Saturday, October 31, 2009

And how could I forget....

Benaiah. At the party, he had his cake...

and ate it too.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Annika's Birthday

Thank you, commenters, for your encouraging notes to me. The last couple of days have been so much better. Here are a few pictures from the special birthday dinner for Annika. She chose manti as her birthday meal. It's sort of like ravioli with a yogurt and garlic-tomato sauce on top. It is delicious and one of Ankara's most famous manti houses is just down the street from us.
Annika was surprised when the lights went out and a cake came out!
She hopped up to give Turgut Bey a big hug. He is very special to us. He once had heart surgery, and we took him a card the kids made and visited him. He has saved it all this time.
The day ended so special for her and for all of us!
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should I blog this?

Well, this blog is generally, um, upbeat. It's about my wonderful life living in a foreign country, enjoying the similarities and differences of my host culture. It's about how I fall in love with my children all over again almost every day. Stuff like that. But sometimes I wonder, should I also tell the bad and ugly, as well as the good? This time I will.

About 5 years ago, while living here, I had a rough week or so. Many things had happened related to starting a school here, adjusting to a new harder country and having just come from the "Disney-land of Asia" (Singapore). There were disappointments, there were adjustments, but like a true Campbell Clan, we stuck together. We made it through.

Then something happened, unrelated to school, unrelated to my family, related to the possible rental of a little house on the edge of a valley which fell through, and I fell apart. This strong Southern woman (who was even in the play Steel Magnolias once!) fell apart. I cried for 4 days, and then through an act that only God could orchestrate, my heart was touched, and I began to heal. I am not going to label it a nervous breakdown, but crying for 4 days straight is not pretty for young children to watch, and it was a hard time.

This week I almost felt like I was on the verge of it again. One event happened that so angered me (yes, I'll call it anger, for it was) that it triggered a bunch of stuff inside of me that just spilled out. Later Campbell Clansman was recapping with me and sifting through the mess, and he pointed out some events that had led up to this one big event, which I might not have considered as part of the stress. Yes, they were certainly part of it. A school situation that has been time consuming and difficult. Suddenly being assigned to teach a 1 1/2 hour class each day, which I hadn't planned on doing this year. Benaiah falling down 16 marble steps this week (he was ok, but my heart wasn't.) The govt closing school for a week due to swine flu and homeschooling my kiddos (which has really been a bright spot, but just a change nevertheless). So all that was inside of me, but I just kept plugging away.

And then on our second day of homeschooling, we had finished our work and the girls asked if they could roller skate. I said, "Sure, let's call it PE!" :) They roller skate on the balcony of our second floor (our house is a 2 story apartment, with an outside strip for a balcony on our 2nd level). It makes a mild rolling noise, but less than if I vacuumed the house. A few minutes into the skating, two policemen showed up at my door. My downstairs neighbor (who is a very unhappy, disgruntled, bitter woman who screams at her kids nightly and ran the last tenant of this apartment off) had called the police on me....for rollerskating on my balcony. At one point, I almost pinched myself in disbelief.

There were two gentleman, one brawny soft-faced young man, and an older gentleman who was clearly in charge. They said the word we hear so often, "Yasak!" which means forbidden. About then Benaiah scooted up to the young policeman and patted his very shiny shoes. He began to soften. He picked up Benaiah and brought him to his face and kissed him. I said politely, "I have 5 children, school is closed, they need to play. My neighbor screams nightly, but I never bang at her, I never report her." At that point, the young man shrugged, and the old man said, (and this is where the meltdown began), "Don't listen to her. Let's go." I realized immediately he had taken one look at my blue foreign eyes and had discriminated against me. I was angry. Is this the way it is to be handled? Aren't you supposed to listen to both parties, then consult the law? How can he be serious when he tells me that there is a law against my kids rollerskating on my balcony? (My Turkish friends have since confirmed this is impossible.)

I then called my friend who speaks great Turkish. I took the phone to my neighbor and she told her for me...Sara has been a good neighbor, she's done everything you've asked her to do, this is unreasonable, etc. This lady is so angry at the world. Her house is spotless (and quiet!) but her family is miserable. Yes, there is a Proverb, "She tears down her house with her own hands." Lord, let it never be true of me.

And I just couldn't get back into Normal Sara mode. And it was Annika's birthday. And I felt horrible that I couldn't get a grip and that it would ruin her birthday. And I wondered if I would bounce back. And I called Campbell Clansman and said, "I want to go home."

That night we took Annika out for her birthday. I tried to convince her to ask for Quick China or something expensive and exotic, but she chose our local place...where we go every Saturday. She wanted manti, her favorite. We went early, 5:30. We told them she had chosen this place for her birthday. Soon, the other couple left, and we were the only ones in the restaurant. The girls finished (Annika ate a full bowl plus some!). They started out the door to play outside while we drank our tea, as they always do. Then all the lights went off, and out came a cake with sparklers supplied by these precious Turkish folks. And at that moment, God reminded me that I DO want to be here and I know why I am here and that not only do I love many people here, I even like them.

I won't say I have totally bounced back. But dinner that night, then a study meeting the next night on the sovereignty of God, and even writing this blog post, I believe, has started the process. Thanks for bearing with me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Carnival

Last Friday night was our school's fall carnival. It's such a nice idea. The older kids invent, gather the supplies for, and man games designed for little people. There's a bowling game, a bean bag toss, a bucket toss, etc. 2 lira (about US $1.50) buys you 20 tickets, more than enough to keep little people busy until it's time to head home to bed. We also have an international cafe. Campbell Clansman and I always go for the Asian stuff. This year, Annika and her little Turkish friend Nilufer tried a caramel apple for the very first time.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Recent Sightings

Recently Kit Kittredge (from the American Girl movie) was sighted here in Ankara.

Even stranger, we also saw one the the Littles...

Occasionally we have a school Dress Down Day to raise funds for various needs. We pay a lira and get to wear jeans. But this time, there was a theme, "Dress in Your Favorite Movie or Book Character." I had my costume all planned out, I was going to wear black boots, a long black skirt, a long-sleeved black shirt, a lace square over my head, and big red letter A on my chest. After all, I enjoyed reading The Scarlett Letter in high school, and our 12th graders are currently reading it. But Campbell Clansman said that HIS wife was not going to school dressed as Puritan Adulteress. Ok, he does have a point.

Oh, and a princess showed up, too.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Perma-Baby's Bob

This week as I took down Perma-Baby's braids, I noticed yet another thick strand of hair come out. It was clear her hair was not falling out, just breaking. Ever since she finally got hair, we put in little "cutie bugs" as Campbell Clansman says, or braids. Her hair is always pulled up, because it is cute, but also because it is thin.
So I went to her Papa and explained the situation, very very gently (for he is absolutely addicted to her little piggy tails and braids). I suggested we get a nice bob and quit pulling her hair up, giving it time to thicken and strengthen.

He agreed.

So here she is with her new look. She was happy to announce to all her classmates that she had the EXACT hair as her cousin Campbell. I think it is clear from this picture, her friends were a bit unclear on who that was.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Locks of Love

My second oldest daughter has had long hair since she finally got some hair around age 2 1/2. Just recently she decided it was time to have a short hairstyle for awhile. But since it was already so long, she decided to grow it until it hit the 10 inch mark, then send her ponytail in to Locks of Love, an organization that takes donated hair and makes wigs for children who have no hair due to medical reasons.
The gentleman who cut her hair was the very same guy who gave her the first haircut she ever had, at age 3. He felt very unsure about cutting off all her long hair. He kept asking us if we were sure. I had my Turkish friend explain in detail to him how it had to be done (in a ponytail holder and at least 10 inches long) and that she was sure.
I'll admit, I was all for this. I want my children to think of others, to give of themselves. But the gravity of it caught me by surprise. It actually broke my heart to watch her braid being cut off, even though I had supported her decision all along. But then just as quickly as that emotion came, I thought of the health of my kids, and how thankful I am for that. And how hard it would be if they were facing embarrassing things like hair loss. When I told her afterward the thoughts that ran through my head, she said, "Mama! I thought the exact same thing. It is sort of hard to see my hair being cut off, but just think how I'd feel if I had no hair. I want someone else to have my exact hair in the world!"
So, she did it! And we think she looks adorable.

Tomorrow's Topic: Perma-Baby gets a bob and why.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Teachers' Crafting Night a.k.a. People I Really Like

Our school holds an annual Christmas craft fair to raise extra funds for school needs. One more tradition that has begun is a night where the teachers come and craft to help us get ready for it. This year we had chili and cornbread for them. If there's one thing about a teacher, it's that they know how to follow directions and mass produce, so they were perfect for the job!

If I'm Lucy, this gal is my Ethel. Brenda has been one of my best friends since I moved to Turkey. Here she is solving a puzzle for me. I started making sets of blocks last Spring, got busy with life, then couldn't remember how I had planned them. It was a giant Rubic's Cube, all detached, and her mathematical mind was able to do it!
This is Pam. She leads a Bible study I attend. She and her husband have been a great encouragement to us. She is untangling silver spiders here.
Malka (left) is Firstborn's teacher, a precious Iranian-American believer. Stacey (right) was on loan to our sister school in Korea for a couple of years, but thank goodness we got her back. I am hoping Perma-Baby gets her in two years.
Jeannie is straight from Memphis, TN, what a small world, huh? She has serving hands and serving heart. The cute gal on the right is Missy, Benaiah's nanny!!! What would I have done this semester without her??
Jenna was Firstborn's 2nd grade teacher and is now our librarian. If I told you her last name (which I won't), you could google her and find out that she won just about every 4H competition in the state of Kansas!
Karen (left) is with us for one year. She has given her heart to a young man at our sister school in Afghanistan. We are glad he's letting us have her before they marry! Kari (right) is a ball of energy. Her joy is contagious. She'll be Firstborn's 6th grade teacher.
And these are just a few of the people I really care about here.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What I See

Big Ben and I get home from school around noon. We have our lunch together, then go out on the balcony to get some fresh air...
...and see what is below...(and try to eat a rock found on the balcony)...
A man has pulled his bulldozer off the road, left his door open, put down a piece of cardboard,
faced Mecca, and is saying his noonday prayers.

Across the street, the children at the Turkish school run, yell, kick, and enjoy the freedom of being outside.
That's what I see.
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Annika was assigned an eco-system to design. She chose a wetland. The instructions were that she had to do it ALL herself. Other than Papa's suggestion that she make it as 3D as possible, she thought, designed, and crafted it all herself. Her real problem was not that her parents wanted to do the project for her. Her biggest problem was that her oldest sister so badly wanted to do it too, she kept offering idea/toys/trinkets/help. Also, her youngest sibling (brother) wanted to eat many of the props. She resisted both of them and did a fine job all on her own.

I just want to name him Kermit. Don't you?

Oh yea. She had one more problem. Her papa incessantly tried to talk her into adding a Swamp Monster, insisting they exist and that it could not be a wetland without one. She resisted him, too.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wardrobe Malfunction

We were given this cute outfit for Big Ben. The top and pants sort of "connect" the zebra. I had saved this baby gift to put on him when he got bigger. So, Missy ( put it on him one morning last week. Sweet Missy, she tried to be diplomatic, but there was no other way to say it..."I simply couldn't get it over his head." Campbell Clansman and I started laughing. I said, "Are his cheeks too horizontal?" The other day when I was meeting a new church friend for the first time, she said, "Oh, now is your son the really big boy with the really round head that can't walk yet?" ha ha ha! Love it.
So, Missy put him in this other little t-shirt, one that I had put in his closet. It was Firstborn's (from her Aunt Christi), then Tiptoer's, then Miss Middler's, then Perma-Baby's. I thought this hand-me-down might be ok for a boy. It has blue. You know.
Campbell Clansman veto-ed it. He said, "No hearts. No 'LOVE' across his chest. Ok, must be a guy thing, but Big Ben seemed perfectly happy in it to me. Anything that doesn't squeeze the blood right out of his head is ok with him.
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