Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Finding Treasure

School starts Wednesday so we decided to get out and do one last family activity.

It ended up being an adventure that involved lots of dark clouds, rocky terrain, , pitch black, cramped spaces, age-old fresh springs in hard-to-get-to basements, thunder, huge, open corridors with dusty red floors, sudden, cold drafts through enormous window openings, and a green, grassy courtyard.

We visited Krzyżtopór castle (an hour away!)and found treasure. There is a legend that treasure is buried somewhere beneath the castle, but we found it everywhere we looked. It was a family adventure that I really will treasure forever. (I reserve the right to be as cheesy as I choose on my personal blog, thankyouverykindly.)

Funny, too, because I'm usually the one who wants to head home as soon as it gets cold or wet, but I could not get enough of the weather. It created the greatest ambiance for castle ruin exploration.

The ruins date from the first half of the 17th century. I was super excited to visit it because this castle features prominently in James Michener's Poland. It has (had) 365 windows, 52 rooms, 12 ballrooms and four towers.

We didn't have flashlights, but next time we go we'll be sure each of the kids has their own. You need them to get through the dark cavernous passageways on the ground floor and below.
Plus, it's easier to see all the ghosts with a flashlight. Or without one. Hmmm.
My favorite spot was in the place shown below. There once hung huge portraits of family members in the openings. Not sure why I loved it so much but I could spend all day there. I just felt so small and it was beautiful.

Everywhere we went we could tell if other explorers (call them tourists if you're boring) spoke English by whether or not they chuckled or stifled a laugh. This was because everywhere we went Aaron repeated phrases such as:

"Mom, we kinda hafta go because daddy's walking now."
"Okay. We have to be really careful in here."
"Be careful. You can't run because you might go. . . and bump your head on a rock."
"It's kinda freaky!"
"Oh my gosh! I LOVE it in here!"
"It's like a ghost in there."

In the car on the way home he said, "You don't what, mom? I love you, but I want some toast." No, that has nothing to do with this post, but I thought it was funny. (He always says, "You don't what?" instead of "you know what?")

He also got tired of us pointing out all the cows, goats, tractors, storks, ponds etc. on the drive and eventually said, "I know mom! I can see EVERYTHING!" Well pardon me, Aaron!

I'm so glad we finally discovered this castle and that it is so close by! Now we can go there every other day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

False Advertising

So people keep stopping by my blog from the Mormon Mommy Blogs website. Well, I'll tell you a story.

A long, long time ago I used to be one of the first to read TheOneTrueSue's blog posts, as she posted at unearthly hours which were only unearthly if you were on a certain side of the earth, which I wasn't.

One day she posted about a new thing she was trying. I clicked over and suddenly found myself the first to comment and request to be added to the - then very short - list of Mormon Mommy Bloggers. I was added in the humor category.

I had no idea what exactly this site was or what it would become. I was shocked the first time a perfect stranger, who had found me on MMB, commented on my blog.

Since that time I have met a lot of great people that way. Still, I have had repeated pangs of guilt about the category I'm placed under. I figured that, yeah, sometimes I write about something funny or what I write ends up coming out kinda funny. But I continue to feel a little bad.

I feel bad because, let's face it, everything I write isn't funny. Let's also face it, most of what I write isn't funny. This isn't exactly a "humor blog". It's just my blog, you know?

So anyway, I'm gonna move over to the International blogs because if there is one thing that can be said about my blog it's that it is international. And don't try to tell me it's not!
(just got my first two comments and forgot that of course you nice people will tell me I'm funny after this post! I really did not mean to ask for that.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Greg's Dieting Willpower is Strong Enough for Both of Us

I can't imagine going weeks upon weeks without bread of any sort, with no potatoes, no rice no PASTA!!! I should be able to though, since I've watched Greg do it for the past few weeks.

He's weird, is Greg. He's wanted to lose weight for awhile now and when we went to drop the kids off at his parents' house a few weeks ago he saw that his sister had lost weight. She told him about the Dukan diet and two days later he had bought the book. Another two days after that and he had turned his back on carbs in favor of protein, protein and more protein (alternating with days he could also eat vegetables).

So he's awesome, he's losing weight and I can't really believe he's doing so well. His also-dieting sister came to visit and when I made cranberry white chocolate scones (thanks, Kim!) she took a bite of one. Just a bite. And Greg didn't. He hasn't sampled any of the brownies, chocolate chip cookies, Boston Cream Pie, peanut butter brownies, blueberry muffins etc. I've made while he's been on this diet (I know I'm cruel, but I am not on a diet yet and I can't yet live without these things. Plus the kids and I eat them in the kitchen when Greg's not around and I bake everything in the downstairs kitchen so he doesn't smell it too much, either.).

That's another weird thing about him. He "doesn't get" why people go on a diet and then cheat. If you're going to diet, DIET, he says. If decide to do something, just do it. It's that all or nothing perspective that I respect so much about him. It is his major strength or a great contributor to many of his strengths, I think. (It's also the hardest thing to deal with in other ways, but that is another post for a never day.)

Making dinner is proving to be very time consuming these days. I'm not really the type to just switch right over to feeding the family on Greg's diet. It's heavy on dairy and fish and I'm doing low-dairy-nursing and I don't like fish. Still, I try to adapt our dinners for him. It means making most things twice.

For example on Sunday it was sweet and sour chicken. His chicken had to be marinated separately and breaded in only corn starch -- no flour, like ours was. It had to be "fried" without any oil. His sauce couldn't have regular sugar (or pineapple juice) in it and I am anti-sweetener, so the sauces had to be made separately, too.

