Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crafty things

So today I have for you some crafty things:

Toby's teacher is Polish and she has lived in the States before. At Toby's birthday party, I brought cupcakes and she LOVED them. She proceeded to tell me that she LOVES brownies and wanted to know if I had a good recipe, and she also used to eat LOTS of chocolate chip cookies. They don't have chocolate chips in Poland (we brought them with us) and brownies are a totally American dessert. Anyway, that gave me an idea for her Christmas present.

I created the bag from a brown paper lunch bag, and embellished it, and I lined it with wax paper and filled it with chocolate chip cookies (from my grandmother's , Neslee Toolouse - 5 points for the reference, recipe). Oh, and Ula is her name...just to clarify.

Then there's the brownies in a jar:
This is just a brownie recipe from using ingredients that can be found easily in Warsaw. If she likes the mix, I will pass on the recipe to her. (And please ignore my messy table...all that Christmas wrapping and cleaning.)

And this is going to be my last blog post, probably of this year. I'll blog about my trip when I get back, but I still can't tell y'all about it. I should be back to blogging by the 7th so check back (but I could feasibly be back sooner).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Some Pamela stuff

Since I don't actually write about Pamela all that much AND a couple of things have happened in the last couple of days that have been Pamela related, I'm writing up a post dedicated to Pamela.

But first a picture:
She loves to take pictures of herself.

Yesterday, when we were on our way back from Seth's school, we were talking about our upcoming trip to the States. Since Pamela has never really lived in the States (we moved when she was less than 2 and we moved back for 9 months when she was in 2nd grade and then 1 year when she was in 5th) she has a very interesting perspective on it. Yesterday she asked me why nothing is old there. The conversation went like this:

Pamela: "The States is so weird. It's like it's not real. Do you know what I mean?"

Me: "Not exactly, how do you mean?"

P: "Like it's all so clean and plastic. It's like a make believe land."

M: "I see now. I totally get that it's really clean (as compared to all the places we have lived). Americans tend to be afraid of filth."

P: "It's like...there's like...Nothing is old there. You know? You look around here and buildings have been here forever. And there it's like "this is the place for shopping and this is the place for living" but here it's like, you live here and there's a store in the bottom of the apartment building...or outside your neighborhood. You don't HAVE to go to Walmart for everything."

M: "Well, there's actually not much that is old in Warsaw. Most everything was rebuilt after the 2nd World War. But I get you. Here it LOOKS old and in the States it's not. The States sometimes seems like Disneyland."

Can you believe she's 13?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gratutitous Fluff

Today I am a bad mom:(. Seth takes toys to school, hiding them in his lunch kit so that I don't see them. I have asked him not to take toys to school so that they don't accidentally get lost, and like his sister, he argues with me. I've tried checking his lunch kit before he walks out to the car, but now I see that he stashes them in the car until he can put them in his lunch. He inadvertantly pulled one out of the kit in front of me at school. I told him to give it to me, and he began to cry. Then, after he had changed into his slippers (they all wear slippers inside, it's a Polish thing) he stormed up the stairs from the cloakroom and didn't even say goodbye to me. There was no yelling, just some mild crying and storming off, but all the other parents were staring at me afterwards, almost as though I had beaten him right there. Am I wrong to not let him take toys to school?

And a picture for y'all. Just to spread some Christmas cheer! And I'm trying to incorporate more photos in my blog, since I really enjoy reading blogs with photos. Perhaps it stems from's like a picture book:). This photo is one of the many handpainted Polish ornaments that I have bought. I just think they are so beautiful.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Blog fodder for today...

I try so hard not to go to the grocery store in Poland during the Christmas season. It's just packed all the time, no matter what time of day you go. You shoppers know how you can lose several hours in a store and it seems like five minutes? In Auchan you can lose 1 1/2 hours and it feels like 3. Auchan is like a super Walmart, but reversed. There's about 3/4 of the store that is food and then 1/4 of the store is all that other stuff...clothes, housewares, electronics, DVDs. All the carts have (which are like this in every country in Europe, at least the ones I've been to) four wheels that turn (as opposed to the States, where only 2 of the wheels turn). This has got to be one of THE worst designs in history. All of the carts have some serious problems and they're all really hard to push. AND you have to pay to get a cart, 1 or 2 zloty, which is 50 cents to $1 (you get the money back when you return the cart). Like anyone would steal these carts that you can't push...they certainly wouldn't get very far.

The worst thing about the carts is that they appear to have a weight sensor on them. You don't know you have a bad cart (although you can assume that you do as they are all bad in some way) until you have loaded your milk and juice for a family of 6 in it. Then it twists and turns all the way down the aisle, forcing you to run over little old ladies (they probably deserved it) and small children. You make your way to the cashier and find that you have forgotten something and then decide that it is SO not worth it to traverse the store with a broken cart and a screaming chocolate covered baby (did I mention the part about how Blaise reached into the cart and took a bite of something, ANYTHING, while I wasn't looking?). You make your way out to the parking lot with the basket, and because it's Christmas time and everyone in the entire country is at this store, you had to park at the very end of the parking lot, which may as well be in the next town over. You've cleverly parked next to one of the cart returns because you've done this enough times that you know that you don't want to leave the baby in the car while you walk to the next town to take your cart back, so of course someone approaches you and asks if they can take the cart back for you. You say, in English that you don't speak Polish (a blatant lie) and they tell you in perfect English that they would like to take your cart back (which of course means they want to keep the money). You tell them, NO, I parked right next to the cart return so I could take my own cart back! and then feel like a bad person for not giving during the Christmas season.

On the way home you plan out the rest of your day and think about how you will take your run while the two youngest boys sleep, because when the alarm went off at 5:30 you didn't want to get up, because you were out til midnight last night at the WASTA (not affiliated with the Middle Eastern meaning) Christmas Party. You look in the back and see that the littlest one is sound asleep, exhausted from the screaming in Auchan. You back into the garage (and don't hit anything!) and pull the baby out of the car telling him that he is not allowed to sleep now because this will ruin your day! You put him in the living room and bring the groceries in only to find this:

At which point you give up.

Hope y'all have a great day!

ETA: I just read all the way down on the Wikipedia link for Auchan and there's a photo captioned "Mysiadlo, near Warsaw". The caption is incorrect, but that's my Auchan! That's the one I shop at and it should be in Piaseczno

Monday, December 10, 2007

Scrapbooking AND Poland;)

Hey, a combined post! Now in all fairness, I'm going to continue to blog about scrapbooking because that's where all my comments come from. Give the readers what they want right? (For those of you who want more on life overseas, leave me a comment).

I've got a few things for you today. Lain's challenge for this week was to create a home decor object from scrapbooking supplies. Now I don't know if ornaments are generally considered to be home decor, but for this purpose I am considering them to be.

I make these for the kids' godparents each year, since we're so far away, it gives them a little idea of how much they grow. I recycle a CD and cover it with paper or cardstock and then embellish it with ribbons, beads and all the rest. This one took me about 30 minutes to do, but I kind of rushed it and I didn't get the beads around the outside on quite straight. I use a glue gun to glue the beads on. The other side is also covered with paper and has another picture of Toby on it, but it's not as embellished...I really only cover the other side so that the CD doesn't show through. Because I don't have a crop a dile (but I'd really like one), I punch the holes in the CDs by using my handy hammer and nail and a block of wood underneath.

So that's my scrapbooking for today. Now onto Poland.

Today, I was stopped in bumper to bumper traffic leaving my house trying to get to Toby's school. This is never a problem. Usually I am in bumper to bumper traffic to Seth's school, but Toby's school is about 10 minutes up the road. So just outside of Powsin, which is about 5 minutes from my house, traffic STOPS. It took me about 20 minutes to get the 2 miles to Toby's school from where the traffic stopped. When we get up to what's going on (I'm thinking it's an accident) it turns out that there are about 7 police (Policja) cars sitting around, pulling people over randomly. Apparently their job is to impede the flow of traffic. Dylan said, so you take a main artery into town and completely block it during rush hour on a Monday morning, no wonder Western Europeans think Poland is backwards.

And one last bit for the day. Here's an article on gift cards. Dylan sent it to me this morning and it really hit home. My friend Sara sent me one of those "get to know you" emails where you fill in the information. I'm a sucker for those even though I don't usually send forwards, but those are just kind of fun and sometimes you learn something new about your friends. Anyway, in that one was the question "What is the worst gift you have received?" I answered "Walmart gift cards". We don't have Walmart anywhere that I live and it really shows that you didn't think about me at all. You just checked me off your list. Gift cards are not as great with online shopping and Walmart in particular is difficult (particularly when you live in Africa and Walmart, as well as quite a few other vendors, have African ISPs blocked).

