Archive for September, 2011

We took Avery to the eye doctor today. Finally. We took her in because her left eye kept turning in toward her nose, especially when she was tired. It’s been happening for about 6 months now. The good news is that her right eye sees just fine. The bad news is that her left eye is so bad it’s almost useless to her apparently, and it was bad enough that they couldn’t get a prescription for it today and we will have to go in again after dilating her eye four nights in a row so they can check it again.

I made something of a tactical error in this whole thing. I was trying to prep Avery a little bit this week and this morning by telling her what was going to happen: that they were going to check her eyes and look in them and maybe use a machine to see how her eyes were and that at the end we might need to get her some glasses. She didn’t say a whole lot about it all except that she did make it clear that she would want little glasses. Not big ones. She did fine in the appointment, but when we walked out of the office without any glasses she got kind of upset. “Mommy, I want to get glasses. I want small pink ones.” We spent a half an hour or so this morning explaining that she would get glasses, but not until we go see the doctor again, which unfortunately won’t be for another month because that was when their next opening was.

So, with that news out of the way, I would like to tell you about the Nemzeti Vágta or National Trot. There’s a large memorial near where we live called Hősök Tere, or Heroes’ Square in English and last weekend they blocked off the road that goes around it, poured down more trucks worth that I thought would fit on the tiny Budapest roads of sand, and had horse races around it. We saw about three races. There was a service activity that weekend, so we had to hit it kind of fast at the end of the day, but it was really fun. My favorite part (although it’s a little sad) was the second race I saw, where one of the riders fell of his horse in the middle of the race. I was watching and there went a horse and jockey, and then a horse with an empty saddle rushing past. But the best part is that the horse just kept going. He did another lap or two (I saw him go past riderless twice) and I think he finished second or third in the race!

Ivan got his fix of Kürtőskalács and they even had a flavor he hadn’t tried: cranberry. Avery has asked to go see the horses nearly every day this week, so I think it was a hit all around.


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Evelyn – 17 months

Evelyn is a little imp. She has a funny little sideways grin and she knows when she’s doing something she shouldn’t. That said, she’s pretty obedient most of the time and she loves to do things I ask her to and being praised for doing them.

She loves doing new things. I took her to the corner store with me, just her and me, and she got to walk instead of being in the stroller. She was soooo excited. She nearly ran the whole way and once we got in the store she was everywhere at once. You could see her whole little self overflowing with giddy joy. She figured she was a big girl now!

She really likes to imitate still and I find her doing all the things Avery is doing. Today during church Avery laid down next to the pew (she wasn’t supposed to) and as I was getting her up and back on the bench, Evelyn walked over next to her and spread herself out on the floor in just the same position Avery had been in. And then when Avery was up, Evelyn climbed up too.

Evelyn went to nursery for the first time last week. She got to start nursery early because I was called to be the nursery leader. So she gets an extra six weeks or so of nursery. Since I was in there, we haven’t had any problems and she does fine in nursery. She’s a little clingy sometimes so maybe it’s good that they put me in there, although I think she probably would have been fine after a week or two. The first week we sat her on the chair and I think it was an hour before she moved or made any noise. She just sat there watching all the other kids and eating snacks.

She really likes books lately, and she’ll go grab one and bring it to me to read. She really likes turning the pages, so most of the time we read an abbreviated version. She’s also widening her vocabulary a little bit. She added “ball,” “juice,” “dress” and “shirt.” They sound like “ba,” “deuce,” “dis,” and “shuh” (I think) and she says “gocks” for socks now instead of “dots.” She uses “dis” for “this” and “dats” for “that” a lot. Most of her verbal communication is “dis” or “dats” and me trying to figure what on earth she’s pointing at. She says a lot of words once or twice and then we don’t hear them again, but these are the ones that have stuck.

She’s still kind of a picky eater, but not nearly as bad as she used to be. She will eat lunchmeat and hot dogs, but no healthy meat really. She won’t touch chicken or pork or beef unless it’s in hotdog form. She likes most fruit and has enough molars now to chew apples pretty well. She really likes watermelon, but unfortunately it’s out of season already. She won’t do vegetables still and sometimes bread with honey is all I can get her to eat in the grains department, but sometimes she’ll eat noodles. I’ve started letting her have yogurt once a week or so, but I have to be careful about it. Last week I gave her macaroni and cheese one day and yogurt the next day and she had some cake with a little bit of cream in there somewhere too, and the next day she was runny nosed and coughing. She seems to be tolerating the milk a little better, but not all that well still.

