Flat Stanley Stories Part 2 Stanley Starts School in Serbia

Today, Stanley is reminiscing on memories of his first days at school.
From the start Stanley loved his teacher. He calls her Snow White. And if she was one of the Disney Princesses, that would be her! She even has seven dwarfs!! There are 7 students in her school! Coincidence… I don’t thinks so. Just like Snow White she is kind and orderly. Stanley learned the routine quickly and easily.

He made friends immediately. The other children were ecstatic to meet the new student from across the sea. Stanley doesn’t want to brag, but he thinks that Serbian hospitality is the best in the world. The little flat man had packed light and his friends noticed he only had one set of clothes, they got to work and made him a new outfit! How thoughtful they were! Serbians really are the most amazing people.

Stanley made some other flat friends and was thrilled to get to see them dressed in their traditional costumes. He loves the flipped up toes on the shoes!

Here is a picture of Slavica (Slavitsa) and Stanislav, Stanley’s flat comrades. They are into folk dancing and preserving the customs of Serbia’s rich history. They dance the kolo and enjoy showing off the traditional kit.

Stanley misses home from time to time, but this village is so beautiful, he knows he is lucky to have landed in such a comforting place. He loves the food and is gaining weight each day as the meals are so large with formal courses.

The meals start with salads, often from the garden outside. Then homemade soup that is so tasty. Drinks aren’t on the table until the main courses arrives. This has been a bit of a shock to our paperweight boy. But he has learned to get his glass before he sits down to eat with the family.

One meaty course with veggies is followed by another. Being a vegetarian would be a challenge in this part of the world. Here in the village, most people raise their own food. Knowing the chicken that comes to the table is quite and adjustment. For the record, Stanley wouldn’t mind if the attack geese from down the road ended up on someone’s table. They are honking terrorists! Plus they poop everywhere. Rude.

Finally, there is often dessert with coffee served separately. This part is taking some getting used to for him. Stanley likes coffee. Like most of his friends from the United States, he likes to have his coffee with his dessert so he just puts one to the side til the other arrives.

More on the coffee in the next Stanley Story!

Thanks for joining us for the second installment of Stanley stories. See you again soon.

Flat Stanley's Serbian Adventures part 1

Cao Mila,
At the beginning of the 2020/21 school year, our old neighbor asked if he could send his friend Stanley to visit us for a homestay in Serbia. We were thrilled with the idea. Soon after they sent Flat Stanley via post to us in our village. 

Stanley visits Serbia  January 9, 2020

Cameron sent his friend Stanley to visit his us in our little small {selo} village in Serbia.

There was a postal strike and he was left to wait in the post office in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia. Stanley slipped out of his envelope and explored the building it’s strange signs til the workers resumed a regular schedule. Soon he made his way to our home.

The village post office is only open two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday. Stanley arrived one days as I went to the post office to help our neighbor lady we call Baba (Grandma). Two times a month I go to the post office to get her pension for her. The post office is more than a mail delivery place. It is also where people go to pay bills, collect pensions, and social security. 

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Upon arrival we gave him some spending money so he could get some necessities. These dinars equal about $12.60.  Dinars is the name of the currency in Serbia. One hundred dinars is about one dollar.

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Getting a 5 in School is the equivalent of getting 100% in school. Serbian Santa Claus is called Deda Mraz that translates to Grandpa Frost

Today, Stanley visited the village school. The school is called Kaplar. It is a branch of the larger school in town with the same name. This school is home of seven students, one teacher, the school caretaker, and the driver. The children walk to school from around the village and are occasionally driven by their parents. There are no snow days. Last year, schools around the country for a week because the flu season was so bad, but that isn’t normal. This years COVID-19 pandemic trumps that event and it is almost a global phenomenon.

Each morning the caretaker (Jovanka pronounce Yovanka) gets up early to come to the school and start the fires that warm the schoolroom and the school office. This is only normal in the village school. There is a central heating system in the large school in town. 

