Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Israel, Part 1

Just returned from 5 days in Israel....such a beautiful country. It was an intense 5 days, as we spent 8-10 hours each day with a guide. He was great. We learned so much and kids did amazingly well considering they had very little freedom for 5 days. Israel will require several blog posts, but I will start with some of my favorite kid moments of the trip.

*Cade loved our tour guide so much. He would run and yell, "Mr. Horn!" each morning when he picked us up. I think Mr. Horn loved Cade, too.

*One day, while walking in Capernaum, I tried to explain to cade that this was where Jesus lived. So sweetly he replied, "Is this Heaven?"

*After seeing so many places that Jesus walked, lived, etc, Cade started saying, "I want to play with Jesus." Chelsea, my little realist, responded rather curtly, "Cade, to play with Jesus you have to be dead. Do you want to be dead?"

*Chelsea's favorite was the Garden of Gethsemane. There, she sat and read us the scriptures from Jesus' last night. Precious.

*Logan was a trooper, trekking around in the stroller and backpack most of the trip.  We also got him a kid backpack with a leash  "freedom cord" before we left. We thought he would hate it, but he loved it and would go get it and ask to put it on. The other 2 kids would fight over who would get to walk the Logan.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Highlights from a long weekend in Istanbul....
The Basilica Cistern....super cool, super big, and a little creepy. Kids loved it. 
The Blue Mosque - beautiful inside and out. Spending a weekend in a Muslim country, hearing the calls to prayer, and observing the rituals involved in entering the mosque all provided good opportunities to talk to the kids about why our faith is different. I did have a revelation that if I heard the call to prayer 5 times a day, my prayer life would probably be richer. 
Hagia Sophia - a church then a mosque now a museum.

Cats...everywhere. Cat-spotting kept the kids quite occupied and entertained. One day they counted 65 cats! They were seriously everywhere. We ate in several outdoor cafes, and the cats would scamper around our feet as we ate waiting for crumbs. 
Markets - we loved walking around the markets. What a visual feast!

This was the only one I didn't love. So crowded at one point that we couldn't move an inch. People coming from every direction. No way out. I don't deal well with no way out. :) Add to that trying keep up with kids and pushing a stroller....not fun.
Trips to markets result in souvenirs - a highlight for these 2. 
Logan wasn't left out, and got a hat on this trip.  

Topkapi Palace - another beautiful site, with some cool artifacts and jewels. Also the site of 2 rude American old ladies who thought I couldn't hear them when they said that children shouldn't be allowed into museums. My kids were acting great, so I mustered up my courage a few minutes later and walked up to them with a smile and told them I was really sorry if we disturbed them, and I hoped they enjoyed the rest of their day. The look on their face was priceless. 

Beautiful views of the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia. 

Food - the Turkish food we tried was great. The Turkish people were all so friendly and kind to the kids.

It is amazing that just a 2 hour flight away lies such a different culture and different world. Thankful for the opportunity to experience it!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hungary Happenings

Hello! A bit of this and that...

*We have been traveling like crazy people this month. We love it, but it does make us a bit crazy. We were just in Istanbul 10 days ago, and we are leaving today for Israel.

*Israel, yes Israel. A dream trip of ours since we moved here. It is just a 3 hour flight, so we knew we had to take advantage of the proximity. We hired a private guide, which will make everything so much easier. We will spend time around the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the Dead Sea, hitting may places in between. We are hoping to go to Bethlehem as well. We'll see.

*We had our last first snow yesterday....we are pretty positive we wont be here next winter. Feeling nostalgic, but happy to head to the land of sunshine today.

*Kids are great. Logan is a wild man. Likes to swing from counters and sinks like a monkey. Likes to empty kitchen drawers. Keeps us laughing. Says Lots of words, one of my favorites is "whats that?" as he holds up his little hands. Cade recently learned the name of his...umm....male part. He likes to say it loud and often. He is so tender hearted and says "thank you" for everything. Melts me. Chelsea is getting ready for the Nutcracker in a couple of weeks. She is our mother hen and my little home helper. She is a read-a-holic and devours books. We are excited for them to see the Bible come alive this week!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Berlin - what an amazing city. We loved it. 

We hit all the highlights in a long weekend. Checkpoint Charlie museum was one of my favorites - loved reading the amazing stories of people that escaped and seeing their creative methods. 

Straddling the wall

Brandenburg Gate - beautiful at night! 

Big boy - so happy when he can just run free.

Shopped for a bit at the KaDeWe Department store - could've stayed in there for days! 

When did this guy grow up? He is quite picky about his clothes and chose this shirt featuring the Ampelmann traffic light men of East Germany for his souvenir. Logan got a Berlin car and Chelsea chose a music box and a keychain. Souvenir hunting is the highlight of every trip for them. We give them a budget and they love selecting the perfect souvenirs. 

This was our first official trip to Germany, other than airport layovers. I hope to see more of Germany in our time remaining here!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nana and Papa

We enjoyed a fun 3 weeks with my parents in town. They have done most of the Budapest stuff already, so we hit a few highlights and then they just hung out with me and my normal routine. I loved our time together! The big kids were in school most of the time, but still got lots of Nana and Papa fun. Logan got to accompany us on our daily adventures.

