Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things Wise Men Do

A couple of years ago a friend of ours sent us a Christmas card that had a lovely picture of the wise men crossing the desert in the dark of night, following the brightness of the Star of Hope. There were only five words written on it. Can you guess what they were? I had never heard this until then and I just loved it. Loved it. It said "Wise Men Still Seek Him." Everything about those words appeal to me, beginning with the play on words and ending with the truism it contains with a whole lot of emotional a-ha's in between.

A few weeks ago a man gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. One of the things that he said really struck me. He said, "We know that we are to build our foundation on the Savior, but you can't live on just a foundation. You have to build walls and a roof. You need a place to live, not just somewhere to start building. The foundation is extremely important, but if you stop there, you're missing the point. He said that once we've chosen to have the Savior as the central point of our lives, we can't leave it at that. We have to learn and study. We have to grow spiritually and develop a deeper understanding of the things of God, continuing with Christ as our center point. A sure foundation is the single most important thing for starting your building, but it needs to be added to and built upon.

I started applying this to myself. The talk was given to relatively new members of the church. There is sometimes a tendency (with us all) to get complacent. To feel like, yes, now we understand the gospel so let's try to keep the commandments and call it good. I realized that I have a great advantage over Polish members of the church, in that I was raised in the church and have been learning and studying all my life. You could say that in some ways I know more. I think I have my house built. My foundation is sure, like the wise man's in the parable, and there are walls and a roof. I am mostly unaffected by passing storms. I am resilient because of the practice of my faith over the years.

Then I started to think about that house. What's it like?* Am I keeping up with the maintenance? And what's the interior like? What are the furnishings? It seems this analogy can be taken from the foundation to the walls and roof and even further. Living with just walls and a roof doesn't quite make for what I would call a high standard of living. I would like to have a lovely place to dwell. I would like to be sure that there are no leaks or chipping paint. That the inside is comfortable and cozy. Since the excitement of the actual building of the house ended for me long ago, there are much smaller, but also important things I need to attend to. My life can be greatly enriched by deeper study and a stronger exercising of faith and service and a greater effort made toward selflessness. There are still so many little things I can do to make my house a home.

I want to be a wise man (or probably actually a woman). One who seeks Him. One who builds his (her) house upon the Rock. And one who has excellent home furnishings.
*I like adding in a bit of C.S. Lewis' and his analogy of our "decent little cottage" that the Lord will tear down walls of and hammer and work in all sorts of uncomfortable, and even painful ways because he has planned for us, not a cottage, but a palace.

Heaving a Huge One of Relief

It is with not even the tiniest bit of regret that I inform you that I will not be making an appearance here until TUESDAY!!!!!

I thank you all dearly for sticking with me through this month! Not sure if I can say it was a success, but I CAN say that I posted something every day and that's good enough for me!! In December we'll be back to our three-times a week posting. And now let's all express our relief with a great big group sigh:
You know what? Blogger's font doesn't get nearly large enough for some things.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Don't Wanna

It's a long weekend. People don't want to read blogs all that much. Some people don't want to write posts all that much, either. So I'll do us both a favor.

Except I have to say that we decorated the house for Christmas yesterday (we always did it the day after Thanksgiving growing up and it's a tradition I'm keeping) and then sat down with some slush* (another Christmas tradition) and watched The General (a silent film from 1927 with Buster Keaton. We all loved it, and even Aaron sat through the whole thing pointing at the screen and saying "Uh oh!" and "Woah! Woah, whoah woah!" at all the right parts. He even laughed when we did,but only because we did). The General isn't a tradition, but maybe it will be from now on. Or maybe just any silent film. We're into Charlie Chaplin, too.

I hope you guys are all being at least a little lazy and not too productive. That's what it's all about. Food and laziness.
*I was going to link to a recipe for slush, but couldn't readily find it online. It's just the orange, pineapple and lemon juice and mashed bananas made into a syrup, frozen, and scraped into glasses with 7-up poured on top thing. This is another of my family traditions and we usually drink this with chips and dip. Mmmm, salty/fatty with refreshing and sweet. YUM.

Friday, November 28, 2008

For Future Reference

While I'm thinking about them, I'm going to write down two important things I learned yesterday and today for myself in order to avoid problems in the future. And since everyone else is shopping and not blogging today, it seems like as good a day as any to write myself a memo in the form of a post.
When preparing a large meal single-handedly (or attempting to clean the entire house floor to ceiling in one day) you must eat periodically. Just because you normally are not that busy and eat pretty frequently does not mean that you eat because you are not busy and therefore you don't have to eat when you are. Oh no no. When you're busy, your body still needs nutrients, maybe even more so than on lazy days. Because if you don't eat, it's entirely possible that you may find yourself feeling very weak and ill right before an important dinner, or just when the guests arrive. Also, keep in mind that this is hard (for you) to remember. You have to work at it, because if you don't, it's very likely that it will happen over and over again, causing a great deal of stress and unhappiness at the very moments when joy and gladness are what are wanted. And it might cause your husband to dread holidays and having company. Husbands should not dread those things.
If you ever decide to buy some rubber gloves for use in soapy, wet projects, after a couple of years of not wearing them (because your hands look like those of an eighty year old woman until right after you put lotion on, when they go back to looking like 20 year old hands*, and you can't put lotion on every three minutes (after washing them or something else) anymore), then go to the store and find a nice pair of blue ones and bring them home and open them to find that there is some MIGHTY POWERFULLY SCENTED "balsam" lining the inside of the gloves, and that size small, in some brands, is a tiny bit too small for you, which might make it extremely difficult to remove the gloves once they're suctioned on to your hands. And it also might make you lose circulation to certain fingers now and again during dish washing, but decide to live with it because you bought two pairs and you're not throwing them away.

Then, if you're washing dishes while your 19 month old is eating a snack and he happens to somehow push off the tray that you were sure was locked, causing his plate and sippy cup to crash to the floor and the tray to land on top of them, REMEMBER that this child is not old enough to have ever seen you in rubber gloves. He's not like your other children who have seen you many times walking around the house in your (then yellow) gloved hands just like Dexter's mom, doing some quick task in the middle of washing dishes. No, he has not, and it's an unfamiliar sight. If you remember this, you will be more likely to take the three minutes to remove the gloves before helping him out (because, even though the child isn't buckled in, and never has been, he is a very careful child and would never try to get out on his own and will just sit there until you do something for him, the lazy bum).

Also, If you remember this, you can avoid this scenario: You rinse the soap off your gloves and dry them quickly on the towel. Then you pick up the child and take him to the sink to wash his hands as usual. You put soap on them and then start helping him to "make bubbles." He starts screaming. You realize that he is afraid of the gloves. He pulls his hands back to his body, still screaming. You make eye contact with him and say over and over, "They're just gloves, Aaron! Look it's mommy's hands in there! Gloves! See they can wiggle! It's mommy! See: do-dee-do-dee-do (dancing your hands to the music hoping he will connect your voice with the hand movements and realize they are part of you, and therefore these blue things are unlikely to attack him). This is all a bit of a juggling act because you are holding the child up the whole time, too. When he still doesn't get it and continues to scream just grab his hands and rinse them quickly, set him down on the floor, still screaming and spend the three minutes while you are removing the gloves talking to him about it in a sometimes soothing, sometimes silly voice (counting on comic relief). He may continue to stand there making an ugly barking scream every three seconds, the kind that means, "I can't believe you did that to me, and I don't know if I can ever forgive or trust you again."
The first should come in handy next weekend when we are having company (hooray!). And hopefully the second will never be needed again. I wrote it just in case.
*I'm just estimating that that's how old my lotioned hands look. I've never asked a professional or anything.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Roasting Hot Dogs for Thanksgiving

One thing I'm not thankful for is the saying "to kill two birds with one stone." Why do we still say that? It's not nice at all, which is why I'm starting a new and improved saying. It's more humane and definitely more delicious. Roasting two hot dogs on one stick.