Now after all that, I did cop out and send 3 gift cards this year. All to the same family. And for the same reasons she mentions in the article. I don't really know them anymore and I never see them. So maybe they should fall off my list...

So hope you all have a good day. And leave me some comments;).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Swiety Mikolaj, CLO, and other stuff

Sorry for no new posts...It's been a VERY hectic week and I'm just able to pull a couple of minutes between bringing Toby home and putting him down for a nap to blog a bit...

St. Nick (Swiet Mikolaj in Polish) came to visit yesterday as it's his name day and he brings presents on that day in Poland (and Germany and the Ukraine and probably more places, but those are the only ones that I can say for certain). So he came the day before Toby's birthday and now there are some fantastic toys strewn all over the living room.

There was a party at the ambassador's on Wednesday where someone came to me and asked me if I was going to apply for the CLO job (Dylan must be hearing this more than me, because that was actually the first time I was approached but he has mentioned a couple of times...then again I am NEVER at the embassy and he's there everyday). I told her no. She asked why, telling me that I'd be so good at it, and I said, "Honestly, because they didn't choose me the first time". I felt pretty proud of myself, other than the fact that she actually got me into a discussion right there about how angry I still am 6 months later, because I didn't feel the need to beat around the bush. I was flat out honest with her. Usually I'm too nice.

Now the bad thing, she did get me to vent for probably 15 minutes about how I am so angry that I'm hearing how I'd be great for the job (well, hell yeah I did this job before IN THIS LOCATION!) when they didn't PICK ME THE FIRST TIME. Then I was given lame excuses about how they don't hire people who are not yet at post. Then why the hell did you interview me? To make it seem like you were doing the right thing? It's a screwed up system and it pretty much soured me for quite some time on the idea of working in an embassy and particularly THIS embassy.

She did go on and on about how newcomers need that good CLO and I could be that person (this is something they do to appeal to you as CLO, when you're good at it you're someone who really likes helping people and so they tell you that people need you to appeal to your sympathy). That used to work for me, and I used to aspire to things like keeping a security clearance and helping people. But, and this is something else you can search in my blog, no one helped me the first time I moved here and no one helped me the second time. I have never seen the inside of my sponsor's house. I don't feel like I make a difference because if I did then people would be helping people here and they're still not. Now, I do have the couple of people who are like, I go to church with you maybe you can help me find things or learn things, but for everyone else I feel like the embassy wanted you to be on your own. Sucks for you, but My Give a Damn's Busted. (I really hope y'all can access that link because I can't since I'm outside the US).

Sorry, that's my venting for today. I'll try to get past this CLO thing, but it may take a while. Toby's preschool teacher told me that I should just demand a higher salary and take the job, which is a good idea, but I don't think I want them to win...silly I know.

No scrapbooking this week. I'm really busy and most of the time I scrap Lain's challenges, but this week I couldn't do her challenge. It was to use all one manufacturer and I just don't have enough to make a layout from one manufacturer. My stuff is eclectic!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Non Scrapbook post:)

Dylan is picking on me because he still gives out the blog address to people as an insight into our lives overseas, but now it has turned into a scrapbook blog. True, but scrapbooking is a passion of mine, and at this point it's what I do. So anyway, this is a non scrapbook post.

The problem is that when we lived in Africa (look in the archives before June 2007), so many funny things happened because of the extreme cultural difference between North America and Africa. Here in Poland...nothing funny really happens. Most of the things that happen that are cultural differences just make me angry, so they don't usually make it to the blog. There's not much cultural difference between North America and Europe, especially when you're like me and have spent 6 years of the past 12 in Europe.

So my observations today: Poles drive like maniacs the first time it snows. They drive like maniacs most of the time, but I was almost hit twice on the way to Seth's school today and I was nearly run off the road by someone as well. That's not normal. Usually it's only one near accident and I see it coming. When I'm driving here, mostly I just pray that I don't get in an accident because so many people still don't speak English and I just don't know what I'd do.

I guess that's another thing. I spend my entire day in the car and the house, and I don't do much interacting. It's sad, but I just don't really have the time or the energy to be out and about doing things. It takes half an hour to get Blaise bundled to go outside in the cold (even if it's just from the car to the store, he has to be in AT LEAST coat, mittens and hat - if not the babcias (grandmas) will tell you all about it) and where do I have to go? Many of the people who are on their 3rd year here have nannies, but it seems like the people who came in this summer do not. Nannies have gotten pretty expensive here and they can be because they can demand a higher wage if they speak English. I actually think that's pretty awesome. I think if you went to the trouble to learn another language you should be able to demand a higher wage for it. Unfortunately I can't afford to pay it. So I don't go to the art shows and various and assorted other cultural interesting things that are going on around the city. I pretty much live like your average American stay at home mom...with the exception that I have to be able to read and speak (at least some) another language in order to get my shopping and cooking done.

The funniest thing that happened recently with regard to Poland, was that I bought some couscous. I was on the phone with my dad and trying to figure out how to make the couscous. When I bought it, I only looked at the label that said couscous and went on. When I pulled it out of the pantry, I realized the whole package is written in French. Now, I speak NO French and I bought the package in a big grocery store here IN POLAND. So I turn to Pamela, who took French for 4 years in school, and ask her "How much water does it say I need?" She says she has no idea. Finally, I looked it up online "How many parts couscous to parts water?" My dad says, "If I had to live like that, everyone would eat hot dogs all the time." The best part about it is that I can read recipes in German, Spanish, Polish and even some in Arabic...but I CANNOT read recipes in French.

On the French note, Toby goes to school with Timotee, who is French. Every time he sees me he says "le mama d' Toby" which, even with my lack of knowledge of French, is the equivalent of Mrs. Toby's Mom:).

ETA: After all that talk of trying not to get into an accident and several near misses today, I backed into a @#$% wall and broke the taillight on the van!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gone digi...

Okay, so I made that digital page of Toby and I enjoyed it but, like I said in that post, I didn't think I could go totally digi...

Umm, so I made this:

I don't think I'm all that addicted, but I've been watching the photoshop elements podcast with Corey Barker and I'm learning a tremendous amount (video podcasts are awesome for me 'cause I watch them when I lay down with Toby for his nap). I have photoshop elements 6.0 (free trial version right now) and we also have photoshop. Photoshop elements is a little more user friendly than photoshop (but it's still photoshop so if you don't understand photoshop, you will have to take's like the difference between needing a Master's degree in Photoshop and a Bachelor's in Photoshop elements).

Anyway, my point is that I've gotten really interested in digital now that I know how to use photoshop elements. So I guess I'll be getting elements for Christmas...

Oh and one last thing...go elf yourself...and have fun doing it!:)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


So I was watching Craft TV Weekly and Tricia Morris mentioned ATCs. I've been interested in Artist Trading Cards since I heard of them, but I've met a few people lately who have said, hey, I need to get your contact I sat down the other day to make an ATC. I've fallen in love! It's so much fun and I know that I'm carrying them in my purse to give out as "business cards" even though I have no business. It's neat to make a tiny work of art and people will remember you if you hand them these handmade cards. After I made the first one, Pamela loved it and insisted that I make one for her to use as her business cards (her business is babysitting).

Here's hers: and the ones above are a sampling of my work. The thing I love most about them is that I can put flowers and butterflies on them because there are no boys on them (not like all my scrapbook pages:)!

My Friend H

I got an email today from my friend H. She had her baby last week and she and the baby are now at home and doing well, but she would probably still appreciate some prayers as she's still going through a difficult time.

Each time I get an email from her now, I no longer feel that warm feeling, probably because we have fallen away from each other. I'm happy that she has the baby (and he's precious, but I just love babies anyway:) and I'm happy if her life is working out for her...but I don't know. I know our "falling out" is my fault because when I was near my due date with my youngest she told me she was getting married and I wrote her a scathing email. There were many reasons, hormones being why it was so scathing...when I'm not pregnant I'm a fairly nice person...not particularly friendly, but nice. But these past 18 months, since that email, I have learned that the reason I was so angry was because I thought of her as a close friend, but I feel that she didn't think of me in the same way. I think that she has to have people like her and therefore can make you feel like she's closer to you than she actually is.

So much happened in the past 5 years in our friendship. And I didn't see any of it coming. At first I thought it was because I was an out of touch friend, but now I think that she just either didn't consider me that close of a friend, or she just doesn't feel that close to anyone. I've another friend that I have known since we were 6 years old and she has NEVER done anything that surprised me...or at least not so many things in a row.

My friend H, well in 4 years her marriage fell apart (I never saw it coming), she remarried, joined another church (this was a big one for me because she and I have a past in our church), and had a baby (another big deal...I won't go into here).

