Sunday, September 29, 2013


We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful week here. Cool temperatures and lots of nice sunshine. We stayed outside as much as possible!
Claudia, impressed by the wind blowing a mess of walnuts out of their tree.  She has collected quite a few, now we're trying to come up with a tasty treat to make with them.
Patrick and one of his favorite toys... stick.  He has finally agreed to go peacefully from Claudia's classroom in the morning, on the condition that I let him run wild through the fields by her school.  

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."  

Inspired by Jodi.   

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall is My Favorite

Is it fall yet where you are?  Or are you moving into spring?  Either way, it's always exciting when the seasons start to change.  For us, the days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing and the garden is full of apples, plums and walnuts.  

We share several trees with our next door neighbors, so the boys next door have been coming over to help shake the trees for walnuts.  Claudia has been busy picking apples.   And I have kept busy cleaning smashed up plums off of Patrick.  He spends almost every waking minute outside under the plum tree, so this has become a full time endeavor.  I'm really over the plums.

I'm really glad she isn't afraid of bugs, but I'm also very surprised by how cozy she is with them lately.   It's all fine and good with me, though.  Just as long as they stay outside.  =)
We attended the National Gallop last week.  Every year, they shut down Andrassy, a huge thoroughfare running through Budapest, and turn Hero's Square into a giant dirt track for horse racing.  They are many local Hungarians that compete, but there are also riders from all over the world competing.  Qatar was the big winner this year.  
This one was just pitiful ...until she got...
... a lolly larger than her head... which gave me a flashback to 2011.
Nothing but smiles for the rest of the day.
After we drop sister off at school, this little guy gets to run wild through the field next door.
Are these fields of ragweed?  Canola?  I don't know.  But it's really pretty against the bright blue sky.  And there are all kinds of paths that have been cleared out for runners, cyclists and little adventurers like Patrick.  

Not sure why she looks so serious with her face full of curls and afternoon shadows.  Ever since she was  a baby, she has moments where she zones out and just stares at me without saying anything.  These make for good moments to get a still picture.
She snaps out of those quickly, though, and then I get faces like this.  
Patrick.  Busy as ever!

And see this?  They are really starting to do "stuff" together.   A few weeks ago, he swiped a marker off Claudia's desk and commenced his masterpiece on our living room couch.   =(   We steered him back over to the table and told him that this was where we draw.  On paper.  
Sometimes he gets a little grabby, but I'm really impressed that he wants to draw and can even hold the markers so nicely in his itty bitty hand.
And look how patient big sis is!   When they play together, there are so many activities that end in screaming and tears (e.g., Legos, blocks, doll house...), but this is not one of them.  Not yet, at least!
And voila!  A picture by them both.  =)

Happy fall to you all!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


We had our first touch of fall weather this week and that called for long pajamas and getting cozy in bed with a good book, the perfect activity when its cold and rainy! I hope she always appreciates the amazing places a good book can take her!
Patrick! One morning he just woke up and started using his spoon! Every morning preceding this one his utensils were nothing more than projectiles to be dodged and collected from under the table.  I'm proud and excited about where this is headed.  =)  

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."  
Inspired by Jodi.   

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Goodbye Summer + Hello School

The summers are not too terribly hot here in Budapest... usually in the mid to upper 80s (around 30 degrees Celsius), with just a few really hot weeks in the 40s.  So, unlike in Texas, I am sad to see summer go!  Boo!  Although, I love fall and all that comes with it, so I won't be sad for too long.  
The unfortunate thing about all this pretend driving is that the kids weren't pretending when they flipped the headlights on.
So the high beams stayed on into the night, until I saw them glowing in the darkness.  The lights were switched off, but the damage was done.  Dead car battery for Monday morning.  Boo to that too!  
But this is exciting... look who found his belly button!  Ah ha!
He loves wearing shoes and does his best to put them on himself.  This usually results in a big fit because he can't quite manage, but nevertheless, I am proud of his efforts and that he even wants to wear shoes period.  Sister was happy to run around barefoot all summer.

The days are definitely getting shorter, but we've been treated to some warm sunny afternoons.  Perfect for racing cars through the garden!
And look who can pull the wagon around by himself... Patrick!
I think it's still summer as long as the markets still stock watermelon.

And look who started school!   She was in the habit of sleeping late in the summers (unlike Mr. 5:00 am, Patrick Wallace McLendon), but on the first day she emerged from her room at 6:00 am, fully dressed, ready to go.

She was excited, but I couldn't get a smile out of her!
This came home in her "work folder" on the first day.
And this got me good... she was worried about Patrick and what he'd do for fun without her there.  I worried about this too, but as it turns out...
... he's doing just fine!  And I'm getting there!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Определенно да! (Definitely Da!)

A few weeks ago, we spent a few "White Nights" in St. Petersburg, Russia.  In the peak of summer, it never gets dark in St. Petersburg, hence the "White Nights".   Sure, this phenomenon occurs across the globe around and above this northern latitude, but it was my first time to experience it.   

When I say "experience", I mean I woke up in the middle of the night to walk Claudia to the bathroom, took a brief peek through the blackout curtains to figure out what time it was and then returned to bed, confused.   
I've been hopelessly curious about Russia since I was a little nerdy nerd, sitting on the front row of my high school World History class.  There is just something so haunting about the reign and eventual demise of the Romanov dynasty.   Plus, that whole Cold War was, at the very least, intriguing.   On a long weekend we hopped a short and sweet direct flight to the former city of Leningrad to see this pocket of Russia for ourselves.  
Torrential wind and rain aside, it was a lovely trip!
Palace Square... a huge open space connecting Nevsky Prospekt with the Winter Palace.  This place has been the scene of bloody revolutions, as well as a concert venue for acts like the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Madonna.  The massive square features the towering Alexander Column, a French designed monument to celebrate Russia's victory over, well, France, during the Napoleonic period.   It was pretty amazing to have it almost to ourselves, given the torrential rain.  
We dried off our soaking wet selves in the Winter Palace, now known as the Hermitage, one of the most revered museums in Europe.   I was most impressed with the rooms  preserved from the time of Romanovs.

Thoroughly impressed with the glittery gold adornments and finery, Claudia commented "oooh, this place is niiiiiice."   

We were thankful for a brief reprieve from the rain, which allowed us to walk around the city and truly admire it.  Everything is built on a very grand scale ... the streets, the buildings, the monuments... it's all very imposing and impressive.  

Window shopping for Russian delicacies.  Patrick and Claudia had a taste of caviar... Claudia was repulsed, Patrick gobbled the stuff up.   He has the weirdest taste.  He also likes the taste of beer and has a weakness for any food that has been sitting on the floor for extended periods of time.   

But for the intricate network of canals running through the city, you'd never know that St. Petersburg was built on a swamp.  Forged upon the delta of the Neva River, it was originally built as a fortified city, intended to give Russia access to the Baltic.  Tsar Peter I also wanted to give Russia a cosmopolitan city to rival those of Western Europe.  He culled out several thousand conscripted peasants from families across the then-feudal Russia to delve deep into the swamp and erect this grand city out of the mud.  Tens of thousands of such peasants died in this ambitious, yet pernicious endeavor.  

Claudia danced and sang in the rain.  I'm thankful that the weather didn't dampen her spirits.  She is a perfect little travel companion.  Patrick was also a good sport and sat peacefully in his bubbled stroller.

Bop.  Happy to walk through the dry and well appointed Hermitage.

So I just realized my one "good" picture of the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, the colorful onion domed cathedral modeled after St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, is zig zagged with no less than 100 wires.  Oops.  From Russia with love and phone lines.  =)
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