Monday, March 11, 2013

The hardest things right now.

Felt it was about time to give a little update on my neurosis and how I'm gettin' along with them. I'm still winning, but just barely.

I have quite a few posts written in the "drafts" section of the blog. Sometimes I will spend an hour or so writing and then never publish something  All in all, you should all be really thankful I don't. They are mostly garbage. One post that I have never gotten around to publishing was the one titled "What I miss the most". The reason: It's keeps changing, getting longer, sometimes (rarely) removing things, sometimes changing the type to bold or italics for emphasis. Oh, but I can't post it. Along with my neurosis there is also a good measure of guilt that builds when you get to live in a free house  have plenty of food on the table and an amazingly healthy and understanding family surrounding you...and then you complain about something. Are you kidding me? I'm gonna complain about the lack of my specific brand of Peanut Butter?! Ridiculous.


...I will share the top three things that are most difficult. I mean, I get to complain a *leetle* bit every now and then...Are you ready for this? Actually, I should stop right there and warn you that this is not a tear jerking, "I miss my friends and family" post. You are still gonna roll your eyes at the end and wonder what the beef is about but I figure I should be honest because other than missing the sweet Texas air (oh, it is so sweet) and people you know me, what I miss are real, tangible, and explainable things.

2) Clothes
3) Hobbies

So, as you can see, I've really narrowed it down for you. ;)

1) If anyone tries to tell you anything about Poland that they "know" it will include two things, Poles invented Vodka, and Polish food is delicious. The jury is still out on the Vodka thing, just ask any Russian, but hands down, everyone will nod and agree that the food is delicious in Poland.  Really outstanding. The sausage/meat, the cheese/dairy, the bread, really, just all of it. And they're right. The food here is very good... if you're a tourist, or a native. Visiting here in the past I couldn't wait to get off the plane and grab some good country bread, some fresh country butter and some tasty country Kabanos (my favorite style of Kielbasa/Sausage). You can go to any outdoor market and there will be some farmer or his wife, or both of them, selling fresh hunks of butter, churned that morning  from their own cows. There will be cheese to go with it and the next stall over is selling the bread on which to slather them. We have farmer's in our family so we get hand made fresh linked kielbasa by the pounds every other month. It is truly delicious. It as if you have never tasted these things in your life until you taste them this fresh. And now that your mouth is watering I am here to say thaaaaat, I am sick of it. I don't want any more sausage.  I don't want any more country bread and I don't want any more white cheese! I want my HEB soft whole wheat pre-packaged bread, I want my huge block of Colby jack generic brand cheese, and I want some Boars Head ham off the bone. No, these things don't necessarily taste better and they certainly aren't healthier, but they are my tastes. I can recreate just about any dish here that I made in America, but it never tastes the same. The ingredients all have the same name, but they taste different. Different cows eating different kinds of grass make different dairy. Different pigs eating different kinds of slop = different ham, and the bread, well, I just want some classic American sandwich bread (for the peanut butter, of course!). The version they have here comes out of the bag as if it has already been lightly toasted. Weird. I lament to Martin often how I am tired of the food, the tastes. He doesn't understand, but then again, he will eat anything.

Food confession: I have not drank (drunk? drunken? dranken? Idk) a single glass of milk since we have been in Poland, this includes adding chocolate to it, hot or cold, and cereal. Why? I can't stand the taste of Polish milk. I use it in my cooking and in my tea and coffee but I cannot drink it or have it in cereal. How many bowls of cereal have I eaten since we've been here? Answer: 0. (Poles will not think this is a huge deal, but American are shedding a tear for me right now...late night snacks, cravings, etc.) (also, milk is not really drunk here the same way it is in America, and Poles don't eat that many cookies so they don't understand the whole chocolate chip cookie and milk thing...oh, I miss it!)

Food confession: I still can't stand Polish desserts and don't understand why everything has to have so many layers and so many different flavors and nuts and creams and fruits added.  And what's more, I have yet to make a successful "American style" birthday cake. I am really upset about this actually. Hejjo's birthday is this week and I don't even know if I can find Cocoa Powder here ( I haven't looked for it yet, that's how far ahead I have planned. Yowzers!). Anyone?

Food confession: If I have to eat one more bowl of Rosol, made by my own hand or someone else's, I am not joking when I say, I might be sick.

Anyway, as you can see, food is a huge one. I'm not even that big of an eater. Eating is not one of my favorite past times or anything, I just really miss the taste of America. If that's even a thing. (also, last thing, I promise, food changes the way YOU smell, your body, your breath, your children's body and breath, your body's interesting....and I could do with less of it, mkay?)

