Drive by Shooting

A nice spring drive….

Lots of tractors were on the road and in the fields.

Babas were everywhere, like this one on the side of the road with a full wheel barrow. Nothing shocks me here!

One more Baba, all of them in the socially acceptable Baba uniform. skirt, kerchief, sweater, Vest, dark stockings, and opanci (plastic flat ballet flats). Serbian Fashion for all the Babas!

One more for the road… A Deda and his tractor.

What a great day to be outside!

Sometimes when I see these beautiful houses, it isn’t hard to imagine Heidi from the classic old story living in them.

Happy Saturday everyone!! Thanks for stopping by.

Dobar Dan

Stork Smiles

Twice this week I saw a stork flying over head with twigs in it’s mouth flying to a rooftop nest somewhere. We are all about fixing up our homes and taking care of our families.

This stork is probably the offspring of the famous stork family that has annually returned to the residence high atop the old Town T.V. station/theatre. You can watch them roost. and sometimes catch a glimpse of stork hatch-lings. They are only small from a distance.

It is believed in Serbia, that if a stork makes a town home that places is very healthy. Storks are thought to be particular about where they nest. I think that is a sweet thought that can make you hometown proud. Not sure of the truth of it. They have few natural predators.

Photo link address http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2654333 Taken by Djoka listed on June 2007 Listed on All Travels.com

The local storks always make me smile and I feel blessed to watch them soar overhead. Once I watched one glide just about the Timok River and then stand on the banks watching for a fresh froggy or fish to gulp down.

With a wingspan of over 6 feet (from Wiki: wingspan is 155–215 cm or 61–85 in) seeing one seeming hover over the water is a sight you don’t soon forget.

They really are majestic.

In other bird news, I saw this tiny prefab home on a house last week and loved it! I doubt a storks big toe talon would fit inside.

Not a stork nest.

Thank God spring has arrived and our eyes can feast on natures goodness. Blue skies, puffy white clouds, sunny days, and lots of gorgeous creatures!

Dobar Dan!

PMS post on the In-laws

I should be censored. I should not even post when I am PMS-ing… A mental and physical muzzle for all conversations during this delicate psychotic period should be administered. But there is no warden for my words and thoughts spilling out in black and white.

Here I go typing away about my bad behavior last night.

In any marriage “the in-laws are a touchy thing. Different parenting customs and family dynamics make for um”… shall we say interesting discussion.

Cross-cultural marriages multiply the dynamics. Customs are far more “exotic” and sometimes scary. Including giving raw eggs to infant. Yep! seen that with my own eyes.

When you add hormonal imbalance and anger…with a Capital “A” it becomes out of control.

Lets make it a little bit more interesting by throwing in a little home remodeling and a bonafide, certified, gets shots once a month at a looney bin,  schizophrenic Aunt!! Yep! all that!

Honestly, when I put it all in perspective, I was quite polite.

Let me set the stage a little more. It was a cold rainy day. We, my husband and I went to the village to work on Baba and Deda’s house. Munchkin in the care of the in-laws at house not far away.

When we arrive at the house being renovated, I am left with a bare minimum of work. Work I try to accomplish is stopped and I realized in this cold, damp house there is nothing for me to do but watch. I am not a voyeur! Soon, I head back to the house.

At the front entrance, I see the Sister-in- Law’s shoes in the shoe pile at the front door.  (Because, Serbia is much more like Asia than Western Europe thanks to the Turks.) No one told me she was coming. I hate that. And Munchkin’s Aunt is one of my least fav people in the world. The kind that thinks everyone should buy her whatever she wants,,, and I mean like Uggs, Burberry, etc. While she goes to college in a city for Over 10 years!! No job and doesn’t help with the family farm. AT ALL! But she will take everything she can from the family. I am not exaggerating!

She is thirty, and her parents are still paring for her to live away. That is mostly, because she is horrible and they don’t want her near. Sadly, that is not PMS mean-ness. it is the reality. They have called the cops on her for harassment. Last time she came for Christmas, Papa tried to move home to his parents. They wouldn’t have him. And there are two free bedrooms.

When the Aunt appears and I become a fire breathing dragon. and it happened. I kept the flames in. Smoke curled from my nostrils… but, a dragon can’t help that. She was cuddling with my sleeping munchkin. And, her arrival had put the munchkins nap off two hours. GRRR!

I sit on the chair by the fire warming up, Baba goes to take a nap. Begins snoring quickly. I don’t blame her. She does the lions share of the work, and is no doubt exhausted!

Papa, fat and lazy, has his chair pulled to the center of the room watching T.V., volume all the way up like a king. Munchkin plays with the crazy aunt. I am thankful for my book.

It is not long before King Grandpa begins to incite munchkin to wake Baba…. I stop her. He does it again louder. and I stop her. Then he is doing it himself. He succeeds. I say quietly, but loud enough, “Glupino”… it means stupid, and I am sure he heard. Soon after, I am sure he was steaming that someone dared call the king stupid in his own home. He left his throne to go out into the cold for quite sometime.

His crazy daughter says nothing. She could care less if the women who makes her life of unrealistic luxury sleeps. In fact, I have seen her hit her mother repeatedly when she was sleeping so she could talk to her. Yep, She is that sweet to her mother. This is the kind of stuff that makes me smolder!

You see, I do love my Mother-in-law, and I would love to protect her. But she can’t stand up for  herself. And she works like a team of oxen for her family. and they don’t appreciate it. Actually, they abuse her. It kills me!  And like a truly delusional person, she makes excuses for their bad behavior!  When I talked to Mama about Papa waking her, she said he was just playing. When I related the story later to the hubby, he said the same thing. When I asked him how he would like that… the excuse became clearly an excuse for bad behavior.

Three hours after I arrived at Baba and Deda’s, the husband returned. he ate, and asked if I was ready to go. I was!

Then, Munchkin, didn’t want to come home! She wanted to stay with the insane aunt, emotionally blind Baba, and the constantly abusive Father-in-Law. Of course. I can’t imagine why the sweet little tot wouldn’t want to come home with a fire breathing dragon… lol. And. to be fair, she was being spoiled like a pig being fattened like no other!! who wouldn’t stay in a place you get coddled, tons of presents and can do ANYTHING you want and never hear the word “no”.  Seriously. I would chose the crazies too!

Munchkin insisted on staying, Hubby and the family backed her and I was beaten… I hugged the munchkin and said goodbye to the crazy aunt with eyes that really said. I HATE YOU! If looks could kill, she would have been flat-lined instantly.

The entire drive home and all night long, I wanted to go back for her. Still, she stayed… This morning I am still frustrated that she is in that environment.  And she will stay til tomorrow.  WTFrench toast!

Also, ee will probably have to return Friday and Sunday.. It is Orthodox Easter.  FUN!

Friday we are supposed to decorate eggs… Not like you do in the States. Dipping them for a second. and adding colors like paint. No,, this means boiling them for hours. The dye is poor and the eggs are dark. So, that really means spending needless time in the village that can’t be spent on home renovation. UGH!  And eating not Fast food, but food of fasting. YUK to both!

No one knows that the fasting talked about in the Bible wasn’t beans, it was the yummy vegetation of the Mediterranean! (The hate comments for talking bad about the “Blessed” magic fasting beans that produce gas and painful constipation rather than a bean stalk to the sky are coming… I can tell.) In fact, here they don’t know much, more than that the calendar says it is Easter. That does make me a bit more mad.  Tradition, rather than knowledge. The tip of the iceberg.

I realize the irony. The angry, hateful person who is supposed to be a sweet loving Christian. I know, I am no perfect. Never will be. Right now I am over all of this! Going out for a walk to improve my mood.

End rant.

Spring Forward into Life

Last weekend the time changed in Europe. That fact is irrelevant to this blurb. Almost.

Trouble on two continents, family issues, and work that had to be done worked in tandem with germs from the little miss. A cold stopped me in my tracks. One whole day, I was down for the count. A day later, I was not fully recovered. but mentally, I was renewed.

The physical rest gave my mind the break it needed! Now, I am back in Black and White!! and Technicolor! Alive again after a long cold winter of cabin fever.

Joyful Yellow Flowers!! Happy Spring!

I am about ready to get back to work on Baba and Deda’s house renovations. Spring house cleaning has begun!! Putting winter away and bringing out new seasons things! Just like the Trees! Hip Hip Horrah!

The celebration of spring has begun in Serbia and all over the northern sphere!! There is a new energy! Longer days and a new mindset! My brain, like the trees is blooming with new ideas!  Get out and enjoy the green sprouting from the formerly drab brown ground and feast your eyes on the fresh sprigs!   It will make you feel alive!

Pops of color are everywhere. Even the street cracks are bursting with dandelions that are growing under water spouts.

The idea of renewal is one that suits the story of Uskurs or Easter. Easter weekend has hit the Western world, We have a week yet for it to hit the Eastern Orthodox part of the world. Preparations are in progress. I think nature does the best part of the prep work!

Christ is Risen!!

Happy Easter to my friends and family!

I am Expat Blog of the Month!!

I regret not being very active in blogging lately. There is just too much going on … preparing to move, working on the place before we leave, etc!

I was thinking about what to write next and then I was asked to be the blog of the month over at expat blog!! I accepted and now my interview is up and ready to view!! You can check it out here!

I love that site, and joined almost as soon as I became an expat!! I have found other bloggers I love reading, through them. Expat Blog makes it easy to find expat bloggers all over the world!! You should check them out!!

Will blog again soon!! I miss writing, but I have been just too tired to think!

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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