Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I've been finding the deals on Craig's List lately! I bought a little crawling tunnel a few weeks ago for $10. Bought a ball hopper toy for $5. Then I got this basketball hoop for $10. One of the second year wives, April, lived right by the woman selling it so she picked it up for me. How sweet was that? I figured that buying these cheap toys means that if we decide not to take them with us to Turkey, they've still played it enough to justify the money.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
- 2-3 lbs of chicken
- 9oz can of pineapple chunks
- 1/4 cup brown sugar*
- 1 tsp salt*
- 1/3 cup of catsup*
- 2 TBLS cornstarch*
- 1/4 cup vinegar*
- 1 tsp soy sauce*
- Simplicity: 3.5
- Taste: 3.5
- Nutrition: 2.5
How long will you be living in
We will be in turkey for at least two years. At the end of two years, we can decide to stay in Turkey for another two years or we can go to another base for two years. JB owes a total of four years so we will either spend all four of them in Turkey or just half of them in Turkey. As of right now, that decision will be our's to make. Because Turkey is considered a "hardship" location; we have been told that we will be in good graces when requesting our next base.
Why was it your first choice?
Back in the fall of last year, John and I started talking about our "dream sheet." This is a list of the 20 bases you would like to be stationed at post-residency. All the military residents across the country fill one out. Our friends, Tristan and Shannon, had been in Turkey for two years. In addition, another resident, Nick and his wife Kristy, had gone there after Tristan and would be there another year. We had heard good things about the Base including the fact that you could do a lot of travelling and that the hours were good. Because there is no hospital, you are doing only outpatient work which has better hours. Ultimately, however, there was one major reason why we ranked Turkey #1. They do not deploy their physicians. This could always change, but as it stands right now, JB will be one of three family medicine physicians on the Base. He will not deploy during the 2-4 years we are there. When we finally came down to it we decided: "Let's choose our little family over our big family." In other words, no, we won't see family or friends as much, but he'll be with us. We were basically told that any other Base would deploy him within the first 12 months for 7 months. John volunteered for the spot way-back in the fall and we were told that he was the first person to express interest and that our chances were very high to get Turkey. Ranking Turkey allowed us to put our future into our own hands, as much as you can in the military.
What are you looking forward to seeing or doing while there?
Honestly? Everything! We really wanted to go overseas but the "cool" Bases (like those in Europe) are next to impossible to get. We'd love to go to Israel, Greece, and see as many places as we possibly can. I especially want to see those places (like Ephesus) that were places our Lord and Savior spent time.
You have so many visitors during the year. (I am so jealous) Family, friends. Etc. How will your entire family including "B" and
It is my hope that we will still have visitors. While there may not be as many, we do figure they will stay longer when they do come. We hope that all of our parents and Isaac's birth family will make the trip as often as they are physically and financially able to. We recognized that when we asked to go to Turkey, there was a chance we wouldn't see our loved ones as much as we do now. However, that was a sacrifice we were willing to make to have JB with us.
Do you plan to learn the Turkish language?
Yes! We are ordering Rosetta Stone as we speak. We have heard that the language is quite difficult, but we hope to get as fluent in it as possible. They also have some classes you can take in the language on Base. We are also hoping that our Turkish housekeeper will help create two bilingual children!
I don't have to ask if
You are right! We cannot wait to explore the food in Turkey. Our friend Kristy, who is there now, says that her housekeeper cooks a Turkish meal for them once a week. We are so into that! We look forward to visiting markets and restaurants and exploring the food and culture wholeheartedly.
What's the ethnic/religious makeup of the Turkish people near where you'll be stationed? I know it's pretty cosmopolitan and secular in parts of
In our welcome packet, it says: "Turkey is not the United States. While this statement seems a bit obvious, it serves as a reminder of certain cultural sensitivities. Almost every book about Turkey describes it as either the cradle of civilization or the bridge between the east and west. Unlike many clichés, these two are not overused ... In November 1923, the republic of Turkey declared its independence and named Ataturk its first president. During the 15 years of his presidency, Ataturk carried out great cultural and political reform. He changed the written language from Arabic to the Latin alphabet used by countries in the western world. He also initiated changes in the legal and education systems. He is responsible for raising the social position of women and encouraging the acceptance of western dress. In essence, Ataturk made Turkey what it is today -- a unique mix of old and new, where east meets west."
Believe it or not, it is prohibited to wear religious dress in public in Turkey. "
How long is the travel to get there?
I am not positive on the exact numbers, but as of right now we are planning on flying out of Baltimore, Maryland to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. I think this is in the neighborhood of 7 hours or so. Then it would be another 7 hours or so from there to Incirlik Air Force Base.
Do they provide for you to come back to the states at all regularly?