For my Thanksgiving post I'm going to roast a few hot dogs on one stick by turning my answer to Pam's question into a Thanksgiving post. Her question was: What would you miss the most about Poland when you come back to the states? by phrasing it in a "What I love about Poland" or more specifically to the holiday "What I'm thankful for about Poland." These are all things I will miss about this wonderful country when/if we ever leave it.

* I am thankful to be surrounded by a country that has such a rich, deeply rooted history of tragedy, bravery, patriotism and endurance.

*I am thankful for castle ruins. I love castle ruins and they abound in Poland.

*I am thankful to be surrounded by people whose culture remains a bit of a mystery to me and to see their acceptance of me and for the opportunity I have to learn to accept and love them and their ways.

*I am thankful that my children share this culture which I do not and can teach me about it in our home.

*I am thankful for the driver language on the tight, two lane highways that are still the the only travel option in most parts of the country. If a driver headed toward you flashes his headlights he is warning you that there is a police "speed trap" coming up. If a diesel is in front of you and you want to pass but it's hard to see ahead of you, they might signal right, indicating that the way is clear and you can pass them on the left. But this is MY FAVORITE: If a car passes you and you move slightly to the right, or slow down a little or do anything to make the passing easier for them, once they are in front of you they will turn their hazard lights on for a second by way of "thank you." For example, you would flash your hazard lights after passing a truck who had signaled right to let you know that it was safe to pass him. This is like the friendliest little gesture and I love it.

*I am thankful for the lovely forests that are found all over Poland. And I am thankful that you can pull into the forest at any time as you drive across the country and go for a walk, as there are paths through nearly all the forests and there is no such thing as trespassing.

*I am thankful for a more basic way of life. That extravagance is not an issue and people worry less about keeping up with the Joneses (Kowalskis).

*I am thankful that I never hear about the latest fad in food until I visit America and then come blissfully back home and never hear another word about "carbs" or "trans-fats" again.

*I am thankful that my husband can live in the country he loves and that he takes every opportunity to help this country improve in all ways.

Oh, there are lots more, but there are also rolls to be baked and green beans to be cooked and not mixed with cream of mushroom soup.

I am seriously so blessed. Just kidding, I'm away from it all, but I am very blessed with a wonderful family, home, faith, and wanna know something? You're a blessing to me, too! And I'm thankful for you!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Kind of Question Is That?

Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary asked:
I want to know what ONE blog you would read if you could only read ONE for the rest of your life forever and ever only ONE. (Please don't think I'm looking for you to say MINE, I'm really honestly not) I love to know what blogs are people's absolute favorites because it tells me something about them and gives me a possible lead on a new blog to love.

Um, why didn't you just ask which of my three children I like best? I would be equally willing and able to answer. As in not at all. (Sorry! And plus, on the post where I asked for questions, I was going to use as an example of a controversial question that I wouldn't answer, "What's your favorite blog" but then changed it to the carpal tunnel thing. For reals!)

But I will pass along the award you gave me, Heather. But first I'll thank you for it, very kindly!

So I have my own new rule you may remember of only passing awards on to one person. Heather did this, too, and I like it so I'm going to pass this award, which is in recognition of a blogger who something about is your friend and blogging makes you closer or makes the world shrink or something and to show the marvels and to do friendship. That's my version, anyway, which I typed up for you all so it would be perfectly clear and understandable in case you have a hard time figuring out the translation into "English" that it came with:

"This blog invests and believes, the proximity. They all are charmed with the blogs, wherein the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let's try to give more attention to them!"

So the person I'm passing it on to is sort of a lot of things I'd like to be, or at least she surely seems like it based on her blog and comments on this and other blogs:

She is sophisticated.
She thinks about important things, and then blogs about them.
She is lovely. She looks almost like a model in most of her pictures. Even the ones where she's crossing her eyes.
She is very uplifting and encouraging.
She is a good example.
She is a good writer.
She has FOUR BOYS* plus a husband under her watch and care and seems to be not only surviving but thriving.
She is going to agree to meet me some day when I'm in Utah visiting my mother.

And her name is Kazzy and her blog is called Kazzy's Ponderings and I really like them both.
Okay, one of the boys is not exactly under her watch and care, as he's out of the country(missionary), but still.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Parenting Technique Etc.

There are three kinds of parents The kind that can't stand to hear their baby cry/scream out of sympathy, the kind who can't stand to hear it out of annoyance and the kind who don't hear it, or at least don't let it affect them too much either way.

I'm a little of each, but Greg is almost always the second one. He doesn't like it. He likes to be far away from it. But when you're driving in a car with the child, it's hard to get away.

This weekend when we were driving to Łódż to visit his parents, Aaron did really well. Almost the whole 5 hour drive (with no stops). But he whined a little. And at some point the whining turned into crying. And after about a minute of that Greg shouted, "Aaron! No no! All done crying!" Shouting in a car is a little different than shouting in a house or outside. Sort of like a baby crying in a car is different than in a house or outside. As soon as Greg's short but loud shout was done, the crying stopped. And didn't return for rest of the drive (about an hour).

As we were pulling into the parking lot below his parent's apartment building I said, "I know any amount of crying seems to go on forever, but Aaron actually did really well and only complained for maybe 10 minutes total on the whole drive!" To which Greg replied, "Yeah, because I screamed at him." To which I replied, "Yes, because you believe in anger management." About which we laughed and made lots of clever comments then Greg started coming up with other situations in which to use this philosophy: "Someone does something wrong at work: (in a pretend scream) 'YOU IDIOT! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!" and when someone asks what's the matter I tell them it's my new management technique: Anger Management. I works for my kids!" Greg is a very impressive manager, but I can't wait to see how they like his new style!

Also, while we were driving there we got snow! And it stuck!! And I love it.

Also, every evening when we are visiting Greg's parents and we say family prayer together Greg's father chooses one of us to pray. Usually he chooses Evie or David, but occasionally it's me or Greg. One evening he called on me. I started it out in English on accident and had to backtrack (reminding me of the days I sometimes started my (silent) personal prayers: We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us--Whoops! And the one time when I was a kid and started our family prayer: I pledge allegiance to the---whoops! I think those are good indications your prayers might be a bit rote.)

Greg's parents live in an itty bitty apartment. Tiny. 38 square meters, if that means anything to you. And in a building of maybe 75 apartments surrounded by many other buildings full of apartments in the second largest city in Poland. Squished. Which made it all the stranger when, during my prayer I thanked God for Greg's parent's farm. They don't have a farm. They've never had a farm. They don't even want a farm, I don't think. His dad laughed. During the prayer. So I opened one eye and gave Greg the word "hospitality?" and he gave me a very different word than the one I'd said. Whoops! But then I fixed it so now we all know that I'm really not thankful for their farm so much as for their kindness in having us in their home.

And I didn't find out what I'd actually said until after the prayer when Greg told me what gospodarstwo means (which I actually knew but forgot). If you speak Polish, hopefully you can see the connection between that and gospodarz, which can mean "host" so I was thinking in terms of their "hosting" us. Apparently you can't say that. And I even know the right word for hospitality, but forgot again! Sheesh! I can't even get my own kids names right half the time, please don't ask me to speak a foreign language!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Missing Everything

How in the world did you guys write NINETY-ONE posts in the three and a half days I was away from the computer? Sheesh. I'm a little worried I'm going to have to do some serious skimming and possibly even some skipping. I hate doing those things.

So on Thursday I quickly typed up an extra post or two since we were leaving to visit Greg's parents on Friday morning and wouldn't be back until Monday night and would have no Internet access. Then on Friday morning I typed up another one or two when we totally NEEDED to be out the door. That's why I'm going to clarify a few things.

I didn't mean to use the term "launch" to mean giving birth and didn't even think about it until after I had published it (scheduled). Also, that I love the concept of being a sheep because of the implications of humility and dependence and the recognition of the Shepherd's voice and the desire to follow Him out of trust in His care and love. Critics use it in terms of "blind obedience" or "blind faith" and that's what I was referring to. I'm sure you probably understood that. And I'm glad some of you liked yesterday's post, because I didn't and really wanted to swap it for something else but ran out of time!

Man I have a lot to catch up on. Apparently I have a title to defend over at Jen's Jingle and an award to pick up at The Extraordinary Ordinary. Plus unpacking to do, cookies to bake (I just went almost FOUR DAYS without any baked goods) and dinner to make. (Yes, cookies come before dinner, at least in order of importance.)

And I will try to skim all your posts, at least, but if you have a post that you published anytime Friday-Monday that you'd like me to read, please tell me. That maybe sounds dumb, but what if you think you wrote a really great post and I just skim through it and don't recognize it's awesomeness, all because you never told me? See?
I'll be answering some more of your questions later this week.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is He a Mormon?

I remember when I was in fifth grade, when we lived in Orem, Utah, a new girl moved into our class. She was Catholic. I just realized her name was Mary, but never connected her Catholicism with her name until this very second. I remember asking her, "Why don't you want to be a Mormon?" For some reason she didn't have a very clear response. I was kind of feeling like, "Don't you realize everyone here is Mormon? Why don't you be Mormon, too?"

I also remember one day after coming home from somewhere, we had been listening to Paul Simon in the car. We were a serious listening-to-music family. I think we were all pretty passionate about some of that music. Paul Simon was a favorite. I had been looking at the cassette cover of the Hearts and Bones tape. A question suddenly sprung into my head and I asked my dad, "Dad, is Paul Simon Mormon?" My poor dad sort of stopped for a minute and said, "No. . . I don't think so." "Why not? How do you know?" I was just sure such a kindred spirit MUST share my religious views. Dad stammered out something about how he'd been married three or four times or something, maybe the first thing he could think of that doesn't sound so typically LDS. I still wasn't convinced. How does a parent teach a child that not everyone believes what they (and everyone they know) do/does?

Well, now I understand. The world has done a great deal of shrinking and showing it's bad side since I was a kid, and I don't think my kids will be asking me if Christina Aguillera is a Mormon (although her roots are extremely surprising/depressing). Actually, I hope they won't be asking anything about her. I wouldn't really mind all that much if they never hear of her, to be perfectly honest. And really, I'm such a prude (stupid, stupid word) that I wouldn't mind if they never watch any movies or listen to any music ever, really, with the way things are looking these days. Just kidding, I'm not that big of a freak, but I sure am thankful for Screen It. com and try to be aware of what kind of people are behind the songs we listen to, in case my kids start to idolize them. (Like Greg turns off anything by Madonna, which is soooo sad to me when "La Isla Bonita" comes on. Or lots of her other songs that I like.)

Okay, so I don't really have a direction with this post. But I'll just end by saying that I'm grateful for prominent members of our church who set a good example. I like this video about famous Mormons. I love that there are few if any to be ashamed of. One of the comments under this video in the past said something about, "who cares that some normal, well known people are Mormon! There are far more (insert religion)s who are famous." Then giving a list of the very kinds of people who I want to keep my kids from having too much exposure to (obviously not because they are of that religion, but because they very openly live in discord with the teaching of the religion they proclaim so proudly to be theirs).

So even though I grew up naive, like most kids, not understanding why anyone wouldn't share my religion, I am so super grateful that it is not a religion that encourages its members to stay put. Instead it encourages us to learn and grow and be certain for ourselves that we aren't just following the crowd, or sticking with the things we grew up with. I find it funny when some of Greg's "friends" on youtube talk about the Mormon sheep, doing whatever we are told. Being brainwashed etc. A Mormon sheep is one who does not follow councel. We are councelled not to follow "because they say so." We seek knowledge for ourselves and then are required to act upon that knowledge. I like that method. (But I also think it's funny when Mr. Benson, whatever his first name was, criticized the church and talked about "Pray, pay, and obey!" and I was all, "Well, that does sort of sum it up, doesn't it?" Baaaa)
I probably shouldn't have used specific names, because there are a jillion I could have chosen from, but, well, I did.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Launch A Big Orange Rabbit

Okay, someone nominate me for a prize for most creative post title, please. Do you see? It's one of those the first-letter-of-each-word-combines-to-make-the-secret-word things.
Becky asked: Do you have any crazy pregnancy or labor stories? I love hearing about that stuff! (Seriously. I'm weird that way.)
To which I respond a) I'm pretty sure we're all weird that way, which means none of us are weird and b) I am a mother: OF COURSE I HAVE CRAZY PREGNANCY AND LABOR STORIES!!
That's how I respond. And then I elaborate a bit, like this:
Evie was born at the (newly renovated, luxury hotel style) UVRMC in Provo Utah, where I was born twenty-three years earlier. I was induced because she was stressed in the womb. I kept waiting for them to tell me it was time for the epidural. They didn't and finally when I was getting weepy from the pain I asked when they usually give it. The nurse said, "When the mother asks." I really wanted to be brave but it was a whole lot less than comfortable so I got the epidural. After that it was much better. Except she kept not coming. And finally they told me to prepare for a c-section. And I was sad. And Greg gave me a blessing, and then the nurse came in and said, "Woah! What happened! Here she comes!" Then I was happy and my little girl was born and I didn't feel a thing (except the straining and the tightness).

When David was born we were in Mielec but the maternity ward was closed for disinfection, which they preform once or twice a year and must close down the ward for like a week each time, I think. They aren't big on cleanliness at this hospital (I know because I was in there for five days with pre-term labor, until I begged to go home and my doctor said he couldn't stand to see women cry and so let me go home on strict bed rest and I was thinking "how do you get to be the head of the maternity ward and never get used to women's tears?") Since the ward was closed they shipped me by ambulance (no siren, though) to the next nearest hospital about a twenty minute drive away. This is in a very small town. The doctor was great. I learned something there. They don't give any sort of anesthesia before the birth, only a local one right before they stitch you up. Then I learned that it hurts very, very badly to give birth. I also learned that somehow, you magically don't die, no matter how badly you wished you could have.

Then with Aaron, I went to our hospital here in town and re-learned that labor is extremely painful. And I really couldn't handle it. I couldn't. And then, again, I didn't die.

I think having children is magical. Especially because you don't die. (and also because of the children)

I know I didn't really give the stories here, but maybe I will some day. But I would like to tell the story of the ending of a pregnancy that didn't result in a baby, if you know what I mean. And I will, soon, unless you tell me in the comments that that would be disgusting and how could I ever even consider it. To which I respond: because it was one of the biggest adventures of my life.
That's how I respond and then I elaborate a bit. . . if you don't mind?

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Just the Way I am

When I wrote the post about keeping my commitments and Kazzy suggested that I could have you guys ask me questions for ideas of what to write about I was so happy. I thought it was such a brilliant idea! I was going to email her thanking her for it, but then thought, no I will post about it tomorrow, so no need.

Then the next day I posted about it and was all sarcastic with a "as if I need any ideas of what to write about!" and instead of heaping the praise and thanks on her that I meant to, it came across as though I would do what she suggested, even though it was, I don't know, not nice somehow of her to suggest it. Totally not how I felt. Remember the princess post? Yeah, this is one of those times when curbing the sarcasm might have been a good idea. So sorry, about that.

So Kazzy the Terrific asked: If you had a week totally alone and could go anywhere and do anything, what would you choose?

Um, there's a reason I didn't choose this question first. It requires both a) thought and consideration and b) a revelation (greater than usually) of my lameness. So I don't think I'll really answer in the way she intended me to, and instead I'll explain myself.

On a scale of one to ten, my level of wanderlust is about a zero. Let's alter that scale to make it much more precise and accurate: on a scale of one to three thousand, my level of wanderlust would fall somewhere right around. . . zero. Or right exactly on zero.

I like to travel. I love to see new places. I really enjoy spending time in the mountains. I love the ocean/beach/seaside. I have always loved long road trips. I get excited about these things. Once they're planned.

If there were never any trips planned I would be just fine sitting at home doing nothing. I can almost get as excited about sitting around the TV for a family movie night in front of brownies (for me) and popcorn(for them). This sounds terrible, but I REALLY love a family movie night, so it's not that bad.

I know it's probably a huge shame that I live here within driving distance (okay, it's a ways away, but still) of Paris and I don't really care to go. We've been to Germany, but only for purposes of temple attendance and once on our way to Denmark with my mom. We've been to Slovakia for Visa renewals. We've travelled all over Poland, with visitors, but have also done a lot on our own. I love it! But I haven't seen every square inch of Poland yet, and can't imagine that anyplace else could be any better.

So here I sit. Happy. I'm also easy to entertain when I visit family in America. "Oh, let's go to Disneyland, the Aquarium, the beach, the museum etc. etc. etc." "Sure!" I'll say. "Sounds great!" But really, if we sit at home and chat over a game of sequence I'll be just as happy.

Boring. I think that's the word for me. So if I could spend a week alone anywhere doing anything, I would stay at home and read and read and eat brownies. Or I'd go to Italy and see Venice and Rome and Florence. Or maybe I'd go for a getaway to a hotel in the mountains, or visit Jerusalem. Really, it's all about the same to me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Polishing My Children's Americanism

Moody asked: How is growing up in Poland going to affect your kids (meaning what kind of person they will become), vs if they were growing up in the US?

My kids won't be as used to meeting and making new friends. Their first three years of elementary school are spent with the same teacher. Their first six years are spent with the same set of kids. They are not forced into a new environment every year. I both love and hate this. Still, my kids are pretty outgoing, and I hope they can hold on to that throughout their lives.

My kids will (do) have stronger shoulders and backs than American kids. There are no desks, just tables and chairs, so the kids have to carry all their books and supplies to and from school every day. Now that Evie is in fourth grade, she changes classrooms every lesson (all the same kids stay together, they just move from room to room) and lugs all her books around to each one.

My kids eat fewer processed foods. They don't have all the interesting and fun snack foods that you have in the States. There are maybe two or three different kinds of crackers (Oh how I miss Cheez-its and Wheat Thins!) no fruit snacks and hardly any freezer stuff like corn dogs, bagel bites, and chicken nuggets. I mean, they have chicken nuggets of some sort, but like a tiny box of them. But I think I wouldn't buy them much even if I lived in the States.

My kids will never learn how to drink from a drinking fountain. Seriously. They love them so much and practice every time we see one when we're in the States, but they both still are about on the 18 month old level (loud slurping noises, tongue often seen outside of mouth [lick, lick] water all down chin/in nose etc.) I've demonstrated countless times, but really, how do you explain, "purse your lips, sort of close the back of your throat with your tongue and then suck a little bit at a time. . .?" It takes loads of practice. (nearest drinking fountain is in the Freiberg, Germany temple)

My kids will always get an A in their English classes. Last week David had a substitute in his English class and she was holding up pictures of animals and the kids were supposed to call out the name in English. Amidst all the calls of "Dack!" There was one little boy who called out, "It's a duck!" The teacher stopped, put down the picture and said, "David!! Do you know how to speak English?" (only she used a slang word for talk which means more like chatter or blabber or something) And she was so excited when he said he could (but she kept speaking to him in Polish about it, even though he answered her in English).

My kids might stand out more than kids in America in terms of their culture and religion, and learn to defend and talk about it at an earlier age. Everything from why they aren't bundled like an Eskimo to why they don't want any tea, thanks, to why they don't attend religion classes etc. Evie has had a teacher ask her how she knows that her church is true and after Evie explained about the Holy Ghost, her teacher told her that those are just her own thoughts and feelings. She has had a caring friend ask why she doesn't pray, and has explained that she DOES pray, just in a more "talking to God" sort of a way. Since then she has had enough birthday parties with blessings said over the food that all her friends understand that she does pray. And more often than they do. (I know kids everywhere have some of these opportunities, of course)
When we visit Greg's parents (they are Catholic) we always ask a blessing on the food. His dad calls on one of us, my father and mother-in-law never say the prayers, but my FIL always lets us know that this is how it should be (meaning that even though they don't do it themselves, and never have, he feels that it is right). We also read scriptures and have family prayer with them in the evenings and they are surprised and delighted by how much the kids understand.

My kids will have to work harder at honesty. Honesty is just not highly valued in this country yet. There is still lots of corruption left over from Communism and the "take what you can get by whatever means necessary" attitude is still very prevalent. My children stick out like a sore thumb on this issue, and I know they will have loads of temptation (I know they would in the States, too, but for sure it will be harder here). I think they're up for the challenge, though. I wrote about dishonesty in Poland/the kid's school here.

So these aren't maybe about what kind of people my kids will be because of growing up in Poland, but it hopefully gives you an idea. I hope that my kids will be both tough and tolerant. Tough enough to stand up for themselves with all the teasing and trials that will come from having a Mormon American background in such a Polish Catholic country and that they will learn love and tolerance for the really interesting religious beliefs and customs of the people around them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Starting With Melissa

I appreciate your questions, everyone! I'm going to start with Melissa Bastow's list of questions because I feel the strongest about the issues she raises. Plus, I'm sure they're the things you're all really wondering about. Her questions in green and my answers in black:

Do you wear socks to bed in the winter? Are they slipper socks with the grippy things on the bottom?
I never wear socks to bed. How in the world can you move around if you're wearing socks? And the grippy things? I always wear slippers (this is Poland and you don't wear shoes in the house. Not even my house, unless you're an American visitor. Then you do whatever you want.) so I don't need the grippy things. Plus, I'm more than two years old. My slippers usually look something like this, only darker (they get much darker with age, and usually last maybe six months?and there are lots of different designs and patterns) and I don't like this kind of sole. After a few years of wearing this kind I discovered the kind that have a softer sole glued on the bottom. Much better. Plus the kind pictured here creak when you walk.

European slippers leather hand made in Poland NEW 8
photo swiped off of Ebay. Can you do that?
(But my current pair are made of that foamy material that those sorta cloggy shoes are made from. You know the ones that cost an arm and a leg and are made of air? Only my slippers cost three bucks.)

Do they have microwave popcorn in Poland? What about microwave kettle corn? What about popcorn at the movie theater? Is it extra buttery? Do they have butter there? Do you have to make your own butter?
There is microwave popcorn. I've never heard of kettle corn. Popcorn at the theater is as gross as the kind in America. But then I don't like popcorn. Plus we don't have a microwave. (We did for like a total of one year of our marriage. I'm not a huge fan of the microwave) But I do pop popcorn on the stove in a pan when the kids watch movies with their friends or we watch one as a family. The kids love to watch it pop through the glass lid. (please forgive me for not liking popcorn and not having a microwave)

If they didn't have butter here we wouldn't live here. I only bake with butter (and oil). The butter is probably European butter. In the states I think that means "extra super fancy quality." It is not salted. I have only ever made my own butter in kindergarten and then once in a preschool class I taught. So if they ever stop having butter here, I can make my own because I have lots of baby food jars for shaking cream in.

Do they have good diapers there? (This, of course, is crucial.)
They have cloth diapers. And also they have disposable ones. I use the disposable kind. Over here they call them "Pampersy." That means "disposable diapers." There are also Huggies and then lots of local brands.

How many times a day do you hop on one foot? Because I highly recommend hopping at least 3 times (but only on the left foot.)
I can't believe you asked such a personal question, but I'll answer because I have nothing to hide. I don't hop on one foot. Not even the left. Sometimes when I remember, while I'm brushing my teeth I go up and down on my tip-toes, slowly up and down, up and down, for the full two minutes-ish of brushing for exercise. My good friend in high school did this every day, twice a day. I thought it was a good and pretty funny idea. My favorite kind of ideas are the good, funny ones. And the kind that might some day bring some sort of definition to your calves. Do you say calves, or is that only for multiple baby cows? Calfs? Oh, no no no. Calves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Precipitation and Participation

Precipitation, please!!

It's finally cold enough to snow (today for the first time)! I don't really like cold enough to snow. Most especially when there's no snow. Clear skies and freezing temperatures aren't really my thing. Especially when people are starting to write posts about Christmas being on its way (I read at least three yesterday. This one I'll be implementing because I love it dearly). Can't I please have some of the white stuff with my freezing?

