28 March, 2012


Thank you all so much for your prayers about my back. It is feeling much better! I took the medicine the doctor gave me, got a massage, and Ben and I made our first trip to the baths. We also went on some long walks to enjoy the beautiful weather and city at night. Some pictures from our walks:

I have to say how much we thoroughly enjoyed the baths. It is very much a part of Hungarian culture to go to baths and wellness hotels. We went to the Szechenyi Baths in the north part of Budapest. They are almost 100 years old and absolutely gorgeous. I don't have any pictures to post this time. We didn't know how things were set up and didn't want to run the risk of the camera getting wet or stolen!

So how do the baths work? First, you pay for your ticket which includes a locker rental and a little wristband that gets you in, opens and closes your locker, and gets you out. Then you go to the locker room and shower with soap and water before putting on your swimsuit. After that you can go outside and enjoy the pools and sauna. There are three different types of pools. One is a regular swimming pool/ lap pool where you are required to wear a swimming cap. The second is like a heated swimming pool and is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The last is heated to the temperature of a hot tub. Our favorite was the sauna. I will describe it for you and you will think we are insane, but just trust me! You go into a room that is hotter than midday in a Texas summer. You shower off before going in just to give your sweat glands a head start. There is some sort of peppermint or eucalyptus scent in the air that causes your nose to burn when you inhale. We could only stay in for about two minutes and our faces looked like tomatoes! Once we left, we went into the next room and dove head first into a small pool. I had to dive in or I would not have made it all the way in. Ice water is not something I typically like to ease into. Yes, you go from Death Valley to Antarctica in mere seconds! And it is the best feeling in the world! It was the first time in days I had no back pain. I felt wonderfully relaxed and kind of melty. Ben says he could easily get addicted to that feeling. There is also a machine that spits ice into a concrete basin. You can use the ice to rub on your skin after the ice water or take it into the sauna to help cool you.

All of this is included in the price of your ticket. Ben and I spent a couple of hours enjoying the pools and sauna, before we had to go and get ready for some other meetings we had later in the afternoon.

It takes a bit of an adventurous spirit to go and try it for the first time and the ability to avert your eyes from lots of old men in speedos, but Ben and I found it to be well worth it and I think regular trips will be a part of my new stress relief regimen.

Thank you all so much for all your stress relief ideas! It really helps to get lots of different perspectives, because what de-stresses one person might stress another person out. The baths being one example and hang-gliding being another ;)

20 March, 2012


Most of you know that just over a year ago I was diagnosed with shingles. I was surprised to learn that I had developed a stress-related illness. Me, stress? Never!

Ok, maybe that's not exactly true. I recognize that I stress myself out way more than necessary. I am a woman and a perfectionist. Not a great combination. As a woman I tend to worry about things emotionally and the perfectionist in me stresses about all the things I'm trying to accomplish.

I recognize the problem I have and I really try to calm myself down. My wonderful husband is a huge help in this area, but just when I think I'm doing well, I end up at the doctor's office with a stress-induced condition.

Last night I felt some tension behind my left shoulder blade, but I thought it was nothing a good night's sleep wouldn't cure. I woke up at 6 in excruciating pain and could not get comfortable to sleep. I was in so much pain when Ben woke up that I told him I needed to go to the doctor. I try not to be a wimp when it comes to pain. Unfortunately, back pain is not uncommon for me, so it has to get pretty bad for me to think about taking medicine or going to the doctor. I think part of why I decided to go today was due to a small fear that I was about to erupt in shingles blisters at any moment and I wanted someone to tell me that was not the case.

I have been blessed with some great doctors whenever I come in to be checked out and today was no exception. When she was feeling my shoulders, she motioned for Ben to come over and feel them too. When he touched them he said, "oh my gosh, your shoulders are hard as boards!" I couldn't argue as I'm pretty sure every person dreams of having abs as hard as my shoulders currently are. Buns of Steel, Abs of Iron, and Shoulders of Diamond. The prescription when I had shingles was laughter and chocolate. Today, the doctor told me to go to the spa and for Ben to give me a massage. Maybe this is why I have so many stress problems! It's hard not to enjoy prescriptions like these.

So I was laid up the rest of the day with muscle relaxers and took a hot bath this evening. All of this seems to help loosen things up a little bit. I may see about going to one of the many baths in Budapest and getting some hydrotherapy.

What do you guys do to relieve stress? Especially those ladies and perfectionists out there! I try lots of things, but always seem to end up in the same place. The worst is when I actually don't feel stressed and then my body freaks out any tells me otherwise. What works for you?

Goodnight guys! I'm off to see if my sweet husband will fill the other part of the doctor's orders!

15 March, 2012

March 15th

Today was March 15th. To those people who have read Julius Caesar or are familiar with the Roman calendar, you may call it the Ides of March. To Hungarians, however, it is a HUGE national holiday on par with our July 4th. The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 began on March 15th. From the steps of the Hungarian National Museum, Sándor Petőfi recited his poem "Nemzeti Dal" or "National Song" and called his fellow Hungarians to rise up for freedom against the Austrians.

Every year on this day, the event is reenacted all over the city and there are traditional foods, dances, and celebrations everywhere. Everyone sports a tri-colored ribbon with the colors of the Hungarian flag. Booths are set up to demonstrate traditional handicrafts. Musicians and dancers perform in the streets and many of the museums are open free to the public. Services shut down for the day, but the cafes overflow!

Ben and I went up to Castle Hill for the day. I tried some of the dried fruit for sale (I got dried strawberries- they were like gummy candies!) and was tempted to purchase a mustache from an enterprising and inventive young man. I settled for a picture! The names under the mustaches are those of national heroes, so I can only assume they are stylized to resemble those after whom they are named.

You can see a woman working on hand-made lace as well as some of the breathtaking traditional embroidery. We visited the dance theatre and were treated to some modern dance in the style of Martha Graham. If you are familiar with the movie White Christmas, this is the style of dance that the number "Choreography" is based on. My personal favorite were the folk dancers in the street. We ended the day with a late lunch in a cafe. We had seats by the window and I enjoyed watching fathers dancing with their children and an endless parade of dogs and children, and sometimes dogs WITH children. And by that I mean that the dogs seemed to be in more control than the children walking them ;)

People watching was by far my favorite event of the day. The whole atmosphere of the city changed! People smiled and relaxed. It was beautiful!

13 March, 2012

Just a Quick Update!

On Friday we finished up our second round of language intensive. And it was... INTENSE! We went to class from 9-12:15 every weekday. Three hours of many, many different concepts being thrown at us. Our teacher is wonderful and has been so patient with us, but we definitely need some time to process what we have learned. After class we would go home and take a nap! The evenings were spent doing homework, cooking, teaching English, and meeting with language helpers. Phew! Ben and I are looking forward to some rest this week, although there may not be much time for that!

We are making some wonderful friends: Hungarian, American, Scottish, Bulgarian, and Slovak! We have hosted several parties in our home and will be hosting another one on Saturday. Thursday is March 15th, which in Hungary is a HUGE national holiday and commemorates the 1848 Revolution. There are events all over the city and many museums are open free to the public. Ben and I are hoping to go out and experience the Hungarian culture. I intend to bring my camera and hope to capture some of the spirit of the day so you can share it with us!