This was one of those times when I thought...hmm...when you leave you really aren't friends anymore. I think I first realized it in Ghana, when my close friend left, but it had obviously been going on this whole time. The whole thing saddens me, and I don't have any friends here in maybe that's a really good thing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Of cranberries and homework

So this weekend, I never checked moodle to see if Pamela had any assignments because I was kind of busy with Thanksgiving. My fault, except the fact that she's 13 years old and shouldn't she be at the age where she can keep track of her own schoolwork? Anyway, she's late on at least two assignments because no one checked up on her. I'm pretty frustrated because I feel like I am always the one who has to check up on her and I just wasn't that kind of student. I had some sort of inner motivation. I doubt that Pamela will be going to college.

Blaise gets into the lowest drawer in the kitchen and takes things out all the time. Dylan hates having child locks on everything because he thinks it looks ugly, which is fine because he's not the one who has to clean up the entire contents of Nesquik or a bag of $7 cranberries when Blaise dumps the entire thing onto the floor.

The dryer is emitting a electrical fire smell, so I have discontinued using it. Unfortunately I now have two loads of wet clothes that are just waiting until someone from the embassy can get off their butts and come down here. Apparently fire hazard is not that big of a deal when it comes to driving out to Konstancin in the snow flurries. Can't wait til blizzard conditions...nothing will get accomplished.

Toby touched the iron after I told him several times not to because it was hot. Apparently he needed proof. Seth is just in a bad mood like he always is when he comes home from school and because two kids climbed into bed with me last night (one of whom thought that 3 AM is a time to be awake and talking to Mommy), I didn't go for my morning run this morning and was unable to fit it in during the short nap that Blaise and Toby got.

Today I also had to turn down the most fascinating job offer I've had in...well...pretty much my whole life. It didn't pay enough to get a nanny, it paid Polish wages, and apparently the reason the nannies are so well educated is because it's SO much better to be paid $7 an hour nannying than anything that would actually use your Master's degree in Geology (yes, I'm thinking of one specific nanny here).

So overall I'm in a pretty crappy mood today. And now I need to clean up the rest of the cranberries and then make dinner for just the kids and me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Edyta's Cards...

I got a bit addicted to making the cards today and in an effort to stop eating Thanksgiving leftovers (of which there are a ton!), I continued to make cards all day. I have found in doing this, that I really enjoy making cards, it seems to be less stress than scrapbooking (although it will never replace that as my creative outlet!)

I like Edyta's cards better and this has inspired me to make notecards (no dziekuje) for Toby's teachers. I liked putting the teachers initial on the cards too. All in all this was fun and I hope everyone enjoys looking at them. I now have to go write some business letters for my business writing class (ugh!). They have all turned into "Letters from a nut".

Thank you (Dziekuje) cards

Here's the set of "thank you" (or actually Dziekuje) cards that Seth and I made for his teacher. He has two teachers, Iza and Edyta, so this is just the set for Iza. I'll add another picture when I finish Edyta's.

I was again inspired by Lain over at ScrapHappy. She's been posting these Christmas countdown projects that are cute. I had Seth draw a picture of Iza and write her name (he wrote Isa, but it's really Iza -eezah) and then I followed Lain's directions almost to the T. I only added Dzieki (sorry for the no e hook I don't have that ability in blogger as it's not Polish blogger) and Dziekuje (literally: I thank) from the printer because I don't have any rubons that are Polish...there's no scrapbook stores here.

So enjoy! I'll have to do some for Ula and Brana (Toby's teachers) too!

Friday, November 23, 2007

30 minute Thursday!

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope it was a nice day for all!

Here's this week's scrapbook page. The challenge was to use numbers on the page, which I found especially difficult.
I got the idea from the cover layout of Scrapbooks, Etc. from May/June 2006. And Toby's not quite 3 yet...he's got about 2 weeks still to go...but that's semantics.

This was my first attempt at scrapbooking digitally with Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. It was interesting, but I still don't think it's going to replace cut and paste scrapbooking for me. And because there's a 30 minute time limit, I wasn't able to play around too much with the journaling, so I need to go back and fix the sizes.

Anyway, back to Christmas decorating! Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A few Pics for today

I went to IKEA (LOVE THAT STORE!) with Sara on Saturday and spent WAY too much money. I intended to go and get some serving dishes for Thanksgiving, as I left all my stuff in storage...unintentionally. Anyway, I found these:

They're a great find for someone who lives in a country with no scrapbook stores. Actually, my confession is that much of my stuff comes from IKEA. The other day, I even flipped an IKEA paper that comes in the photo frames and mounted something for my page on it (it was convenient;).

Then there's this guy. He came from McDonald's, I think it was when we first arrived here. Blaise LOVES him even though he no longer has ears. He plays music if you push his ears and Blaise will play and dance with him, but now that he no longer has ears you have to stick your fingers down into the broken plastic, which is actually kind of sharp, to get his music to play. I need to throw him away, but Blaise loves him so much. What do you do? I guess wait until Blaise goes for his nap:).

Other than that, nothing is happening. I don't know how much scrapping I'll get done this week as I have to prepare for Thanksgiving at our house. But I'll still try;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

30 minute Thursday again! And on Friday!

This week's challenge from Lain was to use a preprinted embellishment (I chose the rub on quote in the corner). I'm having difficulty with my scanner, so nothing comes out quite right, but you can get the gist of the layout. I don't actually care much for this layout, but it's scrapped which is more than I can say for most of my photos:).

I found the quote first and I had this picture from our trip to Germany just a few weeks ago...Pamela is not thrilled but I told her that no one she knows reads my she's safe:).

Now, let's see what you can do in 30 minutes (Sara, I'm talking to you! You've got to get working on that new book now;)'s not that hard, just set the timer and go!

Patterned Cardstock: DCWV, plain cardstock: unknown, Rub on: DCWV, Letter Stickers: DCWV, Acrylic Stamps: Autumn Leaves, Ink: unknown - Polish brand, Moon embellishment: Crafts, etc.

In other scrapbooking news, my team finished the relay this morning! Go RKTs! I was the last one on the relay and I had a feeling I would get the layout this I skipped my morning run to run a scrapbook relay;). I'll try to fit my run in while the boys nap today.

AND, I finally set blogger up to the right time zone for took me over a year...but hey.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I should be sleeping...

Not really, I actually should be getting the kids ready to go to school, but instead I am blogging.

I got a comment from my classmate/friend (can you call people friends if you've never met them in person?) Sharon, with very encouraging words for me. That was so nice, but the thing that I've noticed the most is that I am getting a lot more hits on my blog. Not anything like Johnny Virgil, who had the really funny JC Penney flashback (and he's pretty amusing to read), but hey people are reading (AND COMMENTING!!! Thanks!).

Because I am involved in this scrapbooking relay (from yesterday, I'm a Rice Krispie Treat - RKT), it's started to be all I think about. I asked the boys if they wanted Rice Krispies for breakfast. Now the funny thing about this is that we don't have Rice Krispies, you can't buy them here, we didn't "find" any in our pantry, I'm not even sure the boys know what Rice Krispies are. So I got a blank stare until I realized what I had said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Of GPSs and relays

When we were in Germany a couple of weeks ago, Dylan finally bought a GPS. He's been wanting one for quite some time and I have almost bought him one for last Christmas and then again for his birthday...but because I know him so well I chose to let him pick his own. Anyway, it talks to us and tells us things like "in half a mile turn left". Seth LOVES it! He wants "her" (it's a woman's voice therefore the GPS is feminine) to tell us where to go every day when we go to school. If she goes too long without saying something (say for the 8 miles we have to go on the river road) he gets upset "Why isn't she telling us where to go?". Today though he was watching from the rear seat of the minivan while I was setting "her" up and he was telling me "No, you're doing it wrong. You didn't click it. I want it on day not night. It's daytime!" Impressive for an almost 5 year old...

So now you've all heard of Lain at ScrapHappy. This week I'm participating in her relay challenge. She's created a layout and she passes it on to the team captain who then passes it on to the next person and so on... All the teams are named after holiday treats and we're the Rice Krispie Treats, which is ironic because I HATE those things... Anyway, I'll post a link when my team's all finished:).

And one last thing...Pamela and I discovered a new TV show quite by accident. iTunes has free music downloads every Tuesday and I always download the free music. Sometimes I discover a song that I really like and it makes it to my playlist so I keep doing it. Anyway, while I'm downloading the music I often download whatever TV shows they have for free so that I can watch them on my iPod while I lay down with Toby for his nap. In the year or so that I have been doing this I had never discovered a show that I would actually pay for, until now. Aliens in America is just too funny! It just reminds me of how I feel when I go back to the States and I just find Raja to be so adorable. He reminds me of everyone I've ever known overseas (in particular my time in Syria). It's on the CW (whatever that is) Mondays at 7:30 central, after Everybody Hates Chris. Give it a look if you get a's rare that I find any TV worth watching.

