Monday, April 30, 2007

Yummy chocolate goodness!

Right after we left the states in January our church was having a ladies retreat. I knew that I wouldn't be able to go because of our plans to return to Turkey in mid-January. When our plans started getting pushed back I entertained the idea that I might be able to attend. No such luck. The retreat was the weekend of Jan. 26 and we left Jan. 24. I was really sad to miss it. Rooming with good friends, listening to a great speaker, and the promise of a chocolate fountain. I told the kids about the chocolate fountain, and Will seemed sad that he hadn't been invited to the retreat!

Since we have been back I've thought often of those friends and that chocolate fountain. Last week we were shopping at a mall here in town and I passed by a trendy appliance store called Tefal. In the window I saw something that I thought might be a chocolate fountain! No way! I convinced Brian to go into the store with me to get a better look. It was a chocolate fountain! It was bright orange and considered to be in their kids line of appliances. I thought that was crazy. I know kids love chocolate, but give them a candy bar and they're happy. Molten chocolate goodness and women just go together. Anyway... The fountain wasn't too expensive so we bought it with big plans to use it the following Sunday night when we were having guests. Sunday night arrived and I was prepared with a recipe for chocolate fondue. I made the fondue on the stove like the recipe said and poured it in the fountain base. We had strawberries, bananas, cookies, and three flavors of cake to dip in the fountain. I turned on the heat to warm the fountain up. Then after the 5 minute preheat time I turned on the motor. Get ready for some supreme chocolateness. The motor started and seemed to be really loud. I didn't know these fountains were so noisy. A slight odor started coming from the fountain and the chocolate wasn't flowing at all. Smoke started coming from the base of the fountain. I turned it off for a second and started to reread the directions. Did I miss something? The directions said that there would be a slight odor and smoke might be possible the first time it was used. Okay, good. Things are going well then. The fountain was turned back on, and we waited. Smoke started billowing from the bottom of the fountain, and the motor didn't sound quite right. And the chocolate still wasn't flowing. After about a minute we turned it off and poured the chocolate back into the pot. The kids were disappointed that the fountain didn't work, but the chocolate tasted just as good poured from a spoon!

Waiting for a taste.

The chocolate fountain. Someone was impatient and dipped a strawberry in the base. Notice the smoke coming from the base!

The kids around the pot of chocolate.

Thankfully the fountain came with a one year warranty. I did notice after cleaning the fountain and trying it without any chocolate in it that the motor was running, but the internal screw wasn't turning at all. I'm taking it back and getting another one to try. I'm hoping mine was just a lemon!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Many of you may think I am slacking. You might think I don't want to blog anymore...but I do! I really do. I find it funny that after my blog on March 27 saying I was sad to see blogs die I have posted less often. I know that if you have read my posts since then you can see that I have been really busy or out of town or sick. And of all those things sickness reigns supreme. Through all of what I have done in the past month I have been sick. I'm not sure what is wrong with me. I started feeling bad on Thursday, March 29. It has been a month, and I still feel sick. I am tired of this, but most of all I want to know what is wrong with me. I am used to getting a cold that might turn into something more about once a year. I either get over it after several days or take an antibiotic once it turns into a sinus infection or whatever else and then it is done. This year seems to be different. I got a cold. It lasted about a week then it seemed to be going away. I felt better for a couple of days. Then I started to get another one. What?!? It seriously seemed to start all over again. The second time I only felt like I was getting a cold for a day, but the next day I had a headache. Then a day of normal. Then a day with stomach issues. Another day of normal...maybe two. And then something else. Last week I was making chicken and dumplings for dinner. By the time I made the dough and was about to roll it out I felt really weak. I could barely use the rolling pin. I took my temperature after I finally finished dinner and it was 100. Not too bad, but enough that I felt it and went to bed early. The next day I was fine. And on and on. On Monday I had a terrible headache that made me sick to my stomach. Yesterday my throat started to hurt, and I'm pretty sure that I have a fever as I type this. This can't be good. I looked up the symptoms for mono, because this has lasted so long. I think I am too old for mono. I have been really busy so maybe I just haven't had time to get well. And it doesn't look like things are going to slow down. Tomorrow morning at 4:30am I leave for the airport. My plane to Istanbul leaves at 6am. I will be hanging around Istanbul until a bus taking me to a ladies retreat leaves at 2pm. These ladies retreats are usually a refreshing and relaxing time, but I am not really looking forward to it. What I really want to do is stay home and lie in bed all weekend. But, we already have the plane tickets, and my place is reserved so I may go to the hotel and lie in bed there all weekend. At least I won't have kids needing me to do stuff there. I arrive back on Sunday night. Monday is a free day. Tuesday I am supposed to sub in the 1st grade then dinner with friends that night. Wednesday I am going to the zoo with the third grade and then have plans that night as well. So much for slowing down! Maybe I can start getting well next Thursday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cola Turka Pt. 1 - Chevy Chase

I have mentioned to several people the Kola Turka commercials that were on TV not long after we came to Turkey. Chevy Chase was the star, and we loved them. These videos aren't the best quality, but you will still understand. Most of the words are in English. For the few that aren't here are the translations...they are mostly using what we call street Turkish so the meanings aren't exact.
yenge - wife
cocuk - child
dolma biber - stuffed peppers
kayinpeder/valide - mother-in-law and father-in-law.
We even had people tell us that Americans loved Kola Turka! The people hanging out of the car on this first video and the man selling potatoes and onions on the second video are normal things we see in the streets here!

Cola Turka Pt.2 - Chevy Chase

Part 2 of the Kola Turka commercial.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Random Pictures

Just thought I would share some pictures of my kids with our houseguests' kids. As you can see they have been having lots of fun!

The boys being Men in Black...or Boys in Brown, Rust, and Yellow. I'm not sure what the ponytails are for! Jacob's almost looks cute which means he needs a haircut!

The girls wearing as many of Anna Grace's clothes as they could put on! I did have quite a time making them fold everything and put it all back in the right drawers.

And since I haven't shared any of our Easter pictures here are a couple...

The kids at Easter after hunting for eggs.

A not so flattering picture of me and a good picture of Amanda on Easter Sunday. I was not feeling well that morning so I didn't go to church and then never changed out of my sweats or put on make-up for the get-together.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Guests and More Guests!

I've been remembering what it was like to arrive in Turkey for the first time. A new family has arrived, and we have been helping them get started. I forgot how much there is to do! We have shopped for apartments, furniture, appliances, and everything else you could possibly imagine. This family is staying with us until there is enough stuff in their apartment to make it livable. Some things aren't as important at the beginning. They had their refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and washing machine delivered a couple of days ago. They also received a queen size mattress and 4 twin mattresses, the dryer, the kitchen table and chairs, a vacuum cleaner, and the microwave. Someone other than the delivery guys had to come and hook up all the major appliances. The warrantees on the major appliances aren't good unless they are hooked up by an expert. They also need someone to come and inspect their hot water heater. It heats water for showers as well as for the radiators in the house. Someone came to inspect it on Friday, and he said that some of the pipes were connected wrong. I think that it has been fixed, but not inspected again yet. That brought back memories of our first few days in our house! We had mattresses on the floor in the bedrooms, a kitchen table and chairs, the refrigerator, washing machine, and stove. And that was it. Our hot water heater didn't work yet since our apartment was brand new. The inspector came and told our landlord that the pipes were connected wrong. The plumber was called and he came and changed the pipes. The gas man was called to turn on the gas and the inspector was called back. The wrong pipes had been switched. The plumber was called back out, and we started over. I remember being frustrated at this point. It was March and our house was freezing! We were wearing layers of pj's and clothes to keep warm inside and out! We couldn't take hot showers. I remember thinking that it seemed crazy that it took three men to get one machine to work. It seemed like one person should be able to do all the jobs. At one point all three of the men needed to fix the problem were at our apartment, and I was ready to bar the door so that they wouldn't leave until it was fixed! It is funny now, but at the time funny was not even in my vocabulary!

There are many more things to write, but it is still so crazy around here. I originally started this blog a couple of days ago, but I never had time to finish. The family staying with us is planning on staying at their new apartment tonight. I don't know if their heat or hot water works yet. Today is a holiday so the repairmen/inspectors may not be working today. We also have some other guests in town. For the past two nights they stayed at a hotel that they have connections with, and I think we have arranged for them to stay with other friends tonight so that we can try to finish up a couple of science fair projects that are due over the next couple of days. They were hard to work on with a house full of people! I think that means it will just be our family at our house tonight, but I guess we will just see who shows up at our door looking for food and a place to sleep tonight before we know for sure!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More of Bulgaria

While in Bulgaria we visited this old church. The church sits below street level so Brian called it the underground church. The city has built up around it, and it looked like the church had to be excavated somewhat to be able to see it.

This sign was over the door.

I thought it was interesting how many different types of stones and rocks were used in the building.

I paid about a dollar to go in, and this is what I saw. There were pictures of different saints around the room as well as flowers and candles. The room wasn't big enough to hold mass or any other sort of meeting; however, it did look like people came to light candles and pray.

The view across the street from the underground church...a mosque. I guess you could say it was a religious crossroads.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bulgaria in Pictures

After 7 boothes we were finally welcomed into Bulgaria. We had to stop to get out of Turkey...passports stamped saying we were leaving, prove that the car belonged to Brian, and purchase insurance for the car to be able to leave the country. Then we had to stop several times before we would be allowed into Bulgaria...get our passports stamped to say we were entering, show the car insurance, have the car inspected, and another time that I don't even remember the reason for. We were also sprayed lightly to disinfect the car before it entered Bulgaria. That was comical, because it was like someone spit on us...a few drops of some sort of liquid landed on the car and all of a sudden it was clean and disinfected from all the germs they have in Turkey!

Our first meal in Bulgaria was at Pizza Hut. It was delicious! I am not a huge pizza fan, but the real pork pepperoni, and the fact that there was sauce on the pizza was wonderful!

We also ordered these little sausages. Yummy!

This is our crew going out to explore the first morning we were there. I wondered what the locals thought of us.

Brian and the kids wondering "y" there is a letter y attached to the top of this car. We saw several of these, and Brian commented that "y, is a question I ask myself daily."

We spent a lot of time playing at the park. This park was at the zoo.

This is the room that Anna Grace and I shared at the hostel. We paid for a private room with two beds. Notice the pile of books under the side on the bed on the right. I think they were holding the bed up! And notice that there is no real curtain in the window. The two strips of cloth that hung there were not even as wide as the window and no match for the light and noise from outside. The city trolleys went up the street outside the window and their electric wires were about the same height as the window. There were occassional flashes of light when the trolleys went by. I'm not sure what they were, because they didn't happen everytime the trolley went by...just sometimes. Maybe power surges??? Also we had to turn out the lights to change clothes because there were buildings across the street that could see right into our windows at night if the light was on!
This is Brian and the boys' room. There was another twin bed behind the TV so Will convinced Brian to let him have the queen-sized bed.

The room that the other family rented. 6 twin beds in one room.

Soldiers "guarding" a building. They did some marching around and changing of positions every little bit to stretch their muscles I guess.
More later.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Life these days

I have been busy. I cleaned like a madwoman for three days. On Monday, I shampooed the living room furniture and kitchen chairs plus washed the living room curtains...or at least two layers of them. The outer layer I just vacuumed because I wasn't sure how they would wash. On Tuesday I loaded up our new bookshelves, cleaned out several things that needed going through, and cleaned our balcony. It was a major endeavor! On Wednesday I started in the morning and literally didn't sit down or stop for 6 hours. I went from one room to the next picking up whatever the kids hadn't picked up, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. Plus the bathrooms, changing the sheets, cleaning the hallways and kitchen. It was crazy! It was a very busy few days.

Why did I do so much cleaning? We have guests. A new family has just moved to Turkey, and they are staying with us a few days until they find an apartment and have enough furniture to be able to move in. That may just mean mattresses on the floor at first because they literally need to buy everything. Living room furniture, all appliances, bedroom furniture, dishes...the works! They will be shopped out before they are finished I'm sure!

The new family has four children so there are 12 people in our house. It has been fun! The kids have had tons of fun with friends on an extended sleepover. Their kids have done remarkably well with adjusting to a different place and a different time zone. And so far everyone has gotten along great!

I won't be on the computer as much while they are here so the blogs will be fewer. I still have some pictures from Bulgaria and a few other things to share. I will do that as soon as I get a chance!

Monday, April 09, 2007


I am a pretty lazy person. I know it and normally don't mind admitting it. I don't feel the need to fill my days with activity. I like to sit and talk to people, sit and read, sit and watch a movie. All quite enjoyable to me. I have friends who never sit. They go from one activity to another without sitting down or taking a break or relaxing at all. I rarely do that. I don't feel the need for a break between all the activities I do, but I do like to stop and relax somewhat at some point everyday. I was talking to a friend recently who didn't stop moving the whole time we were talking. She cleaned her kitchen, swept the floor, wiped up small drips from her floor, wiped down the cabinet fronts, scrubbed her stovetop...basically her entire kitchen shined when she was done. She does this often when I am at her house. I just watch in awe. I know I could help, but I always feel more in the way. She knows where stuff goes, and when I help I have to stop and ask what to do with stuff which interrupts the converstation. We talked the whole time she cleaned. I get too distracted to do that. If I am talking I am not wiping. I am standing there holding the rag which might be dripping on the floor making drip marks that will need to be wiped up later. I am not good at doing more than one thing that takes concentration at the same time. I can listen to music and do another activity at the same time. But, if a song comes on that I really want to listen to I have to stop whatever else I am doing because I won't really hear the song otherwise.

The other day I was making two new recipes at the same time, and a friend called. It was a long distance call, and I hadn't talked to her in a while so I decided to try to make both recipes and talk at the same time. I felt like a failure at it all. I would stop and listen then realize that I had almost burned the chicken or that the water had pretty much boiled down to nothing in the dish I was making. Brian came home, and I made him help me with the cooking. I handed him one recipe and told him to finish it. I had to interrupt the conversation with my friend to tell him where I was in the recipe so he would know what to do. Things weren't any easier, because between talking on the phone, making a new dish, and listening to Brian comment on what he was doing or what I was saying plus answering any questions he had was too much for my brain. After I got off the phone I was frustrated. I felt like I hadn't had a good conversation...I had listened, but how much had I really heard?

My brain doesn't operate when too much is going on at once. I guess it is lazy, too. I'm sure there are exercises I could do to strengthen it's productivity, but I like to be able to focus on whatever I am doing. Maybe it's a subconscious choice I am making. I don't know. What I do know is that my friends say I am a good listener. They feel like I really concentrate on them when they are talking to me. Sometimes I tell my friends that I don't want them to do anything while we are talking, because I feel like they can't possibly be listening to what I am saying. If while I am pouring my heart out or just telling about my day they are rummaging through their refrigerator seeing if they need to put ketchup on the grocery list they are making while we talk I start to wonder how much they are hearing me. I feel like what I am saying is only as important as their grocery list. Sometimes it is and those times I don't mind that they are doing something else. And most of my friends know when to stop and listen which is nice.

What is this post about? Busyness. I got distracted with my thoughts while posting. I didn't mean to go where I went with this. But I like what I ended up saying. Interesting. What I meant to post about...all the stuff I have to do in the next few days. It's a lot, and I need to not be lazy. For whatever that's worth.

Okay...now I am going to go clean strawberries while sitting at my kitchen table listening to music. Three things...cleaning, sitting, listening...but only one needs me to move. That's my kind of multitasking!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Introducing the book

A friend shared this video with me, and I found it to be too true! I know people who have this problem. Sometimes that person is me!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Scenes from Istanbul

As we drove into Istanbul on our way to Bulgaria I took some pictures to share with you.

This car has been decorated for a wedding. It is sitting outside of a Cicekcilik which means florist. The florist decorates the car with ribbons and a attaches a large flower arrangement to the hood. (A bus was coming up between us and the car so I snapped the picture before it got in the way and ended up missing the flowers on the front of the car!) The hearts on the back have the first initials of the couple. It is customary for the bride and groom to drive through the neighborhoods after the ceremony. People honk at them and kids will jump in front of the car to stop it and ask for money.

This is a carpet shop. They sell modern looking carpets and small area rugs. On the far right you can see rolls of carpet runners that can be cut to size. This store probably doesn't sell the nicer Turkish carpets you hear about.

A fruit and vegetable stand.

Brian actually touching a bus that pulled up next to us. There were probably only 2 lanes for traffic, but the Turks don't let that stop them. They squeeze by wherever they can find room! Brian didn't even have to reach out to touch the bus!

There were crowds of people on the streets this Sunday afternoon. I tried to get a good picture, but this was the only one that came out. The building in the center of the picture is a pretty typical apartment building.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bulgaria...first thoughts

We're in Bulgaria. We made it! There are stories to tell, but no time to tell them. Last night we stayed in a hostel which is basically like a dormitory. We had two rooms...more hotel style. Twin beds though. Also the bathroom in the hall is shared by all the rooms. With 11 people we pretty much take up all the space so we don't have to share with anyone that we don't know. We had to eat breakfast in shifts, because there weren't enough plates for us all or space around the table for that matter. The room our friends stayed in had one set of bunkbeds and 4 twin beds. They all had a bed at least...that was better than the night before where two of them had to sleep on the floor! We are planning on staying here again tonight. It is cheap and we are cheap so it works out well. I will have pictures available when I get back home.

Yesterday we went to the zoo. I think the kids we brought were the wildest thing we saw! Well, there were wolves and prairie dogs. There were cages with signs that said they held bears, but they must have been hibernating, because we never saw them. Thankfully we only paid 60 cents for adults and 30 cents for kids to get in the zoo. There were several playgrounds that the kids were quite happy with so all was not lost.

Having fun and eating pork so I can't complain! LLL