Saturday, May 31, 2008


Today I had the chance to visit Ulus, the old part of our city. I took this video as we walked up one of the main streets. It is quite bumpy so if you tend to get motion sickness from watching videos beware! You can hear the call to prayer being broadcast from a nearby mosque. As you can see there are quite a variety of things for sale on this street. Also you can see the difference in women's fashions. Some women are covered, and some are wearing tight jeans and shirts. The 4 American women I am with are wearing pink, pink, brown, and turquoise shirts. Just so you don't identify them as Turkish!

Friday, May 30, 2008

emotional girls

the day before yesterday anna grace came home telling me about this readers' theater her class was doing on friday...today. here's how the conversation went...

ag - will you come see my readers' theater on friday?
me - of course i will.
ag - ok. it's first thing in the morning.
me - ok...i'll be there.

yesterday ag came home and asked again.

ag - tomorrow we have readers' theater. here's my script. i'm the third elephant. are you coming?
me - yes, i said i would.
ag - i know, but last time you couldn't come.
me - ag, if i wasn't sure i would tell you that i'm not sure i'll be able to make it. i don't have anything else that i have to do. i'll be there.
ag - ok...it's at 9:45 now. she changed the time.
me - ok.

then this morning...

ag - today is my readers' theater.
me - i know.
ag - are you coming?
me - yes, i promise i will be there.
ag - it's at 9:45.
me - i know. you told me.
ag - ok...be sure to be there.
me - ok

at 8:43 the phone rings.

me - ag, i don't think i can get there in 2 minutes. i still have my pjs on and it takes 10 minutes to walk to the school.
me - ok...i'll try to make it.

i throw on clothes and am out the door in about 3 minutes. i walk/run up the hill all the way to the school. i get to the school, and there is one group doing their play. ag is sitting on the ground watching. i lean against the back wall and try not to pass out since i hadn't eaten anything and practically killed myself getting to the school.

ag sees me and mouths - you missed it.

then she came over to me and burst into tears saying that her group went first not last. so i sat down against the back wall and held her. then i started to cry as well. i missed it. after all of that i missed it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy hair

Today Erica came home from school begging to get her hair colored. One of her friends had been to the kuafor here and had red streaks put in her hair. And by red I mean hot pink. She went to school today and was told that she had to have a natural color...that red was ok, but pink was not. She was heading back to the kuafor to have her pink streaks changed to red, and Erica begged to go along and have hers done as well. As some of you may know we are pretty open to hairstyles in our family. I mean...it's just hair. It will grow out, fade, possibly fall out, and soon a new crop of hair will take it's place. I was fine with her having her hair done but thought I should ask Brian what he thought. He said that it was a girl thing so it was my decision. Then he wanted to know what color she planned to dye her hair. I told him red. His response...like clown red or Nicole Kidman red? Well, I'm pretty sure, based on the hot pink hair, that she means clown red. He said it was still up to me. I said yes. So she went.

And she came home.

And now I am wondering how natural this color really is. I mean Elmo pulls it off and he's a natural redhead.

Then I proved to be the coolest, hippest mom on the planet. Erica was explaining that this is the hairstyle she wanted when we were in the states. The time I wouldn't let her color her hair. I said I wasn't sure how it would be taken there. We were newly back. I didn't want her to be judged or labeled based on her hair color. She said were you worried I would be considered emo? And I so knew what emo was! Because when Erica walked in the door (at 7:30pm) to show off her new hair we happened to have two 20something girls visiting us from the states. After Erica walked out of the room they said that her hair looked kinda emo and then explained that it was short for emotional. Not exactly goth or punk, but emo. One hour later when Erica used the term emo I acted like I had known that term my whole life. Ahhh...the joys of being one step ahead!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Working out

Today I made Erica go with me when I went on my walk. She thought it was because I wanted company...but no...I had ulterior motives! She was going to be my workout video guinea pig. Bwahahahaha! Poor, unsuspecting Erica!

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Monday, May 26, 2008

Are you kidding me?

Because making pancakes from scratch is way too hard.

And evidently using this

wasn't already easy enough. I mean having to measure out the water and then all that shaking. Too much.

So now they have this.

What is the point exactly?

You might as well buy this

and call it done.

(I'm feeling a little sassy...can you tell?)


Have you ever thought about bushes?

No...not these Bush's...

or these...

or even these.

I'm talking about the plant variety. They come in all different sizes, but for some reason when I hear about bushes I think small, fairly dense plants. I guess they would be considered shrubs more than bushes.

Yeah...shrubs...planted around a house...in a flowerbed. But we aren't talking about shrubs now are we? Nope...we are talking about bushes.

Like these honeysuckle bushes. Not very dense...easy to see through. If someone was playing a game of hide and seek and chose to hide behind these bushes they would be sure to be found.

What about these? Large bushes...lots of foliage to hide behind. The problem here would be trying to cross alligator creek!

These bushes seem like they could work...but there is entirely too much open space around them. Definitely not the perfect hiding place.

Nope...didn't you learn anything? These are not bushes...they are shrubs. Moving along...

Blackberry bushes while quite dense are also quite prickly. Your friends might not find you if you hide here, but I can't promise the bees and bears won't!

Ah....look. It's perfect. Bushes and trees to hide in. A nice lawn for picnicking on when you tire of your game. And the gentle flow of a creek. Obviously there are no alligators in this one...the ducks wouldn't stand for it!

Brought to you by one who runs in this park and enjoys the scenery.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A day trip

This morning we decided to take a little trip outside the city. Actually we decided to visit another city altogether. We decided to take a trip to Safranbolu. On our way out of town we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a little pre-trip sugar high. Nothing like a donut to start the day off right!

Brian estimated our driving time to be about 2 hours. After about an hour and a half we came to a toll booth.

As we were pulling up a car was backing out of the drive-on-through-because-you-have-an-automatic-pay-thingy-on-your-windshield lane and entering the cash-only lane. We were nice and stayed back so that he could pull on in ahead of us. He pulled into the lane and was a good 10 feet away from the pay booth. We kinda giggled thinking that this poor guy must be from the village or something. He seemed to have no idea what to do. We thought he was about to get out of his car and walk up to the booth to pay. Nope. When he realized he needed to be closer to the booth to pay he put his car in reverse and guess what...

This happened. Yes, that is our white van. We were still quite a ways behind him when he decided to back up, but he never looked back and plowed into us.

He managed to break his tail light, mess up our tampon (Turkish for bumper!), and break off our license plate.

While Brian wrote down the man's insurance info one of the toll booth employees talked to the village man and his wife. (We were right...they were from the village and didn't really know what they were doing.)

After exchanging info we followed the village man to the police station to fill out a report. The kids and I sat in the car while Brian went in and took care of business. One hour later we went into the police station to use the bathroom. Brian was finishing up and we were given a police excort to this place...

for lunch. This was in the little town of Gerede. I ate the worst lentil soup I have ever eaten, and Brian said his Beyti wasn't so great either. After lunch we walked up the street just to say we had been somewhere.

So I took this picture of the town...

and a picture of a cobbled road...

and this door...

which led to this house.

Then we turned around and came home.

Instead of taking pictures of

the town of Safranbolu...

which has these old Ottoman style houses

and old street markets myself I found these pictures on the internet to share with you.

The end.

Friday, May 23, 2008

pet peeve #49

is making lunches for the kids on school days. i hate it. if all of my kids would eat the same thing it wouldn't be so bad. one likes grilled cheese. one likes pb&j but only on turkish bread. one is allergic to peanuts. one hates sandwiches all together. one never knows what they want. one would love to have leftovers if we ever had them. i have four kids, but their tastes in chips, juice, snacks, and pretty much everything having to do with making a lunch are completely different. after several months of morning-lunch-making frustration i came up with a system that has taken away at least part of the stress of school lunches.

introducing the bucket system...

after making whatever main food item each kid desires i leave the rest up to them. they can choose one sweet snack, one salty snack, and one drink. there is also a bowl of fruit, yogurt, veggies, and various other refrigerated items if desired.

the salty bucket includes a variety of pretzels, chips, and crackers.

the sweet bucket includes snack cakes, candy bars, and cookies.

juices...apple, cherry, orange, peach, and mixed fruit.

it may not always be the most healthy lunch, but i can guarantee that the stress that the bucket system relieved would have killed me before these snacks will kill them!

