Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Enough About You

I wish I had anything to say. I'd like to blog more regularly, but I just don't have anything floating around in my head wanting to come out on my blog. There's no room in there for floating. It's a high traffic area.

But then Heidi left a comment in my last post that reminded me of something. Her comment is a few lines long about reflections she has had similar to those I posted about. Reading her comment I was very interested in her thoughts and then she suddenly said, " Um, anyway, I'm talking an awful lot about me." and I thought, Oh! But please go ahead! Keep "talking"! (she didn't, maybe because she couldn't read my thoughts, partly because she'd already written the comment by the time I had them)

So I was a little surprised about that and then I remembered something. I feel like that regularly! I read someones blog post with interest and by the time I get to the comment form all I say about the post is, "that's so neat!" or "I love it when that happens!" or something before I start in on a 3-12 paragraph comment about me and my experiences. Then I sometimes feel dumb and either edit it or delete it and go back and respond more to the post.

This urge to edit is unusual for me because usually I really do just say what I want. I don't try to come up with something to say in the comments, so sometimes I just don't respond. I enjoyed the post, but am taking it with me without leaving anything behind (sorry to those who think that's rude. Putting the way I just did sort of makes it sound like stealing. Hmmm.). I don't worry about coming up with something clever or thoughtful. I just say what I want. And sometimes it's a lot. About me. Then I feel bad.

I think what I learned from Heidi's comment is that a) maybe I'm not the only one who feels like that sometimes, and b) maybe other people don't mind long comments about the person commenting.

After all, people blog because they want to share their thoughts. People read blogs because they want to read those thoughts. Comments are an extension of that, so really it's best to say what you want (within reason) in a comment. And at least for me, I love reading anything someone has to say. Even (especially) if it's a long story or string of thoughts. It helps me feel the blogging connection. Whatever I said made you think of that, and whatever you said made me remember that 12 paragraph long story (for which I still apologize). It should mostly be okay to just type it out and hit "comment". (or whatever the button says. Weird that I comment several times every day and I don't remember what the button says. The human mind is so weird*.)

*note to self: there are other words that mean the same thing as "weird". Using the same such word twice in as many sentences is wrong. Strange, odd, bizarre, unusual, uncanny. . .
Weird is my favorite.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Headless, etc.

I recognize that most idioms and sayings originate generations and/or hundreds of years ago. I also recognize that things were very different back in those days. Based on many idioms, I've come to the conclusion that one of the big differences between now and then is that back then much of people's time was probably spent either killing or thinking about killing animals.

Fortunately these days we think less frequently about harming animals. At least I personally am not obsessed with such thoughts, and yet in every day conversation even the nicest of us might use such phrases as ". . . like a chicken with its head cut off", or talk about "killing two birds with one stone" (bonus!).

When I was young my parents had a little thing they would say whenever they took off one of our shirts. It wasn't until I was a parent and found myself saying it naturally while getting my kids ready for bed that I realized what it even means. Then I realized that saying "Skin the kitty!" while pulling off a shirt is just awful. Like, extremely, terribly bad awful (and my parents aren't that old).

Now, I'm not the biggest animal lover. Baby animals are cute, but full grown ones I'm not the biggest lover of. Love I what is words up mixing. (whatever, Lisa) But even I am strongly opposed to these sayings when I think about it. When I don't think about it, I'm not really opposed to them at all, though.

One time when I was thinking about it, I came up with an alternate to killing two birds with one stone. It's not very clever or anything, but much nicer. I vote we ban all those terrible old idioms and come up with nicer, newer, shinier ones. At least right now that's my vote. Because I'm thinking about it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The (Practically) Unsolvable

*Caution: This post may remind you of things you would rather keep forgotten*

I don't have a problem with solving problems. I just try to think of the logical way to fix whatever is broken and then get to work. However, there is one certain type of problem I really am no good with.

Every time one of my babies has a blowout I first get a tiny bit mad (just a teeny tiny bit, like of low growling severity) and after a second I think, "Now what? Where do I begin? I have no idea what to do with this." Every single time.

You would think this would be something a mother of four would get used to. I have not. Especially when the baby is still quite floppy, it is just tricky and unpleasant to deal with this problem.

And if it happens more than once in a day I feel I have been very poorly done by. (Sheesh, who's the baby here!)

I try not to hold it against him. He's just a kid. And when he does this

all is quickly forgiven.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Made Over

I've been thinking a lot lately about making myself over. I want to lose another ten pounds (or fifteen. Twenty would be okay, too) I desperately need a haircut (see previous post). I haven't bought clothes in a thousand years and never feel well dressed etc.

The last time I made myself over I got a haircut and new glasses on the same day (this was two years ago). I was quite excited. Until I came home looking like this.

