O.

Our First Trip to the U.S. Embassy in Prague

And just like that, we’re back on a train headed for home. As I write, Avery is a sleep, Titus is watching a show on the iPad and Bethany is rocking baby Karis to hopefully get her to fall asleep. We’ve had an eventful day and we’re all a little tired, but I’m so thankful for how the Lord worked today.

The day started early as we had a 9:00am appointment at the U.S. embassy in Prague. Our friends Zach and Kara were so kind to come meet us at our apartment early this morning to watch Titus and Avery while we took Karis and all of our paperwork the embassy. The embassy was actually a lot closer to us than I thought and literally took us 1 minute to walk there as it was just across the street. Honestly, I think it took us longer to get out of our building than to walk to the embassy once we were on the street.

U.S. Embassy in Prague (6/22/15)

No surprise, but there was security to go through at the embassy, but it wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. It took us a little work to get everything through (stroller, baby seat, etc.) but once we were in things went smoothly, albeit slowly. We were seen right away, but the processing of the documents is what I think took the longest. Their Web site claims it should take “45 minutes” but we were there over two hours. The man processing our paperwork was really nice and asked a lot of questions about what we do here so we shared about being missionaries. He also had us raise our right hands and affirm that everything we submitted was true (I only mention this because we hadn’t done something like that in a long time). Of course, we affirmed all of it and when the dust had settled on the morning all the paperwork was signed, completed, and now we wait. We’re hopeful to get all the documents back in the next 10 days and we’ll head back to Prague to pick everything up at that time.

Our morning at the embassy may have been really dull had it not been for the fact that we spent our waiting time hanging out with another really sweet missionary family. In God’s sovereign plan, a family (who serve near Prague) was there that we got to spend a ton of time with and get to know. We knew they were going to be there, and the circumstances surrounding how we knew and the incredible fact that we had the same appointment time on the same day are too much for this post, but it was a joy to see them and talk with them. They have three little girls and have been here for six years. We had planned to have lunch with them, which we did at a delicious pizza place, and then we ended up heading to park to let the kids play. There is a lot I could say about our time together, but it was really sweet and I’m thankful to have spent time with this family and were encouraged by their hearts for Czech and the ministry here.

Train Panoramic (6/22/15)

We’re halfway home now with another two hours of travel left. Avery is awake and we’re enjoying a little snack. I feel a little sentimental as we approach our one year mark in just two days. Most likely I’ll be taking a break from the daily blog, but not from blogging altogether. For those who have joined us on this journey, thank you for reading and following along. I’ll write more on Wednesday about it, but it’s been a joy to share our lives with you in this way. See you tomorrow!

F.

Father’s Day in Prague

Happy Father’s Day!

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

In another incredible adventure we have made our way today back to Prague. I never thought we would end up here as much as we have, especially in the past few weeks, but it’s been really fun and crazy all at the same time. Just like we did a few weeks ago, we made our here today via the train station right by our house. We walked there this morning, caught an 8am train and got into Prague about 20 minutes after noon. Below are a few photos from the train ride, including the one above. In the photos below we walked to the “kids car” and played for a bit. These aren’t are actual seats (those were in a different car), but the kids made a little friend while we were in the there.

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

When we got in to Prague we made our way down to the Metro (subway) and accidentally got on the wrong side of the tracks, took the elevator back up and over, and finally got to where we needed to be. We packed really light this trip since we’ll only be here one night so it wasn’t too bad getting around with all five of us. The Metro took us to a transfer station where we caught another Metro headed towards a lunch place that we made reservations at. There is a burger joint in Prague that supposedly has the one of the top five burgers in Europe and a friend had recommended it. Since burgers are my favorite thing on the planet and they are not super common here, we had to go for it. I’m STOKED we did because it was amazing and my Father’s Day belly left full and happy! Here’s a photos of the kids and Bethany as we walked.

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

What I never understood as just a tourist, but now understand so much better, is if you’re going to stay in big European cities…rent an apartment. Tonight we are staying in a literal castle view apartment that is about a stones throw from the U.S. Embassy (which is why we’re here this weekend) and it’s costing us less than you’re cheap Motel 6 in the States. Not only that, but this is a large 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen! Check out this view from one of our windows.

