Timisoara and Answered Prayers

22 Feb

We rolled into the Timisoara train station around 8 in the morning on a Sunday. One last unloading of bags, a quick walk across the tracks, and we were outside in front of the station, with no ride in sight. Someone from the university was supposed to pick us up but the place was a ghost town. Continue reading

The Midnight Train to Timisoara

19 Feb

Ok, now that we’re back in our apartment with a stable internet connection, let me catch you up on the last few weeks. When last we spoke, we were in a hotel in Bucharest…

Continue reading

Second Day Panic

5 Feb


Hey, remember that time we moved abroad and everything was fine and dandy until I woke up in a different country and immediately panicked?

Yeah, apparently that’s a thing with me. Continue reading

Family Motto, parts 1 & 2

1 Feb

“Eh, why not?”

So I’ve joked before about our family motto being” eh, why not?” It does tend to be our go-to phrase when making huge life-changing decisions.

“Haha, there’s a job in Egypt, should I apply?”

“Eh, why not? I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids.”


“Hey, should we have another baby?”

“Eh, why not? We’ve got this one child pretty well handled, another couldn’t be that much more difficult.”


We’ve been settled in California for about four years now, albeit in three different houses. This latest one will probably stick for a while. It’s a great place in a great location and although we’re renting we’d like to hang on to it as long as we can. Even so, last summer we started to feel that familiar itch. Wanderlust. An impulse that Patrick and I share. And we are each other’s enabler.

And thus we found ourselves having a conversation that went something like this:

“Hey, remember our friends in Egypt who were there on a Fulbright award? We should do that.”

“We have a sabbatical coming up and we haven’t packed or moved in at least a year. Eh, why not?”

And thus we found ourselves looking up Fulbright locations and debating the merits of Austria, India and Romania. Apparently Romania is not high on the list of desired places for Fulbrighters, so the salary is a little more generous and the benefits for dependents a little more padded plus the cost of living is pretty low. We’re a cheap date so we decided to apply and a few months later got the happy news that we’ve gotten it. Yay! We were going abroad again! Another adventure! We love adventure!

And now I’m finding myself in part two of the family motto, which is this:

“What the hell were we thinking?”


Picture us sitting in a Cairo McDonald’s, jetlagged and confused, in a place that is so disorienting and chaotic that I spent two years trying fruitlessly to get a handle on it.

Picture us staring at an ultrasound screen, eagerly anticipating the revelation of whether we are expecting a boy or girl, as two kicking profiles come into focus.

And now, picture us surrounded by six suitcases packed to the brim, three small children who refuse to eat anything but Yoplait yogurt, me loaded down with homeschool materials for said children, Patrick with six book projects to work on, including one that requires he of no foreign language aptitude to interview Romanians. Go ahead, say it with me:

What the hell were we thinking?


My friends, State of D’Nile is back. We’ll be keeping you up to date from the trenches. Or gulags. Or vampire castles. Or whatever awaits us at the other end of a 30 hour journey. Here’s our schedule for the next few weeks:

Tomorrow we fly on no less than four legs to Bucharest. We stay in Bucharest for the remainder of the week, getting over jetlag and going to a church training for some responsibilities we’ll have in our local branch. Then we travel to Timisoara, our home base, where we’ll stay in a university dorm until we find an apartment to live in. Hopefully we find an apartment quickly because that upcoming weekend, we’ve booked a family vacation in a village in Hungary at a family hotel that was offering the perk of going to a pig slaughtering festival and making your own sausage. Then we may spend a few days in Budapest, we’re going to play it by ear. Finally back to Timisoara where I’ll settle us in to our new place (assuming we have one by then) while Patrick goes back to Bucharest for Fulbright Orientation and then returns to start teaching. It’s going to be a whirlwind month.

And we’re off!

My name is Melissa and I am a Moderate Homemaker

16 Apr

*This is reposted from a blog that Liz and I started last year and hoped to continue before life got too crazy. I’m posting it in hopes that it’ll inspire me to blog more and document my homemaking successes and more often, failures.

I recall one time shortly after Finn was born Patrick and I were sitting around filling out forms for something or other. On the box under my name that said “occupation” Patrick paused. “Homemaker?” he asked. I bristled. Seriously? Did he really think I just sat around all day keeping the house clean and his slippers ready by the door? I felt demeaned. I was NOT a homemaker. I have a degree from a good university and interests outside the shininess of my floor. I had a career before having Finn and planned to go back to that career when he was older. But what was my current occupation? I decided on “stay-at-home mom.” At least there was some dignity in that. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom ever since (or SAHM as the kids say).

Enter Radical Homemaking, a book by Shannon Hayes. Friends were talking about it a few weeks ago and I decided to pick it up. The subtitle is “Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture.” Intriguing.  I read the first few pages and was hooked. The author is interviewing a homemaker, a women with a Ph.D. who is agonizing over whether to continue on a career track or become a homemaker, her real desire. She voiced the question that has been floating in my mind for years: Continue reading

Video 2 Feb

The Pursuit of Filthy Lucre…

21 Dec

…is pretty much what keeps me busy these days.

So I announced on this blog a few months ago that I was opening an Etsy shop selling crib bedding- Dnile Design. I thought I’d put my sewing hobby out there and see if anyone was interested. I figured I’d leave it be and if I got the occasional sale, great. A little extra money coming in. I planned on having maybe a sale a monthish.

Three months later, I’ve had almost 40 orders, one side of our playroom has been transformed into my studio, my mailman knows me by name, and credit card companies have started sending me applications in bulk. There are fabric scraps and random threads constantly stuck to our clothes. My arms are covered in burn lines from bumping into the iron while prepping fabric. Most nights and naptimes find me at the sewing machine with Genius mixes of Guns N Roses and Americana blasting from the iPhone dock. Things are a little busier than I expected. I’ve had to raise my prices once already to slow down orders.

This is definitely a good thing. It’s nice to have something concrete to work with a tangible end product and feedback. I love being able to be home and raise our kids while they’re young but as any mother will attest it’s not exactly the most gratifying job day to day. It’s often dirty and frustrating and full of negative feedback usually in the form of a scream. In fact at the moment I’m alternating between typing this and stopping Rhett from swatting the Christmas tree with a broom. Being able to think and create for someone and then hear how much they love it is feels really good. And of course, the money is nice, especially with two house payments and preschool to pay for.

Now I need to look ahead and decide where to go with this. I’m right at the brink of getting more orders than I can keep up with. I’m doing zero advertising or social media networking because I don’t want to bump up sales. That’s tough because I also have this natural inclination to do those things and grow my business as large as possible. BUT I’m limited in time and production capacity so I need to accept that this just isn’t the time for it- not while I have munchkins that I love in need of my attention. I’m thinking of raising prices again but at the same time I don’t want to have a product that normal people can’t afford. We’ll see where we go from here.

In the meantime here are a few photos of recent orders:

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