Wednesday, May 20, 2020

UPDATE 2020:

Check the ABOUT page for a quick update, including a new email address to get in touch!

Monday, June 12, 2017



Please see my ABOUT page for updated info. on our family and homeschooling in Poland.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's all the same to me

We met with some new/old friends over the weekend for dinner. Both husband and wife speak excellent English. They also have 5 children and began homeschooling this year, so you know, lots in common.

 The question was asked: How is your Polish?

I gave the same answer I give everyone. "Not so great. I really don't have the time, energy, or motivation right now to learn, I get around fine."

The truth is, I get around fine. I don't like talking to people in Polish but I can and I do. I avoid conversations if I can and I remain silent most of the time we visit family and friends who don't speak English. Aside from the exhaustion of trying to keep up with the conversation and translate as well as keep my eyes on the kids and manage to scarf down the food before it's removed from the table -  I really just don't mind silence. Or rather, I don't mind me getting to be silent. I'm not a naturally gregarious person, so sitting quietly while Martin visits with family is fine with me. All my friends speak English, otherwise we wouldn't be able to be friends, so it works out for everyone really.

So after giving my regular canned response I got something unfamiliar... a laugh.

"You mean you're planning on moving even further out of town, to to a tiny village, and you don't yet speak the language? Do you have any idea what village life is like? You will be so far removed from the city and then even more removed for not speaking the language, you'll be like this princess in a tower all alone..."

This was apparently very funny. And of course, a very Polish way to say it.

I just smiled and said, "I know."

Because on the really good days I remind myself that I prefer silence. I'm too busy to really care what other people think when I don't actively seek out their opinions, and heck, this way I can avoid a whole lot of town gossip, criticisms, and just plain awkwardness. It'll be great!

And on the bad days I am reminded that not only have we moved to a foreign country which continues to be fairly foreign, where I don't speak the language, but now we are basically moving to the country surrounded by people who speak even less English than the average Pole. To the side of a hill with one close neighbor and two others who all happen to be over the age of 60 (and who keep trying to give me stuff that I don't want, and won't take no for an answer)...

My sides are splitting...

But see I get the last laugh really. For two reasons.

1) *I already live outside of town, in an isolated area that takes an hour by public transport to reach downtown, 30-40 min. by car depending on traffic. We can't even secure a decent babysitter because no one wants to travel this far and taxi drivers hate us. I already travel anywhere from 30-45 min. one direction to see the few friends I have. And all our neighbors? Over the age of 60! Isolation? Inconvenience? Village life? I've got that shizz sewn up!

Reminds me of this scene from Princess Bride. Martin is the Princess, I am the man with the bitten up shoulder from fighting giant rats. ( I know all the secrets of the fire swamp...ahem) It's so sweet, you gotta watch, she gives up her freedom so he can return to America his ship, but in reality he is just going to a different kind of fire swamp certain death.

2) This little piece of info. came across my "desk" (re: lap. while sitting on the couch drinking hot chocolate after all the kids are in bed, asleep, at the same time).

The gist: The speedy commuter rail from Wieliczka to Downtown Krakow, 20-30 min. And there is even a bus that takes people from two separate locations straight to the rail...and one of them stops right in our future little village. So by moving to a village outside of a town that's outside of Krakow we will actually be able to get to Krakow proper quicker than ever before!

It's all so funny!!

Or not. But it's good. Because I can see myself letting Hejjo and Felix, in a few years, hop on it and take themselves downtown without my help. That will be great. And some days we can ride it for fun. And did I mention it has free Wi-fi? So people who like screens can look at them even more.

Martin likes to send me these little notifications from time to time and this was his email heading...

...don't say i didn't do nothin' for youuuuuuu

He's so benevolent.

I'm the one fighting the giant rats, Martin. Me. Don't you forget that.

*This is not necessarily because we live that far from town but rather because, I swear there is a conspiracy, Nowa Huta and surrounding areas are completely neglected when it comes to roads. People avoid our area of town like the plague. (it can take over an hour to city center to travel 8km during traffic)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's so hard...

... to leave this....

For this...

Even more specifically, this.....
119 2

Goo. Double goo. With *stoggy fudge on top. And the smell, let me tell ya', nothin' more convincin' that my 7 month old's virginal forming lungs are sufferin' than the smell...

