Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Twas' the Night Before School Started...

It's been a busy week. Obviously, I haven't been blogging much. The kids and I landed 7 days ago. Since then, I, along with my children, have attempted to overcome jet lag with bravery, unpacked and sorted and stored the contents of our 11 enormous duffel bags, cleaned out closets to get them ready with school clothes, cleaned our house from top to bottom, slept each night until about 4am when our local drummer man comes banging to wake us up to prepare the middle of the night meal (that's another post itself), re-stocked our home with groceries, sorted out all problems with our school textbook deliveries this summer, met with each staff member about textbook issues, sat up with one child who had a stomach flu, and tried to keep a generally positive attitude about re adaptation to the culture, time zone, and changes that back-to-school times bring. We've been busy.

And so we've come to the night before school starts. And this little baby starts school for the first time. Didn't I just take this picture? How could this be 2 years ago?

She's ready. The other night her Papa wore an Ole Miss Law School t-shirt. I asked her to find the "E" since it is her first name's first letter. She found it, then proceeded to tell me all the letters on the t-shirt. She just turned 4, she'll be the youngest in her class, but I let her go because it is time.
Her Papa and I, without prior discussion with each other, gave her last minute quizzes on what to do. While taking her to the potty today, I asked her, "Now what will you do when you go potty at school?"
She thought, then said, "H-uuh..." (Wish you could actually hear it, it is a sort of Sherlock Holmes pondering...), "I'll call out, "Aaaallll Doooone!"
"No, honey, remember, you don't call 'All done.' for a teacher. They don't wipe."
"Oh yea, I'll wipe."
"And then what will you do?" No answer. I added, "You'll wash your..."
Later that night Campbell Clansman asked her what she was NOT going to do at school and she replied, "Huuuhhh, (thinking) ...bite... and ask my teacher to wipe me." Right. We've worked hard these 4 years and accomplished much, haven't we?
I also explained her lunch to her...main dish, salty, fruit, sweet, then I ventured to ask her which part of her lunch she would eat FIRST. "Oh, my sweet."
Just like that. My sweet.
I've tried.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jet Lag

We are in various stages of recovering from changing 8 times zones. This is Perma-Baby in Germany. She was too sound asleep to give her seat up for the elderly.
This is The Tiptoer waiting on the plane with tired eyes. (The plane didn't have tired eyes, she did.)
I planned to travel back home with the 5 kids myself (and with Big Ben in my lap). I know, I know...I've heard it, "What were you THINKING?!" But miraculously, after I purchased my tickets, God provided a helper to me. A recent high school graduate decided to come and volunteer at the school and with our family for a semester. She was able to get on my flight. She provided wonderful services for me...she pushed a stroller, she let me go in the restroom alone (otherwise just picture me in the handicapped stall with all 5 kids), she offered the empty seat next to her to the girls during the long 9 hour flight (which in turn gave me a seat for my chubby boy), she even told me when one of my kids was about to throw up and enabled us to make it to the airplane bathroom in time. I was so thankful!
I have to brag on my kids, they are just really good travelers. They did super. No tears, except one little 5 minute episode from my 10 month old boy on the very last flight. And that was after about 17 hours of travel.
On our long flight, we had personal tv screens, so we got to pick what to watch. The kids had so much fun pressing and un-pressing the overhead lights, playing video games via a touch screen, and watching all the cartoons programmed into the system. I didn't sleep. I never do. Do I think someone is going to kidnap my child and stow them away under the plane like that Jody Foster movie? Nah. But I still can't sleep until they are all safe and sound and bathed and changed out of airplane clothes and in their own beds. Then the sweet sleep comes.
We are getting over jet lag. In fact, this has been one of the easiest years I can remember. By the 3rd night, they all slept all night. It is supposed to take a person one day per time zone. So that should have put us sleeping all night and refreshed in the morning in 8 days. We do have some strategies that help. My sister in law has told me to write a book about world travel with kids. I don't think I could write an entire book, but perhaps a pamphlet. In the 'Jet Lag' section, I would suggest sunlight, lots of water, no naps, and some type of cheerful outdoor activity before bed. It really does work.
The whole theme of this post was going to be a photo I took of Big Ben...all chubby cheeked and snoozing in Firstborn's lap. I was just going to post the photo with one would say, "Jet Lag" because it was so adorably cute that he slumped down and couldn't stay awake. But of course, in order to post that photo, I'd need to get my camera, hook it up, download it, then upload it, then post it. And you know what? I'm a little sleepy from crossing those 8 time zones. Goodnight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How I Know I Am Back In Turkey

We're back! I feel I must finish blogging about the summer, and our flight home, but this was just too interesting to save for a later date. This is how I know I am back in Turkey. While in the US, I picked up a couple of sippy cups for Big Ben...something like this one below. Tonight Campbell Clansman offered to take us out for a sandwich to help us stay awake and fight the jet lag. He had a couple of things to pick up, also. I packed my new sippy cup. Thought I'd try it out on the babe and see how he did with it. This mall has a Subway and a Burger King. Though we had a Subway sandwich, for simplicity we walked over to the Burger King counter and ordered the kids' meals . After all, there are 4 kiddie meals from which to choose. Subway had 15, and making a complex decision when I am experiencing jet lag makes me even sleepier. Just as the gal handed me the meals, I said, in Turkish, "And may I please have some water...for the baby." (If you say 'for the baby' behind any sentence, you get whatever you want here.) She said, "Yes. Hot?" Now, why you may wonder, did she ask if I wanted hot water? Babies (and kids) don't drink cold water here. It isn't 'healthy.' So, I nodded, knowingly, "Of course. But how about medium?" (I don't know lukewarm in Turkish.) She said, "No. Only hot." I replied, "Ok, hot." So she filled the sippy cup with scalding hot water. Is that healthy for baby?

Then she very thoughtfully offered, "How about some ice?" "Hurray! Ice! Yes!" So the sippy cup became lukewarm after all.
Now, why, you wonder, didn't she have cold water to offer me? It goes beyond the fact that babies shouldn't drink it. They simply didn't have cold drinking water. They had hot water for hot tea only. As we sat down, I said to Campbell Clansman, "Can you imagine a Burger King in America saying, "We don't have cold water." Yes, I am back in Turkey!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lil' Lillypads

I am trying to stay in chronological order, so I am posting pictures of a little detour we made on our last trek back up to Middle Tennessee 3 weeks ago. But the truth is, summer is over. In less than 24 hours, my 5 little olive plants and I will board a plane back to the Middle East. It is hard to blog about what happened 2 weeks ago when I know the close of the summer is so near.
Three weeks ago, Campbell Clansman stopped at Shelby Farms to ride a horse with Firstborn. It was to be a surprise. However, the Boy Scouts did not plan it as as surprise. In fact, all 200 of them had planned ahead and reserved all the horses. So, Firstborn didn't get to ride. However, we walked around this big pond with big water lilies. I had to think of Annika's little friend in Turkey, Nilufer. Her name in Turkish means "waterlily."
It was a fun family detour, and aren't my pictures funny? The leaves were huge! I don't remember Monet painting them so big.
So now on to the timely post. Our time here is up. It is time to go home. Yesterday we took a last late Sunday afternoon swim. I called, "Time to get out." The girls said, "One more dive?" Of course. They won't swim again til our holiday in December at a hotel. And they won't swim in the sun again til Summer 2010. We drove home, with windows down, some funky Christian rock song cranked up, wet hair streaming, and smiles on faces. We sped up just before the big hill that makes us have butterflies in our stomachs, remembering and laughing about how their Papa always does that when he drives by there. This morning, we all went out and picked one more 'mess of beans' for Grandma. Tonight we'll eat new potatoes and green beans from the garden, and some bbq chicken. Then it will be time to zip the many bags and turn our faces to the East, where we are headed. It has been a wonderful summer. How many people can say they have 2 homes they love?
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bear Necessities

We have been so blessed this summer, while visiting the US, to stay in people's homes while they were out of town. We've had beautiful homes opened to us, and have gotten to know the tastes of some of these sweet families as a result. In one home, the man of the house clearly loved hunting. My sweet chubby-cheeked 4 year old was set to sleep in a room with a big deer head hanging on the wall. She had a few reservations. I suggested we cover him up with a blanket, she envisioned that (a spooky blanket with horns underneath?) and said, "No thanks." She settled in for the night, with a stiff upper lip and a determination to coexist with the deer. But then that night a horrendous rainstorm erupted. I heard the pitter patter as my own feet hit the floor. We met in the foyer, lightening flashing behind her frizzy nighttime hair, thunder crashing all around her. And just then, she glanced over to see this on the floor of the family's office. Of course, I had no camera, so my mind's eye will just have to take the snapshot for me. It was priceless. Enormous eyes, enormous cheeks. I said, "Are you scared?" She slowly nodded, never taking her eyes off the bear (a real one, shot in Canada) stretched out on the floor. I led her by the hand, put her in bed with her Papa, and soon she drifted off into a comfortable sleep, confident in her dad's ability to protect her from all that she feared. Meanwhile, replaced in the bed, I headed up to her bed, because what I fear most is not a deer on the wall, but facing the day with my 5 small children after a nighttime without sleep.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What are your favorite days of the year?

What are your favorite days of the year? Birthdays? Christmas? This year our final goodbye night in Memphis consisted of all of that rolled into one. Earlier in July, Perma-Baby had turned 4 (does that mean she is no longer Perma-Baby? When will I have to give her a new bloggy name? She hasn't started school...maybe I'll wait...). We kicked off our evening with a late birthday party for her. She had a yellow and white cake. That made "Yellow and White Birthday Cake" number 3 for her. She racked up this summer. But when you are 4 (or 40) the thrill of birthday cake never dies. Look at her face!
After a proper dinner and in improper amount of cake and ice cream, we went to the salon (that's "den" in Turkish...I am trying to get back into practice) for CHRISTMAS!!! That's right. The grandparents decided they wanted to see the kids open their gifts, so we had a Christmas gift exchange. My little girl was transformed into a real cheerleader.
And this was the expression on #3's face when she realized she was getting her very own, first American girl doll. I think she should try out for the musical Annie. "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow..." Now that song will be stuck in your head all day, you're welcome.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Uncle Sam

One of Campbell Clansman's good friends (who was also in our wedding) is named Sam. We tell our kids to call him Uncle Sam, just because it is so fun. This summer he and his wife and children drove up several hours from their hometown to see us.
We met for a delicious dinner and tried to squeeze as much conversation in as possible. The last time we saw Uncle Sam, he was only engaged to the lovely lady in green.
Firstborn found her niche. Uncle Sam remembers her as a one year old. Now she is ten and holding his one year old so he can eat his dinner.
Thanks for visiting us, Uncle Sam and family!
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Reunited and it feels so good...

This summer, as well as the past three, we've gotten to go to the Smith Family Reunion. We are part of the Smith family through Campbell Clansman's father's mother. Did I get that right, Grandad? I never got to meet her, but she is in heaven, so I will. This reunion is for all the first cousins and their families.
This is everyone at the 2009 reunion. Big Ben did not get the 'Youngest Member' award. He had 2 cousins beat him out. They didn't have a "Largest Baby Not Yet Crawling" Award.
Interestingly, this man is now my distant cousin through marriage. But when I was in the 6th grade, we lived one year in Jackson, TN. He sang in choir with my daddy that year and remembers him well. He also knew a really cool trick where he makes you think he is magically lifting your hand after you squeeze it really hard and the blood flow starts back. My kids did it about 23 times each, I think.
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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Fun

We're staying busy...swimming, playing, riding bikes, picking the garden.
But we're finding time to unwind too!
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Meeting Lydia Leigh

This summer I got to meet my newest niece Lydia Leigh. I may be the only one who calls her Lydia Leigh, but I love the sound of my namesake's name!
The oldest and youngest granddaughters.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rome in a Week

My kids were privileged to be part of a VBS this summer that was a church-wide re-enactment of Rome during the days of Paul's imprisonment there.
They sang and danced to songs with an ancient flare. The dressed in costumes. They visited Roman marketplaces. They made toys that might have been from those times.
And their Grandaddy even donned gear for the week and posed as a Roman named Agrippa, who worked in the city carpentry shop.
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I do not have a picture for today's post. If I had a scanner and could add pictures to reinforce the subject matter, this post would make you laugh hilariously. I decided during our 2 weeks without Campbell Clansman being in the USA, I would show my girls some of my memory books and old photo albums from the attic. They were so excited. Tonight I cracked open my college memories book. They were shocked. "Why are you sitting by that boy?"
"Well he was my date for that night."
"Why did Papa let you go on that date?"
"Well, Papa wasn't in my life then."
"But I thought you went to the same high school. This was in college."
"Well, Papa was just some dreamy older boy that I sort of remembered from high school. Our paths hadn't really crossed yet."
I think this is perhaps why many people destroy all their old dating photos. But if I told them once, I told them 15 times..."Papa is the best boy I ever had in my life and I would never, ever, ever have picked anyone else..." to which they replied, "Yea. Our Papa is best."

Amid those discussions, two comments emerged about old photos of me that caused me to laugh very hard. The first was from Perma-Baby (also known as Eva, the 4 year old)..."Mama, you look so new." Yes. I was new then.

And the other...from The Tiptoer (also known as Annika, my 8 year old), "Mama, I really really like your bushy hair then."

You have my permission to laugh. And maybe just maybe I'll find a scanner so you can see the big hair for yourself.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Big Ben has made a special buddy up here in Middle Tennessee. Rumor has it he's cashing in on the animal cracker mother lode.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tennessee Turkeys

As I drove my kids to swim lessons, I spotted these 4 turkeys. I quickly pulled over and grabbed my camera. My sweet niece, who has lived in the country most of her life, said, "Aunt Sara, why are you taking a picture of turkeys?" as if it was the most natural thing on earth to see a family of turkeys trot by our car. I replied simply, "Read my blog." which made her crack up. We never see turkeys in Turkey. In fact, we have to special order turkey from our butcher at Thanksgiving time. Not only have I seen turkeys here all summer, they came to visit Grandma's garden one day. This made Grandma mad. I ran out the door in my pajamas with the dog, grabbing an umbrella as I went. The dog caught their sent in the woods and took off in the wrong direction. I ran straight in the garden flapping the umbrella open and closed and making turkey-scaring noises all along the way. Now that would have been a much better turkey picture.
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Kizer Cousins

We are so blessed to have cousins for our kids on both sides. On our Campbell side, we have 3 cousins just the age of our kids. My 2 oldest girls have to 'share' their cousin, but Esther and Eva have a buddy all to themselves. Benaiah does not have a buddy his age, but I am hoping by the time he starts to grow up, all those big kids can babysit for me! Mary Erin has already promised him she'll drive him to the mall when she gets her license.

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