Monday, August 31, 2015

Finished Product

A few weeks ago friends went with Claire and I to Boleslawiec, Poland, visiting the Polish pottery factory and painting some of our own.

The finished products were mailed to a friend who lives in Poland (just so you know, they don't ship internationally) and she recently delivered it to me. Take a look at how they turned out!

For a first attempt at painting, I'm so pleased with our creations!

Now all I need are big plates and bowls to match. Dinner party anyone?!

The day we painted, the mugs looked much bigger than regular ones in my cupboard at home. Honestly, until they were delivered I was sure they were different sizes.

But nope! Just a little bit differently shaped mugs and handles.

And a little bit better quality on the painting job! Haha!

There are many highlights to the summer, but getting to paint Polish pottery was definitely one at the top. And it's something I'd be willing to take anyone to do if you're in my part of the world! :)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Croatia From Above

If you asked Dave what his all time favorite magazine is, he would no doubt reply: "National Geographic". He's been reading it since he was a kid, loving their imagery as well as information about this amazing planet we live on.

Imagine his delight when he found an exhibit sponsored by them in the square of Hvar town!

Called "Croatia From Above", it's a seven year project by a man named Davor Rostuhar, who has captured images from all over the country in an absolutely fascinating manner.

Displayed in large images, each picture captured from above has accompanying information about the photo and place where it was taken.

It's the marketplace in Zagreb, the capitol!

His perspective on every single photo is simply breathtaking! Can you see what the image above is?

Over the past weeks we've been to Hvar town several times, and Dave never fails to stop and enjoy this amazing exhibit.

It's only being displayed in five locations throughout Croatia. I can't believe we're on Hvar when it's here! It's on exhibition around the country for a little more than two months so we're really thankful we had the privilege of seeing it here on Hvar.

Appreciating and admiring artistry and photography is a combination we can't resist!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Festival in Jelsa

We said goodbye to the last of our friends today, after marvelous vacation time with both family and friends here on Hvar.

Now Dave hunkers down to work hard on long-range planning, writing projects, and preparations for his teaching in the coming weeks and months.

But, when I heard about an annual festival happening across the mountain in Jelsa this evening, I asked if we could check it out before he gets to work on those things. I'm so glad he said yes!

Growing up in Oregon, my little hometown of Coburg hosted an annual festival called "Coburg Golden Years". It was a highlight of the summer, at least for the kids in town! We looked forward to it all year long: the parade, food, game booths and gathering of friends were all such a fun way to end the summer. While I haven't been to it in years (they still have it!), I often think about it when summer rolls around.

Transport that small town atmosphere to the town of Jelsa on the island of Hvar, and you've got the same type of delightful event!

If I hadn't read about it on Total Hvar, a wonderful blog with all sorts of news and interesting items about the island, I wouldn't have known about the festival. But reading about it this afternoon made me think of my childhood and how special those kinds of events are. So off we went!

I don't know how long this event has been going, but "Festa Vina" was quite the event going on over in Jelsa. Booths lined the harbor, with everything from wine and food, to handcrafts and local items like honey and lavender oil for sale.

We wandered from booth to booth, enjoying every bit of the aromas filling the air, as well as the of the artistry and craftsmanship of people sharing their wares.

As the sun set, we heard beautiful music across the harbor.

And soon dancers, singers and musicians made their way over to where we stood, a parade of sorts.

For the next twenty minutes these talented musicians gave an incredibly beautiful concert of Croatian folk music, complete with gorgeous costumes. Truly it was one of those magical moments where all of time stops and you're transported to a time long ago when this was the norm of life. I loved every minute of it.

Afterward we wandered down the riva, along the harbor's edge, just taking in all the sights and sounds, including the new piece of artwork recently unveiled. The donkey is an important part of island life, walking to and from the fields, helping their owners to collect various things like lavender and such. It's fitting that a life size version is now at the harbor for all to enjoy!

The harbor sparkled in the warm evening air while hundreds of people enjoyed the festival as we made our way back towards our car.

Just as we were headed out of the square, we witnessed one last event of our "Festa Vina" experience: bonfire in the harbor! In a parade of boats, each carried torches and zoomed around the water, creating a bonfire effect. Though I wished I'd been closer to the water at the time, at least I got one photo to remember it by!

Small town festivals bring people together in a way that is hard to replicate anywhere. I'm glad we were here to enjoy Jelsa's "Festa Vina" this year!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

For Uncle Mike

First day of school pictures were always a must when family lived far away and didn't get to see their grandkids, niece or nephews often. It was one of the ways I tried to keep family connected even though we lived across an ocean.

But it was especially my brother, "Uncle Mike" who seemed to enjoy these yearly photos. So when I got pictures of Claire and Caleb on their first day back at Moody (thank you Claire and Haley for sending them!), I knew I'd still have to post them here. This is for you UM!

Claire is a second semester junior at Moody now, thanks to the fact that our kids received a semester worth of general ed. credit from their Czech high school since they went a 13th year here as part of the public school system. She'll get one more "first day of school" next year, and then graduates December 2016 with a major in biblical studies and children's ministry.

For Caleb, this is it! This is his final "first day of school" picture after 19 years of school (counting 2 years of skolka/kindergarten!) as he will be graduating in December with a biblical studies and biblical exposition major.

Tyler is also starting a new school year for his master's degree, but it's probably right to draw the line somewhere at "first day of school" pictures!

