Category Archives: Teaching


I received this card this week and I framed it. It was a lovely reminder of the rightness that this place and time is for our lives despite the fact that it’s really tough. It also was a reminder that there are others that believe that we are where we are supposed to be and are doing what we should be doing. I’m thankful for those that love us and are walking with us on this fantastic and interesting journey!
I just spent the better part of 2 hours planning a lesson to help a young woman dominate the TOEFL exam (an exam to determine a student’s ability to succeed at a university that utilizes English for instruction). I didn’t get around to studying much Turkish this evening which is a shame because the more I study the more I realize I don’t know and need to study. Maybe I’ll watch the news after I blog. Last week I learned “patlama” which means explosion. It came in handy in class when I was able to articulate to my teacher how I felt when the lesson was over- brain explosion- beyin patlama!

We’ve had wonderful guests this week, 2 of my best friend’s husbands, who are also my friends. I’ve been having fun stuffing them with Turkish breakfast and one day pumpkin pancakes thanks to sweet friends who sent over maple syrup and other goodies from the USA!









Yesterday I got a taste of celebrating the “Turkish Christmas” with my friends Elif and Selin. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos, but Elif took one of Ellie getting gobbled up by our new Turkish friend Sezan who was also with us. It was a lot of fun and there was much tea and baklava involved. Yum. Yum.

And, big news. Today was Ellie’s first swing ride! Here she is with her little buddy Joel. Now, if they get married, not to jump the gun, but wouldn’t this be the cutest slide show picture ever?!



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Filed under Blessed, Culture, European Travel, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby, Teaching, We love this land

A few of my favorite things…

This pregnancy is winding down with 5 days until my due date. And, I find myself getting quite sentimental and reminiscing a lot about the sweetness of carrying a precious life inside of me. After all, I’ll only be pregnant with her once! And, despite what I might have thought at week 28, I’m not going to be pregnant forever. Here are a few of the things I will miss about being pregnant.

1) Baby kicks. A can still remember the first time lying in bed and feeling it. Amazing.

2) Baby acrobatics. We’ve upped the performance in recent months. She is quite a mover and a shaker. We don’t have anything to compare it to since I’ve not been pregnant before, but we think she is active and fun!

3) People assume you are a nice person because you are pregnant, so they are in turn nice to you just because you are pregnant. It’s quite refreshing.

4) I know I’ve mentioned this thousands of times, but a seat on the bus.

5) Cute maternity outfits. Years ago women didn’t have the luxury of wearing such cute maternity clothes, but thanks to my dear friend, Julie Dobbins, I sported a really cute outfit today. (I’m not too photogenic, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

6) If you are having a hard time and need to take a break, everyone is okay with it. If you show up to work 39 weeks pregnant everyone is super impressed and makes you feel like super woman. If you show up to work after trudging through the snow, on two forms of public transportation, up a huge hill (in all seriousness) and 39 weeks pregnant, well then you can just go ahead and know they are going to think you are woman of the year. It’s good for one’s ego.

7) Scott thinks this one is my favorite. Acne-free skin. This has been a battle of mine for years, and I haven’t had one zit for about 8 months… that is until yesterday. One showed up and I was certain that meant labor was around the corner.

8) A constant companion. It’s fun to have a little friend to chat with all the time. And, she’s such a great listener! NEVER interrupts.

9) My husband thinks I’m beautiful for carrying his baby. It’s quite easy to feel frumpy and not unlike an elephant, but it’s sweet when Scott tells me that he thinks I’m gorgeous despite my unique shape.

10) Normally I cannot eat gluten because of said acne problem. But, during pregnancy my body tolerates, even demands it. So, I’m enjoying it while I can.

To get myself geared up for labor I’m also thinking of some of the things I will enjoy once pregnancy is over. Some things (and you can help me with my list):

Sleeping on my stomach and back- hallelujah!

Hugging my husband without feeling like we’re at a junior high school dance with a ruler in between us.

Being able to roll over in my sleep without having to consciously wake up to do it.

Picking up things that fall on the ground without wondering where the hidden camera is to catch this comedy act.

Putting on boots without feeling like it’s a physical and mental exercise to not be defeated by the boot and the zipper.

Energy. Not needing a two hour nap everyday.

I could probably think of a few more, but those are just a couple of the big ones.



Filed under Blessed, Culture, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby, Teaching

It’s all going to be alright

I’m high on life. Today was one of those days that reminded me that everything is going to be okay.

