Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mother and Baby Well (etc. etc.)

Spencer Joseph
Born December 18th 9:40 am
9 lb. (4100g) 23.5 inches (60cm)

Thoughts and Observations
  • I was not remotely surprised to see how muscular his skinny legs are.
  • Some babies are apparently born without eyebrows.
  • Always after spending so much time looking at my own babies in the hospital I am shocked at how cute other people's infants are when I look at theirs. Our babies just aren't that cute (and are often quite the contrary: proof below). But they are OURS. (and plus they grow out of it).
  • Spencer looks so much like all our other babies. I have not yet taken a picture that captures it, but they always look like wise old men. There is something in their eyes (and their bald and wrinkliness).
  • The above fact is rather fitting, since Spencer is named after two wise old men (as I knew them): Spencer W. Kimball and my Grandpa (Spencer's great-grandpa) Joe.
  • Spencer is sweet as can be.
  • I am extremely grateful about so many things over the past few days.
  • Greg and I thought bringing this baby home was the perfect gift for us to give each other on our anniversary today (12 years!).
  • Baby and I really ARE both doing very well.
  • For those with inquiring minds more details about the birth in an upcoming post.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh, Pickles!

You know how in What to Expect When You're Expecting they talk about your water breaking and tell the story of the lady who carried around a jar of pickles in case her water broke in public so she could drop the jar and pretend that that was where the liquid came from? I keep thinking about that.

I'm sure that's an extreme case, and I know that I'm a little on the opposite extreme when it comes to being easily embarrassed, but I have to wonder, do women actually worry much about their water breaking in public (beyond the obviously awkward "Now what do I do?")? If it happened to me I can imagine that I might think or exclaim any of the following:

"Woo Hoo! My water broke!"
"Aaaak! My water broke!"
"How about that? My water broke!"


"My water did NOT just break. This jar of pickles, on the other hand, Whoops! That broke! And most of the pickle juice? Oh! It splashed right up on my crotch and down my legs!"

Never that.

And I'd be happy for my water to break anywhere just now. Preferably at the hospital, though. Within the next few hours. . .

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Polish Hospital-ity and Having Babies

No baby yet, but to refresh my own memory I'm reminiscing about this (in a sort of jumbled way):

Greg and I watch a cool Polish drama series that takes place during WWII. A lot of scenes are shot in a hospital and about half way through the series it struck me: They probably didn't have to do anything to the hospital or use special props to take it back almost 70 years. Nope, those are the same white-painted (and repainted) metal framed "beds" and side tables they use in most hospitals I've been to. Those tiny sinks with ancient faucets: same. Strange, thick, stained and holey sheets? Check.

When I was pregnant with David I went into pre-term labor. Of course this meant a hospital stay. The Mielec hospital had recently been renovated and the maternity ward was in a new wing. What this meant was that the halls were a little brighter and the paint was fresh. All the equipment was still old.

When I went to my room, besides surprise at the condition of the sheets and the uncomfortableness of the bed, and the fact that you wear your own pajamas, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a bathroom in my room. What wasn't so pleasant was the fact that there was blood on the toilet seat and everything else there was not clean, either. The little table at the side of my bed had sticky rings from other people's cups and was dusty and grimy.

My friend went straight home, got all her cleaning and sanitizing supplies and did quite a number on my room, top to bottom. After that I felt much better.

After a few weeks back at home on bedrest, David was ready to be born. We went to the hospital only to find that the maternity ward was closed. CLOSED. Why? Because they close it down twice a year for a week at a time for a thorough sanitization. I sort of wondered if this is why my room had been so icky: they knew they'd just be cleaning it within a few months anyway?

We didn't have a car at the time so I was driven by ambulance, which looked almost exactly like a station wagon, or a (small) hearse, to the nearest hospital in the small town of Kolbuszowa*. In the hospital we went to the elevator, opened the ancient, creaky metal gate covering it and then opened the swinging door to get in. This little hospital was dark and cramped, but the birthing room was spacious with a wall of windows overlooking the countryside.

What's more, the doctor was terrific. He mostly chatted to Greg and commented repeatedly about how well I was handling my labor (while I wanted to die). He loved that Greg wanted to be there for the birth and said they're trying to get more families to do that. They did a great job with the delivery and they even let me have my own room! Greg stayed with me the first night.

Aaron was born in the Mielec hospital and my midwife was great. The doctor on call didn't care to make an appearance until the baby was pretty much out, but I'm sort of glad because he didn't seem interested anyway and the lady there was very good.

I have felt very confident in the doctors here (in general). Despite some of the scary experiences I've had, I (obviously) don't feel terrified about having children here. People do it ALL THE TIME. So can I. (although not all the time, please. Once more will suffice for me)

Aaron was born at 8:30 am and I was starving. Lucky for me they were serving breakfast just then. I remembered after Evie had been born and they asked what I wanted to eat and drink. I could have pretty much whatever I wanted. Not in Poland, you get three "meals" a day, on their schedule.

So it was Easter morning, and I was beyond exhausted and starved and my breakfast came in the form of a stack of three slices of dry bread and one peeled, hard boiled egg slipping around on the plate (no butter, no salt, no fork or knife). Of course only hot tea to drink (this is all they serve), which I passed on, so it was my lukewarm water from my bottle.

This isn't meant to be a food log, but Greg went home and popped the caramely french toast dish (which I'd prepared just an hour or two before my water broke the night before**) from the fridge into the oven and brought me a huge dish of it, all warm and gooey and crisp and perfect. Which I ate with relish only two hours after the birth. Mmmmm. So strange the different forms bread and eggs can be served in. . .

They have ultrasound machines and some other decent equipment, but nothing like what is the norm in the US. I had an ultrasound at every doctor's visit. That's what you get when you get rid of insurance and have public health care! You also get everything else that's written in this post (except the french toast. You only get that if you visit me). (and of course America will never have holey sheets and poor furniture etc. I mean socialized health care in a poor country. I didn't mean to get all political!)

* We took my mother to see it and she was rather shocked, without even going inside. I have a picture that I need to figure out how to get up here.

