it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Month: January 2015 (page 2 of 7)

Red Cheeks and the German Occupation

It continues to be a winter wonderland here in Czech even though it really didn’t snow too much today. The snow was piled high on the sides of the roads and sidewalks and while walking Titus to school today I saw multiple moms pulling their children on sleds. After I got Titus in to his class, I realized I forgot his bag so I ended up making the walk back home and then back to his school. When I returned I saw Titus sitting at a table alone, really focused on whatever he was coloring. I approached him and said something to him and he jumped. I saw a tear in his eye, like maybe he had cried after I left? It was a weird moment and I was reminded how hard this must be for him to be in school and not really understanding much of the language.

When Bethany picked Titus up in the afternoon, his teacher asked another mom who spoke English to translate. She wanted to tell us that Titus had been doing much better in class. This was good news to our ears as we have been really working with Titus on different things at home, especially listening and first time obedience. We tell him daily to listen and obey even if he’s not exactly sure what’s going on (which I’m sure is often). As a bonus, Bethany was excited that she met another mom who spoke English. She told me that she sees that mom often, so now she knows she can talk with her and maybe build a relationship.

Lots of Snow (1/26/15)

Bethany let the kids play in the snow this afternoon after Titus got out of school. Our Czech friend Misa came over and was spending time with Bethany and the kids. She brought some presents for the kids and a few things for us which was really nice. While they were playing Pani Musilova (our landlord) saw them playing and knew that Misa could translate for us, so she talked with them for a while. One thing Pani Musilova mentioned was that it was good for Avery to get “red cheeks.” After some really basic research (I asked 3 Czech friends), this may have 2 different meanings:

1) It could be a reference to an old Russian fairytale. I am quoting our friend who said, “An old Russian fairytale when the ugly step sister put tone of red blush on her cheeks to get the queen to look.”

2) It could be a reference to good health. From our understanding, and we could be wrong, Czechs will often let little babies take naps outside in the cold. Sometimes you will even see a stroller outside with a baby bundled up, but their little face exposed. It’s possible they think the cold air is good for the babies and small children?

Or maybe we’re just really confused? That’s very possible.

Red Cheeks (1/26/15)

Another interesting anecdote from that conversation which Bethany shared with me was about our landlord’s name. They were talking about Bethany’s pregnancy and baby names and Pani Musilova (Mrs. Musilova) explained that her first name “Helena” is actually the German version of the Czech name “Helenka.” She explained that she was born under the German occupation of Czech and they were only allowed German versions of the names. I’ve shared before that Czechs have their Czech Name Day where every day on the calendar is someone’s name day. All that to say, it was just crazy to think that she was born during the German occupation of Czech! I think Pani Musilova is really pulling for us to name this next baby with a Czech name, but I guess we’ll just have to wait on that.

Not A Typical Sunday

Today was not a typical Sunday. I’ll start with church.

We got a message on Facebook the other day from our Czech friends telling us not to go to church this week because apparently no one would be there. They explained that the entire church would be going to another town to celebrate another church’s anniversary. Church is hard enough as it is when it’s in our town, so we decided we wouldn’t try to navigate that this Sunday and that we would stay home (this actually turned out to be a good decision because we got a lot of snow last night and it probably wasn’t best to be driving out of town!). Bethany and I talked and thought we would sing some worship songs at our house and read devotional just to make it feel like a Sunday with time set aside for the Lord.

A Different Sunday (1/25/15)

Bethany also thought it would be nice to invite some of our friends over in case they too were wondering what to do with their Sunday morning. The Yorman family was excited to join us and after a little snow shoveling today they made it over to our place where we congregated in our living room. I had prepared a few songs and printed up some song sheets for everyone. We started with modern song “10,000 Reasons” because it’s a tune everyone knows, especially the kids. Above you can see Bethany and the kids on the couch and “Grandma Linda” (Kristin Yorman’s mom) in the background. Below are Casey with his son Caleb, and me on guitar. Many thanks to Kristin for sharing these photos with us!

A Different Sunday (1/25/15)

I believe we sang about four songs and then I ended up reading a little devotional from Paul Tripp’s latest book New Morning Mercies: A Gospel Devotional (which is a phenomenal book that we highly recommend–we have been reading it daily). For me, it felt really strange not to be congregating with a large body of believers today, but it was also nice to play and sing worship songs in English with friends. The kids were a little restless, I think mostly because of our the casual environment (e.g. our living room). At the end of our time I played the song “Pharaoh Pharaoh” and we had fun dancing and playing. Below is another photo while we were laughing and singing that song together.

A Different Sunday (1/25/15)

Outside it was and is a winter wonderland. It has snowed nonstop almost the entire day. With the Yormans over we decided just to do lunch together, but we were out of a few things. Casey and I walked over to a little local grocery market and on the walk I was overwhelmed with the beautiful scene of the square near our apartment (shown below). Sadly, the little market was closed and we had to walk back, but it was so amazing outside it was well worth it. We ended driving to another store and got lunch for our families which we prepared back at our place.

