it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Tag: vacation (page 1 of 3)

Awesome to Awful: Our First European Vacation (Part 3)

Editor’s note: This post is the third installment of a three part series. If you haven’t read the first two, please click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Must…Get…Up

With us being so sick, our appetites were gone but the kids were hungry. Somehow I needed to get out of bed, go to the store, and get food for dinner. So I forced myself out the door and to our car. That was around 3:00pm and it was the first time I had been outside that day. I remember thinking I didn’t even have the energy to drive the stick shift and it slipped out of my hand just trying to put it in reverse. I paused and tried again and got out of the driveway. Thankfully the store was only about a mile away, so it wasn’t too bad getting there.

At the store, I walked slowly and gingerly down the aisles probably looking like a crazy person clinging to my cart for support. My stomach was still hurting and nothing sounded good to me, but I needed to get anything I could think of for the kids to have food (I like how this sounds like a wilderness survival story all of a sudden). I don’t remember what I bought, except for some Sprite because we thought that would feel nice on our stomachs. I remember being sad because I really wanted ginger ale but couldn’t find any.

Slovenia Vacation (7/28/15)

During the late afternoon (around 5pm) of that second day (Tuesday), I also managed to take the kids to the pool across the street. The above photo is all I have to prove that I was there. Bethany stayed back and laid in bed, while I laid down on one of those outside pool chairs and let the kids play in the mini pools. I felt so bad that they had been cooped up inside all day so again I just tried to push myself. Mostly, I just remember laying there and hoping I would feel better which was slowly starting to happen, although my appetite was still gone. I never got in the water despite the kids desperate pleas. Since there were two little kid pools I found a spot in the middle while the kids ran back and forth jumping in to both of them.

Beyond that I can’t remember what we did that night but I know we went to bed early again. I may have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the evening, but outside of that I didn’t eat anything that day.

The Dark Day

On Wednesday morning (our third day of “vacation”), we woke up and felt a lot better but were still not 100%. We got a lot more sleep and I think Karis slept well that night too, which gave Bethany a little more sleep. By mid-morning my appetite had returned and I felt well enough to return to the store again for some fresh food and I told Bethany I would take the kids with me. When we got back from the store and walked in to the apartment the air conditioning wasn’t running which was weird because it had been running almost non-stop since we arrived (What can we say? We’re Californians!). I asked Bethany about the air conditioning and that’s when she said, “The power went out.” Come again? “About ten minutes after you left for the store the power just went out.” Oh no.

It was now a little past 10:00am. I immediately tried to find the electrical panels and breakers to see what I could do. I searched the entire house using my iPhone flashlight and found nothing so I went outside of the apartment and checked the hallways. I found an electrical panel wall for all the apartments but I didn’t see any breakers or ways to turn the power back on. I went downstairs and found another wall of panels, this one much bigger, but all I saw were these big buttons beneath each apartment’s meter. I tried pushing a few but nothing happened. Finally, I just texted the apartment owner and said, “There is no power in your apartment. Please help.” He didn’t respond right away so I tried calling his number and got no answer. I was really at a loss now.

The apartment only has electric appliances so now our lunch was on the line and this whole vacation was already so far off the mark it was laughable (however, I wasn’t laughing). I had the number of the apartment manager who doesn’t speak English, so I called him on a whim just hoping we could communicate. By God’s grace his wife was with him and he passed the phone to her and I was able to tell her we were without power. She told me he would come in 30 minutes. About an hour and fifteen minutes later he arrived, tried a bunch of switches, and left. Then he came back again with another guy, they pulled a picture frame off the wall which exposed an electrical panel, flipped all the switches, and still nothing. He left again. He came back a third time, said something to us we didn’t understand, and he was gone yet again. One problem: he never came back.

We waited and waited while the apartment got hotter (no AC), we got hungrier, and the kids got more restless. The power had been out for three hours now and we decided to just take the kids to the pool a little after 1:00pm, skipped lunch, and just ate snacks we had. At the pool area they had WiFi, so I was able to try and connect with the apartment owner via my iPhone app. I wrote him this message:

We have been without electricity in the entire apartment for over 3 hours now. [The apartment manager] came but we can’t communicate and I don’t think he can fix it. We are thinking of leaving tonight because of this and would like to have a refund on one of our nights.

Bethany and I had basically decided we wouldn’t be able to stay there without power so it was time to start making plans for what we would do next. To my surprise, I finally got a message back from the owner that said,

Call [the apartment manager]. I hope you did not destroy something.

