Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day, part II

There's evidently a video of me floating around flying down the hill on a sled. I'll have to preview it and see if it is blog-worthy. Think I should post it?

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Friday, January 29, 2010

And he said...

No school! And made a lot of little people very happy. Of course, you knew I was going to say that. How could I set CC up to say no to those sweet faces staring out the window in yesterday's post? Interestingly, they had their coats, hats, mittens, snow pants, and boots on in about 4 mintues flat. Papa noted how quickly they got ready on a snow day. They were out the door by 7:15am. Five hours later (with NO warm up break in between) I told them they had to come home.

I love this one.

Just a few years ago, I took a similar picture. So much has changed, but not her eyes.

I know I am partial, but we have the best of the best at our school. These kids, from ages 4 to 14, all met up at "the hill" and hopped on sleds together.

About mid-way through, I walked over with some warm, dry gloves for my kiddos. I noted other moms standing and enjoying the children racing down the hill on sleds, then said, "What's the matter with ya'll? Let's go!" And then I proceeded to scream my head off all the way down.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

What It's Saying...

This picture says it all. It's dark outside, early morning hours. What they see, but you can't see, is snowfall. Perma-Baby is already dressed for school, for all I have to tell her is, "Get dressed, then you can eat breakfast." At that point, it only takes about 3 minutes. The other two are the hopefuls. Will we get to stay home? Will Papa call school off? We were all banned from the decision-making room. You'll just have to wait til tomorrow to see what he decided...

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Bad Dogs

Wednesday morning, most of us left the house for the brisk walk to school. Only CC remained behind, tying up his shoes, putting on his coat. As we walked down the street, we noticed a pack of wild dogs on the hill by our house. There were about 12-15 of them. Wild dogs are a problem here. They travel in packs and develop a pack mentality, much like wolves. I told Eva to keep up and stay near me, then I gave my meanest teacher look to those dogs. We went on, then CC called my cell phone and asked me to send one of the kids back, he had left his keys in the house. I just had that 'feeling' (from God) to watch my firstborn as she walked back. I handed her a stick and told her I'd wait until she got to our house before I made the turn down the next street. About a 1/2 minute later, I heard her screams. Those ol' dogs saw she was alone and came after her.
And then I was faced with the ol' "Which baby do you save?" syndrome, because I was holding B's stroller on a downhill slope in the street. I screamed for Essie to catch it, and when she got about 5 feet from it, I just let go, trusting she'd catch it. Then I took off down the street after my firstborn. She was not bitten, but they were growling/snarling and ready to bite. I became a She-Bear. CC came from the other direction. He was one mad Daddy Bear. Our neighbors are so sweet. They came out, they helped chase them off. A man even stopped his car to assist Essie holding the stroller in the street. CC says I gave those dogs quite an earful in English, something along the lines of, "You think you're gettin' my girl, you've got another thing comin'!" Or maybe I said, "Bring it on, Mama Bear is here." Whatever I said it got my adrenaline up for about 1/2 the day. I am not even sure what my 7th graders said or did for the first hour of class.
I realize I have many dog-lover readers. I love dogs, too. These are just not your ordinary pets. They are wild, hungry, pack-like dogs, and they seem to be getting more brazen. Firstborn is 5 ft. tall now, but they saw her alone and went after her.
When I got to school, I felt I didn't need that morning cup o' coffee after all. I was awake without it. But I did take a moment to thank God for watching over us once again.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Essie came home this week with this paper in her folder. I asked her what it was. She said, "A lot of the other kids in my class speak other languages. I told them I speak Singaporean. Then I decided to write some for them too." Strangely, this looks very Korean to me. But, she is a typical TCK (Third Culture Kid)...not wholly one, not wholly another, some type of in-between hybrid. I thought it was very cute that she claimed Singapore.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

My preschooler explains...

Tonight as I put her to bed, she said, "Mama, I don't go potty at school." I said, "You don't? Ever? You mean big potty?" She replied, "I don't ever go big potty at school because there you have to wipe yourself, and I never know if I need to wipe two times. So you know what I do? I just suck it right back up in my bottom."
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sittin' at the Captain's Table

I was born in the 70's and grew up in the 80's. If you are as old as me, you'll remember The Love Boat (tv show). I didn't watch regularly, and I now realize that when I did watch, the fact that unmarried people were actually traveling together on a cruise went totally over my head. One thing I do remember is that, on occasion, the Captain would ask certain guests to dine at his special table.

