Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hubs!

Yesterday we celebrated Larry's birthday! We are so thankful for him and the ways he provides for us. He is a wonderful husband and father. We were excited to celebrate him!

Chelsea waited to surprise him......

She was in charge of decorations.

We even had streamers.....

and balloons.



She and I made the cake. He requested something with peanut butter, a precious commodity here. Chelsea had her heart set on making a cake, so we made a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. All from scratch, I must add. It was yummy!!!

She is ready to begin her cake decorating career. She really wanted to decorate the cake with a face made of bananas and kiwi.


Ta-da!

Happy Birthday, hubs! We love you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Day in the Life

Next week, it will be 5 months since I got on a plane with my little family and flew to a place I'd never been. I have a vivid memory of buckling my seat belt on the plane and thinking, "What in the world have we done?" At that moment, if I could have hit the rewind button, I probably would have. We were moving across the world to a place with a different language. A different culture. A different history.

Larry told me Budapest was beautiful. Repeatedly, people I encountered on the journey told me it was beautiful. I was ready for beautiful! We got off the plane on a cold day in Budapest. Someone drove us to our hotel. Nothing I saw was beautiful. I kept waiting for beautiful around every corner. But instead, all I saw was old, dirty, and ugly. I was scared to admit it, scared that I had put my hopes into a beautiful city and something had gone wrong! That was my first bit of culture shock. There would be much more to come!

Now, 5 months later, I can see the beauty here. It isn't Hawaii beautiful, but it is pretty nonetheless. We have been through the initial phases of culture shock - from feeling like we are on a vacation, to realizing this is our new home, to wishing this wasn't our new home, to now settling in and enjoying the experience. There are things I don't think I will ever get used to, but now we (usually) just laugh and say, this is Hungary.

My daily routine is now much the same as it was before - Mondays are for grocery shopping, Tuesdays are play group with Cade, Wednesdays are open, Thursdays are a mommy and me singing thing with Cade, Fridays are activities at Chelsea's school and Hungarian class. Grocery shopping and running errands are still challenging, but I am figuring it out and making progress. We finally decided on a church and are looking forward to getting more plugged in there. I have some friends and am so thankful for that! Thank you to all who have prayed for us. God has been faithful to answer those prayers and we look forward to what He has in store for us here.

In other news, my laptop has officially died. Sad. Thankfully we did a back up before it died, but our latest pics are all on it. I will post all of those once Larry does the recovery, etc.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Market and the Movies

I recently found out about a large market close to our house, so last week Cade and I ventured out to find it. Feny Utca market is a 3 story, open air market that is one stop shopping for fruits, vegetables, meat, bread...I even saw a pet store type booth! It was really cold - I didn't realize it was an open air market until we got there. We didn't stay too long but I stocked up on some yummy fruit. All of the fruit and veggies looked wonderful. We observed the system for a few minutes and determined that at the market, you tell the vendor how many you want of each item and they select the fruit for you. I used sign language - lots of pointing and holding up fingers! I was excited to see these guys -

Normally, you can only find fruit that is in season. Strawberries are slowly starting to appear, so I couldn't pass them up! I did learn a lesson, however. Most fruit is here is priced in kilograms, but the strawberries were priced by the dekagram. I wasn't really paying attention and just told the guy I wanted one carton. That carton above ended up costing about 7 dollars. Oops! Still, it was better than the organic ones I saw this week - about 10 strawberries for 20 dollars!!

The clementines are Chelsea's favorites - I got about 10 for a dollar. She ate 6 the first afternoon!I wasn't brave enough to try the butcher there, but we will go back and practice our Hungarian when it is a little warmer!

Saturday night, Larry and I went out to our first movie in Budapest! We had a great time. Movies here come in 2 main formats - original (English) and dubbed (Hungarian). It was great to see a movie in English!! The movie theaters are very similar to those in the US. The main difference is that when you buy your ticket, you pick your seats and sit in assigned seats. Overall, movies here seem to be a little cheaper. For two tickets, it cost the equivalent of about $15. For a medium popcorn and two drinks, it was only about $8.

We are currently trying to plan a short vacation for March. It is overwhelming with so many great options to choose from! Stay tuned to see what we decide....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sipark!


For the last 10 years or so, Larry has been dying to go skiing. Every year we talk about it, and then every year I manage to convince him why we shouldn't go. He loves to ski. I, on the other hand, would put it towards the bottom of my desired vacation list. Moving to Europe made skiing a lot more accessible and less avoidable, so I am beginning to embrace the idea. Hungary doesn't have very many official ski areas, but we heard about a place in the Matra mountains about an hour and a half east of Budapest. We decided to head out there and let Chelsea try skiing before we plan an official ski vacation.

