Friday, February 27, 2009

What In The Hell Was I Thinking?

Week Day 1 of the Experiment

Day 1

8:30 AM Realize that I haven't had a haircut. Ask keeper of the rules Dylan if haircut is an allowable expense. He says, For me, yes. For you, no.

Try to figure out how to get a free haircut. Which should be fairly difficult as I don't personally know any hairstylists. Tigger offers her services. I respond "Well, great. I'll just have some really lopsided hair all through Lent."

Did I mention that I'm fasting?

10:30 AM Tigger says "I have 10 zloty. Can I buy a Coke?"

Check with Dylan. He says, "You can do whatever you want with your money. But because your primary source of income is babysitting for your parents, and your parents won't be going out during this time, perhaps you should rethink your budget."

Tigger goes to the store and buys a Coke.

5:30 PM Dylan says, "I'm thinking of this being like when we were broke. You remember, when we had to bounce checks for rent? We've done that. We can do it again."

Yeah...I remember those days. I DID live them. I never really thought I would have to RElive them. By choice.

7:00 PM Dylan asks "How much did you spend today?" I turn to my personal shopper, "Tigger, how much did I spend today?"



Realize this experiment will destroy my marriage. If it means that I can get a haircut, I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Experiment

A few months ago, Dylan and I both read an article in the Reader's Digest about the Hochman family's experiment in anti-consumerism.

Since we lived in Africa, we have recognized that we have too much stuff. We don't spend outside our means, but we own too much - like most people who have the money to do so. You will always buy more to expand to the amount of space you have.

We decided that we would follow the same experiment in our own terms (they were a family of 3 and we are double that, they lived somewhere where they could take public transport everywhere - we COULD but standing outside in 7 degree F weather [remember the Polish word for February] with 3 children under 7 was, um, not as hardcore as I am we are interested in).

Seeing as the Slightly Cracked/Thrifty Expat house is a Catholic one, and Lent begins today, we figured two birds, one stone.

My husband will be blogging our adventures over at The Thrifty Expat. I'll just keep you updated on how I will possibly live without my daily weekly sushi and how grumpy I will be without my daily crackalatte. Also, no trips to IKEA for the next 40 days.

I just might die.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Facebook: Tool of the Devil or Awesome?

I finally gave in and joined the masses on Facebook on Saturday. I blame my very best friend - from the time we were 6 years old - (do you see a theme here? I've known my husband since we were 12 and my best friend since we were 6...I guess I don't like change). She's never been a big fan of computer related nonsense, so when she joined, I knew I had to. I'm a huge fan of computer related nonsense.

The thing I liked least about Facebook was the idea that people I used to know could contact me and "friend" me (BernThis wrote a lovely post that expressed the kind of anxiety that kept me from getting on to FB). My theory was that if I hadn't kept in contact with you, there was a reason.

So I thought I'd be all stealthy and put my married name with absolutely NO MENTION of my maiden name. This way only people who know me now could contact me. Mwahahahaha!

Except that most of the people that we went to high school with knew only one person named Kylie. Most of them jumped to the conclusion that because Kylie and Dylan dated in high school, that Dylan probably married that same Kylie.

And (in a moment of complete and utter stupidity, no matter how hard I tried I COULD NOT put "Kylie is in an open relationship with Dylan" and then go and confirm it for him because I have his login information knowing that it would pop up in his profile as a status change and all 2000 of his friends would see it - sometimes I really hate the fact that I actually care what people think) I linked my account to my husband's. He had a lot of people that I knew (and he has no recollection of) in high school on his friend list. So some of them have sent me a friend request.

And I don't know which is worse. The fact that some of them have sent me a friend request or that some of them haven't.

But the most important thing I have learned is that the popular people in high school remained popular. And that no matter what I tell my daughter and how many times we watch "Mean Girls" and believe that things will change and life will not always be like high school, those popular people are just built different. Their personalities are different.

But I guess, as long as you don't live in the FB world, life isn't like high school.

