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....


  1. wow! that was really interesting! I need to read it again. waiting for more observations
    P.S. And we have so much sun here, this winter! It's totally different to the last one (plus I have huge windows, still without curtains :-))

  2. Magda, do the windows and all the sun help heat your home. I'm curious! Does it really help keep you warmer? Isn't it so great to spend the winter in your house though? I can't wait!

    1. Yes, Olivia! The windows does their job perfectly. On sunny days we wear just t-shirts, without sun we need sweaters.
      And living in this house is amazing. I just love the space inside and outside. I can really breathe here - it's wonderful!

  3. great post very interesting comparison but seriously food, clothes prices can be irritating, but overall it can not make so much impact ?

    1. The food one is huge for our family. We spend close to 2,500 zloty a month for food here in America (includes eating out as well as eating at home). And in Poland, roughly 1,000 zloty a month (including eating out, which we do a lot less in Poland). There is a huge difference there. On the flip side, clothing for children in Poland at just a regular clothing store is outrageously priced. So, discount clothing, or clothing in places like Carrefour or Auchan are a better deal. But still, America has more to offer in terms of discounts on kids clothing and shoes. It kind of all evens out when you're raising a large family in either place but def. easier to save money in Poland where the cost of living is one of the lowest in all of Europe. Healthcare is the other big money saver in Poalnd but America's health care is just absurd, it's not even comparable.