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Class...

Everyone who still reads my blog will be confused by the posting of 3 new posts in a very short time (2 days!) but I was thinking about my new class that started today and I was thinking about how I should really be reading for this class, but here I am surfing the web. I seem to always do that in the beginning of a class.

There's a cool blog about lists by Sasha Cagen. She goes on to say how much our lists really say about us. And she has a book coming out on lists. Pretty cool! I'm going to start to make note of my lists now.

Other than that, Dylan gets road rage on the roads here...constantly. I'm not sure what bothers him so and I drive a HECK of a lot more than he does...but he's having trouble. I may have to start driving everywhere. Today he told me that traffic is so bad on the way to Seth's school perhaps I should just take him at a different time (the other day I was feeling bad because the director asked me if Toby would go there next year and I said no, but I didn't have the chance to tell her that it's not because it's not an AWESOME school. It SO is, but the traffic is killer and I can't imagine spending the next 3 years of my life driving to and from that school, so Toby will stay on where he is.).

First Snow!

I don't know if it's because I grew up in a place with no snow, or if it's because I'm just a little bit crazy, but I still find something magical about snow. Of course, I have only spent 5 years of my life in places that do get snow...however, there have been freak snowfalls when I have been there in every place I have lived, except Ghana...but it wouldn't have surprised me if there had been:).

As you can see from the photo, Blaise doesn't share my enthusiasm for snow...I think it was a multitude of things, one being that it's still pretty cold outside and I, being the great mother that I am, made him stand outside in the cold with weird wet stuff falling on him, so I could get a picture. Blaise had never experienced snow...truly the only one of the 4 to not have (Toby kind of counts because he was 2 weeks old when we had a freak snowfall in Houston on Christmas eve).

You may be asking, where exactly is the snow? It's falling, but it's pretty hard to get a picture of non-blizzard snow against a white/grey background. This is the first time it's snowed here this time for us (with the exception of some very light flurries). I hope it sticks! I still think it's magical:)!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

30 minute Layout!

Since last week I failed to mention what the heck all the fuss was about...

Lain over at Scrap Happy (I KNOW you've seen the link to blogs I read...her's is the only one!) challenges everyone to do a layout in 30 minutes. This is a great way to scrapbook for me as it holds me to a time limit and I get at least one layout done a week!

This week's challenge was to scrap "old" photos, with our own definition of old.

So here's this week's:

I totally scraplifted the design from this layout:It's by Elizabeth Dillow and was in the September/October 2007 issue of Simple Scrapbooks. I really liked the dimensional pictures and was trying to find something to do with this idea. So, because these are old pictures of Pamela and I didn't have that many good pictures from that day at Disneyland Paris, this was perfect...there was no need to include just a picture of the front gate, but I liked layering the pictures of Pamela on it.
The journaling reads:

"On July 10, 1998, Pamela and I went to Disneyland Paris for the day. We were living in Illesheim, Germany and Dylan must have been deployed to Bosnia during that time. I don’t remember much about that day, now nearly 10 years later, except that the day we went the characters were on strike and picketing outside the gate. It was a wet, overcast day so we had to buy Pamela a poncho (which she actually had for years and still remembers when she sees it in the pictures) and we had loads of fun! When I look at Pamela’s 4 year old face, I feel many things (old being one of those feelings). She was such a cute little girl, and I see her brothers in that little face. Now, as we are preparing to go to Disney World in Orlando for the first time ever, I’m glad that we had those times together, even if it meant being away from Daddy. You’re a sweetheart and I will always love you"

Cardstock: Bazzil Basics Bling (LOVE THIS STUFF), Chipboard letter: Target, Foam squares: Scrapbook Adhesives, Ribbon: unknown (was a gift in a big bag of ribbons), Computer font: Kristen ITC

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

30 minute Thursday! On Tuesday:).

My newest scrapbook page. For the 30 minute Thursday contest. It's inspired by Janna Wilson's "rake fall colors" layout in Scrapbooks, Etc. November/December 2007 issue on page 56.

Here's her layout:

It took me a little bit longer than 30 minutes as I was distracted by a 17 month old who ran off with my scissors:).

I think if I do this all the time I will get a lot more pages done. Just set the timer and go until it goes off!

And now the little details that only scrapbookers care about...if you're not a scrapbooker STOP READING NOW or risk being bored out of your skull:).

I found inspiration in the fall flavored page and the one large picture with the three smaller ones. It worked well for my page because I was able to focus on each of my kids - 4 pictures, 4 works. I also chose the blue because for some reason all of my kids were wearing some sort of blue that day and it pulled the focus to the kids.
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Monday, November 05, 2007

After a month...and a tank trail

So we went to Germany over the Polish holiday weekend so that I could CLEP some classes and we could do a little shopping. I took two tests, which equals 2 classes (if I pass) and the money that we spend on the gas and lodging in Germany more than makes up for the amount that I would have to pay to take the classes. Let alone that fact that every test gets me a little closer to graduation and the ability to start making money instead of sending us more and more into debt.

Anyway, we went with another family and while mostly everything was okay, at one point Dylan turned onto what looked to be not a main road on the base. Now the base we were staying on is a training base, so there are lots of ranges and big "army colored vehicles" as Pamela put it (which just cracked me up since she's a military kid). We turned off the main road and followed signs to the other base, until we came around a corner and there were TANKS with their weapons pointed in our general direction. MY HEART ALMOST STOPPED...and I'm an Army wife! Anyway, the people following us came upon the same tank formation (we went on through) and when we finally met up with them again they said that "the kids were scared" but we were telling them that it was okay. I was like THE KIDS??? I almost died...that's the closest I've ever been to a tank and the turrets were pointed AT US! It's really funny in hindsight...but NEVER EVER go off the main road on a military base!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I suck!

Okay, I am really starting to suck at this blog thing...I don't seem to be able to carve time out of the day for this usually.

Right now, the only reason I have the time is because I have 3 kids home "sick" with pink eye. I've gotta say, I'm just loving school (insert sarcastic tone). They bring home EVERYTHING! We were the healthiest family when we didn't interact with others... Anyway, the worst thing about pinkeye is that it's not really a sickness. The kids don't feel bad, they're just highly contagious. So they still want to be out playing and running around with other kids. I feel horrible telling them, no, you have to stay in our yard, don't touch/lick/play with anyone else! The fact that pinkeye is not really harmful in anyway, makes me wonder why we don't just let them infect everyone and then everyone would just have pink eyes. There doesn't seem to be anything else bad about it.

I am also sick, but I have self medicated and now I feel much better. Yesterday I spent most of the day laying on the couch sleeping on and off while the kids ran around and screamed and yelled at the tops of their lungs. Today I took DayQuil so that I can at least get off the couch.

There's a reception tonight, that I will probably have to take another dose of DayQuil to make it through, but I have to say after 3 days at home with the kids I am really missing adult interaction. Not that I really get any of that's not like I talk to anyone but the preschool teachers. Toby looks well enough to return to school tomorrow, but Seth's eyes are still scary red. He may have to miss the whole week.

Monday, September 10, 2007

No fun today.

Another rainy cold day in Warsaw. I'm exhausted. I was late picking Toby up from his school and then I was late getting home to the Dell repair guy. Apparently he fixed the computer though.

Nothing really new to report. Seth loves school, Toby loves school and Blaise likes my jiggly belly so he doesn't want me to go to the gym...That's causing me to get really bummed out.

I'll be out of commission for a few days but I should be back to blogging by next Wednesday...hopefully in a much better mood.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rainy and cold in Warsaw...'s so cold in the house even. It was 49 degrees out the last time I checked and it's only September. Well, it's still better than Ghana.

Anyway, while I should be waking the two little ones and taking them to go pick Seth up, I'm blogging instead. Not that I really have anything to say.

I went to the gym for the first time since Houston (of course, I had my little home gym for the whole two years in Ghana, but there's something I like more about being in a place with other people who are also trying to get or stay in shape-even if we never talk since we have a language barrier). Since my gym is in the same parking lot as a large hipermarket here I was going to stop in and pick up a few items and Dylan's dry cleaning, but some man knocked on my window and asked me to roll the window down. I shook my head and drove away. Now I may be paranoid (remember I still have not let the mugging of 2 years ago go - not entirely anyway) but I couldn't even bring myself to stop and get out knowing that this man was still standing in the parking lot. I hope I didn't run over his foot or something...

