Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thpenther Turnth Fee

It wasn't easy, bringing him into the world three years ago today, but my gap-toothed, platinum blonde, dimple-cheeked little lithper, Thpenther, was worth it all, a billion times over.

He told me what gifts he'd like to receive.  "I like blue presents, mom," he said.  This took me back to Aaron's delight with his Yellow Birthday Party when he turned three.  Three is a great age for simple gifts, I find.  From his grandpa he got an Imaginext Batmobile, which he calls his "cool car" (which, while blue, is not so simple, but is also not from his immediate [cheap] family) .  He sometimes pushes it around on the floor, but mostly he carries it in his arms and calls it his baby, like he sometimes does with other random objects, not including dolls and stuffed animals.

I remember the first time I gave Spencer chocolate, in chocolate chip pancakes.  He ate it voraciously and begged for more.  He seriously shook as he anxiously put each bite into his mouth.  Over the years he has become slightly less obsessed, but is still a major fan of chocolate, which must be stored out of his sight.  He asked for brownies for his birthday cake and then said, "I like brownies and cake and pies and muffins and cookies."  Me too, Spencer.  Me too.


In his personal prayer tonight he thanked his heavenly father "that I could eat my mint brownieth and that I could be (unclasping hands and holding up three fingers) three (re-clasping), and that I could be a liiiiiiiiiittle bit bigger."

I'm grateful for those things too, but only in a sort of resigned way because the truth is that today I wish he could stay just like he is now forever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stuck in a House Full of Weirdoes

Today felt like a long string of "whaaa?"s.  It was Day Two without Greg and here is why I felt like the only sane person in the house.

SPENCER (2)

Spencer, like his brother, seems to believe that a prayer should consist of a list of things that have happened or will happen during the day.   In one family prayer, I believe it was meant to be the blessing on our cheese sandwiches, Spencer was thankful "that we could put on the mask...and not put on the mask" (i.e. take it off).  (This in reference to the foam superhero mask Evie made for him earlier in the day.)
***************
I've taught all my kids that your brain is about the size of your fists held together (which also happens to look a little like a brain).  I'm not sure there is any great degree of truth in this, but I remember regularly checking on the size of my brain as I grew up by using this method of measuring and I'm not about to deprive my own children of the fun of it just because it might not be true.  Truth be darned.  I'm not googling it.

So, like I was saying, Aaron was explaining this to Spencer. "Spencer, look, this is how big my brain is!" he declared, holding up his hand-brain.  After getting little response he repeated himself and Spence finally came back with, "Yeah!  Do you like my bones?" while pointing to his shirt (presumably referring to the ribs beneath).

AARON (5)

I gathered all the kids on the couch and read The Spirit of Christmas to them, talking about Christmas and helping them find the hidden "spirit" in each picture. The book came to its touching conclusion about how Christmas is about the birth of the savior and therefore the Spirit of Christmas is LOVE.

As I finished the last page there was a moment's pause while, I assumed, we all processed the message.  Aaron broke the silence saying, loudly, "Oh my gosh!  Jack has really long fingernails!" (He was talking about the cartoon Samurai Jack, which we haven't watched for weeks.)

DAVID (11)

I heard the front door open and went to see who had come or gone.  Nobody was there, but Evie stood in the hallway holding the phone that connects to the intercom from our front gate.  I heard David call from outside, "Now push the gunshots." whereupon Evie pushed a button on David's cell phone she held, which caused it to burst forth in rapid-fire gunshot sounds, the speaker placed on the mic end of the intercom.  David then called out, "Now the hair clipper one!", and Ev pushed a button that made the sound of a head of hair being buzzed.

This went on for a few minutes and then David presented himself back in the house in long johns and slippers, no coat.  He'd gone down the freezy slippery stairs attired thusly for his experiment.

Later I heard Aaron call from the playroom, "David!  Nobody is EVER coming!" Apparently he'd been assigned as lookout so David could rush to the phone to frighten any poor passersby with his intercom antics.  David graciously relieved him of duty.

EVIE (13)

After Spencer's aforementioned prayer I looked up and noticed he looked like a little chimney sweep.


I asked what happened to his face and she said, "Oh! I colored his mask with marker!" I put on my "COMPLETELY OBNOXIOUS MOTHER" cap and challenged her response.  Repeatedly.  I couldn't get her to understand that his nose was not black because she had colored a mask.  She insisted that that WAS why.  Come on, Ev!  My nose wasn't black despite the fact that she had colored the mask.  Finally I had to inform her that his face was dirty because he had been wearing the mask that she had colored with black marker.  (Sheesh!)

At the time I sort of thought this last anecdote could be used as evidence that she is slightly crazy (to fit in with the theme of the post, you see), but now I realize that it really only proves that I'm annoying.

Which I think we already knew.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten in Poland

Yesterday was Aaron's very first day of school.  Considering the fact that he has never been to preschool, doesn't speak Polish well yet, and his kindergarten class had already been meeting for a month (while we were in the states), we felt at least as anxious/excited about this first day as other parents do when sending their kindergartner off for their very first day of school (i.e. extremely).  Here's how the first 10 minutes of his day went, before we left him.

We got to his school a few minutes late and opened the door to his classroom where we saw all the children seated and working (coloring) in their workbooks.  His teacher, who strongly resembled a blond, short Tina Turner (husky voice included) said, "Oooooh!!  (to the class) This is the child I told you would be coming late!" then to Aaron, "Are you going to hang up your bag and coat in the locker room?  Are you?  Come, I'll show you how to do it."  She scooted past us and lead us out the door and down the hall to where the bags and coats go and showed us how it worked.

We returned to the classroom and Aaron just stood in the middle of the room looking around.  Greg came up behind him and said, "So this is Aaron, and he is going to be in your class, Aaron, these are your classmates!"  More standing.  The teacher made a few comments during this time, but sort of unimportant observations.  

Finally Greg asked if Aaron should sit down.  The teacher seemed to snap out of it and said, "Oh, yes.  There's a chair here for him... one with his name taped on it..."  she finally found it and offered it to Aaron, seating him at a table with 6 boys.  He sat.  We smiled at him.  The kids glanced at him and continued to work.  Pause, pause.  Greg again took the initiative and went up to the kid next to Aaron and asked his name and introduced him and Aaron to each other.  The kid smiled hugely at the attention and Aaron relaxed a little.

The teacher called out occasionally to the children, "We're working!" while she and Greg talked for a minute. We were ready to leave but Aaron looked really uncomfortable sitting there with nothing to do while the other children worked.  The teacher said, "Oh, yeah.  He can work in his books later."  We could only watch him sit there for a few excruciating minutes before Greg suggested that maybe it would actually be good for Aaron to do what the other kids were doing.  The teacher agreed and got out his book and colored pencils and showed him what assignment they were doing.  Aaron's face lit up and he got right to work.  

We told his teacher that we wanted this to be his orientation day and that we'd pick him up in about an hour.  She assured us that that he'd be fine, over and over.  I'm sure we seemed like real hover parents.

We walked away arm in arm and repeated to ourselves, "He'll be fine, he'll be fine."