Well, Friday night, CC and I got to dine at the Captain's table. Friday night is our date night, but this week there was a high school band concert. CC suggested we just get an early dinner, then I could come home and he'd go on to the concert. Sounded good to me, for Friday is truly my Sabbath (not Sunday morning with 5 kids gettin' ready for church, only one of which has nary enough hair to comb). So, Friday night CC said he had a 'hankerin' for a kebab. (When he talks about food, more of his Southerness comes out, I think.) We headed back to Kepab 2000, the place at which we dined in December while our house was burning. When we walked in, the restaurant owner greeted us warmly, remembered us, wished all the kids had come as well, etc. I wish I'd taken my camera, but my words will have to provide the picture this time. There was no one in the restaurant. He insisted we eat at "his table." He was taking his dinner, served by his own cooks and waiters, right by the hearth with a cozy fire. We politely declined. He warmly insisted. Now this was a moment of cultural difference. In the West, we value privacy and space. And goodness, we were on our weekly date. We wanted to chat, to look deeply into each other's eyes, to listen to something other than what happens in Barbie's Diamond Castle movie....for just one night a week. But to this gentleman, his offer was the ultimate in Turkish hospitality. To refuse him would have been rude. So, we warmly accepted his offer and sat with him.

This old man is very hard of hearing and his Turkish is very country, so he is hard to understand. But we got enough of what he said to realize that he had told his waiters to bring us his own special meal. He was eating a buttery, spiced rice and a dish of taze fasulye (fresh beans), a hot dish made with green beans, spices, tomato, onion. He told us that it had been made in his home. We already realized that, for it did not appear on the menu. We also ordered a chicken kebab and cacik (a minty, cucumber-yogurt cold soup). In addition, they brought us hot bread out of the fire oven and a delicious tomato/cucumber salad doused with pomegranate dressing. The meal was divine. To finish it off, out came dessert (a variation of baklava) and hot tea.

You can imagine our surprise when he insisted that we not pay. He continued to say, "You sit at my table, this is my gift." I thought of the Captain and the Captain's table. Granted, this kind old man certainly wouldn't mind our business in ordering school lunches and perhaps that was his motive, but after a bit of protest, we graciously accepted his offer. His only condition? Next time bring the children.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Evidence of Single Parenting

On Wednesday nights, I go to a Bible study for women (actually...girls...but they graciously allow us to pretend to be one of them). Before I go, I make dinner and get it on the table, try to help the girls get all their homework and piano done, kiss everyone an early goodnight, then head out the door and leave CC in charge. He is super (SUPER!) when he is alone with them, but let's face it, we have 4 girls. So I ask when I get home, "How did it go? Who cried?" This week, he said, "No one, things went great." Then he did remember that Big Ben had made it all the way up the stairs (marble), but thankfully had not fallen down. He said a sheepish Perma-Baby had called out, "Uh oh. Uh oh." (evidently enticing him up, but then later repenting at the top).

But as I made my way back to the bedroom to get on pajamas, I found things like this...
And this...
Evidently, CC's attention had mostly been on the females. The boy had gotten everyone's toothbrush and sucked all the toothpaste remnants off of them. The girls refused to use them. (I admit, I have created germ-phobes after living in Singapore during the SARS virus outbreak.) Then I guess when the toothbrushes were taken away, he found nail polish. Somehow none of them broke. I'll bet that was fun.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Final and Weirdest Vacation Post

We are almost off the vacation blog topics! I apologize for stretching it so far, but I just had so many fun photos to share.

On our last day trip, after we drove across the very old bridge, we drove to a tiny remote village. We read in a guide book that they had some ruins to see. We tend toward the less visited, less advertised ruins. They seem to hold more adventure, in our opinion. Besides that, there's no entrance fee nor security guard to yell "Yasak!" (forbidden) as the kids climb on things. Well, adventure was an understatement in this case. I have debated just blogging the photos and giving you the rosy picture, but alas, the truth is always more interesting, even if it is disturbing. When we left there, for at least a half an hour on the way home, we kept saying, "Well, that was weird." and "Still can't believe that."

We came upon this little village set at the top of a mountain and at the end of a dirt road. As we drove in, a lady sat at the edge of the village yelling something at anyone who happened to walk (or drive) past her. We are still unsure what she was communicating. Our van was met by three ladies, who insisted we park right there. (We later realized we could have driven in further.) They immediately began greeting us, almost as if expecting us!, and telling us about their town. I quickly realized they were saying Turkish words I'd never heard. For my Turkish friends reading this, is it possible it was a dialect? So many seemed unfamiliar. Was it just the country accent? They asked about our kids. They told us about their kids. They were so very friendly. We took this picture with them. (I think Eva is doing "His Banner Over Lo-ve")

They began to walk with us through the town. I literally had my eyes and mouth wide open. Except for one trip to a remote place in Mexico (where there were tarantulas running in the bathhouses and chickens laying eggs on my duffel bag), I have NEVER been to a more remote place than this. We were told that this community is self-sustaining. It would have to be. It was so far up in the mountain and so remote, no one could have gone to a grocery store. No one had a car! The houses were all basic mud/stone structures. Several homes had some livestock. On we continued down this mud path to the 'ruins.' The ladies walked with us. One had a baby snoring on her back. They told us the town had one school, with 50 children and 1 teacher. I immediately began wondering how our school could somehow sponsor them. How might we haul our students up in that mountain to teach their kids English and to fix up their school? The ladies said the school only went to 5th grade. As we walked by the school, the children giggled and hid. I wondered when they had ever seen blond hair.

Then suddenly about half way to the ruins, the ladies all stopped. It was as if it had been rehearsed. They threw back their wraps and had piles of scarves, necklaces, bracelets, tablecloths. Ok, so I started to piece it together. Insisting we park at the entrance to the village so they could walk with us. The mounds of scarves covering their bodies (and wares). The timing of it all. I have to admit, I was disappointed. I wish I could tell you that we chatted over a cup of tea (we didn't). That we promised to visit again and bring school supplies (we didn't). That I gave them a copy of the Book in their language (I didn't have one with me.) That our children played in those fields for hours while we talked (they didn't). In fact, it only got worse.
They pulled out their wares and told me each piece cost 15 lira. I live here, I know the prices. They had tripled them. So, we hemmed and hawed. Then I said, "I am sorry. It is expensive. Don't you have anything for 5 lira?" They continued to push the items in my face. I kept looking at Campbell Clansman for help. He didn't know what to do. I am all for buying a trinket here and there to help these poor folks. But there were three of them, and everything was 15 lira. I just didn't want to spend 45 lira on things I neither wanted or needed. Finally she said, "I have some beaded bookmarks for 5 lira." Hurray! Problem solved. I told the 3 big girls to each pick out one bookmark for 5 lira each, then we could proceed on to the ruins. Well, only 2 ladies had an assortment of bookmarks. The three girls picked out bookmarks, we handed them 15 lira total. And then you will not believe what happened. They started fighting over the money. They never turned and said, "Goodbye." or "Enjoy the ruins." They just started yelling and fighting. I looked at CC and said, "Now's our chance, go!" and we moved away. (As it turns out, God redeemed my 5 lira bookmark purchase into something useful...they made great American Girl doll headbands!)

We were amazed as we walked through this village. All their milk came from their cows. All their meat came from their animals. They baked all their own bread. They carried their own water from a water source. It was amazing. We passed an old couple. They were spinning their own wool from their sheep. If you look closely down at this picture, a woman is carrying straw on her back.
We quickly realized one of the three women was following us. She led us to the ruins. Soon we had another woman following us, clearly an octogenarian. At one point, I wasn't sure I (holding Eva's hand) was going to make it up to the top. Watching an 80-something woman do it with ease was very motivating. We got to the top.
And this was what we saw...

This Roman amphitheater had remained until a big storm caused some of it to crumble in the 1940's. The old woman sat down once we reached the top, and then began hitting her eyes and telling me she couldn't see, that she needed money for doctors and hospitals. It is so hard to know what to do sometimes. I concluded, this time, to just comfort her and tell her, "I'm so sorry, auntie. I hope this problem passes soon." I really would not have missed the money, but I was concerned we would soon be swarmed. As it turned out, we were later swarmed anyway. We walked back through this poor little town and tried to get into our van. The school children began running up and asking for money. To the lady who followed us all the way up to the theater, we gave a little money. She suddenly felt embarrassed and begged me to buy her wares instead. We told her, "No, we insist. You provided a service to us. You helped us find the way to the top." So, in the end, all three ladies received something.
If I could paint the picture myself and re-write the day, I would have created a scenario where the 'town greeters' were genuine. We would have gone into their humble homes and had tea together. We would talk about our beliefs. I would have given them a Book. I would have planned a way to help their little school. But the world is not perfect, is it? In this imperfect world, we just looked like a big dollar sign. Nevertheless, I am glad we went, for that village I will always remember. I would even recommend it as a trip to a friend. I would, however, tell them to be ready for those ladies to flash what they had under those wraps!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, my little star

I am ALMOST done with vacation pictures! But I had to interrupt the normal sequence to share that today is my sweet little Esther's birthday! 8 years ago today, 1 day after my due date, Dr. Tan said, "We need to start your labor now, I have concerns." I said, "Sure, I am ready, whatever you think we should do." Then I proceeded to the labor ward and realized that it was January 18, my sweet mama's birthday. I teared up a little. The nurse came in and said, "It's ok, you are going to be ok. The baby is fine." I said, "I know. It's not the labor I am afraid of. I am just happy he/she will have my mom's birthday." And so, three hours later, our little "Star" (Esther) was born. She is an absolute joy to us in every way. I am so thankful for her pure heart and that she has given her life to Jesus.

Saturday, we took Esther and her siblings and three little friends ice skating. Campbell Clansman said, "Man, Sara, you were flying on the ice." Unfortunately my skating ability is due mostly to the fact that I viewed skating practice as far more crucial than piano practice when I was a kid.

Esther chose an American, a Korean, and a Dutch friend to take ice skating.
We found a pizza place at the mall and celebrated right there. We had a wonderful day. Happy Birthday, sweet Esther (and Mom!). We love you! (and a shout out to Karoline Keffer...happy birthday to a girl born on a very special day!)
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mountain Goats

We drove on past the bridge and headed to a remote village. As we drove the winding mountain path, we ran into this guy...
And this guy...

And these guys. Wild mountain goats. We watched them bound up those rocks like they had sticky-tack on their hooves. How do they do that?

It was a beautiful drive up. Little did we know what we would find when we got to the village...(more the day-after-tomorrow).

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

An old bridge, a raging river, and a slightly stressed mama

One day we drove (and drove and drove) out to a bridge which was built by the Romans 2000 years ago. Within the last 10 years, the Turkish Department of Transportation has reinforced it. But amazingly it is still there. It spans a gorge in the mountains. How in the world did they build it? I try to imagine them in their togas and sandals making a bridge that would last 2000 years.
Here are my girls sitting on the bridge. We actually drove across it. I said to Campbell Clansman, "Are you sure it is safe?" to which he had one of his witty replies...something along the lines of, "Sure, the Romans built it after as far as the Turkish road crews who repaired it...."

There was a massive storm the night before. The waves in the ocean seemed to double my husband's height. So the river at this place was swollen and raging. We walked down a winding path (with broken rails on either side...we call this land we live in the Plaintiff Lawyer's Dream). We got up to the river for this picture. Look closely, what in the world had I just said? I am imagining something like "Ok, take it quickly." or "Mary Erin, do NOT let go of your sister's hand." These are awful pictures of me, but they make me laugh. My face is a dead give-away. I was worried one of my babes was going to slip and fall into that raging, storm-provoked river.

Ha ha! Look at me!!!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

3 Amazing Things

I temporarily interrupt these vacation posts to tell you three amazing things.

Here they are...

1. I drove to the hospital to get some stitches out. I called in the morning to find out if I had skin cancer. Their answer? "We have no idea. We can't find your files." (Files? Aren't we using a computer?) "Come to the front desk. We'll sort it out." But this is not the amazing thing. I did get my stitches out, and since I am big girl now, I did not cry, though it did hurt. This is not the amazing thing either. I do not have skin cancer. For that I am thankful, and it is amazing, but it is not the amazing thing about which this post is dedicated. That was just background. So, here it is. I drove to the hospital and stopped at a red light. There were 4 lanes of traffic going the same direction as me. On the extreme right lane of the 4 lanes, a taxi wedged by (where there really wasn't a lane at all), then darted into the intersection in front of all of us stopped there, and threw his car into a U-turn, making the oncoming cars slam on their brakes. Now, here is the amazing one around me batted an eye.

2. About 15 seconds after this feat, the light turned yellow. Now, first I must explain that in this country the light turns yellow just before it turns green. It says in its own way, "GET READY TO RUMBLE!!! YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET TO THROW IT INTO FIRST AND FLY DOWN THE ROAD." You are technically not supposed to GO on yellow, but you are supposed to get all excited about almost being able to GO. So, anyway, the light turned yellow. A literal nanosecond after it turned yellow, all the cars behind me honked. I guess that was just in case I might have glanced down at a fingernail or something and missed the pre-warning yellow light telling me it is almost time to GO. So, the amazing thing to me (this is now #2) is that the illegal U-turn putting many people's lives in danger wasn't a biggie, but the potential 1/2 second someone might have had to wait in the event that I did not see the pre-warning yellow light DID evoke extreme emotion.

3. And the #3 amazing event is that when all that happened, I smiled. I think the manual said at some point, "It may take time, but you WILL eventually adjust to the host culture." I think I'm getting there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Out from behind the camera

Here's me.
Not taking the pictures this time.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mediterranean Sea: Fun Out of the Water

We searched for interesting rocks on the beach. (Later we had to decide if they were interesting enough to haul them back to our city in our backpacks.)
Further back on the beach, behind the rocks, there is very coarse rocky sand.
This provided much entertainment for the one girl who was not the slightest bit interested in being in cold water.
This one, on the other hand, stayed in the water til we made her leave.
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