**I had actually been cooking (cheesecake, seven layer bars and preparing that french toast) cleaning and filling and hiding Easter baskets right up until midnight, when I laid down in bed and my water broke. If anyone was leaving home well prepared, it was me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Have you ever cried so hard and so long or so frequently that you found yourself constantly amazed that your body could produce so much liquid? Have you ever cried non stop for days, trying not to let the people around you see it, doing much of it from the inside? Have you ever wished that tears really were as precious as they are made out to be in poetry and that your abundant offering would somehow have at least some small impact on the people and situations you are crying for?

If so, I'm very sorry. I know how you feel.

I'm closing comments on this one. I'm okay, and I hope you are, too.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Yesterday I took the Christmas decorations down from the attic. We decorated the tree to Christmas carols and ate mint brownies. I think we're ready for Christmas. (except for the shopping. . . minor details).

While I was up there (in the attic, not the tree) I thought maybe I'd take down the baby clothes and stuff like that. You know, since I had an important reason to be up there anyway and everything. I sorted through them and now I just have to wash them. Last week I bought some doll sized diapers and wipes and nursing pads (that's everything, right?). I think we're ready for a baby.

Good thing too, since my doctor estimates he'll come in the next week and a half or so. Any day now, really. My strategy for preparing myself for giving birth is to not think about it until it starts to hurt. Clever, aren't I?

There was one other thing I've been pretty concerned about: Aaron. He's been the baby of the family and gets LOADS of attention, since Ev and Dave were pretty old (5 & 7 irrespectively) when he was born. He's excited every time we talk about having a baby in our house, but of course, I've been worrying a little about jealousy.

Last weekend we went to visit some friends in Warsaw who have a three month old baby. Liz (aka Lith, aka Anion,according to Aaron for some strange reason), the mother, was shadowed by Aaron almost the entire time we were there because he just couldn't get enough of little Ania and watching and "helping" Liz care for her.

I worried a little that he wouldn't want me or Greg to hold her, but the only issues of jealousy were expressed this way, "Aaron hold it!?! Aaron hold it, baby Ania!?!"

This picture, taken after at least five minutes of him sitting like this, sums up how Aaron feels about babies. I think he's ready to be a big brother.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Perfect Day

Today is a holiday (Poland's Independence Day) so Greg and the kids stayed home. Here's what it was like for me:

warm house full of happy children
gray and drizzly all day
leftover chocolate cake

I can't imagine better conditions for curling up with a good book. So that's what I did. Except for the curling up part. Because you can't really curl up with a binder (especially not with an enormous belly), and what I was reading was a binder full of recipes. Recipes that suggest that you "thoroly blend" ingredients together, or that tell you to drop the dough on a "cooky sheet", or that require you to drain or reserve "sirop" from a can of fruit and give you the option to use either a chopped bar of chocolate or "packaged chocolate pieces", and where 90% of the cakes and cookies call for shortening instead of butter. There's also a separate section entitled "Leftovers" and one for "Canning and Freezing".

I'm so completely charmed by this 1949 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book that belonged to my stepmother's great aunt (how's that for a cool connection?). It's just fascinating reading for me. And the book's stuffed full of old newspaper clippings of recipes and ideas for entertaining (with the fantastic advertisements here and there). I've been completely transported back in time, and I LOVE it. I feel that if I can just stick with this book, plus another favorite of mine that my mom gave me, The Art of Homemaking (1969), and also develop the fashion sense of this lady, I'll be my perfect self.

I just received it in the mail yesterday and the fact that I've already found two recipes (identical recipes!) that I already make regularly and love dearly (brownie pudding and borscht) makes me really excited to start trying out some of the other recipes.

Thanks so much to Pam for the cook book!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Poland

Well, they don't celebrate it. It's considered a very pagan American holiday (which is pretty much what it is, except I think it originated in England). Still, you can find a few Halloween decorations and costumes in large stores and probably some teens "celebrate" it in bigger cities.

We always do something at home, since there's no trick-or-treating. A couple of years ago the kids had a party and invited friends from school. They were all so confused when they saw Evie dressed as a ballerina. Ballerinas aren't scary! They thought you have to be something frightening.

As I say, I always try to do something Halloweenish. This year we did the usual stuff, but the kids made almost all the preparations.

"We" carved a pumpkin: Greg (who hates Halloween) did the artistic part, the kids scooped out the "monster teeth" (all while I took a nap). Note the little hanging decorations the kids made a few days ago for the stairs.

We played Halloween Bingo by candle light: the kids drew the pictures on the cards (spiders, witches hats, eyeballs etc.).

We played with slime: I just put the potato flour and water and bowls on the table and let them make it for themselves (no green food coloring or anything).

As usual I hid the candy around the living room and they searched for it by candle light.

Then we watched The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and ate dirt dessert with worms.

And there you have a lazy mother's Halloween.

As a heavily (95%) Catholic country, they celebrate All Saints day on November 1st and the Day of the Dead (not sure if that's what you call it in English) on the second. This is a very lovely holiday when everyone visits the graves of their loved ones. The cemeteries are amazing, all lit up with hundreds of candles. Even though we live far from the graves of any family members, we always visit a nearby cemetery just to walk around. It's magical. Here's proof (from a few years ago):

It's also a big drinking holiday (any excuse will do in Poland :), and as it falls on a Sunday this year we'll be staying off the roads, meaning no going to church. This is one of those holidays that they give statistics on the news every night about how many drunk drivers were stopped etc.

But those cemeteries are gorgeous.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Such Rebels

In doing research for articles I often look through online reviews for stores, products or services.

I just want to say that I really sort of love people who "defiantly recommend" things. And an alarming number of people do defiantly recommend things.

And I think they're darling.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lookin' Good

I just finished my English lesson, said good bye to my students and went to the bathroom. On looking in the mirror I noticed that my collar had been sticking up at the corner. Oops. I pressed it down and looked for another second in the mirror, mentally replacing the vision of me sitting in front of my students with my collar looking retarded for the past hour with one of it behaving the whole time.

I do this sort of often. I'll come back from shopping or church or doing anything in public, really, and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and see that one of my curls is flipped the wrong way or that I forgot to wipe off the bit of mascara that got brushed on my eyelid.