2) Before we came I bought some new clothes. This is the longest I have gone in our marriage and not been pregnant, which means I am finally a stable weight. Which means I can buy real clothes. Not only "cheapest thing I could find" because I might not fit into them next month, and not purposely too big or too small because I'm gaining or losing weight. I was excited about these clothes, I waited for the sales and ordered them from here and shipped them to Martin's parents. Martin's father brought them all over for me in a suitcase a couple months after we got here.

I shrank all of them within the first two months of their arrival. And by all of them I mean all of them and by shrunk I mean  you can see my post-four babies stomach when I raise my arms (and don't no one want to see that). This was due to my complete idiocy in forgetting about the whole Celsius and Fahrenheit conversion with the washer (AND the washers here have no cold setting...they MAKE you heat the water at least a little bit, this doesn't make sense) and not understanding the new dryer ( the owners manual came in Spanish, Dutch, and Slovenian) I have given most of them to Martin's cousins who are shorter than I and kept a few pieces for around the house. I was really upset about this. I still am to tell the truth. Why? Because the only things I can seem to find in Polish stores by the way of clothes are the most uber trendy styles you can think of. Even the khakis are "skinny". Khakis! What do people wear to church here?! (well, I know what they wear to church, exactly what they wear to the mall, which is also what I wear to church because I can't find  a single pair of slacks under 50 dollars that doesn't show off every curve God gave me and there are no skirts that even attempt to reach the knee!)!

Deep breath.

Clothes confession: I bought some clothes recently from Land's End UK. Shipping was expensive (re: not free) and return shipping on items I couldn't wear/didn't fit was astronomical. Like the return shipping was the same price as the clothes I kept. It makes me nauseous to think about it.

3) I've already mentioned this one a few times. The only dead horse around here I like to beat (whew, have fun with that one, my Polish readers ;) ) is how bad the air quality is in the winter. So I'll spare you the whole, "I wish they had a Hobby Lobby here" speech. I do, and Poland, just sayin', you are really behind in not having a store like that. I don't even know how long 20 Pasmanteria's (defined as: a place where you find everything you need, to sew anything you could possible imagine, EXCEPT the fabric...dun dun dunnunununn) in a 5 mile radius can last, but gosh darn it, you're givin' it your all!  Right now I am trying to make Lina's Easter dress. I have made her special occasions dresses for at least the last 2 years now and I really want to continue to do so. Buying the fabric, buying the accessories and finding the perfect pattern is so easy in America. Here, well, half the stuff they just don't have readily available (all of it I have to buy online, all of it), and the other half, I don't even know where to start looking. It's just not trendy here, I get that. It's just frustrating. Really frustrating. (interfacing, anyone know where i can find it?)

Hobby Confession: My mom and brother are coming in 6 weeks. You better believe I am ordering fabric and yarn for them to bring over in their suitcases. I don't even care. (imagine nose in air, arms crossed across chest and stomping of my foot...)

In the end, honestly, it's not really any one of these things or any of the other hundred things that are different. It's not any one thing. It's all of them, put together. It's navigating them, researching them, discovering them...steeping in them...pickling in them. Every thing I do, some days, feels like I have concrete blocks tied to my feet because I have to wade through the differences to find the one or two things I am familiar with and then turn around and try to make them work. Half the time failing.

I asked Martin for a plane ticket home last week. Looked up flights and everything. Why? Not to see my family and friends. In fact, quite the opposite. If I had a plane ticket home right now I would drive to the nearest grocery store, buy all the foods I have missed, drive out to the hill country and sleep and eat, and watch American T.V. for a whole week straight, by myself. I would go to my favorite fabric shops and yarn stores and browse, all by myself, and drink Dr. Pepper fountain drinks. I wanted a plane ticket home so I could just be (all by myself). To be able to let my shoulders down for even just a day or two, to un-clench my jaw, and let my mind not constantly be searching for the right word, or my ears not listening so intently to try and understand. To give my senses a much needed rest.

 I'm exhausted.

And just so I don't come off sounding like a Sour Susan, I'm putting all this out there for really two reasons. I like to share these things.  It's helpful, and I like help, you like help, we all like help. And I think it's important to keep things in perspective for anyone who may be thinking of a big move like this to, well, anywhere. You should totally do it by the way, it's's just not sunshine and lollipops all the time. And that's ok too. Tiring. But ok. :)


  1. On the "cocoa powder" thing:

    If you mean something that contains "Powdered cocoa grains. Period." then you can buy it in any grocery, simply "on the corner". It's called "Kakao" (99% of brands look like this: ). But if it is just another american processed food or sth, with a confusing name, then I'd order it in next "American food" pack if I were you, 'cause you won't find it here.

    BTW, great blog, I've been reading since the beginning, but it's my first comment here, keep on goin'.

    1. Thank you for the compliment, I will be looking up the cocoa powder as soon as possible!

      No, I'm just looking for regular cocoa powder to make a chocolate cake, nothing super processed and "American". ;)

  2. I can't even imagine how frustrated you are. Is there any way I can send you clothes? Is there any way you CAN fly back here for a small break?

    1. I am going to have my mom bring some things and then she can return them if they don't work out when she gets back. Seems extreme. I am hoping that i can just take a few hours a week and really take my time looking for what I need before summer comes. I'm just tired, and I don't really like shopping in the stores. I'm used to doing it all online and then returning it to the store after trying it on at home. Shopping in the mall is exhausting!

    2. Also, the shrinking everything was my own darn fault but still, it was a result of fatigue and everything being different, just forgetting myself and not being able to read the darn manual...ugh. I was pretty upset. All that money down the drain! Martin was really sweet about it but it makes me feel like and idiot and that is the last thing I need when confidence is already so low. It's just clothes though, I'll live. ;)

  3. The food thing scares me - And I'm sure it's better in Krakow than where we are moving to in a few months (Nowy Sacz). No more dozens of Japanese, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, American, Fusion, etc. places to choose from in a few mile radius (all of these flavors are not nearly the same in PL, if you can find them)... plus no more Whole Foods.

    On the American television thing - We've set up a Slingbox at my parents place in So.Cal which basically lets us watch every program they have at their home over the internet, from any location. A pretty cool toy if you're a TV addict, something you can probably set up at a family members house in Texas.

    1. The thing is, all those kinds of foods are here. They are. It's just that, no matter what, they all just taste different. A Pole who has their favorite Chinese food place in Poland is not going to get to America and like the Chinese food. it will taste different,and vice versa. I think I am just being picky, you will probably be fine. You will miss the variety and the fact that in America when the restaurant says Chinese or Mexican, you know exactly what you are getting.

  4. Yes! Slingbox! Do it.
    Re: clothes--what about Zara or H&M or Gap? According to google they're all in Krakow... may be too pricey or trendy, but I bet they would have something you like ;)
    And it makes perfect sense that your mom and Fred would bring TONS of clothes/hobby stuff for you!
    The food thing would be really hard :( Would BBQ sauce, fajita seasoning, Oreos, etc. help?
    If you do come back, I would love to silently roam a fabric store, then eat an obscene amount of Tex-Mex with you ;)

    1. Now that you are offering to go with me...I want to come home!!!!

    2. Although you did say, "silently". That's a must. We are so sick of each other over here thanks to winter and no other adult who will brave all 4 kids at one time that I crave silence.

      They have Oreos here! Just the milk thing. You have already sent me deliciousness galore. I will have Martin bring over a few things that I need but otherwise, I will just bask in their glory when we visit next winter for almost 3 months!

    3. Me too! I love just roaming Hobby Lobby in the silence and company of old ladies. It really does calm me down. There's a new JoAnn's and its huge!

    4. What?! Melissa Barrett McCrary, how dare you tell me they opened a new Joann's better not be South!

    5. Southpark Meadows.

  5. You're not Sour Susan... you're Homesick Holly. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE. I've lived in several parts of the world, in Asia, South America and in Paris where, as you may know, the food is pretty... good :) And you know what? Even in France, where I ate probably better than anywhere on the planet (with the exception of Italy or India) I still missed certain, specific American goodies. Like corn bread. And chocolate chip cookies. And don't get me started on milk and cookies! As much as I love Polish food, when I'm there for an extended period of time, I miss the international way that Americans eat: the way Mexican, or Asian, or Indian food creeps into daily diet of regular American people and becomes.. semi-American. In Poland it's... all Polish food. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would point out. It's just that it's limited. And not very spicy or varied in its flavors.

    I can also totally understand the difficulty of shopping in Poland. Clothes are very expensive. Or, rather, they're the same price or just slightly higher than in the US... which is a problem if you don't happen to earn US-wages. That's when an off-season flight to the US may actually pay off: you fly home, hit TJ Maxx, or Old Navy, or Ross or any of the zillions of cheap stores, and you STOCK UP. (I know Polish people living in the US who fly to Poland for their dental care... saves money. You could do the same, in reverse, with clothes shopping.) An American friend living in Poland complains about the prices of shoes for her children. She has her American friends hunt for sales and send the stuff over.

