New year, new baby

Standard

For readers of this blog who do not know us in person, this may come as a shock to many of you, but we recently welcomed our second baby into the world. I had every intention of posting a pregnancy announcement on here around the same time as we announced on FB and other social media, but…I majorly slacked off on the blog for quite a few months so that just didn’t happen. Regardless, we have another kiddo!

Also born at Intermed Hospital in UB (which I’ve mentioned a number of times in the past), T joined us on December 22 at 3:40pm local time. She is healthy, keeping up her weight, and a joy to us and those who have visited us in the hospital and at home. (If you’re curious about Mongolian traditions surrounding childhood, you should check out this post from when Z was born in May 2016.) I’m recovering well from labor and delivery, and Z is handling a younger sibling pretty darn well. My folks came to help out with the transition from one kid to two–and of course to meet their second grandchild–which has been very helpful indeed.

IMG_20171226_093807

How you bundle a newborn in winter in the frozen north:

For the most part, we’ve kept T indoors as much as possible because it’s the middle of winter and besides the cold, the air pollution is too much for a newborn’s lungs to handle. In fact, this winter the pollution has been bad enough for the government to decide to shut down schools for the month of January. Hospitals are full of sick kids, and since pollution is worst during morning and afternoon/evening commute times, it makes sense to shut down schools to keep kids indoors at peak pollution times. If we do go outdoors, it’s primarily in the early afternoon once Z’s up from his nap, when it’s warmest outside and there’s the least amount of pollution.

I have some more ideas for posts percolating on the back burner so hopefully I’ll be posting more regularly in 2018, but with two kids under two years old, there’s no guarantee of anything! We’ll see. 🙂

Shine onii mend! Happy new year!

Beth sig

Merry Christmas!

Standard

We are wrapping up Christmas Day here in UB, and I hope that those of you reading this who also celebrate this holiday have a wonderful one wherever you happen to be in the world. I don’t have much to say beyond that, but I’d like to share a video that I first saw last winter and that a friend in the US shared with me earlier today. It’s a fun take on a Western holiday song, using traditional Mongolian instruments.

A note about the clothing in this video, the deels worn are primarily winter style, which are lined with fur or sheep skin and are much warmer than the summer style. The deels we had made our first year are summer style and are still quite warm! 🙂

christmas-portrait

 

Merry Christmas!

Beth sig

PS. Any tips on how to get a 7 month old to smile in more formal pictures? 😛

“What does the fox say?”

Standard

Let me begin by saying, “He’s here!” Also, he’s been here for two weeks now. Welcome to Mongolia, little dude!

I may write a post specifically about Z’s birth story in the future, but for now, we thought it might be neat to include some Mongolian traditions surrounding pregnancy and postpartum that we have gleaned over the last nine months. As a reminder to Western readers, cultural differences are not “weird”–they are just different. We seem weird to our Mongolian friends, but we’re just different too. 🙂

For starters, I’ve already shocked many of our Mongolian connections by leaving the apartment “too early”. New moms and babies usually stay home for 30 days or longer and visitors stay away for that amount of time as well. This is primarily for mom and baby’s health as newborns’ immune systems are still developing. When you live in a place where a wider variety of diseases is still common, it’s a pretty good idea to do what you can to prevent those from affecting your kid. Although we have gone out, we have been choosy about our destinations and the duration of time spent outside.

babies doc swaddling

Super swaddle!

Something that we’ve noticed in general about Mongolians is that they by and large prefer to be warm or hot than to feel cool. This translates over to new moms who prefer to wear several layers–more than I’m comfortable wearing as my hormones have been triggering what I can only describe as hot flashes–and babies are kept warmly swaddled as well. If you’ve ever watched the documentary Babies, you will have seen the heavy-duty traditional swaddling on the Mongolian subject. (see image) Z was well-swaddled in the hospital (although not to the same extent as the kid in the picture) and has preferred swaddling at home.

There are Mongolian food preferences following childbirth that I discovered while in the hospital. New moms typically eat mutton soup following birth to regain their strength, and this soup kept popping up at hospital meals and between meal times for snacks. Seeing as mutton disagreed with my stomach throughout pregnancy, I was concerned that I would still have a negative reaction to it, but it was some of the most delicious soup that I’ve ever eaten. One of my Mongolian friends who attended the birth, stayed with us the first night, and helped the baby and me get a good breastfeeding latch made sure that I kept eating throughout the day and night, emphasizing foods with higher fat contents–yogurt (~3.2%) and cream pastries, for example–to help boost my milk supply. I’ve kept up a decent snacking schedule since coming home from the hospital, and it’s definitely helped Z keep on track with weight gain.

Our first evening in the hospital, several of our colleagues visited us to see the baby and congratulate us, and this is where we learned about the fox (hence the post title). Apparently, hanging a felt fox or the image of a fox over a baby’s crib is very common in Mongolia. The idea is that the fox keeps the baby company while the baby sleeps and helps prevent bad dreams. Some of my 12th grade students gifted us a felted mobile of a ger with a string of animals below it. The animals are all typical livestock, except for the last animal which is a fox. We didn’t really think much of its inclusion when we received the gift, but now we understand!

There are more things that I could probably include in this post, but a) it’s getting long and b) this is all that stuck out in my sleep-deprived mind for now. So here we are in Mongolia, new parents, and about to set out on the next season of experiences!

More to come,

Beth sig

Approaching the Finish Line

Standard

Eric and I are just a week and some change away from our finish line, but we are approaching that line in two different ways. That finish line at the end of May represents two different goals: 1) reaching the end of our second school year in Mongolia and 2) our baby’s due date. It’s uncanny how close those lines are.

DSC_0046

Taken on Sports Day, September 2014. Imagine this is us racing to the finish line, only all I can manage at this point is a rapid waddle. So on second thought, don’t imagine that at all. Carry on.

I began my maternity leave at the end of April giving myself approximately four weeks to get ready for the final push before Baby Judd arrives. Compared to my American mom friends, I realize how blessed I am to be able to take a whole month off prior to our due date, rather than needing to work right up until labor starts as so many have to do. (Mongolian maternity leave is more generous and flexible than what is typical in the US.)

Since this is my first time to go through a full-term labor and delivery, I was concerned about being prepared–not to mention being a newbie means I have no idea what I’m doing. Add to that being in a country where I still can’t fully communicate in the national language and where getting things done just seems to take twice as long as I’m used to, and I was worrying that I wouldn’t have time to get things done that I wanted/needed to accomplish before the baby showed up. So for me, May has been a combination of resting, running errands, and continuing to attend our Mongolian language lessons.

Eric, in the meantime, is still teaching at our school. He picked up some more hours–along with our Aussie coworker–to help cover my classes when I bowed out at the mid-term. Every day, he comes home with anecdotes about the entertaining and frustrating elements of the day, which I appreciate because it helps me feel connected to school still. I’ll be honest: I miss my students! Yesterday, I went to school to eat lunch with him, and it was a lot of fun to see the teachers and students again. 🙂 (I’m planning on making this a regular occurrence next year, only with Baby Judd in tow.)

In a week, my mom will be flying in from the DRC to stay with us for a month, and then in early July, Eric’s folks will come from the US to stay with us for about the same amount of time. We are looking forward to seeing family–since we aren’t heading back to the States this summer–and to get a chance to show them around the city and country that we now consider home. Of course, we’re also looking forward to having some help with a newborn because, again, we have no idea what we’re doing, and they’ve at least done this a time or two before! 😉

Until next time!

Beth sig

 

PS. For those interested in helping us get some last minute items for the new baby, here is a link to our Amazon registry. Purchased items will be shipped to Eric’s folks and will arrive here with them in July. Thank you in advance! ❤

Update: Yes we are still alive!

