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!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gotcha day pictures

I'm going to try to post some pictures from Gotcha Day! You can see me and Mike in front of the courthouse, and then pictures from the train ride. The pictures are out of order - sorry! One picture shows Katie on the car ride to Lublin before court. She looks so quiet and serene there. I will always wonder what was going on in her mind there! Katie was so well behaved for such a busy day!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gotcha day!!!

Today was very busy and exciting. At 7 am K's foster mom picked us up and drove us all to her place, where we left K with "babcia" while we drove to court. Court was scheduled at 9 am but there were some short cases ahead of us so we waited. I was getting nervous! At 9:30 we were called in. The court room consisted of a few benches in the back, two benches that faced each other, and a podium facing the judge along with 2 jurors and a secretary. We sat on one side with the attorney and the prosecuting attorney was on the other side. Magda sat on the bench in the back with K's foster mom. After some papers and our passports were presented, it was time for one of us to go to the podium and it was our choice who went first. Mike hopped up right away and stepped to the podium! He was asked about why we wanted to adopt, what he does for a living, what bonding time was like, and what our children think about the adoption. He was also asked if big families are common within our family. My brother has number 7 on the way and when Mike told them that, they seemed to agree that yes, that's a big family! Next I was up. I was asked some similar questions and also what my plans are about going back to work. I was asked what we like to do in our free time and about my Polish heritage. They asked what city my parents are from and how I learned Polish. I was mostly able to listen and answer without translation, so I was pretty happy though I was so nervous! K's foster mom also had to go up, and she spoke so well of me and Mike that I got teary again. She is awesome! After that we exited to await the deliberation, which was actually pretty quick - when we came back in, we went over the spelling of our names, the city we were married in, and our daughter's name. They shortened the appeal period fromthree to two weeks - what an awesome group of legal officials. And then our adoption was granted! Gotcha day is officially here! Please welcome Katherine Emily to our family! Katarzyna is her birth name which we Americanized. Call her Kasia if you are Poliah, Katie if you are American. I do both. :) I will upload pictures later. For now, I will summarize the time after court because it was crazy! We booked out to pick up Katie and get to the train station and boarded the train 10 min prior to departure. This train we really needed ton get on because it was an express train to get me to Bydgoszcz. On the way it stopped in Warsaw and I had to say goodbye to my awesome husband. Someone has to hang with our other 2 kids at home! I stayed in the train with Katie and my aunt, cousin and nephew picked me up at the Bydgoszcz train stain. It was a 6.5 hour train ride and Katie was awesome! We rode first class and had a cabin to ourselves, which was a huge help I think. She is loving the family and I'm staying in a nice apartment close to everyone in the heart of the city. Hopefully we have a good couple of weeks here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Here we are!

Trip #2 is here!  I counted the time between trip #1 and trip #2 and it was about 7 weeks.  I think that is pretty quick.  I am constantly told that we had a very fast process, so I am not sure if this is typical time or not.

Our court ordered "bonding time" was set for 2 weeks.  We are at the end of this time.  This means that we go to court to finalize the adoption TOMORROW!  We are thrilled beyond belief to reach this milestone in our journey.  We have spent our bonding time in Nałęczów, which is a touristy town that is about 25 km from Lublin.  K's foster mom found us an apartment to rent in a location that is close to the bus station as well as the park and all the local shops.  Nałęczów is a very quiet, small town with a big park and a pool you can pay to use that features massaging jets and a lazy river.  Many people come here with various ailments to get healed, so there are lots of spas with special treatments available, as well as a variety of doctors specializing in many different practices.  Everyone around here seems to enjoy strolling - meaning taking their sweet time walking VERY slowly - and sitting on park benches, just hanging out.  It is very different from the fast pace of the US, where everyone walks super fast and if you are sitting down, you are staring at your Blackberry or iPhone. 