Destroy something!? What?! It took me a while to realize that since English was his second language he didn’t really know how intense the word “destroy” came across to me, especially over a text message. Finally, he called me on the phone. Apparently he was in Miami doing some schooling but he called me to try to figure this out. He told me he couldn’t get a hold of the apartment manager, but that he called an electrician who was on there way. He then told me I was supposed to push the buttons on the electrical panel and I said I had already tried that. Eventually we just decided I would go back to the apartment from the pool area and wait for the electrician.

Let There Be Light

Slovenia Vacation (7/29/15)

Not long after we spoke on the phone two men arrived, one of them was the guy you see in the photo above. He had a leg cast and crutches, was wearing one sandal, and the guy with him spent most of the time on his cell phone. He motioned to me and hobbled down the hallway to where the electrical panels were (the same ones I had already looked at earlier). He started explaining something to me in broken English and then pointed to this button (photo below).

Slovenia Vacation (7/29/15)

That blank spot (the only one of about fifteen buttons) was our unit. He then hobbled with me back in to our apartment and asked me about a spoon. When I didn’t really understand he started going through the drawers of the kitchen until he found a wooden pasta spoon and we hobbled back down the hall to the blank button. He stuck the handle of the spoon in that hole and I could hear the air conditioning unit fire back up down the hall in our apartment. YES! We had power again! The electrician showed me use the handle to push the button in case it happens again and that actually ended up coming in handy later when three more times the power would fail.

When our family finally did converge back at the apartment it was around 3:30pm. The power had been out for over five hours. It took us another hour or so to figure out why the power kept failing, but basically it was that we couldn’t have more than two major appliances running at the same time (e.g. washing machine, AC, and oven). If we did that, the power would fail immediately when a third appliance was turned on.

Just End This Already

By this point in our vacation we were done. Bethany and I decided we had had enough and told the apartment manager we would be leaving around 8am the next morning (he eventually returned the apartment to check on us around 6pm). Even though I was feeling better, Bethany wasn’t feeling great but she asked me if we could seriously go find a McDonald’s. To be honest, we thought McDonald’s was our safest option at that point after the day we had. I found one on our GPS and we started driving there only to find out we were about 1 kilometer from accidentally driving in to Italy. I pulled the car around and ended up finding a McDonald’s in Slovenia where we enjoyed dinner. I tried explaining to Bethany that I wanted to take her to Italy on our vacation, but she didn’t think my joke was very funny (OK, she laughed at me, but it was a courtesy laugh).

Slovenia Vacation (7/29/15)

That evening when we got back to the apartment I took the kids across the street to a little bounce house area. They had seen it the night before and since we would be leaving early the next day I figured it would be fun last thing to enjoy. After we put the kids to bed that night, Bethany and I spent the evening packing and cleaning so we could leave in the morning.

On Thursday morning (day 4) we were packed and ready to leave at 8am but the apartment manager didn’t arrive until 9am. We lost and hour of drive time (which I wasn’t excited about), but left for the 8+ hour ahead of us. The trip ended up taking 13 hours. I had planned for about 11 hours, but bad traffic, stops to eat and feed the baby, and intense weather extended the trip significantly. In the end we made it home in Czech around 10:00pm. As I said in the first post, I sighed a sigh of relief just seeing our driveway.

Slovenia Vacation (7/30/15)

Vacation stories are a part of life. Everyone has one and it’s always fun to talk about later when you’re removed from the situation. It’s been a week since we were laying in bed sick and as I look back I can chuckle (we’re not laughing yet–that’ll take years of counseling). I found the above photo of the kids “relaxing” on the patio of the apartment just before we left and I’m reminded that even vacations are not about me. A good friend and pastor reminded me of that truth recently and told me “Remember: this life isn’t about you.” It’s not. If my kids had fun, then I should be happy. If Bethany had fun (verdict is still out on that), then I should be happy. Even a week later the kids are still talking about the pool time and the fun we had on vacation. My memories are a little skewed in that department, but again, it’s not about me. We had our plans and the Lord had His. He’s a better planner anyway.

Awesome to Awful: Our First European Vacation (Part 2)

Editor’s note: This post is the second installment of a three part series. If you haven’t read Part 1, please click here.

