Flat Stanley a.k.a. Marcello does Serbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Year Crafting for my Princesses

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

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

 

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

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

Ktown Choir an open Letter to my Mom

Mom, I joined the choir.

You know that all the years I was in school and beyond I was in the choir. I really love to sing. I remember singing along to the radio as early as 3 or 4. And of course I was dancing too. I just couldn’t help myself. Really, I am not kidding.

I began singing in church and doing solos when I was really young, now I think about it. I was probably seven or eight when I sang “Away in a Manger” my first solo at church.

Joining the choir here in Ktown was initially an attempt to improve my Serbian. But, I found I am just filled with joy that I can sing again. The people are so helpful, and I am thrilled to meet new people. The whole choir thing has made me feel so much more normal. I do fear my stupidity with the Serbian language will get old and they will soon tire of helping me. Crossing my fingers I am not overly needy.

Here in Serbia, often I feel like only half of me. Slowly, all of me is beginning to show up.

Nerves strike me often, and I make stupid mistakes while I am singing. I think I will feel at home soon. I practice at home with you tube videos when possible. Some of the songs move so fast that it is a bit of a challenge to read the text in Cyrillic and sing along. All this, while reading the music. But it is good for me. It stretches my brain.

Below is one of my favorite songs in Cyrillic… Just so you can see what I am working with. Here is the photo credit: http://vaspitaci.blogspot.com/2014/01/blog-post_8605.html

 

When I first walked into the choir room, they were already singing a song. I must tell you, I was stunned, it was in English. Immediately, I was a bit bummed! I came to the class for Serbian!! But it was only the first page and then it was onto Latin.  🙂   Soon enough we were off to a another song and it was in Serbian.

I am really enjoying the singing as well as learning traditional songs that speak to the soul with their beauty and culture. I can’t help but smile when I hear the music for the first time. It is just gorgeous! Again, I feel like a tourist in an exotic land with so much beauty, and I get to take part in the action!! Freaking cool!!

Me with mascara running! Photo credit: http://bajo-el-mar.tumblr.com/post/17137369879/about-to-spam-you-all-big-time-with-dogs-available

Foreigner Follie Choir edition….I am pretty sure last week, I went to class with mascara all over my eye. The Munchkin (who is almost three now, is obsessed with snow and the idea of snow ball fights!) had thrown some snow at me when we were walking home from helping out at an English class. I though nothing of it and dropped her . Then, I went to choir. No one said anything. So maybe I am wrong…? But when I got home after choir practice and looked in the mirror, I looked like I had a black eye. LOL Munchkin- 1 Mom- 0

Learning songs it is a challenge. I still don’t know what the words mean. That makes memorization a bit more challenging! But I do love a challenge!

I am a little fearful I won’t be good enough. That my mistakes will be too much. Our choir is very good and the director is amazing! I was a bit shocked as this is a small town. But, I hope they keep me. Even if I am not good enough to sing in the upcoming events that would be ok.  This choir is feeding my soul. I really love it.

We are learning old Serbian classics, and they are really really beautiful. Just like the people.  Serbian people are just amazing. Check out the link below to hear one of these great classics. Hymna Sveti Sava

I love you Mom, miss you lots. XOXO

Natural Beauty

We have been working in the fields for the last several days. It is hard labor, but the beauty that surrounds us is so great that the load is lightened. As I sit on the back of the tractor, I gaze up at the blue sky and see planes on their way to somewhere. A hawk glides through the air and then pumps the massive span up and down. I hear the wings in the wind.

Not just this part of my day that is beautiful. I spend so much time with family working as a team. It is really a special opportunity, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. 😉

My day starts getting the munchkin and I ready, gathering all we need for the village. Today there is some old food we can give to the dog, cat, and pigs. There are strips of bright-colored clothe I will tie around the seedlings we need to plant. color camouflage accounts for many left somewhere on the ground. A wasted of time and energy  after caring for them for a year in the nursery.

Our ride to the village has me in the back with the little one and hubby navigating the winding hilly roads. Munchkin likes to tell Daddy to go fast.

Our hound greats us happily as we get out of the car, and we go into the warmth of the wood stove to see what Baba has prepared. She is always crafting something so good. Kurpin Deda is one of my favorite treats.

It is milk, egg, and cheese drizzled over day old bakery bread and baked. She topped it with sesame seeds. YUM!

Munchkin finds her kitty, and Baba dotes on both of them. Here kitty gets to taste the yummy fresh pudding she has just made.

After some prep, the hubby and I make it to the field. Replanting trees and some large-scale pruning is in order. One large forest tree is blocking light from our growing seedlings, and we have to trim and remove the branches.

A pleasant surprise awaits us as we get to the field,  the clanging of sheep bells greets us and just over the hill I find a small flock of nervous sheep.

The call of the cuckoo bird and the sheep bells are the background music to the work. When we finish in one field, we move to another. I look on at the village from the back of the tractor.

 Well planned rows of sprigs turned trees are becoming brawny. Soon we will see the fruits of out labor.

As the sun wanes, we return to the house. I take off my mud caked boots and change out of the field warn clothes. Munchkin greets me with a smile and “MOMMY!”

We all sit down to a well planned feast. Salads, soup, fresh bread and lots of meat. All fresh from the farm.

Dobar dan y’all!

stock foto from last Christmas… I cheated.

Cabbage Patch Kids

It’s harvest time! This week we were getting down and dirty in the garden. The only things that were naughty were the phallic looking or overly suggestive carrots. Shocking really how pornographic they can be.  Sorry no pics… I was afraid I may be reported for vegetable porn.

First, we conquered the cabbage patch. Profitable work, and fun ta boot! The hubby picked and peeled the balls of leaves. Cleaning off the layers of snail eaten bits and then passed me the heads to stack in the wheel barrel.

We filled three or four barrels. I toyed with calling this post “catching cabbage”. Rain has soaked the cabbage heads and made them heavy. As I caught them, they smacked hard against my fingers and palms and a spray of water would fly past.

After so much rain we were lucky to have a good harvest, but still we lost some of them to rotten soaking messes that stank of gooey, slimy leaves. Yum!

The next day it was celery root, beets, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. To be sure, my hands are dry and rough after digging in the clay for soil that is is our garden. It sucks the moisture right out of the fingers. I will digging dirt out from under my nails for some time.

The smell of  the pigs premium export filled our nostrils. We listened to them serenade us with their grunts and squeals from inside the adjacent pen inside the barn. It’s amazing how the smell of pigs and cows are the same the world over.That scent takes me back to childhood. It is strange, how it makes me feel at home.

Serbs always ask me how I like going to work in the village. I guess they assume it is foreign to me. But it is the place I feel most at home. My days of walking the streets of NYC have not spoiled me for life on the farm. I love the country life.

Our village kitty especially brings me joy. Lenka the kitten was our shadow, meowing time to time for attention and cuddles. At 3 months, she is already earning her keep catching mice! What a great little cat!

 

This is the kind of sweet sweaty labor that makes coming home at the end of the day, and taking a shower feel so good.

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Back to the Balkans


Hey all! Three months have passed in a flash. Back to the norm and back to blogging.
Writing has become kind of an addiction. I really missed writing and reading others posts.

Summer was a crazy, visiting family, and working hard.

Now, There are large lists of things to do. Soon, Munchkin should begin preschool. I can spend time really studying Serbian.

Our biggest new adventure is fixing up the family home that we will moved to eventually.
Now that it is empty we can begin to fix it up! 🙂 New windows, a heating system, and some interior changes will be made. My Pinterest pinning frenzy has begun!
For now I will leave you with some pics of our future home. I am so excited!!

The terrace view. Not grand, but a great place for coffee or tea!

The downstairs entrance… I am crazy for the doors!

I will give you a tour of the inside soon. Hope you all had an amazing summer! Happy Fall!
Dobar Dan Y’all

Thankful in Serbia

Lately, I have been thinking of how Serbia is changing me. I hope in a good way.

I am Thankful to have found a husband who wanted to move to a country where buying land and working it is much easier than my home land.

I am Thankful to have made some awesome friends here.

I will be Thankful when I have time and energy next fall to really study the language. I regret that I am not fluent in Serbian.

I am Thankful to my warm and loving Serbian family. I am blessed to have them.

I am Thankful for the wonderful friends I have here. I wish I had more time to spend with them.

I am Thankful for the friends I have at home. They are a great support.

I am Thankful and overjoyed to be making expat friends online. I feel a lot let lonely having friends in the same time zone.

I am Thankful for the new Chinese girl I met the last week. Finally, there is another expat for me to talk to. I hope that I am helpful to her.

I am Thankful that she likes my little one and the little one likes her as well.

I am Thankful for the little girl  who teaches me how to be patient and kind.

I am Thankful that I have been able to spend so much time with my little Munchkin. Watching her grow is really amazing.

I am Thankful I have a husband who understands how hard it is to live outside his home country. It is truly challenging at times.

I am Thankful for those challenges. They make me stronger.  Hopefully I will also be come wiser and kinder as a result.

I am Thankful I live in a beautiful little town.

I am Thankful I get to work outside. The great wide open is really inspiring.

 

I am really Thankful my iPhone has a notepad for me to record ideas and thought out in the great wide open.

I am even more Thankful for the camera it has so I can share photos of the places that inspire me.

I am Thankful to God for giving me these great opportunities, challenges, and blessings. God is good.

U.S. Insurance Laws and Expats

I have been thinking lately how the new insurance laws impact expats. Especially since the new insurance law has been passed.

Expats who go home for a limited time may also be interested. I found these two articles in The Wall Street Journal for anyone else who may have the same questions whirling around in their heads. I welcome any comments. It is getting so much more complicated to be an expat. Oh, and don’t get me started on taxes.  I can’t wrap my head around all that mess!

U.S. Citizens Abroad Avoid Health-Law Mandate

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/10/02/u-s-citizens-abroad-avoid-health-law-mandate/

Obama Health Law: Failure To Comply Gets Costlier by 2016

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/09/30/obama-health-law-failure-to-comply-gets-costlier-by-2016/

 

Join my Expat Book Club

Hi all!

I have joined a few FB groups in the Belgrade area, but I am at a loss for real community. I recently had an epiphany… I could start an online book club! It is an effort in sharing ideas, posting reading revelations, making friends, and finding direction for expats who have been uprooted and are trying to get their “sea legs”.

It really doesn’t matter what country you are from or where you are in the world. You just need to be able to read the book and share your thoughts on what you have read.

The first book we will read is A Career in Your Suitcase by Jo Parfitt.

The book has a great website that sports a blog, stories, resources, events and more. You can see it all here!

You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Career-Your-Suitcase-Practical-Meaningful/dp/1909193143

 

Now in its fourth edition, it has had amazing success. I think we will find it the perfect book for Expat inspiration.

Please join our group here.

 

https://www.facebook.com/expatbookclubserbia

While we were gone Part 1

Little Munchkin learned a ton of new words, and how to interact with other kids of all ages. We stayed at my brother’s house. There were five other kids there. Five cousins to cuddle with, tease, yell at, and mostly learn lots of new things from.

But first, I must say she was a stellar travel buddy, All except for the part when she peed on me on the first flight from Belgrade to Frankfurt. 😉

At an airport somewhere in the U.S.

The entire trip was great. The time with family, especially the cousins was Brilliant for her and them. She learned lots of English, and even taught them a little Serbian too!

We did so much!

She lifted weights with the oldest cousin.

Most of the time she asserted herself and said the  that big N-O word with the youngest cousin “R”. But they learned to get along by the end of our trip.

Like I said she learned a lots of new English words. Her new words are: horse, shy, shoes, up, pucky (belly button), baby, knock knock, done- with and an emphasis on the “n”, stuck,  pee and poop. She also says “go” when when she wants to leave or you to go where she wants you. I can’t remember the rest just now. She also learned new names. Most of the cousins. The cat Kay Kay, and even a family friend. But for her Aunt Lissa she just called her “Mom”. Classic!

Her favorite food was Oscar Meyer’s cheese filled hot dogs. I cannot lie they are good! I gained 5 kilos or 10 lbs eating all the good stuff I can’t get here. I don’t regret that a bit!

One of the biggest changes Munchkin made was going from being absolutely opposed to holding hands to loving it! That is making life a bit easier.

The above pic was taken on our way in to the auditorium where a Christmas music presentation was held. My middle niece “K” sang and we all enjoyed it.

We attended a few wrestling matches and got to see two of my nephews on the mats. That was wonderful.

I got to go to my old church and see several old friends. I also reunited with a very good friend from middle school.  🙂

This little road trip had a diamond in the rough awaiting us….

A patriotic fellow sporting the Confederate and national flag via his shirt and a decorative plate bumper for his bicycle.  When I leaned out of the passenger side window to take a pic of the view from the front he let a rebel yell and flashed all three of his teeth. He is quite a catch ladies, but no word on if he is single or not! 😉

More to come.

Dobar dan Y’all!