Snow Day (1/25/15)

After lunch the kids, Casey and I all headed outside for a little snow fun. Our landlord had a man shovel the driveway so the snow was piled up nicely for grabbing and throwing at each other. Avery kept bringing me “big snowballs” so I could attack Titus, but she was quick to note that she was basically off limits from the snowball fight that the boys were enjoying. I guess you gotta set boundaries like that when you’re the only girl outside with all the boys.

Snow Day (1/25/15)

Below is a photo of Benaiah (the Yorman’s youngest son) about to hit me with a snowball and one of Casey with the boys across the yard during the big snowball fight. We had a lot of fun playing with them and it was a special treat for the kids to be together.

Snow Day (1/25/15)

Snow Day (1/25/15)

We’re still expected to have a lot more snow this week, so we’ll see how things work out with driving and getting around. For this California family, it’s the first time we’ve really lived in snow and I know we have some more adventures ahead of us!

Our First Snow Day in Czech

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Like a little child waiting for Christmas, I have been waiting for our first snow day in Czech. Today was that day, and it was beautiful. Bethany grew up with snow in central Washington, but being a child of southern California I didn’t see many snow days. There were a couple of them, but they were definitely few and far between.

Today’s snow didn’t really pick up until around 2:00pm, and we really needed to head to another town and do a few errands. After checking the weather forecast, we decided to take our chances and left early this morning for the mall that’s about 40 minutes away. One thing we needed was a cordless phone so we could connect our Internet phone which will allow us to make calls to the States. We ended up finding the perfect phone at a great price at the first place we looked. In celebration, and because our friends gave us a gift card, we headed over to Starbucks.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Much to our surprise, the Czech baristas wrote “Have a nice day” on our cup…in English! That and the drink we were a nice little treat. From where we were sitting in the mall we could see the snow starting to come down outside, so I wanted to make sure didn’t linger too long. Our next stop was the mall play place. Titus and Avery have mental maps of every mall we have ever visited with precision GPS that can guide them there so we really had no way out of that. This mall’s play place was actually new to us, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. One thing they had was this giant, 2-story twisty slide. Titus was too scared in the beginning to go down it, but Annie Oakley Avery had no problem climbing the stairs and shooting down the tube. Below is a video that Avery took while sliding all the way down. You’ll notice the little Czech boys in front of her trying to talk to her.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Eventually, Avery convinced Titus that the tube was “a slow slide” and he went down. Here they are going down together. You can see Titus leaning on his back (probably because he was nervous) and Avery is all smiles as they make their way down.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

It’s always worth mentioning just how kid friendly Czech is. We went into multiple stores today that had little kid activity tables. Here’s a photo at the grocery store (yes, the grocery store!) that had a little Lego table. I played with the kids for a bit while Bethany grabbed a few items. As an aside, you’ll often find grocery stores inside the mall in Czech, and this one was no different–it’s actually quite convenient!

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

The snow had been coming down, but wasn’t really sticking much until about the time we were leaving the mall. Here’s a photo of us walking back to the car and it was just starting to come down harder. When we got to our car, there was just a thin layer on it.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Right as we were arriving home, the snow really began to come down and was sticking. The kids had fallen asleep in the car but we managed to get them inside and lay them on their beds without really waking them up. As soon as we were settled, I grabbed my camera and took a few photos along with a slow motion video of the scene. Here’s a little 16 second video I got that I added some music to. The church next to our place looked so incredible as the snow was falling.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

This afternoon I setup our new phone and ended up talking to my mom in the States for a while which was a real blessing. It was just morning time for her so we chatted as I watched the snow continue to fall outside. When the kids woke up from their nap we got excited about going outside to play. Bethany had called her parents on the phone too and then we ended up video chatting with them, so they were able to watch us playing outside via the computer. Bethany held the computer by the window as we threw snowballs and made snow angels in the yard. I think I had just as much fun as the kids, and it was a real joy to just play with them. Here’s some photos from our time.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Avery had gotten a little cold and went back inside before I could get a photo of the three of us. But here’s Titus and me before we went back inside too. Yeah, I was excited.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

I truly praise God that our first snow day came on a Saturday where I could spend it with my family. Just seeing Titus’ face and hearing him laugh when we were throwing snowballs at each other will be etched in my mind for many years to come. Watching Avery do her best to build a little snow man with the dry snow was cute and special. But even more than that, one thing I noticed today was how beautiful Czech looked. Even some of the grungier parts of the city were covered in white, perfect snow. That, of course, reminded me of the gospel and the great hymn “Jesus Paid It All.” All the grungy parts of my life–my sin–are covered by the sacrifice of Christ, and now I’m washed, “white as snow.” Praise the Lord for His amazing kindness and grace towards me.

