Friday, August 29, 2008

Blueberry Picking - Or Lessons For the Lost

We went outside the city to pick blueberries last weekend. There was a large group of people going and we were all to follow each other to get there. The bus was to be in the lead because he knew where he was going.

This is the map we were provided in case we got lost:

Because in a 98% Catholic country, you should always use churches and cemeteries as landmarks. Just makes good sense and is in NO WAY confusing.

So, a group of us missed a turn (I really don't know how that happened, what with that fabulous map) and continued on down the road for about 3 miles before we were rescued by the bus.

Then just our family missed another turn. We drove in circles for about 15 minutes before I said, "Let's just go home!"

Dylan said he was having fun and we should continue.

We finally found the right road and followed the above map, until we came to where the road forked. We took the left fork because that's what the map said.

Then we came to another fork (which was surprisingly not listed on said fabulous map):

and then stopped in a nearby village and asked for directions. They told us it was right back up the road.

Unfortunately, we then ran into a person in our group, who told us to take the left fork. She also informed us that the bus driver and the rest of the group were lost (apparently the bus driver was following that map).

So we did (lesson - always listen to the villagers, never the idiots in your own party).

Then we drove around. Came back to this fork:

Turned left just before the fork.

A friend called and sent someone to get us.

All along, we should have taken the right fork. It was seriously just behind the trees.

And we picked 1 1/2 kilos of blueberries (approx. 3 lbs.) so we've been eating LOTS of blueberries. This was all my idea.

And I don't even like blueberries.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Own Brand of Crazy

Conversation in the car:


Blaise: NO! SHOES! (Loud incoherent babbling)


Blaise: NO! SHOES! (points madly at the floorboard and babbles incoherently and angrily)

Me: Toby IS NOT wearing Blaise's shoes. Toby is wearing Toby's shoes.

Seth: HE IS!

Me: He is not. He is wearing his own shoes.

Dylan: Doesn't Blaise have shoes exactly like that?

Me: Blaise has shoe similar to those. But only one.

Dylan: Well that will be very helpful if he loses his leg in a freak dishwasher accident.

Me: No. Because it would definitely be the wrong leg he would lose.

Dylan: Do you think there's a website where people who have only one leg can trade shoes? You know, why should you have to buy a pair when you're only going to wear one? You know there has to be a site where people can go and meet up with someone who has a right foot when they have a left and they can just mail the other shoe to each other.

Me: Wouldn't it be hard to find someone who was missing the opposite leg who also wore the same size shoe?

Pamela: I'm not doing the dishes any more if there's a chance that I could lose a leg.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crafty Wednesday!

This isn't the greatest page, but I wanted to show that I'm still crafting, even with limited time. I hope to get back into the groove fairly soon.

I made this card for a little American girl whose parents abandoned her and her brother here in Poland and she's living in an orphanage for her 7th birthday. I just hope it brightened her day a bit. Oh and I finally used the scissors Lisa sent:).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pamela 2, Mom 1

I don't normally go back in time on y'all (there's enough crazy things happening in my everyday life to not need to go back - oh, and my memory usually sucks BIG TIME, so I can't go back even if I try), but this ties into a current event, so bear with me.

In 1999, I was working in the United States Information Service office in Damascus, Syria (if you click on the link you'll see that they existed from 1953-1999, but I didn't singlehandly bring them down. At least, they didn't give me credit for it if I did. Damn them!). There was a VIP visitor who had a "meet and greet" with the embassy community. I was the new girl and therefore had to stay back and "man the phones". I pouted a lot and was told by my coworkers that "there would be lots of other chances".

Yeah. There weren't. But I'm not bitter...

Well, maybe a little bit.

Anyway, my dear husband and daughter did get to meet the visitor.

Secretary Albright reaching to shake Pamela's hand.

Dylan is in the middle holding Pamela. The guy next to Mrs. Albright was Ryan Crocker, our ambassador and all around cool guy.

