Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PTI (Nothing to do with Tony or Wilbon)

Can you believe it? I haven't blogged or read any blogs in over a week - a new record for me. I love blogging & reading everyone's blogs - I'll definitely be catching up very soon. But I have a good excuse! In the past week, Claudia and I have travelled from Budapest, Hungary to Frankfurt, Germany to Houston, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana back to Houston and now we are in Shreveport, Louisiana! Unfortunately, I overlooked the fact that one person in particular was missing Bop terribly and would really like to see her.... Daddy Boy Russ! He's taking care of business in Budapest. So, here you go!

Claudia is her usual sweet self. She's been playing with and eating sidewalk chalk. Nothing new.
She walks into anyone's house & makes herself at home.
Gathers and collects random objects.
Mostly candles and coasters.
She has taken an interest in golfing.
Well, mostly just pushing around her golf cart.
She also fills the cart with rocks.
She loves climbing the monkey bars.
She found a lady bug on her shoe!
She said "I love lady bugs and Phi Mu too!"
Well, maybe just the first part.
With proper training, the second part will follow.
Loves the slides. Likes hopscotch.
She's gone country.

Lots more Houston Rodeo pics to follow!
Bonnie - if you are reading - I'm so sorry I forgot to call!
You're probably better off... we spent 1.5 hours rodeoing
& 2 hours parking. What a mess.
She's into gardening.
... and catching butterflies in her net.
Technically, no butterflies have been caught.
Many have been scared.
None caught.
Look at her face. This is serious.
Overall, she has been the best travel companion.
She misses you too, Russell!

So, Claudia and I have been busy this week ... the Houston Rodeo, a New Orleans wedding, visiting a beautiful newborn baby (Baby Emerson Hayes McGraw!) and we have lots more to do before hopping the pond. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Claudia and Daddy at the Park

Russell taught Claudia how to throw a frisbee this weekend.
She was equally mesmerized by the sparkles on the frisbee.
Claudia had so much fun with Daddy.
She pretty much did this all weekend.
She has lots of love to give.
And lots of crazy strawberry blonde curly whisps.
Russell, we want to thank you in advance for driving us to the airport at 4:45 a.m. tomorrow. You are the best!
Love, Meryl & Claudia

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I realized that we had not yet taken Bop to the Tropicarium,
the aquarium here in Budapest.
Soooo, we went. She liked it.
Here she is jumping up... in surprise... because this guy was right behind her.
... a gator! And suddenly Budapest feels like home.
They billed the two "Mississippi Alligators" as "exotics."
It gave Russell and me a decent laugh.
Claudia mostly wanted to hug, kiss and hold the fish.
Its hard to explain why fish must remain in the water to a toddler.
But it sure makes me glad to know she's full of so much love.
She was most excited by the tank full of Nemos.
Now here's just some pretty fishes & friends that Claudia liked best.
Pretty litle guy. Or girl.
Baby shark. There were tons of these little guys patrolling the waters.
I think this guy wanted to come home with us.
It wouldn't work out, though.
Winston eats lizards.
My favorite. He gave me a high five.
with. his. foot. !!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

This weekend we headed out to the woods to go feed some bears honey from long wooden spoons. I assure you this was actually a safe and animal friendly activity. The spot we visited is the Medve Otthon, about half an hour outside Budapest. It is a bear sanctuary founded in 1998 by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and is home to over forty bears that have been rescued from mistreatment or neglect. These bears have spent most of their lives in captivity, so they wouldn't be able to make it in the wild. Now they live pretty lovely lives on this preserve, where people come to visit them and feed them honey on long wooden sticks. I have to say it was pretty awesome!

Look how grumpy Bop was! She really enjoyed herself, though.
If she wasn't screaming "Feed them! Feed them!",
she was hollering "It stinks! It stinks!"
Even the sweet honey couldn't mask the mud + bear poo fumes
that occassionally wafted her way.
Here we are feeding Stanley Bear.
He was really a sweet guy.
I don't know who had more fun with the feedings,
Claudia or Stan.
Here is Stan playing in the mud.
The preserve had all kinds of ponds, caves and burrows for the bears.

Russell hopped the fence to get a pic of Kevin Bear sitting in his little burrow.
Or maybe Russell just poked the camera lens through the fence.
I'll leave you guessing on that one.

If you are interested in this kind of thing, here is the WSPA's page about its bear sanctuaries. They have founded similar sanctuaries in India, Pakistan, Laos, Greece, Hungary, Thailand and Turkey. The preserve also hosts a few other groups of rescued animals including 26 grey wolves, a little group of reindeer and several other little critters. It is definitely a great cause and made for a fun adventure for Claudia.
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