...imagine the smell of.... burning ... RUST. Yeah, that's it. Burning rust, not burning metal with rust on it, but just the rust, burning.

Boo, Krakow, and your dirty little not so secret, secret. Boo.

*stog = smog condensed under a layer of fog, so as to wreak as much havoc as possible

**pictures taken on the same day about an hour apart

Roof going up this week and next, windows in by the end of the month/early December, media and interior walls and floors over the winter, finishing in the spring/early summer... can we do it???!!!

<<<cough, hack, argkjahfkfgkj... we have to... hack, cough, cough>>>

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

pick a season any season

Martin:  Hey, you got a text message, want me to read it?

Me: Sure.

Martin: It says , "Welcome back to (name of local mom's group)! We will be meeting at the regular time and place. Our topic for this meeting: Fighting Fall Depression!

Me: Fall Depression?! Who ever heard of such a thing? I love Fall! The holidays, the food, the scents. The changing leaves...Fall has all the best stuff!!!

Martin: Well, I think they just mean fighting the "depression" of summer being over. You know, it gets darker and it rains more. It gets colder. It's sort of a harbinger of things to come...

Me: You know what? What the heck is wrong with the Poles?! They have depression in Fall because Winter is coming. They have depression in Winter because Winter is here and it's cold and icy, and they have depression in Spring because Winter is melting and makes the world slushy. They only like Summer when the temperature is between 75 and 80 otherwise it's too cold for it to be real Summer, and too hot to be comfortable!!!  When are they not depressed by the freakin' seasons?! They should just rename the meeting: Fighting Depression year round!

Martin: Soooooo, you gonna go?

Me: Heck no, sounds depressing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Passing down the crazy

For the first time ever ladies and gents.... public water fountain on the Old Town Square. Now if they would just add one, or 32, public restrooms, we'd be in business.
The sign reads, "Woda do picia" (water for drinking)

Oh, we piciaed! We piciaed like pros.

For some reason blogger won't let me comment on any of my last few posts. If you've been waiting for me to respond, I promise, I haven't been avoiding you. Blogger is just kind of a piece every now and then.

There is so much I want to say about all of this. It interests me. I'm not moving mountains with my words but I am genuinely intrigued and want to discuss it. I appreciate your willingness to comment and share your stories.

When Martin asks people why they don't allow cold drinks, why they don't drink tap water, why the child has to wear a hat once the temp. goes below 70, why children can't sit on the ground (I'll get to that in a second), he usually gets this response first...

 "That's just what you do or don't do (sometimes ending with, "in Poland")!" Depending on the age of the person it will also be accompanied with something like a shocked scowl. Those exist here.

He strongly dislikes that response. And bless his heart he almost always retorts with, " What do you mean, that's just "what you do"?!" No, it's not. You don't JUST DO anything!!"

And here's the thing. He's right. But perhaps it's not that the other person is wrong, perhaps it's because the other person is, in fact, Polish. Could it be?

I sincerely want to know why. I want to know the old wives tales. I want to know the wisdom and the "wisdom" that has been passed down from generation to generation here in this country.

For whatever reason, perhaps Communism, perhaps homogeneity, perhaps patriotism, perhaps all three in one... seems to have frozen Poland for a couple generations. These "isms" are still around because these generations are still around. But they won't be for long. The generations that bring us these delightful parental admonishments and pearls of wisdom meant to protect our health will die some day.

 For better or for worse each generation relies far less on familial wisdom and more and more on books, experts, t.v. programs, mom's groups, and the like for information about how to do things, how to raise kids, health issues, nutrition, home remedies, recipes, how to fix a toilet... There's a reason of course. Sometimes our mom's and grandma's are just plain wrong. A lot of the wisdom passed down can be traced back to superstition, lack of knowledge of the way the body works, or just some sort of short term fix that turned in to 'how's it done always and forever.'

(let's not be too hasty to "throw the baby out with the bath water" as the English would say.... I am most impressed that many people here, and their children, know  natural remedies that Americans don't even bother to research. There are many other examples as well but this one comes to mind first.)

Or are they? Are they wrong?

Don't all of these "isms" have some truth to them? Don't they all stem from something real at some point in history that causes such strong reactions? So strong as to actually create fears and prejudices, and "just do/don't do?!" Right?

And in some areas it is still being passed on, to my children's generation, despite the books, and knowledge at our finger tips, and proof that there is no "just do/don't do."