I feel like it’s hard for me to get her little personality down in print and it’s hard to write about either of my kids because their little selves are so dynamic, but Evelyn is a really darling little thing. She’s fascinated by so many things and so curious about everything and how things work. It’s so fun to watch her put things together and try to use things like Mom and Dad and her big sister do. She explores everything and then turns it around and explores it again and it sounds corny or cliché, but she really does giggle with delight as she does it. She loves to help me do things. She grabs her crib when I move it into our room every morning and pushes on the bars while I move it, and she helps me close the door to the bathroom after we wash our hands. She does it with this knowing grin on her face too, like she’s saying “Look, I know how this works…” She’s in a fun stage.

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Two weeks ago playgroup was up in Esztergom, which is about an hour and a half train ride North and a little West of Budapest. We’d been meaning to go see Esztergom for a while so we decided to take advantage of playgroup being up there and make a day of it. Esztergom was originally the capitol of Hungary until it was destroyed in one of the many invasions of Hungary and the King decided to move to the hills of Buda which are a little easier to defend. The basilica there rests on the place where the first King of Hungary, Istvan was crowned by the Pope after accepting Christianity for himself and therefore all of Hungary apparently.

Playgroup was really fun and Sylvia’s house had a beautiful view of the Basilica that Esztergom is known for. Avery got to go swimming in the little pool they had there and she swam until she was shivering so badly she almost couldn’t talk. Even then I had to pull her out against her will. After playgroup Sylvia was really kind to pick up Ivan at the train station and then drive us all to the Basilica.

Esztergom basilica from the river

The inside was very pretty and very large. Ivan says it’s the tallest building in Hungary and one of the largest in Europe. I’m not sure where he gets his facts from, but I would believe it.

The ceiling dome


The woodwork was nice. Can you find Avery's little head?

After seeing the inside I went up all the millions of stairs to the top of the dome to see the Danube bend from up high. Ivan was nice and stayed down with the kids, which was good because the last set of stairs was so narrow the stroller would not have been a good idea, and I was nearly dead on my own by the time I got up there. The kids would not have been fun to haul up with me. The view was nice, but not as exciting as I was expecting I suppose.

There was a museum built on Roman ruins that was neat to see from above.

Some really old bells on display on the way out

We took a boat back to Budapest because the boat dock was significantly more convenient to get to from the church than the train station, and also so we could see the Danube. On the way to the dock we had a couple minutes so we stuck our feet in the Danube. It felt really good. It was one of the hottest days of the Summer and the temperature was up in the mid 30s C or mid 90s F if I remember correctly. The boat trip was about 3 1/2 hours (there’s a faster one, but it’s more expensive and didn’t leave when we needed it to or something like that). Avery fell asleep about a half hour in and slept the entire trip. Evelyn on the other had ran giddily around the entire boat for the whole three hours. Kids are funny.

From the river is the best way to photograph the basilica I think. We also saw the castle at Visegrád.

And the new bridge north of Budapest that we learned last week they just built about two years ago.

We got home around 9 and got to work on getting Avery to go to sleep after a 3 hour nap. Esztergom was a lot of fun though.

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Avery is learning about family relationships. She’s figuring out that her Grandma is my Mom and that Daddy and I are married. Because of this she often refers to us by these relationships. When she’s talking to me Evelyn is “my sister” or “your daughter” and they together are “your daughters.” She tells me “Look! Your daughters are sleeping!” instead of “Look! We’re sleeping!” She does it with Ivan and me as well. She asks me “Are we going to see your husband?” instead of “Are we going to see Daddy?” We’ve gotten some interesting looks from friends we’ve been with when she says in church “Look! Your daughters are holding hands!” She also pronounces “daughters” very distinctly like “Dot-ters” which only adds to the silliness.

Avery would rather be anywhere than home. She asks me everyday “Where are we going?” She’s in heaven the days we go to playgroup and then go home with a friend to play for a couple hours and if we don’t leave the house she gets cranky. She’s quite the social butterfly.

Things she says:

Hot E gos – Taquitos

Hatshi cakes – Háztartásikeks

Bekfrist – Breakfast

Mushtile – Mustache

On Wednesday she wanted to pet a kitty, but the kitty ran away so Ivan said “Here, pet me. I’ll be a kitty.” She said “No! You’re not a kitty! You’re nothing!”

I stretched out a towel so it would lay flat on a towel today and Ivan said “Woah! Mommy just man-handles it!” Avery’s response was a little angry: “Mom’s not a man! She’s a lady!” Apparently I lady-handle towels.

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One disadvantage to living in the United States is that you only get one kind of grape. Granted, it’s seedless, has a thin skin and is mild, but you still only get one kind of grape. Sure you might seem some other strains occasionally, but for the most part grapes are as uniform as cheddar cheese (maybe less if you count white cheddar as different that orange). Today we went to the market and I purchased 7 different types of grape. I know that’s rather pathetic since Wikipedia lists 858 different varieties in English and 72 in Hungarian (one that I bought wasn’t on either list) but in my defense it was only one day (and hence not all 72 are in season) and I only bought those marked with names that I could see. I’ve been meaning to buy “all” the different types of grape for some time, and today seemed like a good day to start since they were selling Souvenir grapes which I had never seen before. They are elongated and look like ornamental purple peppers.  They are exactly the sort of thing that a man like me cannot pass up. Apparently Hungarians love peppers so much they even have grapes that look like them!

The Seven Grapes

The grapes are, from left to right, top to bottom:

  • Saszla (Chasselas). There is also a red version which I didn’t buy.
    These are the most common and most like American table grapes.
  • Muskotály (Muscat).
  • Palatina Augusztusi Muskotály (Muscat).  I couldn’t really tell the muscats apart.
  • Othello (cross of Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia, and Vitis
    vinifera–whatever that means since they all have many varieties).  This was my favorite.
  • Néró (cross of Medoc Noir and Pearl of Csaba).
  • Boglárka (translated Buttercup).  This was my least favorite and kind of the American “alternate” grape.
  • Szuvenír (translated Souvenir).  This were actually very nice, but I was expecting too much.  I wanted them to taste radically different and they didn’t.
We also bought fresh garlic, red onion, and smoked black pepper cheeses (we previously bought paprika (red pepper), olive, and cumin flavored).  When we got home I had an old fashioned unpressed wine and cheese tasting.  If only every Saturday were this nice.

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I finally took a decent picture of the Hungarian Parliament building. It’s not great, but it’s surprisingly difficult to get a picture of Parliament at night to turn out, so I was excited.



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Evelyn – 16 months

Evelyn is at that stage where it’s difficult to take a good picture of her because she’s always moving. She ran off with Avery at the pool the other day and it took us several very nervous minutes to locate the two of them, so she’s keeping up pretty well with her sister lately.

She’s learning new words all the time too. Her favorites right now are “deuce” (juice) and “dooz” (shoes). She uses “diss” and “dat” (this and that) a lot as well. She understands quite a bit and follows directions really well. I ask her if she wants a hot dog and she runs to the kitchen. She gets her shoes when I ask her if she wants to “go.” Of course, she gets her shoes about three times a day even if we’re not going, but I’m pretty sure she understands “go.” She also responds to direct directions like “go get your shoes” and “go get in your high chair.”

She’s a cuddly and mostly pretty happy little thing. She comes up to me and attacks me with kisses pretty frequently. She “aaabaaa” kisses whichever part of me she happens to run into as she hurls herself at my legs. It’s very endearing in a slobbery sort of way.

She loves outside, fruit, shoes, hot dogs, baby dolls, being held, looking out the window, swimming, books, and clips in her hair like her big sister. She’s been a really good little mimic lately. When I take a bath she stands next to the bathtub and rubs her hands together as I rub soap into my hands and then rubs them all over her face as  I wash my face. She watches me intently the whole time and rubs her head when I wash my hair.

She’s gotten two new molars this month. Both of them caused her a fair bit of discomfort. She’s not very good at teething. She hasn’t figured out how to get more than one at a time and be done with it. I think she got her first two teeth (the bottom front ones) at about the same time, but all the others have come in slowly and painstakingly in pairs, but each about 1-2 weeks apart. So she got her left bottom molar early this month and her right one came in about a week ago. It makes for some long nights of whimpering. Poor kid.

Evelyn’s a pretty good sleeper. She takes one nap, usually about 2 hours, and she usually sleeps between 10 and 11 hours at night. Bedtime is 8:30 and she is usually up by 7:30 and naptime is sometime between noon and 2. She’s pretty regular and it usually takes about 10 minutes of walking to get her to sleep at naptime. At bedtime I walk her for about 15 minutes and then put her in her bed next to Avery’s and they go to sleep together. It’s nice to have a big sister sometimes.

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