Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Day for Oasis

The first day at Oasis is dictated by tradition. We always do the same thing, and it never fails to make me proud, overwhelmed (with gratitude), and hopeful all at the same time.

All the teachers are on duty. We stand outside and all over, greeting kids and parents, introducing them to their teachers, welcoming them as warmly as we can. Then we all pile into the canteen (cafeteria). We have grown from 70 students to over 250 now. But still CC wanted us all in the canteen. He said he likes us to squish together on the first day. I tried out my new camera's panorama setting and got almost everybody in this picture, except for the little people sitting on the floor down front.

After CC welcomes everyone and introduces their teachers (to much fanfare and cheering), we take a 'Gratitude Walk' around our campus and through the park behind the school. Many of us spend that time thanking Him for all he has done for us these years. A student is chosen to carry our Oasis flag. And this year, CC asked another student to carry the Turkish flag as well. He couldn't have chosen better. These two seniors have been with us since the year we homeschooled and waited for our school to officially open.

In this picture alone, the students represent America, Korea, Israel, France, and Ethiopia.

And this was the very first year that we were big enough to stretch all the way around. As the Senior class re-entered the gates, the Pre K class was beginning their walk.

We have so much to be thankful for!

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Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day for Campbells 2010

Oh my goodness, it's that time of year. Why is it that the older I get, the sooner these photos sessions seem to creep up on me?
Miss Middler starts third grade. Wasn't I just a single third grade teacher dating CC? How can we have a third grader?
Twinkle Toes is heading into fourth grade. She's growing up. CC, wasn't it just yesterday she was a three year old, hiding in the laundry hamper at bedtime?
And this just about makes my heart stop. My Firstborn is heading into sixth grade. The oldest of the elementary. Bangs. Braces. Earrings. Pure Middle School cuteness.
This little baby is heading into K5. I asked her, "Why would you want to go into Kindergarten? Don't you just want to be that little baby sitting at the front desk eating olives and cheese and greeting students as they walk in?" She's decided now that she is 5, she doesn't need any help making her bed. Alas, it's happening. Life moves on.
Here's to a great year, girls! I'm proud of the Campbell girls!
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Summer Nights

It generally takes about a day per time zone to get over jetlag. (Jetlag is the feeling that you have taken NoDoze all night and Nyquil all day.) But the Campbell Clanswoman and Clanskids feel we've perfected it (not mastered it). It takes us about five days to get over it, rather than the usual eight. It involves lots of sunlight, fluids, and activity during the day, and drugs at night. We were just approaching the end of our jetlag and CC suggested we take a family walk. It happened to be just before the start of school and was a great way to end the summer break.

In this photo, CC is telling me I should take more shots of people not posing and smiling. Looks like I took his advice. (See Big Ben? That is the exact look he gave me just after the pediatric nurses suctioned his nose and put him in my arms for the first time.)
Yum. I've missed CC.
The Middlers chose to roller skate/blade. Can you see Miss Middler's bloody knees? She didn't care.
And Sweet Cheeks found a flower so pretty, I thought it was fake!

Next up: first day of school.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Welcome Home Gift

Our Turkish school cleaners made CC a meal while we were gone. They also brought over this enormous two-and-a-half gallon jar of homemade goat cheese floating in water.
I'll admit, I was a little scared of it at first. Goodness, it has to be turned sideways just to fit in my fridge. I did taste it. S.T.R.O.N.G. But then after about a week, I decided I could no longer pretend this floating goat cheese was not taking up 1/3 of my fridge. I would need to deal with it. I mean, how much would this amount of feta cheese cost back in America?! So, finally, I took out one block and put it in water all day long. That strained off some of the S.T.R.O.N.G. flavor as well as some of the salt. That evening, I sliced it into squares and put it with fresh, ripe tomatoes as a side dish. Big Ben inhaled it. I kept saying, "Chew the first piece before you eat another!" So, our usage of the floating goat cheese has begun. Nothing like an enormous jar of cheese to say, "Welcome back!"
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Friday, August 27, 2010

We'll Miss You, Little Doggie

We'll miss you, little Obie. (Or as Big Ben calls you, "Uh-Boe.") Rest in Peace.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back Home

No pictures today. Just thoughts.

Our flight home was very do-able. I flew with my five children...alone. And all the while, I just kept thinking, "We are really surviving this. We really are."

When we came to check in to the airport, my sweet mom and dad were parking the cars, handing the porter money for me, bringing little people inside for me. I walked up to the counter with my two oldest girls. There was NO ONE in line. The agent asked me how much time I had before my flight. I replied, "Two hours." She then said, "Then check yourself in." and directed me to the self-check-in kiosk. I wanted to say, "But CC isn't here. He always does all this." But I didn't.

So I began pressing numbers. I'm a US citizen. I'm a female, etc. etc. Then I had to swipe our passports. But the kiosk wasn't reading them properly. So it began asking me to type in passport numbers, expiration dates, birthdates, etc. for all six of us. Thank goodness, Big Ben hadn't yet made it in to the airport, or we may have all been hearing, 'butt! butt!' (his word for 'button'). I finally finished giving it all the information it wanted and turned back to the agent. By then all the bags were there. The humble African-American porter had made my day with his thankfulness for the tip and his well wishes as we head back on to the field. He said, "See you next summer!" I hope so. He was so nice.

I put the first duffle bag on the scale. At that point, the agent became, well, mean. She said, "It's hanging off the scale, I can't get an accurate read. You are going to have to stand it upright." The scale read 48 lbs. with an inch or two hanging off the scale. So, we propped it upright. Which of course made the bag lean into the walls surrounding the scale. Which of course made the weight drop to 37 lbs. (I smiled on the inside.) She rolled her eyes and said, "OH just FORGET it!" It was then that she realized my duffles don't have wheels. She said, "And how exactly am I supposed to lift these onto the belt with no wheels?!" I didn't say it, but in my head I said, "The same way I lifted them all onto my daddy's truck this morning." Her irritable disposition much so, that she forgot to charge me for all the extra bags I was transporting for the school. And so, once again, I smiled on the inside, and this time, on the outside too.

We gave our hugs, bid my folks goodbye. I haven't yet, in 13 years, done it without tears. I'm not sure I ever will. Miss Middler, with a sense of humor very much like my mom's, said, "Grandma, curl up in here in my backpack. I think you can fit." And with that, we were off to begin our 20 hour journey.

From that point on, we had the. nicest. airline. staff. ever. They bragged on my kids. They did all they could to make life easier, including dimming the light for me (without me asking) in the back food-service area when I was rocking Big Ben to sleep. (Try rocking a 32 lb. sack of potatoes sometime.) My kids are just really good travelors. Of course after missing a night of sleep, they can begin to melt a little more easily. But they did super. Our longest flight, the 8 hour one, wasn't full, so we scoped out the extra seats near us, and as soon as the seatbelt light went off, we claimed an extra seat near each of us.

As we flew into Turkey, I began to see the minerets. I wondered, "Lord, am I ready for this?" We entered the airport and proceeded to the Turkish police officer. He checked each residence permit and passport, calling out each name, then peering over the counter and winking at each kid. And then we came through and I heard, "I see Papa! I see Papa!" CC was not allowed into baggage claim, but after about 10 minutes he appeared. As I kissed him, I said, "They let you in?" He said, "Well, no." Sheepish smile. Sometimes it's fun to live in a country where you can break an occasional law or two. My girls threw their arms around him. Big Ben stared him down for about 10 seconds, then a big grin broke on his face and he yelled, "Papa!" with that raspy "p" sound he always makes.

We boarded the mini-bus CC had hired to help us get home with all the bags. No air conditioning. No seat belts. Bumps and potholes all the way home. And suddenly everything felt just perfect. We're home. Yes, I think I am ready for this.

Thank you to all who made our summer wonderful. We both appreciate the respite and are glad to be back all at the same time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Perfect Ending to the Summer

And the most perfect ending to our time in America was the baptism service we got to witness (and cheer for) as we left the lake.
God bless America!
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Final Fun Part III

We had just enough time before our Monday flight to squeeze in one more lake weekend. Warm weather, water splashes, cousin time, rock-solid sleep. It was a perfect goodbye weekend.

Don't let this face fool you...he's not always sweet!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Final Fun Part II

My dad and I took the big girls to the Nashville Science Museum. It was GREAT! All day they kept commenting on how much their Papa would love it. We plan to take him one of these days.

On this interactive google map we were able to find our home city in Turkey!
And then there was the simulated anti-gravity space walk. Putting any weight on your legs meant getting zipped up toward the ceiling.
The girls also got to pretend to man a space shuttle in their anti-gravity challenge.
And never let it be said that I wasn't a fun mom. Yes, that's me hanging in that harness with the flip flops.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Final Fun Part I

We ended our time in America with a whole bunch of fun. We played hard each day and slept hard each night, all the while missing CC and getting more and more ready to go home to him. We went out to Nonie's house (the cousins' other grandma) for one last swim.

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Family Picture Time

We didn't get a family picture made before CC left, so we decided to just let it be grand kids and grandparents this year. For some reason, a monkey also appeared in one of them.
Then I suggested to my brother and sis-in-law that they let me take a family photo of them. Doesn't she look cute in the cowgirl hat my brother brought her back just that day from his mission trip to Honduras?
And then we had another fabulous idea. Line the kids up by age on the fence post! (Hold that baby with an arm that we can crop out!)
So, of course, I wanted to do the same with my kids. Sweet Cheeks (who should technically be called Perma-Baby in this photo) would NOT do it. That fence post was mighty high.
Oh well, I love her sweet face in this picture anyway.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is it Second Cousin Twice Removed?

So, who is this little doll Sweet Cheeks is smothering? She's the daughter of my first cousin.
We had a swim day with them our last week or so in America.
Does that make her my second cousin? Or my kids' second cousin? Or is she somehow once or twice removed? Whatever she is to us, she's cute and we're glad she's joined the family!
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Old Friends

My folks had some company...friends from our long-ago Indiana days. Mom made brunch for us all and let Firstborn arrange the fruit plate. I think she did a nice job.
These folks were some of my parents' best friends when I was in elementary school. Aunt Karen was my school secretary from my Christian school in Indiana. It was great to see them after many years!
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