Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chicken (Pox) Run

Sweet Cheeks showed me a bug bite on her leg before school, and I thought, "Strange. What bug could possibly bite her this time of year?" and then I went about my merry way getting 5 kids out the door, as I was teaching morning Pre-K that day, complete with my son who thinks all of the school day should be about playing with the car bin in the classroom.

After her half-day, piano lesson, and lunch, she said, "Look! A BUNCH of bugs bit me." I didn't even have to look. I knew even before seeing that she would go down in history as one of those valiant few who braved the chicken pox vaccination, but still got the pox!

If you could only have seen the joyous look on her face. And then the multitude of questions. Do I get to take medicine? Why do I take a bath in oatmeal? Do I get to eat the oatmeal in the bath? Will you count them again? Do pajamas give you chicken pox? Oh, she was proud. Very, very proud. No one at our house has ever had chicken pox, only the shot. As we were packing up our contagious little posse to go home, she kept thinking of more people who might want to know she had chicken pox. Have we shown the secretary? Have we shown Miss M (principal)? Have we shown Miss "Newcumber" (Newcomer), the librarian?

In the photo, we are on our walk home, trudging through the ice with anxious anticipation of a day at home to play and watch movies. Hurray for Chicken Pox! (and hurray for my first cousins who gave it to me when I was little...I appreciate you more than you can know right now!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Snow Day!

 We have had SO many days that we thought Papa would call SNOW DAY/NO SCHOOL. But if nothing else in Turkey is efficient, their snow plows are! Every other day it has snowed, they've plowed, we've headed out to school...until Wednesday! Turkish schools are out for their winter holiday, so the plows took a break. Papa called it off, all cheered! And what a better way to begin the snow day than with some Quaker Instant Oatmeal. This is a treat for us, we can't buy it here. My friend Karyn dropped off a few bags of groceries from cleaning out her pantry, and all of us on staff chose an item. I got the oatmeal for the kids. Why save it? We used it the very next day on our snow day.

And as always, the middle girls were out the door as soon as they could go.
 They gathered with other school friends to build a snow tunnel for their sled run.
 These kids vary in age from first grade all the way up to eighth grade. I like that it doesn't matter here, they all play together.

 And the final task of the day was to build this giant ice fort.
We woke this morning a lightly dusted street. But right after the school buses began their routes, we got pelted. It hasn't let up all day. Today would have been a snow day, too. But we have that basketball tournament....for some reason, we can make to school when we have a basketball tournament that day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kiddie Phone, It's For You!

We have 3 phones in our house. We have our Vonage phone, so we can call our loved ones back home. We have our cell phones (we love! because we are all on a plan so we can call each other free!). And we have the Kiddie Phone (as CC calls it). Once we got on this cell plan with all of our staff, it basically made our landline unnecessary. Anyone who would call us is pretty much on our plan. But we kept the landline just to have it in case it is ever needed/for emergencies/etc. As our girls have grown, they've given out that number. Now the ONLY people who call our landline are kids. Everytime it rings, CC yells, "Kiddie phone! It's for you!" and it makes me laugh every time. He and I never answer that phone. It's never for us.  It's only ever kids, or a Turkish telemarketer, or the man in charge of tapping our phone who has accidentally gotten his wires crossed (literally) and allowed me to momentarily eavesdrop on him! (True.)

Tonight it started snowing. Again. I don't think we've had 2 straight days without snow in weeks! As soon as the Kiddie Phone rang tonight and I looked out and saw it was snowing, I said to Miss Middler, "It's for you. It's _________ (school friend) calling to see if we are having a snow day!" (They all know that her dad will be the one to decide). I was in the background whispering, "Tell her to check the school website by 7AM. That's how she will find out if it is a snow day!" So Miss Middler politely turned to the phone receiver and said, "Please call this phone by 7AM to see if it is a snow day!" So glad we could help.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Speaking of Boots

 Sweet Cheeks has been wearing the same snow boots (size 9) for a couple of years now. I kept on thinking that she MUST be outgrowing them soon. Then it occurred to me that her older sister, Twinkle Toes, (in the white sweater above) wore them when she was 3! Sweet Cheeks is 6.5 years old! But everytime I asked, SC just smiled and said they fit her fine. Indeed, once she got them on, she never complained about how they felt. But it took her forever to get them on. I was teaching at school one afternoon and noticed her tugging and tugging to get her boots on while all the other kids were lined up to go home. I thought, "I have to get her to at least try on the next size up boots." (I will say this, though, she does have the smallest and widest feet in the house for her age. When she was born, her feet looked like surgical gloves blown up...tiny, but puffy!)
And so, I brought down the blue ones (size 11) that have been passed down from so many girls. Her face lit up and she said, "WOW! These are so easy to get on! They feel so good, Mama! I love my new boots!"

