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;)
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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:

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

One of the many reasons...

we love Praha: a ten minute walk from our flat to a playground +
a beer garden +
crazy views of the city =

wonder and joy!

We really do spend a lot of time here;)




"Stand in the place where you live"

Ellie is on the move these days - she's crawling all over the place and just the other day started to stand on her own. Phil was sitting in a chair, she pulled herself up on his knee and just let go! It was very funny to see her concentrating on standing up while trying to decide if it was fun or scary. Hilarious! Practicing standing has become one of her new pastimes. Here is a picture I snapped while visiting our friends Laura and Chris. Their sweet boys, Owen and Elliot, were sharing Ellie's snack when Ellie managed to steady herself with no hands!

Phil is also teaching Ellie to lift her arms up in response to not just "How big is Ellie?" but also when he says "Goal!", since we will be watching a lot of the World Cup, and to get ready for the upcoming NFL season:

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Friday, June 4, 2010

How big is Ellie?

After getting over our jet lag, we spent the first few days exploring the parks around our flat with Ellie. We are staying in Prague 6, a very residential area with two gorgeous parks within minutes of our door. The weather got sunny and warm and lifted our spirits immediately! Ellie loves the game "How big is Ellie? SO BIG!" and raises her arms up over her head, just to let us know that she really is getting bigger everyday. So for her first pictures in Prague, she decided to show off her new trick...







Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Putting the passport to good use

Our bags were packed, we double and triple checked everything, and after much anticipation, drove to JFK to fly to Prague for the month. Phil has a conference and some research to do in Prague, we decided to make an extended trip out of it and show Ellie one of our favorite cities. I had a bit of apprehension about the overnight 8+ hour flight from New York to Prague. Let's just stay I tried not to think about it too much. Phil and I always say to each other that we ask a lot of our 11 month old daughter, but she (almost always) rises to the occasion. And on the flight, she did just that. She did fine in the airport, and we were lucky to get the bulkhead seat with no one sitting in our third seat. She played, read, ate, and generally kept us and some of the people around us smiling for awhile. (Not everyone, but hey, what are you going to do?) A few hours into the flight, she got tired and cried on and off for a bit. Here is her "less than happy" face.


We tried to put her down in her bassinet (a very cool contraption that hooks into the wall for babies to sleep in). But at that point, she was having none of it.
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Eventually, she got tired enough to fall asleep in my arms and slept for 5 hours. In the bassinet, all you could see was her little butt sticking up in the air;) She even managed to stay asleep through landing.

Our friend Laura was kind enough to pick us up so we had a friendly face waiting to greet us at baggage claim. That made a huge difference in our happiness, thanks so much, Laura! She took us to the flat we rented, and we got settled in. It was 60 degrees and raining when we arrived, a perfect day to hunker down and get over our jet lag. With only a short excursion out for dinner supplies, we kept it very low key that day. The flat we rented came "baby ready" with a crib, high chair, and changing table, all things that made our life much easier upon arrival. It is a lovely place with lots of open space for our little crawler to explore. But after the overnight flight, Ellie was very tired so exploration really had to wait for a day or so. She slept for her usual naps and then for 14 hours that night! All in all, it was a blissfully uneventful day of international travel with Ellie...and that is all we were hoping for.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shhhh! It's a secret

"My Uncle Jonathan sent me this very special Fed Ex package because I'm so good at keeping secrets. I'm in charge of keeping the sparkly ring inside the box a secret from his girlfriend, Katherine. That's why he sent it to my house instead of his own. I'm going to give it to him to give to her this weekend. I'm so happy she's going to be my aunt!"



p.s. Katherine said yes! I'm so glad I could help out Uncle Jonathan with his big surprise:)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hello, World

Dear World,


Usually, I let my mom write these posts. She does a very, very good job, so I've let it go this long. Things, however, have changed. Let me be specific:

1) I have now spoken three words (more or less); I say "hi" when greeting people, I know that dogs say "woof," and I know that things I like are "yum." I also taunt Phillip and Danielle (which is what I call them in my head) by occasionally, tantalizingly saying "Mama" and "Dada" while looking at them. Their reactions are priceless.

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2) I am mobile, and I can pull myself up to a standing position. I have also climbed stairs (under adult supervision). Realistically, the sky is now the limit. I have heard on good authority that world domination is one step past crawling.

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2a) I am also international. Yes, I have a passport, so I can go anywhere I want (like Prague). I think the picture could be a little more flattering, but it will do. So, be prepared to see me jet-setting in Cannes, Dubai, and Monaco soon.


3) I love to read. Rather, I turn the pages of my books at my own pace, or I stop and deconstruct images as I please. I have also learned to express my pleasure (or lack thereof) at what I am reading. Clapping especially seems to excite Phillip and Danielle, so I use it as a means of ensuring that they continue to feed me avocado, chicken, and fresh fruit.

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Based on my research into this matter, I believe that literacy, mobility, and eloquence are the essential characteristics of adulthood. So, I am very happy to finally introduce myself to you all, and I hope you continue to stay abreast of my comings and goings.



With love,

Ellie Maria

Princeton Reunions


Over Memorial Day weekend, Princeton hosted its annual Reunions weekend. Campus has been getting ready for this and graduation for weeks, and we have been told that this spectacle is not to be missed. On Saturday morning, we took Ellie out for a stroll around campus.

Princeton was swarming with an estimated 20,000 people all decked out in orange. Bright orange. Being former Charlottesville dwellers, we understand the love of orange. So for Ellie to unite her love of her birthplace and her current town, she proudly wore her Virginia shirt all day (thanks, Thad!) Of course, we had to get a few pictures of Ellie on one of the Princeton tigers:


Ellie particularly liked the Princeton band, a uniquely quirky subset of the Princeton undergrad population. Marching bands are big fun when you are 11 months old...
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"We're number one! We're number one!" (a new chant Phil is teaching Ellie;)