Me and Social media

So, people have been telling me for years to get instagram. And I have been telling them for years… no. Twitter, Facebook and blog is enough, remember I do my twitter and GF UAE twitter, my facebook and GF UAE facebook and both the blogs too!

Well. I was wrong, and Im admitting it. I got Instagram and I LOVE it! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Its like twitter only its just images and nobody gets pissed off that you are posting to many images because, DOH, its Instagram!

So yeah I was wrong. (See hubby? I do admit it sometimes!)

So if you like food, puppies and other cute things, do come join me, see you there!

My Instagram!

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Orphanages in Poland

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Yesterday I did something that was absolutely heartbreaking but encouraging at the same time.

I visited an orphanage about an hours drive outside of Wroclaw. As a mother, my heart was breaking in to a million little pieces. How can someone just abandon their baby? And even worse, an older child! A child who on some level understands, asks questions and wants to know why? It took me the whole day to try to get back to “normal”. The women who work in the orphanage must all have super powers, many are mothers themselves, and their hearts must be breaking on a daily basis.  They all deserve a medal. On a positive note, I was really surprised at how clean it was, the abundance of toys and happy colours, I had expected the place to be like something out of those pictures you saw from Russia in the 80’s or the pictures coming out of Romania after its fall. Far far from it. The children are well looked after, 51 children, 50 staff. They are in nice clean surroundings that look like a modern nursery or pre school. There are many many kitchens and children are split in to smaller groups for meals and activities with an “auntie”.

I also felt encouraged, because I really think we can help them. By we, I mean my children’s school, the expat community and people around us.

I felt compelled to offer this home my help many months ago, some of the children were at a school event concert and I couldn’t take my eyes of them. Gorgeous beautiful lovely kids, and someone gave them up! I cant adopt them all, but I sure as hell can try to contribute to making their lives easier in any way I can.

I am not rich, I cant do this on my own, but I have a voice and Im able to ask others for help!

There are hundreds of orphanages in Poland, with an estimate of 80 000 children being in care today. Some orphanages are large, like the one I visited, others are smaller family homes. The children in these orphanages are not necessarily orphans per se, some have been given up, some have been taken from their homes by police or social services, others are in state care while parents are in prison. Some parents just cant cope and their children go to stay in an orphanage for a short while before going back home.

Many of the children suffer emotionally, not just from abuse of course, but the older children from knowing that they were given up.

In this particular orphanage children stay on average 6 months to a year. Some however stay only weeks, and one of the longest staying residents stayed 3 years. The orphanage has children from birth up to 12 years old. Once children turn 12, they must go to a youth home. Siblings are kept together as much as possible. Sometimes they get 4 kids from the same family! In other cases they will get a new baby every few years from the same family….. heart breaking, and social services just cant keep up.

Adoption is under strict regulation in Poland. Law states that children put up for adoption must go to Polish families first. If a child is unsuccessful in being adopted in the first year, then the adoption goes global with people from other countries being eligible to adopt. Catholic families have priority, and then Christians (many of the kids adopted internationally are older and already familiar with religion and Polish tradition, so I guess this makes sense for them to do it like this). Children with health problems or developmental delays often end up being adopted to foreign families, as most Polish families simply aren’t interested or cant support a child with special needs.

There are also age restrictions. If you are below 40 you can adopt a baby, but each year after 40 is the age that the child can be, so if you are 42, a child must be minimum 2, if you are 44, minimum 4 etc. You can be 47 and apply to adopt a 5 year old, and they will look at your case, but generally the rules are not broken.

In the orphanage right now, there is a 10 year old boy with his 7 year old sister. They have been there for two years and have been up for adoption this entire time. They must be wondering what is wrong with them that their real mum and dad left them and now no new mummy and daddy want them either. There is also a very small baby with a cleft palate, (given up because of this??) and a newborn baby girl. HEART. BREAKING. 51 children. Fiftyone.

Generally the children WANT to be adopted, a child who is “not ready” to be adopted would never be adopted against his or her will. The match is made in Warsaw in the central adoption place, then the child and new parent meet a few times before everything goes through. Single women can adopt in Poland, but not men.

The orphanage gets a government grant every month, this money must pay wages (fees for speech therapists and special therapies, psychologists etc) as well as bills, water , electricity and so on. They also must buy anything they need with this money. Food, clothes, school equipment and so on. I asked if it was enough, if they ever worried about being able to meet the children’s needs, and the answer was yes. All the time.

Anyway, less of the heart breaking stuff and more of how we can help these kids!

Many church groups and organisations get in touch with orphanages and help them. They receive many many toys and books, sometimes people just show up and drop stuff, other times its sent in the mail. Clothes are needed at times, but at the moment they have what they need. Christmas was recent and apparently people are very generous at that time of year. I also dropped off a ton of clothes and shoes at my visit, thanks to those who helped me collect those.

There are many things that are always needed and rarely get given. I will give you a list in a minute.

I am getting the PTA in my school involved, and Im hoping we will be able to deliver them a monthly food delivery. Non perishables obviously. This should take some pressure off. If you are in Wroclaw and want to help, get in touch using the message function on my facebook page.

Things they need on an ongoing basis are:

  • Underwear (new)
  • Socks (new)
  • Bedding / blankets / towels
  • Nappies
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby toiletries, such as cream for sore bottoms, talcum powder etc
  • Pacifiers (dummies)
  • Washing powder
  • Cleaning products
  • shampoos and soaps for children
  • tooth brushes and toothpaste

then they are slightly short of and would need the following:

  • Dictionaries english / Polish
  • Books for learning in Polish, text books, not blank ones
  • paper for drawing A4
  • Colouring books

They do not currently need any paints, crayons etc, as they are overflowing, they also have more toys then they can store.

For foods they would like:

  • Pastas
  • Rice
  • Beans / lentils / pulses
  • Tinned foods
  • Baby food in jars
  • Baby formula
  • Long life milk
  • Other things that don’t expire to fast can also be added.

If you can help, let me know, I will be going at least once a month, possibly more.

If you want to help the orphanage directly you can, they have a website.

there is also a Facebook page

Do let me know if you can help! Thank You!!

-Linda

(And yes, I asked if they had any Celiac kids, if the answer had been yes I wouldnt have left without them!)

Edit to add: If you are interested in adoption in Poland there will be many steps to go through, adoption is free but there will be some fees involved in the paperwork process. A family is checked thoroughly before being matched with a child. Orphanages have no say in which family adopts a child as they do not deal with the actual adoption process.

1. Wojewódzki Ośrodek Adopcyjny w Warszawie ul. Nowy Zjazd 1 02-018 Warszawa tel. 22 621 10 70 22 622 03 71 22 622 03 72 e-mail: woa.warszawa@mcps.com.pl

2. Krajowy Ośrodek Adopcyjny TPD Krakowskie Przedmieście 6 00 – 325 Warszawa tel. (0-22) 425 46 77, 425 46 88 faks: (0-22) 827 78 13 e-mail: adopcja@tpdzg.org.pl

3. Katolicki Ośrodek Adopcyjny ul. Grochowska 194/196 04-357 Warszawa tel.: (22) 618 92 45 e-mail: katolickiosrodek@interia.pl

Moving time! (again)

What a week!

Friday morning last week we were in Poznan, Friday evening we were in Wroclaw. By Sunday I had somehow magically managed to unpack everything! Then a frantic whizzing from place to place to sort out the school, kennels for dogs for our trip, food shopping, food shopping research (gluten free peeps know exactly what I mean!) etc etc.

We somehow managed to pick a great area for ourselves without ever having visited (thats how we roll, haha). Its great with tons of greenery, kids and barking dogs.

Im not sure what it is with barking dogs here…. if my dogs bark they get told off, but it seems here many people have dogs to deter from break-ins, and a quiet dog sleeping indoors obviously doesn’t deter much, so dogs are left stood in gardens barking. Drives me slightly bonkers, but it is what it is. At least I feel totally warranted to smile smugly at all these dog owners that MY dogs are so well trained and don’t bark.

We found a great little shop that sells organic produce and some freshly baked gluten free goods. I was to scared to get any of the baked stuff because even though the lady assured me it was baked in a gluten free kitchen you just never know. I need my hubby to go and ask her all the tough questions in Polish. But the produce! Gigantic organic apples that tasted like the apples from my childhood, I cant wait for summer when all the locally grown berries will come!

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The shop is called Awokado – delikatesy ekologiczne, they have a facebook page (opens in new window).

Slightly further up the same road there is yet another eko (organic) shop, a family farm and the produce is sold in someones garden! Eko eggs and veggies. Im in HEAVEN 😀

I have yet to find where the shops selling all the breads are hiding, so far its all schar. Im guessing I need to find another delikatessen. In Poznan we found most of the breads in normal supermarkets. Im sure I will find all what we need eventually.

Few more days now then its Dubai time! Cant wait. Also cant wait to come back and for kids to start their new international school where people speak only english. Happy happy happy! 😀

-Linda

 

Life in Poland – pretty awesome at times :)

People are often asking me about life in Poland, and by the way they ask I kindof know they expect it to be terrible. Then I reply to them and say, fine, great actually, and I can hear the surprise in my own voice! Not because I expected to not like it maybe, but I didn’t really expect to like it either. So fine, we have had some teething issues, Ive had stroppy people refuse to serve me in shops as I don’t speak Polish, and the security guards stalking my every move in shops drives me bonkers (do I LOOK like a thief??), but I’ve also met a whole ton of AWESOME people. In 6 months Ive already made friends for life! Lois from Polish Housewife, an American expat here in Poznan (go check out her blog!). I met Lois while searching for Poznan International Ladies Club. Great to meet a fellow blogger and have someone to speak native english speaking english with! Then the PILC ladies who have all been awesome as well. I never thought I was a ladies Club kindof girl, but I guess I was wrong! What a great and fast way to make friends. Then there was a note sent home in my sons school bag, ‘Hi we are Mrs I and Mr P, our sons like each other and want to play, CALL US, we speak english!’, possibly the awesomest note I ever received!

Then the random strangers in the post office line who overhear the cashier saying ‘Nie’ to my question of whether they speak english and offer to help translate. The lovely people in shops who speak not a word of english but who go out of their way to help you in any way they can! The awesome insurance guy who filled out all my claim forms for me as it had to be done in polish, and even got me coffee while I waited! All these people, they make Poland great. On top of that, the air, the trees, the green, heck, even the RAIN makes Poland pretty darned awesome at times.

Yes there are minor culture shocks, the old historic buildings which wow me, and makes my son – who has yet to learn to appreciate the beauty of old things – wonder why they aren’t torn down, ‘they are so old and dirty’ he says! The graffiti – everywhere- the blatant poverty in some areas. The drunks on the street (Don’t get that in the Middle East!), but I am discovering, liking, enjoying.

Im looking forward to summer, to exploring the different areas and going for a stay in the gluten free hotel in the mountains. An article in a Swedish newspaper the other day stated Poland has some of the best beaches in Europe, I cant wait to see those too!

Yes, I know I used the word awesome an insane amount of times in this post, but I just wanted to share some good stuff along with the bad 🙂 now, back to house hunting for me!

-Linda

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Wroclaw, I think I love you!

Have you ever visited somewhere and felt instantly at home? You know, that almost ‘in love’ feeling where you walk around with a silly smile on your face and just want to inhale the air even further in to your lungs, almost inhaling the actual place? If you’ve never felt that way, then feel free to think I’m a lunatic, and I wish you luck in finding your ‘at home’ place.

