Tuesday, November 27, 2012


It has been a crazy few weeks.  Katie had a welcome shower last Saturday, hosted by my good friends. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show and I missed the first half of the event.  The morning of the party, I tore my calf muscle playing tennis and wound up at urgent care in a wheelchair!  Thankfully, my mom and mother in law took Katie to enjoy her party and later Mike drove me to the party and literally carried me inside.  I can say that the last half of the event was lovely!  My good friend Joanna is from Poland and her mom made many Polish favorites of mine.  It was good social time for the 3 Polish women there as well as me and my friends.  And Katie had a great time too.   It was so nice of my friends to recognize Katie's arrival with her own special shower.

Another first: Katie's first illness.  Somehow we didn't get sick in Poland, even though we were exposed to a nasty cold that most of my relatives had.  Katie wound up getting the stomach bug right before Thanksgiving, and the illness spread like wildfire.  Every single one of us got it, except Mike, and unfortunately many extended family members got it too.  Quite the welcome to Thanksgiving for Katie, being in a petri dish of stomach bug!  Yuck!

Now we are all on the mend.  I am off crutches and able to putter around the house.  I recently worked on cleaning up our adoption paperwork.  I am not joking when I state that I filled an entire garbage bag with paperwork related to adoption.  We researched so many programs and agencies that I have paperwork and articles about everything you can think of.  And of course, there is the documentation you have to get together for your homestudy, dossier, and agency.  Looking at the pile gave me pause to reflect on how much we did to get to this point - yet, I don't think of it that way.  I can't believe that God blessed us with her.  It was worth every piece of paperwork to have her here.  Ours forever!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Today, Katie was baptized! One of the questions I had on our first trip to Poland was whether Katie had been baptized, and I was surprised to find out that she was not. This was something that we wanted to do but we also wanted to give Katie enough time to get used to her new environment. So at 18 months of age, after being with us for three months, Katie was baptized in our church. We decided to baptize her at our home church, rather than the church where we got married and where our other two children had been baptized. We have been going to the same church now for 12 years, and seen lots of baptism masses, and it felt right to have Katie join our Catholic community as part of the parish that we regularly attend. We went to the parent preparation classes just like we did when we started baptizing our kids, but for me I had more anxiety about baptizing Katie than I ever did before. I was very nervous about how Katie was going to do, because she is a toddler and a pretty opinionated one at that! Then on Friday, we found out that Katie was the only child being baptized at the mass we had chosen. The other two masses of the weekend were apparently full of babies being baptized, but at our mass it would only be our baby.

This wound up to be quite the blessing. Katie did great. At the beginning of mass, Katie was blessed by Father Pete with the sign of the cross, and she kept trying to bat away his hand. He then joked that "I have a feeling that this one is going to give me a run for my money!". She was squirming on our laps up through the homily, and then it was time to go to the baptismal font.  At our parish, they do a full immersion rather than trickling water on your forehead.  So before mass, the sacristan gave us a robe for Katie to wear for the baptism, and we brought an outfit to put her in for afterwards. Our family gathered around the baptismal font and Mike held Katie and dipped her into it.  She looked pretty relaxed and happy at this point. Then Father Pete took his hands, dipped them in the baptismal font, and poured the water over Katie's head. She got three pours as he baptized her in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I gasped inside, waiting for the screams. They never came! I couldn't believe it, but Katie still looked pretty happy! After she got pulled out I was holding a towel that we wrapped around her and then we walked to the front of the altar and Katie received the oils (she smelled so good all day after that!). Then Father Pete took her from me and announced her to the parish community and everyone clapped as we walked in a circle around the altar. Katie really enjoyed that part. I guess she really likes being the center of attention.   The other cute part was at the end of mass when the candle is lit and I was holding her and once again, Father Pete asks everyone to show their recognition for Katie.  When everyone started clapping, Katie smiled and started clapping her hands too.  Ha ha.  Oh, and the other funny part was standing up before the lighting of the candle.  Mike told me we wouldn't have to stand, so I thought I was ok to sit with Katie and let her go nuts on a container of puffs.  Well, we were called to stand and I had to quickly seal off the puffs and stand up and as I stood the puffs went all over the floor!  A few parishioners seemed to get a chuckle out of that.

 The last 4 weeks have been full of milestones for Katie. She weaned herself off the bottle and drinks exclusively from a sippy cup. She is walking and rarely crawls. She doesn't eat any baby food anymore and I am impressed with the finger food she is willing to eat. She babbles like crazy and we are able to make out "ma ma" and "da da" so far.  She is all toddler now!    The best part of the last couple of weeks in particular is seeing how much she smiles.  She is such a happy little girl.  It is so thrilling to see.

In the baptismal font, getting the Holy Water
After getting the oils and drying her up, here is Katie's cute baptismal outfit!  Welcome to the church!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting settled

Things are going well on the home front. Katie is doing well and her brother and sister are taking good care of her. She loves playing with them and also enjoys bath time, swings, car rides, and shopping trips to Target (yes!). She is taking steps here and there but still prefers the knee crawl technique to get around. She is babbling like crazy and starting to try more finger foods. Sleep is still an issue, especially now because she is teething, poor girl! I keep drinking coffee and hoping one night she will sleep through the night. We are all thrilled as can be to be home and Katie had her room, toys, high chair, stroller, and car seat all set up. It's great!

Friday, September 7, 2012


Well, Delta/KLM messed us up again. We woke up at 3:20 am on Saturday in Warsaw and checked in at the Delta KLM counter at 4:15 am for our 6:05 am flight. I was at the desk until 5:50 am, during the ENTIRE time they were working on generating Katie a ticket for her lap seat. Why this was so difficult I don't and never will understand. Mike had reserved this ticket several weeks ago and we already spent hours on this yesterday. But they couldn't generate it in time and we didn't make our flight to Amsterdam. Unbelievable. I had a meltdown in the middle of the airport. They started looking at flight options and told us we wouldn't leave until Sunday. I would not hear it. I made a promise to my kids that we would be home on Saturday. I went to the LOT counter and got a flight out direct for all 3 of us to Chicago leaving at 12:10 pm from Warsaw and getting into O'Hare at 3:20 pm central time. I booked it and they were able to generate an infant ticket right away - how about that! Poor Katie had to get up early and sit at the airport for 2 hours for basically nothing! We returned to the hotel room and I contacted Mike to get a ride from Chicago to Detroit. Poor Mike had a lot of stress dealing with KLM. Now he has to deal with getting a refund from them. Anyway, there was no sense to continue being frustrated - we had to make the best of things. What was done was done. We will never understand why and it is what it is.

So we went and had breakfast in the hotel since check out was not until noon and I still had our hotel keys. We were staying at the Courtyard by Marriott at the airport and it was very nice. Katie played with silverware and ate some bread at breakfast. She is so amazing. You can constantly see the wheels in her head turning as she looks at and learns different things. I cannot believe how good she played in the hotel room while my mom and I laid on the hotel bed from mental exhaustion. Eventually she took a mini nap - we had to get her up after 45 minutes to go back to the airport. Thank goodness the hotel is across the street from the airport.

So - back to the airport at 10:30 am. Got through security, passport check, and a second passport check, with 20 minutes to spare before boarding time at 11:20 am. And then we saw there was no plane. Time passed and eventually the announcement came that the departure time changed from 12:10 to 13:40. It was a bummer to get another delay, but thankfully we loaded up and took off.

Katie was amazing on the flight. She ate some food, drank milk, and played with some toys as well as other items in the plane, such as the headsets, headrest, tray table, and seatbelts. We also befriended another family traveling with a 1 year old boy and 3 year old
girl. The little girl, Karina, would periodically visit and play with Katie. Too funny. I felt like I was still in Poland on the flight because everyone spoke Polish and so we continued as well with speaking Polish to order our drinks, talk to fellow passengers, etc. i was starting to wonder if we really left Poland! My mom got Katie to take 2 naps during the flight - one for about 30 minutes and one for about an hour and a half. My mom is a baby rocking genius! We were both so tired with my mom napping a grand total of maybe 10 minutes and me not napping at all. But thankfully Katie did very well for a 10 hour flight and didn't have too many meltdowns.

We landed at 5:30 pm in Chicago. Then we had to clear customs and immigration. Katie was officially stamped up and made a US citizen. Yeah! We finally exited a little after 7 pm. Mike and his dad drove from Michigan to pick us up. It was a bummer that we couldn't fly into Detroit and have all the family meet us, but we were happy to be on American soil and thrilled to see them . I hadn't seen Mike in 3 weeks and when I hugged him, I just couldn't let go. It was very emotional. We then got the car and loaded up the car with our stuff and Katie. She slept for most of the 5 hour drive home. We spent the night at Mike's parents since our kids were already spending the night there and it was on our way home. My dad was there to drive my mom home. We got there about a half hour after midnight and I got Katie in her pajamas and down for what I hoped would be the night. I then checked on my 2 big kids and they both did wind up waking up when I started adjusting their blankets. We had a lot of hugs and cuddles before they went back to bed. Mike and I crashed at 2 am. Katie slept like a champ and got up at 7 am. We packed up, had breakfast, and finally packed up the entire family and drove an hour home. I am so happy to be home and now get Katie integrated into the daily routine of our family!

Special thanks to my family - words cannot express my appreciation for my in laws for taking care of the kids ad driving with Mike to Chicago and back in one day (11 hours!). And to my dad for letting my mom come to Poland to help me, and of course my mom for spending the week with me - I cannot imagine getting through the drama at the airport without her. I love you all!!!

Pictures - me and Katie at the hotel in the morning before the KLM disaster occurred, Katie enjoying her breakfast, eating yogurt on the plane, waving the US flag in Chicago after being stamped as a US citizen.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Got it done and going home

Thursday was a stressful day. After phone calls and a visit to the passport office, we still did not have Katie's passport. Apparently some document got misplaced. We were told to be back at the passport office at 11:10 am on Friday. We spent most of our day stressing about the passport, even though the matter at this point is out of our control. We got some more souvenirs and paid for our apartment. Katie had a great Thursday! She loved bath time and played a lot. She also was very patient sitting in the stroller as we dealt with the errands we had to run today. She is really such a smart girl. She knows how to turn the faucet in the bath tub on and off. She knows how to put the nesting cups together. She can take my flip flops on and off and has quite the laugh over it too. She likes to get horsey rides from Babcia and really enjoyed helping us pack our belongings on Thursday (I mean, unpacking!).

Friday was the big D day. Would Katie and I make it on the plane Saturday or not? It was up to the passport office. My mom was up at 5:30 am pacing. My stomach was in knots all morning. At least Katie had a good night of sleep and slept through the night! We finished packing. We got diapers at the store and walked around. Finally, it was time to go to the passport office. I don't remember being so nervous in a long time. But - we got her passport! I was so thrilled I almost cried! We were in there for 5 minutes and done. We immediately booked it to the US Embassy. We submitted Katie's passport and were told to wait. An hour later I inquired as to our status and was told to come back at 3 pm and the visa should be ready. It would have been nice to know that sooner because Katie was cranky tired, but oh well. We booked it back to our apartment at 12:30 pm, I put Katie down for a nap, and we had to finish packing. While Katie napped the cleaning lady (Maria) came over to prep the apartment for the next residents. They were coming in at 2 pm. Maria was kind enough to let us stay in the apartment while she cleaned and Katie got a her mini nap in. She also helped call us a cab. We got our bags and left. We took the elevator to the ground level and exited before realizing that we had an extra piece of luggage. It was Maria's bag! She showed up as we realized our mistake and we had quite the laugh over almost stealing her luggage. We then took the taxi to the US Embassy. Maria helped us with our bags and even loaded them in the taxi wit us - the taxi driver did not help. On the way to the Embassy, the driver got a call on his PA from his supervisor, telling him off for not helping us with our bags. We realize that Maria had called the taxi company to complain! Later my mom called the apartment company to thank them for being so flexible with us and do helpful. If you ever stay in Warsaw, I highly recommend City Apartments. They are so great to work with and the apartment was clean and very nice ad spacious.

We got to the Embassy at 2:15 pm and the visa wasn't ready yet. I begged and explained I had my mom in a taxi with 4 bags waiting. They worked with me and got the visa ready in 15 minutes. Thank you American Embassy! I hopped back in the taxi and we rode to the hotel by the airport, getting there around 3. Thanks to Mike for setting up the hotel! I am grateful for my wonderful husband and can't wait to see him, as well as our kids at home. I hooked in to wireless and my mom started calling everyone to let them know we made it to the hotel and indeed would fly out!

