Wednesday, November 29, 2006


On November 2nd I asked my blog readers to help me come up with something to blog about by asking questions about things they wanted to know. Only 5 people responded and most of them with easy questions to answer. But, leave it to Mentanna to ask something that I really had to think about. So, after a few days of thought and a few weeks with not enough time to blog I am finally ready to answer. Here is her question and my answer.

Which American trait do you like least about yourself, and which Turkish trait would you most like to adopt?

I think the American trait I like least about myself is the feeling of entitlement I have. I have noticed that we as Americans want things our way and in our timing. We have rights, and we are good at making sure our demands are met. I have mentioned this before, but I think it is important enough to mention again. When I am in America and sometimes when I am overseas I find myself expecting people to do things my way and I get upset if they don't.

In restaurants we expect the cook to prepare the food the way we want because we are paying for it. We ask for substitutions and make changes to the items offered on the menu and expect the restaurants to accommodate us. In Turkey and I would venture to say in quite a few other places in the world, people go to restaurants and order the food the way it says on the menu. They expect it to come like is says on the menu. The restaurants tell you on the menu how they cook it and if you don't want it that way you don't order it. Now, there are some places that will make exceptions, but mostly they do it their way, not mine. One sidenote...most restaurants in America don't mind making substitutions to their menus. They are happy to accommodate their customers. I have taken advantage of this quite a bit since I have been here. I am not complaining about that. It is the customer who tells the cashier at McDonalds that the french fries better be fresh and hot or she will bring them back that I have a problem with.

I also have a great example of getting my haircut in Turkey. The first time I went to a kuafor...hair salon...to get my haircut I told them how I wanted it cut. They did an okay job at following my directions, but it wasn't exactly like I had in mind. Now there was probably something lost in translation so I didn't worry about it too much. The next time I went back to the same place and told them that I didn't want my hair to be the same as the first time. I wanted something different. What did I get? Exactly the same thing. The stylist figured that he must have done something right the first time or I wouldn't have come back. I learned then that if I wanted my hair to be cut differently I either needed to go to a different salon or have a different person from that salon cut my hair. So that I didn't offend the stylist by demanding that someone else cut my hair I went somewhere else the next time I wanted my haircut. I actually like that I can go to the same stylist in America and have her do my hair the way I want and that it can be different every time. Very easy!

I think that Americans feel like we have earned the right to complain, pass judgement, and basically demand that things go our way or else. It wasn't so much like this in the 1950's and before. People were used to hardship and things not going their way. I think that when we were dealing with progress and civil rights (both good things) in the late 60's and 70's we got off track and became demanding of our own rights. We do have rights. It's how we demand that they be met that I want to flee from.

And now...

The Turkish trait I would most like to adopt is their idea of hospitality. For example...

1. Turkish picnics - they are an all day affair. You bring most of the food in grocery sacks and prepare it at the picnic. Tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onion, and pepper chopped up and mixed together with a little oil and lemon juice makes a shepherd's salad. Turkish bread, some grilled meatballs, chicken or lamb, grilled peppers or tomatoes, mixed nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit makes for some good eating.

2. Visiting in people's homes - When we first went to Turkey I had problems with this. We would go to someone's house for dinner at 5 and they wouldn't even serve dinner until 7:30 or so. By the time they served dessert, coffee or tea, and fruit (the final course) we had been at their house for 5 hours! It was amazing. There is no such thing as a short meal or a short visit.

3. Neighbors who bring food - I love this! When Turks bring food to their neighbors they bring a real dish not a disposable one. When the dish is returned it is returned with food on it. My problem is I never know what to put on the dish when I return it. My neighbors will bring stuffed peppers, bulgur pilaf or cheese pastries (not a sweet dish) and I always wonder what they do with the muffins or cookies I put on the plate when I return it. They bring real food and I return dessert. I'm sure it says something about me, but I don't think they will like most of the American food I cook and I can't cook Turkish food nearly as well as they can.

