Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Inside and Out

I cannot concentrate on anything. Inside the house we are fighting an epic battle with korniki or some other kind of woodworm which is attacking our wood-framed house. If I were a religious person, I just might cross myself before climbing into the bathtub full of water upstairs. That’s 100 kilos of bathtub, plus water, plus me supported by wooden beams. As it is, I never sit on the couch located downstairs under the tub when somebody is having a bath.

Outside, pokrzywa is attacking us from every front. Yes, I know that stinging nettle is not really a weed, that you can make soup from it and that is has other medicinal uses, but I don’t really care. It is ugly and it has taken over all border areas of the yard and a good-sized patch in the back garden.

Of these two szkodniki I am more concerned by the woodworm. We are planning the next stage of attack this weekend. Fingers-crossed and thumbs held.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What to do? What to do?

Vice-Principal: We strive to make our school a welcoming place for our students. And I see that this an extremely important issue for you as parents. What to do? What to do?

Parent a.k.a. Misiu: It is not extremely important. It is normal important. We have the right for our child not to participate in “Religia”. That right has been violated, and we demand it to be respected.

Vice-Principal: We need to find some practical solution. What to do? What to do? We wanted to put an indication that certain children do not attend “Religia” in the class book but other parents didn’t agree.

Parent a.k.a. Misiu: Our child raised her hand and said that she doesn’t attend “Relgia”. The nun knows that she doesn’t attend “Religia”. Three children from that group do not attend.

Vice-Principal: What to do? What to do? Maybe some other indication? Some kind of list posted on the door or some other markings or labeling?

Parent a.k.a. Misiu (nodding in mocking deference): Perhaps some armbands?

Vice-Principal (embarrassed and understanding the significance of what she has suggested): No, no, of course not some kind of markings. No, no that wouldn’t work.

What to do?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Żelazne sumienie

If you can read in Polish, I recommend this article from Gazeta Wyborcza. It’s an interview with Professor Romuald Dębski and his description of how to have a conscience and do your job too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer of English

The school year is coming to end. Actually, the end of the school year in Poland is long and drawn out in my opinion especially for older kids. The younger ones are just having a good time with trips to the zoo, around the city, the movies and spending lazy afternoons outside in the school playground. Older kids seem to have endless worksheets or in-class movie watching with comments from teachers “…but we’ve finished all the material for this year”.

My girls have had good years. Lizzie has very good grades, has graduated to using a pen instead of a pencil, has started learning Russian with a native speaker, and has learned her multiplication table (more or less). She has also joined the local soccer team, and I can proudly report that she is just as bad as the other kids. I’m joking, of course. She is great. Bring on 3rd grade.

Rosie is constantly praised by her teachers and when asked how she got so smart and who was so smart at home, Rosie replied, “Me”. Naturally, she is correct. This year Rosie took part in a city-wide diction competition and did very well. When asked to repeat the same poem a few months later at the Mother and Father’s Day show, she did so proudly although with her diction much less clear as she had lost 3 teeth on the top all in a row just the week before. But on a positive note she made 30 zloty in one week (current tooth to PLN exchange rate is 1:10). Bring on 1st grade.

I’ve had a good school year as well. I managed to attend one parent/teacher conference myself – Misiu usually goes. I was able to look down at all the other parents who didn’t come and received a reprimanding e-mail from the class secretary. I managed to avoid finding myself seated near “hot mom” from the group, thus keeping my self-esteem mostly intact. I’ve managed to perfect the facial expression I reserve for exclusive use at school when the priest or the nuns greet me. I feel it exudes a proper “you don’t belong here” to “leave me alone” ratio with maybe a pinch, just a pinch of F-off. I’m still working on it. I agreed to do a favor for Rosie’s teacher making the rookie mistake of not asking what the favor was first. That’s how I came to play the starring role of “sick mother” in the Mother and Father’s Day show. Bravo to the teachers who cast another father about 15 years my junior in the role of father to my mother. Bravo to me for holding my tongue when said father inquired loudly, “But who will make my breakfast!?” upon discovering his wife was ill. It was part of his role.

We have no big summer plans. The kids don’t want to go to any camps although I’ve begged them to go to the swimming camp that they loved in the past. They still refused even when offered, well, some pecuniary assistance in making the “right” decision. No go. I guess we will split our time between the city and the village and try to catch some attractions as they come.

One thing I plan to do is read a lot on my new Kindle. I am very pleased with my Kindle and my library membership which allows me to borrow books for free. Prior to my Kindle I was at the mercy of Empik’s foreign language book buyer. I’ve read just about every book they have excluding Leszek Czarnecki’s Risk in Banking which I am sure I will get to eventually. The best part about the Kindle is that I can buy books in English for the girls, just like that. We are currently reading the Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary. I remember those books fondly from my childhood as I was a bit like Ramona. I hope that my gamine little Lizzie will see a bit of herself in Ramona as well and know that not all girls have to wear pink dresses and play with Barbies.

Lizzie often reads to herself from one of her many, many books in Polish, but I have noticed that she avoids her English books. With some pestering on my part, Lizzie has started to read more in English but is not satisfied with her own progress. Rosie is so frustrated with reading in English that she actually cried herself to sleep last night. Hence the launch of our Summer of English. My goal is to help the girls catch their English skills up so they are in line with their Polish skills. I’m not sure how to do it exactly (besides just reading together) so I am in the process of brainstorming (with myself) and researching on-line. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Kids and life and stuff

Here’s how our village celebrated Children’s Day – a “bajkowe” welcome in the morning followed by a sport’s day at school.

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Here’s how we celebrated – homemade chocolate chip cookies.

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And to continue the American theme – hamburgers!

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Our village is getting hooked up to the sewage system. Our street was on the schedule for today, and here are the men hard at work. If our kids didn’t know the “k”-word before, they certainly know it now. Plus you can see the lovely flowers Misiu picked for me when we stopped the car for Rosie to throw up.

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A bit of rain plus a rainbow to make our day.

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Kids catching some sun after being mercilessly sprayed with the hose.

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And on a patriotic note, we bought a new TV, a Polish one of course. Woohoo.

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Just a few more weeks of school and then bring on the summer!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Corpus Christi Tower Restoration

Have a look at the Corpus Christi Tower restoration project mentioned by Ivy in the comments of the previous post.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/corpus-christi-tower-restoration#home

And remember that Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało) is coming up in about two weeks.

Can you say “long weekend”?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

President Obama visits Poland

President Obama is visiting Poland and all they keep showing on TV is the one lady who didn’t know anything about it and her car got towed. Riveting and hard-hitting news.

One good piece of news is that I think nobody is planning to ask Obama about the visa situation for Polish citizens travelling to the States (or maybe I am wrong, it is still early). I seems that people here are sick of feeling like second class citizens and have realized they can spend their money elsewhere. EuroDisney, anyone?

Barack Obama i Bronisław Komorowski

Obama and Komorowski

Obama, Komorowski and the one guy you can always count on.

Oh and Warsaw, sorry about the traffic.