Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Runaround

Since we arrived back in July, my voice mail on my cell phone has not worked. Today, I got brave enough to go to a T-Mobile store by myself and try to get it fixed. In the past, I have experienced nothing but frustration at T-mobile stores here.  Several friends recommended one store in particular that usually has English speaking staff. I went there, hit the English button on the menu, took a number, and waited my turn. When my number came up, I approached the counter, gave the standard "Jo napot kivanok" greeting, and proceeded to ask, "Beszel angolul?" I got the answer I am accustomed to getting, the shrug of the shoulders and the "Sajnos, nem."  Fabulous. I think she thought I would leave, but I didn't. She looked around for someone who spoke English, but no one did, or at least claimed not to. We did some sign language and another customer helped a little. In the end, I left and voice mail still doesn't work. I came home and thought I had  a break through. I found a customer service number on-line and called it. I got an English menu to choose from and an English customer service guy. Yay! I explained the situation and what I needed. His answer? Oh, you have to take your phone and your documents to a store and they can help you.

I guess I will live without voice mail for a while longer!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Timers!

We have enjoyed having Larry's parents here for the last 2 weeks and showing them around our great city and beyond. It was their first trip overseas, and we were so proud of them for being brave enough to come and experience life here. They enjoyed it and it was fun listening to their observations about how different things are here! What, no ice? I don't think they are ready to trade in their American conveniences and move to Europe!
Visiting Szentendre
Picnic at AISB
While they were here, we hit most of the Budapest highlights. We also took a long weekend trip to Austria, making stops in Linz, Salzburg, and Vienna. It was our first time to Linz, and we enjoyed our time there. I thought it was a nice mix of the feel of Vienna and Salzburg. We stumbled upon this cute little parade....

After walking through the main street, we took a train up the mountain in Linz. At the top is a fun little place called the Grottenbahn. It was really cute and my kids loved it. It is a little fairy tale ride and fairy tale village, with scenes from all the well known fairy tales. We had a fun time there, and I would recommend it for anyone with small children.

From Linz, we made a quick trip to Salzburg. The flowers were beautiful, as always!  We enjoyed a leisurely morning in Old Town while Geney and Wilbron did the Sound of Music Tour. 

On the way home, we spent the night in Vienna. It was a bit cold and rainy, so we didn't spend much time there before heading back to Budapest.

We have been blessed to have several visitors since we moved is always fun and we are thankful for everyone who makes the long trip to visit!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Got Milk?

Larry's parents are here visiting, so we took them on a road trip to Austria this weekend. Most people visiting Austria come home with souvenirs such as cuckoo clocks or Christmas ornaments or painted eggs or Sound of Music memorabilia. Me?  All I wanted was cereal. Austrian grocery stores carry lots of cereal that we can't find (or can't find cheaply) in Hungary. We stocked up and should be set for awhile!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big Fun

Shaving cream + food coloring  = hours of entertainment and clean smelling children!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What's it Worth?

We have been here almost a year now, so for the most part we have adapted to products we can get locally and we have learned to do without our beloved American staples of cereal, boxed mixes, etc. We do a have a few international stores that import American products.  They are pretty pricey, so we have do decide how bad we want something before we give in.

Last week was my birthday and though there are fabulous desserts in Budapest, I really just wanted a good ole American Betty Crocker cake and frosting from the jar. I brought some cake mixes back from the US this summer, but no frosting. I took a trip to Snack Box, the closest international store, and they had just the frosting I wanted. In the US, it would probably cost a dollar.  Here?  Seven dollars. But totally worth it!

Other delicacies?
Marshmallows - $5
Corn Tortillas - $5
Haagen Daz - $12/pint (we made that mistake once!)
Brownie mix - $10
Lucky Charms - $17!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School

This is a big school year at our house! Chelsea started kindergarten and Cade started preschool. 

Fact of the Day - In Hungary, preschools are called kindergartens. Technically, I could say both of my kids go to kindergarten. 
The first day pose
       Finding her name                                 
Her sweet teacher
Happy to be in kindergarten!
Chelsea attends AISB, where she went to pre-k last year. She loves it!  She has 13 kids in her class and 2 teachers.  Twice a week, they go to art, music, PE, and Hungarian culture. They visit the library once a week. They go to recess twice each day. Who wouldn't love it there? 

      Cade's first day                                   
Last week, Cade started a preschool near our house. He goes 2 days a week, and the jury is still out as to whether he loves it. He really loves his mama, so he is not a big fan of being left anywhere.   I think he will love it after a while. 
Mom, it would be more fun if you stayed here with me!
While they are at school, I will enjoy going to a women's Bible study and working with the Parent-School Association at AISB. It is a good outlet for me and nice to use my brain for something new!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia  - our last stop before returning to Venice.  
We decided to have a low key beach day and took a taxi to Bene beach.
 Beach = happy kids!
 Cracker break
Let's get back in!

The crystal clear water was cold, but bearable. We all swam with our flip flops on, as the beaches in Croatia are painfully rocky to bare feet.

The cruise was such a great time for our family. We all came back refreshed and ready to start the school year.  We can't wait to take another cruise!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ephesus, Turkey

 We loved our day in Ephesus! Once again, we took a private tour for a fraction of the cost of the cruise ship excursion. We had a lovely Turkish guide and we enjoyed learning more about her culture and Muslim faith. In turn, we were able to share a bit about our faith. Upon entering the ruins of Ephesus, one of the first stops was this inscription.
Our guide explained that the wheel shape was actually an early Christian secret symbol composed of Greek letters. In Greek, it says, "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior. "  The symbol is found throughout the ruins in Ephesus.  All day long, Muslim guides proclaim the essence of our faith to tourists, yet do not choose to believe it for themselves.
Our tour was very thorough, and our kids were very hot and tired of we asked for the short version. We still learned a lot and saw everything we wanted to see.
The Great Theater was amazing. It is where Paul once preached, and it seats 25,000 people.  The acoustics are such that no microphone is needed. Simply amazing.

Upon leaving Ephesus, we had a yummy Turkish lunch and visited a rug factory.  It was so interesting to see how the silk is spun and the tedious labor that goes into making rugs.  The owner was so nice to the kids and let them run wild over the rugs. Great fun!

They also made rug angels...that may have been a first for the rug store!

After declining a rug purchase, we headed back to the ship. We got on board and realized we didn't have enough diapers to make it to the next port, and ship store did not sell diapers. We had seen a little store right outside the port. We had about 2 hours until the ship was going to leave, so Larry and Chelsea headed off the boat and to the store. It was about a 15 minute walk to get there, so in my head I created a timetable of when they should be back and what I would do if they didn't return by the time the boat left. Would Cade and I get off? Who would I plead with to stop the boat? Thankfully, they came back well before my made up deadline. I decided we would not separate like that again!