Thursday, December 26, 2013

St. Nicolas Day

December 6th is Szent Mikulás (St. Nicolas) Day in Hungary.  This is the day that Hungary and most other European countries celebrate St. Nicolas.  I love it that he is separated from Christmas Day, and after the 6th there is no more Santa Claus.  In Hungary children put their boots out and wake to find sweets in them.

I found out that the óvoda was going to have a St. Mikulás come on the 6th and do a celebration, so I asked if I could take pictures.  The teachers were excited about that and asked if they could have my pictures to put on the class website too.

DSCN0032St. Mikulás arrived to the children sitting in their chairs.  One of the teachers gave him a wrapped book.  DSCN0043He read from this book.  I have no idea what it was or what he was reading other than it was fairly long and there were things that the kids responded to.

DSCN0087Then, while St. Mikulás was there, some of the children played some different types of games and had some sayings that they did.  Ethan said that he hadn’t seen the children do these things before, so we were both pretty clueless.DSCN0094DSCN0121After the games each of the kids got to come get a present out of St. Mikulás’ bag.  DSCN0122Unfortunately he called on Ethan to be the first kid to come get a present.  Normally, this would probably be exciting for a kid, but Ethan usually watches what the other kids do in order to know what to do himself.  He understood St. Mikulás telling him to come, so he did and he figured out to take a gift, but I could tell that he wasn’t real sure what was going on.

After St. Mikulás left, the kids had a snack (which wasn’t the normal fruit, but sweet and salty things).DSCN0213I’m including a picture on here of the snack time because I think a few things concerning this are interesting in the Hungarian culture.  One is that the sweet foods and salty foods are always separated.  They aren’t put on a plate together.  Secondly, it’s just put in the middle of a table and the kids just reach for it (as you can see Ethan doing above) and eat it, instead of having their own plates.  And this way of doing things continues into elementary school from what friends have told me.  In fact when I have the women from my Body & Soul exercise class to my house for parties, they always stay in the kitchen standing around the food, even when it could be taken in the next room where they could sit.

DSCN0230These are Ethan’s three teachers:  Eszter néni, Zsofi néni, and Andi néni.  Néni means aunt, but that is what is used at the end of all of the teachers’ names.  (In Hungarian, the names come before the titles.)  The two on the left are Ethan’s teachers.  They rotate each week with one working in the mornings and the other in the afternoons, and then they overlap from 11:00-1:00.  The one on the far right is probably best described as an aid.  She doesn’t do any of the teaching but helps the kids with certain things.  She is also the one who cuts up the fruit for snack, etc.

Monday, December 9, 2013

First Campfire

We have a little fire pit-type thing in our yard that we’ve never used.  This summer we planned to build a campfire when we camped out in the tent.  However, we went to someone else’s house for a cookout that same night and didn’t get home until the kids’ bedtime, so it was too late to start a campfire at that point.  We decided that we would just do a campfire some other time even without camping, but just got around to it last month!

DSCN9548We invited the Beattys to join us for our first campfire (first for their kids too).not sure what they think about the fire Not sure what they think about the fire.

Sienna is still thinking, but Ethan and Evan discovered the fun of a fireSienna is still thinking, but Ethan and Evan discovered the fun of fire.

DSCN9626We found some marshmallows in a store here that was having an “American Days” sale for a week.  This was the kids’ first experience roasting marshmallows in a fire.  However, we gave Sienna a banana instead (as you can see in the picture above).  

DSCN9638 Ethan’s first taste of a marshmallow.  He ate one and a half.

DSCN9654We will definitely have to do this more often… after winter is over!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mom’s (and Kid’s) Time

There was no ovoda (preschool) the day after we returned from our church retreat, so I decided to invite some moms and kids over for a play time and tomato soup lunch.DSCN9404DSCN9398I expected it to be much colder than it actually turned out.  Not that it has to be cold to have soup, but no one seemed to mind. 

DSCN9408Since it was so nice out I decided to try to use up some of the home-made popsicles that I had made this summer. DSCN9410Sienna enjoying every bite of the blueberry, raspberry, yogurt popsicle.  And it even matched her shirt!

DSCN9415The kids enjoyed using the Strellmans’ yard along with our yard to run around and play!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Church Retreat

Our church here in Budapest had it’s 3rd retreat near the end of October.  We were glad for the opportunity to be able to attend, and even more glad that we didn’t have any responsibilities.  We were in charge of the other two church retreats, so it was a nice break.

