Sunday, November 27, 2011

For Kubala: kawaii po polsku

Ok, ok, it’s not as cute as the Japanese warnings posted by Kubala but it’s the best I could find. The stork says “stop”  forbidding our entrance to the bird preserve close to my village house.  It’s a good thing too ‘cause we used to walk there.

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Check out Kubala’s blog about his stay in Japan http://nihongawakarimasen.blogspot.com/

Check out dwakoty’s blog about her life in the village in Japan http://nawsiwjaponii.blogspot.com/ I especially like her posts entitled “Cute na codzien” and “Srodowe bento”.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving is Good II

Last Thursday evening I had the honor once again to attend PGF’s annual charity auction. The auction benefits children in cancer wards all over Poland and was held this year in the Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw. I, unfortunately, do not have photos from the event because I was simply too busy socializing with all the fantastic people there – and of course I had to take a close look at all the beautiful pictures before I could select the one that I wanted to bid on.

And here it is, a picture made by a 7-year-old little artist from the cancer ward in Kielce.SDC12104

Forgive me for copying from my own post last year but…

PGF Urtica is one of the largest wholesalers and distributors of pharmaceuticals (to the hospital market) in the country. Urtica dzieciom is the charitable arm of the company which organizes cycles of artistic workshops for the patients in the children’s cancer wards. These workshops are led by a team of dedicated professional artists and art teachers throughout the whole year culminating in the annual auction where we can admire the artistic talents of those incredible little patients.

The auction started out with a welcoming speech from the President of PGF Urtica and moved swiftly into a film presentation of the workshops in the cancer wards. Then the “big auction” began. Once again, I couldn’t participate in the big auction (prices!) but was pleased to see bids reaching into the thousands. Last year’s auction was very emotional as the little star of the annual video passed away not long after filming the video. This year was all business. Big auction, break, little auction, break, musical presentation, results. The auction this year raised almost 85 thousand zloty. Let’s hope to break 100 thousand next year!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Independence Day 11.11.11

Yesterday was Polish Independence Day. We celebrated in an official way….

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…and in a non-official way.

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It was a really lovely day spent with our children.

Poland’s borders have changed dramatically over the last thousand years. Poland has grown and shrunk and even disappeared from the map altogether. I recommend checking out this page to get the whole effect. You can see how the map of Poland changes from the 10th century up until now.

During times of expansion, Poland reached its largest size under Zygmunt Stary I (reigning 1506-1548) reaching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Poland was cut in size during the first partition of Poland which took place in 1772 with the Prussians, Russians and Austrians pushing on Poland from all sides. The 2nd partition by Prussians and Russians took place in 1793 reducing the size of Poland even more, with the 3rd partition of Poland taking place in 1795 by Russians, Prussians and again the Austrians thus removing an independent Poland from the map. Poland as an independent country did not return to the map until 1918 starting with uprisings and border changes (led, of course, by Józef Piłsudski). In 1920 the Russians attacked and the borders continued to change for the next few years until 1939 when Poland came under Russian and Nazi German rule. After WWII, the borders were re-set in 1945 (with a minor adjustment in 1951), but unfortunately leaving a proud “independent” Poland behind the iron curtain.

In 1980 Solidarity began and in 1981 martial law was declared. The iron curtain fell in 1989 with the first “free” elections in Poland (the communist party allowed free elections for 1/3 of the seats in the Sejm but free elections were allowed for the entire  Senate).  Poland is on its 4th president since then – Lech Wałęsa from 1990-1995, Alexsander Kwaśniewski from 1995-2005 during which Poland joined the European Union, Lech Kaczyński from 2005-2010 ending with his death in a plane crash and currently President Bronisław Komorowski who governs with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, both members of the same political party PO (Civic Platform). (Ok, ok, Poland is on its 5th President actually if we count General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s presidency in 1989-1990. He was selected by the parliament, not in the popular vote.)

