Wednesday, April 4, 2012

VAROVÁNÍ! (CAUTION)

VAROVÁNÍ! (CAUTION)

Reading this post may require an extra helping of caffeine and a possible potty break! Hold on!! This trip will wind through the first 7 days of our life in Prague.

TEXAS

I don't think I'll EVER learn that it's just not in the cards for me to be organized and panic free before a big trip. I know I'm not the only one that has dreams of fresh, crisp sheets on the beds, all the laundry washed and put away and even a few meals in the freezer for when we return. Am I? Am I truly the only one that could be that delusional? It matters not! That's my reality, and it wasn't any different as we prepared to make the biggest trip of our lives.

Let me back up because it's just bugging me. Is it OK to say "in the cards"? If not, oops! It makes me think of the story my dad use to tell us of sneaking into the closet under the stairs of his grandmother's home to play cards. We use to "sneak" into that same closet and it always felt like going back in time. Some secret time warp. We were sure we'd find the truth about JFK and maybe a jewel the Queen Mother gave to my Grandmother during their yearly afternoon tea.

I digress.

Back to what I was saying about leaving. So, the weeks leading up to leaving I worked my booty off trying to be ready. However, on the day we were to leave, I found myself, yet again, sitting in the big fat middle of a sea of stuff ready to be packed. I really, REALLY wanted to just crawl under the covers and call in sick! So, to my rescue ,came my sis-in-law who cleaned my in-laws house for us as we packed all around her. I'd like to say all our clothes were clean, but it'd be a lie. We had a trash bag of clothes that went right into a suitcase covered in TX filth. It's the ugly truth people.

It was a team effort that got us loaded up into two vehicles and on the road to IAH. The weather was dreary as we tried to soak in all the sites one last time. Whataburger, Sonic, Chic-Fil-A and Target never looked so good!! I think Target moaned a bit as we drove by, "I will miss you my forever friend!".

Thank you to Amy & Zach for taking us to the airport and being so patient!!!!!
I don't remember what the kids were looking at, but their worried/grumpy faces sort of capture the mood of our first 45-60 min at the airport. Dude that checked us in took FOR-E-VER. We began to consider our alternatives if we missed our flight. Thankfully, we got through security super fast and made it to our gate to find our flight was delayed an hour and a half. WHEW! That gave us time to regroup and find our happy faces. Due to the pukes at the Taylor house, we didn't get to see my sister and her family before we left. We took our extra time to Skype them and say goodbye one last time. I was thankful for that!
The kids also introduced American Dolls and Kindle Fires to a friendly German couple who sat next to them and were interested in buying gifts for their grandchildren.
We finally boarded our flight at about 9:30pm. Owen was ready for bed (or so we thought). We'd told the kids we needed to try and get to sleep as soon as possible once we boarded, so as soon as we got settled I passed out the Benadryl. Don't judge! It makes for happier kids AND happier fellow passengers! We all had the personal TVs (SCORE!) , but some didn't work (BUMMER). Ethan had an empty seat next to him and his TV and the one next to him were the ones that didn't work. We dubbed that spot the penthouse, and the kids took turns stretching their legs and sleeping there. Morgan pretty much slept from Houston to Frankfurt. She never even traded seats! Philip, Ethan and Peyton slept a good bit. Owen....not so much. So, that meant I didn't sleep much either. He got in about 4 hours of sleep in the beginning and then he and I walked the aisles, put together puzzles, watched a movie, read books and had thumb wars. The flight actually went by pretty fast, but I was darn tired by the time we arrived in Germany. Our layover was short since our plane was late. We got to our gate and no one was there. We were told to walk all the way to the opposite side of the airport to see if our gate had change. It hadn't. The 5 walked while I drug myself all the way BACK across the airport. I'm usually all about exerting energy, taking the stairs, etc. This day, I rode every people mover available! I secretly plotted how I could swipe an airport security guy's Segway and high-tail it onto the plane before he knew what hit him.

PRAGUE!
Tuesday (late afternoon)
We made it, all 6 of us plus our 13 bags....
and had homemade salsa and chips plus two kinds of soup waiting for us courtesy of Clay & Megan.
Just imagine Clay in a man apron standing next to Meg....even though he wasn't wearing one...it makes me smile! Which reminds me, my kids asked yesterday, "What does, "too cool for school mean?" Don't know where they heard it, but I'm assuming they were hoping they fell into that category!
We were able to see our new home for the first time, drop our bags, pack another quick bag, & then take the tram over to the 1 bedroom apartment we stayed in for the first three nights.

Wednesday:
We made our first grocery run and then headed to IKEA to order beds.
IKEA....that's become a four-letter word in our house. We've developed a love/hate relationship. That store is overwhelming to me when I'm fully rested and have a big Texas-sized suburban to drive there and back in. IKEA when your jet-lagged and having to carry purchases back on public transportation should be a "roadblock" on the Amazing Race!