Last week, we had another visitor. The same visitor, except that she's a different person. Potato, Potahto.
Secretary Rice shaking Pamela's hand.

So, Pamela has now shaken hands with all two female Secretaries of State. I guess that's kind of cool.

But you know what I get to be bitter about this time? My husband took my camera to take a photo of Pamela and Papa shaking her hand (which he didn't wind up getting anyway) and so I didn't get a photo with this one either.

But I did get to shake her hand.

Monday, August 25, 2008


A few nights ago we noticed a spotlight. In our backyard.

Pamela went to investigate.

It turned out that there was filming going on in the house behind ours.

We started bouncing ideas off each other. Is it porn? Maybe a photo shoot? No one lives there, and the garden is unkempt, so maybe a public service announcement on how you should keep your lawn manicured?

It turned out to be this:

We were excited. Stupid excited, since we don't even watch Polish television.

We sent Pamela on a recon mission. I sent her with my camera. She returned with these:

Dylan made her stand on the fence and "prune the trees", which Pamela has never done and when she does it, it looks as though she is braiding the tree's hair.

When they spotted her, she said "What? I'm just standing here on my fence post in MY backyard. Pruning my trees. It's MY backyard, I can do what I want!"

Probably good that they didn't speak English.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Words - Now With Pictures

Seth started Kindergarten today.

I have been told several times that it is amazing that he is in class with all of his friends. Actually, all the children (with the exception of one) that went to his previous school are in his class.

I don't think this is that amazing. I know the person who does the class assignments. I asked her for this for my son.

Oh and did I mention that she happens to be the mother of the child who duped us into taking on another pet?

I have two words: chinchilla guilt.

I'm wondering how long I can milk this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday/Interesting Polish Road Signs

Now, wait, where does the lane I'm in go? In Wroclaw.

I love the graphic nature of this sign.

We affectionately refer to this sign as "Beware of pedophiles".

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Unfortunate Circumstances

Toby, my 3 year old, has the smallest bladder in the world. This makes traveling through Europe particularly challenging. It seems like every 10 minutes Toby shouts "PEE, PEE!" at the top of his lungs.

When we're driving, it's not nearly as much of a problem as when we're walking through old towns. Pulling over so he can pee in the grass is not nearly as insulting as when he pees on the side of a 1000 year old castle. Hey, don't judge me, toilets cost $1 or more to use and he's a boy.

In Prague though, Toby shouted his call while we were walking back to our hotel/apartment and Dylan jumped into the first door he saw. I stared at the sign and stared at him and tried to comprehend why he had just taken my 3 year old (and the 2 year old in the baby backpack) here:
Yep, that's a strip club. So now Toby can tell everyone that he peed in a strip club. When he was 3.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm Not Dead!

A while back I told one of my loyal readers that I could be dead but still posting and that you'd know that I was not dead if I was still commenting. But then the last two weeks I stopped commenting.

But I'm not dead, I've just been traveling and I'll be catching up with all of y'all today and tomorrow. I've missed you all.

But while I was gone I was here:

Częstochowa, Poland. Shrine of the Black Madonna.

And here:

Castle Square in Prague

And here:

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.

Among other places.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shoes. Let's Get Some Shoes.

Now, I am not a shoe person. If I could, I would ALWAYS be barefoot. I'm all about comfort and while I appreciate cute shoes, would much rather not ever have to wear anything that has a heel.

Poles, however, are big on shoes. This is why I usually stand out in a crowd. My shoes are not all that fashionable.

Anyway, Pamela and I were sitting in a random parking lot during one of our trips and we saw this woman.
Okay, am I the only one who looks at those shoes and thinks "Stripper!"? Or am I just not up on the fashion right now?

So, after I snapped these photographs (yes my daughter tells me I totally look like a stalker, sitting in a parking lot with my Canon, taking photos of random strangers. I'm okay with that.) we watched her for a few more minutes. She had come out of the grocery store and walked to the car, loaded the groceries and returned the cart. Then she went back to the car and CHANGED HER SHOES! To ones that didn't look like stripper shoes (but still had high heels) and totally matched her outfit, but would not have made me look twice at her.