It was a nice, leisurely drive for a while. We began heading up a mountain and programmed the town name into the GPS. I assumed there would be signs to the ski resort once we got to the town. I should never assume anything here! The GPS took us to a snow covered mountain road in the middle of no where. Larry tried to turn around and we were stuck in the snow. Fabulous. To the right of me is a huge drop off and in front of us is a snow covered hill heading down. Even Chelsea said, "I'm worried." Thankfully, Larry got us out of it. We drove around a little while before we finally found the ski area.

Larry went off and got the equipment for he and Chelsea. She looked so cute with her little skis!
Cade and I watched these guys for awhile -
They had dog sled rides at the resort. It looked like lots of fun! We will have to do it one day.
I am sure these dogs are well fed, loved, and cared for. Or maybe not.

Larry and Chelsea started practicing. She quickly found out that skiing is hard and you fall a lot. Falling a lot means crying a lot. Crying a lot means it isn't that fun.

Cade and I headed to the car to warm up after a little while. Thankfully, we had a great spot where we could watch the action. That is Chelsea to the right of the fence post being pulled by Larry.

Cade drove the car and played with the keys. He was a happy camper!


By the end of an hour, she could glide the distance above. We called that success for day one.

We packed up and headed back towards home. Everyone was hungry, so we stopped in a small village at a roadside type stand to get some food. They advertised hamburgers, a rare find here. It sounded really good.

I really should know better than to order a burger here.

From the outside, it looked good. I decided to peek at the meat before taking a bite.

Disgusting!!!! I have no idea what it was made out of, but I was not going to find out.
Out the window went the hamburger. Lesson learned!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Do you want feathers with that?

We are making progress in our language lessons. S-L-O-W progress, but progress nonetheless. We have learned words for basic fruits, vegetables, drinks, etc. We have learned to say, "I don't understand." and "I don't speak Hungarian." Very important words in my world! My mouth still can't pronounce certain sounds correctly, especially the letter -gy that seems to appear in almost all words, but I am trying.

We thought we had mastered the word for chicken. Several times, most recently this weekend, we have tried to order a chicken sandwich. We get one of two responses - ignored or laughed at. Last night we had a Hungarian lesson and we asked the teacher to correct our pronunciation of chicken, thinking that was the problem. Larry said the word and she laughed.

What you are asking for, she said, is a whole, live chicken on a sandwich.

Oh. That explains a lot!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Visegrad

Last Saturday was a rare blue-sky-beautiful sunny day. Cold, yes, but beautiful. We couldn't waste such a day on staying home, so we spent the morning trying to decide where to go. We settled on Visegrad, a city about 45 minutes from Budapest. It is known for a huge castle on top of a mountain overlooking the Danube. The fortress dates back to the 1200's.

We arrived in Visegrad and began our ascent up the mountain. The mountain road was a snow covered and a little treacherous. I wasn't sure we should continue, but Larry assured me as long as we saw cars coming down, we would be fine. Okay. We wound around for a bit and suddenly came upon a ski area! There was one ski run with a tow rope lift. A sledding hill was next to the ski area. Larry had thrown the sled in the car just in case - perfect! We thought about trying to ski, but there were no rentals. So, sledding it was.

video

The video is deceiving - the hill was steep. People flew down in the sleds. I saw one bad crash where a dad didn't stop until he was about to hit some cars. He and his child flipped off the sled and were both hurt. Yikes! So, I was a bit nervous watching Chelsea fly down the hill. She thought it was great, of course. Cade hasn't changed his opinion of snow.


After we tired of sledding, we continued up the mountain towards the castle. A few more turns and we came upon a bobsled place. Fun! We stopped and investigated. It cost a whole 400 forints ($2) to go on this ride. Chelsea called it a snow coaster. It was like a bobsled on rails. Living here, I have to try not to be too paranoid about safety standards and just go with the moment. Good cheap fun!



video

video

After our bobsled adventure, we were freezing. We got some hot drinks at the bobsled shack, and continued up the road another few minutes. Finally the castle! It was huge and beautiful sitting on top of the mountain. The views were amazing.....from the car, that is. As we pulled into the parking lot, both kids were crying and tired. Daddy was whining and tired. We turned around and headed down the mountain. I was bummed. It was my turn to whine....so much for our castle adventure!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Safety First

You can never be too careful......



Larry put Cade's bike helmet on him one day just because, and now Cade loves his helmet!
He wants to wear it all the time.