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!