So she only wore the stripper shoes for the supermarket. And somehow, I am a crazy person in this country.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Chinchilla Poo

You may recall when we had the chinchilla (the nocturnal animal) in the middle of our very noisy living room. We have since moved it into Pamela's room.

Pamela doesn't play much with the chinchilla and it has become kind of angry and mean.

One day, Pamela told me, "I think the chinchilla is mad at me."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, she stares at me at night. And I think she's throwing poo at me."

Once I stopped my hysterical laughter, I asked,

"Why do you think that?"

"Because you know how sometimes when you're outside and you feel something hit you in the head? Like rain drops or a leaf from the tree? Yeah, it's like that. Except that I'm in my room. And the only thing there is the chinchilla. Who is staring at me."

Just thinking about throwing poo.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Porn Or No Porn?

European television is a different experience for American travelers. Our family lucks out and we rarely watch European television as we have American satellite television (we don't actually watch that much television anyway, but when we do, it's all in English).

When we stay at a hotel, we usually never turn the TV on. It's not worth it for the 3 English channels you will find which are CNN World News, BBC News, and the Jesus channel (seriously, I am NOT making that up).

The other fun thing that European television has is soft porn at night.

Well Papa, he likes to watch TV. We've kind of been depriving him because we don't watch much in the house and he is not used to what we have anyway, so our whopping 6 channels don't thrill him much. He wanted to turn on the TV in the hotel.

After about 30 minutes of trying to turn the darn thing on, we thought we had it. And in that split second before the TV turned on, with my four children all watching intently, the thought finally occurred to me "Please, oh please. Don't let it be porn."

It wasn't. Yet.

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Anonymous, Hilarious, and Probably Overrated Story

Once upon a time there was a family that went on a trip. There was a mother and a grandpa and 3 little boys and a teenage girl. They journeyed to the center of the Earth through the Wieliczka salt mines.

These mines are filled with beautiful sculptures made from salt.

This is the underground chapel where the miners held mass.

This is also where something bad befell the family. Grandpa disappeared.

The mom and oldest child scoured the chapel, trying desperately to find the grandpa to no avail.

The family minus one continued to travel forward through the mine. They continued to look ahead as far as possible to find the grandpa.

The lovely Polish tour guide did her head count and realized one was missing. The mother told the tour guide that the missing person was with them and they had been unable to find him. This disclosure was followed by the heavy Polish sigh, with the implied accusation that the mother was stupid - obviously she is because she has four children, she's apparently never heard of birth control* - and lost control of one of her charges.

At the end of the corridor, the mother sent the oldest child to look ahead in the line for the elevator, but still they could not find grandpa.

They rode up in the old rickety mine elevator (which is an amusement park ride in itself), in the complete darkness aside from the one lonely flashlight hanging inside and then walked the half mile up the hill to the beginning.

Where they found grandpa waiting for them. Having a beer in the outdoor cafe.**

*Yes, I have issues.

**I have never once lost one of my four children. Not once. I am apparently capable only of losing 60 year old men. Who are over 6ft tall. And wearing bright purple shirts.

Disclaimer: While this may sound like a true story, it is not. Grandma should not be upset because the grandpa in this story is not the real grandpa. He's not. Really. Even though it sounds exactly like him. And we did actually go to the salt mines. And he really did get lost. Wait, no, um...that last part DID NOT happen. Seriously.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Why I Suck at Traveling

I apologize for my lack of comments this week. FIL, the kids and I were out and about - on walkabout (teehee, not really, we came back). We went to Krakow.

I'm so magical, I can post even without internet connection. But, unfortunately, I am not magical enough to comment. Yet.