Our fun times included -
A forest walk, which was fun but quickly became "can we find out way out before dark?" 
Thankfully, we did. 

A trip to the Gellert Hill slides - haven't been there since Chelsea was 4 and Cade was 1...wahhh.
Logan is my daredevil and loved every slide. 

A walk through Fisherman's Bastion and the Castle District.

Feeding fish at Millernaris park

A trip to the zoo for some animal feeding, playground time, and a kurtoskalacs! 
My dad's trip is not complete until he has had a fahejas kurtoskalacs. 

We also enjoyed a trip to Berlin together - that is a blog post to come. 

It is quite possible that my parents were our last visitors - so strange! We expect to move back to the USA next summer, and we don't have anyone else lined up to come visit. For so long, moving back seemed like a faraway dream and now it feels oh-so-close, maybe too close. Weird. That is also a blog post for another day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Happy Hungary Halloween

Ever since the Halloween disaster of 2010, Halloween in Hungary has been much improved. Pumpkins for carving are much more plentiful now than in the past, and candy packaged for Halloween seems more available as well.
The big kids designed their own pumpkins. 

Our first celebration was with the McLendon's and friends. We have never dressed up as a family before, but since all 3 kids were super heroes, I decided Larry and I should dress up, too. He hesitantly went along with my plan. :) Logan liked my super mom belt, and helped himself to his paci. 

Pumpkin buckets for trick or treating are not available here, and I could only find one of ours. So, we improvised with one pumpkin, one Christmas bucket, and one Easter basket. Whatever works!
Our second opportunity was at the Embassy compound, thanks to sweet friends inviting us.
 Logan got a little more into the action there.

Our last event was a carnival/trick or treating at AISB. Fun times for all!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Belgrade, Just Because

A few weeks ago (that seems to be a theme, maybe I will catch up one day!), we we took a random trip to Belgrade, Serbia. Belgrade is just a 4 hour drive, and going to Serbia seemed like a good adventure. We had a little too much adventure when we hit the Serbian border, in the dark, and the GPS said "limited route information." Oops. Fortunately, it was a straight shot to Belgrade. Once there, we found a McDonalds, which meant wifi.  Once we got wifi, we could locate the hotel on our phones and we found it.

We were greeted at the hotel by security personnel with metal detectors. That was a first! We also saw the police come by once with bomb - sniffing dogs.  Other than those things, we felt like we were in any other European city. Belgrade was lovely, with a huge fortress overlooking the Danube.

We were blessed with great weather for exploring! A large pedestrian street led the way to the fortress. The kids loved running around and exploring these tanks. Chelsea was greatly amused that the statues were naked....there are plenty of naked statues in Budapest, but I guess she is just beginning to notice these things.
On our second day, our first stop was the Cathedral of St. Sava, which is the largest Orthodox church in the world. It is beautiful on the outside but has not been completed on the inside. 
Our next stop was to visit the Museum of Josip Tito, the former dictator of Yugoslavia. Interestingly, his wife died a few days prior to our visit, so the only portion of the grounds that was open was the museum housing gifts Tito had received from other countries during his reign. We found this belt sign interesting - never knew that was the reason for colds.
After visiting Tito, we headed back to the city center. Along the way, we passed this building which was bombed by NATO in 1999. Not something you see every day! 

Our last stop of the day was Skadarlija street. It is a cute cobblestone street full of cafes and galleries, and is known as the bohemian area of Belgrade. I just loved the flowers of the above restaurant! 

We ate at another cute sidewalk cafe, and all was well except for my order. I ordered the Gourmet Cheeseburger, which I really should know not to order in Eastern Europe.  What I got was not exactly what I had in mind, but living abroad I've learned to go with the flow and laugh at things that are lost in translation. 
After 2 fun filled days, we said goodbye to Serbia - thankful for another fun adventure!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Up for the Challenge

We have enjoyed a beautiful fall in Budapest. Around here, we encourage fall to camp out for awhile, as we know that soon winter will be knocking on the door. In this perfect fall weather, Chelsea's class took a field trip to Challengeland, a ropes course place up in the hills of Budapest. My parents had just arrived, so we loved that they could go watch her take the challenge.
Silly Mr. Cade. He is on an "exercise clothes" streak right now, and only wants to wear athletic shorts. This day, it was warm enough that I didn't fight the battle. Coincidentally, he is a great little runner and will run his little heart out when he goes "jogging." On a good day, he can run almost a mile. 
Chelsea getting suited up

My serious girl working hard. She loved it and had the best time!
We had to laugh at this ropes course - this place would never exist in the US. People who came on their own were flying down zip lines without anyone to worry if they were properly attached or not.  Our kids got a safety briefing and a practice run, and then they were on their own. They had to make sure their carabiners were attached correctly, etc. Of course, because it was a school field trip, there were school chaperones trying to make sure the kids were all safe. Even with chaperones, it was a great lesson for the second graders in following the rules and being responsible. Fun day at Challengeland!