Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Feeling Your Pain

In high school my skin was always . . . less clear than my friends'. It was the main thing I was unhappy with about myself, I think. (not that I was unhappy, but it would have been the first thing I changed if I could). But we were all teenagers, and none of us had perfect skin.

I remember occasionally standing in front of bathroom mirrors at a dance or at school with my friends and one of them complaining about their one zit. I would immediately point to myself and say, "Hello! You should be grateful!"

Starting around that time I began learning something. Just because my skin was worse than theirs doesn't mean that it wasn't a big deal for them to have a zit. They could be as unhappy about their one as I was about my twelve.

Because women compare themselves to each other so much, even those of us who feel we don't (I'm talking to you, self), complaining about or mentioning something like weight, pregnancy, physical appearance, almost anything, can turn into something of a competition, or at least can get people feeling defensive or offended. I hate that.

I'm sure there are some women that make jabs at a "friend" who is 30 pounds heavier than them by saying, "Oh! I'm just so fat! I really have to get rid of these disgusting 10 pounds!" But I doubt it happens a lot. Mostly, I think we worry more about ourselves and aren't thinking so much about those around us.

When a friend of mine who, to me seems quite thin talks about needing to lose weight, I only feel empathy. I know exactly how it feels to really want to lose weight. Just because I want to lose (insert number) pounds and she couldn't lose more than (insert much smaller number) without looking anorexic doesn't matter (I'm exaggerating, of course, but it sometimes feels like this). She has the same feelings I do. And that is okay.

I have felt a little sick after complaining about my child's behavior during church when I realized that the person I was talking to struggled much more with her children. I would not want her to think I was suggesting that even my mild mannered child was bad, so I must think her children were terrible.

I appreciate when this happens and instead of getting offended and holding it against me the person says something along the lines of "Oh, then you must think MY kids are little hellions!" or something like that. Of course I feel awful realizing what I sounded like, but then I can apologize and we can be fine. Hopefully. Everyone sticks their foot in their mouth sometimes, but we should give each other the benefit of the doubt. And even if someone does seem to be unkind on purpose, that's no reason to get offended or hold a grudge (see earlier post on taking offense).

But mostly I think we have to recognize that everyone has trials on their own level. Shoot, I can't remember who posted about someone telling them that they only had two children so she could not empathize with what she (a mother of four) was going through. Really? Back when you had two you never felt stressed or overwhelmed? It doesn't matter whose is worse, we have all felt it to some extent. Let's commiserate with one another!

Okay, this really doesn't sound how I mean it to. I'm not saying everyone should complain and we should all just try to make each other feel better. I'm also not saying that it's perfectly fine for people to complain about something the person they are complaining to struggles with more than them. But I am actually saying both of those things a little bit.

Mostly I just think we need to have all of our sensitivities be on the side of the things we say about ourselves in order to be careful not to hurt others, and not be so sensitive to what other people say about themselves and letting those things hurt us or think ill of the person saying them. We're all in this together. Really. We should respond with a heartfelt and sympathetic, "I know!" and leave off the "better than you do!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hence the Nesquick Bunny

On Saturday Greg took the kids (all four!) for a walk in the forest so I could have a chance to do some writing in peace and quiet.

They were walking for an hour and a half and as Greg was carrying the baby, David helped Aaron navigate the terrain and protected him from all the spiders and beetles. When they came home Aaron started calling David his David. Except that he pronounces David "Defed". We heard a lot of "Where's my Defed?" on Saturday.

They obviously came to some fields, too. Go Ev with the Nordic Walking!

Also, Aaron was a little concerned when he saw rabbit droppings scattered here and there through the forest, right in the dirt and not in a bowl. "Uh oh, cereal!" he said.

Simply life by KaurFlicks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You Might Be In Poland

If people stare at you in shock or don't believe you when you tell them that you don't iron your jeans.

If the whole concept of lighting is completely different than you're used to. (more on this later)

If the woman scanning your groceries at the check out stand asks what tortillas are used for and almost nobody around has ever heard of a burrito.

If all shops close at 6 pm weekdays and 2 pm on Saturdays.

If you have to stock up on certain food items (even in large grocery store chains) because they may suddenly be out of stock for many months at a time (or never be seen again).

If you've never had to find out the cut-off date for kids going into elementary school. (If you were born in 2003 you'll be starting first grade this fall, on September first or the first weekday thereafter, no matter where you live in Poland. Genius.)

If you've been told that it is disgusting/unnatural that in America your milk can sit in the fridge for a couple of weeks. This in a country where milk can sit on a shelf in the cupboard for up to 6 months before it's opened (UHT milk).

If a doctor's frequent response to questions posed by patients concerning details about their health is "don't worry", and there seems to be a general policy of "less is more" when it comes to sharing medical information. This to the point that it is still common practice for doctors not to inform someone if they are diagnosed with a terminal illness, instead letting members of the family know.

If you only pay for calls you make from your cell phone, and not for incoming calls.

If food made with the simplest ingredients taste like heaven.

If the pace of life is slow and steady, and you think therefore you may possibly win the race. Or at least complete it eventually.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No Offense

"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool." - Brigham Young

The older I get the more I see the wisdom of this quote. There is never really a good reason for getting offended. Excuses - yes. Reasons - not so much. Today I have two good reasons not to be offended by things that would normally seem a little rude.

First of all: I'm never inviting my blogging friends over to my house. There is a good reason for this, so you should not be offended:

Last night I dreamed that 5 or 6 of you came over to my house. The house was huge and old. The neighborhood was creepy and for some unknown reason there were about ten random relatives (who don't exist in real life but I knew them in the dream) in the same large reception room as I seated my friends in. This made chatting awkward.