That said, if you send me a friend request (and I haven't already been on FB begging you to be my friend so that I can no longer look like a loser with only 35 friends - just like high school), I would never click ignore.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

When it rains, it pours...and more weird stuff about salt

Not really. I just wanted to quickly note that my desktop went to meet it's maker (if it's maker is Dell and meeting it's maker means that I threw it through the window of the Dell store) on Friday AND Tigger's laptop (that's issued by the school) cannot connect to the internet because of networking problems (hers is ALSO a Dell), so our family of 6 is down to one HP laptop from the 3 computers we had on Friday morning.

So, you may not see me around that much for a bit.

But, I will be trying to post, and perhaps I can do so telepathically. Or perhaps Dell will send me a new computer to keep me from revealing my horrible review of their products.

Or they may have shut me down to take care of that. Hmm...

Anyway, I've tidied up a bit and least for right now. See, I'm taking a photoshop/dreamweaver class and I'll probably be changing things around for the next few weeks. Don't get too used to the new look.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Sorry that I've been a bit MIA. For all of those who have asked to be interviewed, I will soon have the interview questions coming to you - but that means I have to be all witty, which could be a problem. Be expecting them next week - the children and I are on break then:).

I leave you with this anecdote:

Tigger's piano teacher declared 2 weeks ago that the winter was officially over. I said (this is how I respond to all Poles who tell me winter has ended), "You know, I find it fascinating that the Polish word for February (Luty) means ice. It literally means ice."

Yeah... and I've lived here only 3 1/2 years (collectively).

There's an ice skating rink under there somewhere.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oooh, oooh! Pick Me!

Laura of Are We Nearly There Yet, Mummy? agreed to my incessant begging and bribing request for her to interview me. So without further ado...

1. You’ve lived all over the world. Which was your favourite home and why?

I loved living in that cardboard house out by the airport. You know. The one with the old rusting shopping cart in front. It was SO much better than Ghana.

But seriously, my favorite place to live was Damascus, Syria. The food is fabulous, the weather was pleasant, I could walk to work and the gym and the souk, and the Syrians are the most genuinely friendly people I have met. And it was safe. Because military regimes suck for the people who live under them, but they're great for foreigners. Which is sad.

2. I remember one of your children tattooing himself with a pen. Do you have any tattoos and what are they? If not, what would you have?

Yes, when my eldest son tattooed his younger brother. Good times. No, I have no tattoos. I am actually terrified of pain. But I have given birth to 4 children with no medication.

My sister, on the other hand, has two tattoos. And only one child. With meds.

I think that means we're both warped.

3. This morning I resorted to doing something I said I would never do. All out of baby wipes I gave my child a lick wash with a tissue. What child rearing line have you crossed?

I never cross lines when child rearing. My children are all perfect and I am mother of the year as evidenced by any one of the following: when I videotaped my child's terror and posted it on the internet, or when one of them (not the teenager) got drunk, or the fact that my boys wear tights.

See. Just as I said. Perfect.

4. You work with pre-schoolers. Are you mad?

"We're all mad here."

Yes, you probably must be a little mad to work with children of any age. I also teach teenagers (12-17) and they are difficult in their own right. The biggest difference I can see between the two is that the teenagers mostly participate because they think they have to, because they have been through so much school up to this point where participation was mandatory. Preschoolers don't yet do this. They mostly have to be coerced into participating.

The other thing I have learned: the bad kids ALWAYS come to class.

5. When your children have flown the nest what will you do with yourself?

More time for blogging!

I will cook gourmet meals every night without having to hear about how this is "Yuck!" (my husband is better behaved than that. My house will be perpetually clean with only a little bit of dust occasionally. I will own white furniture. I will own furniture.

In the next couple of years I will begin working on my Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy. This is what I want to do when I grow up.

Here’s the directions:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

For Just 150 zloty, You Too Can Skip A Party

So last week, in a moment of weakness, I complained about an experience I had at the bar and that I would have to attend a party with the two people involved.

