Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

This would be from Claudia's first Memorial Day two years ago. I never shared this one and I thought it was sweet. She was just a little jiggly glob of patriotism.

God bless all the soldiers who have risked and sacrificed their lives to protect us. God bless all the soldiers who protect us and keep us safe. God bless all the military families who make sacrifices for us. Words are never enough, but thank you. Thank you all for everything!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Giants Who Do the Tricks

Last night I told Claudia she had a "real treat" coming her way.
I pulled her off of camel/donkey/horse thing and put her in the car.
She relentlessly (and understandably) asked for candy for the next 20 minutes.
We picked up Daddy and went to the Budapest sport arena for the "treat".
After overcoming the initial disappointment that the treat was not candy...
or hamburger buns or fireworks, she warmed up to the idea of watching ...
the Harlem Globetrotters!
It was a night of American entertainment!
And Hungarian confusion!
The local crowd cheered relentlessly for the Generals,
while the Globetrotters shouted out chants and jokes that fell on deaf ears.
Here's our family pic.
At last... we're not sweating or smelly! Nevertheless, it's a blurry self pic.
I would have asked the gentleman behind me to take the pic, but...
... he was real busy filming a bootleg video of the game. Look!
Here's Claudia eating her dinner: a bag of paprika flavored chips.
There were no hotdogs or burgers at the arena;
luckily they had cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches!
Just as delicious.
This night was all about Daddy and Claudia having some fun together.
There were lots of hugs... lots of cheering...
and lots of questions about
"the giants who do the tricks."
We couldn't leave without some official (read overpriced) Globetrotter gear.
It was a great and late night for Bop.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paris is Always a Good Idea...

...so says Audrey. Bonjour folks! Daddy Boy had meetings in Paris last week so Bop and I tagged along. It was a short flight to some big fun. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... with a little bit of commentary here and there.
Here are some pictures from the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and Place de Concorde. The Champs Elysees is Paris' most posh thoroughfare. You can find fancy boutiques, tasty eateries and gobs of tourists. Claudia enjoyed some treats from Laduree (home of the macaron), while Russell and I people watched our way down the boulevard.
These are all from Notre Dame and the Ile Saint Louis. To keep Claudia interested, I told her that Notre Dame was actually Malificent's castle, you know from Sleeping Beauty. She didn't believe me until she saw the gargoyles perched around the perimeter of the cathedral. She'll never doubt me again. The Ile Saint Louis is a great little island in the Seine thats a quick walk from the cathedral. It hosts lots of cute little shops and the famous Berthillon ice cream shop. She liked that too.
Let the fun begin! These are from the Jardin des Tuileries, the expansive garden that abuts the Louvre. We rode the merry-go-round, bounced on trampolines and ran wild on the grass. Until someone told us to stay of the grass. You must stay off the grass.
Now, here's Jardin du Luxembourg. Where children are allowed to be children and run on the grass. They are also allowed to ride on carousels, play with push boats in the pond, ride ponies and tend to bee hives. We stuck to the playground and the push boats and had a great time. I am always amazed at the inventive playground equipment at European play yards. I don't know how half of them work, thus I am amazed.
Here's the Louvre, guys (and some shots from the adjoining Tuileries)! Don't let these pictures fool you. We didn't make it inside. We attempted to, twice, even. But Claudia wasn't quite in the mood for getting too intellectual. Luckily, there is a side entrace on the Rue de Rivoli where you can walk through the museum and see inside. Russell was able to see his favorite statue, which is called... which is called.... something about a lion crushing a serpent. That's the best I can remember. We've both Louvre'd before, but were hoping to show Claudia the Mona Lisa. Next time, next time.
These are from Cites des Enfants. This is one of the best childrens' museums I've ever seen. It's organized according to age group, so Claudia's floor was nothing but 2 - 5 year olds. They also practice crowd control, only letting in 75 children at a time. Quelle bonne idee! That means "what a great idea!" It's also a cute little town in Louisiana.
Here is the Beast's Palace, as in Beauty and the Beast. Claudia didn't really care about Louis XIV. However, her ears pricked up when we mentioned Belle and Beast, so we went with that story. The grounds were amazing. Versailles is amazing, but I can totally understand why all the French revolted... seeing how they had no bread to eat and their king probably used gold encrusted toilet paper.

Here are just a few of my favorite shots...

