Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post from Ephesus

Well, guess what! I can post down here in Ephesus! The hotel lobby has a computer and I have 4 of my 5 kids upstairs in a hot soapy bath (with Papa in charge). Our drive down was great. I am continually amazed at how good my kids are at traveling. I guess God gave me that gift knowing how much traveling we'd need to do! We left out after breakfast and started the 11 hour trip. After reaching Afyon ( a good mid-point for many journeys from Ankara) and grabbing lunch to go, we headed not west to Izmir, then south to Kudadasi. Instead, we went south-west straight to Kusadasi. Certainly at this point, all this means nothing to you. Bear with me. We turned off the road to get on this smaller road to go the south-west route. Suddenly, we were in between 2 giant mountains on a narrow, hair-pin curvy road, covered with snow and ice. Evidently, they got the same snow we got on Christmas Eve. Only those roads didn't get enough sunlight to melt it. No guard rails. Just sheer drop off. The kids LOVED it (of course, the ones not driving always do) and kept yelling, "Wahoo! Look how far down it is!" Ross could not even turn around, so on we went. I can say in my 36 years, I've never been on a trek quite like it, even when we used to drive up the mountain to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. After an hour of creeping in 1st or 2nd gears, we ended up looking down on this sleepy little town. All shacks, all covered in snow, no electricity. I must say I felt like I was in a movie set. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Then I realized, it's Christmas Day down there. A beautiful snow-covered village in the middle of nowhere on Christmas Day, only they don't know why it's Christmas. I so wanted to take a picture, but of course it was so gray it would never have worked. I'll have to save the picture only in my mind. We arrived at our hotel around 8pm. We are enjoying our down time. I am also enjoying that 3/5 of my kids are now old enough to get their own food at the buffet! Benaiah has been held and kissed by all the staff and it is assumed we are German here. Better get back to the bath frenzy, but just had to get that post off about the village. Wish you could have seen it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Traditions

When a couple becomes a couple, then they have their first holiday, certain decisions must be made. Traditions are such an important part of what makes the day special. Ross and I spent one Christmas in America before heading overseas. When we moved away, we had to figure out exactly what we would do on holidays. Some things we took from his making a birthday cake for Jesus with 3 candles representing the Trinity. Some things we took from my opening presents one at a time and watching others open. Some things we came up with on our own. When we had our first Christmas with our firstborn daughter Mary Erin, Ross grabbed his guitar, and we entered her room to wake her by singing Away In A Manger. It was so dear, so precious, that we have carried on with that tradition. Every year, the youngest one gets to be awoken to our singing. Mary Erin was awoken 1 year, Annika 2 years, then Esther and Eva both had it 3 years. Now little Benaiah was awoken to our song this morning (He had already been up for his first breakfast, this was before his second breakfast at 9:30am!) I told the girls, "I guess if he is our last baby, we'll be singing to him for 18 years!" Then we all had a good laugh about how he'd be big with muscles and a deep voice, and about how they'd all be coming to see us and bringing their babies who would call him Uncle Ben. I think after tolerating 4 big sisters all his life, he'll be used to things like being serenaded, don't you? I'd love to hear your unique holiday traditions! Post a comment for me.

With this, I am signing off for a week. We are heading to Ephesus, a place rich in Biblical history, and a few degrees warmer! We woke to our first big snow of the year. Jesus sent us a present on His birthday, it seemed. In the right photo, Esther is dressed in pj's and her snow boots. Ross took them down to the grocer on our bottom floor to get something for my stocking, which was empty as of 8am! The left photo is a picture of our breakfast table. We opted for Turkish breakfast this year. Have a very Merry Christmas in Jesus. No gift can compare to Him! (I realize we are on about 5 different keys in the video below. I didn't want to ruin the moment to stop and start over!)

Christmas Eve Eve Party!

Last night we hosted a party for any staff remaining in Ankara who wanted to get together! 30 folks came over. We had a super time! Everyone brought food, and we made pancakes to 'fill the kids up.' Even so, the food was GONE. As a Southern woman, that should just not happen in my home, and all I can do is hope everyone got their tummies full! For me, it is just a great way to remember that I have family far away, but I have family here, too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Long Enough

Ok, so I've let Benaiah suffer the embarrassment of the Gremlin photo long enough. Here is the 'other' shot. Although in this one, Eva looks like she is checking out her eyebrows. We are really excited about Christmas around here! Today we are making a run to the Embassy to get Benaiah his Social Security card (will he get benefits by 2072?) and to renew Mary Erin's passport. It is hard to believe she is about to turn 10! All of their baby passports look alike...extremely fat baby with squinty Campbell eyes! But then they are renewed at 5 years old, 10 years old, and 15 years old. I am not quite ready to think about the next renewal. Ross has invited Esther for a lunch date with Dad today, as well. We are also preparing for a party for the staff who remained in Ankara. Christmas week is here! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I have heard that some very unusual things are determined by detached/attached earlobes and baldness and when babies cut their teeth. Genetics have always fascinated me. I have a friend here who has 4 children, 3 of which have different eye color from the others. That's amazing to me. Ross and I never knew (until this last go-around) if we were having a boy or girl, but we always said, "We don't know what we're having, but we do know he/she will have blue eyes." and each did. The other night, I was standing behind Ross (a common place to find me) as he worked at the computer (a common place to find him) and I noticed the little swirl of hair at the base of his head is EXACTLY like Benaiah's little swirl. Is that genetic? Who knows? But, he tolerated my picture taking so the my blog readers could wonder as well. Incidentally, last summer I learned how to cut Ross' hair from my sister in law. Since this photo, Ross has had a good haircut and neck shave! He trusts me with a razor!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dress Up in the Middle East

My girls have a BIG dress up box. We have all kinds of things in there, mostly thanks to folks who give us good hand-me-downs. Inside you can find a Madeline costume, circus performer attire, cheerleader get-up, even a Disney princess dress. But no matter what I put in that box...they usually create a costume like the one in this picture. I don't dress in traditional Turkish ware nor do I wear a head covering, but perhaps I should. They look good, no?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bulldog or Green Gremlin?

We took the kids for a photo shoot one Saturday morning. The pictures turned out great, but the picture here made me laugh so hard I cried. Finally everyone was looking, smiling, but what in the world is that boy doing?! I managed to eek out between laughs, "Ross, he...he...looks like a bulldog...." Ross said, "No, I think he is the Green Gremlin." I'll post the others later, but this had to be the first!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Blessing For Me

One of the things I love about Turkey is there is always something interesting to may be scary, dangerous, exotic, happy, beautiful, sad...but there is always something to see when we go places. (This is a great place to live for blog ideas!) The day I took Eva to the mall, we noticed as we were about to exit, that a Turkish children's dance troupe was about to perform. I thought it would be fun to stop and let Eva watch it...sort of (but not really) like Christmas carollers in the malls this time of year. Out came these adorable kids dressed in traditional costumes, dancing like the Ottomans. The boys even crossed their arms and kicked like the Russian dance! It was fun to watch, but even more meaningful to me was the audience. A school for Down's Syndrome children had come to see the performance. It is so very rare to see a child with Down's Syndrome here in Turkey, as abortions are only legal through the 10th week of pregnancy, but exception is made for a child with Down's Syndrome. The rate at which these sweet kids are aborted is staggering. In this country, to work with children with special needs is not glamorized. The life the typical special needs child must lead here is awful. Many of my friends volunteer in an orphanage here. The stories they tell break my heart. So, when I saw these dear ladies, pursuing a career of loving and educating these kids, my heart just swelled in admiration for them. I wanted to pin a gold star on all of them! Here we can't go anywhere without someone snatching a kid, so I gladly passed Benaiah around and let the ladies love on him. The children were so excited to see and touch a baby. Is it possible they are denied that privilege at times? During the dance, Starbucks came around and handed out free hot chocolate to the kids. Eva told them she did not want hot chocolate, she wanted warm chocolate. I certainly left the mall "warmed." The blessing of that day was all mine.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hand print Tree skirt

