Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steal of a deal

We had a guest from our headquarters coming to stay with. CC had just returned from Africa. We spruced up our guest room. On a whim, I sent these two with 10TL (US$5) to the florist down the street. I assumed we'd get a little sprig, as he tends to be on the expensive side. I instructed them to stay on the sidewalk, hold hands, give him the 10TL, then just point to what they thought was pretty. They came back with this enormous bouquet. I think that man must have a soft spot for pinchable-cheek little kids. I also think I'm sending them everytime I need flowers from now on! 

Star Wars Crazed

I did something I rarely do, which is walk right out of school at 3PM. But it was for good reason. Our nearby mall was hosting a little Star Wars Lego promotional.  I knew just the guy I wanted to take. 

I went with my buddy T and her two girls. 

We had a cup of coffee while our little ones got to play with legos. One of the guys spoke English. He translated a bit for Big Ben. Soon, Big Ben took him on as his personal Lego assistant. 

I really just wanted him to pose by the sign. He kissed it. What can I say? Legos are classic. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I was pretty much as happy as a girl can get when Firstborn started playing high school sports in 7th grade. This year is even happier because my first two girls are on the same team!

Twinkle Toes has gotten a little playing time on the Varsity team!

I love that I got this picture of them subbing in for each other!

Here's Firstborn serving. She is so much more confident this year and her skills show it.

The girls have surprised us with 2 wins now, even against a team of amazon girls, almost all of them taller than our tallest!

Our school is such a special extra hug from a coach means the world.

Even science teachers came out of the stands to hug and congratulate them.
Meanwhile, I'll be the one in the stands screaming my head off....I've waited a long time for this. I'm not missing a minute!

Stuff to keep

School has gotten off to a great start. I'm thinking of starting a third grade for now, I'll keep this to family stuff. I had to catch these in photo form so even if the paper gets crumpled or lost, I'll have it in cyber world! 

We ended up moving Big Ben into K5. I guess I could post the thought process on that at a later post. His teacher asked us to write him a short note at Open House night. I drew the very basic mama and son you see. Then I wrote the note in my best D'Nealian print. His papa added all the rest. What can I say? My son wants to keep it forever now.

As Sweet Cheeks' teacher, I asked all the moms/dads to draw on a bookmark for their kids, which I would laminate for them. Papa drew this. Sweet Cheeks loved it. She understands her dad's humor.

And this was precious to me. Sweet Cheeks wrote it on her first day of third grade.

What do you want to keep forever that your kids made?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flowers at the Campsite

This is such a dry, dusty, barren land. So, when I see beauty like this, I can't help but think how amazing our God is to let things flourish here.

This was my favorite. The texture reminded us of paper. 

The weeds were just right for catching grasshoppers, which Sweet Cheeks did the entire weekend!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Goodbye Campsite 2013

As we drove out of the village, we spotted the townspeople, all out having some sort of picnic together. For certain, this little logging town doesn't see many folks, especially a van full of blonde kids. I waved, then they waved. Then they yelled out for us to join them. It touched me immensely. And were we not creeping along on a rocky road without a spare tire and with a van that was beginning to sound like it needed a day in the shop to recover, I might have taken them up on it. Their hospitality continually amazes me. 

This is what their houses looked like. 

And this one, I had to photograph.

The scenery is beautiful in its own way, up on Light Mountain. Can you see the search-and-rescue tents across from us? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Camping Mishaps and Memories Part V

And then there was the way home....

We came back up the hillside, just like we'd come down...bumping and crawling slowly up the tractor-made road. It was slicker because of the rain. The rocks had stirred somewhat. We hit a big BUMP. And then we rolled on, holding our breath.

And right after we came upon a rescue team. We had spotted them on another hilltop (actually, the hilltop we had planned to camp on). They had tents set up, and it was roped off. We wondered all weekend if they were searching for a real person! Or a dead person? or a criminal? a crazy person? The stories flourished until Big Ben announced he was going to have bad dreams. No one wants to be woken up by a 4 year old bad dreamer, so they quit. Well, the search and rescue team flagged us down and pointed out our very flat tire. We couldn't even feel it, so bumpy was our path.

They were SUPER nice. I had to ask. So I did. "Are you looking for someone? or something?" "No, ma'am. We are just training." Whew. But since they were just training, they were thrilled to have the opportunity to solve our flat tire problem. It was as if we hit the Indy 500 pit stop. CC and the guys had it off and changed in no time. There was one older gentleman training two younger boys. The younger boys wanted to take pictures. So cute! (First time out of the village? First big save?) I, of course, shamelessly take pictures of everything remotely interesting...for the sake of you readers.

We thanked them profusely, then offered them chocolate chip cookies. No Turk can refuse them. They love the mix of salty and sweet. They grabbed a handful and trekked off to radio in some more coordinates.