    So yea, there are cultural differences, including food and shopping, between Texas and Poland. It's natural to miss certain things from home. It would be UNnatural if you found everything in Poland 100% copasetic. Sign of madness, for sure ;) So go ahead and vent on your blog. Those of us who've "been there," we get it. And we sympathize.

    Hugs from Colorado - Dorota

    1. It's hard to beat America for variety in just about anything. Sometimes that means the quality or the taste suffers but at least you have choices. It is harder here without so many choices, you are limited and so I find myself looking for that third option, thinking that it might be exactly what I'm looking for, except it doesn't exist. Does that make sense?

      I guess this is what homesickness is like, huh?


    You will find it in every shop or supermarket. Print the page and show to staff ;)

    1. Thank you, Jacek! I haven't yet actually looked for it but now that it seems it is readily available I am a little more at ease.

  7. Cocoa powder is really popular - you have to ask for "ciemne kakao" albo "naturalne kakao". It look like this: or this or similar.

    And: " I still can't stand Polish desserts and don't understand why everything has to have so many layers and so many different flavors and nuts and creams and fruits added." - you really hated those cake today, right? :D :D :D I should read your blog more often. :D


    1. No!!!! I actually really likes the cake today! I love most of the cakes with fruits, it's just that ALL the cakes have these thigns. Sometimes you just want a piece of chocolate cake, you know? It's the cake with gelatin in the middle and then two different kinds of cake and whipped cream and nuts. Or the kind with ground nuts and then chocolate and then gingerbread...etc., etc.

    2. American cakes are in More Than a Cookie shop in Kraków -
      You can try. :)

  8. Witam

    Napisze po polsku - mąż przetłumaczy - zapracuje na obiad :)

    Amerykańskie jedzenie - Kraków to duże miasto jest pełno McDonald's,Kfc,Pizza Hot + MEXICAN z
    burrito i innymi dziwadłami.+ Amerykańskie Tygodnie w Lidlu itp.

    Ubrania - mieszkasz w Europie kupuj europejskie - za drogie kupuj firmowe polskie - za drogie kupuj polskie "no name" na targu - za drogie kupuj w secondhand,ciucholand,pewex czy jak to sie w Krakowie nazywa - za drogie kupuj chińskie jednorazówki.
    Nie pasuje zostaje KRAWCOWA lub Allegro.

    Kakao - to jakiś żart.W sklepie nie mów "koko" tylko fonetycznie k a k a o tak jak amerykańskie dziecko na kupę + "o".
    Są 3 rodzaje:
    normalne - normal
    ciemne - dark
    granulki - papules

    pzdr M

    1. I actually understand most of what you have written! Fast food is kind of delicious and gross at the same time, anywhere you go so, yes, I can eat those things but I am more thinking of specific tastes in every day food. Hard to explain...

    2. Pisze po polsku dla większej motywacji i nauki nowych słów.
      Polonusi robią niedzwiedzią przysługe piszą perfekto po angielsku
      a co to da w małym polskim sklepie - wstawiajcie chociaż kilka
      słow po polsku lub z gwary centuśowej babka odrazu zapunktuje
      poczuje sie kochana ,zrobi karierę w mediach jak wielu innych obcokrajowcow.

      Po drugie nie boli a ułatwia życie.

      Po trzecie abecadło amerykanskie jest bad jest spartolone od ej do z,
      Anglicy przez długi czas mieli w d..e łacine dorobili się takiego
      analfabetyzmu ze mogli zaiponować tylko Amerykanom
      Ci przejeli wszysko co nagorsze nawet śię nie zastanowili dlaczego
      wyraz pisany a czytany wcale do siebie nie pasuje.

      Słowo klucz do języka polskiego - fonetyka

      Abecadła poprawne w 70-90 procentach

      nawet Mekskanie mają poprawniejsze
      nawet rosyjskie - szok niestety litery mają inny kształt
      i best łacina kościelna lub apteczna ale dowaliłem

  9. PS. Tylko się nie pomyl bo kupisz "sito"

  10. I don't think is as bad, as you write. I lived for 20 years in USA, and the first year was the hardest, becaus I was home sick, and I miss everything about Polnad, but then i get used to american food, american cloths and so on.
    Kakao you can buy everywhere, in every groceries stre, in big shipping malls, are shops with food from all over the world, I can't remember their name , but they do have same stuff from USA. You shoul look for them.
    They also have american bookstore. Cloths are not as bad , and expensive, comm on, you will manage somehow right:))


    1. Did I ever mention they were expensive? Some other people have mentioned that as well. The cost for adults clothes is fine (kids clothes are ridiculously expensive) it's just everything in the stores is "trendy". It's hard to find a nice modest, classic outfit for Church.

      it's true I'll get used to it but I think the point is that these little things, all of them, make up life. You know? All of them make up "living" day to day. When they are all out of whack at once, it's difficult. It's like a crazy house where everything is the same but not. And it's only been 7 months, so it's still all very new.

