Water Works Serbia Vs. U.S.

Traveling between the U.S. and Serbia always brings to light the subtle and sometimes not at all subtle differences. The pros and cons are a mixed bag as they are with all countries.

Toilet water level is lower in Serbia. I have written about this before. It is different. nothing more. Less splash when you pinch off a loaf. But also, it makes cleaning more often more imperative and often. The toilet seems taller but it may just be the shape?.

While we are on the potty topic, the actual toilet seat and lid is often a light plastic material. I was fearful of breaking it when I came to Serbia the first time. But it is surprisingly sturdy… at least for a little while.

W.C. is the normal sign across much of Europe for toilet or bathroom. It stands for Water Closet, an old term I remember only hearing in old Western movies with John Wayne.

The washing machine is often in the W.C.with the toilet tub and sink. It makes sense as the clothes are washed on HIGH temps. The close proximity is logical for cost saving on space and length of pipes. I wrote about that here.

In our bathroom, the sink only has cold water… I guess they figure, if you need hot you can just use the tub faucet. In one village house I have seen there isn’t a sink! They decided to be really thrifty and space efficient using the tub faucet as the sink!!! Extreme Thrifting Home Edition!!

In Serbia, your kitchen may or may not have hot water… I know this is common in the village. Keeping a bit of water on the wood stove in the winter is a common practice.

Still getting grease off of dishes is a challenge. Enter Fairy dish detergent! This stuff cuts the grease and takes the skin off of your hands. I would rather employ a gentler soap and hot water to save my hands. Man, that Fairy is strong and painful stuff! But, if you aren’t using hot water, I would say it is necessary after adding so much pig fat (lard) to the dishes eaten!

If you have hot water in the kitchen, a tiny water heater will be located above the sink. It is so  tiny unit that fits in your kitchen cabinet taking up space. :P

The proximity to the faucet creates a certain shock of scalding suds Immediately! Ouch

In the bathroom the same issue is to be expected. The hot water heater is above the tub. HOT!!! Getting burned by the tub faucet happens rarely but sometimes I reach for the safe plastic lever and miss. I touch the  metal part of the faucet outer element that has been heated quickly and efficiently. With soap in my face and a fresh burn I find the lever.   Vowing to be more mindful of the Serbian standard, I rinse myself.

The upside of the difference is no one gets a flash of All cold/hot in the shower if someone  flushes! If you have ever had that happen, you can appreciate that plus. ;)

The things I find strangely different are the focus on what would be cleaned with super hot water. Clothes are scalded with 90 degrees Celsius. Contrast that with all the eating utensils that contain food… quite a switch in priorities. These are the things that culture shock on both sides of the fence.

What differences have you noticed in your travels?

17 #ForeignPeopleProblems Every Expat Understands All Too Well

lafemmet:

Ahh, This is so true!

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Eat Pray LoveEat Pray Love

1. People saying your name. Now you might not have a name that is unique to the place you’ve moved to. But then again you might. And good freaking luck trying to get people to get it right.

2. Speaking the language in that country perfectly prior to moving there, explaining this to people, and still being “complimented” for it.

3. Using the “wrong” names for things and people not understanding you. Whether it’s being called out for saying, “cinema” instead of “the movies,” or saying “dustbin” instead of “trash can,” expect all the laughs.

4. Constantly playing the “conversion game.” You know, the game where you convert the prices of things to how much they cost you in other currencies and usually feel cheated. Except in the moments where you feel like you’re winning!

5. Some of your pronunciations, or your entire accent in general will…

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Sve za Beba~All for Baby Traditions in Serbia 1

When I came to Serbia so many years ago,  I was in awe of the different traditions. Having wet hair and going out in any weather is inviting death as well as opening two windows at once that will bring the dreaded draft or promaja.

Enter the Bumbo Seat (Used worldwide…. but probably not in the Balkans) An infant seat that looks like it should be used in Bars from drunks who tend to fall off their stools.    But then, babies are like little drunks. Think about it!  They pee themselves, spill their drinks, vomit without warning, and there is no reasoning with them.

A month or so after my entrance to the Balkans I was taken by surprise. Visiting a friend who is a nurse in Serbia she fretted a bit when I sat her infant on my lap. She told me, Babies must not sit up or their hips can be damaged. I was so shocked. I had never heard this before. Not to mention, I had lots of experience in caring for infants from birth and none of them had ever had hip problems.

