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Archive for August, 2010

Evelyn at 4 months

We’re a little late, but Evelyn is four months old! She’s getting pretty big, she’s pretty well out of all her newborn clothes. She still has one outfit and a pair of shorts that we can squeeze her into, but she’s a 3 month outfit girl for the most part. She’s actually already growing out of her 3 month Gerber onesies. Those always seem to be quite a bit smaller than most other clothes.

Evelyn giving a funny face

She’s learning to use her hands pretty well. She can hold onto a toy for a few minutes and has figured out how to get things to her mouth without bonking herself in the face. We’re approaching the “everything goes in the mouth” stage, which makes me a little nervous, but since she’s still pretty immobile, I’m not too worried yet. She’s getting some pretty good upper body strength (as you might have noticed from the picture) and she rolls from her stomach to her back, but will only do it once a day. When I put her back on her tummy she looks up at me and grins for a little while and then starts crying.

Evelyn discovered her feet a couple weeks ago and they are her new favorite toy. It’s hilarious to watch her follow these floating appendages with her eyes. I now know why baby clothes have little winnie the pooh and other cute footies on them. She actually gets her foot in her mouth and slobbers it up really well about once every three days or so. Her hands are also still fascinating.

She’s sort of developing a little personality. It’s really funny to watch. When she’s excited she kicks her legs really really fast and starts breathing quickly. She stops crying and will look at you and grin in hopes of being picked up if you come into her range of vision. She also lets you know if she’s upset. If I’m not quick enough getting her fed when I lay her on the bed to feed her she erupts in screeches and she’s lately done the same thing if you don’t let her have some of your food. I guess it’s maybe time to start some solids.

She’s been pretty cranky the last month. I don’t know what the deal is, but more days than not she won’t let me put her down. Some days she won’t even take naps for more than a half an hour or so unless I hold her. So, we hear a lot of screaming and I just don’t get a whole lot done some days. Dishes have become an afternoon activity because my nights tend to be spent holding her. She does usually have an hour sometime in the morning when I can put her down and get some things done and many days she’ll be happy for 15 or 20 minutes after I feed her in the afternoon. I’m hoping she grows out of this a little faster than Avery did, but we’ll see.

She’s still pretty cute. She has the prettiest blue eyes, especially when I dress her in blue. She and Avery are pretty good friends as long as Avery doesn’t smother her. Avery comes and reads her books sometimes or talks to her and sometimes the two of them will “play” for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s pretty adorable.

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We went to Eger this week. Ivan has been before and posted about it last Fall, but I had never been, so he was nice and went back with me. It was something of an adventure.

Somehow we got the wrong train schedule. I think we must have gotten a weekend schedule or something because we thought there were trains every half hour. Turns out they were every hour, which meant we had to wait for a full hour when we missed the 8:00 train. grrr. But that was okay. We made it, Avery was only a little cranky, and Evelyn was just happy to be in her wrap and somewhere new.
Ivan and Avery on the train
Unfortunately the later train meant we just missed the organ concert at the cathedral. We were a little bummed, but came back and took a peak inside the church a little later. It was pretty.

Then it was on to the Lyceum. Apparently the bishop of Eger at one point wanted to build a University in Eger, but the people in charge in Vienna wouldn’t let him. So instead he built a big Lyceum where he trained teachers and stocked it with a nice big library and the best astronomical equipment he could find (so there, Hapsburgs…) We only went to the library, as the astronomical museum was on the fifth floor and we had a stroller and a baby. The library was pretty neat. It’s a big room with two levels. A balcony allows access to the upper level. The tops of the book shelves are arched and they’ve arranged the books so carefully that the books under the arch are done each a little bigger than the last and then a little smaller than the last so they fit the arched contour of the shelf. It was kind of funny. There were some pretty massive books there too. Apparently most of their books are in latin, but they had books in some 30 something languages total and they had an atlas, an anatomy book and some others out for display.

The library had a really cool painted ceiling as well. You’d swear it was 10 or 20 feet high because it’s painted as if it was arched, but apparently it’s really only about a meter.

Then on Dobo Istvan Ter and the castle. Dobo Istvan Ter is named after Istvan Dobo (Hungarians post last names first like the Chinese and Japanese) who was a hero in the battle at Eger that repelled the Turks in spite of ridiculous odds of about 2 to 1. Apparently even the women helped out by pouring hot tar over the castle walls. On the right of Istvan Dobo is a woman with a kettle of tar.

