Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Think He's Gonna Like it There

(Please read the title to the tune of the song from Annie.)

On the second day of school I asked Aaron how his new teacher is.  He told me a bunch of things his teacher had said, in Polish, but with the addition of his own grammatical errors (which can't be translated because Polish grammar is far too wacky):

"'No, sweetie, you have to sit over there.'  She says 'sweetie' a lot".
"Don't run because you might fall down and get hurt."
"She can't whistle very well." me: "Does she try to whistle?" Aaron: "No, never.  But when we were being too noisy my other teacher whistled so loud it hurt my ears."

Last year's teacher, though presumably nice, was a bit of a screamer.  She barked orders.  She didn't seem mad, it was just the way she did things.  So the fact that he has a teacher that uses terms of endearment and explains why kids should/shouldn't do things and doesn't break his ears when she's whistling for them to shut up just makes me so happy.

During orientation she explained about how the kids would play and play until they learned everything they need to know.  She told us it's hard for her to see kids come to school with 7 Days (packaged danish) that expire in 2016.  She asked us to please just send our children with sandwiches and if we wanted them to have chocolate or sweets, send enough for the whole class.

She may be a tiny bit Bloomberg-esque, but I like her.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

End of an Era (for us)

When Greg was at BYU he always planned to come to Poland “to help build the church”.  2 1/2 years into our marriage and soon after his graduation, he quite suddenly and unexpectedly got a job in his homeland. Nine days later, we moved to the other side of the world.

There was no branch of the church anywhere near our little city but it was kind of fun catching the early morning bus for the 3 hour drive to church in Cracow every Sunday.  Attending our little branch was such a different experience than I'd ever had in the church.  A missionary was the branch president and there were very few priesthood holders of any other sort. 

For probably 7 months we went.  Same routine, every Sunday.  It was a great experience.  Greg didn't get a calling.  Just about the time I started thinking that this seemed like quite a waste of resources (yes, I like to call my husband a resource), he was called as the branch president.

A few months later David was born.  On our first trip to church after his birth when he was 4 weeks old, a kid sitting in front of us on the bus vomited all over.  I gave his mother a handful of wipes and a sympathetic look and vowed to myself to never take my infant on a bus again.  

So we got a car.

We'd only had the little red Fiat for about a month when the new Mission President asked if we could drive to Katowice to meet with him after he held a fireside there.  So we went.  

The drive felt like forever and ever.  It was winter and it was very dark and we were very inexperienced in driving in Poland.  We'd never been to Katowice.  We got lost.  Over and over.  What should have taken us 3 hours took us more like 5.  We missed the meeting but were still able to meet with the Mission president.  

That night Greg was called into the Mission Presidency.  He was to oversee the branches in southern Poland, 2, 3, and 5 hours away from where we live.  And he did.  And he loved the President and his fellow counselor.

About a year later a District was formed and he was released from the Mission Presidency and called as the Katowice District President.

That was nine years ago.  Today he was released.

That nine years (10 1/2 if you count the time in the mission presidency) feels like our whole life.  

We drove and drove and drove.  We stayed in lots and lots of hotels some very scary, some quite nice and most completely serviceable.  We ate lots and lots of plain rolls and cheese (and fast food).  

Our family grew.  Our testimonies grew.  The branches grew.  We spent lots of time with wonderful members of the church.  I spent hours every Sunday talking to the missionaries while Greg had meetings and the kids played on the keyboard in the chapel or wrote on the white boards.  

It was our life.  We loved it.  It changed a little as the family grew, but it was pretty much the same routine for all that time.  

And we were blessed.  David proved to be a baby and then toddler who just loved being in the car, even for long, long drives.  The other kids never minded much either.  Greg was blessed to work with some really wonderful men and I had the pleasure of spending time with their even-more-wonderful wives as we waited for them to finish their meetings.  

We learned a lot.  We overcame some of our weaknesses.  We discovered new weaknesses.  We worked to make everything fit (suitcases in the car, school and church trips in our schedule etc.).  We struggled and we thrived.

Our kids grew up that way.  It's all they've ever known.  

Now they'll have dad sitting by them at church (I don't believe there is a single branch in our district where there is a row of 6 chairs together in the sacrament meeting room.  Hmm.  We'll have to work something out).  They'll maybe even have a Primary teacher.

We'll have new adventures.  We'll learn what regular weekends are.  We'll sleep in our own beds.  We'll eat fewer plain rolls with cheese (and fast food – glory be!)

It will be wonderful.  And we will always, always be grateful for the blessing of these past 9 (or 10 1/2) years.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home not-so-Sweet Home

I can't wait until tomorrow morning.  Oooooooh, how I can't wait.  I'm having chocolate for breakfast in the form of peanut butter chocolate chip scones.  Now, a week ago I would have given little thought to the pleasure of such a breakfast, but tonight, I can think of little else.

I prepped the ingredients so it'll be quick to throw together in the morning and as I chopped the chocolate I realized that -my gosh!- I'm out of practice!  I haven't chopped chocolate in over a week!

Under the inspiration of the Craig family, we've made the first week in January significantly less delicious than the other 51 weeks of the year by omitting sugar from it.  Some inspirations are, apparently, beyond the limits of my ability to follow very closely, because their family does it for a MONTH.  I can only assume that there is some genetic mutation of some sort going on in that family that makes that possible.  As our family does not carry this defect, we go sugar-free for a week.

Some of the surprising things that happened this week:

1) I didn't die.

2) I threw away a cupcake that was left-over from our New Year's celebration.  A delicious, cream-filled, chocolate topped hostess cupcake copycat (only waaaaaaaaay better).  It was on the table when I went into the kitchen in the morning and I picked it up and dumped it in the trash without even thinking.  I never, ever, ever throw baked things away. (remember, I prefer to let them go to waist?)

3) The first day, I went downstairs a little while after David had come home from school to see that for lunch he'd eaten leftover banana pancakes and buttermilk syrup and had then made up some jello to drink warm.  He was shocked to know that that didn't fit in with our sugar-free week.

I didn't lose a single ounce.  This was not the goal, but I was planning on not getting angry if I happened to lose a pound or two.  Or one ounce.

Spencer didn't ask every 30 seconds for a piece of chocolate/cookie/brownie and then scream if he couldn't have it.  Instead, he never even mentioned sweets until,  on day 4, he happened upon one stray chocolate that I didn't catch in the sugar round-up-and-hide-away.  He brought it to me and asked if he could eat it.  I told him that we weren't eating chocolate that day, and that I was sorry.  He said--and I quote--"Aaaaah.  But it's really yummy." And then shrugged his shoulders and went off to play as I took it away and hid it.  It was one of my strangest parenting moments ever.

Some of the not-so-surprising things that happened this week:

For the first few days Aaron kept asking "why can't we eat sweets!?!  I need something sweet!"

Our honey consumption probably quadrupled.

While grocery shopping I picked up 20 kilos of sugar.

The plan starting tomorrow is to not eat chocolate or candy plain, and to bake only three times a week (2 desserts and one breakfast).  I'd also like to work harder and using natural sweetening choices besides refined sugar in my cooking and baking.

Life is sweet, but I think mine will be a little sweeter if I keep it a little less sweet.