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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I need to borrow a baby on a cold day.

If I had a baby he/she would totally be sporting this look this winter. I absolutely love these caps! So cute!

I know...I haven't been here in forever. Work, life, illness. That pretty much sums up the last month. Trust me...you haven't missed much.

Seriously though...you have to check out that link. Especially if you have a baby, are in need of a knitted cap or know how to knit yourself and want a fun new idea. So cute.

I'll be back.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh that Russell!


Remember these? These delectable chocolate covered marshmallow Santas? Ahhh...such good memories...


Then there was this. A heart. I loved it as well despite the chocolate to marshmallow ratio being slightly off.

And now...


I've discovered this. Standby while I take my first bite...ahhh...such a sweet familiar flavor. But...wait...I had no idea...the marshmallow is chocolate flavored, too. A chocolate marshmallow covered in chocolate? Yummo!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Yum!

I love fall. I love the colors associated with it. I love the cooler weather as well. And I love the food. Last year we moved back to the states the Monday before Thanksgiving. By the time jetlag wore off we were in full Christmas mode. I missed fall. This year I was pleasantly surprised by all the fall foods in the grocery store. The variety of squash alone was enough to make me giddy. In Turkey we had zucchini. They weren't exactly like the ones here in the states. They were a lighter green, but the flavor was the same. I liked them and cooked them often, but I missed other varieties.


The other day I bought these three varieties of squash. From left to right...CARNIVAL squash, DELICATA squash, and GOLDEN NUGGET squash. Yum! I cooked them all in the same night for a mini taste test. The kids took one bite, which I didn't even capture on camera, and turned their noses up. Well everyone but Erica. She and I both thought they were delicious! They all tasted very similar. Slightly sweet and buttery...or maybe that was the butter I put on them. Either way...yum!

Monday, October 19, 2009

personal

Hm...not sure what to write here exactly.

I appreciate all the prayers and thoughts for me and my family. I know most of you would like an explanation, but I am not ready to talk to anyone about all that is going on. Just know that Brian has been truly remarkable throughout the whole thing. It is important to me that you know that. Even though he disagrees with some of the decisions I've made he has been kind and gracious to me. I expected nothing less. He was always that way. Also I wanted to let everyone know that the kids are in the forefront of my mind. I will be a bike ride away from them at most, and they will be seeing me on a daily basis. In no way am I abandoning them or my role as their mother. Beyond that I don't have anything else to say yet. Maybe I never will. This is personal, and I need to keep it that way for now.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

hi

I am currently without internet at home. I am downloading my email at work, but I haven't had time to actually answer most of them. I promise I'm not ignoring you guys! And there is no time for blogging during my quick time online either. Oh...and the vonage phone isn't working since the internet isn't working. I am able to check my messages though. Sorry for the craziness!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

best tattoo ever!

I was surfing the internet the other day and came across this tattoo. I shared it with my kids. I shared it on twitter. I showed a few friends.



I can't even begin to tell you how much I've enjoyed watching the different reactions people have had to it. Personally I think it's quite clever. If people are going to be looking/noticing that a toe is missing you might as well have them giggling over the whole thing.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Kemah

Before moving to Turkey one of our favorite places to go for the day was to the Kemah boardwalk. We always rode the train, ate some yummy seafood, played in the dancing fountain, and had beignets for dessert. Occasionally we would let the kids ride the ferris wheel or merry-go-round as well. A couple of weeks ago we took our first trip to Kemah since we've been back in the states. Evidently Hurricane Ike did quite a bit of damage here, but we couldn't tell at all. Kemah was back and better than ever! Here are a few pictures of our day.


The train ride. Of course!


Anna Grace screaming in the tunnel.


Erica, Will, and Anna Grace decided to ride the Drop Zone. Jacob didn't want to have anything to do with it. I didn't blame him one bit!


Yeah...it was entirely too tall for me! I wish I had a picture of the kids' faces right after they were dropped. They were scared! Within seconds they were laughing and talking about how fun it was though.


They all decided to take home temporary tattoos as a souvenir.

The day was hot, but we had fun! We had the yummy seafood, ate beignets, and rode a few more rides as well, but somehow I only managed to take these few pictures! We'll get 'em next time!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Colors

I was adding some pictures to my computer when I stumbled across these. I took these pictures in May when the first fruits of our garden were starting to make themselves known. The vibrant colors make my heart ache.


Yellow squash


A baby watermelon


A perfect little cucumber.


Ah...the sweet smell of home grown tomatoes!

And for the flower lovers out there I'll include this one.

I am a mixed medium gardener. Flowers mixed with veggies, mixed with shrubs, mixed with annuals, mixed with roses, mixed with...well you get the idea.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

my day

This morning I woke up with a massive headache. I couldn't decide if it was going to be one of migraine proportions or not. I chose to just take Excedrin and ride it out. I also drank a diet Coke, took some Ibuprofen, took naps, and ate food in attempts to alleviate the pain. Nothing helped really. Despite having a headache I am feeling quite chipper. It's a good day. A lazy Saturday. A talk on the phone to a friend kind of day. A thumb through Southern Living magazines and dream sort of day. A read all the posts in my reader kind of day. And I'm smiling about all of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

life

I've had several emails and comments from people wondering where I am. I'm still here...just really busy. There's a lot going on. I'm not quite comfortable talking about most of it here though. So for the time being...until I get things sorted out...I probably won't be blogging much. I always promised to let you guys know if and when I decided to stop blogging altogether. That is not the plan as of now. If it comes to that I'll be sure to tell you. Thanks for being such faithful readers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

just a quick trip...ha!

While in Oklahoma we've become acquainted with a certain convenience store...Quick Trip or QT for short. The drink choices at this place...wow!


frozen coffee drinks, hot coffees, cappuccinos, mochas, lattes, dairy and non-dairy flavored creamers...


milkshakes, smoothies, slushes, fountain drinks, iced tea (which is next to the cups on the right)...


a whole bar of lids for all the different cups


And when you're buying drinks for 8 thirsty kids it's anything but a Quick Trip.

As a side note...I love the looks I get when I pull out the camera and take pictures in places like this. Thankfully I think the wonderment on my face excuses my backwoods behavior.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

party at my place


One of my most favorite restaurants in Turkey was a little local place right up the street from our apartment. When we first moved to Turkey they were just a little hole in the wall kind of place that had about 7 tables. 7 plastic tables with plastic chairs. By the time we left, almost 7 years later, things had changed. They had expanded to be quite large, had nice booths and tables, and were very popular! They made home-cooked kind of food. A dish called manti was their specialty and so they were called Manti Evi or Manti house. Manti is basically a dumpling or kind of ravioli with a meat and spice mixture tucked inside the dough. It is served with garlic yogurt and red pepper paste on top. Delicious!

Several years ago I went to the Manti Evi to learn how to make Manti. I had grand plans to make it in the states when I came here for a visit. It is quite tedious and I am quite lazy so those plans never did come to fruition. (And besides once I got to America there was Pappadeaux's to consume. I must admit the manti making took a backseat to stuffing my face with Cajun cuisine.)

Several weeks ago, before our friends came to the states for their visit, they visited the Manti Evi and took this video.

video

And today we sat down and made some manti ourselves.

It was still quite tedious, and nobody really ended up with a Turkish sized serving of manti, but we did it!



My taste buds and tummy had a party today. I love it when they do that!

Day one

We came to Oklahoma to visit some of our closest friends from Turkey. The ones we camped with in this post. The ones we shared Thanksgiving with in this post. And I talked specifically about Shawn here. I'm sure they are scattered elsewhere throughout this blog as well.

Today is day one of our trip. So far we've...


dressed up in all kinds of outfits.


Jacob decided to join in as well. I must say he makes an ugly girl! The old lady hair and goggles certainly don't help his look any!

There have been water balloon fights.










Joint Nintendo DS games.


Face rearranging.


Turkish food making...





And eating.


Did I mention dressing up?

And this was only the first day. Tomorrow we have Chuck E. Cheeses, rollerskating, a possible concert in the park, and renting movies for late night movie watching planned. Read the above post about Shawn to understand how much fun we have been anticipating having. It will be a jam-packed few days. My kids are in heaven! And I'm tired already! I love that.

Monday, July 06, 2009

trees

One morning when I awoke very early, I saw my mother walking up the hill to the barn. Mist hung about the ground, finches were singing in the oak tree beside the house, and there was my mother, her pregnant belly sticking out in front of her. She was strolling up the hill, swinging her arms and singing:

Oh, don't fall in love with a sailor boy, a sailor boy, a sailor boy--- Oh, don't fall in love with a sailor boy, 'Cause he'll take your heart to sea---

As she approached the corner of the barn where the sugar maple stands, she plucked a few blackberries from a stray bush and popped them into her mouth. She looked all around her---back at the house, across the fields, and up into the canopy of branches overhead. She took several quick steps up to the trunk of the maple, threw her arms around it, and kissed that tree soundly.

Later that day I examined this tree trunk. I tried to wrap my arms about it, but the trunk was much bigger than it had seemed from my window. I looked up at where her mouth must have touched that trunk. I probably imagined this, but I thought I could detect a small dark stain, as from a blackberry kiss.

I put my ear against the trunk and listened. I faced that tree squarely and kissed it firmly. To this day, I can smell the smell of the bark---a sweet, woody smell---and feel the ridges in the bark, and that distinctive taste on my lips.

In my mini journal, I confessed that I had since kissed all different kinds of trees, and each family of trees---oaks, maples, elms, birches---had a special flavor all its own. Mixed in with each tree's own taste was the slightest taste of blackberries, and why this was so, I could not explain.

From Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

Have I mentioned how much I love children's literature? I have. Ok then...carry on.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

How I spent the 4th

My entire family went to Lake Sam Rayburn for a little 4th of July fun. My parents brought their RV and boat, and my sister and brother-in-law brought their wave runners. Their were air conditioned cabins, bikes, s'mores, hamburgers, tubing, skiing, swimming, and even a pinata. All kinds of fun was had. Well except the first day when I decided to water ski even though I hadn't been water skiing in over 12 years. Yeah...I'm about to be 40 and could totally tell. So could the hamstring that I pulled that first morning. Thankfully there were air conditioned cabins since I was pretty much out of commission that first day. The rest of the time I limped around determined to spend some time in the water. Here are a few photos of our weekend.


The kids taking turns with the pinata.


Jacob and Will cooling off.


Everyone you see in the picture belongs to us. Wait...except the kid with the buzz haircut. I have no idea where he came from.


Paige enjoying the lake.


Little Luke


Hannah having fun.


Vanessa and Jacob prepare to take off.


Will and Erica tubing. Lots of laughing involved.


Will and Jacob waiting their turns.


Vanessa and Jeremy taking the girls out for a spin. Anna Grace has been compared to a bronco bustin' rider. She LOVED going fast, spinning around, and jumping waves.

There were several more pictures, but they pretty much look the same as these. And I totally forgot to take pictures of the food. We were all so ravenous that it was gone before I thought about it.

Good times.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

details

I've been trying to come up with something to put here. Something that doesn't have to do with work. (Oh, and speaking of work...I now have business cards. Real, official ones that my manager ordered for me. Like with the company logo and MY NAME on them! I've never had business cards with my name on them! I look so important now!)

The other day a girl at work (Despite the use of the word "work" this is not a work story. It just happened to take place there. Sorry to all of you who had to go get your reading glasses to even be able to tell that these were actual words and not a faint green line in the middle of a sentence. I just wanted to make sure it was said and since it wasn't an integral part of the story I thought I should change the font to teeninecy. Is teeninecy a word? And if so how is it spelled exactly?) asked me if I was wearing lavender eyeliner. It was a shade of purple so I said yes. She said she liked it. A couple of days later she asked another girl if she was wearing "Shell eyeshadow by Loreal"? The girl answered, "no, it's Pale Moon by Estee Lauder." Now there are two things I find funny about this. First of all I had no idea what the actual shade of my eyeliner was called nor did I know who made it. (Purple Amethyst by Almay...yeah...I looked at it later.) Second, both of these girls could call out shades of eyeshadow and the companies who made them without missing a beat. Wow.

This past week a friend was in the market for a new car. She mentioned that she was looking at Jeep Wranglers. I had to look it up online to be sure what a Jeep Wrangler looked like. I had driven my dad's Jeep Grand Cherokee so I knew what it looked like, but I really don't know that much about cars. If I've owned it I can pick it out, but other than that I'm lost.

I don't recognize many major brands. I try on shoes based on how they look and buy them based on how comfortable they are. It doesn't make a difference to me if they happen to have a fancy name stamped on the inside. I figure most places I go people aren't going to see the name of the maker of my shoes unless I take them off. I never take my shoes off unless I'm at home where my family could care less who makes my shoes. I'm the same way with purses. Does it have what I am looking for? If so I buy it. If not I don't. Period. Later when I discover that I bought some fancy brand I'm surprised. I had no idea.

Are we seeing a pattern here? For someone who usually pays close attention to life I find it interesting that I am fairly clueless about those types of things. I am usually a details type person, but for some reason those details just don't compute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Are you tired of reading job related blog posts yet?

Has it really been two weeks since I blogged? I can't believe it. I don't think I've gone two weeks without blogging since 2006. Wow! It's the job. I blame the job. And speaking of the job...

Remember that catering position that I was supposed to start training for? Well I didn't get to start training the week I was supposed to. Several people were out so I ended up covering their cashier shifts. The next week I was going to start my training, but again things kept getting in the way. I did get to train with the current caterer for about 2 1/2 days during this time. The manager wanted me to get 1-2 months of training in before I took the position full time in the fall. We had plenty of time. All summer really. Then something big happened. I was called into the manager's office at 2:30 in the afternoon a week and a half ago and told that the catering coordinator was no longer working there. I was up. WHAT? I was nowhere near ready to do that job, but I jumped in with both feet. The managers were really great to help me. They went over the next days' orders with me, and I've been going full force ever since. I've made many mistakes, but thankfully they realize that 2 1/2 days of training doesn't quite equal up to the 1-2 months that would have been ideal.

The same week that I started the catering job Erica started working as a cashier there. It was a little bit of a rough start for her I must say. At first the idea of dealing with a drawer full of money that she was totally responsible for made her nervous. Couple that with needing to learn a full menu and it was stress city. She trained all last week and started up full force this week. She had a mini-meltdown on Monday, but we got her through it. Today she told me that she loved this job. She knows she is really fortunate to have such a great job for her first job. She knows that they wouldn't have ever hired her if I wasn't working there. They don't usually hire 16 year olds. I've seen many applications trashed because of a lack of experience. I love that they are giving her a chance. So far she has really done well. Today when she counted out her drawer at the end of her shift she was one cent over what her ticket said she should have. Doesn't get much better than that. I am so proud of her. And I can't wait to see her face when she gets her first paycheck! She is going to feel so rich!

It's funny. At our store Erica is the youngest employee, and I am the oldest. I love that!

Oh and I have to say that I love that I am able to wear just about anything I want now. Today I dressed up some because I thought I was going to be doing some marketing. We ended up getting 3 lunch orders so I wasn't able to get away. I was wearing heels and slacks while running around prepping these orders. By the end of the day my feet were killing me. Still are. Oh well...at least I looked good.

Ok...enough work stories for now. I'll try not to be such a stranger. And next time I won't blog about work. Probably.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

reflection

My grandmother lived in a tiny town in Arkansas my whole life. And when I say tiny I mean 333 people tiny. As a kid it was just a constant in my life. We may have moved every 3 years, but I could always count on my grandmother to be in the same place. One of my favorite things to do when I visited her was to walk to the general store. Steven's store. Also known as Marion Talley's. It was an old-fashioned sort of place. Wood plank floors, barrels and buckets of all sorts of items, work clothes, frozen foods, canned goods, hardware...you name it and they had it. By the time I was born it was a place that the locals went only when they needed something quick. A new Piggly Wiggly had been built in the town a few miles away, and that is where people went for their big grocery trips. I never could understand why people drove to a generic grocery store when Steven's store had everything anyone could ever need! Because I loved that place I made sure to give them some business when I came to town. I always bought one of two items when I went there. If I had enough money I bought a German chocolate cake. It was kept in their freezer and had a see-through lid. I don't remember what brand it was, but I do remember how good it tasted! I would walk back to my grandmother's house as quickly as I could so that I could have a piece before it had completely thawed. Something about a slice of that frozen cake just meant summer at Mamaw's to me. If I was short on funds I purchased a Neapolitan colored coconut bar. One of these. They were hard and chewy which I'm sure was due to the fact that they had been sitting on the shelf for a long time! I haven't had one since I was a kid. I wonder if they taste the same.

Despite my devotion Steven's store closed down around 1990. A few years later it was torn down completely. In 2002 my grandmother moved to another state to live with my aunt and her house was sold. Last April she passed away, and we took one last trip to the town where I spent many a summer vacation. Here's the post I wrote during that trip. I read it again today and those memories came flooding back again.

It's where I came from. It's part of who I am. I like that.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

an explanation

Yes, I got a job. And no, it's not a teaching job despite that degree I have. I wanted something way easier than teaching. I wanted a job that I could leave at the end of the day. I wanted something fun. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do exactly. I wasn't really looking quite yet, but after inquiring about positions at Panera Bread they wanted to hire me on the spot. I figured they saw someone who wasn't a teenager and that was probably pretty rare. I decided I could try it out and see what I thought. I honestly didn't know what to expect. The last real job I had was working at a preschool in 1995. What do I think? I LOVE it. Currently I'm just an associate. All that means is that I work the cash register, help customers in the bakery, and walk the dining room. I do not make sandwiches, salads or any of the other food Panera Bread serves. I am completely customer service. I am good at customer service. I remember names and faces easily. And not to build myself up, but the customers love me. I talk to them. I ask them questions. I remember. Totally right up my personality alley.

A couple of weeks ago my general manager asked me to take a walk with her. I hadn't done anything wrong so I knew I wasn't in trouble. She said she wanted to know if I was interested in the catering coordinator position. It's a management position with benefits. The current catering coordinator is heading to school in the fall so they were looking for someone who could replace her. I told her that it sounded great but that I needed to talk to Brian first. We talked and decided it would be a good thing. On Monday I start training for that position. Basically all the catering our store does would go through me. I will learn food prep for individuals and for a group. I will be the person taking the orders and delivering them. I'm looking forward to it! I will be losing some of my face time with the regular customers, but I will be gaining a whole new set of clientele.

But the best part of all...I don't have to wear a hat or tuck in my shirt. Ah...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Telling

Whew...finally. Finally I can tell!

So I mentioned that something made me nostalgic for Turkey in my last blog post. That nostalgia was triggered when we had a surprise guest. Derya! Actually she wasn't a surprise to me. Brian and I knew she was coming to Texas for a couple of weeks before she actually came. We did decide to keep it a secret from the kids though. I teased them with the idea of a surprise guest a few days before she arrived. You should have heard all the guesses. I think they guessed everyone but Derya! When her car pulled up and they saw her through the passenger window there were screams all around! They were so surprised. Derya is our oldest Turkish friend. We met her the first month we lived in Turkey I think. She was someone we had only ever seen in Turkey. She had been in England getting her doctorate and came to the states for a little visit. The kids never expected to see her in America!


Derya brought a special friend with her as well. Virgil. We took them to Pappadeaux's since it was a place we had mentioned...oh...once or twice while we were in Turkey! We enjoyed seeing Derya and getting to know Virgil. Brian had the privilege of playing Dad and asking what his intentions were. He was open and honest and shared that he wanted to marry her. Wow!


As the kids tried to get hints as to who the mystery guest was they asked lots of questions. One of them was, "Has the person ever played Rock Band on the wii?" I told them I didn't think so, but I wasn't exactly sure. Nope...she had never played. We remedied that situation very quickly.

Since Derya is planning to marry an American I'm thinking we might see a lot more of her on this side of the ocean. Yay!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

something

I am feeling something today. I guess you could call it homesickness. An event happened yesterday that got me thinking about Turkey. I was able to dismiss the feelings for the most part, because I was enjoying myself. Then today my kids started talking about the fun times they had walking home from school in the snow in Turkey, and the feelings swept in again.

For 6 1/2 years I lived in this building.

This pink and yellow and gray building. 3rd floor, apartment #12. The building was new when we moved in so we were the first to live in that apartment. It was like no apartment I had ever lived in. There were four bedrooms, a kitchen, a combined living and dining room, and three bathrooms. Only two of them had toilets though. You could start at the front door and follow the hallways in a square passing every room in our apartment and end up back where you started. Every room had a door that could close it off from the rest of the house. We took the kitchen door off it's hinges right after we moved in because it was in our way. It took up precious wall space when it was open and closing the kitchen door seemed strange. Our doorbell rang to the tune of Für Elise. It was a friendly way to announce a guest.

I honestly can't imagine not going back to that apartment there. I walked in and out of that front door countless times in the 6 1/2 years I lived there. I took off my shoes as I entered and hung my bag on one of the hooks by the door. I greeted many a guest in that entryway. We don't even have a real entryway hall here. The front door just opens into the abyss that is the office/formal living and dining room area. We don't even use the front door on a regular basis save for the pizza delivery guy and the kid next door.

I moved around a lot as a kid. I remember lying in my bed at night in the new house and closing my eyes. I would picture the old house. I would picture the layout of my old room. Being in the same bed made it easy. The closet door was to the right. My dresser was in front of me. The pink prayer picture was hanging on the wall to my left. I would fall asleep remembering.

It's much harder to do that here. The bed is different. It's a king size instead of a queen. All of the furniture is different. I can't close my wardrobe and feel the air rush out of the small crack between the doors. I don't have that wardrobe anymore. I have a closet for my clothes. I can't pry open the secret compartment in my dresser to reveal passports and shot records. The dresser here doesn't have secret compartments. The passports and shot records are kept in the filing cabinet in the office now.

I don't have a basket full of winter wear by the front door. I did bring back a few of our favorite scarves and hats for winter, but they weren't ever taken out of the coat closet. It never got cold enough, because well, this is Texas.

The treasure chest that sat on our entryway table...the one where we kept loose change to give our doorman so he would bring us a loaf of fresh bread in the mornings sits empty in our office here. There is no doorman to bring us bread. This is Texas.

There is no sending the boys to get their haircuts, no asking one of the kids to run to the store for a forgotten item, no walking to a friend's house, no doing a lot of things I got used to doing. This is Texas.

The kids still take their shoes off as soon as they come in the house even though it isn't considered dirty to wear your shoes in the house here. Some habits die hard even though this is Texas.

For some of my musings about Turkey and moving to America you can go here and here and I'm sure many other places on my blog. Clicking the Turkey link on the sidebar will get you to some of it. If you're interested.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Um...

So I've been hanging out at this new place quite a bit lately. Like Monday - Friday from about 6 or 7am to about 2 or 3pm. You know...depending on the day.


I've eaten quite a few of these which I only have to pay half price for. You know...since I'm there so much.


Would you just look at the yummy goodness!!!


These aren't so bad either!

So...yeah...if you've been wondering where I've been you obviously haven't looked here.