Hope you enjoyed these pics Mike! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Together Again

These past few days have been many years in the making, and a fulfillment of a dream: having breakfast together around the table at our Croatia house with these dear friends after a four year pause from spending vacations together!

While we only have one out of our seven kids here (we miss the rest of you and your spouses!), it's been such a joy and privilege to be together sharing life and vacation with each other again.

We sat around for hours last night while having dinner on the terrace, laughing, sharing old stories, and just enjoying the sweetness of the years of investment that have gone into our friendships. Who would've ever imagined where we'd be 12 years later after we first began our summer adventures with each other?

I was too busy enjoying the moment to take many photos last night, but I'm glad I captured just a fraction of it to remember these moments by. I know there will be many more hours of life shared here at the house in years to come. But this was our first evening together, the fulfillment of our dream.

"Thank you Lord for creating us to need each other, and experience more of You through one another."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sending Claire Off

Claire headed back to the States to begin her third year of college on Saturday. But due to internet issues, I didn't get to write about it. I think I have a stable connection today so I'm going for it while it lasts!

Saturday morning, bright and early, she and I headed off to the airport for her flight.

Due to a storm the night before, the parking lot closest to the airport was closed (the gate wouldn't open!) so we parked at another lot and had to walk a ways.

By the view of where Claire's walking, you'd be right to wonder what kind of airport we were leaving out of. And why I was going with her.

We made a quick stop at the airport to check in, and then headed for the plane.

Can you see the plane we had tickets on?

Yes, we were leaving on a seaplane from Hvar, headed over to the main airport in Split!

Fifteen years ago someone began the process of registering a seaplane airline here in Croatia - a very smart idea, I might add considering how long it takes to get between islands and to the mainland by ferries. It literally took them all those years before the permissions were given, and regulations were met. They flew their maiden voyage last summer and have been expanding ever since.

But the first flight ever was out of Jelsa, here on Hvar. And that's where Claire and I left from on Saturday!

To say it was a thrill doesn't even come close to describing how cool it was to get into a 16 passenger plane, have the pilot give the pre-flight talk, and be able to see him in the cockpit the whole way!

You can reach the mainland by ferry in 2 hours, and by catamaran in 1 hour and five minutes. But by seaplane? 13 minutes!

Yes, I admit I was pretty giddy all thirteen minutes! It was just so fun to see the island we love from the air!

Though it was a bit of a bumpy flight (didn't bother either of us), a sweet little German girl sat behind us throwing up the entire flight (poor thing!). I felt so bad for her. And her mom! But before we knew it we were back on the ground/sea.

Here's our terminal!

The crazy thing is that this is the very place where we brought Tyler in our little boat when he flew to Chicago for his first year of college! We literally parked right where those boats are to the left of the seaplane. How funny to be back here six years later taking Claire to the airport via a very different transportation mode!

Check-in went quickly and soon it was time to say our goodbyes.

It was definitely less emotional than two years ago when we sent her off for the first time!

Oh and why did I go with her, besides wanting to take the seaplane? Because the plane has quite low weight allowances so I had to take a bag for her and then repack everything at the airport! I took an empty one back to Hvar after saying goodbye.

While she headed through security and on to her flight, I walked back over to the terminal to wait for my seaplane flight back to Hvar two hours later.

I thought I'd just sit and read for those couple of hours while Claire headed towards Copenhagen for a quick layover, and then on to Chicago. Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

Her flight left Split two hours late, which bumped her from the flight to Chicago. They couldn't rebook her from Split as there were no flights, so sent her on to Copenhagen with the news that she would most likely be rebooked the following day, and put up in a hotel overnight.

But after hours of standing in lines, she was told there were "no rooms in the inn" in Copenhagen due to a marathon taking place there. NO ROOMS!! That's hard to believe. I don't know what they expected her to do when they told her to get out of line because there just wasn't anything available.

Someone finally had mercy and actually put her on a flight to Stockholm at 8:30 PM, just so she could have a room to sleep in! But it was a very long day for her getting to that room. And so hard for me to be unable to help her from Croatia.

But the Lord is good. ALWAYS. He met her needs in some beautiful ways, and she ended up in a $300 a night room right at the Stockholm airport - like she could look out from her room into the airport! She slept well, had good food and coffee the next day, and was finally on her way at 10 AM and made it safely to Chicago Sunday afternoon.

I made it safely back to Jelsa after my two hour wait, praying the whole way, and for the rest of the day for her. And again remembering that while she is my daughter, she is her Father's daughter in a deeper and even more amazing way. And he's "got her" more than I ever could!

She already started classes back at Moody today and is right where she needs to be!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hiking With Dad

 Oh these two! How I love them!

Today is Claire's last day with us in Hvar so she's been doing all her "lasts", which includes some time with her dad. And what did she choose for their time together? A hike up the mountain behind the house to watch the sunset!

Do you see the cross way up there on the mountain?

That's their destination this evening.

Kaylee and I walked a little ways with them, but since it's their special time, we didn't go along. I've hiked it a couple of times but am quite content to stay behind!

But I love that these two have such good adventures together. And most of all, that they value time with each other.

With a wave goodbye at the turn-off, they headed up while I headed back home.

I know they'll have some really incredible views from up high. But this isn't too bad either!

In no time at all, they'll be up there!

PS. I was just finishing this blog post when I got a text from Claire. At the top!

Yes, it's a spectacular view up there tonight! So glad they got to go before she leaves in the morning.