Thursday, April 30, 2009


Today I was invited to meet a group of friends for a 'sushi making lesson.' My Korean friend Jeong Jin taught us how. She made it look so easy. Please take note of my earrings: I am wearing my Christmas gift from my 7 year old.
Start with a great group of friends, all busily chatting, but still trying to pay attention. The grandma magnet was allowed to attend.
Some beautiful and fresh ingredients.
Roll, squeeze. Roll, squeeze. Note my earrings, the perfect accessory to my outfit today.
And one last squeeze in the bamboo for good measure. I love these earrings, Esther! Just my style!

Even slices with a good knife, oiled with sesame oil
And a beautiful plate of sushi.
At one point, someone stole my camera and this was the result.

Green tea service to make the meal complete.
We had a great time! Thanks, Jeong Jin!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


April 23 in Turkey is called Children's Day. The kids were out of school for the day, so we took them to the zoo. Ankara's zoo would remind you of the zoo's from when we were kids (70's). For the most part, animals are in cages and not really in their natural habitat. This is disturbing to some, but we've tried to just focus on the positives. 1. We have a zoo. 2. You can get about 2 feet from a lion in our zoo. That's pretty amazing. He once roared for us, and it felt like the whole zoo shook. It's very hard to get Ross to move away from the lion. He likes the lions and crocodiles. My little monkeys. Hardly a week goes by that I don't think of a conversation I had with a Russian parent. She had newly enrolled her son in our school, but did not feel that he would be able to dress himself for his Tae Kwon Do class after school. So she said to me, (envision a Russian accent here), "I must come to the school to dress my little monkey."

Camels abound in our zoo. Ross once begged me to stand by this camel for a photo shoot. I heard they spit, and I was scared to stand next to him. Wouldn't you?....have your back to this creature, who could at any moment hawk up something to spit at you? He tends to like his photo taken, as you can see here.

No zoom lens used here. He is just right there.
They do have a little petting zoo. I let the girls pet the rabbits. They had a chicken petting area, but the chickens looked so unhealthy, we stayed with the rabbits.

I have sewn those pants about 5 times. I finally decided the hole stays. Just so you understand that.
Everywhere we walked, I heard random comments in Turkish like, "Are they all hers?" or "I am counting 5, they have 5!" I couldn't resist a polite smile. They didn't think I understood them. At one point, a lady said, "Well, those 2 are twins." Annika replied in Turkish, "I'm not her twin. I am her big sister." I was proud of her, they are usually nervous to try their Turkish.

Come to think of it, they did look like twins that day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Well, the obvious thing about which to blog is illness. Currently 6/7 of our family have some degree of an upper respiratory tract infection. But I am sure as much as I don't want to blog about URTI's, neither do you want to read about them. So, I decided to blog about something funny this daughter said...
It began when Annika informed us all she was 'going to be invited' to an ice skating party in May. (2nd graders pretty much invite and un-invite friends to birthday parties all year long prior to the party, according to how well they are currently playing together, I have learned.) Then Mary Erin shared that Betsy Ross saved her money, bought herself ice skates in July, then was taught how to ice skate by John Ross that next winter. Hmmm, we all said, that's interesting. Then she said, "Sisters, his name is ROSS. That's how she got her name, Betsy ROSS. She married him later." Oh. Then she said, "Yea, she had like 4 husbands." Esther blurted, "Well, that's very bad." Then Mary Erin replied, (I love this.) "No, Esther. She didn't have them all at once. She kept getting new ones because she OUTGREW them." I smirked. She realized it wasn't exactly what she was trying to say. So, I began to might one outgrow a husband?
Spiritually? That'll never happen with the Ross in this house.
Height-wise? No, 5'6" since grade 8.
Mentally? Not likely since I seem to be losing rather than gaining brain cells these days.
Physically? Well, now there is something to consider. I exercise every night while Ross eats a tub of ice cream. I guess if we keep with that nightly tradition we won't outgrow each other.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home

