Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Embracing Blogging Stereotypes

One more post about blogging. This time, what I love most about blogging. And I love how Jill and Heather just could NOT keep it negative in the comments on the previous post and insisted on mentioning the bright side of blogging. What is wrong with you ladies?

* Keeping in touch with friends and family. I've gotten back in touch with some good friends and cousins, one of whom used to be my best friend/worst enemy (remember those days?) I believe we're friends again! (Okay, we have been since we stopped being 12, but we've hardly been in contact since then, until now).

* Seeing so many different things from a new perspective. I love reading about people's joys, struggles, mistakes, spiritual experiences/growth etc. and how you deal with them. I feel really uplifted by reading about them.

*Making friends. Whenever I read about "bloggy friends" I used to do a virtual eye roll. Now I totally get it. I love getting to know new people through their blogs. I love to do the reciprocated blog reading, although I don't like to feel obligated myself or for others to feel that way either, of course. I also hope that visitors to my blog won't ever feel like I belong to some sort of clique, as I love meeting new people, but am very grateful for those of you who I do sort of consider "mine." (sorry to be all possessive like that!)

* Cyber hugs. Another thing I used to roll my eyes at. Now, however, I love knowing that if I ever posted something on my blog to vent or was looking for sympathy, I almost surely would find it here with you great people.

*Excellent comments. I love reading your responses to my posts. I used to hate reading through a food bloggers comments on their peanut butter chocolate cake and read 35 "Oh!! I just LOVE the peanut butter and chocolate combination!!!"s because it's kind of like, who doesn't? But I feel like you guys are the awesomest commenters. This isn't just because I "know" you. Even my sister mentioned in the comments on the previous post that she likes to read the comments because I have some "fun followers." It's really a joy to read what you have to say, and then read it again. Long or short. Funny, simple or profound.

**NOTICE: Because you ARE such great commenters, and I sometimes wish I could email a response to your comment, (like the one who offered a recipe!) I was wondering if you might consider including your email contact in your profiles. I know some of you don't want to, but I'm sure some of you just haven't considered it. If that's you, please consider it! Or maybe just email me, if you're not afraid of me and my stalkerishness. My email address is on my profile. I love being able to email those of you that I do have contact with.

* Having questions answered. Andrea mentioned in the negative comments about the use of a lure to get comments in the form of a question at the end of the post. I think she was kidding. But I actually love that if I actually DO want to know something I can ask, and you'll tell me!! Like about the weather. I got a great weather report all across the U.S. and I really did want to know that. Also, I love when people ask a fun question on their own blog and I want to come back and read through all the comments later.

Sidenote here: About thinking that Andrea was kidding. She put a :) after it. But as Becky commented, it's really hard to catch tone sometimes and it can make it hard to be sarcastic. And sometimes adding a smiley face to the end of your comment sucks all the humor right out of it. Dry, dry, dry! It must be dry!!

*Having a good laugh every day. Every day at least one of you writes something that is so funny I have to tell Greg about it.

* Contests. Okay, this isn't really something I love about blogging, but I just had to inform you (not brag to you, of course) that I won a highly prestigious poetry competition. Or at least a limerick writing contest on a blog where you submit them in the comments. It's almost the same thing. One of the three I submitted stole the show. My prize was a place in the Limericker Hall of Fame (or something) in her sidebar. And it was loads (I am HILARIOUS) of fun, too. (Oh, the reason I'm so hilarious is because the subject for the limericks was "laundry" and I said it was "loads" of fun. That makes people hilarious, when they say stuff like that.) And I like when people do things like that, or like Pam's giveaway with a twist.

*And while I'm informing (not bragging), I just had something published at Bloggers Annex. I'm sure it wasn't exactly published for the writing it contains (there's not much and it's mostly recitation of facts), but more for the subject matter. If you've never read about what we found around the corner from our house and you're feeling in a thoughtful mood, you should take a look.

I was going to mention my unfortunate relationship with my site meter, which obsession I haven't been as successful at curbing as I have my early desire for comments. But let's not dwell on that, as it may make me look a tiny bit stalker-ish. Can you be stalker-ish looking at something on your own blog? You can't? Oh, good.

Also, I'd like to inform you that I have a new feature in my sidebar of posts I recommend. I will try to recommend posts that I don't think you have to know the blogger to appreciate, which will mean that some posts that I will love myself, won't be put on there, just so you all know. I'll just choose a few. And Jill's post (Thou shalt not whine) that's on there? It helps if you know that Max is her darling 3 year old who uses the word "also" at all times and in all things. . . even if it's out of place(s).

Now share, if you like, and not because you're compelled to because I'm asking :), what it is that you love dearly about blogging.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Avoiding Blogging Stereotypes

I haven't been blogging for all that long (about 5 months), but I'm glad to finally feel like I'm getting the hang of a lot of things. I've received all sorts of good advice from friends along the way, as well as learning from posts I've read. I started blogging just to keep up with family and possibly friends, and blogging has turned into a really important part of my life. This post is meant to be an audience participation thing, because I really want to hear what you guys think.

First I'll start with how I came to feel the way I do about blogging. I'd like to quote some friends in purple (hope they don't mind! about the quoting or the purple.) As I was reading through this again I realized that these guys are both professors of history, teaching me about blogging!:
" Until I tried it, I always thought blogging was a little self-indulgent. Now, I'm glad to indulge!" I hadn't even thought of this!! It has explained to me why some people shy away from blogging, including reading blogs. I think it also partially explains why I feel so apologetic about what I write. But it stopped me from being bothered with all the "this blog is about ME" everywhere. I realized people were making fun of themselves (I really did think that people were serious and were just vain like that. Weird. Especially for someone as sarcastic as I am...)
I've. . . heard about something called "blog guilt" and "blog anxiety," where people spend tons of time on their blogs, or people who don't spent a lot of time feel guilty, or people who obsess over the comments. I just think, we already have enough to worry about, why worry about such a trivial thing? " This might not sound very profound, but it came early on when I was still very excited about getting comments. It's totally impacted how I see things.

