Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend in Review

We have had a fabulous weekend over here in Ankara! Friday night is our normal date night but due to some illnesses in our family, we decided to stay in. A hot pizza, kids tucked into bed, then a couple of games against each other on the wii...a pretty good date in spite of staying in. Friday was Ross' mom's birthday (Mimi). It is hard to be so far from home on birthdays and holidays. We took pictures of ourselves with birthday hats on and sent them her way. Here's a little guy thinking hard about celebrating.
I'm sure there is some type of geometric name for a cone on top of a perfectly round shape.
We had a 3 day weekend and it was wonderful! I taught my oldest Mary Erin to sew on the machine. She picked it up like a pro. Ross helped Annika paint the outside of her dollhouse. He took the girls on a hike up a mountain near our house where they saw some jackrabbits. Helicopters were flying over because it is an election day. Ross had them pretend they were UFO's. We had late, big breakfasts and just had a wonderful little boy fell. He had been stripped down to some camouflage pants and no shirt. I just could not get enough of the rolls and fatty spots. Then he was standing, holding on to a chair. I just HAD to have a picture. So I let go with one hand to grab my camera and as he fell, I could not co-ordinate the other hand. I felt AWFUL. We've had lots of falls but most of them have been on daddy's time and my focus has always been on comforting both Ross and the baby. This one I was 100% responsible for. Now, as a mother of 5, I didn't panic. I held him, told him how sorry I was. His cry subsided for the most part. Then I put ice on his head and he cried even harder. Then he began throwing up. And falling asleep. So I zipped up our coats and headed out the door. My neighbor stopped me, I told her what had happened. She told me she could not 'be at peace' until I saw a doctor. My sweet friend Brenda went with me.The doctor was very kind. He did not want to run a scan on him. He said the most important thing is consciousness, so I am to wake him 1/2 hourly tonight and check on him. He's going to be ok. I'm not a perfect mom and I guess the sooner he finds that out, the better. You see why I forget he is only 6 months sometimes. In the photo below, he has about 6 inches above his head and about a foot below his feet until his standard-sized crib will be too small. He's just a big boy, but still little inside. I promised him I'd be more careful next time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tae Kwon Toe

Our Korean Tae Kwon Do instructor offered to teach a class for the staff. While Ross was gone in February, I signed up (like a crazy woman). I told myself, it'll be good exercise. It will give me a different environment one time a week. I'll get to hang out with some of the gals on staff and get to know them better. It'll challenge me. All true. However, I am 10 years older than everyone (well, almost everyone) in my class. I am the only married one. I am the only one who has birthed children. I'm the only one who thinks about lining up childcare so I can be there. I'm the only one who wonders if her baby is hungry during the class. I'm the only one who can't do a forward roll (help!). I can kick. I can yell, "HUH!" when I punch. I can mentally focus for that one hour a week. I can think about showing my nephews all my new moves next summer. I told Ross this morning that my outlook has totally changed. I said, "If a guy tried to snatch my purse now or grab me, I'd just do this..." (then I proceeded to show him how I could kick his nose). He then reminded me he might have guns and knives. But still...I am being stretched. I like it. It has taken me out of my mommy-comfort-zone. Here are the adorable girls with whom I take my class.
And here is my adorable daughter, who, I was told by my instructor, should teach me how to do forward rolls. It is evidently her favorite part. She told me last week, she is going for the black belt. I believe her. She also told her teacher she wishes she had black hair so she looked Korean.
But growth, stretching, removal of comfort zone does not come without cost. We learned a new kick this week. It is a sort of run, left knee up for leverage, then a high right flying kick. I learned it. I felt empowered. Then I felt pain. I caught my toe on that last one. And here it what it looks like now. Eva is pointing at it.
I came home from class and the girls immediately knew 'something' had happened. I crawled in bed with my hungry boy and they said, "What's wrong, Mama?" I said, "I broke my toe." Now this statement made to someone who has known me as long as my mom would be no big deal. Didn't I jump off a 2nd story balcony in 7th grade as the new girl trying to impress new friends and break my toe? Haven't I stubbed it multiple times on bed frames in the middle of the night and broken it? Sure. But to my little girls, 'broken' must have meant, "broken off." For, their 8 little eyes became saucers and they were speechless. Then Eva snatched back the covers, I suppose to see if my toe was still there. It's still there, but it's blue. Ross keeps asking me if I have put ice on it. My house hovers at 60 degrees. My feet are already cold. Isn't that enough to keep swelling down? Apparently not.
And wouldn't you know, it's on my 'bad leg,' the one that reflects the (very worth it) aftermath of my 5 beautiful babies. But anyway, here's to hoping it is better by next Friday's class. I've got some kicking to do.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's Greek to me.