On this trip though, I was reminded of why I am a terrible traveler. This may come as a shock, you know, seeing as how I live outside of both my native countries, but I REALLY do not like to travel. I absolutely hate sleeping in a bed that's not mine (particularly European beds, which just suck). I hate having to speak to people I don't know. And I really don't like being cooped up with my kids in places that are unfamiliar to them (which in Poland will -and did - definitely lead to someone telling me that I am the worst mother imaginable).

See, I'm normal. No, really. I'm totally normal. I just happen to live in a country where day to day living is a little more challenging because of the language barrier.

And I have a hilarious story for later, but I've been asked not to share. So I'll have to figure out how to make everyone anonymous. Hmmm...

Drunk, Drunk Baby

The other night, we were all sitting around in the living room. Now we all know that you cannot leave your drink unattended in this house for various reasons, not the least of which is because Blaise will take it and drink it or dump it all over you/himself/the floor/nice guests. It's also very likely that Daddy will dump it out, Toby will drink it all (and it will most probably contain apples in that instance), or (when we were in Ghana) the ants would be in it when you picked it up again.

Well, someone (and I will not point fingers here, but those who know will know;), left their Black Russian unattended and Blaise took a sip.

So my 2 year old took a sip of vodka mixed with Kahlua. And I, being the calm and collected person I pretend to be, laughed and lightly scolded the person who left said drink out.

And then didn't sleep at all that night.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

An Apple A Day Puts Toby in the Sick Bay!

Maybe you remember when Toby looked like this:

And that lead to this. And us learning that he had been deaf for 18 months of his 3 years.

Then several follow ups.

Which in turn lead to this:

Which indicates that he has a very mild allergy to apples.

So, immediately, we stopped giving him apples, apple juice, anything that contains apples, stopped allowing him to lick the apple trees in the garden AND stopped all of his medication.

He has had a runny nose and sneezing exactly one day since then.

He had Scooby Doo fruit snacks that day.

Guess what they contain.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Okay, I know I said that I was going to have crafty Wednesday JUST LAST WEEK, but this is too adorable of a picture not to share.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The One Where The Tooth Fairy Gets Her Money!

Seth – I know where the tooth fairy gets her money.

Me (‘cause I’m a bad mom) – She sells the teeth.

Seth – NOOOO!

Me – Does she get it from Santa?

Seth - No! She gets the money from God. Does God have lots of money?

Me – I don’t think God needs money.

Seth – If He had lots of money, I know where He’d be. At the store, buying ice cream.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Free Samples, With Your Movie

Does this happen in the States?

We went to see Wall-E over the weekend. When you walk into the movie theatre they check your tickets and then usually hand you some sort of sample. The day we went to see Wall-E it was this:

I'm guessing they give you coffee so that you don't fall asleep during the movie. A movie that's entire dialog consists of "Wall-E!?" "Eva!" Which, when written, doesn't make the movie seem all that interesting.

In the past, I have also been given cereal (which made a nice snack during the movie), a variety pack of cleaners that Nivea makes (maybe you're supposed to clean yourself up before you go into the theater?), Coke Zero (which was actually a very popular giveaway when they introduced it here - McDonald's was also involved in the Coke Zero giveaway - I'm pretty sure, in true European fashion, they are fazing out Coke Light and making us switch to Coke Zero) and women's razors.

Do you usually get free samples at the theater in the States? Or anywhere else in the world for that matter?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pimp Like Me

Just a quick one for y'all today.

My sister in law has started a blog. She's got three girls close in age to my three boys and she's writing the wild (mis)adventures of a stay at home mom. Dawn's Day, check her out!

And have you checked out Coming Home Again yet? No? Well, what are waiting for? Go now. I'll wait.

Friday, August 01, 2008

BIG Visitor Revealed!

Heeeeeeeerrrre's Poppy!

Papa has come to stay with us for a few weeks and the kids are uber excited! We'll be running around for the next few weeks so my blogging will be on and off (but I've been totally off all week, so maybe my writing will improve when I take a break).

But I'm sure I'll have many stories to tell;).

And this is for AnnaKay: