Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is it Too Late...

... to share pictures from one of my favorite summer days? I just came across these and wanted to share. Margaret Island (Margit Hid) is my little happy place here in Budapest. It's beautiful and you can't help but be happy when you are there. It is equally beautiful in the fall, so I suspect a drive over to the island is in order real soon.
First, its a great place to hug and be hugged.

The koi ponds are covered with beautiful lily pads and you can also watch the turtle families enjoying an afternoon swim.

And don't forget about the ducks.  There's little duck feeders for the kids around the ponds too.

Patrick has been to Margaret Island many times, but this was the first time he actually was awake for the trip. 

In the summer there's about twenty sprinkler heads shooting out spray fountains across a big open lawn.  These will suffice when you don't have the energy or the assistance to take your children to the swimming pools on the island. 

There's giant walking tracks lined with the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen.

There's nothing too noteworthy about this picture except to say he survived this overwhelming show of affection from his sister.  Aaaand, they really liked wearing their matching outfits. 

Sweet Paddy Pie

Claudia's favorite attraction of the island is the petting zoo:  ponies, peacocks, ornamental hens!

You know, when I ask her to come take a picture with me, it typically looks like this...
... but I sure am glad to get ones like this.  =)   I'm glad summer is over (mostly because we don't have proper air conditioning), but I do miss fun summer days like this.  Ok, now back to fall!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Budapest, at its Best, with Guests

Here is the last of our pics with the McGraws when they came to visit us last month. As an expat, nothing gives you greater joy than when friends cross the ocean to pay you a visit. I'm slowly recovering from their departure. These pics definitely cheered me up!
We squeezed in a trip to the Budapest wine festival the first night the McGraws arrived.  It was the last night of the festival and also Tanner's birthday.  This was also my first glass of wine since before Patrick was born (aprpoximately 16 months), so I probably should have stopped at one.  But I didn't.  I should have.  But I didn't. 

One night we headed out to Cafe Kor.  This is my favorite Budapest etterem and its right by the Basilica. Exceptional service, kind locals, different dishes every night and a perfect strolling location for after coffee and dessert.  If you ever have guests coming to Budapest or you are visiting Budapest, head to Cafe Kor and bring your cash or American Express.  Because they don't take Visa.  Which is strange and runs afoul of that tried and true Visa commercial narrated by Morgan Freeman. 
All too soon it was time to say goodbye.  We miss our friends dearly but we are so grateful that they came to visit.  We're so happy to introduce our second home to friends... so get your bags packed and come see!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Progression and Regression

As one of our children develops by leaps and bounds, the other is on the floor kicking and screaming. There's been lots of foot stompin' and attitude around here. And for once, its not Russell! Ha, I'm teasing. I suspect my Bop realizes that the days of snatching Paddy's toys and running off, consequence free, are drawing to a close!  The daily scene around here:

Oy vey!  I love this girl dearly, but she has definitely caught the sassy bug!
Disclosure, she gave me a big hug and kiss after this pic... so its not too bad.  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Eight is GREAT!

Last week Patrick Wallace rounded the corner of MONTH EIGHT!   Aside from some routine teething and a week long cold, it was a month of ups!   Patrick is officially sleeping through the night.  But this you know.  But guess what else...  Paddy is pulling up!  He's rocking on his hands and knees!  He's babbling!  He's dragging his little self back and forth across the floor!   He's eating us out of house and home!   It's so exciting to see Paddy developing and to see his happy, smiling face light up as he discovers something new about this world around him.   Here's some pics from this past month. 

Down goes Paddy!  Paddy goes down! 
I don't expect much cooperation for these next few monthly pictures. 

Paddy has SEVEN teeth!   He chews on everything, but paper products (particularly this Nutshell Library bookcase) are his go-to teethers.   He also has a thing for electrical chords, so we're about to step up the childproofing measures around here.

The exersaucer is still a favorite, but now he jumps wildly in it, to the point I think he is about to break it.  So far, so good, though.  So we just let him do his thing.
You'd think he would want to jump in this thing, called the Jumperoo, but he pretty much just likes to crawl underneath it and slap those green support thingies.  He pretty much likes to slap and hit all his toys, though. 

Here is Paddy's girlfriend, Ilse.  She moved to America today and Paddy and I are both crying over this one. 

Paddy is slowly starting to get more into reading.  Unlike Claudia, who, from the time of birth, could sit and read all day, Patrick gets really fidgety and starts slapping and ripping pages out of the books.  He is less angered by Suess books, so we stick with those. 