I've also read a large number of posts about blogging (the heavily plagiarized one by Sue comes immediately to mind) or at least people mentioning here and there on their blogs about blogging/comments, that have had me picking and choosing what I want my blogging experience to be. AND what I don't want it to be.

Soon after I started blogging, I learned that I loved it when people posted regularly. I decided that I would try to post thrice a week. I shoot for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sometimes, when we're gone on a weekend, I might schedule the post so that it is published while I'm out. Sometimes this might cause almost an entire post to be in microscopic type because blogger is weird and it wasn't showing up like that on the preview before we left (sorry about that one, y'all).
I still post thrice a week, although I'm beginning to think that this is more than is necessary. I do it because I want to keep myself disciplined and doing something regularly. I realize this a little wrong, since you should just post when you have something to say. I do that too, though, I just wait to publish until the right day!
I have also spent a great deal of time apologizing for how long or boring/pointless my posts are and that I'm not trying to make things interesting around here. I am trying not to do this as much, but I am still constantly surprised that people are reading this blog. I also realize that hopefully, people just won't read if they think it's boring so apologizing for it is almost as pointless as some of my posts are.

It used to be that when I visited a new blog I would sometimes take note of how many comments they had on their posts, and kind of determine their popularity based on that. I would rarely leave a comment if there were already 15+ comments on that post, as I assumed that that person probably wouldn't even notice if I did or not.

I'm not going to lie and say I don't care about comments. It would be like saying I hate getting email from people I like. I don't. I love it. I just try not to let the number concern me too much. I will say that I was shocked the first time I saw that I had 17 comments. I was thinking, wait!! Am I one of them!?! But I know I'm not. I don't have 60 people subscribed to my blog. In reality I think at least half of the people that read my blog also comment! Sometimes more. Why are people so nice like that to me? Not sure, but I love it. I'll gush a bit about you guys in my
next post.

So now I realize that I think you can probably get a LOT of comments before you stop caring to read them all. I still don't comment on blogs like The Pioneer Woman though. I mean really. Do people think she reads the 300th comment about how their kid also goes streaking through the house naked, or how Wow! I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, too!!? (okay, I sorta made this up. I rarely visit her site, although I love it. Especially Cooking and I just peeked on there and saw TEN THOUSAND comments left on a giveaway post). I mean I'm glad people DO leave comments and they should. I just don't. Even on giveaways.

Since we're talking about avoiding things today, let me say that I try not to have pet peeves in blogging, because I want to like everyone and have us all be different and beautiful in our own ways. There is ONE thing that I don't quite get, though. I remember one time I was reading a blog I'd never read before and the post was a very intense, heart-wrenching one about her son's behavior disorder and how it affected their family. It really affected me as I read it and I was overflowing with a desire to know how to help her (she was asking for advice). There was just one comment before me and it was something like, "How funny that we bumped into each other at the store! Love your new purse." or something completely off topic like that. I was like, "Huh!?!" So I don't like comments that are completely off topic. Especially when the subject matter of the post is very personal or at least interesting (that hasn't really happened here, but I see it a lot on other blogs). I know that not everyone has the email address to contact their friend, but at least comment on the post first, then say your other thing. Just my opinion.

This is such a hard one for me. Before I really got into blogging, my blog lists, famiLee (maiden name there) and friends, were all the bloggers I knew. As I started reading more and more blogs, I started thinking about a "friends I've never met" list. Still, I find I want to have 7 different categories for people I met in different ways or people who are huge (blog huge, not physically huge, that would be a really rude way to classify blogs! People who weigh under 130 lbs., 130-150, 150-170 etc.), people who found me and now we're friends, people who I found and now we're friends etc. etc. I just feel like there's a story behind each blog and I hate just lumping everyone into a huge blog roll.

My solution? You've probably already noticed. I just don't have a blog roll of people I've never met. I think I'll let my "followers" (which unfortunately feels slightly like a popularity contest I don't want to be in, but I love to see all your faces-or other scenic pictures, or blue, shadowy, faceless silhouettes, in my side bar) kind of be like my blog roll. Also, on my profile I have a list of the blogs I'm following, including those that aren't on blogger and therefore cannot be in my followers list. I think that will be my blog roll for now. I feel totally honored to be on some of your blog rolls. Really. Thanks a lot, guys.

Now! would you please tell me about some things you don't love about the world of blogs? Something that bugs you (even if I or my readers do it (like when someone doesn't reciprocate putting you on their blog list or something). We all know we love each other and we're OPEN, right?) or something that you are trying to steer clear of? I'll have an upcoming post on embracing blogging stereotypes and you can share what you love there, but for now, lets keep it negative.
*Oh, and will you also vote on my poll? Thanks, man!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Opposite Day

When you were a kid did you and your siblings play "opposite day"? Oh man, we LOVED opposite days. The first problem, however, came in determining whether or not it was opposite day. Either way, it was "not" opposite day. Tricky!!

We were so very clever, and confusing, and charming and endearing all at once. Sometimes we giggled, but I think mostly we were very good at keeping a straight face while we said things like, "I hate brownies!", " Sure, I'd love to help you with your chores!!" or "You look really good today!" Good times.

Another game we loved was the always-answer-a-different-question-than-the-one-that-is-asked day. Those were the days our true wit shone through. "What time is it?" an unsuspecting person may ask. "Oh, not really." we'd say, with a contemplative sigh. "Are you going to the dance?" "Um, I think strawberry. Yes, definitely strawberry." "Did you finish your homework?" "Fine, how are YOU?"

Well, Aaron isn't super verbal in his communications. He does loads of talking, but uses precious few words. Still, he seems to understand the concept of opposite day extremely well. He's been having them a string of them for almost a month now. When we ask him if he wants something, like a cookie or juice, he will shake his head at medium to rapid speed and say, "Nah!" or "Nah-nah." and then anxiously grabs the offered item. Another opposite type reaction is when he refuses most dinner foods so I have to kind of force a tiny bit on his lips, first getting it past his flailing arms (quite a trick, as many of you probably know). The very second his tongue touches the food the arms go down, the protesting whine stops and he says, "Mmmmmm!" with all sorts of enthusiasm, as if it's soooo delicious, just like he knew it would be. This happens so abruptly that I laugh out loud every single time.

