PMS post on the In-laws

I should be censored. I should not even post when I am PMS-ing… A mental and physical muzzle for all conversations during this delicate psychotic period should be administered. But there is no warden for my words and thoughts spilling out in black and white.

Here I go typing away about my bad behavior last night.

In any marriage “the in-laws are a touchy thing. Different parenting customs and family dynamics make for um”… shall we say interesting discussion.

Cross-cultural marriages multiply the dynamics. Customs are far more “exotic” and sometimes scary. Including giving raw eggs to infant. Yep! seen that with my own eyes.

When you add hormonal imbalance and anger…with a Capital “A” it becomes out of control.

Lets make it a little bit more interesting by throwing in a little home remodeling and a bonafide, certified, gets shots once a month at a looney bin,  schizophrenic Aunt!! Yep! all that!

Honestly, when I put it all in perspective, I was quite polite.

Let me set the stage a little more. It was a cold rainy day. We, my husband and I went to the village to work on Baba and Deda’s house. Munchkin in the care of the in-laws at house not far away.

When we arrive at the house being renovated, I am left with a bare minimum of work. Work I try to accomplish is stopped and I realized in this cold, damp house there is nothing for me to do but watch. I am not a voyeur! Soon, I head back to the house.

At the front entrance, I see the Sister-in- Law’s shoes in the shoe pile at the front door.  (Because, Serbia is much more like Asia than Western Europe thanks to the Turks.) No one told me she was coming. I hate that. And Munchkin’s Aunt is one of my least fav people in the world. The kind that thinks everyone should buy her whatever she wants,,, and I mean like Uggs, Burberry, etc. While she goes to college in a city for Over 10 years!! No job and doesn’t help with the family farm. AT ALL! But she will take everything she can from the family. I am not exaggerating!

She is thirty, and her parents are still paring for her to live away. That is mostly, because she is horrible and they don’t want her near. Sadly, that is not PMS mean-ness. it is the reality. They have called the cops on her for harassment. Last time she came for Christmas, Papa tried to move home to his parents. They wouldn’t have him. And there are two free bedrooms.

When the Aunt appears and I become a fire breathing dragon. and it happened. I kept the flames in. Smoke curled from my nostrils… but, a dragon can’t help that. She was cuddling with my sleeping munchkin. And, her arrival had put the munchkins nap off two hours. GRRR!

I sit on the chair by the fire warming up, Baba goes to take a nap. Begins snoring quickly. I don’t blame her. She does the lions share of the work, and is no doubt exhausted!

Papa, fat and lazy, has his chair pulled to the center of the room watching T.V., volume all the way up like a king. Munchkin plays with the crazy aunt. I am thankful for my book.

It is not long before King Grandpa begins to incite munchkin to wake Baba…. I stop her. He does it again louder. and I stop her. Then he is doing it himself. He succeeds. I say quietly, but loud enough, “Glupino”… it means stupid, and I am sure he heard. Soon after, I am sure he was steaming that someone dared call the king stupid in his own home. He left his throne to go out into the cold for quite sometime.

His crazy daughter says nothing. She could care less if the women who makes her life of unrealistic luxury sleeps. In fact, I have seen her hit her mother repeatedly when she was sleeping so she could talk to her. Yep, She is that sweet to her mother. This is the kind of stuff that makes me smolder!

You see, I do love my Mother-in-law, and I would love to protect her. But she can’t stand up for  herself. And she works like a team of oxen for her family. and they don’t appreciate it. Actually, they abuse her. It kills me!  And like a truly delusional person, she makes excuses for their bad behavior!  When I talked to Mama about Papa waking her, she said he was just playing. When I related the story later to the hubby, he said the same thing. When I asked him how he would like that… the excuse became clearly an excuse for bad behavior.

Three hours after I arrived at Baba and Deda’s, the husband returned. he ate, and asked if I was ready to go. I was!

Then, Munchkin, didn’t want to come home! She wanted to stay with the insane aunt, emotionally blind Baba, and the constantly abusive Father-in-Law. Of course. I can’t imagine why the sweet little tot wouldn’t want to come home with a fire breathing dragon… lol. And. to be fair, she was being spoiled like a pig being fattened like no other!! who wouldn’t stay in a place you get coddled, tons of presents and can do ANYTHING you want and never hear the word “no”.  Seriously. I would chose the crazies too!

