Children and Foreign Grandparents

June 20, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Parenting, Travel



We have been in Poland for about a week, with another week to go. TH’s family is as lovely as ever, and once the (grueling) flight from the States to Poland is over I always feel we shouldn’t wait so long to come back again.


I anticipated a really awful flight, and the kids actually exceeded my expectations. It was overnight and they slept for a good portion of it. We bought a seat for T2 and put her in a car seat and that made things a lot easier. I also expected jet lag with two kids to be tough, and it was. The kids have been sleeping in the same room for several weeks now, but here we have been unable to get them to settle in and sleep through the night if they are together. I’m grateful that my in-laws are providing us with several days in Berlin without the kids. We are craving some serious re-connection time as a couple.


One thing I didn’t anticipate was how hard this trip would be for T1. Previously he was very young, either not talking yet or just learning to speak, and he didn’t seem to mind the language barrier so much. All speech probably sounded a bit confusing to him! Now though he seems really thrown by the lack of English and strong accents. I confess I’m not sure how to walk the line between affording him space to be shy and autonomous, and pushing him outside of his comfort zone in order to be polite and attempt to form bonds with these family members who love him so much.

We’ve talked about different options but aren’t sure what will be best. Maybe we keep the current approach, visiting for two weeks every 1-2 years, and see how things develop. Try to prioritize video conferencing more often. Long summers in Poland for the kids at some point? Are there things we can do now to prevent the same disconnect for T2?

It’s been really hard for me to watch all of this unfold, because I feel like one way I can express love and gratitude for my inlaws is to encourage my kids to engage with the in meaningful ways. But T1 is his own person, and I can’t force him to feel and think and act in ways that don’t match with what he wants. I hope this is just a stage, like most other things with kids this young.

Do I have any readers with family who live internationally and speak a language that isn’t spoken by their grandchildren/nieces/nephews/etc? How have you made it work?


July 25, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Travel

After we visited Italy in 2012 I couldn’t stop raving about La Torre, an agriturismo in the Bagni di Lucca region of Tuscany. Anytime anyone said they were thinking about a trip to Italy I would urge them to look into this place that felt so magical to me, and it’s a place that I wish everyone could experience. I was thrilled when my friend Ami accepted my submission about La Torre to her travel website because it means even more people can dream about going there!

Ami launched Entouriste earlier this year, a travel blog that accepts submissions of beautiful places around the world. Most of the submissions come from photographers and so the photos are gorgeous (whenever I want to pin a post to my travel-themed board on Pinterest I have a hard time choosing a favorite). I love the site not only for the photos, but for the ways the submission focus in on areas of the world that aren’t often highlighted in travel books or magazines. I know that if I ever go to France that the Eiffel Tower won’t be at the top of my list, the Walled City of Saint-Malo will. If we ever settle in one place long enough I’d love to do a Hometown Highlights tour.

Entouriste’s motto is “Go Ahead, Get Lost“, and it makes me smile every time I click over there. Even if you can’t travel right now, or in the forseeable future, it’s pretty wonderful to spend an afternoon getting lost on the site. The Patagonia post. And the Ring Road of Iceland. Oh! And the Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. I’ll stop. After I link you to this post about The Causeway Coastal Route, which you’ll add to your bucket list of you’re a Game of Thrones fan like me.

Thanksgiving 2012 (Mini) Road Trip

November 27, 2012 By: Jenna Category: family

That Husband started traveling this week and T1 and I are working on figuring out how to adjust to him not coming home at night. I was very careful to use new language when describing where TH is. Usually we talk about how he is “working hard”, but now we say he is “travelling” and I talk about the place where he has traveled to. I hope that over time T1 learns to distinguish between the days that I tell him TH is traveling (meaning he won’t be coming home that night) and the days TH is working hard (meaning he will get to have daddy put him to bed!). Although there are many ways it will be stressful, one positive benefit I’ve already identified is that I’ll get a little more “me time” (if T1 ever decides to go to bed, it’s 10:00 pm and he is refusing to do so as I type this). Usually I make dinner and clean up and then devote the rest of my night to spending time with my boys. Now that TH is gone 3 nights/week, that hour I spent with him can be some time I use for my own little projects.