And that night, I was sort of smiling, thinking about how ridiculous it was that I let her wear those same boots for far too long. And I began thinking about the "old boots" I still want to wear when it is time for me to wear "new boots." My old boots would be things like....thinking if I lived in America everything would be easier. Another old boot for me could be having a little baby in my home, a little plump Campbell to have on my hip whenever I go out. Another old boot might even be wanting to stay in my 30's. My new boots? Accepting life here and being grateful God has called me to it. Enjoying having a pre-teen down to a pre-schooler even with no baby in the house. Embracing the corner I'm about to turn called being a 40-something. It seems like it's boot-switching time in my life. I'm finishing my last year at home as a stay-at-home mom. It will be the first time I will be working full time as a teacher in 13 years. There are no more babies and I'll admit, I miss that, but I have such wonderful companions in my growing children. My old boots may be comfortable. There may be a part of them I don't want to give up. But God has given me some new boots to wear. And I'm guessing since He picked them out, they'll fit me better now.

2 Boots and 1 Sock for Sale

These are Big Ben's snow boots. He's needed them this year. It has snowed almost daily for the last two weeks. He pitched a big ol' fit the other day and didn't want to wear these boots. He told me his toe hurt. I figured they must be getting tight. How can his foot be the same size as his 6.5 year old sister?! I started putting him in his little hiking boots. Then Sunday morning, we needed to walk to church again because the van was iced in. I had nearly given/sold these boots and thought I'd try one more time to see if they fit. Again, he said his big toe hurt. CC dug in and found a SOCK stuffed in there. Um. Right. They fit now. 

Miss Middler's Birthday!

Miss Middler had a wonderful turning 10 birthday! I baked a giant chocolate chip cookie and dropped it off with CC to cut and share with her classmates. (Evidently we've never filled him in on the "Take a cookie to the sisters, too." memo. They came home and wondered where their cookie was! We laughed and said, "Hmmm, Papa cut it and gave it out. He must not have known we always give the sisters some too!") Above is Miss Middler with her darling teacher from Alabama.

Her cake was total chocolate. I didn't have really anything to decorate it with, so I ended up putting gumballs on it that Grandma had send back with us. It made it festive and fun!

Big Ben always raises his hand and yells, "Me!" or "I do!" when anything is asked. I am not even sure what he was answering here. Miss Middler got lots of goodies...Apples to Apples Jr, Shrinky Dinks, a whiteboard, a new purse and headband (which she wore the very next day to school).
 On Saturday we took three of her friends to the mall. They are from America, Kosovo, and South Korean. All are sweet!
 We paid for them to play in a giant jungle gym.
Happy birthday, sweet daughter!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ideas for Change/Looking for Feedback