The came the next drama. Please disregard my previous flame on Delta. They are not the issue, the issue is KLM. We went to the airport to print boarding passes and Katie is flying on an infant in arms ticket. They did to Katie what they had done to my mom and they reserved her ticket but didn't bill Mike's credit card. Of course this took 2 hours at the airport to figure out. As I worked the counter at KLM and texted Mike, my mom kept Katie occupied while she pushed and walked the stroller in circles and crawled all over the airport. Katie rolled with the insanity of our day so well. We finally left the airport at 7 pm, still without boarding passes, but resolving to return at 4 am Saturday. We now have a record locator that ties in Katie to my ticket number, so we should be good to check in tomorrow and fly home. Side note: I love my husband, but my
mom and I informed him that he is not allowed to book airline tickets for any of us anymore. Ha ha.

I think my mom and I are brain fried! We keep forgetting where we put stuff, one time we stood in an elevator for 2 full minutes before realizing we didn't press a button to move to the ground level, then I went down the wrong hallway to some other room in the hotel with my mom following before I realized that I was on the wrong side of the floor - and then the funniest duh moment of our day - standing in the elevator at the hotel, we could not figure out why the elevator wouldn't work. We were sure it was broken. A nice gentlemen kindly demonstrated that we had to insert our room key and then press the button for our floor...ah, yes.

Pictures are - my favorite candy here (Krowki, pronounced crew-f-key), Katie hanging on the bed after a diaper change, Katie enjoying our packed up bags, my mom looking stressed before going to the passport office since we weren't sure we were getting it, stroller pushing in the airport, and hanging in the hotel.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In the home stretch

Today we went to the US Embassy and gave them all our mound of documents. We are down to waiting for Katie's passport. Once we have that, we can go back to the Embassy to get it stamped with the visa. I am
so glad all of our paperwork has been submitted everywhere it needed to go. The process has been very straightforward in my opinion, which is what I like about the program in Poland. The funniest part about going to the Embassy was the security check. They checked all of Katie's baby food and her sippy cup of water, and they made me drink some of her water out of the sippy as well! Maybe I need to leave the sippy cup behind next time.

Other than that, we did some souvenir shopping and ate lots of bread and sweets. I have concluded that the butter, bread, fruit, coffee, and pastries in Poland are far superior to our equivalents in the US. Attached are some pictures of bread and sweets in the stores.

Katie had a rough night but a good day. She can now drink cold milk! No more heating up milk, so that should help with our beverage service come flight time. We are really working hard on getting Katie to walk. And today she enjoyed her bath for the first time in 4 weeks. We are making progress.

Fingers are crossed that we get that passport quick and can come home so our family is reunited soon!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Busy days

Today we were all over the place, trying to get Katie home with us to the US. We started the morning getting Katie her Pesel number (like a social security number). Then we went to apply for Katie's passport. Through all the waiting and sitting in the car, Katie was doing pretty well...however, then we tried to go to the doctor for the medical visit that gets submitted to the Embassy...and she was NOT a happy. camper by then. Poor girl, I think we wore her out and she was tired with it being close to nap time. The doctor was extremely kind and understanding and we got through the appointment just fine. I was impressed with how quickly we were able to get through each place for each appointment.

From what I understand, tomorrow we go to the Embassy with a mound of documents. We then have to wait for Katie's passport and then return to the Embassy to get the visa stamped on the passport before flying out. I hope the timing of everything works out. It is hard not to stress about our timeline but I'm doing my best not to. Having my mom here keeps me in a good place. It's a huge help having her here. Now she is the one ordering bread at the piekarnia (bakery)! It is nice to be able to take a break from ordering stuff, and to have a hand with Katie. Plus, it is nice to catch up and hang out together. I really missed my mom and am beyond thrilled to have her here with me for this occasion. My supermom!

Our sight seeing has been limited with all of our paperwork that we are working on, but we will hopefully have a chance to catch some sights this week. We went on what we thought would be a quick 2 km trip to get groceries became a 30 minute walk because we had to go underground to get across the street, and we got so lost and then couldn't find an elevator to get back up. In retrospect, it was pretty funny - at one point, we entered an elevator that had instructions on how to hold down the button while the elevator is in motion. Strange, I know, but I was following the written instructions. Apparently I was doing something wrong because this voice came over the speaker and told us we were not following directions and told us how to use the buttons. My mom asked me who is that voice? I said maybe it is God. ;)

Food continues to be great. The bread is amazing and so is the coffee. We got some great butter and lunch meat too. We got all kinds of Krowki too.