The military will pay for us to get to Incirlik. And they will pay for us to come home when our tour is up. However, JB will have vacation time each year, and we plan to come home at least one time a year. This, however, would be at our own expense.
What is the schooling like for the kids when they start school?
There is a childcare center on Base which I believe is for children 0-4. There are then schools on Base for kids 5 and older. I have heard that the school is dependent upon the teachers that are there at the time. It is difficult to find quality teachers since, well, it's Turkey! Even if we are there for four full years, our boys would be just kindergarten age at that point, and we would most likely home school for that one year.
What will you do when you are done in Turkey?
We are not sure, right now, if we will stay there for two years or for four. However, our current plan, after military payback is done, is to buy some land. We'd like to have a small hobby farm and adopt older children or those who need homes. We will have to see, however, where the Lord takes this dream. Most likely we would buy this land in the Pacific Northwest or the Tennessee/North Carolina area.
How is the family safety for little kids there?
Our friends that live there do much travelling away from Base with no problems. I've heard that the biggest problem they encounter is extreme loving obsession with their blue-eyed children. Many people actually frequent Turkey as a vacation spot. However, like any foreign country, care needs to be put forth regarding safety. The Base itself, is EXTREMELY safe. I also think it is important for Americans to understand that while there are radicals, the majority of people in the Middle East are peaceful people. It would be like people in another country judging us on the people who blow up abortion clinics. We all do not ascribe to this, and it would be a shame to judge us accordingly.
Does it make you nervous to live in another country?
I think there is some part of me that is a little unsure of the unknown. If we weren't going to an Air Force base and living amidst all kinds of people in the same situation as we were, I think it would be even more intimidating. But the truth is, we are looking forward to an adventure. We are looking forward to experiencing another culture, another people. We are looking forward to travelling, shopping, and eating in a place like nothing we have ever participated in. How many people can say they lived in Turkey? While nervous and overwhelmed with the difficulties and prospects of moving overseas, I am thrilled to get the opportunity and to have John working better hours and not deploying.
How often do you plan to come back to visit your family?
Once a year at least.
Are you going to do another call for recipes for Turkish dishes?
I don't think I'll be doing much cooking. With a housekeeper and a husband working much better hours, the idea is, I won't need to.
How much time will JB get off and will it allow you to travel in Europe/the
JB will be on call every fourth day. This call is taken from home and still allows us to do local travelling. However, otherwise, we should have most weekends free. I believe, in total, we get four weeks of leave time which would include our visit to the States. Here are just a few photos I snagged from Shannon's Facebook page featuring some of the places they have visited.
This is Shannon (left) with Kristy. While Shannon is moving back to the States the same month we move in, Kristy and her family will be there at least another year.
How is the housing in Turkey?
There is the old, bad, small housing. And then there is the brand new, huge, fantastic housing. We found out that we qualify for the latter! Unless something changes, we will be living in a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home, with over 4000 square feet of living space. My friend Shannon lives in one now and she was nice enough to send me some photos. Here are just a few:
Where is Turkey located?
This map should help. Take a look. Adana, the city nearest Incirlik Air Force Base is on the very left side of Syria. It basically borders the water and Syria.
Absolutely! We will be driving to Baltimore, Maryland and all taking a military flight out together. There are not many restrictions on dogs in Turkey. It will cost us around $100 to fly him out. How great is that? Scrubs does not need to be quarantined at all. This is actually a misconception regarding taking pets overseas. While some of the countries in Asia require a quarantine, most countries now-a-days, do not require your pet to be quarantined as long as you get the correct paperwork and shots before you leave the U.S. We will cut off Scrubs' food about 24-hours before we leave and only put in a frozen hamster water container with him so that he can get liquid but not too much. We think that he can get out when we stop in Germany, but we aren't sure yet. We may give him a little something to take the edge off, but we think he'll be fine.
If you have other questions, please let me know. I'd be happy to add to this post!
*** (additional questions after posting) ***
I'm curious to know about Christian churches in Turkey, especially close to where you live. Do you think it will be possible for you to find a church where you will feel at Home?
There is a Chapel on the Base and a catholic church on Base. I have heard good things about the Chapel. But I have heard that it can depend on who the Chaplain is at the time. Yesterday, while buying a kennel from a gal off Craig's List, she mentioned that they found a good church off-Base. I doubt there are many, and quite honestly, we are excited to fellowship with "all the Christians" who live on our Base. In some ways, it is nice not to have the option to be picky.
Is having a housekeeper standard in Turkey or just on the base? Is it an option to have one - could you opt out if you wanted to?
From what I understand, having a housekeeper and a gardener, is, actually optional. However, it is strongly encouraged and is sort of a "tradition" on Base as it helps the local economy. This is a Turkish Air Force Base that gives us land, so we want to help the local economy as much as we can. I don't think anyone would tell us we had to but at the same time, they hope that you do.