Okay, I'll go wake two sleepy boys and we'll drag ourselves out into the cold Warsaw day and fetch Seth. Who still loves school. Toby is liking it better...they had music class today and Toby is our total lover of music. He sings ALL THE TIME. Blaise hated the gym and the girl there is not patient at all. Apparently less than 10 minutes of crying and that's enough for her. I get it, but my kids cry for AT LEAST 30 minutes when they are left...I don't know that the gym thing is going to work out (lol...punny).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Added Bonus

Here's a picture of Blaise with his first haircut. I cut it yesterday and now he doesn't look so much like a girl. He's still got those long eyelashes though, which is one of the things that confuse people the most. But he's adorable too...and I am not at all biased:).
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Toby's first day

So, Toby hates his school. I have to say, I'm a little bit with him because it seems so unorganized, but I guess that's no reason to dislike it. He screamed yesterday when we dropped him off and today he hung on to my leg so that I wouldn't leave. I couldn't bring myself to go to the gym today because I couldn't bear dropping Blaise off and going through the same thing in the same day. I think I'll be able to go tomorrow because it actually does seem to get better each day.

On the other hand, Seth LOVES his school. I thought Seth would have a hard time, and he hid under the table for the first 15 minutes of class, but then Pani Iza was able to coax him out and he's been fine ever since. He loves Nicholas and Ava. I think Ava has a little crush on Seth. And who could blame her? He's adorable;).

Pamela is on her 8th grade team building trip this week. I love that my 8th grader still calls me each night to tell me how she's doing. There's something about "large" families that actually makes them miss each other tremendously when they're not together.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Coke Live Festival and more

So Pamela and went to the Coke Live Music Festival in Krakow this past weekend. It's taken me this long to completely recover, and even then...anyway. It was a lot of fun. A VERY tame concert environment where we camped for two nights and watched various and assorted music groups to include, Akon, Rihanna and Lily Allen. We actually missed Lily Allen because our train was late and I was bummed about that because I like her, but it was still fun to see the others.

Seth started school on Monday and we've been having some difficulty with Toby since then because Seth's school is an "embassy" preschool - somehow affliated with the embassy- and therefore follows the ASW schedule. So Pamela and Seth are on about the same page with school. Toby's school is a Polish preschool and the Poles don't start school until the beginning of September, so we've had one week of Toby flipping out when we leave Seth because he desperately wants to go to school too. He'll be alright, but man oh man, I am glad I decided to put them in at the same time. I don't know that I could handle a whole year of Toby being upset that he couldn't start school too.

And fall just fell on us this week. There was no gradual let down, we went from a hot weekend (about 85 degrees F) to suddenly 56 degrees. So we're kind of freezing now. The one thing that I can say I kind of miss about Ghana is that we always knew what to wear, there was no question that you could always dress like it was going to be 100 degrees outside. Here it's a bit more difficult.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wow! It's been awhile...

Basically since we moved into the house. Well, I haven't had much time to breathe since then. My classes started back up again and that leaves me even less time to do trivial things like blog...But I will have a 3 week break after this class so that I can get the kids all settled in school and go back for the wedding.

I've been insanely busy, but nothing really interesting has happened. Tomorrow Pamela and I leave for the Coke Live Music Festival in Krakow. This is NOT because I am trying to be a cool mom, which is the impression that a lot of people have. I am so content with being an "old" mom (and reveling in the fact that all of my daughter's friends' moms are SO much older than me). I am trying to get past my fear of the unknown and I've never been to a live music festival. It takes me back to my hippy roots. We'll be camping for two days about 300 meters from the main stage. It proves to be interesting. I bought a new "rock concert" outfit for the days (it's a pair of warm comfortable pants and a long sleeved shirt).

Funny thing about the festival, you can't bring a digital camera more than 3.2 megapixels...Who has a less than 3.2 megapixel camera anymore? I want pictures for a scrapbook page, so I had to go and buy a disposable camera for this occasion. I can't even find film cameras in Poland...even the smallest megapixel camera I found was's amazing. I think the only reason they even allow cameras is because everyone has a camera on their phone now and they can't prohibit you from bringing a cell phone.

Well, when I get back I will have to post and let everyone know how the festival went. And I'll have to scan my pictures because I have now been transported back in time to 1999:).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Warszawskie Zoo

Today we went to the zoo. It was finally a nice day, partly cloudy and it DID NOT rain! Anyway, Iza REALLY wants to take the kids to the zoo and I think I will let her tomorrow but I had to take Seth today because tomorrow he and I are supposed to tour the preschool.

The pic is of Pamela and Seth waiting for the tram on the way there. Seth was in THE worst mood all day today, but the zoo did improve his mood. He wouldn't let me take many pictures of him though. He was being ornery.

I did learn why I see so few people on the tram with young children today. If they make noise, the old people stare at them like they are going to burn a hole right through them. I don't know why so many old people (women in particular) do not like children. Perhaps they think that when their children were small they didn't act like children. Memory is a funny thing...

Pamela and I have figured out the bus system like locals. We're pretty good now. A little too good, because people keep coming up and asking us for help. The locals do, I mean. We've figured out that no matter where we are we can take a bus to a stop we recognize and wind up getting back to the hotel somehow. It's not that complicated, but it can be daunting and terrifying if you don't speak the language.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New everything...except house

I got a new haircut and color and I am proud of myself because I spoke Polish ONLY and I still got the cut I wanted. The color was a bit off, but it's not that big of a deal because it's not iridescent red like it looked in the salon. Now it's like a burgundy color, which I can live with.

New camera too, which is the only reason there is a pic in this blog. It appears to be fine for now. Ask me in a year. I will NEVER again buy a Sony though. This one's a Canon.

I do think that if we are forced to stay in the hotel past next Tuesday, I WILL kill someone:)'s getting to be a bit much even with Iza coming every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon while I go to language class. It's too much to have so many people in just two small hotel rooms, even though we are not here most of the time. The boys are going COMPLETELY's not because they're's because they have cabin fever like the rest of us. And the last few days have been rainy so it's been too awful to go outside.
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Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July

Okay, so last night was the 4th of July reception. The thing I really hate about these things is that I tend to drink a lot to make it easier to talk with people and to make time pass, but then the next day I think I seemed like an idiot. Even though I know I did ABSOLUTELY nothing to be embarrassed about.

I have never been to a 4th of July reception and so I was surprised by the grandiosity of it all. But I think that could be a Ghana thing again... I was very disappointed that there was no embassy party, just the reception. So it was basically a working event all night. And because there was rain there were no fireworks.

Yesterday we bought yet another stroller. Dylan is getting agitated at the amount of strollers we have, but I wanted to get a double that I could use on public transport and that would fit through doors. I bought a Chicco side by side. It's a lot like the Maclarens of the same type. And it's a full 2 inches narrower than our jogger that we have been using. I love the jogger/walker running around on footpaths, but I just had to have something that I could use on public transport and the jogger is just too cumbersome. And the jogger BARELY fits through doorways. We're going to try to sell our single and double Gracos when they get here. We tried selling all of our strollers in Ghana, but no one needs a stroller because there's no where to walk there.

We were going to spend yesterday going out and looking at our house, but it turns out that they haven't done anything to it yet. But they still say we'll move in on the 17th (yes, it used to be the 13th, but the only person who knew that was Al and there are MANY things he has been so wrong about).

Monday, July 02, 2007

Lunatics on the tram

I took Pamela's hair out of the braids. She was getting really tired of them, partially because she looked pretty foreign here...but not that foreign really because Poles do lots of interesting things to their hair. Now I am seeing it's like they dye their hair to match their outfits, which is very possible because there is an abundance of temporary hair color in this country.

If I had the right USB cable I could post a picture of Pamela's hair right after we took out to braids, it was really cute. She looked like an 80's rock star.

Dylan does these things some times on public transportation. He'll be standing and holding on to the bar and he'll jump up and just hang from the tram. Some of the Poles think he's amusing, but most of them think he's just a lunatic. Toby sings all kinds of songs at the top of his lungs, and Seth is probably the best behaved of the lot and he's the one that unpleasant old women will make comments to.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Musze uczyc Polskiego

So Polish classes start on Monday...maybe...I haven't talked to Kasia yet.

Today we went to the new house and I feel so much better about it now. The kitchen is not nearly as small as I had imagined it. We bought paint, which was expensive, and I just purchased borders - which were also expensive. I figured I had promised the boys a Nemo room so I had to get their border, Pamela's border was integral to the colors in her room (we got the contractor to paint her room two colors -lime and light blue- which we only picked because they matched the border), and since I didn't have them paint the kitchen or bathrooms I got borders for those rooms so that there will be color in those rooms. These houses have a reputation for just being white, and during the Polish winters - ah, it's too much. Hopefully now we will get to stay until Pamela graduates from high school.