  11. I think I never commented on your blog, but I've been reading for a while. I had to this time because your post made me laugh. Not at you and your complaints, mind you. I understand those completely, since I was in a similar situation (or rather opposite, moving from Poland to USA).
    It made me laugh especially because I missed almost exactly the same foods you do, just the other way. Milk was the worst! I couldn't stand the taste. I don't know if Polish people don't drink as much milk as Americans. I sure did. It was my drink of choice for as long as I can remember. Until I moved to USA. Milk was simply gross, with some weird aftertaste and i couldn't stomach it. How I missed my Polish milk! ;) If it's any consolation, I think your taste changes with time. I've gotten used to American milk, now it tastes just fine. I have no idea how long it took, but I sincerely hope it will be the case with you, too.
    And about Polish desserts. I never liked those with layers either, but they're not the only desserts in Poland. When I was growing up my mom mostly made simple chocolate cake (with real cocoa powder ;) ) or cheesecake without any layers at all, not even a crust. And they're both very popular in Poland, I think. I guess all those layered desserts are made mostly for guests (?)
    P.S. Food confession: I still don't like most American cakes. They're so awfully sweet, you taste nothing but sugar :P

    1. Yes! I love these kinds of understand! I don't like complex foods to begin with. I like having one taste- chocolate- or vanilla- or whatever...not so many flavors all added together. Also, I have heard from some other Poles as well that American desserts are too sweet. I can see this since i have noticed that a lot of Polish desserts are actually more like sweet breads or cakes layered with nuts or something that is not just sugar and flour.

      Also, I can't stand cheesecake, here or in America, so maybe I'm just weird and there is no pleasing me. ;) Thank you fo ryour comment, really, it makes me feel better that I'm not just a crazy picky eater (which I am but sometimes it's justified)!

    2. I totally agree with Jagodka :)Olivia, I was laughing while reading this post. These words (your words) are exactly my words (about American products) in US 15 years ago. Milk was the worst! I took me couple years to get used to the taste.
      And what you really need is a GIRL friend who knows where to go shopping. Check out Reserved or Mohito for cardigans, pants or jackets. And there are two TK Maxx stores in Krakow :)

  12. Oh and put that poor kid to bed, he's tired!

    1. That is actually a video from our first week here. Poor kid...jet lag.

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  14. I totally get what you are going through, and feel for you completely! Some of these comments strike me as being mean and really upset me!! I grew up and spent the majority of my life in America, and living in Poland for these past 3 years has been hard - and I am only here for a limited time - so I fully understand how hard it is for you, especially since this is not your culture and you have moved here for the long term. There are times where I am excited that I am here and experiencing this culture and thriving in it, while at the same time, I miss all those little things that are 'home' to me. Thankfully, some American gems are slowly making their way across the ocean, like Starbucks (where they have American treats!!)! What brings the greatest comfort to me when I am homesick is hearing Americans around me, such as businessmen or traveling students hanging out at Starbucks. Hearing the American language makes me feel so much closer to home, even though I am a native Polish speaker. I encourage you to bring a book or laptop to a typical 'American' hangout in order to just be around the language, it really is comforting! Sending prayers your way!!

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  16. Why? Why there is is a need to carry familiarity everywhere you go?
    Here is your new home.
    HERE. Probably forever.
    Sooner you leave old tastes behind, that you will feel better.
    Isn't ticket to States ridiculously expensive? (with comparison to other needs)?
    Isn't that need similar to childish "security blanket"?


    1. Because unknown, I am a person, not. a. ro-bot. (imagine that last part being said in robot voice)

  17. Liv, ignore this "Unknown" character... s/he sounds mean.

  18. I have moved all over the US (now in New England) and still miss Hancock Fabrics in Austin. It's amazing how important it is to find fabric to clothe a growing family! I hope ya'll find your "groove" on all these little things over time.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I have found some online stores, but still not to the availability or affordability of WalMart or discounted Joann's, but you give and take, you know?