Friday, January 30, 2009


Well, it appears as though I'll be taking a little break from blogging.  I mean, why would I read interesting posts written by people I admire and respect when I can write articles and articles about something I know absolutely nothing about?  I mean, what woman who has been on a boat three times in her life wouldn't want to write many thousands of words about various watercraft?  Especially if she gets to spend an entire article spelling one key word "yatch" over and over?  

Basically what I've been doing is writing up these articles for I have no idea who about I have no idea what (really.  I mean, I didn't actually know what a pendant was until I started writing that last batch of articles.).  It seems my articles are to include words or phrases that are commonly used in Internet searches (hence the yatch, many searchers have dyslexia, it seems), and then someone sticks a link on it and- BAM- they get loads of business.  That's why I had the joy of writing up an article that was to include in the title and at least twice in the text the phrase "pearl pendant white gold" and another with "pendant gold diamond" with no commas or dashes added.  And one of the articles was about "mothers pendants" or "mother jewelry".  I'm not sure if I hated leaving out the apostrophe or leaving out both the "s" and the apostrophe more.

*sigh*.  I go into every single new article feeling like I'm going to a classroom in high school to take a final exam except I have no idea what subject it even is, much less what exactly to study. Or what my own name is. 

Let's just say there are lots of stories in my articles.  The one about "motor yachts" was a story about a guy sitting at his desk during his break daydreaming about being on the ocean.  I know exactly NO boating or fishing terminology and don't have the time to do much research (although it feels like I spend hours searching and find NOTHING to go by).  The story is fine, but there's no hiding the fact that I know zero about motor yachts, or what one does on one, either.  The articles are supposed to be "interesting, entertaining and/or educational."  I just hope I made them one of the former two, since I certainly didn't make them the latter. 

Is that enough complaining for you?  I hope so, because I'm done.  

We're off to Greg's parent's house for 4-5 days and I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to peek in on you all.  Plus, until we find a writer to replace me, I'll be writing up more articles on fascinating subjects.   Unfortunately they take a freakin' heck of a lot of time.  Excuse my language.  (Oops, I was supposed to be done complaining.)

I'll miss you!  Don't be shy to email me if something amazing happens like *MARY* comes back or you inherited a bajillion dollars that you want to share with me so that I will never, ever have to write unless I so desire.  Or anything else you think I should know.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bad Words

When David was between two and three years of age, he was too well behaved to write on walls or smear peanut butter on the table or anything like that.  (actually, so far none of my kids have done any of that "normal" kid stuff).  But he did have one bad habit.  He had a dirty mouth.  

About 4 times a day he would say, " Hey, Ewelina.  Pee."  After getting the appropriate reaction, ("David!")  He would say "Letter, 'P'!!!"  This continued for weeks after we stopped responding to it in any way.  (We had a strict "no potty words unless you're in the bathroom" policy, and the kids never cared to break it, except for David during this short phase, which was more of a display of his wit than a desire to say a forbidden word.)

Also, when he would get offended, and he has always been very sensitive that way, and he wanted to express his frustration and dissappointment in us, he searched his darling little brain for a word that would cut us to the core.  One that would show that he could completely reject our teachings, and be bad, if we pushed him too far.  

And he found the perfect one.  If we ever implied that he had done something he shouldn't, or tried to correct him etc. he would walk off to his room and turn back just to say, "Alcohol!" in a very defiant tone.  Surely alcohol must be such a bad thing that the word alone would shock us horribly.

Sad for him, it never did.  It did, however, give us a good laugh and a great story to pass down for generations.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Boring Can You Get?

Annette tagged me for this tag, which should be at least somewhat interesting and insightful, but really mine is NOT.  The reason is because I do not take pictures and I currently have not a single picture saved on my computer (husband recently emptied everything off of here so that I could continue to blog without it shutting down every 3 minutes).  

For this reason I asked Greg to follow the instructions on his computer so that I could:  Post the sixth photo in [my] sixth folder.   He said it was actually the sixth in the sixth in the sixth, which I do not understand except that I know that it probably has something to do with the fact that he takes loads of pictures.  So aren't you dying to see the photo?  Well, here it is!

Wow!  Fascinating!  This is the shot of one of the bodies they're making for a client (it's called a puzzle car, I assume because it is made in pieces and then welded together? And I am unaware of exaclty what part this is.).  I will say that it is quite beautiful, as you can see the aluminum is most excellently well polished with that stripe sanded down the middle.  Plus you can see the awful glass cubed wall (with many of the cubes missing) that lines the side of the shop at Greg's work reflected in it.  (for more pictures, and especially if you're interested in buying a Cobra -- and YOU KNOW YOU ARE -- go here.) 

How exciting!  Well, speaking of exciting things, we found a way to make a little extra money, thanks to a good friend of ours, and I have spent Monday and today frantically typing up articles.  20 of them at 500 words each.  I still have three to go, so I'd better sign off.  But first let me say that typing up ten thousand words about pendants is not my idea of a good time.  Yes, that kind of pendant.  For each article I am given key words such as "opal pendant" and then I write about it, with that much information given as direction.  What a joy.  What a blast.  Let me stop blogging so I can get back to something FUN.
 (and I really hope to catch up today or tomorrow with you all!  I've been missing you, especially since I've had you right under my fingertips this whole time!  But look how disciplined I am!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.  

Just kidding.  Sort of.  I mean, that's not what I really was going to blog about, but it is true, in many ways.

In the last few days a couple of you have mentioned something about your husbands that implied that they know who I am (my blogging self I mean, of course).  Is that a little crazy?  I think it's a little crazy.  But I also think it's a lot awesome.  Not that they know me, exactly (although, hello!  Awesome!) but that our husbands, many of them at least, know us!  Oh shoot, that's not what I mean either.  Of course our husband's know us!  Mine knows me, yours knows you, but I think you understand what I'm getting at here.

I love telling Greg about posts that I have enjoyed or updating him about something he already knows about someone, or telling him about comment threads or showing him funny or neat pictures or  reading him posts, that are very meaningful to me.  I used to get flustered when I started in on one of these things, "So she's the one who's aunt showed up and was a real jerk but they ended up forgiving and having a bonding moment.  Remember?  With the little baby who fell down and had to get stitches on his eyebrow?"  And he would always remember (okay, not always; sometimes he says "No, but continue." so I do.) but I got a little sick of always giving a few reminders like that.  One night I was talking about one of you (okay, fine, it was Heather of the EO because I'd been talking lots about her and Asher's issues around that time) and finally I just said, "How should I help you know who I'm talking about?"  and my dear, wise husband said, "Why don't you just call her by name!"  

Genius!  So I did.  And now I always do.  And I do with many of you.  Of course I still give little prompts since he's not the best with names, even when they come with faces, and so without faces?  You can imagine.  

So my point was that I love that our husbands are aware of who our blogging friends are.  And one other reason is because it makes you all seem so much less imaginary when I'm not the only one I know who "knows" you and accepts you as real entities.  Living breathing humans, and not just words and pictures on a screen.  And that's such a relief because you guys have always seemed so real to me, and keep seeming more and more real all the time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Okay, Here's What You Do

I just loved all your comments yesterday.  Who knew that two things that I've been thinking about in the last few days would be of such universal interest!  :)

So here's my brownie diet, from the beginning, because this is Lisa speaking.  In my first two pregnancies (bet those of you who asked me to elaborate never thought I'd start the explanation with "In my first two pregnancies," did you?  Unpredictable.  That's me.) I didn't lose my weight until after I had finished nursing (a year each) and then I just got thin again.  No effort or anything.  Then, during the years before Aaron came along I stayed thin and was exercising and avoiding chocolate and candy etc., right up until I gained that 5 pounds in America after my miscarriage

Once I got pregnant with Aaron I started eating chocolate again and stopped exercising.  I lost the five pounds I had gained in America, and didn't actually start gaining weight until my fifth month.  I was thin.  When I brought Aaron home from the hospital I almost looked back to normal (thin normal). Two months after Aaron was born, I was heavier than I'd been (without being pregnant) in eight years.  (!!!)

I was a little scared.  I didn't want to get fat, but I was too lazy to do anything about it.  Then Greg got a three week job in SLC doing translation for the church.  I decided to lose weight while he was gone.  I lost seven pounds in the first two weeks (by eating a heaping pile of veggies and a tiny bit of meat/carbs for each meal, and of course a brownie after dinner because I was being so good all day long) and kept it off.  For many months.  But the last seven or eight pounds weren't going anywhere.  

Finally I realized I needed to do something about it, especially if I want to get pregnant again one of these days.  So I started in on my no chocolate unless it's baked into something and baked stuff only after dinner plan, which I mentioned here on my blog.  After a month or two of that, I realized that it wasn't doing me any good.  So I completely bagged it and started eating dessert in the evening and then snacking on the leftovers all the next day.  After a few weeks of feeling terrible about myself I realized I was thinner than before.  I don't think I've lost more than a few pounds, but, you know how it is when you can feel on various parts of your body that the fat isn't there anymore?  That's how it is.  

Here's what I think happens: I eat brownies for dessert and then some more before bed.  The next morning I accidentally snack on them while I'm getting the kids ready for school and then am not in the mood for breakfast (why would that be?) and snack on some more mid-morning, and it fills me up until I have a late lunch.  Then a few a hours later it's dinner, and then comes dessert and the cycle starts again.  So basically, I am probably eating fewer calories overall.  Also, Aaron finished nursing later than the other kids, and I think my body may just be getting with the program (the losing-the-weight-after-weaning-the-baby program).

This is all really embarrassing and I should NOT be putting it on my  blog, but I hope it will help me to be motivated to be less of a glutton and to take a bit of control of my eating habits.  Still, it's hard, as I say, when I'm feeling thinner all the time, and unfortunately I don't have much less energy or anything, which I should on this kind of diet.  Plus, it's not this bad every day.  And if we have good fruit I'll eat that, too.  See?  Healthy!

Also, it's not always brownies.  I do make other stuff, but lately I've made them at least once a week.  I have spent the last 15 years or so in search of a good homemade brownie recipe (one that is similar to brownies from a mix--I'm one of those).  I have liked many of them, but this recipe is my favorite, by far.  It has kept me from trying out the recipe that Annette was kind enough to share with me.  And it kept me from making anything more interesting and exotic when Nathan was visiting.  I love it because it's one of the best tasting recipes IMO and it is simple and inexpensive to make, (doesn't have pounds and pounds of chocolate to be melted or require 4 different bowls).  I make them using only the pan that I melt the butter in.  Also, instead of the typical cup of butter and four eggs, it's got less of each.  Oh, and they're pretty with a perfect, crackly top. 

There is another kind of brownie that I also make repeatedly.  They're peanut butter brownies, and with some good dark chocolate filling them up, I can't resist them.  I always leave off the ganache because, come on.  I'm all about saving myself some calories and some money, and some effort and some dirty dishes (and plus they don't need it).

Now please feel free to explain why I should NOT eat like this and how bad it is for me.  Scare me out of this terrible cycle!  

And also, I'm not the only one with these backwards tendencies.  Annie wrote about how, to stay thin, she cannot exercise.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'd Forgotten. . .

* How hard it is to keep from eating brownies all day long when your weight keeps going down anyway.

Now I remember:  It's extremely hard.

* How interesting Twilight* is, and exactly how lusty it is.

Now I remember:  It's quite interesting and far more lusty(sensual?) than I'd like it to be.( I prefer the butterflies in my stomach brought on by romance in a novel to be based a lot less on physical proximity of the two lovers, and a lot more on more meaningful interactions, as in Victorian romances.) (Evie can read this when she's 25.  Okay, maybe when she's 18.  Maybe.  Victorian novels she could read tomorrow, should she so desire.)

--This post is in no way meant to be a summary of my thoughts about the book Twilight or any type of review.  Oh no, no.  I would need to say faaaaaar more than you see here.  I'm reading it for the second time as I received Breaking Dawn for Christmas and decided to re-read the series before breaking into Breaking Dawn.  Plus I'm taking Greg to see the movie in a couple of weeks and I want to be able to compare it to the book, and I read it over a year ago and have a terribly awful memory when it comes to books that I read more than three days ago.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Best Worst Sound

The very sweetest, funniest, happiest, sound that I have ever heard very frequently causes my heart to miss a few beats as I wait expectantly to see  if it will explode or if I am able to contain the joy and exhilaration that overcomes me at its sound.  Sometimes it comes suddenly, taking me by surprise, and other times I listen with a smile for a few minutes while working on some task, before it completely overwhelms me and I have to drop what I am doing.

This same sound can cause very sudden bursts of frustration and short flashes of anger.  This is only ever when someone is sleeping or the TV is on, and I am hanging on every word of a dialogue or waiting for the most important part of the newscast.  In these instances, that most beloved of all sounds is nothing but an obstacle, keeping me from the punchline of a joke, or the reading off of an important number.  

In the first instance, Aaron's babbling catches me off guard, over and over.  His perfect "Da da da da dee dee da da da deee doooo!!" shouted confidently for all to hear is the highlight of every hour.  His facial expressions and voice inflections change throughout his conversation, and he is obviously saying something.  Often he is talking on the cell phone (or the pedometer -- and at this very moment he has a Polly Pocket bed held up to his ear/mostly cheek and eye and is conversing animatedly with someone) and he paces around the room, just like his dad does when he's taking care of business on the phone.  The sound of this makes me drop what I'm doing and race to sweep him up in my arms and smother him with kisses and smell his neck and hair and hug, hug, hug him and never want to let him go.  It is one of my greatest joys as a mother. 

Still, as I said, there are times this boisterous monologue is just TOO LOUD, or is begun abruptly at exactly the moment we want silence.  In these cases he might also be swept up in our arms, but instead of kisses and sniffs and hugs, he gets carried into the next room, we call, "Evie!  David!  Please come play with Aaron!" and we get back to our show, happy to have such willing babysitters to free us for a minute from the constant babbling.  

I used to feel bad when I was frustrated about kid noise because I was trying to listen to something on the radio or TV.  I hear all those grandparents talking about how they long for the very sounds that used to annoy them as parents, and I don't want to be the parent that takes what she has now for granted.  Still, now I realize that that happens maybe once or twice a week. The grabbing him because my heart may burst from the overabundance of love his talking causes me to feel happens several times every day.

I'm a practical mom.  I can't make myself feel bad for snatching up my baby to get him out of the way of my occasional entertainment, when I know that most often he IS my entertainment, and I snatch him up to gobble up all the sweetness and love he is filled with a dozen times for every time I'm getting him out of my hair. Maybe I should, but I don't.  I just recognize his babbling as the very sweetest, happiest, smartest, funniest, very, very best worst sound.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Up Lifting

I need, for myself, to write about something that is very good and that I am most grateful for in my life. I feel like, at this moment, I'm being swallowed by fear and failure, hopelessness and frailty. But there is so much good in my life.

Long ago, I went on a trip with some friends. When we returned home I wished, overall, that I hadn't gone. Still, I have realized, starting then, and in the years since, that I was supposed to go, if only for this one incident that has affected my life since then.

Four of us went for a hike. I don't remember the name of the place we went, and I won't disclose the location, but at some point we were walking along a ravine. We were looking for a way to get down in it so we could walk along the beautiful river that flowed through it. It was rocky and steep. The rocks were a deep red, similar to those I had climbed on so many times as a child on camping trips to Red Cliffs, in Southern Utah.

 We all started on our way down, each choosing a different path we thought would suit us. I found a place that almost looked like stairs going down. Very steep stairs. I thought, if I went down facing the rock, it shouldn't be too hard to just step down. As I was deciding if this was really the way down for me, I looked over and saw the teenage boy that was with us making his way down. His way looked way too tricky for me. I could see all the muscles standing out of his slender, toned body as he worked his way down the rock. Um, my muscles didn't look like that. Really, my muscles didn't look at all, as in they were hidden, rarely used, and certainly never seen. That was definitely not the way for me. Mine was just right, and it was only really maybe 20-25 feet down. I'd be down in a flash.

I crouched down and put my hands on the tops of the rocks where there was enough soil for a few tiny weeds to grow. I cursed myself for not having cut my fingernails for the fifth time that day. They were getting dirty and gross and making it hard to hold on to rocks. I stepped down onto what was my first "step". It was kind of far down, and harder to get onto than I'd expected but I had both of my feet on it at last, and I was ready to think about moving down to the next step. I could hear the others making their way down as I stood there contemplating my next move.

 Really, I felt sort of stuck. I realized that there was no way for me to get down to the next step, as the one I was on was too small for me to be able to crouch down again. Plus, I need to be holding on all the time. As I stood there trying to figure out what to do, my feet started slipping. The rock I was standing on was situated on a little too much of an incline. I held faster to the soil my hands were resting on, but I needed rock to hold, and there was none in the right place. My feet kept slipping. I knew that I couldn't lift either of them to bring them higher up or I would surely fall down.

I dug my fingers into the dirt. I searched everywhere for any weed growing within reach that might be large enough to offer me enough support so that I could fix my footing. There were none. I grabbed a handful of the tiny ones that were there, hoping that together their roots might help hold me a little bit. They ripped out (of course).

About this time I called to my friend to come quickly and help me. I was frantic. I dug my fingers into the earth as deeply as I could. I continued to slip. I felt that if I had cut my fingernails before this hiking trip, I would already have fallen. My claws are what were keeping me from going over. But I was still slipping and I could feel my hands were starting to tear the soil as the rest of my body started following my feet. "Okay. Here I go," I thought, as I realized I had nothing, and I was going down. Right now. . .

Just then I saw my friend climbing quickly over the rocks above me. She jumped down by my hands, secured her feet and grabbed one of my hands. . 1-3 more seconds and I would have fallen on solid rock on my back,and would very likely have died. She started pulling at my hand until I was supported enough to give her my other hand. I resettled my feet in a more sure position and she pulled and I was up.

I was up on top again. As if nothing had happened. As if I hadn't almost died. And it had been so easy for her. I'm not sure the others realized how terrified I had been for my life right then. How utterly helpless I had stood there, losing my footing, trying to prepare myself to fall to my death, all resources completely exhausted, but one.

I have thought about this so many times. There was absolutely nothing I could have done to save myself. Nothing. But one hand from above me, and I was completely freed from all that panic, horror and fear.

This is exactly how grace works. We make wrong choices, struggle with weaknesses and sometimes cannot see our way out. We feel fear, helplessness and desperation. But there is always someone standing over us. He waits for us to ask Him to help us. And He always will. There is no need to fall. There is no need to fear that we will fall.