I think most toddlers say things like "Mama," "juice," or "ball" early on. Not Aaron. He still doesn't say Mama, or anything resembling it, to indicate that he wants me. Maybe this is because I'm always nearby, so there's no need. He does say Da-da for daddy and day-duh for David. He also sings "eeeeh-nuh, eeeeh-nuh" to the "Clean Up" song tune whenever he's putting anything into some type of container. And every time he burps he covers his mouth with his hand and says, "Bfff, Bfff" (excuse me) in a high pitched tone. That's really pretty much all he actually says with words. Good thing he's great at non-verbal communication. I mean, why does he need to say either Mama or juice if he's thirsty and I'm in the library, when he can climb the stairs with his sippy cup and hand it to me. Uh, he wanted me, and he wants me to refill his cup. Easy!! Right on, Aaron!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Many Polaks Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

Real answers to real life questions, here. That's what we're about. Knowing the answer to that question may one day be of some moment to you, as it was for me. And while I'm proud to possibly be the first person to blog about this, I still wish someone had done it before me and I had read it and been saved a small amount of stress.

Greg recently calculated that we can save as much as $6 in gas on the drive to church simply by leaving on time so we don't have to speed. You're right if you're thinking that maybe our chapel isn't 3 blocks away or even across town. We have a two hour drive (to Cracow). And gas isn't four dollars a gallon, either. It's almost twice that.

Greg's church calling requires him to visit three branches, and we take turns visiting each of them. The previously mentioned Cracow branch is our "home" branch, as it's the nearest. This Saturday, however, we headed out to Wroclaw (the farthest), a city about a five hour drive from where we live (not including stops). Greg had an afternoon meeting there so we were doing our usual stay over in a hotel in order to attend that branch on Sunday. We knew there was big money to be saved by leaving extra early on this one. First we had to go to Greg's work so he could print out some documents for his meeting. His computer kept freezing and that took longer than expected. Then, on our way out of town he stopped at our local Opel dealer and explained that one of our headlights was recently replaced and it was at the wrong angle, so it needed to be adjusted (sidenote: in Poland-possibly the entire EU- you have to have your headlights on day and night year long--except for when you're not driving it, then they can be off, I believe).

Greg parked in the parking lot and assumed that they would just have someone run out and make the adjustment. No, we had to drive into the shop. Two men started working on the headlight. After about five minutes I was a little perplexed as to why we were still there. Then they called in the third guy. Another 10 minutes of work. Finally they call in guy number four. They're adjusting, turning the tires, turning the lights off and on etc. while Greg stands around with them providing the comic relief and I'm sitting with the kids in the car trying to make them forget that we're sitting in the car, just like we will be for the next 5-6 hours.

So the answer to the question posed in the title of this post would be 5. It takes five Polaks to change a lightbulb; four that work at the auto shop and one customer to cheer them along. It also takes those five Polaks 35 minutes to change that bulb. But, to be fair, and also in order not to completely deceive you, this had not a whit to do with their nationality. It had everything to do with the car:

Opel Zafira

This is what our car looks like, except ours is beige-ish. Panna cotta, to be exact (sounds significantly nicer than beige-ish, but doesn't give you any idea of the actual color unless you're a total foodie [or a regular foodie. Or an Italian speaker. I wouldn't know; I am none of the above.] and know what panna cotta is. Still, I imagine real panna cotta doesn't have all the pretty sparkles in it like our panna cotta Opel does.). Doesn't this car just have the cutest nose? Well, this picture doesn't really do it justice. I love the front of this car. Unfortunately the designers of this car made the same mistake designers of highly fashionable clothing often make. They threw practicality to the wind, as no single human being, especially one who doesn't work for Opel, would ever be able to change a headlight on their own in under an hour.

And I'm like, "What's up with that?"

And then we finally get on our way and realize that the extra hour we gave ourselves is gone and Greg is about a half an hour late for his meeting. Maybe that math doesn't add up (I'm only good at Geometry and there were no angles in this problem), but that's how the story goes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Sixty degrees Fahrenheit is a temperature entirely too low for the interior of a family home. The only reason I can think of that a home might remain at that temperature for an entire week would be in anticipation of an upcoming heat wave that would surely have the resident family grateful for a pre-frozen house.

If, however, no such wave of heat should make it's appearance, the inhabitants of that house may possibly decide that, while it was fun for a while*, those ice tipped noses and toes and stiff fingers and lips are ready for a bit of a thaw.

The heater comes on after church on Sunday, and the movement of our extremities (assuming there's been no permanent damage), with it.

Current outside temperature: 46 degrees (at 3pm). What's your weather doing to you?
*Or they may possibly have hated every single second of it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Time Failure (Never Trying it Again)

I like sleeping. I enjoy it uninterrupted at night, and I love it during the day. I like it on my left side or on my right (never on my back, as it causes me to startle repeatedly until I finally turn over on my side). I can do it at home, in hotels, or even on other people's couches (hopefully only when sleeping over). I consider sleeping to be my right. This is apparent in the way we deal with our kids at night.

I want my kids to enjoy their sleep as much as I enjoy mine. For this reason we've always had a pretty structured bedtime routine. After all the toothbrushing and prayers and songs (actually, we don't really do the singing anymore, sniff sniff), and hugs etc. we say our farewell for the night and that's that. See you in the morning! Now it's me and Greg's free time before we go to bed ourselves. We start this at an early age. Our kids never sleep in our bed (apart from occasional daytime naps with mom). Babies sleep in the car seat or the crib. Even though Aaron didn't sleep through the night until he was almost 10 months old, he still slept in his crib, and I went into his room and fed him. No family bed in this family*!

Well, for some reason last night became the exception to end all exceptions (literally. see title). We've been a little sick and Aaron and I seem to have the worst of it. Last night, after going down as usual, Aaron woke up a few times before Greg and I headed to bed. He sat up in bed and cried. Laying him back down and patting and kissing him didn't help so I picked him up and rocked him for a minute and put him back down. Five minutes later? Same thing. We realized he wasn't breathing well with his pacifier and he refused to be in bed without it.

