Tuesday, November 25, 2008


My hard drive crashed so I will no longer have a working computer. The computers at my school are from 1985 and will not allow me to upload pictures. I probably will not be posting on this blog again until I get home. I also do not have phone access any longer.

Contact me via email at laurlawrence10@hotmail.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just Another Day at School

My second graders are just so doggone cute! I love them all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Flat is a Salon

Reagan's highlights were about four inches outgrown and not looking so spectacular, so we decided to try a home haircoloring kit.
Here is the before....
Here is the during....
Here is the after....
My baby has fresh auburn hair!
Isn't she pretty?!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Beautiful Girl

My child model. These are shots from Reagan's stock photo shoot this summer. Her first paying gig!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jack Has a Friend

My new favorite Hungarian word is "csiga" (pronounced chigah). It means "slug". This is our jack o'lantern after sitting a few days in the warm weather. The creepy crawlers are out to play and feast on poor jack's face. These slugs are so disgusting. I have seen them as long as my shoe. God forbid I step on one when walking at night. Csiga guts!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hol Van a Mascka? (Where is the cat?)

So about three weeks ago a local family bestowed one of their kittens upon Reagan. (Much to my surprise). There were a couple of problems with this: a.) I was not sure if we were allowed to have pets. b.) We had no supplies for a cat. c.) It was covered in fleas. Upon discovering the fleas on the kitten I instructed Reagan to put the kitten outside. Surprisingly enough the kitten remained and soon became our outdoor cat. We named her Princess Buttercup (pronounced Preenceesss Bootercoop by the local children) and we kept a towel on the front step and a food bowl. The kitten was ours. This little mascka would come when we called it and it was sweet as could be.
Three days ago Reagan and I were headed down the street to go to the grocery store and Princess Buttercup was chasing us down the street, crying the whole way. She ran behind us for two whole blocks before turning back for home. So cute, just like a little puppy! When we got back from the store we called for her, but she did not come. Nor did we hear her familiar meowing from afar. I looked around and saw a shape in the road behind me. Sure enough, Princess Buttercup had been hit by a car and was lying in a puddle of blood. It's strange. We only had her around for a few weeks but I still keep looking for her each time I walk past our front door. Sorry PB... you were a good little mascka. Reagan will miss her very much. :(

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adventures in Eger-land

Eger: A fairytale setting.

My friend Christie came for an overnight visit so that the three of us could go explore another town in Hungary. Around noon we set off for a town called Eger that is roughly an hour and fifteen minutes away from Szerencs. The train ride there was an adventure, with a change of trains in some unprouncable town in the middle of nowhere. Here is the snazzy conductor who helped us find the right train. Don't you just love his cap?!

When we arrived in Eger we hopped on a bus that took us toward the Centrum. Nearly every town in Hungary has one of these, and it simply refers to the city center, which is usually also the downtown. This is the site that greeted us as we stepped off the bus (see photo #2). Fall trees and a beautiful building in the background.

We headed toward the buildings and stopped to snap a few photos before descending down a steep flight of stairs in front of the building in photo #3. At the bottom there was a door built into the side of the hill and a sign advertising tours of the underground wine catacombs. Of course we had to go!

It was about a 30 minute tour spoken only in Hungarian of underground tunnels that were creepy enough to film Saw VI in. The walls were all wet and in some areas little bridges had been built to keep our feet out of the mud and standing water. The guide gave us a printed sheet in English that explained everything we were being shown.

After emerging from the chilly wine tunnels it was time to head down the cobblestone streets of Eger in search of some Forros Must, (proncounced: fourosh moosht), which is a mulled hot rose wine. It smelled divine and tasted like a mixture of nail polish remover and robitussin. NOT delicious. At least it warmed our hands!

Next we hoofed it up the hills of Eger to view the castle. This was one of the prettiest castles I have seen so far in Hungary. They are all preserved so well. This one was especially interesting because they had people dressed in costume roaming the grounds brandishing weapons and playing instruments. The costumed wanderers were kind enough to pose with us in pictures and even let Christie blow on their horn. It was very Narnia.

For dinner we went to a Hungarian restaurant that had finnom ennivalo (delicious food!) We ordered baked brie with cranberry garnish, greek salad, lamb goulash, baked eggplant with spicy mushrooms and peach chicken. It was quite delicious!

On the train back to Szerencs we had a random man with a flashlight help us find our way in the schedule. People are so happy to help! On our second train we made friends with a cute Hungarian guy named Janos (Jannie for short "Yannie"). He is also an English teacher and he lives in the same town as Christie. Now we have a new buddy!

The next day it was pumpkin carving time. We walked into town and visited all of the grocery stores to try to find a pumpkin (turk in Hungarian). Not a single pumpkin was to be found. Then the little neighbor girl that we had with us told us that her grandfather has pumpkins and he would give us one. Her grandfather lives right next door and his menagerie of animals wakes us every morning. Goats, roosters, chickens, rabbits, dogs and cats. Oh my!

So we went to the "farm" and selected a pumpkin. Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect color....gray? Yes. Not a single orange pumpkin in the plot. Instead it was a ghostly gray color unlike anything I have seen before. Odd.

At home I selected our longest dull knife (our knives are so dull they might as well be spoons) and went to work hacking away at the pumpkin. It turned out soooo cute! We put a candle in it and put it in the bathroom with the light off so that we could see how well it glowed. Adorable!

After that it was time for Christie to head back to her own town. Great trip

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back to Reality

Hello world! I have been out of touch for three weeks due to a jam packed schedule and traveling to Ireland, England and Budapest. My boyfriend, Brian, from America, flew out to Hungary on the 13th and came to visit Reagan and me in Szerencs for a week. He was nice enough to visit all of my classes and to perform his musical talents for the classes. The kids went crazy for him. They crowded around him every single time they saw him in the hallway and demanded his autograph. It was great. I am sure when classes resume after our fall holiday that they will still be talking nonstop about my celebrity boyfriend from America!

After being in Szerencs for a week, we boarded the train to Budapest and headed to the airport. We were on our way to Ireland to spend three days exploring the green hills and the city of Dublin. Ireland as predicted, was amazing. The weather was decent... rainy at some points and chilly, but it is autumn after all. While Brian recovered from some of his jet lag and slept in, Reagan and I went on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Dublin. I know some people are not a fan of these tours, but I love them. I think it is the easiest and most efficient way to take in a new city, especially in a new country.

We hopped off at the Guinness Storehouse, which is the original Guinness brewing site. It is an amazing tour, so if you are ever in Dublin I highly recommend it. The grounds of Guinness are enormous. They even have their own hospital! The interior of Guinness is very, very cool. You get to go to a tasting laboratory and sample the brew of the day, and then at the end of the tour you are on the top level where there is this great open area and a huge round bar. There you get a pint (for the adults) and a soda for the kids. Amazing!

Next up... a tour of the Museum of Modern Art and then the Kilmainham Gaol, which is one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Ireland. It has a very tragic history and it was amazing to see the horrid conditions that prisoners were forced to endure. Brian met up with us again at this point. After the Gaol we sat on the rest of the tour to see Trinity College, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin Castle, Dublinia, St. Patrick's Cathedral and a handful of other historic sites.

After the tour we went to see a Blues Brother revival show. It was a great ending to our first full day in Dublin. The show was quite funny and Reagan is now a big, big fan of the Blues Brothers. She is chomping at the bit to watch the movie.

The following day we went on another bus tour... this time a half day tour to the countryside of Bray. We wound along the coast and up into the hills of Ireland and ended at our destination point, the Powerscourt Estate and the Gardens, (http://www.powerscourt.ie/). This was by far the most amazing garden that I have ever been to. Fountains, statues, Japanese gardens, a pet cemetery, rose gardens, fish ponds, and beautiful hills as the backdrop. Just look at the pictures! Ireland really is green!

That night we went to a traditional Irish pub for Irish grub, music and dancing. The dinner unfortunately sounded and looked better than it tasted, but the music was lively and the pub was as Irish as could be. Next stop.... London!

In the morning we got up and repacked our bags to head back to the Dublin airport. We took a short one hour flight across the water to England. We were going to spend two days in London before heading on to our next destination. We arrived at Gatwick, which unfortunately was not located as close to London as I thought it was. We sat on a bus for over an hour before we got to the tube station, where we had another 30 minute ride to our bed and breakfast. There we were greeted at the door by our friendly host, Daisy, who showed us to our rooms. The rooms were quite pleasant and clean, and Daisy was very accommodating.

After dropping off our suitcases we took the tube back into the main part of London to grab dinner and to take in a few sites. When we emerged from the underground we took in the grand sight of Big Ben lit against the night sky. It was lightly raining (in true London style), and it was pure magic. We just stood there laughing in the rain taking in this famous and wonderful sight. It was perfect. Then we set off across the river Thames to see the London Eye. If you have never heard of the London Eye, you should certainly google it.

This is such a fun attraction to visit. It is the biggest, most amazing ferris wheel that I have ever seen. Instead of being in cars, you are in capsules that hold 25 people and a full rotation of the wheel takes 30 minutes. You can stand or sit and get a 360 degree view of London. We did it at night which made it even more special. You could see Big Ben, London Bridge and numerous other landmarks.

