Friday, February 18, 2011

Episode 2: Time to learn the ABC's of Poland!

I'm here.  We moved.  To Poland.  In winter.  With twin three-year-olds.  Nana and Grandpa are long gone.

We are in our apartment with beds and food and real life and such.  I'm so sorry I haven't posted since we got here.  Or even about the flight from Texas!  I'm pretty busy and tired.  So, today's post is a bit of info about Jolly Ol' Poland and how we're doing.  My format is inspired by Jane Roper, a favorite blogger of mine who is giving me permission to steal her stolen idea instead of using my own brain for creativity and also who inspired me to actually get down to writing today!

So, without further ado, here are the ABC's of Poland:

A--Adorable.  That's what the boys are when they say things like, "We live by the sea," or "I want to walk in the forest!"  Or when they say the city we live in (Gdynia, for those who would like to know).

B--Boots.  So glad I bought 2 pair and packed a third.  We wear them every day.  Rain boots.  Snow boots.  Sassy boots.  The women here wear sassy boots with heels and skinny jeans every day.  Even in snow.  They have the legs and butts for it, so I do not begrudge them this habit even though I am jealous.

C--Cozy.  Our apartment is feeling like home.  The boys' room especially is warm and inviting.  I think they are really happy with it.  They happily play in there and love their cool Ikea beds with tents. 

D--Dryer.  We have a machine that is both a washer and a dryer.  My mom swears it uses water to steaming or something.  I'm getting used to using it.  All clothes have to go on a drying rack after though.  It would literally take about 4 hours to wash and completely dry something in the machine.  Ours is super nice though.  It does really great on my sweaters.  We are wearing clothes more before washing them since it is very small.  Do I stink?  Wait, don't answer that.

E--English.  I miss it!  It is very isolating to not speak the language of those around you.  i am in a crowd but not really a part of it.  It makes me feel very protective of my family since we are each other's allies.  My boys need some little people to talk to!

F--Friends.  I miss mine.

G--Groceries.  One of the most frustrating things for me.  Obviously the language barrier is tough.  The other tough part is not having the luxury of strolling through the store to get my bearings.  The boys are usually with me, and if they aren't, I still have to rush to get home to help with them or get dinner going.  I really need to learn some Polish or get a friend who can take me and help.  Or, a nanny to watch the boys!

H--Husband.  My parents both told me many times before they left that Michael and I had to lean on each other and help each other get through the tough stuff.  It is very true.  Without us working as a team, this would be impossible.

I--Ikea.  It sounded so easy.  After my one and only visit to Poland to see if I might like living here, I told everyone I knew about the Ikea being here and being my easy option for all household goods.  I now never want to go in that store again.  It's fun to pick out a house full of furniture on The Sims.  You just click and place.  In real life, you write things down, you ask for help from people who don't always speak your language.  You hunt for boxes.  You try to keep your kids from losing their minds and going ape-crazy in the store.  You have to eat because you're always there during a meal.  You have to shuffle 2 or 3 or 4 carts to check out.  You get stared at for that.  Then, you have to have it delivered because no car in Europe can hold all that stuff.  Then you put it together.  Repeat 6,000 times.  We never had time to stop and think about our purchases.  It was go-time all the time.  It is no fun shopping like that.

J--Jack!  He is blossoming here.  I think his eastern European roots are really shining through.  My how his Bubbie would be proud.  The kid is eating me out of house and home.  He is very silly and happy.  He knows we live here now.  He's okay with it.  Although, at the beginning, he was so funny about this whole geography thing.  Whenever we got more than 10 minutes away from our apartment, he asked when we were going back to Poland.

K--Ketchup.  It ain't free or easy to get people!  Seriously, you have to pay for it with your meal at Ikea.  At McDonald's, they give you one packet!  Please!  We are going to start carrying a bottle with us.

L--Language.  Did I mention I'm lost without English?  Everything is in Polish.  All signs.  All labels.  Foods that have other languages on them usually have languages like German and Russian.  I have no idea what food I'm buying because I can't be a freaky label-checker like I was before.  Trans fats can be in all my foods for all I know.  I'm happy when I buy tomato soup instead of beet soup.  (They are both red, you know!)

