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Welcome, Isten hozott, Dobrodosli

Dear Friends,

With this letter I’m aiming to reflect on our last twelve months or so.

Well, about this time last year we have just returned from the sailing. Detailed description can be found here.

Upon our return, we were: elated, tired, homesick, guilty (for leaving the little ones home), full of wonder over how much they’ve changed/grown and wiser for some of the things that happened on the trip. But (it is becoming clearer now) in many years’ time these 2˝ weeks will tower as an absolutely incredible holiday.

Spurred on by our guilt, we went out and got some pets for the kids. Zoë wanted Blue-tongue lizards because Elissa, her friend had them, and Timi was and is crazy about cat.

So, within days of our return we had Lizzy and Lester, a blue-tounge couple who constantly alternate between fighting and mating, and Patch, and eight week old white cat-boy with grey patches.

Jonathan and I have resumed our twice a week, approximately 2.5km run. Looks like a strong tradition…and great fitness benefit.

Music plays a big part in our house and I’ve been eyeing an electric piano for some time. A very kind friend has made it possible to get a better model (a middle of range Yamaha Clavinet) than I ever thought of buying at a very reasonable price. Since then, Zoë and Dad regularly perform to the "delight" of the household.

Leading up to Christmas we had a whole heap of parties, plays, etc. to attend. The girls had a few perfomances...the one below is at Hungarian House, my brother Tom on the guitar Christmas

Christmas day itself was the usual family gathering with all the Bartuses, including the honorary Bartus, Eszti Mama plus “Cika” Rajko. We think Eszti and Rajko are an “item”, and Eszti can not be seen from Friday afternoon to Monday morning…

New year’s eve was fast and furious. Normally we go to friends places, but this year we finally had the house “acreage” and we insisted on having it at our place. There were about 30 people, music was loud, the BBQ so-so and after the first few drinks it was mainly a blur for me. A good blur, though…but I remember being very tired around 2.30 in the morning…The Majka family slept over, which was also fun.

January came and we visited Mornington beach a few times with friends.

The little boat was out as well at least twice…I remember one great sailing with Laci (Les), when the wind was steady, perfect strength and we were able to lean right out (like back of head touching water) and push the boat to its limits. Or was it limits and beyond? Anyway, a block broke and we took a lot of water, almost tipped up.

Australian Open (the tennis tournament) came and we went for a whole day with the kids. Sat most of the day in Vodafone Arena and later wandered around the show courts and lesser courts.

Zoe sympathised James Blake, so a few shots had to be made...

On one of the small courts Younis El Aynaoui (one of my favourites) played his first round against Justin Gibbelstob(?) and we got front row seats almost on the sideline. He was hitting the ball well, but got a few rotten calls (we saw it perfectly) and started to speak to the umpire and lost focus. Soon he was 2-1 down in sets and a break down in the fourth. Next time he walked past, I quietly said something like: “Don’t worry about it, Younis”. He heard that, looked at me and started nodding, then chatting to me “just keep looking at the ball, right”, “I’ve got a chance, no?”, etc. It was embarrassing, I felt the looks from other observers on the back of my head, but it looked like he’s got his momentum back…and indeed, he ended up wrapping the match up fairly quickly. El Aynaoui then went on to the last sixteen or quarter final (can’t remember which) of the Open, played a memorable match with Lleyton Hewitt, losing 20-18 in the fifth set. I still feel I had something to do with it, even if in a sort of “Forrest Gump” accidental style.

In February we resumed our small group meets, where we tend to pick a study guide and work through a particular idea or book of the Bible. I felt this year we had developed a real bond and understanding, so these Wednesday nights were spent in good spirits, effective communication and genuine love for each other.

The previous owner of Lizzy and Lester (the lizards) thought they were both boys, as they fought so much and never had babies in the 18 months he had them. But to our great surprise, one day we’ve found two wriggly little ones, exact replicas of ma and pa. They’re born live (not in eggs) but get a placenta-type thing (looks like a dried apricot) as a birthday present. This is also the last thing they get…and if they stick around for long, Ma and Pa will even eat them! Beata threw away the birth-food while cleaning up the box before noticing they were eating the other…and we learnt to separate the little ones after the smaller, slower one got eaten by mum

Our church started an Alpha course to which we signed up. It was great! It really is a great introduction to the Christian faith. I’ve been planning to hold one for some friends of mine ever since.

By the time Easter was approaching, the Majkas and us were itching to go. We picked the Granpians Ranges where we hired a mud brick house for three nights.

It had a 500 acre backyard with a nice lake...

Our girls were introduced to rock scrambling, which they enjoyed tremendously. We promised to each other we have to come back soon.

Did I mention our love for music? Well, I’ve also been itching to record stuff. I was leaning to the PC recording, but then opportunity arose to get an ideal hard disk recorder, again at a bargain price (yep, the same friend, again!). This one my Dad and I share…which is a good way to go. Recordings made with it can be downloaded from here

Zoe went to her grade 4 camp at the end of April. It was getting a bit cold for most of the activities, but she’s had a ball.

They’ve done archery and canoeing, but I had a feeling things like who snored loudest, how late they went to sleep, how bad the boys were, etc. made even bigger an impression. Timi listened to the stories with a weird mixture of excitement and apprehension. It is her first camp next year, you see.

Both girls got into their gym work as well. Sometimes cartwheels (instead of walking) were the main transport mode in shopping centres, handstands the position to watch TV. We’ve learnt not to startle when calling them, they would appear with a round off-backflip, but many guests who we’ve forgot to warn got a fright. Zoë worked between levels 3 and 4 and Timi is doing level 2 very competently.

Around July, Adele and Laci have invited us to their beach house in Lochsport, on the eastern coast of Australia, just under Lakes Entrance, a popular tourist destination. It is a unique place, being on a peninsula it has a surf beach on one side, a quiet lake/inlet on the other. Zoë and Timi had their dose of adrenalin riding a 50cc trail bike on the property, but apart from that, we had a gentle and quiet weekend away…

Our HUGE trip to Europe soon followed. Below is Beata shopping for presents

read all about the trip here.

To finish off, our pets took us on a big emotional rollercoaster ride:

Just a couple of days before leaving, Patch got bitten by a dog and ended up with bone infection. When we got back from the trip, he was in very bad shape…so we took him to the vet. It cost a lot of money, but since the prospects were good, we had him operated….and he recovered! It was great, everyone was very happy.

And the good events didn’t end there.

Patch has caught a bird (a budgee) and brought it home. We managed to save it and it turned out to be a very chatty, happy and personable pet. Bonus!

Also the lizards gave birth to 12 (!) little ones!!! Zoë and Timi were over the moon.

Then, the tide of blessings has turned, and as God gave, he has also taken.

Patch got run over and killed soon after. Timi has grieved intensely for a number of days.

The birdie started talking and flying less. Some disease sapped its strength until one night we found it dead at the bottom of the cage.

I also had an upsetting car accident, where we have trouble making the insurance company understand the circumstances and are in danger of being held responsible.

So, a stressful end to what was otherwise a huge and exciting thirteen months in our lives. We praise God for showing so much of his creation and showering with blessings like health and excellent relationships.

Hugs and friendly waves from the Bartuses @down-under