Thursday, November 19, 2009

20 anniversary Velvet Revolution March

Twenty years ago on November 17, the Velvet Revolution began in Prague. Students marched from Dan's school (Charles University in Albertov) to commemorate the death of Jan Opletal (A student killed by the Nazi's 50 years before). Police were aware protests would occur, seeing as the Berlin Wall fell down a week previously, and massed to stop this from happening. The march began peaceful - students would jingle their keys as a way to make peaceful noise - and then it turned into an anti communism march that went downtown where the police trapped the students and beat them up - long story short. For the 20 year anniversary they had a big march that followed the same route as student march 20 years ago and ended with live music and some wimpy fireworks. We celebrated with everyone else only how one would do with kids - taking short cuts and seeing the most lively parts - aka the beginning of the procession - see video below. (Dan's "office" is in the building on the right of the picture).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

The kids were so cute this year that I took them to the park for a photo shoot before Halloween. Vince loved being Buzz Lightyear and got into character running around. Benji loved looking at himself in mirrors and was able to growl pretty well for a jaguar. I was surprised how well the group picture turned out. Vince was even holding Benji's hand. Now imagine him growling!Zoom! To infinity and beyond!

To celebrate we had a pumpkin carving party with a few of Vinson's friends. It was a lot of fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rain Boots!

Vince and Benji both got rain boots and we decided to have some fun! Benji loved splashing!

Vince had fun on his motorcycle. Maybe a little too much fun!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Utah Trip!

We had so much fun in Utah! Now our family has met Benjamin and the boys got to know their aunts and uncles better. It is cute to hear Vince talk about his "papa's" - grandpa's. I had a hard time deciding what to write about so I'll just post some of highlights. The absolute best part about being in the states was seeing family! We also missed the mountains, and got some good mountain time in.We went hiking up the canyon!And hiking to Timpanogos Cave.We had a birthday party for Benjamin!And went to our cabin.Then we played at the dinosaur museum.We weren't in Hooper very long but we still fed the sheep.And went canoeing at the bird refuge.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trip to Slovakia

So I was able to attend a conference on the geography of religion at the University of Prešov in Slovakia back in August. We did some cool and "religious" tourism, while we were there. Geography conferences usually involve some kind of field trip(s) and this was no exception.

We visited several wooden cathedrals from the Greek Catholic Church (notice the uniquely different crosses and the three tower architecture). The Greek Catholics are something of an inbetween in that they acknowledge the Pope in Rome but they use the Eastern liturgy for their masses and ordinances, like the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches.
A number of these traditional wooden churches are listed jointly as a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
This first wooden church is in the village of Ladomirova in northeast Slovakia. They have just recently replaced the wood on the outer walls. It was originally built in 1742. The design of the towers is really amazing!

This church in Bodružal is one of the oldest eastern churches in Slovakia. It was built in 1658. All of these churches have fascinating interiors, but they do not allow pictures inside. They have a lot of icons (symbology-rich pictures of apostles and Christ) which make up an iconostasis -- a barrier of sorts beyond which only certain members of the church and the clergy can go.

This Catholic, wooden church in Hervatov (note the single tower and its basic Catholic cross... which you actually can't see in this picture) is one of the oldest wooden churches in Slovakia. It was built around 1650. I was able to take some pictures of the interior, which had some neat wall paintings (St. George) and wood carvings.

This is the main square of Bardejov, a pretty town in northeast Slovakia. I took this picture from the tower of the old Gothic cathedral, which contains the intricately designed alter below.

On our way back to Prague, we (I was traveling with a professor and two other students) stopped at Spišský Castle...
...and Vlkolínec, an old mountain village with unique and well-preserved architecture.I really liked this Slovak landscape with the flock of sheep. It was fun to hear all of the sheep bells ringing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Phone Call

This probably doesn't need explanation, but "jo" pronounced "yo" is "yeah" in Czech. I love when they start pretending to talk on the phone.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where's Grandpa's House?

Vinson: "I want to go to Grandpa's house."
Val: "Vinson, where is Grandpa's house?"
Vinson: "In the computer."

And he's off!

This was filmed about 2 weeks ago. now he's walking all over the place and wanting to be turned loose. Pretty awesome for 10 months!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Český ráj (Bohemian Paradise)

Monday, the 6th was a Czech holiday so we decided to go on a výlet (day trip - it's such a good word and there's not a really good English equivalent).
We had been wanting to visit Český ráj for a long time and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
As you can see, we brought Vinson's "ikle" (motorcycle) along. It helps him walk a lot faster... Due to the nature of the trails we ended up walking on (see pictures), I got to carry ikle quite a bit. It was all worth it though for the last kilometer of trail, when it was the miracle that helped Vince finish the 5k hike. He's quite a trooper, when he needs to be.
Benji had a lot of fun walking (with help) up and down the rock stairs. He is a really happy kid most of the time. He loves being independent and mobile!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

So . . . do you know if you're staying yet?