Standard

I just realized how long it’s been since we updated the blog (two months?!) so I’m going to drop a couple of shorter updates in here to keep all y’all apprised of what’s been happening in our lives lately. 🙂

arrow divider

First up: Thailand! We went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, again in late January/early February for our annual conference. Instead of going straight there, we took a brief detour through South Korea. Surprisingly, Incheon/Seoul felt way colder than UB even though it was significantly warmer. That’s the difference between a high desert climate and a marine climate, I guess! We made a local friend at the guesthouse where we were staying who showed us around and gave us some pretty great insights into Korean culture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thailand was good for rest and professional development at the conference. We also were able to reconnect with a bunch of the teachers who went through training and orientation with us prior to moving overseas, and that was fun and encouraging. One of the highlights of the trip involved all of the fresh fruit and veggies that we could eat while there, which leads to the next update (a long time coming)…

arrow divider

pregnancy announcement fb cover

We are expecting! We found out at the beginning of October that we were expecting again, but considering how our first pregnancy had gone, we were hesitant to announce until we were 20 weeks along. We certainly intended to post something about this here sooner than now (29 weeks), but sometimes good intentions just fall by the wayside. The baby is due at the end of May, and the plan is to deliver locally at Intermed Hospital. My mom and Eric’s folks will be coming to visit us this summer (my mom flies in on the actual due date), and we are looking forward to seeing them and introducing them to both the new grandkid and to the city and country that we love.

 

arrow divider

We have a few things coming up with our school, so we will post again when those happen. Next week, we will head out to the countryside with our school to go to camp so look for pics and such in the next couple of weeks!

Beth sig

Return to UB and Upcoming Changes

Standard

[NOTE: I published this as a page, originally, because JET LAG. :P]

Allow me to set the scene.

Our new apartment (we moved about a week before our departure to the US) has a mostly open floor plan, downgraded to a single bedroom and one bathroom which is all that we need. The rest of the apartment is mostly bare floor, excepting a comfy red suede couch and the kitchen appliances and counters that line the walls to my right. Scattered across the floor are all of our suitcases, lying open with rummaged through contents from haphazard and incomplete unpacking. It is approaching 7am local time, and I haven’t slept since yesterday.

Currently, all is quiet. No neighbors making noise. The club across the street finally called it quits. It doesn’t sound like the morning commute traffic has picked up yet. (Is it a holiday that we missed?) The construction in the neighborhood hasn’t started back up yet, but there is an occasional train whistle and the sound of wheels on tracks in the near distance.

Outside, it’s chilly with a cool breeze and temperatures hovering around 50F. Yesterday was rainy, and the cold damp remains. The sky is clear, and the air is fresh and clean! We will continue to unpack and settle in between now and orientation/fall training next week.

arrow divider

In my jetlag-fueled insomnia last night, I stumbled across this Buzzfeed listicle about Mongolia that led me to this travel blog documenting a couple’s backpacking journey from Thailand to South Africa–no air travel allowed. I’ve borrowed the photo below to showcase some of their amazing photography. Do check out their posts from their travels in Mongolia!

nomadasaurus

via Alesha Bradford / NOMADasaurus

arrow divider

Finally, I am working on some updates for our blog here. Heading into our second year of teaching in UB, we are trying to find more resources to improve our work. (Having a veritable ton of teachers within both of our immediate and extended families helps!) That said, we’re compiling and categorizing these resources and are hoping to roll out a “Resources” page soon for other teachers. Let us know if you have any recommendations! Both EFL specific and general educational/teaching resources appreciated–print and online!

Until next time!

Beth sig

Readjustment

Standard

We are currently in western Washington, readjusting as fireworks explode all around us. (Happy 4th of July, America!) We will only be back in the US temporarily (until mid-August), but living in Mongolia for the last 11 months was enough of a difference that reverse culture shock has still been a thing. So far, neither of us has been found whimpering in the fetal position, but I just about snapped getting temporary SIM cards from Walmart today. Oi.

washington-fireworks-space-needle-hbtv-hemp-beach-tvOther than that minor hiccup, we’ve spent a lot of time relaxing and recovering from the trip over. We’ve enjoyed lengthy naps and decent sleep at night, but we’re still pretty tired these days.

Tomorrow, we will be roadtripping to southern California with my folks, my sister, and her husband. Six adults in a minivan for ~24 hours of driving. We’ll be stopping through San Fran on the way down, and I’m looking forward to picking my mom and my sissy’s brain on teaching techniques and methods while we play tourists. Hey, you gotta do something while waiting in lines. 😉

In general, it’s been good to be back and catching up with friends and family alike. If you are on the West Coast, we’d love to see you! Drop us a line. 🙂

Love,

Beth sig