Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankful Turkey and a Solar Powered Christmas

After we arrived home to Budapest, we slowed down to think about all the things we are thankful for. So we made a thankful turkey. Here's Claudia doing her "presentation of turkey". She reenacts the "presentation of Simba" (Lion King) scene with just about every inanimate object in the house. When I asked Claudia what she is thankful for, I got an interesting response. In this order, it went: (1) Oatmeal - her teddy; (2) Carsten - her best pal; (3) Mommy & Daddy - maybe we'll crack top two next year; (4) food; (5) seeds - we've been reading the lost Suess book, the Bippolo Seed; (6) elephants - not sure where this came from; and (7) toys & goodies.
Thankful turkey's feet were made by tracing Claudia's hand. She loves having her hand traced. She also signed her name. See that line?
Claudia is starting the grasp the concept of being thankful. It was a great time to sit down, thank God for everything we've been given, appreciate each other and give thanks to all those around us who love us and do so much for us.
I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for their health. I am thankful to be adding another little person to our family. I am thankful that, although we are away from our family and friends in the US, we have made friends here and that it really feels like home. Bop looks pretty mischevious in this picture. I'm thankful that I didn't know what she was up to at that moment.
I took this photo right before we went to Houston. It was definitely fall... leaves on the tree, changing colors and football in full swing. Mandi, Claudia loves her LSU dress... it took a while for the wee one to fit into it, but it was worth the wait! She calls it her "LSU gown." The leaves were all changing colors and it was beautiful to watch. This is the window outside my kitchen. When we got home, all the leaves had fallen off. Its just a boring old wall now.
Now that turkey day is over, it's time to start getting ready for Christmas. The first line of business was to get a tree and some lights. They don't chop down trees here. No, they sell them, roots and all, so that you can plant the tree in your yard after Christmas or resell them back to the nursery. I opted to get a fake tree (its about 5 feet tall and was one of the biggest I could find), but wasn't spared any of this eco-friendly-Christmas nonsense. Here is what I found when I opened the box of Christmas lights (minus one Lego man).
What's that you ask? It's a solar panel. You stake it out in your yard during the day and then connect it to a battery pack in the evening. Apparently a lot of people (not me) chose to power their tree lights with the energy of the sun. A lot of people (not me) think this is just a great idea. It took two trips to the hardware store before I finally found a somewhat normal strand of lights that uses good old fashioned electricity.
After we got all that light nonsense out of the way, Claudia had a real hoot decorating. And look how big my tree looks... when my toddler stands next to it!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Over the Ocean and Down Interstate, to Gram's House We Go

We're over here in Budapest, getting all set to watch the LSU - Arkansas game... which has got me somewhat nervous, as Arkansas has, in the past, gotten the best of the tigers in this last game of the season. We're also getting back into the swing of things, after a pathetically short trip home for the holidays. We had to jump on our one opportunity to fly home before the baby is here... which unfortunately meant cutting short our time with our dear Budapest guests, Rachel and Ryan!
We were so excited to have these two cherished friends come see us. It was fun showing them the sights of Budapest and getting some quality time with my precious Rachie. Claudia is especially in love with Rachie and Ryan and can't wait to visit them in Chicago one day. We had to leave Budapest before they did, to maximize our last minute trip to the states, so that part kind of stunk!When we left Budapest, it was below freezing. When we arrived in Houston, it was 85 degrees. I was not prepared for that, but I certainly appreciated the brief break from the cold. Claudia capitalized on the opportunity to plant flowers with Pawpaw.
Then we drove on to Louisiana... where it turned out to be freezing! Claudia got to ride on Paps' fine red tractor, which made her day. Pap's also gave Claudia lots of lessons on life in the country, e.g., how to crack pecans, where corn comes from and how to feed horses. Paps and Mama Kate even got Claudia her own little, red Case tractor. She was very pleased. We also visited the McLendons in Oak Ridge and the Morris family in Bastrop. It was a busy, but very fun trip.
We stopped in Shreveport to spend some quality time with Memaw and even got a special visit from the Mann family who were in town on a weekday... what luck!! Memaw made us lots of country cooking and gave Claudia a piano lesson too. I think this is Claudia's favorite activity with Memaw.
Back in Houston, we had a couple of Thanksgiving dinners, including one at Aunt Debbie and Uncle Matthew's house. We also celebrated Aunt Debbie and Mandi's birthdays. Claudia always manages to blow out everyone's birthday candles. She's collected about twenty different person's birthday wishes this year. Mine's coming up in December; I bet she gets that one too!It was also a treat to see all our friends in Houston. It was pretty funny to get Claudia, Audrey and Max together again. They grow up so fast, but they manage to remember each other and pick up where they left off. Daddy, CC and Paps in Mer RougeClaudia with Daddy and her hair twin, Uncle Otis Lee, in Bastrop
Claudia and Daddy with Greatgrandma and Greatgrandpa McLendon in Oak RidgeCC with Gram and Grandpa in Houston
And finally, our flight home to Budapest.
We managed to squeeze in visits to a bunch of relatives spread out over five cities, the farthest being about seven hours apart, over seven days. It was exhausting, but fun. There were so many more friends and family we wanted to see, but we will just have to wait until next Spring... when we bring our newest McLendon to visit!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tutu Time

Claudia started taking ballet last month.
Every Wednesday, for thirty minutes, she gives Miss Rachel her full attention.
The girls reach and stretch...
... they wiggle and hop...
... flex...
... and point.
I have as much fun watching as she does dancing. =)
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