30 April 2010

FCT/Media Retreat Weekend

It has been non-stop, one thing after another around here the past few weeks.  With Jerry's trip to London, then his delayed return, Karis' birthday, then a trip to the emergency room for a team member's child, a death of someone close on our team, then preparing for a team retreat, participating in the retreat, housing 2 families (back to back, not at the same time!) during and after the retreat, going on the town with one of the families and now I have a sick child.  It has been one crazy ride this month.  I'd say that things are slowing down, but we are in the midst of renewing our Czech visas (since it has to be current to get our Spanish visas), getting a Czech license (to be able to easily get a Spanish license), sell and get rid of lots of stuff.  Oh, and throw a birthday party for some twinks (a sweet little nickname given to our twins by some friends).  I think Jerry is beginning to wonder if we'll be able to get it all done by June 8.  We'll see!
Back to our retreat!!  Some of our team members had never met in person (although had met through weekly video conferencing).  We started off Friday afternoon with everyone coming into town.  We got the men settled with the kiddos at our office space (the media team's old office space, some others of our colleagues use it now, long story) and the gals went out on the town!!  I tried to take a pic with my not so fancy camera, but I couldn't get it to turn out.  I took the ladies to a local tea room where we could choose from ham & cheese or vegetarian sandwiches, various teas and dessert.  One of the ladies does not live close to a Starbucks, so we took our little party to the Starbucks down the street to then enjoy coffee!  Can you say caffeine overload?!  Ha!  We had such a great time and finished up the evening with a walk over the Charles Bridge.
 Saturday morning the guys, plus our one journey girl, had some training time while the moms and kids had a slow morning with some of us hanging out at our house.  When the guys plus Megan, were done we headed to the zoo for lunch and to see some animals while some others toured Prague.  We have tons of zoo pics so we decided to fore go the camera.  Plus, as always, we were having such a good time that the camera was forgotten at times.
We finished up the day with a light dinner at the office and headed home to get the kids a bath.
Here is Jacob & Brennan (they are 5 months apart) on Sunday morning.
Jacob is one of our team member's kids and our first house guests this past weekend.  These two were the early birds and I spent about 45 minutes with just the 2 of them watching Spiderman and drinking our morning milk, mine being of the coffee version.  These 2 or so cute and became buds over the weekend!  I sure wish we lived closer!
After we all got ready we headed back to the office to have a time of worship, ate a quick bite to eat and headed the park to play and enjoy some last minutes together.
The parents chatting while kiddos play!

I loved this shot that our friend, Michael snapped of Reegan.
See that big kid?!  Michael getting in a little play time with the kiddos!  Ha!
Buddies saying "goodbye!"
I thought Reegan looked like a little diva in her outfit.  Isn't she cute?!
I just love our team!  I wish our time together had been longer.  We had so much fun!

29 April 2010

Happy Blogiversary to my new friend!

I am really enjoying getting to know my new blog friend, Tara.  She also lives overseas and we can share the common bond of living in a culture not our own.  She lives in Ukraine and although I've never been there I am familiar with many of her experiences having lived in Russia.  We've shared things like missions, funky wallpaper and missing Target!  Ha!
She is having an awesome giveaway of a beautiful ring on her blog.  Go check it out if you're interested in winning a ring!
And because I've enjoyed her so much I am adding her to my blog list on the side.
Happy Blogiversary, Tara!  I've enjoy getting to know you and sharing life overseas!!  I hope we can one day meet in real life.  I don't see me getting to Ukraine, want to come visit Spain??  Ha!

NIAW 2010

 Before the week gets away from me and being on the BOD of a Christian infertility ministry, Hannah's Prayer, I wanted to mention National Infertility Awareness Week.  Did you know that infertility is a disease that affects over 7.3 million Americans?  And yes, it's a disease.  So many would think of infertility as a condition or misfortune, but it is a disease.
If you haven't read our story Path to Parenthood, I encourage you to do so.
Infertility is one of those diseases that I think is often overlooked by our society.  Many times people do not know how to relate or handle the grief of one who is in the midst of infertility or miscarriage.  One may not realize, but the affects of infertility are much like someone who has lost a loved one.  I know, it may be hard to understand, but it is so true.  It's the death of a dream.  I've known many ladies to experience depression and find it difficult to go on.  I did struggle with some minor depression and even struggled with my call to missions at one point, ready to pack up and go home.
The Lord saw to answer our prayers for a child, not just one but three in 8 months.  Ha!

