Sunday, December 26, 2010

Heading Home

The trip home went okay.  The big flight from Germany to California was 12 hours long and crowded.  Every seat was taken so there was no extra room for Matthew.  He is at a busy stage so the first few hours on the plane were a little difficult.  But once he settled down and was ready to sleep we laid him on a blanket on the floor under Benjamin's seat.  He slept pretty well there.  All the kids slept on the plane for a few hours.  We arrived in San Fransisco with a 10 hour layover overnight.  So we headed to a hotel for a little sleep.  The boys and David slept well, but the girls, Kylynn and I didn't sleep much.  Back to the airport we went super early in the morning to catch our 7am flight to Idaho.

The kids have all adjust well with the jet lag.  An extra nap or 2 and they are back to normal.  David and I are slowly making our way back to a normal sleep time.  While it is nice to be in our home, we loved our time in Poland.

Things we will miss...
     yummy pasteries, bread, cheeses
     the beautiful old building and architecture
     the people, teachers, and friends
     trams, buses, trains
Things we are happy to have at home
     a washer and a dryer
     a dishwasher
     family and friends

Monday, December 20, 2010

Polish Creche

This is a traditional Peasant Creche unique to Poland.  In Krakow every year they have a festival and contest of szokpa or creche.  They are hand made and often contain images or scenes of the surrounding area.  They do include a manger scene, it is sometimes hard to find admidst the colorful castle images.  It was neat to see all the different variations made for this years contest.

Friday, December 17, 2010



A few days before we left Poland, David and I took a day trip to Zakopane, which is a ski town in the Tatra Mountains, about 1.5 hours from Krakow. It is a beautiful town. We took the cable car upto the top of the mountain range, which was beautiful. This is the southern border of Poland. Behind me in the picture is Slovakia. We hiked a few feet in just so we could say we had been to Slovakia. It was sunny and clear, but terribly cold; the wind was blowing and just froze any bare skin. We rode back down the cable car and took a ride in a one horse open sleigh back to town--and of course we sang "Jingle Bells" along the way. We had fun exploring the little town and their Christmas market. I bought myself a poofy white snow hat and some fun shoe laces to bring home for Delsey. We caught the dinnertime bus home so we could arrive as the kids were headed to bed. It was a fun winter getaway.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grandpa Arrives

My Dad flew over to visit us during our last weeks there.  He first flew into Frankfurt Germany and drove a few hours into eastern France to the area where his great grandfather was from.  He was able to work on his family history and find some documents relating to his family.  After a week in France he flew to Poland.  David and the 3 boys and I went to the Krakow airport to meet his plane to find out it was delayed a few minutes.  The Krakow airport is very small.  We asked at the info desk when the plane would be in and were told it was going to land any minute.  The kids needed to use the bathroom, and after we came back from the bathrooms we found out that the plane was not going to land, but had to fly to a nearby airport because there was too much fog in Krakow.  The plane landed in Katowice, which is 1.5 hours away.  We decided that David should take the kids home, as it was almost bedtime, and get them to bed.  I stayed at the airport waiting.  We were told that they would bus the passengers from the Katowice airport to Krakow.  3.5 hours later, he finally arrived.

While he was visiting we went back to Auschwitz so Grandpa could see it.  We also visited Schindler's Factory in Krakow.  If you have seen the movie Schindler's list, this is the factory where Oskar Schindler kept many Jews employed and safe from being murdered.  He saved around 1000 Jews from death.  The factory has recently been turned into a museum about the life of the Jews during the Nazi occupation of Krakow.   We also went to see the Jewish Ghetto area of Krakow where the Jews that were allowed to remain in the city to work were kept.  Having this opportunity to learn about the holocaust and to visit these sites has left a mark on our hearts and minds.  We have given much thought to how we treat others and have a greater desire to remember that we are all children of the same Father in Heaven, and that he loves all of us no matter what our differences are.

