Saturday, September 29, 2007

Out of town.

In 14 hours I will be leaving my house for the airport. I'm going to France to visit my best friend from high school who also happened to be my roommate in college for two years. We've been through a lot together over the 21 years we've known each other. I can't wait to make more good memories!

So...that means I won't be posting for about a week. Stories and pictures to follow.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sleeping late.

Tomorrow we start another "season" of soccer at the military base in town. I love that my kids get to play, but I hate having to get up and get ready on a Saturday morning. It's the one morning that we can sleep in...usually only until 8 or so but still! Even the kids appreciate that. We've trained them well. They sleep until they want to get up and then if we aren't up yet they take care of breakfast for themselves...usually just cereal. They don't come in our room so we can sleep late, too. And then there's tomorrow. Our first game starts at 8:45 am. That means we have to leave our house by 8:30 which means we have to get up before 8am...on a Saturday! Oh well...it's for the kids.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I want to write. I feel the need to create. I feel full. The problem I have is that it is just full...not full to overflowing. Many times when I feel this way I start to write and something spills out. I've felt the need to write for several weeks and have spent many moments staring at my computer or a piece of paper and nothing drips over the edge of full. I've written several uninspired messes over the last couple of weeks. Some I shared, but most were filed in the bathroom trash can. I think my muse is emotion...generally a overwhelmingly happy feel good thing...although deep despair does wonders as well. I haven't felt great tides of emotion sweep over me in the last several weeks. I have felt many things, but none to the point of overflow. I go to France on Sunday for a full week. I am extremely excited about that. I find myself almost overflowing just thinking about it. Maybe my muse is there.


Last night I was looking through the very messy top drawer of my nightstand. I have all kinds of pieces of paper, notebooks, quotes from people, things I've written, and various writing instruments in it. I don't know what I was searching for...inspiration maybe. I did come across this interesting note I made while on a trip to the Black Sea.

A local older woman was telling a young mother with a baby, "Your baby is spitting up so much, because YOU aren't wearing thick enough socks so your milk is getting cold."

A piece of advice for all you new moms out there!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


A conversation between Brian and myself that took place on the balcony last night.

Brian: Chad's going to drive us to Antalya for our golf trip.

Natalie: I am so excited I'm going to France on Sunday!

Brian: I bet Chad is going to whip up on us.

Natalie: I need to get my pants back from the terzi so I can pack them.

Brian: I hope Chad drives his car better than I drive a golf ball.

Natalie: I can't wait to have bacon and ham...bring on the pork!

Brian: Greg got a new driver that's bigger than Eric's head!

Natalie: I wonder what the weather in Marseille is like this time of year.

Brian: I think it's going to be hot in Antalya.

2 people + 2 trips + 2 conversations = 1 funny story!

Ramadan Drummer Update

A couple of nights ago the drummer came to our door wanting us to give him a tip for his services. I looked through the peephole and decided I didn't want to answer the door. I wasn't about to give the guy money for waking me up in the middle of the night when I didn't want to be awake!

One of our friends pretends like he doesn't understand what the guy wants and offers him 20 lira for his drum. People come to the door selling stuff occassionally so he just "assumes" the drum is for sale. I would love to see the drummer's face when he realizes that someone wants to buy his drum! And I wonder how much money it would take.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My blog

From an adoring fan...

"I love your blogs! The Swindoll one was just a kick, and the smells you talked about was poetry. You should write a book or your memoirs when you get home. Seriously, it would be a great read, and some people still like paper in their hands."

Actually it was from my mother-in-law who is an adoring fan of my blog.

I used to scrapbook, but that was before Turkey. I tried scrapbooking for the first two years I was here and realized I didn't enjoy it as much as before. Maybe because there were no friends to do it with and because it was only pictures and I needed more space to write! I had more to say about what was happening! (I know...I could have written more in my scrapbooks, but I didn't want to...they were more like photo albums with captions than a scrapbook.) Then in February of last year I started blogging. It was like a combination of scrapbooking and journaling on my computer! I loved it. I would love to have my blog in book form just for the memories and to show unsuspecting grandkids how cool their grandparents were back in the day! I wonder if there is any way to have it printed and bound.

One party after another!

Our most wonderful and truly delightful friend, Derya, is moving! Actually she is just going away for a few years to get her doctorate, but it feels like she is leaving for good! 3 years is a long time! So to celebrate Derya we had a weekend of parties. Brian calls them "kiss off" parties!

Party #1 - Derya (green shirt) worked with most of these people at some point during the last 5 years! She put together marble mosaics with 3 of them, taught Turkish to 6 of them, cried with 4 of them, fought with 4 of them, but loves all of them! Just look at the smile on her face...maybe she's happy to be leaving this mixed up, messed up group! Hmmmm....

Party #2 - Friends...notice Brian and I made it to both parties! We did a great job of weaseling our way into Derya's work and friend circles!

For party #2 Liz made these great shirts with Derya's face on them! I love it! I almost wore it to church the next day. Now anytime we have a get together and miss Derya I can just wear my shirt and send her pictures! It will be like she's celebrating with us! Brian just thought we were getting rid of Derya with these "kiss off" parties...but he was wrong!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Anna Grace and Jacob

Anna Grace and Jacob are 19 months apart in age. Jacob is in 4th grade, and Anna Grace is in 3rd grade. They could be good friends, but instead they choose to do whatever it takes to get on each others' nerves most of the time. Here are some pictures of them getting along...

And one picture of how they really feel!

Actually they do get along most of the time, but they do tend to be the ones at each other the most as well!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Caramel Apples

I love them. But even better than eating a caramel apple on a stick is melting the caramel in a bowl and dipping apple slices in it. That way you get lots of caramel with every bite! Yum!!!

I was eating apple slices dipped in caramel last night when our friend, Adam, was here. I mentioned my absolute and complete love for them, and he said "blog it". (I even shared a slice with him - which my husband would be proud of me for since I tend to be stingy when it comes to things I can't get in Turkey...caramel!) (Oh, thanks to the Adam SS class at CFBC for the bags of caramels...I'm enjoying them!) (Wait...how appropriate is that?!?...the Adam SS class sent them, and I shared with Adam here!)

I must also mention that before my caramel apple I had a BLT for dinner! A great group of guys arrived from the states on Wednesday, and they surprised us with bacon and ham. We ate the entire box of bacon last night and enjoyed every bite of it! As Will was making his sandwich he clinked the knife in the mayonnaise jar and said "I love the sound of a knife in a mayonnaise jar". I love that! He is his momma's boy!

So, all in all, it was a great food night!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's celebrate!

Ahoy, me heartys! I just thought I should pass along some interesting news today. I have just been made aware of the holiday that is today...International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I do feel somewhat frustrated at the fact that my day is almost half over. I didn't get to celebrate it for the full day, but there's always next year! Because I know you will want more information on this international holiday I have included the wikipedia link.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jabez and OJ

I've really felt the need for something good to chew on the last couple of days. Brian downloaded a couple of sermons for my iPod so I decided to check one of them out. It was a Chuck Swindoll sermon that was preached at a Seattle Pacific University Chapel meeting in November of 1984. I didn't realize how significant the date of a sermon could be until I listened to this sermon! He started by talking about "someone you have probably never heard of before"...Jabez! I just about died. He did the whole prayer of Jabez sermon before it was popular! I never have been a fan of the prayer of Jabez stuff mainly because of all the hoopla surrounding it. It was made into something it never was which drove me crazy! But, in all fairness, the way Chuck told it made me really stop to think about what was said in Jabez's prayer. It was good. And I didn't even need to read The Prayer of Jabez book, use The Prayer of Jabez journal, or look things up in The Prayer of Jabez study bible to get something out of it. Now if I could only find a WWJD...what would Jabez do...bracelet to wear to remind me of what I learned!

After the Jabez bit Chuck ended with a story about a guy who overcame the odds and is now a huge success. This boy was born into a poor family in a bad neighborhood. As a child he had rickets and was the president of a gang. He was arrested 3 times as a juvenile, but despite such a bad start he ended up being a great man. He has everything that he could want in life now. A home in Brentwood, California, a fancy car, and the respect of so many people. He is still tough..."tough enough to be gentle...he is a gentle man." Orenthal James Simpson...OJ. What???? I just about died laughing at the closing of this sermon. Now like I said before it was 1984 which was 10 years before we got to see OJ's fancy car in the car chase that changed history in June of 1994. I had to play the last bit for Brian, because I knew he would think it was funny. He reminded me of something we recently heard a preacher say about using people as examples. He said that he only uses dead people as sermon examples, because live people can still make mistakes. A dead person can't mess up anymore! Maybe Chuck needs to adopt that strategy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Anna Grace is 8 - Part 2

Several weeks ago I posted a few pictures from Anna Grace's birthday. Those pictures were taken on her birthday as she opened her presents. We had a joint party for her and one of her friends the following week and this slideshow is from that event.

More Ramadan Fun

Every morning during the month of Ramadan a drummer walks the streets of our city to wake people up for one more meal before the day of fasting begins. He has been coming by our building between 3 and 3:30am beating his drum to wake people up. I don't really enjoy being awakened by someone beating a drum in the middle of the night, but because we have lived in Turkey for 5 years we have gotten used to it being part of what goes on during Ramadan. We usually hear the drummer every morning for about a week and then we learn to sleep through it. Last night I set the camera out so that when the drummer woke me up I could take a video of him going down the street. Here is what I captured at 3:10am. The video is dark...because it is the middle of the night! You can hear the drummer but will probably not be able to see him very well, because he fades into the darkness! You also can see and hear a car alarm go off when he passes by.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007


I've taken excerpts from an email I received on hosting an Iftar meal to share with you.

Iftar is the meal that ends the fast each day during the month of Ramadan. Iftar meal traditions will change from region to region, but here is a hint of what it looks like.

1) The meal MUST start on time. A Ramazan (what Ramadan is called here) calendar can be picked up from the local grocery store so one can be sure of the exact minute the fast can be broken. Just before it's time to eat everyone can sit down at the table and wait for the imam to start reading the call to prayer that officially ends the fast. The instant it starts everyone eats.
2) This is not a time to serve a one pot meal! This is the time to break out your nicer dishes and fix a formal dinner.
3)Dates are the traditional food served to break the fast. They should be on each end of the table in small bowls available for the moment your fasting friends hear the call to prayer and break their fast. Have water poured in their glasses and waiting for them. You can later offer cola or something else but have water ready for when they initially break their fast.
4) Fill up your table! Before the meal starts, I like to have at least two types of salad on the table -can be a green salad, cucumber/tomato salad, Turkish shredded carrot salad, potato salad, bulgar salad -anything. I would put a small bowl of each one at each end of the table, easily reachable by everyone seated. I usually have something pickled at each end of the table (karisik tursusu-or mixed pickled veggies work great) and olives. You can make your own zeytinyali (olive oil) appetizers or buy some ready made from most large grocery stores - Of course, have your fresh Ramazan pide (bread) in reach of each person.
5) The hostess will serve every course except for the self-service starters that are already on the table. Serve your guests first starting with the oldest man.
Remembering your salads and zeytinyali dishes are already on the table, I usually serve a menu something like:
1) As soon as you finish praying, serve your soup. I usually stick with something fairly traditional –maybe Mercimek (lentil), Tarhana (yogurt), Domates (tomato) or Ezogelin (spicy lentil).
2) You can serve your vegetables next. Green beens (Turkish style) work great, or biberli dolma (stuffed peppers).
3) After the vegetables, you can serve your main dish and pilav (rice). I often stick to a "sulu" type yemek, usually some type of meaty stew or stir-fry.
4) Our Turkish friends often serve a makarna (noodle) or manti type dish after the main dish. I don't always do it because people are generally not still hungry --but a proper Iftar might include manti (meat ravioli) at this point.
5) After offering (many times) to refill your guests plates, you all may finish the meal and move to the salon. After an hour or so you can serve your tea and desert. Feel free to serve an easy Ramazan desert like Kadayif (shredded wheat soaked in syrup). You can buy this ready made and after making your syrup and soaking it (recipe is on package) you have a great and easy desert.
6) A little while after desert we serve nuts. We usually serve a couple of varieties. You can give each person their own bowls and an empty bowl for shells. We offer Turkish coffee at this point.
7) We end the night with fruit. You can give each person a plate with several pieces of whole fresh fruit and a fruit knife.

If you want to know more email me and I would be happy to share with you.


September 13 was the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Muslims fast during daylight hours and pray to try to gain favor with Allah. Here is a little video of our mosque.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Writer's Block

I have been trapped in my house for the last several days because of sick kids so I thought I should take the opportunity to write something. I have signed on to blogger and just stared at my computer screen trying to figure out what to write about...nothing. I read back over several things I've written in the past hoping for inspiration...nothing. And here I sit staring at my computer and what comes to mind...nothing. So as I've done in the past when nothing new comes to me I will share something old.

I wrote this about a year and a half after we arrived in Turkey. After we arrived here I found myself looking back at my past and analyzing how I handled things. I felt like part of me tried to dwell on the good times and even the difficult times in my past. Some of the events I thought about were over 10 years old. I guess because I couldn't really predict what was going to happen in my future it was easier to think about the past. In the states I usually had a pretty good idea about how I would be spending the next several days. I knew what to expect of my week for the most part. Of course things could go differently than I had planned, but I was mostly sure about what was going to happen next. I felt like I didn't have that same assurance here. We were told by our company that past hurts and problems would rear their ugly heads when we were out of our comfort zone. I was suprised at how true that was. So here is what I wrote concerning what I was doing.

Walking back through my life
Analyzing my every thought
Looking over my shoulder
Thinking about what might have been.

Living life inside my head
Remembering people and events
Dwelling always on the past
Realizing that it's sin.

Learning from my mistakes
Repenting down on my knees
Standing up to live in Christ
Taking forgiveness that He gives.

Finding promise in His word
Reading all about His love
Writing down the things I've learned
Praying I don't sin again.

Knowing what God desires
Committing all of my life
Thanking Him for loving me
Praising who He is.

This is something I still struggle with. I know that I shouldn't dwell in the past, but there are parts of my life that I wonder about. How would things look if I had made a different choice back then? Where would I be? What would I be doing? I love my life now...don't get me wrong. I have been so blessed by God, and wouldn't really change anything about where I am or what I'm doing. I think that satan loves to try to convince us that we aren't really happy or that things would have been so much better if we had only ______________. I am so thankful that the bible is filled with God's promises. I don't have to dwell on the past because He promises us a future and a hope!

Ummm....so much for writer's block!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

El Torito

We have a new mall in town. The kids and Brian have wanted to go there for a week just to see what kinds of stores they have. We decided to go there for lunch today after church. We heard they had a Sbarro's Italian Eatery and a Schlotzsky's which are both new for us. Most malls here are several stories tall with the food court on the top floor. This mall was no different. We went up too many floors to count and found that not only did they have the two restaurants mentioned above, but they also had an El Torito. Mexican food! I was so surprised. We have another Mexican food place in town that is okay. It is expensive okay food. El Torito was quite a bit cheaper and the food was really good. They had tacos, burritos, fajitas, nachos, salads, taquitos, and several other items. All items were served with rice and beans and a yummy corncake. My only complaint is that they didn't have enchiladas. I guess I am going to have to make them myself if I want them. I was wishing I had my camera with me so that I could take a picture of our food. Oh well. Maybe next time...because there will for sure be a next time!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Stash It

Something funny that was shared with us at our conference last week!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

New toy

I have been using an MP3 player for several years now and decided to upgrade to the bigger and better iPod for my birthday. I looked at them online and chose a video iPod so that I could also watch movies on those long bus rides I have to take occassionally. I ordered it, and it was brought to me at the beginning of August. Let me just say I have thoroughly enjoyed it! I was able to put all the music I own on it. That's nice since my MP3 player only held 75 songs. I have also purchased two movies from iTunes to add to my listening/watching enjoyment. Last week I started listening to Rascal Flatts. They have some great music! A couple of days ago I added the 80's compilation cd I own as well as some purchased 80's hits. Oh my...takes me back. There were some good songs in the 80's! Let's reminisce...

Tell me how am I supposed to live without you? Now that I've been loving you so long?
Lying beside you, here in the dark, feeling your heart beat with mine...
Don't you want me baby? Don't you want me ohhhh oh...
Lost in love and I don't know much...
We're gonna rock down to Electric Avenue. and then we'll take it higher...
Our house in the middle of our street...our house in the middle of our...
How can I forget you girl when there's always something there to remind me...
Don't turn around...uh oh...Der Kommissar's in town...uh oh...
I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can watch you weave and breathe your story lines...
Everytime I think of you, I always catch my breath...
Baby your all that I want when your lying here in my arms. I'm finding it hard to believe we're in Heaven...
Cool it now...you've got to cool it now...watch out before you lose control.
She's got it. Yeah, baby she's got it. I'm your venus. I'm your fire at your desire.
My honey my baby don't put my love upon no shelf. She said don't give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.
We're not gonna take it. oh no we're not gonna take it anymore...
Owner of a Lonely heart...much better than an owner of a broken heart.
I'm so excited...I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!

Ahhh....the memories...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Vietnamese Burritoes!

Pictures of a yummy lunch last week!

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AG is 8!

Anna Grace is 8. I can't believe it. I have significant memories from age 8...third grade. Wow!

It's true!

Many of you have heard the rumors...so I'm here to confirm it for you. Abby has a boyfriend! A picture of the happy couple...

Awww...aren't they cute! We are really excited for Abby and Nat and are having fun watching love happen.