And always I wipe off the mascara, or flip the hair down or whatever, look for a second at the fixed me and convince myself that that's what I actually looked like. Or maybe it's more of a "that's what I meant to look like". Or something. And then I'm fine with the fact that dozens of people just saw me looking the wrong way. Almost as if turning down my collar after the fact has some sort of retro-active power, making it so that it really WAS the right way the whole time.

And I wonder, do other people do this?

4th Time's a Charm?

I don't have issues with my stomach after having babies (except for the inevitable inability to get it quite as flat as I'd like). No stretch marks. No loose skin. As long as I get down to an okay weight I really have no complaints about it (and when I'm actually thin, I sort of love it)*.

But this time around I'm not feeling so certain. Here I am at 32 weeks and my belly is as big as it's ever been in any of my other pregnancies. As I always carry straight out in front (basketball style), I would be very surprised if my skin holds up this time around, since I will obviously be ENORMOUS by the time this little boy comes (did I mention he's a boy? Oh, he is). And my weight gain is just the same as in all my other pregnancies (I always gain 26-32 pounds. That's lbs., not Ł).

I wonder if you can get stretch marks for the first time in your fourth pregnancy?

*I feel okay saying this as NOBODY EVER SEES MY STOMACH so this is an almost useless advantage. Also, if I don't say it, nobody will ever know, and what's the point of an unseen asset? :) Rest assured that I have my pregnancy scars in FAR more conspicuous places. For example I'll probably never really wear shorts or even skirts without opaque tights because of the veins. NOW complain about your stretch marks! HA! I SO have you beat. Plus, I'll likely have the stretch marks in a few weeks, anyway!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Growing Up

In the last month David turned eight, Evie turned 10 and Aaron is exactly 2 1/2 today. That's why I'm posting some stuff they've said recently.

I really hope that during these months when all I want to do is curl up on my bed and be alone, but am forced to do a Very Large number of things that are NOT that, that I'm able to balance out all my grouchiness and excessive yelling with enough of fun and love that my kids will remember that I DO love them! Normally I consider a "balance" to be maybe 3/4 good with 1/4 bad (at most) (this is probably WAY too much bad, but I have to be realistic). These days if those statistics are switched I think I've done very well. Ugh.


I was explaining how to drive while taking the kids to school one day. "Now I'm slowly taking my left foot off the clutch and slowly pushing on the gas with my right. Now I'm taking my right foot off the gas, pushing down on the clutch with my left and changing gears. . . etc. etc." The whole way. They were shocked to find out how hard it was. I explained that it's especially tricky because there are three pedals that you use constantly, but you only have two feet so you have to do a lot of going back and forth.

Evie said, "Woah! Hey mom, did you ever get your two feet tied in a braid while you were driving?"


We were extremely low on food and I went into the kitchen to find David standing in front of the baking supply cupboard. I jokingly said, "Oh! I guess we really don't have anything to eat if you're sneaking baking soda and cinnamon!" But I realized my baking chocolate is in there too, so I asked what he was eating. He held out his hand. It had a blotch of cinnamon on it. Which he'd been licking. Plain.

After watching Top Gear together one night we went upstairs for the boys' showers. While I was washing his hair David asked, "Why in England do they always say 'it costs' instead of 'it weighs'" I didn't know what he meant so asked him to clarify, but it kept coming down to the British saying that something cost how much it weighed. I finally realized that he was talking about when they are giving specs on a car and they say that it costs xxxx pounds. How confusing!


I've only written one set of articles in the last month (love that). When I did I was pressed for time so I set little goals. I was supposed to have the first two done by 2:30. After helping David with some homework I came in to get started when Aaron asked me SO cutely to read him a book, so I sat down with him, beginning my reading with a little, "Oh, Aaron! At this rate mommy's never gonna reach her goal!" He looked up at me, raised both of his hands above his head and said, "GOOOAAAAAL!!!" which he and his brother are constantly screaming when they play soccer in the hallway.

They can also be found lying on the floor with their heads together looking at a book. All the time. Anywhere in the house. I caught them in the play room one morning looking at David's little scout book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Learned You To Spoke The English?

I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that David, the only native English speaker in his class, is the worst student in English. It's true that he has a hard time formulating complete sentences all in English, but that's no reason for him to perform worse than other students with zero English exposure in his class.

It's also true that he's expected to learn this kind of English.

They are not taught "Do you have. . . ?" at all, or even "I have. . .". Ever. In our house we don't say "Have you got. . .?" very often. Call us crazy.

Still, this is no excuse for this:

At first I just read the last line. "Yes, I haven't"? Come on David!! I laughed a little over it and asked what he was thinking. He explained that they were asking if he had a pet and he doesn't have one! (And yes, I regularly laugh at my children's homework, in case you're wondering.)

Then I looked at the other ones and ran into the color one. Sheesh. I've got a bad cold and that one made me laugh so hard I coughed for three minutes. I also realize that it's probably not actually all that funny.

I wonder if he thought he'd get extra credit for writing it in orange.

Did you notice I wrote "I'VE GOT a bad cold?" I didn't even do it on purpose. Maybe I'm wrong about that one. . .

Sunday, September 27, 2009


We have only been to the temple three times since we moved to Poland nine years ago (besides once or twice during visits in the states). I find this to be sort of sad, but considering what it means to "go to the temple" in Poland:
Drive or ride about 12 hours each way to Freiberg, Germany; stay for 4 nights in the temple"hotel", taking its underground tunnel to the temple at 7am every morning and going through session after session -- four per day (including an evening session) -- for four or five days in a row.

and what our life has been like in those nine years:

over two full years of pregnancy, 2+ years of nursing infants, years of kids in school and lots of "life"

I think three is an okay number. Actually, let's put it this way, we maybe attended fifty or so sessions, over the course of nine years, at a temple that's 12 hours away. That sounds a little better. :)

Our last visit was three years ago. That time we became temple workers. This meant spending hours learning exactly what that entails, what to say and do (in both Polish and English) attending super early prayer meetings, and getting to know the temple presidency and temple missionaries rather well.

Unfortunately, when we first arrived at the temple and before we were asked to be temple workers I realized that my back was wrong as it sometimes is for weeks at a time. This would make the whole week difficult. I determined to try to attend a session or two each day, if I was able and rest the rest of the time. Then we got the calling. I explained my dilemma and, after our meeting with the temple counselor and his wife (the pres. was out of town this week), he and Greg gave me a blessing that I would be able to work. So I did.

Okay, that was a very long lead in to my point:

I had the chance to rub shoulders with some wonderful missionary couples. I know that being in the temple is an uplifting experience in general, but spending so much time (and there's quite a bit of standing around time for temple workers) with those people was really and truly wonderful .

Those mature women were such an enormous pleasure to talk to. They were smart. They were fun. They were warm. They were wise. They were extremely sympathetic, seeming to be intensely interested in every minute detail of my back issues, family, hobbies and everything I might possibly enjoy talking about. I came away feeling like I was an interesting and good person (who isn't interesting while talking about their back problems, really?) And not like I had hogged the conversation, either, somehow.

I came away from nearly every conversation thinking, "I wish I could, I HOPE I will be like that one day. I would just give anything to be like that. To make people feel like that, just by being who I am."

Currently, though, I am NOT like that (at all). I am starting to realize that it's not exactly the time for me to be like that. I need to be much better about being less oblivious of others and their needs, but it's also okay that I focus mostly on my family right now. So I'm sort of okay about it.

But then I worry that I am just too selfish in general. I am not the kind of warm and caring person I'd like to be by nature. I'm too tied up in me. BUT. . .

I am starting to realize that the experiences I'm having now that require me to be tied up more in myself and my family than I'd sometimes like to be are the very experiences that might make me that more mature woman that I want to be some day.

I've been thinking about this more than usual in recent weeks.

I really hope and believe that these last few months are part of that training. Other women have the same experiences I've been having. I think, I HOPE I will be more understanding and sympathetic to them as I learn to untie myself from me over the years.

I know the reward for what I'm going through these months is the baby that will be mine forever. That is enough. But it doesn't stop me from hoping that I'll also be rewarded by getting a little closer to becoming who I want to be, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama's Big Blunder

Barack's Big Blunder would sound slightly better but I don't appreciate people calling authority figures by their first name, and Obama's still got the "b" in there, so I'm good.

One of the 30 posts I have written in my brain in the past few months was a sentimental, patriotic one about the anniversary of the fall of communism and how much I love Poland for it's bravery and awesomeness. I'm more sad than ever that I never wrote that post after today.

Today is the anniversary of the day the Red army marched into Poland, high fiving the German's on their way out of the country. This is not a happy anniversary. They've been showing footage of the hundreds of tanks rolling in on this day seventy years ago, and the Russian and German soldiers tearing apart Polish flags, all marking the beginning of decades of oppression and poverty and lots of other bad stuff (losing my vocabulary, here).

Today, on this very anniversary, Barack Obama announced that there will be no missle defense sheild built in Poland. Not that this is a huge surprise in itself, but today? All over European news they're talking about how this is basically a bow to the Russians, or a gift to them. Just what they deserve, really.

I'm sure he said some conciliatory stuff during the announcement, too, but come on. Poland has stood by America through thick and thin. They had the third highest number of troops in Iraq after the US and England. They have been super forgiving of the country that basically ignored their plight during WWII for years while millions of people died and their country was trashed.

I've not been too interested in Obama's mistakes up until now but this one I definitely have an opinion about. I gladly admit that Bush wasn't the best when it comes to foreign policy, but today is being declared a major low in US foreign policy. Under who?

Who's the dim wit that decided this would be announced today? The idiocy.
I know I've been virtually absent from the blogging/emailing/Internet world, but I still think in blog posts and read blogs sporadically. All the posts I have lined up in my brain are just waiting for me to feel like doing anything, at which point I will post them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Double Standard

Why is it that I just love when one kid does something, but hate when another does?

Take KICKING for example:

Older children doing it to each other? NOT cute.

Children in my tummy doing it (when I'm less than nine months pregnant)? VERY cute.

Funny how that works.

And speaking of weird stuff, yesterday Greg and I came back from the doctor and our friend, who had stayed with the kids said, "I think Aaron had an accident," and showed us the huge wet spot on the couch.

Both Greg and I were nonplussed.* First of all, Aaron doesn't really have accidents, especially not more than a drip. Also, he wears a pull up so it wouldn't matter anyway.

Then David answered our confusion with the beginning of an explanation, "We were doing something and it was so funny. . ." And both Greg and I were no longer confused. It was seven year old David who'd peed on the couch, not Aaron. Now we understood.

The two year old isn't expected to have an accident, but it's a very common occurrence with the seven year old. Poor boy. He got it from me. I remember the days of hoping nobody would make me laugh too hard. Maybe he'll outgrow it, too, by the time he's 25 or so.

*(I put that in there for you, Sus)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Not us. We're not ruined (keeping our fingers crossed that that trend continues). It was our weekend getaway that was ruined. Oh wait, it wasn't that either. It was the castle we were visiting. Yes, I knew I'd get it eventually.

One of my favorite things to see in Poland is the castles. There are billions of them (or so), since Poland lies between, um, Russia and Germany. Lucky her. It made it pretty necessary to have castles within view of each other for defensive purposes. In Cracow you have the gorgeous Wawel castle located right on the banks of the river. That one's been restored. Many of them have. I prefer my castles ruined, though.

So this past weekend we decided to spend at the Ogrodzieniec castle. It's gorgeous and is built on naturally formed rocks. Greg didn't get any pictures that capture its grandeur, so here's one I swiped off of google to give you an idea of the scale of it. (There are some much more awesome ones in the search I did, though).

The first day we just wandered around outside the walls and picnicked. Pregnant Lisa can walk and pregnant Lisa can sit and lie down. What she can't do is stand in place, which means I was doing this (left leg elevated, of course):

While the kids sifted through the rocks that are everywhere in search of fossils. Those rocks are so full of fossils it's not even funny. It is cool, though. Greg looked up information about fossils on his iphone and gave the kids a little geology and, um, fossilization lesson there.

I was also laying around while the kids helped each other climb the rocks:

It was a fun day

The next day we explored inside the castle. That was fun, too. I love mini family vacations.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Difference Between Pee and Water

Even though Aaron is just about exactly the age that both Evie and David were when they were potty trained (2 yrs. 3 months) I've been planning on waiting with him a little for his language and general getting-it skills to develop a little more. But then. . .

* He had a diaper rash
* Greg was out of town with the car (Vienna for a church meeting, poor guy) and we were almost out of diapers and
* it was Sunday: all day at home with nothing else to do but follow a naked boy around the house.

He's done alright, but nothing like Ev and Dave, both of whom just started using the potty night and day as soon as I took off their diapers. Aaron's more normal, I think, and has accidents, although hes gets it right most of the time.

When he does, he stands up excitedly pointing into the potty exclaiming, "Bee! Dah-doe!" (Pee! Bravo!) and does a little shoulder dance while showing everyone his M&M before he eats it.

When he doesn't we hear this from wherever he is, "Uh-oh, ah-lo!" (Uh-oh, water!) Following the sound of his voice I find him standing and pointing at a puddle on the floor repeating, "Uh-oh, ah-lo!"

Pee in the potty = pee
Pee on the floor = water

Now you know.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Imperfect Children

Sometimes my kid's imperfections drive me all the way bonkers, but sometimes I appreciate them, or at least the way they deal with them.


David hates bragging. It's his pet peeve. Kids who are heavy braggers don't end up on his list of friends and when his real friends brag I think it hurts him a little.

This may be in part because we've talked about the importance of honesty and telling the truth even when others don't etc. and I've used competition bragging as an example (Oh yeah? Well we have SEVEN computers and 12 TVs!). Part of this is because of the country we live in and how little value is placed on honesty (which I've mentioned before here and at the end of this one).

So now he hates it, whether someone is lying or not. There's one friend who does a lot of bragging that David rarely plays with and when he does he tells us about all the things the boy bragged about (and we try to be empathetic AND tell him not to gossip at the same time . . . tricky).

A couple of weeks ago David was telling me about how mean this boy was and that he was bragging again. The story went something like this (only with more detail):

"I was showing him this trick I can do on my bike and he didn't even care and just showed me that he can do it, too. And I showed him another and he showed me how he can do it better etc.. He just ALWAYS brags and I HATE IT!!"

So I asked David what he would think if the boy came to him and started showing him all these bike tricks he could do, one at at time. Would he think he was bragging?

There was a very brief pause and then his eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped (which was very cute). He totally got it and wasn't defensive about it or anything. I think the only thing he said was, "Oh my gosh." It was a really good lesson for him.


Ev sometimes has a hard time falling asleep at night. This is usually because she did something during the day that upset me and she can't stop thinking about it. Now she usually just tells me at the time, "Mom! I'm not going to be able to fall asleep tonight." And we work through her disobedience or whatever it is I'm upset about and she figures out how to right the wrong so she'll be able to sleep.

Last week she was still up reading at like 11:30 or something (at least an hour after her latest time of going to sleep.) I asked her what was up and after a little coaxing she told me that she had lied to dad during the day and she felt terrible.

Greg had given her money to take to the nearby store to buy some bread or something and she came home and told him there was no change, but there was and she had spent it.

I loved that this weighed so heavily on her conscience, of course, and told her that she needed to talk to Greg. She thought maybe I should just tell him everything and then she could come and say she was sorry? (nice try, Ev) She did the full confession, hugged her dad and was asleep within 60 seconds.


First of all you need to know that an important phrase Aarons uses is, "Ee dee day." Which, of course, means "It's okay." He says it whenever anyone stops crying or shows signs of not being upset anymore, including himself when he's hurt or mad and crying and, rather abruptly, stops and says, "Ee dee day!" with a smile. (weirdo) He also says it if you accidentally knock him over or something.

He recently found a doll that cries when you take out its pacifier. He loves this doll and loves puting the pacifier in and taking it out. He carries it around and allows it to cry for longer than my head can tolerate. But he's mostly sweet with it.

Except sometimes. Once I was in the room and he pulled out the baby's pacifier and let her cry for a minute. After a while he looked at the baby and said, "Ee dee day." Sort of soothingly. The baby continued to cry (as he continued to hold the pacifier in his hand) so he said it again. After another few seconds of the obnoxious, "Mama! Waaaaaaa! Mama! Waaaaaa!", he took the doll by the shoulders and yelled, "EE DEE DAY!"

At which point I started in on lessons on how to treat a baby.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Unfortunate Sequence of Events

The night before the wedding there was a rehearsal dinner at the Napa Rose, a restaurant in a Disneyland hotel (NEAT). Before we ate, Micah and Heather ran through with us what they'd practiced at the rehearsal at the chapel a few nights before.

For the bridesmaid's part, we were to walk down the aisle and line up on the left side of the altar. I was to go first. So much for being able to go without glasses and just follow the person in front of me. We ran through it once or twice, were told about the little yellow triangles on the floor to guide our positioning etc. Then we ate a very delicious dinner.

In talking to Heather a little at the dinner she expressed how nervous she was, and that she was scared something would go wrong or that she'd mess up what she was supposed to say etc. She had the perfect, bridely jitters.

The next morning the wedding was at ten o'clock. We were told that we could practice from nine to nine-thirty. I was glad, as I had never been in this type of wedding, hadn't seen the chapel's layout yet, was wearing those heels (I haven't worn heels since I got married since Greg, um, doesn't like them on me.) and have pregnancy wobbliness on top of my normal spastic tendencies.

We arrived a little after nine and rushed to dress so we could practice. But the bride wasn't there yet. So we didn't actually practice and I just peeked in the chapel once but was mostly wandering the grounds with family.

At five or ten 'til 10 the photographer was taking pictures of my family on the lawn and I was feeling as though it was very late. I ran to the dressing room to ask the other bridesmaids if we should be with them. They said yes.

I ran back to get my sisters and we got our bouquets and all six of us ran around the chapel to the back where we would enter from.

While we were running we started getting in order, me in front. At the back of the church I stood first. There were loud whispers from the wedding planner (I think that was her title) for us to hurry up! Get in order! Etc. I just stood ready and let her take care of the girls behind me.

Sooner than I expected I heard her voice in my ear, "Okay, you can go in now." I was starting to turn my head for confirmation and felt a light nudge on my back. Oh! Better go!

I walked as gracefully as I could down the aisle and turned left at the altar and took my place.

But Anne wasn't behind me. She was supposed to start walking when I was half way down the aisle. She should have been right behind me!!

Whatever. Once I was standing where I thought I was supposed to be (totally forgot to look for yellow triangles) I tried to sneakily remove my glasses and held them with my bouquet. Anne kept not coming. I smiled into the audience and reflected more than I had before on how very empty the front of the chapel was. How very, very empty.

I had no idea what was going on but I tried to smile as if I had been sent there to smile for everyone. To give them a hint of what was to come, or something. I was just hoping that there were more bridesmaids to come. And SOON!

I did not see the wedding planner at all. I kept looking for a sign from her (that I had done something wrong or to sit down or come back or anything). Granted I had my glasses off, but I could see her talking to the harpist (beautiful music!!) but never motioning to me or even looking in my direction. But I saw Anne standing there waiting. (FOR WHAT!!?)

Both my mom and dad kept giving me sympathetic smiles, which I appreciated. I wondered if I should sit down (I was standing right by a pew) until the other girls came but decided against it.

Finally Anne started walking. Hooray! Oh, wait. Then she went back . I noticed movement from the other side of the front of the chapel.

The groom and groomsmen came out of a door in the front and started lining up. So it was them, and me. Cute.

For the record, my level of embarrassment through this whole thing was a zero. I felt pretty confident that something had happened after I started walking so they had to change plans or something. But my level of feeling bad for being the one who sort of ruined the effect was well above a zero. Especially when Heather's words from the night before came back to me of her fears about something going wrong.

Once the groomsmen were nicely lined up the music changed (I think) and Anne started coming. And she looked great. All the girls did as they came in behind her. And I finally felt relief. We arranged ourselves:

See me smiling my relief to all my new-made friends in the audience?

Then Heather and Micah were married. It was a lovely ceremony.

Afterward I tried to find the lady in charge (to apologize/find out what had happened), but I never did. However, from talking to a few different people I learned that some guests had come in behind us while we lined up and were hesitant to go sit down so the lady told them, "Okay, you can go in now." Yeah. Right in my ear. (I swear!)

It wasn't until even later that I found out that the push I got on the small of my back was not from her but from Anne who also heard her and also thought she was talking to me.

Here's what I assumed we were lined up like when I started going in:

Here's what it actually looked like: (notice in the picture above it's Anne at the front of the line and not me. I'm at the front of the chapel). And that's my actual first step of doom. (I was seriously so shocked when I saw this picture, just today. I had NO IDEA we weren't all lined up.)

So there's my story. I already mentioned a couple of posts back that the wedding was wonderful. I never felt like anyone blamed me or really even cared about my big blunder. It was completely lost in the awesomeness of the day. And I got lost in it, too!

Here's another shot of my family, this time with our newest sister!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wrong Again

The lead up to the wedding was a lot of fun. There was a lot of time between finding out I was going to be a bridesmaid, and then becoming one. Time for thinking and planning.

One of my thoughts was that, gee, my two fellow-bridesmaid sisters and I all three have um, fashionable glasses. Much like how my dad had fashionable glasses in his high school pictures that we love to laugh over. And we would all be in the wedding party. Which would be photographed and remembered for many years to come.

I didn't think Micah and Heather would want people looking at wedding pictures and instantly saying, "Oh! So you guys were married in 2009, eh?" So I discussed with my sisters and we agreed not to wear our glasses (of course). I was glad that I had one pair of disposable contacts left from, like, three years ago or something. I planned to wear them on the wedding day.

Soon after that, I found out I was pregnant. Oh! Well. My mother did a fantastic job of adjusting my bridesmaid dress for me so I was okay there. But another problem arose. My legs.

So I have varicose veins and sort of have to wear medical support hose (during pregnancy, only) which I hate. This was a California wedding and not the kind you wear ANY hose to, much less thick, off-color very MEDICAL LOOKING hose.

First it was my vanity. I didn't WANT my legs to look ugly at the wedding! That wore off pretty soon, since hellonobodybutmecareshowmylegslook, but then I realized how distracting these hose might be. I told Heather and Micah about my plight, just so they wouldn't ever happen to look down and wonder WHAT I WAS THINKING wearing those hose to their wedding! Micah promised not to ask me why I looked like such a freak and I decided not to worry about other people.

Then on the long drive to the airport I realized I'd forgotten to pack my contacts. Crap. Oh well.

So there I'd be in my very rectangular red glasses and not-very-skin-color, very medical stockings. I tried to be okay with ruining my brother's wedding a little.

The thing is, I didn't know that those things would be NOTHING compared to how I would actually ruin the wedding!

That story to come. (and I didn't actually ruin their wedding, but. . . well. . . you'll see)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Time I Had

The entire purpose of my trip to California was to see these two people

Micah and Heather. All I can say is they're lucky there's no limit on the amount of good looks that can go into a marriage because otherwise there would have been NO CHANCE for them.

get married in this place.

The Wayfarers Chapel. Probably the second* most beautiful place you could get married. IMO.

It's in Rancho Palos Verdes (CA) and the grounds are beautiful and are just at the edge of a cliff hanging over the ocean. It's GORGEOUS. Here's the groom's family, oldest to youngest, with parents as book ends.

This is on the grounds of the Chapel. If we all took about 20 steps to the left (our right) we would, every last one of us, trip over lots of flowers and greenery and then fall a long way down into the ocean. That's one of a few reasons we took the picture here and not twenty paces to the left (our right).

Afterwards the reception was just down the road at the Trump National Golf Club**. The day before the wedding the groomsmen played a game of golf there, presumably for purposes of bonding, or something (bridesmaids bonded at the super fun bridal shower). At a course like this, I think even I could enjoy watching golf.

The reception was in the building overlooking the course (and that incredible view). Every detail was perfect without it feeling at all contrived or stuffy or anything. Formal, yet extremely comfortable and friendly and happy, happy, happy. Seriously awesome. Here's all the family that were there for the groom (I love them, every one) at the reception. Sure wish Greg, Evie, Dave and Aaron were in this shot!

This collage will give you an idea of what a party it was (and especially how much my nieces an nephews loved it, adults were really partying, too, you just don't see it in these pictures so much) (That's me and my sister's on the bottom, me, Su, and Anne)

But there were other awesome parts of my trip! I didn't take any shots, so all that I have here have been borrowed or stolen from my brother's or I got them off my sister's blog (hence the collages, she ignored my request to SEND PICTURES! so I'm snatching her collages.

Here we are at my dad's wife's family's amazing condo which overlooks the beach (notice a theme here?) and which they totally let everyone stay in even with kids (lots of them).

And guess who else I got to see (meet)? This Lady:

And even got to play with her little boy.

Look at that face. I certainly would never accuse Melanie of lying (especially not after meeting her and finding her as down to earth and smart and nice as I expected), but after having spent a few hours with this extremely well behaved and super cute boy I just can't reconcile him with the boy who decorated the walls and bunk bed ladder that she posted about.

The trip was a blast. I will never forget it and I'm so grateful to my dad and Pam for getting me out there. Seriously. Loved nearly every minute, except when I was crying. Even then, I loved most of those, too. Here are some things that made me cry:

* Feeling the baby move for the first time (at the airport on my way there)
* The sight of (certain) trees (I love trees)
* The beauty of the ocean
* Things my nieces and nephews said/ their cute faces
* How much I love my famiLee (siblings)
* What a pain in the neck my famiLee is
* Saying good-bye

I wonder. . . do you think I might be pregnant? (eighteen weeks!)

* Or the hundred and somethingth most beautiful, depending on how you look at it
** Wasn't surprised to find from their site that this is the most expensive golf course ever built.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet My Dad

(Hi everyone! I'm over here in America the Beautiful having a great time!)
I grew up at BYU, which isn't to say I was actually raised there , but I did spend a good deal of time there as a child. Mom worked at the library and dad at the photo lab.

I remember the smell of the library, which I didn't appreciate as a child, and climbing stairs there. I remember the smell of the photo lab, which I still don't appreciate, and dad letting us into the little circular chamber leading from the lab to the dark room. I remember being scared of being in that small space, in pitch blackness and always being afraid of what might be there when I came into the light, or the darkness of the dark room (I never knew which to expect while turning that curved, sliding door). Maybe that was because of all the weird odors.

We ran around on the grounds of campus. We played hide and seek at the Tree of Life. We hopped from stone to stone of those paving blocks outside the bookstore. I always felt a little irreverent doing that, as I knew they were actually tombstones. We spent good, long minutes drooling over the display of fudge and all the piles and piles of candy in the bookstore. Over and over and over again.

Then we moved away.

On one of our early trips back to visit family in Utah we all knew we'd be going to BYU. In the weeks before the trip we talked about all the things we'd see and do. Once when we were talking about the candy counter my dad heard the anticipation in our voice and felt he should warn us, "Oh, you guys, they don't have any more candy at BYU."

We stared. "They what?" "They don't have any more candy." "You mean like that candy counter? It's gone? Even in the Twilight Zone? Why? Are they trying to keep people from being unhealthy? Is it a new policy, like the no caffeinated drinks thing?"

We were very confused and very disappointed. He kept replying that he didn't know why, he just knew they didn't have any more candy.

I almost didn't even want to visit campus anymore.

But we did. And we went to the bookstore. And. . . THERE WAS THE CANDY, just as it had always been, colorful and tempting as ever. How could this be? Then we ran over thinking maybe it was actually just the Twilight Zone. Candy galore.

When my dad came back from visiting friends in the photo lab we accosted him. "What happened? You said. . .?" etc.

"What?", he wondered with an innocent (read mischievous) expression on his face. "I said they don't have any more candy, right?" We agreed and pointed all around at the mountains of sweet stuff, question marks all over our faces.

"Well, do they have any more? I don't think they do have any more. Probably there isn't any less, either, but I don't think there's any more."

Yeah. That's my dad. Taking advantage of the fact that we couldn't see the space between the any and the more every time he said it. It means a totally different thing when there's a space in there.

I know I'm a few days late, and I won't go on about how much I love my dad (though I do!) but this story is a great example of the many, many things my dad said to us growing up that reeeeeally shaped the way I am today.

Other examples include his response to our (probably constant) complaints that our something or other hurt (if it was our right elbow he'd ask us to give him our left so he could even it out, or so the other wouldn't seem to hurt so much) or that it hurt when we did this (like raised our arm or whatever, to which he replied, "Then don't do that!"). Plus all the times he "ate" an ant that was on my raspberry or a gnat that was in my soup. (I was a little disappointed a few years ago when I mentioned this to him and he told me that he must have been teasing because he would never eat those things on purpose. I WATCHED HIM DO IT! With my very own seven year old eyes which don't miss anything!)

I love my dad.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The S Diet and a Medical Condition

I'm sure most, if not all, of you have been very concerned for me.  I told you I was on a lose-seven-pounds-in-two-weeks diet many weeks ago, and then never told you how it went.  I'm sure you had images of me in your mind having lost the 73 pounds (because you calculated how much it would be by now) the passing weeks would have dropped off me instead of the 7-10 lb. MAX that I wanted to lose.  Cadaverous Lisa, wasting away in her living room.  Mummy-obsessed David watching it all in wonder.  

But, no.  

I found that the S Diet works differently under different circumstances.  While home alone for two weeks with only a nursing 4 month old, The Amazing Race and Survivor marathons running all day and no one to cook for, it's easy.  In a busy home with three kids and a husband, when things like taco salad and lasagne are on the menu it's not so easy to eat very little.  

Another thing that makes the S Diet difficult to follow is when you find, two days in, that you have a Medical Condition that makes it impossible NOT to gain weight.  

So I tried following the diet for a few days and then stopped.  I haven't gained any of the anticipated weight yet, but I know it's unavoidable.  My mom even fattened up my size 4 bridesmaid's dress for me.

At least I can surely expect to drop most of the weight right around December 10th or so.  
(and don't you love the label I'm putting this post under?)

Friday, May 15, 2009


Last night while listening to a classical music station Greg heard something that changed our plans for the weekend.  Well, our plans only included being home until going to church on Sunday in Krakow, but also finishing off the other half of a cake in the fridge and --  and this is important -- having vegetarian borscht tonight with the rest of the crescent rolls from last night (yesterday I neeeeeeded chinese chicken salad with crescent rolls and tonight I neeeeded borscht with them).  Oh well.  Plans change.  Apparently.

