Saturday, April 27, 2013

Visiting The Motherland

The journey has been a happy one so far! Danuta, our guide for the first 24 hours has been absolutely delightful. We rented a car in Warsaw and drove 4-5 hours to Suwalki. We stopped at a lovely Hotel/restaurant for dinner and it amazing. We are in love with Polish food just like that! Here are a few photos. We will check email and melt into our cozy beds.

The beautiful farmland as we are driving to Suwalki. The sunset was perfect!

Danuta shows us how to help ourselves to lard with onions and spices to spread on your bread. She is such a special lady. We loved her from the minute we met her.

An amazing potato casserole with mushrooms, pork and mozzarella. Believe me when I tell you that I am making careful notes of all the food we try so I can recreate them when we are home! The pretty room we ate in. It was a hotel/restaurant.

Much more to come!
Mark's Sour Soup and Mom's pierogi.

Me, our server, mom and Danuta.

Ready to sleep after our 20+hour travel day.

Day 2
We arrived last night at Folwart Huta well after 10pm. This morning was our first peek of the area in daylight. I will add moe photos when we return as this blogging from an iPad app is very time consuming.

I have a better photo...but we were right by a beautiful lake.
Mark is digging right in to breakfast :)

We spent six hours in the archive in Suwalki. We poured through dozens of beautiful old record books. We couldn't believe we we're able to handle these book and take photos. Danuta said that usually it is ten books per person per day and only one hour at the archives in Warsaw. We were able to find so many family names and dates. We were not expecting the success we had. The handwriting in these books were beautiful and the wording of the description of the birth announcements are really neat. Danuta translated on for mr that I will add later.

Krasnopol is where the magic would happen. We had no idea that dream would come true for so many people today, and in the most unusual ways.

We found a great spot for lunch. Ginormous sandwiches with veggies, pickles, ham,bacon and several interesting sauces on them. The bread was perfect...we enjoyed every bite after the long day in the archives.


The first stop after our late lunch was the church where my mom's great grandparents were married. Danuta worked her magic, spoke with the organist who called the priest who a tiny bit reluctantly invited us into his home to look through some old record books...while Danuta questioned him about the Sosnowski family. We found one great piece of information in the books and I have already forgotten what it was! A marriage of someone. The priest told us about two older ladies that lived out in the country with the last name of Sosnowski and approximate directions to their home.

We decided to visit the cemetery before it was too dark, in search of Bronislaw, my great grandfather's brother who didn't immigrate with the other siblings. Mom was most hopeful in finding some clue about what happened to him. The only clue she had was a letter Bronislaw had written to his sister in1947 inquiring about his brother, Antoni who was my mother's grandfather. We knew he had lived in Krasnopol at this time. If he had married and had children then we may have a chance to possibly find a distant relative that stayed in the area who might have known him.

Mark immediately walked to a headstone with the name of Bronislaw Sosnowski! We were so excited and my mom was overcome with gratitude for finally finding him. Such a sweet memory.

As we drove around the countryside I felt the soul of my family there. It was here where they lived And worked and raised their families. There is an amazing connection that is hard to put in words when you feel that connection with your your family.

We stopped at several farms along the asking for this family. One quintessential farmer was captured secretly from my iPad. I loved him and what he represented. Someone just like one of my ancestors would have been like.

It's beginning to get dark now and the gray clouded skies were soothing to watch as meandered down one last dirt road. We approached a beautiful home and thought this was much nicer than what we were imagining. An older lady seeing the lights of our car came outside to see who we were. Danuta asked if this was the house of Sosnowski and she answered, yes! She said she had some visitors from America and she shouted, "Yes! Bring them around!" Motioning to the back of the home. We were astonished that she was so welcoming but our amazement was her reaction as she greeted and hugged us like we were her long lost children. We were invited in to her humble home and I quietly snapped a photo of her kitchen as we entered behind her.

She began introducing us to her granddaughter, then son and her husband. She kept telling us, my family from America has finally come to visit me! I never dreamed this would ever happen! (Danuta is translating all her excited conversation to us while this sweet lady keeps hugging us and clapping her hands).

As we sit down with her son, Chris and try to make sense of all of this there are a few doubts in his mind to the connection. But as soon as he hears my mom say Adam as the line where these family member came from, he gets tears in his eyes and says, "Yes, I am 100% sure this is right!" His grandfather is Bronislaw, the brother of my great grandfather who didn't immigrate to America in 1907. There is not a dry eye in the house and we are all in shock!

It was so surreal to listen to Chris and his parents, Antonio and Marianna tell us about their family and what had happened and how they had no idea of what had become of this brother. After a good hour of communication via sweet Danuta, we are invited to come back in the morning to visit some more. We will learn of the stories of Adam, the father of these two brothers and walk the take some pictures of their land and farm. This post will go too long to share everything here.
This is a miracle and dream we never imagined could really happen. What a blessing in each of our lives. Of course they would have so many questions for us about their brother and what he did. Both of these brothers passed away within a year of each other, just months after that letter was written from Poland, in 1947.

I am not able to place photos within the text on my iPad. I will rearrange things when we are home. Here are some of the photos.

(church photo goes here...i just deleted it )

The farmer I snuck a photo of.  I like him very much.  I imagined my family living in a
similar situation as we were driving around.