Of course I’m not going to make any assumptions about what blogging will be like for the next few months, especially with the baby, but I did cross a item off my to-do list last week — I finished sorting and scanning in all of our receipts from the past year! I still need to go into Mint and categorize everything from April/May until the present, and then a bunch of Jenna Cole related tax stuff (which is extra annoying considering I haven’t even been working much!). If I finish that up before the baby comes then I’ll get to attack all of the blog posts that have been building up over the past few months. Hooray!

For now though, I wanted to share some photos from our post-Thanksgiving road trip down to Monterey. We originally planned on doing the 17-mile drive and then visiting the aquarium, but we left late and the weather was so nice that paying a bunch of money to stay inside didn’t sound appealing just yet. So we did the 17-mile drive and then went over to Capitola (and yes, we went to Gayle’s :) ) to check out the beach over there. It ended up being one of our favorite family-together-time weekends ever!

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Bay Area Entertainment Suggestions

August 22, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Uncategorized

Hiiii! We’re still in Poland. Here is T1 doing what he loves most, playing in my in-law’s backyard.


Here is Krakow:


All of the family members here keep saying “Your time here is so short, too short.” I hope they will come visit us in California soon, now that we have the space to host them!

When I announced we were moving to Chicago two years ago, you guys flooded me with suggestions regarding what to do and see while we were there, and I loved it! If you’re headed to Chicago and would like to find ideas regarding where to eat, I have a Pinterest board devoted to places I’ve been (and a few places I wanted to go but never got to).

I logged in to Facebook this morning and noticed a friend had asked what to see/eat/do in San Francisco which led to lots of fabulous suggestions. Do you have any suggestions for me? Now that we have more disposable income and T1 is a little bit older we are looking forward to exploring a bit more. Also we haven’t been very good about making date night a regular occurrence and I am committed to making sure that changes from here on out!

Although I’m sure most people know and love San Francisco the best (and I’m sure we will make some trips up there!) we’re living closer to Stanford and suggestions related to the Palo Alto area would be much appreciated. Or Berkeley or San Jose if it’s something we absolutely can’t miss.

If you have a whole books worth of ideas and would like to get specific, here are the type of suggestions that fit our current lifestyle:

Family outings appropriate for children under 5

Weekend half-day trips for the whole family

Inexpensive (and delicious!) restaurants in the Palo Alto area where I can take friends and family when they come stay with us, or for meeting up with people in the area

Unique restaurants for date night (they don’t have to all be expensive, though French Laundry and Chez Panisse are already on my list!)

Date night ideas (particularly free ones in the Peninsula area of the Bay)

Activities and places to take guests (with/without kid(s) )

Any and all restaurants (and why you loved them) because I love bookmarking possibilities and looking at menus!


Next week we are going to have a few days together before TH starts work and I want to do something fun before he gets really busy. I’m thinking a day trip down to Santa Cruz (it’s about n hour from where we live) could work. Is there another beach town you would suggest instead? Or something else a sick pregnant lady can handle?

Poland 2011

May 02, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

Look at how much T1 has grown in 6 months time! We were in Poland in September of 2011 and I’m writing this post in May of 2012. Prompt recaps just really aren’t my thing, you know? This is a little taste of the happiness we found in That Husband’s hometown.

My in-laws have a gorgeous backyard filled with trees and bushes that were bursting with fruit when we were there. Pears, berries, apples. We missed the mini kiwis by only a few days!

T1′s grandparents on both sides spoil him shamelessly. On this visit to Poland he found a special chair in the kitchen where he could sit and drink his milk while watching Teletubbies (in Polish of course).

A favorite from the trip!

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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