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Here’s a few more shots from around the building.

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Here’s a view of the American flag that we can see flying above the embassy from the other side of our apartment (small flag in the upper left).

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Tonight we (unbelievably) had dinner on a boat on the river, in Prague, with a view of the Charles Bridge and the castle. I’m not kidding you. I never in my life thought I would ever get to say or write that, but it’s another recommended, affordable restaurant that was walking distance from our apartment. The only issue we had was that the kids kept asking why the boat wasn’t moving! Here’s a few photos from the place and then a shot of it from the bridge.

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

The restaurant is in the middle boat (dead center) next to the wall (in the photo below)

Father's Day in Prague (6/21/15)

Our appointment for Karis’ U.S. citizenship, passport, and social security card is tomorrow at 9:00am so we’ll be up early to get packed up and make sure we get to our appointment early. I’ve tried to check and re-check every document that is required and we’re really hoping the process will go smoothly. I no reason to doubt that it will, but I’m always weary of government things like this, even ones that only involve the U.S.! Pray for us as we go tomorrow that things would be in order and go smoothly so we can get Karis’ documents and then take the next step towards getting her a visa.

Well, that’s not a bad way to spend a Father’s Day and not a bad way to end this post. Good night!

C.

Clean and Plan

I spent about twenty minutes today peeling Disney Cars stickers from the floor in our dining area. I honestly can’t remember when Titus started sticking them there this week, but I realized just this morning that it had gotten out of hand. There were at least twenty stickers lined up near our table and as I started working on them Titus said, “Dad, this is how you get to Cards Land.” At first I started with my fingers only, but that was leaving the sticker backing on the floor so then I upped my game and went for a razor blade and that “Goo Be Gone” stuff to give me some help.

That’s really just my long intro to say we spent a lot of the day today cleaning the house. When we had help here the house seemed to stay a little more tidy, but this past week we just weren’t keeping up. Now I want to be clear I don’t think we’re slobs, but like any family with a new baby we’re adjusting things in our home to accommodate her and her feeding schedule. But it was nice to pick things up, clean some dishes, get some laundry done, and even have the kids do “jobs” around the house. They helped take out the recycling, did some vacuuming in, and Titus even “watched” baby Karis for a bit (and by a bit, I really mean he told me he was watching her for mommy and then quickly went outside to play in the yard). Here’s a photo of Titus holding Karis the other day.

Titus and Karis (6/18/15)

I also spent some time today trying to plan out our quick trip to Prague this weekend. We’re headed there for an early U.S. Embassy appointment on Monday. This will be the first meeting to get Karis’ passport, U.S. citizenship, and social security stuff started. We’ve spent this week getting everything in order and are hopefully all ready for Monday’s meeting. I have been studying the metro and tram maps to make sure I can get all five of us around the big city safely and quickly. We tried to plan out where we would eat and made reservations and some places friends recommended, but it will still be a trick to get us around on public transportation. Like most men, I’m pretty confident I can do it but I guess you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow night to find out how I did!

P.

Prague With Kids and Staring Out the Window

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

Taking young kids to a large city is never ideal or easy. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or that it’s wrong, but it just means you may have to get creative on how you go about it. Today our philosophy was kind of simple: divide and conquer. I don’t think we ever used those words exactly, but it’s how we handled this slice of Europe they call Prague.

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

By God’s grace there is a really great park that we’ve been to before just around the corner from our rented apartment (shown above). Kara showed me how to get there last night and I had planned to take the kids there today which I did. Bethany, Karis, Nana, and Papa went onward towards the Prague castle. We just didn’t think our kids would be able to make it walking around the Prague castle, especially since they went to bed really late last night. Hence we divided and conquered. I took the kids to the park while everyone else went to the castle.

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

After a little lunch I took the kids on the subway and then a tram to meet everyone back up near the castle. We did pretty well, except I got on the tram going the wrong way so we jumped off and caught it going the opposite direction (maybe a 5 min delay). When we got to our stop we jumped off, saw Papa and Nana for a minute, picked up Bethany and Karis, parted ways with Papa and Nana, and then headed back to the apartment for nap time. Bethany was even testing out a new baby carrier that Papa and Nana brought over and it seems like it worked out well (it’s like a Baby Bjorn, but like a fabric wrap. It’s called a Baby Katan). Apparently Papa used it the entire time they were at the castle and Karis slept, well, like a baby.

During our travel around the city I got a few pics of the kids. Here they are.

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

Our apartment is situated in a great location which gives us access to the subway (Metro), trams, and lots of sights. Since we came here by train it made sense for us to stay near other modes of transportation. The views from our apartment are really great and we get the added bonus of a fun little band that has been peforming on the street below us. Here’s a little video I got today of them playing (about 10 seconds long). The band is standing below the tree at the very middle of the video, below that yellow colored building.

Here’s a wide view of the street from our window.

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

We actually spent a lot of time today staring out that window. While the kids napped, I was holding Karis with my feet out the window enjoying the beautiful music below. It was other worldly and so relaxing and I quite honestly think I needed that time today. I know I don’t deserve it, but it was a grace of the Lord that I thanked him for this afternoon. Even during it I received an email that made my day. It was special.

Here’s me holding Karis during that time. She was just wide awake and happy.

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

Here’s Titus staring out the window when he woke up from his nap.

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

Thank to a friend here in Prague we got authentic Mexican food for dinner (something that is VERY hard to find in this country) and I even busted out my muy poquito Español. The restaurant served great food, wasn’t overpriced, and was within a few hundred feet of the astronomical clock (shown above in the first photo of this post). You guys should seriously consider coming to Prague.

Lastly I ran out the store tonight to grab a few items for breakfast. We’re hoping to visit the famous Charles Bridge tomorrow morning, and we like to have breakfast together at our apartment. As I was waiting for the elevator I stared down the stairwell in this building to what is a beautiful, movie-like scene. I’m sure the locals could care less about a stairwell, but we just don’t see many things like this in the States. Here’s the photo I got

Exploring Praha (6/11/15)

Tomorrow is our last full day with Papa and Nana which is sad. We’ve had a great time with them and are so glad they could be hear to meet Karis and help us. They are so generous and so gracious to come all this way to be with us and it’s been fun to continue to see our kids’ relationship with them grow and grow. Just tonight as I was praying with Titus and Avery before bed Titus said, “Dad, after you pray can you ask Papa to come give me a hug?” Papa, of course, went in there afterwards, hugged the kids, and came out a little teary eyed. It was special. These are sweet times and that was a sweet moment. Let’s just hope for a few more of those tomorrow.

T.

Then We Went to Prague

We’ve lost our minds. At least that’s the only explanation I can give for what we’ve done in the past week and a half. First, Bethany delivered Karis in a Czech hospital, we stayed in the hospital for 72 hours, we went to Krakow, we went to Auschwitz, and now I’m sitting in an apartment in Prague with our family plus Papa and Nana! We came here by train today (4 hour ride), walked to our apartment from the station, met our friends Zach and Kara for dinner, and as I write I can overlook the same square where communism fell in this country back in 1989.

The We Went to Prague (6/10/15)

Above is a photo of Karis riding the train and in the background you can see Avery and Titus asleep on their seats (actually, Bethany is also asleep in her chair but she’s off camera). Before anyone judges me for taking two young children, an infant, and a mommy who just gave birth to another European city, I can honestly say that a lot of this is because Bethany was totally up for it. Her parents will leave from Prague on Saturday and they too wanted to visit this beautiful city so we figured out a way to do it all before they leave. We’ll be here tomorrow and Friday and then we’ll come back on an early morning train on Saturday when we say goodbye to Papa and Nana as they head home to Washington State. I’m hope the next few days will be a joy for us all and a great end to a really incredible time together.

I mentioned we had dinner with Zach and Kara, but we also got to introduce them to Karis. Zach was saying when he saw our announcement that Karis was born that in that moment he realized, “oh man…now they’re outnumbered!” It’s true. I’m definitely still adjusting to a third child and I realized this more on the train ride over. It’s a lot of work to pull together all the stuff we need to spend a few days away as a family. This was always true with just Titus and Avery, but with baby Karis in the mix we’ve added a stroller, car seat, baby bag, and some ridiculous amount of diapers. Thankfully she’s been an incredible little baby thus far.

It’s just past 11pm and I’m pretty tired so we’re going to hit the hay. We’ll see you tomorrow!