Participation, please!! (Just kidding, only if you want to)

Kazzy suggested that maybe some of you could ask me questions and I could answer them in my upcoming posts. This was an interesting idea, although I don't quite understand why she might suggest such a thing. Or what you were all going on about "getting" or "not getting"my last post. Can't a person write a post about her ethics without people trying to read something into it? Sheesh.

So despite my confusion, I think the idea might be a good one. So don't worry about trying to come up with a question for me, but if you have a naturally occurring one, please ask!

Pam of McEwens has requested pictures and information about Poland, and how things look. I'm lazy about pictures, but I will see what I can do. Heather of Another Year Wiser suggested a few posts ago that I, "should start all the way back from [my] birth and write [my] whole autobiography." Don't worry, I'll spare you all that! But maybe about something specific? Thanks, guys!
Rule: Don't ask anything controversial, like where I stand on abortion or whether I think Heather of the EO is getting carpal tunnel syndrome or not.
And also, thanks Kazzy for the terrific idea!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Woman of My Word

I totally believe in keeping commitments that I've made.

Like, for example, if I said I would do something every day, I will do it.

But I'm smart, too, and I know my limits. I would never say that I would do something really well every day.

Because for sure, some days I won't do it very well.

Please adore my use of tenses in this post. Actually, just adore everything about this post. How could you not?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Church in Poland

Poland is a very traditionally Catholic country. 95% of the population is Catholic. It is the most conservative member of the European Union. When I say "traditionally catholic" I mean Catholic, in terms of religion, but even more in terms of tradition. They do what their ancestors have done for generations. They are very proud of this. Also, the beloved Pope John Paul II was Polish, and that really cemented the tradition and pride more than ever. The country has been through SO MUCH and I think their religion is one thing they feel has helped them through the extremely difficult times.

Now about the LDS church here.

Poland opened to the missionaries in 1990, I think, just after the fall of communism. In Poland there is one mission (Warsaw, Poland) which is divided up into districts which are divided up into branches. I'm sort of guessing on some of this but I think there are about 12 branches total.

Warsaw, of course, is the biggest city and it is the only city with two branches. It is also currently the only place where there is an actual chapel, as in separate, church-built and owned building. The other branches meet in rented apartments, normally in large old buildings where businesses rent or sometimes where people live. Sorry I don't have pictures, but the church remodels the areas so you would recognize them if you were to visit (please visit!!). There is the typical church building carpet in a royalish blue. There are no wooden pews but soft chairs (which are comfortable if you don't have back problems) in a matching blue. There is always the "chapel" in the largest of the rooms, which usually seats maybe 30-150? (depending on the branch). Then there are the other rooms used as classrooms. The chapel is usually used also for Sunday School or priesthood or both.

Now I'll stick to our district down here in the south, because I can give you more accurate information about it. We have three branches (and I think a new, recently started group, which is smaller than a branch. I think there are 4 missionaries and 2 members). Krakow, the one we belong to, is meeting in the third location since we moved here just over 8 years ago. It went from small to big, and back to small again. At this point our branch has 8 missionaries, usually one companionship is sisters. Right now the branch president is one of the missionaries. On any given Sunday I would say there are maybe six to eight members attending. Except when we're there. We almost double the number. We've recently been whittling down the meetings and currently have 1/2 hour Sacrament meetings (so each member doesn't have to give a talk every other week) and then one meeting after that, trading off Sunday school one week and Relief Society/Priesthood the next. We attribute the decline of the branch to the fact that almost all of the young adults that were the strength of the branch a couple of years ago have moved with the rest of their generation to England. This is a tragedy for both the Church and the country. Good bye rising generation! It also means that our branch has a number of older members who are still rather stuck in their old ways and don't provide the strength that they could.

It's very hard for us, living over two hours from our branch, to be very involved in missionary work. It's also hard to be involved in weekday activities. It's nearly impossible for us to attend weeknight firesides or activities. When we talk to people about the gospel here in our town, it's very difficult to encourage them to spend an entire day traveling to and from a meeting, just to see what it's like. There are also no missionaries for us to refer to people in our town (although some have been sent in the past when we've had interested investigators, but the distance problem makes everything very difficult.)

I sometimes feel that I don't do all I can here. I sometimes feel that there is very little I even can do. I don't magnify the calling that I hold (counselor in the District RS presidency). I am far too apathetic about it all. I have done much better in some of my other callings (RS pres, for example, although that was hard to do long distance, too.) When we first moved here people would always tell me that just being in church and sharing a smile was an enormous help. I think it sort of was. But after eight years living here, it seems I should now be doing more rather than less to help out in the church. Right now the main thing that I do is sit with my kids in Sacrament meeting and try to be an example of a good, strong eternal family. Ours is the only one in our branch.

Ours is the smallest branch in the district, so the other two are in better shape. There are some wonderful leaders and we have enthusiastic missionaries. I appreciate the strength of this first generation of Polish saints. They have so much to overcome. There are so many old "traditions" be incorporated into a new lifestyle, and many, many to be broken for good. It is extremely difficult, and requires a great deal of sacrifice. I am so grateful for these strong Poles and their hard work, their growing testimonies,and their willingness to be different from those around them and to set an example for others to see. I really can't imagine how hard it must be. As I say, the traditions are so extremely deeply rooted that most people cannot fathom why or how anyone could change them. It requires amazing faith, determination and dedication. The kind that I hope to have some day.
sorry if this post isn't very clear. I'm not up to trying to make it coherent.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Part V: The Before We Were Married Story

This story begins here if you're crazy and want to read the whole thing.

I was ecstatic. I was over the moon. I was getting married.

The people I was nannying for were more than surprised. "Oh! Greg!?! The one who you're just friends with?" and "Are you sure you're not just rushing into this because of your parents' situation?" (they were in the process of separation/divorce). If anything, I would be less interested in getting engaged/married right away because of that.

Now came time for planning. So let's see. . . we're at the beginning of November. My nannying contract ends at the beginning of next August. . .Greg has his plans for Christmas and I am excited to travel with the family I'm nannying for to places like Italy and France (I think) and Utah and Colorado (avid skiers). Looks like it's going to be a Very Long Engagement in terms of both time and distance.

But wait!! Why not get married during the Christmas holidays!?! Then maybe some of our friends would still be around before leaving BYU for the break, to attend the wedding/reception. As soon as the idea was formed there was no going back. As if I was going to wait almost a year when we could get married in. . . seven weeks. Oh. Seven weeks. Wow! Seven weeks! That was coming right up!

The family I nannied for were very upset about this decision. They didn't really talk to me about it outright, but they were upset. And it showed. And soon it started showing even more obviously. When I was not on duty, they kept the little girl from me. I would walk in Sunday afternoon after church and Ali would come running to me and her dad would shout, "Alicia! Come back here!" and the poor, confused little two year-old would turn back around and go to her father. She also wasn't allowed to come downstairs and play in the evenings either. I know there were two reasons for this behavior. First of all they didn't want her to get too attached to me. Well it was too late for that, of course, but they wanted to help her become unattached. And secondly they were upset and wanted to punish me.

This was so hard on me. I ate dinner with the family, and where there used to be plenty of conversation and way too much teasing (the dad was a major teaser), there was little if any conversation and zero teasing. This lasted for some weeks. In the meantime, I was doing all I could to find a replacement for myself since I was breaking my contract. (I never actually signed anything--which I know doesn't matter--but I took the job after being assured that I would have Internet access and they also said that they would pay for me to take night classes. Neither of these options were available once I got there. So I felt like they hadn't kept up their end of the deal, either. I know, I'm justifying it. Whatever.)

One night I was crying on the phone to my mom. I was feeling overwhelmingly ostracized and hurt that the parents were trying to turn my favorite little girl against me. I was telling my mom everything. At some point a head peeked in my bedroom door. It was the dad. He saw that I was bawling, and had probably heard at least some of what I'd been saying to my mom. When the rest of his body followed his head into the room, I saw that he was carrying a little plate with two warm muffins on it and a glass of milk. He walked in and set them on the night stand by my bed, where I was sitting. Then he walked out.