Finally Greg decided that we should just put him in bed with us for a little while. At first we had the lights on and just wanted to relax him and put him back in his crib. Greg turned on the iPod nano and let Aaron watch with him. After a bit of pointing with his chubby little index finger and commenting on the show, he settled down a little. But only a little. He didn't seem to be getting tired at all. It was after midnight. Greg made an executive decision and said that Aaron would just sleep in the bed with us. We decided to turn off the lights while he was interested in watching the screen. As soon as it was dark, Aaron started laughing. How silly are mommy and daddy! What a funny new game!!

We turned off the iPod, told him "Night-night" and kissed him a few times. Silence. One minute later, "Da da da?" 30 seconds later, "Aaaah! Da da sa sa da da!" We patiently ignored him and waited for him to settle down and fall asleep. He raised his hands straight up in front of him and realized that he could see them in the blazing light from my over-sized digital alarm clock (it sits almost two feet away from my face, and since I don't wear my glasses while I sleep, those numbers need to be a good 3-4 inches tall). He started waving his hands around, watching them in the green glare, and doing some type of singing. Then he would stop and yawn. Silence. 30 seconds later? More hand waving. Then some searches in the dark for mommy and daddy's noses. And a bit more chatter. Soon the bed started shaking. I admit this was my fault. I was giggling. And giggling. And trying not make any sound while I did it. This causes beds to shake.

I decided this wasn't working. And why should we teach him all his life that his crib is the place for sleep and then suddenly say, actually, no, tonight we're completely changing everything, okay? No sense in it, really. I thought I'd take him downstairs and watch a little TV and then take him back up and put him in his crib, pretending that it was a normal bedtime and not the middle of the night . But first I decided to try laying him in his crib to see what would happen. Well, what DID happen was he fell asleep. Probably glad we had finally finished our silly turn-the-light-off-and-lay-in-the-dark-in-mommy-and-daddy's-room game. (he probably doesn't realize that we sleep, since he only ever sees us up and at 'em.)

So, uh, we won't be trying that again, I don't think. Two of us find it far too funny. And between the hand waving/ nose honking and bed shaking, I don't think any of us would get much sleep at all. I mean, I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next guy, but sometimes, I like sleep even better.

* I don't mean to disparage those who DO have a family bed. Especially because I recognize that people often do that for many of the same reasons that we do the opposite! Funny how two extreme opposites can bring so many similar results!

What Happens When You Mix Languages

We almost choked on our sandwiches, with this one.
na pół = in half (prounounced "nah poo")
na = on, in, for etc.

We were eating grilled tuna and cheese on this funky, monster huge bread. David was struggling with his and told me, "I need my sandwich to be on pół."

I believe I'll keep this one in my files for whenever I'm feeling sad or depressed. I laugh every single time I think about it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How We Came to Be in Poland and Q&A

We boarded a plane headed to Warsaw, flew for many hours, and arrived. That's the version for those who lack either the time or the desire to hear the details. For the others there's this:

Greg was baptized into the church in Poland at age 19 (YES this is where the story begins. Leave me alone!) and anxiously waited out the year before he would be able to serve his full time mission. In his interview with his branch president, he promised that after his mission he would return to help the Church in Poland. While he was serving in Chicago, Elder Oaks visited for some sort of conference and chose, on Sunday, to attend the tiny Polish branch in which Greg was serving. In a discussion between the mission president and Elder Oaks, it was decided that if he wanted to, Greg should attend university in America before returning to Poland. With this endorsement and his continued promise of returning to Poland, Greg managed to get into BYU. It CERTAINLY didn't have anything to do with his previous academic record. (Oops! That "certainly" wasn't meant to come out so very capitalized! Sorry, dear! And it's only because he had been a rebel without a cause. Once he had a cause, he turned all academic)

So while he was attending BYU we met and were married. In Provo, we had some friends who were in a similar situation as us: he was Polish and she was American and he had just graduated from BYU. Our friend found a job right away and moved to Poland to work for a company that was based in Provo who had a factory in Poland which made frames and bodies of a '60's sports car replica. Greg spent a frustrating summer trying to find a good job in Utah while also trying to keep us afloat with various in between jobs. One day, after our friends had been in Poland for about 3 months, the guy called from Poland saying that his boss was considering hiring another Polish guy to come out from America, and would we be interested, if they decided to hire? We said yes!! with much surprise that this could happen so suddenly,but still thinking it was not all that likely. Um, within 9 days we were on a plane headed to Poland for an undetermined length of time*.

Well, I can't really say undetermined, because our plan was to live in Poland for one or two years and see how I got on. The implication was that after a year or two we would have done our time in Poland and would return to live in the States. We spent our first 4 years of living in Poland telling anyone who asked that we were going to be here for a year or two (or another year or two). At that point I finally had an experience that woke me up to the fact that we were meant to be here for at least a while longer, and to stop living/talking as if we might return to the States any year now. Since then I have thought very little about moving back.

Still, as the kids get older, I long for them to have some of the same experiences as I did growing up. We wish we could live closer to aging American grandparents (KIDDING, mom and dad!! about the aging, not the wishing) and beloved cousins and aunts and uncles. We've lived in Poland for eight years now. We all love it and will surely miss it if we do move back, but as the teenage years approach, I've been thinking a little more about the possibility. Then I had another little wake up experience (briefly mentioned in the comments of this post) and I'm once again on board for living in Poland as long as we're supposed to.

* The biggest tragedy was that my mother had moved from California to Utah literally DAYS before we found out about this job, and I was her only child living there, so we just up and left her!)

In case you wonder about some other things here's a bit of Q&A:

Do you speak Polish?
Not if I don't have to, which is why my Polish is so terrible. Before we moved here I had envisioned myself living in Poland and diving right into all the intricacies of the language. Apparently The Secret doesn't always work. I can understand probably 90% but my grammar is not good and my decent accent rarely comes into play, as I avoid speaking like the plague. Of course I can speak and do fairly frequently (or am forced to), but I do not express myself well, simply because I have not taken the time to do a little bit of studying. (Polish is a very difficult language for English speakers to learn. Particularly lazy English speakers.)

