Friday, October 29, 2010

Our Little Hungarian

Sour cream, or tejfol, is a staple in Hungarian households. Apparently, they eat lots of that and salami! Last night, I made Taco Soup and had sour cream on the table to add to it. Cade loves yogurt, and started pointing to the sour cream thinking it was yogurt. Finally, I told Larry to just give him a bite of it. He loved it!

We put a big glob on his tray and he went to town eating it.

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He is a happy little Hungarian!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Will you go out with me?

Those were the words I asked my bride of 12 years this morning before I headed out the door. And she said, "yes!".

It is so much fun to have a date with my wife. Everyone should be so lucky...but you're not so I'll have to fill you in on the details. It wasn't extravagant. It wasn't lengthy. It wasn't even to a steak restaurant! But it wasn't to McDonald's, and it was just the two of us.

The babysitter arrived on time and we headed out the door after orienting her a bit. We had used her once before so knew the kids would be fine with her. Contrary to popular belief, we're not fans of leaving our children home alone.

We bundled up in our coats and walked to the metro, rode 5 stops and then walked 1/2 mile or so to the restaurant. The wind tonight made it feel colder than it was so we were very glad to arrive! A coworker recommended a nice Italian restaurant named Pomo D'oro. It is described on their website as "Traditional Luxury Italian". I like it already!

We had a reservation, but the lady reminded me when we arrived that they had another reservation 1.5 hours after ours which I suppose was to remind us that we could not linger. I wonder if she could tell we were American. We can eat a nice, relaxing dinner in less than 30 minutes from ordering if the kitchen can cooperate, right?

Suffice it to say, we had time for dinner, dessert, and coffee and made it out with plenty of time to spare. Speaking of dessert, let me just say that luxurious Italians know how to do it up right! I mean, who doesn't like chocolate soup?

After paying a very reasonable $50 for the quality of dinner we had, we began our journey back home along the Danube River, past the famous Chain Bridge with the Buda castle in the background,
and back home to rescue the kids. Unfortunately, they were both asleep in bed already so we'll have to just enjoy the evening to ourselves.

Date night is good. I highly recommend everyone try it. We realized with the move and everything else going on, we had not taken the time to just sit back and relax with each other. God has been good to us. We are so thankful for each other!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

On Saturday, we decided to get of out town for a little while. We debated taking a trip, but instead settled on a 30 minute journey to Veresegyház, the home of a bear park. It was initially set up as a refuge for retired circus bears. It now houses bears and wolves, and has entertainment for the kids such as pony rides and a playground.
The kids were excited to see the bears and feed them! Yes, only in Hungary can you stick your arm through a fence and feed giant bears. Well, actually we just stuck spoons through the fence. The park provides large wooden spoons and sells honey to put on the spoon. Chelsea was ready with her spoon and honey!

Once we loaded up the spoon, we had to wait for a hungry bear. There were lots of people, so the bears were not starving! We noticed that the bears preferred the people who brought other kinds of honey, apples, or even chips.

We have a customer! I wish you could see Chelsea's face. She was squealing with delight that the bear was eating her honey. As soon as he licked it off, she turned around for "more, more, more!"
Mister bear has a long tongue!He is full.
This bear wasn't interested in eating - he was all cozy in a hole.

Baby boy wanted to pet baby bear. I didn't think that was a good idea, so he had to stay in the stroller near the bears.
Pony rides were next on the agenda. Only about $2.50 for a ride - not bad! The Hungarian pony ride man even taught Chelsea some tricks. She was proud of herself for riding without holding on!

Cade enjoyed watching the ponies.

It was a fun adventure on a beautiful day. The kids had a great time and we enjoyed seeing a bit of the Hungarian countryside. Come visit us and we will take you to feed the bears!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Subway Fun!

The kids love to ride the subway. Usually, Cade is in the stroller, so today he thought it was especially fun to ride like a big boy! Chelsea loves to count the stops and thinks she knows better than I do how many stops we have left. Yesterday, Larry was at work and I was with the kids on the subway. Chelsea looked around and asked, "Why are there so many husbands on this thing? Shouldn't they be at work?" She is an observant one!

