I am Expat Blog of the Month!!

I regret not being very active in blogging lately. There is just too much going on … preparing to move, working on the place before we leave, etc!

I was thinking about what to write next and then I was asked to be the blog of the month over at expat blog!! I accepted and now my interview is up and ready to view!! You can check it out here!

I love that site, and joined almost as soon as I became an expat!! I have found other bloggers I love reading, through them. Expat Blog makes it easy to find expat bloggers all over the world!! You should check them out!!

Will blog again soon!! I miss writing, but I have been just too tired to think!

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Munchkin Monday~ Counting and Colors

Munchkin is talking and singing and learning. She watches and copies. Her English is surpassing the Serbian at the moment, but that is because I am her main teacher.

Twinkle Twinkle (little Star is the only real song she sings, and those are the only words to the song she says as well. It is just “Twinkle twinkle” over and over. and I could listen to it forever.

 

Colors have been concurred, though purple remains to be a challenge. It is just another pink to her.  Is that normal?

I love that she points and says, “Lellow car, red car!” She is so excited to learn and colors are fun.

Baba and Daddy are working on her Serbian and she is learning that a little more slowly, she understands but is more likely to be verbal in English. Accept for the words, what’s that? or rather, “Staj je to?” She says it all the time and sometimes just to hear herself talk.

Because of her love of spiders, and the numerous times she has watched “Itsy bitsy Spider” videos on her kindle app and on Youtube, she now has an obsession with water spouts. They seem to be placed every few meters on the downtown streets. She notices all of them!

We are working on numbers now and if she is not yet grasping the concept she is getting that there is a rhythm in counting. I am noticing numbers everywhere and now and eager to show her and get her excited about them.

 

I think about it even when we are in the garden or the barn. Yesterday I saw this thin piece of wood and could help but make a clock for her to see the numbers while she was outside playing. Grandpa added the DOXA. I think it is a Serbian brand clock.

Everyday bring new and exciting adventures. She is more and more aware of her surroundings and I must take what she says to be true more than before. If she says “spider” there probably is one.

Last night as we were driving home she said, “Daddy Whoa!” when we passed a car. The bright lights and fast pace shocked here. It was so funny to see that she notices now. Her exclamations are hilarious. “Uh oh, oh dear, oh no” are quite common.

“Ne”  and “NO NO NO” are the words she will use to stop you if want to interfere in a task that she knows is a no no. And Bezi! is my favorite. She says that when she wants you to go away.

She knows when she is doing things she need to keep quiet about, when you discover her deeds, she will speak with authority and determination.

I found her yesterday in the pigs water dish, elbow deep.. It was just sitting out there soaking in the sun. being cleaned for the next round of pigs we raise. Millie of course can’t resist a “cuddle” (her word for puddle). She was splashing and enjoying til mommy the killjoy came along!

When I inquired what she was doing, she said, “Mommy NO!” I knew I had to stop the fun without even seeing the water dish from behind the make shift recycled skid fence.

 

The first Vasher of the season was this past week. Munchkin had her first Merry go round ride after a good bounce on the trampoline. She wanted me to join her, and I wanted to too. Sadly, it was not allowed. 😦 

The Merry Go Round was her favorite. When I took her off the ride to head home, she was fine at first and then the crying started. It didn’t end all the way home! What fun pushing a stroller through  hoards of people who keep turning to see why your little one is crying. Glad that is over!

Teaching her has been going really slow lately, because we have been in the field more than anything else.  It is serious labor, but exciting to see the progress a few people can make in the land. Hard work really pays off in the long run. That is really an all around truth.

 

Back to the grind…

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

 

Back in the Balkans

We arrived back in Serbia about a week ago. After a few days of relaxing and recovering slightly in Beograd (Belgrade), the drive home and back to our real life was welcome. Having the in-laws waiting for us was a little more than overwhelming. I thought I was ready for it but I wasn’t. Needless to say, I was less than cordial. Not proud of that.

I was really missing my family, wishing I was still with them. Munchkin’s reaction was another story, she has been thrilled to have her Mommy and Daddy, and seeing Baba was icing!

Returning to Serbia has been bitter sweet,  accent on the bitter. Little Munchkin got a serious cold the next day, making getting back on schedule and beating the jet-lag impossible. The silver lining has been two all night movie nights! Fun!

I am in better spirits now and the Munchkin’s health is improving. yea! We will get back to our normal lives soon. I will be able to write about our awesome trip home and share some stories. 🙂

For now, I will leave you with my favorite pic from the trip.

Cousins!

Recovering Energy

Sunday was the Big day, 1400 sour cherry trees planted. Gathering all the seedlings from the garden was done the day before. The big day we started out at 6 AM with three tractors pulling two wagons, and one large corkscrew digger thing to dig the holes.

Seedlings were stacked in the wagons and the crew took seats and rode the bumpy wagon to the fields. There was another lady, her and I trimmed the roots to prime them for the new soil and fertilizer. We joined the men when that job was done.  Planting was really hard work, making sure they were in straight rows takes time and patience.

On the way down the hill to the last field there was a little excitement as the tractor began to slide down the hill in an expedited fashion. Control was gained rapidly and the roller coaster butterflies were squelched as quickly as they began.

The last field was the smallest and went super fast even though we had lost two workers. They had asked if I wanted to leave as I was a female (I guess?). But, this is my field too, I will work it! So I stayed and was happy to see the job done.

After the long day, there was a very large feast prepared by Mama and Aunty Slavica! It was awesome, and loud and so smokey. The best part for most was the roasted pig!

I opted out with the munchkin, we went home early. I savored the quiet and fresh air of the condo. It started to rain just after we got home. It was a long steady rain that will soak the cherry trees and melt the fertilizer, feeding the little saplings. 🙂 Yay!

We had about 10 people working hard to achieve the goal. Thank God for great friends! I wasn’t even doing the really hard work and all I did was lay around yesterday. I know the team has to be hurting!

Today, I am a new woman. And I have a break to write while the little one sleeps. 🙂

Preparing for my last class tomorrow and figuring out what to pack for the little one and myself for the next month+ are my next projects.

This little Mama is overjoyed to go home!!! Making plans with friends for reunions is a big priority. I may or may not be containing the drool that pools in my mouth as I think forward to Thanksgiving! YUM! Pecan pie, green bean casserole, and the rest of the fixings are coming to mind. My belly growls even though I just ate.

Bring it all on!

I hear the whimpering munchkin duties calling now. Naptime is over.

Dobar Dan Y’all

Let them eat Cake

This is really a yummy apple bread, but in Serbia, Bread isn’t sweet and this IS!

I realized a lot of expats like myself are at a loss when baking abroad, I was! It is always a good bit of trial and error. Even when you use someone’s tried and true recipes, if the ingredients aren’t the same. The end product most certainly will not be either.

I have found that using recipes that I have never tasted before are better for me. I have no expectations. For instance. I could make something that I know and love, only to be disappointed with the outcome of perfectly good tasting cake. But when it doesn’t taste like what I am used to. 😦 I am not happy.

Now, I go to allrecipes.com and find a recipe that uses products I have access to here in Serbia. Or sometimes I use Pinterest. This recipe was on Pinterest, via Eva Bakes blog. She makes it with an extra topping, you can check it all out here. The topping is extra work and lots of extra calories. No thanks! this is yummy enough! I use an extra cup or two of apples. But that is all I have done to modify the recipe.

With out further rambling, here is the recipe that I get loads of compliments on! It makes two 8 inch round cakes.

Apple Bread (Cake)

Preheat your oven to 350 F or 175 C

Lightly grease two 8″ cake pans

~5 or 6 cups Apples I used the ones from our apple grove. I don’t know the name. I peel, core, and chop them. I do this before preheating, greasing pans and such. Or I used some from the freezer. We had a lot of apples!!

~4 eggs no particular size. Whatever the chickens lay, I use!

~1 cup vegetable oil

~2 tsp vanilla

~2 tsp baking soda

~2 tsp salt

~2 tsp cinnamon

~3 cups flour

~2 cups sugar

1 or 2 cups walnuts optional. That would be even more yummy. I must try that next time!! I love a little g

Beat eggs till fluffy, add oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,and vanilla.  Beat thoroughly. In increments add the flour and sugar… Stirring adding stirring etc.

Add the apple pieces last and mix thoroughly. Then pour half the batter in one pan, half in the other. and bake for one hour. Probably one at a time, depending on the size of your oven.

Remove it from the oven when it feels firm to touch. It is best to let it cool a few minutes. Don’t wait too long or someone else will eat it all! This screams Autumn! sweet, moist, Nom Nom Nom!!

This is the wonderfully organic and yummy blessing of living here in Serbia!!

Enjoy!!

Dobar dan Y’all!

