Prague

It has taken a year but we have finally gone through our photographs from Prague and are ready to share them with everyone. The delay has everything to do with how busy we were and is not a reflection of the trip it self. In fact we both loved Prague and hope to return soon.

January 30th to February 4th:

The two week trip was planned to take advantage of the fact that Chris was in Prague for work. He flew over on January 30th, spent a day sick in the hotel, and checked out a few of the sights close to the office before I few over on February 4th.

Staromestska metro station interior.

February 4th to the 5th:

On February 4th, I left Seattle, flew to Washington D.C., then Munich, before arriving in Prague on the 5th. It was mid-morning when I arrived so I was able to rest up for our evening out. When Chris got off work we took the Metro, then a tram out of the city center to see the local hockey team HC Sparta Praha play at the O2 Arena.

February 6:

To celebrate Chris’ birthday we got out and explored some of the more famous areas of the city. We took the Metro to the Old Town Square (Staré Město) where the Old Town Hall with Astronomical Clock is located. There were tons of vendors set up selling “traditional” foods so Chris sampled their version of Halušky. I decided to have a Chimney Strudel filled with apples and walnuts before we crossed over the Charles Bridge. On the other side of the Vltava river we visited St. Nicholas Church then walked the narrow streets toward the Castle. Here we watched a protest then stopped at Starbucks with an awesome view, before back to the hotel for a rest.

Interior of St. Nicholas Church

View of Prague from the castle Starbucks

February 7:

At noon we met up with Chris’ coworker, Lucas, and his family. They took us to lunch and showed us around the city including; Wenceslas Square, the Jubilee Synagogue, and the Czech Republic Main Post Office to see the interior decoration. Unfortunately, since it is also a bank, they do not allow any photography. Then we walked to the train station to see the old building interior and took the tram to Namesti Republiky (Republic Square) were we met up with  Adela, another of Chris’ coworkers, for some coffee and cake at the Municipal House. Afterwards we walked past the Dancing house, then along the river bank to the National Theater before splitting up for the evening.

Book store in Wenceslas Square

The exterior of Jubilee Synagogue

Exterior of the Municipal House.

Vltava river from the Jirásek Bridge

February 8:

Chris returned to work on Monday so I had a day to explore the city on my own. I took the metro to the Prague Castle, walking past a house where Alphonse Mucha lived for a while on my way to the Castle entrance. I toured the Picture Gallery, the St. Vitus Cathedral Treasury, and walked into the Cathedral to see Mucha’s stained glass window. Jet lag and pregnancy was not a fun combination, so I decided to get some lunch and then return to the hotel to nap. I was still not feeling up for much when Chris got done at work so we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel.

Exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral

February 9:

Feeling a bit better, I returned to the Castle area the next morning to get my art fix at the Lobkowiczky Palace while Chris was a work. From there I took a tram to the Municipal House where I checked out the Art Nouveau exhibit and took the guided tour of the building. There each room is decorated by different Art Nouveau artists, but the highlight of the tour for me was the room designed by Mucha. When the tour was over I had lunch at Cacao, then checked out a grocery store before returning to hotel. After work we took the Metro back to the Kampa area of the city to U Modre Kachnicky – The Blue Duck – for dinner. It was a super cozy restaurant with slightly fancy feeling, and really tasty roast duck.

Buildings along Old Town Square

The Mayor’s Hall in the Municipal House. Everything in the room was designed by Mucha.

Ceiling mural, The Slavic Concord, of the Mayor’s Hall painted by Mucha.

The Confectionery, one of the “ladies parlous” in the Municipal House.

February 10:

Chris had taken the rest of the week off so that we could continue to explore the city together. In the morning we took the metro and then a tram outside the city center to the National Gallery / Trade Fair Palace. We ate at Potrefena Husa before going to the museum; Chris had Beer  and Chili Goulash and I had a baked goat cheese salad and Coke… a Coke has never tasted so awesome in my life. I am pretty sure all the pregnancy food cravings were in full swing. Chris also managed to fall while crossing the street and banged his leg and arm up a bit. One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Prague to see the Slav Epic painted by Alphonse Mucha. The series of 20 painting was incredible; I had no idea of the scale or detail before going. Given the chance I would go see them again. After walking through the museum we returned to the Old Town Square, checked out a few shops and went to the Sex Machines Museum. For dinner we explored a new area of the city. The restaurant we wanted did not have any availability so we ended up eating at  Olive Point. I was happy that there was salad on the menu because the whole trip I was craving fresh vegetables and having a hard time finding any.

Viewing two paintings from the Slav Epic

Namesti Miru metro station

February 11:

On the way to the Mucha museum, we stopped into a vintage jewelry shop where Chris bought a pocket watch from the 1920s. Then we continued our tradition of eating at McDonald’s in other countries. The menu was pretty much the same as in the U.S. – Chris had the Grand Big Mac and I ordered the fried cheese with my chicken sandwich. I almost ordered the McFlurry with Toblerone. The Mucha museum was fairly small, but they had an interesting mix of his work and a few pieces of his furniture. From the museum we walked through the Jewish Quarter, then back to the Old Town Square. Since the day was clear we decided to go up into the clock tower for a view of the city before returning to the hotel.  In the evening we went back out to Cathedral of St. Clement for a Vivaldi concert. It was an incredibily beautiful experience.  After we walked around for a bit to find somewhere to eat, we finally found a “tapas” restaurant called Monarch. The food was interesting; a potato dish that was just five potatoes with a spicy red sauce in/on them, mushroom croquettes, bread with a olive oil tomato spread and a potato salad that unfortunately had carrots in it.

View of Church of Our Lady before Týn

February 12:

We had nothing specific we wanted to do on our last day exploring Prague, so we slept in before heading to lunch at Café Imperial. The food was good and service was very attentive; unfortunately I felt very underdressed in the heavily decorated and very fancy restaurant. When we were done eating we walked around for a while and wandered through the Palladium (shopping mall). I bought some chocolates and Chris talked himself out of purchasing a large Apocalypse statue that would have needed its own seat on the plane ride home. After resting up for a bit in the hotel, we tried to go to Mucha’s granddaughter’s jewelry shop before dinner. Sadly it was closed for the month, so I had to look for my Prague souvenir at another shop. From there we walked back to the Old Town Square for dinner at Mincovna.

Waiting for the tram.

February 13:

Our last day in the Czech Republic we explored beyond Prague. After a quick breakfast at the hotel we took a train to Plzen, the birthplace of Pilsner beer. In Plzen we walked around the city, had some lunch, then went on an underground tour. The guide led us around under the streets into areas used in the 14th century, told us about the history of the city, and gave us beer vouchers. At the end of the tour we went to a local bar to watch some hockey while Chris enjoyed our free beers. Then we went on the Pilsner Urquell brewery tour. This was the best brewery tour we have been on – far better than the Guinness tour in Dublin. It was mesmerizing to watch the bottles line up to be filled and we even got to sample the beer directly from a cask in the cellar. It was pretty late when the tour was over, and we had only a short amount of time until our train back to Prague so dinner was just a bunch of snacks from Tesco for the train ride.

 


February 14:

After a wonderful time in Prague we returned home through Frankfurt, Germany.  The trip back was long but fortunately there were plenty of open seats on the flight so we both were able to spread out.

There is so much more I can say about the trip, beyond what we did, but unfortunately mommy brain is in full force. We hope to take Dom to Prague in the near future, maybe then I can put into words how remarkable the city is.

Gallery

The Aquarium

In a continuing effort to spend money on experiences and not things, we recently purchased a membership to the Seattle Aquarium. Dom’s getting to be the age where everything is interesting, so we wanted to start getting him interested in nature. It doesn’t hurt that we can always fall back it in the event of failed plans, bad weather, or just a plain ole need to get out of the house. The aquarium is a 10 minute drive or 30 minute trip on public transportation away, so we can even use it as a “free” way to kill a few hours.

As far as our first experience – it went well. We met up with another family that has a one year old and we spent… I don’t know… an hour or a bit more walking around. Dom did really well and he seemed to love it. I was initially worried it would be boring and time again, but I’ll leave you with a quote from my discussion about the topic on social media. That, and pictures… everyone loves baby pictures, right?

Without trying, I became engrossed in how Dom was interpreting the world around him. I swear if I couldn’t picture those little synapses forming in his brain. I saw literal wonder in his dark brown eyes – everything was new and amazing to him, and therefore… new and amazing to me.

2016 In Review

As 2016 comes to an end, I have been thinking about everything that happened this year. Unfortunately, we had two fairly large low points with the passing of my grandmother this summer and Logan only a week ago… but we also had what we consider one of the greatest events in our life with the birth of Dominic. Here on the eve of 2017, I decided to not dwell on the negative and share 16 things that were great about 2016.

Think of it as a positive year in review.

ONE.
January started off with a positive pregnancy test. It was far harder to become pregnant than the after school specials had me believing, and after nearly a year of negative results it was an exciting way to start the year. Pregnancy is miraculous, I had a pretty easy time, and am exceedingly grateful that we were able to get pregnant without too much medical intervention.


TWO.

The worst period of morning sickness coincided with our trip to Prague in February. Chris went for work; I joined him in time for his birthday. He then took several days off to explore the city together. We both loved Prague, even in the cold, and managed to travel outside the city to the Pilsner Urquell brewery as well. Eventually we will post photos of the trip, until then enjoy this sample of our time in Prague. dsc_8561
THREE.
After announcing our pregnancy in early March, we traveled to New Jersey / Pennsylvania to visit Chris’ family for Easter. It had been many years since the entire Brown side of the family was together for Easter and much had changed. Now rather than two tables, dividing the kids and adults, we had at least five tables set up to fit over 30 family members. We also stopped by Textile Philadelphia University to see all the changes to the campus where we met 20 years ago. Much has changed, but there is a lot of the same memories.

 

FOUR.
We continued “nesting.” 2016 marks the start of our third year in our house. Over the course of the year we replaced the last few pieces of furniture from Virginia with pieces that fit better in this house, installed cafe lights in the backyard, changed out a bunch of light fixtures and blinds, and prepared the nursery. That is just the big things. While not directly house related, in April we purchased the “baby hauler,” which I would say is part of our nesting process.

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FIVE.

We continued our evolution into Seattlites with Mariners season tickets. Neither of us are really baseball fans, but it is a great way to spend an afternoon in the summer. When we were given the option to go in on tickets with a few other families we decided to go for it. It was great to be able to bring friends and family along. Over the course of the summer we went to at least four Mariners games, a Sounders game, and the Cowboys / Seahawks preseason game.

 

SIX.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to Sasquatch Music Festival. In no way did it go as planned; in fact many would say it went all wrong. High winds required we take our tent down during the day Sunday and led to the main stage being shut down for most of the day. I was exhausted and uncomfortable much of the time, so we did not make it to the late shows. However the bands we did see where great, including Digable Planets, and the whole experience  reminded me that we truly can go with the flow and make the best of things when we are together.13315535_10153457752036744_5741680737237850235_n
SEVEN.
In June we headed to Hawaii for our last trip as a family of two. Here it is six months later and I am ready to head back to Maui already.

 

EIGHT.
Our summer was packed with family visits, classes to prepare for Dominic’s arrival, and our second camping trip. In July, we took a ferry over to Lopez Island with our friends, the Kizers, for a weekend away. Chris tried out fly fishing; a hobby he is hoping to start and share with Dom as he grows up. What made the camping trip more interesting was the Kizers will be welcoming their own little guy any day now (today is their due date!). The guys did not argue when the two pregnant ladies decided it was time for an afternoon nap. They might have actually sleep more than the ladies did. We have also enjoyed some date nights and Friendsgiving with the Kizers this year and are looking forward to our boys growing up together.

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NINE.
July marked my fifth summer working at the Seattle Art Museum’s summer camp. I took a smaller role this year, in part due to my pregnancy, but love the experience. Both of us are very fortunate to have jobs that we enjoy. Chris’ often stresses him out and demands a lot from him, but he comes home from work, on the whole, far happier than any job he has had in the past.

 

TEN.
We intentionally had a quiet August. Doctor appointments became more frequent and our friend Amanda hosted a baby shower for me. It was really sweet to have a bunch of ladies get together to celebrate with me. It was a particularly hard weekend and the shower made it a lot better. Interestingly, I was one of four pregnant women at my shower. I met all three women through Chris joining Crossfit Interbay several years back. I joined in 2014 and got to know these women. Somehow I managed to continue working out until mid-August when the heat and the weight of the growing baby were too much. Chris had taken time off from the gym due to continued back issues, but we are both back at the gym know.