Does your husband's family live nearby?
They are about a 4-5 hour drive away. This is unusual in Poland, as nearly all Poles live in the city in which they were born and rely pretty heavily on their parents for support and help in raising their own children. We try to visit them every month or so. (And I love them! They're amazing.)

Were your children born in Poland?
Ewelina was born in Provo, Utah, and we moved here when she was 10 months old. Both David and Aaron were born in small town Poland, with the help of some great doctors and nurses in some (2 different) not so up-to-date hospitals. These experiences helped me realize a possible reason why most Polish families have only one or two children: NO ANESTHESIA!

Do your children speak both languages?
Very fluently. I'm only adding this question because people always DO ask it, although it seems fairly obvious to me. I speak English with them in the home in their formative years (Greg does too) and Greg speaks some Polish with them, and they hear it outside the home. I would say when they are under 4 years of age, their English is better, but the Polish catches up shortly thereafter.

What kind of school do your children attend?
They attend a normal Polish school, which is why David's English teacher pronounces "footprints" "feetpreents." They have an English class twice a week with their regular studies. We make sure they don't correct their English teacher, although it's a little upsetting when they come home and tell us that their teacher was teaching the kids how to make the "th" sound using a Polish "f" which is pronounced exactly the way an English "f" is pronounced. She had the kids repeating that "f" (th) sound over and over.

What do you love about Poland?
Oh, LOTS of things. Food, landscape, slow pace of life. Many things! I plan to write a post about this in the future. (update: I did write a post about some of the things I love about Poland. To read it, go here.)

Do you visit America very often?
We have been very blessed to return for a visit about once a year (Greg's bosses pay our airfare, as a sort of yearly bonus, and we love them for this). Generally I just travel with the children and Greg stays behind, but he has been with us twice, after we'd lived here for 6 months and then again about 2 years ago. We try to see as many family members as possible when we visit (they're in Maryland, Utah and California). We often just go to Maryland as it's much closer to Poland, and other family members visit us there, but every other year or so we travel across the country as well. It gets pretty crazy, but we love it.

There you have it! All you could ever want to know about our coming to Poland. (or if it isn't, I'll answer questions in the comments)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Poland Progresses!!

On our little shopping trip this morning Poland taught me something. Did you know entire countries can teach you things? Well, all of Poland gathered itself together in our little town of Mielec and showed me something nice today.

Really, there was no big meeting in Mielec or anything. That was all a bunch of nonsense, but here's what I saw, besides that the weather accidentally thought it was November. Poland is becoming more and more westernized. That's what I learned (okay, I actually learn this over and over). Certain husbands of certain bloggers don't always love the way their country comes off in certain blogs. That's why I'm first going to say that Poland is changing so quickly. The economy is improving very quickly and since joining the European Union the improvements are coming at an even more rapid rate. On to my discoveries (given in long winded, Lisa fashion, try though I did to hold back):

1. I always try to buy my kids used clothing. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I'm cheap and have a hard time paying even reasonable prices for something new when I could get something similar used and much less expensive. Also, this used to be the only way I could get American style clothing for my children. Poles just did NOT dress their toddlers in jeans and button down shirts*. As I say, you can buy those things now, but if I get them used I can get things from the GAP, Children's Place, and of course lots and lots of Circo stuff, too :).

Well, we used to observe little boys wearing pink or with shoes that had a unicorn on them****. It was pretty normal, especially for kids under age 4 to be dressed in clothes that Americans would definitely consider gender specific, when they were the wrong gender. When I asked for help in shops the ladies would present me all kinds of dainty patterned clothing for my little boy.

Well, today while the lady was helping me find some jeans for David she set out a pair that had some flowers embroidered at the bottom of the leg. I started to point to them and she quickly picked them back up and said, "Oh!! You probably don't want to wear those, do you?!" and started joking with David that he could surely wear them if he wanted them. She recognized that boys don't wear flowers. Of course I'm making this into a bigger deal than it was, but I was more surprised that she recognized it than I would have been if she hadn't.

2. Not sure if it's left over from communist times or what, but when you enter a shop in which you will be choosing your items to buy (as opposed to all those shops, still flourishing, in which you point to the food item you want behind the counter and the shopkeeper gets it down for you--missionaries in Poland used to call these "Poprosze stores" or "'I'd like' stores" because you had to ask for every item on your list.) so when you were in the self service type store, you HAD TO HAVE either a shopping cart or a shopping basket. Just running in to buy a candy bar? TAKE A BASKET. Or security might stop you and make you go get one. At best you would get suspicious/dirty looks from people. I've seen a few stores over the years that display a sign "Do not enter without a basket" but really, this is generally an unspoken rule. Everyone knows it and it's bad manners not to do it.

Today, there was a monster long line in the store we were going to. It was Aaron's nap time, with all that means to a shopping mother, and we only needed a few things. I had no change to use to get a shopping cart (you put in a coin to get your cart and get it back when you return it to the right place--great idea, eh?). There was no way I was waiting in that line just for change, so instead I had Evie take care of Aaron as we wandered around the store, and David and I just filled the cotton grocery bags I always have with me when shopping (except when I forget, which is only maybe 33% of the time) and unloaded them on the conveyor belt. We managed to do this with nary a sideways glance and even the security didn't stop us, although I think that's because they never saw us. (In many grocery stores in Poland you have security guards that pace the aisles with their arms folded across their chests eyeing everyone suspiciously. They are always dressed all in black and have those black leather army boots.)

The fact that both these things happened in the same outing means a lot. I give inward cheers when I have experiences like these. Still no sign of a drinking fountain or Golden Grahams, but excellent progress nonetheless.

* It used to be that it was difficult to find clothing for small children that was not brightly colored, or at least that didn't have a fluorescent colored animal displayed somewhere (think bright pink dinosaurs or construction-zone-vest yellow elephants with inscriptions like "You friend are kiss" or something). Clothing for older kids would just have funky patterns on them.