And we wondered, once again, at what a great God we serve. A Turkish search-and-rescue team? On that lonely mountain? Right when we got our flat tire? wow. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Camping Mishaps and Memories Part IV

We knew it was going to rain, but we had no idea it would be a downpour. So, we failed to hide some wood from the rain for the next morning. We couldn't find any dry wood. The fire wouldn't start. The kids and I hiked up the mountain, found some massive trees, and somehow found dry wood underneath them. So, we got the fire started...and the scrambled eggs!

We tried Camping Breakfast Burritos for the first and last time. The tortillas here just don't hold up. Still, the stuff falling out of them was good. I brought some dried blueberries from the US this summer. I rehydrated them at home and baked some blueberry muffins for the meal before we left. Mmmm.

The camping and fire-starting pro!

As a fun treat, I brought along some stroopwaffles. We heated them over the fire and let the caramel inside melt. Have you ever had one? I simply can't stock them at home. I'd eat too many. I learned to love them from Shirley, my Singapore friend who later lived in Holland. (They are a Dutch cookie.) Amazingly, they appear here from time to time. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Camping Mishaps and Memories Part III

We survived the night in the tent. I was still sleeping when some CampbellClanKids got a hold of my IPAD.
Why do they looked shocked when they knew exactly what they are doing? I've always wondered that...

Our tent is really a four man tent. The two side pockets are meant for sleeping. CC and I take the middle and bundle up extra good. These two below are roommates at home, too. Apparently, they still wanted to be together in the tent.

Big Ben ditched us. He's always slept between his Mama and Papa. This year, he begged to be with his big sis.
And so we made it through the night! More adventures (mishaps) awaited us.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Camping Mishaps and Memories Part II

The rain tapered off and left us with cool, sunny weather. We set up a water station, as this spot did not even have a water source. I think Abant Water could use this in their ads! 
(I believe I look more cheerful here than I actually was, don't let the picture fool you.) I used our favorite chili recipe, Nonie's Chili. The only difference was that we cooked it over a campfire. 
While it was cooking, Miss Middler found the nearest tree to climb, as always. 
Big Ben had the most wonderful time helping with the fire. He told his Papa, "We are the firemans, right, Papa?" 
And soon the chili was bubbling. It was delicious. We've had this chili and loved it for years, but it just tasted better over a campfire. I think CC, driving rocky roads, setting up the tent, building fires, was the hungriest of all. I miscalculated, and we only ended up with 1 spoon for the weekend. It was a giant wooden spoon. CC dipped it and ate out of this cooking pot more times than I can count, all in the name of testing it. There was about a 1/2 pot left when we were done eating. I was figuring how to store it, when CC decided to just polish it off. I'll let these captions die here. But I'll just say...he ate a 1/2 of a pot of chili, then slept in a tent with us. 
Before we left on the trip, I searched high and low for marshmallows. There is one brand I can occasionally find here. They're not the best, but they work for s'mores. However, I could not find them anywhere. On our way out of town, we stopped at two more groceries. For whatever reason (I am sure it was more due to tiredness and the stress of school starting), I melted down when I could not find them. (No pun intended.) The kids were so sweet. They assured me it didn't matter if we could not have s'mores.'s the mom crying because there are no marshmallows. The kids comforting the mom. (Please know that I am generally a stable, mature person. But also, there are just times overseas when it does get to you.) Anyway, we had the great idea after we arrived to roast gummy dinosaurs. No, they didn't work, but it was terribly funny to see them melting on the stick and trying to get them onto the chocolate before they died a fiery death. We ended up just melting our chocolate! 

The sun set quickly, and the air turned cool. We brushed our teeth and bundled up for the night, all 7 of us in the tent. (I took a Melatonin!) And then it began to pour. I have never been in a tent when it rained that hard. Heat flashes of lightning were all around. It was so strong, I would grab Miss Middler and say, "It's ok." just to remind myself that it was ok. I continually meditated on the power of God and on the safety of our tent. It was like a little reminder to me from God that no matter how severe the storms get (how loud, how long, how strong), I am safe in Him. It is something I will never forget. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Camping Mishaps and Memories

There's a very small window in which we can camp in Turkey. End-of-the-year in May works, but it is one of our busiest times. We are gone in the summer. Fall proves to be the best time, but it starts to get very cold at night, especially in the high altitudes, if we don't go by early September.

Last Friday was Victory Day in Turkey, and we had no school. We finished up Open House on Thursday night, then worked our tails off Friday morning to get packed up and ready to go. Was it rushed? yes. Was it stressful? yes. Was it worth it? yes.

After getting out of our city and driving about 2 hours out, we came upon the logging village where we camp.

The road you see below was one of the better ones.

It was warm when we arrived, but very soon the wind picked up. (even our toilet paper) CC said there was rain in the forecast.
CC and the kids quickly got the tent set up. We are so thankful for the sporting goods store in our city. The tent is a quick set up and take down. And we would soon find out just how waterproof it is. (As you can see, some are still in shorts, while others are donning sweatshirts!)

And then the rain came. CC picked up ponchos at Wal Mart just for this purpose.

The rain, at this point, was not severe enough to have to get inside the tent. In fact, I think the whole poncho thing was just fun. We weren't THAT wet. Yet.

More later!

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