There was something in his expression as he brought in that gesture of of forgiveness. Forgiveness that he was both granting and asking for. I also felt a tinge of guilt that he had heard me gossipping about him. For all these reasons I sobbed even harder. I looked at myself truthfully and was relieved to find that I hadn't been unfair in what I'd been telling my mom. I'd been giving facts and explaining how they made me feel. I think I was okay there. And I was so grateful for the humility it must have taken for him to make that gesture. And of course I was grateful for the muffins, too! Although, I don't remember thinking as much about the physical muffins as about what they represented. (I know! Even I can get past my obsession for baked goods sometimes!)

After that things changed for the better. We started talking. There wasn't as much banter as there had been before, but we were on good terms again, with only a little bit of awkwardness.
I loved my job. They tried to convince me that after we were married Greg should move in with me into their basement. I could nanny and Greg could transfer to a school nearby.They tried to make this option as attractive as possible. I sort of loved the idea, but it really wasn't all that feasible.

All this time Greg was responsible for putting the show together. I think my mother was his biggest helper, but he really did much of the arranging. I did nothing. He booked us a date at the Salt Lake temple on December 20th. There were --- sealings being preformed on that day. Ours was at eight thirty a.m. One of Greg's very best friend's was at eight. Oops. Our mutual friends had to make a choice. And we couldn't attend each other's weddings. Oh well, marriage is the main thing we were all after, and we were getting that, at least. We decided against a reception. Greg had no family (blood related, at least) to attend, and the people I grew up around were all in California. Plus we knew a lot of people would already have gone home for the holidays, and would therefore be out of state. Plus I never cared about things like receptions. I mean, if the situation had been different I would have probably wanted one, but mostly I wanted to be married.

All this time I'd been searching for a replacement nanny. One of the girls who had lived in the apartment upstairs from me in Provo had a sister that might be interested. She was! And she had some experience with children. In talking to her on the phone I wasn't blown away by her, but she sounded nice. The parents talked to her as well and agreed that she was the one. I was so relieved!

Two weeks before the wedding this girl, let's call her Emma, came out. I would train her for a few days before heading to SLC. She was quiet. She didn't really seem interested in Ali. After the first day spent together I realized that I needed to back off and let her get to know her on her own. We went to the mall. There was an orchestra playing on the level below. I was so excited to show Ali and talk all about it with her, but I stopped myself. I suggested that Emma show her. Emma took her to the glass overlooking the lower level. Ali was pointing and talking and Emma was leaning against the handrail staring at people walking by. I was so mad. I'm sure I shouldn't have been, but I was, and I went over and squatted down by Ali and listened to her and explained about some of the instruments, etc. I tried to teach Emma about getting down on Ali's level and trying to teach her and interest her in things. But I could tell Emma was not that kind of girl.

I was SO sad. Like, I cried about it (and I didn't have PMS). Ali was the most amazing little girl. She could talk a mile a minute. She was so smart and well behaved. She had barely turned two and I had taught her that instead of throwing a fit when something wasn't going right, she should just come to me and say, "Please help me!" And she did. All the time. She almost never threw any sort of fit at all. As I say, she was amazing. And beyond adorable. And Emma didn't care about that AT ALL.

I felt so bad and I talked to the parents about it. We told stories back and forth about things Emma had said or done or neglected to do. I was seriously appalled. The parents seemed to think it would be okay, though. They were fine with it. I was glad. And sad, at the same time.

Okay, I'm all typed out (if you're even reading, still!) More another day.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Books I'll Buy: (And I'm Famous by Association, Right?)

I've been saying that I want to have a special book shelf to fill with books written by bloggers I know. This, of course, will happen one day in the future when our "library" is more than a room full of stacks of papers and books (on the floor) and we actually have shelves. Here are some of the books that will be on that shelf:

My NovelMiss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind (available for pre-order) by the authoress Heidi Ashworth, who also happens to be my friend the blogger Heidi Ashworth.

As Yet Untitled Book of Funny Blog Posts being compiled by Sue (also see below), all the proceeds of which will go to the NieNie Fund. I'm confident that some of your posts will be in this book! You'll be famous!!

Is it Arrogant to Quote Yourself?Is it Arrogant to Quote Yourself? by my friend Kimberly VanderHorst who blogs at Temporary? Insanity.

All, if I can collect them, of the books by best-selling/award winning Annette Lyon including her latest, Spires of Stone. Her sixth book comes out spring 2009. And she blogs at The Lyon's Tale.

I'll be mad at myself if I've missed someone. Now here's a list of people whose books I'll one day be buying. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

My friend Melanie J of Write Stuff
My friend Alison Wonderland of -- well, that's both her name and her blog title
My follower Sue of navel gazing at its finest (just kidding--not about wanting to buy her book, though)

And now my throat hurts from all the yelling. (Please tell me who I've missed. Like do people who are doing the November writing thing plan to publish? Because then I will definitely be buying Kazzy and Brillig's books.)
**images pilfered off of these ladies blogs. I hope I'm not breaking some important law or can ate least be forgiven if I am.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tragedy: A Top Quality Post

Yesterday I read the post I've highlighted in my sidebar and cried. This morning I read a post of Melanie's at Write Stuff and cried. Then I read an email from my cousin in response to my questions about her health, and cried. Then I went downstairs and watched a little Larry King while sitting on my husband's lap and cried. Mostly because I didn't feel very comfortable and kept feeling like I was falling off of his lap (please try to contain your tears of empathy). I moved onto the couch and started thinking about how I might have to wake Aaron up from his nap in order to be able to pick the kids up from school on time, and I felt sad. Larry King got boring so I switch to some cooking show and started crying. Not about the cooking (they weren't cooking seafood or anything, it was a dessert). Or about the previously mentioned email or blog posts or baby thing. I went to the kitchen to make a sandwich, thinking it was maybe my blood sugar level or something. I started buttering the bread and REALLY started crying because there was no way I could eat that sandwich because I wasn't feeling well.

I'm weepy. I think it's just a severe case of PMS. I'm not even going to charge you for that information. I'm generous in my sorrow.

And to make up for the previous bad paragraphs, have you heard my favorite joke that I forgot to tell in my other post?

Why is it called PMS? Because the name "Mad Cow Disease" was already taken.

And one of Greg's favorite jokes that sort of matches: Why do women wear make-up and perfume? Because they're ugly and they stink.

I don't feel like crying so much anymore. I think I'll go take a shower. (but I'm sure I'll come up with something to cry about in there. Does anyone else love crying in the shower as much as I do?)

(Never mind. I have something to cry about. I finished typing this up and went over to read Alison Wonderland's latest post and accidentally clicked on her link to an article which tells a very sad story (got a little weepy) and then mentions organ donorship. I LOVE ORGAN DONORSHIP. So I started all-out crying. Everyone, be a donor.)(Now I feel like crying because donorship isn't a word(sorta suspected that) and I think it should be (maybe you're aware that I usually don't care AT ALL if something is a word or not.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Glad I Mentioned It

This morning I was getting cleaning supplies out from under the sink in the kitchen while Greg was standing there waiting for an egg to hardly boil. I started explaining to him that now I know how people get mold in their showers. Ours has mold in it. I told him, "If you don't wash it for about three weeks, mold will grow."

His response? "You wash the shower?" "Um yes, I wash the shower." "Oh, I thought mold just didn't grow in Poland like it does in Utah."


So I'm really glad it came up. I was actually not going to say anything, sort of hoping that he hadn't noticed the mildew before I got the chance to clean it. Well, I'm not sure if he noticed it or not, but apparently he has noticed that there hasn't been any before now. Magically.

(Which isn't to say there hasn't been more than enough lime scale and dried toothpaste etc. And which also isn't to say that I clean my bathrooms every week. Especially the bathtub and shower. I plan to clean them every week. Which is not quite the same thing.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I spend a good deal of my time telling my children not to do it, and yet here I am, devoting an entire post to it. Shouting. Or more specifically shouting out. Or giving shout outs. However you put it in the plural.

My sister, the mother of the famous little singer, recently told me (again) about what wonderful readers I have. She's wondered in the past how people (I) can read blogs of people they don't know. Like what could possibly be the draw. When she reads the comments you guys leave on here, I think she gets an inkling. And also she starts looking in on some of your blogs sometimes too! You're converting her!

