Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a Wonderful Weekend With the Wendels!

Subtitle: The joys of Great Coffee and Cuddles with Cuties :) After three years (hard to believe it could possibly have been so long ago) I finally had a chance to visit with the Wendel family again. They had to move back to the US for a while, so I missed out on seeing them my last year here, but they have been back in Czech since early summer or so last year, and were good and prepared for visitors. The fat squishy baby I enjoyed cuddling with the last time I hung out with them now prefers sword fighting and keeping his toys away from his younger sister. He has been replaced as the baby times two, but maintains the opinion that he should still have his fair share of time in center of attention land. I headed out of Marianske Lazne on Friday morning, and enjoyed the nice long train ride. There is just something about the train that speaks of foreign lands and promises of interesting sights to me. I must confess, I'm reading Anne of Avonlea right now and it has definitely affected me to a certain extent. I'll have to watch that I don't get too flowery as I work on my book editing process. I'll just have to leave it for the blog. Anyhow, my heart has been craving artsy-ness, and the train provided me some chances to play.
I arrived in Ceske Budejovice with no problems, and was happy to meet with my fabulous family of friends once again. There are now six children in their family: Erica 8, Claire 7, Elisha almost 6, Gavin 4, Adelaide 1 1/2, and Jonas 7 months. Yes, that spells busy. The oldest two girls are in Czech school for part of the day now, so they were there at the station with their dad to pick me up. We headed back to the house where I was instantly greeted by little Adelaide. Can we say, spunky? That girl's got plenty of sparkle, and was eager to have someone new to tote her around and do her bidding. I was instantly smitten.
And then there was the sweet squishy baby Jonas. Seriously, so sweet. While he did have a propensity for regurgitation, I was more than willing to sacrifice a sweater or two to the laundry.
Gavin the Brave (better known by his chosen name of Darth Vader) is also quite a little poser. He was more than happy to smile for the camera. Just don't let little sister touch his dinosaurs or his swords or try to join in the game :)
Claire was shy, and all the pictures I tried to get of her ended up blurry, and Elisha was sick quite a bit, so he wasn't around a whole lot. It's amazing how when you just go for a normal visit it's easy to miss out on photo ops, but I did get at least one of Erica working on her Mario game. She's quite obsessed with Mario, and created 9 levels of Mario world. She and I played her game at least 4 times. Let me tell you, games created by 8 year olds are pretty fascinating :)
This was taken on my last morning there, when the girls were already at school, but I got the rest of the crew in it.
Besides all the great kid time, I also really enjoyed having the chance to visit with Cari and Steve. They're just so great and relaxed. It might seem hard to imagine how hanging out in a little house with 6 kids could be relaxing, but their parenting style is just so easy in a comforting kind of way. Sure, there was occasional screaming, not to mention a little whining, and a dose of instigation, but there was no animosity in any of the interactions. It was great to share about my mixed cultural life, and to learn about the ups and downs of their ministry and life in the Czech Republic as well. Just all kinds of blessings. Not to mention the amazing coffee. Wow. Big shout out of thanks for that one. I've been drinking lots of instant cappuccinos around here, and they just don't compare. (sigh) The time flew by quickly. The kids usually started waking up around 5 AM, which meant they went to bed around 7:30 or 8, leaving me with plenty of time to catch up on some movies in the evening. I got a few phone calls in with Marek, who stayed home to work. While I think the kids might have thought I was there forever, it was over before I knew it, and I was headed back to the station for my return trip. I had about 25 minutes to wait for my train, so I did a quick spin through the nearby part of the city. I only breezed in and out of H & M and didn't quite make it all the way to the old Square, but I got in a couple pictures just to make sure it looked like I was traveling in Czech and not just hanging out in America with an American family.
I had to rush to get back to the train, and somewhere in all of that rush, I had a little mishap. There are many things I love about the Czech Republic. Obviously, I'm quite attached to it's citizens, but there are somethings that just don't compute to my American way of thinking. In the process of walking to the train, my backpack came open. I have no idea when or how, but I do tend to cram it pretty full. When I set it down on the train seat things were about ready to fall out, and I discovered that my little gray Roxy jacket was gone. The entire time I was walking there were people all around me, but no one thought to point out that my bag was open, or to pick up my jacket and hand it to me when it fell out. There was no time to go back and look for it, so I just had to remind myself that it was just a thing, and that I have more than plenty of jackets in my closet to make up for it. (sigh) But I really liked that little jacket, and it did make me sad and frustrated that people here can be so self focused and uncaring. (bigger sigh) Thanks to the lunch and dinner prayers of Elisha, my trip home went well. There was the part where I was delayed for an hour due to electrical difficulties, but at least they noticed there was a problem, and we didn't get into any sort of accident. I made sure to get in a couple shots of Hluboka as we rushed past. It's a really beautiful castle, and there is a great view from the train. Too bad they aren't clearer, but you can at least get a feel.
These next shots are just random ones along the way that I thought turned out rather nicely. They show that bit about how you're just going along and, Whoop!, there's a castle or cathedral, or something cool.
The next one is thanks to the train delay right outside of Plzen.
And last, but certainly not least, I have always enjoyed the view of Stribro when traveling past, whether by train or bus, but have never captured it. At the beginning of this post you can see one blurry shot where I made an attempt, but on the way back I got this little beauty. No filter or doctoring done on this one. It is just purely the effect of a dirty train window on the move.
So, as promised, a healthy dose of pictures and plenty of cuddly baby fun.

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