What you may also be interested in knowing is that infertility doesn't just stop there.  For a good majority of ladies that do go on to hold that dream child in their arms they continue to experience feelings of infertility.  I am one of them!  Not to the extent of some others that I know, but seeing someone with several children or even a pregnant belly can still be difficult or uncomfortable for me.   Infertility will always be a part of me, who I am and how I view life.

I just ask that anyone reading this who has never experienced infertility or loss to please be considered of those who have or are in the midst.  Saying things like "just relax" or "it's in God's hands" are not helpful and are things that the infertile already know.  The best response would be "I'm so sorry" or "I'm praying for you." or "How can I support you during this time?"
Infertility can be such a lonely road when you are living in a fertile world, where people don't understand.  Couples tend to draw within themselves and some can't even find support among their family, closest friends or even their church.  Do you know how many couples pull away from church because they find it to be a place of hurt?  Have you ever thought about birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and I can't forget to mention Mother's Day and Father's Day and how extremely difficult these holidays can be?  They are excruciating.

Ok, I don't want to seem like I'm on my soap box, but I sure have a passion for educating the world on the disease of infertility.  I hope you'll stop and think about it the next time you encounter someone struggling in this area.  I am so thankful to those (of some of you!) that not having experienced infertility and you still found a way to reach out, to put yourself in my shoes and encourage me in the difficult times!  You are and were a blessing to me!!  I encourage you to be that for someone!

I'd love to hear from any of you who are or have struggled with infertility and how God has brought you through that valley.

27 April 2010

Locks of Love

I have had it in my mind for quite some time to cut Reegan's hair and donate it to Locks of Love.  It was never a good time or I would constantly forget to call and make an appointment.  We had a team retreat (more on that coming soon) this weekend and I was determined to get my hair cut before.  So I set it up to get Reegan's hair cut too.
I have never cut her hair before, well, not entirely true as I had trimmed bangs when she was little and saved a lock of her hair from that.  It wasn't a full cut though so I'm still calling this the first cut! Here she is before the big cut!

  Starting to cut

And the finished product!

 We left it in a french bob where it's shorter in the back and longer in the front.  I LOVE it on her!  She looks adorable, cute & sassy!

My stylist, Dawn is awesome!  It's always fun to chat with her about being an American in Prague.  And she cut Reegan's hair for free since we were donating it!
It's funny because when I first started talking to Reegan several weeks ago about cutting her hair she really didn't want to.  I explained that we were going to donate it and why.  The morning we went to go get it done she said she was ready.  I then told her I was surprised.  That I knew she was hesitant to cut it and she boldly told me "Mama, I've changed my ways.  I'm ready to get it cut."  Ha!  Too cute!

