondering how they are doing. The staff was disappointed when Bernice said she would not be back until Monday, because weekends are very busy for them and the children do not get much time out of the cribs. As much as she missed them, I think Bernice was glad she took a little break.

Mihalla, the country manager from GV, should be back in the country today after two weeks in Minnesota for Team Leader training. We expect to hear from her soon.

Nastashi was early, of course, and we were out of the building by 8:30 as we needed to make two stops, Penny Market (after all we hadn’t been there in 2 days!!) for diapers #4 and #5, and then to the bank as we had some difficulties with the ATM’s over the weekend.

Penny Market accomplished, Bernice exited the car at the bank. She arrived back at the car with both she and Natashi giggling. Bernice had just entered by, mistake, the car behind us without looking at the driver. Nastashi had watched the situation in his rear view mirror. Imagine the look on her face when she turned to the driver and it was not Nastashi!

We arrived at Tutova and the dogs were nowhere to be seen. Bernice had to go back out after we had unloaded all the diapers into the clinic to find Donna, the mother dog. Mission accomplished.

We knew our work would be increased today with only two of us and three different sets of kids to keep track of. Bernice went off to visit the room with the 4 littlest and found a red bottom on her Larisa. Larisa is so sensitive that with even a short time in a wet or soiled diaper, her bottom is red. We found several others today, though not truly terrible, and determined that some of the kids have been put into diapers that may be a bit too small for them. We will try to make sure that all the sizes are always available.

The toddlers had the largest room this am again, so I loaded the mobiles into the hallway walkers and let them fly around, as Bernice and I moved the non-mobiles into the playroom. I am afraid that I did not do as complete a set of calisthenics with the non-mobiles as Lauren accomplished the previous week. I found that by the time we got everyone up, changed diapers, kissed, and put them in the room with some type of amusement in front of them, and then got the rest of the group settled, it was time to feed yoghurt. After yoghurt it was time to change diapers and put everyone down for the midday nap. The room with the smallest four was relatively quiet today, which meant Bernice was able to assist me with the mobiles and non-mobiles. I felt sorry for the smallest as they normally get a lot more personal time with Bernice. Hopefully tomorrow that will be easier and she can spend much more time with her 4 babies.

As I was moving around with the groups, Bernice told me that Sylvia had managed to pick her nose all by herself. Well done Sylvia! She does not walk yet, but has accomplished nose picking. We will work on the walking later today.

After our traditional lunchtime walk, with lovely sunny skies and mild weather, we were back for round two. Bernice and I did a little walking with Sylvia. She is 18 months, a little chunky and a rather placid baby. She seems to really not trust herself to walk. I have been working with her to stand between my legs, supported by my knees until she is distracted and then I can take my legs away and she rests lightly on the chair behind her. Luckily, earlier today, she was very interested in a book with a pink elephant that makes a noise when it is pushed. Maybe this can be used as an inducement to encourage her to move.

Sylvia is a very content little girl and is happy to sit or scoot around on her bottom. She is not overly stressed when Marian comes over and steals her toy. When she is offered a toy, she reaches for it slowly and tentatively. She is amused with mirrors for long periods of time and hesitantly fingers new things. It may be a challenge to get her enthusiastic enough about anything to make a real effort to walk. She needs to start soon as she is large and heavy. As with so many of the children, what she needs most is someone to have consistent time with her to build her confidence, to gain her trust and to encourage her repeatedly to walk.

While we were in the non-mobile room, the staff came and took Beatrice away. Her mom, dad and a set of grandparents had come to visit. It is lovely to see that at least some of the children do have visitors. Our fondest wish it to see one of our babies go out the door and back home while we are here. We will keep our fingers crossed.

We ended the day a little late as I found that it took us longer then 30 minutes to get everyone changed and back into his or her room. On the way back to Banca we stopped at the pharmacy, as we ended the day totally out of #3 diapers.

It was good to be back to Tutova. I know that this last week with absolutely fly by and that soon we will both be home wondering about our special young friends at the clinic.