Pictures are: me and my mom in our apartment, me on our tiny ledge of a balcony with a nice view of the Warsaw city center, my mom with one of her favorite desserts, Katie hanging out at the window, going on a stroll around Warsaw. Sorry that I have no idea what order the pictures are published in.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


We are in Warsaw!!! Things are busy and time is flying. First off, I am very upset with Delta Airlines. Mike had to purchase my mom's plane ticket over the phone because their online system was down. They sent us her reservation and she was all set to take off Saturday afternoon. She goes to check in and they didn't have her ticket. She calls Mike and he spent an hour on the phone with Delta. For some reason, they ticketed the flight but didn't charge Mike's card. So she didnt have a seat. They admitted they screwed up. Mad does not begin to describe what Mike's face looked like when I Skyped with him. At this point it was midnight in Poland. He finally got her on a flight but she was due to arrive in Warsaw 4 hours later, which in turn makes her 4 hours later to Bydgoszcz. Then they screwed up her return flight, making it on a Thursday rather than Saturday. Mike spent another hour with Delta fixing the return flight. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep Saturday night. All I could do was worry about my mom. She did get in on Sunday but not until almost 10 pm. Regardless, she was here safe and in very high spirits! She spent the night with her sister because she did not want to wake up Katie. She showed up here on Monday morning rearing to go, looking beautiful as always. My mom is amazing! We got right down to packing an cleaning up and then I walked her to her lunch date with a friend and she bought me an ice cream on the way. I feel like a little kid again! Then I came back home to put Katie down for a nap and finished packing. Somehow we still have a ton of bags and they are full. I wish I had tips on packing lighter but with food, diapers, toys, medicines for just in case, and a few outfits, we are packed up full.

After my mom was done with lunch, we met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin and headed to the train station. Our 4 hour trip to Warsaw was quite interesting. We had to share a cabin with 3 people who obviously did not like little children. They whispered to each other and turned their bodies away from us. It was quite the cold shoulder. The funniest part of the trip was that Katie pooped not once, but twice, and I had to change her there in the cabin because the bathrooms on the train are so nasty. During diaper change number 2, all 3 of our fellow passengers exited the cabin and stood in the corridor! I couldn't believe it. Overall, Katie did as good as a 16 month old can do sitting for 4 hours. She ate, she played, she cuddled, as at times she cried. But we made it to Warsaw and then found a very nice gentleman who helped us with our bags and got us to a taxi. Magda set us up with a pretty sweet 1 bedroom apartment that includes a pack and play for Katie. I'm very happy with our new digs. And I am over the moon thrilled that Babcia (my mom) is here. My spirits have been uplifted! Having her makes what should be frustrating, extremely funny instead. Like us hauling Katie in her stroller, along with a backpack, 2 purses, and 3 rolling bags through an apartment complex - at least there was an elevator that we managed to cram into. Ah, memories!

Pictures are of my mom with Katie before and during the train ride, our entourage bidding us farewell before the train took off, me before leaving for Warsaw, and Katie snacking on the train.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last days in Bydgoszcz

Things are winding down to a close in Bydgoszcz. The appeal period is over. My next post will be from Warsaw! We will be applying for Katie's passport and visa next week. I am really stressed about making our flights out of Poland and hope that everything goes smoothly with the social security office, medical exam and the Embassy.

Sleep continues to be a challenge. Sometimes Katie gets up for 2 hours in the middle of the night. I told Mike to rest up now so he can take night time duty for a while! I'm sure I will be exhausted by the time I get home! I am starting to get symptoms of this nasty cold that pretty much everyone in the family has here. Please pray for our good health. In the meantime, I continue to observe funny and interesting things about Poland and my family. Here is my list:

