Saturday, February 26, 2011

Today, and My Kids Can't Speak English.

We are Gregless this weekend. He is making his way to Warsaw on invitation to attend the District Conference there. On our trip last weekend when he left us in the hotel for the day he told the kids, "Be good and helpful today, guys. When I come back I want a wife with hair." Today he didn't say anything like that, I'm sure because he knows I have this day planned out. Cleaning, reading, story writing, M&M eating, homeworking, baking, movie watching; it's gonna be awesome.

After some cleaning we sat down to our chicken Caesar salad for lunch. Aaron pointed to the bag of Parmesan and said, "I don't like to eat this sugar. It's yucky." I have to say, I think it's the grosses sugar I've ever eaten, too.

While we ate, I asked our well-travelled children where on the road to Warsaw they thought daddy was. They calculated that he had been driving about two hours and David guessed he might be in Kraków about then. Or maybe Kielce. Evie guessed that he was probably somewhere between Kielce and Kraków. This, of course, is only funny if you know Poland or have a map in front of you. The kids only know that our two nearest branches are each about two hours away and they are Kielce and Krakow so Greg must be in one of those two cities, right? (or somewhere in between). Never mind where they are situated compared to Warsaw. Or each other.
Aaron is my first child who makes all the cute grammatical errors you expect of a two/three year old. He does not use past tense. Instead he uses did+present tense. Always. Very scriptural of him.

I have no idea why he does this. He comes to me excitedly declaring, "I did find my dinosaur!" I say, "Oh, great job! Where was it?" and he says, "It did be in the play room."

Last night David was explaining why he got an A+ on an assignment and he said, "So I was supposed to write a zadanie (story problem) and I did it really good, so my--". I cut him off with a "What?". Knowing what I meant he answered, "I did it really"

I really wish my boys did speak English more goodly.
(not really. I appreciate the laughs I get out of their mistakes.)
Now excuse me while I get back to our excellent Saturday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time Traveler

One of my favorite things about dying is that afterwards (at least at some point) you're able to travel in time. As far as I know this is not strictly doctrine, it is more of an obvious (to me) truth and one of the things that makes dying worth the hassle.

I really wish I could travel in time now. The fact that I'd like to travel back in time far more than I care to see the future perfectly reflects my taste in literature: give me the classics over sci-fi any day. I often imagine taking an iPhone to Molly Gibson or Lucy Snowe and making their day. Which, I realize, would be combining the classics with science fiction or, rather, science fact. And Molly and Lucy may be fictional characters but that wouldn't stop me..

I won't be visiting any of my beloved book characters any time soon but I have done some time traveling.

For our date last week Greg and I went to a little cafe for some cake. Afterward, the romantic part of our date was a visit to a large, German chain drugstore that just opened in our town. Oh how I love Rossman.

They have everything there. Everything I tell you, as this story will show. Wandering down the aisles, staring in wonder at the variety of everything they had, I rounded a corner and saw a wall full of chapstick. More chapstick than I've seen in one store in Poland ever. And one entire row was Carmex. Carmex!! I haven't seen that stuff in forEVER!! (not to be confused with "I have never seen that stuff").

I grabbed a tube and took it to show Greg. "Throughout high school I wore Carmex all day every day and I haven't seen it in forever! I think it's addicting because once you start wearing it you have to keep wearing it. Really, I think I read somewhere that it is addicting. Carmex! Honey! I'm buying Carmex!"

As we walked to the parking lot I took the package out of the bag and started reading it. We got to the car, settled in and started driving through the night toward home. I twisted off the lid and applied the goo to my lips.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Suddenly I was in a car full of friends on our way to a tri-stake dance. The Cure was playing and I had the familiar butterflies in my stomach from anticipation of one of my favorite social activities. I had visions of what the cultural hall would look like and who would be there.

Whoa. After a few minutes I was back in the car with Greg on our way home from our date. The Cure was still playing, it was still night and I still had that vague sense I was back in high school, but I knew I really wasn't.

It was weird. Not just deja vu. I actually travelled in time.

Then a few days later I bought some chocolate covered Digestive cookies. One night we sat around the kitchen table and I opened the cookies for dessert. I took one bite and

Holy. Hannah.

