Saturday, February 28, 2009


Not like rocking a-bye baby or rocking out.  This is the other kind of rocking.  The kind you do. (well, you probably do those other kinds, too, but whatever).

I already know you guys rock, but when I write a post I have this thing called "I never think about what you might think about what I've written or about what kind of comments you might leave."  I think it's a rare illness, but I have it.  One great thing about it, though is that it means I am often pleasantly surprised by how much you guys rock.

Also, it sometimes means that I'm a little embarrassed about what I've written.  On my last post I was just going to write the first part, but the second part came to me while I wrote and I didn't think about it at all, except that the second proposition was as silly as the first.  But is that what you guys got out of it?  No!  At least some of you (a lot of you) thought either, "That Lisa sounds pretty desperate.  I'd better offer to send her a package." or "Oh!  Hey!  I could totally send her some of that candy!" 

So I wanted to say "thank you and you rock".  And I really didn't mean to ask for packages.  

And speaking of rocking, Heather (who rocks extraordinarily)  made a button which is meant to be given to moms.  I'd like to take this opportunity to give it to a mom I know, Charrette.  She is very wise and extremely warm and generous.  She is also a very talented writer and artist.  You can tell that she is very genuine and I know that she is influential to everyone who reads her blog.  

You can tell she loves her kids as most every time she mentions them she is talking about something fun or crazy.  

I think moms really do rock.  I also think it's sometimes hard to remember that.  Motherhood is just hard.  From the sleep deprivation that sucks nearly every last bit of patience from you (me), to managing tantrums, to dealing with the incessant bickering of middle aged children (well, not middle aged, I mean like 6- 12 year-olds) , being a mom is just HARD.  

Right now Charrette is on the next level:  dealing with a teenager.  From what I understand it's not easy being the parent of a teenager, and some cases are harder than others.  I think because the child really isn't a child anymore, and you love them so much, the choices they make can have a huge affect on us.  At this stage the tables are turned.  We don't have such a huge affect on the choices they make, but their choices can affect us greatly.  We watch the decisions they make, knowing that these very choices are the ones that make them who they are, and contribute to who they will become.  Watching this process must be very difficult and I'm sure it can bring with it some of the most heart-rending times of a person's life.

So I just want to give this: 

to Charrette and remind her that she will be blessed for her love, patience and endurance.   And that I really think she rocks.
And if you don't already read her, you should go over there and read her recent post "A Mother's Reach".  And everything else she's ever written.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Rule

I think that anyone who mentions Cadbury Mini Eggs in a post (I've read 4 such posts to date) should be required by law to add a personal apology to me, Lisa; aka LisAway (you can choose which name you'd like to use in your apology).

This should also go for people mentioning other tasty, American Easter candies (as in candies that can only be bought in America).  

If you don't feel inclined to write out the apology, you can, alternately, send me a bag of whatever type of candy it is that you mention in your post.  I will be especially forgiving of anyone mentioning Reeses' Peanut Butter Eggs or malted milk eggs of any brand who choose to go with this option.  

Actually, you know what?  Never mind.  I think I'll go bake a pan of brownies and I'll probably be fine after that.  Maybe. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Life In 25 Things

Yes, I'm doing this one.  You're totally allowed to skip it, too.