I questioned myself for a while wondering if I had lost my marbles and maybe this was a thing in the west and I was just unaware. But no, that wasn’t the case.  And in fact, they have seats called Bumbo made specifically for babies to sit in. !!! For real! Here is proof!

The hip problem is such a worry that mothers put a clothe wrap around the diaper that serves as a little brace to keep the babies hips secure.  That is worn til they are 6 months old.

NEW INFO!!! added 3/10/15 a day after the initial posting.

Here is the reason for the care of Serbian baby hips, and it is all in regional genetics. I had pondered this so many times.Finally answer that makes sense!

A kind reader was generous to share this info with me!

Former Yugoslavia had the second highest incidence of dysplasia of the hip in the world. It’s most probably genetic. Almost 10% of all babies in the 1970’s had hip dysplasia, mostly girls, so people are quite freaked out about it. It was not until the mandatory sonograms were introduced that this number was reduced.

Here is an online bit of research I found after having that helpful comment.

http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0370-8179/2009/0370-81790908402S.pdf

That was probably my first shock concerning what is thought  to keep babies healthy here in Serbia. The next one came along not too long after.

I will write about that one soon!

In honour of little one’s day….

Giving birth is something you don’t forget, but details get lost like on your wedding day. I am glad I wrote it all down for memories sake and for cultural reasons. Giving birth in the West is totally different from the East.

Here is an account of the birth and hospital stay.

The is exactly what it sounds like. You may not want to read this. You have been warned.

This was the dress I wore home from the hospital.

Friday, February 24th, I was sore and really tired. Tired of being pregnant and sore from the huge belly I was sporting. That evening I made Baba Goca’s Filo heaven dessert and headed over to my friend Kristen’s house to see her twins.

I didn’t stay long. I was so uncomfortable and the heartburn that was my companion for much of the pregnancy was kicking it with me hardcore. far to soon I went home to rest and realized I needed to finish making the rest of the Filo into something… it turned out to be gibanica.  Then I went to bed.

I woke up in pain at 12:26 AM. I wasn’t sure what kind of pain it was and waited kind of patiently to see if the pain was timely. It was. After calling the Dr. and getting to the 5 minute time frame, Muz and I headed to the Hospital.

My water broke about 10 minutes after we arrived

A nurse was taking my blood pressure and all of a sudden I felt really warm liquid exiting my body involuntarily. The was the beginning of things seeming completely surreal.  That feeling hasn’t stopped since bringing Munchkin home. :))

Soon, I was on my way to a labor room. At this point I was at 6 cm. dilated and we were all thinking it shouldn’t take long being this far along with dilation. BUT she wouldn’t drop.

When my water broke the pain became so intense and I got a migraine  from the pressure. Then I threw up. I was ready for an epidural at this point.. I mean Labor and a Migraine is a bit too much!!  further dilation did not bring the baby any closer to being ready to come out.

More than 5 hours later I was fully dilated and Munchkin wouldn’t budge. I was so happy I had gotten the epidural, time would have dragged otherwise, and I would have had much less energy at this point. With the epidural I was feeling only  slight twinges.  Muz and I both napped for much of this time while we waited. I was virtually pain free till it was time to push.

I should mention the weather had been really crazy and the barometric pressure was causing a lot of women to go into labor. The nurses said it was like a bus had pulled up and unloaded a bunch of women ready to pop. Needless to say, the nurses were scrambling and the Dr.s were stretched thin.

I pushed for 3 hours with the help of my husband and the nurse. The Dr. came and checked me a couple of times and then came just as Munchkin was about to crown. Muz and the nurse could see her for a little while and let me know she had a lot of hair. No wonder my heartburn had been so bad!

At some point during my labor Muz almost fainted, but  not so much from the view, but from low sugar. He hadn’t gone to bed before we left for the hospital at 3:30AM and he hadn’t eaten. A quick drink of OJ remedied his levels and he was back on track.  Thank GOD for him. I don’t know what I would have done without him. I am such a lucky wife.

At 1:06 PM our sweet little one wiggled out and cried. AAAHHHH no more pushing. Munchkin was whisked away for testing. Her two Apgars were 8 and 9. And I had been worried the epidural would affect her. no need. Those are high scores. :)

I thought I would have to push out the afterbirth, but the Dr. said it wasn’t necessary. She was going to pull it out with the umbilical cord. But that didn’t work. My cord was not attached to the placenta! she was shocked. This is not normal. It was attached to some other stuff that was attached to the cord. I was told this could have been a really bad thing. But since she was super healthy an alert, obviously she had evaded harm.