Refried Dreams Come True

January Fun (1/23/15)

It’s 9:17pm as I am beginning to write this and this is the latest we’ve been up in over a week. Last night we went to bed at 8:30pm and it’s been earlier than that every day since arriving back in Czech. I’m thankful for the progress but still really surprised how long it has taken our family to readjust.

January Fun (1/23/15)

Above is a photo of the Mexican food that I found at the store today. I’m sure I have written about this kind of thing before, but I drove 20 minutes to another town to get these things because, well, that’s what you do when you’re desperate for familiar food items. I actually only intended to buy black beans (yes, I was willing to drive 20 minutes for black beans), but when I got there they had so much more! One thing we have literally never seen here are regular refried beans, hence the four cans I brought home. It’s a refried dream come true (har har)! In the back you’ll also see Mission tortillas. I believe we have found those one other time, but I was able to buy them again today which was fun. Our local store hasn’t had much selection in the area of Mexican food so it was fun to stock up.

Often in Czech you’ll find grocery stores that are inside little malls. That was the case of the store I went today and when me and the kids entered the mall there were these giant, metal art installations (shown below). The first one is of Iron Man, which is all well and good, but the further back we went, the weirder they got. I turned the corner to toward to store and they had more of them and they were honestly very creepy and scary. The kids seemed OK, but it was just one of those things you probably wouldn’t see in any American mall.

January Fun (1/23/15)

Since we weren’t here at the start of January, and because we’ve been jet lagged, we hadn’t opened our January envelope! Tonight we were finally up for it and as always it was fully of fun goodies for the whole family. I laughed as well because Avery said, “Daddy, first we take a picture and then we can open it!” Apparently we’ve done this before! Below are some photos of the fun.

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

January Fun (1/23/15)

Inside there were note pads, a hand written card, a party hat, sticker books for the kids, crayons, an activity set, a puzzle, and a family favorite iTunes gift card! Thank you, friends, for your kindness to us. These envelopes have been a special blessing to us and come June it’ll be depressing that they’ll be no more.

Here’s a photo of Avery enjoy her box of mostly pink colored crayons.

January Fun (1/23/15)

Lastly, tonight we had some friends over for dinner. We weren’t really sure we would be able to do it considering how tired we have been (and truthfully, we cancelled dinner plans last night with other friends because we just didn’t have the energy). But we had a fun time and enjoyed the company tonight. We yawned a lot around 8pm, but I was able to stay awake through dinner! Our dinner guests are missionaries in Poland and they’re actually heading to the States next week to look at colleges for their oldest daughter. Personally, I’m a little jealous because they’ll be in California where they can enjoy an In-N-Out burger. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure out how to teleport In-N-Out back to Czech in the next week! Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?!

Work and Parenting

The other morning Titus came up to Bethany and I and showed us something on the iPad. Apparently he saw something in the App Store that looked interesting to him, so he told us that he “wanted to buy it.” We kind of chuckled and said, “Do you have any money?” Quickly Titus replied, “In my piggy bank!” and ran towards his room. When he returned with his blue piggy bank we opened it up and found 14 Czech crowns inside. It’s not enough to buy a $0.99 app, but it’s about halfway. Bethany explained to Titus that he would need to save his money up. I don’t remember the specifics, but he was a little confused. So we explained to him further about earning money and saving it in his bank. Bethany had the idea that he could do jobs around the house and earn more money–extra tasks outside of normal responsibilities. Titus, of course, got really excited and that’s when I knew we had opened up a can of worms.

Titus and Work (1/22/15)

All day yesterday he couldn’t help but talking about doing “jobs” and making money. At one point I got a call on my phone and it was Titus telling me, “Daddy! I made enough money to buy something!” He was really enthusiastic and it was fun to hear him get excited. Today Bethany let him and Avery take out the recycling which allowed them both to earn a few more crowns each. And apparently in-between jobs Titus is doing a little shopping because he already has his heart set on another purchase.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this for Titus, but I feel like I’m the one learning the most. It’s weird as a parent to engage in this kind of discussion because I have this strange fear of teaching Titus something wrong about money. I keep thinking, “I don’t want Titus to think just because he made some money that he can buy whatever he wants.” I also think, “I don’t want Titus to be a consumer and not be wise with his money” and “I want Titus to be a good steward of what God has provided!” We want him to learn how to work and how to save. We want him to be thankful for what God has given him and make good decisions. I know he’s only four but I feel a pressure to not mess these lessons up. That’s probably a good pressure. It’s reminding me that as Titus grows older he will need more and more help in learning to be wise and he’ll need our instruction to guide. That might sound elementary but it’s what I’ve been thinking about today.

Pray for us as we engage our kids. Parenting requires great balance, patience, and wisdom. Even in these little discussions about money there is a lot to be learned and taught and I just really want to do a good job.

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