Monday, December 31, 2012

Visit to Turkey: Delays and Arrival

A few days after school ended for the Christmas holiday, it was time to go pick up the cousins and grandparents from the airport. CC agreed to get a big enough bus to take us to the airport so all the Campbell Clanskids could go along. We weren't sure where they would come off the plane...domestic? international? Would we see them descend and walk behind the glass? It was all so exciting. One too many times someone said, "I think I see them!" and was wrong. The rule was quickly stated by siblings...don't say it unless you know for sure!
We went from spot to spot, hoping to figure out where we would see them first.
But all too soon we realized that there was a reason we had not found them. All flights out of Istanbul were delayed due to snow. The kids were hungry and disappointed. Settling in for another hour or two, we all went to Burger King and split 3 meals between 7 people. (Airport prices!)
Later, as I manned the domestic terminal, I got a call from CC. "I see a white-haired guy in a parka jacket." "Is it DAD?!" "Not sure, but I'd suggest you come!" It was him!
Jetlagged? Hungry? Past bedtime? Nothing mattered, they had arrived!
Here we are on the bus, riding to our house to show them for the very first time. As you can see, jetlag is easily tolerated by youth.
This picture turned out green. I am not sure what setting I had it on, but it occurred to me as I blogged, that this is perhaps how they felt at this point!

New Year's Eve Thoughts

Well, after 10 days of being spoiled rotten by having my entire family here, it was time to say goodbye. We washed clothes, we packed, we reminded each other how wonderful it was to be together this year. But at 1:30AM, the end came. We all came down to hug goodbye. Picture 7 of us EACH hugging 10 of them. It was a lot of hugging. Sometimes we giggled, like when Big Ben only had the stamina to hug his same-age cousin buddy and grandparents, at that late hour, then bounded back up to his snug bed. And when a cousin-buddy hugged the other one so hard she nearly fell over one of the 10 suitcases! But when it came my turn to hug my big brother, and my sister-in-law (who is in actuality a sister to me), and mom, and dad...the tears came. As they flew away, I reflected a little. I suppose it is a little easier than 16 years ago. When I used to say goodbye then, I cried with a little panic in my heart. Could I make it without them, so far away? But after so many years of God's faithfulness, I don't panic anymore. I'm just sad. I suppose I always will be. It's by far the worst part of living overseas. There are too many good things to count, but that is the hard one. Now that I have that all out, I'll turn this blog over to the fun memories of our visit. Stay tuned!

Happy New Year's Eve...stay safe!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!!! No ER visits today, hallelujah!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

No pictures on here, as I can't upload them just yet. My family arrived in Turkey, after a couple hour delay due to snow in Istanbul. We've had a wonderful time together. However, we are starting to feel like Job. The second morning my dad was here, he passed out. We rushed him to the hospital, as he is not spring chick (sorry, Dad!) and does have a few health issues that need to be watched. It was scary. Then we traveled down to Antalya together. Today we took everyone to Perge, the famous old city where Paul and John Mark split (in Biblical times). My brother stepped on a rock that gave way. He fell 4 ft. and broke his wrist. We spent another day at the hospital. I, of course, feel sad for them that this is what has happened. But we trust the Lord. We hope that we are a light to all in these trying circumstances. Send up a prayer or two for us, please!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Week

My family's flight just took off from NYC to Istanbul. In just 12 hours, we'll be picking them up on this side. We are all very excited. It really is just the idea of getting to see them, whether we get the predicted snow on Friday and are housebound or not! I think the horrible tragedy at the elementary school has given all of us a vivid reminder that everything does not have to be perfect, as long as we have each other. Speaking of things that are not perfect, we've been trying to get the house a little organized, tidy, and ready for company. One thing I do (I realize this is weird) is make the kids take a digital photo of the condition of their room and bring it to me. Yes, I could just walk upstairs, but I am usually elbow deep in spaghetti sauce when I need them to report to me. Here's a photo the middle girls brought me.
 Not bad. Then they added this...for fun!
The last few days have been nice. One highlight for me was getting to go over to my friend's house for breakfast and coffee. All of our kids match up to a buddy and love to play together, so it is always a win-win. She is a gift from God for me. I actually sought her out years ago, knowing I needed a friend who is in leadership, like we are (with similar ups and downs), but one with whom I do not work directly. She holds me accountable and encourages me weekly. It was nice to have a break from school and get to spend that time with her. Another fun thing was finding a new pazaar with this same friend. Vendors rent out spaces and sell their wares twice a week at this indoor warehouse. Gap sweatshirts, Adidas running pants, UGG boots...all can be found there. Are they knock-offs? Probably, but it's still fun!

Last night we celebrated Christmas as a family, opening gifts from CC's side of the family. We had Christmas breakfast at night, then read the Bible. We happened to be on the portion of Scripture where Jesus rose from the dead. We compared his entry into the world to his exit. Then we opened gifts. It was a special time! We broke with tradition. I always made breakfast casserole, but a school parent made us a dish with just sausage, cream cheese, and crescent rolls. CC loved it so much he asked for it. 2 of the 3 ingredients I can not buy here, but thanks to some special US food gifts at Christmas, I was able to pull it off! 
Bookends. He's now sleeping with her every night. What can I say when he tells me, "But her bed is just warmer!"
 Our birthday cake for Jesus (with three candles for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) was cinnamon rolls.
 Merry Christmas! (with a peppermint in his mouth!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Start to the Holiday!

We are so. very. excited to have our grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncle coming to visit!  It really is like a dream come true for me, after 10 years of living in Turkey. They will arrive on Thursday night, so we had a few days of holiday leading up to it. We celebrated the start of our Christmas break with a Snack Supper. I had some very nice school parents who gave me US food gifts. Saturday night we had salsa and chips, cheddar cheese and summer sausage, popcorn, fruit with chocolate fondue. mmm mmm. I happened to have a package of Brussel Sprouts in the fridge, so I cooked them in some olive oil and added a little salt. What did they fight over? The Brussel sprouts!
Let the holidays begin! Thank you, Jesus, for giving us a reason to celebrate!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Operation Christmas Child

My two big girls are in Sunday School together. I miss not teaching that class, but it was one of the things that had to go this year when I started working at the school more. They've got a great teacher, a friend of mine. The girls in the class came up with the idea of putting together Christmas packages for the poor. Just around the corner from us live people who may or may not have heat, may or may not have a meal. We've been in the houses. They are heated with coal (when it can be afforded) and the floors are mud. I am proud of the girls for coming up with the idea. One nice thing about them growing up is that I was able to just drop them at the strip mall in our neighborhood, and off they went. Money-check. Plans of what to buy-check. Turkish-some. They did great!
Due to safety reasons, they were not allowed to deliver the boxes as a class. They were disappointed, but we are happy that the man giving them out for the girls will be able to share the Christmas story as he delivers them. Gule gule kulan! (Enjoy it with a smile!)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oasis Christmas Party

Friday was one wild day! I found an activity on "Teachers Pay Teachers" and it was a free download. The kids had to use grid coordinates, cut out squares, and glue them on a paper to make a Christmas scene. It kept little fingers busy when their minds were on the afternoon party.

After our reading test and math activity, I let them crumple up scrap paper for a "Snowball Fight" later in the day.
We were given the wonderful opportunity to teach the Christmas story to all who had permission to come. For some it was the first time they had ever heard it.
After the story, we had stations for the kids. I was in charge of a game, so we had a giant snowball fight with paper.
We came back to the room later, had snacks and opened gifts, and I sent them all home for the next 2 1/2 weeks with a big hug and reminders that I love them all!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Student Gift Idea

This time last year, I already knew I would be back in the 3rd grade teaching. While we were down at the Mediterranean Sea, the girls and I picked up beautiful smooth stones and brought them back home with a student Christmas gift idea in mind. (The beach is not sandy, it's completely smooth rocks.) My first grade teacher gave me a smooth rock with my name painted on it. I even remember her asking us each what our favorite color was. I said red. This past week, Firstborn helped me paint a base coat on each rock and helped me with some designs.

 I made each child a different rock. I really like how they turned out. I painted a glaze over them so the paint will last longer. The kids loved them, especially because they were all different!
I got an adorable gift from some sweet fellow teachers who are roommates. They spotted these chubby garden stakes at a hardware store and thought they looked just like pencils. They simply must put them on Pinterest! And I simply must hand this giant pencil to my students when they ask me (hourly) to borrow my pencils!
What homemade gift ideas do you have this year? For teachers? Students? Friends?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekend Basketball Games

This past weekend our Oasis Lions had basketball games. Firstborn has faithfully attended practice three times a week and was excited about her upcoming game. She has definitely improved this year. We saw her take more shots and be more aggressive. In fact, several folks came up to me and said, "Wow, your daugther is really aggressive." Is that a compliment? I'll take it as one! She does have four siblings. To get second helpings at a table with seven people, you have to be a little aggressive.  She's blocking a big gal  here! This gal she was assigned to had a hard time hustling up the court, but once she got there, she was a formidable force!

Her coach this year is the grandson-in-law of two people I love very much, who came and served here and helped launch this amazing school in Turkey. I love full circle kind of stuff, don't you?

Sweet Cheeks (oh, it's so hard to not call her Perma-Baby) got herself ready. I noticed the side ponytail and the shirt tail which had been bound by a hairband. Someone has been looking at her older sisters!
This guy walked right in, and just like at the 5K, wanted to know right off where they sold the food.
Thankfully B kept him happy with some American coins. He got to choose a few to keep. Those nickels fool us every time. Bigger doesn't always mean more. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Little Indian Boy

I'm about to get into all the Christmas "stuff" on this blog, but just before I do, I had to post this. Big Ben's class dressed as pilgrims and Indians for Thanksgiving at school. (Yes, I know they are no longer called Indians. I was born in the 70's, bear with me.) I am not sure if they got to pick which they were going to be. I am certain Big Ben would have picked Indian, though. He said he really liked his feather headband, he just didn't like the scratchy grocery bag vest. I wonder what Spiderman thought.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Twinkle Toes' First 5K

Twinkle Toes signed up for the running club and loves it. They faithfully run rain or shine. They trained hard, and this past week, ran their first 5K Fun Run.
These two Spanish-speaking boys have pretty much stolen our hearts. At the end of the race, the coach told them all the next goal was to train for a 10K. He said (think your best Speedy Gonzalez accent here), "You are not serious."
As soon as we arrived at the park and the fun run began, Big Ben asked where they were selling food. I'm wondering if that boy will ever be in a fun run! Anyway, good job, Twinkle Toes!
Here's the great Oasis running club!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Chestnuts Roasting....

on an open fire, Jack Frost nippin' at your nose. You really can get roasted chestnuts here. Vendors sell them on the streets. My friends B and L headed down to Ulus (the old town) with Firstborn and me, for some Christmas shopping. I bought us a bag of roasted chestnuts. They cut them with a big "x" then roast them. That makes them easy to peel later. This man was happy for me to take his picture.

They really are good. Really. I like them. But when L said, after trying them for the first time, "Hmmm...not bad, but funny they would write an entire song about them." I had my favorite laugh of the day.

Piano Recital

The girls had their piano concert this past week. Sweet Cheeks played Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee and a duet of Holy, Holy, Holy with her sister Twinkle Toes. She had no choice in her dress. I insisted she wear the smocked Christmas gown. I've let out the hem until there is nothing left, she is the fourth Campbell to wear it, and this may well be our last year for a little girl to don it. Firstborn wore it just before we moved to Turkey.
 Twinkle Toes played a classical waltz. She did a beautiful job and is thinking of continuing her lessons next year. (We decided to require them only through elementary school.) She and Miss Middler also played the handbells.
 I love this picture. Miss Middler played, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." I think that song should be played at every concert!
 Here are the girls with their wonderful piano teacher, Mrs. Park.
 And here are all of our piano students. Three of these cute kids are also in my class. And that little one in the very middle (Japanese) in front of Miss Middler is a prodigy. Look for her to be famous one day!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gettin' Those Boys!

My brother Tim has the biggest heart. He'd just about do anything (or give money!) to anyone! I think that is why he has so many stray dogs wander up to his house...he sends off some sort of signal that says, "I'll help. Come on!" Perhaps that is part of why God has laid it upon his heart to adopt twin boys from Africa. He's got a houseful of kids, but still his heart breaks for those who will have no one to call their own daddy. The adoption process has moved quickly, and they are about ready to bring them to America (we are hoping for January/February). My sister in law has worked round the clock to sew/craft things to raise money for this final payment that needs to be made to get them here. Would you consider checking out her online auction (open for 1 week) and seeing if there is something you'd like to bid on? Here's an added incentive...if you go to her blog through my blog, Campbell Clan Blog, bid on an item, and are the highest bidder for any one item, I'll mail you a Turkish rug mousepad. Just make sure you leave in the comment that you came through Campbell Clan. Thanks for checking it out! Here's the link!

And a big shout out to Kelly at Kelly's Korner and Laurie at Laurie's Life for mentioning this on your blogs, too!

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