M-- Muzeum Marynarki Wojennej w Gdyni.  This is a museum close to the beach and pier in downtown Gydnia.  Is it a cool museum?  I have no idea.  I can tell you the docent at the front was very nice this past Sunday when the boys and I came in and asked if she knew the number to call a taxi.  Of course she spoke very little English.  But she helped me by finding the number and talking to the dispatcher.  Why did we need a taxi?  Well, I got all fancy and walked with the boys from our apartment to the beach.  It was 0 Celsius out and the sun was shining on the snow.  We needed fresh air, and I wanted to see if there was a way to walk to the playground near the pier.  There was.  The playground was big and fun.  It was packed.  (I fear the warm weather will be so enticing when it comes that it will be a madhouse of kids.)  The boys did play though.  We had our snow boots on and were ready.  We just weren't ready to go back up the huge hill.  They both were crying.  Michael wasn't answering my calls because he was taking out the trash.  I cried.  I said some very unhelpful things about never getting home again.  The boys cried harder.  I decided to get a taxi!  I had seen one a minute ago.  It was gone.  None were coming.  The boys wailed, "We're NEVER going to get a taxi and get home now!"  That's when I dragged us to the museum.  The taxi was called just as Michael called me back and came to our rescue.

N--Nuggets.  Yes, we still eat them every other day.  Kids are kids are kids.

O--Ocean.  Okay, it's really the Baltic Sea.  But you can see it from several windows in our apartment.  It's really neat.  Except for the sea birds.  Gross and scary.  My worst fear must be faced.  Birds.

P--Perogi!  I love, love, love these.  They are popular here.  My favorite are the ones with cheese, potatoes, and onions in them.  You bake them in butter.  Ahhhhh...a butter bath....

Q--Quest.  Right now it is a quest for sleep and patience.  Soon I hope to march all over Poland and eastern Europe in a quest to enjoy this opportunity and give my kids 2 years that many other kids don't get.

R--Recordings.  Yes, I watched the new Survivor this week.  Just later than you.  I am enjoying the Slingbox.  Michael is still tweaking it to make it even more user friendly, but so far it has helped me have a time to unwind.

S--Stairs.  Man we climb stairs.  To our apartment.  To the beach.  To everywhere.  Dear God, please let the stairs magically take away my mommy pouch and my saggy thighs.

T--Toys.  The boys need their stuff!  Thank goodness the boat should come next week with the 11 carefully packed boxes of toys.  Then maybe they can build a train track and leave me alone.  I mean, enjoy them.  I'm fine with them needing me in the same room at all times.  Really.  I swear!

U--Useful.  That word barely describes how my parents were when they were here to get us settled.  They did everything we asked and more!  Not exaggerating to say we could not have gotten settled without them.  Now I'm going to cry because I miss them.

V--Views.  We got 'em.  I love our windows and what I see.  One of my favorites is a night view of this church.  The steeple is all lit up and catches my eye even if I'm just passing by.  It really calms me too.  I also like looking at all the other buildings around.  I assume they are all multi-family units like ours, but I don't know.  There is a lot of variety and lots of trees and gardens.  I can only guess how great it will all look in the spring.

W--Why?  Why?  But, why? Seriously, why?  I'm living with two incessant quiz masters.

X--Does not exist.  As in, it is not a letter in the Polish alphabet.  So, my son's name becomes Aleks instead of Alex.

Y--"Yes or no?"  Alex has been saying this a lot.  I know he got it from me.  I am very impatient sometimes and get tired of 2 preschoolers winding their way to an answer.  So, Alex has adopted it too.  "Mommy, are we having ice cream for deezert(how Alex says it, not Polish), Yes or No?"

Z--Three.  As in, there are 3 versions in the Polish alphabet.  Zoinks!


Jane said...

I love these! What a great glimpse into your life in Poland -- and the challenges of living in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. You are very brave. I'm sure it will get easier.

And you know, with all that stair climbing, I bet you'll be rocking those skinny jeans and boots in no time.

John said...

Stephanie, good blog! Keep positive, you would be surprised the many people I have talked to since getting back that went through the same experience your are. They were military families, teachers, and business people - their advise is consistent. "Take care of each other, be bold, and soak up all the new stuff you can. In 10 years, it will all seem like a dream, and you will wish you could afford a European vacation!".

241IMDUN said...

The boys look precious. You are doing great! Can't believe their toys are still on boat somewhere! I can't last more than 10 minutes in IKEA in the US, so you are amazing!

mindye said...

What a Great Blog. You are so talented. This will be wonderful to read while you are away from us!

Rosstwinmom said...

@Jane-Thanks for reading it! I'll post pics when I get into those skinny jeans.
@John-Thanks Dad.
@Shannon-Ikea is not good for people like me with ADD. Too much to think about at once!
@Mindye-Thank you for your kind words.