Sunday, May 31, 2009

Always a good post from Ulus...

I've posted about Ulus's the old district in our city. On Saturday our family headed to Ulus to pick up end-of-the-year teacher gifts. After we finished our errands, Campbell Clansman loaded up the 4 youngest to head back home, and Firstborn and I stayed in Ulus. First stop, a bathroom. But we couldn't just use their bathroom, we had to buy something. So we had ice cold Cokes in a bottle. Why do they taste better in a bottle, she asked me? I guess because that's how I remember them as a kid.

We strolled hand-in-hand, browsing the unique shops and enjoying the unique people.

I kept snapping pictures, thinking of this blog post. Do you realize what these are? They're corsets. Corsets are alive and well in Ankara, Turkey.

Ulus is not a tourist trap. It's the real deal. So when I saw this man dressed like this, I realized he was just doing it because he wanted to. He was selling some kind of sticky Turkish dessert.

After finishing our last errand, Firstborn and I wound our way through markets to get back to the bus station. It wasn't the shortest route, but it was the most interesting. I took this picture, just because it is a lot of eggs!

This man sits on the side of the street with a scale. You can pay him 1TL (about 70 cents) to use his scale to see how much you weigh. I suppose there is a small population of mankind who might actually want to pay money to see the reality of their pounds/kilos in public, but I would not be in that category. I slipped behind a bus stop to snap this picture. He caught me. He yelled at me, "Sister, get over here and pay me to use my scale!" I grinned and walked away.

And after indulging ourselves in a 1TL fresh-squeezed orange juice, we found our bus and began our journey home. I did tell my daughter at one point, "Honey, I know you live in a weird place, far from both your country of birth and also your country of citizenship, but I really believe you are being enriched." That was right after the scale guy called me his sister.
Here's a clip of my cutie.

Humpty Dumpty

Apparently, Miss Middler didn't want her Grandad to feel alone. Last night, after being put to bed with medication for a sinus infection, she attempted to get out of her top bunk, unsuccessfully. I am not sure if she missed it due to being medicated and overly-sleepy or if it was as she says, "I forgot about the ladder." But she missed it all together. I heard a THUD, and I know without a doubt I was half-way up the stairs before she uttered her cry. She had hit her nose, which led to a massive nosebleed. I carried her downstairs and attempted to stop the bleeding. My Campbell clansman quickly left the bathroom and attempted to do whatever would not result in his passing out. He began to clean up the trail of blood (I suppose this was preferable to seeing it coming out of his daughter's nose). But it didn't work. He came back down, looking a shade of green...about like an under ripe avocado, I'd say. I told him to get his head down between his knees and just quit watching. After getting the blood to stop and clearing out the clotted blood, we had her lie down with an ice pack. Her little sis missed her roommate and came wandering down and said, "I sorry you have blood, Essie." We bedded her down in our room to keep an eye on her. She was pretty tough about the whole thing...this girl who somehow killed a front tooth without me knowing it and who also rode a stair safety gate down the stairs at age 1. Thankfully, unlike Humpty Dumpty, the King was able to put her back together again. She is much better this morning.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


The handsome guy in this photo, surrounded by all the beautiful women, is my father-in-law, who we call Grandad. I'll never forget the first time I was invited to the Campbell's home, I thought, "That's what Ross is going to look like in 30 years!" Many think Ross favors his mom most, but it's the Campbell eyes that link him to his dad, I think.

On Memorial Day, Grandad was up on a ladder, and it fell. He went face-first onto concrete. He has several gashes on his arm and a 'messed-up' midsection due to the fall. However, the worst consequence was the crushed vertebra. Right now the doctors are unsure what can be done.

Please pray for a full recovery.

We love you, Grandad! And we're bringing a new Campbell, complete with the Campbell eyes, to meet you for the first time and offer some of his own Get Well Soon wishes!

Friday, May 29, 2009

What a week!

This post will not be particularly clever or funny, but I would be remiss not to tell you all that has been going on with the Campbell clan. Last Friday, as you know, the older girls had their piano recital. Check. Then on Monday, Miss Middler had her Tae Kwon Do belt changing pre-test. Check. Monday afternoon Firstborn and The Tiptoe-er (2nd daughter) had a demonstration to show the parents what they have learned in their cheerleading club. Check.

Doesn't the little guy on the side look interested?
My girls were good strong bases, way to go!
Tuesday afternoon Tiptoe-er had her Tae Kwon Do belt changing pre-test. Check. Wednesday afternoon they had a clogging recital to show us the new dances they had learned. Check.