1. When you buy things at the market, they always ask you for change. I am trying as hard as I can to unload my coins for them but am not always successful and sometimes have to tell them I do not have change - they are not happy to hear this. They are super thankful when I am able to produce exact change.
2. A lot of songs on the radio are straight from the USA. At the supermarket one day, they were playing Flo-Rida!
3. The amount of tea at the supermarkets rivals the cereal aisle at Meijer.
4. My family is full of stubborn and emotional people who work long hours and are always running from one thing to the next - now I understand why I am who I am. It's the Polish way!
5. Walking around your home in your underwear, or shirtless, or in your stockings, is perfectly ok - it is all family hanging around the place, so it's all right. ;)
6. Carbs are the primary element of a meal, followed by soup, followed by tea/coffee. Sometimes there is a vegetable or fruit. There must always be dessert.
7. On busy streets in the city they pass out flyers for all kinds of stuff - store openings, sales, etc. People grab these and promptly throw them in the nearest garbage bin. I admit I do this now too. I suspect these people passing then out have a quota for how many flyers they need to pass out.
8. Most women wear heels or wedge sandals, even moms pushing strollers (not me!). No sweatpants or hoodies have been sighted yet.
9. I must fit in because people have asked me for directions on more than one occasion. Too bad I usually can't direct them to their destination but at least I know how to tell them that I'm afraid I do not know where that is.
10. Security is high around here. My aunts both have 2 doors that lead in to their home. I have never seen that before. I have a cousin who lives on the 4th floor of her building (no elevator) and she chains her stroller on the ground floor of the building so that it won't get stolen. My aunt has had her purse stolen and her friend had her necklace ripped off her and the thief ran off with it. It's sad that theft has increased since the last time I was here.
11. When you go to someone's home you will be offered a coffee or tea, no matter what time of day. You will insult them if you decline, so don't say no! Side note: I have become a coffee drinker.
12. Older ladies have no problem coming up to me and telling me that my child has a runny nose, a missing shoe, or is not dressed warm enough.
13. In my opinion, the best gifts to buy for females here is amber jewelry. I still wear an amber necklace that my aunt bought for me about 20 years ago on my first trip to Poland. I am getting amber jewelry for both of my daughters on this trip. It's a nice lifetime gift.
14. Spouses have some fired up arguments around here over nothing! I mean things like what shirt their husband is wearing or what drink their wife is serving with dinner. The discussions become quite loud and boisterous over little things like that! As my cousin tells me, you must have these types of arguments in your house or else your home is boring and without life!
15. Pepsi Light and Coca Cola Zero are readily available in grocery stores, which is great for a pop addict like me. People don't drink out of bottles - you must pour your drink into a glass and then drink it. My aunt was horrified when I drank out of a bottle! She promptly poured my pop into a glass and told me that it is much more comfortable to drink out of a glass.

Some of you may wonder whether I have kept up with my fitness regimen. Nope! I ran a total of 4 times and all my runs were when Mike was here during the first 2 weeks. I haven't played any tennis, though I have admired several clay courts that I have walked by. The first 3 weeks here were tough because I wasn't eating enough to properly fuel myself, so the few runs I had were awful anyway. I finally realized that I needed to take care of myself and I snapped back into eating. I know many find it funny and wish they had this problem, but in times of stress I have a hard time eating. The good news is that I have adjusted my schedule and have Katie wait while I eat, or I eat while I push the stroller. Since I walk 2 hours a day with Katie, I think I get enough of a workout - no guilt here over eating lots of bread.

Besides my eating issues that I overcame, I don't even have time to work out since I am always with Katie and nobody has taken her and let me take off somewhere, which is fine since I need to continue our bonding. Everyone is busy - so she is my little sidekick, all day! I can tell she knows I am mom because I had my 2 year old nephew on my lap, and she saw that and came over just screaming and crying, grabbing me and trying to get on my lap! Wow! She has claimed me I guess! Plus she is saying "ma ma ma" when she looks at me - so precious. So as much as I miss my old life of running and playing tennis, I recognize that there are far more important things to focus on right now and soon enough I will be back on the treadmill and the courts - although not necessarily at the frequency and duration that I was training at.

Katie is smiling more and more. It makes me so happy to see her happy. The first couple of weeks here were tough, but I feel like we are starting to get a rhythm going now and each day it gets a little better. I think I am starting to get when she is hungry, tired, etc. She has learned to smile when I point the camera on my phone at her - she just turns on the charm! She is usually in a pretty good mood now unless she is tired or hungry - then, watch out! I have learned that food is "ahm ahm" and ask her if she wants ahm ahm...if she starts panting like a dog when I put her bib on, then I know she is ready to chow down. And even though I was afraid to try, Katie has been chewing on some finger foods! She has tried mashed potatoes, bread, and biscuits. She has also started using a sippy cup! I finally discovered that the Avent brand works well for her. We are making great progress, faster than I expected.