Thought for the Day – “If not now, when?” Talmud

Tuesday, December 19

Not a great nights sleep for either of us last night so we both started the day a little tired. We had a stop at the bank for Bernice to change some of her larger bills into smaller currency and I was after more #3 diapers. We almost had another repeat of entering the wrong car. As I approached the car, there was a woman in the passenger seat that was not Bernice. I did a double take and it was Nastashi’s wife that we had met the previous week at dinner. Another giggle for all of us.

Meals this week have been becoming a bit sparse as compared to the previous weeks. We have not seen Oneta this week to see if we can straighten it out. Lunch today consisted to two foil wrapped sandwiches. While we had asked for a reduction in quantity and especially the size of the dessert, we weren’t expecting such an abrupt change.

It was a rainy day, the first for us, and there are hints that it might snow. I am not even thinking about it! No dogs as we arrived and just as well as there were no delicious scraps for them from breakfast.

I spent some time with the mobiles this morning as they had gotten the short end of the stick yesterday with personal time. I had them in the toddler’s room and we danced and hummed along to the cd. No meltdowns, not even at snack time, which was mashed potatoes today.

Bernice juggled the twins and took a small number into the non-mobile room today. We are missing Lauren and the kids keep looking for her. Samuel has hardly smiled at all since her departure. Just as we were getting ready to go to lunch, I saw the nurse go into one of the toddler’s sleeping rooms with a shot. From the loud cries that came out, I found the little girl who had been on the receiving end. I patted and rubbed her back until she settled and managed to go to sleep

Lunch was small and short today, which allowed us more time to get the non-mobiles into their room for the afternoon session. By the time the 2pm bottles were passed out, I had 7 kids in the room. Little Crina was howling so Bernice took her back to her room. I kept rotating who I was helping to eat by supporting the bottles. I was sure glad when Bernice came back into the room. We continued with baby exercises and alternating tummy, left side and right side time for the twin boys. I changed tons of diapers and most of the kids were prolific today with a completely full diaper every 45 minutes. What have they been feeding them lately?

The kids were diapered and ready for bed a little early and we caught Nastashi mopping out the van as we arrived. Within a few minutes, we climbed in and put our newly muddy shoes all over his nice, clean, wet floor. We were meeting a driver at Myosotis (the family planning clinic where Gabriella works) to be taken to a local wood carvers workshop. As it turns out, Gabriella was there to introduce us to Micci, a nice young man who is the youth volunteer coordinator for the foundation that runs Myosotis.

While we chatted she helped us to understand why we were having difficulty mailing a package that had been left by a previous team member. All packages are only accepted between limited hours on Tuesday and Thursday. This is because the customs man has to be present to inspect all the contents before it is accepted for posting. After it has been inspected, then the package can be sealed. Our package was sealed and addressed and on top of that, we didn’t have a detailed list of the contents. Bernice will contact the person who asked for it to be mailed and will ask them what they want done with the package.

Micci drove us down the backstreets of Barlad and into a heavily rutted street not far from the center of town. The craftsman, named Grigetzou?, has been sponsored in setting up his business by Carol, the British woman who founded Myosotis. He makes lovely hand carved wooden spoons and statues. Some of the designs are based on the Welsh spoons given at weddings, but he has also expanded the line to include Romanian designs. His business is young and we were pleased to see him in his workshop with his brother who is his apprentice. We made some purchases as we heard about the plans for expansion into a shop, a web based advertising and the satellite shop in Wales.

Micci was kind enough to run us home to the Giani. He told us along the way that he had been away in Europe when all the traffic lights were installed in Barlad. There is one intersection that is very confusing. It is a main street that connects to the highway with a T intersection. There has been no signal until this week and everyone just sort of ambles through it, but there have been no wrecks or honks that I have heard.

Dinner was welcome as we were cold and hungry. Internetting and early to bed tonight for both of us. Only three days left with our special babies.