After the Eye we went to dinner at a super cute restaurant around the block where we dined on soup, steak and amazing dessert. Then it was back to the b&b for some much needed shut eye.

Day two in London: We made a mad dash back into the city to reach Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. We got there promptly at 11, a full 30 minutes early for the "show". We watched the two guards that were stationed there march back and forth with military precision in their steps. The uniforms are great... black fuzzy tall hats and crisp uniforms. The palace and the statues in front of it are quite the sight to see. We started getting antsy when 11:30 came and went and all we saw were eight of the Queen's guards come by on horseback. Brian got on his phone and googled the schedule and we discovered in the fall that the changing of the guard only occurs on even days. We were there on an odd day. Bummer.
Not to worry! It was bus tour time! We went and bought our passes for a London tour bus and hopped aboard to take in the town. London is not quite as scenic as one would expect. The city is very dense and the streets are narrow in some places. The buildings seemed very crowded to me. I did however like the old apartment buildings with their brightly painted doors, and of course the typical historical buildings were all very majestic. It did not have the same charm for me that Budapest does though. Anyway, some of the sights we took in were: St. James Park, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge and the Tower Bridge.

Our departure point from the bus tour was at the Tower of London. The Tower of London is a fortress that consists of a castle, prison, place of execution, arsenal, royal mint and jewel house. We saw where people were hung, a collection of the royal family's jewels, artifacts from the castle (amazing gold dishes that you could fit inside!), weapons and more Beefeater's guards. It was a massive structure. Quite impressive to say the least!
After the Tower we hopped onto a river cruise so that we could see more of the famous sights via water. On the River Thames is a huge battleship that has been turned into a naval museum. We went past the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the Eye and numerous other sights. I have to stop and write about the London Bridge for a second. Were you aware that the London Bridge is not the bridge we all know and love with the amazing architecture that London is famous for? No. That is in fact called the Tower Bridge. The London Bridge is a plain brige with nothing on it. Just a flat bridge with a walkway. I know. It's shocking. Look it up!

After that we headed off to the main tourist area to get a bite to eat. We had dinner at a fairly swank seafood joint called, Fish. I ordered traditional fish and chips with mushy peas. Reg's had crab cakes and Brian ordered a tuna burger. Delish! Back to the b&b to pack, sleep, wake and catch the train back to the airport.

Travel, travel, travel. Tube, train, plane. The plane took us back to Dublin where we were to catch another flight to Budapest where we would wrap up our journey. Exhausting! We arrived in Budapest and found our way (via the metro) to our next hostel. Our host was a very charming man named Leslie, who basically handed over the keys to an entire flat and told us to enjoy. We will! It was late by this point so we decided to call it a night and head out in the morning.

October 23rd. This is a date with major significance in Hungary. It is their national holiday and it is apparently a day where Hungarians and skinheads gather in public places in Budapest and protest and demonstrate. There have been shootings in past years, so all quiet citizens of Hungary stay locked in their homes until the rioting has ended. Knowing this we decided to keep our adventures to the early part of the day and stay in safer neighborhoods at night.

We headed downtown to Parliament, which never ceases to amaze me. It is truly the most beautiful building I have ever seen. All of the roads were already being barricaded in anticipation for the riots that would happen that night, and hardly a soul was on the street. Nearly all businesses were shut for the day... including restaurants. We did luck out and find an amazing Italian place tucked away on a side street. Truly the best pizza in my life! The cappucino and chocolate cake was not half bad either!

After that it was time for yet another river cruise! We boarded a glass boat called the Danube Legend and got prepared to take in two hours of Danube sightseeing. The boat was roomy and full of people from all over the world. The people on the boat were the only people we really saw that day since the streets were empty! After the boat tour we walked across the bridge to hike up the "mountain" to see the Citadel. The Citadel, also known as Gellert Hill, is an long hike through woods to see various statues depicting moments in history. This is one of the most beautiful and striking historical sights in Budapest. The hike is well worth it. The view from the top of the hill allows you to see all of Budapest.

After hiking back down the mountain, night was falling and we decided to play it safe by not being in historical areas, as this is where the protestors were gathering. We headed instead to a nearby shopping center (stores were closed) to see a movie. What movie did we see? Why High School Musical 3 of course! Reagan was in heaven. Brian and I were glad to relax. Everyone was happy. After that we did a bit more sightseeing via a tram and then headed back to the hostel.

And this concludes our week long journey all over Europe! More adventures soon, as tomorrow morning we head off to Eger for the day with my friend Christie!