Sveti Nikola~ Saints on Sunday

Taken directly from Wikipedia….He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day―St Nicholas Day (6 December, Gregorian calendar, in Western Christianity and 19 December, Julian calendar, in Eastern Christianity) ;[7] and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”. (End copy paste from Wiki.

It is celebrated twice a year. All of them maybe. I am unsure.In December this is a fasting slava. It is also celebrated in May. This is not a fasting slava. Much better food is served in my opinion. 🙂

This is our patron saint. Every family has one in Serbia. When it is your Saints day, it is the custom in Serbia and only Serbia, that you have a dinner and invite your friends.  They come at an appointed time. Most likely that you will be serving loads of people over two or three days.

I love this Saint and how he became one. Everyone should strive to be a secret giver.  Random or non-random acts of kindness are a great way to make life better. Giving is so much better than receiving.

Happy Sunday!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

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No Bread Plates

Up on the left you can see my plate. My bread perched on the side of the plate. I just can let it sit on the table. This pic is from our Jan 6 Orthodox Christmas Eve dinner. Fish is common as it is a fasting day for Orthodox Christians. No Dairy or Meat.

Crumbs litter the table, bread sits on the naked tablecloth. I was a bit stunned by this at first, and I still try to perch my bread on the edge of the plate. It seems strange to me that it doesn’t have its own place to sit.

There is always a loaf of fresh backed bread at the bigger meal. It is sliced and everyone takes some as if it is a bit of daily communion. No one cares about the crumbs that scatter about.

The tablecloth is carefully removed and shaken outside after every meal. It makes the birds very happy.  🙂

Moving to Serbia (the Balkans)~ Info I wish I could have found

This post aims at taking a stab at helping the before and after by providing info others have shared to smooth the edge of your nerves and the process.

Moving from one country to another is an acutely distressing task. It means leaving your friends and family and all the places you know and love. As well as your favorite foods. That will be more difficult that you will believe!

Starting over completely, upon arrival you will need to find a new doctor/pediatrician/vet, grocery store, park, and most importantly friends. This is often made more difficult with the language barrier you may incur.

The people here are amazing! They will help you. There are arses in every country. Don’t let one get you down. Move along and get some help from one of the many wonderful folks here. They out number the jerks.

Helpful Online resources

Skype! Sign up for it! Do it now! Get your friends and family to do the same.

Fortunately, now there are a number of Facebook groups for expats online. Search them out before your move and post any questions you have on their sites. You will be shocked at how helpful people tend to be.

I have found the most helpful ones are on Facebook. In Serbia, there is the Belgrade foreign visitors club, the Circle of foreign moms, and International women married to Serbs. These groups are a new expats best friend. And a great help for those anticipating the move. If you post questions, people are happy to help. They have been there. And they have priceless experience.

http://www.internations.org/ is a great international organization that helps expats to come together. They have groups in every major city, and ambassadors who seem really helpful.

Another FB group would be Flat to rent Belgrade. If you need to find a place to live you can also post on the Belgrade foreign visitors club page. It seems that is a brilliant place to find help, especially if you only want to rent a room in a shared flat or apt!

http://www.expat-blog.com/ is a great site for people moving to anywhere from anywhere. They a blog list for the world.

http://www.expatsblog.com/ This site has lots of blogs listed from all over the world, and they interview the bloggers. Some the interviews are very insightful.

Shipping concerns/preparing for the move

You will have to decide what to keep or ship. Shipping is very expensive. And once your stuff arrives, you may be charged crazy taxes. Making it questionable what is worth shipping.

To find out where to learn about shipping to Serbia we looked online, and at Balkan food markets where we asked and found a magazine with an ad for shipping to all the former Yugoslavian countries. We pondered moving our cars, and all the belongings but opted to sell almost everything.

We were lucky. We had a bunch of friends who were shipping an entire container. We did end up shipping about 15 plastic bins and boxes. I am really thankful we did. It is great to have a bit of home so far away.

But shipping cars would have been senseless (even though I miss our VW and my little red sporty girl.) The taxes and shipping would have been outrageous. And buying a car here isn’t that hard. If you want to get used ones there are sites for that, like http://www.halooglasi.com/.