Three years ago, when Eva was a 6 month old, I came up with the idea to make a tree skirt with the kids' hand prints added each year. I used a basic beige fabric and added a subtle plaid trim. Each year I have chosen subtle hand print colors that align with the trim...sage green, maroon, gold. But this year we went all out! To honor a new boy added to our family in 2008, we used hot pink for the girls and blue for our boy! He just kept making little fists, so we finally decided to paint his feet blue instead of his hands. Every year it makes me a little sad to do it because I realize I am one year closer to filling it up, one year closer to not having little people with little hand prints. I'll never get tired of little ones, I am expecting a lot of grandchildren one day from my 5 kids!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Recently I took Eva to the mall with me to look for a blouse for Mary Erin to wear to her piano recital. She enjoyed roaming a little in the store while I was looking. Then she came to me and said, "Mama, dat dirl has no head. I sink we need to buy her one for Christmas." I snapped the photo to share the laugh with you. I didn't explain why she was headless (because I am actually not sure why mannequins are headless), but I did tell her I thought it was a lovely idea.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cappedocia Part II

Thanks for the super photo naming ideas!!! I laughed out loud when I read them! I am certain Ross' personal favorite will be the birthright one! I have so many post ideas, but I am trying to stay in chronological order. So, here is another story from my recent trip to Cappedocia.
As I said earlier, I go to this Women's Conference each year. Nursing babies are allowed to attend, so Benaiah and I went together. I didn't sign up for the tours or the hiking because it just seemed a little overwhelming to me with a 1 month old. But when the speaker mentioned several of us going to an authentic Turkish hamam, I signed up! Here is a link explaining the history of the Turkish hamam
The hamam existed as a means of someone without indoor plumbing being able to bathe. They are still used today and you can find them usually in the old part of town. 5 star hotels in Turkey have re-created them with more luxury, but this hamam was the real deal. I wasn't sure how far away it was or how involved it would be, so at the last minute, I decided to take Benaiah with me. One of the ladies said, "But how will you manage him in a hamam?" I said, "I bet there will be a teyze there who will hold him." (A teyze is the Turkish word for an auntie.) We took a dolmus (public transportation mini-bus), then walked and walked and walked to the center of town. The first picture shows the outside of the hamam. The sign out front denoted that it was the "Women Only" day (the hotel hamams tend to be co-ed and I don't frequent those!). We walked in to the dome-topped, circular structure. The floor was solid marble, the walls were all wood. In the center (last photo) was an enormous marble fountain, as well as a wood-burning stove to keep the building and water hot. I am told many of these are heated by natural springs. I ascended the very narrow circular staircase to undress and put on the towel they gave me. Now, if I were really authentic (and several of the ladies in our group were), I would just strip right down for this, but I opted for my swimsuit. We came back down and walked through the hamam into the inner heated room. Inside was a huge heated marble slab, as well as marble ledges all around the outside on which to sit. We sat, took the metal basins, put them under the continuously running hot water, and poured them over our bodies. After a time of relaxing and seeing WAY too many topless teyzes, I was escorted into another room. In this room, a very robust woman scrubbed me from head to toe with a loofah sponge. Then she took me to another very robust Turkish woman for the next step. She took an enormous pillow case filled with some type of slippery soap and spun it around until it billowed out like a cloud. Then she eased it onto me and let the soap solution run all over me. It was one of the softest things I've ever felt. Then she began to massage the soap all into my body. Hot water poured all over me cleansed away the soap, and out I walked feeling like a jelly fish. The next step would be to jump into the ice cold pool, but I preferred to keep my core body temperature up at that point.
All this while, Benaiah was passed from Turkish lady to Turkish lady out in the lobby. I love that I can trust people here. Kidnapping and other crimes against children are rare (for Allah does not forgive that). I went back up to change and as I descended, I slipped on the marble staircase. If you are a mother, you will understand this, but I welcomed the pain of falling because as it was happening, all I could think was, "Thank you, God, I am not holding Benaiah." (I was fine, just a little sore on one side!) The sweet little girl in the picture offered me apple tea. I asked to take her picture. She wanted her picture made, but asked me to wait. I assumed she was running to brush her hair, but no, she needed to cover her head for the picture. She asked me to email her the picture I took of her with Benaiah. The little old lady in the other photo just couldn't get enough of Benaiah. He was sound asleep, yet she continued to bounce him and say, "Shh shh shh." So sweet! When I see women like her, I always think, "They are just like us...sweet little old Granny's in the family." Going to the Turkish hamam is an adventure, will get your body softer than any spa treatment, and is a bargain at only about US$10. If you come visit me, I'll take you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Name That Photo

I recently took this great photo. Now it's your turn to name it! You can post a comment at the end if you have a submission.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tae Kwan Do

This year our 'middlers' (as we call them) signed up for the Tae Kwan Do classes at school. We were thrilled! This class would give them exercise and discipline, as long as they don't walk in on ballerina tip toes. Esther's class (first photo) is for the little kids. Their performance in hopes of a belt change won't be until late Spring. Annika is in the older class, and she proudly received her yellow belt this week (as seen in the third photo). Their instructor is Mr. Ibo Park (seated next to Ross in the group photo, with Annika and Esther in front of them). The video link on the bottom shows Esther's class performing (she's the blonde in the middle).

When we moved to Turkey in 2003, we were the first to arrive associated with our company. There were people who helped us, but no team already on the ground to officially orient us. As we muddled through those first days, the following incident became all the more important to us. During our first week here, we were riding the elevator in our apartment, and the door opened to reveal Mr. Park and his wife. They smiled at us, we smiled at them. We began to communicate in broken English and Turkish. It is hard for me to describe this (and some details I am forced to leave out as this is a public blog), but it was a very clear confirmation to me that God had directed us to Turkey. We had just left Asia, and our hearts were still sore from that. The first family we met was Asian with smiles and dispositions that showed us that we love the same God. We have since become very good friends. Their daughter graduated from Oasis, and Mr. Park has faithfully taught our students Tae Kwan Do for years now. Sometimes we feel a closeness to others because we share the same cultural backgrounds and are from the same country. But there is a much deeper closeness that can be found when we share the same God.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Perk of the Business

Yes, there are sacrifices involved in living away from my home country. The top 5 things I miss are: family, friends, my church, owning a home, and conveniences. But there ARE perks to working in this job. One perk is that by running an international school with 35 nationalities, many of the students being Ambassadors' kids, military attache kids, and international business kids, we get invited to the parties thrown by the Embassies. I, of course, tell Ross it is only for the sake of maintaining connections that we MUST go, but getting to dress up, go to posh hotel ballrooms, and eat delicious food from other countries ain't too bad, either. This week we got invited to 2, only 1 of which we attended. Monday night we went to the Romanian National Day reception. Typically, we stroll through security, approach the Ambassador and his entourage to shake hands and exchange pleasantries, then we enter the ballroom. We try to chat with any school parents there, thank them for entrusting their children to our school, and allow them to share a bit of their culture with us. This week I wondered how I would manage this with a 2 month old baby. He hasn't had a bottle (I don't own one of those yet), would he take one? Could I just sort of tuck him in a corner and take him with me? Ross told me to leave him at home, that he would be FINE. (I wasn't so worried about Benaiah, as I was the babysitter who would be hearing him wail, but would have no bottle for him.) Ross calculated that if it took 30 minutes to get there, if we stayed an hour, and it took 30 minutes to get home, we'd be back in plenty of time for his next meal. So, I filled him up at 6:15 and off we went. So many times when I follow Ross' direction, I am happy. This was one such time. It would have been difficult to lug Benaiah around there. I was glad I left him. The funny part, though, was that when the 1 hour mark hit, Ross rounded us up like cattle and marched us right out of there. We could hardly keep up with him. We got in the van to return home and he commented on the way home, something like, "Poor kid...leaving him at home with no milk..." Ross has been making me laugh for 14 years now. Benaiah did great with his sweet babysitter China. She had gotten the girls to bed and he was sitting in his favorite vibrating chair at her feet, content as could be. In the photos above: China with Benaiah (who looks a bit shocked to see me, but just before had been all smiles); one of our students and her mother Mrs. Ivanov (a military attache wife who I think looks very much like a Romanian Sarah Palin) and me; Ross and me

Monday, December 1, 2008

Friends are Family

You know that we just hosted a Thanksgiving party. Just three days later we hosted the whole staff for our annual Christmas party! (The schedule is such this year that it all has to be packed into a week!) We had SO much fun. After a beautiful singing of "O Come All Ye Faithful," we dug into the appetizer and dessert tables. The punch (recipe here http://http// ) and wassail were gone within minutes, in spite of both recipes serving 30-40. After eating, we read the Christmas story and prayed. (Each year the Scripture is read by one of the leaving staff.) Then we had a gift exchange (the one where you can steal gifts). Some of the hilarious parts were the following: Esmer Hanim (our Turkish teacher) received the ham (which is not eaten in this part of the world) (It was quickly stolen from her anyway.); Serdar Bey (our Turkish caretaker) chose a set of teacher smiley-face stamps (we enjoyed joking that he would be stamping our invoices with them); married ladies stole food so they wouldn't have to cook; roommates devised strategies to steal for each other in hopes of getting back what they really wanted; and things that were held on to for almost the whole game were lost in the end. It was just plain fun! Friends become family when you are far from home. In the photos: our family of 7; Benaiah and me with my friend Hicran and her adorable boy Judah (3 months older than Benaiah); Ross opening his gift which was wrapped first in about 7 grocery bags; Ross and Troy Lundy (our business administrator who Ross has known since high school); Bev and Barry Birmingham (from our home church in Memphis) with Judah and Haybat (our Iraqi babysitter/adopted daughter/lunch lady at school)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in Turkey

Last year we gathered as a whole staff at the school for Thanksgiving. This year, because we didn't organize it until just before, many of the staff had already made plans. So, for those who still had the date open and wanted to join together for the day (which ended up being 18 of us!), we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone brought the traditional foods and we had a super time. Here are some photos from last night. In the photos...Eric and Hannah-Lee Lawrence (our Canadian long-time friends from Singapore); Leticia Lawrence (Eric's neice visiting for the semester) and Rachel Park (Mary Erin's 4th grade teacher); the guys' table with Eric, Brian Dixon, Daniel Schultz (9th grader), and Wayne Elliot (our new guidance counselor); Brenda Morton (aka Auntie) with Eva (who was recovering from a stomach flu last night); and Benaiah in his fall sweater.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Weekend In Cappedocia Part I

A few weeks ago we had a Women's Conference here in Turkey. This is an annual thing and I have enjoyed the chance to go each year I've lived here. Ross tells me to go, he keeps the kids, and I enjoy some spiritual refreshment for a couple of days. This year it was in Cappedocia, which is only a 3 hour drive from Ankara. Just before leaving, I opted NOT to take our playpen for Benaiah to sleep in. We stood at the van and Ross said, "Are you sure about that?" and I said, "He can't roll yet, it'll be ok." What we didn't say, but both knew, is that no matter what bed the hotel would provide, it was sure to be unsafe. You can see the bed in this photo above. Please note the sides of the crib. The holes would have made a great jungle gym for my preschooler to crawl through! And if you look very carefully at the bottom corner, you can see what the bottom of the crib is held together with...a plastic bag tying the frame together. I am sure when we agreed to move to Turkey, there were some guardian angels rolling their eyes and murmuring, "Oh great, another one going to Turkey!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall Carnival

A couple of weeks ago our school hosted a Fall Carnival. It is one of the highlights of the year. Each class comes up with a game for kids like bowling with 2 liter bottles or fishing with a pole and magnets. The kids buy a card of tickets for $3 and just go. It is one of those times that I realize how very different, and how very nice, our school is. They can just go from room to room with their friends unsupervised. This year our 3 school-aged girls were old enough to go on their own. When it was time to go, I walked by one room called the "Scary Room". Inside it was pitch black and filled with things all over the a bowl of jelly stuff to feel and wet beans and flour all over the floor. The kids were to crawl through the room and try to find tickets. The color of ticket indicated what kind of candy they won. Gross, I thought. I couldn't see in, so I said to the teacher, "Esther isn't in there, is she?" The teacher said, "No." and I thought to myself, "Good, that's disgusting." When I finally found her and we recapped her night, she said, "I spent a ticket to get my face painted and almost all the rest on the Scary Room!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Look alikes

I find genetics and 'what someone's kids will look like' to be very interesting. Only God decides. Most people say Mary Erin looks like a Campbell and Esther looks like me. People have definite opinions on Annika, but some say Ross, some say me. What I have decided is that Benaiah and Eva look alike, so much so, that I have to study the surroundings from time to time to tell the pictures apart. You would think they were both born from chipmunks with those cheeks! I am looking forward to creating some new posts this coming week. We had our Christmas craft fair this week, so it has been a busy one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kidney Crisis

Last night at 1:45 am, I woke from a sound sleep to a growing pain in my back. I went to the kitchen for a drink, then to the bathroom...suddenly the pain became much greater, to the point that I could hardly speak. Ross heard me and woke up. He ran to the computer to type in symptoms and try to figure out what we should do. I then began envisioning 'something' rupturing and poison filling my body, so I said, "Just get me to the hospital." We can't leave our kids alone, so Ross called a taxi and got me downstairs in my pj's, then told the taxi to get me to the hospital quickly. I kept thinking I just can't throw up in this guy's taxi. I stumbled through the Turkish explanation and all the allergies, normal deliveries, 1 surgery in 1996, where the pain was, etc. while in excruciating pain. They put in a pain relief drip and though I am a teetotaler, I thought, "Ok, this feels like I've had 7 beers." I was able to call my parents and Ross' parents before my speech became unclear. The ultrasound confirmed it, a kidney stone. I got this once before in Singapore after taking calcium tablets prescribed for me after giving birth. Same deal here. I guess it is a toss-up for me..osteoporosis or kidney stones? They said the stone was already on the path out and sent me home with orders to drink as much water as I could stand. I came home and drank 2 liters of water and went to bed. Meanwhile, my mom, who is in Memphis for the week helping with my Granny, just 'happened' to be meeting with her old Sunday School class for a time of prayer that night. They, and others, prayed and the kidney stone left sometime during the night. The maternal instinct is so strong, all that time, all I could think about was poor little Benaiah waking at 5:30 to eat with no mama to feed him. Thankfully, I made it home in time. So, this post isn't particularly funny, but I just thought you'd want to know about my eventful night.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dr. Pepper Disaster

Dr. Pepper is an American product not sold in Turkey. Of course you want what you can't have, so during the summers in the good ol' USA I always get Dr. Pepper when we go out to eat. One sweet friend with US base access here in Turkey bought me a 12 pack of Dr. Peppers. I made it last for 6 months. For those of you who are mathematically challenged like me, that means I drank 2 a month for 6 months. One way I made them last was to NOT refrigerate them. Who wants a warm Pepper? When I got a strong enough urge, I'd throw one in the fridge and have it while NO one else was in the house. (Esther got the "Sharing is Caring" award in Kindergarten, I am not sure I'd be nominated.) Well I got to my last can in the 12 pack and wanted it badly that day, so I threw it in the freezer. Then I forgot about it. The next day as I reached in for some frozen veggies, out came a bloated can, oozing from the top, ready to explode. So instead of enjoying my last Dr. Pepper, I poured out the thick syrup threatening to erupt and set the can down in a coffee mug. It would no longer sit on its own. Then I had to wipe out my freezer. I am sure there is a Biblical principle here, but I haven't figured it out yet. Any thoughts?

Friday, November 14, 2008

You have my permission to laugh

Ok, readers, it gets worse. I made a VERY conscious choice NOT to dedicate a blog post to a louse or to lice. However, today it must be done. I took 3 of my girls and Benaiah to the mall last night to buy a gift for a birthday party Mary Erin will be attending tonight. On the drive home, I felt itchy. Is is psychological? Is is nerves? Is it a dry scalp from 3 bottles of pesticide? Is it a raw scalp from one, Ross Campbell, faithfully pulling my hairs one by one for inspection? How is one to know? There it was again, a definite itch. I called Ross, we met back at home for another 'episode of combing.' After about a 1/2 hour, we both wondered, even if he didn't find anything, would I feel satisfied that the lice were gone? no. never. We decided to try mayonnaise, after hearing from several that it works like a charm (and after putting so many chemicals on my head that I began to feel like a commercial for Chem-Lawn). We put the kids to bed none too soon,
and Ross said, "You do have mayonnaise, don't you."
"Sure. I have Miracle Whip."
"Miracle Whip?! That's not mayonnaise, Sara. That's what I ate as a kid because I didn't like mayonnaise."
"Well, I didn't. I thought it was mayonnaise."
"Where did you get Miracle Whip?"
"It was a gift from someone with US base access."
"So you are telling me that at 9:00 at night, I have to go hunt down mayonnaise."
Off he went, and as I watched him leave the room, I stifled a laugh. And that would be the first laugh I have had all week. I am not sure why I stifled it, I should have let it out, I suppose. Ross' shoulders were slumped, head down, pajama pants already on. I apologized for laughing and he then pretended to be holding a gun and said, "I will win! I will kill them all!" (referring to the lice or the louse).

He first went down to the bakkal (a tiny one-room grocery in the bottom of our building). He found one small jar of mayonnaise. Then he came back and rushed the grocery, entering at 9:29 (it closes at 9:30) and bought two VERY large bottles of mayonnaise. This is when it got funny. Ross began lathering thick, strong-smelling mayonnaise in my hair. I was gagging from the smell. We began joking. "Mmmm, you smell good enough to eat." and "I am not sure I'd like mayo on my sandwich...for a very long time." It was good to laugh, finally. Benaiah, feeling neglected these last 4 days, began to cry. Have you ever tried to hold an infant in your lap while mayonnaise is being spread on your head? I have. Finally we decided to let me finish the lathering while Ross held Benaiah.

After being so covered with mayo that I could hardly turn my head for the weight of my 'crown,' Ross wrapped my head in Saran Wrap. I felt so good about this, knowing the Saran Wrap would hold all the mayo in. I was looking forward to holding the baby, watching CNN, with my white bee hive. I got in the shower to get rid of any residual mayo, when I realized the mayo was separating, with the oil from it running down my body. You do have permission to laugh. So, I tied a bandanna around my head to stop the oil. It still ran. I stuffed cotton balls all around the bandanna. It still ran. I tied another bandanna around those. It stopped.

At 5 this morning, I took my mayo-wrapped head and fed the baby, then promptly washed my hair 3 times. Guess what? No itches today. And I think the egg and oil in the mayo must have healed my tender scalp, too.

I will NOT attach a picture of this unfortunate event, you'll just have to use your imaginations.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hickey on my boy

Well, most of the last 1/2 week has been consumed with de-licing the 3 of us who contracted lice and sanitizing my home in case the lice decided to make a home with us. 22 hours of egg searching, 12 tied-up bags of laundry, 8 lice treatments, several dust-free couches and rugs, and 3 cleared-up heads later, we are finished. As unpleasant as it was, it became a family affair and I have to say I was impressed with how everyone chipped in. Ross methodically combed my hair piece by piece, the girls bagged up stuffed toys, and everyone found ways to help. It is a joyous Thursday morning because we are finally all clear. The girls have all been sent off to school with tight braids and stern warnings not to share hats (and every other piece of motherly advice I could think of). After reading about lice on the Internet and even dreaming about them, I decided NOT to dedicate a blog post to them, hence a new subject completely. Enough said.

Hickeys. That is my subject. One morning I went to wake Benaiah and dress him. I discovered this strange mark on his arm. I thought it must be that some really chic Turkish woman had kissed him with her maroon lipstick. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a hickey! During the night, he had given himself a hickey trying to get some milk. So now that he knows what they are like, he won't ever need to get another one. :) You can see his sweet little hickey in the above picture, along with some serious fat stores.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What I am thankful for in the last 24 hours

This weekend I went to a retreat in Cappedocia. I have so many super blog ideas from the weekend, but this must be posted first. One of our speakers, a godly woman who has been persecuted for her faith, said, "There is power in thanksgiving." Therefore, here is my list of reasons to be thankful in the last 24 hours...

I am thankful...

1. that when I discovered the bug in my hair, I was able to save it.

2. for the internet, which has photos for easily identifying lice.

3. that the Lord prompted me to check my children's hair before bed.

4. for a friend who loves me enough to go out at night and find the only pharmacy that was open.

5. that my friend needed to be at this pharmacy 3 days earlier, otherwise she said she would not have easily found it.

6. that pharmacies in Turkey are required to be open 24 hours on a rotating basis.

7. that the pharmacy had lice medication (not a given that it will always be in stock).

8. for a daughter who did NOT freak out about her lice and calmly sat for 2 hours while I picked nits out of her hair (much better than her mother's reaction at age 15).

9. for a husband who was willing to go through my hair for 2 hours looking for nits with very little complaining.

10. that I didn't have lice, other than the 1.

11. that I had 1 louse, which alerted me to check my daughter, who was covered with them.

12. for a quiet day at home to do a second treatment.

13. that God reminds me He is here when we go through trials (by allowing me to find the louse at the end of my weekend rather than the start so I didn't dwell on it all weekend; by giving me a little louse so I'd know about my daughter; by giving me a sweet friend to help me get the right medication; by giving me a bald baby who can't get lice)

I have posted a photo of my beautiful daughter, in honor of her maturity last night. When I got home from a trip to Guatemala at age 15 and discovered lice, I sobbed in horror. She just smiled and said, "Can you get them out?" :) My encouragement to you today is to make the list of reasons to be thankful instead of that list of reasons to be discouraged. God is with us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Fun Kid

Sometimes as I am picking things up around the house, I will stumble on something that makes me laugh out loud. I once found a Barbie car with Barbie herself in the passenger seat in a wild reckless merriment, arm in the sky. Her boyfriend in the driver's seat was not Ken, it was Shrek. Without fail, the scene has been created by Esther. She makes the strangest combinations of toys and when I study the set up closely, it always makes me laugh. Last week I got in the shower before bed and found this. A little giraffe had been put to bed on top of my apricot body scrub. His pillow was the soap and his blankey was Benaiah's washcloth. I had to take a picture, but I didn't have to ask which kid had done it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cowboys or Redskins?

I grew up being a Dallas Cowboys' fan. My big brother ensured that I properly memorized all the names and positions of the players each season. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered my (then) boyfriend Ross was a Redskins fan. I wasn't sure how we'd navigate through this as a couple. We finally agreed not to talk much about it. As you know, we married, so I guess that was a good strategy. Now that we have a son, the issue has resurfaced.

I was given some Cowboys pajamas for Benaiah and giggled one night as I slipped them on him. Ross said very little. It happened to be a night that Benaiah cried quite a bit before bed, which is rare for him. I attributed it to a gassy tummy. The next morning Ross attributed it to his distaste for his pajamas. I have come to the conclusion that it may just be a hopeless cause, but I did make sure to get this photo, so that one day when Benaiah is older he can see I tried.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Turkey Trick O' Treaters

Being born overseas, my kids have never really experienced "Halloween," until last year. (We once bought an imported pumpkin in Singapore and carved it with Mary Erin, she wanted to know why we were carving a Papaya!) But last year, we were thrilled to be joined with other young staff kids for the first time, so we decided to let the kids all dress up and Ross drove them to staff houses to trick or treat (we all live in the same neighborhood). They enjoyed it so much, we made it a yearly tradition. This year I asked them what they wanted to be for Halloween. We had not talked it up, it was just a casual question over dinner, but the 3 older girls blurted answers out without hesitation. Mary Erin wanted to be a Professor, Annika a witch, and Esther a ghost. I suggested Eva be a pig, knowing we had a pink jogging suit for her.

The teachers graciously signed up to have their houses visited. I appreciate how they can so quickly morph into Aunts and Uncles for our kids, who are away from relatives.

We had so much fun creating the girls' costumes, and I was continually reminded of Halloween when I was a kid. No Walmart. Low budget. High creativity.

Mary Erin was inspired to be a Professor by some eyeglasses she snagged from the Lost and Found bin at school at the end of the year. (There are perks to being a Principal's kid.) Annika and Esther both wanted to be something scary. They know so very little about Halloween, which I am happy about, but they said a witch and a ghost were "true Halloween costumes."

Ross is the artist in our home, so he made the witch's hat. Mary Erin found Annika a broom today outside (being thrown away). Esther's costume was a 5 dollar sheet bought at the local market. Eva just needed a 1/2 of an Easter egg to be turned into a pig nose.

The best surprise of all was during dinner. Ross didn't come to dinner, but locked himself in the bathroom. He then emerged as a pirate with one of my earrings in his ear! The girls squealed with delight and started begging him to actually take them as a pirate.

I hope the preparation for this night will be as sweet of a memory for them as it will be for me.

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