Now, I'm not saying it's the worst look in the history of all looks, I'm just saying that I absolutely hated the haircut and felt like a total dork in the glasses. I would give that makeover an F.

I won't be buying new clothes until I lose the weight (and we strike it rich. Both things will likely happen around the same time) and a haircut can only do so much for you, so that makeover will have to wait.
Listening to General Conference made me feel like it was time for a different kind of makeover. I got a huge amount of inspiration and am excitedly making changes that will likely soon have me translated (maybe I won't have to worry about the new wardrobe after all, since I think they give you your white robes in Heaven gratis)
Now, the other part of me, my blog, has been in need of a makeover for ages upon ages, ever since all the graphics and borders mysteriously stopped appearing about a year ago. This has been The Year In Which Lisa Didn't Care, but now I'm starting to care again.

I had just been scouring the Internet for a new template when a friend of mine made an offer that was positively providential (are you hearing Mrs. Spencer's voice? I am.)

There are a number of reasons I am grateful I read Melissa Bastow's blog. First of all, she is Fu-nny. Silly and funny and fun to read. She has excellent phobias and four very small and sweet-cheeked kids as well as a fabulous imagination (hence the phobias, I believe).

The imagination also contributes to her artisticness. She draws, and has a website, Green Jello with Carrots, that offers some awesome clipart and games, and handouts and posters and other paraphernalia for use at church (primary, RS, YW etc.) or home (FHE, Conference, etc.)

She's also branching out into photography, but even more applicable to you all, she makes buttons. Not the kind that keep your pants up or your shirt on, the kind you stick in your sidebar. You know, for advertisement and also to look cute. If you want a button, Melissa is the girl for you.

BUT the real reason I'm glad I read Melissa is because she offered to make my blog over. How happy was I!?! Very. Until it came time to tell her what I wanted. Hmmmm. I gave her an extremely vague idea, and LOOK WHAT SHE DID TO MY BLOG!!!

I really love this new look. It's perfect for spring. It's awesome, and I'm SO thankful to her. She can really do anything. She made her own blog and I'm pretty sure she put together the other sites, too.

Now this makeover I would give an A.

Check her out if you want a button, or a makeover!! (or clipart or a photoshoot)

*Please love my punctuation and capitalization in this post

Friday, April 9, 2010

One. No, Two. . . THREE!!

Yesterday Aaron turned three. Just writing that makes me feel inexplicably weepy, so let's move along.

Aaron just LOVES Thomas the Tank Engine, or Tomek, as he's known in Polish. I happened to know this year that my mom would be giving him a Thomas DVD:

so for weeks before his birthday I thought about how great it would be to have a Thomas themed party. When it came time to make his cake, this is what I made:

Because Aaron also loves the color yellow, and I know my limits, which include making a train shaped/decorated cake. (apparently they also include adding enough food coloring to make a cake actually look yellow and cutting the corner of the plastic bag used for piping the right size. Oh and planning the writing so I can write a number three instead of spelling it out) Can I just tell you how light and fluffy this yellow cake. . . wasn't*?Good thing Greg's parents are Polish and are therefore not used to moist, light cake. They enjoyed it plenty.

So did the birthday boy!

To go along with the revised birthday theme Ev and Dave picked out some fancy presents.

Doesn't he look thrilled? He was in real life, though. He opened each of them up and said, "YELLOW!!" (So glad I didn't spend money and stress on Thomas stuff!)

Within five minutes of having opened it, the ball found itself, not on the balcony (or terrace, as Greg's parents call it) where we were, but over here:

See the yellow dot in the middle of the picture? That's the ball, in the neighbor's backyard. The other ball's ours, too. And you might think I based the cake colors on that house, but I swear it's a coincidence.

This is me doing what I do best.

No, not wearing brown in the Spring, closing eyes for pictures OR going six months without having my hair cut (thought I'm good at those things, too). EATING CAKE.

And this little boy is three months old (and a half) when his brother is turning three years old!

Yesterday, when Evie and her friend were going upstairs to play Aaron asked, "Aaron up-up, too?" Evie said he could go with them and he replied, "Oh, thank you! So nice!" He tells me I'm so nice for doing things like getting him juice and turning on a TV show he wants to watch.

Sometimes he answers yes or no questions like this: "Aaron, do you want to go back inside or not?" "Uuuummmm. Not."

He's careful not to offend people and when he wants to reject something he says things like, "How 'bout I don wannit?" Or "Leebeedeet (little bit) yummy, leebeedeet not yummy."

We can't believe he keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. He was never a fit thrower and he sits on the stairs when I give him time out and promptly apologizes when I come to get him out. If I don't go to Spencer soon after he starts crying Aaron gets upset and calls, "Mommy! Beh-doh (Spencer) SAD!"

We are shocked by his sudden explosion in the vocabulary department the last two months (I won't say "finally") and while my in-laws were here from Easter till yesterday he just started speaking Polish as if he'd known it all along.

For the past year, anytime he was asked how old he is in English (granted it was very infrequently) He always answered, "One! No. . . Two!!" Always. (and usually while holding up all five fingers). I had hoped when he turned three we could finally get him to just answer "three" but instead he answers what you see in the title. Oh well. Maybe when he turns four.

*The frosting was great, though. (I added a little extra sugar.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If You Grew Up During Communism

A popular Polish comedian, Drozda, visited America in the 80's. When he returned to Poland he shared some of what he had learned about that admired and idealized country and its citizens in his comedy acts. For example, he explained that Americans are very stupid: they go to the store and pay for light bulbs when every single elevator had light bulbs in it!

This is quite hilarious because of how true it is. In Poland most elevators simply didn't have light bulbs in them. If they did, they were encased in a little cage to try to keep people from stealing them.

For the same reason, to this day, in many public bathrooms the toilet paper sits outside the stalls next to the woman you pay for the privilege of using the toilet. You take as much as you think you'll need and the rest stays under the watchful eye of the bathroom lady; because why on earth would they leave it in the stalls where anybody could (and anybody did) just stick it in their coat and walk away? (this restroom set up is much less commonly seen than when we first came to Poland 10 years ago, mostly only in old train and bus stations and farmers' markets etc., and all gas stations have better bathrooms than in American gas stations.)

If you grew up during communism you would have a very different mentality than you do currently. Take what you can get whenever and however you can get it. That may be stretching it a little, but not much.

Greg's parents came to visit a few months ago and brought a nice paper coffee bag. I assumed it had their coffee in it and was surprised when they left it behind. I then found out that it was full of home dried mushrooms they had brought for us (they spend hours every week in the forest in the fall collecting mushrooms in a wicker basket, just as you imagine Europeans would). But there was something about that bag. . .

The writing on it was all in English and seemed so familiar. Then I remembered where I'd seen it before. When my in-laws came to visit us in Provo 12 years ago they did a lot of things I did not understand. One of these was this: when we went shopping they were excited to see a selection of coffee and a grinder where you could choose, grind and bag your own coffee. They ground some and put the bag in the cart and then. . . picked up a stack of the empty paper bags and put them in my mother-in-law's purse.

That was 12 years ago and here sat one of those bags on my window sill. Craziness, I tell you. At the time I was a little shocked. To tell the truth, Greg isn't all that excited about me sharing this story but really, I totally get it now. They were free, right? There was no sign saying not to take them or anything. And they would definitely come in handy, so why not take some? (And come in handy they did, as illustrated above.)

There is nothing embarrassing about it, really. When you spend decades in survival mode you just do things like that. As a matter of fact, it was this same mentality that brought Greg the best blessing he's ever enjoyed.

The independent, hitchhiking 18 year old Greg and his best friend were in Vienna in the city square. There they met two missionaries, one of whom happened to be Polish, who were offering a free book. A free book. For free. Did they want one? Of course they wanted one!! Greg and Kuba gave their contact information so missionaries in Poland could get in touch with them when they returned home, and then the missionaries asked if they had any friends that might want one of these free books, too. Greg couldn't think of anyone who wouldn't want a free book so he gave them the names and numbers of every friend and acquaintance he had on hand.

We all know how that ended. Not only was Greg's life completely transformed, but so was the life of a girl he hardly knew at the time (but had her info with him), who is now the head of the translation team for the church in Poland.

So although the system caused people to put themselves before others and take what wasn't theirs (because they almost had to), it also created a curiosity and well, not greed, certainly, but awareness of what is around to be had that had some amazing effects. What's a few "stolen" paper bags when compared with a life and generations to follow blessed for eternity?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Have You Ever

created something in your mind, say, a personal food blog, and instantly knew what you were going to call it (Culinarily Speaking, for example), then thought about it all night long and then woke up and did a search, only to find out that someone already had a blog by that name, but you didn't care because you thought of it before you ever heard of it from anyone else and plus that blog was on wordpress and there was no such blog on blogger so you went to create your blog, assuming you could use the blog title for the URL only to find that someone already has the URL although they didn't seem to be using it so you tried to cleverly alter the title for your URL and you came up with a silly-but-okay-for-a-URL URL, such as culinarilisaspeaking only to find yourself wondering if maybe you shouldn't rename the blog CulinariLisa Speaking or maybe CulinariLee Speaking or CulinariLis Speaking or any of a number of other, um, clever names only to stop the idiocy just in time to prevent yourself from making that grievious mistake and go back to just plain Culinarily Speaking? Well, I've done that. Just once though, thank heavens.