Sorry for such a long post. Mentanna must have been tired of my fluff blogs and wanted some substance. Most of Mentanna's posts are long and full of substance and I guess she wanted some company. You can click on the link to her blog on the right side of your screen (you may have to scroll down to find her name) and read some really good stuff if you are looking for more substance! Thanks, MLG, for the great question!

'Tis the Season

I just wanted to post some pictures of our neighbor's yard. They have decorated for every holiday since we have been back. They had several inflatables in their yard for 4th of July and halloween, but their Christmas decorations take the cake. They have 12 inflatable decorations in their yard. Six of them are quite large and the other six are smaller. One is a snow globe with actual white stuff blowing around in it. You can see it to the left of the archway over the sidewalk. They also have a blow-up carousel that actually turns...on the right of the archway. Not seen in this picture is a huge santa Mickey Mouse, and you can barely make out a Christmas tree, and a snowman on the far right. The smaller inflatables are Christmas ornaments and Winnie the Pooh characters. There are lights on their house, a candy cane lined sidewalk, a flag on the side of the fence, a santa hanging from their garage roof, and signs that say "Reindeer Crossing" and "Santa stops here." Incredible. These inflatable things must be fairly new; because, I don't remember them from before we went overseas. And they aren't cheap either. To decorate this yard this much must have cost a small fortune! I took these pictures at night so you could see the lights, but during the day the inflatables really show up.

I guess there is so much electricity going through their yard they had to put up the following sign!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Will's hair....

I'm not sure what all to say about Will's hair except that it is a far cry from the pictures of his hair posted here on May 4! He loved the long shaggy hair look when we arrived back in the states, and he had just gotten his haircut. He decided to grow it out then. That was June 12, and he hasn't had a haircut since! He wanted me to email these pictures to his friends, but I decided to just post them here instead. That way you can all enjoy goldilocks!

This picture looks a little distorted, but it was the only one I took with a view from the front!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The great outdoors!

Some friends and I went away for a girls' weekend this past weekend. It was so nice to get away from the kids and the responsibilities of home and just relax! We played dominoes, ate, talked about being godly wives, ate, talked about raising godly daughters, ate, talked about heart friends and accountability, and ate some more. I don't think I felt even a tiny hunger pain the whole weekend!

As you can see from this picture we took advantage of the campfire and moved the TV outside. We watched a video called Your Girl which gave us lots of advice on how to raise godly daughters.

The girls! This picture looks a little more feminine than some I took! At least we had our legs crossed! We decided after no showers and smoky campfires for two days we looked and smelled a little manly!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

I realize it is a couple of weeks early, but Anna Grace has gotten us thinking about what we are thankful for. She was given a piece of paper with the same title as this blog. There were 105 empty blanks for her to fill in with things she is thankful for. This is what she came up with. I won't subject you to the spelling mistakes she made...you should be thankful for that!

family, mom, dad, Will, Jacob, Erica, friends, me, Eric, Tyler, Harley, teacher, Mrs. Fisher, church, school, Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Lundy, Mikah, Mary Erin, Andrew, Nicholas, animals, squirrels, dog, cat, hamster, chipmunk, zebra, giraffe, body, food, drink, clothes, God, Jesus, us, grapes, bananas, pears, apples, house, everyone, TV, shirts, pants, mittens, gloves, scarf, candles, couches, chairs, pictures, camera, coconut, windows, girls, boys, cup, mug, plate, play, toys, people, Turkey, New York, Texas, Egypt, monkey, gorilla, fireplaces, computers, bible, cheetah girls, High School Musical, Zac Ephron, The Little Princess, jewelry, water, books, pillows, movies, furniture, cars, trophies, music, showers, baths, stop signs, stop lights, rocks, spirits, flowers, moon, sun, stars, earth, electricity, toilets, Jupiter, planets, coats, snow, closets, rugs, carpets

Interesting list...I know! She was proud of herself for coming up with that many.
So what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some answers.

Here are the answers to some of the questions posted by my blog readers.

1. Am I going to the craft fair tomorrow? Well, I went to the craft fair with Amy...thanks for asking...and I bought soup and dip mixes. I looked at all of the other items, but couldn't bring myself to buy anything that I was going to have to figure out how to get it back to Turkey. I kept thinking about the weight limit my bags were going to have and it was a good shopping deterant. I did see some pretty jewelry that wouldn't have taken up too much room, but we are saving for a new laptop so I just looked longingly at it and walked away.

2. Crunchy or creamy peanut butter? I am a crunchy girl myself. We usually buy both because the kids prefer the creamy, but give me some peanut butter with a little substance to it so I can justify the fat and calories.

3. When do we go back to Turkey? Well now, that is a good question. Our plan is to go back mid-January...like maybe the 11 or 12. We are still waiting on medical clearance from our company, but shouldn't have any problems.

4. Are we excited about going back? Yes and no. Erica is loving junior high in America, but will be fine once we get going. The other kids are all saying that they are ready to go back to their friends. Brian is really ready to go back, and I can do whatever. I am okay being in the states right now, but when the time comes I will be okay going back. One confession though....I might cry. I have never cried leaving America...not the first time or any of the times I have visited. This time I think I might be emotional about it. We will see.

5. What kinds of things have the kids noticed written on the bathroom stalls? Will came out of the restroom at a restaurant the other day and told Erica that if she was looking for a good time she could call Hannah at 281-***-****. We just about died. He thought that if a girl was looking for a good time she should have written her number in the girls bathroom where potential friends could read it. Oh, the innocence of youth.

6. Which country do I like better, America or Turkey? Now Abby, you know my answer. "They are very different from each other. They both have great things about them that I love. I like them equally well." Never commit to one or the other. It isn't good to bad mouth your home country or your host country.

7. Do I still make library cards for my personal books and then check them out to people? Why? Are you interested in borrrowing one? No, of course not. That is so high school! But, we do have a lot of DVD's in Turkey that we check out to people. They have to write their name in a little book along with the titles of the DVD's they are "checking out". Does that count? Those things are expensive, and after losing a few we got smart! Now we know who has what! And we are popular too...lots of people check out our movies! If you would come visit us, Mentanna, you could see if you approve of the system.

There were a couple of other serious questions that will take serious answers so I am waiting until I am in a more serious state of mind to answer them. Seriously!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Are there any questions?

I need to write a blog. I feel it. But, I don't know what to say. I keep having these moments that cause me to comment, "I am going to write a blog about that." But, when I sit down to write about them no words will come. Or I will have forgotten what it was I wanted to write about. Like now. I am thinking that I need to write a blog about how I am getting old. I am taking 6 different pills every night. All but one of them is a supplement. All have been recommended by doctors. That's it. Nothing funny or enlightening about that. It sounds good when I think about it but typed up on the computer it doesn't seem like much.

Another idea I had...when is it that your kids go from thinking you know everything to thinking you know nothing. With 4 kids in different stages of that thinking I just was wondering. And it isn't like Erica, the 13 year old, thinks I don't know what I am talking about. Deep down she realizes that I am almost always right. It's Anna Grace, the 7 year old, that seems to think that I don't have a clue. The boys don't seem to have a problem in this area. Jacob questions when he thinks I might possibly be wrong about something but usually takes my word for it. And Will, well who knows what he thinks! He seems to be pretty sure of what he thinks and doesn't ask for our opinion or advice much. Okay...so that is it for that topic.

I have also thought about writing about how while in America I am expecting more of people than I do in Turkey. I ask more of waiters...sauce on the side, no eggs even though the meal comes with them, substitutions. I don't know if it is because I know that they are used to it and expect to serve me or if it is because I can speak their language. In Turkey I might ask for sauce on the side except that would mean I would need to know how to say it in Turkish. And then I would wonder if they would be happy to get it for me or just think I am a demanding American.

All of these and many more thoughts have been floating around in my head. I just don't know how to write about them. I think I am in a slump. I was speaking to a group about our experiences overseas, and when I was done with what I had to say I took questions. Maybe that is what I need to do now. While I am in this slump....not able to come up with much to say myself...what do you want want me to write about? What do you want to know? Please...I am taking questions!