If I am by myself with the kids, I leave Cade in the stroller and just pick up the whole thing when we get on/off and have to go up/down the stairs to get to the street. Thankfully, Hungarians are very kind. Most of the time, someone will offer to help me with the stroller or pick up the whole thing and carry it for me. I don't understand Hungarian, but I understand that! One day on our journey, I counted 8 flights of stairs to navigate. I think someone helped on 6 of them. One subway controller (ticket guy) actually carried it up for me. We are enjoying having the option of public transportation!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hooray for Pre-K!

Today was an exciting day! We had orientation at Chelsea's new school. To get to orientation, I had to drive. I am getting braver and have driven a couple of times this week. I would not be able to go anywhere without our GPS. I am so thankful we got it before we left the States - I highly recommend that to any future expats. Anyway, we started out and I wanted to go the only way I know how to go. The GPS wanted me to go a different way. I ignored it for a bit, but then decided I would try that way. After a couple of turns, I ended up going the wrong way down a one way street! Not good! I quickly turned around, found the road I was familiar with, and made the GPS reroute to take me that way. After that, we made it just fine.

These pictures didn't turn out the greatest, but will give you an idea. She is excited to start Pre-K at the American International School of Budapest.

She will start school on November 2nd. it will be a big change for all of us - her school is Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 3:30! I am sad for my little girl to be starting school full time, but I know she is ready and will love it. Her class has 10 students and 2 teachers. It will be great!
This is the schedule for her class. They even have a cooking class each week! So fun! Her school has an indoor pool and right now her PE class is doing their swim unit. Thankfully, we brought her a bathing suit. We have to find a swim cap before she starts. She is also required to have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. Everyday they change into indoor shoes when they arrive at school. We may be shoe shopping next week!

Chelsea got to play while I talked with her teacher. She loves the home center.

Pictures of her classroom

A view of the outside - her school is up in the hills.
Everything is gorgeous right now with the fall leaves!

I will enjoy my time with her these next two weeks and look forward to all she will learn this year at school.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rainy Day Play!

Monday we woke up to a rainy, cold day in Budapest. What to do??? Head to the mall! We took the metro (subway) to Mammut mall. Malls in Hungary look about the same as malls in the States. The main difference, other than the language, is that there are no large department stores.

A friend told me about an indoor play place in the mall called Kolyok Park. It was lots of fun! There were climbing structures, inflatables, slides, and a toddler play area.

Chelsea's favorite thing was this swing.

Cade loved the balls, of course.

It was great to get out and have something to do on a rainy day! We will definitely visit again. Maybe next time I can do some shopping, too!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Dining in Hungary has been an adventure thus far. We have an apartment style hotel room, so I had high hopes of cooking frequently and avoiding eating out all the time. With the kids, it is hard to eat at a sit down restaurant, especially in Europe where meals are much longer and begin later than in the States. In the two weeks we have been here, we have eaten at only 2 Hungarian restaurants. Good goulash at both! We have, however, eaten at McDonald's at least 4 times and fast pizza places several times!

Cooking has been hard for a number of reasons. So far, I have cooked dinner only twice - chili and spaghetti. The first problem we ran into is that we only have a convection microwave and a stove. The microwave is smarter than we are, so all we know how to do is push the +1 minute button. The bigger problem is grocery shopping. We have been to many grocery stores - I go almost daily for one thing or another. I am good at buying bread, fruit, and milk. After that, I begin to run into problems. Many items only have words on the package, and those words are not in English. It takes so long to stare at items and try to figure out what they are. It is mentally tiring to see row after row of packaging that you can't read!

The meat department is especially challenging. Yesterday, Larry was excited to cook bacon for breakfast...only it didn't really look like bacon, or have any grease like bacon...hmmm. He finally tasted it and decided it was salt pork. Yuck! Thankfully we he had his Blackberry at the store later that day, so we googled different items to try to get translations. Many times nothing came up, so we took our best guess! He was excited to successfully find bacon - much better results this morning! Mystery meat keeps things interesting!

Meat is, of course, not the only challenge. Even simple things like spaghetti require other ingredients. We found tomato sauce, but it is a little different in some way than what we're used to and just wasn't quite the same.

Back to the grocery store last night...we ventured to the outskirts of town and found a giant grocery store. It was like a Super Walmart. I was so excited with the variety and selection of items, although I still had a hard time identifying many things. Familiar items were more available, but pretty expensive. For very small jars, soy sauce was $5, peanut butter was $6, and barbecue sauce was $8! The plan is to cook more this week. First two items on the menu - chicken stir fry and vegetable soup. Hopefully no more McDonald' s for awhile!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happiness is.......