The dirt roads out in the countryside were were driving around on looking for two older ladies the priest thought were named Sosnowski.

Not really knowing what to think when we were invited to go inside to meet the family.

We came in through the back door through a little mud room and into this tiny kitchen.
Of course the kitty was lapping up her milk from a bowl.

Every once in awhile you meet people you know you have known before.
It is a tender time for all of us.

Mom, Marianna, Leisa, Chris and Mark.  I think Antoni was in the other room wondering what was really going on.

Oh, the Sosnowski chickens!  They were very friendly.  I want to live here!!

Our Polish Farmer! Antoni. My mom's great uncle.
It wasn't until we stepped outside to take some photos and say our goodbyes that Antoni finally made the connection!  My mom was his brother's grand daughter and I was her daughter.  He was completely tickled and so were we!!

This photo gets me every time.  Even with a language barrier you can communicate in amazing ways.  I truly believe we needed to meet.  This has been such a miraculous event.

Marianna (pronounced Mary-ahna) wanted to come with us to the cemetery to show where the grave of Bronislaw was. We had confused it with another Bronislaw the day before.  She is a remarkable lady who has quite a story.  She is a very strong lady for her tiny little stature. Her last words to us were, "I remember you all until the day I die, thank you for coming from America to visit me."  Lives forever changed.

Antoni and Marianna live downstairs and Chris, his wife and two daughters live upstairs.  He has done all the finish work in this house. Humble furnishings and a lot of love fill this home.
I have more photos than I can take time to put up.  This root cellar is across the road from the house.  How cool is that?  It goes right into the hillside and they still use it.

This is an Oak Tree that Bronislaw planted with his son Antoni when he was just 5 years old. It is registered and named and can never be cut down.  Mark helped me find a few tiny acorns under the leaves.  I think there are two very happy brothers looking down from above.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wheeler Farm

Created with flickr slideshow.

 How can you beat a beautiful Spring day spent at a farm with animals around every bend?
Throw in a couple of slides and a milkshake and you have perfection!
With the threat of rain, we nearly had the entire park to ourselves.
It made for a perfect afternoon!

It took Molly a minute to warm up to some of the animals.
Owen loved every minute with the exception of being
nibbled by a hungry duck!

We were delighted to hear that four baby sheep were born the morning before
and two new black sheep were born just that morning!
Baby Black Sheep!!

It was dark in the barn but we got a pretty good look.

I  experimented with the video on my new camera.
I think I am going to love it!!

I'm still learning how to upload it and do some editing.
One of these days I will have it figured out.

Picasa was not cooperating with me today. Rather than posting 40+ photos,
 I made this slide show for the kids to see.
 (with no options for music or rearranging the photos)  

Can't wait to go back when everything is in bloom!
Thanks for the sweetest day!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter & Spring Break

Easter Weekend and Spring Break!
Last Friday we headed to Salt Lake.  We had a play date at the Zoo!
Lindsey and  Molly packed a yummy lunch, complete with sugar cookies.

 We all had such a great day playing in the sun and enjoying 
the antics of everyone...human and animal alike!

 The Carousel  ride is always a highlight and riding the Polar Bear is a treat!
 Good times!

Saturday Morning we headed to Holladay for a waffle breakfast.
 We were NOT disappointed!
Saturday Waffle was Dee-lish!
It seems waffles are all the rage these days and Salt Lake
has it's share of tasty offerings.  We will do our best to sample them all!

 The friendliest guys you should ever find in a food truck/trailer.
(Bonus for the awesome bow-ties!)
Happy to share their story and tasty vittles!
 There is always a line - rain or shine.  They are only open on Saturdays 8-12.
 The menu is ever changing...
 Smiles abound everywhere!
Our choices were:  Caprese, Maple Bacon with Jalapeno Maple Syrup, Lumberjack (Sausage and Gravy) Build your own with Berries, Vanilla Bean Syrup and Coconut Whipped Cream.

Next stop Grandpa Neil and Grandma Joan's Easter Picnic and Egg Hunt!
 Yes, we always roast hot dogs - and they never taste better...but we have a bounty of salads and fresh fruits and veggies as well.  And dessert...and all the Easter treats to go with that!

The line of egg hunters is diminishing over the years...but Owen and Molly brought
fresh enthusiasm and excitement (and so did the rumor of $$ in some eggs!)
Owen could barely pause for a photo before he raced out 
ahead of everyone to fill his basket!

 Checking out their baskets with mom.
Molly found a golden egg with money inside.

Sharing books is a holiday tradition. 
This Easter I chose a book from our kids' (and mine) childhood.
Written in 1939 - it is a treasure.  The illustrations are so adorable.
And the story is about a strong, loving, mommy.

{Highlights via Instagram Photos}
Skyping with our DC family - who had Portland family visiting!
Emily loved having a morning to make crepes.
Saturday night Sushi with some of the grownups and a few lucky cousins!
Easter Sunday was spent with Mark's parents and brother. 
Em and I enjoyed shopping and lunches out during the upcoming week.
We also did some much needed spring cleaning inside and out!

And we now get to enjoy a family weekend together enjoying
our church's General Conference...and great food...and naps.

Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!
Happy Life!