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. 😛

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?

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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!

Foreigner Follies ~ Scolded by the preschool teacher

Lately, I have been feeling much more settled. Munchkin is in school. I have some me time. I am meeting people. I have a sence of being part of the community.

Feeling more at home doesn’t mean you aren’t still a stupid foreigner.

Preschool has presented some new challenges. (I like to think of them as learning opportunities.) I am abysmal at the day-to-day knowledge of preschool norms. Culture shock slaps me in the face a lot in this new adventure.

My little monkey is usually happy to go to preschool, but some kids are not. There is one little boy who cries every morning. Two days in a row, we sat beside this little one while taking off the coat and changing into slippers.

The first day, I tried a little distraction. The English language is a curious thing to a Serb tyke! So, I talked to him in English and then translated in Serbian. He was confounded and forgot about crying for a few minutes at least.

Munchkin went to her class happily. From the doorway, I coached her a bit to find a seat (in English.) The gorgeous little tots stared at me with fascination. One little girl was so astonished, she got up from her seat and started walking towards me. I think, maybe she thought closer proximity would solve problem and she would understand?

Rabbit trail…..

It is funny how our brains work when it comes to foreign language. Just last week a friend and I went to a little store to get something and the sales lady tried to “help” me understand by yelling in Serbia.   Sadly, it didn’t help. 😉 We left the store and shared a good laugh.

Back to the story at hand.

Enter the second day of the little boy crying without stop. There is no distraction possible. As I relieve my munchkin of her coat, gloves, shoes and change her footwear to the appropriate slippers. It is all very Mr. Rogers, minus being at home.

The sobbing boy’s  distress became too much. Munchkin began to cry as well. Crap.

Thinking of being helpful and distracting my sorrowful little one, I take her to the loo to wash her hands. She stands at the sink and as I start to help the tall beautiful teacher comes in talking so fast. It startles me, and it takes me a few seconds to understand that I am not supposed to come into the bathroom with outdoor shoes on… Yes, this is a bit like China.

I am taken aback and don’t really know what to say. She is a new teacher and I think she may not know I am a foreigner with limited language skills. In Serbian, I say, “I am an American. I don’t understand. and I didn’t know”. Well beyond overwhelmed by the abrupt admonishment, I leave the bathroom as not to offend anymore. I keep walking down the stairs and out of the building.

My brain is mush with embarrassment, anger, and the puppy dog hanging its head with shame feeling. The anger is with myself for not knowing, and with the scolding.

Of course, I give it more thought than I should that day.

The next morning the hall is empty as I ready my girl for school, the teacher rounds the corner and makes a bee line for me. She immediately in English says she is sorry. I interrupt with my own rambling apology. All is made right.

Poor Munchkin will probably suffer through this a million more times…

And then I will write about it!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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?

The Balkan life….

Sometimes when I am in our village I have blogging ideas. I may be in the field, or stuck upstairs waiting for my Munchkin to wake up. Often I am with out pen and paper but the trusty IPhone is there willing and able with a note pad! I write my thoughts and now I am sharing them with you.

Notice the lady with the large heavy hoe. She is wearing the traditional Baba uniform. The Black skirt and stockings. The large wool sweater and probably an apron. The foot wear is like a thick rubber ballet shoe. Normally they are accompanied with thick homemade wool socks that cover the stockings. This is good for all types of work. Even working the land.

 

 

Chinglish at Chinese Walmartka

hmm, rolling pin is such an in appropriate name! Movable stick is so much better. but wait, aren’t most sticks movable? (this pic was used in a previously posted blog, but I couldn’t help to included it!)

The largest local store in my town is a Chinese mart. I will call it Walmartka as many products or words we know here in Serbia have been slightly tweaked. Barbie is Barbieka, English is Englesky and Chinese is Kinjesky.

Chinese products don’t often tweak the words but I think they may translate Chinese to English without the use of grammar. Or as best they can. China is a big country with lots of people. I can’t speak for all of them. But I can “admire” the attempts at my native tongue. 😉

Monster High knock offs. So many things wrong with this picture, I will let you sort it out. My favorite part is the little orange and black sign in the middle that says, “The best gift for your children.” Hmm, doubt it!

This Serbian Walmartka is offering goods that are mostly poor quality. It isn’t the same as in the U.S. The goods we get from China are great quality. In fact the great majority of our goods are from China.

In spite of the fact that the Chinese or Kinjesky stores here don’t have the best goods, they have the largest selection at lower cost. There is little choice but to buy such products for most. The real deal  tech goods or kids name brand toys in more quality boutiques will make your jaw drop or your head tilt like a confused dog.

Miley back when she was sweet. circa 2008 Yep, band new in the package and waiting for you at your local Walmartka!

I confess, I do shop at the Chinese stores. When I enter the other stores, I am always put off by the aloof sales people.

In the Chinese store, lots of Serbian workers are milling around and always offer to help. I work on my Serbian, check on the goods and sometimes get lucky finding something of quality!

For instance, after going home to the US and buying new measuring cups because I had a crack in the large one I used in Serbia, I came back to find just what I needed for months in my local store.

No, it wasn’t there before I left! 😦

The Hi pad was my absolute fav of this trip. I can’t help thinking it should have pot leaves on the front. Since it is a child’s toy that would be inappropriate.  Still, I can’t help but imagine a stoner trying to figure out this mock IPad.

When I came home, I thought I would check some boxes left over from the birthday. They didn’t disappoint!

So nice they said it twice! I just want to correct that. “Turn the power switch for light and sound!” ooh aah!

I saved the best for last.

wait for it…

Naughty child looks like an adult…? Available to fly and jump while playing. Feel comfortable, happy and balanceable. Fly? really? I must try this when I want to be happy!

I can tell you, Munchkin is very happy with her toys. They are really great gifts. My fun with the language has no correlation with how much joy they bring her.

My use of the word Chinglish is not a slam on the Chinese. I know my Serblish is worth many more laughs and I am grateful for those who make the effort to understand me. I hope that some locals have had a good laugh at my Serbian attempts. Laughter is good for the soul.

Dobar dan y’all!

Celebrating 2 years of Munchkin!

Blowing out candles at the big bash!

Last week we had a Serb style celebration for the little “halfling”. It turned out perfect with very little stress on my part as I realized I could do little to make it something I am used to.

What is the point of swimming up-stream only to be eaten by a grizzly? none, so I let the hubby do it all. I am not stupid. I have discovered that I can do the decorating and leave the rest to Baba and the Muz so they have the kind of party to which they are accustomed.

 

I made one comment on wanting to make cupcakes instead of having a cake, The reply was a firm, “NO!” There must be a cake and Baba will make it.  We all have out traditions, and apparently the Muz likes his mom’s cakes. After she makes them I always remember why. They are so YUMMY! Millie thinks so too! A two piece minimum for her at all times is to be expected.

It was a particularly long day and the little one had to have a nap during the 12 hour ordeal.

Sleeping Beauty. Notice the lace dress. She had to take it off later for more casual jumping friendly atire A.K.A. tights and a t-shirt.

Twelve hours is not the usual time for a birthday party here, but this was not a normal party. Baba and Deda arrived at noon. Some friends arrived early and then we had some very late adult arrivals. Kids had been gone for ages.

Parties here are more for the adult males than the kids I reckon.  They will tell you it is for everyone, as they ignore life around them, talk loudly, drink excessively and notice little around themselves.  I will never get over the culture shock attached to children’s birthday parties I suppose.

The end of the long evening close to midnight. Clearly a two-year old Birthday party.

I am really glad I am not a Serbian female as I was merely the baby sitter rather than the chief server and baby sitter.

four little monkeys

As it was last year, Jumping on the bed and making the bedroom into the new playroom was part of the celebration. When they all decided to snuggle I couldn’t resist the urge to capture the moment digitally.

I think that is the best part of the party. I love that kids are so ready to snuggle and the parents let them!

Here are a few more for the Bloggy Birthday album:

cool Bday headband!

Balloon Showgirl!

Nomm Nomm YUMMYness

On to planning for next year! Hello Pinterest!

Serbian Sightings_Ninja Nuns

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store. Everything was business as usual till two Orthodox nuns came in. I have only seen them at a monastery previously. On a day when the weather could melt any normal human, I was shocked to see this couple out and about in their black, almost burka type dress. They must have been sweltering! OR they must have super human properties that shield them from heat. I would like to believe that later. It is more interesting.

I was taking the pics on the sly…. as a result, they are BLURRY!

I was at the counter when I heard the cashier giggling under her breath remarking about the Ninjas. I didn’t understand what she was saying as she was speaking Serbian at the speed of light, but the word Ninja was repeated and I finally got it.  OMGosh!! the Nuns did look just like Ninjas!!

I must tell you, that these words are very rude in Serbian orthodox culture. I hope this will not be an offensive, but humorous post. I have nothing but respect for these ladies.

Ninja Nuns sounds really cool too! Imagine the series that could be written about that. In my mind I can see a battle that is a mix of old world orthodox traditions mixed with the interworld battles of  Mortal Kombat. I must say, I fancy that idea more than a “Flying Nun”!

My only regret on this post is that I could not share the mental images I have conjured. Maybe this video will do as a substitute.

Ninja Nun video!

In my search for that video, I found that the idea of Ninja nuns is not a new one. There are LOTS of ninja nun videos. But nun are very good.

The only thing that could have made the sighting even better would have been to see those two in this VW hot rod that was sitting outside.

A worthy Nun-mobile if I ever saw one.

It was even sporting a Serbian flag. Now, all it needs is an Orthodox Cross painted on the hood and we are good to go! Oh, that and a Ninja Nun theme song!

On a very serious note:

My hope with this post is not to offend, but to look at nuns in a light that shows the good work they do. They are selfless in their work for God. This demands the respect you would have for a ninja’s training and skill.

I have studied Islam, and I do know the burka well. It is worn by the women for many of the same reasons the nuns wear similar costumes. At the root it is modesty and the desire not to draw attention to themselves. But, when they are out of their natural habitat, so to speak, it does exactly the opposite.

I have lost my groove

No, not my dancing groove. In fact, I dance now more than I used too. The Munchkin likes no LOVES to dance and so we do, Daily! IT is my blogging groove that is missing. I have been back and forth so much between the village and town, then with the PMS from hell and trying to balance my new summer life… I am all out of sorts.

This is a big holiday weekend back home, the kick off of summer and the big working season at the beach where I used to live for the last 20 years. (Enter Cha-ching cash register sound here!) I think that has a lot to do with my mental state.  I miss my job, friends and my old life in general.

At the same time, the work on the farm here has picked up. I have written about most of the work I have done, NOT MUCH.  I go with the intention of working. Millie throws a fit and all agree I should stay with her. 😦 It is frustrating. I am used to working for the family, providing, now I just babysit. though I guess it isn’t babysitting when it is your own child. But it leaves me feeling useless. unproductive. confined. IT Sucks!

People here in Serbia say it is the best job there is. I think I have even heard that at home too. but I would agree to disagree. I want a job that makes money.

On the other hand, people here ask me when I will put her in Preschool. and I think, “WHAT?!” she is only 15 months old and I don’t have a job. Why on Earth would I let someone else raise her?  What a juxtaposition of thoughts, huh?

Furthermore, Consternation in my marriage is dismaying. We had agreed we would work on the farm. My lack of work there is the problem for both of us really. and my desire not to go to the village is also a problem. But as I wrote above, often I end up staying with the munchkin in the cold village house. unable to help. This means more time with the blessed in-laws who I don’t dislike. It is just exhausting.. more than most in-laws because we don’t speak the same language. Even though I am not technically working, it is stressful and I get so tired. (So, why bother even going to the village?)

Compounding the difficulty of going to (not) work in the village, we don’t return home when the work is done, we STAY for dinner. The food is getting repetitive and not what I want, in spite of my mother in law trying her hardest to please me… It is also what the hubby has been missing for years. HE is in hog heaven, literally as most of the food is PORK!. for me it is just more time stuck in the cold village house. I think to myself, “What did I get myself into. How long can I do this?”

The time in the village is nice (imagine the italics is a sarcasm font). but when we have a day “off” in town. it is a day to work for me. laundry, cleaning, fitting in coffee with friends if I don’t just sit in the apt recuperating from over stimulation. I think it is all getting a bit too much. it is affecting my desire to write sadly. The writing is my life therapy. my link home. and I am slacking.

Am I complaining? or am I just a complaining? lol Maybe I just need a kick in the @$$. Mea culpa.  Adjusting to a new life takes so much time! Damn this Culture shock.

These are my consolation prizes (for my living here and your reading this rant). The vistas on the way to the village are pricele$$.

Now that spring has turned the hills all green and flowery, the entire drive is eye candy.

Lush greens, purples, and reds so vibrant you can taste them.

And fields of poppies that are like a painting providing the calm of opium.  (strictly metaphorically speaking obviously or I wouldn’t have had to write this post!)

Hopefully this will work as an enema to work all the crap out of my brain and get on with my life. Bring on the sunshine!

Happier posts to come soon.
Dobar Dan