Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quality over quantity : Poland in the Olympics

Pretty impressive! What they lack in number they make up in substance.

We are very proud, especially Martin.

Way to go Poland!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Building a house in Poland Step: 2 and 3

Step 2: Plans!
After about a year of building the house from the ground up (on paper) we had finally tweaked, rearranged and overall gave our architect a lot to think about until we finally finished up the plans, back in October, almost exactly one year after  buying our property.

October?! Why didn't she say so way back then? Yes, yes, well I was a little busy packing for America and applying for passports in between bouts of late 1st trimester puking to post but really what's the point of having those plans if you don't have permission to build?

Step 3:   Permission to Build!!!

Got the email today, permission to build when we are ready!
We have already chosen a building company, as we are going the one-company-build-the whole-house-route, American style. More expensive but about 2-3 times faster which means my sanity will be saved and in the end, that's priceless. If everything goes to plan and we really work hard and not slack, we can be in the house by next summer. This is Martin's plan...our 10 year wedding anniversary and a house warming party all in one. (I'm not holding my breath but that doesn't mean we can't shoot for the moon and all that...) We may not have furniture for everyone to sit on but we will have a house to shelter them should it rain and a place for us to lay our head's once we've kicked everyone out. ;)

We can hardly wait to get started!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Americans are obsessed with food.

Ok, a few disclaimers...

1) We don't have t.v. or cable in Poland so I have no idea what is shown on television there. I plan to keep it this way so I will never know about Polish television and food.

2) I think eating healthy is important. This does not include anything low fat, fat free or artificially sweetened. Those things taste gross.  I make sure we eat a wide range of all food groups.

3) My kids do not have food allergies. Food allergies are real and need to be addressed. You gluten free and dairy free mothers are wonderful people. It's not easy.

4) The way we "eat healthy" in my family is by me cooking everything from scratch (even saying that I know that not making my own pasta makes me not quite "from scratch" but come on, I am only one woman) which is MUCH easier to do in Poland because there is... a) less opportunity for crap food, so less temptation for frozen dinners, fast food, etc. because it just doesn't exist to the same convenient extent and b) everyone in Poland that I know cooks just about everything they eat from scratch, it's tradition, culture, cheaper, whatever you want to call it, but they do.

And every once in a while we eat at McDonald's or order a pizza.

whispering: also, hate to say this, but there is a  rumor that Americans don't know how/are unwilling to cook from scratch... not only do I like to prove this wrong, but I also kind of think it's true. At least Americans definitely rely more what we call "derivative foods" to "cook from scratch"... like a can of cream of mushroom soup (derivative) rather than making it from scratch... I make mine form scratch because it doesn't exist in Poland.  But hey, I miss that can of CofM sometimes.

Ok, on to the actual post part...

Y'all... Americans are absolutely obsessed with food.

This obsession extends to:

- cooking shows
- shows about eateries, diners, restaurants
- shows about eating in different parts of the world
- shows about eating healthy organic, low calorie
- shows about eating Southern food
- shows about eating food from the original 13 colonies (not as good as the Southern food ;) )
- shows about eating cheaper
- shows about eating outdoors
- shows about eating bizarre food
- shows about running successful restaurants
- shows about gross restaurants
- shows about eating challenges
- shows about cupcake challenges, cake challenges, Iron Chef, oh, so many shows about food challenges...

that's just television

*FACEBOOK... oh my goodness, I'm just gonna start blocking it all...

