Welcome!

Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boldog Karácsonyt! Merry Christmas

The Hungarian tradition is to open gifts on Christmas Eve....we decided to stick with our American traditions of opening gifts from "Santa" Christmas morning. Also in accordance to tradition, Keith left cookies and milk for Santa.
And SANTA DID VISIT US!!!! He left part of his beard in the cookie....and he didn't finish the cookie or milk, which I think was very wasteful of him.

But he left a note which was sweet of him. I didn't think Keith would wake up before noon, which was fine with me...I was wrong. Not only did he wake me up at 4:30 in the morning, he took video of the entire thing. The best part of the video clip is the very end.
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We did finally get up around 8:30 and made a lovely breakfast for each other and opened gifts. There were a couple of things missing in the packages from our parents, which was kind of a let down--I don't care about getting gifts. I hope the person who took them is enjoying the gifts very much.

Keith did an excellent job with my gifts....colored pencils that look like tree branches, purple and green nail polish, a hat, earrings, and an appointment for a massage...excellent job. :-)
I think I did equally as well with Keith's gifts....I got him a hat like all of the old Hungarian men wear, two ties, and a toy gun. He immediately shot everything in the flat...including the angel off the Christmas tree...
So our first Christmas away from family was a lovely...as lovely as it could be being away from family. It was quiet and mellow (when Keith wasn't chasing me with his new gun). We didn't know that EVERYTHING is closed on December 24, 25, and 26...so we only had cookies and alcohol in our flat. It was rather funny. :-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Vienna

My friend Christine, who I have known since I was 7, came to visit me in Hungary. She arrived late Thursday night, went to the Ladybird Christmas party with me on Friday, and at 2am on Saturday we left for Vienna.

Anna, Keith and Christine crammed into the back of Eszti's car


My Beszti Eszti organized the trip. The bus was to leave at 3am and get us to Vienna by 9am....however there was a massive snow storm and we didn't get to Vienna until shortly after noon.

In the parking lot of Tesco for a potty break......
I don't think I know anyone who loves snow more than Eszti

The snow was coming down in snowballs...seriously

Our first stop was the Schöenbrunn Palace and the market there.

Schönbrunn Palace together with its ancillary buildings and extensive park is of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. Scheduled as a listed monument, the whole ensemble, including the palace, the park with its numerous architectural features, fountains and statues and not least the zoo – the oldest of its kind in the world – was placed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1996.

In the possession of the Habsburg dynasty since Maximilian II, the palace passed to the ownership of the Republic of Austria at the end of the monarchy in 1918 and was subsequently administered by the Schlosshauptmannschaft Schönbrunn.
Christine, Anna, Me, Eszti

So first on the list was to get some forralt bor/gluhwien/mulled wine/whatever language you speak...so we could be warm..it was nagyon finom. The awesome part is that the mug costs 3 Euro and then each refill is only 2 Euro--ta da! Souvenir and eco-friendly!!

Anna, Eszti, Christine, Keith



I would love to see the palace gardens in the summer...but Eszti pretending she is some sort of garden creature was equally as awesome.


Typical Keith picture pose

By the time we left the palace, I was too exhausted to take more pictures...so I only have a few pictures of the actual Christmas Market. There we met up with Keith's friend, Andrej, who lives in Bratislava...t'was too short, but lovely nonetheless



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And some video of the market just before we left.

Ladybird Christmas Party

As much as I complain about my students for biting me or their mom trying to get me and my co-teachers fired, I am really, really proud of them. They've learned a lot and I get so excited when things seem to "click" for them...particularly speaking in complete sentences (in English). December 17th was our Christmas party...it was really nice.

After I was about to have the kids help me decorate the tree, I learned that the kids don't see the tree until it is decorated it. The angels bring and decorate the Christmas tree...the kids usually don't see it until Christmas Eve. So basically, I almost ruined Christmas for them....oops.

I baked over 100 sugar cookies and made frosting so we could decorate cookies as a class. It was so cute.
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We learned that Emma has the biggest sweet tooth...we had to throw a few cookies out because she kept licking the frosting off of them. Gina, one of the other teachers, caught her licking frosting off the floor that someone had dropped.
Emma

Gréta and Zsófi decorated all of their cookies with pink frosting. Zsófi helped me make the frosting earlier that morning.

Zozó is really good with drawing details...he outlined each one of his cookies.
It was really cute.

