English Cartoons and Children’s Literature as English Tools

When my daughter was a wee bitty and I was a bit isolated in the winter cartoons gave me the break I needed to get things done. Some were just trash, others were creative and educational. I will share the ones that we loved the most for other mothers of young ones with links for them on youtube.

My absolute favorite was Aquanauts. This is a scientific cartoon about animals from all over the world that live in the sea. The stories teach you and your child about marine life, pollution, geography, and much more. All the while you are listening to many different English accents from many English-speaking countries. This is a fantastic way to learn many new things at once. I HIGHLY recommend it!

The next cartoons are Peppa Pig and its sister show Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. I am sure you have heard of Peppa pig. This is a seriously famous little cartoon with simple amusing art. The sister show is just the same with different characters. Both are fun-loving, puddle jumping, belly laughing, and adventurous. I didn’t mind hearing either one in the background of whatever I was doing.

Beyond cartoons there a MANY children’s books on Youtube that are educational, read by native speakers, and introduce books in a super fun way.

Here are two of my favorites.

Fancy Nancy has many books and adventures. Little girls love ❤❤❤ Fancy Nancy.

Pete the cate is another super fun book series that teaches a myriad of useful things with excellent artwork and EVEN music. I can’t get enough of this crazy cat.

Last but not least is one of my childhood favorites, Sam I am by Dr. Suess. I have read this book until I had each prepositional phrase memorized. It is a great way to learn so many English words and meanings.

I hope you enjoyed this list of goodies.
Please don’t hesitate to like this post if you found it helpful.
If you have Questions or Comments, please leave them below. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

Smoking Kills or maybe just Mortifies

We all have embarrassing moments, I think I may have more than most. I make a lot of mistakes. But sometimes those moments are inevitable.

Let me tell you a very memorable story (for me at least) relating to language barriers and a prime example of “Why literal translation isn’t always the best translation. ”

Let me set the scene, I had just arrived in Serbia. I was having a coffee on the street as in the norm. I pleasure I relish here. I am sitting with my sister-in-law and her friends. ☕

My Serbian consists of the most vulgar words and phrases I learned from my husband and his friends.

Enter the kindest Serbian soul. 👼He joins the group and we are introduced. His English is limited, but he makes a great effort.

The kind soul politely offers me a cigarette. He literally translates the question from Serbian to English. “Do you suck?”❓ 😱

My mind reels!!! What does he mean? Why would he ask me that? What do I look like? Then it hits me. He is asking me, “Do you smoke?” 🚭

This is really funny now, but at the time, it was really disconcerting. These are the pitfalls of a literal translation. Be careful my friends.

Do you have a story to share? What mistakes have you or others made that make you laugh in hindsight? I look forward to hearing from you!

Jumpstart Your Year!

For the last 6 months to a year, I have become more tenacious about achieving goals.

I know I am not the only one looking for ways to BECOME better, smarter, wiser, and inspire others. 💪

👉If you are trying to improve your English, this can help you as well! It is an excellent multitasking opportunity. Watch and listen to these inspiring videos that will help you learn while you practice your English listening skills. Win/Win!

One of my favorite ways to learn is to watch Ted talks and educational videos on youtube. I take notes and post the most important things on a board beside my desk.

Recently, I have been a bit overwhelmed by the number of books I want to read, but I realized that finding the time to complete the list would put a dent in my other pursuits.

Then 💡 I realized I could find quality summaries from youtube videos. SCORE! ⚽

Here are two of the books I have been wanting to read. And the videos that have cut my learning time down to a fraction.

You can also look for other summaries that will help you hear the same tips in another way helping you to really grasp the concepts!


For the record, I still want to read the books, but NOW I can implement the wisdom of the books immediately. In turn, I will see personal improvements in my life in the next month rather than in the next year when I finally get around to reading the books. Huge win for me!

Without further ado, here are 3 videos to encourage, enlighten, and inspire!

Atomic Habits by James Clear 💣

The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma has inspired me to get up earlier and has helped me to achieve more each day. 🔥

One more! This video gave me a new perspective on rejection and resilience. What I learned from 100 days of rejection.

I hope this helps you. I found this video very enlightening. It’s funny too! 😂

I hope this has given you some wisdom and motivation. I had to share it because it really helped me to jumpstart the year. Happy New Year everyone!

Empowering Men and Women with Better English skills through mindset adjustment.

Lacking confidence is a tall wall that must be scaled when learning English. Confidence is a huge part of learning. I think we all have times when we are not feeling as though we are up to whatever task that comes before us.

As women, we often have more to overcome. Before we can even begin to work we must complete the household chores. We are tired before we begin.

Finding things that strengthen us and help us focus on our goals is key to success. Let me share one of my favorite empowering videos. It is long, but it is powerful.

I hope this will empower you. I want to give you the confidence to help you achieve your goals.
https://lnkd.in/dJZdtgpx

#learning#success#work#share#empower#help#womenleader#womenempowement#wolfpack#confidencebuilding#Englishlearning#Englishcoach#Englishcoaching

You don’t know until you KNOW

Homemade wool socks form the neighbor’s sheep. Home-made canned cherries.

This applies to so much in life. I have found the things I believed as a child and even as an adult were not as they seemed time and time again. These misconceptions are multiplied when you live internationally. Some concepts are placed within language, culture, and tradition. We don’t question them. They just ARE.

There are so many unwritten rules that we learn almost from conception. But they are just perceptions. One way of seeing or doing things. Yet, they are presented as an unwavering truth.

I remember, my brother-in-law having an oil stain on his shirt. I had been told my whole life that if an oil stain is dried in a dryer, there is no hope of removal. The stain is set. He had not grown up with a dryer and never heard this. He worked on the stain and removed it. I still don’t know how! I was astonished. But this was just one of the revelations to come in the coming years as one straddling countries, beliefs, and traditions. It is truly eye-opening!

The need for slippers.

My grandmother used to say, “You will catch your death of cold.” I never found this to be more true than in a Serbian village house in the winter. The homes here are made of cement. The walls are thick. If they have been left to chill in the winter, they are a veritable ICEBOX!

Enter the fear of being barefoot and the need for slippers ANY TIME OF YEAR!

In my home country of the U.S. slippers are optional. Often, the homes are warm and well insulated. On our first few extended trips to Serbia, we lived in an apartment. The heating was more than adequate. We were on the third floor. The heat rises and the floors were not even slightly cool. Then, on our fourth and longest trip to Serbia, we moved to a village house. This was a perfect place of freedom during COVID quarantine, but I learned the need for slippers is real. The cold comes up through the ground. The ice monster wraps itself around your feet swallowing you like an anaconda. You are chilled to the bone. Regaining your vital warmth is essential. Slippers are the barrier that may protect you from this deathly chill. Slippers are necessary if you are in this style of home. I now KNOW the necessity of slippers. Though, I still love bare feet in the summer or when the home doesn’t threaten my soul with a lasting chill.

When we first arrived, I noticed immediately that slippers were a huge deal. When entering a home, you remove your shoes and are given slippers to wear. I like being barefoot and declined to the shock of some of the hosts.

I am sure they have all experienced the bone-chilling cold I told you about. There are many old wives’ tales associated with that. (We won’t venture down that rabbit trail at this time.) Thus the deep-seated fears associated with bare feet.

Maybe there is something more I don’t know. on being barefoot in this area. But I do KNOW being barefoot where I come from is normal, healthy, and it just feels good in the grass, sand, and on a nice carpet. Where ever! I love being barefoot whenever possible. Cue the Shakira song, Wherever whenever!

In many European countries, air conditioning is seen as unhealthy and dangerous! There are lots of rumors of how it has caused illness or even killed someone. I have heard these protests first hand from Europeans fresh off the boat, but just like I had no idea of how frigid the cement block homes of Serbia could become, the newcomers to the U.S. do not know the dangers of the heat in our homes. Some poorly insulated old homes become ovens cooking the residence. Without air conditioning, people do die. The deaths are added to the statistics and are reported on the news. 

When heat waves hit, large air-conditioned buildings are available in every community for those without essential AC’s. The elderly are usually the most in need of rescue. They are the ones who succumb to the high temperatures.

That same brother-in-law I spoke of earlier used to tell me how dangerous air conditioning was. He now lives in Miami. I am sure his opinion of central air has changed immeasurably with life experience in one of the hottest cities in the U.S.

What you “know” may be subject to change. What your friends or acquaintances “know” is the same. Be careful of your judgments, be kind and forgiving of yourself and others. Also, be kind and forgiving of me as I post my perceptions of Serbia. I am aware they may be wrong. My perceptions may change. Many already have.

You really don’t know, until you know.

Our Airbnb Chalkidiki Greece

Not long ago we spent 10 days in Greece. It was glorious. 

Let me tell you about our place. It was wonderful. Airbnb link is below. You can check out the pics of the interior on the site.

A place for rejuvenation. ZEN Tranquility


My husband found this place while searching for a vacation spot in Greece. We looked at the pictures and dreamed about getting away. This place didn’t disappoint.  The farm is a peaceful setting. Olive orchards surround the property, there is no buzz of traffic. It is quiet. You can hear yourself think.
The hosts are great communicators. We never had trouble waiting for a response. They have excellent English skills. 

We let them know the approximate time of our arrival and they were waiting. They opened the gate to their spacious driveway ask we pulled up! We were greeted immediately upon arrival and shown around with info about the place. We were told to let them know if there was something we needed. 

They also gave us some fresh eggs from the chickens and some luscious flavorful tomatoes from their own garden. SO YUMMY! One of the perks of farm living. 

INSIDE: The great room encompasses the bed couch and kitchen area but it isn’t crowded. The decor is thoughtful, relaxing, and the colors happy and peaceful. This was a family trip. The three of us. Our 9 yr old loved the place. She was just as happy and comfortable as we were. They are very family-friendly!  

The bathroom is SPACIOUS! This is a self-service spa with a jacuzzi tub for two. The amenities are top-notch. 

Our hosts invited us for a pizza picnic on the deck. It was scrumptious.

There is a sea view from the picnic/ grill area. I sat and enjoyed a good book just outside the doors while enjoying the breeze and singing birds.  I enjoyed the view. The hills roll down to the sea covered in ruffled rows of olive trees. It is a treat for the eyes. 

The kitchen is stocked with the necessities. And if we need anything we were encouraged to ask. The hosts are genuinely kind, helpful, and willing to give travel advice about things to do locally.  We even enjoyed a night out with them. They introduced us to a seaside village seeping with history. This well preserved in a tourist town about 30 min away offered great shopping, an old church, and a museum. The ancient architecture and seaside restaurants were divine. 

The conversation with our well-educated tour guides/hosts was just as wonderful. Thier English is Excellent! I can’t say enough good about them. They are wonderful and so is the place. We came back to a great night’s rest after an authentic night out in Greece. Clean, serene, and the beds and pillows are super comfy! I have rarely slept so well when on vacation. 

The beach is just a short drive away. We found a beach area that is sparsely populated even during the peak season! We went every day to enjoy the sun, the small waves, and the warm breeze. My idea of a great vacation! 

The lidl grocery store was an even shorter drive, we stopped to pick up necessities when we needed them. 


I highly recommend this place to others and hope to return for another visit. This is a gem!

Here is their link to the Airbnb site. 

Learning Serbian or Chicken Breast is not Pileci Sisa

A few years ago, I was trying to order a grilled chicken breast and chicken thigh from a roadside grill. I had learned that batak is the word for thigh, but I was at a loss for the proper word for breast. I know that boob is sisa. But something told me that wasn’t the right word for that part of a chicken. I mean, we don’t say, “I would like a chicken boob sandwich.”

I usually want to make people laugh, but I guess I think the lady working the grill looked like a tough audience to try out my comedic Serbian. I saw an English speaking friend through the windows of a eat-in restaurant next door and went to ask for the proper translation.

The proper term in Serbian is grudi. I haven’t forgotten. Since that day, I know that batak is thigh, and that chicken breast is not sisa. It is grudi.


What did I learn? I learned that something funny helps me remember. I learned that a bit of pressure helps me to learn. I learned that with a bit of effort, I will improve.

Even as I am writing this I am learning. I was going to type cica. I put that into the google translate, it came up uncle. Sisa is boob.

Learning through comedy and fun is the best way to learn. I have also learned through trauma, but sometimes I just block that out. It is really not a good way to learn.

Here is a great youtube video/TED talk I watched given by a language expert. This explained to me my own difficulty in learning during my first trip to Serbia. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and feeling broken at the transition and events in my life at the time. This video spelled out in story form that being relaxed, happy, and passionate about what you are learning is the key to learning and learning faster.

Find what works for your. Find out how you learn best and run with it! I learn by doing and writing most. Learning is a journey. Make goals, have a plan and move forward. Do it!

My personal experiences in learning the Serbian language vary.

One of the things I have done was to put a poster of words to learn on the bathroom door. It was effective. I sat and had a little free time to learn. This was especially true if I had eaten something that had a little to many beans and my stomach was learning how to process them. This was before cell phones with internet.

In addition to my own ingenuitive education, that chart on the bathroom door also gave my company a laugh when they visited my loo. From time to time, I would hear a bit of laughter coming from behind the door as they viewed my study sheet!

During my last extended visit in Serbia, I joined the choir. I spent a few hours learning the language by immersion. It was effective and fun. It was not methodical. It was random. I do think that sort of learning has great value. But this is best as supplemental.

For a comprehensive education in Serbian I would recommend learning from a professional.

I am sure you remember teachers you either liked or loathed in school. I would wager learning was easier and more fun with the teachers you liked. Find someone who cares and also suits you.

Carve out a time and dedicate yourself to learning if you are serious about it. I have not done that yet, but I am about to engage in an online study.

About twelve years ago, a friend recommended taking classes from a professional Serbian teacher called Magdalena. I was not ready to hunker down to learn the language yet. Now, I am and I have checked out some of her YouTube videos. They are great! Here is a link for an older video she has made that is very helpful. You can see her personality, desire to help you learn, and give you more than dry book learning education.

Liking your tutor has a huge effect on your learning experience. I find that Magdalena is caring and real. She is not full of herself like many professors here. Her approach to education is refreshing. She has learned many languages and has found some of the best ways to teach through learning herself. This is a great asset.

SERBONIKA

Twelve years later, Magdalena has lots more experience and she has an online course. Here is the link for her course. Serbonika is a solid course for learning. For the record, I am not paid to give you this link. I just have great faith in her work, I know she is passionate about it and has been developing her skills and course for a very long time.

I plan to study Serbian with Serbonika. I will report back here with my experience and views on the course. Wish me luck, diligence, and determination! I need it!

Please leave a comments, advice, or tips, tell me about your language journey. If you have questions, feel free to ask, I will try to help if I can! Thank you for stopping by.

Cao Mila xo

The Poopy Potok

There are a few vocabulary words that may come in handy when reading this post. First, potok means creek. Selo is the word for village.

FYI all puns are intended. Here we go.

My first hint of the crappy truth came one day as I was foraging for walnuts down a hill by the local creek. Bits of trash was strewn about the creek bed, an old horses skull looked up at me from a ways off, and then… A few yards away, I saw an outhouse precariously perched over the tinkling creek. I was a bit shocked.

Immediately, a school field trip to Cowan’s Gap Pennsylvania State park came to mind. I remembered the park rangers telling us if we are out in nature, never defecate near water. He gave valid scientific reason about spreading diseases. E-coli is one of the bacteria found in fecal mater and probably making a dangerous cocktail creek. That memo never made to these here parts.

At that time, I was living in a nearby town. We have done some moving around and now are in a little selo a.k.a. a village. Since seeing that lone wooden water closet, I have come to see that practice was common here. There is one other stilted out house that has pilings leading up to the tall narrow waste station pimped out with abandoned car rim decor. Fancy digs for the village.

Imagine making your way down the hill to the mosquito infested creek to relieve yourself only to become a victim of the buzzing little vampires. You would most certainly be itching your booty bites for some time to come.

Now, most people have indoor plumbing. Still, the pipes that leave the home that carry the sewage, often carry the waste, straight down to the stream. Hmm. This took me some time to grasp.

Village trash is also often dumped into the streams and over hills in hidden or not so hidden locals. This really vexed me. The land is gorgeous, and the people don’t take pride in what great beauty they are free to behold.

As I pondered this, I remembered that back in the 70’s trash was dumped willy nilly in the Pennsylvania countryside. And, when I lived in NY, I recall having a conversation at the bank of the great Husdon river about how laws had been made to clean it up. The Hudson was once the same as every waterway in Serbia. People threw their trash and companies emptied waste directly into the river. No fish survived the pollution.

Years later, the Hudson has a thriving ecosystem of birds, fish, and other forms of life. The river is beautiful. The banks are a lovely place for a picnic or stroll. But it took a great deal of effort and education. And that took time. That is what Serbia needs as well.

Slight rabbit trail… Just this week, for the first time in 4 years, my hubby has cleaned up the potok. Literally, 4 days ago. It was an eyesore, and now it is only slightly less than pristine. I mean, there is still poo but no trash. 🙂 It’s the little things. Again, pun intended. 😉
This post has been a work in progress and just as I was polishing it up, without a word to the muz he cleaned it up. Hallelujah! Angels are singing over here! You cannot imagine my joy. Really, you can’t.

Back to the regularly scheduled blog….

My thoughts of these and other questionable habits have been pondered for years. I used to be critical and judgy. Over time, I have come out the other side of these thoughts. I realized, that the privileges of living in a land of infrastructure and laws that preserved nature’s purity was never granted in this region in small villages. There is no trash removal as in the city. Villages are occupied mostly by the ederly. They have less. Most don’t have cars in my region.

Life here is more precarious than the old wooden outhouses perched above bubbling brooks.

This country has survived many wars and renaming of the land time and again. The people are resilient, they offer gracious hospitality, and the land is a sight to behold. Serbia is a fantastic place. Infrastructure will eventually be put in place. For now, I love the land for what it is. Every land is a work in progress as are we.

Grace and understanding of the social system, economy, and the cultural traditions and their history is key to living here. I am learning. Hopefully, I am becoming a better human.

Find the beauty where you are and love one another.

I am over the Currier and Ives meets COVID winter the part dva

FINALLY spring is arriving. The birds are chirping, blossoms are are blooming, and the chill is dissipating. THANK GOD! Yesterday was divine, I continued painting my barn front sunshine and flowers mural after I taught a few classes. Today is a blustery partly sunny partly grey day. Not as outdoor friendly. I shall stoke the fire and write. Oh and teach.

Lately, the covid restrictions have ramped up despite the well organized vaccinations around Serbia. We will be staying isolated. Living our Currier and Ives meets internet lives. Let me share a bit of what I mean.

Wood Burning Woes

All winter and for the last few years, I have been posting village pics that make people reminiscent of the days of yesteryear. Trust me, often it isn’t as cool as you think. I am longing for homes well insulated and heated not by a romantic fire that I must feed like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me Seymore! I am over it!

All winter, I wake to feed the animals and the fires. Upstairs and downstairs I stock the wood supplies and keep the fires going to ensure our bodies stay warm.

It starts out cozy and moves on slowly to monotonous. We are beyond that now, and I am exceeding grateful the warmth and signs of spring’s divine return. Halelujah! Imagine a chorus. ‘Cause that is what’s going on in my mind.

I was just sharing these same thoughts with two other expats that live in villages. The Canadian shared that he had put some logs in the cooking part of the stove to dry out. Dry wood burns better than wet wood and he had seen a neighbor baba do the very same. It is a brilliant idea. But the wood had dried in time and then caught fire. Whoops! He quickly moved them into the wood burning part and aired out his home, thus inviting the cold back in that he was trying to kick out. LOL Ah, we all have these funny, but not funny stories.

Mother Goose doesn’t wear a bonnet here. She has brass knuckles and bears her teeth. Her bite is worse than her honk!

Every week, I make a short trek to the neighbor dairy maid turned baba. She is always wearing the baba uniform. The typical garb is a dark long sleeve shirt, a wool sweater, an ancient skirt paired with an apron, thick black tights, completed with the black rubber slip on shoes.

When I venture over during the day, I am on guard. The neighbors geese have been let out to roam, free range without fences. They are just one of the village terrorist groups. The miniature Mafia dogs up the hill are another. Then there are the little school house security dogs. Both canine crews are short in stature with Napoleon complexes. But lets get back to the geese.

These geese take freedoms with the neighbors yards that are not sufficiently fenced. Ours is one of those poorly fenced. Yesterday, I found a huge goose poop right in front of my door. I am sure that is the furry of a scorned goose. The retribution from being chided harshly with a big stick as I passed by on my way for milk. This is the terrorism I face on my routine walk for milk. The geese gang up on me and harass me as I pass by. They would and HAVE bitten me when my guard was down. It hurts. So, now, I always grab a big stick to scare them off. Sometimes it keeps them running away depending on their mood. Other times it does little to deter their savage need for blood. Seriously, you would think they were carnivores!

The winter’s early sunset makes for a very cold, walk with the phone flashlight lighting my way. Our dog Ginger insists on accompanying me and we set the neighbor dogs to barking as we pass by. The evening post-milking pickup is usually quick and I head home lugging 4 litters of fresh warm milk.

Upon my return, I boil the milk and let it cool until morning. I bottle it and freeze a few liters using only one bottle for immediate use.

The spring has elongated the days and my jaunt to retrieve the milk is now lit by the setting sun and I am grateful, even if the aggravating geese are still at large. I am also thankful that the milk is fresh and it is whole. No additives or preservatives. Straight from Dobrila the cow.

Currier and Ives is not as sweet as it looks my friends. The Golden days of old are only that way in our memories or on canvas. Trust me!

As always, try to find the good and beautiful where you are. Be kind. This will make each day golden for you and others.

New Perspective

Twice this morning, I have had revelations about how things appear and how they are not as they may seem to our eyes. 

 First, it was all about perspective. The cat and the table. Millie was getting ready for school as I folded laundry. She could see our little kitten in front of her as she put on her tights. I could hear the loud Harley Davidson sized purr of the contented kitty cat happy to be inside on a cold morning. I asked where the little calico was. Millie was baffled that I could not see the blissful bathing furball. She could not see that her perspective was different from mine. The cat was right in front of her. For me, the cat was concealed by the coffee table.
For some, the truth can be so plain to see possibly even illuminated. For others, it may be obscured for any number of reasons. Be kind to others and give grace to those who can not see the truth you can. AND Keep in mind that maybe you are blind to some truths Maybe there is a coffee table in from of your eyes. Do not be so critical of others who can see things from another perspective. 

The second was the reawakening of the fire. I had started the fire in the morning. Lack of care had it dwindle down to smoking coals barely giving heat. I added some dry corn cobbs. Moved the wood and added a fresh dry splintered log and left to feed the fire upstairs. When I came down to return to work at the computer, the crackle and snap of the fire had returned.

Remember to feed your fire, and do not doubt the fire in others. Encourage and feed the tiniest embers so that you or they can come to blazing bonfire. Don’t forget to make s’mores! 

Remember to feed your fire, and do not doubt the fire in others. Encourage and feed the tiniest embers so that you or they can come to blazing bonfire. Don’t forget to make s’mores! Celebrate your victories and self improvement with something sweet.