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Czech Republic

Prague, Abi and Kids

So, after only a couple of days at the Tooth Palace and off I go with the kids, again.  Andrew stays with Maggie for another week to help with the repairs.  Abi arrives in Prague in just a few days so off I go with TJ and Abi for Prague, via Dresden.  No complaints from them.  You see, even though the Tooth Palace has unexpected treasures around every corner it has no Abi and no other kids.  We take the ICE train to Dresden. Hang out with Priscilla.  Watch her play basketball.  See some art.  Sleep a little.  Take a “Flixbus” to Prague.  10914403_1595464224007753_990682238_nA subway, a tram to Zelivka.  Dang, last time we were here we were with Maggie.  Our friends would tour us around the VERY old, VERY dilapidated buildings and tell us their dreams.  Fast forward to today and there are 3 families living here.  That is 6 adults10838373_715525681879692_1421958619_n and 11.5 kids.  Oh yeah!  Are TJ and Hannah in heaven?  I think so.  There are kids everywhere.  Not just any old kids but third culture kids from cross-cultural families that we already know and love.  They talk to us about more dreams that include accommodation for 50+ more people.  We do so love to dream with people, especially when they dream about family, community, business, gardens, beer, 10949064_1413474532279250_524954137_ngenerosity, love and just a touch of anarchy.  Gotta love it.  One thing that is quite funny is that 6 years ago we met one of these families in Portugal.  Hannah had this little stuffed tiger that she gave to a little Portuguese girl way back then.  This little girl now lives here with her family.  When we arrive the mum tells her daughter, “This is THE Hannah that gave you the tiger”.  She looks at Hannah like she is looking at someone of myth, like a Unicorn or the tooth fairy.  Runs up to retrieve one of her favourite toys to show it to Hannah again.

10919511_761197213960626_1121717753_nFirst trip into town and it is time for some smazeny syr.  It is fried cheese and mayo one a white bread roll.  Not very nutritious but very yummy.

10838758_781109785318125_915064714_nWe picked up Abi and brought her back to Zelivka.  The next day another trip into Prague central and we eat another couple of old favourites,  Svickova followed by ovoce knedlicky. That would be root veg sauce over beef and bread dumplings followed by fruit dumplings topped with cream and cheese.  Am I making you hungry.  Dad arrived just in time to be the mad hatter at Hannah’s Birthday Tea Party.

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Czech Republic

My 50th Birthday Bash

Oh yeah! I think I am supposed to be hiding my age about now but I am so excited. I am 50 and am living the life I want to be living. I spent my birthday surrounded with my greatest treasures, my family and my friends. What could be better! We had friends fly into Prague from all over the world. Abigail, excelling in her gifts of social coordinator, arranged all the details and got everyone into one of Matthias’ amazing hostels (Sir Toby’s, Miss Sophies and Mosaic house) each hostel completely different and chosen to match the guest.

On the morning of my birthday we had a birthday brunch at Miss Sophies. Have I ever had such a breakfast? NO. Beyond what you can imagine. A wall full of beautiful nibblies of baked goods, muesli bar, fresh fruit etc. while dish after dish emerged in front of our eyes. Eggs, crispy bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, Pancakes and chocolate sauce, french toast with bananas and chocolate.

Matthias was truly in his element with Miss Sophies breakfast chef, Irena at his side. WOW!

Later in the day everyone made their way to the truck for another party and feast where Andrew was truly in his element in our outdoor kitchen making a killer goulash and a full grill of fry up while Abi made potato salad and Tina sat down to prepare a mountain of fresh fruit salad.

We finished off the day sharing my decade birthday tradition of a shared cuban cigar (I know wierd, long story). Is there any better way to spend a birthday. I think not!

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Czech Republic

Krasny Day

Really enjoying being back in the truck. We are back at Divoka Sarka and it is beautiful. After the big clean-up is finished and we are back from the Germany festival we can really enjoy.  The girls want to have a “creative day”. However the “creative day” is something they want to have every day. With their official homeschool books still in transit they are enjoying a bit of a holiday by dusting off some science experiment kits and sewing and crocheting. Seems the more “creative days” we have, the more they want.

 

Lizzy is working on animating every member of the family after a session of “clothing modification”.  She is also working her way through “The artists way” (thanks Juliette for the book). Of course we still get our daily saxophone recitals and now some new ones on the piano.

 

Hannah takes occasional breaks from her reading to work on a Jonesberry version of Where’s Waldo called “Where in the world are those Jonesberries Now”. She has been reading “The Benedict Society” and has discovered a misprint at the most suspenseful part of the book. Isn’t it always at the MOST suspenseful part of the book! Instead of continuing on with the story they reprinted the last 29 pages and then skipped the important 29 pages and continued on with the story as if nothing has happened at all. The nerve.

 

TJ is enjoying reuniting with old toys and her new love of reading. She has just received a whole box of books and American candies sent over from the U.S. by the Shengs. Deanne seemed to be searching for months for just the right books to stimulate a young readers appetite for reading. I mean, seriously, is there any better way to encourage reading than a box of carefully chosen books in a pile of candies.