We had a good transition leading up to K coming to our apartment.  Before we took her into our place, we spent a full day with K and K's foster mom in her home.  We went shopping together to get K's milk, pacifier, diapers, and baby food.  We wrote down what she does not like to eat, what she likes, and how to make her bottles.  After K's nap, we packed up and drove to our apartment.  With K's foster mom, I practiced making my first bottle and then she had to leave because her mom called telling her that one of the other foster kids had a fever.  I will never forget what she told me and how she cried when she left.  It was a happy and sad moment at the same time - happy for K for having her forever family, but sad for her to have to say goodbye.  Once again - I don't know if this is typical, but we were blessed to have her to guide us.  I have been keeping in touch and calling her every other day to let her know how things are going.  She hasn't come by to visit because she wasn't sure how K would react.  It will be interesting to see how things go in her home tomorrow, because we are leaving K with her mom and the other foster kids while we go to court.  Kids aren't allowed in the courtroom.

I read lots of blogs and many talk about how happy the bonding time was.  I can honestly agree that it is wonderful to have your child smile at you, follow you around, and watch her fall asleep in her pack and play.  There is no doubt that we love K and believe she was meant to be with us.  However - I will be upfront and tell you that it is not all like a perfect fairytale.  K was not a happy camper right away.  Now that we are nearing the end of 2 weeks, she is doing much better and we are very pleased with how well she is doing.  The first few days were rough, and understandably so.  Everything in our child's life changed in a day, and all of the sudden she is in a new place with different people speaking some crazy other language.  I am also sure that I am not doing everything quite the same as her foster mom did.  So there were times she was screaming her head off or crying, because something is different or because she was grieving.  It is not easy to hear your child cry and feel helpless because you don't know what to do.  At times I felt like I had a newborn all over again and nothing I was doing was right.  It's hard not to stress about it.  The key for us that got us through bonding time has been to take it a day at a time.  Hug her and hold her during those rough times.  Pray for strength and patience.  And know that the next day will be better - or at least be another day! 

It truly is encouraging to see the progress we are making.  I finally got her to take a bottle from me.  That was a struggle, and at times she still screams at me and I have to hold her and then pop the bottle in - but for the most part, she takes it willingly now.  We have also figured out which solid foods she is willing to eat.  Every day we hold also hands and practice walking.  She will take a few steps on her own now and then.  We take long walks in the stroller and she has started to enjoy the walks more instead of screaming the whole time.  Things are getting better and I know it'll be even better once we get home with our own belongings and space.

Our place here is functional and not too bad, but a far cry from an American hotel.  Mike and I have many funny stories that would take too long to type, although Mike may guest blog for us here in the future with his tales!  Ha ha.  The kitchen is tiny but serves its purpose.  The 5" mattress is hard and my hips and back hurt from sleeping on it, but Mike actually likes the bed.  There is no air conditioning, no microwave, no oven, and no washer/dryer.  We don't have a stove but we do have a hot plate.  It hasn't been too hot so we haven't had a problem keeping cool.  Laundry is a challenge.  I brought powder Tide with me and hand wash stuff in the sink, then I dry it either outside or there is this heating rack in the bathroom and I hang items there to dry.  Totally ghetto but it works, and it's all I've got.  I also discovered that if I plug in my hair dryer, I blow out all the fuses in the apartment, and therefore I cannot us my hair dryer or straightener.  So I'm not looking so hot these days!  At least I got the landlord to lend me a hair dryer for the duration of our stay. 

Of course I have to write about food.  Love the pizza here, once again!  Although one night we ordered our pizza "to go" and got ketchup sauce instead of the tomato sauce I ordered.  I still enjoyed it with ketchup.  Mike did not.  One time I also screwed up Mike's order, and instead of his pizza coming with pepperoni it came with hot peppers.  Whoops!  Now I know the Polish word for pepperoni is "salami", not "peperoni".  Who knew?  There is also this piekarnia (bakery) down the street with the most delicious bread.  We go every day to get fresh bread.  It's better than Panera, and way cheaper too.  We can leave with 4 buns for less than 1 US dollar.  Their cream puffs are amazing.  There is also this ice cream shop that is always busy, no matter what time of day.  They open at 7 am.  It has become a regular stop for us in the evening.  There is a fast food style place where we can get fries and a burger, which satisfies our desire for American food.  I know when I visit my relatives, I will be eating tons of authentic Polish food, so I am waiting for that time to load up on Polish favorites.  Plus what my aunts make are way better than any restaurant!