The teacher hadn't introduced herself or anybody by name.  She asked no questions (apart from the cloakroom one), she actually didn't speak directly to Aaron apart from that one incident.  I think if Greg hadn't gotten him settled we would have come back an hour later and Aaron would have still been standing in the open area of the room and the class would have been going on with their day.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Like Royalty

My childhood was charmed.  The first eleven years of it were especially wonderful when we lived in Village Green.  Village green is the name of the trailer park we lived in.  It was all so much like a dream.  Or a reality TV show.  Maybe some of each.  But I loved it.  

I recently decided to look up our trailer park on Google Earth.  Okay, that feels weird.  We never called it the trailer park, we called it the trailer court, so let's just get that out in the open so I can stop trying to remember to keep from typing what is actually coming out of my brain after long years of usage (i.e. trailer court) and translating it into the-rest-of-the-world-ese.

So Village Green was the trailer court (sounds so much more regal and so much less "white trash"*) in which I grew up.  And I decided to find it on Google Earth.  

I entered the address: 222 N. 1200 W., Orem, UT, and here is where it took me:
 I stared and stared at the area directly above where the address is written and couldn't for the LIFE of me make sense of trying to wander through those streets.  Wait.  Where is the park?  Where are half the streets?  And what, pray tell, is that huge parking lot to the left of it?  I don't remember any business in the area large enough to require such a huge parking lot.

I seriously looked up and down the street and zoomed way out and back in again.  I made sure I was looking in the right area compared to Trafalga Family Fun Center, which was just down the street.  Yes. this was the place.  What in the world happened?  Where was the place I had grown up?

Then, after turning the map and thinking and thinking for far more minutes than I care to admit,  I took a closer look at the parking lot.
Yeah.  Duh.  Not duh ME, of course!  Duh, Google Earth, who wrote my address out under the adjacent neighborhood.  How was I to know that the parking lot, which happened to be located exactly where I remembered the trailer court being, actually WAS the trailer court when the address was written so far off?  Sheesh.  

Once I got over that (I feel like an idiot again just thinking about it), I starting wandering in my mind through that trailer court.  And it was all there.  All the places I rode my bike and the hill on which I'd wiped out on my roller skates countless times.  My best freind's house and the park.  Oh, but the pool.  Looks like the swimming pool is gone.  Other than that, it looked like home.  And then I found home.  

In the lower left hand corner, with a brown roof, was the double-wide I grew up in.  The one that started out as a single-wide and, as our family grew, was transformed into a double-wide by my dad, who can do anything. 


Oh the memories!  Thousands of them flying at me in the most random of orders.  And so I realized that I need to put them down.  And so I'm going to.

This is the first of a series I will be doing about life in the trailer court.  I can't wait to get it all out.
*For the record, I really hate the term "white trash", especially when used to describe a person for the same reason I despise the term "loser".

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back to Blogging Basics

Oh, how I miss blogging.  I miss reading the blogs of friends who have quit blogging, and I miss daily reading the blogs of those who still do , and I miss posting more than once a month.  It's like a whole social network that seems to have fizzled out for me (and a lot of others).

There seems to be less to say.  I have fewer things that I feel like documenting.  I have the same, old feeling that nobody wants to read it, and if I don't really want to write it all that much, it's doubly pointless.  And, usually, I don't really want to write it all that much.  But I miss posting.  There was something therapeutic about typing out words that came from my brain.  But that all just seemed to fizzle out, somehow.

Remember the days of memes?  Everybody did them, one or two at least, until some people got bored of reading them (not me!) and other people got bored of writing them and they just sort of fizzled out?

And what about blog awards?  Not the real, many-people-have-to-vote-for-you awards that are still around,  but the ones that didn't actually mean anything very BIG?  Except they felt like something BIG because they meant someone read your blog and cared, and they made you love blogging and your fellow bloggers?  And even though, like the memes, they were a little childish, you still quite loved them?  And then they just sort of fizzled out?

Well, for a long time I have wanted to really sort of get back into a blogging mode (yes, really, sort of) and then, providentially, I received a blog award.  Did you read that!?!  A blog award!!!  It has been years!  But last week, Amy at How to be Superwoman awarded me the Liebster award!  And, even though it's a many-people-did-NOT-have-to-vote-for-me award, it still feels BIG.  And it brought back some of my old blogging feelings.  Thank you, Amy!

So with that introduction, I am going to pass along this award.  It's meant to go to blogs with under 200 followers.  I quite love that many of the blogs that I have read almost from their beginngings have grown to the point that they don't qualify for the award, based on this one criteria.  You guys are awesome!  And you're not getting this award!  :)  But here are the blogs that do!



The Craig Report  Funniest male blogger.  Father of seven, bishop, weirdo.
What do Worms Smell Like  Great photography and lovely thoughts to go with it.  Laura served her mission in Poland and then went home and married a friend of my family!  :)
Dreams of Quill and Ink  L.t. creates things using nothing but ordinary words.  Very, very beautiful things.  (plus she's about the nicest person ever).
The Days and Nights of Robierto  For the life of me I can't remember how I found his blog, but he's hilarious.  Case in point: go read his Blind Dates post.  Go!
because I really can't get enough of myself  Melissa is one of those very funny people with millions of challenges in life and the ability to make us laugh about them while also being a stay at home mother with a hundred creative online projects going.  I quite adore her.  And her blog.

This was just the motivation I needed.  I think.  To get me back to blogging, I mean.  Hope to see you all around more often!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Missed Her Sister

There once was a woman whose sister visited her in Poland with her four children.  They played and had fun for two weeks, after which the visiting sister left.  Her absence left the woman asking the question, "who's going to wash the dishes now?"

Having pondered this question without finding a satisfactory answer, the woman walked away from the sinkful of dishes and headed to the computer, where she decided to write down a few memories from the family-filled two weeks.

She recounted the sweetness of her nieces and nephew.  She remembered watching them play with her own four children and delighting in the quality cousin time, on this, the first time they had ever had cousins visit in their home.  She recalled the billions of hugs she had been given.  As a non-hugger, she was surprised at how much she loved all the love.

She documented memories of her sister washing the dishes, helping with the cooking, taking care of all the children and constantly looking for ways to be of help.

She thought back to a conversation:
Woman: I know it's weird that we eat in the living room, in front of the TV.  We're so Simpson-esque.
Sister:  Yeah... Wait, did they eat in front of the TV... No, they ate around the kitchen table!  You're WORSE than the Simpsons!!

She was amazed at how, after a week of eating things like cake, pie, cookies and muffins, her sister announced that she only had a few weeks left until her 40th birthday, and she wanted to be at her target weight.  The sister immediately started in on the Dukan diet (the one the woman's husband had used to lose 35 pounds in 6 weeks). She completely ignored the woman's next week of dinners and treats in favor of lots of yogurt, eggs, tuna, and oat bran.

The woman had lovely memories of a power outage, a patriotic holiday, castles, underground tunnels, old town squares, ornate churches and lots of ice cream shared with family.  She relived attending church in her own little branch--meeting in the missionaries' apartment--as it overflowed with children who all attended the one-class "Primary" in the living room.  

She didn't write much detail, but just the act of typing it up was nice.  And a little sad.  She missed her sister. And still didn't know who was going to wash the dishes.


















