What about COVID-19?


Mongolia and China are neighbors, so it’s natural to wonder if the recent Wuhan coronavirus (henceforth COVID-19) outbreak has spread north. Well, so far, there’s no evidence that COVID-19 has reached Mongolia at all. As soon as the outbreak began hitting news cycles, the Mongolian government shut down everything they could to keep the virus from spreading.


This is what’s happened so far:

  • Schools were already shut down/in quarantine mode in January due to pre-existing winter illnesses. (Hospitals were filling up with children and the elderly, so keeping people at home helps cut back on spreading illness.)
  • All land borders were shut down, preventing both people and goods from coming or going through China.
  • Flights into the country are heavily monitored before travelers disembark to ensure that those entering the country through air travel aren’t bringing anything in with them.
  • Schools were then shut down until March.
  • Religious activities and other types of gatherings were forbidden.
  • Schools were then shut down until April.
  • Once COVID-19 showed up in South Korea, flights from SK were canceled. (Or heavily monitored as well?)*

So how does this effect society? Well, a lot of people are still teaching via the internet, and I think folks are going a little stir crazy. We are not currently in Asia, so we aren’t experiencing any of the above restrictions; however, we are in one of the US states where there have been several deaths from the virus, so it will be interesting to see how or if things start changing here to reflect Mongolia’s approach. Noteworthy: so far there are still zero cases of COVID-19 in Mongolia that I know of.*

Now I’m going to go wash my hands thoroughly.

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*I get a lot of my news through second or third-hand reporting as I am not fluent enough in Mongolian to read Mongolian news sources myself.

Heart Home


This is where we find ourselves these days–home and yet not home. Our hearts and feet in two different worlds. We have been back in the US since June 2018, and although our current situation is “home”, we yearn to be back in Mongolia. Because we are actively working towards returning to Mongolia, we feel as if we can’t put down deep roots. Everything here (housing, work, health insurance, etc.) is temporary, and we know that and feel the constant reminder.

There are many good things about being in the US right now. The best part about living here for longer than a month or two in the summer is that we have more time to spend with friends and family that we have lived apart from for the last four years. It also means that we have access to resources that we didn’t have in Mongolia, primarily early intervention services for Z who is still not speaking at almost 3 years. (To be fair, I didn’t speak until about three years of age, and there are several other relatives on both sides of the family who had delayed speech but no other developmental concerns.) We aren’t truly concerned about Z not yet talking, but we do want to make sure that he is speaking before we return to Mongolia. Speech therapists are rare to nonexistent (to our knowledge) in UB, and English-language speech therapists? Might as well ask for a rainbow colored unicorn.

Even so, we hope to return to Mongolia in fall 2019 or possibly spring 2020, but there are many factors that need to line up just so before we can go back. In the meantime, I hope to making blogging a more regular event here with both personal updates and interesting information about Mongolia. The biggest reason folks contact us through this blog is because there’s so little up to date info about Mongolia on the internet so I hope we can help out in that regard.


New year, new baby


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.


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!

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Merry Christmas!


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! 🙂



Merry Christmas!

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

“What does the fox say?”


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


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.


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!

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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!


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. 🙂

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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.

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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)…

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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.


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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!

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