Monday, July 23, 2007

Another slide show.

Here are some pictures from a village we visited recently, and a few from a lunch date I had with Brian. They don't go together, but I don't have anything to say about them other than what I wrote on the captions so I put them together. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dr. Teyze

Anna Grace was sick last week...again! It seems like she has something different wrong with her every other week. Well last week she came in my room in the middle of the night saying she had thrown up in her bed. Awww man. I hate cleaning up throw up, but I especially hate it in the middle of the night. Well, she wasn't kidding. She had thrown up all over the top bunk of her bed and had managed to get it in her hair. Awww man. I took her to the bathroom and tried to figure out what to do. Our hot water heater had been taken in for servicing that day and wouldn't be returned until the following evening so there was no hot water. I decided to use the hot pot and boil some water to mix with the cold water so I could at least wash the ends of her hair. After getting her hair somewhat clean I put her on the bottom bunk and took all the stuff off of the top bunk. I rinsed the bedding off in the bathtub and then let it sit there until we had hot water the next evening. So 45 minutes after being awakened I went back to bed. About an hour later Anna Grace came in and told me she had thrown up again...thankfully in the bucket I gave her for that purpose. I cleaned out the bucket and went back to bed. Actually by this point I knew I wouldn't be sleeping well, and our bedroom was hot as blazes so I decided to sleep in the living room. Anna Grace came in at least two more times to report that she had thrown up again. Needless to say I didn't get much sleep that night. The next day our house helper came to work so I explained why there was a pile of bedding in the bathtub. By this point Anna Grace wasn't throwing up anymore, but she was running a fever. I took her temperature and it was 103. I couldn't believe it. I gave her some Tylenol, and she slept most of the day. Our house helper started to tell me what she thought had made Anna Grace sick. She kept talking about this "white powder" that had probably been the cause of it all. I had no idea what she was talking about and my mind started thinking...arsenic, anthrax, cocaine...what is she talking about? She finally went and got the box of sidewalk chalk off the balcony and said that the dust from the chalk was dangerous and could cause high fevers. The children in Turkish schools aren't allowed to touch the chalk, because it could make them sick. Only the teachers were allowed to use it. My first thoughts were "that is the craziest thing I have ever heard" and then "what in the world is Turkish chalk made of that could be so dangerous". Out of respect for her I just listened and nodded. I didn't tell her that my chalk was from America and that I could pretty much guarantee that there was no way it could have caused the problems. Later that evening we started Anna Grace on an antibiotic and told her not to play with the sidewalk chalk when "teyze" was here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tomorrow is another day

I need to write a blog. I have things to say, but I'm not in the mood to write. Maybe tomorrow I'll write something new and original. For now I will leave you with another blast from the past. Here is an excerpt from our Sept 21, 2003 update.

Last summer we met some people while visiting a town on the Black Sea. They had been calling us all year to ask us to come visit them so we made plans to go. We weren't really sure what the trip would look like because Brian had been through their town in June and had seen that their house was only one room. We had visited the wife's parent's house which is bigger when we were in town last year so we thought we might be staying there but we weren't sure. When we got to town we called them and they met us in a parking lot to take us to their new, bigger house. It was one small living area, one bedroom and a kitchen. Plus there was a room that was like a connecting room. It contained a wardrobe and the bathroom sink but no other furniture. After we arrived they asked where we were staying and we said that we hadn't decided yet. Of course at that point they insisted that we stay with them. They gave us their large bedroom which had a queen-sized bed and a set of bunk beds in it. They brought in a mattress like thing to put on the floor for our other two kids. I felt bad for taking their room but we wouldn't have fit in the living room so it was really the only option.
The bathroom in this house was interesting as well. One small room contained the toilet. It was a regular toilet but it didn't flush. After using it you just added water with a hose to flush down what was in the toilet. It never really flushed anything down because there wasn't enough pressure so in the evening they took a large pitcher and poured water in the toilet. That usually pushed everything on through. Whenever you add water to a toilet here it doesn't fill the toilet up. If there is too much water the trap opens and most of it flows through. Another interesting thing about the bathroom is the toilet seat wasn't actually connected to the toilet. Every time anyone would sit down they would skate around the toilet trying not to fall in. Also the bathroom door didn't close all the way. There was a 4 inch gap so that anyone walking by could see into the bathroom. The worse part is the bathroom door was right inside the front door which they kept open. So if you happened to be in the bathroom and someone came to the front door they had a great view of whoever happened to be sitting on the toilet! After using the bathroom you had to go around a corner to wash your hands. The shower was in another small room which was divided into the shower and a storage closet. This room was interesting as well. Half of the floor was tiled like a shower and the other half was concrete. They had a shower curtain hanging down to divide the room. So to take a shower you went into this room and closed and locked the door. I was thankful that the door closed and locked! You turned on the water and picked up the hose and wet yourself. Then you put the hose back on the floor while you soaped off. To rinse....you guessed it....you picked the hose up and rinsed. At the point that I took a shower I didn't care how I had to do it I was just glad to be clean! I did notice that there were several large round holes in the wall near the ceiling. I'm sure they were there to let the moisture escape the room. All I could think was that I was glad it wasn't winter when we were visiting because I bet that room is freezing!

Aww...such good memories! We haven't been back to see that family as a family since that trip. Brian went back one other time on a volunteer trip, and we used to get phone calls from them every now and then. It's amazing how friends pass in and out of our lives here. Just when we think we won't ever hear from someone again they surprise us and call. We'll see what happens with this family!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blast from the past

I was going back over some of my old updates and found a couple that made me laugh. I thought I would share parts of them with you here. Some of you may have read these already, but they were worth sharing again! This one is from Aug. 22, 2004! (I have tried numerous times to double space the following paragraphs, but for some reason it never stays that way when I publish it. Sorry about that.)

Hello friends,I just wanted to write to let everyone know what is happening in our neck of the woods. Well Starbucks officially opened yesterday. On Wednesday night my friend, Dilek, invited me to the invitation only grand opening. It was so much fun.
They had free coffee and desserts for everyone. As much as we wanted! The store was packed and was so loud. They sang songs, danced, did skits, and pledged allegiance to the Starbucks coffee bean. It was crazy! In one of the skits the Starbucks was taken over by aliens who renamed it star mars. They were rude and didn't know how to make the coffee. Starbucks man....a guy with an SB made out of Starbucks stickers and his apron worn backwards as a cape....came and beat up the aliens and saved the day. It was hilarious. One of the things I have noticed about this culture is that they really know how to celebrate. Most events aren't quiet affairs. They make them celebrations. We were there for over 3 hours and the party never stopped. Then on Saturday they had the official grand opening. We went to the one in the mall closest to us first. They were packed! After having dessert and coffee Brian took the kids home and I went with a friend to the other Starbucks so that I could see Dilek. We brought her flowers and she gave us free food. That store was really busy as well. They do have ceramic Starbucks mugs with our city name on them so if you would like us to get one for you we can. They are $12 and we will be coming home for Christmas so we can deliver them then. They also have the insulated mugs with Turkey on them as well. I don't remember the exact price of them but not more than $20 I am sure. They have a flower design so they look more girly. Just let us know.
Another funny thing that happened this week....I sent Will and Jacob to get their haircuts from the barber. I have sent them alone before because it is really close to our house and they just get a buzz. This time though Will wanted to leave the top a little longer and shave the sides shorter. I said that was fine because it is the style here to have it longer on top and fixed with jel. I told him he could get it however he wanted except bald....which he also talked about. Well he came home and you can see by the picture what he looked like. He said that he wanted it dyed blue but they didn't have blue dye. They only had yellow and he didn't think that would look good. The style here is for it to be long on the top of the head....not just a strip in the middle. I am letting him keep it until school starts and then he will probably have to get it buzzed all the way. They have a dress code!
Just wanted to share! Remember these events and pictures are almost 3 years old. Will is now 11 and is into long hair...not buzzed or mohawks. And I haven't see Dilek since I have been back in Turkey. I haven't gone to the Starbucks where she worked so maybe she still works there. I do know that there are now at least 6 Starbucks in town, maybe more...and almost all are closer to my house than the one where Dilek worked. I don't recognize any of the employees anymore either. The originals must have moved on!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Scenes from our trip

We took a trip to Kastamonu and then to a few other places close to the Black Sea this week. The views and the people were fantastic! We ate with an Iranian couple in Kastamonu. They put a plastic tablecloth on the floor and put everything on it. It was a great idea I thought! They served rice, baked chicken, salad with mayonaise for the dressing, and yogurt. It was all really yummy! The second day we drove to a small town named Ulus. We met with a friend of Brian's and toured around town. Later we went back to his house and had dinner with his family. They made kofte or meatballs on the grill. (Kofte comes in raw and several cooked versions...we like the cooked better!) We also had salad, potatoes, cornbread wrapped in some sort of green leaf, and watermelon. I can't even believe how much we ate in the last two days! The funny thing is that we were all really looking forward to the food. It was really delicious! We ate more than we ever eat, yet both families said that we didn't eat enough. I thought Will was going to die the first night. He ate so much and finally said that he couldn't eat another bite. The lady of the house said something about him not being hungry because he barely ate anything. He started laughing thinking she must have been joking! She wasn't! After leaving the Iranian couple's house we walked by a restaurant that was getting ready to close for the night. The kids laughed at something Will said, and the owner of the restaurant stopped me to ask what they were laughing at. I wasn't sure, but he soon realized I was a foreigner so he invited us in for a few minutes. He served us some homemade ayran which is a salty yogurt drink. I have to say it was the worst ayran I have ever had! Very sour! We made the kids drink as much as they could which wasn't much. Our friend, Adam, was with us on the trip, and he sacrificed his stomach and drank Anna Grace's as well as his own. And that was after the huge Iranian meal! Another interesting site...while sitting outside having dinner in Ulus a donkey passed by the front gate of our friends' house...alone. I asked about it and was told it was a street donkey. It had no owner...just roamed the town alone. I find this amusing. Stray dogs and stray cats are very normal here. They are everywhere, but I have never seen stray donkeys before. The next day I saw at least three more. Okay enough stories for now...here are a few pictures from our trip.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Raw Meatballs

While at our picnic on Saturday I noticed that the family next to us was making a dish called çiğ köfte. It is basically a raw meatball. Hamburger meat is mixed with bulgur and lots of spices and shaped into long meatballs. It is served raw on a piece of lettuce. I have tasted these meatballs, and they are spicy! You can't tell that you are eating raw meat, because all you can taste is hot! I was very American and asked the people if I could take their picture. They gave us two meatballs to eat, but I don't think they were done enough. By done I mean mixed for long enough. According to my handy dandy Turkish cookbook the meat mixture should sit for an hour and then be kneaded by hand for 20 minutes. The stuff we were given still had recognizable pieces of bulgur in it. After they knead it they squeeze it in the palm of their hands making finger marks on the meatballs. That kinda grosses me out! Between the sitting, kneading, and extra hot spices, the meat is supposed to be safe enough to eat.

Up close and personal with a raw meatball.

Brian pretending to take a bite from the meatball. Our Turkish friends told him not to eat it since it hadn't finished "cooking".

The Big 4-0

We had a birthday party for one of our favorite teachers and friends last night. Brenda turned the big 4-0 on Sunday so of course we had to celebrate! I ordered the cake from an American who lives here and makes delicious treats. I even broke out the chocolate fountain for the occassion. We had lots of fun!

Peppers, anyone?

Okay...here's a math lesson for you. Why? Because, I would need it if I didn't live in this country and have to deal with grams and kilos myself. 1 kilogram is 2.2 pounds which means that 500 grams is 1.1 pounds. So I order my groceries, right? I ordered .3 kilos, 300 grams, or a little over half a pound of peppers. Or at least that's what I thought I ordered. What came? 3.4 kilos of peppers! That's like 7 1/2 pounds! What in tarnation am I going to do with all those peppers? I actually really like them, but I can only eat so much dipped in ranch dressing! They taste like a red bell pepper...nice and sweet. I remember when a Turkish friend bought a lot, because they were really cheap. She chopped peppers and froze them to use on pizza, in eggs, and other dishes. I honestly don't think I will ever use this many peppers! Brian actually answered the door for the groceries when they were delivered and then came in and asked me if we were having stuffed peppers for dinner. I didn't understand why 4 or 5 peppers would make him think that. (The only time I have ever made stuffed peppers was to show off some Turkish cuisine while in America.) Imagine my surprise when I saw two bags full of peppers. I tried giving them away to a few people, but nobody wanted any! I think I will see if our Turkish househelper wants some. She'll know what to do with so many!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Is this how they feel?

Should I feel sorry for my kids or just not care and keep blogging about them?

Elvis Mustafa Presley

I just had to share my clip of our Turkish Elvis Impersonator. He sang a few Elvis songs, but I could barely understand the words. I don't think he knew them very well, because he kept turning around and looking at his background singers and band as he slurred his words together. Maybe he had too much to drink before the show! He also sang other oldies hits. When he spoke he definitely had a Turkish accent which made me giggle!

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Too much fun!

This couple attended the 4th of July party on Saturday. I never did figure out if they were father and daughter or some other relation. This man danced the entire evening...with and without a partner. I thought he might have had to much to drink, but someone else pointed out that he was actually fairly coordinated for a drunk man so we decided he might be a person with some special needs issues. Either way he was having loads of fun!

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Happy 4th of July!

As mentioned in an earlier post we attended an Independence Day celebration here in Turkey. The local joint forces military base always has a great party with fireworks, fun food from America, and amazing entertainment. Here is a slideshow from our fun evening.

Pets at the park

In America we often see people with their dogs in the park. They take them out and let them run around and enjoy some place other than their own backyard. Well, while we were at our picnic on Saturday we saw a family with their pets at the park.

Yes, these were the pets. I kept watching to see if they were going to wring their necks and cook them, but they just let them run around their picnic table and eat whatever they could find.

Everyone had to have a turn holding them, of course.

Our friends' daughter giggled and giggled and squeezed the living daylights out of the chicken! Brian later said something about bird flu, but our friends assured us that bird flu is no longer a threat. The lastest thing we need to worry about is something you can get from ticks. I wonder if these chickens had ticks!?!


Will had the chance to play soccer with some Turkish kids at the picnic we went to on Saturday. He watched the other kids playing and wanted to join the game, but he didn't want to ask if he could play. He also didn't want me to ask them if he could play..."Mom! That's embarrassing!" I watched the kids looking at him and could tell they wanted to invite him to play. I finally said something to them about him wanting to play at the same time they asked him to play so he didn't even hear me or have time to be embarrassed!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

For Adam

This video is from our 4th of July celebration. It was on June 30. I have several pictures to share, but for now just want to share this video. It is dark and hard to see, but I wanted to give you a taste of what we experienced. These are teammates and friends! Maybe it's good you can't actually see their faces.

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Picnics...Turkish style!

Yesterday morning we went on a picnic with some friends. I've mentioned before that a Turkish picnic isn't anything like a picnic in America. In America IF we make our own picnic food we do it all at home and bring it prepared...well, all but whatever we might be grilling. Any potato salad, baked beans, or whatever else we might be having with our meal is ready to eat when we are ready to eat. And oftentimes we run through a drive-thru on our way to our picnic spot so we don't have to fix anything at all. In Turkey things are done a little differently. They bring quite a bit of the food to the picnic site and fix it there. Our hosts, who provided all the food, hadn't ever done a picnic before. The wife is Turkish, and the husband is Australian. They have lived most of their married life in Australia so this was a new experience for them. They said that this was the "test picnic" to see if it worked well. They brought bags of stuff with them to the park! They had fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots for a salad. There was steak, hamburgers, and chicken to grill. Tea to brew, mixed nuts to snack on, and prepackaged Turkish delight rounded out the meal. Most other Turkish picnics have several other food items on the menu, but since this was a first time picnic for our friends they went for quantity of the few items they had! The also brought styrofoam plates and throw away cups and flatware which is not Turkish at all!

The kids enjoyed their meal.


This is a small wood/coal burning tea maker. The bottom acts like a wood-burning stove...you can see the little door open in the bottom picture. The top part is filled with water, and the tea pot is put on the little burner on the side of the top. I think that small pieces of charcoal may have been used on the top burner as well.

Watching the food preparation

Brian and Nicole

I was happy to help cut the vegetables for the salad, but I must admit that I was thinking that a cutting board on my kitchen counter would have been much easier!
This is a picture of the Turkish Delight we were served. It was fig flavored with different toppings. It actually tasted ok...like the middle of a fig newton...but not as sweet.

A day...or two hours at the park

On Thursday a friend and I took our kids to a park close by. Well, actually Brian drove us there and picked us up when we were done, but he didn't stay for the fun. It was so hot! I can't believe we went to the park on what has been the hottest day so far this summer! Here are a few pictures from our 2 hour stay!
The girls had fun climbing on the rocks. They didn't last long though. It was just too hot!
There were several mulberry trees in the park. As you can see we partook of the fruit. They stained everything! Hands, lips, ears, teeth, toes...and the list goes on! I had to take a picture of my friend's child, because she managed to get juice just about everywhere!

Introducing Savannah Rachel

My sister and brother-in-law have just adopted a baby girl. We thought the process was going to take until December, but they got a call from their social worker last week saying that a premature baby girl had been born and asking if they were interested in having their profile shown to the birth parents. They said yes and within two days the baby was theirs. Their 2 kids were really excited to have a baby sister!