1.  I lived in a trailer park until I was 11. 
2.  I had nightmares of dogs running into our backyard while I was playing there.  They never caught me or anything, but I just remember the terror of them running at me.
3.  I used to love mayonnaise sandwiches (bread, mayonnaise)
4.  I was surprised and thought my mom was so generous the day she told us to please stop asking every time we wanted a piece of bread and to just go ahead and get one whenever we wanted.
5  I had my first "boyfriend" when I was in 5th grade.  He was my paperboy and he brought me candybars when he delivered our paper.  We passed notes during recess and then one day I called him "Natey-poo" and after that we weren't an item anymore.  Oops.
6.  We moved to California when I was 11.
7.  I'd been feeling like an outsider in Utah before we moved, but I felt even more out of place in California.
8.  The one thing that helped me transition, besides my good friend and next door neighbor Sarah, was my jumproping.  I didn't exactly need to be with anyone if I was jumping during recess.  Also,  it sort of made people respect me.  (I'd been on a team in Utah)
9.  My last two years of high school were the best ever as I found a great crowd to be with.  We had a blast.
10.  I left home at 17 to start school (Ricks College) and only ever lived at home again for one summer (I think).
11.  I loved my years at Ricks like crazy and learned tons about early childhood education, but even more about life, the gospel and myself.
12.  Besides my first real boyfriend at Ricks (lasted 3 months and ended with the school year, and much like in number 5 I said something totally completely and unintentionally dumb in response to his confession of love and it marked the downfall of our relationship--and in case you're wondering, it wasn't anything sarcastic) I didn't really do much dating until I moved to BYU to live and work there after graduating from Ricks.
13.  I didn't really do all that much dating at BYU either, but I did TONS of hanging out (which I prefer anyway).
14.  I left Provo to escape the rollercoaster of my relationship with Greg (and to live near my sister, and because I really wanted to be a nanny).
15.  The father in the family that I nannied for called me Cinderella because I slept in the dungeon (basement) and did all the work and was still always happy (or so he said). 
16.  The girl I nannied was a perfect angel.  She was barely two and any time she started in on a tantrum out of frustration I taught her to say, "Help me, please!" instead, and she always did.  I often heard her dad talking about the amazing things she would say or how mature she was.  His wife would tell him, "I think Lisa taught her that."  My vanity made me a little glad of that.  (heaven forbid her dad just think that she was naturally so bright!)
17.  I was only back in Provo for a week before the wedding.  We had a rule that we could not be alone in an apartment (room yes, apartment, no) until we were married.  Fortunately we were both staying in apartments full of roommates, but it meant that often one of us would be standing out in a blizzard while the other ran into our apartment (that we started renting before we moved into it) to grab something.  I still think it was a smart idea.
18.  Shortly after we were married I took Accutane.  It broke my back and I couldn't keep up with dishwashing and other home and work (mother's helper) responsibilities.  My back problems are recurring, since then, and the medication only cleared up my skin for a year or two.
19.  I don't like meat very much and sort of want to be a vegetarian.  But I'm too lazy.  And I do like some meat.  And I'm not as good with vegetables as I'd probably need to be.
20.  I sort of fear being judgemental or self-righteous, but I think I'm a little of each, or at least come off that way.
21.  I've liked my hands for a while (since my best friend in high school used to say how nice they were, which is maybe weird, but whatever) and I think that's why my fingers are not straight anymore and I might be getting arthritis.  Same goes for my legs which I've always been happy with from the side view (not from the front or back) but now I can never wear shorts- or skirts without tights- ever again because of vericose veins.   I think this might be to check my vanity.  And I think this (number 21) might be a little too weird, but I'm not taking it off my list. 
22.  I really love my life.
23.  I think I could be a much better mother if I tried. Which is why I'm slowly cutting down on blog reading. 
24.  I really love the church leadership in Poland.
25.  I'm hoping I can respond to Erin's post sooooooon.

I realize this isn't the most upbeat of posts, but I think it's just kind of how I'm feeling right now. . .

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm Old and I Have No Partner in Crime

I am planning sometime next week to respond to Erin's post about our twinnishness (which was a response to Melanie's post about our twinnishness) but for today there are just a few more overheards.

Over breakfast I said something and David stopped me and said, "MOM!  That is just what I was thinking!  Woah!"  I paused and then did the Twilight Zone theme (probably from having read Melanie's title so recently).  Both of the kids stopped chewing, looked at each other and burst out laughing.  Like almost blowing milk and peanut butter cookie crisps all over.  This continued for quite a while and then, through his laughs, David said, "Oh my gosh mom.  You are so weird!"  So I explained about The Twilight Zone.

Later in the day I went to pick up Evie and David and Evie's friend from school.  From the front door, as I was getting in the car, Greg told me that I'd have to have one of them sit in the very back and I said that I'd just have one of the girls sit in the front.  He asked, "Is that okay?  Are they old enough?" I told him I thought it was okay just for a short drive.  

He replied, "Well, I'm not going to bring you any food in jail."  I didn't hear him the first time (or didn't get what the heck he was talking about) so I asked him to repeat it. He said it again and then closed the door.  

You know how people say, "What if anything happened to you?"  And worry about your last words and how you should always say "I love you." when you are going somewhere?  I must say, I think I'd treasure Greg's kind of last words more than the hearty-heart love one's.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's In My Make-up

I have always loved make up.  I was obsessed with it as a girl and received some for presents on every present receiving occasion.  I remember I was in HEAVEN when I got sets like these with the pull out drawers (only I remember mine was like three times as big as this; I mean had three times as much make up.  Of course it was much bigger than this.  I am NO GOOD at finding pictures on the Internet so you get this tiny little picture only).

I wore make up ALL THE TIME, from the time I was maybe three (okay, probably 5).  I caked it on and I looooooved it.  I knew I was gorgeous.  I think I wore make up for most of our family birthday parties (although I couldn't find the photographic evidence I was looking for).  

One day when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, I went to the park down the street in all my painted glory.  I was swinging there alone when Julie Stephens came along to play.  Julie was older than me by a few years and she was the most beeeeeeeeeautiful girl ever.  All the girls admired her.  All the boys were in love with her, or at least we assumed they must be.  And here she was.  And she was seeing me at my very best.

She came over to where I was swinging and I said hello.  The first thing she said was, "Oh my gosh, you're wearing WAY too much make up."  

I left as soon as I could after that, and that's all I remember.  And I'm pretty sure I cried.  I was crushed.  But I think I finally stopped caking it on so thickly from then on. 

But I still love me some make up.  I don't care a hoot about brands, but I don't leave the house without foundation, mascara and lip gloss on.  That's almost all I ever wear, though. 

I wish, I mean I really WISH I could get away with the super dramatic dark eye make up some people wear.  Not like this, really: 

More like this:

Reese Witherspoon at last year's Oscars.

But I can only wear really light colors or my eyes disappear.  And not because they're small, because they're not.  It might have to do with my "natural make up" I'll have to blog about some day.  Right now there's a boy with a very saggy, soggy diaper waiting to have a shower and a haircut, in the opposite order.  BYE!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I realized recently that I haven't been talking to the kids about U.S. Presidents like I should be this time of year, so last night over dinner I told them a little about Abraham Lincoln.  I gave them each a penny so they would know what he looked like and told them what I remember about him (far too little).  Then I told them about Melanie's post about the contents of his pockets on the day he died and how the box they were in was opened in the 1970's.

I told them what I remembered of it and then Greg piped in with, "And I heard -- this is really weird, but -- I heard that they also found an ipod in there."  Followed by a  l e n g t h y explanation of how the ipod (nano) was used and what materials it was made of etc.  I rolled my eyes and waited for him to finish.  But then someone else chimed in with, "And there was a cell phone in there!"  "No, it was an mp3 player!"  

I was blocking this all out as I dished out seconds until there was a break and Evie said, "Actually, they found out that it was an mp1 player."   And I burst out laughing.  Because that was funny.  
The hallway on our main floor is very long and fairly wide (it's very Polish so it's not an open plan and there are doorways off the hall to the playroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and down stairs.  You can sort of see part of it in one picture on this post) and it's David and Aaron's domain.  They race their cars there, play their wrestling games there and, most recently, play soccer there.  That hallway is always full of loud, usually happy, noises.

Last night before bed David followed me up the stairs saying, "Mom, you wanna know what a cute sport Aaron is?  And what a nice sport?"  (can you tell he doesn't live in a country where he ever really hears the term "good sport" ?)  After I caught my breath again after the darlingness of the question, he told me that they had been playing soccer and every time David had scored a goal Aaron had raised his hands high above him and shouted, "GOOOOOOAL!"  ("DOOOOOOH!") and then clapped and said, "Bravo!"  ("Dah-doh!").  I don't know for sure which I loved more, David's question or Aaron's cheerleading.
Then, while I was changing his sheets and he was putting on his pajamas, David got all confidential and started telling me lots of interesting stuff, not the least of which was the fact that his teacher had told him that he should have Evie teach him how to read.  

Evie is a very good reader.   Her speed, comprehension and elocution* is really a pleasure to listen to.  In second (or first?) grade her teacher referred us to a something or other where Evie could develop or display or something her talent for reading.  We didn't do anything about it, though, because we're lame (and didn't really know what it was about, as you may have gathered).

I thought that was a pretty good idea for Evie to help him with his reading (she's helped him some in the past).  All last year and all summer long I read with him almost every day for practice, but his progress has been kind of slow.  With Evie, I taught her what sound every letter makes and she pretty much started reading the next day.  

I asked him, "Does your teacher know that I read with you every day?"  And he told me that his teacher just suggested that he read with Ev because she reads "reeeeeeeeeally well" (David's teacher used to be Evie's) and that he shouldn't read with me or dad.  

Of course I was a little curious about that.  "Really!?!  She told you NOT to read with us?"  Finally he sighed and said, "Okay, fine.  You're asking me so I'll tell you the truth.  She said that I shouldn't practice reading with you."  I found this to be very humorous.  

This makes perfect sense, of course.  I mean, she knows that every single time I talk to her I am not confident in my Polish.  It seems obvious that I might not read well in Polish.  But I think I can confidently say that I am not a bad reader in Polish.  It's very easy, actually, because each letter or set of letters only makes one sound.  You just memorize them and you can read.  But his teacher has no way of knowing how I read.  

But of course I had to say, "Tell your teacher that I'm the one who taught Evie to read."  Because I did.  And also because Come On.
*Thanks for the word, Heidi!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Something Romantic and Something I love

Before I was married I bought a framed poster of a painting on a white background with the artist's name under it in capital letters.  When I bought it I don't think I was aware of who the painter was, or had ever seen the painting before.  I blame this entirely on the American school system.  Later I found out that I had heard of the painting  from the Don McLean song which is playing (or might not be).  The picture looked like this:

And I really loved it.  I took it with me when I went back east as a Nanny and hung it on the wall in my living room.  Or actually I think I meant to hang it on the wall but never got around to it.  Which is why it dwelt against the wall behind the couch while I lived there.  

Unfortunately, it continued to dwell against the wall behind the couch after I lived there, too.  Meaning that I left it there when I moved back west.  I was sad.  I mourned the loss of that poster for years.

Then one year for my birthday Greg presented me with a hand painted copy of that same scene. He had his sister's friend, who is a painter and often paints copies for people, paint it for me.  He hadn't told me anything about it and it was a huge surprise.  I love it.  And I love him.

And I also love that my sister gave me a magnet of that painting to go on my fridge because she knows how I feel about it.

And I also love that yesterday Aaron brought the magnet off the fridge and into the living room and kept pointing up at the painting and then at the magnet, over and over.  Then he got me to lift him up to the painting and he tried to stick the magnet to it repeatedly, with a little grunt at the effort.  They just seemed to belong together somehow to him.
(I wish I had a photo of my painting for you to see.  Really, it looks so much like the original that most people would not know the difference.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I'm Being Totally Serious

Sorry, this is going to be a post about a post (lame).  First I have to say that I cringe every time I read the title for my last post.  Then I double cringe when I think about changing it, like it matters. Secondly, I loved all the comments from that post (and am surprised everyone didn't just roll their eyes when they read the title and run in the opposite direction).

The first thing I need to say is that I TOTALLY  believe in teasing kids.  It is one of the dominant features of our parenting style.  I mean, to the point that sometimes even I think we're going a little overboard.  

We constantly tell our kids things that are not true with perfectly straight faces.  It's entirely possible that I have answered their inquiries as to why they shouldn't do something with a response very much like the Polish warnings to their children, that a monster will grab them if they do.  I dish out punishments like "If you do it again you will have to go up and down the stairs carrying a stack of heavy books all night long instead of sleeping."

But I don't think those things are wrong.  