Gosh, I wish I were a better writer. I think it's all clear but then it's not. And of course none of this is all that important. It's just so interesting to me. Truly interesting.

I learned today: No matter what, no matter the temperature outside/inside or what the baby is wearing, under no circumstances save, perhaps, an emergency, should a child be placed to sit directly on the ground/floor/grass. It's been insinuated before, but today I was told the truth of the matter. Very authoritatively. This is interesting!!!

(and humbling)

(let me take  a moment here to say that if you want to be truly humbled, truly truly humbled, move to a different country where no matter how hard you try you will make a cultural or linguistic faux pas, sometimes several times a day, and you will gently, or not so gently be corrected by the general public are moments of grace, or moments to sin... you "get" to choose,

I asked Martin why.

He said he thinks it has something to do with the kidneys - the floor/ground/grass is cold, and this is bad for the kidneys. Anyone?

We're both baffled.

 I might just have to start asking people.

Oy. Won't that be a can of worms. :)

P.S. This post hearkens back to an older post from early 2014. So, you know, it's been on my mind. Some great comments over there. ;)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another question for my readers...

Why are people so afraid to give children cold drinks?

That is all.

No, wait, there's more.

Summer before last we had a 4th of July party and invited some of the neighborhood children for the fireworks. They also ate some chips and some drank some drinks. One such child, we'll call him "Jack," was having fun, eating, drinking, joinign int he revelry. His mother came to check on him, enters the yard and immediately rushes to his side...

"You haven't drunken anything cold, have you?"

Jack: No

"are you sure?!"

Jack: Yes, I'm sure, I haven't drunken anything cold.

I mean, this mother was worried. Really worried. I don't know what she would have done if he had said yes. I don't really want to find out.


Fast forward to this past 4th of July...

Jack is back. Eating and playing. And then Jack gets thirsty.

"Excuse me, sir, do you have any drinks that are not cold?"

Martin looks in the ice chest full of ice and cold beverages, water, beer, juice, soda.....

"No, I'm sorry, but this soda hasn't been in there too long, it's not too cold, do you want that?"

Jack feels the bottle, "no sir, I can't have that. My mother doesn't allow me to drink cold drinks."

Major props to Jack for being so obedient. Seriously. The kid was thirsty and he followed his mother's instructions. Way to go Jack.

Now for my REAL question. How scared did his mother make him of drinking cold drinks, that a child of 8 would be so terrified of cold drinks so as to forgo drinking anything at all at a party? I mean, I felt bad for him. (and we did find him something in the end) Then again, maybe he's just an obedient child and, like many children, doesn't quite understand why he can't do something, but he was simply following the rules.

Again his mother came to join us and again she asked him if he drank something cold and Martin walked right up and said.

"No, he didn't, he said you wouldn't like it, he did just what you told him."

She smiled. All was well.

But, seriously... cold drinks. What't the deal?

(I have had people not want to sell me drinks because they were cold and I had children with me, like clearly I wouldn't want the cold drink since my children would be drinking it and they seemed quite flabbergasted when I actually asked for a cold drink, or ice.)

To round out me question for today I will share with you something that happened not 2 hours ago.

I go the store with all the kids, walk in a store and attempt to buy a water.

Lady asks me: "kjfhahkckjhsoivhsvn, cieplo?"
"Przepraszam"? (ok, she wants to know something about the water, she's holding the bottle up and talking about the water being warm... but I pulled a cold one out of the little fridge so.... ugh, Kacio where are you ? Veronica stop pulling my hair!... "Hejjo, go find Kacio!" Felix, please stop teasing you sister!)

Lady asks again: Do you want a warm one?

Um, um, (whatever! I just want to buy the water and leave, why the heck is she asking me this, I don't understand??! Is the cold water broken in some way? Is it rotten? Expired?...)
"Tak, tak, prosze." (when in doubt be polite and nod)

She went and put back my gloriously cold water and returned with a room temp. one.


I mean, I understood the question, but I didn't understand what she meant by it. Why is she even asking this question? I grabbed the cold one on purpose... you do SELL cold waters!

Double sigh.

Oh, Poland, you gotta give me a break here.

(next time I'm just gonna skip to the worst sin ever by asking her to fill my baby's sippy cup with... dun, dun, dunnnnn... Woda prosto z kranu!  Mwahahahahahaha....)