 

Abigail has limited mobility after misjudging a step in the dark and injuring her ankle. She is busy with our collection of colourful cotton and a new book on crochet squares.

 

Andrew has been off every morning working on his book. He has a daily pilgrimage from one wifi spot to the next. An hour + at McDs for a coffee and wifi. An hour + at KFC for another coffee and wifi. Then finishing off with a more relaxed hour + at the pub around the corner for beer and wifi. He came back yesterday and, with the help of TJ, created the most amazing backwoods composting toilet I have ever seen. It has a wall that is carefully woven leaves and branches that makes it impossible to find until you are right next to it.

 

I am busy utilizing the culinary resources that surround me. I have my outdoor kitchen back, We have finished off our indoor kitchen. Armed with my “wild foods” cookbook I have made nettle and wild garlic soup, nettle tea, elderflower fritters and elderflower lemonade. TJ thinks she identified wild horseradish yesterday and I am contemplating making some elderflower syrup. As I identified a tree yesterday that was ready to harvest some “headache tea” a Czech man came up to me with his little black, leaping dog and asked me to follow. With our backpacks full of groceries from the shop at the top of the hill and leeks sticking out of my pack, me, Lizzy and Hannah silently followed the man through the woods. He took us to a beautiful rocky outcrop with an old man with long white hair, wearing nothing but a speedo, was sunbathing.  With one look and a sweeping gesture he repeated a single word “Krasny” (meaning beautiful). We looked out and saw the whole beautiful valley. I was immediately condemned. You silly woman. Stop working so hard. Have you forgotten to just stop and take in the beauty. A hard lesson for an American. Our whole approach to life and our self-identity seems to be through our work. This is just the latest reminder. I seem to get these a lot. Last year, in Morocco, I was told to slow down and enjoy or I will make myself sick. Good reminders. Good times.

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Czech Republic

First flight today!

Well, this is it. It is 6 in the morning. Me and Andrew are already awake. The truck is all nestled in tight. Inigo the magnificent has a home to stay in with his best friend, Rudy and his owners, Mathais and Carrie. We have been staying in their hostel, Sir Toby’s while Andrew puts the truck to sleep and finishes varnishing our new kitchen so we have a kitchen to come back to.

The kids have been enjoying getting a “Kofola” (communist coke) on tap in the pub each evening and playing board games with Miro, one of the managers at Sir Toby’s. He actually is a professional chess teacher. It has been good not staying in the truck these last few days. The kids perception of what we actually can fit into our backpacks has altered tremendously and Andrew has been taking a bag back to the truck each day. Hannah was a especially funny site when we left the Mudrick’s house and came to to Sir Toby’s carrying about 4 extra bags of treasures. I spent alot of my day with my mini sewing kit. Repairing clothes and backpacks for the trip and making straps for the sleeping bags.

The kids are getting so excited. Abi couldn’t stop playing games with Inigo yesterday. They must have sounded like baby elephants to the office below. TJ was like a mischievous elf trying to navigate the room on beds. Hmmmm, maybe I should have spent less of my day sewing and more taking the kids out. to burn off some energy. Hannah…well, Hannah is Hannah. She was reading a book with her little bedside light. I think I will need to take them all on a very long walk with a fully loaded backpack tomorrow. Yep. That’s what we’ll do.

Our first flight is this evening. We fly into Sheffield. We will be staying in 3 different friends houses the next 3 nights. Sheffield (Jen and Fran), Kings Lynn (Maggie and Phouc-Tan) and London (Shannon). We thought we would be spending one of these nights in the bus station and another at “Camp Heathrow” (the airport) but our friends had other plans. Hannah really wants to sleep at an airport. Dad talks about doing it all the time. I am sure we will get the chance.

On the 19th is the big flight into JFK, New York. We get picked up from the airport and brought to Poughkeepsie. Isn’t Poughkeepsie a great name. It is one of those words that can make you giggle just for the fun of it as it rolls off the tongue or off the keyboard. Poughkeepsie. You gotta love it.

Anyway, back to the real world. We have known these Mauricio and Shauna for 25 years. Our kids can’t believe that we were hanging out with them before we all got married. They got married 6 months after us and have kids finishing high school as well. We last saw them about 11 years ago.

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Czech Republic

Dinner and a Movie

Went to Mathias and Carrie’s house for dinner. Tan made a Vietnamese 4 course banquet. Our friends, the Mudrick’s were there and other new friends. The house was full of happy kids and dogs. We got to meet  Steve and Oddny Gumaer. They started a group that puts teams in the jungles of Burma to help people who are running from the military. Yea, you read that right. Pretty harsh stuff that we have never heard of before. The military runs the country and when they want oil or anything else valuable on the land a village is at they just take it. Well, they don’t just take it, they burn the villages, chase and kill the inhabitants. They have done this to thousands of villages. These aren’t some minority group in their country it is just normal villagers. Steve and Oddny told the story of a nine year old girl whose village was attacked and showed us a short movie. Steve and Oddny’s group put teams of people in the jungles to provide safe havens for people to run to and get help. They even have doctors on their teams.  I tell you, I had no idea this was going on.

