Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving decorations for KIDS

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US tomorrow or Turkey Day as some people call it. It’s usually a pretty melancholy day for me as I am here (Poland) and my family is there (the US). But I have a new family now, my husband and my children and since our introduction of Halloween to Poland (ok, starting from our klatka only) was so successful, we’ve decided to push ahead with our Thanksgiving celebration. We’ve invited some friends with kids the same age as ours because we want to share this meaningful holiday with them and also because we don’t want to clean so diligently and people with small kids are less critical of your housekeeping skills. They also agreed to cook a few dishes.

To get the Thanksgiving mood flowing in our home, we decided to make some decorations.

A turkey family


You know that you are jealous and that you want to make them so I’ll tell you how.

Here’s all the stuff you’ll need-


Turkey pumpkin


You’ll need:

a pumpkin and a squash

paper – crepe, construction, self-sticking


a stapler

some skewer sticks

a tolerance for mess

Start by cleaning your pumpkin and squash. Using a skewer stick, connect the squash “head” to the pumpkin “body”. Tie a red crepe paper scarf around the neck to hide the connection and make the wattle. Cut out eyes and a beak from self-sticking paper, stick them to the “face” and your head is complete.


Next make the tail feathers. Create a fan of crepe paper in various colors and tie or staple off. Stick the tail feathers to the pumpkin using a skewer and some tape to secure.

Next, make the wings by cutting out your children’s handprints in various colors of construction paper. Glue or staple together and tape to your turkey and you’re finished.


Gobble, gobble.

Toilet paper roll turkeys


For one turkey, you’ll need:

2 toilet paper rolls or a paper towel roll

crepe paper

construction paper

lightweight piece of cardboard



an even bigger tolerance for mess as there is glue involved

To make the body, you’ll need one TP roll and a half of another one. Wrap the rolls with brown crepe paper and secure with tape. Tuck the excess on each end into the roll. Glue the head onto the body. Create a face out of construction paper and glue a crepe paper wattle under the beak.

Make a tail feather fan out of crepe paper (or a colorful napkin). Crease in the middle and bring the ends to meet and staple to secure. Glue the body onto the fan.


For the feet, glue a piece of construction paper onto a lightweight piece of cardboard. Trace your child’s hand and cut out. Glue the body onto the feet and you are all done.


Re-glue the face on repeatedly as Rosie likes to peel it off.

Gobble, gobble.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I’ve never been over-sensitive to discrimination. I’m not one of those people to boo-hoo into my pillow at night because somebody has slighted me. I’m a big girl, I’ve got thick skin and even if something seemed to be unfair, I’ve always been able to shrug it off. Actually, I’ve only ever felt discriminated against a couple of times in my life.

The first time was at university. In a class where I had a 98% average, I was given back my exam by the professor with no comment. It was another A. What was there really to say anyhow? I was not expecting a pat on the back. C’mon it wasn’t kindergarten and my fellow college students were not so fond of the classmates with good grades.

I myself was very fond of good grades and collected a lot of them. For me, the university tuition was very expensive despite my attending a state university. I wanted to learn as much as I could for every dollar I had to spend especially because I earned those dollars measuring old men for suit trousers in a men’s clothing shop. (Inseam measurements were the worst, but the men seemed to enjoy the experience.) My classmates, it seemed, felt quite the opposite – about the knowledge-per-dollar thing, not the inseam-measuring thing. Many of them wanted to see how little they could learn for their money (or their parent’s money) and still graduate.

Anyhow my classmate Jeff, seated beside me, got his exam back. It was a C+ or a C-. I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember the big red C. Just the sight of it turned my stomach. Jeff’s results did get a comment out of our professor, “Good job, Jeff. You really pulled it out this time.” Pulled it out of where? I thought. Your ear? Your ass? I didn’t comment, but the professor must have read my mind because she looked at me and said, “Don’t be so smug. We can’t all be naturally smart.” That infuriated me because in fact I’m no genius. I’m just a hard worker whose hard work had just been negated by her professor, another female nonetheless. At the end of the class, the professor invited Jeff (who had not opened his mouth once in the whole 90 minutes) to consider graduate school because our profession needed men like him. Apparently, it already had enough women like me.

ducks discrimination There was one other incident at university which just came to mind. I had forgotten about it I think because I did not feel threatened personally or academically in any way. I just didn’t feel discriminated against for some reason although I should have. I selected my university courses trying to balance what courses I needed to take, what courses I wanted to take, and what courses were offered during hours not conflicting with my job at the men’s shop. I rarely listened to other students’ recommendations or warnings about specific professors because through experience I had found them to be wildly exaggerated or just downright untrue. So when starting a new semester, I entered the classroom fresh with no opinion of the professor formed before entering. That’s how I got a big surprise with one professor new to me.

I sat down in a class that at first seemed normal. Then I noticed everyone was looking at me. My zipper was up. My blouse was buttoned. Nothing on my face. No toilet paper on my shoe. I checked my schedule and the number on the door. Everything seemed to jive, but then I noticed that I was the only woman in the class. Strange, but not impossible, I thought. Then the professor arrived and he began looking at me as well and then he started to speak to everyone in the room except to me. I will spare you the details but the gist of it was that women were of lower intellect (his wife, as he said, a prime example) and should not be allowed to operate motor vehicles let alone attend university. And then all was silent and everyone was looking at me. All I could do was laugh. And I did. But not a nice, sweet giggle but a deep belly laugh. I felt like on TV. All eyes were on me. After my brave laugh, I responded meekly (I don’t know why meekly after such a laugh), “You must be very sad.” My professor shouted, “Speak up! We can’t hear you!” I shouted from the back corner of the classroom, the seat closest to the door, “You must be very sad!” (in similar fashion the recent Obama “You lie!” shout) My professor responded, “Hmmm" and started our first lecture. The rest of the semester, women were never spared unkind and unfair remarks to which I either ignored or gave a chuckle. Really, only a sad person could behave as he did. Unlike other women who had taken his courses, I didn’t argue with him. I felt it was not my job to reform an asshole. Unlike other women who had taken his courses, I remained untouched personally by his remarks. I mean, he never commented on my intellect just all women as a group and those comments never even made a dent in my strong self-worth. No, that’s incorrect. niagarafallsOnce he read 2 lines out of my exam essay for the class and said that their was a light at the end of womankind’s tunnel. I did not take his comm ent as a compliment because honestly, who cares what an asshole thinks about you. As it turned out, I think my assessment of him as sad was a correct one because a few years later he committed suicide by jumping in the Niagara Falls - ‘cause you gotta go out like a man.

The second time in my life I felt discriminated against was when I was applying for a job. I was very proud to be the only one of my classmates in education to have a job interview while still studying. I just knew that I would have a job locked in before graduation and all my loser classmates would still be flipping burgers or sponging off their parents for the next school year. As I sat in the school secretary’s office proudly awaiting my first real job interview, my bubble got burst by another teacher who had come to greet the principal before the school day got started. “Mornin’, mornin’ ,” he said to the principal followed by a firm handshake. “Have you hired the new wrestling coach yet?” he inquired. Eyeing me, the principal laughed and said, “We’ve got our first candidate right here. Come this way, little lady.” I was applywrestlinging for the job of 11th grade US History teacher and all that was missing was a nice slap on the ass. I didn’t get the job, but I was interviewed 3 times and taught a lesson to be critiqued. Maybe the wrestling coach thing had nothing to do with it. I mean a woman could be a wrestling coach too, but I sure did feel like shyte and I felt discriminated against really for the first time in my life because a professor thinking that you are naturally smart or another professor thinking that you are naturally an imbecile is meaningless when you are facing the possibility of measuring men’s inseams for the rest of your life.

In Poland, I haven’t really had any similar situations. Maybe in my first job in the City in an American company, our boss made some comments that could constitute creating a hostile work environment for women. In one case, he said that a candidate for a secretarial position definitely wouldn’t win any Miss Poland contest and then proceeded to hire a woman who looked like she stepped out of a porn film. Later, he made a distasteful Monica Lewinsky/cigar joke to the new secretary. This boss was Polish/American and he wanted to be more American that Americans, so I told him that he couldn’t say those things in the home office in the US. He agreed, and I had peace and quiet for a long time after that.

Most recently, I’ve come to feel discriminated against in my daughter’s Pre-school of all places. You may have read about the Religion lessons at Pre-school which are in fact catechism lessons. I don’t want my daughter to attend. Here’s the kicker- I was brought up Catholic. I attended private Catholic school. I attended mass 6 days a week for my whole primary school education. I still don’t want my daughter to attend “Religia” at Pre-school. Religion lessons, in my opinion, are for private school or on the church grounds. I’m guess I’m just picky like that.

Parents were informed that kids would only go to Religion if we signed them up. I didn’t sign my daughter up. Next we were asked by the Headmistress to write a declaration that we DO NOT want our daughter to attend Religion lessons. We wrote it. Yesterday, we were asked by the classroom teacher to write another declaration that we do not want our daughter to attend. C’mon, I’m not one of those overprotective parents who complains about every slight of their child, but this is too much. We did not sign Lizzie up. I informed the classroom teacher verbally that I do not want Lizzie to attend. Misiu wrote a declaration for the Headmistress. That has to be sufficient. Why are they complicating our lives? Is it all because we don’t want to attend Religion? To single us out? Is it conscious or subconscious on their part? Is it just Polish school bureaucracy run wild? I don’t really care. I feel that they are strongly encroaching on our rights and on our privacy and I have to defend myself and my child. I inquired if the same procedure is going to be in place for English lessons. They answered that of course not, you must sign your child up for English lessons, not declare that you don’t want your child to attend. Interesting.

Friday, November 20, 2009


If you signed up for a university course entitled “Religion”, what would you suppose the course curriculum included? Perhaps an overview of religion and its influence on historical events? Perhaps a comparison of religions of the world and their belief systems? Perhaps a comparative religionslecture on Jesus and how he as the son of God died on the cross to save our souls? NO? You were with me up until the last one, right?

In case you do not know, “Religion” is a subject taught at Polish public schools. Except that it shouldn’t be called “Religion”, but rather “Catholicism” as the course it taught either by a Catholic priest (yes, a real live priest) or a Catechism teacher. My teenage students say that it should be called “Bore me to death” Class, but in fact, they don’t have to attend if they don’t want to. High school students should now have the choice of Religion or Ethics…but if the school doesn’t employ a teacher of Ethics…You get the picture.

I was shocked the first time I found out Religion was taught at public school. It was the 1st day of school back in the day when I first came to Poland. I was scoping out all the teachers in the teachers’ lounge and I spotted a pretty hot looking guy. He was seated resting his elbows on the table with his fingers intertwined, his chin resting on his hands. I was staring at him plotting how to get myself seated next to him,when he stood up to let someone pass behind him and I saw it – his collar and his robes!!! And I didn’t think, “Oh no, my potential love is lost”, but rather, “There’s a priest at school!!! What the what?!?” Anyhow, I continued to pine after the hot priest the whole school year and secretly for years later…until I ran into him in the City at a shopping mall. He was in his civilian clothes and I didn’t find him even half as attractive as I found him before in his robes and I realized that I am a perverted bugger. BenettonBTW, my class of all girls interviewed the hot priest for the school newspaper. One question they asked was why the robes had so many buttons. The hot priest responded that there were 33 buttons one for each year of Christ’s life. The girls giggled that they thought it was so he had to think carefully before taking off the robes. Nice!

I have not had contact with Polish public schools for so long that I had pretty much forgotten about thchurchandstatee lack of separation of church and state. We have decided to not baptize our children (I will discuss why in another post) and I thought that I had plenty of time to deal with the Religion class issue later. Unfortunately, we have had to deal with it sooner.

We were informed that Religion would be offered at Lizzie’s Pre-school, but to the children who were signed up only. So if you do not wish for your child to participate, you do not sign up your child and that’s it. Except that isn’t it. I discovered that my daughter would attend Religion class because we didn’t declare that we don’t want her to attend. And that in a nutshell sums up life in Poland. Life in Poland Rule #1: Tell somebody one thing. Do the opposite. Tell them another thing. Repeat. Life in Poland Rule #2: Provide something that somebody doesn’t want in the first place and require them to declare that they don’t want it. In the meantime, send them a bill for it :)

So now every Friday morning, my daughter and the Muslim girls and the Asian children and a few other Polish kids get a chance to play in another classroom. Lizzie is pleased because although her classroom has a killer toy kitchen, the other classroom has a top-notch wooden dollhouse. Add that to the fact that today was pierogi day at Pre-school and Lizzie was in 7th heaven.

PS We were told that the Pre-school Religion course is very general and full of fun and games for the children. We asked if we could see some lesson plans or curriculum for the year so we could see what they are teaching the kids and then decide for ourselves, but you cannot receive something which does not exist ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A sad update

On November 1st, my nephew’s mother-in-law died of breast cancer. She was 50 years old. She did not go to the doctor even though her lump was so large and in such a location that it was visible to the naked eye. She did not go to the doctor even though her mother and grandmother died of cancer in their early 50’s. She did not go to the doctor even though the visit would have been free. She did not go to the doctor because she was busy planning her daughter’s wedding.

Being present at her funeral was enough to persuade my mother-in-law to finally allow us to make her an appointment for a visit to the gynecologist’s office. She has not been for a check-up in 35 years. It’s sad that it has taken an event like this to finally get her to change her mind, but I am grateful for this opportunity.

I am now reading up on the new guidelines for breast cancer screenings which has changed the recommended age to start mammograms from the previous 40 to the now 50. I’m still processing the information and haven’t reached my own conclusions yet. Considering the case above, an annual mammogram starting from age 40 may have saved her life. Or it may not have. Having said that, the guidelines released by the United States Preventive Services Task Force are just that - guidelines.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WWIII started by the English!

The English language that is. I am the first to admit that my English is not perfect. Have you noticed my punctuation issues?Even though English is my first and basically only language, I have been known to make a mistake or two. Nothing serious, but it has happened. For my husband, English is a second language and his English is impeccable. Excluding one unfortunate hyphen/hymen mix-up while giving an address, I can honestly say that I have never heard him make a mistake in English. For that reason, I often pick his brain concerning pressing English language issues that I may have. Yes, our marriage is just that exciting.

What does the proper use of the English language mean for me? Well, most importantly, it means that I have a job. It is my job to help people develop their language skills and to my students I always say - “Your success is my success” – your failure, however, is all your own ;) But those are people for whom the English language is a second language if not a third or fourth. I do a little of teaching, correcting, encouraging and sometimes even disciplining. Even in a conversation lesson, I am constantly “on” listening for mistakes and supplying the missing word or sentence structure. If I were not a teacher, I probably would not even pay attention to subject-verb agreement or double negatives, but as I teach, watch TV or read, I can’t turn off my English teacher ears.

If you are an English teacher and you’d like to pain your teacher ears, I invite you for a viewing of the Jerry Springer Show. While I am not a Jerry Springer fan, I have watched it a few times and am truly embarrassed that it is broadcast in Poland. It is like airing your country’s dirty laundry for all the other countries to see. It has been said that the guests are not genuine, that either they are paid actors or that they tried to get on the show for fun. I disagree because in actuality people’s stupidity knows no bounds and also because I can hear when they speak that they are sincere no matter how crazy the topic is. However, there was one case that I was pretty sure was a fake. I don’t remember the topic exactly but it involved a secret (don’t they all?) in which a young lady had to reveal to her partner that she was in fact a stripper. I became suspicious first by the over-the-top reaction of the partner, but then by the lady’s proper use of the 3rd conditional. Not that strippers cannot have good grammar, but her appropriate use seemed somehow incongruous with her life story. To be fair, even Wolf Blitzer of CNN made a mistake in the 2nd conditional last week (I know, I need a hobby).

If you are rusty on your grammar…

2nd conditional: If I were you, I would not do that.