Last night, Ross and I attended a Greek Embassy reception honoring Greece's National Day. Why, you ask, would I consider attending when I had just been diagnosed with strep throat 8 hours earlier? You see, I had this cute new dress to wear. No really, the invitation itself was a sort of "olive branch extension" ...a bridge in a relationship that was important for us to cross. So, we went. I always sort of pinch myself at these functions and ask, "What in the world am I doing here?" We just came here to start a school to help a few folks, and somehow we ended up being invited by Ambassadors and Diplomats to their receptions. But still, our homegrown roots show through. We don't want to pay 5TL to check our coats upon entering, so we ditch them in the car and nearly run freezing into the hotel lobby. We have twin Greek boys at our school named Polycarpus and Taxiarchus. Every time I say their names, it takes me back to high school etymology class and I want to dissect what they mean. We even once had a Greek school mom named Aphrodite. It's just all so...Greek! Some of you may not know that Ross is married to a Magna Cum Laude graduate. However, there are some times that I just feel I need to take him out of that realm, and just be that girl he dated and described as, "just a lot of fun." So last night I made the following comment, just to remind him how fun (ditsy) I can really be. I said, after shaking hands with the Ambassador and his military entourage, "Ross, they just all look so GREEK!" They are Greek, Sara. "Right, but I mean LOOK at them. Dark hair, strong features, so GREEK! Ross, you don't know this, but any one of those guys could seriously be on Days of Our Lives." What are you talking about? "Well, back in my pre-conviction days when I actually tuned in, they always had some strong, Greek man who had power and money and could control everyone. Those guys could seriously be on that show." I think Ross was amazed by my fun side at that point. He had no comment.

But the best part of the evening occurred when we met up with the gentleman, a Greek Air Force Officer (and school dad) who had invited us. We chatted about his home country and told him we had never seen Greece even though we live right next door to it. He suggested we visit a Greek Island called Santorini He was trying to describe it and kept coming up with, "Vesuvius," to which I blurted out, "VOLCANO!" (There's that Magna girl comin' out.) "Yes! Yes!" he replied. He told us all about how it was built on a volcano, with hotels built into the rock, overlooking a sunset. He then told Ross, "You MUST take your wife there." Ross graciously replied, "Of course." Then he said, "No, really you MUST. With no kids." Ross loosened his collar and once again said, "Sure, that would be wonderful." Then he said, "You MUST, Mr. Campbell, at least once every 10 years. This is a MUST." I just grinned from ear to ear, all the way back out to the car. I don't even think I was cold without my coat after that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is your problem?

This morning I woke up with a sore throat, still. It's been sore for 5 days and I keep thinking maybe it's just drainage? Maybe it will go away? But this morning, as soon as I finished teaching English to my friend, I loaded up the 2 little 'uns and headed to the doctor. It's just not going away and I really do need to be able to swallow again at some point.

We went into the clinic and were seated in the hallway. Eva pointed to the room behind us and announced, "That's where Papa took me to get the blue thing out of my nose!" (It was a bead.) Then a young doctor came and showed me into the treatment room. For those of you from Memphis and in the FEC-realm, he could have been Kevin Elliot's long-lost twin brother.

At this point, I had a choice. Do I bring Eva and Benaiah (in his stroller) in with me? Lots of wires, bottles of brown stuff, thermometers. She does love to pretend-play doctor. This could become stressful with an already very sore throat and a serious language barrier between me and my medical care-giver. So, I told her just sit in the hallway and look after Benaiah. Next thing I knew, 2 businessmen in suits sat down next to her, goo-goo'ed and ga-gaa'd at Benaiah and gave Eva a lollipop. I made the right decision.

So, back to the treatment room....the Young Kevin Elliot Look Alike took one look at me and said, in English, "What's your problem?" in EXACTLY the same tone that I might say it to one of the girls who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, barking at her sisters. I stifled my smile and said, in Turkish..."throat sore." Hmmmm? How many days? (He now lapsed into Turkish because I uttered my answer in Turkish, he assumes I will understand the rest of the medical jargon.) I answered, "5." Then I got a reprimand-ish type look. "Yes, I should have come sooner, I agreed with him. What can I do? I'm a mother." In Turkey, this pretty much excuses anything you do. Forgot your purse in the store? I'm a mother. Double parked? I'm a mother. I once was in a car accident here, completely innocent of the accident, but was told by all my friends, I'd be charged because I was the foreigner. The result? 100% innocence, not because I was turning left and a guy tried to pass me illegally, but because I'm a mother. The policeman said, "How could you hit a mother with her children in the car?" Anyway, I digress. So, I used the motherhood card with the doctor and he seemed satisfied.

He took one look at my throat, ran no culture, but said I had step throat. He then began writing me a prescription. Now the men outside began taking Benaiah out of his stroller. I tried to explain to the doctor that I was nursing (I have since learned the best way to say this in Turkish. The story on how I learned it is not blog-able, but ask me sometime, it is oh, so funny.) and if the antibiotic would be ok to take since I am nursing. He then had his nurse go get me a face mask. I am not sure we were communicating well at that point. So, I took the mask, the prescription, gave them a thank you and a smile, picked up my kids from the free babysitting service outside the door, and came home.

Just another day in a different culture.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Today marks the day, one decade ago, that I became a parent. I remember wondering before she was born, what would I think when I saw this first baby for the first time?
I assumed my first thought would be, "It's a ___________!!!" (girl/boy) since we didn't know ahead of time.And then I thought, maybe we'd study his/her eyes and nose and mouth and try to guess who he/she looked like.
Or perhaps we'd count the fingers and toes and marvel at how tiny they were.
But you know what, none of those things were my first thought. The minute I laid eyes on this tiny, beautiful baby girl, all I could think was that I'd give my life for her.
And today is 10 years later from that day when I thought that first thought upon seeing her. And I still think it. So, to the tiny baby who came into my life 10 years ago today, who now comes up to my chin, I love you and I always will. Happy birthday, Mary Erin.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Miracle Falling from the Sky

Last December, this cabinet 'unattached' itself from my kitchen wall and fell. When it fell, it hit my counter top, then the floor. All the glass was smashed and broken. All my decorative pieces inside were destroyed. I also lost many of my food items in the covered part. It also hit Benaiah's high chair.
But we weren't here. We were away for the week.
God protects us even when we don't know we need it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Party Tonight Part II

Well, as you know, one must 'expect the unexpected.' About an hour before the party was to begin, I got a phone call that Tae Kwon Do had been cancelled! Ross breathed a sigh of relief, and we tackled the party as a 'two-some.' But oh, how fun that would have been as a solo flight for him, huh? He walked in the door, stripped off his overcoat, and said, "Ok, girls! Let's learn to ride a cow!" We let them each have turns playing the wii game where you ride a very obese, non-agile cow and knock over scarecrows and jump over hurdles. This picture says it all. Look at the faces! I love it!
Mary Erin received wonderful gifts. The most surprising was when she opened a gift from a little Korean friend who was too sick to attend. She gave her a pencil, a little butterfly case, and a pink dustpan and broom. You should have seen me, scrambling to understand, to say something to indicate that I had some sort of clue as to why she gave her a dustpan and broom. Thankfully, another Korean friend explained that in her culture EVERY student had to have their own mini dustpan and broom to clean off his/her own school desk. "Of course!" I yelled. "Please tell her that Mary Erin's mama is a big fan of any gift that helps her stay tidy!" Don't you love different cultures?
A sister photo.
The party-goers.
The party-goers in their crazy state.
Phaselis absolutely loved 10 adoring women in his home. He has a fondness for Rebecca. The last time she came, he chewed on her braids lovingly. This time, she scratched his belly during the entire movie, and he pawed her head. It's Spring and love is in the air, I guess.
We really didn't need entertainment at all, we have Benaiah. Amazing how God makes even little girls love babies.
My attempt at cake decorating. Pitiful but it tasted good. Those are kite strings, not a giant green spider.
You've grown, Mary Erin. We are so proud of you! (That's not Benaiah in pink, it's Esther.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Party Tonight

This is what I want to be tonight. We invited all the girls in Mary Erin's class (there's only 5), plus 2 other home schooled friends for a pizza and movie birthday party. And you remember we have 3 other girls of our own. So, 5+2+3=10 little girls. Excited. Rightfully so. But still. It wasn't until we'd sent out the invitations that I remembered that I have Tae Kwon Do class from 4-5:15 today. Right during that party. I guess I could miss, but there's just this horrible pit-in-my-stomach feeling about facing my Korean instructor and saying, "Well, ya see, I had to serve the pizza...." So, rather than actually admit to Ross what I had done, I sent an newsy email to a family member, just a sort of 'what's going on with us this week' type thing, and sort of mentioned, "Huh huh, duh, guess what I did...I double-booked, huh huh, and Ross is going to have to supervise all those girls alone, huh huh." Then I casually forwarded it to him. He's such a man. He came home, faced the situation bravely and said, "What in the world am I going to do with them?" He's their principal for heaven's sake! I am laughing at this post already. So I pumped him up, "You are SUCH a good dad! You can do it! How about if you play fictionary?" (That's the old version of Pictionary that only needs paper and a dictionary.) He said, "I was thinkin', do you think they'd like to play the wii?" HURRAY! YES!!! They'd love it! So, Mary Erin has made a 'mii' character for each of her party attendees (These are little video game icons that you can personalize with hair, face shape, etc. Benaiah's is totally bald with fat cheeks.) and we are good to go. The only problem is that I so wish today I COULD skip Tae Kwon Do, morph into a housefly, land on the wall, and watch for an hour. Now, that would be fun!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This is March in Singapore.
This is March in Ankara.
God is creative.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marking Time (a.k.a. A Fat Baby Becomes Mobile)


Now it's naptime.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quick China

Friday night is our date night. Heybet (our 'adopted' Iraqi daughter) keeps (most of) the kids on Friday nights to give us a couple of hours off. This week we met our friends Jim and Carol McDonald, who are moving to the US in April. It will be hard to say goodbye to them. They've been a real encouragement to us. We have two connections: one is that we are both post-Asia couples, now living in Turkey. They lived in Indonesia, and we were in Singapore. Hence, they suggested we go out for Asian. There is a new place near their house called Quick China. It was the real thing. Huge red door. Waiters dressed in black and white Asian suits. Cooks that weren't Turkish. The other connection we have with them is that they are grandparents, far from their grand kids. We have grand kids far from their grandparents. It works out nicely.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Love Affair

So many good blog post ideas floating in my head...should I write about the strange concoction my neighbor made for me? or the authentic Chinese restaurant we found on Friday night? or about how I can not do the forward roll my Tae Kwon Do teacher is requiring of me? Perhaps we'll get to all those later in the week. For now, I must tell you about Benaiah's love affair. He has 2 handmade blankets that are his absolute love affair. One (the yellow one below) was made lovingly by our Social Studies teacher, a Virginia gal From the moment he got it, he loved it. He sticks his little fingers through the knitted holes, and that is his signal to sleep. Ross brought me back this white and green one handmade by my Aunt Martha. I gave it to him that first day and he stuck his little fingers through it and held on for dear life. This week he even laughed when he saw me bring this blanket to him for his nap time. I'd say that indicates love.
And the really interesting thing, which I doubt either of these gift-givers knew, is that when I take a blanket like this for Benaiah to go out-and-about, I seem to pass the keeping-my-baby-warm-enough test with the Turks. Something about the fact that it is handmade, I suppose. They think that is the way it should be, I guess.

Maybe they think he is wrapped not only in warmth, but also in love. Indeed he is.

And besides the fact that these two blankets make my Turkish friends happy, any gift that signals to a baby that it is time to sleep is a winner in my book.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


So many times, my soul mate says just the right thing. The morning after my grandmother died, he said, amid the little feet running through our house, "Granny is gone, but she sure left a lot of her DNA running around." That comfort became full in my heart, and I had the idea to dedicate a blog post to all of her great-grandchildren. Beware: there are 22 of them, and they are all beautiful.

My mom bought 1 single white rose for each great-grandchild for the funeral. She added a ribbon with the name of each.

This one survived the tornado that hit Union University. Don't think she'll be single too long, do you?

This handsome guy is fighting (and winning against) a disease that would have left most adults defeated and spent. He's a hero.

The comment some guys made upon seeing this photo was, "wow worthy." That's an understatement.

Here's the Memphis heart throb.

Here's our new addition from Korea. She's in the arms of her mama's twin. These are the twins who actually make me feel, because of my relation to them, that I have some claim on fame.

These are my baby cousin Rachel's kids. Her eldest is now a basketball star, she was just a little girl at my wedding. Our kids want to be pen pals and recently exchanged addresses.

These are the great-grands from Virginia. They went to Granny's grave and planted flowers and installed a light. The boy is named for my Papa (Granny's husband), Maston. Cuties, aren't they?

And here's Caleb, my brother Tim's oldest. He's the one I have to talk to (a-hem...listen to) for a good long while on the phone before I can get his mama.

Here's Leah, the tiny middle gal with all the spunk. She just lost her tooth.

Here's Ruth, the one who walked and talked earlier than any kid I've ever known. Just wait til college scholarship time.

Here's Josiah. Enough said. Total eat him up stuff.

Here's the bis sis Anna Blair, who adores her new baby sister Lydia Leigh (the youngest and newest member). Granny didn't meet Lydia, but she will.

And here's my brood. Mary Erin, the oldest, a constant help to me. How can she be about to turn 2 digits?

And Annika, who prayed every night that Granny wouldn't die, and then added, "But God, you can do what you want since you're God."

And Esther, the 'middler,' who loves life so much.

And Eva, who you know. She seems to have her cake and eat it, too.

And the little 21 pound tugboat, who is striving to live in a house with girls with some sense of sanity.

And there you have it. Lots of DNA running around. Quite a legacy, I'd say.

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