Thursday:
Philip had to get up early to meet a repairman at our flat, so the kids and I had to make our way through the city for the first time on our own. I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous. My phone wasn't working, so I new we were completely on our own. Let's do this kids!
We were excited to have to walk through some "nature" on our way to our flat!
We hadn't eaten breakfast, so on our way we stopped at a little cafe to pick out a pastry and something to drink. We all found something yummy looking, but my card wouldn't work and I didn't have any Czech Crowns. We left empty handed...and with empty stomachs. The 5 of us kept on trekking and made it to our flat just fine. No wrong turns!
Finally got something to eat, and soon after, the Kellers arrived!
Our whole team was together at last!
We unpacked a few bags and I put my first touch of home in the kitchen. Made me think of you, Amy!
The kids enjoyed some down time in their new rooms and
a family that we'd been talking with via e-mail prior to moving brought us a meal. We were pumped to see Tex-Mex....
...and ICE!!! (Notice the BEAUTIFUL tulips Philip bought.)
We needed to go back to IK...that place, and so we all headed out for a team shopping trip. On the way, we stopped at a really great junk shop. Look at all those buttons, Amanda Flo!

and I found this:

I even talked the owner down to a better price! Aren't you proud, mom?! Oh, and he also gave Owen a little, metal, old, toy gun for free! You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take the love of firearms!
Speaking of "manly" things
Isn't this JUST PERFECT! We've come to cherish these little "granny carts"! It makes lugging things around SO MUCH EASIER! We try not to draw too much attention to ourselves...
but it isn't always easy!

Friday:
All 13 of us headed to the police station early that morning to register our families. It was fairly uneventful, which is always good when your in the presence of law enforcement! Afterwards, yep, you guessed it, back to KEA-IAY (that's pig latin...not Czech!) Here's where it gets exciting, folks! Philip decided to go to a hardware store with some of the big kids and then planned to take them to the park afterwards. I took Owen and Luke with me. The 3 of us picked out some pots and pans, some towels and a step stool. Doesn't sound like much, but it IS when you only have two littles to help carry and there's a bus, metro, metro transfer, escalators, and another metro between you and home! Again, let's do this kids!

They each pulled one of the granny carts and I carried the stool and box of pot and pans. It was all peaches for the first few steps, but then we were overtaken with about 50 little kids all the boys size. We were caught up in the mass of people entering the bus, and I was trying to keep eyes on two little blonde headed boys. Luke was in the middle, Owen was about 5 kids back from him and I was in the rear of the bus. I got there attention and made the "eyes on me" signal. You know, the pointer and middle finger "I'm watching you" sort of move. Thankfully it was one straight shot from bus stop to metro! We again rode the tide of people off the bus and reunited. We were one step closer! Next up, those darn escalators! I didn't feel good about them maneuvering with the carts, so we made some adjustments, I sweat a bucket load of nervous sweat, and we overcame! People, let me just say that the escalators here are really high and steep, so I felt much relief when they were behind us! Just for kicks, I'll tell you that my only out right act of defiance against my parents was in Macy's when my dad wanted me to take the 3rd story escalator. I was NOT a fan of people movers as a child. I'd look straight down, stand board stiff and gruffly "shush" anyone that tried to talk to me on the ride up! I've come a long way, baby! We made it home, and the boys played as I put things away. It got really quite so I went to see what mayhem they may have gotten themselves into.
THE FOLLOWING IS A DRAMATIZATION
The door was open....no little boys.
The stairwell was empty....no little boys.
I heard them giggling inside our neighbors open front door. They were visiting with the little boy that lives there.
The mom walks out, along with their 100lb chocolate lab.
The dog tries to run in our apartment, so of course I shut the door. OF COURSE I SHUT THE DOOR!
We're locked out, everyone is at the park, I haven't memorized ANYONE'S cell number, I'm in a new country, I can't climb through a window like I did in TX b/c we're on the 6th floor, AND I'm in my slippers. NICE! My sweet neighbor invited us in, and we visited for the next 40 MINUTES until Philip got home and unlocked the door.
Here's the good fun they had at the park.
Peyton used Philip's phone to translate "Do you want to play hide-and-seek?" and then showed it to these Czech kids. They said, "yes".
We ended the day with a team dinner, relaxing and maze building in the pile of cardboard boxes that decorate all our flats.
I'm SO thankful I got to spend some time with our neighbor, but I hope all our days aren't that
exciting!

Saturday:
Our order was going to be delivered Saturday morning, so we headed over early to meet the truck. They were there bright and early and we started to tackle the assembly right away.
We were REALLY excited about mattresses and something to sit on!
We didn't have any food in the house, but there was a farmer's market right down the street so we headed there for some Balkan Burgers (lamb patties, grilled veggies & a spicy mayo all stuffed into a grilled pita. YUM!) We also bought some fresh apple juice a baguette to munch on while we strolled and some homemade iced gingerbread cookies.
You can't really see well, but the cookies are a fox & two hedgehogs. Then it was back to the grindstone for Philip, and I made my way to the store for my first solo grocery trip.