Fortunately, Stewie locked both sets of keys, both my mobile and Dylan's, and my purse in the minivan. Making us wait for 2 hours for a locksmith and making us 150 zloty (USD 42) lighter in the wallet.

But we totally missed the party. With a damn good excuse.

It was a good day.

So how did you spend Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Maybe It's Like Robin Hood?

This is part of the series in which I make fun of the ways Poles dress. This is only for fun and is totally an American perspective.

At the preschool where I'm teaching, there are 5 Polish children, 2 French children, 3 American children - although one of them thinks she's Mexican, one of them thinks he's Polish, and one of them thinks she's Israeli...only the Israeli one is correct, 1 New Zealander, and 2 Spanish children.

Notice how the nationalities come in pairs or more. Except the New Zealander - that's because there just aren't that many of them in New Zealand, so they don't often export them.

So there are 5 Polish children at the school. 1 of them never comes to school - he's just on the roster, so he could potentially show up at any moment. Of the other 4, 3 of them wear the same clothes This is because they have separate inside and outside clothes.

What does this mean exactly? Well, think about how long it takes to get a 3 year old dressed in the morning. We must put on tights, then an undershirt, then trousers, then an overshirt, then snowpants (no matter what the weather - as long as it still technically winter we must still wear could begin snowing at ANY GIVEN MOMENT!), then scarf, jacket, mittens and hat.

So, because all the other normal children come to school in tights, undershirt, trousers, overshirt, and spend the school day IN THOSE CLOTHES (mostly, there is one boy and one girl who just have to be in their undershirt and tights all day long), it doesn't take 20 minutes to dress each one of them to go outside.

Add to that the boy who is ADHD and can't sit still long enough to be undressed from his trousers and shirt and then redressed in (a totally different set) tights, undershirt, trousers, overshirt, snowpants, scarf, jacket, mittens and hat, and there is no way I will teach preschool for the rest of my life.

The other thing about this whole ordeal is that IT DOESN'T GET THAT COLD HERE! Our average winter temp is -4 C/25 F.

And before you ask, yes, my boys wear tights.

Their teacher asked me if Americans do this and I said, "No." She asked, "Then why do you put them in tights?" I said, "So the old ladies don't yell at me." Because if you've ever lived in Poland, you know that everyone on the street thinks that it is their business to tell you how to raise your children.

The teacher's ass almost literally fell off. She laughed that hard.

But my boys do have some manly looking tights.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fashion Dos and Don'ts

Monday was my first day of work. I'm currently a preschool teacher. I'm learning that I don't really like working with preschoolers. I also don't really like working with teenagers. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't like working with adults either. Perhaps I just don't like working.

Anyway, I wore a skirt (stupid I know, but my jeans had just been in a mudslinging accident with a two year old) and tights. About 2 hours into the day I realized I had a huge hole in my tights. Like "make me look like a homeless person" hole. I couldn't see it because it was on the back of my leg and somehow when I put them on my foot didn't got through the hole, so perhaps it wasn't there the whole day.

Anyway, once I learned of the hole, I discarded said tights in the bathroom. But now, my legs were bare. Well, except for the skirt and the knee high boots I was wearing. There was approximately 1 inch of bare skin showing.

I went into my local store and the clerks stared at me. I was dressed nicely, just lacking in hosery. I looked back at them. I was all "What! WHAT? You're staring at me because I have 1 inch of skin showing? Agnieszka looks like a hooker and you're staring at ME?!?!?!"

She does too. I'll try to get a picture.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tales of the Religion Class

One of the schools that feeds into my class has holidays next week. A huge percentage of my class attends that school. My director told me that if half the class was going to be gone, I could cancel the class. SCORE!

So I asked my kids "Who's going to be gone next week?" 5 hands immediately shot up.

"Daniel*, yes your mum already told me. Dominik*, yes, you told me last week - even though you actually had no idea when the holidays were. Cecil*, okay. Richard*, okay. Thomas* - wait, Thomas you go to a different school. Your holidays are the following week. Why are you going to be gone?"


"Right then, I'll ask your mom."

