Thursday, June 30, 2011

Enjoying the Lake

The three little ones and I had one weekend in the US while waiting on Campbell Clansman and the two big girls. We went up to the lake for the weekend with my family. This was where Big Ben learned the word 'boat' last summer. Something tells me these two boys have been asked to smile for a photo before...

He loved the innertube ride...he held on and grinned the whole time, not to be outdone by his little cuz.

Miss Middler enjoyed having her cousins all to herself. She was requested to be the innertube partner by all of them, so she got to ride over and over. We all need a little spoilin' once in awhile, don't we?

This little darlin' was just content to just swim in the lake with the fish!

Thanks, sweet family and big brother, for giving us a great weekend. We are looking forward to the next one!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tractor Rides

My dad has about 5 acres, so to keep it mowed he has a 'tractor.' No summer could be complete without tractor rides! He saves a bit of grass on the front hill to mow with them, waits til the sun sets a bit, then lets them 'help.' Sweet Cheeks has certainly overcome her fear of that loud tractor!
And somehow this boy just knew exactly what to do.

I have a picture of me at about age 4 riding a tractor with my Papa (pronounced PawPaw). It reminds me a great deal of these photos.

What simple ways are you enjoying your summer?
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Flight Plan

I have successfully downloaded Picassa on our laptop and am able to blog with pictures now! Here are my three babies that I flew with two weeks ago! Aren't they sweet? On the long flight, I was told that technically I am not able to manage three children their ages alone on a flight. Therefore, they assigned a couple of college-aged girls to sit with one of the kids as we took off and landed.
I actually think I manage them just fine. :)

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Apples of Gold

This morning we head out to Memphis to visit kinfolk there. It's been a fun week up here, and we've completed swim lessons. For breakfast, we had bacon, eggs, biscuits, and baked apples. The apples came from my Granny's "old house." Granny, for whom Sweet Cheeks (Eva) is named, is in heaven. My aunt visited the property in Virginia, and brought my mom a bag of apples back. I think Granny would be proud to know she is still feeding us, just like so many summers spent at her house.
Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Safe Arrival

The rest of the Clan made it here safely on Sunday night! I am so glad to have all 5 of my babies back together, as well as Papa. We always say to each other, "We're better together!"
We've had a great week of swim lessons, and I've met two new Christian sisters there. It's always an encouragement to me to know that we are not alone, there are many folks all around the world who love the same God that I do.
Miss Middler has perfected her dive. I don't think she'll need lessons next year, she's got it! Sweet Cheeks is doing great, too. The last five minutes of swim lesson is "Showtime." We all come in the tent and get to see what they've learned. SC did great, except that her head comes up so often to beam at us and make sure we're watching. That's a far cry from the crying little cling-on I had two years ago.
Any moms out there remember a time your little one was terrified, then came back in the end as a victor?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How It Went

After getting settled in the car and leaving metropolitan Nashville for the countryside surrounding it, my dad asked me if anything eventful happened on the flight. My reply was, "Oh, there's always some type of adventure on every flight!"
The three little ones I had with me fared very well. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about what good little travelers I have. Flying 10,000 miles around the globe yearly with them makes me consider this often.
This year we had a different route which took us through Istanbul, then NYC, then on to Nashville. I'm sold on it, mainly because our first flight left at 8AM rather than the standard 6AM flight to Germany first. Being able to wake at 4:30AM was vastly better to me than the normal 2:30AM. It meant to me just losing one night's sleep instead of two.
Our first glitch came when we landed in Istanbul. They herded us off an exit at the back of the plane, sent us down a set of stairs, then put us on a people-mover bus to take us in to the airport. At that moment, I was counting backpacks and kids and totally forgot to get my stroller at the front of the plane. As soon as we got inside, I remembered. I went to the Lost and Found counter and gave them my luggage stub (thankfully it had been tagged). I got a very standard, Turkish "Five more minutes." about six times. Finally after about 25-30 minutes, I realized we might miss our connecting flight unless I just left the stroller. I began to be what I call a "nice pest" to the lady. She sort of jumped on my band wagon, got on her talkie, and got some action on the situation. Soon, it appeared. Whew.
Then we made our way through the Istanbul airport, arriving at our gate only about 25 minutes before takeoff. (Do you want all these details? I find the "airline recap" interesting, but perhaps not everyone does.) Somehow, someway, at this point, I was flagged as some type of security risk. Here I am laden with blankies, sippy cups, and webkinz, but must have somehow looked dangerous. Everyone was SUPER nice, but began putting little odd stickers on our passports and giving each other knowing looks. I proceeded through the metal detector, which I did not set off. (Big Ben thankfully did not pack his toy 9mm.) I was immediately pulled for a full body check. Then our bags were taken. I love knowing a bit of Turkish. They were saying things like, "It's just full of toys." ("Ha ha, take them," I thought, "Do you have any idea how many times I have already picked them up off the floor of the plane?") And then a second lady did a full body scan of me. Everyone was very nice, and I thanked them all for doing their job, perplexed as I was. Someone out there who understands this situation, tell me why. One of my bags had a sticker on it that it had been inspected. I can see was full of duffle bags to pack for the trip back to Turkey. We also had some little toy cars in one bag that have a tiny round magnet in them. Is that why?
The only other plausible reason I can give is that smack dab in front of me was someone who looked very much like he could have starred in one of those Osama Bin Laden training videos. Sorry to stereotype, but he did make me nervous. I wondered why he would choose to dress that way, flying into NYC, knowing the history of 911. Upon our arrival in NYC, I saw this man being escorted to the restroom by a police officer. I thought,"How nice, they are showing him where the bathroom is." Then I realized, they were preventing him from being alone in the restroom. As soon as his bags came off the belt, a group of policemen escorted him out for a special meeting. So, anyway, maybe because I happened to be his neighbor in the line, I was tagged so as not to make me feel left out!

We made our connections just fine. The kids were super. Turkish Airlines was super. (We each had our own screen with many movies from which to choose. Big Ben was real into getting to wear the headphones and press buttons.) Miss Middler got a bit sick, as she does anytime we fly for this long. Sweet Cheeks never uttered a complaint. Big Ben was fascinated by the entire thing...planes, suitcases being loaded on, takeoff, landing...I could go on and on.

And on the other side were two people who have loved me all my life, who go out of their way to welcome me each summer, and who think my kids are perfect. What more could I ask for?

I'm home! And by this time tomorrow, I'll have Campbell Clansman and my other two kiddos with me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

End of the Year

Well, today is the day....the last day of the 2010-11 school year. I generally shed a tear on the first day (always overwhelmed at what God has done to make this school happen) and one or two on the last day (proud/sad/reflective as another year has passed). I even used to do that as a teacher before having kids! I am sure today will be no exception. This year Firstborn has finished elementary school. It just seems like I was her Kindergarten teacher, then I blinked and she became my height and approaching seventh grade. Even little Sweet Cheeks is heading into first grade. My children are my joy, my life, and I am so thankful to God for allowing me to be His nanny to them for this short time.

Last week Miss Middler's class had a Poetry Tea House. We sipped tea, ate cakes, and listened to poems written by the children. Miss Middler got the poetry award. She is her father's daughter, afterall. (This man has been writing me poetry for 16 years.)
And so, the next page will turn over today. We'll say goodbye to those leaving, inevitable in our international setting. We zip our bags and board the plane tomorrow morning. This year I'll fly with Miss Middler, Sweet Cheeks, and Big Ben. Campbell Clansman follows this weekend with the older girls. We'll see you on the other side!
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Monday, June 13, 2011


Twinkle Toes' class took a field trip to the Anitkabir, the memorial for Attaturk in our city. (He was the founder of modern Turkey.)

Only one of the folks in this picture was allowed to smile!
We enjoyed touring the grounds and seeing the statues, the tomb, and the museum.

Big Ben was invited to go. His favorite part was getting to see Attaturk's boat and cars. He just couldn't understand why we couldn't climb in that 1930's cadillac.

I asked what time the changing of the guards would be, so the kids could see that.

And so we conclude our field trips for the year! And 2 days...we are off for our field trip to America for the summer!
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Staff Banquet 2011: Precious Friends

We had a wonderful evening to celebrate a wonderful school year. My theme for this post is precious friends....and here's my best one...he mentioned at the banquet that this month marks 8 years since he moved here with me and 15 since he got down on his knee. Awww.
And here's my bestie in Turkey. Our friendship began when she was my prayer partner that very first year. I won't let her leave. She's staying.

This sweet friend taught Twinkle Toes this year. Not only was she a fabulous teacher, she's become a great friend. And she's from Sarah Palin's church in Alaska, which happens to give her points in my book.

These folks are our Arkansas buddies. K and I co-taught Pre-K together. I'm so glad they are here.

Oh yes, and here's my really-really-really good friend J. She's part of the originals, too. I could not live here without her.

These gals are precious to me, too. I got to know them better this year (intentionally). You can't do a weekly Cindy Crawford workout in Turkish together and not have a few good memories.

Thanks to ALL staff this year for making it a great year!
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clog Sensations!

Each year about this time we get to see the Spring Clogging Recital. It never ceases to amaze me that I have moved 1/2 way around the world to the Middle East, where my children get to learn an Appalachian dance! As you can see from the picture above, Big Ben is equally amazed as he watches the recital.

My friend's husband caught this amazing picture of Miss Middler. Now, that is a look directed at a sister for sure.

Firstborn was once again the clogging captain. She's just so cute, no?
Here are all the beautiful cloggers! Good job!
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Thursday, June 9, 2011


It's soon to be election time here. The talk of our town is that the reason they are doing road construction is to get votes. Most assuredly, no one in the neighborhood is happy about it.
But Big Ben is.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

End of Kindergarten

It's hard to believe my little Sweet Cheeks is about to finish Kindergarten, but it's true. She did her year-end Reader's Theater this week.

She's off to first grade!
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cheaper By The Dozen: Big Ben

Miss LaMertha, our director, (who has more talent in her little finger than most in Hollywood!) asked if Big Ben could make a small appearance in the play. Oh, how cute, I thought! Sure!

And so the week of dress rehearsals began, and Big Ben certainly made his appearance. Here, Miss LaMertha is giving the two little Gilbreths some instructions.
Let's just say that as the week went on, they grew more confident in their roles. Maybe a better word would be unpredictable!

At the beginning of the play, the Gilbreths are all preparing to go on a picnic. Mother brings the two little ones out. They had to stand and listen, then run.... get into this car. Twinkle Toes was our ace in the hole. She would be on stage, he would go to her. She would hoist him up and carry him as they ran with the car. But as the week progressed, Big Ben got more and more excited about the car. By the first performance, he didn't want anyone taking him to the car. He just ran and hopped in. Twinkle Toes was relieved. He's about 1/2 her weight!

And then there was the night we did a photo shoot. The two boys ran up on stage and lay down on the set's den rug. We all thought it was so cute, chins in their hands, ready for a picture. The more we ooohhed and ahhhed, the more keyed up they got. At one point, I looked up and Big Ben was licking the rug, then turning to be sure everyone saw it. Sigh. The rug came from the front door of the school.

Watch out, world, he's made his debut!
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Cheaper By The Dozen: Twinkle Toes

Twinkle Toes (in green) landed a pretty major role for a fourth grader! She was Jane, one of the dozen children in the Gilbreth family. She was the one who always had her nose in a book, actually wanted to learn French from a record player while taking her bath, and seemed to steal her (stage) daddy's heart. She had only about half a dozen lines, but she had to be in nearly every scene, acting and reacting to those around her.
She absolutely nailed her part. She was dedicated to her rehearsals and followed her director's instructions perfectly. I don't think she minded a bit being the youngest!

Well done, little Jane!

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