This works day to day. It also is how things will work in the end. Those going into heaven are supposed to be perfect. I'm not perfect. I can't be. I don't even know how. I can try, but I will fail, ultimately. There is absolutely nothing I can do to save myself. Nothing. But one hand from above me, and I will be completely freed from all insufficiency. I just have to ask.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How To Almost Get Free Groceries

Recently the lovely Kim wrote a post about how she realized that fear is optional.  She gave a short list of things, large and small, that have triggered fear for her, including "Fear of the cashier listing my total and realizing I didn’t have as much cash as I thought I did."

This made me realize how fearless I am about things like that.  So fearless, in fact, that Greg sometimes wishes I would develop at least a tiny bit of doubt or self consciousness.  I'm quite a dork and it really doesn't bother me.  Well, sometimes it does, but mostly I'm fine with it.  When I read that item on Kim's list, I thought, "Well, let's see, I have to pick out food items that have already been bagged because they cost more than I have with me maybe every third shopping trip.  I think my fear of this happening is a great deal lower than it should be.  If I could only make that anxiety increase a bit, maybe I'd stop overfilling my shopping cart.  Maybe it's actually my optimism that causes me to take more than I have the cash on hand for.  Yes.  It's my optimism.  Not my idiocy.

The kids have been wondering lately why they need to learn math.  David has assignments where a few items are pictured with their price and he has a given number of zloty that he is supposed to spend any way he likes.  I need to explain to him that this exercise will come in handy in the future if he should happen to turn out like regular people who go shopping and buy the amount of food they have money for.  Or, if he takes after me and is an optimistic shopper, he can use it the way I do:  Fill the cart.  When all food is bagged and its cost is tallied, take the amount that you have gone over the amount of money you have in your wallet and remove items from the bags that together equal that amount.  Those math exercises really are useful for everybody.

And just one more example of why you should all hope to be seen with me in a grocery store. A few weeks ago I was shopping without kids, a rare treat.  As I was bagging my groceries (in my linen grocery bags-see, I DO care about the environment!) the checker noticed my tortillas and mentioned her surprise that they cost less than 6 zloty.  Poor lady!  I had to go on and on to her about how, "Yes!  Isn't it great!  All the other brands used to be about twice that, and lately I'd found some for about 9 zloty, but this new brand was so much less expensive!  I'm so glad because we use them all the time, etc. etc." (I was buying 5 packages, as you can never be sure in Poland if you'll ever see an item again, like the molasses that I was excited to see and didn't buy for three weeks, then on the fourth when I needed it, and went to get some it was gone, and I've never seen it since.) 

We chatted the whole time I filled my bags and as I  packed in the last few items, she asked what I do with those tortillas.  I explained all about the fajitas* I was making for dinner, in maybe too much detail (but she was interested, I promise!  She's from Mielec and has probably never had any sort of Mexican food) and when I had finished and answered all her questions, I smiled, said good bye and started pushing my cart away.  She called after me, "Um, you didn't pay for your food."  Oh yeah.  Oops.  I was far enough away at that point that I actually had to drag my cart a fair way back to pay her.  

Did I mention that I'm something of a dork?

Tani <span class=

money pictured is Polish money,  We won't convert to the Euro for a few more years.
* Love this recipe, although it has very unauthentic ingredients.  I substitute the chili powder with cumin and double the marinade so I can throw a little over the chicken and veggies and saute for one last minute before serving

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Unexpected Conclusion

I finally got Greg to agree to write something for my blog!  I read him excerpts of the comments on my last post:
* I never once thought [it] looked like a tramp stamp
* . . .no, "tattoo" didn't even cross my mind.  You're right on this one.
* I have never thought "tattoo" while looking at your blog.
* I have never thought "tattoo" when I've looked at your blog.
* I love your simple, swirly, not-tattooish background.
* I. . .have never thought "tattoo"
* And about the tatto question...nope, never thought it.
* I certainly don't see or think tattoo . . .
* I wasn't really thinking tatto at any point of seeing your background, EVER.
* I admit the tatto thing made me giggle.

He kept trying to get me to stop reading them, even though he was the one that requested that I ask you in the first place!  But he's no sore loser!  He typed up his conclusion of this little experiment.  It is a great demonstration of his intelligence and keen use of deduction and reasoning: 

"The obvious conclusion of Lisa's scientific poll is that women are either dishonest, have no imagination or are kiss ups (all "ha, ha, it doesn't look like a tattoo, can I still be your friend, Lisa" comments were made by females, and no men disputed the fact that the background depicts a tattoo)."

 Well, if men, such as the author of this quote are "honest, imaginative, and not kiss ups" (and I think it's fairly safe to consider Greg a non-kiss up, wouldn't you say?) I think I'll have to say, I'll stick with you ladies on the other side!!  But I'll also keep the husband as he's way too cute and hilarious not to.  

And if I post on Sunday it's supposed to be something "sorta churchy" (sorry about the first half of this post!)  So I will tell you about an extremely interesting debate (IMO)  we listened to on the way home from church (for the second time).  It's an IQ2 (Intelligence Squared) live debate that took place in Australia in August titled "We'd Be Better Off Without Religion", with engrossing arguments for both sides.  If you click on the link you will go to a site wherein, at the bottom of the first little blurb you can find a link to view the debate.  I highly recommend it.

It was fascinating to me, a person who has had very little experience with Atheists or knowledge of Atheism.  Fascinating.  And it sort of helped me realize where I stand on Global Warming (in the camp that says, "let's take care of the earth because we should" while standing quite a good way off from the very loud, science-based Environmental Advocates.)  

One of the speakers promised that if you read a certain book, by the end of it you will no longer be a Christian.  Greg is very interested in accepting the challenge.  Too bad, though.  I sorta like him as a Christian.

Still, if you don't understand what religion really is, and focus on what is caused by human distortion and corruption of true religion, I can see that there are all sorts of arguments against it.  I am sort of against the "evils of religion", too!  It's just too bad that those things are all lumped together with the good of religion, as well.
(If anyone does decide to watch this, I'd love to hear what you think about it, if you want to email me.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some Background

I was going to tell a story from my childhood, but decided to talk about a different kind of background instead.

I love seeing what blog layouts people choose.  I think it tells something about you, just like the clothes you wear or the movies you watch or the way you hang your toilet paper (I'm an "over" kind of girl, and what that says about me is that I have common sense.  J/K, unless you hang yours over too, in which case: high fives for your common sense!).  They (blog layouts, remember?) can be conservative, crazy, cutsie, crafty, classy or any of a variety of other adjectives beginning with c. 

I know many people swear by The Cutest Blog on the Block, as it is super fast and easy to change layouts and you don't have to redo anything in your sidebar.  Also there is quite a fair selection, and new ones available all the time.  And it's free.  But I will never use them, although I love guessing at people's personalities, based on the backgrounds they choose. 

Why will I never use them, you may ask.  Aren't they cute?  Yes, they're cute.  Many of them.  But they almost all are very scrapbooky/crafty looking.  I am neither scrapbooky nor crafty and it makes it impossible for me to identify with any of those layouts.

Before I move on to my own layout, I'll mention, or remind you all, that my favorite layout ever is Alison Wonderland's.  I like all of my friend's layouts, and really like many of them, but I loved hers at first sight, and it's one of the main reasons I visit her blog.  JUST KIDDING!!!  Of course. 

Well, I really like my own layout (I'm not one of those people who chose a layout that they can't stand), but it came with large (huge) Italian words at the heading of the sidebar and the other middle text part (I've got my blog terminology down pretty well, here, no?  At least I know "sidebar").  Greg had to perform all sorts of tricks to get rid of them and to make it so that I could change the color of my background at will (but it was too crazy hard to make it so I could change the lines on the borders).  He spent an entire afternoon in the summer doing it all for me (and added in the kids' names on the swirls as a surprise). 

That was so very, very good of him, because he hates this background.  But he hated my previous one (which I loved dearly) even more, so he was willing to do almost anything to get rid of it.  Even give up a lovely summer's afternoon staring at something he didn't like (this layout in its original sage green--pretty!).

Why does he dislike it so strongly, you may ask.  He thinks it looks like a tattoo.  The kind girls get on their lower back.  Actually, he swears that that is what it is meant to look like.  I tried to explain to him that those tattoos are created to look like a classical swirly-type pattern (see, there goes my overactive vocabulary again.  I hope you understood that sophisticated description) that you might see on curtains or a bedspread or something.  I don't know.  But he just KNOWS it's a tattoo.  And wonders why I chose a tattoo pattern for my blog, since I'm not the biggest fan of tattoos.

So I told him I would ask you all if you have ever thought the word, "tattoo" while looking at my layout, or more specifically at the pattern at the top of it.  I'm very interested to know. 

The other day I went with him to Alison's blog to watch her favorite commercial (which has since become our favorite commercial) and the first thing he said was, "Oh!  Now that is a nice background!"  So at least we agree on something.
*If you want to you can answer the poll in my sidebar about your layout.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Say You Want a Resolution

My sister did, anyway.  Say she wants a resolution, I mean.  Since she read Evie's post about her resolutions, she wanted me to post mine  I wasn't gonna, but I'm laptopless-I said LAPtopless-, except for using Greg's when he's home and not on it (that gives me a three minute window, maybe, except for now in the morning before he gets up) so I'll do this because it will be quick and easy.  Plus I'll be more likely to come back to it and check up on myself.

1.  I will have the kitchen completely clean every day when the kids come home from school (around noon--yes, that's when 1st and 4th grade get out in these parts)

2.  I will have David read to me in both Polish and English every day and hope he'll feel comfortable in both languages by the end of the school year.  I'd like him to have the desire to read a real book (like Magic Treehouse) during the summer.  I will also sit with him while he does his homework.

3  I will do a better job of keeping up with my cleaning schedule. 

4.  I will only bake desserts two nights a week. 

5.  I will make a real breakfast at least twice a week.  (we eat WAY too much cereal!)

6.  I will eat no potato chips until Christmas time when chips and dip and slush are on the menu.  (this one should be easy as I normally eat chips about once a month at the very most.  But I do love them).  I will abstain from french fries as well.  (not too hard either, but it feels nice knowing that I can't let myself for some reason.  I love McDonald's fries. . .)

7.  Every evening at 7 o'clock I will review my day and that half hour during the kids cartoon (they have evening cartoons here always at seven.) will be spent doing the things I didn't get to (or avoided all day).

8.  I will actually contact loved ones on their birthdays.  (Thanks mom, for the calendar!)  Hopefully I will one day even remember to get something in the mail for them!  

9.  Hopefully I will start doing my morning exercises again some day.  (admire my resolve, people)

There they are.  The ones I can remember at least.  I'm already doing most of them rather well.  And it's been over a week.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's the Word?; or Word to Your Mother (thanks, Heather of the EO)

I've mentioned more than once about Aaron's lack of urgency in the language development department (and previously in the starting to walk, and stopping nursing departments, and currently in the feeding himself, and liking potatoes and fruits and vegetables in general department)  I don't think I have mentioned how at his age (21 months) Evie was speaking in complete (and darling) sentences, so he's not taking after her.

Now, I have no idea how I fared at language development as a tiny girl, but I think Aaron might get his vocabulary problems from me.  Me as I am now.  

I don't think I have a teeny tiny vocabulary.  I know lots of words.   My mother has a great vocabulary (she's a real smarty) and I usually know the definitions of the words she uses.  I rarely read words I don't know (maybe this is more a reflection of the kinds of books I read).  I score okay on Reader's Digest Word Power tests (could be better, though).

I am able to formulate sentences.  Complete ones, even.  I don't think "Complete ones, even." is a complete sentence, but I didn't say I always DO form them that way. I know how to misuse scores of legitimate words and I know how to correctly utilize a plethora of words that don't exist. For example, I use the word "ones" all the time, and my dictionary informs me that the lone definition of that word is "Once".  Please, those of you with a better vocabulary than mine, be advised that I NEVER mean "once" when I say "ones".*  

Normally I don't give a care (:P) about such things.  We are all aware that I do what I want around here.  I ignore spell checker for the most part since I wrote  that post about how rude it is.  So I am definitely no sort of word snob, and probably couldn't be if I tried, but I would really appreciate it if I could at least use the words I know.

In everyday writing this isn't too much of a problem.  It's when I'm writing something other than just what I'm thinking that it gets annoying.  I rarely struggle with it on my blog because I'm not out to paint a perfect picture, or win a literary prize; but once I get writing something that stretches me a little, I draw blanks.  Really. Even fairly basic adjectives elude me.  I feel as though I'm struggling with a math problem that I remember learning how to solve, but I am utterly helpless to make it appear again in my brain.  Sometimes it's, "Oh!  I know there's a perfect word for this!" and sometimes it's, "I have no idea on Earth how to say that very basic thing."

There's a new game going on over at Bloggers Annex (isn't that supposed to have an apostrophe, and if not, why not?  Please someone enlighten me!!) wherein you create a story idea, a few characters and a conflict.  Then your ideas are switched with someone else's and you write their story and they write yours.  This is a really fun idea, but when you're dealing with people who are talented (and in some cases published!) writers it's a little intimidating.  Then if you have a dysfunctional vocabulary in exactly those kinds of writing situations, it's even worse.  So I haven't signed up (also partly because I haven't written a story since grade school almost, and I don't really know how to come up with the makings for one for someone else to use).

I realize that to retain vocabulary you have to use the words.  I suppose that's my problem, but I'm not really sure how to solve it.  

But I'm open for ideas.

* I mentioned this thing about "ones" to Greg and he jumped right on it, "The dictionary doesn't list plural words, silly!"  OH, duh.   I'm leaving this in my post anyway because I love scattering evidence of my brainlessness here and there for all y'all. (My wariness of the word ones comes from someone I knew who insisted there was no such word, or it was improper.  I'm so glad that person was wrong!  I NEED that word.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Hope You Were Just Saying That

A number of people recently informed me that they'd like to share book recommendations with me.  I sort of hope they don't really want to and only sort of want to, in a I-see-that-you're-on-Goodreads-and-maybe-I-can-add-you sort of a way.