"No, I was confused. I'll be here next week."

Now, I'm not sure why I argued with the kid. I totally want a holiday too. But now, because I'm stupid couldn't resist, I have to work next Sunday.

And aside from being totally tempted to roundhouse kick the troublemaker in the class (not Thomas) in the head, that was the highlight of my evening.

*Names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

ARGH! I'm Trapped!

So my desktop refuses to start up. I'm involved in this scrapbook challenge where everything has to be posted by midnight and my desktop, where I do almost all my work, refuses to cooperate with me.

Then last night, as I was tending bar, a "friend" came in and proceeded to tell me in front of the other patrons/friends some juicy gossip about a mutual acquaintance. I don't really care that much about the gossip, while I didn't know these particular things about this particular acquaintance, it's nothing that other people haven't done in the past.

Perhaps because I was unimpressed with her juicy news, or perhaps because she is just...I don't know...mean, she then proceeded to tell me about how this acquaintance gossips about me. I was a bit shocked and hurt. If I thought quicker on my feet I would have flat out asked her "What are you trying to accomplish by telling me this?" Because seeing as this is an acquaintance, I don't really know him well enough for him to have any gossip about me.

And during the whole thing, I was transported back to high school. And I realized that perhaps I have led a sheltered life since then, but no one has treated me that way since high school. If you hear someone gossiping about others, how do you handle it as an adult? I certainly would not tell the person who was being gossiped about, that only serves to hurt them.

Unfortunately, I am supposed to attend a party with both of them next week.

And then I came home and my damn desktop would not start!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Things I Learned From Scanning Slides

While my slide scanning is nowhere near finished, I am noticing the same things over and over again. Tips that you can take away from my experience, right now. For free. Well, for comments.

When you take 700 photos of the same event or thing, such as a cake, keep only the best shot. In 30 years the only thing your daughter will learn is that you were really really impressed by a mediocre cake. Or that cake technology has come REALLY far in 30 years.

If you are not planning to scrapbook, notate, or otherwise indicate what various and assorted pieces of equipment at NASA are, don't bother keeping the photos. Again, 30 years later, the only thing your children will learn is that yes, indeed, you did take an awful lot of trips to the Johnson Space Center. So many in fact that they have no desire to go. Ever.

Photos so over or underexposed that you cannot tell what they are supposed to be only serve to teach your children that you were not the best photographer. But they can provide hours of "magic eye" style entertainment. I think this one is supposed to be a giant reptilian ghost bird.

And the most important of all. No matter what you think of yourself, how you look, or how you appear in photos, someone someday will treasure having photos of you. This one made all the work worth it:

My mom and me circa 1975

Monday, February 02, 2009

Conversation in our Kitchen

Sunday Conversation

Dylan: "Huh. Well, that's not good. I think I just blew up the refrigerator."

Me: "..."


Dylan: "I changed the light bulb. Now everything is good again. But it's kind of high wattage."

Tigger: "WOW! Heaven is in our refrigerator!"

Dylan: "Okay, you can open the door, but don't look directly INTO the refrigerator."

I'm thinking of rigging up some kind of heavenly music that goes on every time the door is opened. Or maybe the refrigerator could fill in for my "happy light".


Some of you have taken stabs at where Hell is from my last post. Apparently, it was Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. And those were the souvenir slides, which did not age nearly as well as all the ones that my family took.

Others have asked about converting slides to digital. I have emailed those of you whose email addresses I had directly, but I thought I'd put a little plug in for anyone else who is interested.

I'm using the Plustek OpticFilm 7300 slide/film scanner. I think it's a fabulous scanner and does a lovely job. It's also small and compact. Be aware though that it takes about 2-3 minutes per slide and you have to manually change the slides, so it's a long project if you have a lot of slides. I've made it through about 300 slides in the past week.

And Grandma, if you ever come across the slides that you know are around somewhere, I promise I will scan them in and give you copies. And I will not make fun of them on my blog. I reserve the right to make fun of people who do not read my blog only.