Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Recent Events

Yesterday I was talking to Brian about my inability to come up with a new blog topic. I know I have posted a lot lately, and you may be thinking that I don't have a problem coming up with topics. I love posting! I enjoy writing stuff down that I know other people are reading. It is strangely satisfying. So...I was trying to figure out what to write about yesterday, and I could not come up with anything! Today, again, I was trying to come up with something...anything remotely interesting. Nothing! So here are a few things that have happened since we have been back but weren't considered blog worthy at the time.

1. We arrived back in Turkey on a Thursday. The first Saturday back I decided to make pancakes for breakfast. I started making the pancakes, and about halfway through mixing them I realized I was in Turkey and had to make syrup too!

2. That Thursday we stepped off the airplane onto a ramp pulled up to the plane. The ramp took us right into the airport. No stairs down the plane to the waiting shuttle to take us to a tiny building called an airport. The new airport was finished, and it was amazing! We had been watching it being built for quite sometime and weren't disappointed at all! (For a description of the old airport please see my posts from March 7 and May 29, 2006.)

3. Brian and I went to the airport to pick up some friends last week. We were stopped at the entrance gate, and our car was looked into. The guard removed a thin, hollow, plastic baseball bat. I guess it looked dangerous. The metal broom handle next to the bat must not have looked so bad, because he didn't take it. Plastic....metal....if I had to choose which one I wanted to be hit with I would choose the bat! He said we could get it on our way back out of the gate. This is amusing considering the knife at the airport story from March last year.

4. Brian took forever to pay bills one day this week. There are no checks and envelopes to pay bills here. Brian went to the post office and managed to pay one of the two bills he had. The other bill needed to be paid at a bank. He found a bank listed on the bill and went inside to pay. After taking a number and waiting 30 minutes he was told that that particular branch didn't take bills. Okay...no sign anywhere saying that but not surprising. He went to another bank and was told that they didn't accept bills after 12pm. He finally went to his office to wait until a different bank opened up after lunch. While there a teammate offered to pay his bill online using his bank account. He did. The next day Brian opened up a bank account with the only bank in town that allows you to pay bills online. He plans on putting money in it every month to cover the bills, and that's all it will be used for.

5. I had a package of low-carb banana nut muffin mix from before we left for the states still in the cabinet. One night I decided to make them for the kids for breakfast the next morning and for the neighbors who had given us the asure. That night I sent the kids with some hot muffins to our neighbor's apartment. The next morning the kids tasted the muffins and said they were horrible! Brian tasted one and agreed. Now the neighbors either think that I am a horrible cook or American food is terrible.

That's it. That's all the interesting...or not so interesting...stories I have. Maybe tomorrow I will have a revelation...an epiphany...or something I can share with you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Limon Kolonyasi

One of my favorite things to be introduced to when we came to Turkey was lemon cologne. This product is a multi-purpose wonder! Our first encounter with lemon cologne came our first week in Turkey, March 2002. We were leaving a furniture store after shopping all day for beds, couches, tables, chairs, etc. We were tired. We were cold. And evidently our hands needed refreshment. The store clerk held out the bottle to us, and thankfully, we had a friend with us so that we could follow his lead. He cupped his hands and let the man pour a small puddle of lemon cologne into his hand. He proceeded to "wash" his hands in the cologne letting the excess drip out of his hands and down his arm or onto the floor. Okay then. My turn. Cup my hands. Smile at the nice man pouring the cologne into my hands...all the while thinking that several people could wash their hands in the amount of cologne he is pouring into my hands. Begin "washing" my hands. Continue smiling even though my hands are now on fire because they are really dry and someone just poured what seems to be alcohol on them. Glance at Brian who is "washing" his hands and seems to have a genuine smile on his face...he must love this stuff. Let my hands fall to my sides and drip dry.

Later we found out that lemon cologne is basically alcohol with a lemon scent. People here use it for a multitude of things. It is offered to guests when they visit. I have often wondered if it is because the people being visited think that the people doing the visiting need to be disinfected from outside germs when they enter the house. Who knows? Why would we be given lemon cologne after furniture shopping? I don't know. After eating at restaurants they either offer lemon cologne to the people at the table or pass out packaged wet wipes that have lemon cologne on them. I understand that after eating one might feel the need to wash his hands. That makes sense to me. I have been asked by repairmen if I have lemon cologne which they then used to clean pipe fittings. Interesting. Erica sometimes uses it as an astringent after washing her face. I have squirted some on the bathroom counter and toilet seat and had a kid wipe it off with a paper towel for an instant clean when we were expecting last minute guests. I've also collected the wipes from the restaurants and carry some in my purse at all times. I use them after grocery shopping, because the stores are very dusty here. I always feel the need to wash my hands after grocery shopping. When we have had sick kids they have been used to wipe doorknobs and light switches with the hopes of killing some of the germs involved. I love this stuff. It does everything! I'm sure there are long forgotten reasons for the tradition of lemon cologne. It was probably originally used for hand washing when there was no running water in houses. Now that people have bathrooms and both liquid and bar soap in their homes it might not be as necessary. But I say, "Long live lemon cologne!"

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dancing Queen

Erica's school held a ball at the end of January. The kids took a couple of ballroom dancing lessons to learn some steps before the dance. The guys were even taught the proper way to ask for a dance. This is Erica, a friend from England, and a friend from Iraq after they had their hair done. They practiced dancing with each other all day before the dance! They were up really early the morning of the dance painting their fingernails and primping. Erica wanted me to help her put on eyeliner at 10 in the morning. I told her that the dance wasn't even until 6 that evening. She had 8 hours before she even needed to be ready. She informed me that they were putting on their makeup early and then planning to touch it up later. Oh....okay then.

Erica paid about $16 to have her hair done. She had lots of fun and said it was better than the junior high dance she had in the states. They all just stood around and talked while music played. Nobody even danced in America she said!

It's hard to see, but she is wearing a tiny tiara in her hair. She really was a dancing queen. She looked so old to me! Thankfully this is only once a year!

Random Thoughts

I was looking at my blog today and noticed a few things. Brian thought they were boring things that nobody would care about. But I care. So I thought I would share what I learned.

1. I started my blog on Feb. 4, 2006. I have been a blogger for a year! Wow. I actually couldn't remember when I started it, but it seems like more than a year ago.

2. I had 48 posts in 2006. Considering I didn't post any in January that basically means about a post a week. Not too shabby!

3. I have had 28 posts so far in 2007. What am I doing? I need to get out more!

Other things I have noticed today.

1. It is Feb. 24. We have been back in Turkey for one month. Seems like longer.

2. I haven't missed Pappadeauxs at all since I have been back. I wonder when it will hit me.

3. The weight I gained in America isn't going to go away just because I'm back in Turkey. I tried to convince myself that it would just fall off once we got back, but that isn't happening. Time to get busy!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lost and Found

I admit it...I am addicted to Carmex. I love it. When my lips need moisturizing healing, Chapstick just doesn't cut it for me. I need Carmex.

Rewind to June 11, 2006. We left Turkey for our 7 months in the states. I left 4 jars of Carmex in Turkey knowing that I didn't need to bring all I had with me because I could get more there. I had one in my purse with plans to purchase a couple more jars so that I could have one by my bed and one in my car.

Fast-forward to January 24, 2007. I got on the airplane to head back to Turkey and realized that I only had two jars of Carmex with me...the one from my purse and the one that was usually by the bed. Oh well, no big deal. I had four fresh unopened jars waiting for me when I arrived in Turkey. The night we arrived back I didn't feel like digging through my suitcases to find the jar that had been by the bed so I went to get a fresh jar out of the stash I had left behind. I couldn't find them anywhere. I was like the widow with the lost coin in the bible. I looked where I thought I put them and everywhere else that I could have put them. They were not here. I finally decided that I must have been really kind and generous and given them to other Carmex lovers here before I left knowing that I could get more in America. The problem was I remembered having some here so I never bought more to bring back. My dad was sending a couple of things our way so I asked him to throw a couple of jars of Carmex in the box so that I would have more when I ran out. He was generous and sent four new jars.

Fast-forward again to February 22, 2007. Yesterday, I was in my bathroom getting ready for bed, and I decided to grab a hot oil hair treatment out of the cabinet and put it in the shower to use this morning. I had been wanting to use one but kept forgetting to get it out of the cabinet before getting in the shower. Anyway I grabbed the little box with the oil in it out of a clear plastic tub and underneath it were three jars of carmex. I was confused because I thought they might be the ones my dad just sent me, but I was pretty sure I didn't put them in there. After noticing the ones my dad sent on the shelf I realized I was finding the ones I had been missing. Part of me was relieved...I am not crazy. I knew I left some here...I thought it was four, but maybe I grabbed one at the last minute before we left. The other part of me thought...I am crazy. I had already looked exactly where I found them when I first got here. It's where I thought I put them. If there had only been one maybe I might have missed seeing it, but how could I have missed three? I guess in my tired, jetlagged stupor I didn't see them or dig around enough in the box. The box is clear so maybe I relied on the fact that I could see through it, and didn't search too hard. But I really wanted that Carmex and am pretty sure I dug. Oh well. Now I have 6 brand new containers and two partially used ones. That oughta last a while!

So like the widow in the bible I am calling together my friends and neighbors saying "Rejoice with me, for I have found [that] which I had lost!" Luke 15:9

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Every Thursday and Sunday there is an open air market near our house. In Turkish it is called a pazar, and it is set up under this covered pavilion.

They have a variety of clothing, towels, hangers, pots, brooms, shoes, material, yarn, toys, candles, and so many other household type items. We've even seen rugs, tables, chairs, and other types of furniture. And then there's the food!

Brian went to the pazar today to buy some fruit and veggies. I handed him the camera as he was walking out the door and asked him to take some pictures. He said he would and even got some of the guys that work this stand to pose!

They also sell beans, dried fruits and nuts as well as eggs, yufka (very thin tortilla type dough), yogurt, and other fresh items.

The sellers rent space for a booth and set up their stuff on plywood and sawhorse tables. People usually set up their booths in the same spot so we have our regular places we shop. One of my favorite places is a section of tables that sells pajamas and other intimate apparel. Most of these items are made in Turkey for companies like Tommy Hilfiger, Disney Store, Ralph Lauren, Gap, and others, but for some reason they didn't pass the inspection to make it to the real stores. I have gotten some great deals on pjs and underwear for the kids and myself! And when I say deals I mean less than $3 an item for pjs and 50 cents for underwear! Evidently Brian wasn't too impressed with this section, because he didn't take any pictures of it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Call to Prayer

I have long wanted to be able to share the sound of the call to prayer with those who haven't ever heard it. With the addition of video to my blog I can now do that. This video was taken while I was standing on my balcony. The speakers are about halfway up the minaret of the mosque. As you can tell the call is very loud. I once stayed with some friends who lived next door to a mosque, and when the call to prayer sounded at 4:30am I thought that the man was standing in the room with me. Oftentimes you can hear multiple mosques at the same time. There is supposed to be a mosque withing 5-10 minutes walking distance for everyone. There are several more around us. This one happens to be the closest. There are brief pauses in between the verses. Some imams pause a long time and others barely at all. Sorry for the shaky hands.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

More Videos

So I am trying to figure out how to add video. I don't take that many videos because they just sit in a file on my computer. If I can figure out how to add them to this blog easily I might take more.

This is what we do around here for fun. Miss Ku, Erica, Will, and Anna Grace were watching a DVD called HipHop Shop. It teaches you the latest hiphop moves. Here are a couple of their attempts!

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Trying my hand at adding video.

Jacob doing a little dance!

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pictures of Istanbul

The northern bridge over the Bosphorus Strait as seen from the southern bridge.

Apartments on a hill

Looking North from the southern bridge

Fruit and vegetable market

Rumeli Hisari, a fort built in 1452, as seen from the northern bridge

Saturday, February 17, 2007

All roads lead to Ankara

Recently Brian and I took a trip to Istanbul to pick up our cats that were being taken care of by some wonderful guys while we were in America. We also took advantage of the Ikea store that's in Istanbul. If you ever have the chance to visit an Ikea store you should. It is really interesting. We went to find something for Anna Grace to put her clothes in. The chest that we bought for her when we first arrived in Turkey was falling apart so she really needed something new. We also got a few other household gadgets that you can't find anywhere else around here. It was fun.

Trying to get out of Istanbul was an adventure! The cats were staying on the European side of Istanbul, and we spend the night on the Asian side of the city. In late morning traffic we crossed one of the two bridges over the Bosphorus Strait. Brian remembered exactly how to get to where we were going which was nice! I, on the other hand, had no idea where we were going since I had never been there before. (For those that know me...I must admit that even if I had been there before I would still not have known where to go...okay...fine.) We picked up the cats and headed home. To cross back over the Bosphorus we had to use a different bridge, because the one we had used to get to that side only took cars with special tags going the other direction. After finding the right bridge and crossing back into Asia we started looking for signs leading us out of town and to Ankara. According to the signs all roads led to Ankara. Which road was the right one? We wanted to take the tollroad, but weren't sure which one it was. "Oh look, Ikea...we should be getting close to the tollroad." We picked a road, and it was the wrong one. We were stuck on a regular highway, and the traffic wasn't moving. As we inched along we looked for a sign that would let us cross over to the tollroad. After almost an hour inching along we finally came to an exit for the tollroad. We took it! The problem was it sent us back towards downtown Istanbul. We ended up almost where we started from. We did manage to get on the tollroad this time, and it was about then that I decided that I needed to go to the bathroom. Now once you get on the tollroad you don't want to get off. You might not be able to find it again! Brian was determined to get out of Istanbul before we stopped so I had to wait. There are a few roadside travel stops on the tollroad so Brian decided to stop at one in Izmit...about an hour outside of Istanbul. This particular stop had a Burger King, and it was just about lunch time at this point! I ran in to go to the bathroom and ordered lunch while Brian filled the van up with gas. After the food came I hiked across the parking lot where the van was still sitting at the gas pump. I figured Brian was inside paying and would be out in a minute. He came out a couple of minutes later and said that neither one of the credit cards he had were working. He moved the van out of the way, took my credit cards to see if they would work, and went back inside to try to pay. Unfortunately we didn't have enough cash to cover the cost of the gas or else we would have used it and been on our way. Nor were there any ATM machines around for him to try to get money. A few minutes later he came out and said that the manager was sending the cashier across the tollroad to see if the sister travel stop on the other side would accept our credit card. I couldn't believe it. This poor woman had to run across three lanes of traffic, climb over the rail, cross a drainage ditch, climb over another rail, run across three more lanes of traffic to get to the other side. And when I say traffic I mean cars going 70-80 miles an hour! I wasn't sure what was going to happen if they didn't accept our credit cards on that side! A little while later she came back with our receipt. Crazy! She risked life and limb to make sure they got their money. Brian told the manager she deserved a raise! He agreed, but I doubt she gets one. I was extremely thankful the manager didn't ask Brian to run across to the other side to pay. He said he wouldn't have done it even if he had been asked. While all this was going on Brian and I ate Burger King, and had time for dessert and coffee. I even went to the bathroom again. I figured Brian wouldn't want to stop anymore after that! We finally pulled out of the travel stop about 50 minutes after we pulled in!

I have to say that I did make Brian stop once more just outside of Ankara. I couldn't hold it any longer! Thankfully there was no drama involved. In...out...on our way!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Important information!

I know many of you may be tired of the bathroom talk. With the talk about animal poop in the asure blog and the whole post about the proper usage of a squatty potty you may be beginning to wonder where my brain is. Well this post is also about a bathroom. Last one...I promise...well at least for now.

This sign was posted on the inside of a bathroom stall. This stall had a "normal" toilet in it. Actually it was a little fancy. It had the plastic stuff covering the seat. You could press a button, and the used plastic would rotate out and a fresh piece rotated in. Anyway...back to the sign. I was really amused by the directions on the sign. Here is a basic translation.

1. Don't smoke in the bathroom.
I know for a fact that this rule had been broken, because the whole bathroom smelled like cigarette smoke.

2. When using the "alafranga" toilet (normal sit down kind) your children should not stand on the seat. Teach them how to sit down and use it.
I can just picture children trying to stand on the seat and squat to use it!

3. Teach your children the right way to use an "alaturka" toilet (squatty).

4. Before AND after using the toilet don't forget to flush.
I never heard this one before! Seems like a waste of water to me!

5. Please throw your trash in the trash can.

6. After using the toilet definitely wash your hands with soap.

7. Don't forget to turn on the faucet.
This one confuses me. I think it should say 'don't forget to turn off the faucet' but that is not the word they are using. I looked it up thinking that maybe there could be some other way to say it, but I couldn't find anything else that made sense. The picture above looks like it is telling you not to leave it dripping, but that isn't what it is saying...as far as I can tell. The faucet they are talking about are the ones in the stalls. These are used to help "flush" the turkish toilets, and to help "clean" the people using the toilet. Why would you leave them on when you are finished? I have to say that almost every bathroom I have ever been in has a drippy faucet. Are they designed not to turn off all the way? Maybe someone who knows Turkish better than me....which is pretty much anyone around here...can explain it to me!

To edit or not to edit...that is the question.

I have gotten several comments on the Asure blog that I wrote. After reading it again myself I thought I should clarify something. I thought about just editing the post, but then I thought that if people have already read the post they might not read it again so they would never read the new sentence...are you ready? Here it is...

Asure is served cold or at room temperature.

Maybe people eat it right when it is done cooking, but I have never had it this way. Maybe I am supposed to heat it up, but from everything I have read on the subject...which isn't a lot...it never mentions eating it hot. So I am going with my original statement. Eat it cold.

If someone knows more than me about this subject let me know and I will post another blog with the new information!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


It's that time again. You know the time when the Turks mix up a big ol' batch of asure and then pass it out to their neighbors. What? You say you've never heard of it? Okay then, let me fill you in.

The legend regarding the origins of asure goes as follows: "When the Flood finally subsided and Noah's Ark settled on Mount Ararat in Agri, those on the vessel wanted to hold a celebration as an expression of the gratitute they felt towards God. But alas, the food storages of the ship were practically empty and so they made a soup with all the remaining ingredients they could find and thus ended up with asure".

I must admit...I copied and pasted that last paragraph from a website on Turkish desserts. Okay...now that I have confessed let me give you my version of the holiday.

Asure is pronounced Ah-shur-ay....making sure to roll the 'r' in the word. One month ago we had a holiday called Kurban Bayram. This is the sacrificing holiday. Muslims believe that Abraham was going to sacrifice Ishmael and God stepped up and provided a ram in the thicket. Basically, our Abraham and Isaac story. Anyway, the month afterwards is asure month. I'm not sure how many of our neighbors make asure, but only one gives it to us...thankfully. What is in asure you ask? Good question. Brian says that Noah swept out the ark and made asure with what was in the dust pan. I picture every kind of animal poop imaginable when he describes it this way! Actually the ingredients are as follows....copying from website again...
Dövme (dehusked wheat for asure), Chickpeas, Dry white beans, Rice, Water, Dried apricots, Dried figs, Raisins, Orange, Sugar, Rose water, Walnuts (not crushed), Pomegranate, and the possiblities are endless. Our latest batch had hazelnuts, dried currants, and cinnamon on top. I would say that it is a lot like glorified oatmeal. That is what it tastes like to me. And I don't like oatmeal so I am not crazy about this "dessert" either.

On Sunday night we were having house church at our house. We had just finished dinner and were all sitting around the table when the doorbell rang. When I say all I mean 5 adults. There were also 6 kids running around so I'm sure it seemed really crowded to the nice little man from downstairs who was delivering his wife's homemade asure. He brought one bowl, but quickly ran back downstairs to get more since we had company. We ended up with the three bowls you see pictured above. One bowl was given to the single guy on our team. I'm not sure how well he eats being a single guy and all, and he said he loved desserts so he got to take home a hearty bowl of goodness to help him get by for a couple of days. Another bowl was given to friend who claims to love asure. Brian ate a little out of the last of the bowls and what is left is still in my refrigerator. Oh, Anna Grace also claimed to love it and asked for a bowl. Anna Grace doesn't love anything so I gave her a small amount to taste and I was right. She didn't like it.

I am thankful that God took care of Noah and his family on the ark. I am also thankful that only one of my neighbors shares asure with us. As they say in Turkey...afiyet olsun...or bon appetit!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For Paula

While I was in the states a friend of mine heard me talk about using a squatty potty. With the help of a couple of other friends who had been fortunate enough to have used one before I tried to describe what one looked like. This week Brian and I had the opportunity to visit a restroom that had squattys, and fortunately for Paula I had my camera!

How to use: Stand on the foot treads and squat all the way down keeping your balance without holding on to anything or touching the nasty floor. At the same time you must hold on to the tissue that you brought with you since most restrooms don't have any. If you are carrying a purse or have a jacket often you must hold onto them as well since the possiblity of there not being a hook is pretty good. And if you are wearing pants you will want to roll them up a bit so that they don't touch the floor which is usually wet and could have running water flowing over it. To flush: Pour a small pitcher of water (located under the faucet that won't turn off all the way...hence the wet floor... which is just outside of my picture near the stall door) in the toilet, or press a button on the wall making sure to stand at the extreme side of the stall so that your shoes don't get wet with the spray coming from the two small holes at the back of the toilet. Fun times!

Come visit and you, too, can try your hand at this extreme sport! I'll even hold your purse and coat for you although it will take away from the experience!

Another request.

After 44 reads only 14 comments or emails from people saying they are reading. Very interesting. I wonder who the other 30 people are! Anyway...I was thinking. Do any of you have blogs? I know of a couple, but if you have one I would love to know it's address. I would love to read your ramblings! If you have a blog either leave me a comment with the address or send me the address through email. Then I can comment on yours!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I wanted to make a request. I put a site counter on my blog not too long ago. It was designed to help me see if anyone is actually reading this blog. I know some people are reading it because they are commenting. I am also seeing that 1500 people have looked at this blog since I put the counter on it. So I am wondering...where are all my blog readers from? Who is reading this besides the people who comment regularly? If you wouldn't mind posting a comment just so I can see who is reading this I would really appreciate it. All I want is your name, where you are from, and how you found my blog. I know some people are looking at this blog because they have clicked a link from someone else's blog. And others have a remember us card with the address on it. There may even be other ways that I am not even thinking of. So if you will give me a shout out I would appreciate it!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Yesterday Brian went to the store to get some sodas. He came back with Diet Coke (of course!), lemon soda and apple soda. We had never tried the apple, and he thought it might taste a little like sparkling cider which we love. He was looking at the bottle and noticed it said "Elmali gazli icecek." That basically translates Apple Gassy drink. I just about died...mainly because he kept talking about what might happen to a person drinking apple gassy drink. For those of you who know Brian you can imagine what kinds of things he said and what kinds of faces he made. Now I'm sure if the drink was sold in America the translation would be more along the lines of "Apple Soda" or "Apple carbonated beverage" but it was funny translating it literally.

Anyway, it made me think about how many times things here are translated into English. Sometimes the translations are really good, and many times they are really funny! And then there are the times that they make absolutely no sense. The following paragraph is one of those times. These are the actual words written on a package for a loofa sponge. All spelling and punctuation errors are theirs - not mine! Some of you may have received this in an email from me not long after we moved to Turkey, but I think it is worth repeating! Read on!

Fiber Pumkin
Fiber pumkin is coming from cucurbite it's grouving up middle east of Turkey. If piell's up all poision bacterial after that you can use all fiber pumkin clean all bodies. It'll be marvellous for clean bodies it's finally end for celluite after that all bodies taking a breath. All of them making diffrent syle and sizes.
You'll use it with hot water and bath soap if you'll take a special pocket after push under the water it'll very naturel soft fiber pumkin. It's wont hurt all bodies. You can use all for faces cleaning. After all take bath you'll have to take very good bath.
Have a nice smooth and healthy life.

Are you kidding me? This makes no sense. You would think that if a person was going to try to sell something and wanted to use an English translation to tell how their product works or how wonderful the product is they would find a native English speaker to at least proofread the translation!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I can't believe it. Yesterday I wrote an amazingly long blog about me. I know...not exactly what you want to read about, but hey, it is my blog after all. And then at the end I asked for feedback. I humbled myself...again, about me...took a learners posture and asked for people to critique me. I can't believe that out of the 60 people who looked at my blog over the last two days nobody said anything smart. And I don't mean brilliantly smart...I seriously expected someone to talk about how "messed up" I am or something. Maybe people saw how long the blog was and chose not to read it. Amy commented (and I appreciate it!) and I got one email about it, but that was it. Nobody took advantage of my invitation to say something ugly! Wow, you people are too nice!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Description change.

I was looking at the description I had for this blog. It said "what goes on and what's up on this side of the world." Then I was thinking about what I actually blog about. There are some pictures of life wherever we happen to be. There are stories about things that happen to us and around us. And then there are my random thoughts. I don't think my blog description really describes my blog. It isn't just about life on this side of the world. So in order to more accurately reflect the content of the blog I have changed the description. I am also going to create folders so that those of you who really only care to read about life here can find those posts more easily. Don't worry though, my reflections on life and my ramblings will still be available to all who dare to read them! Not all posts will have a category. Some are so random they would be in a category by themselves!

Personality Profile

About a month ago I got an email from a friend who has known me for almost 20 years. (Wait...am I really that old...yes we met freshman year of college...probably fall of 1987. Wow!) Anyway she read back through some of my old blogs and came upon the "Are there any questions?" blog of November 2. After reading it she had this to ask...

"What ways have you changed since your time in Turkey -- meaning, in character or spiritually?"

I told her that I would post the answer in a blog instead of in an email back to her, but have had trouble coming up with an easy answer. I feel like I have changed dramatically, but I can't really explain it. Before receiving her email our family went to California for Christmas and had a chance to spend some time with one of Brian's mentors. He challenged us to take a personality profile test to see how we scored. This personality test is the one that types you as a popular sanguine, powerful choleric, peaceful phlegmatic or perfect melancholy. I took this same test my senior year of high school and was a popular sanguine. I wondered how I would rate this time. Had I changed? So here is a partial answer to Karen's question and some other random thoughts I have about myself!

I had a lot of trouble taking the test this time. I don't remember how I felt when I took it in high school. Was it easier to know who I was when I was younger? It sure seemed to be! On this test I had to read each of four words on a line. I was supposed to select the word that most accurately described who I was naturally. If I had learned a behavior from a class, book, or for a job it is not considered a natural behavior for me. The test encouraged me to ask my friends or family if I had trouble choosing a word to describe me. It said that people often have a lot of baggage tied up in who they think they are so input from others can be insightful. If I was unsure of what a word meant there were definitions to help me make a choice. After reading all of those directions I got started.

1. adventurous, adaptable, animated, analytical
whew...this isn't so bad...definitely adaptable

2. persistant, playful, persuasive, peaceful
hmmm...persuasive...wait...is that a good thing or not....definition - convinces through logic and fact rather than charm or power...okay yes persuasive

3. refreshing, respectful, reserved, resourceful
Oh my ...I need definitions for these...
refreshing - renews and stimulates or makes others feel good
respectful - treats others with deference, honor and esteem
reserved - self-restrained in expression of emotion or enthusiasm
resourceful - able to act quickly and effectively in virtually all situations
Well, I would like to be refreshing, but I think reserved is a better description

And on it went. The strengths weren't too hard, but the weaknesses were another story!


1. brassy, bossy, bashful, blank
okay...I guess of these I am bossy.

2. interrupts, impatient, insecure, indecisive
definitely indecisive, but wait, let me see a definition...
indecisive - finds it difficult to make any decision at all
Well, that's not me. I am not indecisive in the important things...just in deciding what I want to eat or what fun thing I want to do. And then it's just because there are so many good options! Okay, then what about insecure...
insecure - is apprehensive or lacks confidence
Well good grief...none of these are me. What does Brian think...interrupts - is more of a talker than a listener, starts speaking without even realizing someone else is already speaking...what? That isn't right. What does Abby say...definitely not interrupts...insecure. Okay...insecure.