22 April 2010

"Show Us Your Life" How I Met My Hubby

I'm joining up with Kelly's Korner Blog  on Show Us Your Life.
I wish I had some pictures uploaded to share, but we were married WAY before digital!  Ha!
I had just moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area from west Texas, where I want to school at Wayland Baptist University.  A friend from college had graduated and was moving to DFW as well, so we got an apartment together.  We were both working in downtown Dallas and looking for a church to call home.
A friend from work had invited us to attend with her.  By this point in was December, Christmas season and her church was having a Christmas program.  It was a little church start in Lancaster, TX.
Jerry was the Singles/College Leader (just a volunteer position in this 40-something member church).  There were only about 4 of them, so he made it his mission to welcome the new girls.
After the program we went over to our friend's house for pizza and chatting.  I was kind of taken with Jerry.  He was a pretty cool guy!  His roommate had tagged along with him as well and Aaron (and now his wife) are one of our bestest friends to this day!
We exchanged numbers, he wanted to call us for a football/Christmas party, but he gave me is number as well.  I actually called him first!  My reason was that I was helping to find people park cars at a country club that I worked at from time to time to make some good, quick, extra money.  Jerry wasn't free, but Aaron was up for making some extra money.  But it wasn't long that Jerry called me back to invite me to his Christmas party.  Jerry, Aaron, my roommate Robin & I decided to be spontaneous and take a road trip.  Jerry and I sat in the bag together and did some flirting!  Ha!  Afterward he asked me go see Christmas lights.  With the friend who introduced us (shoot, I can't remember her name as we haven't stayed in touch).  We again flirted in the car and he even held my hand with my friend poking me on the side.  Ha!  Then he invited me on a real date to Six Flags for their Christmas opening.  If you've ever been there at Christmas, you'll know it's awesome!!
I was a little quiet and reserved, but as time went on I opened up.  I was headed home to Alaska to spend Christmas with my family, so I said goodbye for a few weeks completely enamored!  Ha!
While home I was talking about him quite a bit.  My mom thought it was too early for me to be so smitten, so I kept my mouth shut about him as much as I could!  Ha!
We were bringing in the New Year at our house by playing a game of Chicago Rummy, our family card game.  It was almost 12:30 am and the phone rang.  My dad looked at me and I said "Why you looking at me, who would be calling me?"  When he answered I was so taken aback when he handed me the phone.  And Jerry was on the other end.  I then knew he liked me as much as I liked him!!
When I got back from Alaska we were inseparable spending all our free time together.
It wasn't long and things got serious.  It was Valentine's Day (or the weekend before).  After a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant in Las Colinas and while walking on their river walk he popped the question!  After knowing each other only 2 months we were engaged!!!  How crazy is that!!  We were married the following August.  That was 1994 and this August we will have been married for 16 years!  Wow, saying that makes me sound old!  Ha!

21 April 2010

Havoc Wreaking Ash

This is quite a long account, but something I definitely wanted to keep for posterity!

The above title is one description of why I have been away from blogging.
The other would be getting ready for my now 5 year old’s birthday party that was on Sunday.
Let me set the stage for you.  My hubby had a business trip to London last week.  As he was away I was busy preparing for the birthday bash.