- microwaves will kill you
- eating Kambucha will save your life (or wait, is that drinking Kambucha? what the heck *is* Kambucha?)
- anything from a can will kill you because the can is toxic
- anything stored in plastic will kill you because the plastic is toxic
- red meat is bad because it kills you
- vegetarian is bad because it kills you
- vegan is best because it's all natural and nothing had to feel sad to feed you but you'll prob. die sooner anyway due to lack of eating anything with actual nutrients
- eating organic is not necessary
- eating non-organic is not "responsible living"
- oatmeal is bad for you
- bacon is super bad for you
- eggs are a miracle food (but only free range, organic otherwise they will kill you)
- dairy is absolutely the most evil to ever exist (unless its raw milk from your local farmer and then you're soooo natural, it's illegal - so you're a rebel and you should buy as much as you can  (all that being said, we don't drink much milk at our house because we just don't - that's my choice and guess what? you don't need to know why!))
- almond milk or something called"Silk" will save your life
- grains are basically like slowly willing yourself to die. you can eat them as an indulgence but otherwise you're basically just a ticking time bomb
- the only acceptable yogurt is Greek
- the only acceptable yogurt is Kefir
- the only acceptable yogurt is homemade made from organic cultures
- red dye will make your kids crazy
- sugar will make your kids crazy
- sugar will NOT make your kids crazy, this is a myth kept alive by evil anti-grandma lobbyists
- artificial sweeteners cause cancer
- real sugar is too refined and will kill you
- raw sugar is best but in the end why even bother?
- diets: dieting in America is no longer to help you stay thin or lose weight, oh no, it's a way of life...
      - only eating fruit
      - only eating protein
      - only eating organic
      - only eating food that doesn't have feelings
      - all food has feelings so you're S.O.L.
      - elimination diets for better hair growth
      - elimination diets for better bowel movements
      - elimination diets to live longer, look better, and stay thin
      -  you can eat anything as long as it fits into a mug
      - diets where they mail the food to you
      - diets where you share your feelings about they food they mailed to you
      - cleansing diets which cleanse you ( I prefer baths or showers)
- only meat that has been grass fed, free range and kissed goodnight every night should grace your plate
- red wine is a necessity and it cures all ills (of course it does! as long as you drink enough.. I agree with this one...alas, I have been on hiatus)

I started noticing this when we were still in Poland, especially through Facebook. Post after post of what you should be eating, shouldn't be eating. What you should be using to cook your food (no Teflon, no non- stick, only cast iron, no microwaves, only outdoor ovens with  wood that died naturally on your own property that you loving cared for yourself and gives off healing vibes as it slowly burns and the smoke rises and you commune with the cooking fairies... too far? I had to throw in fairies, I had to) Constantly conflicting articles on what's good for you, what's not.

 A complete obsession with what goes in the pie hole.

pie hole = your mouth, the place where you put pie. pie is delicious.

My one conclusion to all this, ok, my 5 or 6 conclusions.

1) Americans are obsessed with food
2) Food and all that it entails have quite literally, in some circles, and some people, completely replaced traditional religion to become a religion in and of itself (there are lots of articles on this as well, people looooove articles here... "ooh, have you read that article...", " I just read this article..." "oh, no, I once read in an article that said...")
3) people are really judgmental about what you put in your body
4) Americans are still really unhealthy as a whole compared to most other countries in the world even AFTER all this "education" about food
5) America is so freakin' rich that our problems extend not to "what's for dinner" and "can we afford meat again this week?" but more to the "how was that beef raised and how was it treated?"

  Americans have not, recently, as a whole, and rarely, for most of us, ever gone hungry, or stood in food lines only to end up going home empty handed, and we, as a whole, God willing, will never experience famine or food shortages. Since we don't have to worry about whether or not we will or will not eat today we obsess over what we *can* have. We have so much that we over analyze every. single. little. part of it.

America, this is a good thing! To be so financially comfortable and be so free that we can eat without worry, that we have an overabundance of food, so much so that we throw away more food than any other country on the planet (not good), we have so much! But it has just been taken too far. Food kind of stops being real when it's elevated to worship status or demonized beyond all recognition.

You know what reality is.... buying the basics and making the food. Or raising your own food and consuming every part of it. Sometimes that means eating out of a box if needs be, or running for take out, and hopefully learning a few recipes from scratch and appreciating where food comes from...but that's not really as important as this... which I would like to shout from the rooftops:

Make it, serve it and then you know what.....shut up about it. There, I said it.

Shut up about food.

I don't care what you put in your mouth. Or how it's prepared. I don't care about how healthy it is. I don't care how healthy/unhealthy you think my food choices are and I definitely don't care about how you want to alert the world to how flammable those Doritos are!

Just stop.

Eat all your crazy organic, free range, fermented, bottled, juiced, canned, pressed, mixed, stirred, fried (ack, never fried, sooo bad for you...unless you use E.V.O.O as your oil.... don't know what that is?... plebe!), I'll even join you from time to time, and then... move on ... .like the rest of the world. You can do it! I have faith in you.

NOT a G rated film thanks to some colorful language from the super classy participants. But, come on, this is classic. Not only can we set Doritos on fire, but we film it and post it to Youtube...