I posted a question about shipping stuff to Serbia, I got this message in return. I just copy and pasted it as all the info may be helpful.

*****With reference to your post on Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club please find below more details on the import of households in Serbia.

If you are returning Serbian citizen you have right to apply for Repatriation Certificate which will allow you to import used households up to the value of EUR 5000. In order to qualify for this exemption you will need to prove that you have worked minimum 2 years without any gaps abroad. You can contact nearest Serbian embassy for more details and cost of Repatriation Certificate.

You will need to create valued list of goods in Serbian with the values.

If you do not qualify for this exemption, as a returning Serbian citizen, then import duties and taxes are charged at the rate of 45-47% of the value of the shipment.

Please note that value for Customs purposes are different from the Insurance values. Insurance values are replacement value of new items at destination and they are higher than actual value of the used households. Therefore do not declare Insurance value for the transport.*****

You can find some international shipping companies online. Do some research beyond pricing. There are some horror stories. Movers not showing up, or things going missing, etc. Reviews are priceless! I may also recommend writing embassies to see who they use as they are always having people move to and from here and there.

 

These are the things you think about as you anticipate the move. But before that, you must decide what to do with your stuff. Do you ship it, or chuck it all and get new everything?

Also, what will you do with your mail. There are companies who will forward it… $$$ I have mine sent to a friend.  If it is important, she copies it and forwards it.

Things to know about the culture of Serbia and everyday living. This was graciously written by another foreign woman married to a Serb. Thank you SM!!

1) Learning Serbian is hard for the linguistically challenged; perhaps even for those with a gift for languages.
2) Driving can be a challenge; narrow roads littered with pedestrians, strays and owned, people parking in lanes just to pop in to a store for a few minutes, drivers opening car doors into oncoming traffic, drivers overtaking on blind corners with a come-what-may flair and an overall sense of the survival of the fittest (aka if I can squeeze in before you reach me it doesn’t really matter if you have to slam on breaks to accommodate me).
3) Long winters that sometimes swallow up portions of what should have been spring or autumn.
4) Getting a local you trust to enquire/negotiate for you when asking for a quotation or selling price. Any foreigner is immediately assumed to be loaded and prices are multiplied accordingly.
5) Another general rule is that contracts are rare and requesting one is almost an insult. Serb’s run on an honour system of agreement (which generally turns out ok. Until it doesn’t).
6) Most negotiations are a bit like wooing. You need to set the mood for a positive outcome; good food and plenty of it, tons of rakija and pivo, laughter and possibly even music. Set aside a good few hours for this before you get down to business. If you think about it, it’s actually quite beautiful as setting a business relationship on a good footing is very important in any culture. This is simply how it’s done here.
7) Serbian homes are pristine. There’s a reason for this beyond mega-cleanliness, I believe. All visitors pop in spontaneously. From a culture where most things are scheduled, even amongst friends, this can be a little daunting if you’re not the neatest freak under the sun.

Number six maybe taken further. When we need anything done at the local city hall we always take a pack of coffee and some cookies. A bit of sweetness greases the wheels.

I have also heard, that if something is taking a long time, you should show up in person and ask continually, and kindly. Seeing your face will remind them of the task.

Here is one more note from another expat in the north. K wrote this letter about what and how she packed to her friends back home. Maybe her words will be a bit of help for you.