We also visited a new museum in Krakow under the the Rynek or town square.  A few years ago they excavated a large portion of the Rynek and then built a museum under the existing ground level of the Rynek and the Cloth Hall building there.  The Cloth Hall building is over a 1000 years old.  The ground level when it was built was many meters below the current ground level.  As they excavated they kept it intact so it is now viewable under ground.  It was fascinating to view the original cobblestone roads built 1000 years ago, and then view the many layers each time they rebuilt.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

They have several outdoors markets all over Krakow. The best produce was at these markets, it always looked so fresh and yummy, better quality then in the grocery stores. It was fun to wander thru the markets to see all the different things for sale.   If I went without David I found that I could only buy one type of produce at a time because I could read the amount due on the scale. If I bought multiple items they would add up the price and then tell me the total and it wasn't until the end of our trip that I could start to understand the large numbers in Polish. So without David i would wander from table to table buying a different thing at each one.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Isabel turned 5 in Poland. We had a fun time celebrating her birthday. We went to the Bakery and bought her a cake that was shaped like a star. She had told us that she "wanted the things that cover the ears to keep them warm." So we found these "things" and she loves her white furry earmuffs!

Isabel is a fun girl.  At five years old she is learning to read and write.  She has big beautiful eyes, that are the darkest brown I have ever seen.  She loves to dress up like a princess and dance and sing.  She is a sweet girl always willing to share her things with family and friends.  She is very outgoing and makes friends easily.  Even in Poland, she would make friends easily.  It didn't matter to her that she couldn't understand them, or they couldn't understand her.  She would smile and together they would run off and play.  She is a great big sister and loves to play with her little brothers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Drinking Water

I can't believe I haven't posted about this yet, as it is a constant topic here for me.  As modernized as Poland is, almost everyone here drinks bottled water.  If you ask a Pole if you can drink the tap water, they will tell you "NO!  it is not good and tastes terrible"   Even when David and I were here last winter, we stayed in a 5 star hotel in Warsaw, and I asked, thinking surely this worldwide 5 star hotel chain would put in a water filter for the entire hotel--like they do in Mexico, but the answer was no, we will give you free bottled water, it is not good to drink from the tap, you must boil it first for coffee or tea.  I think it is a huge part of their culture here to either not drink water, as most people just drink tea, coffee, soda, and juice.  And if they drink water, it is always bottled and often mineral or soda water, they don't even drink their own tap water.  In Mexico the people there drink the water, and are use to it.  We have to make sure to request "no bubbles"  in a restaurant, but this is common in many parts of Europe.  And in the restaurants it is expensive.  I think a small cup of water in a restaurant here is the the same price as a soda at home, only it is not refillable like in the US.  So usually we bring our own, unless it is David and I out on a date night in a nice restaurant.

Knowing this, we brought a water filter from home with us. David said it is what they did on his mission.  The mission home provides each apartment with a water filter.  It hooks up to the kitchen faucet and we have drinking water.  At the school they also have a few sinks with filters for the kids to use, and no drinking fountains anywhere. 

I have taken to asking people about the water, as I think the water is probably safe to drink, that the culture is just so use to not drinking it, that they don't know or believe it is safe.  We asked a family in our ward, he is the district president so they are hardly ever at our ward, and they live 2 hours away from the city, but when we last saw them, I asked them about it.  She is American and he is Polish.  They have lived here about 10 years.  She said that in her city the announced last year that the water was finally safe to drink.  She said they use a filter anyway.  She thought that the larger cities such as Krakow would most likely have safe tap water, but that every time she goes to her in-laws (they live in Lodz, which is one of the largest cities in Poland) she always gets sick from drinking the tap water there, or maybe the food. 

I asked the missionaries here and they said they still have filters in all their apartments, but that they have tried the water and that it is different in every area they have been in taste and quality.

Recently we were visiting the city of Wroclaw, and I asked the receptionists at the front desk of the budget hotel we were staying at if we could drink the tap water, and they said no, buy water in the machine downstairs.  But when we arrived in our rooms we found plastic cups available to use next to the sink, and there wasn't a coffee pot, or mini bar, or even bottled water in the rooms.  So I am not sure what the cups were for if you can't drink the water as there was nothing else in the room to drink.  Calvin was thirsty so he tried it, and he didn't get sick at all.