Evie and David were 3 and 5 years old and the warm summer sun was streaming in through the windows of our 9th story apartment. We were having a snack as part of our structured day in our tidy living room. I was an awesome mother with darling kids again! Pass the Digestives!! I could go for more of that and, again, it was so real.

Now I don't want to go all Bella and seek out this kind of thrill by buying up some of everything I've ever eaten or used in the past that has memories tied to it. I also don't want to be obsessed with the perks of the next life like Aaron who tells me many times a day, "I'm gonna get bigger and bigger and then I'm gonna die. Then when I'm a scary ghost I'm gonna FLY!!!" with all sorts of excitement. I'll wait patiently for death and its benefits to come in its proper season. For now I'll just keep building memories knowing that some day I'll love coming back here, like when I am transported upon opening a box of the kind of soap we're using right now, or something.

I found this post that I started months ago unfinished in my drafts but I think it's interesting that I mention the time travel thing after we die, just like I sort of did about being able to revisit the days of nursing babies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Please Refrain. . .

. . . from using profanity while I'm in the vicinity."

My sister, Anne, and I were probably 13 and 14 years old and at the height of our cleverness when we came up with that little gem. What a perfectly polite and intelligent way to let those around us know our tender ears were being defiled by their undiscriminating vocabulary. I'm not sure we ever actually used it, though neither of us was reticent when it came to making our displeasure at the sound of foul language known to those who used it.

On one of our trips to Disneyland we heard some profanity and lots and lots of "Remain seated please. Permanecer sentado por favor", which was our inspiration for a little addition to our catch phrase, "Please refrain from using profanity while I am in the vicinity. Exit to your left and thank you for your support."

Oh, my. It really is a wonder we had any friends given our level of dorkiness. Sure we didn't actually say this to anyone but the very fact that our brains came up with it and we thought it was awesome are clear evidences that we probably did not deserve any.

Once in my 10th grade Spanish class we were taking turns reading some dialogue. When it came to me, instead of "Dios mio!" I said "Ay, caramba!" My teacher did not appreciate it and asked why I could not just read the text as it was printed. There is a slight chance that I was one of the few who understood her extremely dry and harsh sense of humor and the only one who responded with sarcasm, so she did not especially like me. When this incident happened I explained that I do not take the Lord's name in vain. She assured me that this is perfectly acceptable in Spanish. I assured her that I would not say it in any language. She stared at me in silence for a long while before moving on.

I grew up in a home where there was very, very little swearing. I remember running to my parents and tattling that one of my older brothers had said the f-word. My dad asked what he said, and I whispered in his ear, "fagot".

When my mother was at her whit's end she would say things like, "Oh, fiddlesticks!" or, on a really bad day, "Dang, dang, double dang!" I believe my dad swore on the very, very rare occasions he got really angry.

I remember the first time I ever swore when I was about 13. I had a friend who used mild swear words occasionally. She was at my house and we were sitting there chatting and I said, "What the he**" in the conversation. I stopped suddenly, in shock. My friend laughed and told me it was okay! I... started crying and never swore again until after I had children. (no more about that later)

So the concept of using bad language just to color your normal sentences is one I don't get. It seems so very jr.high and high school to me. Some of my old friends from high school still use language like that occasionally on facebook and I feel like, "did you never grow up?" The answer, of course, is "no". I mean, the answer is that they just live in a different world than I do. And also a different country.

And speaking of which: I love living in Poland. I never hear any swearing here at all. This is not because this is the only country in the world that doesn't have or use swear words, but because I don't know any of them. The only way I ever know that someone is using bad language is when my husband or children say something about it.

Teenagers over here live in the same world as teenagers (and former teenagers who became adults and still use obscene language all the time) in America . We were reminded of this one day when Greg was planning to wait in the cafe area of our grocery store while I did the shopping. As always, there was a group of teenage boys hanging out and being extremely cool. Their language was awful. Greg sat there for awhile and then told me that he could not stand it. I told him I was sorry for him and left to shop.

Forty-five minutes later I paid for the food, returned to the cafe area with my loaded cart and saw that the boys were just leaving the area. As they walked past Greg they gave him the "sup?" head tilt (what do you call that?) I asked him what in the world had happened.

