We have been home for a week now, and are finally starting to get back into the swing of things a little. Jetlag is definitely a lot worse traveling West because of going with the sun and not being able to sleep (as opposed to going East). My morning sickness is still a factor, but has improved as I get more rested. In fact, I am tired much of the time from being in my first trimester. I had managed to wash all the laundry from our trip, but it had been piling up without being put away. Yesterday I spent close to 6 hours on that, and got most of it put away. We have also had a lot of different repair men come out this last week. First for the water damage, then to get the air ducts cleaned (to help ease Isaac's allergies), today the motor for the pool filter is being replaced. Having a pool is about as much work and as expensive as having another child, but it's really worth it for all the fun in the summer. It's especially great because before we had the pool, I had not been swimming in years because I could not find a ladies-only time to go swimming at any public pool. Our property now has a 6 ft wall all around, so that I can go swimming anytime without having to worry about the neighbors. On that note, if you are shopping for a swim suit, I use and highly recommend this one (don't worry, no inappropriate content on that site!).
But back to the trip: We had two flights to get to Germany. On the first to Chicago, all the kids played nicely. We arrived in Chicago two hours late because of severe snow storms, and were told on arrival that our connecting flight to Munich had left 15 minutes earlier. We made our way to customer service, where the line was not moving hardly at all because of many canceled and delayed flights and thousands of stranded travelers. After a half hour of waiting, I asked my husband to run down to the gate where a flight was leaving to Frankfurt to see if we could get on that instead. He called me from there saying that they were letting us on, but that he could not leave the gate because if he did, they would shut the door to the plane and take off without us. So I had to get to the gate with a double stroller, the baby's car seat, four kids, and three carry-on bags, all the while they were calling out on the intercom "Last call for Mrs. Anderson. You must come to the gate immediately. Last call for Mrs. Anderson". My husband kept telling the gate agent not to do that because I was pregnant and shouldn't be running through an airport, but he didn't care. We ran the mile or so to the gate and walked onto the plane at the last second. We then found out that this flight was not going to Frankfurt, but was in fact our original flight to Munich which had been delayed because of technical difficulties. Which was good, because if we had missed it there was not another flight until the next day. The second flight was pretty uneventful, and since we flew into the night and it was dark, the kids all slept for most of it except during dinner and breakfast. We arrived in Munich the next morning (Wed.), but our luggage did not - it got there the next afternoon.
We spent Wednesday and Thursday at my mother's house in Bavaria.
On Friday morning, we left to drive to my father's house in Hungary. My mother divorced my father when I was a young child, and both remarried and had more children with their second spouse. In spite of not growing up around my Dad, I am very close with him now and have a very good relationship with him. He got saved a couple of years ago, and never harasses us for our beliefs. My mother is very much the opposite. She is not a Christian, and has nothing but disdain for our "religion" and the fact that my husband is a pastor. She was very upset at us for even going to visit my Dad, whom she hates, and was trying hard to get us not to go. I had not been to Hungary in close to 10 years, and had never met 2 of my 4 siblings on my Dad's side, so we were determined to go. The drive was long, but again, the kids traveled very nicely and never once complained. We stopped for dinner at a Hungarian restaurant on the way. We got to my Dad's house later on Friday evening.
The next morning, Saturday, we went to the market in the town where I grew up. I had a craving for a Hungarian specialty called "Langos" that's a lot like Indian fry bread. Later, we visited my Grandma, whom I had not seen in 10 years.
Even though we have been married for almost 8 years, my husband and my Dad met for the first time on this trip. They really hit it off with each other, and immediately became good friends.
Part of Hungarian culture is to force-feed your guests, so we had food put in front of us pretty much all day long. I had mentioned that I could not very well tolerate greasy foods because of my morning sickness, and my Dad's wife made me twice-battered fried cheese and french fries, which she called "light fare". And compared to a lot of other food they served, it really was!
On Sunday, we tried to go to church in town, but it turned into total disaster. You can hear about that here. Afterward, I took the kids and three of my Dad's kids to see a castle in the are, while my husband and Dad butchered a pig. You can watch that video here, but it is very graphic and weird, so don't watch it if you have a weak stomach. As a child, I thought this was really fun, but now I prefer to get my meat neatly packaged at the store. Before you send me any angry comments about this being barbaric, please read the book of Leviticus, which talks about a lot of similarly gory stuff. I really don't think that they injected the fatted calf with an anesthetic before killing it.
On Monday morning, we left Hungary early and made the drive back to Germany, where we arrived in the early afternoon. As always, the kids were happy to sleep, play, and snack on the road, and again never once complained. My mother was still angry that we had gone to Hungary and was trying to force a fight about it, so we decided to stay at a hotel instead for the rest of our stay. This worked out very well.
On Tuesday, we went to visit my Grandma in Germany, who met Miriam for the first time. We had some really nice time together. Afterward, we picked up an aunt of mine who lives in the area and went to see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle with her. As we were driving into the Alps, we were met by heavy snow. It was really beautiful. We went up to the castle in a 30 minute horse-drawn carriage ride, and got there just in time for the last English tour of the day. Even though the visibility was very limited, the inside of the castle was stunning and impressive.
Wednesday was our last day in the country, and we went to Munich where we visited my brother, his wife, and their son. We had a wonderful time with them as well.
We flew out of Munich early Thursday morning. The crew on that flight was especially nice, and moved passengers around to let us sit in the first row between business and economy class, where we had tons of leg room. The kids were awake for most of that 10 hour flight to Denver because it never got dark, but they played nicely with all the toys the crew kept giving them. Miriam spent hours walking to the back of the plane and back to our seats again, while my poor tired husband had to follow her around. Changing planes in Denver was a bit of a hassle since we had to go through immigration first and then check all our luggage out, take it through customs, and then check it again. We went through 4 security checkpoints in Munich, and a total of 6 more in Denver! We made our connecting flight to Phoenix just in time, where we arrived on Thursday afternoon (thanks to gaining 8 hours).
So, overall we had a very nice trip, although my husband refuses to ever visit my mother's house again after how inhospitable she was. I have to agree that the time in Hungary was definitely the highlight of the trip, and we hope to be able to fly there directly on a future visit.