**** Four stars because I was so surprised. After posting this I went downstairs where David had just come inside with a neighbor boy who is a few months younger than him. This boy was wearing hot pink socks. Just for kicks I glanced at his shoes lying in the hallway; white with little purple flowers. No joke. Other than that he was dressed all boyish. I couldn't believe the coincidence!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I like McDonald's hamburgers. More specifically their cheeseburgers (hold the disgusting, re-hydrated minced onion and the pickle). I understand that this makes me a lesser human in the eyes of many. That's okay. I also really love the Big Tasty.

I already mentioned/discussed this one a little in the comments on the poppyseed cake post, but
I don't like Nutella.It's true. I don't buy it and eat it and search for recipes containing it and dream about it. I think it's kind of yucky. I realize that admitting this confirms for many of you what you already suspected, i.e. that I am, indeed, a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

This one is backwards, because I am following a trend, rather than going against it, it's just that I feel almost embarrassed to admit it. I really like David Beckham. I don't get enamored by celebrities. At all. Still, I think David Beckham is awesomeness personified when it comes to someone incredibly: talented, rich, famous, handsome etc. because he's so humble and down to earth. I mean, he still blushes during interviews when people mention his looks or pay him compliments. This is a mega-super star who's been in the spotlight for years!

I wish I had a Milli Vanilli CD.

And I understand if you don't feel you can read my blog anymore. (If you can't, at least say good bye in the comments for purposes of closure. I will miss you, but at least I won't have gone on deceiving you).

If You Chance to Meet a Frown.

It's a smile award!! Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary has given it to me! Thanks so much, Heather! A word about this lady. She recently commented on Evie's blog, and in response to Ev's request for ideas for a new blog name she said that she had nothing to offer because her own was a little "cheesy and boring" or something. Well. I believe the title came from when she and a friend (or maybe it was two people in a movie?) saw all the SAHMs outside their houses with their kids, looking slightly frazzled. They thought what a little tragedy that all these women are the same, living the same kind of sorry life. Now she is a SAHM and can see that the life of a SAHM is much as she could see back then, but at the same time so very very different. Each of those mothers had a story, a life that kept them busy, brought them enormous amounts of joy and caused them to stretch and grow and learn to empathise with the world. I am SO putting words in her mouth. But basically, I think The Extraordinary Ordinary refers to her "ordinary" life as a SAHM and how very extraordinary it is! I think it's spectacular! Heather is one of a very small number of bloggers at MMB who are not LDS. I'm so glad she joined. She is such an important part of that community and I can't imagine it without her! (And if you're reading this, Heather, please correct all the misinformation in this paragraph in the comments! Sorry!)

This is how the award looks:

I was going to be all indignant and make a post mocking the long list of rules and criteria for receiving/giving this award and talk about how the creator of this award obviously doesn't want people who receive it to be smiling. Then I went on her blog (she's a junior in HS) and saw that she seems really sweet and all my resolve kind of went out the window. But I DO think it's pretty terrible, still. In case you wonder what I mean, check it all out under this list of those I'm awarding:

Pam at McEwens whose blog I stumbled across once I finally broke out of only looking at blogs in my same genre (The Lighter Side) at MMB. She's really funny in a naturally funny sort of way, without seeming to try to be. I don't know how to describe it. She's just funny and wise (sounds dumb to use the word wise, but I think she is).

Kimberly from Temporary? Insanity always has me smiling, either because she's being funny or because I just totally get where she's coming from and she expresses herself so well.

Melissa from The Howell Harold Because she has the funniest/cutest little baby girl (look at her pictures and try not to smile!) and she explained how to prepare, cook, and eat an artichoke on her blog, and she said that she thinks we are twins who were separated in the pre-existence. How do you not smile about someone you admire calling you her twin?

Andrea from Me + 3 (who probably made me laugh more than any other roommate I ever had [besides Greg, but that's different]), because her HYPER-precocious super-hero son is a RIOT to read about and she describes it so well. Plus she has a darling little boy just Aaron's age. (And I meant HYPER as in super, not that he IS hyper. That was a little confusing).

Heidi at Hadleyesque who I just think is hilarious, and even though I don't laugh out loud a lot while reading funny stuff I do with hers, and if I'm not laughing I'm at least smiling.

So sorry, guys; here are the rules/commandments: I like how Heather dealt with it. A little civil disobedience. You know what? I'm going to copy her. I hope that's okay. Of COURSE that's okay!! So find the rules here. And thanks guys, for making me smile!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Have Your Cake and Eat It Tuesday

Okay, so this isn't actually cake, but today is actually Tuesday, and since I came up with the name, I'm taking liberties and allowing myself the postage of recipes for any sweets without my having to change it to Have Your Cookies and Eat Them Tuesday. That really loses something, don't you think?

So these are cookies. I'll tell you all about how much I adore these cookies in a moment, but first I need to tell you about a very unfortunate side effect they have on me. When I eat them, I kick myself. And the more of them I eat, the more I love them and the more I kick myself. It's looks kind of stupid and doesn't feel great either. If you're thinking of making these, read further to see if you might be susceptible to these same side effects.

They are Chocolate Malt Sandwiches from Martha Stewart's website. I don't actually go onto that site looking for recipes, but I often find her recipes recommended on blogs I read. This one I saw at Cookie Madness. They are delicious. But then, I'm a major fan of malt. I make them and keep them in the fridge. They are so rich and sweet that even I can only eat about 4 of them in a sitting (okay, so that's basically 8 cookies, plus the filling, but whatever). Then I have to wait a full 30 minutes before I'm ready for another.

Do you know what it is about these cookies that makes me kick myself? It's not because I'm trying to keep myself from taking in the calories (heaven knows I'm not at a place where I worry about that as much as I should). So why the masochism? I'll tell you why.

When we were staying at my mother's house on our last trip to America, she had picked up a few things that I had requested from the grocery store. See, I try to get as much of the things that you can't get in Poland while we're in the States as I can. But I also have to make sure it will all fit in my luggage and not be too much for me to travel with (especially when I'm doing a marathon run of going back and forth across the country in two weeks, by myself with three children in tow). One of the things I'd requested this time was malt powder.