Enough with the history in a nutshell. Back to us. In addition to our official and non-official celebrations, we watched the official military parade and speeches broadcast from Warsaw. I love these kinds of holidays and watching the soldiers march. Lizzie and Rosie also enjoyed a good march around Babcia and Dziadek’s apartment, I am sure to the enjoyment of the neighbors downstairs. Speaking of marching, last year marked the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII. A  monumental parade was held in Red Square in Moscow in which soldiers from Russia (of course), Poland, the US, Britain and France took part. I remember the TV interviews with some of the Polish troops returning from the trip and the questions regarding marching. In my opinion Polish troops march well. They really put on a good show. The Polish troops felt that they did a good job in Moscow but stated that the Russians really know how to march. Unfortunately, the almost unanimous opinion was that the US troops marched the worst of the group and that their march “lacked heart”. :(

Official ceremony from Warsaw – President and First Lady

fot. PAP / Jacek Turczyk

 

Biało-czerwona na budynkach

fot. PAP / Radek Pietruszka

Co czeka mieszkańców stolicy 11 listopada? - zdjęcia

PAP/ Tomasz Gzell

(fot. Grażyna Myślińska/FORUM)

WrocławŚwięto Niepodległości we Wrocławiu

wp.pl Paweł Kozioł

WrocławŚwięto Niepodległości we Wrocławiu

wp.pl Paweł Kozioł

On a lighter note, here’s a funny map of Europe I found here.

Europe according to Americans

 funny europe map

I live in the buffer zone between the Commies and the country of Dirty Porn. That would make me a nervous neighbor…a very nervous neighbor.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kraków

Two weeks ago, we took a little trip to Kraków. The last time we were there was….before the kids were born. We were definitely overdue for a visit. The kids were interested in 2 things only – the castle (Wawel) and the dragon (smok Wawelski). Lucky for us, the armory in Wawel is free on Mondays and the dragon’s den costs only 3 zl per adult – kids go free.

Wawel

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2011 116Lizzie noticed this door and commented that it doesn’t look very “castley”.

  coming out of the dragon’s den2011 149

waiting for the fire…2011 155 2011 157 2011 158

the fire!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

SDC12017What a difference a year makes. Halloween has taken over Poland. More parties, more candy, more decorations and did I mention more parties?  I feel so special, as if it were all just for me. Maybe I should have been Narcissus for Halloween instead of a pirate.

If you  recall,  I had mixed feelings about Halloween last year here in Poland. As I have stated many times, I do not desire to import Halloween to Poland. I just want to share my childhood holiday with my half-Polish/half-American children. Traditions give our lives meaning, don’t you think?

Last year, Lizzie’s class at pre-school was the only group to celebrate Halloween and the only reason they celebrated Halloween at all was because we taught a Halloween lesson as requested by the teacher. Our lesson was a big hit complete with a story book, and art project and even learning a few basic but essential Halloween phrases in English such as “boo”, “pumpkin” and “trick or treat”.  It was a lot of fun, but one family didn’t think so and took their child out of the classroom for this lesson.

10312011262I wonder what those parents did this year because Lizzie’s pre-school is bursting with Halloween. The whole school is decorated and they had a big, organized party on Friday. Even the “lunch ladies” dressed up. As the sign says “Hapy Halloween” everyone! 

Here is one decoration from pre-school that we particularly liked…(bravo to the teachers)…

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…and here is our home version. It is an easy peasy Halloween “pillow”. You need a brown paper bag, some paint, crayons or chalk, some glue or staples and some old newspaper to stuff inside.SDC12023SDC12024

On the radio today they were talking about the origins of Halloween and whatnot. It seems Halloween is not so far away from Polish traditions according to the guest. They also talked about what to do if some little scary creatures show up on your doorstep this evening – trick-or-treating protocol, so to speak. Many people called in to say that they are prepared for trick-or-treaters with bowls of candy on stand-by. Other people called in to say that it is a borrowed holiday and kind of artificial to celebrate it. One guy stated that he doesn’t have anything for the kids and he will choose the trick if need be. Oh, how I was 10312011264dreaming about this very guy as child. I never once encountered a house without a treat. How I dreamed about playing a trick, just once. Kids in Poland will get the chance I never had. Kids, make it a good one!

We had a party as usual and now our tradition stands 3 years long. We not only had a party at home, but we also went trick-or-treating. That is part of  the Halloween celebration that I need help with and once again for the third year in a row, our neighbors rocked. Thank you neighbors for making our day.

pre trick-or-treating party2011 198 

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      I am a very scary pirate and Rosie is a very scary dinosaurHalloween 2011 001

Lizzie as a very scary skeleton2011 181

another scary friend2011 210

we begin our trick-or-treating2011 216

pause for photo op2011 218

Hey Mister, where’d you go?…to the kitchen to get the candy2011 238

Misiu as a very flamboyant pirate2011 234

         refreshments for the guests – spider eggs and eyeball soupHalloween 2011 013 

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then all the little scary creature went to sleep and we could rest SDC12018

Happy Halloween!