American Fall

There’s a lot that’s hard about right now. It’s hard putting our lives completely on pause and having to rely so much on others. That being said, one thing I am so grateful for is the chance to be back home for fall. This is my favorite time of year in America and the first time I have gotten to be here in autumn in six years. In spite of the pandemic, it has been so nice to enjoy long walks outside among the vibrant trees, indoor festivities with family, and the Halloween spirit. We even got to see snow for the first time since we were in Ukraine two years ago!

It can be easy to dwell on all the things I wish I was doing instead right now. 2020 is a year I think most of us would rather just forget. But I’m trying to remind myself that among the chaos are little moments of beauty that are worth remembering.



Yes, I know it’s a bit early, but here at the school we always celebrate Halloween on the closest Friday, so here we are.  This year was ten times better than last year, mainly because I actually knew what I was doing this time around.


We started off by decorating the main part of the school and doing some good, old-fashioned pumpkin carving.  None of them had ever done it before, so it was a doubly fun experience!  I loved how delightfully creepy these pazar pumpkins were!  It totally added to the atmosphere.  I think my favorite part was the look of pure disgust on all of the students’ faces when I demonstrated how to rip the pumpkin “guts” out from the hole in top with their bare hands.  So much fun!


After lots of decorating, carving, scary movies, spooky games, and photo ops, it was time for the trick-or-treating!  This year, we decided to make huge batches of hot chocolate with heart-shaped marshmallows (a.k.a the hearts of students who don’t do their homework) instead of candy. It was quite the undertaking, but totally worth it.  Our kitchen looked like Victor Frankenstein’s lab by the end.


After loading up on sugar, we had a costume contest and it didn’t disappoint.  We have a lot of theatrical and creative students, so many of them had a performance in addition to their immaculate costume.  It’s always hard to choose the winners.


I stepped up my own costume game this year, which was much needed to keep my energy up to entertain 200-something teenagers all day!


Happy Halloween, everybody!



Pumpkins at the Pazar

DSC_0111.JPGYou guys, I’m so happy.  I went to the pazar with some friends today to see if we could find any pumpkins, thinking at best we would find a handful of weird green ones.  Much to our surprise and delight, we were able to get big, beautiful, spooky-shaped orange pumpkins! Perfect for carving.  We’re having a little decoration competition at the school next week and I’m excited to see how they turn out!  We even got to haul them off on a big cart, and if I closed my eyes hard enough, I could pretend it was a hayrack ride.


Also on my list of great discoveries, a Starbucks 10 minutes away from the school WITH A DRIVE THROUGH.  That’s the first one I’ve seen in all of Europe.  I had a pumpkin spice latte, obviously.

It’s so nice to be feeling the vibes this year!

This is Halloween


A spooky full moon on a night of decorating


Crafted from After Eight wrappers






I was a holiday spirited homebody this weekend.  I was too overwhelmed at this point last year to appreciate the season, but now that I’m a little more put together, I realize how important it is for me to celebrate this time of year.  Back in the States,  Halloween was basically  a month long for me.  While I can’t celebrate on the same scale I did before, I’m determined to do as much as I can.  A weekend full of DIY decorations and some Tim Burton movies was a pretty good start.  It takes a little extra effort as an expat to make a new place feel like home, but it’s so worth it. .