Our Baby weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, but the nurse told me she was 9lb even. I think that was because all the scales were in metric measurements. One ounce was gained in translation.

Her hair isn’t so curly now.

Breastfeeding was on my list of things to do A.S.A. P. ! Munchkin’s hair was still wet with blood and fluids but I could see it was blonde and curly. She was just beautiful. All my fears of not wanting to be a mother melted away. She was perfect and she was mine. Words cannot describe how a heart can fill with love so fast.

Muz and I are still overwhelmed with the love we feel for her. We stare at her like all new parents, laugh at her little sounds and stirrings. And we are happy to report Kyger, our cat, is only vaguely interested. In fact the kitty is more interested in the baby accessories:the bassinet, the swing, and the boppy. Kyger keeps trying to sleep on the boppy. Muz had to shew her from it and the bassinet. The swing is just a visual interest so far.

The hospital stay went like this….
While in Serbia I was always inquiring how the hospital stay was for mothers giving birth and I was not to keen on going through the process there. Mostly, because I wanted my Doctor to speak English. And who knows when a baby will be born, so there is no guarantee who will be delivering. The same is true all over the world.

As I previously wrote, two of my good friends in Serbia were due one month before and one month after I was. As we talked and I questioned what the hospital stay was like there and what the customs where. I also asked if they were interested in what it is like here.  Of course, the last time I was staying in a hospital here, I was 3, getting my tonsils out. I had nothing to offer til I had Munchkin. Now, I finally have time and energy to post about the experience. This post is for them, and anyone else who is interested.

My hospital is rather typical for the U. S. I am guessing with amenities that make your stay rather like staying at hotel if you are giving birth. New moms get a room to themselves with their own bathrooms. In other wards usually the rooms are two person rooms with  or with out a toilet.

It is like a hotel in many ways, there is free wireless internet, Cable television,  and room service was included! The food was quite good, I couldn’t complain. Everyday a cafeteria lady would come and tell me what the kitchen was offering. A friend of mine, who had had an extended stay for premature twins told me that you could actually order anything  you want. So I got french toast for breakfast one morning even though that wasn’t on the list. :)

I was really surprised to find out you could also get a guest  tray (an additional dinner for a guest who would be joining you). How sweet is that?! So the Husband and I had dinner there together one night. Not romantic, but really nice!

Maid service is also one of the perks. Everyday a lady would come in to tidy up, and ask if I needed more towels. The only exception  was she came in while I was there, not while I was out like in a hotel.

The nursing staff was super friendly, and everyday I was assigned a nurse. That was so nice. It was better than having a bunch of different nurses popping in and out.

It wasn’t like a hotel because a nurse would come in about once an hour to take my blood pressure and temperature. At night it was every two hours or more. So sleep was interrupted a little bit. But with a new baby, I was awake most of the time anyway. The nurses would also ask me how my pain was and give me whatever I needed to help me feel better. That was really nice.

Guest were welcome during visiting hours, I had a few the first day just hours after Munchkin was born. They asked if it was O.K. and I was feeling surprisingly well for just pushing out a 9 pounder, so I told them I would love a visit. I had visitors the next day as well, and honestly I welcomed them. It gets boring in a hospital by yourself even with TV and internet.

The room and bathroom were stocked with things I may need in case I had forgotten anything. There was a plastic bin with a new tooth brush, a small tube of tooth paste, deodorant,  and other assorted necessities.

In my room there was a box of treats that I would dip into in the middle of the night and share with visitors.

The bed was adjustable and had a remote that included a nurse call button and the remote control for the television as well. Very convenient!

There are some rather extreme, yet comforting security measures in place to keep babies safe. Along with the typical identification bracelets the babies wear there is a bracelet that is like a baby low jack bracelet. If the baby is carried beyond a certain point an alarm will go off. Or if the bracelet comes off of the baby the alarm will go off. This ensures no one will steal the baby.

Baby, Mother and Father were given wrist bands that were kept on for the length of our stay. There were numbers that matched on each bracelet so that they knew who the baby belonged to and they check the number every time the baby was given back to us after checkups in the nursery. There was no mistaking the baby was given to the wrong couple. They were very efficient.