I got on Goodreads about a year ago.  I love the idea.  It's great to share what you're reading with friends, get ideas about what to read, and see what other people have thought about books that you have read or plan to read.  Fabulous.

Unless you don't know your password because you actually just converted your husband's profile for yourself, editing out all his information and replacing it with yours, except for the password, which remains the obscure reference to a his favorite Polish Classical novel  (Pharoah by BolesÅ‚aw Prus) that you've never read, including names and numbers.  

Because if that happens, then probably you will not remember the password, and will be too lazy to ask your husband for it and therefore unable to update what you're reading/planning to read on the site, either.

This, of course will only be after a few sessions of over-enthusiastic listing of books you've read, including little reviews of how you felt about them.  Reviews like this:

"Dude, I canNOT wait until David is old enough to read this book.  He's gonna LOVE it."(about The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope) 
"I'm a little embarrassed to say that I read this book, but I'm even MORE embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed it and have read it thrice!" (won't name this book)
"This is one of my favorite comedies.  Hilarious." (about Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome)

Okay, so those aren't direct quotes, really, but they go something like that (from what I remember, but I'm pretty sure I never used the term "dude", at least).  How excited was I to find, after looking around a bit, that I had access to ALL reviews, which meant that everyone had access to mine.  Oops!  Before that I had really thought it was just my sisters, mom and a few friends that would have access to them.  Imagine my embarrassement as I read through the other reviews for these same books that articulately analyzed the author's writing style, the characters or the complexity of the plot.  "Um, yeah.  That's what I meant to say," I thought.

So, I don't really do Goodreads.  I DO love getting email updates of what my friends are reading and their ratings and (articulate) reviews.  It would totally be worth it to connect with more people just so I could get those emails about their reading ventures, but then, I'd have to know my password.  And I don't.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Speechless Baby Makes Clear Political Statement

First of all:
and then:
Almost 21 month old Aaron is still not big into talking.  He's just started singing his own little songs and is very good to copy anything we tell him to say:  "Aaron, say 'I love you!'" and he responds with the exact same tone, tune and number of syllables, "Da da da!"  Perfect!  Except for the actual words.

He only says one name: Da-dee.  He screams it with glee when he hears the key in the front door.  He shouts it when he is rushing to show Greg something neat.  "Da-dee!! I love you enough to say your name over and over perfectly!  And I DO!  And I WILL!!"  

Ma-ma, on the other hand?  Not so much.  A few months ago he went through a week or two where he would complain "mamamamama" but since then he never ever makes an M sound except when he comes in the kitchen and sees I'm busy, and therefore must be cooking or baking something, "Mmmm-mmmmm!"  he hums, with his little eyebrows raised.

It's exciting though, as he is just starting to say "words" on his own that we haven't tried to get him to say.  The other day, after he threw his diaper in the trash he started clapping for himself and then said, "Dah-doe!"  Which was obviously "Bravo!" as they use this in Polish and he hears it all the time.  Last night we went for a walk in the neighborhood to look at lights (there are more than I expected!) and walking along the sidewalk he would let us know every time the sidewalk dipped down and back up where driveways go in with an "uuuuuunnn."  And I would say Aaron, say,"down!"  to which he would reply proudly,"uuuuunn!"  Then, "Aaron, say "Up!"  to which he would reply with the same knowing smile, 'Uuuuuunn!"  always pronounced in a scale from low to high.  And he says, "La-low" for flower, "daw" for ball,  and maybe a handful of other words, mostly "da" based.

There is one thing he says, though, that is more than impressive.  Whenever he has a smelly diaper, or is about to have a smelly diaper, he looks at me and says, "European Union."  Or comes looking for me and, once I've been found, holds up his hands and asks, "European Union?" meaning, "will you please change my stinker bummers."

I'm not sure exactly what kind of opinion he is expressing.  The rest of us are rather pleased than not about Poland's fairly recent membership in the European Union.  Still he insists on associating this intergovernmental, supranational system* with his body waste.

Well, I do have one theory as to why this might be.  We have always said, "Oooooweeeeee!"  when we smell them (I think it's part of what got Evie and David potty trained pretty early on).  Aaron used to come to me and say, "Oooooweeee!"  But has recently switched to his European Union.  So I think maybe this is more because of his mix up of our old declaration when he stinks than any sort of political assertion.  Yes, I'm pretty sure that must be what it is.

Oh, and I should mention, as this might be confusing, that he doesn't actually say the whole thing out, "European Union!" (I told you he's short on words)  He abreviates it to "EU".  But I know that's what he means because every time he comes to me calling "Eeeeeeooooooo!!!"  I ask him, "European Union?"  and he always gives a huge smile and follows me to our diaper changing spot on the floor.
* Don't worry, I just found these terms on Wikipedia.  I don't know what they mean either, I just like how they sound.