There's an intimidating amount of butter choices!

I wasn't 100% sure of everything I bought, but (for the most part) it turned out OK. I did buy rolls with cream cheese in the middle b/c I thought the white mound in the pic on the front was flour and also picked up wax paper instead of foil. Not too shabby! It took probably 5X as long as it would back in TX b/c I had to look up practically everything on Google translate. I LOVE the products with pictures on the front. Talk about backsliding right on into pre-school!











We had our first dinner on a very posh cardboard "farm table" with coordinating plates. It was FANTASTIC!
We closed out the day helping the Kellers assemble their table...
and trying to figure out their dryer.
Sunday:
We attended what my bro-in-law, Ty, likes to call Bedside Baptist. ;-)
The girls mattress was the first to make it off the floor...
and we surprised Morgan with a Beagle puppy (in honor of Ruger, her puppy, lovingly cared for in his new home back in TX).
It had been a long week and the kids still hadn't seen Old Towne, so we decided to take the night off, kick up our heals and have some fun.
We watched people get their feet cleaned in the fish tank (which is really awkward because they sit them right in the window for all to see. You can tell who has the nastiest feet by how big the school of fish is eating their dead skin. I just DON'T see what could be relaxing about that scenario!)
These string players were awesome! (BTW...I just taught myself how to upload videos...yeah baby! Taking this blog to a whole new level!)
No, you're not losing your mind. There is no video :-( I guess I got a little too big for my britches before I gave it time to see if my awesome techie skillz actually were successful. Apparently...they aren't. I'll work on it!! It would be really cool to be able to show y'all video!!!

We also watched the astronomical clock go off on the hour and the kids enjoyed playing with the knight's sword.
You'll never take away our FREEEDDDOOOMM!!!!!
Monday:
Today marked the one week anniversary of our arrival in Prague! It's been a week like no other. Exciting, exhausting, eye-opening, bewildering, overwhelming and adventurous. We made it one week! I kept thinking as we found our way on the metro, purchased groceries, registered with the police, figured out how to use our radiators, "We're doing it! We're REALLY doing it!" It hasn't been all roses, but it hasn't been disastrous either. The 6 of us still love each other, we're all alive, we've already begun to build relationships and we're all still smiling. We consider that a success!
We celebrated our one week anniversary by registering for language school (Philip) and doing laundry (Autumn).
I was sort of dreading not having a dryer, but it really hasn't been bad! The climate is dry, so things don't take forever and a day to line-dry. It also forces me to really stay on top of the dirty clothes situation.
For some reason I kept thinking of my Grandma Egloff as I stood outside hanging up clothes and grabbing clothespins off my shirt. Love you Grandma!! Hope you figured out your iPad!!!!

Here's the view from our balcony.
And also from the street side.
It was a GORGEOUS day! We've had blue and sunny, and cold and gray (it snowed on Sat & Sun!). We think of you all back in the States everyday. It's still a bit surreal being here.

Did you make it all the way through?? You needed that potty break, didn't you? WOW!! I wish I had some sort of prize to hand out!! All I can say is thanks for caring about our family enough to want to read about the ins-and-outs (and upside downs) of our families' life!!!
Talk to ya soon!!!

7 comments:

Sue Ann said...

YEAH for ya'll!!! So glad to hear that you are not only survivng, but starting the thrive! Can't wait to see what else is in store for you! Love Ya'll - LOTS!

Pearl & Lace said...

Love reading about yalls time over there! So happy everything seems to be going as smooth as one could imagine being in a foreign country.. Tell Peyton that Dawn and I miss her! I'm so glad that all of you get to have this experience.

amanda flo said...

Gosh I can't wait to come over and get me some buttons! Thanks for the heads up!

Miss you guys and am so excited to see it all coming together. Love you guys!

Kathryn Lohnes said...

Loved hearing all about your first week. May God continue to bless you and give you everything you need to live in a country that is so foreign today but will become home tomorrow!
Even though it's been over thirty years since we arrived in France, your blog has flooded my mind with memories of our first week in a foreign country that today is definitely HOME. Much love to you all!

Branda Beaty said...

We are praying for you all!! So fun to read all about your first week. I'll endure the cold just to see you:)

Much Love!
B

Court said...

I read it all :) What an adventurous first week...with plenty more to come. I saw the pictures of the clock and remembered visiting that exact spot. I went to Prague on business about 4 years ago and just loved it. What an amazing, beautiful city. I know you guys will find your groove (and the perfect groceries!) soon :) Praying for you guys. Courtney

Unknown said...

So fun to get a glimpse of the transition you guys are going through!! Will be praying for God's peace as you continue learning to navigate your new hometown :0)