Others may have a much more dramatic story as to how the Eyjafjallajokull (AY-yah-FYEL-lah-YER-kuhl   <----did that help much?  No?  Me either) eruption in Iceland has temporarily altered their lives, but we sure got a doozy of a family story out of it!
On Thursday, in the midst of making marshmallow fondant for Karis’ birthday goodies, I got a call from my friend and colleague, Julie whose husband was with my husband in London.  She broke the news of the ash that had grounded flights in London.
Having grown up in Alaska with active volcanoes I was not a newbie to the damage that volcanic ash can do.  But it was still not fun knowing that our daughter’s birthday was just 3 days away and daddy might not be there.
I think our hubbies did not fully grasp the seriousness or the time period that we were looking at for their delay.  They kept saying how their flight wasn’t canceled yet and of course we knew the airports were making decisions every 6-12 hours out.  But we knew by Friday morning that they would not be making it home that evening.
The reality of them even being home by Sunday was not looking possible.  And by Saturday most trains and buses were booked up through Wednesday.
After our hubbies talking with some colleagues there in London it was decided that someone could drive them to Prague.  The first person that offered needed to come for business anyway, but in looking he couldn’t find his passport.  Then we were back to square one.  Then our supervisor agreed & decided he would pack up his family and they would take a road trip to Prague and drop off our hubbies.
Us wives did not learn until Sunday that late Saturday evening the plan was changed again.  The reality of driving that far with a wife and daughter sunk in leaving our hubbies wracking their brains as what to do next.
Luckily and thankfully we have colleagues with our organization spread out all over Europe and they had the thought to call one of our media team members in Germany to take them part of the way.  He lives in the northwest part of Germany and he could take them as far as Nurnburg.
So, they made it to Germany in good time having to purchase first class fair to get through the Chunnel
(that’s all that was available with this ash issue).  Although expensive, they were able to breeze past the long wait to get on the train that goes through the chunnel as well as receiving food and other various things that first class provides and get on an hour ahead of schedule.
The only thing that was not arranged was how they would get home to Prague from Nurnburg.  After calling me and breaking the news (I actually thought my hubby was kidding me that he wasn’t coming all the way in one swoop from London.  He likes to do that to me, so I thought he was joking!!) I got on the phone to Julie and told her that I was ready to pack up the kids in the car and let’s go get our guys!  She was in total agreement.
Of course, I had a party to throw first (I’ll give many more details next time)!!
Let me back up and say that when Karis first learned that her daddy was most likely not going to make it home for her party, she did not want to have one.  She cried, which in turn made me cry.  I was also disappointed (and so was daddy).  I was actually somewhat relieved as we were expecting quite a crowd and to think of throwing a party by myself made my head spin.
But, it wasn’t long and she changed her tune and got quite cranky at the thought of not having a party.  At first I couldn’t begin to think of doing it all myself, but from somewhere I had a peace about it and figured that even if it wasn’t perfect we would have a nice party.  I even had a colleague friend call me up on Saturday evening and offer to take my kids for dinner and some play time.  That was a huge help to me (Thanks Jennie!)!
While at the party many learned of the situation and some of our neighbor friends graciously offered to take my kids for the night.  That would make our travels SO much easier.  I greatly appreciated it and since Julie was in possession of one of our other colleague’s vehicles, we decided we could just use it to go get them.
So after getting my kids packed up and a few things set (although leaving behind a HUGE mess in my house....more on that later) we were on our way.
Traffic was very light since it was Sunday.  We were driving along and Julie started noticing a light that would flash and on off quickly.  She said it looked like a car with something sticking out the top.  I tried to see it and every time I looked it would flash off.  Then it came on and never went off and Julie noticed that she was loosing power.  We were becoming quite worried at this point thinking of 2 females and 2 kids on the side of the road not speaking much of the language at all.  The car then stabilized at about 90 kilometers (about 56 miles per hour), but kept going.  We began to pray that we could just get to a gas station.  About that time one of our hubbies called to see where we were and told them of our car trouble.  Luckily we were only a few kilometers away from a town called Plzen where we had two colleague families, one being on our media team.  So I wasn’t too worried knowing they were near by.  I soon learned that Jerry immediately called Marc. We found a gas station at this point and pulled over.  I decided to contact Scott, who is on our team.  He has taken car of the office vehicles in the past and I thought he might be able to give some insight on what to do.
He suggested we let it sit for a minute while still running and then maybe turn it off to see if it somehow resets itself.
We were a little leery of turning it off and he completely understood that.  He thought we could go on to Plzen.  By this time we were in touch with Marc and were making plans to meet him and Larry somewhere.  Then we would decide about what to do with our hubbies.
After missing our turn off (in our defense we were closer than we thought and were paying more attention to the car than the exits) we rearranged our meeting spot.  Once we got to our meeting point we turned off the car, waited a few minutes, turned it back on and the light was off.  Ok?!
We waited on the guys and honestly, our hope was that we would meet, them having talked to our husbands and the men would give us the plan from this point.    It didn’t work out that way and we spent more time hashing out what to do from here. 
We thought of us catching a train, the guys catching a train, the guys in Plzen going to fetch them.  No one could decide.  Part of the problem of them getting on a train was first, how do we know they would have been able to catch a train?  All of Europe was affected by this ash with many travels displaced.  Second, they had no idea how to get to a train station.  None of them being familiar with the area they were in.
I finally spoke up and just asked if the guys could go get them.  A plan was put in motion.  We also decided that us ladies would wait in Plzen for our guys to get there and then drive the rest of the way that night home all together in the gimpy car.
Off to Marc & Kellye’s we went to impose and crash until our guys got to us.
We chatted, their kid’s played.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep and party planning the last few days.  I was fading, but we had a good time chatting and catching up.  Time passed and our guys showed up at 12:40 am. 
At this point one of Julie’s boys started feeling bad and quickly began feeling worse.  We started loading up in the car and he was feeling ill with a headache, stomach ache and his legs were weak.  It just seemed to be one more thing to add to this CRAZY situation.  Every time something else happened Julie and I would look at each other and say “this is another thing to add to the blog!!”  Ha!
They decided that he just wasn’t feeling good and needed to wait until morning to take a train back to Prague while Jerry and I drove the gimpy car back at 1 am.  The car still showed signs of lagging with the light flashing a time or two but never staying on longer than a second.  There was hardly anyone on the roads and we flew into Prague in good time and fell into bed at 3 am.  Then woke at about 7:30 to pick up our kids at our friend's across the street.  What an ordeal!!  But I was glad to have my hubby home!!
More to come soon!