Things I’m so glad I packed!
1. SAMs club bags! Big enough to carry about 4-5 bags of groceries, can use either the shoulder strap or handles for lugging items around. Best thing I bought for the move by far!
2.Toiletries. Yes, I can buy shampoo, deodorant, q-tips, nail clippers… But with all the learning curve that’s involved with a new culture, not having to find out where to buy toothpaste the first week has been very helpful. Now (after 2 weeks) I know where to find these items, but it was an enormous help not to worry about that immediately.
3.Kitchen utensils! Not only did I bring my good kitchen knives, but my favorite spoons, can openers, pizza cutter, potato peeler… Items like that here are SO expensive, yet cheaper made. I’m thankful that while I’m cooking different food, at least I’m familiar with how I’m cooking it. (Oh – and don’t forget measuring cup/spoons. The metric system is used just about everywhere else, so if you have your American recipe that calls for cups and tsps, you’ll not have to guess or do lots of math!)
4.Tools! Just as the kitchen items are important to me, having a few basic tools have been helpful for D. Screwdivers, wrenches, level… finding the tools you need here has been difficult. Grateful that we do not feel at a complete loss when we need to repair something.
5.Those hooks that stick on the walls – the ones you can use to hang pictures, towels, flyswatters, kitchen spoons… you know the ones!
6.Practical, comfortable clothes and shoes. I did pack a few nice outfits, but I’m thankful I downsized. Now that I’m here, I can’t see myself wearing any of the “nice” things. I also packed a few clothes the next size up for the kids to wear if they hit a growth spurt soon.
7.A few toys and favorite items for the kids from home. Yes, just like the toiletries, we can buy toys here, but the comfort of having something from home has been a blessing. The kids also each brought a poster to hang up in their room, which makes their room look more like it belongs to them. Along those lines, we also brought some of our “traditions” with us – the “happy birthday banner,” a 4th of July tablecloth, “you are special today” plate.
8.Music, audiobooks and movies. (I put them on a hard drive.) It’s comforting to have English entertainment at the end of a long day.

Things I wish I would have packed.
1.Ziploc bags! Gallon size, freezer ready. Since they do not exist here, I would have been tempted to pack a suitcase full. (OK, that’s exaggerating, but it’s amazing how many things I used zipping bags for that’s not even food related.)
2.Smaller clothes. Not less clothes, but smaller. I think I’ve dropped a pants size already. It would have been nice to bring 1 or 2 pair of smaller pants. Buying clothes here is difficult as most places are on the street (no trying things on) and there are no returns.
3.D did a lot of work in the apartment before I got here, but if I was here initially, I would have liked to bring a small roll of “big” garbage bags and 1 tub of Lysol wipes. Just to get the place cleaned up.
4.I originally started to pack these, but thought I’d need to downsize more, so I got rid of them. Small, everyday items – the kind you’d get at the dollar store: paper towel holder, office organizers, Tupperware containers, toothbrush holder… These types of items are incredibly expensive here. (Thankfully because of homeschooling, I did bring pens, pencils, scissors, and glue. I did not bring scotch tape & it took a long time to find it here. We wrapped up our Christmas presents in packing tape! When D did find it, the tape dispenser was cheaply made, but we’re making it work!)
5.More American dollars. It depends on where you are going. We get the best exchange rate for dinars by withdrawing them from the ATM. However, rent, schooling, van and other big items need to be paid in Euros. The only way to get them is to withdraw dinars (exchange rate from dollars) and exchange them again for Euros. Double whammy. For our start-up costs, it would have been much easier to exchange dollars to Euros once.

Thanks to those who helped me writing this blog. If you have any other tips, leave them in the comments!! I can edit this and add them.

If you are moving to Serbia or anywhere, Good Luck!! Take it day by day and remember it is an adventure of a lifetime! There are some serious struggles, cultural issues and relationship trials. Xanax might be a good idea. 😉

If you need a bit of a pep talk…. check this out. https://chroniclesofserbia.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/yoda-quotes-for-the-expat-soul/

Please feel free to use the comment section to add your own advice! Maybe you could start a blog of your own! It can help others and be a great form of mental therapy for free! Thanks for stopping by!

Knjazevac Museums~ Zavičajni muzej Knjaževac

The yellow building with the statue on top is the largest museum in town. It houses a continuous collection as well as short term exhibits.

Zavicajni means homeland. This museum is all about the homeland. Local artifacts and exhibitions of local art and history are displayed.

The entrance of the museum. The grand old home was built by a man who owned a long ago coal mine in my  hubby’s village Vina. Now, it is well-kept and a glorious reminder of antique architecture.

A work of art by a local artist, Dragoslav Živković, and the reconstruction of homes created by the orignal inhabitants of the region  ages ago. The cavemen type of people even left their mark in local caves with drawings! Cool, huh?

Just a few weeks ago, I went to check out the new fruit exhibits, and the very exciting ancient Roman artifacts found just a few miles down the road!

An aerial photograph of the excavation. It is a massive site.

Ravna, a village 6 or 7 miles from Knjazevac is the home of the most recent archeological dig in our region.

Painstaking work  by international groups of archeologists have unearthed some amazing finds. Including glass goblets! How freaking awesome is that!?

glass goblets and a glass vase

I got to talk to the Senior Curator of the museum, Milena. Her English is spectacular. We had a great chat. The most spectacular part of the visit was being shocked with meeting another American. I have NEVER run into a foreigner in my little town. Coming in contact with one of my own peeps was a complete shock.

He was a Dept. of State guy doing some public relations stuff, repairing relations with Serbia. His advice to me was to basically be friendly and help mend the tear between Serbia and the United States.
Some days, I think I am days I think I am very diplomatic… other times, not so much.

Please come visit our beautiful town and museums. We have lots to offer! Just like the rest of Serbia!

The 100 Step Village~Stogazevac, Serbia

The 100 step village

I was on the top of a very tall hill, and I found fossilized coral. The muz (hubby) and I walked to the bottom of the hill and at the edge of the stream we were about to cross, when we found a stone with a shell fossil in it. He says this is not uncommon here. I am like a kid in a candy store. Sometimes, I feel I should be on a treasure hunt all the time.

This trek up the small mountain was just beyond the 100 step village.  It was a typical old village, quiet and quaint.

A rakija still was in service, and 2 men catered to what the muz calls the “happy” machine. We parked the car in front of their modest, but nice, town building. A passing Baba told us our car will safe there. This was the start our little adventure.  It is small but full of character and friendly people. We also met a nice couple of goats too. 🙂

Stogazovac is the” one hundred step village”.  Just past that beautiful little cluster of homes, is a 14th Century church. On the way to the church. you bypass paved roads and walk along with towering rocks to your right and a steep ravine to your left. At the bottom of the ravine, there is a creek trickling along. A ways up, the creek is dammed up to create a wonderful little swimming hole. There is such a difference in temperature as you descend to the waters edge. Fascinating how water has carved a deep crevice in so much stone.

The mountainous rocks tower over the road like sky scrapers. At some points there is a half tunnel carved in the rock to create the path to the old church. Trust me the pictures don’t do it justice!

We stopped a ways down because we though we had lost our way, and decided rest for a picnic. We sat at the roads edge, which had transformed into pastoral land was now mostly flat. Initially, we sat smack dab on the top of an ant hill. Ant bites are worse than their bark. We moved quickly!

When we had finished our fresh-baked bread with fresh, soft farm cheese baked inside, we saw behind was the church. It had been hidden by the natural skyscraper. It was nestled in just behind it.

The view back from our picnic sight.

It only took us a few minutes to find the path to the plank bridge that crossed the brook. We walked up the very steep hill to the top, and then rested to catch our breath.

The 14th century church had a fresh coat of paint and a new roof, but it was ancient. The walls were nearly 3 feet thick.

I can easily understand how people could find peace and worship inside or out. God had created a beautiful place. Man had made good use of the natural beauty. It is awesome there.

I was glad it was a Sunday when we came. I wish we could come here every Sunday. But soon the snow will cover the ground and getting up the hill will be impossible.

After we explored inside the church and out we made our way back down the hill to go back home. When we were about to pass through a place in the road, flanked by two massive rocks, a billy-goat came through like gang busters, and stopped when he saw us, sizing us up.  He retreated when the muz took a step forward. Probably smart. If I were a betting woman, I would put my money on the muz. He has been known to head butt bigger animals creatures and knock them down.

This billy-goat and his agile friend proceeded to climb the rock as we passed through the natural gateway.

Rabbit trail....The goats warmed my heart. I grew up on a farm with goats. My grandpa once put me on the back of our kind billy-goat and I held onto the horns. I remember his back being very pointy and not at all comfortable like a horse. End rabbit trail…
On the other side of the towering rock gateway, we were greeted by two village children, the goats caretakers. They said “Dobar Dan” or good day to each of us, and then kept looking back at us.
They were bewildered by my English. I love the wonder in their eyes. I wish I could sit and chat with all of them. I used to be a village child myself. I am pretty sure we have more in common than not! Just a difference of birth place and language.

The walk back to the car was fun, I stopped to take a pic of the same couple of gents making the countries favorite liquor, rakija. (This is pronounced rah-key-a.) One of the men said to me, “Odakle ste?” (Where are you from?) When I said “America”, it was fun to see the reaction on their faces. The village reactions and sweet interactions are so much different from the ones of regular town folks.

This was a magical day.

The Expat Triumph’s over the Dark Side

I wrote this post a couple days ago. This bit inspired the Yoda Quotes post that I have now made a page. Honestly, those quotes are universal, and can be used to inspire anyone. Anyway, on with today’s blog…

Over time, I have realized, I become needy at times. I turned into the girl who is looking for expat friends to have those connecting conversations. Expat isolation, strikes again. But like the Empire, I strike back. in time.

Like in Star Wars, it takes time for the plot to unfold.

A sick kind of desire overwhelms me, I am looking for that kind understanding that only an expat can have, no matter where they are from. The force within me weakens and I am vulnerable to the “dark side”.

However, since I am from a small town, I am not in reach of anyone nearby that I can have a conversation with locally. That creates a loneliness that can create a stranger in me. It can be the stimulus for the expat depression I wrote about yesterday.

I have always wanted to be that friendly inviting person that makes others feel comfortable. (I get that from my Mom. “Thanks Mom!”) But with this unusual longing, I have become less of that inviting “Little Miss Sunshine” friendly girl and more of the Eeyore dreary type. The clingy, needy, SWF type person who is looking for friends. Anyone who understands. Not a very attractive side, I admit.

I don’t like this me. She does not often emerge, but when she does, I know I need help. Fortunately, I can help myself. I have developed strategies and employ them regularly.

This neediness is a side effect of the Expat Blues I wrote about and cast away yesterday. As a result, I had a stellar day.

If you see that side of you becoming dominant, it takes a bit of effort, but being positive and determined can make all the difference in the world. Do not be a victim of the Syth lord. Stay strong.

Yesterday started out so glum, and I turned it around with being Thankful. Then, I had some setbacks. I could have let them color my day dark… I stopped myself and decided to put a positive spin on it. That made all the difference in the world.

I am still smiling at the turn in the road I made. Triumph! The Force was strong with me today. And I learn from my victories as well as my mistakes.

Sometimes the dreary days are too much for us or circumstances are not as easy to change. But just remember, time changes things. With enough effort, choosing to be happy, or finding the bright side you will change yourself! You can become a beacon for others to bring them out of the darkness that overtakes them.

In this ongoing struggle, you never know what kind of cool intergalactic friends you will make along the way. Maybe you will meet them in a time of need. Yours or theirs. reach out. Hopefully not too much translation will be needed. 😉

You will be stronger and braver in the long run.  The need to cling to others in that not parasitical way diminishes.  I still want to share my experiences with other expats and have that long talk over coffee, but the dark longing that is accompanied by bitching and complaining is gone.

A healthier psychological outlook has come again. Optimism is back and I am me again. This is an ongoing struggle. But each challenge is as real as each victory we have.  The choices we make shape our lives. Choose to be positive create a bright outlook for yourself and others.

Here are some songs that can help you with a brighter outlook on life:

 

 

Yoda Quotes for the Expat Soul

There is so much truth and so much to learn from the great Star wars movies. Just as I was writing another post, I realized just how much I could transfer into my life as an expat. Most of the characters are expats there, and are learning to cope on new planets. (I know we feel that way sometimes.)

Going for the real wisdom, I decided to write a post on the insights of the little green guy we all know and love.  Thank you Yoda for all this goodness.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” 

Rule number one of expat life! When moving to another culture, almost nothing is the same, the way you think must change to accommodate the new truths.

“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

You must acclimate. You came here for change, a new start, a new job, a new life, a great adventure. Do what you meant to do or go home.

“Named must your fear be, banish it if you can.”

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with all the changes,we cannot name what it is that is overtaking us. Find some quiet time, meditate, and riddle out what that fear is. And do what you can to overcome.

“Already know, that which you need.” 

We know our basic needs, find a way to meet them. That is often a challenge in the expat world. But with perseverance, time, and some help, you can find what you need. Sometimes we even learn to create it ourselves. That inspires more self-confidence. What a Win/Win!!

“Fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate is the path to the dark side.”

Fearing the change, the different, the challenges is only going to weaken you. Make you vulnerable. Muster the courage to face your fears or you will be taken by the dark side. Expat depression is the evil we all battle. Becoming bitter and angry as a result is the equivalent of going to the dark side.

“To be a jedi is to face the truth and choose. Give off light or darkness, padawan. Be a candle or the night.” 

This is the fight we all fight. In our times of darkness, we make a choice. Choosing the light may be hard, but it makes a better world for all of us.

“Calm you shall keep, carry on you must.”

Even in trying times, when the rug is pulled out from under you and you don’t know which way is up, keep calm and carry on.

“If no mistake you have made, losing you are. A different game you should play.”

In the expat game, it is inevitable to make mistakes. We learn large lessons from them. We are humbled, and wizened. We become stronger and better for the next lesson. It is just around the corner. If you aren’t making mistakes you need to get out and make some! They make for great stories later in life and great blog posts now! 😉

“Much to learn you still have my old padawan… This is just the beginning.”

The learning curve is constant. Once we overcome one thing, we have not finished. We have never arrived. What would be the fun in that? This is an exciting adventure. When you are tired, get some rest and be ready for the next lesson.

Dobar Dan Y’all! and may the force be with you!

 

 

 

Giving Thanks to beat the Expat Blues

In just a couple of weeks, the American Thanksgiving holiday will be here. This post is about giving Thanks for what I have… and to kick my Negative Nancy into a Sunshine Sally.

I know how lucky I am to be living in Europe. The ultimate trip. Living abroad! I am Thankful I do not just dream about going somewhere, I actually have!  Now, I just have to deal with the repercussions of the big move!

I am thankful for this Blog!  It is a place where I can come to say anything. This is my therapists couch and my clay on a wheel. The end product may end up looking like my second grade clay bowl, but it is mine. and I love it!

I noticed today, as I talked with my two closest friends, I was being overly critical, judgmental, and negative. It happens often when I feel myself getting depressed. It is the kind of expat depression that doesn’t last long, but can feel like an eternity at the time.

Expat Blues before a holiday or at anytime is not out the norm. I just Googled “expat depression” and a slew of sites popped up, But first as I was typing in my search words it offered more… expat depression China, Germany, and so on.
I have heard of Beijing Blues, and having a Shanglow day in Shanghai. I would add Balkan Blues or Serbian Sadness. It happens and you just have to find your way out of the jungle and move on, knowing that you do love this place, just not all the time.

I am Thankful that the internet lets us commiserate. Knowing you are not alone is comforting.

I am Thankful that I get to work in Nature! For numerous reasons the great out doors is home. When I am in the fields, I don’t feel judged. I am able to just be me, breathe the fresh air and enjoy God’s creation. Usually, I am getting a great workout at the same time.

Incidentally, getting out of the house and working out are the too many things that kick expat depression in the rear. I am Thankful that I get to do that often!

It is when I come back to town, I feel like an alien. I feel that I just don’t fit in here. And as I just read in Sunny Sanguinity, ” I don’t always want to be different. But I want to be me.”

I don’t always mind being that stranger, sometimes I relish it. I am Thankful that being different isn’t always bad. 

I am Thankful for the internet! I can message people online and skype! Hallelujah! I need to do that!

I am Thankful for my Family. All of them! I am a lucky girl to have so many loved ones.

I am Thankful for Friends! I love you all! Thanks for being there for me.

Ok, I need to go back to bed… T minus three hours till I get up… I am Thankful Munchkin goes to preschool!  

I am Thankful that I get to go cuddle with my hubby and little one in a King size bed!

I am Thankful that writing this post lifted my spirits and I feel at peace! See, being Thankful helps!!!!!!

 

Munchkin Monday, Smarter by the Minute

I can almost see her brain growing. Her personality, wits and charm are taking me by storm. Her cuddly sweet nature melt me.

Her life is making me less and less selfish. My needs are secondary, unless I need to pee… even then it is questionable.

The learning curve is steep. I slip often. I know she comes first. We play on the floor, make tents in the bed, drink juice, and pee OFTEN. Other duties can wait.

Trying to find time for other things is a challenge. How can I accomplish anything besides laundry, and dishes when I am making food and drinks and putting her on the potty over and over again. I am not an organized person, and that sucks. I need to get my head sorted out, but how can I when I hear” Mommy” over and over followed by a request for her doll or cakes and milk?

I know these soft hugs and adorable puckered kisses will not stay, and even though it is trying at times. This time is precious. My heart burst with love and I can’t get enough of her  wrapping her toddler body in a full body hug as I carry her up the stairs. I love the way she hugs my leg as I pull up her pants after she used the potty. These are the moments that make is all worth it.

I am so grateful for her learning two languages at once. It is extremely  helpful that she repeats things in on language and then the other as she speaks to Baba and myself. I learn new words much easier that way.

Holding her kitty is one of her favorite things. I am sure the feeling is not shared by the kitty. Though the kitty still purrs away in its discomfort.

Village life~ The village Baba’s always stop us to chat and love giving her flowers from their gardens or some sort of candy. Munchkin relishes having a bouquet to carry or getting a sweet. Who doesn’t?

Because she is getting smarter and pickier, I am learning tricks from Baba, and I sure that goes both ways. I think my relationship with Baba is growing too as a result.

She is so comfortable with Baba, I have no trouble leaving to work now, and she goes on playing and chatting away.

The Baba’s say that caring for children is the sweetest job there is. Most of the time I agree. But every Mama needs a break for their own mental health. Upon returning to your baby’s smile after a short spell away, that is a little piece of heaven.

 

 

 

My list for a happier life! Rated “E” for Everyone!

Lately, I have been on a mission to find a way to live my life more fully. I was overwhelmed for sometime after moving to Serbia. Getting my “Sea Legs” has taken more time than usual. I think having a child pull your attention does that.

Now I have found some purpose just looking for one. Ironic right? But I know that won’t last long. I must find something to do here besides the farming bit that I love.

In the mean time, I have found that one must choose to be happy. One must look for the things that will do that. Here are things I have found super helpful to me as an expat but would do for anyone anywhere. Really.

They are in no particular order. Lots of them will work in tandem with another!

Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. This can be difficult in some places. But it can be done if you are dedicated. I do this all the time in my “new” small town. I find gorgeous sites locals don’t even notice. They ask me, “where is that house?” Of course they have passed it a ton of times, but have forgotten the beauty around them. I found the same to be true when i visited the U.S. last winter. We really do become immune to beauty that is all around us.

The walk will clear your mind. New ideas or solutions will come to you. Being outside is good. Get out of the house! You don’t know what or who you will discover.

Make friends with your neighbors if you can. But really. Make friends. It is important to your well-being.

It is important to have good friends. Sometimes that friend is a dog or a cat. That is o.k. Chances are, you will find someone. Be open. and make some friends!

Helping others can do wonders for you. It really makes you feel good to do things to help others. it could be just listening to an old person who is lonely. It could be opening a door for someone. Moving a snail from the sidewalk to the grass. Whatever! just help someone!

Give Giving is like helping. It really does make us feel good. Even if it is just a smile, give your smile to a stranger.

Smile. Even if others don’t smile back. Living in Eastern Europe makes this a bit challenging at times. People don’t smile back. They don’t even wave back at my little girl when she waves. But she keeps on waving. And I keep on smiling. I hope that the smile does something to brighten someone’s day. If not, it gives some sour old coot something to wonder about. “why was that weird lady smiling at me?”

Adopt an animal. Animals bring an immeasurable sense of joy. An animal friend can limit loneliness to nothing. It can ease culture shock to a minimum. I know this from experience.

If you live in a place where you can have an animal and there are street animals. Adopt one of them. Take food with you when you go for a walk and share with your homeless furry friends.

Listen to music! It is medicine for the soul. Find some fun stuff. Upbeat Dance music always does it for me. and Dance it out!

Write! This blog is a huge bit of therapy for me. It is an outlet, a diary, a chronicle of my life that clears my head and gives me purpose. I hope sometimes that it helps others. But there is no doubt, it helps me beyond belief. I am happier because I write.

What makes you happy?