 


ELEVEN.
The birth of Dominic James Derecola is the highlight of the year – we’re sure it will be the stand out event.  Now, almost four months later, it is unbelievable how much he has grown. Every day feels like he is bigger and interacting with us more. We truly know how fortunate we are that he is a happy and healthy baby. Originally this web site was created with the intention of sharing photos, but with an infant controlling our lives you can see that has not happened. If you are interested in seeing photos we post to our instagram account fairly regularly. More posts will come as he sleeps through the night regularly. We get a few a week and he sleeps in his crib for 12 hours regardless, so we’re on the right path.

 

TWELVE.
After spending September settling into our new roles and mom and dad, our families traveled across the country to visit Dominic in October and November. It was wonderful that everyone made the five-plus hour journey to meet Dom and help us out. Pop-pop Derecola and Ms. Lynda visited first, spending Pop-pop’s birthday in Seattle. Then Aunt Remi (Rachel) came and stayed for a week when Daddy returned to work. It was the first time in about 20 years that Rachel and I were in the same house for more than a few hours. She was incredibly helpful and it felt amazing to have family here. After Rachel left, Grandmom Seltzer came for two weeks. Grandmom helped with the early mornings, giving me a few hours of sleep each day, and took Dom shopping for winter clothes. After she headed home, Gramp Brooks and Ms. Nell visited for a few days, with Uncle Patrick overlapping with their visit. We then had a few weeks just the three of us, until Grandmom returned with Aunt Angela, Uncle Brian, Cousin Kirsten, and Cousin Addison for Thanksgiving. Dominic celebrated his first Thanksgiving at our house and went to have his photo taken on Santa’s lap with his cousins.

 


THIRTEEN.

On October 4th, Dominic turned one month old and we celebrated 13 years of marriage. It is amazing that we have been married that long and understand that it has only been possible with a lot of work by both of us. To celebrate, we got dressed up and went to dinner at Canlis while Pop-pop and Ms. Lynda babysat. We attempted to have a photo taken to mark the occasion, but we will just say it was not flattering to any of us. Instead I invite you to take a trip down memory lane and look at the wedding photos.

 

FOURTEEN.
On a more personal note, I started going to PEPS with Dominic in late October. These are weekly organized meetups of moms and infants that live nearby. There are 12 babies all born within a few weeks of each other in our group. Dom laughs, fusses, screams, and sometimes naps along with the other babies. It is something I look forward to each week and am making new friends while adjusting to being a mom. This transition is huge. It has been made even easier by the incredible women, many from the east coast, who messaged and emailed support in the first few weeks after Dominic’s birth. I cannot even begin to thank them for responding to my stressed out messages and letting me know that whatever was going on is okay. I am beyond thankful for them.nryilnny-bzm0fw4xo-_5hcp0txhue91jvkwrdn67jopx92ib

 

FIFTEEN.
December 16th marked five years in Seattle. We moved here knowing no one with no clue what the city held for us. As these 14 prior items have shown, moving to Seattle has led to a lot of change. While we both have friends we miss on the east coast, it feels like we are starting to make some solid friendships here and do not regret the decision to move at all. Seattle is the perfect city for us and truly feels like our home. I wish we had some great story to share of how we marked the date, but we don’t – only a photo of our family.

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SIXTEEN.
December has also brought us Dominic’s First Christmas; a chance to start some holiday traditions of our own. I decorated the house and made dozens of cookies. Dom and I attempted a salt dough hand-print ornament, and Chris made Seafood Spaghetti for Christmas Eve dinner. On Christmas Eve, ready for bed in his Christmas PJ’S, he opened his first present – a new Christmas book. On Christmas morning he slept until 8 am (after a 1:30 am wake up) and was super chill all day. He loved watching the fire Chris built in the fireplace and his new train set from Santa. Chris picked out a wonderful first Christmas ornament for Dom and he had plenty of presents under the tree. We know he will not remember anything of this year, but we did try to capture some of it to share with him later.