29 June 2010

Another backtrack post ~ House Guests

We had our friends, Ross & Dena come stay with us for 2 weeks in May.  They were here to take some seminary classes.  We had such a great time with them and loved having them stay with us!  So did our kids!!  Dena took a class the first week, but hung out with us some the second week.  I'd gotten the kids some bubbles, so we decided to try them out on our square.
Dena even got into the bubble action!
It had been raining and we found a worm, which they were enthralled by.
Dena quickly became Reegan's buddy!  I love this shot of them, deep in conversation!  So cute!
While they were with us we discovered a new coffee shop that had opened and was carrying some American products at a fairly decent price.  This was the first time we had ever seen A&W Root Beer in Prague!!  So, there last night with us we had pizza and root beer floats (Dr Pepper float for Dena though).
Ross getting into the action of float making!

We had such a great time having them stay with us and look forward to them visiting us in Madrid!!

28 June 2010

Madrid Zoo & Aquarium

Saturday we took a little break from apartment hunting to go to the zoo with our friends Gary, Julie & their son, Matthew.  I'd been wanting to take the kids since before we got to Madrid after looking it up online.

Gary & Julie invited us to go and we gladly accepted!  We went ahead and purchased annual passes.  We know it will be something we will do often.  Plus there is so much to see and do from dolphin shows to bird shows plus an aquarium.  It will keep us busy this next year!
Julie met us at the metro stop to take us to the zoo, because this is how you get to the zoo.

No signs, no major path.  Just trees and dirt paths to the zoo, in the middle of Madrid, a city of 6 million people!  We even had locals stop and ask us on our way home if the zoo was in this direction.  Cracked us up!
Our first stop was to get our annual passes.

Then we headed to the dolphin show.


I just LOVE dolphins!!  So much so that I get teary eyed watching them and would love nothing more than to hop in the water and play with them myself!  One of these days I hope to swim with some dolphins!  So of course the dolphin show was the highlight for me.
We looked around at a few more of our favorites,

then headed to a bird show.  I would have rather gone to see the seals, but Karis really wanted to see the birds.  Which ended up being a great show as well.  There were all kinds of birds that would swoop down over the audience to various locations around the arena doing tricks, catching food in their mouths or talons.
I don't think we saw half the zoo and we were exhausted! It was a great day!

27 June 2010

Backtrack post ~ friends in Prague!

I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of our friends that we visited with in our last few weeks in Prague.

Our friend,  LuboŇ° came to dinner one evening.  I wrote a little bit about him and his mom, Sonja a few months ago when I mentioned our community outreach/church start's first baptism.
Our kids just love LuboŇ°!!  With his background in ring fighting it's amazing how much of a gentle giant this guy is and how much he likes playing with all the kids at Bridge Community!  It is common to look over and see about 5 kids hanging off of him....his arms, his back, his legs, everywhere!!
So my kids couldn't wait to have him all to themselves!!  Ha!
He also amazes me that he wants to get down on the floor and play with my kids!!
He told them he had a pet turtle.  So he came by for a quick visit with his turtle the next day.
They could have played with that turtle all day long!

Another visit was from our long-time friend, Hanka and her girls, Andelka & Julie.  We hadn't seen Hanka in ages!! Hanka worked in our office until she went on maternity leave.
Hanka will always hold a very special place in our hearts.  She was our translator through our adoption journey to Karis.  Here is Hanka & Karis the first day we met Karis at 5 months old.
And here they are almost 5 years later.
Our kiddos had a great time playing together.
Our co-worker, Jana, also on maternity leave, was going to join us but she had a sick baby.  We did get a visit from her a few days later with her daughter, Anicka and son, Vasik.
We had a lot of fun with them too!
Zuzana was our very first babysitter.  She started staying with our babies when they were 3 months and 16 months old.  It was nice to see her one last time.
Our second babysitter, also Zuzana came for a visit too, but I forgot to take pictures.  She did bring me a few pictures she had taken in the last few months while she was out and about with the kids.
And finally we got to see Milada & Katka one last time.  Even though there was a language barrier moreso this last year, Katka & Karis were still good buddies.
We will sure miss all of you and hope to see you for a visit in Madrid!!

25 June 2010

We're in Spain!

Sunday was a hard day saying "goodbye" one last time to many long time friends.  But, it was a good time and we made it through the day.  We woke up early Monday morning.  Our flight wasn't until 11 am, but we had so many last minute things to do before heading out.
I was feeling so rushed and just knew that the taxi driver was going to be cursing frustrated that we were a few minutes late, but I believe that the Lord knew just what we needed and sent us one of the most friendly drivers I have EVER met.  He was a Godsend!  Thank you, Lord!!
We got to the airport with plenty of time, had our carseats wrapped,
and got in a very short line and right up to the counter with very little wait.  One thing we were really nervous about was our cat, Samson.  He has traveled with us from Russia to Czech Republic to Texas, back to Czech Republic and now Spain.  In the past couple of years (I think it is more since we had him fixed) that he has gained quite a bit of weight.  To take him on the plane with us as a carry on he had to be 8 kilos (17.6 lbs), carrier and all.  When weighing him at home he was at 8.8 kilos.  We weren't sure what they were going to do.  We tried to put him on a diet and he hadn't lost much.  However, the ticket agent seemed to be gracious, hardly letting the scale stop on a final number and said it was fine.  Whew!!  Another Godsend!!
Once we got all our luggage checked in we even had enough time to grab a bite of breakfast at McDonalds with our friends and LONG time colleagues (we met at our very first candidate conference to go overseas, over 11 years ago), Scott & Denise Wood.
Another hard goodbye and we got on the plane for Madrid.  I hardly remember the plane ride.  The kids did SO well!  And wouldn't you know that I find out my camera battery is dead AT the airport!!  Isn't that how it always goes!  So no pictures of our journey.