Instead we'll be taking the other half of the cake and the crescent rolls with us to Łódż (pronounced Wooch, sort of) This is where Greg's parent's live.  This is where we try to put a little culture in our lives when possible (we went to a concert last time, opera, and it's also where we almost went to the nude version of The Magic Flute) And this is where the concert will be tonight that Greg heard about last night.

Łódż is the third largest city in Poland.  It's not the prettiest of cities, as it was a manufacturing city.  Textiles.  The ooooold factories have been standing in their glory (really) unused with broken windows for decades until someone had an idea.  They turned it into this:

Isn't it pretty?  Like a really nice factory from the oooooold days that's been revamped? (they only sandblasted the brick, it was always this pretty, just sorta blackish)  Okay, so you can't really tell what it is, but they turned it into a mall.  It's cleverly named "Manufaktura" and apparently it's in the running for "Best Mall in the World" or something.  It's amazing, though none of the pictures I found really do it justice.  It's huge and there are buildings on all sides.  We go there almost every time we're in Łódż.  There are these fountains the kids can run through: 

and in the evening they dance and light up different colors to the loud music that plays in the courtyard.

In the summer they set up "beach" volleyball in the courtyard, and in the winter there's an ice skating rink.

Well, so back to the point.  In this very courtyard:

it was announced last night on the radio, there will be a concert tonight.  Not just any concert, though.  The Łódż Philharmonic will be playing the soundtrack LIVE to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which will be playing on a huge screen.  There will be 2001 seats and the show starts at 8:01 pm.  (I translated that for you, since you guys don't use army time like we do over here.  In Polish it starts at 20:01)

So Greg said "Drop everything!  Forget about your Borscht tomorrow!  We're going to Łódż!"  Then he called his mother and said something like, "Sorry it's such late notice, but some veeeeery important business has come up for us in Łódż and we'll be there in 20 hours or so. . ."  

So we'll go get the kids from school, eat some lunch (school ends at 12:15 today, 1:10 most days) and head off to Babcia and Dziadek's house (4-5 hour drive).  

I'm really excited except that I've never seen it and we recently watched 2010 (the sequel-ish)and I thought it was the most boring movie I've ever seen.  But being outside with the live music it will be awesome.  Without kids.  With Greg.  

A word about that cake.  If, of a Wednesday afternoon, you realize you reeeally want to make some special dessert, like a cake, since you've been craving a big layered one since you saw Pollyanna a few weeks ago (remember those HUGE pieces of cake they get at the fair?), and one with cream cheese in it, you might be extremely happy to stumble upon this cake.  Then you might make it, only double instead of triple layers because you have not three 8" rounds, not two, but zero.  Only a 10" springform pan.  So you bake half of it, wash, butter, repeat = two layers.  And you find that it is a veeeeery good cake.  And your son requests it for his birthday.  And your husband proclaims it delicious.  And you think it's a little sweet but exceedingly good.  So, anyway, those are some things that might happen if you are thinking about dessert on a Wednesday afternoon.  And then you might end up taking half of the cake to your in-laws with you.  Because your husband might be pontaneous.  (my S diet update is coming in a week or two. . . bet this post made you wonder how that's going)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Aaron Coined

Today I was feeling all domestic as I raced to wash dishes, start laundry and scrub bathrooms before I started in on my a-g-o-n-i-z-i-n-g articles (about orthopedics, this time.  Joy!).  I had just filled bags with the recycling that was building up under the sink, one for paper, one for glass and one for plastic, and set them by the door down to the garage where the recycling goes.  

As I was scrubbing away in the bathroom I heard Aaron fiddling with something at the foot of the stairs.  He is a MAJOR singer, so it was no surprise when he started belting out a new tune, but this time it was different.  He still mostly babbles in his singing, but after a few rounds I realized he was singing, "Daddy juice!  Daaaaaddyyyyy juuuuuuice!"  over and over.  I went to see what was going on and what did I find?  He was waving an empty Coke bottle in the air while singing about "Daddy's juice."  

I believe a new, and probably everlasting name for Coke has been born in the P. family.

Also, I'm still reading posts, I just don't feel like/have time to comment as much lately.  Sorry!  But I'm still keeping up with everyone.  And don't worry, tomorrow's articles are about porch swings.  That will be a bajillion times easier and more creative than those I've been killing myself over the last few days. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Love and Hate


I don't actually hate writing articles, exactly.  Sometimes they're a breeze and I can whip out as many as four in an hour (that's 2,ooo words - this happens rarely, though)  Three an hour is more like it.  But sometimes, like yesterday, I can't even do two.

What I hate is at dinner time being only halfway through my article writing because they're mostly about cappuccino and espresso makers and my research on the subject necessarily begins with this search: "What is cappuccino/espresso".  You know it's going to be slow going when you have to ask for definitions of the keywords. 

Then I hate finally allowing my starving self to go make my favorite dinner ever (Skillet Ziti with Chicken and Broccoli, so simple but I cannnooooot stop eating it) for a break, only to find that I can't start cooking until I wash about every dish in the kitchen and clean up, too.  

I also hate when I've finally got the dishes done and look down and see the SAME crushed pretzel lying on the kitchen floor that I have not been sweeping up for two days because I've been on the verge of vacuuming any minute now (for two days) and I decide something MUST be done about it right this minute, as I slowly waste away in my hunger.  Instead of pulling out the the dustpan and little broom I get out the vacuum and proceed to vacuum the entire downstairs.  Then I decide to mop the entire downstairs too, before heading back into the kitchen to finally get dinner started.


I love sneaking away from my writing occasionally to read excellent posts about good friends meeting each other for the first time and their adventures. 

I love when I'm stressfully trying to wash those dishes quickly so I don't pass out or die of starvation before I can get dinner made, and Greg comes in and tells me something that cheers me up/horrifies me.  He's been really sick and he had to go see his accountant in town.  When he went in the office he told her right away, "I'm not going to shake your hand because I haven't been feeling well since I returned from a trip to Mexico."  She literally pushed off away from her desk and started stuttering.  Greg, being the evil person that he is, wanted to continue and pretend he hadn't heard about swine flu, but thought better of it and told her he was kidding.  What a terrible joke.

I love freshly vacuumed and mopped floors.  

I love eating Skillet Ziti with Chicken and Broccoli.