Friday, June 22, 2012

About Kuba

I've known Kuba, Greg's best friend since elementary school, for just about as long as I've known Greg, although I didn't actually meet him until we'd been married for almost two years (meet Kuba, not Greg.  I both heard about AND met Greg before we got married.).

Back in the early days when I was just getting to know Greg, he would tell stories about his exciting life back in Poland.  Because he'd only been a member of the church for a year before going to the states (for his mission and then school), most of his memories were from before he joined the church.

Buddhism, poetry, , tai chi, hitchhiking, and wandering the Polish countryside with nothing but a little food and some cigarettes.  It was such an exotic life, and so different from my own youth.  I ate up every detail (except the cigarettes.  I spat those out), and asked lots of questions.  I couldn't get enough.  My very favorite stories were those of his adventures with Kuba. In some of our more peaceful and happy moments before and while dating, I would request "Kuba stories".  


Stories of teasing the girls and various pranks in school, eating sandwiches together after school, adventures with their Syrian friend, and many, many adventures (and misadventures) in foreign countries (most notably Berlin) while hitchhiking.  Kuba was like a brother to Greg growing up, so I kind of thought of him that way, too.  


Greg was with Kuba when he met the missionaries in Vienna.  Later Kuba invited Greg to his baptism, which was the real catalyst for Greg investigating the church.  Which lead to him joining it.  Which eventually lead to him marrying me.  I sort of owe Kuba a lot.


When I was heavily pregnant with Ewelina, this mystical, magical personage left Poland and came to Utah to attend BYU.  We picked him up at the airport.  He even looked like Greg's brother..  They were very happy to see each other.  They laughed a lot.  I enjoyed it.


It was a little hard for me to believe that this kind of quiet, thoughtful, though usually smiling, person was the prankster I had heard so much about, but the more time we spent with him and the better I got to know his sense of humor I realized that he was probably capable of all I had heard.  :)  


It was wonderful for Greg to have his best friend back for the next year or so before we moved back to Poland.  I was happy to get to know him on a more personal level, to add to my "Kuba story"-based understanding of him.


After he finished school at BYU he moved back to Poland and we have seen him now and again while visiting Greg's parents in Łódż.  He and Greg have had a few more adventures wandering and hiking (this time with fewer cigarettes and less alcohol--although good Kuba never smoked)   


And now, we are having the worst adventure of all.  Kuba went back to Utah for a visit last month and, after being there for a couple of weeks visiting with friends, he just disappeared.  No trace.  His things were left at the home he was staying in, but no other trace of him has been found since last month.  We are searching.  Greg is still hoping that this is just his biggest prank yet.  We want him found.  


It seems to me that the more people hear about this, the greater the chance that he WILL be found.  


If anyone would "like" or share the following links it would help his story to be spread.


http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/provo/article_fea13635-4249-5125-8486-d2e3c78973ef.html#.T-N9ExB2Dpc.facebook

http://utahcountysouth.fox13now.com/news/news/74280-missing-person-jakub-gorowski#.T-Nar1sGYUo.facebook

I don't have a picture of Kuba, though there is one in the above links, but here is a picture that he took years ago of us with his parents one time when we visited.



His dad passed away last year, but his mother surely wants him found, too.  I'm constantly praying it will happen soon.

UPDATE!  A friend has created a website to organize efforts to find him.  Find it HERE.  A search party is being organized to meet on Saturday, June 23rd at the north end of Rock Canyon, behind the temple at 8:45.  All volunteers welcome!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clean Up! Niech Żyje Nam!

The other day we were all in the living room watching TV together, or so I thought.  When I got up to go to the kitchen I heard a tiny voice coming from the playroom.  I went to see what was going on and here is what I found.  In the (very messy) playroom Spencer was cleaning up of his own volition and singing his very own version of the clean-up song.  note: He was mostly naked because I'd taken off his clothes before he ate spaghetti for dinner.

video

The Polish congratulatory song "Sto Lat" starts in almost the same way as "The Clean-up Song", so I can definitely see how this remix came to be.  I still think he's a little smarty(under)pants.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Growth


Like most normal beings of the human persuasion, I enjoy Spring.  I love the warm-but-not-hot weather, with plenty of rain and gloom mixed in with the sunshine (okay, maybe loving the gloom part is just me).  I delight in the color and shape of flowers.  Trees, one of my favorite things on this earth, have been known to make me cry (even when I wasn't pregnant!).

In the photo above you see one of my favorite Sights of Spring.  I love the old and the new.  What was and what will be.  The colors are beautiful together and I love how clearly you can see the growth of the tree.

Lately I've been feeling quite a lot like that.  Like I had a lot of the dark green.  Parts of me that had been.  Old parts.  And now there is a burst of the Spring green all over.  I can feel myself stretching out, growing and changing shape, while all of the old me remains as a base.

I'm not talking about weight gain.  Not in this post anyway.  Ha.  But I have been learning about food and health and new ways of living.  I've listened to people who have different opinions and beliefs about religion and politics.  It has changed me.  It has started new growth.

I view the world differently now.  I hold dearly to much of what has been.  The good things.  The things that were right.  But I can see them from a different angle, too.  I can understand another view.  It is fascinating and extremely thought provoking.

Life is just so awesome and interesting.  So much to be had and so many ways to grow.  So many shades of green.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We Just Wake Up and then Get Out of There

I woke up to the sounds of a young child wiggling in his sleeping bag.  A tiny crack of light was coming in through the paper blinds so I knew it was getting to be morning, but my alarm hadn't gone off, so I also knew I could keep sleeping.

The sounds progressed from wiggling noises to loud sighs and finally to a declaration, whispered into the otherwise silent roomful of sleeping bodies:  "I don't like going to hotels.  We just go to bed, wake up and then get out of here."

While it was a very strange thing to hear first thing in the morning, he was right.  Our weekend adventures usually consist of a long drive, hours spent at a chapel where Greg or I have meetings and then, finally, arriving at the hotel in time to go through the bedtime routine, sleep, and wake up early to head off to church again.

He was right that our hotels stays aren't super vacation-y (although they can be fun and have been know to be adventuresome at times).  But he was wrong about not liking it.  He loves going to hotels.  He doesn't mind sleeping on the very hard floor in a sleeping bag.  He never complains about the drive, though it's between 3 and 6 hours one way, depending on the branch.

Yes, although it's generally all business, we all love traveling for the church.  I realized today that we have been taking these weekend trips from 1-4 weekends a month every month for the past 10 years, except for at the end of pregnancy.  It's been our life since Greg has been overseeing the southern part of Poland (first in the mission presidency and then (now) as district president).  Evie had just turned two when we started.  It's been a big part of my parenting experience and my children's life.  I just love it. I have a hard time imagining living a different way.  I'm not sure how long it will last, but in this church when one adventure ends, a new one always begins.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Souvenir

Most people looking at this picture would see a small plastic cup and spoon.  And that's what it is.  A racquetball probably would not fit in the cup.  It's small.  And it is plastic.  And there's a tiny spoon with it.

