Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Wieliczka Satlt Mine

This morning I took my parents to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland.  Wieliczka is an adorable town about 20 minutes outside Krakow.  The Salt Mine is a must-see if you travel to Krakow.  I know the term "salt mine" isn't the first thing you think of visiting when you plan a trip to Europe, but Wieliczka is amazing.  The mine is about 900 years old, and after a 2 hour tour we had only seen 1% of the mine.  But the size of the mine isn't what draws people to see this's what the miners did inside the mine once their shift was over.  Before I show you pictures from inside, here's a couple shots of me and my folks as we were waiting to go in....

My mother-in-law always tells me I need to get in more of the pictures, so I made sure my mom took one with me in it!

The pictures do not do this place justice, but here's a picture of a chapel that was entirely carved out of salt. Even the chandeliers are carved out of rock salt!  The mine is filled with sculptures the miners created after their work shifts were done.  They did it willingly, because they wanted to make the mine a more beautiful place.  They weren't professional artists, which makes this place even more amazing.

I think I'm going to tell Luke to get busy carving one of these for our dining room back home....

My parents standing in front of the sculpture of "The Last Supper."  This sculpture is only 17 cm deep, but the detail is amazing.

The area surrounding the mine was so pretty I made my parents stop another picture.  

Another fun outing...tonight we're all ready to stay home and relax.  I think tomorrow we're going to see Auschwitz.  I'm looking forward to that even though it's not going to be a happy place to visit.

Now I'm off to relax with the family!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Night at the Rynek

Last night (after Mom and Dad had taken some time to rest and recuperate from the loooong flight) we took them out for a night at the Rynek.  The Rynek is the Market Square in the center of Krakow, and it's an amazing area of history, architecture, restaurants and shopping.  The weather was perfect, and Mom and Dad were surprisingly energetic for their first day here.  I told them I was impressed....I usually don't have the energy to go anywhere after  a day of international travel.  Here's a few pictures from our night...

Mom and Dad standing in front of Wawel Castle.  We plan on exploring the castle this weekend, so there will be lots more pictures of this to come.

This is All Saints Church.  I tried to get the entire height of the church and Mom and Dad, which makes them look like tiny specks on the stairs.

In the center of the square stands the Cloth Hall.   

Caleb was a real sweetie, and bought Grammy a flower.  

I told Andrew he had to hold someone's hand, and he only wanted to hold Papa's hand.
We took them out to Babcia Maliny's, which is a Polish restaurant.  We figured they needed to try Polish food their first night here.

We like this restaurant because it has so much charm.  It's located underneath a university, and looks like an old cabin.  The aquarium in the middle keeps the kids busy while we wait on our food.

Isaac and Caleb have been asking to ride in a horse-drawn carriage since we moved here, and we finally did it last night.  We did this after we got ice cream ("lody" in Polish) as you can see in the picture.  It was the perfect ending to our night.

Everyone slept really well last night, especially Mom and Dad!  Now this morning it's off to the Wielicza Salt Mine.... more picture to come later!

We have some special visitors!

We had some very special people arrive at our home today....Grammy and Papa!  The kids were so excited for them to get here.  I caught Naomi watching for them out the window....

The kids waited for them to arrive out on the patio.  This was their "thumbs up" for grandparents who come visit!

I asked Naomi to give me her own "thumbs up" and this is what she did.  If any photo deserves a caption contest, it's this one.

They're here!!!!

Of course, Grammy and Papa came bearing gifts for the grandkids.  Grammy made Naomi and Andrew each their own "quiet books."  So cute!  They had fun playing with them and coloring in their books.

Caleb requested Rice Krispies cereal so Grammy brought him several baggies full.  (Ziploc bags are easier to pack than cereal boxes.)

Isaac got Ramen Noodles and Nerds jelly beans

Naomi also got a pink raincoat which she insisted on wearing even though it was 80 degrees outside.

Grandparents are so much fun!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Isaac's Birthday

Today was Isaac's 9th birthday! Luke took the day off work and we decided to try out Park Wodny for the first time. I knew it would be too much for me to take my camera inside the water park (watching four kids inside a water park is enough work for me!) so I made Isaac stop for a picture in the parking lot. The kids loved this place, so I think we'll definitely be coming back.
After we were done at Park Wodny, we let Isaac choose where to eat for lunch. Of course, he picked KFC. Our boys are currently obsessed with KFC, and anytime we give them a choice of where to go out to eat that's what they choose. So we had birthday KFC....just like we did a month ago for Caleb's birthday.