When Greg came home in the evening and saw sauce and vegetables on the stove I could tell he needed it. He looked about dieted out and I could see the fear in his eyes that this was not a diet-friendly meal. He sat down in front of The Sound of Music with the kids and I brought him his riceless version of the dinner. He ate. He enjoyed.

Then he said something that very clearly illustrated his near desperation. He said, "If I hadn't been able to eat that dinner I would have broken my diet."


And I have to thank him for more than loving the skimpified versions of favorite meals I'm making for him. I also seem to have dropped almost three kilos since he started his diet. As I have not been eating any more healthy than before I can only attribute it to the strength of his dieting. He does it SO hardcore that even those around him are losing weight. Now there's a diet I can handle! (the kind that requires you to be around your dieting husband. Period.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Obedience, Trust and What Makes a Mother Cry

I looked out the front window and saw a blonde, suntanned boy standing on the sidewalk shading his eyes while looking up at the stairs to a house that was being built but hadn't been worked on for months. He didn't look sad, upset or jealous. He was just looking.

I leaned my head to the side so I could see what he was looking at. On the stairs stood his three friends. They were talking and kicking rocks off the stairs, just hanging out. And the boy just stood.

He stood way out on the sidewalk because his parents had told him that constructions sites are not places to play, that they can be dangerous. They told him that someone owns those lots so you can't just explore there.

Watching this boy resist temptation and coolly do what he knew he should, even when it was hard and he thought no one was looking made me tear up. That boy was my David.

This same boy loves riding his bike with two of his friends. He wears a helmet, even though they don't, because his parents tell him to. He doesn't ride in the street because it's not safe. He rides on the sidewalk while his friends ride in the street.

He went away to stay with his grandparents for a week and a half. When he got home he found that his two bike riding friends had made friends in his absence with two other boys who also liked to ride bikes.

At first he was happy to meet the boys and become friends. On the first day, though, he realized that these boys also rode in the streets and that somehow this changed everything.

He had come to me a few times crying. He wanted his friends back. He could play with them but when they started riding bikes he simply could not keep up with them. He would just come home instead and try to be brave and not cry while being completely left out of his favorite activity with his best friends.

After a few days he told me about a plan he had to ask his two friends if he could ride bikes with them in the morning and they could ride with the new boys in the afternoon. I know this sounds like a good idea, but my heart was breaking a little for him. As I expected, his friends didn't agree.

David started talking to his dad about changing the bike riding rules. Dad was thinking about it. In the meantime the remaining two and a half weeks of summer were ticking by and David was spending a lot of time at home, left out. The main friend of the two would be returning to his home in Spain soon.

Last night before scriptures and prayer Greg had an announcement. He said that he had walked to a nearby store to pick up some vegetables (a job the kids usually do). While he was out he saw off in the distance David riding bikes with his friend. He rode on the sidewalk. When he came to a street he hopped off the bike and walked it across before getting back on the sidewalk while his friends sailed through the streets much more quickly.

There was no way David would ever have known that Greg or I would see him. Greg said that he was well convinced that he could trust David to do what he was asked. The new rule was that David could ride with his friends in the street, but has to watch very carefully for cars.

Of course I remembered back to the construction site story and got a little weepy.

I am so grateful for these moments in parenting when I realize that even though a child might drive me absolutely crazy sometimes he (or she) is a seriously awesome person with amazing strength of character. And how lucky I am to be allowed to watch them continue to learn and grow. And teach me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Poor, Lonely Only Child

I have not poured apple juice for anyone but myself for a week. I have brushed only my own teeth. I have broken up exactly zero arguments and have not lost my temper once.
With each successive child after Ewelina I have felt tinges of guilt or hints of sadness that the poor second, third or fourth child never gets as much of my attention or has such a charmed life as the first did.

Now the oldest three have been at their grandparent's house for almost a week and instead of being grateful that Spencer can finally experience having me and Greg all to himself, I keep thinking how poor he is that he doesn't have all his built-in best friends who love him so much around.

We've been traveling like crazy during this week, but on the rare occasions Spencer wasn't strapped into his car seat he certainly showed that he can rise above only-child boredom by: cutting his first tooth, learning to clap and almost starting to crawl.

I guess technically you can learn to clap and cut a tooth while buckled into a car seat, but whatever.
The stairs have not been mopped for over a week* and the dust is building up. All the snacks I bought two weeks ago are still sitting in the cupboard. The silence is ringing in my ears and giving me a headache.

This has been extremely good for me in so many ways, but I am excited to have my noisy house, emptying cupboards and dust-free stairs back on Tuesday. And I admit I've spent some time staring at this picture this week.
*Ev and Dave mop (or dust, really) floors of the entire house every day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

More Ways In Which I'm Awesome

By the time I finished reading Evie's copy of Ella Enchanted I quite liked it, but while I was reading it I reflected to her:

"Reading this book I realize that I don't really read books for the story. This book is interesting and it has a good story but. . . all I ever find out about is what is happening." (there was a pause and we both started laughing)

Incidentally a few days later I went to a book store and the book I decided to buy was Moby Dick.
Me: (eyes watering) Do you want the rest of my chicken wrap? It's so hot (spicy) I can't stand it.

Greg: Sure, thanks.

Me: (after he's taken a couple of bites) So, how hot would you say that is?

Greg: Like, on a scale of 1-10 where 1 isn't hot at all and 10 is extremely hot?

Me: Yeah. (getting out a tissue)

Greg: Point three.

Me: Blows nose.