After all the fun we had at Lake Bled and the wedding at the castle, we were just as excited to head a little more south towards the coast of Slovenia which is on the Adriatic Sea. If you know you’re geography, then you know that the Adriatic is the water that runs on the east side along the boot of Italy. Again, we rented an apartment through Airbnb.com in a town called PortoroŇĺ. It’s a city that is literally across the sea from Venice, Italy (see map below).

Living in landlocked Czech Republic, we have often just longed for some ocean water. Our plan was simple: live by water and just swim every day. We were only going to be there Monday afternoon through Thursday morning, so a simple plan made sense. If we got tired of that we had even considered a day trip to Venice just for the fun of it and to say we did it. The apartment we ended up renting was affordable for three nights and it was a five minute walk from the sea. What could go wrong?!

Keys Please

When you rent from Airbnb.com you speak directly with the apartment owner via text or their smartphone app to setup meeting times and to get the keys. In our case, the guy I was talking to online spoke English and said he had an apartment manager who would meet us to get the keys. The time was set and when we did arrive at 2:00pm on Monday I tried calling and texting but no answer. Instead of waiting around, we decided to just go to the grocery store just down the street to get a few things for dinner since we would be making our own meals, all the while still trying to contact the property manager to get the keys.

There were a bunch of apartments grouped together, but I didn’t know exactly which one was the one we were staying at. When we got back from the store I started walking around the buildings trying to figure out where it was. This went on for an hour. Then we drove around some more trying to keep the car AC going because it was hot outside and the property manager finally called. Surprisingly, He spoke no English. I tried anything I could use from the Czech language to help our discussion but he just kept saying, “Hallo!” (which I just assume is “Hello!”). After multiple attempts of him saying things and me saying things coupled with long, awkward pauses, we hung up and I looked at Bethany and with frustration said, “What are we going to do?”

Slovenia Vacation (7/27/15)

So I texted another missionary family in Slovenia to see if they could help. Thankfully, they called the guy for us and found out he doesn’t speak Slovene but some kind of “Croatian/Italian mix” (their description). Thankfully the missionary wife did speak enough of whatever he spoke and they said he would be there in three minutes with the keys. This all happened while I was walking around the complex trying to confirm which place we would be staying. The above photo is one I took of the outside of the building when I finally found the patio with the potted plants which was the only description I was working off of. When the guy did finally arrive he saw Bethany and the kids first and tried letting them in but had the wrong keys and had to go back to a pile of keys in his car to get ours. When we got inside the place was awesome. It had AC (a rare thing around here), good size rooms, and a nice kitchen–everything we needed for a restful time. The guy showed me around and told me a bunch of these I couldn’t understand at all and said goodbye.

After we got settled in the apartment, we decided to try to do a quick swim since it was our first day there and we had some time before dinner. We walked down to the shoreline only to find out that it’s not really a shore as much as it’s a concrete area and you either jump into the water or take the stairs, much like you would get into a pool. As well, and quite unfortunately, we realized that we were in Europe at a “beach” which apparently also means that clothing is optional. I just tried to keep my eyes on our kids in the water who loved the roped off swim area. We had about thirty minutes of fun before drying off and walking back towards our new, temporary home.

Someone’s Poisoned the Waterhole!

On our way back from the water, we saw a Mexican food place along the boardwalk called “Papa Chico’s.” It’s very hard for us pass up on Mexican food. I mean, we’re Californians–we love Mexican food! Not only are Mexican restaurants very rare here, they are usually not very good. In this case we figured it would be a winner because we were in a pretty touristy area so we decided to just eat right then instead of going home, changing, and coming back.

The food was mediocre. Both Bethany and I ordered enchiladas, but she got chicken and I got beef. We ordered plain, cheese quesadillas for the kids which weren’t that bad. I said during dinner, “I’m not exactly sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this” in regards to my plate. The beef was more like chili (I guess?) and it all just didn’t taste right. I did, however, enjoy the Coke Zero that I didn’t intend to order. In the end we were a little disappointed but we were fed and walked back to our apartment. That evening Bethany complained of a stomach ache. She asked me if I was feeling weird at all and I wasn’t. Normally we would probably stay up a little bit and watch TV or read after putting the kids to bed, but Bethany felt like she needed to sleep off whatever was ailing her stomach and we went to bed a little early.