We were greeted in Madrid by 3 units.  One which we've known for a few years.  The wife, Julie, we worked with in Prague when she was single.  She's now married and has a little boy, who my kids loved running around with at the airport.  They had a good time.
We drove to our holiday apartment that we will stay in the next 2 weeks.  If you are here as a tourist to see Madrid, it is a great location!!  If you are here with 3 small children trying to cook & eat at home (because eating out is exorbitant), it gets a little cramped (it's on the small side) and grocery stores are not easy to find.  We've had some frustrating moments, but all in all we are doing well.

Apartment hunting is going slower than we expected.
 There are so many great looking apartments online only to find that they are already taken.  Why they can't get them off the internet asap is beyond me!
 We found one with almost all of our specs and are going back today to take a second look.  It's a little further out than we had hoped and we know nothing about the schools around us, but we are feeling good about it.  We may see a couple more and hopefully can make a decision by early next week.

We are getting accustom to eating later and staying up later.  The kids aren't getting to bed before 10 or 11 pm, but at the same time I couldn't believe when they slept in until almost 10 am this morning!!

We're off to a good start in our first week in Madrid!

18 June 2010

Three Days & Spanish visas!!

As I sit here and type I have movers buzzing all around me with the sounds of wrapping and taping!
It's nice not to have to do all that packing by myself!!  Whew!

We just got word this morning, right before the movers came, that Jerry's Spanish visa is approved!!  We are ecstatic!!  Mine and the kids should follow soon.  It seems to be custom for the husbands to come first and the wife & kid's visas to come about a month later.
So, we will board a plane on Monday and then have to mail Jerry's passport back to Prague soon thereafter for our helper to go get his visa.

Even though we have been anticipating this move for over a year it is also bittersweet to have to leave so many good friends and team mates.  So much has happened to us here.

At the same time we look forward to this next phase in our family's life and what the Lord has in store for us.

Once we get settled I hope to be back to blogging more frequently.  Until then....


07 June 2010

My babies are FOUR!!

In some ways it seems like yesterday that we were rushing to the hospital to deliver our twins.  In other ways it seem like a lifetime ago!
I decided we were going to have their party in the park.  Since their birthday was on Sunday, it gave me Saturday to get the cakes made & decorated.  Reegan wanted a Barbie blueberry cake.  I didn't have a blueberries cake recipe, but wouldn't ya know that one of the food blogs I frequent delivered!!  Joy the Baker just happened to post a Big Berry Birthday Cake awhile back and it was amazing!  I will definitely be making it again! (I didn't make her frosting.  I have a new love of playing with marshmallow fondant!)
Reegan wanted to help me.
 And the layers are ready to go in the oven.
Brennan wanted a Spiderman chocolate cake.
Here B is helping me "glue" (with icing) the buildings together so they don't tip over.
Saturday night we set up their presents from us.  They were so excited to see and play with their new toys on Sunday morning!
Reegan loves puppies!!
Brennan got to play with a Thomas the Tank Engine set at a friend's house and he really wanted one after that!  So mom & dad came through!
We had birthday pancakes for breakfast!!
The weather was ideal for a party in the park!!  We've had so much rain, but Summer has finally come to Prague!  We found a nice shady spot to set up a table.  
The finished cakes!! I had a blast making them!! Brennan's is covered in buttercream frosting with the road being of marshmallow fondant.  Reegan's cake is covered in marshmallow fondant with the white detail being buttercream.
 Brennan could. not. wait. to open presents!!  Oh my, that boy!
We had a little side track opening presents when we realized that Reegan had stepped in doggy doodoo.  It had even gone up from the base of her sandal and on to her foot.  Oh nasty!!
And can you believe I am posting it on my blog?!  Ha!!  It took me for-ever to get it all out of the crevasses of her shoe.  My friend, Milada just happened to bring an extra pair of shoes for her daughter (she was wearing new shoes and brought the comfy ones just in case) and let Reegan wear them while I tried to get the doo out of her shoe.  Yes, nice little distraction there that I was not anticipating, but hey, I tried to go with the flow!

Then it was birthday cake time!
After eating some cake, I guess Reegan hadn't had enough sugar and asked to eat a lollipop that was given in her presents.  I though "why not, it is her birthday."  Luckily this girl really isn't phased by sugar, but she sure knows how to make a mess!!
Don't know how well you can see it, but it was ALL over her face & hands!!
We are so thankful to our friends who made it a special day!
Complete with a sidewalk chalk art of  "Happy Birthday!"
Our 17 month old friend, Bethany sure is talented, isn't she?!  Ha!! Actually, our 5 year old friend, Isabella, standing in the background is the actual artist.  Bethany was adding her personal touch!  Ha!
What a fun way to spend their birthday with great friends and great weather!