Friday, June 26, 2009

Re-styling during a Recession

Well, they say the US has a recession on their hands. Two of my middle girls seemed to find a way to turn some old things into something new and fresh. These were two of my mom's skirts, which became adorable halter-style dresses. That tie-up portion of the dress? That is the drawstring for the waist! Go ahead and copy their style if you can find a pretty skirt in your grandma's closet.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Safely Home

Our flight home went really well. Our first leg to Germany was on a new plane, barely full. We had the nice surprise of getting to say one last goodbye to one of our leaving teachers, who was on our flight. The flight to America was, well, long. 9 hours and 45 minutes. But my kids continually amaze me. They have it all down pat...the tray pull down when the cart is coming, the headphones and how to get music on (and which music they should NOT listen to!), and how to order any decaffeinated drink they want! Big Ben did not sleep as much as I anticipated, but he did great and made lots of friends all around us. Our flight out of Atlanta was delayed due to a storm. But about an hour after we anticipated being 'home', we were truly there....what I have waited for since his birth on September 26. Meeting the grandparents. We are eagerly waiting for his next grandparent meeting this weekend.

Here's a happy grandma with a severely jet-lagged baby.

And a happy grandaddy wearing his "Grandpa to the 11th power" t-shirt. Big Ben had one little casualty on the flight. Perma-Baby got a bit too excited and accidentally poked him in the eye, as you can see below.

And a happy Uncle, who is, I am sure, happy to have another boy around for his own boys.

Only in Nashville would there be rocking chairs in the airport! We're a long way from home! (Well, that other home, I mean.)

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Not a whole lot of fanfare here as we are in the midst of packing, but we did have a nice breakfast buffet this morning and eat on our balcony. The weather was perfect, and so is our Papa...almost!

Friday, June 19, 2009

By Trial and (Syntax) Error

(I thought about NOT uploading a picture for this blog post, but let's face it. My husband is way too handsome for me to write a blog post about him and neglect a perfect opportunity to showcase him.)

I would like to start with a disclaimer. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, Campbell Clansman and I know about computers is by trial and (syntax) error. We both did have computer classes, but they consisted of doing things like programming a cursor (there was no mouse) to follow the arrow keys and draw a turtle. I am serious. There was no email. There were no windows. There was no Internet. Just a black screen with green lines and words like "Go to." I remember using most of the computer class pondering why they chose the apple as opposed to another fruit for the name of all computers. If anyone out there remembers this, console me in the comment section. So. Having said that, I will proceed with the purpose of this post. My sweet sis-in-law gave us an itunes gift certificate. 18 months ago. It has been sitting near our computer for 18 months. But there is nothing like jetting out of your country of residence back to your country of origin to light a fire under you to do those things you need to do. It was time to use it. But how? And therein lies the problem. We had managed to put our cd's on our computer and load them on this wonderful IPOD we were given. I took a deep breath and did that in the winter with the help of the book "IPOD for dummies." But downloading songs from the itunes store? All by myself? It only took me 3 minutes to set up the account and figure out how to click the "buy it" button. Feel free to laugh, all you 20-somethings who read this. At least I know what a 45rpm is.
This is turning into a downward spiral.
My point is this. Campbell Clansman told me that if we get 20 songs free, don't just click click click. Analyze. Choose carefully. And he told me to save him a few. Firstborn and I had a BLAST! We chose all country (clean) and died laughing while dancing to Boot Scootin' Boogie. (I married a prep, but he knew what he was getting into. I warned him I was a country girl.)
When I clicked on "Recent Downloads" to see what he had chosen, I could only say, "Bless his sweet, sweet heart." We left him plenty of downloads left on the gift card, but he only downloaded one when it was his turn. And do you know what it was? Russ Taft, "Take My Hand." And do you know when I last heard that song? The night he proposed to me. He melts me, he really does.

Respite for the Weary

I have no photo, I so wish I did. The last several days have been...well, hectic. We are flying out on Sunday evening, a mere 4 days after graduation. That is minimal for a school administrator. We will get it all done, packed, sealed, and shut down. But these past few days have been exhausting. Campbell Clansman is working on the school front; I am tackling the home front. 5 kids to pack ("Does your swimsuit still fit from last year?!" times 4), a cat for which to ensure the proper care and handling of all summer (complete with marks on our calender of how long a bag of cat food will stretch so we know how much to leave for him), laundry thrown in the wash the minute it is shed (so we'll have it in the suitcase in time), strange food combinations for mealtimes so we will finish what's in the fridge... and on and on. So much to do.

So when my sweet little Kazakhstani friend called and asked me to dine with her tonight, I wasn't so sure. Time, I need more time. But my heart is full of love for her and I want to encourage her in her new walk, so I said, "Sure. What time?"

We met tonight, on a breezy deck. We had steak wraps. They were delicious. We caught up, we wished one another a good summer. At the end of our meal, she insisted we have some Turkish tea. Rather than the normal teacup with 2 little lumps of sugar, out came a rectangular plate. On it was the teacup, the spoon, a mini vase with a single wildflower, a homemade cookie, and 2 drops of freshly spun hard candy. And it was free. The tea presentation was symbolic of the breath of fresh air I needed. I'm so glad I went.

I left this house worn out, hardly able to answer a question, let alone the hundreds of questions my children were asking me about our flight/what time they get to wake up in the middle of the night/what should be packed in each carry on. I returned well fed, refreshed, and enriched from time with a friend. Sometimes, I think, when we think we need to do something the least, we need to do it the most.

And now, I am off to bed. I'll finish the packing later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just a great picture

Isn't this cute? China did a lot of babysitting for us this year, especially after Heybet moved to another city in Turkey. She was super. She especially fell for this little guy. She had a special request that he wear his tie to her graduation. I also put him in a white button down and white pants. Ross explained to me, preppy guy that he is, that white pants and a white shirt don't "go." He let it pass last night, but I am sure this summer we'll pick him up a French blue button down and butter cream yellow tie to make those white trousers work better. Ross also said "no clip ons for my son." I asked him how the poor boy would ever wear a tie then, as I haven't a clue how to tie a tie. The answer lies in the new 'elastic tie.' That's right, just slip it around his neck, through his collar, and adjust the elastic to the right tension. He looked smashing, white trousers and all.

Shocking Realization

One nice thing about where I live (Can you tell I am homesick for America, and hence, making a concerted effort to continue to list all the good things about being here?), is that I can send Firstborn to walk alone to the grocery store for me, about a 10 minute walk from our house. I sent her with a list of 3 things: cucumbers, tomatoes, and diapers. We are steadily eating up all the food in our house, and I am not buying more before we leave. However, we have nothing green or healthy. So I thought a nice Turkish salad would be nice tonight. I also noted we will not make it to Nashville without more diapers.

I did send my phone in case of an emergency. The phone rang, and she said, "Mom!!!! Did you know diapers are 23 lira?!" Yes, I did know. 5 expensive bottoms, I've had.


We are anticipating many things these days. The kids are anticipating the plane ride (something I have always considered a gift straight from God...that my kids can't wait to board an airplane for 24 hours). We are all anticipating seeing grandparents and cousins and our home country. Firstborn is anticipating camp for the first time. Perma-Baby is (surprisingly) anticipating swim lessons. But the best anticipation this week by far was this...

Yes, that picture was posed. However, 15 seconds before it was taken, that is exactly what I saw...unposed. I had called the Campbell Clansman to see if he needed me to make him lunch. He replied that he already had ordered a pizza with his staff. So I casually remarked, "Ok, no fried bologna sandwich for you..." He must have told the girls on their walk home that they were getting this for lunch. They ran in, hung their backpacks, washed their hands, then thanked God for their lunch with their sandwiches as close to their mouths as possible.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

At the Finish Line

Today is the last day of school. Graduation is tonight. We'll send off 7 proud graduates, ready to make their way in the adult world. My own little ones are finishing the school year, too.

Miss Middler at the start...
...and finish of 1st grade.
The Tiptoe-er at the start....
...and finish of 2nd grade.
Firstborn at the start...
...and finish of 4th grade.
Well done, girls! I'm proud of you for working hard in school, being a good friend to those around you, and seeking to show Christ in your life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tea Party Take II

Today I had the privilege of hosting our Senior girls, their mamas, and any visiting relatives for a Tea. We have some great girls. I have every confidence they are going to continue walking with the Lord.
My menu was varied: fresh fruit, chips with a spinach dip, strawberry cream pie, Aunt Nina Belle's chocolate chip pound cake, crescent rolls, chili crab dip (thanks, Katie Warren!), strawberry banana punch, and of course (what Turkish party would be complete without...) TEA!
Some of these girls I've known all 6 years we've been here. They grew up fast.
I shared a tiny bit about each one and what they have meant to me. Then I told them that I had the tea in honor of the visiting grandmas. Three grandmas have been able to fly in for the event.

Benaiah slept through most of the ladies' tea, but woke up at the end just in time to be requested for this family photo.

I'll miss you, girls! Wouldn't mind my own growing up to be like any of you!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tea Party

In Turkey, tea parties aren't just where you dress up your teddy bears and sip pretend tea in little cups, they are REAL! My neighbor invited me to a tea party on her terrace. Wanting to embrace every good opportunity like that, I went. It was a rainy afternoon, but her terrace is partially enclosed. She had invited many of our neighbors. As soon as I entered, they all said, "But where's the baby?!" He was napping with Firstborn keeping an eye on him. After we had tea, homemade börek, watermelon, a cucumbers/tomatoes/olives/cheese plate, my girls starting coming over. They ate, then went to play hide and seek with the other children.

We had a nice visit. We discussed the unruly wild dogs running through our streets (and subtly hinted that since my neighbor's husband is the Mayor, he could deal with the problem). We discussed the weather. We discussed allergies. We discussed children and their bedtimes. We discussed what they want me to bring them from the US. We discussed what America looks like in Tennessee. We discussed the green card lottery one lady's daughter won, and how she didn't want her to go because she'd miss her. As I proceeded up the steps to her terrace, I breathed a prayer, "Lord, help me. Help my Turkish." He answered with this sweet lady who had lived in America for a short time. We used some English, some Turkish, and basically were able to communicate for all to understand. Her daughter's name is Ece, which means "Queen." I told her my daughter was named for a Queen in the Bible.
After awhile, I told them I'd go wake the baby and bring him. They had so much fun pinching his cheeks and thighs, making him smile, and feeding him foods.

Then they told me, "Başka bebek yap." You must make another baby! ha! And this from women who say more than one child is too difficult! I told them I was finished with number 4, that number 5 was bonus. "En son bebek!" (The last baby!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Bologna Has a First Name

I have a sweet friend who occasionally gets me treats from the US Base. She asked if I ever wanted anything specific from the clearance/day old rack, to let her know. I said, "anything and everything." This week she got me bologna. I was so excited, it had been so long since I'd even seen it. I said, "Girls! Guess What! We got some bologna!" Silence. Stares. One said, "Maybe I had that once before, I don't remember." Blink. Blink. "Girls! It's lunch meat! And not just that, it's lunch meat that I used to eat when I was a kid!" Then I thought about reading the ingredients to them, but since the first one was "mechanically separated chicken" I thought not. Anyway, today I made them bologna sandwiches for lunch, not just to feed them but to educate them on this important part of American culture. They were so excited. But I didn't just make them plain 'ol bologna sandwiches, I made them JUST like I used to eat them.
One side with ketchup smiley faces.
One side with mustard frowny faces.
My Aunt Ethel made them like this for me every single day. I have absolutely no idea why. My guess is that I came up with the idea, begged her, and so she did it. I loved her. And I also love memories from those happy times.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Field Trip to Anitkabir

Today I had the privilege of being a 'driver' and 'helper' for Firstborn's field trip. Since our sweet Heybet is back in town, at least for awhile, she came and stayed with the little ones and my eldest got me all to herself. Her class has been studying Turkish culture and history as their Social Studies subject. She has learned so much. You really don't want to get her started on the Hittites unless you have a few hours to spare.

Today we went to the Anitkabir, which is the memorial place for Attaturk, who is considered the Father of Modern Turkey. He did much to help this country. He prevented it from being carved up and divided among other countries. He also helped it to be established as a secular country, which is why I can now live here without a head covering and can read Turkish words with a familiar alphabet.
At one point there was fanfare, and we were told to wait to go in the next exhibit for 15 minutes. As it turns out, our beloved country Singapore was honoring Attaturk with a wreath at his tomb. Firstborn was born in Singapore. It's hard to explain this feeling I get sometimes, but I think God just wants to remind us that He was with us then, and He is with us now.

These giant women statues represent women who are grieving for the death of Attaturk. The little women below are imitating them.

I really think if I had taken Big Ben, I could have gotten the guard to smile. He was very tough to break.
We got to see Attaturk's cars and boats, and even his preserved dog.
These guys look like toys Big Ben lined up, but they are real.
The 4th grade class of Oasis with Mrs. Park.

I was able to catch a guard change on video.

Perhaps the most special part of the day for me was to meet some students from a deaf school. As soon as they saw us, they all began doing a motion under their chins. I had to know what it meant. "Foreigner." was my guess. Later the teacher and I spoke. He asked about our students and where they were from. He told me about his students. He said that motion was "European." They assumed we were from Europe. The kids were just precious. One kept asking me for my watch. I thought he wanted to know the time, no he wanted my watch! The teacher and I talked for quite a while, and he had to tell everyone there I have 5 kids. Then everyone had a good laugh at their shocked reaction...over and over and over. In the end, I asked to take their photo (which I accidentally took as a video) and gave him my card. He said he'd love for our schools to somehow link. As my friend wisely said, "Every positive interaction with us is good." Indeed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

If I Only Had a Brain!

My first conscious thought after having my first baby was, "I'd give my life for her." I still feel the same way. These 5 punkins have stolen my heart like I never thought imaginable. Having said that, I proceed to say that one very small consequence to carrying these babies is that they have taken a toll on my right leg. I need to get it fixed and am hoping to do so this summer.

Part of the process of "gettin' it fixed" is to submit paperwork, signed statements, ultrasounds, and photos to a doctor, who in turn submits them to my insurance company.

So last night I photographed my 'bad' leg. Then I downloaded (or is it uploaded?) them to my computer. Then I needed to prepare an email with the attached photos to send to the gal in the doctor's office who handles all this.

Just as I got them ready to send, a little box floated across my screen. The box was from smilebox, an email greeting card company. It had picked up my 'new photos' and had a message for me..."New photos have arrived! Why not send a greeting card?" Before I knew it, my bad leg was floating across the screen in a greeting card. My computer needs a brain.

I decided not to send it to you. You're welcome.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Cherries are in season!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

End-of-the-year banquet

The end-of-the-year banquet is a highlight of the entire year. It's a time to splurge (on the school's credit card) on a delicious meal, a small installment for some dear underpaid, overworked folks. It's a time to recap what God has shown us. It's a time to tell others, especially those leaving, how much they've meant to you. This year we ate at Quick China. I had ginger crispy fish and some steamed shrimp dumplings. (I still miss Singapore and suppose I always will!)
Our original crew of 6 is dwindling to just 4 of us after this year. We welcome the new folks, thankful for their sacrifice to come. We also cling to those with whom we have a history. They have become family.
Our Turkish caretaker loves Texas, can you tell?
We've got such a dedicated group of teachers.
Ross did a great job leading the meeting, in spite of running fever for several days. I think the hardest part was not that he felt ill, but that he had to say goodbye to the Lawrences.

Tonight was just one more installment in the finish of the 2008-2009 school year.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thoughts on Summer Time

I am thinking about summer time. We fly 'home' for the summer in 18 days. There are many summer time thoughts buzzing in my head (which is why I am blogging at 11pm).
Here are a few...
a time to say goodbyes, some of them permanent...
..and others just for the summer.
A time to see grandparents...
...and for one grandson, to meet them for the very first time.
A time to see old friends.
A time to dig in attics and see what you find.
A time to deepen a tan and wear a 4th of July t-shirt in a free country.
A time to swim, relax, let little ones fall asleep on me after a hard day's play.
A time to see cousins...the best of friends in my kids' minds.

And, yes, even a time to grieve what has changed since last summer.
But in all of this, I thank God for summer. It is the time I remember anew how much I love those I love, and how much they love me.

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