At around 1:30am I was awoken by a loud crashing sound. I sat up in the strange room and tried to adjust my eyes to see anything at all. The two bedrooms are in the upstairs of the apartment and everything else is downstairs. The little AC unit was running loud and it’s located right in the stairwell so that was the only noise I was hearing now. I looked over and saw Bethany wasn’t in the bed and then proceeded to see if baby Karis was in her Pak-N-Play and she was. Upon standing up and walking to the bedroom door I called downstairs in one of those whisper yells, “Hello?! Is everything OK?” so as not to wake the kids who were asleep in their room. No answer back. I was pretty out of it so I sat back down on our bed and that’s when I heard Bethany faintly say, “Shay…help.” Oh no.

In her race to the only bathroom at the bottom of the dark and unfamiliar stairwell, Bethany slipped on the tile and crash landed in the bathroom doorway. When I found her she was on the ground and emptying her stomach. We figured it was either the same stomach thing Titus had on our drive down or food poisoning. I wasn’t much help because the whole event was making me feel sick so I laid down on the couch. In the end, Bethany spent until close to 4am repeating the downstairs rush (minus the fall), while I laid on the couch also starting not to feel well myself. I thought it was just the events that were making me sick, but that was not the case.

Bethany did get some sleep that night and I did too after going back to bed around 4:30am. When the kids woke us up at 8:00am Bethany asked me how I was feeling and I said, “Not good.” Something wasn’t right in my stomach and it would last this way until the afternoon when my body rejected what we ate the night before. I was sure it was food poisoning now. By God’s grace, the kids were happy to play with Legos that we brought with us for the majority of the day. I don’t remember personally helping them, but Bethany said at one point she made them some eggs while sitting in a chair because she couldn’t stand. Mostly, we just laid in bed that day, unable or not wanting to move.

That’s all for this episode. The last and final installment of our vacation will be posted tomorrow! ūüôā

Awesome to Awful: Our First European Vacation (Part 1)

We’re back! Not just from our month long hiatus from the blog, but from our very first European vacation.

Quite honestly, I sighed a sigh of relief as we¬†returned home last night and finally turned the car ignition off after a thirteen hour road trip home. And now we’re one of those families–you know, a family¬†with one of those vacation stories. Everyone has one. What began with wonderful planning (what did people do before the Internet?!), check-lists (we still forgot the coffee), and perfectly packing the car (yeah… like a man), quickly turned in to a drama worthy of a book deal and a movie (still waiting to see if Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon sign on for the lead roles). Bethany expressed it well: “we need a vacation from our vacation.” So grab your popcorn and find a seat (I like about halfway up, in the middle) because here’s the tale in it’s entirety.

A Beautiful Drive and a Sick Kid

We live in northeast Czech Republic, literally on the border with Poland and not far from neighboring Slovakia (in the upper right corner of Czech). This actually puts us within driving distance of some of those most beautiful cities in the world. Vienna, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, and Berlin are all about 3-5 hours away. If you want to see the beach you gotta work a little harder for it, but you can head south to the countries of Slovenia or Croatia for warm water and hot sun (or, for you romantics, you can get to Venice, Italy in 9 hours flat from our house). We decided we wanted to head south mostly because we had been invited to attend a wedding in Slovenia and since we would already be making the 7 hour drive we thought it would be fun to vacation there. Even Rick Steves (your favorite American travel guy) says, “Slovenia is the least visited and most underrated of Europe’s alpine countries.” So last week on Friday we left at precisely 7:57am and hit the open road for an entire week away.¬†Alright!

Playing With the Kids (7/24/15)

The drive was¬†beautiful. We saw all of Czech Republic, all of Austria, and then well into stunning¬†Slovenia. We had to make planned stops every 2-3 hours to feed Karis, but the kids enjoyed the regular potty breaks and playing at the McDonald’s play places (shown above). The trip was mostly uneventful until about 30 minutes before we crossed the Austria/Slovenia border. Almost out of nowhere Titus said quietly from the back seat, “I am going to¬†throw up.” We were humming along the highway at the speed limit but I took him seriously and pulled to the emergency lane and stopped the car. Bethany jumped out on his side of the car and as she opened his door Titus lost his lunch inside of our van. Had I been a little quicker maybe could have gotten him out in time, but the damage was done.

Bethany proceeded to get him out while a steady stream of traffic was going by us (thankfully, we stopped at a turning part of the highway where traffic was going slower than the average 80mph). I then began unpacking the car on the highway to get to that one bag which had his clothes in it. The kids’ bikes, our backpacks, Pak-N-Play, and my camera bag all had to come out on the side of the road so I could open a suitcase and get Titus a change of clothes. Titus threw up four more times in the next two hours, once more in the car and on the side of the road. We ended up arriving about two hours late to the apartment we rented in Slovenia, but the lady was very kind and gracious with our situation (we rented it through airbnb.com).¬†The place we stayed was really nice and we began running the washing machine as soon as we arrived. Titus didn’t seem to have any more issues and was feeling fine which, of course, we were thankful for. Everyone got a good night’s rest that first night and were excited about what the next day would hold.