We celebrated at home later that evening with Isaac's requested dinner of chicken taquitos. Then we gave him his presents. Luke had been teasing Isaac all day that all we were giving him was a box of cucumbers, so he couldn't resist pulling a little trick on him. After dinner, Luke went upstairs and wrapped up one of Naomi's toy cucumbers and presented it to Isaac as his present. Isaac wasn't amused.

Then we decided to give him his real present....he was pretty excited about that one.

He wanted a decorated cookie instead of a cake.

He got a few surprises from his friends back home which was really fun. We're very thankful for our friends back in the U.S.A.!

I was a little concerned about how the boys would handle having their birthdays here, away from friends and family. But they have been so happy, and celebrating their birthdays in Poland was just fine with them! We're so thankful for how God has helped our kids to adjust to life here.

Happy Birthday Isaac! We love you so much!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Weekend in Zakopane

As I posted previously, last weekend was Caleb's birthday. Back in the States, we would have had a big birthday party with all the grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. and the boys would have had a sleepover party with their best buddies. Since we are spending their birthdays this year away from all their friends and family, we wanted to make sure and do something extra fun on their birthday. We decided for Caleb's birthday to drive down to Zakopane and spend a weekend skiing and enjoying the views of the Tatra Mountains.

We had a great time, but our plans were slightly changed due to the weather. It was FREEZING cold that we could only tolerate being outside for a few minutes. Luke, Isaac, and Caleb attempted skiing on Friday, but only lasted about an hour and a half. We went out for dinner Friday night, and it was painful walking the few minutes outside to get to the restaurant. We decided on Saturday that since no one wanted to ski another day and it was really too cold to do any sightseeing or activities outside that we would just head home Saturday afternoon. We still celebrated Caleb's birthday Saturday with lunch, dessert and presents. Here's some pictures from our fun, but bone-chilling, weekend:

Our apartment was so cold Saturday morning that Andrew ate his breakfast with his hat on and Luke's coat wrapped around his waist. (The temperature inside the apartment was my fault...I unknowingly left the patio door partially open Friday night. Oops.)

One of Caleb's biggest surprises was that several of his friends from back home had sent cards and gifts. He wasn't expecting that, but it put a huge smile on his face.
His Lego City set that he had been hoping for....
We let him choose where we would eat for his birthday lunch. Of all the choices in Zakopane, he chose KFC. And he wanted Jello for dessert instead of birthday cake.

Enjoying his birthday fried chicken
We enjoyed the scenery of the Tatras..... from inside our warm car.

We stayed in an apartment rather than a hotel. (We are discovering that is the best way for a family of six to travel through Europe. Hotels aren't very welcoming to families with four kids, and require us to book two rooms. Most Europeans cities have nice apartments you can rent for a very reasonable price.) Isaac wanted a picture by the spiral staircase:

The view from our patio

Getting ready to hit the slopes!
They were so hungry...when will the pizza get here?
Caleb was being shy. Or maybe he was just trying to thaw out his face from our cold walk to the restaurant.
Naomi is such a cheese...she loves getting her picture taken.
We waited quite a while for our pizza...what better time to have a family photo shoot?

It was a fun weekend, but we were thankful to be back in our warm home Saturday night. Isaac is requesting a trip to the beach for his birthday....I think he just wants to go somewhere warm!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Caleb turned seven today! We celebrated by going to Zakopane for the weekend. It was a fun weekend...I'll try to post more pictures tomorrow. We had a great time celebrating the blessing of seven years with this guy...

Caleb, we're so thankful God made you a part of our family!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Naomi's first phrase

Naomi said her first two-word phrase this week. It wasn't directed towards myself, Luke or the boys. She was talking to Jasper. She said, "Hi Doggie!"

She and Jasper have become very good friends.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Fun

We finally got some snow here! Last week we awoke to snow falling every morning, although a lot of it ended up melting. Here's some shots from a few of our snowy days: