Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One month til Halloween!

Halloween is coming in one month! Yippeee!

Have I mentioned that I love Halloween?

Well, yes, actually I have. 

Yep, I’m one of those idiots. Count me in!

Halloween w Polsce – Uprzedź domowników zanim do nich pójdziesz, bo inaczej ich nie będzie

It’s true, if you don’t warn people (or even if you do) sometimes they don’t answer the door. We’re probably not going to trick-or-treat this year.

I choose that American one, definitely the American one.

Halloween falls on a Friday this year so we will probably have a small party Saturday afternoon in the village just for us and the neighbor kids. Trick-or-treating in our neighborhood in the city has always worked out well. One neighbor in our building made a poster informing the building that we were going to be trick-or-treating and if they wanted a visit to hang a paper pumpkin on their door (paper pumpkins provided). It worked out great, and we were always sure that we weren’t bothering anybody who didn’t want to see us. In the village, we asked our immediate neighbors if they’d accept a Halloween visit at the door. Most of them invited us to come and seemed excited. They know that I’m American ,and we offered them candy for their kids and candy to give back to the trick-or-treaters…but…when it came time to actually answer the door only 2 houses answered. One family even switched off the lights after we ran the bell.

We’ve been planning out our costumes as well. Rosie is planning to be Katy Perry so basically she will dress as she normally does each day for school plus a wig and some lipstick. Lizzie is planning to be Onslow from the British comedy “Keeping up Appearances” which is her favorite television program. He looks like this -

I’m thinking – tank top, sweater vest, jeans, trucker hat, drawn on tattoos, a beer can (empty), a packet of fags (empty) and a well-rehearsed, “Oh nice!” - his catch phrase.

I’m planning to be a hipster so I just need to cuff my skinny jeans and grow a beard – maybe grab a craft beer and walk around talking about the importance of quality hops.

Misiu will be dressed in a costume which I call “SuperTrans”. He doesn’t really like that name. He’ll be Clark Kent caught in the middle of his transition to Superman, hence the name SuperTrans. At least I think I’m clever.

I’m just wondering who’s going to grow out of Halloween first, me or the kids?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Co zrobić z dynią?

Placek dyniowy!


Jak sprawdzałam przepisy po polsku na dynie większość była na dania mięsne albo pikantne ale nie słodkie. Jak już przejdę przez ten cały czasochłonny proces od dyni do ugotowanego puree, chcę potem ugotować/upiec coś lepszego niż pikantny sos do makaronu albo krem z dyni. Ja chcę deser! Mój ulubiony deser - pumpkin pie! To jest przepis mojej mamy na pumpkin pie - wersja bez spodu. Jeszcze udoskonaliłam go troszeczke i zmniejszyłam ilość cukru do norm Europejskich - nie na smak przeciętnego Amerykanina. Smacznego.

Przepis na placek dyniowy Chris –
1 szklanka mąki
1 ½ łyżeczki proszku do pieczenia
1/8 łyżeczki soli
przyprawy do smaku (cynamon, imbir, gałka)
½ kostki masła
¾ szklanki cukru (biały lub brązowy)
2 jajka
½ łyżeczka ekstraktu waniliowego
1 puszka niesłodzonego skondensowanego mleka
3 szklanki miąższu dyni (gotowane i zmiksowane)
Sposób przyrządzania
  1. Podgrzać piekarnik do 180°C. Smarować naczynie masłem (boki i dno) i odstawić na bok.
  1. Zmieszać razem mąkę, proszek do pieczenia, sól i przyprawy.
  1. W dużej misce ubić razem cukier i masło (lekko zmiękczone). Wbić 2 jajka.
  1. Dodać suche składniki i wanilię. Zmieszać.
  1. Dodać dynię i zmieszać.
  1. Dodać mleko i zmieszać łyżką.
  1. Wlać do naczynia. Piec w temp. 180°C przez ok. 45 min – 1 godz. Ostudzić przed podaniem.

In English...

Chris’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe – The no-crust version
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
spices to taste (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
½ square butter
¾ cup sugar (white or brown)
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 can evaporated milk (non-sweetened)
3 cups pumpkin (cooked and mixed)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease one glass pie pan with butter (bottom and sides) and set aside.
  1. Sift or mix together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
  1. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter (slightly softened). Beat in 2 eggs.
  1. Add dry ingredients and vanilla. Mix.
  1. Add pumpkin and mix.
  1. Add milk and stir with a spoon.
  1. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 180°C for about 1 hour. Let cool before cutting.
1 cup=235 ml
1 tsp.=5ml


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jak boga nie kocham

When I tell people that the school doesn’t get it, this is what I mean. Jak boga nie kocham, Chris is not impressed.

Here’s one very creative and colorful bulletin board which welcomes students and teachers alike. It looks quite nice and displays artwork of the students. It presents Edmund Bojanowski, a Polish Catholic layman who performed works of charity during his lifetime and died while studying to became a priest. He was made a saint posthumously by Pope John Paul II. Why błogosławiony Edmund Bojanowski friend of children and patriot of teachers? Okay, okay, he was Polish at least. But why not Thoth the Egyption god of education, writing, and language? Let’s switch it up for a change. And why does Saint Edmund Bojanowski appear to belong to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?


Here’s another bulletin board welcoming the kids to school for the new school year. It looks nice and friendly.


The children are greeted by a welcoming angel and baranek.


If the angel and the baranek are not able to show you the way, don’t worry, Jesus will come to the rescue as this poster explains that “Jesus leads me through life”. Why not “Allah leads me through life”? Or “Mohammad leads me through life”? Or “I find my path through life”? Nope, it’s gotta be Jesus. I mean if you want. Nobody’s forcing you. ‘Cause elementary school kids are able to look at this poster and decide if they want to be led by Jesus or not. It’s not undue pressure by the dominant religion or abuse of majority position in society or anything.


Maybe a prayer for a good start this year?



Here’s my fast and very uncreative translation:

My Lord, when I hear the bell, it is you who reminds me that I must take advantage of every moment because time cannot be turned back. Give me the concentration and the courage to accept all new knowledge. I want to listen well and question wisely. Don’t allow me to disrupt my friends or teachers. Give my teachers a lot of good and patience. I want to grow up in wisdom and in your graces so that for all achieved wisdom I will be in gratitude to you and to those who teach me well.


Good God, it’s the start of the school year. New adventures await us. A new time, new tasks, new chances. I ask you, bless us. Grant us the will to work, enthusiasm in discovering the mysteries of the world, the joy of being together, a willingness to help. Help us sow the seeds of good and of peace…Bless our mouths so they will speak words of kindness and bestow smiles. Bless our hearts so they will grow in love for you and our fellow man..Bless our feet so they will carry us in the direction of people and places where you can be found.

And that’s our świecka szkoła, in the words of the principal, caring deeply about all children and completely without bias.

błogosławiony = beatified
baranek = lamb
świecka szkoła = secular school

Monday, September 8, 2014

The humanity

Oh the humanity of using the public transport system on a daily basis. Over the summer, I had a chance to forget. Oh the sweet memory loss. Nothing particularly bad happened today – it wasn’t as bad as one shitty bus ride I had, but we did hit a few things you should not do on public transport.

Nikt nie hejtowałam dzisiaj ale bardzo chciałam. Here’s my list for today:


the countless number of people who blew cigarette smoke in my face today at various bus stops.

the elderly lady who passed up the empty seat reserved for elderly, disabled, and pregnant passengers as well as several other empty seats and leaned on me, deep in the bus, until I gave her my seat.

the ladies who thought their shopping deserved a seat and and I did not.

the bus stop nose-picker.

the disco-polo loving bus driver.

the middle school kids with their backpacks that they did not take off and slammed into me the whole ride home.

the middle school kid who most likely will be deaf by the end of the school year who put on his head phones and cranked up the volume on his disco-polo. I thought disco-polo was out?

the middle school kid who…

OK I see that I could go on hating on the gimbusy so I will end here. I hope tomorrow is a better day or at least gimbus-free.


Gimbus is slang for a middle-schooler who thinks he/she is so cool and grown-up. They like to swear in public and take drinking/smoking selfies and post them online.

Hejtować means to hate on somebody just like in English.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don’t give up.

Poland is often called a Catholic country. I am not even sure what that means exactly. In my experience it means that some people are devout believers in god and church, others believe in god but maybe not the church, some just go with flow because it is easier, a few believe in something else and the rest, like me, don’t believe at all.

I believe in something. I believe that potato chips are evil and are out to get me. I believe that the chance of rain increases on days I wear suede shoes. I believe the severity of traffic congestion is proportional to how late I already am. I also believe that all religions are made up. Religious arguments, religious wars, families broken up over religious issues – I understand them, but they are at the same time ridiculous for me. It’s like when my kids argue over who is better – spiderman or the pink powderpuff girl.

Anyhow, I figured that even if I am not religious and my children are raised in a non-religious household, we should still know something about world religions ‘cause you know, if people are cutting off other people’s head over something, you should probably try to figure out what is going on. So I’m still not exactly sure what’s going and there will not be any Kielbasa Stories post What’s the hubbub? ISIS, but I know more than I used to know.

For our girls, we bought a book that outlines the beliefs of a few different religions based on a year in the life of a child. It includes beliefs, holidays, restrictions, what’s different, what’s the same – it’s a cool book.

Another thing I believe is that children should not receive religious instruction. I do what I can to follow that belief with my own children, but as you may know, my girls’ school doesn’t support us in that issue. Anyhow, after our last meeting in June which took place after the zillionth time one of our children was forced to go to catechism (catechism is taught in Polish public schools), we demanded a new procedure, a procedure that has teeth, a procedure where you sign up for catechism not sign out, a procedure which if not followed has consequences for the teachers who fail to comply.

Previously each year we had to sign our children out of catechism. The school operates on the assumption that all children will attend. We complied and each year we signed our children out of catechism. Additionally we verbally reminded the teachers on the first day of school each year that our children do not have permission to attend catechism – because that is basically how the signing out process worked. Parents have to not give permission, to withdraw permission. I know it’s a weird formulation. You don’t “not give permission” when you don’t send your kids for extra French lessons. You just don’t sign them up and that’s it. But anyhow, legal or not, we still did it. And the effect? Our kids were forced to go to catechism as recently as June.

This year, on the first day of school, parents were asked to sign up. No one was asked to sign out. The teacher informed the parents that they will compile a list of kids who attend catechism not a list of kids who do not attend. Catechism still takes places smack in the middle of the day, sending our kids to the day-room to spend time with the coloring books, doll houses, Legos, the day-room teacher, and a handful of other kids who do not attend catechism.

I know it seems like a small step. I suppose it is a rather small step, but a step in the right direction. This is from a school where I was asked to declare in writing that my children will not attend catechism –one copy for the classroom teachers, one copy for the principal, and another copy for the catechism teacher. A school where I was put in my place with the explanation that catechism is fun and I am just making problems. A school where I was asked what my religion is. A school where the catechism teacher demanded to know our names and addresses so she could inform the parish. A school where my children were forced to attend catechism, one school year on 6 separate occasions for one child. A school where my children sit 2 extra hours a week in the day-room making their school day an hour longer. A school with a crucifix hanging in every classroom, not just in a special room for catechism. A school where priests and nuns are employed to teach catechism paid from the public budget. A school where the nun blessed the children’s heads on the first day of school yesterday. A school where the nun told me “All children are God’s children”. A school where I feel like some kind of criminal for demanding that my rights as a parent and the rights of my children not be violated. But hey, it could be worse.

There are public schools in Poland which started the school year as they do each year which a Catholic mass before the official opening of the school year. Some schools started from mass at church and then proceeded to school for the first assembly of the year. The answer to parents’ questions of when they should come to school for the assembly was that it depends how long the priest’s sermon takes. Other schools cut out the middleman and just invited the priest to school. In one school there was a full mass in the gym, in another just an Our Father and some words about the creation of the world, while in another the children were taken out to the parking lot to be blessed with water by the priest. I know about all the cases from the media and from support groups such as http://rownoscwszkole.pl/ and http://www.wolnoscodreligii.pl/.

To the parents of children from those schools, please don’t give up. I know you have a long way to go and that you feel helpless, but know that with each small step we are getting closer to our goal of a secular education for our children.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Żegnaj lato. Witaj szkoło!

We bid summer farewell as we do each year with an end-of-the-summer BBQ with friends. The friends on the guest list change from year to year, but the venue stays the same – our barn. We talked about how we spent the summer and our plans for the upcoming school year. Then we played with their drone and went to a party at the village świetlica to eat some cake and dance to some Coco Jumbo.
Although we’re excited to start another school year (Lizzie is in 3rd grade and Rosie starts 1st grade), we are sad to say goodbye to summer. It seemed shorter this year. I guess my age is showing.
Farewell rainbows after a summer rain.
Goodbye grain in the field.
So long yard work and rhubarb with sugar.
See you later fun-in-the-sun.
Bye-bye burgers from the grill
No more  hot-air-balloon surprises on the drive home.
An end to summer festivals.
The last of the fresh blueberry muffins.
The final summer BBQ’s with friends.
Hello new school year. It’s going to be a great one!