I love saying dumb stuff to my kids, and spend a good deal of time doing it.  It really is a very important part of who I am and our relationship with each other.  When my kids make an innocent mistake I give them a disappointed look and a shake of the head and tell them they are "a bad, bad boy/girl."  Is that funny?  Most likely not, but they totally get it.  They know I'm kidding, and that I mean, "Don't worry, it was just an accident!"

So why do I dislike it when Poles and especially Greg's mother say(s) these very same kind of things?  Because they/she mean(s) for the kids to believe them.  There is no twinkle in her/their eye.  And they/she are/is not sarcastic by nature/naturally. (this paragraph comprises the humor/funny part/section of the post/entry)

People who know me know that I generally say exactly the opposite of what I mean.  It's kind of dumb, but it's how I am.  I've known for a while that I'm sarcastic, but I didn't really know what it meant until we were visiting my sister two years ago and she said to me (about Greg after giggling at nearly everything he says--because he's hilarious)), "He never says what he means, does he?"  I was dumbstruck.  He always says just exactly what he means and is very open.  It took a while for me to get that she means that he's sarcastic.  And that that means that you say what you don't mean as if it's what you do mean.

And that's how we are.  And we're like that with our kids.   And these days our kids are that way, too.

So I suppose you could say I have a double standard.  I can do it, but they can't.  But I'm pretty sure most of you would know what I meant if you heard it (and understood Polish) -- except for David (not my David, a friend who reads my blog) who appreciates and uses the Polish technique.

To go back to that quote in my sidebar that I love, it all comes down to this (sort of and also kind of not) in reference to my sarcastic nature:

There's only one thing that I know how to do well,
And I've often been told that you only can do 
What you know how to do well,
And that's be you!  Be what you're like!  Be like yourself!

So I do!  And maybe what I need to do is just let those who are good at tricking their kids into believing things go ahead and be what they're like, too!  Live and let live, maybe.

And don't forget that I completely understand doing the Santa thing!!  The only thing that I think a very small number of people people should think harder about is the fascination with the idea that teaching kids to believe in Santa will help them to believe in the Savior in the future, in the sense of having faith.  I think that is a very wrong comparison, as we don't want our kids to expect to wake up some day to find that Christ was just neat  idea.  I do agree with many other comparisons of Christ and Santa, though.  So DON'T WORRY!  :0)

I Love Target

So I'll be in America in June for my brother's wedding (Southern California) and, as ever, I'll be spending a good part of my time there at my favorite store, Target.  

Well, I just found a way to win a $30 gift certificate for that very store!  And you can enter to win, too!  You can find out how by going here.  She's got some interesting table settings to admire, and stories to read.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It Was Not Our Intent To Turn Them Against Her

While we were at Greg's parent's house last week, his mother showed us a drawing that she had found while sorting through some of her papers.  I've mentioned before that she is a good artist, and this was a pencil sketch of a cute little old colum-fronted building that she drew as a young student while visiting the lovely Łazienki Park in Warsaw.  The picture was awesome.  I expressed how impressed I was with it and we talked about it for a minute.  

As soon as Babcia (grandma in Polish) left the room, David confided to me in a whisper, "I don't believe that she really drew that."  I asked him why not, but I think I already knew the answer, even if it wasn't' the one he gave.  

I've mentioned before that honesty in Poland is a relative thing.  There are very few people (if any) that I would call strictly honest.  It is absolutely accepted that people lie to get ahead or to impress or avoid offending people etc.  Often people lie for no apparent reason.  It's just almost a part of the culture.  

Greg's mother (who I love!!) often gets caught in these little lies.  She only gets caught because she tells them to the kids and then we tell them that she doesn't exactly mean that, but she's just saying it.  Like she was going to run downstairs to a neighbor's apartment and Evie asked to go with her.  We had heard her make the phone call and all she said was, "Hey, Ula, can I come down for a minute?  Okay, I'm coming."  Her response to Evie's request to be allowed to come was, "Oh, well, you know what?  Ula is just on her way out the door because she's has someplace to go, so I'm just going to be very quick."  This may possibly have been true, but I don't believe that my mother in-law knew it.  Why couldn't she have just said, "Nope, not this time, Ev.  I'm coming right back.  Maybe next time." ?