3rd conditional: If you had not stolen that car, you would not have been in prison. (you are out of prison-the crime and the prison stay are both in the past)

2nd/3rd mixed: If you had not stolen that car, you would not be in prison. (you are still in prison)

There is a language bone of contention in our house. It concerns the use of present continuous over present simple. Present simple should be used for (among other things) permanent states while present continuous is used for temporary states. So, if you haven’t seen me for a long time, let’s say, since high school and you ask what I’m up to, I will say “I’m living in Poland”. And from that one innocent sentence, WWIII breaks out in our house. Why? Because in that one sentence, I have shared with you my deepest feelings about my life in Poland. I have let you know that I see my stay in Poland as temporary. I do not answer, “I live in Poland” which suggests a permanency, but rather “I’m living in Poland” as if I’ve got one foot out the door already. But the rest of my actions don’t say that. I’m married to a Polish man. We have 2 kids together. We have a business together. We bought an apartment and house together with the joint mortgage debt that comes with them. I say that actions speak louder than words, but Misiu says that my words say what I really think.

Who’s right?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lizzie goes to Pre-school

Lizzie started Pre-school this week.

You’d think that I’d have more time, but instead I have less.


Everybody washed, dressed and into the car.

Drive to school.

Unpack 2 kids and enter school.

Take off 2 kids’ jackets. Lizzie changes shoes to slippers. (I’ll get to the slippers later.)

Walk tImage002o classroom. Kiss and say goodbye.

Leave crying Lizzie. Drag happy Rosie out.

Put on Rosie’s coat and pack her into the car.

Drive back home. Unload Rosie.

Get ready for work and wait for the nanny.

Greet the nanny and go to work.Image000

Work. Work. Work.

Pick up Lizzie either when the nanny is still with Rosie or take Rosie. Repeat packing and unpacking as above in reverse minus the tears and the good-byes.

It was Lizzie’s initiative to go to Pre-school. Poland has got a public Pre-school system albeit with a limited number of places and limited funds. I had heard of the “recruitment” process and knew that we would not have enough points to get in. Points are awarded based on different things like if you are a single parent or not, employed or unemployed, or take advantage of public benefits. They also consider the number of children in the family, proximity of your residence to the school, kind of car you drive, hair color, favorite hobbies…just kidding! I almost gotcha.

We are employed. We are married with 2 children. We live in close proximity to the school but our official permanent residence is elsewhere. There was no hope for us, but then I heard that the City was building a new Pre-school in our district. We filled out our forms last Spring and we got in. We still have to pay a small tuition, food and supplies, but it is still cheaper than a private daycare center and way cheaper than a nanny (which we also have). We were considering nursery school for Rosie. We even visited one center close to our home, but Rosie was so overwhelmed so she is staying with the nanny. Well, we could say that Rosie has a babysitter not a nanny. In Polish, many people use the word niania so we have just adopted the word nanny. The word nanny just sounds so pretentious in English as if she had her own wing in our house and vacationed with us on the Riviera. Our girls’ nanny is a very nice and active lady in her 50’s. We really like her and I think she likes us, too.

Now we have come to the end of our first week at pre-school and we already had one sick day. Let’s hope that next week goes smoothly.

Please check out the next post about slippers.

The curious case of Polish slippers

kapcie In my observation, Polish people are crazy about slippers. When you visit someone not only is it customary as a guest to remove your shoes, but it seems to be customary as a host to provide some slippers for your guest, often taken still warm from your feet. Maybe this stems from the idea that in Poland your guest is king or from the fact that your living room area rug has to last you a lifetime. Once a VP from a big leasing company invited me to have a lesson in his home. I think it was a holiday or something. Anyhow, it was snowing so I insisted on taking off my dirty shoes and he promptly presented me with slippers, the paputki kind which resembled something that Santa’s elves would wear. I felt strange enough sitting in this guy’s home but in these paputki I felt ridiculous. Then his wife came home and shouted, “Gdzie są moje paputki?!” Yikes!

Slippers not only play a major role at home, but also at work. I remember that I first became aware of the importance kierpceof slippers in Poland when I was working in a high school teaching English. I noticed that all administration staff and cleaning staff wore slippers at work (and let’s not forget the all too sexy fartuch) as well as some teachers. I remember exiting the school one day with an absent-minded teacher who had forgotten to change from his slippers back into his shoes. He discovered that just as he planted his foot in a big puddle. Ooops!