*Yes, Facebook is not a great example perhaps. I tend to travel in the natural birthing, natural eating, cloth diapering, homeschooling crowd which = healthy eating, healthy lifestyles. For sure if *I* lived a different lifestyle then my friends would probably be the ones setting Doritos on fire while I filmed it. But hey, they're only passing along what's already out there, it can't all just be me.

And now I have an intense desire to set Doritos on fire.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Where we live, what we're doing, how it's going, etc. etc.

As lazy of a blogger as I have become, this might be the laziest of the lazy posts. An all in one-er, if you will. And I will.

Where we live...
This place is pretty tiny. We had the option of living here, in this small space, or living in a 280 sq. meter home. That's right, we had our choice, and we chose the smaller house. There are lots of reasons but most importantly, I cannot imagine cleaning a 3000 sq. foot house being this pregnant, and if you have kids, you know how they love to spread their stuff all over everything...

If nothing else, this will make me appreciate the extra space we will have in our flat back in Poland, right?

And, in the end, this place is still bigger than the average Polish apartment. It's all about perspective (more on THAT very soon)

Clearly I didn't do any cleaning for the photos.

A T.V.! And this has only solidified my conviction to not have a t.v. in our home (which was fabulous for the last 18 months). It's all junk and it's always a temptation, and you start to rely on it for entertainment, it's a nice little escape from reality now and then (which is ironic because all t.v. is "reality t.v." now and I have no idea how people can watch it) but not worth it. Boo. (also, you might be, this is an old picture, Christmas Tree and everything... but no, I'm married to a Pole, that sucker hasn't even been down a month)

What we drive...
One of the biggest cars on the road and I still have problems finding it in the parking lot at the grocery store. Texans drive MASSIVE cars. All of them. (ok, not all of them, but most of them, more on that later)

What we're doing...

Riding bikes and scooters, most days not even needing jackets. SO MUCH SUN!

Homeschool co-op.

Uncle Freddie!

Hill country rock skipping.

Yeah, I'm not in any of those photos because I took the pictures and we don't have a big enough lens to fit all of me at the same time. 6 weeks to go people. Just can't get much more anything at this point.

How it's going.

Well, it's going pretty much exactly how I thought it would. Which is surprising (that I would be right) and reassuring (finally I'm right about something! ;) ).
It's going ok. And that is American speak for, "it's ok". No exclamation points. No sad faces. Just a shrug of the shoulders. Meh, it's ok. And that's ok.

Some parts have been really great: The sun, the amazing sun, which, even during the Polish summers could not possibly have ever been this high, the skies could never have been this clear or this open and wide, and the view so vast... could it? It just doesn't seem possible. I feel like living in Poland was like living in a snow globe, with limited air, space, view, sun, limited everything... atmospheric, and here it's more like living, well, on the outside of the snow globe (how poetic).

I feel like I can actually breathe here. Like there is more space, open space (and there is, there just *is* more space, Texas is huge). I feel like I can move here, like at any given moment I flail my arms about or do a cartwheel (which is advised against in the 34th week of pregnancy) rather than  in Krakow where I felt like I was always smooshed up against other people all the time (which is kind of true when you go out anywhere really, dense city, lots of people, small space), kind of trapped in other people's space wherever we went. Also, that might just be a side effect of the lack of "personal space" in Europe in general. Americans looooove them personal space. Europeans, apparently, have no need for it (this is a whole separate blog post and I really want to write it, some queuing in Poland is so competitive you will come away with injuries). Or perhaps traveling 6 people deep into any of the thousands of quaint little cafes, bars, or restaurants (which are so romantic on t.v.!) and looking for a table where we could all sit without taking over the whole restaurant just got to be a little tiring. But here, I feel like there is just so much more space, and my family, for once, quite literally, fits, into any given space.

Some parts have been just ok: Like not feeling as safe here. And I was going to give America the benefit of the doubt. We've always been fortunate to live in safe neighborhoods and I have never really felt unsafe among strangers. BUT, all I hear from friends on the subject is doom and gloom.  I needed to have a refresher course with my children on "stranger danger" and I really can't just let them play outside with one eye out the window and the other on the boiling pot on the stove. I definitely have more anxiety about safety here. I had it before we left, but it was just part of  "raising kids in America" and I really haven't felt it in Poland, nor do I really need to, at least not to the same extent. It has slowly subsided back to normal as I have honed my awareness skills, but it was just nice not to have to worry...