Two funny things. The hotel has a revolving door and the boys LOVE the revolving door. Earlier I said, please don't play in the revolving door because I don't know that it would stop if you fall down...remember that. So Seth went to get in the revolving door and it's one of the kinds that has the glass partition in the middle that also has decorations in it. So Seth ran smack into the middle of it. He was okay, but a little shocked. Toby then ran in and when he saw we were on the outside of the door, tried to leave through a pane of glass. He hit his head and looked a little shocked, then the door promptly hit him and knocked him down. It proceeded to just push him around on the floor with us trapped outside it until a nice Westin employee rescued him. This technology is killing us.

Speaking of which, Dylan has been bothering me all week to go to the paint store and make sure they have all the paint colors in stock. I told him, yeah, that's not going to happen. So he was annoyed, but I tried to explain that I don't think they actually run out here. So he asked the contractor at the house if we can just go and get it or do we have to place an advance order. They looked at him like he was from Mars. They said, you just go and they mix up the colors there. WAWA, West Africa wins again and apparently continues to even after you leave:).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Day in the Life...

Today we started the day with breakfast upstairs like every day. Then because it was raining and I couldn't figure out how to get to the mall without us getting wet, we took a 30 zloty ($10) taxi to the mall that's 4 tram stops away - I'm sure I'll get a loud sigh for doing that.

We took the tram home from the mall, but we had to walk down to the next stop because since Pamela lost her bus pass we are actually being illegal and that tram stop had a inspector. The buses and trams all have these fancy little boxes that read your ticket or your bus pass and so it's all on the honor system. If an inspector gets on, he will demand your ticket and then scan it in his little handheld box (like they have in grocery store for inventory) to see if it is valid.

Then we came back to the hotel, Blaise was asleep in my baby sling and it was time for Toby's nap. I laid Toby down, left Pamela in charge, and then I put on my backpack filled with dirty clothes to haul to the embassy to wash. I had to run because I needed to catch the bus in 2 minutes, so I was hauling. I got to the embassy and had to call Dylan to bring me laundry detergent, but he didn't make it in time so I bought more. We'll use it so it's not a big deal. I have a very strict time schedule because I have to get the laundry going so that I can make it back to the kids in a reasonable amount of time (i.e. before nap time is through). Anyway, it took a long time...probably 2 hours for the one load of laundry and then 1 hour to get to and from the embassy.

I have a new plan for tomorrow. I will take the bus with my dirty clothes backpack, wash the clothes, throw them in the dryer and take the bus or tram back. Dylan can bring the clothes when he is finished with work. There's no need for me to be away from the kids for that long.

In other news, the "friends" who wouldn't bring their daughter to the Westin to babysit, had asked me to watch their cats when they are gone in July (assuming that we had moved into our house by then). I had agreed at the time because I wasn't feeling the way I am now and she hadn't made it very clear that she was not interested in helping us at that time. I saw her yesterday, and she said if you're not moved into the house by then, then we'll get a big litter box and food containers so that you only have to come down once a week. The nerve of some people.

Since all of this I have decided that I will completely distance myself from the Embassy community this time around. I can't in good conscience know that people need help and not help them, but I can't continue to give of myself to people who only take. The only way for that to work for me is to not know that there are people who need help.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Largest Mall in Central Europe!

Saturday we visited the largest mall in central Europe. It's large and pretty cool looking. Malls are a very big thing here, which is funny because I think their popularity in the States has dropped off. We looked at bikes for the whole family because we sold our bikes back in Accra, but my goodness, bikes are expensive here! We're hoping that we'll find some cheaper ones at Decathlon or just not a mall.

On the way back Seth got his head stuck between the post and the door on the tram and I freaked out, which was embarrassing in hindsight, but some nice Polish man pulled the door until Seth was freed. It wasn't hurting him, we don't think, but I just couldn't see it being good that it was clamped on his neck. I'll post some pictures after I go on the tram next (of where his head got stuck, I won't make Seth stand there again and get stuck:)).

Still have not met our sponsors. Well, Dylan has, but I have not. It's really good that we can get around on our own...

Church on Sunday was REALLY nice. Father Wieslaw is VERY nice and he doesn't hate kids, which is great. Our kids were very well behaved considering we sat in the area where people let their kids run wild. Next week we will sit downstairs since we would prefer that our kids don't run wild at mass. I think they can actually sit for an hour, they had to with the Nuncio in Accra.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My biggest complaint

It's funny because we've been out of Warsaw for three years and the ambassador has changed during that time period and still my biggest complaint is that the AMERICANS are unfriendly and unhelpful. I did, at the time, think that the Poles were unfriendly but after Ghana I no longer think that. The Poles are not particularly friendly, but they are very helpful - sometimes too much, like when they tell you that surely your kids are cold and you just don't know what you're doing.

The Americans, however, seem to have stayed the same on friendly and helpfulness. I'm trying not to dwell, but this particular incident has set me off. Within a week of our arrival we were told, "Hey, we'd like to have you for dinner. Kids are not welcome and we're not going to help you find a babysitter. Good luck!" So I will not be attending the dinner tonight. Unfortunately, Dylan tends to be nicer than me in this area and he will not let anyone know that I am particularly annoyed by this. See the thing right now is that we're staying in the Westin, and while it's a great location for us, everyone thinks it's too far and traffic is too bad to come out. So basically we're being told, Good luck finding your way around, 'cause it sucks too much to get out that way. Not that it would be any different if we were in our house, because then it would be that we were too far away. So basically if you don't live in the same neighborhood as someone else (and even if you do, they had better not have to get out to a major street to get to you) then you are too far away.

This is making me REALLY dislike Americans. I asked a friend who is still here (and shall remain nameless) if her daughter could babysit (with Pamela, it's just that all 3 boys are a bit much for Pamela she can do two and she can do 3 but we prefer not to overload her). She said, no way...someone would have to bring her all the way out to the Westin. So apparently it would be okay if we would just hop on a bus with all 4 kids and take them to someone else's house, get to dinner at someone else's house, and then go back out and retrieve them because it's too much of a hassle for everyone else who doesn't have 3 young children. Nice...very friendly.

If given the choice between Ghana and Warsaw, I would still choose Warsaw. But given the choice between Warsaw and quitting this whole lifestyle altogether...well, I might chose the quitting part. Ask me again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


So we're now Hrncirs in Warsaw. Time to celebrate!

Anyway, upon arrival here we have found that embassy morale is very low, but that doesn't affect me all that much since no one at the embassy is all that helpful anyway, so I don't see them all that much. However, all the Poles are much friendlier than they used to be (except the expediantkas, they are as unpleasant as always, it's nice to know some things don't change).

Of course, we are staying at a hotel in the city center until our house is ready, so we're within walking distance of everything. And it's now a touristy spot, so perhaps people are friendly because they have to be.

Unfortunately, one of the things I miss about Ghana is not having interesting stories to tell on my blog. I mean there are still some funny things since the kids are having culture shock initially. We had to buy Seth a pair of closed toe shoes yesterday because he didn't actually own a pair (Toby had some because Seth had had some when we were back in Houston). He complained when I put them on that they hurt his feet because he is not used to wearing anything on his toes. Heck, he's not all that used to wearing shoes at all. They are truly loving the escalator, and the look Seth had when we first passed the toy store was priceless. He was walking along and at some point actually looked at the store and just totally stopped, mouth hanging open. We continued on and he stood there until he realized we had left. It was like a scene from a movie. Toby did the same thing, but he was in the stroller and couldn't get out, instead he just sat up straight and stared as we passed it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Funniest thing so far...

I went to the tailor who was doing the boys' shirts yesterday (I decided that after 2 years in Ghana I wanted some Ghanaian style shirts made for my boys and they all are very bright and match so I don't lose them anywhere;)). I hate the narrow "street" - really a dirt strip that leads up to his shack - that the tailor is on so I parked at the bottom and walked up. I walked by this group of men and one looked at me a little shocked and said, "Hello!" I said, "Hello". He said "Are you abruni (white foreigner) or are you Ghanaian?" I laughed and said "I am abruni". I found it very amusing that he seemed so shocked to see a white person he thought for a second that I might be a white Ghanaian (they do exist, usually they are albino). Not many white people shop around there. It's a place that Rose told us to go.

Time is ticking down and still no passports. I know they will come, I would just really like them here before we are due to leave.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Looking for a name change

Next week this blog will change it's name. I think that will affect anyone who's bookmarked it. It will be Hrncirs in Warsaw:). Can't tell you how happy I am about that!

Yesterday, Rose cried because we are leaving. My heart hurts for her. I can't imagine getting attached to children like she has with ours and then having them leave. She's watched Toby take his first steps and all the firsts that Blaise has had. Personally, while I will miss her, I still feel like I have had an invader in my house for the last two years. A very nice and pleasant invader whom I have become close to, but an invader nonetheless.

Last night, it rained and we tried to get to the store in the rain. The streets were washing out (because they always do when it rains) and we were able to get the store, but it's such a hassle to do anything here.

