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.