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The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet

The holiday school break ended Jan 8 and I was able to take some pictures of the decor left up for the new years and Christmas celebrations.

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The teacher is immensely artistic. She decorated all the schools windows!

Back to present day…..Stanley in Serbia will continue to bring you many adventures. He will not be returning soon to the U.S. since the Borders of Serbia and the United States have been closed to travel following the spread of COVID-19 an international pandemic.

Since his arrival, he has visited Greece by way of Macedonia and later made a trip to Bosnia. We look forward to sharing his cultural and geographical exploration here in Serbia.

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The sign says Happy New Year!

Send us requests if you would like to learn about any part of Serbian life! We would love to share all sorts of things. You can help by giving us some ideas!

Cao Mila!

This is a great post on Expat life and mental health… plus this is an amazing blog! Italy Gave Me PTSD — Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

Italy gave me PTSD, guys. Just kidding. Mostly. As you know, I’ve been struggling with what can best be described as a total mental breakdown that came out of absolutely nowhere. Or so I thought. Turns out, I’ve had symptoms that Indicated I havent been alright for a while but I didn’t pay much attention […]

via Italy Gave Me PTSD — Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

They played Taps

Eleven months have past. I have just begun to morn. Grief is strange, we all deal with it differently. I just can’t believe how long it has taken me to feel this.  I woke up early this morning from a dream crying. In the dream we found my grandfathers instant camera. I was sobbing quietly as I awoke and continued crying.

I have had this title (They Played Taps) in my head since his death in January. But, no words could make it to the tapping fingertips to a black and white blog. I wrote it in my head lots of times.

Recounting the military funeral. The precision of the  military grave yard soldiers. The shiny bugle playing his last lullaby. It was a warm Florida January day. Spanish moss waved in the trees. Maybe my Grandma was there waiting for him to join her. Maybe they danced and looked on us all with pride and love.

My Grandfather had been in the Air force. He went to Japan during the Korean war. He married my Grandma just before he shipped out and they had a two hour honeymoon that didn’t sound very romantic. Their love lasted longer than the 60+ years they were married.

Now, I miss them both. I am sad my Grandmother’s namesake won’t know them like I did. She was conceived a month after my grandmother’s death.  But, I am so happy her birth gave my grandfather such joy. He danced when she was born. That gives me such joy and heartfelt sorrow.

We were all blessed to know them. We were taught by their love and companionship how to love. Even how to enjoy one another. I loved as a teenager seeing my Grandma blush like a schoolgirl when my Grandfather patted her bum. She smiled and said, “Oh John”, with embarrassment.

We were taught generosity and compassion. Going back to the Late 70’s, I remember getting a haircut at age 5(?) and seeing a Vietnamese father of a refugee family come into the house. Grandpa was giving them beds to settle in their new home.

My Grandparents were the founding members of the church I sat in to many times. The Great Aunts and Uncles were all around the church. Every Sunday there was a family reunion. I never knew how blessed I was to be surrounded by so much love.

I loved sitting in that church, hearing Grandpa sing out the hymns he loved I remember  sitting on Grandma’s lap, playing with her necklace and chewing the gum she gave me. The smell of her Emeraude perfume.  His scent for me was the V05 hair creme he used. Both take me back in a heartbeat.

In the end, Grandpa was sad for a long time. He missed Grandma so much. The loss of independence wore on him. He was not happy. I am glad he passed on to be free from the feeble body and reunited with so many he must have missed from his younger years. Most especially, Grandma.

This is the first Christmas without either of them. It is sad. But It will be joyous to watch the little namesake learn the joys of Christmas, like I did at their house so many Christmas mornings.

My heart is heavy, and I fight back tears thinking of them.  I know I was so lucky to have the most amazing example of a loving relationship.

Merry Christmas to you all. Hug the ones you love.

She likes to cuddle

Every morning, I get up before the family. I get as much done as I can before the cuddle time starts. You see, when the Little gets up, it is time to cuddle. It is my job. She is the Cuddle Monster. A professional cuddler.