Oh, my kente was ready on Tuesday like he promised, but two of the banners had M's in them and apparently my handwriting was difficult for him because instead of Pamela and Michael, we got Panela and Uicheal. So he's fixing them and will have them done by Saturday. All the others were beautiful though.

Today it's picking up the shirts from the tailor as well as mailing out several packages. All packages MUST be mailed tomorrow (provided we get passports).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Paszport? Papers?

We leave in less than a week and still have no passports. Eh, they'll get here, it's no need to worry. Except that I think Dylan will kill someone if we don't get to leave on time. Other than that...

I spent a lot of time talking with my friend Angela yesterday. I will miss her, but hopefully she and her husband will come for a visit in Warsaw.

I had a horrible dream last night that instead of sending us to Warsaw they changed at the last minute and were sending us to South Africa (I think, it's what I imagine South Africa to be like, but it was never actually mentioned in my dream). I was just an emotional wreck and I woke up knowing that it was a dream but worried that it might actually happen. I guess it's time to leave.

I'm glad I can take the kids to Poland and get them accustomed to a more Western lifestyle. I think it would be really hard to spend your whole life in Africa and be overwhelmed the first time you ever went back to a Western society. The boys will be entertained by the escalator in the hotel. But they'll have a lot of fun with no one to judge them.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Parties and hair...

Apparently we will not be missed all that much. That's all I have to say about that right now.

Pamela spent 2 days having her hair braided. She loves the look, but we went to Koala (you'd think I spend all of my time there) and the guys who hang around outside and sell stuff on the street were so aggressive that I realized she looks like a tourist. I told Rose and she say "No!" looked at Pamela for a second and then said "oh, yes." I still do like the look though and it'd be different if we were spending a ridiculous amount of time here but she just has to make it through a week.

I made a cake for Blaise's birthday and when I cracked the 3rd egg, it was rotten. I have NEVER had that happen in my whole life, so I was amazed. But the problem was that I had cracked it right into the bowl with the cake mix. So I had to throw the whole mix out and go to the commissary and buy another. I learned to ALWAYS crack eggs in a separate bowl. And now I know why they do it on cooking shows.

The new embassy is beautiful. Not enough to stay in Ghana for, but it is beautiful.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

$34 for a case of Diet Coke

So I went to Koala today (I can hear the we go again) and they have stacks and stacks of cases of Diet Coke (from Great Britain no less, usually it's from Lebanon). We've had a Diet Coke drought here for about a month. Dylan found me the last bottle of Diet Coke in the whole country on Saturday after we had both been looking for the month.

So anyway, I was SO excited when I saw the stacks of cases! I immediately threw one in my cart thinking "Maybe I should get 2 cases." Then I circled the store about three times while I thought about the fact that in less than 2 weeks I will be in a place that has "Coke Light" and there is rarely ever a shortage (you know sometimes if you shop the day before Christmas or Easter there is nothing left in the stores). Then the subsequent "Coke Pimp" that appears after the shortage...not a problem in a couple of weeks. So I wound up just buying enough Diet Cokes to last me for each day I have left here.

Yesterday I went to pick up my kente that I had ordered last week (I told them I would be back on Saturday, but then it rained). Was it finished? No, of course not. They hadn't even started on it. They had questions. The conversation went like this:
"You had my husband's phone number (only because I do not know my own cell number) why didn't you call?"
"Um, oh, um...well we had questions."
"Okay, so when can you have this done? By this Saturday?"
"No, next week."
"No, not next week, I'm leaving."
"Oh, I can't have it by Saturday."
"So when?"
"Okay, but if you do not have it finished I WILL NOT buy it. My friend will not come and pick it up for me."
"Yes, please."

I did succeed in buying a basket for Sara though. And today I went back for my fabric that I ordered about 2 months ago. She said, you did not come so I sold it. I said, I know it's totally my fault. Can you make more? So she will have it ready for me buy Friday. Much easier than the kente.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rain, rain...

We had Pamela's birthday party on Saturday. Our original plan was go karting and then a sleepover. About an hour before the party was to start, it began to pour down rain. So we frantically made calls to everyone to tell them just to meet at our house and when the rain stopped we'd go swimming. Well, it never stopped. And pretty much hasn't stopped for much time since then.

It's good, because it's very good for the land, and they're get such a good amount of rain that perhaps it will be able to last them through the dry season, but it's a little bit of a drag for us. For one thing, I have a few last things to get before I leave here and unfortunately most of the shops (because they are just basically very small carports) are closed during rain. And we can't do any outdoor activities. Which makes for long and drawn out days. Because there's not much inside here.

Blaise's party is on Saturday, so hopefully it will not rain. We're having a bouncy castle, the last time we can afford one, so the kids will have loads of fun. Provided it doesn't rain. Now there are many things that I love about the rain, but to be honest, I have never been here for a rainy season. So now I am finding out that there is something that the rainy season brings out that Toby is allergic to. He has a perpetual runny nose and just sounds stuffy all the time.

I'd like to wish Dawn and Tai a happy anniversary! It's been 8 years now! Congratulations!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Funny/Cute Story

We went to a "nice" hotel in town because they have an ice cream shop (you can't get ice cream in this country unless it's shipped in from the West and then it's usually seriously freezer burned and $3 for a small cone. They do have a local brand that is not so bad though.) The boys get really excited because we rarely go out.

Anyway, this is a "good" albeit expensive ice cream shop and we have to fight traffic to get there. We get there and get our ice cream (had another experience that I won't mention right now) and then we are getting ready to leave. As we are leaving the hotel, we spot the escalators. This is the only building in town with escalators and they're only up escalators. Dylan says, "Boys, do you remember Corduroy?" Yes, Corduroy, the U.S. book that was published in 1958 where the bear goes up the escalator. So the boys laugh and enjoy their ride on the escalator, while the guard is laughing - only because until he got this job he also had never seen an escalator.

Going back to Warsaw, they have escalators in all the malls. I think we could be entertained for a couple of days at least:).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Embassy Living...

We were at dinner last night with another member of the embassy, and I realized that sometimes, I don't fit in. It's saddened me, particularly with the knowledge that I don't have a job in Warsaw and I'll be staying at home all the time with my three kids (the fourth one is in school). I don't really know what a lot of people are talking about when they talk about stuff going on at the embassy and then there are the things that you can't know because you don't have the correct colored badge. Not that I want to know...I just really feel excluded sometimes.

I know that when most spouses get together with people that their spouse works with they feel left out, but the whole reason we do what we do is because my husband works at the embassy. So there's a small portion of people to draw on there and most of them work at the embassy or having to do with the embassy...and I don't. But I guess that's neither here nor there.

I won't be working in Warsaw because I didn't get the job I wanted and there won't be anything else that I want to do. Plus, I never want to have to go through the interview process there again. I guess I feel like I failed because I didn't get the job, no matter that they wanted someone to start before I got there. Really, it's a humiliating experience to have to be interviewed by this group of 8 or 10 people that you won't be working for, only to find out that there was never a chance in hell of you getting the job in the first place. It's just that they can't make it seem like they based their decision on exactly what they based their decision on...

Now I have become a whiny blogger, but I don't think anyone is reading anymore anyway, so I suppose it's OK now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

WOW, time has actually begun to fly

I finished my environmental psychology class! I am SO relieved as that was a pain in the butt. Interesting subject matter, TERRIBLE instructor! Now it's Theories of Personality, which is also interesting but the more I study psychology the more I wonder what the heck I am going to do with this degree.

I've spent the past week packing up our lives into boxes. Time is zipping along as next week they come and take it all away. Hopefully it will get to Warsaw intact, but even if it doesn't we no longer have a lot of sentimental attachment to our "things".

Pamela has spent every weekend recording a CD with her friends Anna and Diane (pronounced Dee - ann). I wish I could attach the one song we have from all of this recording. It's pretty good, as long as you don't listen to the lyrics and realize that 3 12 year olds came up with them...

My other new past time is creating interesting dishes out of what we have left in our cabinets. If you've seen the very last episode of Friends where Monica created a pie out of cereal and other stuff left over, that's what it's like. Every day it's like, hmmm, what can I make with chicken breasts and cornstarch and dried cherries?!!!

We celebrated our 13th anniversary this week and I am amazed. It's wonderful, I feel like it hasn't been nearly that long and I've been crazy for most of it:). I have the most amazing husband (I know, how cliche) and I love him more and more as each year passes...

Well, I guess that's all I have for today. Until the movers come, I'm quite busy with the move. After that I will probably have lots of time to sit around and post blogs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

As I was driving back from Wild Gecko today, sitting in the seat with my pepper spray in one hand and some 1000 bills in the other (money for the beggars and pepper spray for anyone who gets too close to me) I was thinking how bizarre this is and that I really do need to get out of Africa. I started wondering if I could ever come back here.