I recently saw some pictures that made me smile hugely in wonder and amazement. Pictures of a little girl I have no connection with. Then I clicked over to see some more. Oh my GOSH. That is one darling girl. And those are some terrific pictures. If I lived near her mom, Melissa of The Howell Harold, we'd be best friends and she would be my photographer for my kids pictures because that's what she does, and she's amazing. So if you live in or near Denver you should totally hook up with her and have your kids shot!!

Now I want to tell a story about a girl who had a little lamb. Just kidding, but I want to wonder soMething out loud. How Are some people able to be everywheRe at once? How do some people follow so many manY blogs? I mean, and actually read and comment on them? I'm kind of thinking of one person in particular (in case you couldn't tell), and I'm also wondering how she manages to leave the cleverest comments on every blog nearly every time. Not like it's a competition, and not like I think comments need to be clever, but I'm just thinking, if I was keeping up with so many blogs, I and leaving such funny comments every time, it would take me all day every day. I would spend 5 minutes coming up with something hilarious to say after reading each post. But somehow she manages it and also has her own hilarious, and I mean hilarious, blog plus a clean house and two little kids. HOW DO YOU DO IT? Sheesh.*

I'm having difficulty adding new blogs, even though I keep coming across awesome ones. I start reading and think, should I just pop in for a visit once in a while? I'm getting nervous about following too many blogs since I like to read every word of every post, and I already feel like I'm spending too much time on the computer. How is one to do it?

Soon I'll scream at some of the people whose books I want to buy and read and keep on a special shelf for books written by my talented fellow bloggers. Or maybe I'll yell at them. Or give them a shout out, or whatever.

Two little footnotes: My dad was a professional photographer and when we were little we had a bumper sticker on our huge green station wagon that said, "Have your family shot today." with the name of the photography place in fine print underneath.
Also, I was planning on putting in that part about Mary BEFORE she started following my blog. It's not like we made some sort of deal or anything.

Monday, November 10, 2008


**Time again to revisit Sophistication. Numbers 10-12 are the additions this time.**

After we had lived in Poland for a while I got back in touch with an old family friend (their family are friends of my family). I had lived in their basement when I first moved to Rexburg to start school. They are a family of intellectuals (Dad's an English professor and they're all very smart). I have always felt just a bit intimidated by them, even though they're the nicest people on the planet. When I lived there, my intimidation was tempered by the fact that they listened to Snoop Dogg, watched and quoted the Simpsons non-stop and made lots of delicious brownies. Who can be intimidated by anyone while eating brownies?

So this woman asked if I was getting all sophisticated, living, as I do, in Europe. This question obviously struck me, since she asked it about 6 years ago and I still remember it. I suppose I started thinking that maybe I should be getting sophisticated, living, as I do, in Europe. This is my inspiration for this post. That and the fact that I only ever post about things that are very important. Or let's just say important, ranging from rather to extremely. And relevant to my readers. That's another thing I value. Relevance.

So I've decided to start a running list of important things I've learned, living, as I do, in Europe. My hope is to gradually reveal the level of sophistication I have achieved. I will add things to the list as I remember them and re-post the list showing my updates. I'm pretty sure you are all on the edge of your seats. Here it comes, in no particular order:

  1. Smiling at strangers doesn't always give them a feeling of common understanding with you. Some places it's more likely to make them afraid of you.
  2. You can make a cereal that tastes almost exactly like Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs (not available in Poland) by stirring your dry Cookie Crisp (available in Poland) with peanut butter (available) and then adding your milk (also available).
  3. Children (especially babies)whose ears are not covered if there is a breeze and it is below 75 degrees outside, will almost surely die. If they don't, at least their mothers will from the deadly looks they are given by more experienced mothers. This has improved in the years we've lived here, and now people just mention over and over that, don't we think our kid needs a hat?
  4. Hershey's chocolate (milk and dark) bears little resemblance to real chocolate. It's brown and it's sweet, but beyond that, different. Not bad, just different. I'm not such a snob that I won't eat it. It's a tasty, American, chocolate-like candy.
  5. Getting from one city to another 75 miles away doesn't have to take an hour. It can take two or three.
  6. Children should sleep without underwear. I'm still not clear on why, I just know it's weird for them to sleep in their underpants. And if you're LDS and your kids sleep in their underwear? Hmmm.
  7. It's possible to spend an entire summer walking down sidewalks and never once have to detour into the street to avoid getting sprayed by a sprinkler. Or: It's possible to spend an entire summer walking down sidewalks and never find any refreshment from the heat in the form of sprinklers directed almost completely onto the sidewalk. (maybe this has changed in America now that people are loving Mother Earth a bit more).
  8. Babies need tea. They should drink baby tea (fruit and herbal) every day from their first month of life.
  9. Children should NOT drink cold drinks. For children under 3, "cold" means room temperature or colder. For some older kids, room temp might be okay, but it's safer to warm the beverage, like you do for the younger children. Cold drinks give kids (and many adults) sore throats. (This is true! Since drinks are always warmed for children, they can't handle cold ones.)
  10. On a long drive, when you gotta go, you gotta go, so there's no need to wait for a gas station. Just pull off the side of the road and do your thing right there. You don't have to worry about covering yourself, or walking 5 paces from your car into the forest through which you are driving. And also, kids should learn to pee on the grass at the park.
  11. Cakes that taste any sweeter than a typical store bought hamburger bun are "too sweet." Or at least "very rich." (more opinions on Polish cakes here.)
  12. There are entire grocery stores full of food, good food, that doesn't have brightly colored packaging, or big bubble letter words, or all the reasons you should eat it listed on the packaging. (when we first came here I thought it was so sad and boring, now I think it's really funny when I'm visiting the states and see all the stuff you guys have there. Seems silly after you've been away from it all for a while)
That's it for now. I'm sure I'll be coming up with some EVEN MORE sophisticated things that I've learned over the years.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How Many Getting-into-Heaven Points Do you Get for Posting Your Testimony(ish) on You Tube?

I've mentioned before that Greg is pretty active on you tube posting videos in an effort to help dispel myths about Mormnonism, as per Elder Ballard's suggestion (that we join the "conversation" on the internet).

Two weeks ago he came home from work and told us that he wanted to take us to the forest because he wanted to make a video with our family. During the drive we talked about how our day had gone, and right as we were about to park he told me what the plan was for the video. Apparently I was supposed to take an active role, so I had about 5 minutes while walking to the filming spot to think about it. You'll be able to tell if you decide to watch the video.

I'm posting this, not because I expect you all to watch it, but because it's a good thing to post on Sunday. (And also I sort of don't really want people to watch it anyway because in the video, besides seeing me, my husband and my kids (those are the good things), you also get see more than enough of my chins. (those are the bad things)) Greg and I talk about why we feel the restored Gospel is needed in our day, or what we appreciate about having it in our lives.

It's long. About ten minutes BUT if you have a fast connection and it will upload quickly, even if you don't plan on watching the whole thing, I at least recommend you watch from about 8:10 and watch Evie and David carefully. I wasn't aware that they were actually listening to what we said until I watched this and saw their immediate reaction to what Greg says at 8:22. I find it to be a little hilarious. Maybe it's because I'm part of this family, but I've watched that part over and over.

If you're not up for a long video or double chins, and you didn't read my older post about you tube you should TOTALLY click on the link at the top (mentioned before) to see a very funny, very short clip from Cheers related to Mormonism. Sort of.
And if you're a you tube surfer and you're interested, you can find Greg's page or whatever it's called here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Did You Hear the One About

I love jokes. Maybe everyone loves jokes, but probably not everyone loves them as much as I do. When I hear one on the radio or Greg shares one he heard at work, or I read one on some one's blog, like the locking the doors in the church parking lot one from Nathan*, I almost feel like some one's given me a brownie. I know! I love jokes that much!!

The good/bad thing about jokes is that I never remember them. It can be the funniest thing I've ever heard and I won't remember it tomorrow. The good thing about that is that whenever someone asks me the question in my title, I can always say "no" because even if I have heard it, I won't remember that I've heard it.