Getting our air shipment......

Having new toys and old favorites to play with.....

Making playhouses from moving boxes......

And sleeping in a cardboard house!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Church and a Bite of Bread

On Sunday, we attended our first church service in Budapest. There are only a few English speaking churches in the city. We had 2 recommended to us, so we chose to visit the one closest to the area that we think we will be living. We plugged the address into the GPS and away we went.

We pulled up to a very modern, American looking school where the church meets. As we learned later, it was a communist "show school." When people wanted to see a school in Budapest, that is the school the government would show them. Of course, the other schools were nothing like it. Anyway, we walked in and it was a very nice facility. We were immediately greeted by a couple who asked us if we were the people from Texas! I was pretty surprised! It turns out that they were friends of a friend and had heard we might be visiting. We met a few other families, some new to Budapest and others who had been here for several years. The people were warm and genuine and welcoming. It had a strong sense of community among the members.

The service starts out with music. After the singing, the kids go to their classes. It was great to worship together as a family. Chelsea and Cade were hesitant to go into their classes, but did just fine once they were there. There were 2 kids in Cade's class. Chelsea's class was 4 and 5 year olds, and there were about 8 kids in there. She learned about Esther and made a crown that she wore proudly for the rest of the day, including to a restaurant for dinner.

The church had communion after the sermon. We are used to the small wafers from our church back home. Here, everyone pulls a piece out of the same bread loaf. We were thankful we were on the second row so not too many people had touched the bread before us! We were also thankful we got individual cups. Side note - we offered some antibacterial gel to our realtor the other day. He had never seen such a thing before, but thought it was pretty great. We are glad we brought a large supply!

As a whole, it was a great service with great teaching from the Bible. Internally, it was a bit of a struggle for me. I am a big church girl. I have always attended very large churches. I like the programs. I like the music. I am not used to worshiping when the songs are projected from an overhead and someone has to move the transparency around. I am not used to dropping my kids off in rooms with gray walls and few toys.

As I sat in church and processed it all, the Lord whispered to me, "Is it about you or about Me? Why does the fact that there are no fancy lights or screens change the way you worship?"
I think in America we are so used to getting whatever we want in all areas of our lives- from groceries to worship style. Here, there is one choice for me - to worship, or not to worship. I pray that the Lord will find me to be a worshiper!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Time to Play (at Last!)

Finally... we're taking a break from house hunting and packing and flying and all the other things associated with the move. It was much needed...for the kid's sanity and ours! We jumped on the metro and headed off to the zoo park.

It was a little different zoo than what we are used to as you are quite close to the animals and can feed them whatever you want. Oh, and very little is in English, of course.

We walked in to one room where animals were roaming at your feet and bats were sleeping immediately above you. Best I can tell, some kids (not ours!) were petting a possum. He was moving too much to catch a picture of in the low light, but I did get a picture of this animal.

Back to feeding the animals whatever you wanted... We tried to feed Chelsea to an alligator, but he spit her back out. Too sweet for his taste!

We could have fed the camels, but I didn't have 100 Forints unfortunately. Expensive? Not really, it's only about 50 cents. I only had a 200 Forint coin in my wallet. Cade still got to pet the camel though.

Later, the kids got to play at the park across the street. You can see by their smiles, they enjoyed the break from "moving" as much as we did.

Off to church this morning!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Great House Hunt

One of our main activities this week has been house hunting! We are generally looking for a house between Larry's office and Chelsea's potential school. We have looked at about 15 houses so far. The kids have been troopers, but I think the novelty of house hunting is wearing off. Chelsea wants to live in "all of them" and be done with it! Taking a break for lunch - Hungarian pizza

Can't we just go take a nap?

We have seen some great options and I am sure we will find something we all like. Our biggest problem is that while the houses are large, the bedrooms are small. Our bedroom furniture on the way from Houston is large. We also brought furniture for a study, which was probably a bad idea. So, we are trying to find something to accommodate everything. We looked at one today that I really like and is great on space, but it is a little further out than we think we want. On Monday, the kids and I will go look at one more and revisit a few that we liked to try to narrow it down.

Here are a few pics of some of the houses -

Tomorrow we are off to the zoo!