C.

Christmas (Part I)

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

“Go big or go home.” It’s a phrase I use often, mostly joking, to describe certain situations or even little things like ordering lunch. But I guess when it comes to Christmas it’s “Go big AND go home.” I only say that because today we celebrated Christmas 1 of 2 here in Yakima. That’s how we’re describing it to our kids who by Tuesday will have celebrated Christmas 3 different times. Today’s Christmas was at their great-grandmother’s house where we opened presents and shared a big meal with Bethany’s mom’s side of the family. I remember being at it last year and us saying goodbye to family with no intentions of seeing them for at least two years since we would be moving to Czech. Little did we know that we would be back this Christmas celebrating together once again.

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

The format is simple: eat and then open presents. Bethany’s grandmother always goes big on the gifts and I think she spend a certain set amount on everyone, though this still remains a mystery to me. I am pretty excited about my new pocket knife, shirt, and three more volumes that will be added to my MacArthur commentary set! Bethany was given a new necklace, salt and pepper shakers, and some clothes. Avery got some kitchen toys, including a working cash register and a stand mixer (think Kitchenaid) which she calls her ice cream maker. And Titus was pretty pumped about his big play ship thing that folds up. We’re definitely thankful for the wonderful gifts and kindness of our family!

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

Overall our energy levels were better today and we were all up at 5am. I think we’re gaining an hour of sleep every night. It’s such a bummer to have to turnaround and flip back to Czech time in just a few weeks, but that’s just part of the life we live right now. Christmas part 2 will be on Tuesday will complete the triple Christmas celebrations we have had. It brings excitement for gifts, but a little anxiety as to how exactly we’re going to get all of this stuff back to Czech!

Here’s a few more photos from the afternoon.

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

That’s Titus and Avery with their second cousin Savannah.

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

Christmas Part 1 (12/27/14)

W.

Winter Wheels and Good Meals

Winter Wheels

Today was Czech Independence Day from when they became Czechoslovakia back in 1918. Like many American holidays, in observance of the holiday many stores and shops were closed. Our team in Czech follows the Czech calendar so our office here was closed as well. With the extra day I had hoped we would be able to get our new winter tires on the car before this Saturday because November 1 is the date you’re supposed to have winter weather tires. We bought them a few weeks ago, but I’ve had them sitting in the garage for a moment when I can go get them switched. Thankfully, I can see the tire place from our house and it’s a 30 second walk to get there. While looking out the window today to see if they were open I saw their gate was unlocked and cars were driving in. Score! Titus and I packed up the car and coasted down our street to get them changed.

Winter Wheels

Winter Wheels

Titus thought it was great fun. For him, changing tires is just like the movie Cars and a pit stop with Lightning McQueen and honestly the guys today were about as fast as little Guido is in Cars. In about 8 minutes they had our car in and out with the tires on and ready to go. The guys at the shop are really nice and the main guy spoke really good English which was so nice. I don’t expect it and when it happens it’s an extra blessing, especially with the technical stuff like tires and auto repairs. They told me we probably need a few new tires for spring time, but we’ll get those fixed at a later date. And in the end the total charge was like $11 for the work. All in all it was a great little errand and I’m thankful to have those guys so close and be so helpful.

Winter Wheels

For lunch we decided to do a little picnic outside on the grass. The weather was cooler for sure, but the sun was shining and it was actually very nice outside. We basically did leftovers from last night’s chicken and drop biscuits. Bethany brought a little blanket out and all four of us enjoyed lunch together. It was nice just to relax a bit and be still.

While we were eating lunch Avery started to collect these leaves with long stems and turned them into a bouquet of dead leaves. She was really proud of it.

Winter Wheels

Tonight we had dinner with our friends, the Stephens. They invited us out since it was a holiday and we were excited to join them for a big family meal. The food was incredible and we enjoyed these fully loaded, barbecue grilled quesadillas! When we walked into the door Brian was still prepping them on the counter to get them ready for the grill and I snapped a quick photo. Mmmmmmmm.

Winter Wheels

The Stephens have a daughter, twin boys, and another boy on the way in November. Our kids had a lot of fun just playing with their kids and later in the evening they enjoyed playing the Wii in the living room. Brian and Aliesha are a blessing to chat with and wealth of knowledge on helping us continue to maneuver the Czech culture and transition here. As well, they were our regular support and Skype friends for the past few years before we came over here and I don’t know what we would’ve done without their help. Thank you, Stephens family, for having us over again and for the wonderful evening and great food!

F.

From Sour Milk to a Spaghetti Meal

Bethany and I were pretty proud of ourselves. We went to the grocery store all by ourselves, I picked out a little thing of milk, and Bethany got the correct amount of Czech crowns (money), we paid for it and left. Both of us were even talking about it after we got back to the flat we’re staying in. “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!” I said proudly. “Yeah!” Bethany agreed. Then she took a drink.

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In my defense it was clearly marked “mléko”, or milk. What I didn’t know was this was some kind of “special” milk that Czechs enjoy to be healthy. After Googling it for a minute, I think it’s some kind of fermented milk…I don’t know! Unfortunately for Bethany, she was the first to try and as fast as she drank it was as fast as it came flying back out and into the sink. And there it was…our first trip to the store as a family for one item, and we failed. The moral of the story, you ask? Look for milk that is marked “čerstvý” or fresh.

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Thankfully, it didn’t ruin our day. We did spend some time this morning walking around our new town and just trying to get a feel for our new city. We are currently staying in a friend’s flat and as soon as our container arrives we’ll be able to move into our flat which is just down the road. It’s a great little city here. Everything is basically in walking distance and it’s just a nice place.

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The above house is where we (think?) our new flat is. We’ll be living in the bottom floor. You’ll notice a large catholic church in the background. While we were walking around the bells from the clock tower rang out. I wonder if they do that during the middle of the night?

After our walk we all took a really long nap. The funny thing is it was 10:00am at that point and we had all been awake since 4:30am. Mel and Amy Ellenwood, who have been in Czech for twenty years, came by our place around noon to welcome us and help us get settled. Amy took Bethany over to a local pre-school to try and register Titus. Unfortunately there are no spots available yet, but they are aware of our family and they said the next open spot will be for Titus. Later, Amy took Bethany shopping for groceries and Mel helped get our phones working here, as well as helped me navigate the arrival of our shipping container. They are a precious couple and we’re so thankful for their help today and for answering all of our questions. These early days are not easy, especially with jet lag and little ones, but we are thankful that God provides friends and resources like the Ellenwoods to help keep our heads above water.

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Finally, because of her time with Amy at the store, Bethany was able to make a great meal which we all really enjoyed. She even expressed to me at dinner that she was really encouraged by all the familiar brands and different types of foods that are available which we weren’t originally sure we would see. We sat down for our first home cooked meal and it was a delicious spaghetti with meat sauce and side salad. Thank you, wife, for your courage at the store today and for a delicious meal!

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