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!