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Czech Republic

Divoka Sarka

Sorry for the silence but we have been camping on some friend’s land in the Divoka Sarka on the outskirts of Prague. It is an old farm that was last used by the Nazi’s. Legend has it that the Communists and the Nazis had a bit of a battle right at the edge of the land. The new owners plan to make it into a retreat center, farm, home for 3 families and ??? It was a wonderful time with frequent bike trips to the spring fed pool and the pub right next door, which can only be reached on foot or bike.

We have received a homecoming welcome from our old friends. Made new friends that feel like old ones already. We have had our backs cracked by the muscly amature chiropractor next door. Chased fireflies with his wife. Heard hilarious stories from a very aminated czech ambassador. Heard from a Thai businesswoman about an amazing education program she is involved with in Thailand where their students learn practical skills for life and their 8 year old graduates must build a house before they can graduate. We drank great czech beer (the kids drank Kofola, alias communist coke) and ate great czech food.

WOW! What a great week. We have now left and are at the SLOT art festival in Poland. We have been invited to return to Divoka Sarka after SLOT to do some work on our truck. Hmmmmm… what would you do?

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Czech Republic

Inigo, the magnificent

Just thought you might like a photo of how Inigo is doing. He is getting SOOOOO big. He is fitting right into the family. We think he is the perfect dog for us.

He frequently gets hiccups. He likes to do a froggy sprawl when he finds cool tile floors, he is truck trained, he has a muscly strutt, he still pees like a girl.

He now has his puppy immunizations finished, a little blue microchip floating around inside somewhere (how strange to think about) and his EU passport (wish we had one of those).

We have been given some great books on dog training. The best one is these 3 monks who breed and train german shepherds, called “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend”. Bizarre cover (Do those 3 monks all naturally tilt to the right or did they change a slanting horizon to straight to help the cover look more symetrical, or the monks look drunk?), great book.

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Czech Republic

Prague: A few of my favourite things

This morning in Prague, Czech Republic, I did a few of my favourite things:

1. I admired the architecture,
2. I got myself a Czech beer and fried cheese sandwich (smazeny
syr
) from a stall
3. I went into my favourite camera shop [FotoSkoda] to get some inspiration.

The weird thing is that my friend Derek just emailed me to say that he posted a video of us last year in Prague. And guess what 3 things I was doing? Yep – architecture, cheese sandwich, camera shop.

Check out the video and see why I cant leave Prague without doing these three things.

Andrew, Amy, Hannah and myself being ourselves from Derek Chapman on Vimeo.

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Czech Republic

Fancy Eco-hotel in Prague

We got a tour of a very, very cool new hotel in Prague from the man who dreamed it up. He told us all about how he had the idea 3 years ago and some friends came in to help him fix it up. We have been staying in his hostel “Sir Toby’s” this time. They put us up in the very modern and fancy “Czech Inn” last year. This year he is opening up “Mosaic House”. It has been only open for 2 weeks and is full. He told us about how a team of 3 interior designers have been working on it for 3 YEARS! Everything is specially made – even the door hinges.
The kids favourite things were:

The gray water treatment plant in the basement. Complete with colourful lights to tell the direction the water goes. He talked about how he found out about it in Germany and it was really hard talking them into installing one in Czech Republic.

He showed up one of the very fancy smart rooms. The room has a special control panel on the wall that knows when someone walks into the room and adjusts the temperature and moves the blinds around to make it the best. He said that it even knows if it is winter or summer and the blinds change to let in more light or heat. We also liked the extra fabric on the bed that was scrunched to make a rose.

We also liked going out on the balcony and looking for our favourite Prague places.

We liked the special bathroom window that clouded up or cleared up at the flick of a switch.

One of the rooms didn’t know which way was up with standard lamps hanging off the walls and from the ceiling. It also had a bench that went up onto one of the walls.

In one of the rooms the chairs were covered with the same green shag carpet as the floor. I could see Abi’s head spinning about “astroturf potential”.

All in all a very, very great day about learning about dreaming big and high-tech, eco-friendly hotels.

 

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Czech Republic

Kutna Hora


Uh, yeah. This is what you think it is. We are soooo strange when we turn tourist for a day. We used to live here in Czech Republic before so we knew what Kutna Hora was. With TJs bone fascination we couldn’t just drive past the bone church without dropping in.

We got in the short line behind the two punk girls with blue and purple dreads.

Hannah is getting more used to bones. Having spent hours preparing with the “Bone Scan Bob” IPod application she had the “geek attraction” to Kutna Hora. Spouting out the scientific name of all the bones. Pondering the joins and holes in the skulls. Noting that the chandelier had at least one of every bone in the body.

TJ, well, TJ was in awe. She had never seen such an amazing site in her whole life. From the skull and crossbones at the top of the steeple to the very last skull inside.

I think her special favourite was the skull with the sweetie next to it.

Abi wasn’t as excited about the bones but loved the car that matched her jacket out front. She decided to have a go at “sexy model standing next to the car poses”.