Each and every year it starts the same. I turn back to my last year’s resolutions and see just how far I got through my list. I reflect on what has taken place over the last 12 months, to think about why some resolutions seemed easier and others were simply put aside. Then I decide which direction I wish to take during the new year.
2018 was full of work growth and expansion.
Alfonz started a new property development company with his cousin’s husband and they are building their first project on Lake Balaton. They designed the 3D blueprints together and have hired a construction company to start early 2019. They plan to work very closely on the project as both men are extremely creative. The whole thing is very exciting for us all to embark on yet another business adventure in Europe. We hope this expands into flipping homes and more development over the next decade as our children finish up their highschool and university. Great way to keep us parents busy until they are on their feet.
For myself I was absolutely maxed out with private students both from LivEnglish during school holidays and weekly tutoring hours. I loved every second of it, as each day is very different. Sometimes it was more challenging to try to get someone motivated, while other times it was a breeze watching progress towards fluency in a snap. It seems to me that every student brings new learning for me as a teacher as well, even though I have now been teaching for eight years! Can you believe it?
My motto is to respect every child as an individual. It is the magic ingredient of success in all my classes. Give them a voice and you will be surprised at how quickly they advance. And the best part, they want to come to class! Makes my heart swell to an enormous size! I feel it is a privilege to have such an important job.
The house looks great! Slowly over the course of 2018 we added in detail; a few more decorations, a new driveway, a new flower bed… It is always interesting to me how we strip ourselves down to nothing and start fresh, then build a home that reflects where we are at any particular moment in our life. For instance, the first floor has become my classroom/study, and my workout room. It is multifunctional place that I can come to gather my thoughts or stick to my fitness regime. However the kids can slip away with friends and hang out there too. On the other hand, some things are exactly the same. Like my kitchen which is almost the same colour as our kitchen was back home in Canada; the rich dark brown woods, the contrasting white painted cabinets, the stainless steel appliances, and we have the exact same Italian Ambrosia white granite with grey swirls and little red specks. Even the floors are dark wood tone, although this time we put in wood-looking tiles on an angle. I spend the most amount of time in this room, and it is on the smaller side of most kitchens, but luckily we have an enormous pantry that gives us the extra storage we need plus a wine cellar under the house that acts as a giant refrigerator all year round. Great space! Great house!
The kids are both in the middle of puberty which means testing boundaries and trying on different characters and personalities as they try to figure out who they are. I remember this phase of my own life all too well. (Sorry mom!) They are both doing exceptionally well, working hard in school, making great friends and doing their best. What more can I ask for?
That is one thing I did notice this year. I am looking after myself more often than not; putting myself and my needs first at times, and also buying myself nicer things, like clothes that last more than two washes and getting my hair, nails and lashes done every few months. But I have also noticed there are things that are getting harder to do just for lack of endurance, like the big lifestyle changes I like to preach about here on my blog. Less physical change for this 45 year old bird, like location and moving house, and more mental change like understanding how my mind works and why people do the things they do. It is a big shift really. I guess at some point I had to settle down, get into a routine, know where the coffee and the olives are kept in the cupboard. There is a reassurance that everything has its place, including myself. Maybe the community I have been longing for is closer than I think. Or maybe further still, it was here all the time. To create a stable place for our family, the answer might be time; to let the roots take hold in search of water and sustenance, and to take the years to develop relationships, real ones, the kind that bloom bigger every warm season.
I do love Budapest. My favourite thing to do is drive to the centre of the city and walk around the shops along the Danube River. There is nothing better to me than to enjoy the rush of life around me, listening to the people from all over the world chatting, and many enjoying the city for the first time. People ask us questions all the time, ‘Where are the baths’ ‘Which way to parliament?’ and we happily ask them where they are from, and tell them the must see sites… Many come to shop at bargain prices, even yesterday the shops were full of marked down items and my kids got to spend their Christmas money on a few winter items. One jacket was reduced by over half, the same jacket Daniel wanted in September but we held off. Angi too got herself an oversized fury hoodie to keep her warm in her room as she does her homework. Between the historical sites, the location on the blue Danube River, the cheap prices on everything from activities – food, the Roman baths, the ice skating, and the fabulous gourmet high-end restaurants; Budapest is a very special place! Unlike any other place on the planet! Come visit! Maybe 2019 is your turn!
New Year’s Resolutions 2019
My list this year is very short, ONLY 8 ITEMS. I want to continue on a healthy track and I want to finish my studies. After that, not sure. I guess we will see! The years fly by as you age, so sooner than later the future will be here.
#1 Learn chess
This has been on my list for years! I always think during the vacations with students I will one day sit still long enough to learn a few strategies. I have a feeling that I would be very good at it, as I love puzzles and figuring stuff out. When I read detective books I always guess the ending! I need to join a chess club or something!
#2 Write my French proficiency test A2
I am continuing with my private French teacher and my friend who talks French to me once a week. Although we have switched to Hungarian which I am not upset about in the least as my Hungarian has really improved a great deal over the last year! Maybe I should write a Hungarian proficiency test! Huh?!
#3 Learn to make Ili Neni’s duck!
It is the strangest thing. When I go to Bakonsarkany I am the happiest person in the world. The 1.5 hour drive, the winding roads through the countryside, it all makes me feel like I am going home. Part of that feeling of home comes from my Ili Neni’s pressure cooked duck confit. It is something very special, and the taste transports me back generations to when I was a little girl visiting her when she still had her little farm. I would walk around her back yard searching for kittens between the firewood, and pick them up and talk to them. something my own daughter did when she was little. I would feed the chickens and ducks, and spend time walking along the country roads. I would cross the train tracks to where my grandfather worked as a young man, and found the house my father grew up in. I love everything about this village, and the fact that both my parents stem from here, makes me even more happy. I need to come alone, just for a few days and finally learn how to cut a duck, pluck her clean, and prepare this meal. I believe it will be a full circle in many ways, to pass down this recipe to our line of the family.
#4 Finish my second year with over 85% in Psychology and double up the following school year
Doubling my classes come Fall will come with a huge financial price tag as it would mean for me to give up many of my private students and just work at the French school. It is a big decision to make but times are changing and in case of privatization down the road, I need a degree to fall back on. Time is of the essence! Experience is fine and dandy, and paired with being an anglophone puts me on top of the list in many schools, but in the future they will only take anglophones with a degree to teach English in the EU. That’s my take anyways, so I must prepare. I mean to think a native French or Hungarian teacher would be running an English department in Canada makes no sense. There must be qualified anglophone English teachers living here in Hungary to fill the EAL teaching market. EAL teaching certificates are fine, but I need to up the ante.
I remember someone saying, that ‘just because you are anglophone doesn’t make me a teacher’. And I totally agree with this statement. But the reverse is also true. Just because you have a teaching degree doesn’t make you a teacher either. Have they mastered the art of teaching, getting the children excited about learning while keeping their character intact and managing groups and pair learning; all the skills children need to become members of our society. It is not about memorizing information.
Teaching is changing with our large class sizes, different nationalities and students with different native languages at home. To find a way to teach everyone, by respecting the country they live, yet also celebrating their origins and keeping respect straight across the board. Wow even writing it down is tiresome! It is a tricky balancing act. Teachers must be the example of love and understanding, but further than that, often we are the soft place for these kids to fall in a very academic school system, and they seek answers to questions they are afraid to ask. Especially if they are being bullied or teased, or feel something isn’t fair. Others have difficult problems to endure at home; illness, death, migration… They are in new terrain growing up with so much technology around them at every turn. They are easily influenced. We are not teachers teaching curriculum any longer, but guides leading students to find their own truths. And often, by us scaffolding the children lead in their learning, reaching out into our communities that surrounds us to support the precious children that will lead us in the future.
#5 Get involved with some positive changes here in Hungary
I am not so sure that getting involved in politics is the best idea I have ever had. In France it was a natural progression. Here there are some pretty strong characters with tons of connections running this country and to try to make your voice heard would be a task. However I do believe that as I age politics and making change will become more a frontline objective for me.
-What I would like to see is wages go up so that everyone who works can live a good life. The big companies that have set up shop here because the wages are so low are raking in a fortune on the backs of the Hungarian worker, who cannot afford shopping in the stores they work for on their 500€ monthly wages. The government has an obligation to look after the people and not line their pockets.
-Hospitals and hospital reform needs to become a priority in this country. How we treat the sick and elderly tells a lot about a country. They need to increase standards in this sector before building another soccer stadium.
-Schools need to evolve from 60 years ago, adding in new curriculum and less homework for students. I watch 7 year olds trying to cope in grade 1 and it breaks my heart how the nature desire to learn is extinguished in their first year at school. They come home with giant circles around their eyes, exhausted from their long working days. Often they stay in school from 7:00-17:00 while parents work. The stress put on these kids, with the authoritarian style of teaching is far too much. The children need a voice.
-Government run affordable housing projects need to be established to get the working poor in good homes. There are some really good programs here with 0% interest to build a home if you have an intact family unit and have three children. Now they have added in families with two children asn even we qualify for a 10 million HUF loan to build. I am sure we will take advantage of this government grant before Daniel finishes school.
Conclusion, in my mind there are many expats here with Hungarian descent that could really impact change here in Hungary. I wonder if we should start a new party? Women’s coalition party, or mothers for change… hey it’s an interesting idea! Who knows what the future holds?
#6 Continue on the path to health
I have been part of a transformation in our family called the Keto diet. It is a simple idea really. No complex carbohydrates like refined white flour, in place whole grains and simple carbs like potatoes and brown rice and you then decrease your serving. Add in 30% healthy fats and local grown meats. Bio olive oil, coconut oils, organic animal fats like duck fat, and all sorts of nuts are incorporated into our daily diet. Now mass amounts of green veggies and limit fruits. No sugar! Or limit your sugar, even the children!
What I see here is parents giving their children massive amounts of chocolate and sugar every meal. Add in loads of white processed pasta, and fast foods and you have children who are not fueling their brains, in essence they are starving them. Healthy fats give children brain fuel that burns slow and long and not fuel through carbs that transform to sugar as soon as it hits your bloodstream. Sugar is highly addictive and the more they eat the more they crave it. Diabetes is an epidemic here, children who take insulin to regulate their sugar. So sad… so what’s the answer?
Rule of thumb, buy the best your money can buy.
One solution for our cookie monster aka Daniel is making an organic cookie from honey (bees have no hidden agenda), dark chocolate and bio grains. He loves it! I know, it is far more expensive, and a great deal of work but the other option is to poison my children! It is simply not worth it. What we feed our family it more important parental decision we can make for our kids. And to teach them healthy eating is our responsibility, not the schools, or the governments but ours. The more people who feed their children good health whole foods, the less it will cost in the long run. Check the labels, look for E#s, pass on processed anything, buy organic products or go without. Lentils, and beans are cheap, local meats and produce including cheeses and dairy are abundant and fresh. The closer to home you buy the fresher and healthier the products will be.
#7 make a 50 before 50 list.
#Remember my 40 before 40 list?
It was compiled a few years before my 40th birthday, a list of some of the places I wanted to see and things I wanted to learn and try before my milestone fortieth year on planet Earth! Well that was already five years ago. So it is time to start again!
#8 Workout everyday
I have been very good at dropping my last 3 kilos but over the two week break we have been eating and recharging our batteries. It has been lovely to connect with the family, make beautiful meals and spend our precious time together. But it is time to get back on the program. I love working out, I am one of those! Each day I spent my time on my elliptical, yoga ball and lift my weights. We also take long walks, and spend time doing physical activities like skating and bike riding as often as we can. I think it makes life balance and keep some of sane.
6/10 New Year’s Resolution List 2018 Not my best year for resolutions!
X #1 Learn how to play chess
Nope this is not something that happened this year. Maybe when our student Zoli comes back to us in the winter break. He is very good at chess!
X #2 Learn how to make Ili Neni’s duck
Again on my list! Crap, how many times will this be on my list! Just got to make the time.
X #3 French proficiency test A2
I do have a French teacher and I did finish Duolingo which are huge steps towards my A2, but I am still A1-A2 and not ready for the test quite yet! I am nearly there. With so much on my plate it is not a priority.
X #4 120 credits this year Open University
Financially only 60 credits fit into our budget this year. But I hope to double up the next two years and finish my degree in 2020
√ #5 Work out everyday without fail!
This I got down! I love my elliptical trainer and cannot imagine life without it!
√ #6 Master something physical
I am working on my yoga still, master is a strong word, I think novice is closer to the truth.
√ #7 Try to cook new things each week
Alfonz has taken over the kitchen and created all sorts of new recipes for us to try and saviour. I too have joined in the creative phase of our cooking and have in fact tried all sorts of recipes over the course of the last year!
√ #8 Convince my mother to visit every year
Well not sure if she will come every year, but she did come this year! Small accomplishment, but a good start.
√ #9 My Expat Life – That’s Hamori – try to post once a week
I do post more often, but not always on the website but on Facebook.
√ #10 Take time with the children and help with homework
Daniel needed our attention this year and after a great deal of effort, he finally reached his grade levels! We are absolutely proud of his dedication to his grade 10 year!