Sunday, August 31, 2008


I am entirely too excited about tomorrow. Tomorrow my kids start school. Tomorrow I will be alone for a good bit of the day. And I have big plans. Plans for laundry and cleaning. But even if my plans include those things they will also include loud music and dancing. Because I will be alone! Now I love my kids. Love them. I have enjoyed having them home this summer. We've done lots of traveling and had lots of family time. I am just ready for some alone time. I'm ready to drown out the sound of crickets with some yummy music. Ahhhh...I can almost hear the peace and quiet now. Dusting off the ol' iPod speakers....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Home again.

This past week we attended a conference for foreigners. The conference schedule was the perfect blend of planned and unplanned time slots. There were times to connect with people from all over the country as well as in our city. There was time with just the women. There was time scheduled for the family. There were lots of things to do. What did I do during the conference? Well half the time I stayed in my room with sick children. We arrived on Sunday afternoon. Everyone was healthy and happy. Monday...great. Tuesday...we started hearing rumors of people getting a stomach bug, but we all felt pretty good. That night Will started to feel a little sick. Wednesday...Will definitely had the stomach bug. He is 12 and normally I would have just left him in the hotel room by himself. This is Turkey, and while that might not be the safest thing to do in America it is fine to do here. The problem is he didn't want me to leave him. I guess that makes sense. He was sick and wanted his mama. Thursday...Jacob got it. Another day spent in the room. By about 10pm I was also not feeling great. Middle of the night....yep I had the stomach bug too. And then Anna Grace threw up in the bed. Great. Friday...I was still sick. AG was fine. I called to check on Erica who was sharing a room with some other older youth and she was throwing up as well. This didn't look good. We were supposed to be leaving Friday after lunch and two of us were still sick. We left around 1 and made it home about 4 hours later. We did have to stop twice, but all in all the trip wasn't bad. Today is Saturday. Brian woke up feeling bad. I don't feel sorry for him though. At least he gets to sleep in his own bed and use his own toilet.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I am out of town for the week and don't know if I will blog while I am here. I thought I might, but unless I have something that I just can't wait to say I probably won't. Just wanted you to know that I haven't given up on the blogging thing. Since I know you are sitting on the edges of your seats waiting with bated breath (Thanks to mamadallama for pointing out my misspelling of bated! I have had little sleep and little time to think so I appreciate someone else doing it for me!) to read what I have to say. Nothing. I pretty much have nothing to say right now. Wait...I guess I can tell you where I am. I am at a conference of foreigners. Basically a whole bunch of us who live and work in the area get together to compare notes and talk about living outside of our own cultures. It is a fun time to just relax with a whole bunch of others just like us. So we are here until Friday. That's it.

OH...I must tell you this. One of our friends took one of his kids to the restroom in the lobby of the hotel. While in the restroom he encountered some youth. Boys. This is the conversation he was privileged to hear.

Youth Boy 1 - I think I am pretty much the hottest guy here.
Youth Boy 2 - I know. But there is that other guy.
Youth Boy 1 - Yeah, true.

So confident...those kids.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How to eat chocolate fondue

Last night we went to Chocolate World/Kahve Dunyasi for dinner and coffee. Anna Grace wasn't interested in any of the yummy quiches or sandwiches they had so she got McDonalds. Then we ordered dessert. That is pretty much all I need to say. The pictures explain themselves.

We can't take her anywhere!

Friday, August 22, 2008


I read a blog today that reminded me of this post. Since I spent a few minutes searching for it I thought I would link it for you here.

In it I referenced this paragraph from an even earlier post...

One of my favorite memories of teaching was some of the kids' names. I have to wonder what some parents were thinking when they chose the names they did. I encountered kids named DeRail (he said he was named after a train...and wasn't kidding), Lucifer and Jesus (in the same class), Marvelous, and my personal favorite, Green Akers III. You would have thought his daddy would have had enough teasing with that name to never tag a kid with it. Ahhh...good memories.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A good mom

Yesterday we went to a birthday party at the local "playplace" in the mall. You know...one of those places that has slides, and tubes, and all kinds of foam things for your kids to climb through. For about $10 our kids got unlimited playtime in a huge maze of fun. Since our kids are older they played a rousing game of capture the flag in the huge structure. We told them to be careful of the little kids which ended up not being much of a problem. The place was so big that the little kids didn't even venture to the top. (I was always bothered by the big kids barreling over my little kids in places like that so I am pretty careful when we go to those sorts of places now that my kids are older.)

Anyway...so as the parents sat around the tables talking I noticed something interesting in the shoe cubbies.

See it?

Now do you see it?

Why is there a hairdryer just sitting on the shelf at the playplace? It seems oddly out of place. Or so I thought! After wondering about it for a few minutes a child exited the playplace. He was sweaty. That good, tired sweaty that you love for your kids to feel after playing hard. The kind that makes them nap hard. His mother sat him in that chair there by the hairdryer and proceeded to take off his sweaty shirt. She took a towel out of her bag and dried him off. Then she put a clean shirt on him. She changed his sweaty socks as well. Then she used the hair dryer to dry his sweaty hair. I was shocked. I guess I shouldn't have been, but I never would have even thought about doing any of that for my kids. I would have let them dry naturally. We witnessed several more kids being changed and dried off as we sat there.

Then when it was my kids' turn to leave the playplace I was a good mom and took my turn with the hairdryer.

I'm not sure how much cooler AG felt since there was no cool setting on the hairdryer.

And since I didn't even think to bring a change of clothes or a towel to dry her off with I used the hairdryer for that as well.

My other kids refused to be dried with the hairdryer. Once again I failed as a good Turkish mother. Oh well.

A few things...

Yea!!! I have correct guesses in Contest #2! Congrats to Penny and Sra for being the first two to guess correctly. I will be sending out your bookmarks tomorrow! And thanks to all who participated! There will be another contest sometime soon. I just need some cooler weather to blow in and clear out the cobwebs in my mind.

Yesterday I saw Mamma Mia for the 4th time. (Don't hate me for this...please...allow me this one indulgence.) This is one of those movies that I could watch over and over because of how much it makes me laugh. The best part is that I've seen it with different people every time so I got to watch others enjoy the movie...I love that!

Individual ice cream treats in the summer are one of my favorite things about living in Turkey. I know they have them in America as well, but we never did indulge much. Here we walk to the store just to get ice cream on a regular basis. When I was in junior high I remember riding my bike to the Stop N Go at the edge of my neighborhood to get ice cream treats. I wonder where the closest convenience store is to our new house.

More later...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Contest #2 is starting to stink!

Ok. I still don't have a winner in my poop contest. I realize that this is quite a disturbing topic for some of you. Some of you don't like to talk about bodily functions. Some of you enjoy it a little too much. I usually fall somewhere in the middle. But as I wrote about our camping adventures I realized that our pooping performance or lack thereof begged to be made into a contest. If you click back to that contest you can scroll through all the wrong answers. You can spend hours trying to figure out which combination of names have already been used and how many possible answers are left. According to my husband who is way more of a mathematician than I ever hope to be there are 90 possible answers. So far all the guesses I've received are wrong. There are 4 guesses with one person right in every category. Those guessers...SparklieSunshine, Sra, Sarcastic Mom, and Tamara. Here are their guesses in their own words...

No-Go: Brian & Erica
No Need: Jacob & Anna Grace
2 in the Woods: Natalie & Will

Pooped: Will, Anna
Didn't need to: Natalie, Brian
Refused: Jacob, Erica

Pooped: Natalie & Jacob
Didn't need to: Brian & Will
Needed to but refused: Anna Grace & Erica

Natalie and Will went.
AG and Brian didn't have to.
Jacob and Erica refused.

Every category has one correct answer. Let's see if this is a good enough hint to produce a winner or two! And this contest is now open to 2 more guesses by every participant.

Tell me who pooped in the woods, who didn't need to go while we were camping, and who needed to go but refused to go in the woods.

I'm sick of all the poop talk! Please somebody hurry up and win!

Hello Halay

Yesterday I spent several hours doing household chores. I was listening to music part of that time and kept hearing this strange drum beat over the sound of my ipod. When I turned the music off I realized what I was hearing.

I was hearing a band such as this one. These bands hang out on the streets in the old part of the city waiting to be hired for wedding preparations or receptions. They go to the house of the bride and stand outside and play their tunes while she is getting ready. After the wedding they play and people dance the halay. Pinkies are linked and a circle forms. It is a form of line dancing like no other. There are several different dance steps. When trying to find a video to show you how the actual dance goes I came across this little gem. This is NOT a Turkish Halay dance, and I'm pretty sure the majority of it isn't Kurdish either but it did crack me up.

The music was coming from somewhere in this maze of buildings. Listen closely and you can hear the horn in between the drum beats.

I'm very glad I didn't have to listen to this sort of music while getting ready for my wedding. I honestly think it would have just stressed me out! I don't recall listening to any music while I was getting ready for my wedding. And if I was picking music today to listen to while preparing to get married I think I might pick some Trisha Yearwood, Melissa Etheridge, Little Big Town, and Eastmountainsouth. What would you pick?

Monday, August 18, 2008

A makeover like no other!

Anna Grace had a birthday this week. She wanted to go to Popeye's for dinner and have a sleepover. Sleepovers mean entertaining children for longer than I usually have patience for. We decided to decorate sugar cookies instead of having a cake to take up some time. I also had the fun idea to do makeovers. Not makeovers on the 7-9 year old girls...no...makeovers on a couple of adults done by 7-9 year old girls.

The participants before their fabulous makeovers...

Natalie...also known as mom.

Ms. Morton...also known as the Elementary Principal! I mean what kid wouldn't love to give their principal a makeover?

My make-up and hair artists, Abby and Mikah. This is pretty much what they did the entire time. Lots of giggling as they worked on me.

Annie and Anna Grace were tasked with making Ms. Morton beautiful. They got right to work!

It was very hard to keep a straight face when two giggling girls were trying to put lipstick on me. I did find it interesting that they started with the lipstick. Obviously they hadn't done this before!

Ms. Morton was powdered properly.

Ms. Morton having her hair styled.

Amazing! The perfect style for back to school. Easy and no fuss!

Here we are after our amazing makeovers.

I gave the boys the job of taking pictures. There were lots of blurry ones and very few I could actually use! There were no pictures taken of my hair styling despite the fact that it took quite a long time. I was braided and rebraided several times before they declared it done. Thanks to Ms. Morton for being a great sport!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Contest #2...yeah...that number 2.

While camping...

Two of us pooped in the woods. Two of us didn't need to go while we were camping. Two of us needed to go but refused to go in the woods making us leave our campsite 2 hours before we planned so they could use a squatty. Since we are talking about going number 2, since we performed in twos AND since this is my 2nd contest I will send 2 Turkish bookmarks to the first two people who can guess who was who.

Tell me who pooped in the woods, who didn't need to go while we were camping, and who needed to go but refused to go in the woods. Oh...only two guesses per person please!

If you are new to my blog and aren't sure what names to use in your guesses we are Brian, Natalie, Erica, Will, Jacob, and Anna Grace. We are pictured on the sidebar for your viewing pleasure!

For more on our camping adventures see here!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Camp Idontwanna

So we camped. And it was the experience I knew it would be. You may recall that I wasn't looking forward to this camping trip. I love camping. I seriously love it. I just wasn't looking forward to this trip. The kids didn't want to go either which was quite amazing. The boys had only been home a week after their 9 day trip out east. This is the last week before things pick up so we just wanted a lazy week at home. We had friends who really wanted to go camping with us one last time before we head back to the states in November, and this was the only week we knew for sure we could manage it. And we love these friends and love camping with them so we pulled ourselves together and headed out to an unknown camping spot. That was the beginning of our adventure!

We arrived at Ilgaz National Park and read on the sign that tent camping was 5 lira. When we told the gate attendant he said there was no camping spots in the park. Brian pointed out that the sign had a price for tent camping and that we had read that on the internet as well. The man was quite confused and told us that there were only hotels...no camping. He did tell us that we could go in and look for a place to set up a tent. That if we found one we could pay our fee on the way out. We drove around, looked around, and didn't really see any suitable place to set up a camp. There were hotels and parking lots. There were ski lifts and mountains. There were no flat places to set up two tents without hiking in. We didn't go prepared to hike. We had two 10 man tents. We had 3 coolers, 11 sleeping bags, bags of food, backpacks of clothing, and various other camping equipment. There was no way we could hike down the side of a mountain with all of our stuff. We also stopped and asked a policeman if there was a place to camp, and he told us camping was forbidden. So we waved at the little man in the booth as we drove back out of the national park. We had no idea where to camp at this point. A few kilometers down the road there was another ranger booth. We decided to stop and see what those people could tell us. There wasn't anyone in the booth; however, there were three men walking down the road. Brian decided to ask them if they knew of any camping in the area.

One of these men happened to be the head of the General Directorate of Forestry. He and his cohorts had just been checking out the forest and had branches of pine cones to inspect. He told us that we could camp anywhere we wanted and called someone to come meet us and take us up the mountain to find a camping spot.

Two men came and brought us up the mountain to a caretakers house. They handed us over to Ali Bey who said we could camp in his yard and use his bathroom.

We asked if we could look around some before we decided so he went with us as we searched for a place to camp.

Finally we came to an area that was perfect. Forest behind us, a nice clear patch of ground in front of us, and a fresh watering hole about a kilometer away. Poor Ali Bey was willing to let us camp there especially after hearing that we got permission from the head man, but he was quite concerned about our safety. He wanted to know what we were going to do about the bear and wild boar in the area. We told him that 11 people were probably going to be loud enough to scare any wildlife away.

After we picked our spot Hussein and his cows came walking by on their way home for the day. Brian affectionately called him a cowherd since he was herding cows. One cow in particular wasn't very happy with where we decided to set up camp.

But set up camp we did.

While we were setting up camp the kids checked out the woods and fields near us.

Anna Grace and a friend came running back with reports of raspberry bushes so we handed them a container and told them to pick as many as they wanted.

They were the perfect addition to our fruit salad!

As the sun went down it got a little chilly up there on that mountain so everyone went to put on long sleeves and pants. Well everyone but my boys who had forgotten to pack any long sleeve shirts or jackets. Now I must confess that Jacob asked me to check his bag before we left. I never did. I just told him to make sure he had clothes for a couple of days and to make sure they weren't good clothes. Thankfully Will had remembered long pants, and Josh had accidentally packed one of Will's long sleeve shirts that was left at his house so Will was fine.

Jacob got to wear one of my long sleeve shirts and a pair of Brian's shorts that had a drawstring waist. They still fell down, but at least he wasn't cold. I may not have checked Jacob's bag, but I did bring 2 extra long sleeve shirts besides the one I planned on wearing, because I wasn't sure what any of the kids had packed.

After it got dark everyone had hot chocolate and hot coffee which warmed us up nicely.

That night I didn't sleep well at all. It was cold. The ground was lumpy and the wind was blowing. If we hadn't been sleeping in our tent I think it might have blown away. And of course every noise woke me up. I was wondering about those bears and boars. Thankfully no wild animals bothered us during either night we were camping.

The next day some of us went fishing and the rest of us hiked though the woods and around the area.

We also hiked the kilometer to the fresh water source which was an underground stream that had been piped into two troughs.

We filled up our jugs and hiked back to camp.

Everyone had great fun making spears with pocket knives and roaming the woods.

They played games in the trees using homemade spears for money.

The kids took turns using the hatchet as well.

Jacob made a ladder out of sticks wedged between two trees.

Between the sticks he wedged in place and the broken branches sticking out of the trunk he was able to climb up quite high.

This is what Erica did during much of our camping trip. She either sat in the van or in the tent and read. She was quite perturbed with me when I wouldn't let her sleep in the van. She said, "Don't you care about my safety? What about those wild animals?" I said, "No, I want you to risk your life just like the rest of us."

Erica also changed her clothes every day and tried to be matching and cute. Evidently she didn't get the memo on what to wear when camping. I did laugh when she tore this pair of capris while getting out of the "safe" van.

It was beautiful place. Quiet, peaceful, and perfectly beautiful. We had tons of fun and are all so glad we went.

Sidenote #1
One of the things that always amazes me about Turkey is the lack of respect for nature. We brought in quite a bit of stuff. We also brought out every bit of trash we produced. While hiking through the woods the first day we came to a clearing. There was trash everywhere. Ali Bey said that there had been another group like us (meaning foreigners) who had been there a couple of weeks before for a day trip. He said that they left the place perfectly clean...like they found it. Then a group of Turks came in for a picnic and just left all their trash. Dirty diapers, plastic wrap, styrofoam meat trays, plastic bottles, cans, etc. You name it, and they left it. He said that Turks just don't care about keeping things clean. I have witnessed that in town with people throwing trash out of their car windows and kids throwing candy wrappers on the ground when they are done with the candy. I am just amazed that you could look at the beauty of the above picture and then just leave your trash everywhere.

Sidenote #2
There were no bathrooms so we had to use the woods. Everyone was fine with part of that, but there are two members of my family who refused to poop in the woods. Refused. We were planning on leaving after lunch the third day, but because they were so uncomfortable we ended up leaving about 2 hours earlier. We drove about 20 minutes and stopped at a place for them to go to the bathroom. All they had were squatty potties which they were perfectly fine using. Um...how is that any different than squatting in the woods? The woods are actually cleaner than most squatties I've seen. They said that with squatties there were stalls so nobody could actually see you going. It had everything to do with the privacy issue. Crazy!

Sidenote #3

Everyone brought a backpack filled with whatever camping clothes they thought they might need.

Well everyone but Brian. He brought this small suitcase which totally cracked me up. He never came close to wearing all the clothes he brought, but he liked that he had options just in case. I guess options would have been nice when I peed on my pant leg while trying to squat and pee out in the pitch black darkness. I was too busy trying to make out the shapes of wild animals in the dark to notice that my pant leg was in my pee stream.

Oh the joys of camping!