Thought for the Day - I am the only unique me that will ever be. I have the power to make a difference in this world. I look forward to taking on the grand adventure of life, living and always remembering to be myself. I love being me. Catrinka

(I have just found out that I don’t have a reservation between Philly to Denver! I am not happy with my travel agent. To be fair, I have a vague memory that he mentioned this would be an issue. I just wish he had not let me forget this until 3 weeks before I am going home. The upside is that I have found a direct flight instead of a connection in Chicago.)

Wednesday, December 20

I got lost in my book again last night until late and when I turned off the light, I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep. It may be another long sleepy day for me today.

Bernice and I made a direct trip from the hotel to Tutova, one of the few for this trip. The day showed promise with damp streets but no sign of snow, rain and the sun even came out.

A repeat of yesterday, I got the mobiles set in the toddler room and we had the addition of Florin who commandeered all the best toys. At least there was no fighting. Bernice was back with the twins and poor little Paula has a very red butt. Lots more full diapers this am.

We had a complete lunch today including lovely little tarts for dessert and Bernice and I managed our usual lunchtime walk.

We got back in time to help with the 2pm bottles. I had 4 in the room and luckily one of them could hold the bottle by herself (Alexandra) and one would need more assistance but she wasn’t fussy (Ramona). This left me with a bottle in my left hand for Daniela (formerly known as Sandru which is her last name) and a bottle in my right hand for Beatrice. It was a lovely quiet room with everyone drinking and the little baby music machine droning along. Both Bernice and I hear the music and our eyelids droop. Too bad it doesn’t have the same soothing affect on the babies!

I had a chance to give Ramona her bottle. You may remember that she is the little girl that needs to kidney transplant and is delayed and slight. She is difficult to feed and does not take any cereal at this point. I held her close and put her right arm under my left arm. With gentle persistence, and a quiet room that was wonderful, she finally settled and took the entire bottle. I felt so blessed.

We had a lovely surprise during the afternoon when we were both in the non-mobile room when the nurse and Lily came and collected Daniel and Vasili because their mother had come for a visit. Bernice went out with her camera and I followed a little later. The mother is very young and has three other kids at home. Vasili is the spitting image of his mom with their lovely light colored eyes. The babies were so happy to see her and it is obvious that she comes to see them and that they know her. Our second mom sighting this week.

Also during the afternoon, I saw a policeman in the hall. Lily said that it was the one that brought Crina and Paula last week and he had returned hoping to speak to Lauren. Unfortunately, she had left on Friday.

Bernice had lots of crying from her room of 4 today and we tried to sooth them in the vibrating baby holder with the musical mobile. Not a roaring success today.

Today I had a chance to watch the staff work directly with Andrei, the oldest and most challenged on the children. He is often left alone in a room with the 5 bunks and not much else. He is pretty good at amusing himself such as climbing into the sink and up on the radiator to the windowsill. Not the safest occupation, but he seems to know his limits at least in these instances. Several times a staff member would intervene to keep him out of harms way. At one point, Lily went in with an assortment of toys to keep him occupied and he instantly began playing when given the toys. Late in the afternoon as I was finishing diapering the non-mobiles, I looked in to find all the cribs pulled away from the wall. As I looked closer, at times I could see the artist at work. Andrei was moving behind the cribs along the wall placing one here and another there. He does manage to amuse himself.


We left and had to make a stop in Barlad. SURPRISE!! I went to the travel agency to see about arrangements to get back to Bucharest on Friday for an early Saturday am flight. I will find out tonight if I need the arrangements and then will go back to the travel agent on Thursday night to lock in the details and pay. If a car in not available, I will have to take the earlier train on Friday.

We confirmed that Gabriella would join us tomorrow for dinner at the hotel. It will be nice way to say goodbye and thank you for all their assistance and hospitality during our stay in Barlad.

Thought for the Day - We need more light about each other, light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience and patience creates unity.

Posted by ladyjanes 00:54 Archived in Romania Tagged postcards

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