I didn't really make "New Year's Resolutions" on January 1. In fact, it was when I finished doing all the laundry from our trip, restocking the house with groceries, and getting the kids back into the swing of going to school that I began to think about anything that needed to be changed, perhaps about January 10. I decided as so many of us do, to take better care of me. This is 40 years after 1972, I'm hitting the big one soon. So, one of my resolves was to take better care of myself.  A dermatology check up, maybe an eye exam...just to be sure all is ok. I also want to exercise more (and with a friend if possible), eat healthier, read through my Bible in a year. (I started that one in late November to give myself cushion.) I want to be more kind/patient/fun with my husband and children. I want to remember to send birthday cards to my nieces and nephews. Oh, and there's painting the house, finishing my college course and becoming re-certified in the state of Tennessee. There's getting all the school curriculum ordering in better order to pass that baton off before I start teaching in August. So many things. I've started to make these thing happen, just little baby steps. I called the dermatologist to make an appointment. I've exercised quite a bit (ohhh, I'm sore). I've mailed the January cards. I just got my grade back from my college course, A plus! So now I'd love your advice on one change I want to make (which is small). I have read that potato chips are about the most unhealthy thing one can eat (why they are so good). In my kids' lunches every day, I pack a main dish (a sandwich or a wrap or sometimes something we ate the night before for dinner), a fruit, a sweet, and a salty. Most days I send them potato chips for the salty, mainly because it's easiest and our options here are limited. I'd like to change that. I'm not sure I'll ever bring myself (or have the time, or I should say make the time) to bake homemade veggie chips. Maybe I'd be willing to try if you told me how. So, what suggestions do you have for something to replace them? Something salty or savory, not sweet. I could certainly send pretzels a couple of times a week. Trail mix? Any ideas? What changes are you hoping to make this year?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is not only my daughter's birthday (see post below), it's my mom's also. I'll never forget that day 10 years ago. My first two kids were born a week early. I suspected #3 would be the same. In fact, we decided if the baby was a girl and happen to be born early enough to have a December birthday, we'd name her Noelle. But she didn't come. Not even by her due date! One day later, I had my scheduled visit to the doctor. Dr. Tan checked me and admitted he was nervous, "Time for baby to be born, lah. Go over to hospital. Call Ross." (in a very Singaporean accent). I did that. As the nurse was handing me my gown, I suddenly realized this baby would be born on my mom's birthday, I burst into tears. Tears of joy. The nurse tried to comfort me and tell me not to be scared. I said, "I'm not scared, I'm happy. He or she waited a day late to be born on Grandma's birthday!" And three hours later, there she was. (She's always been the quick one!) Esther could not have picked a better birthday to share or a better role model to watch than my mom. She is the definition of a godly wife and mother to me. Just last night, CC was telling the kids why he first decided to ask me out. Evidently, when asked in Sunday School who I most admire, I answered, "My mom. I've never heard her speak ill of my dad." CC thought, "That's one lucky guy that marries that girl." Happy birthday, Mom, I love you!

Happy 10th Birthday, Esther!

 For about 2 months of the year, we cross right over into the one-number-apart birthdays. I have a 10, 11, and 12 year old all at once. Oh how I remember those days when they were 1, 2, and 3! I hit my 30th birthday when my third daughter was 2 weeks old, my husband was out of the country, and I had 2 toddlers still in diapers. How can it be that I am about to hit my 40th and that newborn is 10?! I see them growing older, and I just stay in a state of shock at how fast it has gone. But for some reason, this one hit me even harder. How can this little babe that I just brought to Turkey as an 18  month old possibly be 10? She woke this morning to find it snowing on her birthday, which thrilled her! There is a new wife of one of our staff members with the exact same birthday, so this morning Esther walked to her house and took her some flowers, from one birthday girl to another. I'm just about to run over a giant chocolate chip cookie to school. Her Papa is going to take it in and light a candle and serve it to her class. Tonight we'll have tacos and a Hershey's Sour Cream Chocolate Cake. Though she is having a few friends for a party this weekend, she wanted to have just a family birthday tonight. It will be a special day for a special girl! Happy birthday to the most beautiful baby I ever saw with cherry red lips and big blue eyes, who only wanted to play with trains/cars/trucks, and who has grown into a beautiful young girl!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Not To Be A Lazy Mama

I confess with just one child at home now and being the sole entertainment for him until "the sisters" (as he calls them) get home after school, I am lazy some days. My friend Erin once told me that her mother said, "Show me a kid that won't take his afternoon nap, I'll show you a lazy mother." I've thought of that many times. Some days I let him watch too many videos. I dabble with the watercolor paints with him, for a few minutes, but soon get back to things I need done. But truthfully, I only have a half year with him at home with me full time. I do want to make the most of it, spend time with him, not waste it. I want those lazy mama days to be few and far between. So today I wondered how we might spend the day without being able to go to the park (which is buried in snow). Then I thought of how much he seems to be enjoying playing in the snow with his sisters. So, we bundled up. We both got an ice scraper. We scraped the windows of cars all down our street. He could not have been happier and made sure I knew which were "his" sections. I hope it will bless them to find their car has already been dug out. Many of those neighbors have certainly blessed me...I remember once a neighbor spotted one of my kids in a face off with a street dog. He put her in his car and drove her to school for me. Another one leans out her first story window and hands my kids a fistful of candy every time she sees them.

After scraping the cars, we made a sled run and went sledding. I don't feel so lazy today. In fact, he is sound asleep in my bed as I type. I think it worked.

Resting His Eyes

I guess learning about Jesus, eating about six cookies from the hospitality table, and walking to and from church in the snow did him in. This is how I found him.
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday Morning Snow

We woke up Sunday morning to a big snow! Thankfully, we are close enough to walk to our little church (which is amazing considering there are only 2 English speaking churches in our city). After our Sunday morning at-home Turkish breakfast, we put on coats, gloves, hats, boots and headed out the door.

I was so thankful to find a coat for Firstborn on Saturday. The winter clearance has begun, so it was 1/2 off. Then you take 1/2 of that to convert it to US dollars. I found this beautiful hooded wool coat for US$30.

 Speaking of good prices, this down winter coat was $5 at Old Navy many years ago. She is now the 3rd daughter to wear it, so does that make it about $1.67 per kid? Not bad! (The funny thing is that even though I bought it years ago when we moved here, which makes it about 7 years old...Sweet Cheeks has a friend in her class with the exact same coat. Her mom and I laughed about it...this little girl is the recipient of a hand-me-down from a much older sister, too! Smart thinking, mom!)

 Big Ben has never really loved the snow until this year. He is happy to tromp around in it and let his sisters carry his sled back up the hill for him!

 This girl and her sidekick (below) would stay out in the snow for 5 hours if I let them.
 This sweet girl has always loved the snow since she moved to this climate at 18 months old. Incidentally, she only has 2 more days to be a single digit in age!

 On our walk back, Twinkle Toes helped her brother. He liked falling in the snow and letting her help him back up.

 And then there's the two older folks in the family! We were thankful to break up our walk back up the hill after church with a quick stop for lunch. Turkish pide, Kiremitte Tavuk, and Tavuk Sis fueled us to make it home. It also didn't hurt that the restaurant owner provided us Kunefe for dessert and insisted we stay to drink Turkish coffee and tea. We love our neighborhood!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Road Trip: Faces and Final Day

Our last full day there it rained non-stop. We were so thankful for so many pretty days to be outside. On that day, a gal showed up at the hotel who was in charge of the "Kids Club" (entertaining the kids there). We noticed she had face paint, so the girls went down and picked a design. I could have predicted what they would pick: Twinkle Toes in some fancy floral design, Miss Middler in something scary, Sweet Cheeks as a cute animal. Later on, Firstborn went down and had her face painted, too.
It was a wonderful trip, and we thank the Lord for making it possible for us to escape our city and responsibilities once in awhile. This was our hotel, backed right up to a beautiful mountain.
So long, Antalya! We'll be back one day!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Road Trip: Swimming

 I haven't blogged all week! I guess getting back into the swing of school and trying to put some final touches on my college course (for Tennessee state re-certification) has kept me busy. But I must finish, look at my handsome boy!!! He was smart. He got in the pool just long enough to realize how very unpleasant it is to swim in a cold pool in December. After that, he just pranced around the pool and watched his sisters, but he insisted on wearing his goggles.
 Sweet Cheeks did a little swimming, but mostly sat wrapped in a big towel cozy and happy.
 These girls had a high tolerance for cold! They registered shock when they jumped in, but that was the end of the complaints. They swam like little fish, thanks to Mrs. Trish and our summer swim lessons.
 After a time, I convinced them we needed to go somewhere warmer...the Turkish hamam!!! Ahhhh! It's nearly impossible to get a picture in there because it is so steamy hot. It was so fun. We basically had the whole hamam to ourselves. I just stretched out on the hot marble slab and let my children pour varying degrees of hot water over me. Fun for them. Wonderful for me. The way it works is that you basically run your hot water into a marble basin, then scoop it out to bath yourself. Big Ben and Sweet Cheeks discovered the basins to be just the right size to climb into.
 The edges are blurry due to the steam-factor, but I think this is pretty enough to be in the hotel ad!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Road Trip: Ancient City (Part III)

We finished hiking around, pet one last little goat, made our way back to our van. Then we wound back through the town and got on the highway. I turned back around to look at that mountain (the one that was supposed to have a church on top of it) one last time. I noticed a light brown path winding all the way up and  mentioned it to CC. Of course, he hollered, "Anybody up for hiking up that mountain with me and finding that church?!" He had two takers. I really, really wanted to try to find it, but I knew there was no way the Turks would make it up that mountain without injury, meltdown, tears, all of the above. They were already tired, and it was so steep. But the middle girls took their Papa up on the offer.

The path was clear and easy to follow, but it was very winding because of the height of the mountain. Firstborn and I sat in the van speculating why they would build a church up there. Closer to God? More glory for Him? Safer? We kept seeing three little dots...white, pink, and brown (their shirts). We also saw many, many mountain goats hopping from rock to rock, right around our trio. Believe it or not, Turkcell came through for us and we had cell phone contact. I reported to him that we had a little group of Turkish boys surrounding our van who had clearly not seen a foreigner in a very long time, if ever. CC reported that they were giving up. They were at the top, hadn't found it, and there was another steep bluff hidden from our view which had no path. And then, just as they began to head back, they found the remains of a building structure, in the shape of a cross. And they found 2 baptisimal basins.
They found it! And boy did those girls sleep well (and eat alot!) that night! I would like to think that those early believers know that in spite of earthquakes and invasions, their little church (and The Church) remains. Amen!

Road Trip: Ancient City (part II)

 After seeing the theater, we walked across the street and found more ruins. It was basically a little tomato-growing and sheep-herding village built upon an ancient town.
 No exploration here would be complete without the appearance of some sheep and goats. Firstborn  made friends with one goat that the shepherdess had tied up to keep from wandering.
 We saw a very rudimentary sign in Turkish that showed there had been two churches found amid the ruins. That's, of course, what we wanted to find. The problem was that one of them was somewhere on top of the huge mountain behind us. The other was across a big stream. I stayed back with the Turks and let CC take the older girls to try to cross it. CC has much longer legs than Miss Middler. He told her to jump, she tackled the jump with gusto, and promptly fell in the water and temporarily lost her shoe. She waited until he came back from exploring and hopped on his back. He rolled up his pants and carried her across. Here she is navigating which stone to jump to make her way back across.
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I enjoy spotting crosses spread throughout this beautiful country. Here Twinkle Toes and I found one on a big old stone. She's pointing to the center, do you see it?
 And this is perhaps my all-time favorite photo from 2011. As we left, two little old village ladies entered to help with the flock of sheep. We talked for a bit (boy, their Turkish sounds different than you hear in the city!). They asked me the question that I get almost daily, especially in a place like this. "Are all of these children yours?" I replied, "Yes, I have 4 girls, and the last is a little boy." Then they of course bless me and tell me they want Allah to protect them. I had a thought after we talked and they began to walk away. I told Sweet Cheeks to run and give them a hug and kiss and ask if we could take their picture. She's a sure bet, she'll always do it. And what happens so often to reward her bravery, the little auntie dug down inside her pants to find an inner pocket with candy in it. I love this photo. May God bless this beautiful village!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Road Trip: An Ancient City (Part I)

We, the Campbell clan, really never tire of finding old cities and tromping around on the ruins. To some it may just be "old rocks," but it's fun to us. I think for me the biggest thrill lies in the fact that each of these cities housed people who were just a few generations away, or maybe even the same, from the time my Lord lived on Earth. That's amazing. I also love to see the old churches. We thought about trying to find Corydella , the city we searched for last year but never found. We've since named it "The Lost City." To ease the frustration of not finding it, we've convinced ourselves it is currently submerged under water somewhere. Instead, we found a place called Limyra. Its history dates to the 5th century BC and onwards. Just a few turns off the beaten path, amid a village (the occupants of which rarely see foreigners) and a mountainside of greenhouses, we stumbled upon this theater. It had connecting archways and tunnels. The massive stones which made the seating for the theater even still had notches where they were once connected by some type of metal. The town was known for its rich, abundant soil. The soil must still be rich, the tomaotes in those greenhouses were beautiful.
No entrance fee. No one to care if the kids climb to the top or jump from stone to stone.
Someone recently asked for a family photo, so we took this one. I of course panicked as CC ran to his place, not quite quickly enough. But I somehow managed a smile in this one.
I took far too many pictures this day to limit this post to just one. I'll continue tomorrow. But first, let me wish my dear dad a VERY happy birthday!

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