Munchkin insisted on staying, Hubby and the family backed her and I was beaten… I hugged the munchkin and said goodbye to the crazy aunt with eyes that really said. I HATE YOU! If looks could kill, she would have been flat-lined instantly.

The entire drive home and all night long, I wanted to go back for her. Still, she stayed… This morning I am still frustrated that she is in that environment.  And she will stay til tomorrow.  WTFrench toast!

Also, ee will probably have to return Friday and Sunday.. It is Orthodox Easter.  FUN!

Friday we are supposed to decorate eggs… Not like you do in the States. Dipping them for a second. and adding colors like paint. No,, this means boiling them for hours. The dye is poor and the eggs are dark. So, that really means spending needless time in the village that can’t be spent on home renovation. UGH!  And eating not Fast food, but food of fasting. YUK to both!

No one knows that the fasting talked about in the Bible wasn’t beans, it was the yummy vegetation of the Mediterranean! (The hate comments for talking bad about the “Blessed” magic fasting beans that produce gas and painful constipation rather than a bean stalk to the sky are coming… I can tell.) In fact, here they don’t know much, more than that the calendar says it is Easter. That does make me a bit more mad.  Tradition, rather than knowledge. The tip of the iceberg.

I realize the irony. The angry, hateful person who is supposed to be a sweet loving Christian. I know, I am no perfect. Never will be. Right now I am over all of this! Going out for a walk to improve my mood.

End rant.

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

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!

 

 

 

 

Expat with a Cat!

As I looked over at the sleeping kitten curled up on our couch, I realize it is easier to be an expat with a pet. Well, I think it is easier to be anyone with a pet. But, expat life has a new set of stressors, and sometimes no one who understands. That is where a pet becomes your ultimate companion.

In reality, I learned this a long time ago. Our second trip to Serbia I found my long time love Tomo, meowing in the stairwell. We became inseperable. And After I had been back in the U.S. for a couple of years. He came as soon as he heard my voice.

Here is the story Tomo, my first cat in Serbia.

(Yes, I can do my laundry whilst sitting on the loo!)

 We got a new kitten.
Tomo  a.k.a. Tomo da voz ( or Thomas the train)
He is a little spitfire tomkitten from the street.
I was was running the stairs in our apt building for the second time. And after a little while I heard a meowing coming from the first level. I thought a little kitten had gotten trapped inside so I went to investigate. There he was coming toward the steps crying, and when I bent down he came straight to me.

Then I saw a neighbor lady. The little kitten jumped straight from my arms to the arms of my neighbor. With a little hacking up of the Serbian language, I got that the cat was a stray and they just allowed him into feed him a bit and let him back out.  I wasn’t sure I understood correctly, so when she offered me the cat I declined. I misunderstand a lot. I went on running the stairs. A little while later at the bottom of the steps I saw her letting him out, I asked again in my limited Serbian,  “he is not yours?” She said no and offered him to me again. I said, maybe I will take him up to play. Needless to say, the Muz and I were instantly hooked.

The day before I had gone on the great Christmas tree hunt. I went on an adventurous hike to the nearest  Chinese store and bought a little “Charlie Brown” tree for 200 dinars, or less than $4. I brought it home and decorated it as a toy for our future kitten. Tomo loves playing with the lower branches.

Tomo had 4 lovely years with our family. He disapeared this fall while out playing in the fields. But he had a great village life and lived it to the fullest. He would not have been happy to remain an indoor cat. Once he discovered the village life and the great outdoors he was hooked. If he had remained a street cat, I am sure he would not have lived that long. R.I.P. Tomo.  You will always have special place in my heart.

Welcome to our new little companion. Lenka kitty

Munchkin Monday~SHHHHHH

The Munchkin is on the downward slope of 2 on her way to 3 years old now. This Christmas  and new years will be a new and exciting experience! She gets the present thing now and is all about birthdays. I have been telling her about Santa and showing her pictures. Not to rush the season, but to teach her.