America is really expensive.I'm talking about as a percentage of income in either place. Poles making Zloty, Americans making dollars. Food, clothes, basic health care... basic necessities, much more expensive. At the same time specialized products are so much cheaper here and much better quality at the low price. I got a printer/scanner/copier at Walmart for 29 dollars the other day. 29 dollars (roughly 90 zloty)! Hejjo's bike from a second hand shop we bought the second week we were here for $7.99 (24 zloty) and despite being used and a bit rusty, it is a really great bike. The bikes they got for Christmas last year, new, fell apart within 6 months and Santa claims they were not cheap. So, take all of that for what it's worth. Draw your own conclusions.  Yes, you can buy crazy cool stuff here, in all colors, at reasonable prices, but none of that really matters if you have no money left after buying food and clothes.

 I also feel like, personally, while I complained about missing some things I really needed to complete a certain project or perform a science experiment (I'm not looking forward to going back to that, but I will be using international shipping by boat much more in the future), the amount of stuff you can and do accumulate here seems to just come from nowhere. There is just so much stuff, everywhere, it's getting kind of ridiculous. I will admit, for me, it's been like only being able to drink water for 2 years and then all of a sudden someone taking you into a soda shop and offering you anything you can think of. Water is still better for you and I really like water, and that other stuff will just give you cavities, but it's so hard to resist! (speaking of hard to resist, it's so much easier to eat poorly here, there is so much more convenience food. You can eat healthy in America but it's just easier to eat unhealthily...)

These are all just initial observations, the depth and scope of what has hit us after being here for only a couple months has been a bit... overwhelming.

There have been lots of discussions about what we are experiencing here that we want to "take back" to Poland and things we will be glad to "leave behind" . This has, so far, certainly been an interesting...experiment? in different lifestyles, expectations, possibilities....

Saturday, January 25, 2014

We survived! (winter storm 2014) and a finished project

Yesterday morning, still sleeping, footed pajamas enter my room...

Kacio: On no! What's thaaaat?
Me: Snow, Kacio.
Kacio: Oh no! Texas jest brudny! Oh no. Poor Texas.
Me: It's just snow Kacio, it's ok.
Kacio: Poor Texas, what happened? Poor Texas.

Yep. That's about right.  ;)

Click Here for photos of the aftermath.

And a couple photos from our own front yard.

Those pink flowers are fake.

Icicles make it legit.

And because it was cold out on Friday, and we all stayed indoors. And because letting my children watch not one, but 2, movies in one day so rarely happens....I whipped this little number out for the new baby. I hope she is indeed a baby girl because she is going to be sportin' a lot of pink.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not to be outdone.

So, I hear this is the first real day of wintry like weather in southern Poland. Everyone here keeps asking me if I'm glad we got out of the cold, Siberian temps. of Poland, which, once again, in the American minds eye is somewhere near the very tip top of the Northern Hemisphere and is governed by a man in a red suit and white beard. Of course, I have to explain how it's not really like that and this year, for example, we left during one of the, so far, mildest and warmest winters on record. I am really happy for y'all, I really really am. It was almost 27C (80F) degrees here the other day. The sun is so bright and it shines all day and there is not a cloud in the sky. People are wearing shorts! Shorts! In late January!! So, I'm happy for my Polish friends and relations that they have also been fortunate to have a small slice of that good warm(ish) sunny weather (for a little while at least).

Friday in Krakow...

FriJan 24

Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
E at 12 mph

Well, guess what?  Austin forecast for the same day...

FriJan 24

AM Snow Showers
AM Snow Showers
N at 8 mph

As my brother so eloquently put it...

Because "snow" and "ice" really freak people out here. I wouldn't be surprised if they shut down all the schools and told people to start filling up water jugs and hoarding toilet paper.You got this, Texas! Poland, you're almost halfway done with winter! Already! I am rejoicing with you, in spirit, and in a t-shirt. ;)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Speaking Polish to each other.

For the very first time, earlier today,  I heard my kids speaking Polish to each other in order to hide what they were saying from those around them. I never know how to feel about this. Martin and his brother used to do this sometimes in high school. Of course no one knew what they were saying, but the fact that they were saying it in Polish means it was something they didn't want others to hear/understand, (which is quite obvious to those around them). I have refrained from doing this for the most part because I think it can seem kind of rude. Trying to decide what to tell the kids...

It's ok.

It's rude.

You kind of have a super hero-esque power...

Maybe I'll just stay out of it.