3. unpredictable, unaffectionate, unpopular, uninvolved
What....this is crazy. I mean I know I have weaknesses, but I don't think any of these are me either! After consulting my "friends and family" I decided on unaffectionate - finds it difficult to verbally or physically demonstrate tenderness openly....although I don't think that is a "natural" personality trait for me.

And on it went. I tried to take the test by myself, but had too much trouble. When I finally finished I looked at my results.

Sanguine - 8
Choleric - 16
Melancholy - 4
Phlegmatic - 15

So what does this mean? I am a combination Choleric/Phlegmatic. Then I read on about normal healthy patterns, and it didn't mention this combination. So I continued reading. "There are two combinations that are not natural: Sanguine/Melancholy and Choleric/Phlegmatic." Well, that would be me. Not natural. Basically the test said that if your types don't go together you are masking your true personality and to retake the test making sure to consult the definitions. I tried this, and although I changed a few answers the results were still the same. I did see answers that I thought used to be more my personality...like in the strength examples above...I probably would have picked adventurous and playful when I was in high school, but I don't think I am those things as much anymore. Basically I am messed up!

I thought about this and what it means. I think that after reading about each personality I am more sanguine/phlegmatic, but I have learned a few things since I have been overseas. This is where I am finally answering Karen's question.(Sorry it has taken so long!) Since I have been in Turkey I have learned how to be more assertive. It is not natural for me, but I can do it. I have learned how to confront my problems instead of ignoring them hoping them they will go away. I am more unemotional, independent, and confident than I was before I arrived. I have some choleric traits naturally, but not enough for this to be my dominant personality type. After being on a small team and having to work through problems with people I have learned a lot about how to relate to others. I don't think I am messed up. I am just more well-rounded in my thoughts and personality.

So that didn't really touch how I have changed spiritually, but I do feel like it is all related. God has taught me great things about who He is through my personality trials! As I learned to step out of what was natural for me I had to depend on God to work it out. Before coming overseas I didn't know what it meant to depend on God! Now I realize that I can't do this on my own! Not at all! And there is so much more I could say, but this is already way longer than most people want to read so I'll stop with this question. If you knew me before I went to Turkey and then saw me again while we were in the states or converse with me regularly through email do you think I changed? Do you see any differences in me? I want the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Neighborhood pictures

I always seem to take pictures of the scenery from my balcony, but I never have pictures of the outside of my building so here it is. Our apartment is the third gray balcony from the top (looking at the shorter side of the building). This balcony can be reached from our kitchen, Erica's room and the salon. We also have the small pink balcony (2nd from top) on the longer side of the building. This looks fancy from the picture, but is too small to actually use for anything other than storage. The white building in the background has been built in the last year and a half. It was an empty lot that had quite a bit of trash in it. The kids used to play there and collect stuff for pretend houses they built. They were sad when they started to build a real house there!

This is the mosque located just down from our building. We hear the call to prayer 5 times a day from the speakers at the top of the minaret. Very few people go to pray when the call is heard most days. The exception is Fridays at noon. That is when they have their "sermon" and then the cars are lining the streets.

An obsession!

As many of you know I was so excited to be able to eat some of my favorite foods while we were in America. And now that I am back in Turkey I am enjoying some of my favorite foods here. One of my favorite snacks in Turkey is something called a simit. It is basically like a unsalted pretzel covered in sesame seeds. I think they are yummy!

You can buy simits at the grocery store, local bakery, from a simit stand, or from a simitci who carries them on a tray balanced on his head. They cost about 30 cents each early in the day, but as the day goes on the price gets cheaper. I guess they want to make sure they sell them all!

One of my friends came over the other day to teach me how to make one of my favorite asian dishes...California rolls! I love them!

We put all the ingredients on a plate so we could mix and match. My favorite was avocado, crab, cucumber! This is not a Turkish dish but I learned to love it here because there is quite a large Korean population at our school.

And finally I just had to show everyone what I requested for my last meal in America! A vegetable plate. Most people thought that was strange, but it was filled with all the veggies we can't get in Turkey. Sweet potatoes, cream-style corn, yellow squash and black-eyed peas with cornbread! It was so good, and I was so full when I finished this meal!