A Wedding at a Castle

Without getting into the crazy details, friends from the States have a daughter who¬†married a guy from Slovenia. They held two ceremonies, one in the States a few weeks ago, and one last week in Slovenia which we had the privilege of attending. The morning of the wedding (our second day of vacation) it was raining pretty hard. We had a little twenty minute drive from where we were staying to get to the the family’s house where all the festivities of the wedding would begin. On our drive we went right through a pretty wild storm. By the time we got to the house the storm had cleared and sun was shining!

This wedding was our first since moving to Europe and it was a ton of fun. There are so many cultural things that we enjoyed. For instance, everyone attending the wedding met at the family’s house for a mini pre-reception thing. The family provided snacks and drinks and everyone gathered in the front yard and driveway while a young man played traditional Slovenian songs on his accordion. Some people danced and others just mingled while the bride and groom walked around and greeted them. Then we heard, “OK, we’re leaving!” and they handed us bags of candy. The girl who gave us our bag said, “We are going to caravan to the wedding and while we drive, if you see kids on the side of the road, throw this candy to¬†them!” For our kids, that was a highlight. We saw a lot of kids on the side of the road and our kids would throw the candy and they would pick it up and wave. The long caravan of cars snaked their way through the little town en route to a Slovene castle (honking the entire way) where the wedding would be held. Here’s a¬†short video I got of the front yard before we all drove away together.

As you may have guessed, the wedding location (a literal castle!) was incredible. Apparently this particular castle is one of the few left in Slovenia that wasn’t destroyed. I don’t know all the history, but what I heard from someone was that it was used as a vacation home for royalty. Obviously, any wedding with three little kids in tow is not easy and this one was no exception. We did OK, but it was hot, a little muggy, and our kids were tired by the time we arrived, yet¬†we still had a fun time. The kids loved the castle grounds and we even did a little exploring. We had fun visiting with our friends and of course seeing their daughter get married. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it to the reception (which was held at another location) because we really didn’t think our kids were going to make it. Slovenian receptions will traditionally last until 3 or 4 in the morning so we ended up leaving after the post-ceremony mini reception. Here’s a few photos from the wedding.

Slovenia Castle Wedding (7/25/15)

Slovenia Castle Wedding (7/25/15)

And thanks to Larry for letting us use this last photo of all us!

Slovenia Castle Wedding (7/25/15)

Lake Bled

I will admit that I’m the worst at overusing the word “awesome.” Culturally that’s true as well. As the popular song from the¬†Lego Movie¬†says, “Everything is awesome!” Well, if everything is awesome then really nothing is awesome…except Lake Bled, Slovenia. It is truly awesome. Lake Bled was a forty minute drive from our apartment and we went there the day after the wedding (if you’re keeping score, this is day 3). We actually saw some other Josiah Venture missionaries at the wedding and they helped us put some plans together for Lake Bled. They were kind enough to contact friends that work at the lake and we were able to do a few things there that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

We found a parking area on the north end of the lake and ate our home made lunch from the car and watched while people and cars poured in for some fun of their own. So many people from so many different countries were spending the day at the lake. After lunch we headed over to the shore,¬†set up our stuff, and got the kids ready for some water time. The lake was not only amazingly clear, it felt warmer than the outside air. We were worried it was going to rain, but the rain never came. The kids went for a swim while Bethany, Karis, and I played on shore. The wind was a little chilly but since the kids were having so much fun we didn’t mind.

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

After the kids were tired of the water we decided to walk around the lake to where the boats were launching. Our friends told us to a find a young man who would be willing to save us some serious cash and take us to the island in the middle of the lake. The walk proved to be a highlight. We thought it would be hard to get all of us around the lake but the walk is beautiful and right along the edge of the water. In the above photo you can see us walking on the path that they built right on top of the water. It was, you guessed it, awesome.