My favorite part about it was that their sweet teacher had clearly told them to smile more this time. I enjoyed the smiles, plastered though they were.

Thursday evening was the Secondary Music Concert. Our little Miss Middler was asked to be in it and we were so excited to see her perform with the big kids. She was part of a 5 person back up group, accompanying an 11th grader who sang "Lean On Me." However, she came home with fever, so we had to miss it.

It must seem we are in every conceivable club. This year there have been many offerings for their age group. It is so convenient because they just stay after school, then walk home when they are done. We are thankful for those teachers who offer time after a busy school day to enrich our girls.
The final event of the week is MY belt changing pre-test. Oh my, I am blocking and punching in my sleep. I'll admit I am nervous. I think it is because the last time I was in a sport that actually mattered if I won was 19 years ago. I've played on teams and inter murals, but it was more about having fun and laughing at our aches and pains to come the next day. This time, I am competing. Will I be a yellow belt? This afternoon I will prove I either have the skills to be a yellow belt or that I need more practice. I do know this. If they gave belts for motherhood, I'd be on my way to a black.
I close with a video. Adorable kids. I love them so much. My only comment is, "Hey, baldy up front. Sit down! Oh, I know that bald head."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Balcony Blessings

Have you ever put off something, just kept telling yourself you didn't have time? Then when you finally got to it, it took you no time at all and the rewards were immeasurable? That was me last week. We let our balconies go over the visits. Spring was creeping in, but I felt a little overwhelmed at keeping 5 kids moving and a husband happy and a house clean, so I ignored my balconies...week after week. Then I finally got that bee in my bonnet and did it. I assigned each kid one balcony to do with me. We scrubbed and we squeegeed. We planted and we plotted. It didn't take me more than 20 minutes per balcony. The next morning, we had a Turkish holiday off of school, so we had waffles for breakfast outside. It was wonderful. The birds sang. The breeze was cool. It all just tasted better. The Campbell Clansman said he felt like we got some extra rooms. I let the three big girls each "have" a balcony. They are watering their plants, reading their Bibles outside. It's been wonderful. Perhaps best of all, I found Campbell Clansman out there one day, just staring off in the distance at the sign for our school. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, "I have everything I've ever wanted. A good wife, 5 beautiful kids, and a school in Turkey." I am glad we tackled the balconies to give him a good spot to think that thought.
Phaselis the Great could not be happier. He keeps the birds away while we eat.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hopelessly in Love

Ok, readers, I am in over my head.
In love.
When I found out this little person was to be a boy, I was thrilled, but I'll admit the fleeting thought, (sigh), "I'll love being a mother of a son, but no more smocked dresses? No more frilly pink fancy panties? Boy clothes are just so boring." Then I resolved in my head, "You've had more than your share of dressing baby girls. 4 times. Move on to blue."

Seriously, when I go in a store, my body just migrates, unknowingly, to the girl section. Why would anyone even want to venture to all that blah blue/green/brown stuff?

Well all that has changed. Camouflage pj's. Tiny leather cowboy boots. Onesies that say, "Chicks dig my tractor." Like I said, I'm in over my head.

I put this little plaid tie on him yesterday, then his dark jeans, and shoes. And I just died.

I started taking pictures and I could not stop.

Then I heard Ross tell him, "Aye, laddie, you're wearin' the Stuart tartan. " And I just died all over again.
I finally had to stop. I was going to be late for church. I had more fun than should be allowed dolling my girls up. But with a few grays sprouting on my head, and realizing he's the last wee Campbell, I am lovin' this boy stuff.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Summer Serenade

Friday night the 3 Singapore Campbell girls performed in their piano recital, entitled Summer Serenade. To be honest, it was bittersweet. My dear friend of 13 years (we worked together in Singapore, then Turkey) has been their piano teacher now for 5 years. She is moving away this year. She will be sorely missed. It's the time of year for goodbyes, and this year will be a hard one. Here is Firstborn with Hannah-Lee at her very first piano recital 5 years ago.
Look who made it in town just in time for the recital. Heybet was given permission to leave her current residing city of Amasya for 1 week to visit her sister, who had her little baby on Saturday morning (got to see the precious little peanut Saturday and baby are both doing fine).
Esther played "Waltz Time." Ross and I have waltzed to the waltz's the girls play at home, we refrained at the concert.

Annika played a Spanish folk melody called "Maleguena." I reminded her to really punch it on the last notes, she did great.

Mary Erin has moved into classical music. She played "German Dance" by Beethoven. Let's just say there isn't much her mama can help her with at this point. She has exceeded my abilities.
And here is a tiny clip of Annika's piece...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


My blog post is lovingly dedicated to the letter E. I love the letter E. Think of how many words need the letter E. My grandmother's name started with E. Half of my daughters' names begin with E.

But today, E took on a new meaning for me. This week, as you know, I haven't blogged as much. I've been 'up at the school.' (I love to say, 'up at the school' as if we live out in the country. Really, though, the school is 'up.' It is up a hill. We call it our light set upon a hilltop.) A pediatrician from the US has come to serve our school children by giving them free health screenings. I have worked as his assistant. We have a lot of students, and we are screening them for eyes, ears, and scoliosis. I have enjoyed doing it...just interacting with the kids a little, trying to help it not be scary at all.

Today a quiet little Nigerian girl came in for her eye exam. I'd love to post a picture. She's beautiful. Beautiful dark skin, large chocolate brown eyes, braids. She's lovely.

She walked in, and began reading the letters on the chart. She could not read the E. You know, the E at the top of the chart. How could she have survived 9 years without being able to read the E? But now she knows she can't read the E, and that it is possible to get glasses and read that letter E.

She has 2 moms living in her home and many children. Some of the children are her siblings, some are the other mother's children. Perhaps she is overlooked. But if I have to take her and buy her the glasses myself, she is going to get them.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This will be perhaps my most random post yet. Just an hour or so ago, about 4:30am, I heard the call to prayer from our local mosque. (We are sleeping with the windows open now, so we hear it more.) Unfortunately, all the stray dogs heard it, too. They began a chorus of howling in unison. So, with my early morning rising will come a mix-match of ideas on this blog post.

The first oddity I discovered this week is just how ready Big Boy is to self-feed. I fed him his oatmeal and fruit, but it didn't seem to be enough. So I handed him a slice of bread. After a few minutes, I kept looking for the bread remains somewhere down in his chair/diaper/leg creases. But alas, it was gone. This will save me time, I won't have to pack a meal for him. There's not a restaurant in town that doesn't have some type of bread served with the meal. But just as it saves me time in the packing, there's all that 'bread goober' to clean up afterwards. I have to wipe a face, hands, in between chubby little fingers, under chin rolls, in leg creases. I even found some bread crumbs in his diaper that night. But you know what, on baby #5, I don't mind so much. I am old enough to realize I'll miss wiping out those bread crumbs soon.
Another oddity. I have begun to put shoes on Benaiah. I spent all winter explaining to my Turkish friend why he never wore shoes over his socks. Now that it is finally hot outside, he is wearing shoes.
The answer of course is that a good friend just gave me a pair of shoes for Big Boy. And they're cute. And they are the kind that make it easy to cram fat feet inside. So I put them on him.

Now you see the real reason for putting shoes on him. The strings are a toy. The strings serve as a pulley.
Another oddity: Want to know how old this romper is? 10. That's right. I was given a little money when I was pregnant the first time, 10 years ago. In case my eldest turned out to be a boy (she didn't!), I bought a couple of things. This romper was one. Then I saved it for #2, she wasn't either. Then I saved it for #3, she wasn't either. Then I saved it for #4, she wasn't either. I happened to find it the other day and laughed. Ok, it is an 18 month, but it fits my 8 month old, just in time for Spring and getting to see those sweet thighs. I tried to get his picture here, but there was dirt nearby. The dirt won.
An here is an odd intuition. The girls and I stopped for an ice cream after school. How does a baby who has never tried ice cream know how good it might be? Somehow he knew.
Here is an odd pose. I wanted a picture of this girl. She was all in purple, eating ice cream. But she was too concerned about the drip of the ice cream.
And now an odd comment. We are having health screenings at the school this week. When this one saw the doctor, she said, "I have 2 boogers." How did she know that was a medical issue?
And, in other news, I had a particularly rough day over the weekend. I didn't feel well (translation: I was in a bad mood.) so my girls planned a pedicure for me. They had job assignments. They brought me reading material and told me not to listen to them at all, just to escape in a book. I knew I had a bunch of girls for a reason.
This week I had planned to post a recipe with step-by-step photos of how to make Turkish Stuffed Eggplant.
I dutifully took photos of how to make it. Then I served the meal, planning to get my last photo of the finished product. I thought it would be more fun to have people in it. Big mistake. The food was devoured so fast, I never got it.
And my final oddity: Winter seemed to transition into summer with only a 3 day Spring. We are not complaining, though! We've scrubbed down our balconies. The girls decorated them with little chairs and tea tables and flowers in pots hanging off the railings. And the sun is shining brightly. So now, Big Boy needs a hat. I have basically concluded that a baby must wear a hat 12 months of the year here. Either it is too cold or too sunny. I tried one day to take him out without a hat. I really tried. Only 3 old ladies on the street asked me where his hat was. How does the poor boy ever have a chance of growing hair?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Extras on our date night

Normally Friday nights are reserved for date nights. This week we opted to have a family night. So, after my Tae Kwon Do class, we loaded the kids and a watermelon, swung by the local kebab place for some chicken, and headed to the park for a picnic. Soon after arriving, we noticed two little guys hanging out in the park. Actually, I shouldn't say 'hanging out,' they were actually pile-driving, wrestling, and chasing. It didn't take us long to figure them out. Decent clothes, but perhaps their only set? The slightly darker skin. The fact that they were totally unsupervised. The dirty faces and hands. I mentioned to Ross, "I think they must be either from a village or the gecekondus (shacks) or maybe even beggars." He agreed. It is hard for me to capture in photos why we thought that, but after living here a few years, it's easy to detect.

These guys clearly had a tight bond. Now I know 'boys are different,' (I've certainly heard that phrase a lot in the last 7 months), but this went beyond playful scuffling. EVERY chance they got, they tackled. They punched. They slapped the back of the other's head. They pile-drove. But they never stopped smiling, never tattled, for there was no one to whom to tattle. It was clear they were on their own.

We began our picnic, they began spying. Hiding behind trees and bushes, watching those blond girls speaking something-other-than-Turkish. So, then, I opened a can of Pringles and held some out to them. That's when I knew for sure. One walked right up and accepted them. Most well-to-do Turkish kids would politely put their hand on their heart (a gesture of thanks) and refuse them. It's just a matter of good manners. But these boys were either too hungry for that or were used to accepting hand outs.

Later we began playing Frisbee. They could not get enough of it. Wherever the Frisbee went, they darted, then tackled each other over who got it. Then they'd throw it back to the blonds. I asked if I could take their picture. That became a game. No photos. They'd see the camera, die laughing, and hide behind the nearest bush.

We had far too much bread with our chicken kebabs. I offered it to them. They snatched it and ran to hide and eat it. It was clear. They were hungry.

Ross finished eating and organized a Frisbee throwing game, teaching them how to play the non-tackle version of the game. I broke out the watermelon and had the girls take a piece to them. One of my girls said, "Did you see how much of it he ate? All that's left is white!"

Then it was time to go. Since Ross had been playing with them, he thought he might be able to get a picture for me. He walked up to them and stuck out both fists. They grinned and tapped one. Ahhh, a piece of candy. Then he said, "But I want a photo." One ran off shrieking in laughter and hiding. But one little guy said, "Ok, not him, but me. I want my picture taken." Adorable. I like a kid with some guts to not just do what his friends do. Of course, you know what happened. The other one couldn't be outdone. He wanted his picture made, too. And candy. Can you see why I persisted? They are adorable.

As we left, Eva gave them the rest of her 2nd piece of watermelon. They broke it in half and devoured it. Their names are Can (pronounced John) and Osman (Ohs-man).

You know, they never begged us until the end. But they didn't beg for our Frisbee. Nor our food. Nor our drinks. They begged us to come back tomorrow night. I told them not tomorrow, but maybe next week? They kept insisting, "Tomorrow. You come."

My girls asked a lot of questions. Why do they punch each other all the time? Why doesn't he cry when his buddy hurts him? Where are their parents? Why do the snatch the food without saying thank you? Why do they want us to come back so much? I told them the answer to all those questions is the same...they don't have a family to care for them like we do. It was a memorable time. I hope my kids are learning from things like this, because sometimes to live here, it breaks my heart. I know there are beggar kids in every country. I just want them to have Eternal Hope.

And while all this drama was going on, there sat my little chub.

Please don't laugh at his hat. The setting sun was intense. He is bald. He has no other hat to fit his head.

He enjoyed picking and eating grass. I wonder if I should have named him Billy.

Ya'll have a nice weekend.

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