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!