Since I am always asking people, David thinks we should call the water department here.  I think he should.  As someone who drinks pretty much only water, I would really like to know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Neat Pictures

Kylynn takes some great pictures.  These are 2 of my recent favorites.  They are of the kids playing at a train stop on our way to Prague last month.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


 Matthew is a good baby.  He traveled well and slept many different places. He learned to sit and crawl on our trip and kept us busy!  Before we left Idahow, with the help of a good friend, I made a blanket to custom fit the stroller.  With the cold weather in Poland Matthew stayed super warm in his blanket.

Our apartment manager had a high chair and portable crib we could borrow. We were grateful to have these things to use. On the way to the school there is a second hand baby store where we found a walker for Matthew to use. Before we left we sold it back to the store. It worked out that we had the walker for 2 months for $7 USD.  We also brought our baby snuggly carrier to use. When David would wear it he would put it on under his coat to keep Matthew a little warmer.

Wroclaw (pronounced-Vrocewav)

David and I had visited Wroclaw earlier this year for a work conference.  It is a large city with a beautiful town square.  But this time since we had the kids David wanted to take them to the Wroclaw zoo.  We woke up to a little bit of snow falling.  We made our way to the tram stop which is next to a grocery store.  We checked the time and saw we had 5 mins before the tram came.  We were out of water and the kids were hungry for some breakfast.  So David ran across the road to the grocery market.  5 mins later the tram came and we were eagerly watching for David to come running so we could jump on the tram and out of the cold.  And as the tram rolled away, David came running.  So we missed the tram.  On Saturday's the trams don't run as frequently so we had to wait 20 mins until the next one came.  But we now had water for the whole day, and bananas to eat till we found a pastery shop. 

We made it to the zoo and decided we would stay until we were freezing.  We had fun.  It is not a huge zoo, but it is much bigger than Boise and had all these different animals from different places in the world than i have seen at a zoo.  We woke the bears up by throwing snow balls onto the grass near them.(the sign said don't feed them, but nothing about throwing snowballs at them)  The monkeys heard us calling them and 30 of them came out of their hole in the rock to greet us.  The seals put on a great show with their trainers showing off tricks.  There weren't many people there, as it was cold, and snowing a little, but the animals were very aware of us being there.

One of the animals I had never seen was a black tree monitor.  It is a black lizard that has this long coil like tail.  It is all black.  It is behind a plexi glass window and Kylynn was playing games with it.  It would follow her around as she would move in front of it's window.  And if she stood still it would try to reach for her thru the window.  It was weird.  As we all gathered to watch this different creature trying to get at Kylynn it made a jump towards David and crashed into it's window and fell to the ground.  Don't worry, it was okay.  It got up and moved around.

Another great show was with Bobbi the Chimpanzee.  We teased Kylynn that he liked her, but that was only because she was standing in front of his window when he started to play by throwing a stick at the window where she was standing.  He was a lot of fun.  He would beat his chest, bang on the wood logs, and then jump around, grab a stick and bang it on the bars of his cage and then throw it as us and it would loudly bang the plexi glass window. The kids would squeal and laugh and he would do it again.  One of the workers there said he loves to play and put on a show when he likes you.  We stood there for a while watching him and having a great time.  Plus it was warm inside the building.

After the zoo we headed off to see more of Wroclaw, which included the shopping centers.  We stopped at 4 different malls that afternoon.  Surpsingly they were all very close to each other and on the way to where we were going.  We made it to the Rynek (town square)  just after dark and found their city christmas market was well under way.  The rynek was beautifully decorated for Christmas and it was fun to walk around and look at the home made crafts and treats for sale.  We found a new knit hat for Savannah to keep her ears warm.  She picked it out because she said it looked like bubble gum. 

The next morning we were able to attend church with the Wroclaw branch.  While still very small, they had a few other kids for a Primary and even a couple of young women (really, there were 2).  David knew a family there and it was nice to meet them and visit.  Mariuszh also came and Isabel was so happy she got to sit by him for sacrament meeting.  After church we visited a bit and then hurried to the train station to see an old train pull in for the 5 hour ride back to Krakow.  David looked at me and said do you want to take the later train?  I agreed, and it was much nicer to wait the hour and a half.  We need to get something for lunch as our snacks would not have held out the whole 5 hours for the kids anyway.  So we were able to get some lunch and then take a much nicer train ride back home to Krakow. It was more money to ride the nicer train, but worth it.