Statue at Dobo Istvan Ter
The castle is just up the hill from Dobo Ter and was interesting. Of course there were cannons and rock walls. There were some ruins of an old church with some graves and high walls to look off of. The view was really pretty spectacular. Eger is a pretty place. I thought the holes in the walls of the castle that they shot cannons out of were cool because it showed you how thick the walls were, but the whole thing was pretty cool.
View from the wall of Eger Castle

Inside there was a wax museum. This is Evelyn and I standing next to Istvan Dobo:
Dobo Istvan in Wax

We also saw the grave of Geza Gardonyi, who wrote the famous book Eclipse of the Crescent Moon which tells the story of the battle in which Eger is saved from the Turks (unfortunately a little later the Turks came back and they were less successful).

Then we went and saw the Minaret that Ivan blogged about last Fall. It’s the most Northern in Europe. I wanted to climb it, but the line was really long and Evelyn was asleep in her wrap, so we decided to go to the Marzipan museum instead.

Can I just say that I hadn’t even heard of marzipan until I was 16 and that I had no idea it was an artistic medium until this year? I was apparently missing out. This museum was kind of mind blowing. It’s not really huge, but it’s ridiculous that everything in there is made out of marzipan (it’s a sugar and almond paste that you make candy out of if you didn’t know…).

There was an entire Baroque style room all made out of marzipan – even the floor panels.
Marzipan Baroque Room

Some Russian style nesting dolls. There were a whole row of them, but the one shows you better detail.

Marzipan Russian Dolls
There was a grandfather style clock that was taller than me, some pillows, recreations of Van Gogh’s sunflower painting and a Picasso painting, a series of comics, shoes, Easter eggs, a record player. The pieces that really got me were the ones with wood. Kosci (the artist) put a grain in the wood that was so realistic, Ivan didn’t believe the first wood piece was marzipan. He thought the museum hadn’t started yet.

After the marzipan museum we went to Palacsintavar, a pancake restaurant near Dobo Ter. It was fabulous. I have to explain here that Hungarians take pancakes very seriously. Their pancakes are more like crepes and they put all sorts of delicious things in them. We had a chicken curry pancake for dinner and a peach and vanilla cream pancake for desert. This is the peach and vanilla cream version:

Peach filled pancakes
Now for the traumatic part of our trip. Because we had the wrong train schedule and because of some general confusion with our ticket (we couldn’t figure out if we’d bought a round trip ticket or just a really expensive one way) we missed the last train out of Eger and found ourselves stranded at the train station with two babies. We were a little stressed. We finally found someone to talk to and she told us that we had indeed bought round trip tickets, and they would be good the next day, so that was a little bit of a relief, but we had to go find somewhere to stay. All the hotels were in Eger proper, a pretty good hike from the station. There was a motel in the same building as the train station. We were really afraid it would be super expensive because it was right there, but we decided to call anyway. It turned out it was actually really cheap – about $15 per person. So we spent about $35 to stay in this pretty nice room with a double and twin bed. The only drawback was that it had community toilets down the hall, but I didn’t really mind. We had a shower and a sink in our room, so we were fine. No towels, though. We had to drip dry.

We spent a nice night there and caught the 8:30 train the next morning. We got home about 11:30 kind of smelly and a little hungry, but we were fine. We even had enough diapers for the munchkins. So if you ever get stuck in Eger, we recommend the Lokomotiv tourist motel. It’s right next to the back entrance of the train station.

Avery at the hotel in the morning. Love the hair :)

Avery's hair in the morning.

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I bought Culinaria Hungary for Rachel’s birthday and it contains a recipe for Kovászos Uborka—which being translated means leavened cucumbers.  This is allegedly a favorite summer treat of Hungarians, and indeed, the neighbors downstairs made some (we saw them on the porch in a massive jar).

Packed and ready to goEssentially, you put gherkin cucumbers in a jar with some dill and garlic. Stick a slice of bread on top and pour warm salty water over it. Then you let it ferment in the sun for several days, and voilà! Fresh gherkins to be served ice cold without the brine. The juice is quite refreshing and apparently is also good when diluted with soda water.  The garlic slices come out great—even though they don’t even taste like garlic anymore.

One day oldI told my adviser that we made kovászos uborka so that he would know what happened if we died. He said that we probably wouldn’t die, but they can be both over and under done. I guess we did okay since they seem pretty tasty to me.

All finished and strained—ready to eat!We eat the gherkins on sandwiches and hamburgers, which is probably heretical, but extremely tasty. Now, to make sandwiches you need bread, and what better way to buy bread than 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) at a time? At least that’s what we decided on the advice of our old landlord. The bread, known as peasant bread, is quite good—soft and spongy, but we ended up eating a lot of bread for a few days. It may be a while before we buy another full loaf—luckily they sell half and quarter loaves.

Avery is trapped under 3 kilos of bread

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