Tour Eiffel... sleeping BopPlace de Concorde (and Tour Eiffel in background) & happy Bop
McLendon family photo at Jardin du Luxembourg...
In the grand tradition of McLendon photos, we are hot.
And sweaty.
Possibly stinky.
Daddy Boy and Bop poking the boat along.
Me, having a realization that giving Bop a big wooden bamboo stick was a silly, stupid idea.
Claudia appreciating some modern art at Centre Pompidou.
More art... the Ten Lizes by Andy Warhol.
Liz Taylor forever!And now I've got bags to unpack, litter boxes to clean, clothes to wash...
... and a Bop to chase.
She's convinced that we can't see her if she "hides" in the suitcases and closes her eyes.
I'll let her hang on to that one for now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

School Days, School Days

This may be of high interest to the grandparents and little interest to others ... it's school picture time! Prints are headed your way! I hope everyone has a nice weekend. I'm also hoping the best for Butte La Rose, Louisiana. They are in the direct path of flooding from the mighty Mississippi. I'm also sharing some pictures taken by my friend, Katie Cangelosi in Baton Rouge. I thought Katie's were very good and worth sharing.

Prize pupil!
I wonder how they got her to smile so big.
I can't keep this picture from turning...
They said she stopped posing and just decided to take a nap.
Oatmeal made it into every single class photo. Front and center.
Baton Rouge river front
Young and old gathering down by the river, speculating what's coming next

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Splish Splash Szechenyi Baths!

The alternate title to this post could have been "Bathing at Ikea" (because Claudia referred to Szechenyi as "Ikea"), but I didn't want to freak anyone out. Thermal baths are really big in Budapest. There's about two-dozen here, but we've only visited one... the Szechenyi Baths in City Park. I passed by it a dozen times and always assumed it was a museum. Claudia's not huge on museums, so I paid it no mind. Upon learning that it is not a museum, but rather a network of swimming pools, we ventured inside.

See, look... looks like a museum.
But then you walk in and...
... swimming pools! Lots of them!
Hot ones, cold ones, giant baby pools, lap pools!
We stuck with this one. It was nice and warm.
See that circle? It's a moving wave pool that spins people around the circle.
I need to go back and video tape it.
I don't know why I still say "video tape."
I also call my DVD player "the VCR" and play "tapes" in my car.
Claudia had so much fun. So much fun.
The waters are enriched with minerals, so maybe we got some health benefits out of the visit.
They have races in the lap pool... check out the stadium seating for spectators!
Last shot before we left. It's one of the lobbies.
Pretty fancy for a swimming pool. =)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Greetings from the Land of Caves, Mermaids & Giant Slugs

This post is what I like to call a "hodge podge." Its a bunch of random moments strung together. Luckily, my snappy title seamlessly pulls it all together! This is Claudia saying... not really, but go with it Mom!You may notice that Claudia has some war paint on.
She got it at her first big girl party!
She got to go to Chelsea's birthday party this weekend.
For the following reasons, this was a big deal for Bop:
(1) She is obsessed with all things Chelsea;
(2) It was a big girl (age 5) party and big girls are her favorite thing;
(3) She got to dress up like a mermaid AND a fairy.
Mermaid getup.
She may have been the smallest mermaid,
but she had some big fun.
Observe the treasure hunt for mermaid jewelry. See Claudia?
Much like Easter egg hunts, this was right up her alley.
Moving on to the fairy part.
Here is where the fairies all went to sleep. That's Bop, smack dab in the middle.
Note, under normal circumstances, she fiercely refuses to nap on command.
This is not an issue when she is dressed in fairy garb.
I think this is what they call a breakthrough.
Claudia also had a hot date with Carsten, her little boyfriend.
They toured a cave together.
Halfway through the date, I noticed Claudia's skirt was tucked into her tights.
Halfway through the date, the children were kicked out of the cave for being too loud.
We went home and played, vowing to return to the cave another day.
Carsten mowed our lawn. Daddy Boy approved.
We returned to the cave with Daddy Boy.
If you find caves interesting, you'd like Budapest.
Hungary is covered with hills and mountains. They build all sorts of crazy stuff in caves here, e.g., a secret hospital used during WWII, a church, an underground network tunnels underneath downtown Budapest - which is now a giant antique store! The list could go on, but it won't.
The cave we toured is right by our house.
People go here to explore and also for asthma treatments!
The air and the temperature in the cave are apparently perfect for asthmatics.
Some people think caves are creepy.
I don't.
I think giant slugs are creepy. They can also be found all over Budapest.
We found tons of these gross dudes sliming their way around our yard.
As you can see, Bop isn't to crazy about the snails either.
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