Photography Friday~ Fall in Vina

We pulled off to the side of the road when we saw Papa working on the tractor last week as we made our way to the village.

The Muz helped his dad while the munchkin and I explored the field and foraged for walnuts under a big walnut tree.

This beats pulling of to the side of a highway in NYC. The John Young Parkway may be a beautiful in some places, but not nearly as safe. But the Van Wyck expressway… fugetaboutit!. This is better in every way! Just a random thought that came to me as I compare pulling of to the side of the road here and back home. 🙂

This picture is from about a month ago, and it looks like something you would find in a history book. Time stands still in so many ways in Serbia.

Sometimes I can’t believe my eyes. And I think this is why at times my life seems surreal. Like I don’t live in the “real” world. I feel out of touch with modernity and what is going on in the outside or western world.

Such a contrast to other places I have lived. In New York, I felt like I was always up to date and enjoyed the fast pace.

In Maryland, I loved the relaxed beach life. And in California, I experienced a culture shock living on the left coast. Every place has its benefits, downfalls and beauty. You just have to find the joy in where you are.

I find joy in the beauty of the wilderness in Serbia, the wonderful people, and the antiquities now featured in story books back home.

I get some really cool surprises sometimes. Like this!

I found a small long ago disguarded antler laying in the forest while we gathered wood for the winter. Then while taking a break from the work sitting in the shade I found a little feather. This is the kind of stuff that makes my day. Simple pleasures.

Oh and these stickers never cease to give me a bit of mental mirth!

I hope you find pleasure in the simple little things too.

Dobar dan Y’all!

Whatever Wednesday~ field work

Yesterday, we literally were working in the fields. I saw three field mice when I disturbed their shredded corn husk nests. The pair of us, my man and I were picking up piles of corn stalks to stack and use later in planting our baby sour cherry trees. I also saw a tiny lizard on the same field.

The hubby and I made quick work of that small field and soon we were off to harvest walnuts. A very long stick was used to beat the upper branches to free some of the clingy nuts, that was the tall man’s job. I scavenged on the ground for those who had already given up tree hugging. The pastures floor was riddled with nuts and I soon had my bucket full.

http://www.nuts.com/gifts/bucketsofnuts/walnuts.html (My bucket was much less commercial looking.)

Buck kept us company. Our “hot dog” style mutt, ran from one of us to the other and around the field and regulated the vehicles that passed occasionally.  Once he tried to steal some nuts from my bucket, but he wasn’t pleased with the taste.

Back at the house there were a few more trees to smack and more nuts to harvest. One of the biggest trees stands over a small ridge where a small creek trickles below.

The hollow under the ridge was covered with nuts, so we went back for our boots and went down the hill like Jack and Jill. This was the easiest place to find them with no long grasses hiding them, and there were so many!

While we were down there, the hubby found an old horse or cow skull. You don’t see that everyday. Well, unless you have a love for south west  art including cow skulls….

Soon the munchkin made her way down via Baba’s arms and when she saw me, it was all over. Back to Munchkin duty. Thanks God for naps that allow me to sneak away for a bit.

It is morning now, and she will soon wake from her long nights nap so I will bit you adieu for now and share more stories next time.

Wish me luck, I have my third TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) class tonight. I have been taking an online free class in TEFL course and I am excited I have learned so much to help me do a better job!! Can’t wait to use my new skills!! Thank you TEFL boot camp!

Happy Hump day Y’all!

Munchkin Monday

Clingy is the word I would use to describe my little sunshine right now. She looks up and me and smiles. Then my little love raises her hands and wiggles her fat little fingers as if to say, “PICK ME UP!” and she starts to whine if I don’t. This is sweet, but it gets old when I am trying to wash dishes, clean house, cook, or write my blog.

I love that she loves being with me so much. It will make the hours on a plane easier when we visit the U.S. in a couple of months!

SONY DSCAbout a month ago we were invited to a slava. The little one was serenaded by a man with an accordion. He sang Serbian kids songs to her. I think she enjoyed it. 🙂

SONY DSCShe also had fun poking the keys on the accordion. This is Serbia! What a fun cultural experience!

 

My First TEFL Class or Foreigner Follies TEFL edition

As I left my building to walk to the library where my class would be held, a swarm of termites like a massive cloud in a sci-fi film had descended on the grounds surround the library. I had been warned by the hubby as I exited the apt.