13 April 2010

Saturday Outreach & Easter Market

I'm sharing pictures of one of our community outreach projects we did this weekend......feeding the homeless.
Preparing sandwiches

It was raining!

But they didn't let it stop them from sharing food and God's love in Prague.

I really wanted to participate but my kids were worn out!  They had been out and about the 2 days previously.  Plus the weather was looking rainy and ended up it was and it took our group almost 2 hours to hand out 50 sandwiches.  Karis slept in which almost never happens and they didn't fly around the apartment like they normally do, so I knew I needed to let Jerry go on without us and let them rest.  But by afternoon they were ready to get moving.
We decided to brave the masses and go downtown to the petting zoo that's set up as part of the Easter market (by this time it had stopped raining, mostly).  Downtown is crazy busy with tourists, but we survived.  

We grazed on market food like these things.

I don't know what they are called, but it's a type of chewy bread slathered with Nutella.
Eating it Reegan style.....slathered all over your face!  Hee hee!

The kids decided they weren't big fans (I wasn't either), so we munched on trdlo instead.

I absolutely love these things!  Trdlo (yes, it sounds like a not so nice word, ha!) or I've also seen it called trdelnik is a sweet bread that is wrapped around what looks like a metal rolling pin and cooked over an open fire.  Then it is tossed into a cinnamon and sugar (and sometimes with nuts added) mixture and served warm!  Oh my!  It is delicious!!  I'm going to miss these little gems!

We then headed to see the petting zoo set up.

As if our snack was not enough, which it didn't seem to be for Brennan as he was starving, Jerry decided to get some Prague ham.

 Very tasty and also cooked over an open fire!  By this point it was time to eat dinner and B tried convincing us he was still hungry, but he ended up hardly touching his dinner. Oh well!  We had a great time at the Easter market.  We are trying to make the most of all our "lasts" in Prague.

12 April 2010

Last week at a Glance

I am SO behind in blogging.  So much content and so little time!
Last week we had our cooking time and it was fun as always.  Due to some ladies that were not able to make it, we decided to change the recipe.  We hope to do another Russian dish in the future, but this week we kept it simple.  Although this is considered a French dish, Russians have adopted it as their own.  It's called Jullien and if you like mushrooms you will probably like this dish.
 This is our Jullien expert, Natasha!

Jullien is sauted mushrooms that have been mixed with onions and sour cream the topped with cheese and baked.  Yum!!

We got to talking about the Wii Game "Cooking Mama."  Our friend Andrea has it and ran home (she just lives a couple of blocks from us) to grab it.  We played that while the others were cooking while we waited for the mushrooms to bake.
This game is funny.  You have to chop and stir and crack eggs.  I didn't do very well with the game because I am a lefty.  Some Wii games allow you to choose right or left handed, but we couldn't find it on this game, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!!  Ha!

Mary Ann is so disgusted!  Hee hee!

 On Thursday & Friday I had my babysitter for part of the day.  Karis' birthday is coming up in a week and I've been shopping for that.  I am one of those moms who really stresses when I have to take my kids to the store with me.  At our grocery stores we don't have nice, big, wide aisles or even big carts for that matter.  And the amount of people in said stores is insane sometimes!!  Luckily my hubby works at home or I have the chance to go when my babysitter is here.  So, taking the kids to the store is a rarity.  That may change, but for now I'm glad I am able to go shopping by myself in peace!!
Last week was beautiful!  We had some great, sunny weather.  I decided to grab a sandwich at Subway as a break to my shopping.  There is this great spot in the city center.   This beautiful courtyard is tucked away between various streets and walking paths.  I love this spot.  

 And this guy beside me thought it was a great place to take a snooze!! 

 I had music for my lunch time entertainment.......his snoring!!  Ha!  It wasn't that loud and didn't bother me one bit.  It was just funny.