I love chocolate malts. I love Fuddruckers chocolate malts. I love Dalt's* chocolate malts. With curly cheese fries. After a tri-Stake dance late on a Saturday night. (I love that I wondered why my skin was never clear in High School.) They don't have chocolate malts in Poland. They don't even have malt powder. Oh, they have plenty of MALT. The kind you can drink even, if you know what I mean. But I'm not that kind of girl. So I'm left to make my own chocolate malted milk shakes. I don't do this a lot and they don't require all that much malt powder, so when I saw that my mother had bought 3 containers of malt, I thanked her kindly but was afraid I couldn't/shouldn't bring more than one back with me because of space/weight limitations. Especially considering I was already bringing 8 pounds of brown sugar with me, among other things (guess how long eight pounds of brown sugar lasts at Lisa's house? 2 months? Maybe.).

Did you read the sentence before last? Three containers of malt! I did not accept them! I am an idiot! And now I am an idiot with no malt powder because I found this wonderful recipe, made it twice, and ran out. I could make these cookies 4-5 more times if I had had the foresight to accept what was already purchased for me! Kick, kick, kick!

*I just read that Dalt's closed in 2005!! This is a travesty! I will be in mourning for the next few days. I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. I seek the comfort of family and friends who have also loved that place.
If you give these cookies to your kids, they might react this way:

Then they might start in on them like this:

They might realize that there's some filling in there. Mmmmm:

Once they realize what it is they're eating they will continue to partake, now with only a slightly confused expression:

Chomp, chomp chomp:

Remember I said they were really sweet and rich?:

Your kids might really enjoy them, too. If you're nice enough to share!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Seven Year Old Peach

My little boy isn't so little anymore. He'll be seven tomorrow. That doesn't stop his cheeks from being the closest thing to a peach, besides a nectarine. Well, actually, I think he's even more like a peach than a nectarine is. He has the smoothest softest skin in all of the universe with the cutest light fuzz covering it. He also happens to have a large pale red birthmark on his cheek that gives it an even peachier look. We tell him that he was so sweet when he was a baby that we couldn't stop kissing him and that's why there's a permanent mark there. It's a lie (don't worry, he knows). But it should be true. Baby skin is extremely resilient. I could still kiss his cheeks over and over forever, if he'd let me. He won't though, because he's seven. Tomorrow.

Can you see ANY difference between these two pictures?

* www.kitchengardeners.org/

If you can, it's only because this shows David's right cheek, and his left is the rosy one (this picture was not taken with this post in mind. You can sorta see his cheek in the picture at the top). His glasses almost even look like the branch in the other picture!

There are some ways that my peach is different from the the edible version, and good thing or life might get a little confusing. The kind you eat doesn't:
* love classical music
* love riding it's bike
* have an amazing sense of humor
* get offended if you look at it cross-eyed (not literally)
* love riding in a car
* never tire of playing with it's baby brother
* spend hours at a time composing music on its keyboard or harmonica

Slight change of subject (we're going from David's cheeks to entire babies). I was thinking the other day that babies and peaches are almost exactly the same. They're both:
Sometimes Sour

Isn't it a little scary? I mean, maybe babies are peaches! If so, I'll be a little upset that I went through 2+ years so far being pregnant when I could have just picked some up at the local grocery store! If peaches lasted longer than fifteen minutes in the house, we might have started noticing that they are babies. I really need to look into this more before I decide to go through another possibly needless pregnancy!

The kind of peaches that come from a tree are my favorite fruit to eat, but I still think my seven year old peach is yummier (he's the only one that wasn't gone in 15 minutes after we brought him home because of that resilient skin).

What kind of fruit are YOUR kids like?

* as in fruit of the womb, and juicy as in drippy, like with slobber.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

House Breakers

Here I sit, eating my open-faced cheese and tomato sandwich on the slightly sour, dense Polish bread. I piled the tomatoes on thick, and even spread the bread with butter first because I was in need of some serious comfort food. I was hoping that eating these sandwiches would help stop me from being so shaky and subdue the butterflies in my stomach.

It's not what it may sound like. There were housebreakers just now. Three of them, in fact, sneaking in through the balcony door. But I didn't call the police on them. After all, they were just me, myself and I. I believe it was all legal.

Aaron went down for his nap and I decided to do some cleaning (which of course, means first mess around on the computer and then force myself to clean when I realize that it might not be too long before the boy wakes up at which point there will be far too much yanking on of pants and "Ah, Dah?"s for me to do any more real cleaning). I swept the stairs and brought the vacuum cleaner downstairs. Then I went outside to shake the kitchen rug.

If I'd had my brain turned on full power I would have remembered how annoying it had been sweeping the stairs with a breeze blowing sporadically through, trying to scatter all the dust from my dustpan (not that there was very much dust, of course, since (cough) I always sweep the stairs (cough) every other day, exactly like I planned when we first moved in here (cough, cough, coughing fit. Must be that dust that escaped in the wind)...). I also would have noticed the breeze that blew from behind me when I opened the front door.

I stepped onto the porch, started shaking the rug, and, with a sense of alarm, heard, almost in slow motion, the door slamming shut. I've mentioned before that our door locks automatically (although I believe it was in the comments).This is the first time since that post that I have been locked out. Since then, I almost always keep my house keys in my pocket, just in case. This was one of those other days. I knew that Greg would be bringing the kids home within an hour. I also knew that I am no longer equipped with the mental necessaries to keep myself entertained for one hour, nor did I have a book (maybe I should just start keeping a book in my pocket. Or some magazines on the porch or something). It was imperative that I find a way in!

I climbed (in my open toed slippers) through the weeds and piles of sand on the unused lot next door (there's no passage from front to back on our property), to the back and climbed over the spiky topped fence that separates our property from the wasteland. I knew that the balcony door from the living room was open-which had been letting in all the air and therefore had been the biggest source of all my frustrations up to this point, and could even hear the cartoons playing (TV should have been turned off long before this! Sorry, Greg). Now, however, that open door would prove to be my saving grace.

The balcony is up high enough for me to walk under it without ducking (even though it's on the "ground" floor). There was a chair under it that had been used in some recent painting project. I moved it directly under the edge of the balcony and stood on it. It was pretty clear right away that I was still far too short. Then I saw a wheelbarrow, full of dry grass. I moved the chair, wheeled the barrow in it's place and was overjoyed to find that the chair fit inside perfectly and the whole thing was really stable.