When we were in Italy I didn't buy any souvenirs.  An ornamented ceramic mask would not mean anything to me.  The pictures we took are much better (to me) than any postcard or painting or statuette.  What I did do was snatch my family's gelato cups out of their hands before they could throw them in the trash.

THAT.  That right there is a souvenir.  To me.  It takes me back.  I see delicious ice cream, savored during conversations with people I love in places I never thought I would be.  I see stacks of the different colored bowls turned upside-down on counter tops in gelato shops.  I remember dreaming of one filled with a smooth delicious treat as we wandered, stomachs growling but eyes feasting, through Venice in search of "Quanto Basta" pizzeria. I can almost feel the wet-wipe in my hand after cleaning off Spencer's hands and face in Murano and Budoia (how romantic!).

It's just a small plastic cup and spoon, but it happens to be my favorite little cup and spoon in the world.

I'll post a bit about our trip soon enough.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Surprise! You're [going to be] on Camera!

Last Wednesday Greg came home from work and announced that a TV crew might be coming to our house the next day to film a Mormon family in Poland.  "Oh!  Good thing our house is always TV ready!!"  I thought.  No I didn't.  I didn't think at all, really.  What I did was finish the English lesson I was teaching and got straight to putting away some piles of things and hiding others.  Greg suddenly came up with about 5 DIY projects that would have to be done.

We did it all and managed to not feel stressed at all.  I spent the next morning cleaning and baking and practicing answering what questions I thought they might ask me about my faith and the GOP race in my head, in Polish (I'm quite fluent in my head!).

In the end, they came, they interviewed Greg (alone) for about 45 minutes, they recorded our family scripture study, they ate cookies and they left, 75 minutes total.

It aired and we are satisfied.  It will not have people coming to the chapel in droves, but it also shouldn't scare too many people away.  And, as we expected, clips with Greg and our family are numbered in the seconds.  I typed up the translation underneath, so maybe read first then watch?

And one more interesting fact:  We told the camera crew that Greg had narrated the documentary of the Sesquicentennial Celebration filmed by the same channel in SLC 15 years ago.  Apparently they remembered because the old clips shown are from that documentary, including a shot of Greg sitting in Sacrament meeting  (15 years ago!!), which you can see at  :34.

Here's the clip:  (And this is all very natural.  We always sit smooshed together on one side of the room.  And of course I never sit down for evening scripture study without making sure my lips are sparkly .We're in the second half.)



So this all came up rather suddenly but it ended up being a pretty neat family experience.

Translation:  Theoretically the race isn't decided, but there is one favorite.  Mitt Romney will most likely be fighting Barack Obama for the White House this fall. If he wins the Republican nomination, he will be the first Mormon with a chance at the White House, but his religion will be an obstacle rather than an advantage.  Mitt Romney: Republican, conservative and...Mormon.  "Romney's Mormonism isn't harmful to anyone but himself, because people first say that he's a Mormon and th."  But what's the problem?  For many Americans Mormonism is a religion shrouded in secrecy.  (American in Poland says:)  "Most Americans don't know what Mormonism is exactly.  Many think it's some kind of a cult, not a religion."  Romney has answered the question "Are you a Christian?" many times.  "I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Savior of mankind." There are still many myths surrounding our religion, admits Darek Dresler, a Mormon from Warsaw. "People's opinions are based on westerns."  For example, the issue of polygamy.  The church's founder had over thirty wives, but that's in the past.  "Any members who try to practice polygamy are ex-communicated."  (Greg reading from BOM) " For they were desirous to take them that they might punish them..." There are over 13 million Mormons worldwide-- in Poland, about 1200.  Greg Pawlik is one of them, and was asked what differentiates Mormons from Catholics and Protestants:  "The first thing that differentiates us is the fact that we don't drink alcohol, and we don't smoke cigarettes... Besides the Bible we also read the Book of Mormon, which is why people often call us Mormons.  We call ourselves members of the Church of Jesus Christ."  In Poland Mormonism doesn't spark controversy, but in the United States it's a different story because the candidacy to the White House there are concerns.  "That he might be more concerned about the good of the Mormon church than the United States."  Big challenges ahead for Romney.  He will have to answer questions not only about his platform, but also about his religion.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Well Look at THAT!

Greg, David, Evie and I all wear glasses.  I have a feeling it's just a matter of time for the other two.  Apparently Spencer was feeling like it was a matter of more time than he wanted to wait, so his sweet brother whipped him up a pair to wear right now.




There.  That's muuuuuch better.  (Sorry for the awful, even-worse-than-usual photo quality x2.  But they give you the idea.)
*Note: the marks above Spencer's mouth and the smudge over Aaron's are from eyeliner mustaches, which they request almost every day.  Sometimes they get thick ones, sometimes pointy ones and sometimes curling, French ones.  They love them. So do people wherever we run errands.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

For Your Convenience

While in California a few months ago I had the pleasure of holding Spencer up to a drinking fountain and letting him run the water over his tongue and down his chin.  I suppose every American mother has experienced teaching their children to drink from a drinking fountain.  It's so funny how difficult  something so simple can be.

And what's really funny is that NONE of my kids know how to do it.  This is crazy.  (Although Evie claims she pretty much got the hang of it during her month in New Jersey last summer.)

When I first met my in-laws, when they visited us 13 years ago in Provo, one of the things that shocked me was the fact that my 11 year-old Polish nephew had absolutely no idea how to drink from a drinking fountain.  I'd never met anyone that was out of diapers that didn't know how and it was hilarious watching him try.

Now here I am with four children of my own, all out of diapers, who are also fountain-drinking impaired.

If you've spent any time in Europe you probably understand why.  No drinking fountains.  The nearest one I know of is 9 hours away in Freiberg, Germany, at the temple (just one of the many things I love about going to the temple).

No, one must purchase water.  Always, always purchase water.  No free tap water in restaurants, no place to catch a quick sip in the mall.  NO FREE WATER.  I miss drinking fountains and their convenience.

But there's something over here that I love almost as much.  While in Łódź recently we drove through the streets at night and I saw these little bonfires placed randomly on the sidewalk.  I thought that was so weird.  Greg told me they are simply for pedestrians to warm themselves at.  "How cool!"  I thought (ironically).

Apparently during the time of martial law in Poland from 1981-1983 koksowniki were "invented" (?) mainly to keep the militia (during that time the police were referred to as militia) warm as they paced the streets making sure people were keeping curfew and other communism-imposed laws.




Fortunately the militia and the curfew and the communism have gone the way of ... other Polish-repressing bad things, but the coal bins?  They're still here.


And I'm glad, because while we were out at the optician and getting Spencer a passport we did a lot of walking.  It was well below zero (in both Fahrenheit and Celsius) and we froze.  I was shocked at how quickly this thawed us and how wonderful it felt.
.




Almost as shocked as I was when I first watched my nephew at a drinking fountain.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Person Who Took Me Out On Valentine's Day

While visiting my in-laws in Łódż a couple weekends ago, we decided to take advantage of the free babysitting (not that we ever pay for babysitting...) and go on an early Valentine's date.  

On the way to our destination Greg snacked on a bag of hazelnuts.  He's a lover of all nuts and has always eaten them.  Quite a lot.  As he drove and ate I asked, "Did you eat that whole bag!?!"  