Sorry the pictures aren’t so clear. I was tired and couldn’t be bothered to get out the good camera. I used my cell phone, took a few shot for this post and went back to bed. The baby was in the nursery this night. She had been super fussy, as is common the second night and the nurse took her so I could rest. The pics were taken about 5 AM. I am just glad I remembered to take them.

Expat Relationships

lafemmet:

For Expat friends, This is some helpful stuff! Always be prepared. Research, plan, and know what you are in for!

Originally posted on :

The other day I asked for some last-minute help with information about relationships to go into the Survival Guide. I thought I had actually finished the book, I’d read it and re-read it, had it edited and even sent it to the proof-reader for a final going over. I’m still hoping to meet my self-set deadline of April for publication. But out of the blue, whilst out running (which is when most of my revelations come to me) I realised it wasn’t done. I needed more on how couples cope when they move abroad together.

I hadn’t totally ignored this important aspect of expat life. Or at least of expat life for those of you going as a couple or a family. When I talk about relationships in this context, I am really talking about the relationship with your partner – although I do touch on the family dynamic…

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The more things change….

We are moving back. back to the U.S. Things have been a bit crazy of late. A little upheaval for a while. Lots to do and see and do! and so little time to do it.

Everything is ok, but we have had to make some changes.  Going home was one of them. It will be interesting sorting things out and starting over. Repatriation is always a huge challenge. Wish us luck! The next week will be insane! We will need it.

I will be taking a blogging break for a while.

Cheers from our quaint little town. :) Looking forward to going back to our other one.

Music to my Ears

This picture could have some many captions. These are the ones that come to mind and seem relevant to me right now.

A perfect mix of sounds, water lapping on the beach and piano music.

It ain’t over til the fat lady sings.

Fluid music

watery sounds

Beauty in ruins

Keep making music, even if the tide is coming in.

A lonely piano rests under the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC.

This little American chick will be singing in a  full on Serbian choir tomorrow. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and intimidated.

The whole reason I joined the choir was to help me learn Serbian. It is kind of fitting my first performance will be for the celebration of Saint Sava. The patron saint of schools and education. Wish me luck! Hymna Sv. Sava, here I come!

And feel free to ad your own captions for the pic in the comments!

Flat Stanley a.k.a. Marcello does Serbia

One of my fellow expats in rural Serbia has created a musical mixture of the East meets  West. Paul Shapera created this excellent little video and the music. He is quite a talented fellow! Enjoy a glimpse into Marcello’s visit to Serbia.

Flat Stanley paper cut-outs have made their way around the world from classrooms in the U.S. to teach kids about geography.

Here is a little blip about Stanley…. Flat Stanley is a 1964 children’s book written by Jeff Brown (January 1, 1926 – December 3, 2003).

Stanley Lambchop and his younger brother Arthur are given a big bulletin board by their father to display pictures and posters. He hangs it on the wall over Stanley’s bed. During the night the board falls from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep. He survives and makes the best of his altered state, and soon he is entering locked rooms by sliding under the door, and playing with his younger brother by being used as a kite. One special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope. Stanley even helps catch some art museum thieves by posing as a painting on the wall. Eventually, Stanley is tired of being flat and Arthur changes him back to his proper shape with a bicycle pump. Thank you Wikipedia for all the above info!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Stanley

The Urban Dictionary has another meaning for a Flat Stanley. I will let you check a bit of naughtiness out here>> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Flat+Stanley

New Year Crafting for my Princesses

I have lots of new crafting ideas. I have more ideas than I have time for, but I am making headway! Munchkin has been talking more and so have her toys. It gave me inspiration for more Barbie dress making.

They only posed a moment for the pic, then continued fighting over the handmade satin rose between them.

 

Then, I have been having some inspiration for creating some little girl joy. I found a large formal skirt at the thrift shop for 100 RSD…  (Republic of Serbia Dinars) about a dollar depending on the exchange rate. I created three dresses from that and one more from scraps. I have one a little more work to do on that one. Excuse the poor quality, but I had to share!

I can’t wait to give them to the little Munchkins I love. It will definitely call for a Princess tea party!!

Blessed with GREAT neighbors

I cannot believe how lucky I am. I was just reading another blog about finding good neighbors. I realized. I have hit the jackpot. I have an English teacher neighbor that has become so important to me. She is steps from my front door. My two best friends also live very close. And, I really love the people in my building. They are Wonderful.

It took too long to find that out. But now that I know them, life is so much Better.
Serbian People are amazing!

Ziveli! (Cheers)