I am so thankful to all my relatives here who have made my stay here so comfortable and provided entertainment and hospitality for both me and Katie. The days have been flying by. My parents each have a sister (my 2 aunts) who have taken me into their homes for dinner multiple times, I have one of my cousins next door with his family who I visit daily, and I am so thankful for all of them and for my cousin who lended me his place here for 2 weeks. I absolutely adore my Polish family and will miss them. I wish we could all be together in the same country.

Attached are more pictures. My favorite foods - mushroom soup with homemade kluski, and pierogi! And pictures of my family with Katie - has she ever had a blast with everyone! I also had to share a picture of her posing for the camera as well as her eating a biscuit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Still Here!

Katie and I are still in Bydgoszcz and settling in to a routine. We still take lots of walks since the weather has been nice and Katie enjoys hanging in the stroller and seeing all that the city has going on. And I enjoy discovering the city each day as well. I continue to make daily stops at the "piekarnia" for bread and buy lots of milk at the local market since Katie drinks so much! Sleep continues to be a challenge. Katie has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I am getting more consistent with her bedtime routine and the sequence in which I respond to her cries and that is helping, thanks be to God! I continue to pray for physical health, strength, and patience to get me through these final days in Bydgoszcz. I am worried about me and Katie getting sick because most of my family has this nasty cold. On the up side, feedings have become a more pleasant experience. I am finding that Katie wants nothing to do with finger food, so we are sticking with yogurt and baby food with rice cereal. My aunt gave me these things that look like Cheetos that dissolve in a child's mouth when chewed on (kind of like Wagon Wheels for you veteran parents out there) and we are trying those out for her to learn to chew food. She is very attached to her bottle and I have found it to be a good bonding time for us. I am working in slowly reducing the temperature of the milk in the bottle. Every day, I bring it down a small notch. Eventually, I envision Katie drinking milk out of the fridge. As for any other food - the only "solid" food she really seems interested in is paper! I have to keep an eye on her around Pepsi bottle labels, magazines, and newspapers! She wants to eat anything that is not food!

I think we are really finally starting to see Katie's personality come out, and it is so great to see. She is giving lots of smiles and is getting used to me as well as my family. She is babbling a lot and pulls herself up to a standing position. Maybe soon she will be walking. She is starting to play more independently as well. The most frequent comment I get is how smart she is. You can about see the wheels turning in her head when she plays and when someone demonstrates how to use a toy, she can mimic very well. When it comes to play time, Katie loves purses, bags, and shoes, and will play with any of those items endlessly. She enjoys playing with cars and trucks as well as toys that make noise. She likes music and will sway back and forth to the songs she likes. She is very attached to her pacifier so I have about 5 of them now to pop in at night or have on my purse in case it is needed. She loves playing with other kids, so I can't wait for her to meet her brother and sister. I know I am getting to be a boring playmate when I'm alone with her. She is social and likes a crowd! She likes to cuddle quite a bit too, which surprised me since she wasn't such a cuddle bug before. I sure cannot complain about that. She spends a good part of the day on my lap and that makes for good bonding time as well.

I got something very special in the mail here this week. Katie's foster mom had been promising to send me Katie's baby pictures, but was having a problem with her computer and could not get them to me. This week she was successful and I now have 2 CDs full of pictures and short video clips of Katie in her first year. I am thrilled to have these so Katie will be able to have her baby pictures to enjoy as she gets older and is curious about what she looked like way back in her first days of life.

Other than visiting our relatives, we went to a photographer and took care of Katie's pictures for her passport and visa. I also bought train tickets to get back to Warsaw. Over the weekend, my cousin took us to my grandmother and great grandmothers grave as well as the church where my mom was baptized and the house she grew up in. It was a very emotional experience - my mom was 3 when she lost her mother and she has always wanted to be the best mom she could ever be - and I love her for it. I hope that I give my all to my children the way my mom always gave to me. Being a parent is hard work but so worth it in the end.