Once when starting a new contract in a software company, I stepped off the elevator and straight onto beautiful, lush wall-to-wall carpeting. Not the typical office carpeting but the kapcie2kind that you sink into when you walk across it and the kind that leaves different colored paths when you run the vacuum across it. I noticed some IT guys walking around wearing their IT uniform, sweater, jeans, slippers. Nothing new. But then I saw the managers in suits, men and women alike, all in slippers. After they showed me the conference room, kitchen, bathroom, copy machine and introduced me to my students, I inquired if I should bring slippers. They looked at me strangely and said no, but c’mon I’m just saying…

On TVN Style, a TV channel with programs directed to ladies I think, I watched an interview/talk show program about child abuse vs spanking. A well-known politician (so well-known that I cannot remember who it was) admitted to having spanked his daughter klapkibecause she once again was not wearing slippers at home. The interviewer asked him if those slippers were worth spanking his daughter. He replied that it had been worth it because not only had she disobeyed him, but also she had exposed her feet to the cold making her more susceptible to illness.

That brings us to the slipper-wearing customs in our family, or rather lack of. I started wearing slippers just a few years ago. I had to buy some kind of slippers (and a robe) when I went to the hospital. After that I just started wearing them I guess because I had them. My children don’t have slippers so it was a bit of a problem to introduce this habit to our Image017 (640x480) daughter before going to Pre-school. We let her pick out her own pretty slippers and problem solved, except she wants to bring them back home from Pre-school each and every day. At least we found a use for her worek (school sack). Parents have to take off their shoes before entering classroom, too. It is a problem for me. Have you heard about my sock crisis?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Who says traffic jams are all bad?

06192009(001)I was stuck in a traffic jam today…again. It’s nothing new here in the City. Sometimes I spend 3 hours a day in the car just in the City. I know, I know, every city has traffic problems but even people from Warsaw are griping about the City. One problem is that at least 95% (OK, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not much) of the City’s roads are currently under some kind of road works, ranging from mild pothole filling to complete construction/reconstruction. The rest of the roads are in dire need of road works which are not going to be done in the near or even far future.

Exhibit A of roads not in any road works planning committee would be the road close to my home. It is a normal city street. It has a name. There are at least 7 different apartment complexes on this road and a couple of single family homes. There are some shops, nothing fancy, a deli, a greengrocer, a hair salon, etc. This road is a popular short-cut for City drivers as well. It is also the main road from my neighborhood to my kid’s school. The problem with our road is that it isn’t really a road so much as it is a collection of holes and waterways. I only take this road when I have the Jeep. I rather enjoy the road then. Who knew you could “off-road” in a city of 3quarters of a million people? And it is so passé to have a clean SUV these days. There’s a local initiative to get the road surfaced. The government will pay 90% if the citizens collect 10%. So far about 400 families have declared participation. I think it will happen, not because of my faith in the initiative or in the City for that matter. It is because the road works are following me around the city. Every place I move to soon gets a huge road overhaul. The moral is, if you need a new road, invite me to be your neighbor.

Traffic jams cannot all be blamed on the roads themselves. I also blame the drivers that get themselves stuck in the middle of an intersection when they darn well know that they won’t make it across. I’m not saying that is hasn’t happened to me. It has a couple of times in my driving career but it somehow happens to some people all the time. Once in NYC, I observed as the police closed an intersection where people had got themselves stranded in the middle. The police slowly but surely wrote each driver a ticket. After about 15 minutes of slow humiliation of the drivers, the officers opened the intersection again.

Anyhow, back to the advantages of traffic jams. During a traffic jam, I am alone and that is advantage enough. (Going to work is also cool. I can go to the bathroom and close the door and shout out a loud zajęty which gives me another couple of minutes of peace and quiet). Of course, I am talking about times when I am in the car without my children. Traffic jams with my kids have no advantages whatsoever unless you enjoy a chorus of screaming and crying kids. Anyhow, alone in the car, I can listen to the thoughts in my head, to the radio, to Misiu’s strange CD collection. I also like to take the time to observe people in other cars or on the street. I am fascinated by the car make-up appliers. Sometimes I think about following them to work to see the result of their handy work. There are also the nose-pickers. I think that I need a horn which doesn’t just beep at other motorists, but also sends out little messages such as, “You are not invisible. Please remove your finger from your nose.” One of our neighbors is a well-known plastic surgeon and he falls into the last category. I know, gross! I also like to check out how people are dressed. Once I saw a lady on the street wearing a t-shirt which read in English “When I’m good, I’m good but when I’m bad, I’m even better”. She was about 65 years old, and I believed it! Once I saw a young guy about 20 years old jogging in his underwear, black speedo style. I think he had lost a bet or something because he was too calm and waved at the beeping motorists.