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

In God’s sovereignty, just as we were approaching the boat area, the young man we were trying to find was rowing a group of people back from the island in the middle of the lake. He said it would be no problem to take us out to the island at no charge! It’s actually kind of¬†pricey, so this was really gracious. We joined another group and headed towards the island (it was our¬†kids’ very first boat trip). As we boarding, Avery freaked and ran away from the boat¬†because she was scared. I got off and grabbed her while the boat waited for us to board. Finally, she settled down and started enjoying¬†it as we were slowly oared¬†away.

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

The island has a little coffee and cake shop, ice cream shop, and even a church. You can literally walk around the entire edge of the island in four minutes. We stayed out there for an hour and Bethany fed Karis in the coffee shop. I bought ice cream for the kids and me and we just enjoyed staring out at the water. Here’s a few photos from out¬†on the island.

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

Lake Bled, Slovenia (7/26/15)

We spent about an hour on the island before being rowed safely back to land (this time without any protest from Avery as we got on the boat). It was getting late in the day and we were hungry so we decided it was time to leave. Walking back to the car we talked about how much fun it was on the island and the lake and¬†we were still enamored by the surroundings. ¬†Shortly after departing our kids fell asleep in the car and we stopped off at a local burger stand for some dinner before heading back to the apartment for one more night. Our plans for the rest of our vacation included 4 days on the coast of Slovenia. All of us have been wanting to see some kind of coast or beach so that seemed like a safe bet.¬†However,¬†the Lord had other plans and for that part of the story you’re going to have wait for¬†part 2!

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 Espa√Īol. 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.

Nana’s Birthday

Today is Nana’s birthday! We celebrated with her in Krakow again today and it was a blast. The day started around 10:00, not because people weren’t awake, but because Bethany and I just had a bit of a rough night with Karis. Karis is doing awesome, but she just decided she wanted to be awake from about 3am on. Not too unexpected for a six day old, so no complaints on our end. But when we did make it out of our rented apartment the first thing on the agenda was a carriage ride through Krakow with the whole family! Below is a photo that Nana took of our new family of five while we were riding the carriage through the Old Town. It’s one the second photo ever taken of the five of us!

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

As you may have guessed, bringing a six day old on a mini vacation has it’s challenges–the main one being that she has to eat often. This brings challenges to trying to plan the day, so we mostly let Nana and Papa explore on their own today and enjoy the parts of the city that they wanted to see. But that wasn’t before our good man, Rick Steves, led us to a great pizza place via his tour book on Krakow. We had his book out while we grabbed fruit smoothies before lunch and found a place called “Cyklop” which serves incredible, gourmet pizza. The pizzas were being made literally in an oven next to our table and it was a great experience.

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

After the kids took naps, I told them we could go to the castle in town. Avery said, “Daddy, can we go to the castle where the princesses live?” to which Titus added quickly, “And the kings!” These kids have seen more castles in a few short years than I’ve seen in my life! As were leaving for the castle (just me, Titus, and Avery–Bethany stayed back to rest with Karis), Papa and Nana were arriving from their excursion and decided to join us. Instead of making the big walk with the kids to the castle, Papa saw a little golf cart service that would drive us up there so we did that. It saved buckets of time and definitely helped our tired legs. We made it to the castle in time to walk around, but were just a little late for tour tickets. Either way it was fun and here’s a few photos.

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

We wanted to do something special for Nana, so on our way back from the castle Bethany gave me instructions to pick up some cupcakes from a little shop we had visited before to celebrate Nana’s birthday. I was hoping to keep it a secret, but because Nana and Papa joined us I let them in on it and allowed Nana to pick a few for herself. We got a dozen cupcakes and took them back to the apartment where we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her. It was a great way to end our time in Krakow before packing up and heading home. Here’s just a sampling of some of the flavors we got (in the photo below).

Nana's Birthday (6/7/15)

Since I struggled to get us to Krakow in a timely manner yesterday (e.g. we took the “scenic route”…aka: we took a LONG route), I made sure I thoroughly checked the map before leaving today. Thankfully, the route I chose was the right one and we got home in no time tonight, just around 10pm. We had a bit of a pause at the border because the Czech police were doing mandatory checks, but they checked my passport and documents and let us go. The kids had fallen asleep by the time we got home, so Bethany, Nana, Papa, and I enjoyed another cupcake together! It was a lot of fun celebrating this weekend and letting Papa and Nana see a little more of Europe since they had flown so far. We have another week with them before they head back to the States and we’ve got lots more to see even still!

But as the clock strikes midnight, I think I’ll sign off. We’re heading tomorrow to a government office to start paperwork for Karis’ birth certificate, so please be praying for that. Until then, good night!

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