He told me that one kid saw him looking at them in disgust and the kid asked Greg if he had a problem. Greg asked him if they had to use that kind of language. The kid was insolent. Greg explained that some people simply do not want to hear that kind of talk. The kid said that it doesn't bother them. Greg explained that he was sure it didn't but that it did bother many of the people who had to listen to it. It was as if this kid had never heard such a crazy thing.

The boys kept cussing but had somehow come to respect Greg for expressing his difference of opinion. They seemed to understand that he was living on a different planet than them and could respect his alien culture. Not enough to give up their swearing for a few minutes, but still.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Miss Delacourt FINALLY Has Her Day (on my blog)

Last summer, no wait, summer before last (!!) I was in the most difficult part of my pregnancy. I wanted only to lay in bed and read book after book, and that is just what I did. I escaped from the pregnancy induced depression that was threatening to smash my heart, if not my entire self, by stepping into other people's stories. And it helped.

One of the books I escaped into I had been waiting almost a year to get my hands on. My opinion of the author I will state after I tell a little about the book.

It looks like this (the book, not the author, though she's lovely, too):

Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind (Avalon Romance)

The large print version happens to look a lot like my current background (put up just for this post in honor of Heidi, lover and grower of the most beautiful roses and also because the book has a rose growing/thieving element!):

Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind (Thorndike Large Print Gentle Romance Series)


This was the first modern regency period romance novel I have read (I may possibly have bungled the genre a little). I saw one review that said in effect, "This book will mostly appeal to those who like other classic or period novels." I have to say, my personal reflections are that this book can appeal to people who prefer books outside the genre. Yes, it is full of phrases in both dialogue and narrative, that harken back to a time when English was more lovely to the ears, but I think there is much about this book that will appeal to readers of modern chick lit as well.

Every character in Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind has a distinct personality with their own quirks that contribute to the fun of this comedy. Just like comedies that take place in more modern settings, you have the person you want to smack, the one you roll your eyes at, the one you want to high five, and the ones you are hoping will finally fall in love with each other etc. The colorful cast of characters goes from misadventure to misadventure, much like more modern heroes/heroines, but rather than scoffing at someone's terrible DVD selection they are gagging over a poor recitation of an even poorer poem. Rather than cruising down the freeway, these ones are driving carriages through the countryside and so on and so forth.

If I was better at weaving words together this is the order in which I would put them to describe this book (L.T. Elliot is a master word crafter so I begged to borrow hers. She also happens to be one of the most sympathetic bloggers and future authors I know.):

"Miss Delacourt does speak her mind--which is exactly why she doesn't fit in typical London society. The well-speaking masks and feigned affections are just the sort of thing Ginny would rather do without. So when her great-aunt traps her with Sir Anthony, the very picture of everything abhorrent to her, Ginny is determined to discover whether the mask he wears can be removed of if he's worn it too long to be anything other than a pompous fake.

With broken carriages, quarantines, and poets catching fire, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mindentertains up to the very last page. Jovial and light hearted...the characters and side stories will have you guessing who comes out on top while you chuckle over their unbelievable antics. You'll find yourself wishing the Hero will abandon his stoic ways while hoping the heroine can be tamed. Can a happy medium be found? Who will give in? Read it and find out!"

And now the sequel to the story is out!! My copy is on it's way to my sister's house, from whence it will come to ME! It's called Miss Delacourt Has Her Day and looks like this:

Miss Delacourt Has Her Day

Doesn't that cover almost make you wish you lived in a day when your lady's maid spent a half an hour buttoning your dress to get you ready for the day, or more likely, the evening?

You can purchase either (or both!!) of these books by following the links on their titles, or you can request that your library carry them. As a matter of fact, why don't you do that anyway? Don't you think the people in your city need to read these books? Super easy to ask that the library order them next time you're there!