It was really only 100grams (I think), but I could never eat that many nuts in one sitting.  He replied, "It was a small bag!" while tipping the last few nuts into his mouth."  

Within less than a minute his nose started running like crazy.  He had to pull over to take care of it.  He felt very weird and congested and couldn't believe how suddenly the feeling had come on.  Although he'd never experienced anything like it, we realized it must have been an allergic reaction.

I was a little worried it would get worse and suggested we go back home.  Or maybe to the emergency room.  He said he'd be fine and we continued to Manufaktura.  When we got there we bought a box of tissues and he took some essential oils and we headed to a neat little cafe and ate cake.

It was hard to talk about anything but his reaction.  Especially because I got in the car with a man that was approximately this dashing:


And then found myself sitting across the table from an alien man that was approximately this dashing.


Yikes!  Poor guy.  The swelling was gone by the next afternoon, but unfortunately he won't be eating nuts, probably ever again. Or seeds, as he learned when he ate bread with sunflower seed in it.  (or "shine seeds" as Aaron calls them).

After reading on the subject he learned that sometimes it is just a matter of the amount you eat.  You could eat, for example, 90 grams of nuts and be fine, but if you ate another 10 grams you might have the reaction.  He wishes he'd stopped eating when I asked about it (although I was only a little surprised, and didn't mean to criticize).  Seriously that last 5 nuts probably made all the difference.  He swears he'll start taking what I say into greater consideration.  :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Faith and Other Young Women Values

I loved the Young Women program.  I loved the beautiful, amazing women who were called to be my leaders.  I wanted exactly what they had: strong testimonies and handsome, loving husbands and children.  Because they had just what I was hoping to get, I listened to what they taught and watched what they did.  I admired them and I believed them.

I loved attending Sunday meetings.  I sat on the third floor of our chapel* during opening exercises at the huge table, made of a number of tables pushed together, and looked across at the Laurels on the other side.  I dreamed of the day I would be in high school and would be smart and dating and, hopefully, one-tenth as beautiful as those girls.

I loved it when my teacher brought a basket full of freshly baked muffins or cookies to class.  I loved the object lessons.  I loved when they spoke about the things that mattered most to them and I felt the spirit and was changed.

I loved our diverse group of girls.  I enjoyed it very much when the girl who was a year younger than me and had family problems came to church.  She wore black and looked down and covered her face with her platinum blonde hair.  If you ever caught a glimpse of her eyes, she was rolling them.  I considered it my unofficial calling to get her to smile.  I fellowshipped her the only way I knew how.  I was glad she took kindly to verbal irony.

I loved Wednesday activities.  I relished the chance to hang out with my friends on a school night.  I liked doing service projects and playing games.  I loved the hope that I'd see whichever-boy-it-was-I-had-a-crush-on-at-the-time playing basketball.  I loved the joint activities, especially the broom hockey in the cultural hall, despite the fact that I came home with bruised and bleeding shins from all the brooms that missed the "puck" (folded pair of socks) and bashed my legs instead.  To this day that is the only "sport" I've ever felt a deep love for.

I have a daughter.  She's twelve.  Apart from our family, there are five church members in our branch.  None of them are young women.  In our entire district (4 branches scattered across southern Poland) there are a total of 3 or 4 other young women.

Ewelina does not have what I had.  Honestly, she doesn't have anything close to it.  I realize we are all given different experiences and we can each grow from the situation we find ourselves in.  It's still really hard.  As long as 7 years ago or so I told people who asked that we would probably move back to the states by the time Evie was 12 so she could have the same character and testimony building opportunities that I had by attending Young Women.

But we're still here.  She has contact with the other girls in our district.  She is grateful, but it's not the same.  She wishes she had what she saw this summer, when she was visiting her cousins in New Jersey.  She misses what I had.  I hugged her tonight as she cried about it, holding back my own tears.

And I need to find a way to be to her what my leaders were to me.  But how!?!   How on earth can I BE THAT?  I need to be teaching her the lessons from the manual, but I should also be teaching my other three kids the lessons they should be learning in Primary.  It is too much and I am weak and lazy.

Ev and I just sat down and talked about Personal Progress.  I think she is excited.  It is a fantastic program and will give her much of what I had and teach her the things she needs to know.

I am grateful for a Father who knows what we need and is ready to bless us with it.  If we ask in faith, he will give it to us.  I hope he will, even after having written a blog post about how the most I can expect to be given doesn't seem like enough.   But I know that He can give whatever is required for Evie to develop a strong and sustaining testimony of the gospel.  And, what it comes down to is that that is the thing I'm really after.
*our chapel was previously a country club.  If you've watched God's Army you've seen it, when the missionaries are eating lunch on the terrace and the "Lamanite" calls down and preaches repentance to the inhabitants of Hollywood.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Healthy(er) Eaters

One of the things our family has changed this year is the amount of sugar we consume.  We've eliminated store-bought juice and other sweet drinks and we only have sweetened cereal one morning a week (Saturday, so I can sleep in), instead of almost every day as we did before.  This is because we continue to eat baked goods and occasionally a bit of candy and I want that to be our only(ish) sugar source.

Greg says our breakfasts should always contain fruit or vegetables so we've started having
  • carrot-fruit juice (fresh squeezed) or fresh orange juice
  • fruit smoothies
  • vegetable salads (think raw broccoli, tomatoes, radishes, pickles, pepper, onion, hard boiled eggs, cheese blitzed in a food processor mixed with a little mayo) Sounds gross, tastes...healthy.
  • fresh fruit salad mixed with yogurt
  • Grapefruit or pineapple or other good fruit everyone likes
along with our toast or eggs or oatmeal etc.

It's great.  I feel much better in the mornings now.  And it's kind of nice to actually make something for breakfast instead of defaulting to cereal, and for it to be something that will contribute to my kids' health (unlike syrupy pancakes, muffins, scones etc., which I'm only "allowed" to make on Wednesdays, to be eaten along with a vegetable/fruit side.)  

And one of the greatest bonuses of our new breakfast plan?  


Juice and smoothie mustaches.

***
Oil story: Last week Aaron was carrying a small folding chair and tripped, folding the chair and smashing his  hand in the frame. He wailed and screamed while I opened the chair up to remove it, smashing it worse in the process.  I ran and stuck his fingers under cold water and went to get the frozen peas.  He continued wailing and screaming through the whole process and after a minute I tossed the peas aside and grabbed my lavender oil and gently rubbed a drop on his fingers.  He stopped crying immediately.  I applied it again a little while later.  He had no bruising or swelling and no further pain.  I use lavender whenever I stub my toe badly or a child drops a magnet from upstairs and it lands on my foot (ouch!) or I hit my shin etc. (I'm a spazz) and it gives instant pain relief and I, an easy bruiser, never get bruises anymore.  LOVE lavender oil.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Twitterpated

Because I haven't been baking as much lately (totally keeping my resolution!), I sometimes scrounge up something for the kids to have for "dessert".  One night a few weeks ago it was candy canes off the Christmas tree.  That night, after putting the kids to bed, I came down to the kitchen and saw Evie's lunch box sitting on the table, like this:


For some this might just look like a cute little note* from my daughter, but it was more than that to me!  It was  proof she'd been reading this book:

Not My Type by Melanie Jacobson

That's because this book is about a girl whose dad challenges her to write one thank you note a week (in hopes of working an attitude adjusting miracle), and she does.  And her name is Pepper Spicer, as Evie accidentally signed.  :)  It's a fun book; the second by author/blogger/friend) Melanie Jacobson.The first was The List, which I wrote about here.

And, since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I'll do you a favor and tell you about a sale on her newest book, out next month!



Twitterpated is available for pre-order and TODAY AND TOMORROW you can get 25% off by entering the code: WKNDSALE.  That is a seriously great deal.  So get out your credit card and tell your husband he's getting you a great LDS chick-lit book for Valentine's Day.  I did.

And no, I haven't read the book yet, but I've read her other two and it's impossible that this one will not be awesome.
*Notice Evie's Polish writing and never-taken-a-spelling-test spelling.  The question mark after the "sencierley" isn't because she wasn't sure she was sincere, but because she knew she massacred the spelling.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mom According to Aaron


I love reading Evie and David's answers to these questions 3 1/2 years ago so much that I thought I'd do the interview with Aaron.  He's four.  And he's our first kid who talks like a kid (Evie and David weren't that interesting in terms of grammatical errors.)  He shows it off nicely in the interview.

What is something mom always says to you? "I was just tricking"

What makes mom happy?  To play ball with Aaron outside.

What makes mom sad?  That Aaron is grouchy--everybody is grouchy.

How does mom make you laugh?  That diaper cars come to us.  (he giggles) {(rolling my eyes) Uuummmm, okaaay, but what do I do to make you laugh?}You tell me funny stories.  And scary stories.

What was mom like as a child?  You were playing something.

How old is mom?  He kind of growed.  He's kind of old, but not very old.  {But how old am I?} You are 10.

How tall is mom?   Like seven-eight.  Right?

What is mom's favorite thing to do?  Play Candyland and play Leaping Lizards, and Play Pooh Bear.

What does mom do when you're not around?  When Spencer's grouchy you take care of him.

If mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Because they love you very much and we live here.

What is mom really good at?  Getting really strong things and heavy things.

What is mom not very good at?  Pick up the whole house with a finger.  Only Jesus can.

What is mom's job?  To wash dishes and to make things and to eat things.


What is mom's favorite food?  Eggs and zupa (soup) and broccoli

What makes you proud of mom?  That you look nice and that you are very, very happy.

If mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?  What are you talking Habout!?!  (Quoting Edna Mode. Not sure if he was asking what I was talking about or telling me I'm most like Enda...)

What do you and mom do together?  I help you make dinner and brownies and cake.

How are you and mom the same?  That we are happy and not grouchy.

How are you and mom different?  I don't know.

How do you know mom loves you?  Because I love you like you love me.  And you love me the most.  Because I look sweet.  

THINGS HE LIED ABOUT:
  • I am not quite as cheerful as he painted me, but I'd like to be!  
  • I'm not all that strong, either.  
  • I have a lower tolerance for the games he claimed are my "favorite thing to do" than most parents, I bet.
  • I'm not ten.  
  • And I'm not 78 tall.  Though I did kind of grow (from the time I was a kid and played something.)
  • I don't tell funny stories.  


But I do tell him that I was kidding or teasing or joking quite often (though rarely that "I was just tricking.")

And for sure if I'm ever famous it will surely be because we live here.

Also, if he had to state a way in which I'm not like Jesus, I'm delighted that not being able to lift a home with one finger is the first thing that came to mind.  :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Now THAT'S Hot

My standard of living just quadrupled.

No, we didn't get a major raise, buy a private jet or get a Target in Mielec.  What we did was got a new stove and oven.

Our old glass-ceramic range was mostly likely a prototype from the early nineties.  Or eighties.  If I wanted to boil water for pasta I would turn the burner on, go for a jog, come home, shower, apply my makeup and fix my hair and possibly trim my nails, at which point it had warmed up enough that it was time to pull out a pan and fill it with water.  It sort of freaked us out yesterday when we turned on a burner on the new range and felt like we were standing next to a bonfire within 2 seconds.  There will be a significant decrease in the need to plan the timing for the cooking of food around here.

Our old oven was from about the same era as the cooktop.  It was incapable of baking things evenly and refused to cook much from the bottom.  It did sort-of-okay with things like cookies and scones but ruined cakes and pizza and everything else.

This meant that for most baking I had to descend to the downstairs kitchen and use the (also ancient) stove down there.  It was only moderately better than the one upstairs and required climbing over the recycling to get to.  And once the upstairs oven broke, even cookies had to be baked down there.  Inconvenient.  Very. Especially for someone like me who bakes a lot and rarely uses a timer (baking seems so much less creative when you just pull the pan out at the ringing of a buzzer.)  At least I worked off all the cookies before I even ate them going up and down to check their progress.

But now?  Now, I can watch cookies bake from the comfort of my kitchen table if I so desire.  I have 10 heating options to choose from.  Our quite ugly kitchen looks about 6 times nicer. And the very BEST part is that the house will finally start smelling like whatever's for dinner.  Or dessert.  It was such a waste to have all the delicious food smells (and extra heat!) stuck down in the basement.  Winter will now be significantly cozier.

So, while I'm glad to have a back-up oven in case of an emergency, I'm even gladder for the downstairs oven to keep company below with other appliances we've never used.  You know, like the dishwasher.  And the built-in, commercial-grade deli meat/cheese slicer.

It kind of makes me wonder if appliances are like toys (according to Toy Story).  Will the downstairs oven pine for the days when it was of some use?  Will it taunt the other appliances with "at least she used to use me!"  Or will it comfort the poor dishwasher who cries over his rusted pipes, having never been appreciated.  Will it hate me for the things I've said about its friend the deli slicer?  The one that pops up out of a cupboard and scared our pants off the first time we saw it.  And which we have tried to forget about ever since?  But didn't because we had to make jokes about the fact that we have such a thing lurking in a cupboard of our home?  These are the question one (me) begins to ask when one (I) get a new oven.

We christened the oven with Annie's Chicken Pot Pie last night and chocolate chip muffins this morning.  I'm delighted.  When you spend a quarter of your life (or so) making food, a new stove and oven can definitely quadruple your standard of living.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Transported

I could have been my grandmother.  Or even my great-grandmother.  I could have been walking home from trading fresh milk for fresh eggs at a friend's house on a winter's evening a hundred years ago.

It was cold.  I was walking fast and the breeze froze my nose and stung the tips of my ears.  I was anxious to get home, to be surrounded by warm air, cozy lighting and happy, glowing faces.  Outside it was bitter cold, so I walked on quickly.

I could hear dogs barking here and there throughout the neighborhood.  I knew they would bark again as I passed their homes.  I always try to be ready, to keep myself from jumping, startled by the unexpected outburst from the other side of a fence.

A scent wafts past me.  It overwhelms me.  I breathe it in more deeply, further freezing my nose.  It smells like home and family and holidays.  It is warmth and comfort and safety.  It is the smell of wood and coal burning furnaces coming from the houses I walk past.

Two boys are having a snowball fight.  They are running and laughing with rosy cheeks and steaming breath.

The snow crunches under my feet.  It sparkles beneath me, around me.  Surrounded by ice, the smell from the homes fills me with warmth.

When I reach my own home I realize I have been ignoring the cars parked in driveways and the satellite dishes on the sides of the houses.  It was just me, just now.  2012, not 1912.  Just keeping a resolution, not trading a basket of dairy products. But I loved being transported.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Drug Free for 7 Months

We aren't big drug users around here.  We have taken something when we get very uncomfortable, but not all that often.  Still, when I think back on all the times we've been very uncomfortable in the last 7 months and all the times we would have taken a pill or downed some syrup or used ointment or spray it adds up to quite a lot of times.

There are SIX of us in this house and we haven't taken (or bought) any prescription OR over-the-counter medication in the last seven months (apart from Advil for my stubborn headaches).  This is true even though we've had (skip the list if it's TMI)

allergies
anxiety
athlete's foot
back pain
bug bites
burns
colds (runny nose, coughing, sore throat)
cramps
cuts/scrapes
digestive issues (every type)
flu (fevers, aches, cold symptoms)
infections (toe)
rashes
toothaches/root canal
etc.

And now, at the risk of sounding like a new age freak, I just have to say that I love, love, love essential oils, which, you may have guessed, we started using 7 months ago.  In that time we haven't taken the kids to the doctor except once (when Evie had an ingrown toenail that worried me.  We held on to the prescription for antibiotics that the doctor wrote out, used oils with antibiotic properties and didn't have to fill the prescription after all.)  There is always something on hand that is completely safe and natural that we can try before taking anyone to the doctor.  And we just haven't had to.

Can you tell that this makes me happy?  Hugely, hugely happy?  We'll use medicine and doctors any time we need to, but I am starting to understand the neighbors of a friend (who I thought were a bit OTT a few months ago) who quit their health insurance policy (except for emergencies or something) because they used essential oils.

I'm glad we have a doctor and access to modern medicine, and I'm even more glad that we pretty much haven't had to use them, or deal with side effects and wait in discomfort to take the next dose, etc.

I haven't mentioned this on my blog, even though it's so important to me (now, though I was quite a skeptic before we tried them).  But now that I have, I will probably share some of the surprises as they come.  I still am regularly shocked when the oils work on a new ailment and I might just post anecdotes at the end of blog posts, like in italics so you can skip them if you don't care.  :)

Do you use oils or know anyone who does?  Do you think it makes me a freak?  Did you know they can be used in place of medicine? (I didn't)  Do you have an ailment that medicine doesn't seem to help that oils might help?  Essential oils are so powerful, especially therapeutic grade oils (we use DoTerra's top quality oils.)  I'm very grateful for them.
In case it's not clear, I'd be delighted to talk to anyone about oils who wants to!  It never gets old. Just drop me a line.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Wrinkle From Time

My sister Anne and I were often mistaken for twins when we were kids.  Because of this, and the fact that everyone in her apartment complex at BYU knew I was her sister the second they laid eyes on me when I visited from Ricks, we started a tradition of staring into the mirror, cheek to cheek and comparing our faces. Seriously, every time we have been shocked at how alarmingly different we look.  Every feature is so different, we are baffled at how anyone could think we look similar.

We are only 13 months apart.  Anne used to love to laugh through the entire month in which she was actually TWO years older than me.  I was such a baby that month!  Ha!

But now the laugh's on her!  That extra year and a month has rewarded her with the beloved prize time allows us all: wrinkles.  Wrinkles before her baby sister started showing them.  Who's laughing now, huh Anne!?!  Hahahahahahahaha!

Just kidding.

I hope I didn't have to say that.  I would never laugh at the misfortunes of a sibling.  Well, that's not true.  At all.   But whatever.  The point is, in this case I did not and will not laugh at my sister.  The only reason I even noticed her wrinkles at all was because of the fact that she brought it up about three times a day.  We had a number of conversations like these:

Anne:  Look at these wrinkles on my forehead!!!  And the one on the bridge of my nose!!  Can you believe those!?!
Me:  Yes.  Yes I can.
Anne:  But you don't have any wrinkles!
Me:  Yes I do (smiling and pointing under my eyes).  See?
Anne:  Those don't count.
Me:  Well how does it happen that you're the one who gets to determine which wrinkles count and which don't?
*****
Anne:  You use different moisturizers on your face for day and night?
Me:   Uuuuum, yes.
Anne:  (Rolls eyes.)
*****
Anne:  (suspiciously) Why are you rubbing your eyes like that?
Me:  That's how I rub my eyes, Anne.
Anne:  See!!  You're totally trying to avoid wrinkles!!
*****
Anne:  I'm thinking of getting Botox.

Our sister Su is 4 years older than me (that's 3 years older than Anne, if you do the math.).  I'm not sure about her wrinkles.  Does she have any?  I think she does.  I don't really remember.  I try not to memorize people's wrinkles.  And we didn't have many wrinkle-centered conversations in the days I spent with her.

I think wrinkles are fine.  They're neat.  And mostly they're inevitable.  So who cares?  It's just your face.  And they're only skin deep.  Accept them and move along.

I've been realizing that I think I will have wrinkles above my upper lip. Does this delight me?  Not really but we age how we age.  I'm not going to try to smile less frequently to minimize those wrinkles.  (Or, actually, now that I've thought of it, I might.  I'll just claim I stopped being happy and nobody will be the wiser.  It will be my own little wrinkle-avoiding secret. Except never mind because Greg and the kids are way too funny for me to pretend to be sad through their jokes.  Forget that idea, self.)

So to Anne I say:  A lot can happen in 13 months.  By the time I'm the age Anne is now I may be far more wrinkled, even by her own standard, than she is now.  The next time I visit California and we look at our faces side by side in the mirror we may decide to go in for Botox together*.
*Not really.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

For Those Days When You Wish You Were Renting

I know there are times when every home owner wishes they were renting.  This post is for those people.  The next time you find yourself replacing the air conditioning/water heater/driveway/whatever, think back to this post and remember: this will never happen to you.  And be grateful.

Here is what our new door looks like (in "bad" (good for me) weather/lighting).

Note the doormat, which does not say "DOMOWA"
You can also see the large "3" placed too high.  And crooked.  But we didn't expect much more of the guys who put the door in.  What really surprised us was the handle.


Now, I'm not saying that it's ugly (saying being the operative word, because that happens to be exactly what I'm thinking).  I'm only saying that I wonder who picked out this handle.  That's all I'm saying.

It's metal.  It's aaaaa....n interesting design.  And it's huge.  To put it in perspective let's compare it to a hand that uses it regularly.


Now, this hand, while certainly having proportionally larger proximal interphalangeal joints* than many other hands, is no smaller, in a general way, than regular-people hands.

It is a large and mysterious handle.  And if you own your home, you are unlikely for THAT to be the first thing that greets your friends and neighbors.  I mean, it wouldn't be if you didn't like it.  And that's why you should be happy you own your home.  THE reason. (Well, that and the option to hang your own house number properly.)