There are a few jokes that I do remember, though, and I'm going to share them with you.

I don't consider myself to be above children's jokes. Here are some my kids tell that I like (or mostly that I remember):
a fish with an eye missing? "a fsh"
a grizzly bear with no teeth? a gummy bear
Where do french fries come from? grease
On their patrol two policemen notice that the keys have been left in a fancy sports car. One officer says to the other, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" He says "Yeah." The first police officer says, "Then you're under arrest!"
And my favorite knock-knock joke ever:
who's there
little old lady
little old lady who?
I didn't know you could yodel!

Here are two Polish jokes that I like, and that you've very likely already heard (although most likely I'm accidentally changing/ruining them a little):
During his eye exam, the doctor asks the Pole who is looking at the eye chart, "Can you read the last line?"

"Read it!?! I know the guy!"
It's best if you speak Polish with this one as the dialogue is actually spoken in Polish, but I don't really care because I want to tell it anyway. You mostly just have to know:
tu (pronounced like too) = "here"
ten = "this one"
A Pole living in America goes to his dentist complaining of a toothache. The dentist asks him where it hurts. The Pole, who's English isn't very good just points to the tooth in question and says, "Tu." The dentist proceeds to remove two of the man's teeth.
He goes home and, complaining to his friend, explains what happened, "He asked where it hurt and I showed him, 'tu!' and he pulled out two of my teeth!!" His concerned friend replies, "Good thing you didn't say 'ten'!"

And lastly one of a few jokes I have made in my life that made me laugh much harder than anyone else who heard it (has that ever happened to you? I sorta hate that. I'm pretty normal and don't usually laugh at my own "jokes" but this time I could not stop. That usually only happens late at night when Greg and I are hysterical over how hilarious we both are, but that's different. I think that's called the giggles. I didn't have those when I cracked this one, and it popped out of my mouth before I knew what I was saying.)
Greg had been watching the news. It was something about space travel. Later he asked, "Lisa, did you hear that the Chinese went to the moon?" I replied, "All of them!?!"

Don't try to tell me that a) that isn't funny, or b) you've heard one like it before. I won't believe either statement.
* In case you missed that one here it is:
A California Mormon went to visit a Provo Mormon. When they went to the hardware store, the California Mormon instinctively locked his friend's car door, and the Provo Mormon said, "Oh, don't worry about it. This is Provo." The same thing happened at the mall.
On Sunday, when they got to church the California Mormon was proud that he remembered not to lock. To his surprise, his Provo friend locked his door and asked his friend to do the same.
Confused, the California Mormon said, "You didn't lock at the Mall, why do it at CHURCH?"
"'Cause if I don't," the Provo Mormon said, "by the time church is over, my car will be full of zucchini!"
-told by Walter Whipple, Provo, UT 1996

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hope in Tommorow

Don't worry, this isn't going to be a political post. I got out all my politicalness two posts ago. Or all that I had to share on the blog, at least.

This post is about my hope/faith/desire that the day will soon come that the doorbell will ring and Aaron won't screech in horror and run and hide as far behind/under the table and chairs as he can get. And then continue to scream and cry. Even after he sees that it's only David's friend coming to see if he wants to play ball.

I also feel sure that one day I'll be giving Aaron a bath and won't try to scrub off the mysterious dried on specs of something that are way too high up on both sides of his bum to be anything nasty (more like the sides of his lower back), rubbing and rubbing until I remember. Again.

He was quite a sick little guy over a week ago and required antibiotics. The doctor worried that he wouldn't keep down any taken orally (fortunately he still has never thrown up in all of his 19 months of life, but there were other losing-contents-of-the-stomach-too-quickly issues. Look how discreet I am.) That's why she ordered a nurse to come to our house twice a day for five days to administer an injection of antibiotics. Right there on the sides of us upper bum/lower back.

They said it was a painful shot. I believe them based on the level of screaming and wriggling and crying, and now also based on how long his terror of the doorbell has continued after the shots stopped. I also believe them based on the fact that he rarely cries when he gets immunizations. I'm so glad he's feeling better now and has started being active and super smiley again today. As long as nobody stops by for a visit, anyway.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Learning Experiences?

(I love it when you're wondering what, ever, you will post about because you committed yourself to write something every day and just moments later a blog post falls right into your lap. But I just wish they were always funny or at least crazy or neat. Or involved really delicious food. Today's is none of the above.)

My title today is in response to a post I read over at Melancholy Smile yesterday. Her title was the same as mine only without the question mark. Her post is about a wonderful experience she had with teaching her daughter about money (part of which takes place in a car), it's value and purpose and about working to earn it (although I totally agree with her idea that basic allowance should not be related to chores done, as those are part of family life). It's a great post, great blog, great lady, and you should all check her out.

But, as I mentioned, and I'm sure you saw, mine has a question mark. MY post will also be about my daughter and money and being in the car. See? Practically twins. Except for the contrast in our parenting technique. . .

This morning as we were leaving the house to go to school, Evie was crying. Lately she cries about half the time because she hates going to school. She also gets stomach aches. When I was her age, I also used to get stomach aches, related to my fear of school. No fun. (except for the time when they thought it might be because I was allergic to milk and I got to have grape juice with my school lunch instead of milk for a while. That was fun.)

Well, this morning as she was putting all her bags into the car her little purse that she had just put her money in tipped to the side and out rolled all the change. She cried even louder. (The rest of this post happened over the course of the 7-8 minute drive to school)

I tried to console her. I asked what the problem was and then patiently asked her to please say it again (3 times) because I couldn't understand her through the sobs. I assured her that everything would be okay. I told her I'd be happy to help her get it when we got to the school.

"We can NEVER get it!! It's down in the seat belt thing! No one could ever get it out!" (I admit I got a tiny bit sarcastic here and told her to please stop worrying and saying such things until we had given EVERYONE an opportunity to try and NOBODY was able to retrieve the money.) "There's no way we can get EVERYONE to try, mom!!" Cry, cry, cry. (obvious out of character literalness/grouchiness. She understands my sarcasm)

Okay, at this point there was a bit of , "Evie, you have to stop crying about this." in a firm voice. Then I had a thought, "Okay, Evie, how much money dropped? It was probably less than 2 zloty (maybe 75 cents), right?" Yes, it was definitely less. "So really, Evie, that's not that much money! If we can't get it out I can even give you the money. It will be okay!!"

"But that's the whole thing, mom!!! (?) I thought I had hardly any money left and I was SO glad when I found that zloty, and now I've lost it!!!"

"But I can give you one zloty! There is no more problem!"

"But I'm so stupid!! I was so excited about it and then I dropped it!"

"Okay, Ev. We're almost at school and you need to try to calm down. Don't think about the money. Everything will be fine."

Whimper, whimper, cry.

In hopes of distracting her, "Are you ready for your performance in the assembly today?"

"It's NOT a performance!!! We're singing a song." whimper whimper.


Finally we pull into the school parking lot. While the kids unload themselves from the car, I tell them to try and have a good day.

The end.

So this reminds me of my post about how my kids freak out in which I discuss both their freak-out-ishness and how we deal with it. See, it's not only bee stings and doctors visits they freak out about.

I wish I could just feel empathy indefinitely. I wish I could lovingly assure them that their feelings are valid somehow. Still, always after trying and trying, and listening to so much wailing and sobbing, I lose it. Especially when I'm somewhere that I can't escape it. Like in a car.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


To Barack Obama*!! You have won the election for President of The United States of America!!

Okay, I'm not absolutely sure he reads my blog (I think he's a lurker), but I thought I should mention it, in case he does and hadn't heard yet.

And now you guys know, too. I'm totally up on current events. You're welcome for the information. And for my reaching across the aisle, too.

Please don't die of a heart attack at my great politicalness in this post. Or the super intelligence displayed therein. Or the reaching across the aisleness, either.

Note: It's okay if only politicians can "reach across the aisle." I'm doing it anyway.
*I linked to him, in case you're not as up on current events as I am.