Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giddy Up! Let Me Catch Up!

A couple of weekends ago, we went to the Hungary National Gallop.
It's an annual event where they sell heart-shaped lollipops the size of your child's head.
They also shut down the main thoroughfare in Budapest, turn Hero's Square into a giant race track and race horses while wearing historic Hungarian garb. Lots of banners, lots of fanfare.
The races are pretty exciting.
I thought so at least.
There's so much excitement that, eventually, even the pickiest crowd gets interested.
Here's Bop screaming "Go, Big Blue! Go!" That's what we named one of the jockey/horse teams that was clad in blue.
They also spiral cut whole potatoes, dip them in a fryer & serve them on sticks.
Last week we discovered Claudia's new favorite snack... popcorn! When you hand her some, she smells it for about minute, commenting "This smells delicious." Then she eats it and comments "This tastes delicious. You cook good popcorn, Mommy."
We also had another Budapest guest last week... Mr. Karim! Or "Mr. Cream!" as Claudia calls him. Karim lives in Dubai and works in Iraq, so he had many interesting stories for us on his visit. Claudia is a big Karim fan because he graciously shares his desserts with her.
There was also lots of love for Daddy last week. And this week too!! Because...
Yesterday was Russell's birthday!!! Sweet Russell shared his birthday wish with Claudia. She later told us she "wished for fish." That would be nice. We are landlocked here.
So here's to Daddy on his birthday... because it was a special one!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Budapest Guests & a Czech Trek

After visiting fair Budapest, I think Gram and Pawpaw are keen on our new home. My mom will tell you she still wants us to come home (and to be quick about it), but after experiencing Budapest and all its prettiness, she definitely sees why we love it here. Here's some pretty snippets from their visit to Budapest and our road trip to Prague.
Budapest by day & Budapest by night...all the buildings and castles along the Danube are illuminated at night, so an evening boat cruise was in order. Budapest is pretty fabulous during the day too, though!
And some scenes from around Prague...Old Town Square and Charles Bridge
Views from atop the Castle Quarter and Prague Castle
A little hodgepodge of everything... Charles Bridge, Castle Quarter, the Old Town Pastel Houses
Claudia enjoyed (?) dancing to a Dixie Land band that was set up in the Old Town. She was animated. I took pictures. Some strangers took pictures. Maybe these same photos are on someone else's blog right now.
Back to Budapest! You can see Fisherman's Bastian and St. Matthias Cathedral.
Chain Bridge & Buda Castle
We made it to the Budapest Wine Festival too. It was held here, at Buda Castle.
They give you a little purse that holds your wine glass. You wear it around your neck, give coupons to the vendors, and they keep you full of wine and cheese all day.
There was also an oompa band. The bearded band members, dressed in leggings and velour vests, dropped some pretty stellar beats. Claudia observed the spectacle with awe and confusion while Russell, never one to conceal his emotions, drank his wine and laughed hysterically.
Family pic beside Chain Bridge, with Buda Castle
Gram and Pawpaw in front of St. Stephan's Basilica
the famous Astronomical Clock of Prague
A beautiful old world toy store in Prague. Claudia got a wooden elf. She named him "Elphie."
View from Charles Bridge, the beautiful pedestrian bridge in Prague
CC with Gram and Pawpaw inside a huge, hollowed out tree in Prague
Gram and Bop
Too soon it was time for Gram and Pawpaw to leave. We miss them already, but are so glad they came to visit beautiful Budapest!

Monday, September 19, 2011

We're Having a Baby and It's a ....

We're so excited... we are going to have a sweet little baby in a little over four months! I'm slow on posting this very happy news, but Russell and I are weird and wanted to keep this to ourselves for the first trimester (and then some). We did the same thing with Claudia. So, here we are, twenty weeks in, halfway there, and very, very happy! And if you want to know what it is... read on!

Here is a little side profile picture of our sweet baby.
Another side profile pic, the first we've taken so far.
AND.... it's a BOY!!!!
We still can't believe it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shine On

No, this isn't the best picture of Claudia. Fresh out of bed. Bleary eyed. I'm posting it because this is what I see each morning as Bop emerges from her room and begins moseying around the house. The bright morning sun streaks through the windows and her hair becomes a glowing halo. For about fifteen minutes each morning, she has the look of an angel. Then the sun completes its ascent and things are back to normal. As normal as its gonna get, at least.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Land is Ireland

The last stop on our summer vacation was Ireland. We rented a car in Dublin and drove around the Irish countryside looking for shamrocks, pots of gold, leprechauns, that kind of thing.
Blarney Castle is home to the famous stone which, if kissed, is fabled to give you the "gift of gab." It's speculated that the stone was either brought back from the Holy Land by crusaders or that it was part of the Stone of Scone. Either way, I don't recommend bothering with this thing for these reasons: (1) the nightmare stairs; (2) two surly old men have to lower and hold you while you dangle backward and belly up to kiss the stone; (3) I got a very nasty cold after kissing this germ encrusted hunk of rock.

My favorite spot was in Kinsale, a beautiful spot on the southern coast of Ireland. We had a lot of fun exploring Charles Fort, a former British fort situated there.
Outside of Kilkenny, Ireland, we found the Rock of Cashel. This is where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in about 450 A.D. The Rock was fought over by Irish clans for hundreds of years and was eventually vested to the Catholic Church. The Cormac's Chapel and St. Patrick's cross were pretty impressive.
family photo in Kinsale
Bop giving Daddy a big ole kiss on his nose
This guy was positioned in the lobby of our hotel in Kilkenny. It had something to do with the football team there. She hugged and kissed him and said it was her "best friend."
Claudia rode on countless cannons on this trip. She was especially excited to find this one at Charles Fort, as we explained it was probably a baby cannon, operated by Irish children a long time ago. She hopped on began shouting out orders.
pretty view from Kinsale
It was a fun trip for this Scot-Irish family! I even feel a tad bit luckier since visiting this beautiful land. The food was fantastic... lots of meat and potatoes. The people were very friendly... everyone asks you if you'd like something to drink, e.g., "Guinness for the lady and baby? Whiskey for the gentleman?" The views were breathtaking... especially when traveling with a tot who wants a view from the very edge of every castle and cliff you climb. It was a memorable trip and we are so thankful for the opportunity to see such beautiful spots.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

It's been ten years, but I suspect everyone remembers exactly what they were doing and how they felt when they first heard the news that our country was under attack. It was an absolute shock to see the second World Trade Tower building get hit. The images of the New York Police and Firefighters pulling survivors and victims from the wreckage were overwhelming. There were currents of pride when the news broke about how the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 overpowered the hijackers of their flight. I remember being stunned and angry. I remember praying that it wouldn't get worse.

Ten years later, I imagine everyone remembers the events of that day with very different emotions. Nevertheless, it is a day that everyone will remember. The Americans who lost their lives in the attack, the Americans who lost and risked their lives to rescue others and the Americans who continue to put their lives on the line to protect us from further attacks are heroes and today is a very good day to remember their sacrifices.
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