*Yes, I looked that joint thing up.  But see how smart I'm getting!?!  For those of you not in a position to smarten up at such an amazing rate as myself, you may refer to the joints as PIP joints.  The website I found it on says so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Priests, Brownies, Doormats and Hellos

The priest came for his yearly visit to our house on Saturday.  Every year at Epiphany a priest goes house to house to sprinkle holy water and ask a blessing on the home, update church membership records, visit briefly and receive a little white envelope. A different priest comes every year, and this one was great.  In the past I would say that all of the priests were nice, some were very nice, and some civil-nice.  We've had a priest who repeatedly took the Lord's name in vain (but was quite merry and friendly) and one who interrupted Greg almost every single time he tried to say anything.  Greg's parents had one, one year, who asked if they minded if he smoked in their living room.  I think that was a few good years ago, though.  More recently we were at my in-laws for the visit when a priest asked his mother when she was finally going to give up smoking.  The priest who came this year had been to Salt Lake City and seen the world and was very open and asked a lot of questions.  It was very nice, but the conversation was kind of one-sided, with us doing the most talking (answering questions) before he had to go.  (note: we skip the holy water and the white envelope)
*************
Tonight, brownies after FHE will end our Week Without Sugar, which was actually a week without candy, chocolate and sweet baked treats.  I still allowed a little jam and the occasional yogurt and sweetened dried fruit like craisins.  It was very, very good, but it was also very hard for me.  I mean, I did it, and I was okay, but I often felt worn out (despite eating lots of good fruits and vegetables) and ate more than I should have because I always felt I needed something.  Yes, I am clearly addicted to sugar (shocker) and this was a very good experiment.  We are limiting sugar in our diets from now on (notably, taking the sugar out of breakfast most days) and I'm actually really excited.
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We went to get a new doormat and found two options.  One had two rows of large, earth-toned circles.  The other had "DOMOWA" written across it in enormous type.  This was a puzzlement for all of us.  I kept thinking and thinking and then I realized, "OH!!"  Domowa means "home", but only the adjective.  Dom means (and rhymes with) home.  Domowa means "home" as in "praca domowa" (homework) or "wojna domowa" (home war, translation: family feud).  You read it on the mat and think "Home what?"  I think this is another example of google translate fail.  We bought the colored circles, but I"m thinking about going back for the other one, as it would be a great conversation piece.  Plus it's silly.
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On one of my walks (I'm doing great with my resolutions!  Still!) I went past a home a few blocks away that has a lovely garden, now barren, which I peek in at thought the fence with my kids in the summer.  I've seen the older couple that lives there a few times but don't know them.  The man was outside on the sidewalk as I walked past, and instead of the half smile I usual throw at people, I actual vocalized a "dzien dobry" (good day).  I used the inflection that is kind of "all business" that mere acquaintances use (thinking this was already too much), where the first two syllables are pronounced low and the last one is pronounced in a higher tone.  He responded, going up on the MIDDLE syllable, which is how you say it when you are really happy to see someone.  For some reason this totally made my day.  I was expecting maybe a nod of the head, if anything.  I have clearly been living in Poland too long.  Or long enough?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Solving Yet Again

Am I the only one who's noticed that the joke's on us?  That the the term "resolution" comes from the root word "resolve", and that the word resolve* means RE-SOLVE, or in other words, to SOLVE AGAIN (don't check your dictionary, just take my word for it, please).  So at the beginning of a new year we all make lists of how to solve the same problems over again.  Because we failed last year.  Obviously.  New Years Try Again, Losers (and fail again, too!) might be a more fitting term.

But whatever.

I've been inspired by so many of my friends who've made lists and really enjoyed reading them, so I will post my own to look back on next year, before I type them up again at the beginning of next January.  So here is my list of problems to try solving again:

GET SMART:
I'm getting tired of being dumbish.  I've always wanted to know more stuff, but always been too lazy to learn it (I just want to know it, please).  This year
I will:
* study scriptures NOT for a few minutes before I fall asleep, but in the morning when I'm not half asleep.  This might be easier because we've already started being ready for school early and spending that last ten minutes or so before Greg takes the kids to school sitting together in a quiet living room, each doing our personal scripture study.  I LOVE this.
* Do more than a quick scan of Wikipedia when I want to know about something.  I do that far too often.  I  will research subjects that interest me in more detail.  I will also learn more about things that other people know/think they know so I can be better informed.
* Read fewer status updates/comments and more non-social-type writings.
* Learn how to do things.  On the computer/phone, playing basic hymns on the piano and maybe the ukulele if Evie ever gets off long enough for me to learn.  Etc.

STOP BAKING SO MUCH:
I always think it's so funny when people tell me that the wished they baked more.
I will:
Bake dessert no more than twice, and a sweet breakfast (muffins/scones) only once, per week.  I've made this resolution before and only lasted for a few weeks.  I will do better.

MOVE MORE:
I don't sit down very much, but I also spend very little time making my heart pump rapidly.
I will:
Get out on my own or with Greg and walk fast at least 15 minutes a day (preferably 30+) after the kids get home and we've chatted over their lunch.  I am exempt on days when the blizzard is so fierce that a person cannot move in any direction.  Or when there is a flood, fire, tornado or hurricane.  Or earthquake.

TEACH MY KIDS MORE:
I've been getting better at this, but ohmygosh I have a long way to go.
I will:
Teach Aaron the alphabet/reading basics, whether he wants to learn or not.
Talk to Aaron and Spence more about things as we go along.
Start more discussions with Ev and Dave.  Have more gospel-centered conversations.

EXPRESS MY OPINION LESS OFTEN:
for Pete's sake.
I will:
On facebook.  Even when people say dumb or offensive things.
And in real life.  I'll stop myself when I feel a room going quiet and realize that I'm expressing my opinion about something as if it is the Holy Truth.  (although I still call some of those things holy truth.  Like how Poles should not pee in plain sight on the side of the road. :)
On my blog, however, I will write whatever I want.

BE MORE EASY GOING:
I will:
Stop acting like everything matters so much.
Smile more.
Forgive more easily.
Let other people decide things more often.
Never lose my temper.

Well, that oughtta do it!  Wish me luck!!
*and to those who are saying, "doesn't resolution come from resolute?" I say, "Don't sass me."

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Hope I Don't Die

Oh my, it's been a wonderful week or two.  Everything this week of the year should be.  I hope yours was too!

And now it's time to put away the things of last year, and last week.  Like the 5 pies, dozens of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, mint brownies, toffee, fudge, shortbread cookies (not my idea), meringues and so on.

In an attempt to be a tiny little fraction as cool as the Ken Craig family (read him if you don't.  You must.) I am taking my own family off of sugar to start off the year.  His family goes off for the entire month of January and I'm taking mine off for the entire first week.  Minus the first two days because there are still treats in the house and we need dessert after FHE.  But THEN.  Then, I tell you, we're off sugar for the first time in EVER.  For seven days.

I am not sure if I will survive so I am writing this post as a kind of farewell, just in case.  I'm also considering posting something every day so I have something to live for.  Muuuuust wriiiiiiiite pooooooost.  Like that.  Because I doubt that things like feeding children so they don't starve and making sure no catastrophe hits here at home will be enough motivation for me with no sugar to push me along.