I know this won’t last. Some day I will miss the monster cuddles. So I suck it up and enjoy the postponement of my to do list. Even though it is hard sometimes and I am aching to get “things” done. They will get done and I will be the mommy cuddler.

It is a good job to have.

Life from Scratch

Starting over in a new year is like receiving a gift. A new beginning. I have lots of dreams, wishes and hopes for 2016. Getting back to writing is one of them.

I am not making resolutions, but I have lots of goals. Music, health, education. And mostly to be a great mother. All the other skills will help with that goal.

A guitar has magically come into my life, and I am going to learn how to play it. I consider it one of my two great Christmas gifts. The other was an old sewing machine. Both will stretch me and help me to be more creative. They are great gifts for my brain.

Since developing the brain of  my Munchkin is an ongoing goal of mine, I cannot see how I can pass up opportunities to learn. I mean, how can you be a great mother without being a great teacher? Great teachers are also great students. I will be forever a pupil in the school of life.

For my own accountability here is a list of learning goals I have.

Improving myself as a world citizen, wife, mother….

Learning to play guitar.


Improving my language skills in both tongues

Being more creative

Expanding my skills with the sewing machine

And learning how to cook more wonderful HEALTHY foods

Strengthening my relationships

And basically, Learning anything new!

I would love to hear about your goals. Please feel free to tell me in the comments.

I wish you all a wonderful new year! I hope you will take hold of your life and live it fully! May God Bless you my friends!




Brace for Re Entry

On the plane, I got a migraine. The kind only a good upchuck will relieve. I was grateful to vomit and then go back and rest my head on the Mr’s shoulder. I was feeling much better by the time we landed. Needless to say it was all from stress of moving back to the homeland. AND holding a heavy tot for hours while she slept.

Before that at the border, they didn’t want to let the Munckin go with out citizenship papers since she didn’t have a visa in her US Passport. It didn’t matter that we had her father with both his Passports giving her auto citizenship standing at the counter explaining. … with a bit stress, prayer, and hard talk with the border chic, we finally were allowed to pass.

Here are a few random re entry observations…

The Munchkin is fun to watch as she quickly acclimates. Still the hubby is pleased. He has his own little Serb to talk to all the time.  🙂 A new concept.  lol  He (we) made himself his own little national companion! HA!

She rolls her r’s in English. No accent, but still manages to sound like a little Draculaura.  Hello monster high fans!! P.S. she still calls Monster High, “Scary Ups”. We don’t know how she came up with it, but she is three. and it works for her.

I am getting thrown for a loop by the normal things, like “Where do you live?” Hmm,  “No where yet!” People are confused buy how I get flustered with that easy inquiry.

Family reunions are great and ease the stress. But little things like food from a “new”country are trying for a small person.

Munchkin doesn’t like cheese that isn’t white… a total foreign concept. No sharp orange colored cheddar for her! But, ice cream is the international language of love.

I am spelling things oddly. My brain is lost some where in Europe. I just spelled Kindergarden > kindergarten.. that is the German spelling. I never lived in Germany, just saw lots of German stuff in Serbia.

Maybe it is just the change from Turkish coffee to drip coffee that is affecting the brain?

Needless to say, my head is a mess.  I was so sad to leave Serbia, and happy too. and now it is all a mess in my head. Sometimes, I just barely manage to hold back tears of confusion and so much emotion at returning home and leaving the other one.

Now, it is a challenge to find housing. I have been gone for years. No present address to list for rental applications. We are staying with friends. our former address was out of country, and the one before was from ages ago.

Thank God I have great employers who will have me back.  And a long work record with them.

I can’t remember my phone number by heart yet. But will have that down soon.

We have bought a car, now we need another one.. but a house would be great first. All in due time. What I mean by that is, NOW! I want a house now!!

5 days and counting. Jet lag fading, new life on the horizon.

Final thought, HOME is a complicated word.