The question we get asked all the time! The only problem with it is we STILL don't have an answer. We want a job in the U.S. - then we can move closer to the family, hopefully close enough to drive home for the holidays. The problem is the jobs Dan has applied for are with the BLM or Forest Service and they are taking FOREVER to decide who to hire. We almost wish they would just say, "sorry, thanks for trying we had a million applicants and didn't even see your form hidden in the pile." Then at least we could go on with our lives with one plan. I'm trying to eat all of our food all by myself of course :) (to prepare for our move to the U.S.), and at the same time I am planning how to rearrange the apartment for the next year. I can only mentally pack all of our stuff into 6 suitcases so many times! Seriously. We have to decide soon . . . come on job! You want Dan, you just don't know it yet. Get on it!
We will decide soon. If there is no job, we have ourselves a great gig here. Good job, already accepted to a PHD program and professors clammering for the native English speaker to help them with their projects. We love Prague and have a lot of great friends here but as the Czechs say, "všude dobře, ale doma nejlíp." - Everywhere is good, but home is the best.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I can't wait to walk!!

I am so big and cool! -Benjamin

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's official! Dan's finished his Masters Degree!!!

We are so excited to announce that Dan is officially done with school for his masters. He received a written critique on his Thesis from two professors and they both thought it was wonderful. One even wrote that it was the best masters thesis he had read for several years. The other offered him an opportunity to work on a new religious atlas for the Czech Republic. They both highly recommended that all or part of it be published. Dan is amazing! Graduation isn't until the end of July, so we have from here to then to figure out what we're going to do afterwards.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Hopefully we didn't celebrate Dan's graduation too early (his thesis defense and final exam are on Wednesday), but we wanted to travel somewhere before plane tickets got more expensive for the summer . . . so we looked into flights to London and Barcelona - but ended up going to Athens. Some friends watched Vinson so Dan, Benjamin and I flew out for a three day trip. We had a blast! We got to see a lot of the old sights: the acropolis, the agora and the National Archeological Museum. We also were able to go to the beach. Unfortunately Benjamin thought I would disappear if I went in the water so I didn't get to swim much. Benji loves salty rocks :) Completely natural, right? We also got to eat Greek gyros which are amazing! We had one everyday!
When we got home, Dan and Vince got to wear matching Greek shirts and it was fun to be a complete family again. It's amazing how much we missed Vince after three days. Benji might have missed Vinson most of all.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Český rozhlas

A couple of weeks back, we got a phone call from a friend, who is the media representative for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A Czech public radio station, Český rozhlas 6 (something like BBC in the UK), was looking for some Mormons they could interview for a weekly program that they do about different churches in Czech society. To make a long story short, a radio guy came and interviewed me (Dan). This interview was condensed into a half-hour long program and broadcast last Saturday.
Tonight (16.5), the same program will focus on Mormons again. The program's host also interviewed a Czech friend of ours, Jarda Haječek, and I expect tonight's program will focus on that interview. I was happy with the outcome of the interview. The program last week was quite positive and portrayed Mormons well, in my severely biased opinion ;-)
Anyways, I downloaded the interview from the internet ( and made a link to it (on the right side of our blog: Files to download). So if you're interested, feel free to listen!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Dan is FINALLY finished with his thesis. He has been going pretty much non-stop since January and literally non-stop for the last few weeks. Here Dan is about an hour away from finishing (about midnight) and finding mistake after mistake and thinking it will never end. Though I am biased and think that Dan is absolutely amazing, I've read his thesis and think that it's really easy to read and interesting. If you're interested in learning about "Adventist and Mormon congregations in Chechia" you can download the whole bloomin' thing here. Yeah! I finally get my husband back! So if you want to know what this is - read Dan's Diploma work (that's what it's called in Czech) :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Videos of Benjamin that make me laugh

Random side note - I was on the tram the other day and a lady was surprised that Benjamin already had shoes. I thought that this was interesting because I got scolded so many times when Vinson was Benjamin's age because he didn't have any shoes. Benji has 11 pairs of shoes! I love shoes! And aren't they all so cute? They all get plenty o use :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to make Czech Easter Eggs!

Our good friend Magda taught us how to do Czech Easter eggs last year and we thought we'd pass the information on. She made an awesome invention. It was a baby jar with metal lids hooked on with wires. That way you can put a candle under the lids to melt wax. The key is to mix BEES WAX with a crayon of your desired color. Then you melt the wax using a candle underneath. Your painting instrument is the back of a pencil - eraser side with a glass ball pin stuck in the eraser. Dip the pin's end into the melted wax mixture and then paint it onto the egg.
They turned out pretty good, don't you think? The amazing ones were done by Magda.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A marathon together.

I've been wanting to do the Prague half marathon since I found out about it the first year we were here. Last year I was pregnant so I signed Dan and I up to run this year. It was a great excuse to have Dan watch the kids in the mornings and get out and run. Unfortunately Dan hadn't run since January, he has been too busy working on his thesis. Everyone assumed he would die. We ended up running most of it with my friends Maylia and Emily. Their pace was perfect. We started in the back so we passed people the whole time until about 19K when I started to hurt. Now you'd think Dan would be dying but no he was keeping me going - saying cute little things to keep me distracted, "Val you're so hot when you run" etc. We didn't walk and got a pretty good time: 2:09. So pretty much we are amazing! Dan says since we both did a half we can say "We ran a marathon together."