Monday, December 21, 2009

Count Down...

One day till Germany, four days till Christmas, five days till the fam's all here! :)

I am super excited about the next two weeks! I'm leaving tomorrow morning for the Black Forest, to spend a few days, including Christmas with Aunt Ang and Edda! I'm excited to see them, and spend some time relaxing and enjoying the holiday time. Then mom, dad, Maria and Nick arrive on Saturday. We'll stay for a few more days in Germany and then all of us are taking a train/bus back to Prague! We'll all stay here in my flat (I've spent the whole day cleaning and washing sheets!), ring in the New Year, and then they'll leave to go back home on the second. It will be so fun to see them after a little more than THREE MONTHS of being gone... I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to write in the midst of everything, but I'll have lots of pictures and reports as soon as possible. :)

Speaking of pictures, I added some new ones to my albums today... There are a few from a walk along the river that I took with Talitha, and then the last are from a midnight excursion we went on Thursday night. :) On her way home Talitha called and convinced me to join her with her camera to take pictures of Old Town Square with all of the pretty the snow and lights. It was especially enchanting with there being so few people around! It's moments like those when I have to remind myself that, yes, I really do live here... it's such a beautiful city!

At the end of the second album there are some pictures from my day this past Saturday. I went with my friend Jessica to finish our Christmas shopping at one of the markets in town. On our way we ran into a number of interesting things, to say the least! You have to see the pictures to fully appreciate it, but they included Sea World, a circus, a polar Bear and carp.

The carp is something that I do need to explain more of... It's the national Christmas dish (fish) and apparently it's a very big deal each year. Starting the Saturday before Christmas, they set up stands around the city with three or four huge fish-filled tubs (I passed two different stands in my neighborhood today) and sell these live fish to the people waiting in line. Now one thing we had heard was that you go buy the fish fresh, off of the street, and then you keep in in your bathtub until Christmas when you cook it for your dinner. Carp are bottom dwelling fish and this helps to clean them out a bit before you eat it (?). So, this was a tradition Jessica and I were both aware of, but it was very surprising to all of a sudden run into it in real life. :) Even more surprising, however, was seeing the man fish it out, slap it onto the board and WHACK, chop it's head right off, tail flapping and all... never a dull moment here in the Czech. :)

The past week or so has also been extremely cold. Just walking outside, even with no wind chilled straight through to the bones. It's supposed to warm up this next week though, so hopefully sight seeing wont be too miserable. :) I also am still holding onto my cough :( I feel totally fine, but just keep coughing, especially in the evenings. I mostly feel bad for anyone trying to sleep close by! :/ Hopefully that will go away soon too.

Anyways, have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a wonderful NEW YEAR!! Love to you all!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's that time again...

Hi Everyone!

It's that time again isn't it - sorry it slipped to over a week again. Can I still blame it on being sick? My voice is finally starting to feel and sound strong again - it was completely gone for a few days last week, and then still pretty scratchy until about yesterday. I also still have the annoying tickle/cough every now and then. So I'm not back 100% yet but it is much better.

This past weekend was really fun though! I had coffee with a new friend that I met at church - it was a great time connecting with her and something that I think we're going to continue to do. That in and of itself has been an answer to prayer!!

After coffee I went with Talitha downtown to do some prayer walking for the prostitute industry that is so big in this city. It really is just another part of life here, so we were praying that God would awaken the hearts of the people in this city to realize what a harmful thing it is and give them a passion to see it taken care of.

Saturday and Sunday we were busy baking cookies for a Christmas party at church Sunday night. I made a batch of Grandma's sugar cookies, and for being such a novice sugar cookie baker they weren't too bad. I've just tasted what they should be like and know that it could've been better. I'll just have to try again I guess. :)

Saturday night I also went to see the Nutcracker Ballet at the National Theatre! Talitha had bought us tickets for my birthday. They were actually for standing room only, but we were able to find seats for the second half. The stage design and music were all beautiful, and of course the dancing was very nice as well. It was funny seeing the Czech version of it though! They mixed it with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and had Scrooge dreaming up all of the different scenes. There were quite a few unique pieces of Czech culture thrown in the mix as well.

School has been going great and this is actually our last week before Christmas break! We're doing lots of different Christmas activities and today we took the kids caroling! :) Michelle and I taught them "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and then combined our classes and practiced it together. We all went downstairs and we were planning on singing just outside of the offices for the secretaries and Principal if she was there. It turned out, though, that all of the teachers in the school were in their monthly meeting with the Principal. Struck with a rare form of courage, we decided to interrupt their meeting anyways and ask if we could sing for them. :) The kids were a bit shy but they sounded really good and I think the teachers loved it. :) We're going to the staff Christmas party this Friday night as well, so that should be fun too! (It's rumored that there will be karaoke) I'll let you know. :)

Anyways, that's all for now. Hope you all are having a great week! I love you!!!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

A few new pictures...
Well, I'm officially sick for the first time in the Czech Republic. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat that continued to be sore throughout the day, along with coughing and one of those really bad, can't-do-much-of-anything headaches. Went through the night feeling the same way and now by this afternoon my headache has eased a little bit. I still can't get myself to do much though, and the headache worsens when I try to think lol. What better time for a blog post, right? :)

We had a nice low-key week this past week. It was a great reprieve from all the baking and eating craziness of last week. The Christmas markets opened up around town and I spent an evening there with Michelle. It was fun walking around and looking at all of the Christmas decorations. There was even a choir singing outside of the church! I'll have to go back again sometime soon to finish my shopping.

Michelle and I were also planning on going downtown to another celebration this weekend (until I got sick). It's for St. Nicholas, and for the Czechs it's the day when St. Nick, an angel and a demon (basically the Devil) come and either bring gifts if you've been good or capture you and take you away if you've been bad. Get this - the teenagers all dress up as Devils and you can find flyers around town with numbers to call for them to come to your house and kidnap your kid!! The little kids get seriously freaked out, but apparently it's a big "fun" family tradition. Pretty interesting to say the least.

The also have a tradition like Santa Clause, only instead of a big jolly man with flying reindeer, it's "Baby Jesus" who brings the gifts. The sad part is, the kids literally think "Baby Jesus" is some sort of mythical creature who comes and brings gifts. If you ask them what he looks like they will most likely name some sort of animal, like a porcupine (how else would he be able to carry all the presents if he didn't have something to stick them on?). Anyways, I'm curious to see what my students think about it all, and introduce them to what many "Americans" believe about the subject...