Your windowsill is important in Poland

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Photo source

Your windows are your eyes to your world.  But a windowsill, in Poland, is so much more than that.

For example, when you move into a new home or apartment, in Poland, your windowsill becomes your welcoming table.

In fact, you throw a party BASED around your windowsill.  The party is even named after your windowsill.  It is called a parapetowka.  And this is what is involved:  welcoming drinks and snacks and more welcoming drinks.

What do I mean by welcoming drinks?  Well, in Poland, that generally means vodka.  I mean, it is Poland, right?!

If you are not big drinkers, no worries.  Set up juice on your windowsill and partner it with some salty sticks (or pretzels) and perhaps some cookies, too.

The entire point of the party is not the food, anyhow, it is the welcoming of your friends into your home.  Your new place where you will reside.

In fact, oftentimes, especially in the past, the parapetowka was when there wasn’t even a drop of furniture in the home.  Literally, no furniture.

You sat on the floor.  You had your snacks. You drank your drinks.  And you visited, with your friends, in your new home.

As uncomfortable as that may sound, when you are surrounded by friends, it completely makes up for the lack of cushions.

You are with those important to you in your home. Home is where the heart is. Hence your windowsills are the eyes to your heart, where, at your parapetowka, you see those most important to your heart and home.

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How important is your windowsill in your life?  Does it hold any special meaning to you?  What about any other traditions that may help make your move into a new place a home?  I look forward to hearing back from you!

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5 tips to help your child feel at home in a foreign country

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We have 3 children: Adelyne, 11 years; Maxwell, 5 years; and Josephine 3 years. All of them are American Passport holders but Polish residents.

This is what we, Richard and Brooke Nungesser, as foreigners abroad, have learned about living and raising children in a country that is outside of our passport country.

1.  Make sure that your child speaks the language

We were told that the best way for our children to learn the language is enroll them in the public schools. We did that with Adelyne. She entered kindergarten with limited Polish and made friends the first day of school. And, so, with our children we apply the method of full immersion.

Today, Adelyne is fluent in Polish, is starting the 6th grade, and last year (in 5th grade) was the class president. She is never at home because she is daily with the friends in her neighborhood and community. Best of all, she has no hesitancy to go anywhere in Poland (For example: shop, cinema, park, post office) because Poland is her home through life and language.

2.  Be your child’s advocate for social hour

We were extremely active in soliciting play dates and building community around Adelyne. We wanted to make sure that, even if  language was difficult, she would feel loved and accepted by the people that she spent the majority of her life with here in Poland.

Our oldest has an entire community of friends and parents that are her extended family.  Although her aunts and uncles may be in the United States, she has an entire village of aunts and uncles in Poland (ciotki i wujkowie). It is a gift, giving your child family in a faraway land.

3.  Teach your child to have pride in country of residence

One of the most important things you can do is teach your children about the country where you reside. It is one of the most vital parts of helping your child understand and care about your country of residence:  knowing the country. What are important dates, events, traditions, foods, festivals?

Not only is it important but fun.

Therefore, go ahead and participate in the parades and traditions of the country. As an added bonus, dress them in the country’s colors, of course!

4.  Be adventurous

Absolutely teach your child to explore! It is a vital part of life: exploration. And, being in a foreign country gives you an opportunity to do something so few have the privilege of doing: exploring while “close” to home. Your home abroad, of course.

Find out what places, cities, national monuments or mountains are in your country of residence.

Once you have compiled a list of places you would like to visit, make sure to take time with your family putting them in order of importance to you. Then take a look at your calendar and mark the dates for your explorations.

Lastly, if you do not have to take car to get there, find the local bus, streetcar, or trains that travel to those destinations and relax on your journey. After all, the train is always more fun!

5.  Open your home

Just as important it is for your child to explore other cultures, invite your local village to come into your home and life and explore the life of your culture, too. Make your customary foods and invite them to help you celebrate your home country’s holidays.

Bring diversity to your village, teaching your child that while it is important to celebrate the country of residence, it’s also important to celebrate heritage! And everyone will be better because of it.

In fact, we have made it a point to open our home to our daughter’s classmates and the community, including the parents. We host annual parties and barbecues at our home, and the children wait for these events each year.

Doing this has really expanded not only our daughter’s community but ours, as well, and has made us feel completely at home.

Which is what this is all about, a home away from home!

 

 

Writing about Life Abroad with Max…

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Hey my friends.  Here’s a link to the article that I wrote about my child’s food allergies.  The Mighty picked it up (I write about Max’s allergies at www.allergymax.org).

I hope you’ll enjoy the read.  Click here to access it:  https://themighty.com/2017/02/managing-child-food-allergies-abroad/

I’m super stoked I made it that far…Remember to Like and Share it with your friends, too!  Thank you so much.

XO from here to there,

B

 

 

Don’t travel with toddlers. Ever.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a new mother.  Or perhaps it’s because I never travel—especially long distances.  But I learned my lesson.  And I learned it good.

It’s 2am and I am up.  And my toddler is up.  And I don’t foresee sleep in either of our futures.  At least sleep at night.

This is why I write this warning.

Don’t travel with toddlers.  Ever!

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Now, on the facetious side of it all—

I am not a new mother.  I have 3 kids, and my oldest (now 9 years of age) was lugged on an airplane crossing state lines at 3 weeks and crossing an entire continent and ocean and half another continent at 6 weeks.  She has since then been on 4 continents (which is 1 more than I have been to as her 39-year-old mother).

My middle—the current toddler that is wide eyed and not so cute at 2am (smile and wink) has been in 4 countries in his 3 years and 2 months of life.  3 of those countries he has traveled to via plane.  Only one via car—and that was to be whisked to an emergency room in Germany.

My youngest—my baby—she’s traveled a couple cross-Atlantic flights with me since 5 months of age.

And my recommendation stands:  Don’t travel with toddlers.  Ever.

Seriously.

Sleeping solutions used to pour down his throat?

Nope.  No good.

Keeping the devil (I mean angel) up all day so he’ll sleep all night?

Fail.

Bribery?

Threatening?

TV?

Nothing puts the kid to sleep.

Not even mommy’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And so I lug on—sleepless.  Wild-eyed.  Crying.

Worse than the toddler.

Leaving my husband to pick up all pieces of the house—and the three kids.  And the three dogs.  And the water turtle.  And the chameleon.

And the dishes.  And the laundry.  And the mess the little toddler tornados make every other second.

Wait.

Perhaps this isn’t so bad after all—for me?

A little late night TV to myself.  A little late-night snacking.  A little mid-morning nap.  A little no-cleaning????

And a hubby that runs ragged after everything appreciating me more and more with each passing moment.

I was wrong.  I take it back.

Travel with toddlers.

And then use them as your excuse to stay up late.  Sleep in.  And do nothing!

It’s like living the Mother’s Day Every Day dream, my friends!

Bon voyage!  And don’t forget the baby!