Dani used all of his frosting on about 3 cookies (you can hear me saying something along the lines of not using so much frosting). And then he was bored in about two minutes, which is why there aren't any photos of him.

In the evening of December 24th (or in the case of our party, December 17th), someone rings a bell to let everyone know we can see what the angels brought. People enter the room singing the song you hear in the video clip...sparklers on the tree are also traditional (I thought the school was going to burn to the ground). At the end of the video clip, my students are singing "Jingle Bells" while Keith plays guitar.



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Monday, December 6, 2010

St. Mikulás

Last night, St. Mikulás/Santa Claus left goodies in the boots of the Hungarian children--the gift giving on Christmas is the duty of baby Jesus or the angels. I though it was only that simple, but it turns out it is a bit more complex and there are more characters involved...

St. Mikulás also has a sinister elf friend, Krampusz. In Hungary's neighboring countries, like Croatia, Krampusz is portrayed as a devil figure...in Hungary, Krampusz is portrayed as mischievous rather than evil devil, wearing a black suit, a long red tongue, with a tail and little red horns. The Krampusz wields a Virgács, bunch of golden coloured twigs bound together. Hungarian parents often frighten children with getting a Virgács instead of presents, if they do not behave. By the end of November, you can buy all kinds of Virgács on the streets, usually painted gold, bound by a red ribbon. Getting a Virgács is rather more fun than frightening, and is usually given to all children, along with presents to make them behave.

Anyways, prior to really knowing this story, I received virgács and a chocolate Santa from my boss. I thought, "Oh, what pretty golden twigs...why did Eszter give this to me?" I took a closer look at this chocolate santa and saw that it looked more like a devil, and was then informed of sir Krampusz and the switch he gives to bad little girls....or more so now, as jokes....especially to people who don't believe/don't know the cultural tradition.......

Me after I found out the meaning of Virgács

I wish I knew this before I filled Keith's shoes with chocolates and a bottle of his favorite Hungarian beer....well, I guess I can always regift my twigs next year. :-) Or perhaps, I really did deserve the virgács...and Keith was a good boy.......doubt it ;-)



Keith's St. Mikulás Treats

Then later today, St. Mikulás came to my kindergarten!!! Only 3 of the 8 kids who where there today cried...poor Marcelo and Emi, who were so hysterical they were shaking....Keith did a great performance, even if the costume was mediocre...I think at least one of my students was on to him and his disguise....but Zéti was convinced and I think Mariana enjoyed it too (even if she too was a bit suspicious)

Here are video clips from today's events!

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday's crafts


This morning I made a Santa and an Elf. I made the brown and skin tone colors on the elf. I'm rather proud of that. ;-)


We will be doing these projects in class next week since St. Nick visits Hungarian children on December 6th.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

T'is the Season



As part of teaching kindergartners, I get to indulge my creative side. Here are a few of my creations. :-)

The roses are my favorite. They're made out of folded leaves.

This one I made while still at school, so I had access to some of the raffia there. Eszter (one of the girls I occasionally work with) and I made them with the students.


I made this one while waiting to meet up with Keith and Eszti for coffee. I had some extra green yarn in my bag, so I wrapped the stems of the together to create a rose stem.



This week (and part of last week), I've been sick. The tough part is...at the moment, I'm feeling a bit better...but about two hours after taking my antibiotics, I regurgitate them (vomacillin). So, I decided today was a good day to start decorating the flat for Christmas.
Living room light fixture


This is the window to our porch...if I took a head on photo, you would #1. see the reflection of the flash, #2. see me in my pjs and #3. see our laundry drying on the porch.


Family Fun magazine/website has some great homemade ideas too. In between naps, I was brainstorming crafts to do with my students. I think they could handle this one.
We made one of those "helping hands" wreaths when I was there for .5 seconds (aka a full day yesterday)

We will NOT be making this star. It wasn't easy...or fun...or family friendly

I'm also trying to figure out what to give my students for Christmas. I'm thinking an ornament like this would be good...but I think I need a bigger ornament. Since the school is called, Ladybird, I thought it would be cute to draw a ladybird (aka ladybug for American-English speakers--people speak British-English here) and write the year or something.

Any craft suggestions??

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Photos of Mount Pilatus

So my students ever-so-kindly gave me their germs, and I haven't left the flat since Thursday due to this gross stomach bug and a sinus infection and a lymph node so swollen, I thought it was the world's largest zit (gross, I know). Anyways, my options at the moment include: A. working on my thesis, B. updating my blog, or C. going back to sleep.

I choose option B:

Mount Pilatus is one of the northern most mountains of the Alps. The view was breathtaking--this picture does not do it any justice.



When we returned to the bottom of the mountain, we poked about the town while we awaited our train to return to Luzern.

There was nothing in the town, except a cyclist,
some granny-panties blowing in the wind

and beautiful fall foliage
Really, the fall foliage was as beautiful as the snowy mountains. Everywhere I looked in Switzerland was ridiculously beautiful. Again--I was kind of expecting random animals to come up to us and sit on our shoulders while we sang. Switzerland is a fairy tale setting.


Keith waiting for the train to return to Luzern

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mount Pilatus

The highlight of the Swiss trip (aside from feeling like a Disney princess and not helping small children blow their noses...) was the excursion atop Mount Pilatus.

Mount Pilatus from the train

Legends & Myths
The rugged cliffs above Luzern have been enveloped in mysterious myths and legends for eternity. In the Middle Ages, people believed that dragons with healing powers and spirits inhabited the rocky crevices. It was also believed that the restless ghost the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, found his lasting peace in Lake Pilatus. And so for a long time it was forbidden to climb the mountain - for woe betide any one who disturbed Pontius Pilate!

So basically, a flying dragon with healing powers and the ghost of Pontius Pilate live atop the mountain. Unfortunately, Keith and I didn't see either of these creatures, but we did get to ride on the world's steepest cog wheel train and see some pretty fabulous views of the Alps.

Keith's blog will probably talk about the dragons and other legends...so you can read about it there...


The cogwheel train that carries passengers up and down the mountain first opened on June 4th, 1889 as a steam operation, and became an electric operation on May 15th, 1937. The max gradient is 48% and the average is 38%, making it the world's steepest cogwheel train.
View from the train

I didn't take any video of the ride up because I was too busy trying to pop my ears so I could hear Keith's commentary.


Also, perhaps because I was a bit scared.

On the way down, I stopped caring. The view was incredible. Because of the grade of the decent, it seems like we're going much faster than the 9km/hour the train travels
video


Once we got the to top, the view was breathtaking. And obviously, one of the first things Keith did atop the mountain was throw a snowball...(please forgive me, I still don't know how to rotate video clips)


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Other ways Keith enjoyed the snow--ensuring he gets hypothermia.




On a clear day, supposedly you can see Zurich from here.

The view is best captured with the video we took.

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Keith tried to do a Vlog entry atop the mountain, but I was too busy trying to eat my sandwich to really want to participate...you can see my mouth full of food, then a "friend" tried to join in on the fun.


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Two things:
#1: When the bird landed on my head, it felt like it lasted a LOT longer than what it looks like in the video clip--it was traumatic
#2: I like the confusion with the camera at the beginning, so I didn't edit it out.

After some running around, we discovered the cave/tunnels with various lookouts. It was awesome.

oooo....a cave!


The non-alps side of the mountain








and I need to include one mushy picture...

awww...we're so cute!

Anyways, post cave exploration, marveling at mountains, and having my lunch threatened by a stupid bird, Keith and I went to the restaurant atop the the mountain for a drink. Shortly after sitting down, this group of people who were probably in their 70s sat down with their spoons and accordions and jammed out. It was too cute! Shortly after we started recording, the batteries died, so we didn't get the best parts of the jam session...but I think you get the feel for it.


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And that t'was our day atop Mount Pilatus!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glassblowing in Hergiswil, Switzerland

I haven't been too good about keeping up with my blog, especially about my trip to Switzerland. Anyways, Keith and I went to this glassblowing factory and museum in a town 10 min outside of Luzern. We got to make our own glass spheres. It was ridiculously cool...also, we watched guys doing glassworks. Check out the videos:


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Glassworks Factory


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Keith's Glass Orb Creating Process


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Meg's Glass Sphere Creating Process

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kalliope

I miss my high maintenance cat, Kalliope. She is currently living with Keith's parents and their other cat. Sometimes when I half wake up in the middle of the night, I think I feel her creeping up the bed to either snuggle or maul my face.

Baby Kalliope


snuggle bug/bed hog


She enjoys rubber bands, sponges, belly rubs, and puzzle pieces