It is a rainy, cold Monday. However, it is almost May. And May is when I begin to allow myself to think, "I get to go home." I start counting the days. I start thinking of what it will be like to disembark the plane, see faces I love, show my new baby. I start to think about wandering through Walgreen's with no real purpose except to see all the words in English. I get to go home soon! I will miss things here, but it's time for a break. Here is one of the things I will miss...
I recently took a visiting friend downtown to Ulus, the old district. That day I debated whether or not to bring a stroller for Benaiah. It's mostly cobblestone streets, so I opted to carry him. It was a bad decision. My 23 lb. bundle burned into my arms all day. I wanted to take my friend to the top of the castle, but it is quite an uphill (and mildly dangerous) climb. At the bottom, these sweet grannies were selling their wares, homemade knitted things and beaded bracelets. I certainly did not need or even want another trinket. So rather than buy a bracelet from them, I asked if she'd sit at the bottom of the castle and hold my baby while I took my friend up the castle. She was delighted. Had I ever met her before? no. Did I trust her? completely. When I returned, I gave her a lira and thanked her. She refused the money, saying she enjoyed it so much. I said to her, "Grandmother (for they call each other family names whether they are family or not), you go buy a loaf of bread for your family or a bag of tea. You helped me." Then she reluctantly took it. I'll miss things like that. But I am ready to go home, still.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kuafor Conversations

If you spoke Turkish, you'd know that my post's title used alliteration. "Kuafor" means "hairdresser" in Turkish. Today Esther and I went to get haircuts. She's been begging for her yearly bob and she really wanted Heybet (who leaves on Friday morning) to see it before she leaves. Mind you, Heybet's hair is down to the bottom of her back. I guess Esther is all about shock value. We have a nice guy in our neighborhood who cuts our hair. When we moved here, he cut Annika's hair for the very first time. She was nearly 3, but her springy little curls from Singapore's humidity ceased to exist in this arid climate. The day after we arrived here, I began to think her hair looked like that horrid doll Chucky from that horror flick I have not/will not see. Anyway, he thought she was so very cute and blonde, he would not charge me for the cut. So, we still patronize his business. Our conversation is always the same. He asks me if he should move to New York (he speaks no English). He asks me how much hairdressers make in New York. I tell him maybe $100 a haircut sometimes. He asks me how he can move to New York. I try to explain how much they must pay in overhead. I tell him I am from a different state where you might only pay $20 for a haircut. Same conversation every time. Then he asks me how I want my hair, and I tell him, "Whatever you think." I tend to be very trusting when I get my hair cut. Then I pay him about the equivalent of US$10. But this time, our conversation was different. He asked me if I went to the church around the corner. I told him I did. He said, "Do you know it is being torn down?" This was news to me. I am trying my hardest to piece together what he is saying, but it sounds like they are tearing that building (in which our church meets) down to build something bigger. I tell him I'll ask about it, that I hadn't heard that. Then I ventured out. I asked him if this neighborhood liked our church being here. He said, "Sure. It's no problem." Then I ventured out further and said, "So, if the neighborhood is ok with us, why do we have rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at our church?" He said, "Because these people who do this are not very bright." I told him, as best I could, that we wanted to be helpers in this neighborhood, that we gave out blankets and coal to poor people. He said, "We know." I enjoyed that conversation more than the New York one.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tomorrow's the Last Day

Tomorrow will be a hard day for our family. How is it that something for which you've prayed for years, finally begins to happen, and yet you are sad to see the day come? When we moved to Turkey 6 years ago, we met a sweet young teenager almost right away. She had escaped the horrors of her home country with her father and sisters, had become a Christian, and was waiting to be permanently settled elsewhere. Another family had taken her under their wing, but they were leaving, so they asked, "Would you look after her?" Of course we said yes. She then began babysitting for us every Friday night. She quickly became my 'teenage daughter.' She became a big sis to my girls. She soon began to call me 'mom.' She says I've been the mom she never had, but she has done so much more for me. I am not sure how I would have survived the last 6 years here without her. Next week, she is required to move to another city in Turkey. There she must wait until the United Nations sends her to America for permanent immigration. It could be weeks (we pray) or months. So tomorrow night will be her last night to babysit for us, something she's done almost weekly for 6 years. I have very mixed feelings. We have waited and prayed and waited and prayed for this day, and yet I feel like hiding her in my closet so she won't leave. We know we'll be involved in her life once she's in America, but I guess it is the end of the era, and that is the hard part. So, this is my tribute to her...I love you, Heybet.
I became a mom to Heybet, but she mothered and loved my children as her own.
I taught Heybet how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese, but she made me Samboosa's from Iraq.
I washed Heybet's clothes each week for her (she didn't have a washer), but she washed and braided my girls' hair to surprise me on Saturday mornings when I woke up.
I told Heybet's boyfriend he'd better snatch her up quick (he did!), but she gave me weekly date nights with the love of my life.
Ross put Heybet through school, but she taught me many lessons in how to be content when you have nothing.
I bought Heybet her prom dress, but she honored me by asking me to be her mother-of-the-bride in her wedding one day.
She was one of the first to hold my last 2 babies; I hope I get to hold her newborns, too.

The blessing of this relationship has been all ours, Heybet. We love you and send you off with a big bundle of precious memories and gratitude, prayers prayed through tears, and with Jesus. He really is all you will need. We love you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


On Tuesdays, Annika has to put all her spelling words in sentences. This week one of her words was "perfect." She wrote, "No one can be perfikt." Well said, Annika.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What is this?

It's time for some confession. When I was in the singles' group, we had a game night. I played a game where you had to tell the truth about something after others had tried to guess the correct answer relative to you. My question? "How many unknown objects are currently in your fridge?" After everyone guessed, I said, "Um. None. That would be gross." I remember Shelley McKee saying, "SARA FISH!! You are lying! Don't you have at least one spoiled thing in your fridge?" I said, "No, I really don't." Well, fast forward about 15 years. Life has changed. I prepare 6 dinners a week for 7 people (yes, Benaiah counts). That's 42 servings weekly if you are thinking in terms of a cafeteria (and Ross eats double). There are unknown objects in my fridge. Last week I found this one.
No, it is not blue play-doh, nor is it a base for a dried flower arrangement. It is a lonely piece of white sandwich bread which lost all of its friends somehow, got shoved behind a jar of something, and just gave up all hope on being noticed. So, Shelley, I must change my answer to...oh, about 4 probably.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Captivating Cappadocia Part V, the Final Post

This is to be the final Captivating Cappadocia post (you've been patient). I wanted to include a few pictures that I like. This was a tiny home we spotted on the way there. On the way back, Ross let me run through a wheat field to get a closer shot. I am guessing it is just a home for the farmer to stay in while in busy harvesting season. I loved the flag and the fireplace on the top porch.

I loved this door so much, it inspired me to begin taking photos of interesting doors to display as a set somewhere in our home.
An old cave home. We always try to find the keystone at the top of the arch.
Just the cute guy I married and one of our kids.
An amazing blue bug (beetle?) we spotted. Any entomologists read this blog?
A home built into old walls.
The owner of our pension. He liked Benaiah. One day he got really serious and kept pointing to Benaiah and saying, "This one, Pehlivan." I had no idea what he was telling me, only that he was very, very serious about it. I wrote the word down, then came home and looked it up on wikipedia. Go ahead. You'll laugh.
A very serious hiker.

Thanks for bearing with me. I've enjoyed sharing our experience with you.

Weekend Report and Something to Make You Laugh

I don't blog as much on weekends. Lots more warm little bodies around me then, I guess. But we had a super weekend! Ross and I went out on a date Friday night. It was especially nice because we've missed the last few. In what I call "Vintage Ross," he offered me his 2 closed fists when I got in the car, I chose the right hand, and he revealed the initials, "QC" which stood for "Quick China." That's how we picked the restaurant. Then when we got there, he took away my soy sauce bowl and filled it with 4 tiny pieces of paper with words on them. They all started with the same letter, and they were each topics for our discussion. That's the kind of stuff he did all the time when we dated.

I also did several things this weekend that I have wanted to do for a long time...things that get crowded out by housework and other demands. Annika and I began wallpapering and flooring her dollhouse. We made our own wallpaper paste (flour and water), and she learned how un-mathematical you really can be when hanging wallpaper. I'm a writer, not a mathematician.

Saturday night we watched the Wizard of Oz as a family. The girls had never seen it, but weren't nearly as scared as I was when I was a kid. I did enjoy it, but I was able to easily transport myself back to Ankara. Ross, on the other hand, pretty much stayed in Oz all weekend. If you ever want to know how the make-up artists quickly removed the Witch's makeup when her transporting fire accidentally burned her, or how Jed Clampett was 'supposed' to be the tin man, or why Dorothy wore ruby slippers instead of the original silver ones, just ask Ross. He's the walking Oz expert now.

Sunday I made a list with two headings (goals). One heading was "Things That Are Important To Me." Under that heading, I listed the 14 things that I want my children to do every day without me reminding them. The next heading was "Things That Are Important To Y'all." Under that heading, I listed the things I suspect my kids want from me: mom not being frustrated, mom not crying, mom not bugging me. Then I devised a plan by which both goals can be met. My kids do a lot of chores. They are super helpful and responsible. But I began to realize that many times they were waiting for me to TELL them to do those things. I've looked for a Chore Chart but never found one that was quite what I wanted. So, Ross made me a chart with 7 columns (one for each day of the week) and 56 lines (14 items per daughter, and 11 for Eva) spelling out what they need to do each day without me telling them. We still have our basic weekly helpers, where each week each girl has a job for the week: kitchen, lunches, trash, and pet; but this hopefully will help them remember without my voice. They bank points for privileges. I'll let ya know how it goes.

And finally, just something to make you laugh. Benaiah has a new trick to keep himself awake. As you can see in this video, it doesn't work very well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Captivating Cappadocia Part IV

I really am eventually going to run out of posts about Cappadocia, I promise. It is just an interesting place! Ross took the big girls on a hike the first day. They were given hiking names like "Trailblazer" and "Scout" and if anyone started to get whiny, they were dubbed "Sharpay" (from High School Musical). But really they are super travelers and super hikers. Wouldn't you love to come out to a front yard like this? Rocks upon which to climb, ancient trees from which to hang your clothes line, and a big hole in which to enter your home? Can't you see why George Lucas wanted to film Star Wars here?

The hikes there include scenery like this. Who used to live here long ago? Where did she fetch her water? Did her children used to climb those walls?

The hikes weren't grueling. We did take time to smell (and pick) the flowers.

When they came back that first day, they casually told me they had stopped at 'tea garden.' Hmmm, really? That's nice. What did I envision? I envisioned an outdoor terraced restaurant with tables, chairs, waiters, and hot tea. When Ross took all of us on a hike the next day, he asked if we wanted to stop at the tea garden they found. I said, "Oh, ok. Sure, a cup of tea would be nice." My mouth nearly fell to the floor when we came here...

This little old Turkish man evidently hikes out to the wilderness each day with his tea bags, sugar, cups, and cookies. When hikers need a break, he builds a fire, makes them tea, and chats with them. Then they pay him a little for the tea and go on their way. This man was fascinating. He used to be a tour guide and is now retired and opened his own tea garden. In the middle of nowhere!!! I was impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit. He told us he spoke five languages, and I heard him speak some of them to hikers. He asked me what we spoke, and I told him only English and a little Spanish and Turkish. He then spoke to me in Spanish, only that wasn't even one of the five! We sat on cushions under a lean-to (with a tarp over us in case of rain). We used sawed off 6 inch high log discs as our tea tables. He insisted the kids eat as many cookies as humanly possible, and of course, they were willing participants.

Before we left, the girls tried on the turbans he had made. As we finished the hike, all I could say was, "THAT was the tea garden?"

Keep Your Eye On Me

So, what do you think of my new background and family picture on here? Cute, huh? One of my goals for Spring Break was to get a family photo which included all of the following:
1. all 7 us, including the new boy (one faithful reader boycotted my blog until I got him in the picture)
2. some type of Turkey backdrop, since we do live here and there are so many interesting backdrops
3. one that didn't make me look like I just had a baby 6 months ago

I told Ross I wanted to have a family photo shoot and he complained. "Sara, it's vacation! I don't want to shave. I don't want to shower. I just want to wear my hat." He actually wrote a poem for us the first night with this theme. As soon as I get permission from him, I plan to post it here. Anyway, I assured him that I thought he looked better rugged than preppy anyway, and off we went to pose.

It is sure a good thing that I married Ross. He takes good pictures. He doesn't take many, but the ones he takes are really good. I am the one with the camera shooting photos all the time. If I didn't have Ross, I wouldn't have many good ones. If he didn't have me, he'd never remember to take pictures. So we make a good photography team I think.

Here is an example of why I should not take them.
I think Benaiah is the only one not affected by my placement of this photo right in the direct sunlight, and that is because he is too young to know he needs to not look into the sun. But I do have good intentions. I mean, what a cute wagon. What a cute idea. What a bad sun placement. So, Ross set us up in a couple different places with just the right placement of the sun in front of us but not too directly in our faces. Just the right amount of scenery. Just the right color (he suggested we leave Benaiah's snuggle suit on for color). Just the right pose where you can't see any residual maternal fat stores on my body. Perfect! But any of you who are around me very often know that I have a serious stress issue when anyone uses an automatic timer on a camera. I try hard to relax, but I end up saying, "Hurry!!! Hurry!!! It's blinking. Oh this is so stressful." or something like that. Some of the guys on staff know this about me and purposefully lolly-gag after they press the button. I just do not enjoy that process at all. But anyway, on to the point of this post. Every time Ross would press the automatic timer button and then stride to his spot, here is what Benaiah would do....
"Hi Dad."

It was all eyes on Ross. We finally got 1 where only 1 child was squinting and Benaiah had not turned around to see his Papa. But I think it is sort of cute. That little boy loves his Papa. I feed him 4 times a day, change nearly every diaper, make him homemade baby food, engage him in baby-play, kiss him from head-to-toe daily, but when Ross walks in the room, he can't take his eyes off him. I think he knows what a good dad he got!

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