Things I am glad we brought with us to Poland are: Neosporin and bandages (used them on scarred feet from tons of walking), Motrin for achy joints, Ziploc bags for storage, anti bacterial wipes for cleaning all kinds of stuff, and our favorite granola bars for a snack.  Things I wish I'd have brought include: duct tape to tape the gnarled handle on our stroller that got mauled in airline transit, and scissors as I keep buying bags of stuff that needs to be opened and I don't like to use a knife to do so!  Oh, and along with the bags, chip clips would have been useful.  We did manage to hunt some down in a large supermarket.  I needed to buy more than 4 of them though. 

For me, the hardest part about the trip is being away from our 2 kids at home.  After court, Mike is flying home to be with them and get them ready for school.  We give HUGE thanks to nana and bopa, and babcia and dzia dzia for taking care of our 2 at home.  I know the kids have had a great time!  We kept them back due to cost and logistics, thinking they would have an awful time and we would get ourselves stressed out, but right now I think I'd have preferred to have the stress and financial loss to have them here with us.  Since I am the parent staying behind, this is going to feel like a long journey to get home to the rest of our family.  After court, I am headed to Bydgoszcz, my parent's hometown, where I will stay with relatives for 2 weeks until it's time to go to Warsaw and get K's paperwork together for her visa and passport to take her HOME!  I have to wait 2 weeks for the court generated documents to get generated before I can go to the US Embassy in Warsaw, thus the reason for the long journey.  My mom will come meet up with me to help me out at the Embassy, and I will be counting down the days until I get to see her arrival.  Thank God for my wonderful immediate and extended family!

I leave you with some pictures to cover a glimpse of our bonding time.  In my next post, I hope to be announcing the finalization of our adoption and our daughter's name!

She wore this hat for about 30 seconds - just enough time for a picture!
Walking the streets is something we do daily.  Unless it's raining. 

One of the first bottle feedings by hand.  If I look tired, it's because I was!  Getting her to eat was very much "touch and go" for the first couple of days.  I wish I had a picture to share to show me being really relaxed and happy when she started taking bottles from me.  Trust me, it happened and I am much less tired now!
Hanging at the pizza place called "Hallo Pizza".  We were regulars there, until they kept messing up the sauce and Mike wrote them off!

In the middle of the park is this beautiful fountain.  We walked around here pretty much all the time.  Can you tell that the theme of our trip here revolved around walking?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pictures from trip #1

I am practicing the art of uploading pictures on this blog.  Here are some pictures from our first trip to Poland to visit K.  I wish I could share pictures of her, but I have been instructed not to until our adoption is official in the Polish courts.  I can't wait to be able to share that on this blog.  Until then...

This is "Stary Miasty", which translated is "Old Town", and known to us Americans as "Main Street" essentially.  The city of Lublin is huge!  The population is over 300,000.  It is a college town boasting six universities.  What I enjoy most about areas in Poland like this are the open air restaurants that line the streets.  It was fun to pick a different place each day and enjoy some delicious food at a reasonable price.  This picture of us was taken the day that we arrived in Poland.  I can't believe how happy I look, considering how utterly exhausted I felt from not sleeping on the flight.
I wish I knew how to rotate this picture but I cannot!  You can see behind Mike some of the lovely buildings that we had the opportunity to see.  We don't see buildings this historical every day.

This is also in the Stary Miasty area.  I am standing by the ruins of a cathedral.  It was interesting to pass by the various monuments and read the plaques near them to learn more about Lublin.  Now K will know more about her hometown that we will be able to share with her.