Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Happy National Day, Kuwait!

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I really thought I'd be living in a hut somewhere in remote Mexico. But I didn't end up there. I ended up married to a wonderful man and going with him to the Middle East to work in a school in a city where many businessmen, embassy workers, ambassadors, and even presidents would like their children to be educated in English. Hence, we get invited to many national celebrations.

While CC was gone, I went as our family representative to the Kuwait National Day/Liberation Day celebration.

This "tree" in the reception room was made of dates! mmmm.

This picture I took with my iPhone as the Turkish national anthem was sung and the acting Kuwaiti ambassador to Turkey (a school parent) was standing with a member of Turkish parliament.

This sweet friend went that night, too. We both tried Arabic coffee together. It was delicious, but a little dab will do ya!

I asked these beautiful ladies to let me take their picture. The lady in the center is the ambassador's wife, and the young girl next to her is in our high school.

 These events are more fun when you have a buddy to attend with.

And I really like how this picture turned out. These young boys, students of ours, were adjusting their headwear.
 I am happy the USA helped Kuwait and that we have an ally in them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Hodge Podge of Winter Fun

Well, you know, it's not all fun. But this stuff is. Almost all of it, anyway.

Right after our birthday, CC hopped on a plane to go to the US to recruit, participate in annual meetings, and share about our awesome school. I got to watch him via livestream, and here's a screenshot of it. He concluded by reading a valentine made by Firstborn, handed to him as he left. She mentioned how she wished all the potential teachers there could see what she sees...that Turkey is not a place of unrest and danger, but it is home. I was so touched to hear him read it, as I had not yet read her card.

One day just for kicks, we let the boys' team scrimmage the girls' team. That's one way to work up a sweat....either trying to keep up or trying to prove how good you are!

When we moved into our new campus, scads of odds and ends, most of it trash, were left behind. But Firstborn found one treasure that was being thrown in a trash can. It was a piece of art done by a student from the former school. An oil pastel of a Turkish village scene and a treasure to her, I decided to get it framed for her to take with her when she moves on to college. This was a sample frame from which I could choose.

My friend T had a surprise birthday party, thrown by her husband and a few friends. It was a bittersweet night because only a few people there already knew that she would be moving to the USA in the summer. I was one of those people. It wasn't an easy night, and it won't be an easy goodbye.

I let the kids have a Valentine's party. The younger kids invited a friend each, and the teens invited a handful. We ate, watched a movie, then played a charades game on my iPad. It was a fun night, and I'm thankful for their good friends here. 

And then, the next weekend...ahem, Firstborn was asked out. We tried to be calm. We tried to act nonchalant, but here's a picture of the kids spying on her as she got in the car. I've known this boy since he was just a kid. There was no hesitation on this one. Yes, you can go.

And I just had to snap this from my vantage point. She's all decked out in jeans, a suede jacket, and a boot cast (from an old soccer injury that just wouldn't heal until we finally immobilized it.)

While CC was gone, we had a game night and played one of our favorites, Chinese checkers. Why this simple game entertains us so much, I don't know, but we play it often.

One Sunday afternoon while CC was still gone (2.5 weeks!), I took Big Ben and Sweet Cheeks out for lunch and let them pick whatever they wanted. One got honey filled gozleme. The other got chocolate filled. Oh well, I said pick anything. I even let them get Fanta, a rare treat.

Monday, April 24, 2017

45 and 49, Respectively

The next major event as we neared the end of winter was our shared birthday. We turned 45 and 49. We don't feel 45 and 49! We had a staff meeting that day, so he was given these birthday glasses to wear.

Our sweet teacher friend made this hilarious birthday mug of coffee for the day.

We don't always get to be together for our birthday because CC travels often during that time. But this year, we did! We decided to go out as a family to a Chinese place. Of course.

The brought us a dessert that was flaming with some sort of Chinese firework that should be used outdoors only.

It was great to get to go all together.

And at least one of our kids suggested we pose at this heart.

We did have a fun birthday dinner at home, too. If it looks like these Turkish candles are projecting flames upon my body, it is because they were. I felt a spark hit my neck as CC blew.

I love this guy so much and there's no one I'd rather spend my life on earth with (or make Snapchat videos with).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Just Some Stuff Around the Campbell House

This post is just a compilation of some pictures I took during the end of our winter season.

Big Ben has made a new Iraqi friend, who came over to play. I call this photo "USA vs. Iraq."

I snapped this picture early one morning so I could remember exactly where Big Ben slept every night before Firstborn went to college. He's not allowed to get in until after midnight because she can't fall asleep when he's hogging the bed. But after midnight, when she is good and asleep, she lets him crawl in. And he does. Every night.

One morning Firstborn and I went out for breakfast and to get a few things she needed. I'm cherishing these times.

And this beautiful painting was done by Miss Middler for her art class final. I'm pretty much in love with it. It's on display at school, but she says it's mine once it's given back.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

International Schools Tournament: Technical Overload and Big Celebration

And finally the big tournament day came. The girls would play 5 games in a matter of 24 hours. We beat the French School, Pakistani School, and Dept of Defense School.  But our biggest competition of the day came from a premier Turkish/International school in our city called BLIS. Do you remember those gals that we beat in the soccer tournament last year, who had never lost? Remember when we won it in overtime penalty kicks? Remember they were so mad, they refused the 2nd place trophy? Ok, it was this school. Originally this team was not permitted to participate in our basketball tournament because of previous incidents of misbehavior. However, the new director contacted CC and requested another chance. CC asked him to have a meeting with coaches and players and remind them of the behavior factor, then gave them one more chance in this tournament.

My first clue of how the day would play out came during an early game before the finals. A gal got a technical for using a very foul word. Then when the finals came, and we were both playing for first place, our head coach was finishing up as a ref for another game. In the meantime, I asked our girls to stretch out and take a couple of laps around the gym. As they jogged by the other team, their head coach who reminded me of some 30-something rapper wanna-be, called out to Firstborn, leading the lap, and told her to get off his side of the court. (We were running around the exterior.) She had the girls finish that first lap, then came to tell me. That's it. Gloves off. I walked up to him and said, "Don't talk to my girls. Ever. You got something to say? You say it to me." He started back about his reasons, and I just repeated. "Stay away from my girls. Don't do it again." That boy never saw a Mama Bear, but I was fixin' to give him a good ol' Southern whippin. I truly was not pining for a fight, but he was totally inappropriate to disallow them to run around the exterior of the court during warm up and to address them directly in an intimidating way.

As the game progressed, the tension only rose. The same gal who had a technical called on her in an earlier game flipped Twinkle a double birdie. This gave her the second technical of the day, which by our tournament rules, means she is out the rest of the day. She was their star player, so this made the team and the coach even madder. They responded with using foul language to the refs and committing more on court fouls. One of our refs was a good ol' boy from Mississippi, on staff with us. He just calmly called technical fouls, then eventually kicked the coach out of the game.

Meanwhile, we continued to coach our girls to ignore the drama and play good basketball. We told them to rise above. Sportsmanship is one of our 5 core values and is the final "S" in OASIS. It's big for us. After games, our cheer as a team is always, "Good game,________" and then the name of the other team. We encouraged the girls to just ignore and not respond.

At this point in the game, the team had been given 4 technical fouls, which meant 8 free throw shots. Coach picked Twinkle, who has a pretty consistent free throw shot. She stood on that line, and as long as I live I will never forget watching her. There are times you see them all grown up in their adult bodies, but you flash to when they were 2, sitting on a bus bench, swinging little legs. Hiding in the laundry hamper at bedtime. Being carried into the operating room by the anesthesiologist who is telling you, "I have a little girl like her at home. She's going to be ok." It all came back. And all I could see were those braids. The fans for the other side were yelling all manner of nasty stuff. Booing, mocking. She focused her eyes on the goal, and made nearly every shot. Those braids swung around after the first goal, and she flashed the opposing fans the biggest grin and wink she could muster. And that response to that situation, is what sets our school apart. I had a parent tell me that a parent from the opposing team commented that our school is always different.  How we behave at games, how we don't let our kids yell during free throws, how our kids pick up trash before we leave the stands, shows a difference.

It got so bad at one point, that the refs considered calling the game and giving the victory to us. But they asked us what we wanted to do. We voted to finish the game. We wanted to win fair and square.

And we did. We beat 'em. And when our fans went wild cheering for us at the end, we could no longer hear the mocking.

We sat the girls down after the game and debriefed a bit. What came out of them was not what the other team did or the stressful situation, but what our own girls had done for each other. There were a few tears. There were a few comments like, "Though we are from all over the world, we pulled together. You are the best friends I could ever have." Lots of hugs. Lots of laughter. I'll never forget it.

These seniors played their last game. And what a game to end on!

I'm so proud of them!

And they earned their hamburger and fries afterwards. Please note I pretty much have the only girls on staff. The after events aren't nearly as much fun if the girls don't show up. How could I say no?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Our First Home Basketball Game! Ever!

Here are a couple of shots of my 3 girls playing basketball at the gym of the Department of Defense School. Our girls had pulled off an undefeated soccer season and snagged the first place spot for the Ankara International Schools Invitational. Would they be able to do it in basketball? We won this one and were on our way!

This year, I volunteered to be the assistant coach for basketball. The young gals that coach are sporst are talented and encouraging to our girls. But occasionally it's nice to have a mom to collect forms, remind the kids to drink water and eat protein, and run some drills. It's good exercise, and it gives me more time with my kids and their friends. I loved helping this year! Here are our great kids on the bus to a game.

And finally the day came for us to host our first game. Sounds silly, but after 12 years of going to away games, when this scoreboard lit up for the first time and my buddy pressed the buzzer just as hard as she could, I teared up a little. I am so grateful for this campus! 

The gym needed work when we moved in. It leaked and needed a fresh paint job and a new floor surface. CC made it a priority to get it fixed up for us.

The girls played hard and beat those French School girls! Still undefeated! (Here's Twinkle for a layup.)

(Here's Miss Middler for a steal.)

At some point, a player ended up on top of one of my girls!

A free throw, with a big sister to rebound for you.

Firstborn plays post, Miss Middler guard, and Twinkle's got point guard.

We put our subs in and let them finish it out for us. The boys won that day too. We had to win on our first game in the gym! Still working towards first place....

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spirit Week Fun

As school opened again to finish out the first semester, we were set to host our first ever home basketball games! You remember our previous campus had an outdoor court, but it just wasn't suitable in this climate to ever host a game. The energy and excitement around campus about our upcoming games was evident!

We were given three days for to dress in special clothes for Spirit Week. One of them ended up being a snow day (no complaints!), but we were sure to be there for 1980's day.

Let me tell you that my hair was born for the 80's. I had no problem accomplishing hair that caused my students to giggle and whisper as I walked down the hall. This only made me prouder! I threw on a blazer and some big beads and I was all set.

My kids needed clothes too. I took the girls, CC decked out the boy. He decided to dress Big Ben up in a semi redneck 80's theme. I asked CC if he ever wore a bandana around his leg like that. His reply, "No, but guys did." I had plenty of oversized sweaters. And of course the hair was no problem at all. They all came up to the teasing station in the morning.

Firstborn took this picture of us. We would have been friends in the 80's.

A big pep rally at break only added to the excitement!

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