Top 5

Lately I've been thinking a lot about top 5's. You know...the top 5 things on a particular list. Today I thought I would share a few of my top 5's with you. Aren't you the lucky ones?

Top 5 favorite children's books read in the last few years.
1. The Thief by Megan Whalen
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
3. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
4. Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
5. To Be a Slave by Julius Lester

Top 5 selfish things I would spend money on if money was no object.
1. a private tropical island
2. a house in the mountains
3. a private chef who cooked mostly vegetarian meals
4. a yacht...just a small one
5. a cute bookstore

Top 5 favorite meals leftover
1. lasagna
2. chicken spaghetti
3. spicy beef
4. chicken and dumplings
5. anything chinese

Any top 5 questions out there? Ask away.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Scarlett singing

Brian was also perusing iTunes tonight looking for some new tunes when he ran across a new album by Scarlett Johansson. Wait...isn't she an actress? The album was averaging 1 1/2 stars out of 5. This deserved some attention. So he listened. And agreed with many of the commentators while laughing at some of the descriptives used to analyze her work. Then he came across this one.

Move over William Shatner, there’s a new actor / awful singer sheriff in town! I for one couldn’t be more delighted. Capt. Kirk set the bar very high indeed for thespians who thought they could sing (I’m looking at you Hasselhoff); but Scarlett is my new muse. I would give this a hundred stars if I was able; it’s that wonderfully bad! Thank you Scarlett, the gauntlet is passed to a younger generation. Never stop singing…never.

And the result was the following video.

Here is a link to Scarlett's album on Amazon.
There is a great video of Scarlett talking about making the album with music clips interspersed throughout. Or you can check it out on itunes as well!

And to be fair to William Shatner I'll link this too.


matter of course is you (all your base are belong to us)

Brian and I will be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary in June. We have a lot going on this summer so Brian thought it would be fun to get away for a couple of nights to celebrate. He was online tonight looking at hotels near the Aegean Sea. One place looked really nice. The pictures showed new bungalows with a mountain view in the back and a view of the sea in the front. The type of place where marketing would be pretty important. The website should be clean, easy on the eyes, and the descriptions of the property should flow like poetry. Everything looked great...and then he started reading...

Our plant was completed in May 2007 and opened for our customers. 12 bungalows are located in our 6000 sqm area, respectively with 30 qm of living space. For the construction of the bungalows local materials not containing pollutant were used. There are a double bed and one of extendible couch in every bungalow. Here you can comfortably and healthily live and stay with your family. Matter of course is you/toilet as well as an air conditioner a modern. On our big lawn you can sunbathing rest or drive a different sports.

Become their meals in our open restaurant, see the powerful mountains the turquoise blue sea served by the other side from a side.

The meals are prepared by our family from vegetables and fruits which are local and not treated. We are sure that the days which will spend her with me and with my family remain unforgettable for you.

They will have the desire every year like the sea turtles Caretta Carettas to come again here.

Greetings and a healthy life.

We are so there!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

slliks hcet hgih

Is this something I should admit to owning? It's a seven disc set of 80's music and a book of 80's trivia!

I took this picture using my computer which evidently takes segami rorrim/mirror images. I tried to figure out how to ti pilf/flip it, but was lufsseccusnu/unsuccessful. The eralg/glare on the box is from the neercs retupmoc/computer screen. Another thing I couldn't tuo erugif/figure out how to fix. Yvvas retupmoc/computer savvy...that's me!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rising to the level of mediocrity

For the past few months Erica has been going to musical/play practice. The Turkish American Association was doing a rendition of Disney's teen blockbuster film High School Musical. Erica got wind of it and decided she wanted to try out. She was awarded the part of a cheerleader.

(Her mother was secretly happy she didn't have a major role since she had never done anything like this before!) So rehearsals started. In January. And so for the last 4 months we have dealt with getting Erica to and from rehearsals...three times a week.

Now this is where I need to come clean and admit that I do not drive in Turkey. I have never driven in Turkey. So when I say WE have dealt with getting Erica to and from rehearsals I mean that I have thought about it, but other than that and making a few phone calls to check to see who was driving I have had it relatively easy. Brian and another family took turns driving carpool for the practices. As time for the performances (there were 4!) drew near the practice schedule increased to include Saturday and Sunday practices as well. The great thing about living in Turkey is that there is ample public transportation so after a bit the kids were able to get to and from the practices some on their own. I think we were all happy about this!

Sunday night I was able to attend the final show. It was great. The kids' hard work really paid off.

And now here is where I make my point. Just in case you were wondering. I do have a point.

Is it bad to hope that my kids are never so great at something that they have years of 3-5 practices a week as well as shows, performances, games, matches, meets, and fairs? If I only had one child I might be able to handle it, but there are four of them. Thankfully Erica is almost driving age so if when we are back in the states the acting bug hits again she will soon be able to drive herself to practices.

Will will be in 7th grade next year. All of Will's desires for extra-curricular activities revolve around sports so junior high athletics is the perfect place for him to hone his skills. And they have late buses. Those buses that take the kids who stay after school for some sports reason or because they were in after-school detention home barely in time for dinner. I was never good enough at sports or bad enough behaviorally to take the late bus. But I know they exist. So that gets me out of being practice chauffeur, but there are still all those games to go to.

Jacob is my smart kid. He loves to read and do math homework. He has participated in sports for the past 5 years because all of his friends were doing it. We recently finished a season of basketball where Jacob jammed his finger slightly and quickly declared that this was the last time he was going to play basketball. Now he is participating in soccer and has already decided that he is done with it as well. This comes as no surprise to me. He is not a skilled sportsman. I asked him if he would be interested in swimming. He said "for fun, but I don't want to do races." We listed several other sports and nothing really stood out to him. He did, however, enjoy the recent science fair that he participated in. He worked hard to make sure his board and project were exceptional. I fully expect academic decathlons to be in his future. Maybe even band. Sigh.

Anna Grace is only 8. She has never been interested in sports. Of any kind. She would probably be great at them if she would try them because she has the build for it. She also doesn't have the stamina to do 4 months of rehearsals for a 4 show play. At least not yet. She gets bored easily so nothing ever sounds good or fun for long. When she saw the play she said she would like to try out next time. I'll believe that when I see it. She doesn't care much about playing an instrument or reading books. She spends her time watching movies and bugging her siblings. Maybe AG is destined for mediocrity. Just like her mother. I'm so proud!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


So it is 1am, and I am up. Shocker. Considering I was on death's doorstep for over 24 hours and the fact that I slept on that doorstep for said 24 hours I am not tired. I am awake. It could also partially be because I drank a lot and I do mean A LOT of diet coke today. I also ate food. Good tasting, real food. For the first time in 2 days. I make a pathetic sick person. I like food too much. Good food. So the whole time I am sick I still have the desire to eat. I didn't this time, but only because I didn't have the desire to see that food again. And believe me I would have. But as soon as I could eat food without worrying about a repeat performance I indulged. And now because I ate food today...not a lot of food...but more than enough my stomach feels tight. And I don't mean tight in the I've been doing stomach crunches kind of way. I mean in that I shouldn't have eaten those french fries and had quite so much diet coke kind of way. So I am not tired, my stomach is mad at me, and I am blogging about it. I so need a life!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

rumbly in my tumbly

On Friday I subbed at the kids' school. Well, I kinda subbed. At noon I had to ask to go home. I had been fighting an upset tummy, and well, it got to the point where I knew I couldn't make it. So a sub was called in to finish the day for me. What makes it even funnier is that I was already subbing for the original sub. When the teacher comes back on Monday she is going to be so confused I know!

Today I'm still not feeling great. I have been drinking water, but it is making me gag. It doesn't taste good at all. Brian was sweet and went to the store to get me this.

We call it a bloody orange. That is pretty much the literal translation. I have a feeling there isn't any actual blood orange juice in it, but hey, actual citrus juice would probably mess my stomach up. I'll take the fake stuff.

So...that's it. Nothing exciting happening around here. (Well, that's not exactly true, but we are saving that for a later post.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008


after saying he was filled with inexpressible joy.

I can see it...I mean I can't see it since it is inexpressible...but I could feel it. It permeated the room.

Taking a trip.

Jacob's words...

Yesterday I built a teleportation module out of leggos. It can teleport you anywhere you want to go.

Wow. A teleportation module. Where should I go? I can think of several places that sound nice.

What about here?

Or here...

This looks nice.

How about here?

I'll let you know what I decide.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

i want my youtube!

well...it seems as though someone somewhere has done something on youtube to irritate someone somewhere in turkey. youtube access has once again been denied to those of us here in this country. this isn't the first time. i would say there have been at least three other times the plug has been pulled on youtube in turkey. it was annoying before, but this time i am taking it personally! i have several blogs that i read on a regular basis. these fine writers have all in recent days put a youtube video on their blog to help make their points. i hear that something funny is on the video. i read the comments that others make concerning the video and it's hilarity, but i can't see the video. evidently there was something really funny about mother's day, puff the magic dragon, and sea monkeys. there's a song by a group called flobots and a video on how to use facebook. all this in just the last three days. i am so missing out!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Comparison shopping

For Mother's Day we decided to try a new place. We heard that this place had the best hamburgers in Ankara. This is huge. Hamburgers in Turkey are not usually what Americans think of when we think of hamburgers. I mean they look similar, but they put Turkish meatball spices into the meat so they don't taste the same at all. (I am not a big fan of Turkish meatball spices.) We drove to Panora mall and looked around for the place I had heard about. I couldn't remember the name, but knew it was in the food court on the right and figured when I saw it I would know it. I ended up having to call the friend who told me about it, and she directed us to the Timboo cafe. (Not on the right in the food court, but on the main floor around the corner from the elevators. I had no idea where food court on the right came from, but at that point I didn't care.)

The menus were huge...and as you can see I mean in actual size.

So I ordered a cheeseburger with sauteed onions on it. It was delicious. And I mean really, really delicious. Not even a hint of Turkish meatball spice. I ate the entire thing. All.of.it! Yummy.

After we ate the owner gave Anna Grace this cookie to give to me for Mother's Day. It says "The most beautiful of mothers". He wasn't hitting on me...all the cookies said that.

After we got home the friend who had directed me to the most awesome hamburgers in town called and wanted to know how our meal was. Then she wanted to know how I knew that she knew about that restaurant. I gently reminded her that she had mentioned it the week before...thinking poor girl she doesn't remember...well she did just have a baby. She said that it wasn't possible that she had mentioned this place to me because she had just eaten there 2 days before. And then she gently reminded me that she told me about another restaurant in another mall where she had eaten really good hamburgers. It was located in the food court on the right. Oh. Hm. Ok. So I am only partially crazy!

Later that evening we had some unexpected house guests for the night. Two mothers who hadn't made it home from a girl's trip so they didn't get taken out for Mother's Day. Brian decided that he needed to take us all out to celebrate one more time. This time we decided to go to the originally-talked-about "best hamburgers in town" restaurant. We thought it would be a fun thing to try both burgers in one day to compare them.

Cheeseburger number two came with grilled onions, bbq sauce and a white cheese. Hm...what's that I smell? Kofte spice...hm. I took a bite and it did indeed have kofte spice on it. Not a lot. It wasn't too much, but it was still there. I ate less than half of this burger...not because of the kofte spice, but because I was still stuffed from lunch.

Cheeseburger #1 blew cheeseburger #2 out of the water. For sure. That's all.


I just wanted to say thanks to all those who donned birthday hats yesterday to help me wish Mentanna a happy birthday. She did indeed get 38 emails with pictures of people "celebrating" her birthday along with her. She told me to be sure to let everyone know how much she appreciated it!