A few years ago we were visiting and there was a Scooby-Doo marathon on.  The kids were crazy about Scooby-Doo and when they told Babcia that they couldn't believe how many episodes were coming on she told them, "Well, when I knew you were coming I called them and told them that my grandkids like Scooby-Doo and asked them to please play a lot of them."  This is such a tiny little innocent lie, and a kind of cute one (she's really cute with the kids) but when they get older they will look back on it, and many other similar lies and wonder how often she ever spoke the truth.  

That's what has happened with Greg.  He doesn't trust his mother.  He loves her, but he rarely takes her at her word.  He has lost a bit of respect for her over the years as he realizes just how often he was lied to as a child.  It has had a huge impact on the kind of father he is.  (and is probably part of what makes him a little cynical--although he hates to be called that)

In Poland lying to children is very common practice.  You hear it all the time even in public, "No, we can't buy a sucker, those suckers are only for adults." or a very common one we heard at a dance class, "Okay, see that door over there?  If you kids don't listen, a dragon will come out of the door and eat you!"  or, "you can't push that button or it will explode!"

It seems these little lies are told mostly to make excuses.  I admit they demonstrate a bit of creativity on the part of the adult, but they serve no real purpose, and I think they will backfire. While children may listen for now, soon they will realize that those things don't happen and will stop trusting their parents, even when they are giving sound advice or legitimate excuses.   

And how much better for children to learn to do things for the right reason in the first place!  You don't push the button because it might ruin part of the appliance.  You can't have a sucker because I don't want a sticky mess in the car or we're eating dinner soon.  Come on!  These things help children to actually understand the world around them and how and why they should behave certain ways.  It's so logical.  

This is the reason that Greg is so extremely opposed to The Great Santa Deception, as I've started to call it.  Why would you lie to your child about something?  Then one day they find out that you were lying and orchestrating this whole sequence of events year after year to make them believe something that is false and in no way necessary for their growth.  (I'll say here that I understand the appeal of Santa and the doing good/giving to others etc.  It's not like I hate Santa.  I think he's very nice.  I just wish, he were a little more real so people wouldn't have to lie to their kids!  :)  Also, Santa comes to our house and the kids always look forward to  his coming with much anticipation, just like in any other home.  The difference is that ours know that he's us.  We talk about him as Santa, and anyone might assume that they believe in him, but they're in on the whole thing.  And I think they love it all just as much as other kids.  They have known from the time, when Evie was barely two, and Greg told her that Santa isn't real and shocked and upset me (we hadn't discussed how to deal with Santa before at all).  So please know that I would very likely have been in on The Great Santa Deception, too if it hadn't been for Greg.  And now look at what he's done to me!  Yikes!  He's so persuasive!  (may he never persuade me to go along with all of his views! ;)

I don't mean to pass judgement on people who do Santa, of course.  I'm just explaining a bit of background on why we don't.  And I'm not even sure that we should point out when Greg's mother lies to the kids.  Iit started when they were really little and they would excitedly come and tell us something that Babcia had said or done which we knew wasn't true.  We didn't feel it was our responsibility to go along with her stories.  We do tell her, though.  Once in a while we will say something like, "Well, not really, of course, Babcia's just playing."  Or even, "Oh, you can just tell them the truth, don't worry about it."  So she knows that we don't go for that kind of thing.

Probably a lot of people would not consider this a very important thing, or would even think it was wrong to tell the kids about and wouldn't want to turn them against the poor lady.  But our kids love their Babcia!  I think it helps them to know about one of her weaknesses, and to understand that lying can have the opposite effect than what is intended.  (And the kids totally haven't turned against her!)

(Teachers often tell these kinds of lies to their students.  Also, one of Evie's best friends constantly tells them to her friends and expects them to believe her:  Ten of her teeth fell out once when she bit into a roll or that she saw a real "water nymph" and took a picture of it etc.)