First of all, I bumped into my neighbor, Julie. Anytime I see her it’s a delight. Even though we’re speaking a weird conglomeration of English, Hungarian, and German, we manage to communicate just fine. We chatted for 40 minutes, mostly in Hungarian, about babies (her son’s wife is pregnant with a boy!), her granddaughter, vaccinations, home remedies (she said onion tea is good for sore throats), how young she looks for being 59, how she sewed clothes to pay the doctor bills, and much more. She is quite funny and we had lots of laughs.

The funniest thing was when I got out of the elevator and saw her. I immediately wanted to warn her that someone had been smoking in the elevator and that it smelled. Well, once I saw the look on her face I died. “Was it you smoking in the elevator?” She confessed that indeed it was, but that she only smokes 5 cigarettes a day so it’s not so bad. Ha!

Today I crossed a huge task off my to-do list. I visited our pediatrician once again planning only to make an appointment for later. She saw me the minute I walked in, and since no one was waiting had me sit down for a chat. She answered all my questions, was extremely accommodating and helpful, and at the end apologized that her English isn’t so great. I said, “No, thank you. We are in Hungary and you are speaking English with me! It is I who should apologize!” Something I love is that her English isn’t amazing, so we also can speak a little mixture of Hungarian-English which is fun for me. I was nervous that she would think I was crazy with some of my questions, but she didn’t even blink.

Well, she blinked with the first one. “I might have my baby at home. Can you bring the necessary paperwork?” After the blink she was very helpful.

Then, I asked about circumcision in case it’s a boy. I thought she was going to think I was cruel because Europeans usually don’t circumcise their boys, but turns out I’m going to the right lady. See, she is also the pediatrician for the Jewish quarter, so she knows all about this and can give me any information I need. On a side note, I mentioned that I don’t know the sex of our baby. She immediately took off her wedding band and asked if I wanted to know. I said, “I wouldn’t like to know.” She told me about her very reliable ring test. She said it is more reliable than any other method. I believed her, so much so that I declined because I really want to be surprised in January. Anyways, just thought that was something funny that probably wouldn’t happen in the States.

Next, I asked if we could wait to do the TB shot. They usually do it immediately here, but I asked to wait for six weeks. She said, “yes.” And, she added, “If the hospital doesn’t believe you or if there are any problems, I’ll give you a letter to give them.”

These were all questions I was nervous about. You just never know how others will respond. In addition, the mindset for doctors is that once you choose them, you shouldn’t question them. They are the expert, not you. But, she didn’t give off this air at all. She was absolutely willing to endure my strange customs!

Once the baby is born she’ll come to our house. I’ll send her a text message and she’ll come! Is that not the coolest thing in the entire world?!


Filed under Culture, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby, Teaching, We love this land

American English is rather polite, I’d say

Teaching overseas is a bit different than teaching in the States. I’m confronted with realities that I’d never faced before. One of these realities is how polite American English is. I’ve come to recognize this because most of my students have learned British English which isn’t nearly as polite, in my humble opinion. We Americans really do beat around the bush, or utilize euphemisms, quite often.

I first realized this last fall. I was speaking to a woman who has incredibly fluent English and I casually mentioned that at some point we’d like to have a baby while living in Hungary. She then replied, “Oh, I can recommend a fantastic gynecologist!” I didn’t know why, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was extremely uncomfortable with her saying that. Why? Because we never say ‘gynecologist’- it’s a bad word. Rather we say “OB”, “OBGYN”, “lady doctor”. But, to say gynecologist is so crass! As you can imagine, my students often ask me who my gynecologist is now that I’m pregnant, and you better believe that there are about twenty people in this country who now say OBGYN instead.

Another one is in reference to the toilet. We never say, “may I use the toilet” or “excuse me, I’m going to use the toilet”. Can you say TMI?  No, no, no. We say, “I’m going to the ladies room” or “the rest room” as if to suggest that nothing more will happen than a powdering of the nose or the reapplications of lipstick, not a dreaded #1 or horror of horrors #2 which is also another way Americans up the politeness in English.

I’m telling you, we’re amazing. We have a gift of covering up the most derogatory of phrases, and making them sound like we’re going for a walk in the park.

Some other examples include:

vomit = throw up

diarrhea- the runs

body odor- b.o.

sweating- perspiring

fat- big boned

Can anyone else think of some examples?


Filed under Culture, European Travel, Our Daily Life, Teaching, Uncategorized

The case of this Monday

6am- alarm going off… too early. grrr. Why is it still dark?!

