We're a family with an American mom, a Polish dad, an 18 year old son, a grandmother, 2 dogs, and a cat. We also have 2 daughters. One is in college in Oregon, though she spent last year abroad in Ecuador, and one is home for now after teaching English in Morocco and India. Needless to say, we are a family that embraces many cultures and is curious about the world. At home you may find us speaking English and Polish fluently, and between the lot of us, we also have a degree of skill in French, Spanish, and German.
We live in a big home full of art in a rural setting on the edge of Santa Rosa, a city of about 160,000 in the middle of the Sonoma and Napa Wine Country. We have a lovely lawn area, vegetable garden, pool, and jacuzzi.
Marek works full-time in property management nearby and Bridget directs children's theater shows. Marek is in and out of home all day, depending upon his schedule. Bridget is also in and out depending upon her teaching schedule. Our son Aleksander, attends classes and cross country running practices, but will be around in the evenings and on weekends most of the time. The grandmother, Suzanne, a retired art therapist, is home almost all of the time.
We suffered two big losses in 2017. The intense wildfires that came through our area in October 2017, burned up some of our landscaping and outbuildings where Bridget stored a lot of her theater scenery and costumes for children. Also last year, the grandfather in our family, Suzanne's husband Allan, died of cancer. He used to be really involved in the upkeep of our extensive landscaping.
Currently we are engaged in fixing our landscaping, like replacing drip lines and replanting, and building a large shed for the theater collection. We could use help in both of these areas. We could also use help with some house chores. Bridget could use help organizing and cataloging her remaining children's theater assets. She also will be painting more scenery in the near future so there is the opportunity to help with that, or make costumes, and/or to assist at the theater classes for children that she leads. Suzanne would probably really appreciate having conversations with new people and also could use help taking our dogs out for short walks on our 6 acre property.
Marek smokes but only outside or in his workshop. So, if you are a smoker, we would expect the same from you. If you are not a smoker, you will not be exposed to cigarette smoke, as Marek is very respectful of the fact that none of the rest of us want to breathe cigarette smoke.
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
Probably the main benefits that travelers will gain by staying with us are to practice English, the satisfaction of helping our family recover from the wildfire damage, and to enjoy the beauty of this area, which is known for wine, food, outdoor living and sports, the arts, and friendly people. We know quite a bit about wine and the wineries so we could help facilitate your learning about that. If anyone is interested in children's theater, they could learn a lot by helping Bridget with her activities. There are also many famous sites to visit in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Currently Marek is fixing our landscaping destroyed by the fire, like replacing drip lines and replanting. We will be building a large shed for the theater collection. We also need to fix the wooden frame of a bocci court that got burnt and we need to do some carpentry and other prep work to get our home ready for painting. We could use help in all of these areas.
As a family, we could use help with house chores, especially some projects that we have been avoiding for a while like dusting, decluttering, and organizing.
Bridget could use help organizing and cataloging her remaining children's theater assets (there are still a lot) and with organizing her script collection. She also will be painting more scenery in the near future so there is the opportunity to help with scenery creation, making costumes, and/or assist at the theater classes for children that she leads, if that is in your area of interest and experience. Suzanne would appreciate having conversations with new people and our dogs love going out for short walks on our property, whenever a human is willing to take them. We strive to get them out every 3 hours or so, for a short walk or a chance to sniff around, eat grass, hunt for gophers, etc. in their large "play pen" (a fenced off portion of our property).
English, Polish, French, Spanish, a little German
We have two available bedrooms most of the time, one with a twin bed and one with a king size bed. Our other sleeping option is in the Studio with my costume collection. There is a bathroom next to the bedrooms, shared by our son, but there are also two other bathrooms that are only occasionally used, so we have plenty of access to showers, toilets, etc.
In our home, there is a lot of independent eating because of our different schedules, but we strive to eat dinner together as a family. We eat a lot of fresh foods of various sorts. Usually things like some meat or seafood, pasta, rice, bread, salad or other vegetables. Bridget really likes cooking on the outdoor grill. We often eat things like cereal, eggs, bagels, sandwiches, quesadillas, tacos, soup, and pasta. We will make sure we have plenty of food in the house for you to eat that you like for breakfast and lunch.
Some of the most attractive things about this area are the natural beauty for hiking in nearby hills and bike riding, the endless beautiful wineries which offer wine tastings, the coastline (about 45 minutes away), the redwood forests, the Russian River (about 30 minutes away), and the fact that we are about 60 miles north of San Francisco. We also have a small airport here, called the Sonoma County Airport, that you can fly in and out of to a few cities. Nearby are the Charles Schultz Museum and Ice Rink, a couple of really famous local breweries, like the Russian River Brewing Company and Lagunitas Brewery, the Sonoma County Museum, Ziplining through the Redwoods, art galleries, excellent restaurants, and Santa Rosa Junior College, which hosts interesting events and attracts many young adults to our city. We also have performing arts venues where you may be able to volunteer in exchange for free tickets to see performances. Our city has several movie theaters, live theaters, live comedy, bars, and live music events in various venues.
San Francisco is within reach, although time spent in transportation, especially with auto traffic at certain times, is a factor to consider. Basically the drive is 1 hour, without traffic, but at heavy traffic times, it can take 2 hours easily. There are busses and our new SMART train as transportation options. The SMART train takes you to San Rafael from which you have a ferry option to San Francisco. Busses can also get you to the ocean, river, or redwood forest. Marek, Aleksander, or I may be able to take you to some interesting sites, (especially if you help us get our work done!) Right now, we're so busy that we don't get away much ourselves, but showing you some interesting spots could be fun for us too, if we have the time. We do not have any bicycles because they burnt up in the fire, but if you are interested in biking around Santa Rosa or using a bike to explore the countryside, we could get you one. Biking is a very popular sport in our area.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Not more than 20 hours/week to be agreed upon with you around our schedules and your interest in exploring the area.