Saturday, June 26, 2010

Everyday livin'

At the playground:
In the sandbox:
Eating snacks (her favorite pskoty) at Letna, a park that overlooks Prague
Walking with Mama across Charles Bridge (and having a very nice German couple take our picture)
Making sure Daddy doesn't do as much work as he wants to at the cafe across from our flat:

Taking a rest on Charles Bridge to watch the Vltava River:

Immediately after I took this picture, I saw a statue of a lion and said, "Ellie, look at the lion!" She replied, "Grrrrrrrr." Her new favorite sound;

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010: The Beautiful Game in a Beautiful City

The last time we were in Prague, the end of our trip coincided with the European Cup soccer championships. All throughout the city, jumbotrons were set up and crowds of people gathered around to watch the action. Of course, the Czech Republic participated in the Euro Cup, but didn't manage to qualify for this year's World Cup in South Africa. So, we wondered how big a deal the tournament would be. Luckily for us, Prague set up Old Town Square with concession stands and a giant screen, so we've been down to watch a few of the matches. Best fans so far: South Korea. They had a drum, a vuvuzela, and thunder sticks, plus some highly organized chants. We saw them score against Uruguay, and I swear you would have thought the Czechs were playing...

Ellie has been watching soccer just about since she was born, talking with Dad about the relative merits of the 4-4-2 vs. the trendy 4-2-3-1, the advantages of attacking outside backs, and the role of the holding midfielder - you know, the basics. Actually, all she really knows is how to celebrate when the announcer, Mom, and Dad yell "GGGOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!" This particular celebratory moment came after the first American score against Slovenia.

Despite the Americans' loss in the round of 16, the World Cup has provided a bunch of fond memories in our favorite city. Ellie is already lobbying for a trip to Brazil for the tournament in 2014, but she might just have to settle for Old Town Square and the big screen TV...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ellie's First Birthday - Šťastné Narozeniny!

It's amazing to think that one year ago, Ellie Maria Haberkern came into the world at 4:48 p.m. Incredible.
So to celebrate this very important day, we spent it as a family, just the three of us. We started the day like every other - playing with Ellie's favorite morning time toy, Snugglepuppy. (We didn't name him, Sandra Boynton did.) She started asking for "Pup" in the morning. I guess she was bound to shorten his name!

At breakfast, she got a few of her favorite Czech snacks, pškoty. They are similar to Nilla wafers, but less sweet. She thinks these are the greatest EVER. The picture below is her typical, joyous reaction to pškoty:
Then it was time for cards and presents. The cards were just as exciting as the presents, and she loved opening Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Katherine's very sweet birthday card. Let's just say that she was covered in glitter by the end of "opening" the card.

Of course we had to get her a few Czech toys to commemorate her first birthday in Prague.

There is a Czech cartoon from the 1940's called Krtek, the Little Mole. We got her a book, Krtek a kamaradi and matching animal flashcards. Both the book and the cards have all the animals in Czech and English. The illustrations are cute, and the Czech names for the animals are, ummm, challenging? (Personal favs include squirrel = veverka, bear = medved) Most importantly, Ellie really likes them and has particularly enjoyed the flashcards.

With all this newfound animal-related Czech, we headed to the Praha Zoo! It was a beautiful day, and the zoo was a 40 minute walk across Stromovka Park. Ellie loved the polar bears who were performing for the crowd, and the monkeys.

After lunch at the zoo and a solid afternoon nap, more present awaited the birthday girl! Padrino sent a very special Ellie-phant onesie for his ahijada (goddaughter). Thank goodness the Czech Posta delivered it with impressive timing. Thank you, Padrino, we love you!

Our last stop of the day was to a special birthday dinner. Ellie wanted to get in on the celebrating with some Pilsner Urquell, but really just enjoyed chewing on the glass.
Since Ellie is a great eater, we think the highlight of her day was the pizza she wolfed down. Our girl really likes food of all kinds, but her mushroom, spinach, and egg pizza seemed to say "Happy Birthday Ellie!" Czech style:)

We took a last few pictures at the park before heading home. We read On The Day You Were Born, (mama's personal favorite) before putting an exhausted Ellie to sleep. It was a day to remember the miracle that came into our lives a year ago and to celebrate all that is to come.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

At Home on Jana Zajice

That's the name of our street here in Prague. We have been thrilled with the location of the place we rented. It is close to great transportation, parks, and beer gardens. What more could you need? The only surprise we discovered when we arrived is a ton of construction in the surrounding neighborhood. Prague is building a new tunnel through Letna, the large hill that this part of the city sits on. So almost everyday, we experience a small explosion that lasts about 1-3 seconds. Thank goodness friends warned us about it. Otherwise, we might have thought we lived on a fault line!

Here are a few pictures from home/at home:

The view to the west from our front windows. Sparta Praha Stadium in the foreground with Saint Vitus lit up at night.
"Daddy, up!"

The sole purpose of blocks on the table is to knock them down and hear the big bang when they hit the floor.

Ellie spends a lot of time in the corner of the living room "reading books". We've started calling it Ellie's Corner. She takes down every book on the shelf and flips through it, no matter what it is. From The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the Frommer's Guide to Prague...she loves books (and apparently guidebooks;)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Have Fun Storming the Castle

Ellie's first trip to Prauge wouldn't have been complete without a visit to Hradcany, or the Castle. On a hill above the city, Saint Vitus Cathedral looms large as one of Prague's most iconic images. (Although the most popular, it is one of my favorites.) Unfortunately, June is high tourist season for Prague, so even early on a Saturday morning, there was a long line to get into St. Vitus. While we are sure Ellie would have loved looking at the immense stain glass windows, silver tomb of St. John of Nepomuc, ornate alter, etc., she seemed just as happy to play outside with us:

We walked around to a beautiful and newly landscaped overlook that was inexplicably deserted and had a picnic lunch. (How we found our own corner of Hradcany with no tourists, I'll never know.) We were having such a lovely afternoon that we attempted to commemorate the event with a family photo with the self-timer. As you can see below, Ellie was too busy playing with Phil's phone to look at the camera. I think she was saying, "You want me to sit still? I'll show you sitting still..."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mosaic House Opening, Date Night!

Our friends, Chris and Laura, have just opened an amazing hotel and hostel called Mosaic House. This project has been in the works for years and our trip just so happened to coincide with the opening, in time for the World Cup! So on Friday night, we had a friend watch Ellie and we went out with Phil and Shanna and a few others for dinner to see the place. It is nothing short of incredible, a huge success for our friends. Congrats, guys!

If anyone is planning to visit Prague, Mosaic House is the place to stay...

Balloons: Ellie's international language of happiness

The Billa, our neighborhood grocery store, isn't always known for the friendliest service. But on our second trip to Billa, Ellie was offered a big yellow "balonek" by the otherwise stern cashier. Smiles and "dekuju" ensued (from Ellie and me, respectively) and the language barriers were broken. The balonek has produced hours of fun at home: