Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,
We want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and all the best into the new year. We are very grateful for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the way that Christmas time helps us step back and reflect a little on who we are and where we are headed. We would love to sit down and talk with each of you in person and exchange stories about your recent adventures in life. Because we are not able to fulfill this wish, we will share with you a brief, one-sided conversation concerning our busy and happy 2008 to update you on what we are up to.
Dan is still studying at Charles University in Prague. He is studying Social Geography and plans to attend yet another university to get his Ph.D. He is applying to the University of Utah, University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the University of Colorado. If everything goes as planned, he will become a professor and hopefully teach at a college/university in Utah. He currently is working on his thesis which focuses on the social capital within Mormon and Adventist church communities in the Czech Republic from a geographic point-of-view. When he’s not busy with school, he works as a translator from Czech into English and teaches English part time at Charles University. He is extremely busy but is very good at making time for the family.
Val stays busy being a first class mother – I know that all the mothers reading this will understand what I mean by that. The rest of us (Dan is writing this paragraph) will just have to try to comprehend. She is amazing at keeping our household fed, clothed, clean and – as much as possible – happy. She has made many lasting friendships with other mothers in our neighborhood. She does quite well with speaking and understanding Czech now and is becoming a pro at taking Benjamin to the doctor (I mean as far as language and cultural/medical-system knowledge is required). Val and I continue to enjoy reading books together and we still manage to occasionally play a board game, when we’re not too tired or busy after the kids have gone to sleep.
Vinson, or the doggie, piggie, fishy or whatever he is pretending to be at the moment, is full of fun and imagination. He is such a good big brother. He always tries to involve Benjamin in everything we do. One of his favorite things to do is lay next to Benji and wiggle like him. He loves making trains in the house and makes everyone wear their conductor shoes and hats. He loves to go to parks and to the zoo. The animals aren’t his favorite part though; he’ll tell Daddy about riding in the little zoo train or playing in the kiddie pool before mentioning any animals.
Benjamin is the happiest baby imaginable. He loves attention and simply looking at him often brings a smile. He is very interested lately in seeing what everything tastes like, so when people offer him a finger it immediately goes to his mouth. One of his favorite past times is being thrown in the air and doing actions to “The Wheels on the Bus” as Mom and Vinson sing. Mom is extremely lucky because he takes good long naps and sleeps really well through the night: most often he only wakes up once during the night.
Highlights for our family during 2008:
• Dan and Val’s short trip to Paris to celebrate four wonderful years of marriage.
• Seeing Val’s sister Anna and going to Austria and Bavaria with her.
• Benjamin’s birth and a visit from Grandma Davis where we saw some castles and cute towns in Czechia.
We have really enjoyed living in Prague and time seems to be moving very quickly. Although we look forward to living in the same time zone (or very close to that) as our families do, we will miss a lot of people and a lot of things about living in the Czech Republic. Dan should graduate in July and we plan to return to Utah for a few weeks before staying in Utah at the U, or heading to Vancouver or Boulder.
Love Dan, Valerie, Vinson and Benjamin Reeves

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mikulaš

December 5th is the Czech holiday Mikulaš. Mikulaš is how you say Nicholas in Czech and Mikulaš is the Czech St. Nicholas. Instead of being fat and in a red suit Mikulaš looks like a pope. He hangs out with an angel and a devil named čert (pronounced chert). First I'll tell you how Czech's celebrate then I'll tell you what we did on Mikulaš. A lot of Czechs either have Mikulaš, čert and the angel come to their house and have a party where they invite friends over or they are visited by the threesome at school. Parents prepare beforehand a list of three things the child does good and three the child does that are bad. Mikulaš reads the list and čert shakes chains at the kids and scares them, I've heard they give parents a whip. This is all to help the child want to be better. Then when the three good things are read off the angel gives the child candy. Or the kids recite a poem or sing a song and the angel will give them candy. The kids are scared to death of čert and usually they are crying and if they're young enough pee their pants. My friend works at a preschool and the parents have to bring an extra pair of clothes on that day. A lot of people go to Old Town Square on Mikulaš. Some dress up. Some bring their kids, and some are just there for the Christmas market and presentation that you can only see if you get there way early. We decided to dress up. Vinson was čert and Benji was Mikulaš. I, of course was an angel, but didn't dress up. Czechs in general don't talk to strangers. The trams are silent unless there are drunk Germans or loud Americans on them. So it makes it extra fun when strangers come up and say, "Oh look there's a baby Mikulaš! How cute!! Oh and what a cute little čert too!" Old Town Square was crazy, but we didn't have a stroller this time so it was a lot easier to get around . . . but still not very easy. We saw a Mikulaš on stilts, and two čerts that had big bells attached on their back and were dancing so it was like they were making their own loud music. Vinson got to . . . well Dan tried to get him to sing a song but he played shy so he got candy for . . . being cute. Twice. video

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our son the celebrity

So the other day, Valerie was talking with our neighbors and they pulled out this little Prague city magazine and said, "Isn't this Vinson??" We were pretty surprised to see our cute little son gracing the cover of this internationally-acclaimed, fashion magazine with worldwide circulation. Of course, we have known from the beginning that Vince is an incredibly cute kid, but it's nice to see the rest of the world starting to take notice. Okay, okay, the magazine is just a little monthly community bulletin type thing for the downtown areas in Prague. The cover article explores things to do and places to go with small children in the center of the city. Still, it is pretty fun and it is a really cute picture.

It took Val and I probably half an hour of actively searching our memories to figure out when and where we think the picture was taken. Our theory is spring 2007 near the castle. The magazine was printed for May 2008.