I also got to have a girl's night out with my friend, Denise.  It was the last few days before the Easter markets closed, so we went to have a look around before dinner.
This market is set up on the Old Town Square every Easter.  Several other squares have kiosks set up as well, but this is the main square in Prague.

Fun times!  I'll be sad to see it go, even though it boasts of cheap souvenirs and junk food!!  Ha!

07 April 2010

Journey to Madrid

We were able to turn our applications in to the Spanish Embassy in Prague almost 2 weeks ago.  It took the consulate a few days to review it, but we did get the word that our applications were accepted.  Whew!  With ALL the many papers that were needed on FIVE family members I am so thankful we didn't miss anything!!
The crazy fact of it all is these papers we had to acquire are JUST to get a 90 day visa and we have MORE to do once we arrive in Spain!  Ahhh!!!  What MORE can we give them?!  Ha!
At first we were told it could take 3 weeks to 2 months.  We were thinking that wasn't too bad.  Then the last word we got this past week was 3 weeks to 6 months?!  My heart sunk a little as we are so ready to get there and get our kids somewhat adjusted before we have to jump them into school.  But, God has a plan and is bigger than it all and we know He is not going to give us or our kids anything we can't handle!  So, we'll just wait and see what unfolds!

Our Czech contact who has done our work visas in the Czech Republic for the last 10 years has been helping us with all of this.  She is a God send!!  We have known her all these years and I have no idea how she can keep up with all the changing laws (but she does it!) and put up with us Americans who are hounding her all the time!  Ha!  No, we're really not that bad!  Anyway, we thought it best to seek her help with this process since the people at the embassy most likely speak Spanish & Czech.  So we knew having Petra's help would be invaluable!  She was also able to obtain many of the necessary Czech documents much quicker and easier (birth certificates of our kids, police reports, etc.) as well as already having a translator to translate these documents into Spanish.  This process would have been so much longer without her help!!
As we got to talking about our visas she told us that the Schengen agreement states that you can be in another Schengen country for 90 days.  Which means we could legally be in Spain for 90 days on our Czech visas.  So we are doing some research to see if our logistics people will allow us to go ahead and move on our desired date of June 8th.  Then Jerry can always travel back to Prague to final things.  With all the stuff we need to sell and get rid of as well as many activities between now and then like birthdays for all 3 kids, a team retreat, a new team member arriving, out of town guests, and not to mention our normal schedule, that's the soonest we could make it.  Having a date to shoot for makes things much easier!

On another note, we got an email from a colleague telling us that driving in Spain on our US driver's license has become more difficult and that they are starting to fine drivers even when it is legal for us to drive on our US license for 6 months.  Jerry did a little research that it is only certain States that they don't accept, but not sure on that.  The problem is, you can't get a Spanish license until after the 90 day visa is up and the next visa stage begins.  This would not really be ideal for us.  Sure, we've been living the last 10 years without a vehicle but circumstances and the way we get around is going to be different.  Jerry had the thought to look into getting a driver's license here in the Czech Republic which would enable us to drive upon our arrive and then turn it in for a Spanish license after the 90 day period in Spain.  This was something we also discussed with Petra and looks like the easiest thing for us to do.  Now we add driving test to the list!!
So, we've got LOTS to do in the next few weeks and I'm already feeling a little overwhelmed.  Mostly by the stuff we need to get rid of and sell because we don't have a vehicle and I don't know the best way to go about finding it a new home!  Much to work on!  And that's our update as of now.  It could change by the end of the week, so stay tuned!  Ha!

06 April 2010

Easter Weekend

Birthday season is about to begin at our house!  So Friday we went to a party store and pick out plates, napkins and such for their birthdays.  We then met up with some friends for dinner at the mall.  We had an after dinner show of a water fountain set to music.  We watched the water "dance" to the beat of "Eye of the Tiger!"  It was so fun!  The kids loved it and were clapping!!  I should have gotten a picture, but I got caught up in the moment and the camera was forgotten!  It's funny as I sat there thinking about how we respond to things, as Americans, as opposed to how Czechs respond to things.  We might be enjoying something at the same level, but I am wearing my enjoyment on my face.  I'm smiling, laughing, talking.  The Czechs around us sat and watched hardly cracking a smile.  I'm sure it makes me stand out like the American that I am!  Well, and add to the fact that my kids are running around and LOUDLY speaking English!  Ha!!

I had boiled some eggs on Friday in preparation to color Easter eggs.  So we got them out on Saturday and went to work decorating our eggs.  Some friends had given us some left over decorating kits, so we had a good assortment of supplies!  We had a sports theme, some beads and various dye colors.  The kids loved the beads, even Brennan!  Ha!

On Sunday Bridge Community hosted an Easter egg hunt.  Complete with a visit from the Easter bunny!!

 Our Easter meal consisted of McDonalds and I had Thai!  How traditional!  Ha!   We went home for a short time and then headed to church that evening.
On a side note, our Sunday Gathering has lost our meeting place and right before Easter!!  At the last minute the hotel we were using decided not to renew our contract.  So, now we wait to see what God is going to do!  We have some leads, but it will take time to look into!  We are very fortunate that our organization has an office space with a meeting room, so we do have something to fall back on!  That is a huge blessing, but only a temporary solution. 

In the Czech Republic Easter Monday is celebrated.  Sadly, this is a bigger day than Easter Sunday due to the many years of communist influence.  It's more of a celebration of the beginning of Spring.  We can go all over the city seeing signs of Easter.  Bunnies, eggs, Easter trees, the Easter Market set up on the squares and even sticks (more on that in a minute)!  An area of rich protestant heritage with the movement of Jan Hus, but there is very little celebration of Christ now.

Due to our busy day on Sunday I was really feeling the loss of an Easter dinner.  Really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I desired it greatly. So, with only a few days of preparation we threw together a quick dinner with a few friends on Easter Monday.  I tell ya, I got so caught up in chatting that the camera was forgotten again!  Ha!  But it was a fun time.  Oh, I was able to get a photo of the awesome carrot cake I made (is that tootin' my own horn or what?!  Ha!).  I went on  a hunt for just the right Easter dessert and decided to go check out the Pioneer Woman's awesome recipes.  Sure enough, Ree did not disappoint!  I knew from the title that this would be a good one.  It's titled Sigrid's Carrot Cake - Perfect for Easter!  If she says it's perfect for Easter than alright!  I left the pecans out since Karis is allergic.

Our friend Mary Ann stuck around after the meal and we finished up the night with some movies.  Nothing says "holiday" like watching movies!!  I've had so many friends telling me about Julie & Julia and how much I would like it.  They knew my love for cooking and blogging!!  So, I had to go buy it off ITunes.  We also got The Princess & the Frog.  I was really excited to buy this to show Karis that the princess can also have dark skin!  But, I was quite disappointed with the heavy theme of voodooism throughout the movie.  It's one thing to have a witch, like in Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but this had much more of an evil feel to it and was a constant throughout.  That saddened me and reminded me how much more we need to review movies before buying.  Disney, how you have disappointed me!  There went $20 bucks!

Ok, back to the sticks, otherwise known as pomlázka.  Here is an explanation I found. 
The tradition dates back to pagan times.  Its original purpose and symbolic meaning is to chase away illness and bad spirits and to bring health and youth for the rest of the year to everyone who is whipped with the pussywillow twigs. Boys would whip girls lightly on the legs and possibly douse them with water, which had a similar symbolic meaning. An Easter carol, usually asking for an egg or two, would be recited by the boy while whipping. The girl would then reward the boy with a painted egg or candy and tie a ribbon around his pomlázka. As the boys progressed through the village, their bags filled up with eggs and their pomlázkas were adorned with more and more colorful ribbons.
This tradition is still largely upheld, especially in villages and small towns, although it may have lost its symbolism and romance and is now performed mainly for fun. Some boys and men seem to have forgotten that the whipping is supposed to be only symbolic and girls don't always like that. The reward has also changed - money and shots of plum brandy (slivovice) are often given instead of or in addition to painted eggs and candy. So by early afternoon, groups of happy men can be seen staggering along the roads... All that aside, Easter remains one of the most joyful holidays on the Czech calendar.

 We have not purchased a pomlázka in the past, so I decided it would be a great souvenir of our time in Prague and a reminder to pray for this country that so desperately needs Jesus!

I do hope you all had an enjoyable, Jesus-filled celebration!


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