Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food and shopping for food

There are many similarites and many differences when it comes to the food here in Poland. Shopping can be different. In the city there are tiny and medium grocery markets all over. There are also several outdoors fruit and vegetable markets. I would like to know where they get their fresh produce, as it looks incredible fresh and beautiful, but i am pretty sure they are not growing kiwi or bananas in Poland in October. It is fun to walk through these area's looking at all the different vendor's all selling mostly the same thing and decide who has a better price or better product. At the mall there is a larger grocery store and that is where we have gone to stock up for 2-3 days of food. It is about the size of a smaller Albertsons, but is huge by Polish standards. We have really only bought food for 2-3 days at a time for a few reasons. 1-we will be moving apartments and it is better to have less on hand when we move. 2-it has been fun to eat out here with all the different foods. 3-we are walking, so we can only buy what we can carry between us. There are alot of helping hands, but alot of mouths to feed as well. A difference here is you have to buy your grocery bags, even the cheap plastic ones cost, but they also sell larger, better plastic ones. Or you bring your own bag, which is what most people do. We bring our backpacks and load them up, then we still have hands free to carry something else or to help with kids, or push the stroller, which we also stuff with food next to and under Matthew.

It has been fun trying to figure out what certain foods or products are. I'll ask David to translate the package, but he sometimes only translates part of the package. In one instance we were looking for plastic sandwich bags and i asked David what the box said, and he replied "small bags, 150 count" so we bought the box. I remember thinking at the time, why is there a martini drink on the box. Well when it came time to use a bag I pulled the tear away strip to open the box, and under the tear away strip was the directions on how to use the bags--with pictures. I couldn't see this part in the store as the strip was covering, but when i saw it I knew exactly what the bags were for-and it wasn't sandwiches. So I took the box to David and asked him again to translate the box without showing him what the strip had covered. And he read the box this time and said " Oh, little bags for ice." Well, now i know why there was a martini drink on the box, and if he had just read the whole box at the store we wouldn't have bought it. But these are the fun things of being somewhere new!

They have lots of cheese here, much is different than home, and if it is the same as home, I often don't know it because the names in Polish are not the same in English. But all of the cheese is white cheese. Well I have children that love macaroni and cheese made with a regular (to us) cheddar- orange cheese. So David and I set out to find some cheddar. We asked at the stores we had been to, but they didn't know what cheddar cheese was. We did find it at one store, but although it is packaged as cheddar, it is really kraft singles of american cheese. To us, that is not cheddar. After a little research online we were led to a big grocery store a little further from the city center. It is bigger the store at the mall, but not by much. And they had a cheddar similar cheese that they called mimolette. I had already made a mac and cheese earlier in the week with i am not sure what kind of cheese, it was pretty good, but next time i will be able to use cheddar for my children that would prefer it. Bacon was another thing we couldn't find. They sell it, but not packed in slices like in the US, but in uncut chunks. So last night for dinner i chopped up bacon to fry for small bacon pieces to put in with my pasta and spinach dish. It is a bit of a challenge shopping and cooking, but it is a fun challenge in figuring out how to tweak my recipes and then find the ingredients here.

Another interesting food story. We have been trying lots of different cookies, and I had bought this particular brand that was delicious, well we wanted to try their different flavors. David had brought home a different flavor and it was a yummy cherry, so while we were at the store again we looked at the different kinds, and 2 of them had martini glasses on the label next to the flavor (including the cherry which we had previously tried). I wondered why, surely there isn't alcohol in cookies that kids would eat. Well, the kind i wanted to get had a martini glass and the word advocat next to the glass and a nut. I thought maybe that is the name of the nut. David didn't know what the word meant, so we asked another shopper on the same aisle, and she kindly informed us that the word is a kind of alchol drink. So we asked her did that mean the alcohol is in the cookies and she told us yes it is. Well, apparently we tried the alcohol cookies without knowing it. We're glad that the kind we really like is alcohol free, but we won't be trying the other flavors or the cherry again. We have to watch the candies too, and many of them have alcohol in them as well. Some that we bought to give the kids for Halloween have it, and after the cookie incident I had to check the candies and found that we will have less Halloween candy then i had planned, as it had to be thrown away. There is definitely an adjustment in shopping and food. Who would think that a candy would have the same alcohol % level as a beer.

Auschwitz and Birkenau

Yesterday we rode the train to Oswiecim. It was a 1.5 hour train ride and the kids loved it! The train was older and a little loud and bumpy. The weather was nice, so it was a good day to be outside. In preparation for our visit to we had found a book written by a survivor of Auschwitz. She was 9 at the time she went to the camp. Savannah was able to read this book and learn about the war and what happened to the Jews in the camps. Calvin read part of the book and so he understood a little of what we were going to see. I wanted the kids to have a foundation before going so that they would understand why this place is significant. It is important that we study the past so that we can learn from it and not repeat it.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were the largest concentrations camp in Poland and more then a million people were murdered here during WWII, most of which were Jews. At Auschwitz many building still stand, including a gas chamber and crematorium. The barbed wire fences still surround the complex. The inside of the buildings that visitors are allowed to enter are as a museum with large pictures of the era and people entering the camps. It also contains many personal belongings of the prisoners that were kept there. There are piles of eyeglasses, shoes, clothing, children's clothing and toys, kitchen items, toothbrushes, hair brushes, and piles of hair. The Germans used the hair to make things such as rugs. Since it set up as a museum all of these items are placed behind glass, but it quite striking the amount of these items that were found when the war ended.

It is just over a mile to the Birkenau complex and the museum provides a shuttle bus to that area. Much more of this area was destroyed by the Germans at the end of the war to hide what they had done there. Only the remains of the Gas chambers and crematoriums are left. This complex was huge. The fence is still in place and splits the camp into 4 areas. Through the very middle of the camp is the train tracks where they unloaded all of the people that were sent here, 75% of which were led straight to the gas chambers after being told they were going to take a shower to clean up. There are only a few other building left in comparison to what is gone. You could walk in to several that were left to see what terrible conditions they were forced to live in. They were only given platforms to sleep on the size of double beds, stacked 3 high. In each single platform slept 8-12 people. It was striking to walk these grounds and see row after row after row of remaining chimney's from the destroyed building where these people were kept like animals. To think this only happened 70 years ago. How blessed I feel for the freedoms we have. I could not imagine how terrible it would be to have those freedoms stripped away and treated so terribly and then to have so many killed. It is sad to think that such genocides still happen in places around the world today.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Isabel's First Day of School

While reading the school's website here David realized that Isabel is old enough for school here. Back home she has to wait till next year because the cut off date to be 5 is the end of August. Here it is the end of the year. So we talked with the principal and signed her up. So on Wednesday Isabel started Kindergarten in Poland. She was so excited to go off to school like her older siblings with her backpack and school supplies. It was a fun first day for her. She said there are only 4 boys in her class and the rest are girls. She starts school 30 minutes after the other kids and gets out 10 mins later. The school provides before and after school care for free so she will go there till her class starts and then all the kids go there after school so they have time to play and make friends. There is no recess or lunch time during school hours, so the after school care is when the kids can play with the other kids. It has helped to let them spend 30-60 mins there each school day as now when we pick them up they have lots of kids saying goodbye to them.

On her first day though, Isabel did not know that the other kids go to the after school center so she thought Dad was coming to get her so she wanted to wait in the Lobby for him. When Dad didn't come she started to cry. She said she thought he was never going to come. When David showed up she had stopped crying but started again when she saw him because she was so happy he came to get her. We felt bad because we had not explained to her that we wouldn't be there right after school. The next day we all went to pick her up on time and she was happy to see us. Today she stayed and went to the after school center and played with her friends and when i went to go and get her she didnt want to go because she and a friend were coloring. She has adapted quickly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First apartment in Krakow

This is a video Savannah made of our first apartment here in Krakow. We move on Nov 1st to a bigger apartment Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Family Life

Tuesday night as we were going to bed, David said this is great, we aren't just having a vacation, we are living a life in Poland. That night he had attended a monthly meeting at the school. Every month the parents have to meet together with the teacher for a report on how the students and class are doing and to discuss upcomping events and needs. At this meeting the teacher reports students grades as well to each parent, in front of all the parents. The kids had started gymnastics this week, so I had to take Calvin to his class and Kylynn was back at the apartment with the rest of the kids. It was a busy night of just regular life stuff, but in Poland. Some things are just like being home in the US and other things are just a little different. Having your kids grades told to you in front of all the other parents is a little different, especially if your kid has the lowest grade.