We went to the same location as last time, so the kids knew there would be a trampoline and looked forward to it.  As soon as we arrived they went straight to jump on it.Sienna preferred being on the trampoline alone... Sienna preferred jumping on it alone as opposed to Ethan, who loved being on it with other kids (especially “big kids”).DSCN9393 Ethan is the one to the left in mid-air in the picture above.

...or in Daddy's armsSienna was actually okay with others being on the trampoline jumping at the same time as long as she was being held.

There were some animals that the kids enjoyed seeing.  You could buy food to feed them, and someone gave Ethan some to give to the animals.DSCN9368 DSCN9379Evidently, this ram has been fed by many children! 

DSCN9382I just had to get a picture of Sienna with these other girls from our church since they were dressed so similar.

IMG_8500The kids loved the pool.  The first time that Sienna was ever in a pool was this one at our last church retreat a year and a half ago.

IMG_8509Unfortunately we couldn’t fit all of the fun stuff into the free afternoon with Sienna’s nap time, but the kids still had a blast.

We were so thankful that the weather was SO nice, especially to be up in the hills of Hungary at the end of October.  It rained some during the last retreat, and this time, the weather was just beautiful!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Holiday Hike

October 23rd is a national holiday in Hungary, and we took advantage of the warm, beautiful weather to go for a hike. DSCN9308We went to an area in the Buda hills that we haven’t been to since I was pregnant with Sienna. 

DSCN9306Sienna was in the backpack most of the time.  She probably will be too big for the backpack next summer, so this was most likely her last time to have a nice, comfy, effortless hike.

DSCN9319Enjoying lunch

 DSCN9328On the way back we collected pine cones for decorating the house.  The best kind of decoration… free!DSCN9329DSCN9331We were so thankful for the beautiful weather and chance to go for one last hike before cold weather set in.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yearly Pumpkin Pictures

We try to take pictures of the kids with the wheelbarrow and some pumpkins each fall.  We have typically done this in October each year.  It’s interesting to compare the dates and color of the leaves from one year to the next.  Unfortunately, we waited until all of the leaves were brown this year.  However, we took these pictures on the October 23rd holiday and did the same on a different year with there still being many yellow leaves.  So, you just never know.

DSCN9213Ethan helping move pumpkins from the front porch to the side of the house.  Sienna tried too, but decided that the pumpkin was too heavy. 

DSCN9221 DSCN9250


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beethoven Park

Our neighbors spontaneously invited us to go to “Beethoven Park” with them one Saturday in October.  (We call it that because it has a museum in a chateau where Beethoven stayed for a time.) I’m not a very spontaneous person, and was actually sick, but decided to go since it was such a nice day and to just be with the kids.

Sienna and I had never been to Beethoven Park before.  When I was pregnant with her (and very sick) Gary took Ethan and his parents one afternoon when they were visiting.  It’s only about a 20-minute drive from our house, so it’s amazing that I’ve not been there in all of these years.

DSCN9095It looks like Nathan and Ethan were “fishing”, but they were actually putting large leaves in the water and then using these sticks to move them around.

DSCN9105We  had a picnic lunch with the Strellmans in a nice, sunny spot by the pond and these huge, beautifully-colored trees behind us.

DSCN9114Everyone holding hands around one of the trees during our walk.

DSCN9147Another interesting find for the kids.

DSCN9155Taking advantage of naturally pretty backgrounds

DSCN9191I was so thankful that we were spontaneous and joined the Strellmans.  We all had a good time and enjoyed a warm day in October as well as God’s beauty in creation.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fun in the Leaves

October is that time of year when the leaves from our maple tree fall to the ground.  The kids enjoyed playing in them last year, but even more so this year.

DSCN8987Our neighbors came over to “jump” into the excitement…

DSCN9017… and then took Gary down in the process.

DSCN9025Covering Dad with leaves is always fun!

DSCN9035And now it’s Sienna’s turn to be covered in leaves.

DSCN9043Our favorite picture

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bike Ride

DSCN8875 After Ethan realized that he could easily ride his bike without training wheels he constantly asked to ride his bike in front of our house.  This particular day he didn’t even take the time to put socks and shoes on; he just threw flip flops on and started riding.  I was hoping that none of our Hungarian neighbors were watching since it is a cultural no-no for him to be bare foot (or in flip flops) in cool weather.

IMG_8421The weekend after Ethan rode his bike without training wheels we decided to go for a bike ride.  Our neighbors, Ryan and Kevin, joined us for the ride. 

 IMG_8433This is the closest we got to a family picture on the ride.  We have a few without Kevin, but one of us is missing a head or something like that in the other pictures. :-)

IMG_8446Sienna enjoyed sitting back and going along for the ride.

IMG_8468Ethan is so happy that he can ride his bike like a big kid!