We went to visit Wroclaw because the school situation here in Poznan was getting to a point where we have to leave. So quick, we must find another town, another school! I didn’t expect to find another ‘at home’ place in the process, a city that Im sure will always live in my heart.

Where Poznan at times feels half asleep, Wroclaw feels alive, pulsating, moving! Where at times I feel like Poznan is in black and white, Wroclaw is totally 100% in colour! And they have gnomes! (I will have to do a full post about the gnomes one day, they are awesome!)

Poznan is nice, I like our house here and its been fine, but is fine enough? I guess that if the school had lived up to our expectations, and our children had been educated well, cared for well and been happy, then fine would have evolved to good. But unfortunately the school situation has been a total disaster. We visited two schools in Wroclaw and my kids would be lucky to go to either one of them.

So, we are moving to Wroclaw!   – insert jumping up and down exited smiley here –

-Linda

I write blog posts in my head…..

Every night its the same story, I cant sleep, my mind is whizzing and swirling like crazy, so I write, in my head, and some totally amazing oscar winning material style blog posts are written some nights. Of course, by morning, I dont remember a word and dont feel inspired at all.

I realised I haven’t written much on here about life, and about the things around us. The truth is, I rarely write unless its positive. Why? Surely people who want to share our lives by reading here want the good with the bad? Or is it just that living for so many years in the Middle East has made me unable to write negative things out of fear of being told off? Freedom of Speech is a great thing, but I actually set far harsher limits on myself then any government. I still – even though I can speak openly – don’t speak badly of people, companies, brands, institutions etc. I am pretty sure if I had, there would have been a ton more traffic here, but I also don’t write for traffic.

I do however owe you all some posts, about another move we are about to make (yes I know!). About hospitals in Poland, about people who speak perfectly good english refusing to do so, about the school which we decided to pull the children out of, about Poznan, about Wroclaw (my new love!). All those topics have been covered extensively – at night – in my head. Sorry about that, I will try to get them on to paper (can you even say that nowadays? on to an electronic devise?) asap, I promise!

I leave you with a picture of a road sign – deep in the middle of the Polish wilderness, just because, blog posts with pictures are nicer then blog posts without 🙂

-Linda

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Im totally obsessed with house hunting!

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In the past 8 years Ive moved country (twice) and house ehm…. 6 times. Lucky for me then that trawling house websites has turned in to a bit of an obsession! By now, I know exactly what I want / need in a house. I know the average price for buying and renting in several cities, not to mention countries! And whats more, I re check my information frequently! I would make a superb estate agent! When Im stressed, I play computer games and house hunt. You lot can keep the wine (or whatever your vice is)!

I have documents (I’m not actually sure I should be admitting to this, LOL), listing different cities and the average house price with school information and current school fees included. This is a rather new addition to my obsession, and its what happens when you look for a place to live with only 2 things in mind 1. Financially viable. 2. No dust.

My husband is an architect, and he really helps me feed my obsession, I find plots, he draws me my dream house, I move some walls, he asks how I want the kitchen. Aaaah. If only we had the funds!!

Im still researching. Why? Im not sure. I guess I want to keep all options and doors open, and how can you if you are not informed? Poland is a 2 year plan, then a new plan will form, that plan may very well be to stay in Poland longer, or who knows, maybe we pick a new country? Something closer to the dust! I find myself staring at google earth maps for hours, trying to figure out where would work, gluten free wise, many get crossed off in my mind instantly. Although my friend Melanie would laugh at me and say, ‘but Linda, YOU if anyone, can CHANGE that’ (meaning gluten free awareness and availability of foods). But Im just not sure I have the energy to do it all again? Im still running GlutenFree UAE more or less full time, with some help nowadays, but its still mainly me.

Im super super keen on New Zealand. I have no ties. The world has no borders. Im feeling incredibly lucky 🙂

-Linda