We have a bedtime ritual. She drinks her milk as I read her a story. Then Tata comes to give us kisses goodnight. As we cuddle in the dark quiet room, I pray aloud so she will hear me talking to God about whatever. It feels like a good ending to any day.

As for our daytime life, We have preschool, so mommy can have some me time… and by that I mean time to study, clean, go to the dentist, etc.She comes home early in the afternoon. And she loves school. She loves playing with the kids and her teachers are warm and kind.

I can’t keep up with the new developments. There are just too many new things she is doing now.

She has developed a love of books, finally. Sitting with one and creating a story to go with the pics is a great new imaginary development.  Or she may just point at the pics and name each object.

Coloring and painting are still passions, but play dough is the main event! I have to keep putting it away and giving it some TLC with a couple drops of water and needing to bring it back from the brink of a dry death.

My favorite Baba in the village. she is spritely and funny. Not at all as this pic makes her out to be. love her!

The Baba comment

A week ago when we were clearing trees, I have having a hard time with the branches knocking of my hat and glasses. I decided a kerchief wrapped around my head would solve the problem and it did. But, in this culture it is only the Baba’s who wear this. When Munchkin saw me ready to hit the field she said, “You are Grandma!”  And I really did look the part. I think Baba “T” suits me. And one day, I will be a cool Baba, like the one above.

Munchkin is a becoming a bossy girl. She is fighting sleep a lot now, and it doesn’t help the upstairs neighbors are playing WWF games and basket ball when we are trying to get her to sleep. She has tried the water and potty tricks to stay up. Then one night she got up and went to the door. She turned and said, “Mommy, stay here.”  Of course I ask where she is going, knowing she wants to go play… She just repeats herself and then when I insist she comes back to bed turns on the tears as if the world has come to an end.

 She is using toddler trickery to get what she wants. For instance, since she was sick last month, she learned to like medicine. Weird, huh? She asks for it now and even though I give her a placebo of juice in a medicine dispenser, she tells me a few minutes later she feels better.

“Shhhhh!” she says with her finger to her lips when she wants anyone to stop talking and pay her some attention. Sometimes she will also say, “Iva spava.” (Iva is sleeping, and thus we should be quiet.”

Girly Girl She loves having her nails painted and her hair put up in ponytails. The pony tails never last. I can’t wait till I can really work on her hair and she will leave it.

Outsourcing labor Finding things is a difficult task. Even if she just had an item a second ago, she may not know where it is. So she asks the Mommy to find it. She may have learned this from Tata and his remote finding skills…. Asking Mommy is the way to find anything.

Dance Party I have written before about our nightly dance parties, it is a family event if Tata and I are not to tuckered out from a long day. She asks for music, Pink* music to be exact. Tata obliges and we have a family dance party.

Last night, we had guests, and tennis was on the TV. Munchkin asked for Pink music and she got the party started! It became a twirling princess party. A perfect way to end a lovely evening with friends.

Pink is a Serbian TV studio that has LOTS of channels. That includes several music channels.

 

 

 

 

The Expat Triumph’s over the Dark Side

I wrote this post a couple days ago. This bit inspired the Yoda Quotes post that I have now made a page. Honestly, those quotes are universal, and can be used to inspire anyone. Anyway, on with today’s blog…

Over time, I have realized, I become needy at times. I turned into the girl who is looking for expat friends to have those connecting conversations. Expat isolation, strikes again. But like the Empire, I strike back. in time.

Like in Star Wars, it takes time for the plot to unfold.

A sick kind of desire overwhelms me, I am looking for that kind understanding that only an expat can have, no matter where they are from. The force within me weakens and I am vulnerable to the “dark side”.

However, since I am from a small town, I am not in reach of anyone nearby that I can have a conversation with locally. That creates a loneliness that can create a stranger in me. It can be the stimulus for the expat depression I wrote about yesterday.

I have always wanted to be that friendly inviting person that makes others feel comfortable. (I get that from my Mom. “Thanks Mom!”) But with this unusual longing, I have become less of that inviting “Little Miss Sunshine” friendly girl and more of the Eeyore dreary type. The clingy, needy, SWF type person who is looking for friends. Anyone who understands. Not a very attractive side, I admit.