I have so many pictures but here's just a few. One is Katie as a newborn (too cute), and one is in the Old Town area of Bydgoszcz with my aunt while feeding pigeons. You can also see Katie playing with her little cousins. Then there is one of me and Katie visiting a little cabin that my cousin has. When you live in the city, you don't have a yard so many people get these little cabins in the woods and it's a place to relax and have little kids run around. It's a lot like camping. Also there is the church where my parents got married. There was a gate blocking full entry. The picture where my mom was baptized looks better because the church was open to walk through. I wish I had taken more pictures of the great meals that my aunts have been giving me. Everything has been delicious!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Here is a quick summary of the happenings in Bydgoszcz. We have a lot of family here because my parents were basically the only part of the family who left Poland for the US. Therefore, there are lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins here, and now my cousins have children which makes it all the more fun to visit. I haven't been here since 2000, and it's nice to be able to visit again. The city is big and there is a lot to do. I am very fortunate to be staying in a nice apartment that my cousin basically moved out of for me to use with Katie until I leave for Warsaw. How nice is that? Everyone has been so helpful with keeping me company and taking me and Katie places. I have even managed some outings myself. On Sunday I ventured out to church with Katie. I went online, found the mass schedule, and mapped my walking route. In Poland you pretty much walk everywhere. Unfortunately, I got very lost! I used my iPhone mapping function to get me there and was pretty darn late. The church nearby is huge and apparently there are 20,000 parishioners, though not all attend mass. There are masses all day to the evening at this church. I went to 8:30 mass, thinking it would be quiet. wrong! The place was packed and I had to sit in the back with Katie. The church was huge and gorgeous. All the churches here really are beautiful. I managed to quickly visit the church where my parents were married as well and caught a picture.

It is neat to revisit my family history again. This is my third time in Bydgoszcz but I think I now have the deepest appreciation for my heritage on this particular trip. What I most appreciate about Poland is that family is very important and family really sticks together and people help each other out. Usually families stay in the same town as well, as is the case of the majority of my relatives here. It is more challenging to stay close in the US where distance can take families across the country or globe. Having more quality family time is something I want to prioritize when we go home. Other things here make me grateful to be an American. Health care here is sad. People wait months or years even for critical procedures. It is hard to find work. Unemployment I was told is at 12%. I know the US isn't perfect but I am grateful for things like fountain pop, drying machines, thick toilet paper, stationary wand showers, the ability to buy a house with a garage or a big car like a mini van, and wall to wall carpeting in our homes. I sure miss my Jimmy John's #12 too!

So how are things going with Katie? All things considered, she is doing well with adapting to all the changes in her life. There is so much here to take in that at times I think she is overwhelmed. Everything she experiences is new to her, like feeding pigeons or going on a car ride. I sense anxiety from her over all this change. The good news is she is attaching well to me. She comes to me for comfort and not anyone else. I continue to hold her for feedings and spend lots of time cuddling her. Sleep is a challenge. She gets up 2-4 times a night. Usually I give her the pacifier and she goes back to sleep. However, sometimes she is up at some odd time and won't go back to sleep. One night, she got up at 2 am and I had to change her diaper. Well, then she was inconsolable! After 2 hours she fell asleep in my arms and yet she was still up at 7:30. It is very physically exhausting to keep up with her and have little downtime but I just keep praying for strength to get me through this time. Someday she will sleep all night. In the meantime - suggestions are welcome! I am very grateful that she enjoys long walks in the stroller, yapping away. LOL. I'm also grateful for the social network that we have here with family helping me out by bringing me food and taking me and Katie places. I dont known what I'd do without my family here. I am having a hard time finding a chance to eat so I am fortunate to have 2 aunts pushing food on me so I can maintain my health. I really miss my 2 kids at home and now with Mike gone I am even more homesick. Skype has been a lifesaver to keep up with everyone. Time is flying by being here in Bydgoszcz, and I am now counting the days until my mom is here before focusing on leg 3 of this journey - to Warsaw!

I have been taking lots of pictures around Bydgoszcz. Here are pictures of the downtown and some of the churches. I took a picture of how many mass times there are at one of the churches. Wow! My aunt told me there are over 20 churches in this city of 300,000. Also, check out the kielbasa assortment at the meat counter of a smaller supermarket! The main street downtown has lots of nice stores. I enjoy taking Katie on a walk and just window shopping. There sure are a lot of ice cream shops around, and they are open early in the morning. Somehow everyone is skinny. I think it must be from all the walking to get places. Not everyone has a car, and public transportation options are readily available. It's fun to watch the "autobus" go by. I found a"piekarnia" or bakery to buy bread. I have seen at least 10 piekarnias but only this one is stroller friendly so I can just roll in there without going up or down steps. For only 2,70 zloty I can get a delicious loaf of challah bread. That's less than 1 US dollar!