The kids love going to gymnastics. The girls go on Monday and Wednesdays, and Calvin is on Tuesday and Thursdays. The price for this--about $20 per kid per month. That is a steal! Back home the kids were only going once a week for $45 per month. So to go for less then half the price AND twice a week is a huge discount.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yummy Treats

We live above a bakery, and there are 2 more on our street. We are currently living in a very busy area of the old city, but the kids love the bakeries. A couple times a day we go downstairs or as we pass by on our way in and out we pick out new treats to try. They are so yummy. Some are more of a pastry, some are cookies, and some are cakes. Some have 2 inches of cream in the middle. The kids have fun picking them out and ordering them in Polish. When eating one such creamy treat it is hard to not get so messy!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Sunday the weather was beautiful. I walked home from church without a coat it was so nice. So after lunch we decide to go for a stroll through the park. Because of the beautiful weather many people were out and about and the park was a happening place. The playground was packed, the soccer field and volleyball courts had games going, there were several families out together. It was a beautiful afternoon.

Church in Krakow

On Sunday we went to church here in Krakow. We took the tram and arrived about 10mins early. Church is held on the 3rd floor of an office building. It is a nice building and they have about 4 rooms total for the church. There is a larger meeting room, about the size of a nice conference room. 2 class rooms, and the branch president has an office. There is a bathroom and a small kitchen and a small foyer area. A pair of Elders were there, and 2 other people. A few other people came, and then at 10am in walked a family with 5 young children. Then just after the meeting started, another family with 2 young kids came, and a young single lady came. We filled the room with about 20 seats total. After sacrament meeting we were able to meet the other members. The branch typically has 6-8 members, including the missionaries. The other large family live in Prague and were passing through. They are american and are spending 2 years in Prague to learn the language. The other family with 2 kids also just moved here to Poland. They live in a town about 2 hours away, but Krakow is their branch. They also are American. The husband is a professional volleyball player and will be here for 6 months playing on a Polish team. They previously spent several years playing in Italy. The single young woman is from the same small town, 2 hours away, she also just moved to Poland as a nanny for a Polish family. She had spent a year in Germany as a nanny before coming to Poland. Kylynn was excited to make an American friend, even though she lives 2 hours away. They hope to meet up and site see a bit together during our stay here. A polish sister was there with her 2 grand children and then the other 3 members were polish.

After we all chatted for a few moments sunday school began. David took all the kids into one of the other classrooms that had a few toys in it to play with and taught a primary lesson. The sunday school lesson, like sacrament meeting was taught in Polish with one of the members translating it into English.

The Church is very small here in Poland. There are no wards at all, only branches and Krakow is the smalles branch. We plan to attend a few of the other branches that cover the areas that David served in as a missionary.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Sabota is Polish for Saturday. We arrived on Tuesday, so this was our first Saturday and it was a busy one..
Savannah and Calvin had their first day of school. School starts at 8am so we had to get up early and it was about a 15 minute walk to school. Yes, school on Saturday. But just this week The schools had a day off earlier this week and had to make it up, so Saturday is the make up day. Different from the US. Both Savannah and Calvin are in the first grade, and the kids in that grade are 7 to 8 years old. Savannah's age. They were going to put her in 2nd grade, but since she doesn't know how to spell in Polish, much less speak Polish we decided with the Prinipal that first grade would be better. If she picks up quickly they will move her to 2nd grade.
We stopped by the school on Wednesday, and since I don't speak Polish I don't really know what was said, but they were very open and accepting of the kids attending school. There wasn't much needed to enroll them.