But it doesn't matter how awkward talking would have been anyway because NOBODY was talking at all (except for the relatives who were across the room).

Instead, everyone was silently watching me as I balanced on a stool and straightened a painting on the wall (or I believe I was actually hammering something into the wall with a shoe, how dream-like). By the time I realized I had been doing this for many minutes I looked around to find that my blogging friends had left.

Then an hour or two later I found out that one of you had remained and had been sitting silently among the relatives. I only learned this when she got up to leave.

I think this dream comes from two sources. a) I really wish I could go to the Casual Blogger Conference, or more likely just meet up with some of you guys in an even more casual setting, and b) I am very aware that I am not a very conscientious hostess and it obviously weighs on my mind.

So that's why you shouldn't be offended if I never invite you over. That and also because I live a little too far away.
Normally when someone says they hate you it is at least a little unsettling. I've learned recently to not let it get to me. Here's why:

Recently Aaron started shouting, "I hate!" Whenever he's frustrated. Now hate is not a good thing, but up until recently it was just the expression of frustration, like when David was a little boy and got mad, he would say, "Alcohol!" as if it was a swear word. Same thing with Aaron and the "I hate!"

Recently he started adding nouns at the end. The first time he said, "I hate daddy!" I was a little shocked. Then the next day he said "I hate mommy!" We've been working with him to teach him that this is unkind and makes people sad and to find a different way to express his anger or frustration.

Still, I knew for sure today that I should never take it personally if Aaron ever says he hates me. Before his nap today he said, "I hate Sally!"

Sally is the cute girl car from the movie Cars. When my mom brought toy Mater, Lightning McQueen and Sally for David when she came last week, Aaron immediately fell in love with Sally. He pretty much declared her his own. He takes her everywhere. He definitely doesn't hate Sally.

Sally has been missing for almost 24 hours and he was frustrated that he couldn't have her with him during his nap. That's why he said, "Oh no! I can't find it! I hate Sally!"

And that's why I know "hate" doesn't mean "hate" to Aaron. It means, "oh dear!" (which he also says regularly).

And thus I am coming ever closer to not judging or being offended by people's actions or motives. You just never know why people say or do some things!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Father and His Kids (Sunday Edition)


There is a tradition among Polish kids that they take a little journal to school and have their classmates sign it or draw in it or write little poems. It's not at the end of the year or anything, just any old time. Evie asked me and Greg to write in hers and here is what Greg wrote for her:

Dawno, dawno temu, za wieloma górami
Mieszkało w niebie dziewczę z braćmi i siostrami.
Jej Ojciec był bogiem - nic więc dziwnego, że chciał
Dać wszystko swej córce - nawet wszystko to, co miał.

Stworzył więc ziemię piękna, dla drogiej swej córy
A na niej morza, lądy i skaliste góry.
A w górach tamtych leży Szczęśliwa Dolinka;
I tam właśnie przyszła na ten świat Ewelinka.

I odkąd tu żyje - nie przestaje się uczyć
Pomagać, pracować, przebaczać oraz służyć
Zło od dobra odróżniać i zawsze się starać
Wybierać to, co dobre a co złe obalać.

Bo wie i też rozumie, że sprawa to słuszna,
Gdy Boga nie widać - nadal jest mu posłuszna.
I tak dziewczynka ta i wszystkie Boga dzieci
Powrócą kiedyś do tego, który dał im życie.

I tam żyć będą z Bogiem - wesołe i szczęśliwe
Bo podczas tej próby wybrali, co właściwe.

I can't translate the poetry of it (which I love), but I can sort of capture the content (the author was unavailable to help me translate).

Long, long ago and far, far away,
A girl lived in heaven with her brothers and sisters.
Her Father was God, so it's no surprise that he wanted
To give his daughter everything, even all that he had.

So he created a beautiful world for his dear daughter
And placed on it seas, lands and rocky mountains.
In those very mountains there lies a Happy Valley
And that is where he sent Ewelina into the world.

And as long as she lives here she will never stop learning
To help, to work, to forgive and to serve;
Distinguish good from evil and always try
To choose what is good and avoid evil.

Because she knows and understands that it's right
That although she can't see God, she still obey Him.
And that's how this little girl and all of God's children
Will return one day to the One who gave them life.

And there they will live with God - happy and joyful
Because during this life, they chose what was right.

(signed "Earthly Father")


One Sunday when we weren't able to go to church Greg asked everyone to bring in their Book of Mormon* so we could do some scripture study. David said, "I don't know where mine is."

Greg replied in a mock angry voice, "See David! That's the difference between you and Joseph Smith. He found the Book of Mormon and YOU lost it!"


A few Sundays ago Greg put Music and the Spoken Word on the computer for us to listen to in the background while we all went about our business. I was in the kitchen, the kids were drawing or something but this is what Aaron was doing:

Notice the straight back. He sat this way through the whole program and would not let us talk to him or even kiss him on the cheek. He is very serious about his Sabbath day observance.

*I will not spark controversy by inserting an "s" to pluralize "Book of Mormon". I personally consider it a title and put the s after Mormon, but you're welcome to put it after Book in your mind if you so desire.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Happy Women's Day to all you great women!

One of my favorite women in the world came to visit this week. She's my mom and she was here for five days. She is such a pleasure to talk to. She is such a great grandma and I was reminded of my own childhood while she was here.

I'm so grateful my kids got to feel her love up close for a while in our own home. I appreciate that she came to be here and help out with Spencer's blessing and David's baptism yesterday. Having her here made those important moments even more special. I am proud she is my mom and I aspire to be like her in many ways.

So I think this holiday (which claims to be international but definitely skipped the U.S.) is supposed to be about men appreciating women, but I appreciate them, too. My mom and sisters, as well as all the good friends I keep here in my computer. Happy Day, Women!