I don’t like this me. She does not often emerge, but when she does, I know I need help. Fortunately, I can help myself. I have developed strategies and employ them regularly.

This neediness is a side effect of the Expat Blues I wrote about and cast away yesterday. As a result, I had a stellar day.

If you see that side of you becoming dominant, it takes a bit of effort, but being positive and determined can make all the difference in the world. Do not be a victim of the Syth lord. Stay strong.

Yesterday started out so glum, and I turned it around with being Thankful. Then, I had some setbacks. I could have let them color my day dark… I stopped myself and decided to put a positive spin on it. That made all the difference in the world.

I am still smiling at the turn in the road I made. Triumph! The Force was strong with me today. And I learn from my victories as well as my mistakes.

Sometimes the dreary days are too much for us or circumstances are not as easy to change. But just remember, time changes things. With enough effort, choosing to be happy, or finding the bright side you will change yourself! You can become a beacon for others to bring them out of the darkness that overtakes them.

In this ongoing struggle, you never know what kind of cool intergalactic friends you will make along the way. Maybe you will meet them in a time of need. Yours or theirs. reach out. Hopefully not too much translation will be needed. 😉

You will be stronger and braver in the long run.  The need to cling to others in that not parasitical way diminishes.  I still want to share my experiences with other expats and have that long talk over coffee, but the dark longing that is accompanied by bitching and complaining is gone.

A healthier psychological outlook has come again. Optimism is back and I am me again. This is an ongoing struggle. But each challenge is as real as each victory we have.  The choices we make shape our lives. Choose to be positive create a bright outlook for yourself and others.

Here are some songs that can help you with a brighter outlook on life:

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Giving Thanks to beat the Expat Blues

In just a couple of weeks, the American Thanksgiving holiday will be here. This post is about giving Thanks for what I have… and to kick my Negative Nancy into a Sunshine Sally.

I know how lucky I am to be living in Europe. The ultimate trip. Living abroad! I am Thankful I do not just dream about going somewhere, I actually have!  Now, I just have to deal with the repercussions of the big move!

I am thankful for this Blog!  It is a place where I can come to say anything. This is my therapists couch and my clay on a wheel. The end product may end up looking like my second grade clay bowl, but it is mine. and I love it!

I noticed today, as I talked with my two closest friends, I was being overly critical, judgmental, and negative. It happens often when I feel myself getting depressed. It is the kind of expat depression that doesn’t last long, but can feel like an eternity at the time.

Expat Blues before a holiday or at anytime is not out the norm. I just Googled “expat depression” and a slew of sites popped up, But first as I was typing in my search words it offered more… expat depression China, Germany, and so on.
I have heard of Beijing Blues, and having a Shanglow day in Shanghai. I would add Balkan Blues or Serbian Sadness. It happens and you just have to find your way out of the jungle and move on, knowing that you do love this place, just not all the time.

I am Thankful that the internet lets us commiserate. Knowing you are not alone is comforting.

I am Thankful that I get to work in Nature! For numerous reasons the great out doors is home. When I am in the fields, I don’t feel judged. I am able to just be me, breathe the fresh air and enjoy God’s creation. Usually, I am getting a great workout at the same time.

Incidentally, getting out of the house and working out are the too many things that kick expat depression in the rear. I am Thankful that I get to do that often!

It is when I come back to town, I feel like an alien. I feel that I just don’t fit in here. And as I just read in Sunny Sanguinity, ” I don’t always want to be different. But I want to be me.”

I don’t always mind being that stranger, sometimes I relish it. I am Thankful that being different isn’t always bad. 

I am Thankful for the internet! I can message people online and skype! Hallelujah! I need to do that!

I am Thankful for my Family. All of them! I am a lucky girl to have so many loved ones.

I am Thankful for Friends! I love you all! Thanks for being there for me.

Ok, I need to go back to bed… T minus three hours till I get up… I am Thankful Munchkin goes to preschool!  

I am Thankful that I get to go cuddle with my hubby and little one in a King size bed!

I am Thankful that writing this post lifted my spirits and I feel at peace! See, being Thankful helps!!!!!!

 

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