Now, about the author. Heidi Ashworth happens to be one of my favorite blogging friends. Again, our differences (like with Melanie) are the things I love most about her.
  • She is sensitive and considerate
  • She has a well developed sense of style and an awesomely decorated home, which looks exactly like you're walking into one of her books.
  • She is wise. She is slightly older than me, but probably has 20 times more life experience than I have
  • She has about a billion BIG things that she could complain about but rarely does (I have a few small things that I always DO complain about.)
I have had a number of good discussions with Heidi. These are sometimes centered on things we disagree on slightly. I don't know why, but I love that. I really, really want to sit on a couch with her and just chat. About anything! I've invited her over but she still has never come. I'll bake something gluten free!! Come on, what's a few thousand miles between friends!?! :) I guess we'll just continue to converse through email. Love you, Heidi!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mourning Temporarily

Last night after I changed Spencer, I left the room to throw the diaper away and wash my hands. When I came back he was still laying right where I'd changed him, half asleep. It was an hour earlier than he normally goes to bed but I decided to put him down anyway, he was so sleepy.

He and I both have colds so we stayed home while Greg took everyone else to church. In the quiet house this morning I realized something. Before I put Spencer down last night I didn't nurse him. I've been doing only the one feeding right before bed for the last two months or so. In recent weeks it is more and more symbolic and less and less to provide any sort of nourishment. I have been planning to quit completely for the last week or so. This morning I realized that, just like that: it's all over.

And I sob.

I have spent four and a half years of my life nursing my babies. There have been times when I almost would rather have died and times when I was sure it was not worth it. I have often been forced to sit down and cuddle my baby to me when I did not have time or to retrain a newborn who seemed to suddenly forget how he had been getting his sustenance for days or weeks before.

I have spent countless hours pondering the wonder of being able to feed my babies any time I need to, to provide everything their little bodies require. I think about my body and the miracle it is and all that it has done for the people I love most in all the world. I think about how much that love has grown in the days and weeks and months of cumulative hours I have spent gazing down at a sweetly nursing baby. How grateful I am for that. For all of it. The good and the difficult.

And suddenly I have come to the end of it all. And I can't bear it. How do people bear these things, "The Lasts"?

My life is so full. I love my children dearly and find it hard to contain the excitement and happiness I experience watching them learn new things every day. A toy drops and Spencer says, "Uhhh-oooooooh" for the first time, his lips forming the cutest little "O" as he says it. Aaron comes up with the idea to bring a stool to the stove where I'm making "crunchy cheese" for him. Climbing on it he says, "Oh! Now I can see betterly!" David gets his first retainer and is so excited to feel that the protruding tooth he's been hating for years is starting to move backward and I know he will be way too handsome. Evie pulls me into another room, excited to tell me about the "Między nami Kobietami" ("Between us Women") maturation class she had at school.

So many firsts, all the time.

Right now I mourn this last.The grief is real and the sobs are deep. Does it go away, this ache in your heart when one of the most important, challenging and fulfilling things of the last 12 years of your life has ended? Forever?

I will keep a more vigilant eye open for "firsts" and rejoice in all the good things my babies bring into my life today. And tomorrow. And I will content myself with the feeling that somehow I will have all the yesterdays back. I don't know how it works but I know that one day I will have a fullness of joy, and that can only mean that these experiences will be part of me, as they are now, but without the tragedy of their being only a memory.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recommendations, Please!

If you're not interested in my blah, blah, blogging journey skip to below the stars if you want to know how you can help me out.

There was a time, years ago, when I was obsessed with blogging. Nothing terrible, just the way most of us felt early on when we were making lots of new friends and really coming to love this community and the ability to toss out things we are thinking about, however important, trivial, silly or serious, and the surprise of realizing that we aren't the only one, or at least if we are, people like us anyway.

It was pretty early on that I realized that it was getting to be too much. I was on the computer too long. The little follower widget was a source of happiness but I realized that I kept looking at everyone's number. I hated that. "Oh! She's got a lot of new followers since I last checked!!" and "What is the deal!?! Why isn't she getting more followers!?!" I felt it was against my own philosophy (blog for fun and don't worry about number of comments or followers). So, to keep from feeling like it was a competition, I removed the widget.

Soon after that I realized that I could not keep up with everyone who visited or followed my blog. I seriously hated knowing that I was missing out on potentially awesome friendships but I hated even more knowing that I was missing out on my children's potentially awesome childhoods.

