We neglected Skipper until our last evening in Warsaw. Skipper has made it to Poland.

On our last day we made one more shopping trip to buy some candy to bring home. Interesting use of the Star of David for Christmas.

We have so many photos from our last week but our computer has been conspiring against me to post them. Sue Anne did a couple great posts on her blog I will have to keep trying later as tonight is not working for me.

We made it home on Tuesday after 14+ hours on 3 airplanes and 7+ hours of lay-overs. It was a mighty journey and our kids really did great. We are struggling with jet-lag. The kids are waking up a lot at night but slowly we hope to get some sleep. As sleep deprived as Brian and I have been we are doing surprisingly well. We are so happy to be home, although briefly. We are home until the second week in January when we leave for Denver and more Barber of Seville!
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We loved Krakow! We stayed there a couple of nights with Sue Anne and very much enjoyed this beautiful city. We have so many photos to post it may take awhile to catch up. Our time in Poland is winding down (last show this weekend then home next Tuesday). We very much hope Brian's work will bring us back here, especially since we have mastered saying "thank you" and "excuse me".

We rented an apartment called Delta Golden Life. It was a fun and crazy place with lots of space. Brian was very excited about it because on-line it had photos of this super intense shower with lots of jets going everywhere. I guess we had talked and joked about the "shower of the future" a lot because the first thing Colin did when we arrived was to strip down for a shower. The next morning he wanted another shower with me but we were out of hot water. He demanded the hot water of the future right then. Isn't that how it is, we have the shower of the future but we have to wait for the hot water of the future. Such hard life lessons for a three year old.

We loved the train ride to Krakow, an easy 3 hours from Warsaw. We were in a cabin on the way there with a nice young man. He played with Colin and was very patient with the kids. When we got off the train I told Colin to say thank you to him in Polish so he yelled "thank you in Polish!"

We have had such a great time, and Colin is traumatized that Sue Anne is gone. He is ready to ride 5 airplanes to Scotland to see her again.
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Our dear friend who we met in Indiana but lives in Scotland and works in Germany is here for a visit. We had a beautiful sunny day in Warsaw yesterday, went to the opera, and are heading to Krakow for a few days. Good times.
(so the photos maybe posted twice, oh well. We have so many photos to post but don't have much time left here. We're excited to come home but have had a great trip.)

Day Tripper

We took a day trip today, to Lowicz (pronounced Whoa-vitch) which is located an hour by train outside of Warsaw. Brian has had all week off, and although we had hoped to travel to England to see the Wards and other friends, sadly, it just was not the time. As it turned out with Colin being sick at the start of the week, a big trip would have been a bad idea. Until today we have just been hanging out in Warsaw. We wanted to try and get a couple day trips in, but most of the places we wanted to travel are about 3 hours away and too long for a day trip with kids. I used to do a lot of day tripping in England, but oh my, things change with a 1 and 3 year old. Colin's day started out kind of rough, and when both kids were crying at the train station upon our arrival, I wondered how things would go. We ended up having a fun time just wandering around. The coal smell brought Brian back to Wales and kind of gave me a head ache. I am quite sure we were the only American tourists around for miles, which I quite like. I spent a lot of time in non-tourist areas of Central American and I somewhat enjoyed people looking at me with the expression of "why are you here?" We met a nice young man on the train coming home and he was also wondering a bit what we were doing in this town.

Can you tell we doctored the photo above so we could see what things would look like with a blue sky? Still gray today but not raining.

We liked this street. Really all we did was walk around, went in one church that Colin did not like because there were no lights on. He said in a whispered voice "This church is too spooky." Then we walked more, bought some cute new boots for Jane, ate kebabs and headed back to the train. It was nice to do something totally different and a nice trial run on the trains. We go to Krakow next week with Sue Anne. (Yay!)

Colin was saying "click" like the camera. Oh that boy! He gave us fits all through bedtime tonight I think from being over-tired.

Since All Saints Day when my hat made me look like a cone head, I have purchased two new hats of which I am very fond.
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On what was maybe our last sunny day of our visit (the 10 day forecast does not look good, but it has been wrong a couple of times) we walked back up the the big cemetery to see it in the light. I really love cemeteries. I think it is so interesting to see how people mourn and pay tribute to their dead. I am happy to be home this Christmas because our family cemetery does a luminary close to Christmas. I have either not been home or just not made it in the past but want to make sure to make it this year.

In October when there were tons of horse chestnuts everywhere, I saw quite a few older women picking them up and now I understand why. We saw quite a

few graves decorated with conkers.

Jane enjoying some free time, running away from us, of course.

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Today is Independence Day and it is the worst weather all week. We stopped by the tourist info place yesterday to get an idea about the parade and other activities. As we love parades, I was really excited to see some cool military show, so we ventured out to see the celebrations. Colin stayed in the stroller under the rain cover the whole time and it was raining heavy enough to totally saturate my jackets and feet. We actually got the wrong information pertaining to the parade route. We stood outside for a long time for nothing. There was a big skin head meeting in the main square of Old Town and tons of police in full riot gear. We thought it best to move on from there. Brian commented about how brave you must be to be pro-Hitler in Warsaw, "brave" and totally idiotic. We have heard there is a pretty big white power movement here, which makes me sick.

We did get some nice hot chocolate, bought some candy, and as formentioned, got wet. Brian assured me that whatever governing body assigns points for Polish patriotism would give us full marks for our efforts.

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We finally purchased some pottery yesterday and now that we have started, I am afraid it will be hard to stop. My sister gave us some Polish pottery as a wedding gift and we are very happy to add to the collection. The prices are great (and we hear even better if you buy in the town where they are made). According to our price-checking, what we paid for all of the above pottery would have bought only the mugs at home. (We actually had originally thought to just bring mugs home as our souvineer, but the great prices made that impossible). We still have a few more pottery pieces to pick up (I think we're going to end up with 8 place settings in different designs, plus a couple larger pieces), and we need to get a new carry on suitcase to get things home. We thought of shipping but don't know where to get packing peanuts, etc and we should be able to handle it in our carry ons. I have had a pottery problem for years now, complicated by my parents' time in England when they lived close to Stoke-on-Trent. I have some great English pottery, most of which uses the same blue as the Polish pottery. And Brian understands and supports my pottery problem since he cooks. He made some of the final pottery decisions while I waited outside the shop with the kids. Things got a little crazy for the kids and me while we waited, I'll try to not be too graphic, but there was an incident of poopy in the bushes. I was a little traumatized, but Colin was fine, poor little guy.

Brian thinks this photo will bring judgements on our bad parenting, but I think it is kind of cute. Jane is looking at a book and watching tv. Sadly, few toys and the bad weather outside has our kids watching a lot more tv than we would like. They don't care if the cartoons are in Polish. Just when I thought Colin's constant asking why could not get any worse, he now also asks "what does it mean?" all the time, I think partially due to dealing with another language. Very quickly Colin learned how to say Spongebob Squarepants in Polish. There is a cute channel of lots of PBS kids programming that is traslated, and Colin's new favorite French cartoon that he saw on Air France, SamSam. From Dora we have learned how to say "We did it" in Polish. Brian impressed his work collegues when they were talking about the opera and he was able to bust out "we did it" in Polish.
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Just wanted to throw up these cute snapshots of Jane. This little orange dress is one of our acquisitions here in Poland. We would love to buy both kids whole new wardrobes here- European kids clothes are adorable (especially the girl baby clothes at Zara), but that is a little excessive.

The kids are enjoying the Nutella we recently purchased. Of course you can get it at home, but the sparseness of PB here made nutella seem like a good idea. Sue Anne pointed out that Feb. 5th (Carolyn Bond's birthday) is International Nutella Day. How will you celebrate?