And here's a funny little story to wrap this up. Patrick wants to eat whatever we are eating.  The family took an outing for ice cream yesterday and Patrick just about went nuts when we wouldn't give him any. I held my cone pretty far out so he couldn't reach it. So my sweet Patrick leaned over, grabbed my arm and bit it! This is pretty out of character for Paddy, who is pretty much the most passive baby I've come across. I suspect we will be introducing the finger foods a little bit early with him.   Don't worry, Paddy, no hard feelings, buddy! 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oktoberfestivities... Ohne die Kinder!

That's the extent of my German.   It means "Without the Kids!"   Last weekend we hopped on a one hour flight to Munich, Germany with the McGraws to experience our first Oktoberfest.  This was also our first time to leave Paddy boy.  It was very nice to have an adults weekend, but I felt a constant nagging feeling, like I was forgetting something.  I did a key, phone and wallet check every five minutes.  The feeling went away once I got home and snuggled little man.  Claudia was pretty ticked we had left, but she perked up once we gave her her souveniers.  Oh, Bop. 
The opening weekend of Oktoberfest started off bright and sunny!

We enjoyed ourselves at the Augustiner beer house.   Augustiner beer has been brewed in Munich for over 500 years.  That makes this monastical beer (monastary brewed) beer the oldest in Germany.  They definitely have a good thing going.  I'm not much of a beer gal, but this stuff was pretty decent! 
The actual opening day of Oktoberfest was cold, wet and rainy.  Luckily, it takes more than a little rain to get those Germans down.  The party continued on with a parade and the first keg tapping at noon.  We were actually outside that day.  Everytime the rain picked up, everyone cheered, clanked their gigantic mugs and pounded down their beers.  We followed suit.  Well, to be honest, I tried.  I was definitely the weak link of our drinking team.

We ate lots of good food, drank countless beers, played lots of Cadillac and just enjoyed catching up with our best buddies. 

One night we visited the Löwenbräu house for dinner and more beer.  Löwenbräu means "lion's brew".   Another new beer I'd recommend.

The most exciting times were in the Augustiner tent.  It's not fair to call these things "tents", though. They are huge, with permanent frames and they hold thousands of Oktoberfesters.  The beer "ladies" carried about 10 beers (each roughly the size of your head) at a time and didn't seem a bit phased.   Russell managed to drink four beers at once.   Good job, Daddy boy!!   This was a weekend I'll not soon forget, but I sure am glad to be back to my sweet babies!
Happy Oktoberfest!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Venice

Here's the last of summer vacation.  Venice.  Let me start by saying that Venice... Venice is not kid friendly. Nope, nope, nope.  Don't get me wrong, I love it.  But I loved it more when Russell & I went there four years ago without the kiddos.  People don't live and raise families in Venice anymore because it's too expensive and inconvenient.  It's strictly a tourist town.  You can't get around with a stroller because of the canals and it's almost impossible to track down a package of diapers.  And if you do, be prepared to turn over your first born to pay for those diapers. 
That said, it's beautiful.  It's a city like no other in the world.  It is upbeat.  It's romantic.  And despite not being very kid-friendly, the folks in the restaurants, the hotels, the water taxis and gondolas are very friendly with the children.  And that almost makes up for the utter lack of diapers.  Almost.   
Claudia found a broom in a courtyard and proceeded to sweep the courtyard clean for thirty minutes.  Perfect opportunity for a coffee break!  We might just start packing a broom with us on all our travels. 
My favorite moments... speeding up and down the Grand Canal in the water taxis.  I don't think I will ever get used to the idea that this crazy city is underwater.  The streets are made of water.  The streets.  are made. of water!   Even the UPS guy makes his deliveries out of a gondola.

We ate our weight in gelato.  We ate so much gelato we got brain freeze.  We ate so much gelato it made some of us just pass out.  The pizza was decent as well.

There were many a close call where Claudia almost fell into a canal.

We got some culturing in at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.   Here I am being really classy next to the "Baby Poo" statue, pretending it is Paddy's poo.  Ryan Reynolds ("some B list actor", quote Russell) was standing behind Russell while we took this gem.  I'm fairly certain he didn't appreciate our hijinks.  I say let Ryan Reynolds have a baby that keeps him awake all night and delirious all day.  It might just realign his perception of what is and is not funny.  Besides, I'm well rested now and I still think it's hilarious. 

Claudia's favorite thing... chasing those pigeons in St. Mark's Square.  

It's hard to tell what Paddy's favorite part was... maybe it was the napping.  Maybe it was the eating of the mush.  But I suspect it was riding through the canals in the water taxis. 

I got giddy everytime I heard someone hollering "GONDOLA, GONDOLA, GONDOLA!" at me.  I think the gondola ride was Russell's and my favorite thing.  All too soon it was time to go home.  Venice this go-round felt like quite an accomplishment with the kids.  It wasn't easy, but it sure was beautiful! 

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