When I got to the Biblioteka (Library), I saw that most of the people there were now the landing pads for a ton of the flying critters. Initially, I tried to brush them off the unknowing people, but I gave up quickly. I saw I was fighting a losing battle. Throughout the entire class, I watched them crawl all over people. To be sure, there must have been some on me as well.

Once the librarian got them all in order with a list of their names and what schools they came from, and then she handed them over to me, left the room and shut the door. They were all mine. All twenty of them with only 3 boys in the group. I was a bit stunned as we had agreed 10-15 would be good for my first time teaching. But it really doesn’t matter. I am thrilled to have them and the opportunity.

I began with an alphabet game and followed up asking for words in English that began with each letter. It was a good warm up for me and them. I was able to see who knew the most English from this exercise, and leaned on the stronger students as interpreters when I couldn’t get my point across with English and my limited Serbian.

I had done a practice run with two of my neighbor kids who are the same age as the kids in my class. I will practice with them again too. I need the practice more than they need another English class.

One of the things I thought I learned in my practice class was the two songs I planned to teach, my young neighbors already knew. They thought the other kids would as well. I was gutted, but decided to use the songs as a base point as they were already introduced to them.

It turns out only two of the students knew one of the songs. For the rest of them, it was all new material! OMiGosh! So, I went about teaching them the songs way too quickly because I was so nervous. I really need to go slower and have a bit more confidence. I began with Row, Row, Row Your Boat. And followed up with Eensy Weensy Spider.

I plan to sing those same songs every time so they get to know them well, and to understand the meaning of the words. That’s the plan at least .;)

Next I told them that all the fingers have names in English….

The middle finger story

I told them there is the Thumb, the Pointer, Tall man A.K.A the middle finger, Ring finger, and Pinky. I went about teaching them the song that helps them to learn the names.  I put up the  words to the song and an outline of my hand that has the names of all the fingers. I sing a bit of the song for them and  then have them follow along. This requires you to bring you hands from behind your back with only one finger sprouting from your fist. All went well till we got to the middle finger. I bring my middle finger out and they won’t follow along at this point, and I realize it looks like you are giving the middle finger. I assure them it is o.k. but they still won’t follow along.

Picture0019

It became really funny and we all laughed big belly laughs, because we couldn’t help ourselves. And it is a relief. The stress of my first time teaching and nerves all relax and we sing the rest of the song skipping the middle finger.

I think I shocked them at the end of the class by asking if they had any questions or if there was anything they wanted to learn. Blank stares all around. At the end I gave them my email address if they have ideas to send me. I think they were all interested in having a way to contact me, though no one has yet… it is now 4 days later.

I am excited and nervous about preparing for my next class. One little boy came up to me when most of the kids had gone and gave me a note in Serbian with an idea for the following class. He said he didn’t understand verbs. I am thrilled with the idea of teaching verbs. I must find some games to help me.

Three hours after my first class and even later, I was still on a high! To have found something to work at here in Serbia is a dream come true. Plus, I love the kids. They are so sweet, and more respectful than I expected. I am sure this will wear off when the novelty of the foreigner status in a small town dulls my allure.

I am excited for the following weeks. I hope I do well. I really want them to learn from me and be happy they spent time in my class.

I read a quote and immediately thought of sharing it with my kids, then I realized it was just as much suited for me!

“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

Helen Hayes

If you have any advice, I am all ears!

Whatever Wednesday~ Assateague Love

 

I took these pics a few years ago. I will dedicate this post to my LOVE. 🙂 I love you, or in Serbian, Volim Te!

I took these pics a few years ago when I was childless and had sooo much free time! lol    I used to love to take long walks on the beach alone (only because the muz hates sand). And I love to get creative with the shells, driftwood, and other sea stuff that washed up.

September was my favorite month to do this. There are no crowds, great weather, and more cool shells, ship wreck pottery or sea glass for me, with bonus of maybe seeing dolphins occasionally playing in the surf.

While it was a great place to call home, I wouldn’t have been able to have the adventures in Serbia if I hadn’t left. Hooray for travel!

It doesn’t mean I don’t miss seeing these vistas.

Maryland Seafood is the best! I do miss that too!

On really hot days the horses hang out near the ocean for the cool breezes, just like us!

 

If you want to see more of my favorite island, click any of these links below:

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2010/09/september-at-assateague-island.html  (This one is my favorite… with a crappy youtube video made during mating season. RISQUE! Hello sex ed for horses!)

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2010/10/just-another-day-in-paradise-assateague.html

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2012/06/trip-to-island.html