Awhile later I had the pregnancy from Hades and had no desire to communicate with anyone, though I did try to peek in on others now and again. The baby came and suddenly family was all I ever thought (and sometimes blogged) about.

As things normalized I started getting back into reading blogs and posting occasionally. I realized that many of my friends had also stopped posting regularly (or at all!) while I'd been pre(self)occupied. Sad! But then I definitely understand.
Here we are today. I feel fairly disciplined in my blogging habits since getting back into it and I am realizing that with the changes in my friends' blogging frequency I can definitely afford to add a few more blogs to my reader. Now my problem is that I don't know which ones to add. I definitely don't want to spend hours blog-hopping to find people that "fit" me, so I thought I might ask YOU.

I really value having blogging friends that I feel are either like me, or like the person I'd like to be in some way or another. I guess that is sort of the definition of "friend". Duh.

Anyway, so who do you think I might like (or love) to read? I don't read any of the hugely popular blogs but I would if you told me I had to, but mostly I'm wondering about the people in your comment trails that I have seen around all this time but never got around to checking out their blogs.

Could you let me know (by either comment or email) who are maybe a few of your favorite bloggers? I would really appreciate it! It will narrow down the time I spend searching out new people and give me more time to make my children's childhoods awesome. Ha!

(I am looking forward to Stephanie's Find-a-friend Fridays! I'm already emailing the first one from friday, Jocelyn, about some family history info she needs from Poland! Hooray for new friends!)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Becoming My Mother

There are many ways in which I want to be like my mom. There are also some ways I don't mind not being like her. For example, my mom is approximately three feet tall, and I don't particularly care to sink to her level on that one (kidding! She's like 4'9" or something).

I have earned the absentmindedness she mastered long ago (one of motherhood's awards). I am getting the lack of attentiveness down, too. She showed it by "listening" to what we said with a faraway look and then slowly repeating the last three or four words of our discourse, as if it might help her register the other 300 words that came before (it did not help and she never remembered what we had said). I show my inattentiveness by saying, "I'm thinking of a million things right now: tell me later. " or just "Now is not a good time." or occasionally, "Leave me the heck alone." (they know I'm kidding) or if I'm stressed, "I don't care right now." (such a dear, dear mother!)

Another thing I have in common with my mother is the ability to laugh at myself. I am grateful to have inherited this trait. If my future is going to be anything like my mother's I'm going to need it. It's a good thing she has this one mastered because her offspring are terrible teasers and there is nobody we like to tease more than mom (and she makes it so easy! Love you, mom).

Evie is already starting to tease me a lot. She has always been the best laugher at jokes but now she laughs at my personality a lot, too. This is a good thing because I sort of talk through things a lot and my internal dialogue comes out, which is often humorous (for one reason or another) and so should be laughed at, I suppose. But it's the making fun of me that I'm not sure I'm ready for.

Tonight we had this conversation:

Me: (looking at the clock) What!?! It's 7:20 already!?! I don't believe that!!

Greg: (in a sing-song voice) You never do.

Me: I know. I have never, ever believed it was 7:20. Not once.

Evie: No mom, you're supposed to say, "How did that happen!?!"

Me: (seriously confused) What? Am I often surprised at how late it is?

Evie, Greg, David: giggles/laughter

Me: Ugh.

And so it begins, I suppose. I guess I'd better start getting used to it since as we age my absentmindedness will only get worse and my kids will only get sassier. *sigh*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peculiar People

So you know how people in all ages have made a mockery of the prophets and their counsel? The same thing is happening today. I know this because of something David said at school that got his class laughing.

His (nosy) teacher for some reason was asking him in what situation Greg and I would leave him and his siblings home alone. David said, "For example when they go on a date."

After a brief pause his classmates erupted in giggles and his teacher looked confused. "Aren't your mom and dad married?"

I know a lot of the things the prophet counsels us to do seem silly or unnecessary or just plain absurd to many people today. Apparently for David's class, continuing courtship after marriage is one of those things. I am very happy to have had a part in providing such entertainment to those tittering nine year olds.

And after David assured his teacher that we were indeed married his teacher got over her surprise and told him, "Well then, you have cool parents."

Maybe she'll go home and ask her husband out on their first date in 20 years.