The Adventures of Treeman, continued

chapter 2, written and illustrated

by Seth Newell

Once upon a time, treeman was just walking through the woods. AND ALL OF A SUDDEN!!…he looked up and saw someone fall out of a tree. And treeman flew up into the air and SAVED HIM! When they got back to the ground everyone was happy.


If you’re like me, you often find yourself in “note-taking” situations in meetings, lunches or classrooms. I’m a bit of a visual learner, and there are a few strategies that seem to help me retain ideas and how they relate. One is called “mind-mapping” and you can read a great explanation of it on This website has some amazing resources for problem solving, time management, information skills, decision making, project management, communication skills, and creativity. Check it out.

Back to mind-mapping. Basically, it is a way to show the structure of a subject and its related pieces. “A good Mind Map shows the ‘shape’ of the subject, the relative importance of individual points and the way in which one fact relates to other.” For me, this is an even more effective brainstorming tool. I’ve found this to be very helpful as we are piecing together ideas about starting an NGO/alatpitvány in Hungary.

Write your subject in the middle of the page. Connect your subheadings. Third and Fourth levels of information and facts are connected to your subheadings. I love the organic nature of this method. The structure of your ideas will naturally grow and reveal itself. gives a few ways to improve the effectiveness of your mind-map: use single words or simple phrases, use color, use symbols, and cross-link identical ideas. Try it out!


Kristof recently shared a couple Hungarian sayings with me on the AngolEst Post. “Bagoly mondja verébnek, hogy nagyfejű.” => “The owl says to the sparrow that he has a big head.” As Kris pointed out, a similar English expression would be: “It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.” => “Az edény hívja feketének a kannát”

Here’s a few more fun English sayings for our Hungarian friends (I wonder if there are similar Hungarian sayings?):

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

“The rolling stone gathers no moss.”

“All is fair in love and war.”

“Take it with a grain of salt.”

“There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

“Fish and guests stink after three days.”

a window to understanding

My friend Tom recently said that “traveling is a window to understanding.” That’s so true.

The more I’m immersed into another language and culture the more I gain or lose understanding of my own. A person’s culture in many ways is his reality, and getting outside of this reality often sharpens some convictions and raises some questions. A recently sharpened conviction: “languages are worth learning.” A recently raised question: “why are there so many stinkin’ McDonalds in the world?”

Through which windows have you looked?

picture originally uploaded by mnadi at

Looking for Hamlet

“This Friday, we’re going to see an interesting production (with AngolEst)at the Merlin International Theater in Budapest called “Looking for Hamlet.” Apparently it is a humorous modern day spin to the questions with which Hamlet himself wrestled. “To be or not to be.” “What does it really mean, and more importantly what does it really mean to us, is it really a choice between life and death or something more existential?” – angol nyelvű előadás

“Just who do you think you are? The savvy navigator of cool? Maybe the professional climber out to make big? Or maybe at times an insecure loner that can’t understand the rudeness of the world?” – Merlin International Theater

I’m looking forward to seeing the play, and even more so, I’m looking forward to the conversations that will follow. Here’s the text from Hamlet’s soliloquy in case you’re interested!:

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.”


Wow, it is really really cold today. It’s definitely not as cold as Russia, but it’s cold enough for me. Someone said it is -18 degrees Celcius.

On my ten minute walk home from the train, I was listening to my nose talk to me. Just before getting off of the train, my nose said “ahhh, it is nice and cozy in here.” I stepped off the train, and my nose said, “WHOA!!!” After walking for 5 minutes, my nose said, “I’m going numb!” And just before I entered our apartment building, my nose said, “I’m going to fall off!!” But don’t worry, we made it home intact.

I haven’t written a blog post in a few days because I’ve been little sick. During the last couple of months we’ve made it our family mission to catch every virus existing within the great Republic of Hungary. Don’t worry, no bird flu! Since Seth started going to preschool, we must have entertained 6 or 7 lovely forms of sickness in our house. This weekend, we’ve experienced a 36 hour virus known for it’s fever, achiness, and general fatigue.

Our family preference is to experience the virus one person at a time. Usually the order is 1) Seth, 2) Jacob, 3) Nathan, 4) Daddy, and 5) Mommy. Interestingly, mommy is usually the last one to catch the family virus. She’s tough! She’s a lean, mean virus fightin’ machine. She’s definitely supermom.

“I Have a Dream”

On Monday, we celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I’m still compelled by this man’s vision and sacrifice. The following excerpt comes from his speech on August 28th, 1963 in Washington D.C.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

If you’d like to read the whole text, click here.

If you’d like to read a recent BBC article about related issues in Hungary click here.

I, too, have been tagged

My friend Tom tagged me for a little blogging confession:

The rules: Write about five guilty pleasures. In the end, you need to choose someone else to be tagged.

  1. enjoying a hot cup of black tea (no sugar)
  2. putting together a toy train track “for my boys”
  3. wearing house shoes
  4. listening to loud alternative music and jazz
  5. watching dumb romantic-comedy movies like “You’ve Got Mail.”

TAG! You’re it: Matthew T. & Chris M. – it’s your turn.

six months

Sixth months ago on August 16th, we landed in Budapest with our 12 bags, three car-seats, a double stroller, and a handful of dreams. Today, Laura and I carved out some time to talk, reflect, envision, and pray during our weekly couple conversation. I’d like to share some thoughts from our time.

Friends in Hungary: Since arriving in Hungary, we have gained many wonderful friends. In fact, we feel incredibly thankful for them.

As Péter and I were running (like the wind) through Hajógyári sziget yesterday, he taught me an awesome new way to say “I can’t understand that”: “számomra ez megfoghatatlan.” Thanks Péter for the eyebrow raising phrase! And last night our friends Ferenc and Gyöngyi came over to visit with their son Kornél. We sat and enjoyed some conversation, drinking hot tea while the boys played cowboys, spaceships, racecars, and pirate-ships. It doesn’t get better than that.

For all of our Hungarian friends reading this blog, thank you for giving us such a warm welcome!

Friends not in Hungary: It is true that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s amazing to think about how our friends have scattered throughout North America and the world. We’re increasingly grateful for the modern technology that keeps us connected. Your e-mails, letters, Skype calls and prayers encourage us beyond words. We’re waiting for you to come visit wonderful Magyarország!

Family: Home-sickness is a topic of conversation these days, and we’re often looking at family pictures. The boys love when we make up adventure stories and include the family (like granny riding on an elephant to catch a runaway balloon). It is a profound blessing to have a family who takes such an interest in our lives…even from afar. Our Hungarian friends are eager to meet you, and we can hardly wait for your Spring and Summer visits.

Comfort Zone: Whenever we have the opportunity to escape our comfort zone (the comfortable environments we’ve come to know and enjoy) so many thoughts come to the surface. Through the last six months we’ve been thinking about the concept of and desire for “home.” Here’s a quote from C.S. Lewis that’s encouraged us lately: “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

In short, as we reflect on our first six months in Hungary, we’re full of excitement and thankfulness. The next six months should be awesome!


Why do we park our cars on the driveway and drive our cars on the parkway? And why does skating on thin ice get us into hot water? I love teaching English, partly because of its funny and quirky aspects. I also love language because it has the power to convey ideas and to bridge the gap between people.

A couple years ago, my friend Kristof created a new English club called “AngolEst.” Every Thursday night, AngolEst meets in the loft of Lord Tennyson’s Teaház near Corvinus University. Kristof invited me a couple months ago, and I’ve really enjoyed the conversations. Its such a perfect environment for practicing and improving your English skills. Thanks Kristof for involving me in your club!