Yesterday all my blood tests came back fine, except that my cholesterol is borderline high. I was convinced that they translated it incorrectly (because they have to convert from IU to mg) but now I am not so sure. I am not entirely clear on how my cholesterol can be high, because I don't eat meat and I don' t have a family history, but oh well. My biggest problem is my inabilty to lose weight. Karl seems to think I just haven't tried hard enough. Maybe I haven't. I guess I have to become anorexic to lose weight. Less that 1000 calories a day...Interesting thing is that he was telling me to lower my cholesterol I need to go on a low fat diet - I pretty much do that anyway - but then tells me that the Atkins diet is a good one as is the South Beach Diet. Neither of those is really low fat...I am confused.

You know how sometimes you complain about things and you just want someone to say, yeah, that really sucks. Yeah, most of the time that's what people want to hear. I suppose no one ever talks about what they like about their lives.

I'm trying to get stuff together for the yard sale tomorrow. I don't want to go to this...I don't want to go out tonight. I don't want to do anything.

I didn't get the job in Warsaw. I guess it's for the best. At least that's what everyone keeps saying.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What does home mean?

This week in Environmental Psychology was all about home and that got me thinking...what does home mean?

I moved from the first home I lived in when I was 9 months old across the world (perhaps that's why I do this now?). I lived in my first home in Houston for 4 years then moved to the house that my dad still lives in. But what does home really mean?

Right now, my home is in Ghana. With all it's faults and flaws (doesn't every place have them?) this is my home. I had no say in the structure that I live in, a group of people that didn't know me decided that before I arrived. Mostly for family size. And it's been a good fit. I had no choice in the location (Ghana). That was decided by the powers that be as the place that needed my husband the most.

That said, I actually feel like I am "going home" with our return to Poland. While there were several things about Poland that annoyed me the first time, I feel more like it's home than I would if I were to return to Ghana. There's something to be said for returning to something that you know and (mostly) understand.

I guess, home is just where my family is. While I used to think of Houston as home, I have actually come to the point that I don't think of it that way anymore. I guess the 2 places I feel most at home, no matter where I travel, are military bases and U.S. Embassies. In both of these locations, I feel like I belong.

What does home mean to you?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone!

The rainy season is upon us. People in Houston, you have no idea how much you miss the rain until you only have it for four months a year. Now during that four months, it does rain every day, but oh, it's so nice! The weather is cooler, in the 70's, and hopefully power shortages will be a thing of the past.

Counting down our final weeks here. It's hard to move, but I am ready. Pamela, Seth, Toby & I were harrassed (a gang of about 10 boys licked the windows of the car and beat on the windows) by the window washers the other day and that made up my mind to get the heck out of this country. Of course, now I am carrying my pepper spray. The cops were right there at the intersection and did nothing, of course.

Then the next day, we went to Rose's tailor who gave us a too high price. When Rose and I came back to the house, she told me "He's too expensive". I said, yes, I think so too. Then she said "It's because you're white." I was like, I KNOW! and then I just kind of lost it. I'm really tired of being in a place where it's okay to harass me because I'm's okay to WAY overcharge me because I'm white. It would suck to have to live this way your whole life and I feel a lot of sympathy to everyone who have had to endure skin color prejudice. I don't know why it upsets me so much because everywhere I have lived outside the U.S. it's always that I'm foreign, so it's another kind of prejudice.

Monday, March 26, 2007


So I finished my LITR course and now I'm in Environmental Psychology, something I didn't choose and wouldn't have had I been given the choice, but my advisor chose this one instead of one of the PSYC classes that is actually required for my degree. And because I am taking it now and not in a few months I cannot do the "real world" assignments that she has set up for us because her "real world" and my "real world" are two completely different worlds.

Now we're down to 11 more Sundays. Nuncio wasn't there yesterday so it's only 11 more Sundays with him!

Everything is falling into place with our move. The current family that's in the house we've been assigned has a nanny who they think is great. We've asked to hire her and they've said yes, but I haven't heard anything new. She was supposed to get our email address. My old job is currently open and I asked HR and they say that I can apply even though I am not there. And I don't have to fill out the application! Yes!

Two of three boys woke up at 5 this morning. Toby and Blaise are still sick (see my things I won't miss about Ghana). After a week of them being sick we started treating the symptoms and now after 2 weeks, I don't know what we'll be doing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

12 more Sundays

I have started counting in Sundays because that's the number of times I'll have to see the Nuncio again. Is it bad to dislike a man of the cloth this much?

But now as time draws nearer, I am sadder and sadder. I know what we are getting into going to Warsaw, sort of. But some things have changed. The prices have gone up. They used to have just about whatever you wanted for pretty cheap, but now it sounds like stateside prices. I mean that's not bad, and it's cheaper food wise than it is here. I don't really know why I am having such a hard time with leaving. Did I already post that it's like identifying with your captors? Not that I am captive here, but I don't really want to go. I finally made peace with the fact that I am incredibly "rich" in this country and there's not much I can do to help the "poor". I feel like the boys and I should spend every day at the pool until we leave. There were no free pools in Warsaw. But I don't go to the pool because 2 of the boys are sick and have been for a week. Must've been something that they ate (haha).

I did lose a lot of my faith here for various reasons, not all of which were Ghana, but a lot of them I cannot post here. On my birthday I told Dylan that I think I do believe there is a God, but I don't think that he cares much about us. After reviewing a lot of the "evidence" of how the world began, it's hard to believe that it "just happened". It's very believable that someone put it in motion. But how do you believe that he cares when there are people out there who are suffering tremendously - many of whom believe in God and pray to Him - and nothing helps them. Ghana is not bad, some bad things happen like they do in any large city anywhere. But you hear the stories of neighboring countries where genocides are still taking place - STILL, 60 years after the holocaust in Europe that the whole world vowed would never happen again.

Sorry, today I am waxing philosophical.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Things I will NOT miss about Ghana

Okay, so I did my top ten list yesterday of what I will's what I won't:

  1. THE POWER! We are often on generator power, but that's not the worst. We have lost or damaged more electronics here due to power problems than I care to count.
  2. THE DRY SEASON! During the dry season we are without city water, which means that we have no water coming to our house at all. We have to have the water truck deliver water every other day and that's only what we use for drinking and cleaning. There is no water alloted for watering plants/lawn/or car washing during the dry season. It's only fair as there's lots of people who have no water at all.
  3. INSECTS! I am tired of fighting off ants that don't die. They don't bite either or at least none of them stings like a fire ant. But ants that crawl across the living room floor and are large enough to carry off small children - a bit unnerving.
  4. Never really getting the "real" price. The price you are quoted is always way on the high side and because you are obviously foreign, the price will not come down very low for you.
  5. Western groceries are VERY expensive. If you can live like a Ghanaian you can (maybe, see #3) save money, but if you want to have "luxuries" like milk and eggs and fruits and vegetables other than cassava root and the fruits mentioned in "what I will miss..." you will not be able to save money here.
  6. Perpetual summer. Sometimes you need an excuse to just stay in. And my kids are really wanting to see snow.
  7. The secrets! There's a secretive nature to this society (at least in Accra, it's probably less so in villages). If you try to learn any of the local languauge you will just be laughed at, because of your pronounciation (something that happens in all societies, not to blame Ghanaians) but there will be no help. "Oh, you're pronouncing it wrong." "Well, how do I pronounce it?" then laughter ensues.
  8. The double standard. We sold our bikes and were harrassed incessantly about the price we wanted. Dylan told people who mocked (not just asked the price and decided they didn't want it) that if he went down to where they sell bikes here and tried to buy a used bike (most of which are donated to Western aid organizations and wind up being sold on the street here for a profit) they would charge him AT LEAST $100 for a bike like the one he's trying to sell for $75. We wound up selling his bike to a Ghanaian who was going to spend $100 on a used bike for $40.
  9. The faith lost in people/God/the world in general. It's a hard lesson to learn that much of the money and goods that are donated from the West - from our homes - to the aid of Africa never wind up aiding Africa. The money doesn't go where it's supposed to and the goods that you donate to Goodwill wind up being sold on the streets here and destroying the local economy because free stuff can be sold more cheaply than the goods that are made here. So it puts all those farmers/tailors/bicycle manufacterers out of business.
  10. Malaria and all the other horrible tropical diseases. Worrying about whether or not you or the children have malaria/dengue fever/cholera sucks. Taking malaria prophylaxis is not fun either. Larium makes people psychotic and is disruptive of sleep. I'm not sure if it's the Larium or the lack of sleep that it produces that makes people psychotic though.

I am happy to say that it took me some time to come up with this list and the first list of what I will miss took me a lot less time. I have a more positive outlook on all of Ghana. Tomorrow, I'll list what I have learned.