6am-7:20- the usual routine of drinking 1/16 of a cup of coffee, eating 2 eggs with pesto, reading, getting ready for my day, scrambling out the door.

7:25am- force my way onto the one little empty spot left on the tram wondering how I’m going to fit once this baby is 7lbs instead of 1.5 lbs.

8am- arrive at Bunge, a vegetable oil company I teach at. Today is a big day. Tour of the oil production lab. I get to wear a white mad scientist coat and goggles.

9:50am- stop at the grocery store on my way home. I pick up fresh bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, toilet paper, and cheese. You know, the essentials.

10:10am- second breakfast! Any other hobbits out there?

10:20am- laundry load #1, clean the toilet, do the dishes.

11:00am- off to the market! Load up on honey, dried cranberries, walnuts, and other goodies. Stop to buy fresh squeezed grapefruit juice…Yum! Stop to let older woman rub my belly and proceed to say, “Szia baba.” “Hi baby!” Then, she told me I look pretty pregnant. I decided I love her.

12:00pm- Home. Snack anyone? Laundry load #2. Nap time

1:59pm- wake up from nap. I used to sleep the entire two hours, but the baby is getting strong. The kicks wake me up so I’m constantly adjusting to soften the blows and to try to get the baby to kick out instead of in and on my bladder.

2:00pm- landlord and landlady show up. Bless them. They’ve brought us a very important document we’ll need to obtain our residence permit. All the immigration office will need now is a blood sample, a microchip inserted in our wrist, and $85,000- okay, not really…we hope.

2:25pm- laundry load #3. Off to make copies of blessed documents, to pick up paycheck, and buy fresh, raw milk. Yum. On my way out I see my neighbor Julie. She blows me a kiss and asks how the baby is doing. I decided I love her.

3:45pm- Home from errands. Starving for some strange reason. Sandwich time. Laundry load #4 time and dinner prep. I’m making an interesting cabbage-beef casserole for dinner that I enjoy. I mostly enjoy it because I eat it with sour cream. And, in my mind, anything with sour cream is the most delicious thing in the world these days.

5:00pm- Sitting here, reliving my day as I wait for my student to come at 6:00pm. Maybe she’ll stay for cabbage casserole dinner. That would be fun!

8:00pm- I’m sure I’ll be yawning my way through the next hour trying to be tough and stay awake a bit longer. I’ll get to hear about Scott’s adventures learning Arabic, Armenian and Persian today. I’ll find myself googling weird things like, “drooling during pregnancy”. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to read some of my book, “A Long Way Gone.”

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse in the my riveting life. Lifetime is going to make a tv movie out of it but we’re still working out the contract details.


Filed under Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby, Recipes, Teaching

Don’t bet against me when Poland trivia is on the line!

Next week, I’ll be teaching a new student. She’s from Poland, which happens to be the country that I studied and wrote a book report on in the 4th grade. Why is this important? Thanks for asking.

If there is ever a lull in the conversation I can say, “So, tell me about Queen Jadwiga.” or “So I hear that Poland is the world’s 3rd largest coal producing country.” Etc. Etc.


So, when your children ask why they are learning fractions or random facts or whatever, you can say “Because there will be a day down the road that you will able to pull that sucker out of your back pocket, wow the world, and then proudly blog about it!”

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Filed under Culture, European Travel, Our Daily Life, Teaching

Isn’t it Ironic? Don’tcha think?

These are in the oven. The world is looking brighter compared to last night’s fiasco.

You see, I was rushing from one lesson to another. I knew I had a one hour block to get to my next lesson, and I knew that every minute was crucial.

However, the tram that I was supposed to ride did not. If I spoke Hungarian I could tell you the exact reason why the tram decided not to venture in the direction I needed to go, but the announcement was beyond my comprehension.

There was no bus going my way- shockingly- and so it was me and my heels on our own. We ran/walked the two miles, in the freezing cold, through the snow, uphill, dodging bullets…. okay, okay. The last three are not true, but boy, oh boy, did they feel true.

I arrived with fifteen minutes to spare; apparently I’m really fast in heels! I asked the receptionist what room my lesson would be in and she said that my student had just called to cancel. A certain Alanis Morisette song started playing in my head. I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror at my disheveled appearance. My eyes were bloodshot, my hair a mess, and I was downright tired from a long week. I looked like a stoner in heels.

So, I threw in the towel, went home, and spent the evening with my hubby.


Filed under Cultural Mishaps, European Travel, Our Daily Life, Teaching