Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving At Our House

Every year, we round up any staff members who would like to come and share in a big Thanksgiving dinner. We had a great crowd this year!
My kids love, love, love it when their teachers come over for a party.
We did manage to get a Tom Turkey and had all the side dishes to go with it. Thanks to a couple of precious friends who overheard me mentioning that we were going to go without sweet potatoes and to try to re-hydrate dried cranberries for sauce, we ended up with the real stuff. Thanks, friends!

These two little Turks were waiting for their turkey. Big Ben seriously overloaded on cranberry sauce. I guess he'll have good kidney function this week.
And we rounded out the night with pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and decaf coffee...for all. Even Sweet Cheeks who was served by a teacher!
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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Atrium Tree

What a week! I've had so much going on, I hardly know where to start. This past week was fun, but blessedly, this coming week is slower. Thursday morning began with an annual tradition (minus my normal side-kick who was doing real know who you are). Every year at Thanksgiving, our school caregiver sets up the big tree in the atrium for me, then I begin making it look better! This year I had my little fella with me. We decided to dress in matching tree-decorating clothes. (Since I don't own a Racecar or Choo Choo Train shirt, we wore black and overalls.)

I pulled apart all the limbs and branches, strung it with colored (not white...after all, it is a tree for the kids) lights, then began hanging the sweet ornaments made by each of the elementary students. For some of them, this is their first time to see a tree or make an ornament, as not every country celebrates Christmas. I love getting to do this!
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Does One Prepare for Turkey Day in Turkey?

Let's see...
1. Go down to the butcher and explain that you want a whole bird, a turkey. (Oh, I hope it is plucked.) Hope that his phone call to his turkey-guy contact will successfully land you a bird by Wednesday morning.
2. Begin assigning different side dishes to the folks who are coming. Explain to one precious friend what 'snap beans' means. (You know who you are.)
3. Throw your arms around the neck of your mommy-friend who offers to cook the turkey for you if you'll just get it to her!
4. Drive to the big grocery store in hopes of finding 'things' that will work for the 'things' we can't get here.
5. Rejoice when an American military friend overhears ya'll are trying to re-hydrate dried cranberries and offers some fresh cranberries.
6. Smile wide when you find frozen green beans and all you have to do is pick out the random little frozen tomatoes that are thrown in with them. This means you don't have to snap!
7. Thank God again for friends who mail you pecans.
8. Take a deep breath when you arrive at the butcher and there is no bird. Trust him when he says he'll get it, just come back in a few hours.
9. Realize that even without finding frozen green beans, getting free cranberries, and potentially not having a bird to cook, it would still be Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for! What about you?

My Favorite Thanksgiving Picture and Memory

Here's my all-time favorite Thanksgiving picture! This was when Firstborn was in first grade and Twinkle Toes right behind her in Kindergarten. Goodness they grow fast!

My favorite adult Thanksgiving memory is from 1998. We had just arrived in Singapore the summer before. Getting married and taking off 1/2 way around the world six months later was a lot of transition. CC and I were both teaching in Singapore and had met a precious Chinese/Indonesian ethnically-but American now, family. I taught their daughter Joanne in third grade and became very close to their family. They contacted us and asked to treat us to Thanksgiving dinner at the American Club. This was a fancy club only for the very wealthy or Embassy folks. Here I was, in Asia of all places, dining with Asian friends, and eating some of the best American traditional Thanksgiving foods I had ever had. Only God could pull that off. And the really neat thing is that the mom, Esther Liu, was like an Asian version of my mom. She was so similar to mom that I really felt God had put her in my life just to show me He was there during that first year away.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

...And How Could I Forget?

And how could I forget? This beauty was parked on the grounds of Bolu. The minute we drove up, it wasn't the mountains, or the cabin, or the lush green was this for Big Ben. He started screaming, "Baba!!! Baba!!" (what he calls CC, the Turkish name for Dad)
Incidentally, he brought his birthday present, which was an exact little replica of this big monster. His has buttons that make it shake like it's digging, holler "Caterpillar Power!!", and all other manor of fun construction sounds.

We let him sit inside with clear reminders to be careful, those are "real" buttons. It took him about 3 seconds to get the hang of steering, shifting, honking, and attempting to lift the scoop before CC got in there with him to make sure he didn't start rolling down the hill.

It's nice to know he has testosterone.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Beautiful Bolu: Final

Coming down off the mountain,

and a shot from the drive home.
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Beautiful Bolu Part IV

We packed up and said goodbye to our new friends. This is a picture of all of us staying there during that time.
Guney Bey was the manager of Sakintepe, the retreat center. He also happens to be the cousin of one of my dearest Turkish friends, Hicran, now living in America.
He didn't mind these two little guys checking out his motorcycle. It doesn't get much better than this for Big Ben...his blanket in his arms and sitting atop a motor bike.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beautiful Bolu Part III

We stayed two nights. On our last night, we and the other three families joined together. We made a nice bonfire. My kids had fun collecting the sticks all day.

We also all contributed some meat and grilled together and made salads. We left the grilling to the Koreans, as they are all genetically Master Grillers in my opinion!
It was nice to be with other folks, like-minded, all living in Istanbul. We made new friends and enjoyed the fact that we are family even if we've just met them.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Beautiful Bolu Part II

We planned to hike while we were there, but ended up just staying around the cabin. In fact, the novelty of having a green grassy field in which to play never wore off for the Campbellclan. They played capture the flag, tag, baseball, and tackle football.

Twinkle Toes realized her baby brother is quite a contendor these days.

I like this picture. CC is in the back, perhaps acting as catcher for a baseball game. And there's a little slice of Twinkle Toes involved somehow. Then there's Sweet Cheeks, ever content to sit at a picnic table and color. And in the very front? Wildflowers picked by Firstborn, put in Turkish teacups, and displayed for me in the kitchen window.

We did take one short stroll through the forest. There we gunshots coming from all around. We never did figure out if it was revelry or hunting.
And again, Sweet Cheeks was in her own little drama here. She was all the actresses and director all at once.

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Beautiful Bolu Part I

This past week we've been out of school. Tuesday through today (Friday) is Turkey's sacrifice holiday, where they sacrifice animals for atonement, as well as commemorate Abraham's sacrifice, believed by them to be Ishmael. Rather than have us come to school on Monday, then have the rest of the week off (and knowing full well 1/2 the school would take Monday off anyway), CC gave us the whole week off. The holiday just happened to fall on a special day, November 16, the day we were married 14 years ago. CC suggested we go away as a family for a few days. In spite of all the travel I've done in the last month, I didn't protest!

We went to a place we'd never been before, Bolu, a mountainous region 1/2 way between Istanbul and Ankara. Recently some friends of ours opened a retreat center, after several years of work, many youth group work trips to help with it, and much red tape. It's a place for people like need of some rest once in awhile.

We drove through past many sleepy towns, on some one-lane roads, over some gravel, and arrived at the land housing three small cabins.
Here is our cabin. It has a small kitchenette and den, two bedrooms, and a loft. Perfect for the Campbell clan.
Our weather was beautiful! Sunny all day!
And so, in a cozy cabin, with the five precious children God has given us over the last fourteen years, we celebrated our anniversary.
The only gift I asked for was a fire in the fireplace. After all my babies were tucked in, I sat with CC right by it!
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weekend With Twinkle Toes: Sunday Morning

All too soon our weekend was over, but we both felt so thankful that we got to have it together.
Isn't she cute? I sometimes think I could eat her alive.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekend With Twinkle Toes: Saturday

We hit the town after breakfast and had so much fun! We decided to save our money and ride buses and subways instead of taxis. For T. T. that in itself was an adventure.
We went to the mall and rode this and had a lot of fun. (Translation: A large door closed over me, suffocating me with the darkness and lack of space. Then we watched an underwater video where I felt like I was scuba diving, the adventure sport I would least like to try some day. Just when I thought I was going to die of claustraphobia, our ride was over.) Awww, and it was SO short. Too bad.
After we walked around the mall and drank a REAL Coke, we got back on the subway and went to an ice skating rink. We both flew on the ice! T. T. only fell twice, I only fell once. I felt 14, not 40, except when I fell. I was gazing into the heated lounge (where, it seemed, most of the mommies stayed while their kids skated), and just didn't see the big chunk of ice in front of me. Down, down I went. But I recovered and got back on the ice.
We finished our day with a shared McDonald's, a nice swim in the hotel's pool, hot showers, and a Barbie movie while curled up in the bed. What a fun day!
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend With Twinkle Toes: Saturday morning

We woke up Saturday morning, still pinching ourselves. Everything was so nice. It was sort of funny to walk around the hotel and realize all those people had A LOT of money. We just had A LOT of frequent flier miles, ha! At one point, we ran into a man who looked very much like Sadaam Hussein, with his two wives. We smiled. They did not smile. I was tempted to ask, but did not, "So, how'd you pay for this? You must own the oil I buy, huh?"
We woke Saturday morning, eagerly anticipating our breakfast. We were not disappointed. Those of you reading this who live or have lived here know that for me to tell you they had bacon, pancakes, maple syrup, and homemade applesauce was a BIG DEAL.
Twinkle Toes ate all this. Then went back for seconds!
Then she had an omelette, made to order. These guys really liked her!
This picture was totally posed because I wanted to take the picture below without them knowing I was taking it!
What is this? A Mid-East summit?
More tomorrow on how we spent our day!
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