In traffic jams, I can forget my troubles, even forget where I am. It’s a modern day “Calgon, take me away” moment. One day while wearing my American flag sweater (you wanna make something of that?) driving my American car to an American company, I was rocking out to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA (my sister had the ALBUM!!!) and I felt pretty strange. I felt disconnected. I looked around, yep, still in traffic jam, traffic jam still in the City, the City still in Poland. I felt even stranger when I entered the company and my student was wearing his American flag sweater, too.

Another advantage of traffic jams is that it gives you time to admire the scenery.



Can you think of any other advantages of traffic jams?

PS Why do I spend so much time in my car? My job works like this-I go to a company and teach a couple of hours of English (individuals and/or groups). When I’m finished, I hop in the car and drive to the next company to do the same. After that company, it’s back to the car and so on and so on. Somewhere in that cycle, I also have to go to the pre-school (twice-drop off and pick up) and get home as well. Actually, for all that 3 hours in the car is not that bad.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween po polsku

jack o'lanterns (640x427)This year we decided to all out celebrate Halloween in Poland. The past couple of years we have decorated, but this is the first year we (I mean the kids) dressed up, had a party and went door to door trick or treating. This was all due to our fantastic neighbor (and her daughter princess/pumpkin) who organized just about everything including making a poster to inform the neighbors o co chodzi and having the party at her place. Take a look at her fantastic jack o’lanterns. Thanks my favorite neighborka pod jedynką!

Lizzie has been aware of Halloween for awhile now. She has a lot of books about Halloween from my mother and decided a long time ago that she wanted to dress up as a strażak for Halloween. Lizzie is a big fan of fires, fire trucks and fire fighters. It all started when she was about a year and a half old (like Rosie is now) and our nImage006 (640x480)eighbors right next to us (but in fact in the next klatka) had a fire. We were sitting at home when we noticed a lot of smoke outside. I made a joke that someone had really burned their dinner, but when we opened the window and looked down we saw everybody from our street looking up at us and pointing including some firefighters. We decided to hightail it downstairs to see what all the commotion was about and that day Lizzie learned the word “fire truck”. This summer there was another fire on our street in the basement and Lizzie was so excited. She was dancing and twirling around singing “Pali się w piwnicy”.

We’ve been testing out this firefighter costume idea on Lizzie just to make sure that she really wanted to be a firefighter before we got her costume all sorted. That’s what happened with her pirate costume. She wanted to be a pirate until we put her costume together. Then she changed her mind. Strażak, however, has been going strong for a least 4 months now.

Our conversation:

Mom: What do you want to be for Halloween?

Lizzie: Strażak.

Mom: Maybe you’d like to be a pirate (thinking that I already have the costume)?

Lizzie: No. Strażak.

Mom: Maybe a princess (dream of all mom’s of little girls)?

Lizzie: No. Strażak.

Mom: Maybe a monster or a robot?

Lizzie: Maybe a monster strażak or a robot strażak?

Mom: (thinking how hard it would be to make a monster strażak or a robot strażak costume) I think a regular strażak would be fine.

So, Strażak it is.

kids at our door (320x480)

We even trick or treated our own place.

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And we can’t forget about our Pirate checking out the loot.

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All our neighbors welcomed us so warmly that I was really surprised. I mean they knew we were coming, but they acted surprised and scared and thanked us for knocking on their doors. They also gave a lot of sweets, emptying the whole bowl on four little trick or treaters. If we ever go to the States for Halloween, I’m afraid that Lizzie might just empty the bowl at every house!

Instead of “Trick or Treat” the kids said this little poem.

My jesteśmy straszne zmory,
Bardzo groźne z nas upiory,
Jeśli nie chcesz się nas bać,
musisz nam cukierka dać.

Of course the party wasn’t all for the kids. We had some fun, too. treats (640x427)

I hope that you had a safe and fun Halloween too!

Happy Halloween!