We are so so so very excited to have company this year for Christmas! CC's sister, husband, and 3 kids flew in on Sunday to spend the holiday with us. After some tomato soup and fellowship, we all bedded down, slept, and then got ready for our first adventure on day one.
Firstborn and Twinkle Toes braved the bus and took public transportation down to Ulus. The rest of us piled in the van. It was very, very cold. We stopped in one little shop to browse and warm up! Big Ben wasted no time getting up right next to the heater.
We took some beautiful pictures on top of the Ulus castle.
We stopped in another shop and the kids found these....
We decided to sneak and open a few gifts early. We saved everything from the Campbell side and from each other. But we opened the gifts from the Fish side. The cousins gave us movies...perfect for these cold, winter nights.
Big Ben opened his Teenage Ninja Turtle movie from the cousins, and his amazing camo pants and dino shirt from Grandma, and loved them both. But he just couldn't understand why we had to stop. There are so many presents under the tree! You know the rest of the story, I reminded CC....he's running a fever, poor guy had no spunk all day, bless his heart....so we let him open one more. He crawled in our bed the next morning, fever was down...pounced on his Papa and said, "Let's put together that Lego set!" Good call!
Grandma gave the girls a cool-80's-colors jacket and a bangle bracelet to match. They loved them! We planned a matching day for a picture.
WOW, what a busy, but special last week it was at school. We had almost full attendance at our Christmas presentation. Here is the upper elementary hearing the entire Christmas story (from Eden to Calvary).
They listened well and asked great questions.
Then we came back to our classrooms and rotated the kids into stations with Christmas caroling, games, and a craft.
After that, our class had treats to eat, watched an old Christmas cartoon (The ones we watched as kids are all on youtube!), and opened gifts. I hand-painted a round stone from Antalya, Turkey, for each of my kids.
Their precious reactions made my day. They were each so happy I had made it for them and happy that all were different.
I love this picture my friend T took. Look at the different stones and different skin colors.
We had a particularly hard goodbye this week. My sweet Chinese student N moved to Canada, where her father has gotten a job. She was one of Sweet Cheeks' best friends. While at our school, she decided to become a Christian. Last week was her last week here, so we invited her to spend the weekend night with us so she could see what church is like. She was so excited to go.When I invited her to spend the night, her mom asked if it might be too much for me. I laughed and said, "What's one more?!" She then admitted that she was so happy N could be with a large family to see what it was like. She is, of course, from China, when there was the one child limit. She is a gift from God, and I got the chance to talk to her parents about that. She cried as she hugged me goodbye, and I did too. I knew it would be hard.
This was one of her last days with us at Oasis.
I hope that we will see her again and am so thankful for the work God did in her heart while she was here.
We are so blessed to get to host the staff Christmas party each year. We've found a nice routine and basically do the same thing every year....potluck of appetizers and desserts. I make a double batch of hot wassail. We bring a secret gift and fight to the end to get the gift we want. I thought this year was especially fun. Lots of laughter and camaraderie among our team this year.
This is my kitchen. Friends. Food.
We had a special guest. B's mom is here for the holiday. I sat by her. Awww.
I'll admit it. I'm a little saucy. I wrapped my gift in a Victoria's Secret bag...just to see who would be curious enough to get it.
CC wrapped up a dart board. I knew what it was, so I chose it. (I wanted one for the terrace teen hang-out.) Then someone stole it from me. Then I got coffee. Then someone stole that from me. Then I stole the dart board back. Then CC opened his gift...another dart board!! Ha!
D took our picture. She knows the outtakes are the funniest, so she snapped several. Check out N and me in the center. We knew we were being snapped.
Here's our amazing staff! I love them and wish them all a Merry Christmas!
Just wanted to dedicate this post to Firstborn, of whom I am so proud! I feel like this year I can stop holding my breath. She is what I would say, officially launched (!) as far as getting herself where she needs to be, getting her school work done, making wise decisions, just taking charge of life. She's taken on a tutoring job this year, as well as managed basketball practices three times a week. It's nice to have a 9th grader! She was asked to play her saxophone for our church's Christmas program. It was beautiful! I love you and am proud of you, Firstborn!
Here, I think she is the spitting image of CC's mom. Both of them are beautiful!
The girls did a beautiful job in their piano concert this week! Both Twinkle Toes and Miss Middler were given the option to stop lessons this year, as life has become so full with sports and classwork. But they opted to keep taking it. I am proud of them!
Twinkle Toes was asked to play for Youth Group this week. She begged me not to come video! I am so proud of them!
Sweet Cheeks is wearing the velvet dress I wore in my Uncle Gordon and Aunt Pat's wedding when I was her age!
I have uploaded their recital pieces to YouTube....our page is TheCampbellClan96
Our high school choir and bands performed a Christmas concert last week. The director asked my third graders to perform a song with them. I was so thrilled when all 13 of them came, donned in red and ready to perform. They are the sweetest class! Below is a youtube link. One of my school moms is a videographer/reporter for a news station here. She did a 10 minute video and uploaded it. Check it out when you have a little time! It is especially dear to me, as I am losing my Chinese student next week who is moving to Canada. Sweet Cheeks will have a hard goodbye. She is next to Sweet Cheeks in this picture. I am glad I have this clip to remember this time.
Here's the link! (If you only have a minute, move to the end where you can hear the kids sing.)
I finally went over to the dark side. Bought some leggings and a long shirt, added my boots. I've resisted the trend because I feel like I am wearing panty hose and a shirt!!! But the girls convinced me I look super cool, so here I am.
We normally put up our Christmas decorations the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We all love the house like this so much, and there's so little Christmas around us, we want to get it up as soon as possible. (But I am a get-it-down-Jan.-1-kind-of-girl!)
Here's our kitchen table. I am loving my IKEA click-on candles!
Miss Middler set up my fireplace with candles.
Each year I buy the kids 1 ornament. One of these days when they take them, our tree will be bare again.
I love to peer into the drawings of my kids. It reveals so much about them. I love that they love to draw. Big Ben usually takes a normal coloring page and adds something to it. It's usually involves Star Wars. Here I found Chewbacca and some storm troopers in this jungle. Maybe Chewbacca wants that banana above his head?
One way he has connected with his Papa in a big way is that he knows Papa can draw well. He has started to make requests. The other day he asked for a dinosaur with a man coming out of the jungle yelling, "Dinosaur!" When he received it, he went back and suggested a few more trees be added!!! Papa added more trees. Big Ben is so proud of these drawings, he keeps them all.
Now it's become a several-times-a-week request. Papa sits down after the kids have gone to bed and whips off a new drawing. It's like having your own live coloring book illustrator. This one was a very specific request...a football player making a catch while being tackled with two hands.
And then the darling boy drew one like his Papa's. I'll keep it forever.
At our Christmas Fair, I purchased this fun frame that you can write on. We've been passing it around to each other every couple of days. It was Big Ben's turn to tell someone else why he loves them. He asked me to help him spell all these words to his Papa.
Miss Middler is turning out to be quite the photographer. I find the most beautiful pictures on my IPAD. She told me the other night she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She is certainly smart enough to do it. If that doesn't work out, she could fall back on this!
I should get my Thanksgiving post on here before Christmas arrives! We had such a great Thanksgiving! Here's our den set up for company. (That's a fire dvd!)
The issue of getting a turkey in Turkey can be stressful. This year I took it upon myself to approach my butcher 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and ask him to order me a turkey. He readily agreed. Then I tacked on 7 more turkeys for friends who requested one, too. The DAY before Thanksgiving he cancelled on me. Sigh. CC took me out in the freezing rain and drove me to the grocery where I bought 3 chickens. Here I am bathing them on Thanksgiving morning! (Where's the turkey in this picture?!)
It isn't so much that I HAVE to have turkey. It's the time spent setting up the order, the planning ahead...just to be disappointed. But as it turns out, my guests loved chickens just as much.
We had 23 guests from all over. All of them had some sort of tie to America and wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was very international and wonderful.
The teens nearly wiped us out! (Notice the table...Thanksgiving is by far the hardest meal to recreate in Turkey, but every year the Lord helps us pull it together between stuff folks have brought back in luggage to a friend snagging me a gift of some cranberries at the US base!)
Especially these two! (One, ahem, no names...went back 5 times.)
The little ones enjoyed playing some computer games after lunch.
And the big ones enjoyed talking and coffee with pie.