School is from 8am to 12:30pm, usually, but it is different on different days depending on afterschool activities. We walked to the school at 12:30pm to pick the kids up and they both said they liked it alot. We had sent them with a snack not knowing if they would eat lunch there or after and the kids told us that there is no recess, but they do have a 2nd breakfast time, and a lunch time. I am glad they at least had a snack to eat. They also have gym time, and they told us the gym is in the basement. The kids thought that was cool.

Also on Saturday, most of the street stores close early. Which we found to be a problem when we went to pick up school supplies for the kids. The stores had all closed at 2pm, and are closed until Monday.

Benjamin and the pigeons

There are pigeons everywhere here. And Benjamin keeps trying to catch one. He chases them and chases them. While we were passing through the Rynek, or town square, there were lots of them, so we let him run loose chasing them. Rather than fly far off, they land only a few feet away hoping for food, so it encourages him to keep chasing them.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Wieliczka is town nearby to Krakow. We rode the train 20 minutes to reach it. There is a large salt mine there. They no longer mine salt there, but a hundred or so years ago the miners carved statutes inside the mine out of salt and they now allow tourists to tour it. You have to walk down over 400 steps to see it and it is over 3km long. Also inside is this incredible church. On the walls are carvings out of rock salt of scenes of the life of Christ. From the ceiling hang chandeliers decortated with crystal salt cyrstals. It is very beautiful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flying to Poland

We left my brothers at lunch time to head towards the airport. We were flying out of Dulles airport, about an hour and a half away. We left with enough time to see the Washington DC temple on the way. It was fun to visit this temple with my children as it is the temple i grew up visiting.

Our flight left at 5pm and arrived 8 hours later in Germany. The plan was to eat dinner provided on the plane, and then put the kids to sleep. This actually worked out fairly well, Benjamin was the toughest to put to sleep. We hoped he would be tired enough to just fall asleep in his carseat. He was tired, but cranky. We had an extra seat next to us so I laid him down on it and he did finally go to sleep. All the kids fell asleep, if only it had worked out so nicely for David, Kylynn, and me. About 3 hours later, Calvin woke up and said he had slept and he was not tired anymore. One by one the other kids woke up too. And soon enough the flight attendants were turning on lights and passing out a breakfast snack. Benjamin did not wake up too happy, but he recovered quickly.

In Germany, the plane landed on the Tarmac and we had to climb down stairs with kids, car seats (2), and 5 carryon bags, and 5 backpacks, board the shuttle to ride to the airport. The stairs were a bit tricky; thankfully the flight attendents helped. We had only an hour and half layover, and our flight landed on the tarmac at it's scheduled time. so we had to unload, ride the shuttle, pass back thru security, and literally run to our gate, which was far across a large airport, to catch our plane. It was a rush, but we made it. We boarded for a short flight to Krakow Poland.

After finding our apartmentit was only noon here, so we all took a short 3 hour nap. We set an alarm so we could get up and walk around the town, have dinner and then go to sleep on Poland's time schedule. Everyone did really well adjusting, but me. But I normally have a hard time sleeping, so it took me a few days longer to adjust.

Krakow is a beautiful city in southern Poland. It was the capital of Poland hundreds of year ago, and is one of the few cities that was not destroyed by WWII. We are staying near the old town, and it is beautiful to walk through day and night. It is colder here than what we left. But we have all been warm each day walking around with our coats and hats on.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hershey and Gettysburg

Thursday morning, we headed over to Hershey. They have a decent sized amusement park, but we were here to see how chocolate bars are made. They no longer allow tours of the actual factory, but they have a free ride that goes thru a fake factory, with singing animated cows and shows you the chocolate process. The kids loved it. We looked around a bit, learned a little, bought a candy bar each, and then off to Gettysburg.

Gettysburg was beautiful. They have a huge visitors center with a museum and lots of info. They have an audio tour set up so you can drive around and visit many of the battle sites and listen in your car about what happened at each site. We didn't have that much time, so we viewed the documentary at the center and walked through the museum, learning a lot. We then drove to a couple of the sites to see what these areas looked like. The time of year with the hills and trees changing was just beautiful to see. It is amazing that so many people have fought and sacrificed for this country we live in. After the battle was finished, the union had won and moved on to is next battle site, the town was left to recover and clean up all the dead and injured left in the area. It was months later when President Lincoln came to the area and declared a national cemetery at which time he gave his infamous speech.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Isabel's Pennsylvania

We left Kirtland for a 6 hour drive to Harrisburg, PA. Isabel was excited to be going to Pennsylvania. Almost a year ago, Isabel one day told me that before she came to live with our family in Idaho, that she lived with her mom and dad (not me and david) in Pennsylvania. Here mom and dad their had died and she came to live with us. She has told me every now and then since then that she misses her mom and dad in Pennsylvania. I have asked her if she wanted to go back and be with them instead, and luckily she has said she wants to stay with us. She has also told me that she has a family in England too. Well, now that we were going to pennsylvania she was excited and asked if we could go to a park their so she could see her mom and dad. Apparently they live in an invisible house in Pennsylvania. She is such a sweet girl. While Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania, we where headed there to see nearby Hershey and Gettysburg.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Palmyra, Niagara Falls, and Kirtland

On Monday morning we hit the road again. This time we left Connecticut to pass through Massachusetts to New York as we drove to Palmyra. We were able to spend the afternoon and early evening climbing the Hill Cumorah, touring the homes of Joseph Smith, and walking through the Sacred Grove. I had not been here in more than 15 years and the church has done a wonderful job of restoring these sites for visitors. It was nice to share these sites with our children and ponder on the events of the restoration of the gospel to the earth. It was nice to walk through the grove and remind myself and my children how much the Lord loves each of us and that he is listening to our prayers. How grateful I am for young Joseph and his prayer in that grove so long ago.

Tuesday morning we drove 1.5 hours to Niagara Falls. We told the kids we were going to see a big waterfall, and Calvin said, why are we driving to see a waterfall, we've seen big waterfalls. Then as we were crossing Rainbow bridge to Canada we had a fantastic view of the falls and the kids all exclaimed, WOW, that is a really big waterfall. And now they were very excited to see the falls and go on the boat ride to them. We rode the maid of the mist and I had told the kids we were going to ride the boat through the waterfall. They loved getting closer and closer and having the spray blown on us, and then they were disappointed as the boat backed away and did not go thru the falls. Not one of them was scared of the sheer magnitude or force with which the water roared over the fall. It was definitely a site to see up close.As you can see in the above picture Matthew joined us in his well covered stroller. After our picnic lunch we decided to head to Kirtland. We really were flying by the seat of our pants. Kirtland was 3 hours away; we were able to arrive at the church visitors site before closing so we toured the Newel K. Whitney home, store, and the rooms above the store, one being where the school of the prophets was taught. A very reverent place where the Lord had appeared. The sister missionaries did a great job us adults and kids too. We sat in the room of the school of the prophets and after the sister bore her testimony of the special events that had happened there asked if we could sing I am a child of God. My heart was full as I sat some where so sacred with my children and listened to them share their testimonies as they each sang the words of the primary song.

In the morning we were able to visit the Kirtland Temple, now owned by the Community of Christ Church. To walk thru that sacred building and see the beautiful workmanship that the saints spent 3 years building for our Heavenly Father. I think of their dedication and sacrifice and how hard it must have been for them to leave it behind, and yet they were so blessed by the events and blessing they were able to receive in the Temple before leaving. Again, the spirit was strong as we sat in the assembly hall in the Temple and sang the Spirit of God, a hymn written for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hartford, CT

Saturday morning, after the popcorn selling, we started our drive up to Hartford Connecticut. Along the way we stopped to see the Statue of Liberty. It was fun to take the ferry out to the Island. We did not go inside the statue, but it was beautiful to sit and remember all that it stands for, the freedom and liberties we have in this country. We drove thru NYC and it took us an hour and a half to cross about 20 miles to the other side. The traffic was crazy, even on a Saturday, and reminded us how blessed we are to live in Idaho without the crazy congestion of a gigantic city. The kids loved looking at all the tall buildings. We crossed through 5 states to get to Hartford: Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. We paid about $30 in tolls to drive there.

We made it to Hartford, and the kids had a blast playing with their cousins there. My brother Aaron and his wife Rachel have 3 cute kids. Annaliese, Beckum, and Aiden. Their oldest is a few months older than Isabel, and the girls had so much fun being together. They have a beautiful home with a fantastic view of the tree filled hills of Connecticut. We were able to attend church with them and just spend a relaxing Sunday there.


We left a week ago, and it has been a busy week. The flights out to Maryland were good. The kids did well, but they are getting use to being on an airplane at this point. And babies are easy as long as I prepare well. One the 2nd flight the three youngest all took naps at the same time, which was nice since we awoke at 5 am to catch our first flight and were all tired. The next day we took the kids to a park I use to go to as a kid. This park was worth the 30 minute drive from my house. It had huge slides and playground equipment. Well, since that was more than 25 years ago, it has all been replaced with newer, safer equipment, which now makes it look like a regular park. But it is in the woods with several hiking trails and a nature center, which looks the same as it did when I was 8 years old. So that was fun to see and we had a great time hiking a trail through the tall beautiful fall trees. The trees are in full Autumn color with reds, yellows, orange and purples. It has been beautiful as we have driven all over.

The next 2 days David and I spent mostly at the Sail Boat show in downtown Annapolis. Kylynn spent those days at my brothers house with the kids doing schoolwork, taking walks to the neighborhood park, and playing at the house. Calvin was able to watch his cousin Collin play at football practice and then Saturday morning he was able to help sell cub scout popcorn at the local grocery store. Uncle Gerritt dressed him up in his troop shirt, complete with scarf and hat. He loved it. It will be fun when he turns 8 and gets to join cub scouts too.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


It may change when we get to Europe, but for now our itinerary is as follows:

10/5 fly to Maryland. We are staying with my brother, who still lives in the area where I grew up. We will be attending the sailboat show and visiting the area including DC.
10/9 drive to Hartford, CT to visit another of my brothers. We plan to stop and see the statue of liberty on the way.
10/11 head to Palmyra to visit the church sites there.
10/12 head to Niagra falls
10/13 we are still undecided, we may head back to Maryland, or maybe venture to Kirkland or see the beautiful country side in pennsylvania.
10/14 if we haven't yet, we need to head back to MD for the power boat show.
10/18 Fly to Poland. We have a direct flight to Germany, and hour layover, and then a 1.5 hours flight to Krakow, Poland.

Hopefully the kids will get some sleep on the plane. Most likely we will take a short nap when we arrive and then get up in time for dinner and a short evening activity before bed. This should push us through the jet lag and adjust us to the time diffence.

At the end of November grandpa plans to fly over and join us in Poland for a few weeks. He would also like to spend some time in the Alsace France area to do some family history research. We plan to go with him to see the area too.

12/20 we fly back home, but won't reach Idaho until the next morning. The flight we booked has a 12 hour layover in CA which we thought would be easier on the kids. This way it will feel like flying all day, getting in late, we can get a couple hotel rooms, go to sleep as soon as we arrive, and then awake rested in time to make our flight home to Idaho in the morning.

Packing for Poland

We have spent the last 2weeks preparing for our journey. We are mostly packed and interestingly enough we have less luggage then our last trip. Of course we don't have to pack life jackets, snorkeling gear, or food. But thought that the winter gear would be similar in size to all the extras we took on the last trip. Poland will be chilly when we arrive.

When preparing for a journey, I find 2 tips that really help me. First, I make a list for each of the kids of what needs to be packed. And second, I start packing at least one week before we are to leave. With the list I can know what I have packed and what I have left to pack, so hopefully nothing gets forgotten. Starting a week early allows me to not feel a mad rush or stress in the last few days before we leave. It also allows plenty of time to make extra trips to the store for things needed. It does mean that my kids will wear the same couple outfits during that last week as the rest of their clothes are packed.

Since we are going to Europe and are expecting to travel some by train or quick weekend trips by plane we wanted to bri g mre carry on sized bags. So while we have less luggage, we actually have more bags to deal with, they're just smaller in size. But that is a problem for David. I pack, he gets to figure out how to transport it to/from/around the airport and where ever we are going.