Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Top 10 Reasons I like October Light's "Croatia" Video

Quality Croatian music videos as creative as this one (scroll down to see the video) are very rare.  Here are 10 reasons why this one is worth blogging about:

10. It promotes Croatia.  I'll be honest, it's hard to find 6 guys so fist-pumpingly excited to live in this country.

9. It does so without showing a glimpse of the coast.  Don't get me wrong, the Croatian coast is amazing, but sometimes people don't realize there's a lot more to this country than the Adriatic.

8.  It's a catchy song.

7. Trombone - a rare instrument in this country.

By the way, I was playing at a funeral one time (no, not that one) and after looking at my trombone one of the participants asked: "Jel' to srpski truba?" "Is that a Serbian trumpet?" (Apparently anything that's foreign must be from Serbia.)

6. It makes my boys dance.  And I mean dance.

5.  The blue truck.  Blue trucks are the stereotypical Roma vehicle in Croatia.  Maybe I'm reading into it, but I see a hint of trying to break that prejudice.

4.  Croatian+English.  The other night they featured a Croatian linguist on the news who was discussing how English words are slowly being incorporated in the Croatian language.  October Light illustrates this point at several points during the song.

3. Cornfields.  I grew up in Iowa.

2. No traffic.  I could play trombone on a truck too if there weren't so many obstacles on the road.  How the band managed to keep the roads clear is beyond me.

1. Because I can call it Croative.


Monday, October 24, 2011

An Open Letter

Dear Friends,

After taking Emily and Petra to a local office to apply for our daughter's citizenship, I am not surprised that Steve Job's life was less celebrated here in Croatia than it was in America.

Believe it or not, this picture was taken in October of 2011.

It's not that the internet, personal computers, electronic handheld devices, or various other communication systems are not utilized in Croatia.  By no means!  It's just that they are not used in the places where they could arguably be the most useful.  This worker was very friendly.  And if he was confused, it stemmed more from our daughter being born into a unique (for small-town Croatia) dual citizenship marriage.

Yes, typewriters are still used all over Croatia.  I find this strange in a land that is becoming more and more like Western-Europe everyday.  My inclination is to hang this cultural difference in the closet that already holds most of the shocking things I've encountered, yet I have a feeling that "tradition" is not what gives the typewriter such a long shelf-life.

So I'll appeal to my Croatian audience.  Why in the world of iPads and blogs are we still using typewriters?

I'll be waiting by the mailbox.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meet Our Daughter Emily Vjera

As we were waiting for our third child to arrive, my wife and I took a trip down memory lane.  The vehicle was this blog.  As we were finishing, I heard something I never thought I'd hear: "Honey, I'm so glad you started this blog."

The culture shock never ends.

It's with that in mind that I continue to blog despite more craziness in our house than ever before.  This post will take a look at the birth of one third of that craziness.

Fortunately Petra didn't have 59 hours of contractions like she did with Enoh, nor were the last few hours of labor as difficult as they were with Ian.  The speed with which our third arrived is a remarkable thing indeed.  Here are the details of the last half hour before our beautiful daughter was born.  Petra's contractions began around 8 pm on the 20th, then got closer and closer until the morning of the 21st:

6:07 am: Petra opens the front door to begin our short trip.  Despite being in the middle of a contraction, she feels it important to write a quick text message to her close friends: "on our way to the hospital" it says.

6:15: We arrive at hospital.  Had we been 15 minutes earlier, there's a good chance we would have found parking in the regular parking lot.  In the middle of another contraction, I feel justified parking in a handicapped spot.  Would we get a ticket?

6:16: Petra still attempting to get out of the car. I'm helping...and thinking about whether I should quickly go around the car to get my camera.  Better sense kicks in.  Random lady asks if we need any help.  Unsure of how to respond, I eventually get a "ne hvala" (no thanks) out.

6:18: Finally inside.  Nurse at the reception desk is slouched like an 8th grade biology student at the end of a school day.  The pregnant woman doesn't cause the nurse's expression to change.  Slowly she gets up and tells us where to go.

6:19: While my wife explains to the nurse that this is her third baby, her water breaks.  Nurse changes expressions faster than you can say "social healthcare".  "Idi po kolica!" she tells me.  What I understood was "Go get a wheelchair!" so I'm off.  There's no wheelchair to be found, but there is an old bed with wheels.  This'll have to suffice I say to myself.  "Is this what you meant?" I attempt in Croatian as I crash through the doors with the movable bed.  "Yes!" she responds and indicates that I'm moving too slowly.

6:20: We ascend a couple floors in the elevator, Petra asking if she's allowed to push.  She's not.

6:22: I part ways with my wife.  "Men aren't allowed in here", the nurse explains.  She must not have been here the last two times I joined my wife in the delivery room.  In her defense, many Croatian men don't care to be present for the birth of their children.

6:25: The confusion has been resolved.  I come in just in time to see the baby born.  Petra has given birth to a beautiful girl we have named Emily Vjera.  Random lady in parking lot turns out to be the doctor that delivers the baby.  "Emily could've been born in the parking lot" she says.  I'm thankful she wasn't.

Emily means “to persevere”.  Vjera means "faith" (in Croatian).  Of course Petra and I like the sound of the names together but we also like the combination of the two meanings. 

In college, as our friendship was growing, we decided to memorize a passage of Scripture together – Hebrews 12.  In that section the author of Hebrews is calling us to faith and endurance. 

In Hebrews 11, a quite extensive list has been made of many heroes who have lived by faith.  Then, with these characters in mind, we are called to "run with perseverance, the race marked out before us".  Faith and endurance are so closely connected throughout Hebrews.  Our prayer for our daughter among other things, is that she would persevere in faith.

My mother was the first to point out the fact that with E, I, E...we may be running old McDonald's farm here.  With certainly no predictions about filling in the rest of the vowels in Mr. McDonald's song, sometimes having 3 children under 3 does feel like a farm.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.