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I was able to make it to the premiere, thanks to a great babysitter. Living in the theater also made the babysitting easy, the sitter came here and then I just walked to a different part of the theater. A friend from church came to the opera with me but sadly, we could not get a ticket for her boyfriend. Anyhow, the opening went very well. Brian sounded great and has some of the more interesting things to sing in the opera (he is kind of the star of the show). A favorite of mine was when he was singing about "how all living things breathe" when his character is contemplating life and death with a dead crow. The director is very pleased with Brian and he played a great crazy/mentally ill. There are many visual aspects of the set with many projections to look at. I think I took the opera a little too literally and the next time I watch it I am going to look at the entire work as more of a dream/nightmare not connected to reality. I am kind of glad my mom did not travel to see this one as I am not sure how much she would have liked it. And so goes modern opera.

These three photos are from the actual nightmare scene in the opera. Brian plays a very depressed and disturbed Roderick Usher who has summoned his childhood friend William to his home to help him. Roderick's twin sister (who William did not know existed) is also ill and ends up dying. She is placed in the family tomb, but is not actually dead. There are extreme overtones of incest. I can't decide if it is better as a wife to watch my husband in a romantic opera situation or an implied incest situation. Neither is super ideal, but neither is real. It's a crazy life, but I am very proud of Brian's work and success. He only had about 2 weeks to learn this role.

To keep Brian's feet firmly on the ground, within a few hours of the opening, he had to clean up Colin's vomit due to late night illness. (I would have helped but was nursing Jane.) Although Brian is quite possibly the most normal musician ever, there is nothing like traveling with toddlers to combat possible opera big-headedness!


The opera opens tonight (the entire reason we are in Poland, The Fall of the House of Usher based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, opera by Philip Glass). Here is Brian in front of the poster, in front of the opera house. We (mainly me) were very annoyed because we only found out for sure Brian's perfomance dates this week and then found out the show has been sold out for more than 6 weeks. So much for getting tickets for friends we have made here. Good for the opera though. It is a chamber opera and they are staging it in a smaller theatre.
Here is a link to the trailer for the production on youtube where you can hear Brian's (or actually Roderick Usher's) crazy/mentally ill plea for his friend to come. It promises to be very creepy.
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We got so carried away with All Saints Day, we neglected to post these images from our walk to the cemetery. This is a monument where over 300,000 people were loaded onto cattle cars and taken to the gas chambers of Treblinka. The design is to represent a freight car opening into a rectangular shape of a train. It is a beautiful monument to such a tragic history. (I can't help but cry as I write this.)

Colin was taking a little rest from the long walk. I also find it chilling to see my child in this place. How many children like him passed through here?

We also passed this monument dedicated to the Fallen and Murdered in the East.
This is dedicated to the deported populations of Eastern Poland by the Soviets. The monument includes a railroad car like those used for the deportation and in the car are different symbols representing a variety of ethnic groups who were targeted.

The explanation on warzsawa.com also states that the places of areas that were emptied of Poles are listed here.
How is that for a lovely, light post? The history is overwhelming.

Yesterday we spent Brian's day off at the Warsaw Zoo. It was a beautiful sunny day, but cold- probably just above freezing. The zoo seems pretty unpopular with Varsovites in the winter. Including workers, we probably saw just over a dozen other people there. It was fun to just have a private zoo day. The cold was no big deal, since most of the animals were in their indoor habitats anyway. The Zoo here has some great exhibits, and the newer habitats are especially nice. This chimp was using the stick to retreive something tasty from holes in the rock he was sitting on (ants? honey? We're not sure).

Several friends have recommended 'The Zookeeper's Wife', as it is apparently about the Warsaw Zoo. We'll have to pick it up.

The Zoo closes at 5:00, but most of the habitats are lit with natural light, and it is dark for real shortly after 4:00. Here's Colin heading for the exit. I squatted down to take his picture, and he did the same.

Colin has become a very dedicated kicker of leaves. There is no shortage here. I like that the leaves seem to get left on the ground for a while. Brian and I were talking about how you could go a whole Autumn at BYU without ever seeing a leaf on the grass (thanks to the assiduous efforts of the grounds crew). I actually saw them sucking leaves off the branches of trees once. Die nature! Die!!
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