I climbed up thinking this was it! From here I could perfectly follow the plot of the cartoon, watching it's reflection in the glass of the open door. Yay! I was home!! Well, first I had to get up and over, I suppose, but practically home. I spent 3 minutes gathering up the courage, and finally jumped and grabbed two of the flat, twisted, vertical rails as high up as I could and banged my elbow. I soon realized that I was just hanging by these rails with my arms bent and flexed, holding up all my weight, hoping that my stomach muscles would help me to lift my right leg up high enough to get it onto the overhanging balcony floor. Um, no.

I lowered myself back onto the chair, thinking, "I'm SURE I can do this." While I was gathering up courage again I started thinking about it not working out and the chair tumbling from under me and me falling and breaking a bone for the first time in my life. I worried that I am maybe at or past the age at which your body never fully recovers from a broken bone. Who CARES!?! I tried again. Same thing as before, only this time my upper arms had a nice little rest on the sharp corner of the edge of the balcony. Failure. And Bruises.

I got all the way down, moved the wheelbarrow and chair back under the balcony, climbed back over the spiky fence, waded through the dirty sandy weedy lot and came out on the sidewalk. I decided to go to the neighbors and borrow their phone to call Greg. He was unreachable. I came back home resigned to trying to entertain myself somehow on the front step for an hour.

Then I noticed the tiny plastic chair whose legs almost bend when our kids sit in them these days. HERE was my solution! Back around the sandy lot, over the spiky fence (this time only almost ripping my pants and leaving a slipper on the other side, sliding it up with the plastic chair to retrieve it at the top of the fence), Putting the wheelbarrow in place, putting the big chair in it, climbing on it, taking off my slippers and placing them on the balcony, putting that little plastic chair on top of the other chair, standing on it while trying to hold up most of my weight on the balcony rails, and a quick pull up. . . and OVER!! Over the rails, and the adventure? Over as well.

Home, Sweet Home. Arms, Shaky Arms. Stomach, Fluttery Stomach. How excited do you think I was to vacuum the house after that little adventure? The most effort I'm going to make with these still shaking arms today will be to carry the vacuum back upstairs and put it away. There will be other days for vacuuming.
*I'm aware that this is the longest post ever. I'm also aware that if I removed all the parenthetical content I could make this post half as long. Unfortunately I can't do that. I'm incapable of paraphrasing. If you've read all the way through this, just know that I consider you a real friend.

What Goes Around

Comes around, right? I've always believed this saying, but I didn't realize that it worked so quickly! Around the entire Earth and back to me in under a week?! Does this look familiar?
This time Nance from Wash Your Hands Afterwards has awarded me with it! How nice is she? She also happens to have a terrific blog in which she writes about everything under the sun. Lots of recipes, book/product reviews, website recommendations, anecdotes about the fam, craft projects and everything before, after and in between. It is so diversified. She posts at least one post a day and they're short (something you won't find on this blog, unfortunately) fun and interesting posts every time. So thanks, Nance!

This time around I'd like to pass this award along to some others, while feeling guilty that I can't give it to everyone:

daily RACE - This is the blog of Elder Elder and Sister Germany who served their missions in Poland and hooked up back at home where they decided to do the whole "eternity" thing together. Their blog is full of funny insights into their cute family and a little bit of back and forth teasing of him and her. Love it.

i, wright - a blog I recently discovered (through MMB). Nicki is funny and clever and you can just tell she's a great person. You can read a short post of hers that was one of my favorites here.

(Insert Title Here) - is the blog of Olivia, one of the 4 girls in the family I was a mother's helper for just after I got married. She was two when I started and had the hugest light blue eyes with black lashes, and was a super happy, intelligent little girl. She's grown into a pretty, happy, intelligent and funny young woman (she's 12- right Liv?) She's also the first person who admitted how boring my long posts are! Leave it to a teenager. :) If I am a decent mother to my children when they become teenagers, I will give at least partial credit to Olivia for what I've learned (or been reminded of) about teenagerhood by reading her blog. Thanks Livvy! (Do people still call you that?)

Now you guys can pass this along to some of your favorite blogs and display the award on your own, if you so desire (it's such an official award, you just cut and paste it from here onto your own blog)!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Name Dropping and a Princess' Progress

Actually, I'm not going to drop any names (cheers from the audience) because I don't think princesses do that sort of thing, and the point of this post is to show just how princessy I'm getting to be.

Remember on the princess post, I mentioned in the footnotes that I once made a silly sarcastic remark to an important church authority that I've been feeling bad about ever since? Well, we had the opportunity to meet with one again, and I thought this would be a great chance for me to test how much I've improved.

We met in the Mission Home with just a total of 5 couples. It was a cozy little group. We had a little updating/counsel giving session while dinner was being prepared. This man (the visiting one) stood up when we came in and gave me his chair. The only stuffed armchair in the room. The one that was placed next to where his wife was sitting. And he sat on a dining chair by Greg. I tried to protest a little, but I hate being too annoying and refuseful about stuff like that, so I finally just sat down, in hopes of not making a scene. Then I felt a little uncomfortable for the entire 20-30 minutes before we ate. I mean, I know I'm a princess and all (so are you, remember? Unless, of course, you're a prince) but I sure didn't love sitting on that throne! Whatever. What's done is done, right? Princesses don't dwell.

But guess what? Looking back, I didn't say anything that I'm embarrassed about! Did I say anything sarcastic? Of course I did. I would have felt even sillier if I'd just sat there staring the whole time. And since sarcasm escapes every time I open my mouth, there it was. But it was the okay kind. I'm pleased about that. I done good.

And guess what today was?

Cheers and tears. (and starting tomorrow you'll be able to see Evie's eyes in pictures because she's getting new glasses!)

When they came home today, the first thing David told me, which means it was obviously the highlight of his day, was this: "Guess how my English teacher says 'footprints?' 'Feetpreents!'"(with a rolled "r", like in Spanish) Glad to know that he's excited about all the important stuff he's gonna learn.