You mentioned adopting older children in a few years. Do you plan to do any more fertility treatments?
Yes. We have 7 embryos that we will most definitely, totally, and completely go back for at Mayo Clinic. We are still praying about when to do that. If we had more biological children, our adoption plans might get adjusted somewhat, but either way, we are hoping to add to our family through adoption again if the Lord allows. We both have a heart for older children, especially sibling groups, and we think a small farm would be a fantastic place to raise children.
What is the weather like?
According to my friend Shannon: "The weather is almost identical to Florida weather. The summers feel hotter, but I think it's just because we're pretty much in the Middle East, and just saying Middle East makes you feel hot. In the winter, if you drive North just an hour, you're in the mountains, so there's snow and lots of cold up there, but here in Adana, the winters are fairly mild."
Monday, March 29, 2010
I'm not sure why I was so dead-set against the idea of having two cribs. I just thought they would take up so much room and that we could get Isaac in a "big boy bed" by the time Elijah was ready to move into a crib. John often says to me, "Why do you make things harder on yourself?" He's right. Putting Isaac in a toddler bed, right now, would just be something else to deal with. And I don't have the energy to deal with something else.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Volleyball was also very expensive. While AAU basketball was relatively free (coaches were nearly all volunteer), club volleyball was still an "elite" activity and coaches were paid salaries. It cost my parents more than they really had to allow me to play. So before my senior season of club volleyball, I made the decision to play college basketball instead of volleyball and subsequently did not play my senior year of club volleyball.
Did I make the right decision? It is hard to say. As I look back, and look at my college basketball success, I can tell you that my body was a volleyball player's body. I looked like a volleyball player. I moved like a volleyball player. And I wish I could go back and see what would have happened had I made a different decision. But I can't do that and so, in order to not have regrets, I just accept that that was how it was.
Once I made the decision to play college basketball, the recruiting process began. This was a grueling, tiring, and overwhelming process for any seventeen year old to go through. You begin by getting letters from schools and then phone calls. My father and I would, on two separate phones, hold an approximately hour long phone call with some coach from some school somewhere. We'd ask a series of questions and determine whether that school would get a second call. Sometimes I would take as many as three of these hour long phone calls in a night. I grew sick to my stomach when I would hear the phone ring and completely weary of these calls. I then started eliminating schools.
When they called the second time, I would tell them whether they made the cut. I made the second-most-difficult decision of my sports career when I decided I wanted to play big-time Division I basketball. Was this the right decision? Again, you can't retreat in your mind to the past. So I try not to think about it. I had many smaller Division I schools tell me, flat out, that I would start and play all the time for them as a freshman. I passed on that opportunity in the hopes of playing for a national contender. I think I was good enough to play top D-1 but not good enough to play a lot or be a stand-out at that level. I was a center stuck in a forward's body. I never could gain the weight or the strength that it would take to be a super star center at that level. Let's face it. 6'3" and 160 pounds just wasn't big enough. Imagine that.
But again ... the past is the past. After a long and drawn out recruiting process which included many coaches coming to visit my house and then me taking visits to a handful of schools, we narrowed it down from approximately 70 schools to just a handful. In a very emotional decision, I chose Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky over Florida State University as my college of choice. All I could think of was how relieved I was to sign that national letter of intent, secure a full scholarship, and be done with recruiting calls, home visits, and official visits. Here was the amazing Diddle Arena back in 1995. It looks quite different today but it could easily seat 6,000 plus for a woman's game. These were great numbers at the time:
After one emotional phone call, I remember flopping down on my bed and telling Kristi I wasn't sure we could stay together. Kristi laid next to me nearly in tears. "Wendi," she said. "You have to stay together. If you and John don't make it, then I know I'll never make it and I'll never get married." I guess she was right. We did make it, and man, I am so glad that John was so determined to marry me. I gave him every reason to give up so many times. Those are details for another post. Let me get back to basketball. Here is my entire family on a visit to Bowling Green. This was taken at Jackson's Orchard ... one of my favorite places in all of Bowling Green to be. It's hard to pick pictures for this post as I have so many. I've tried to just touch the surface on the four years I spent in Kentucky.
I met Kristi on my recruiting visit to Western. We ended up paired as roommates. You were required, as a basketball player, to spend your first two years in Central Hall dorms on the fourth floor. I later found out that Kristi called the coaches to beg for another roommate when she learned of our matching. I guess I didn't make a good first impression. Kristi and I were night and day! But what a blessing the coaches decided to go with their guts and put us together. We fast became the best of friends. We lived in the dorm together for two years and then in an apartment for one year before I ran off and got married.
Here we are in our dorm room of two years in Central Hall. #403 if I remember correctly. You can tell this was freshman year because I still have my Florida tan.
And here is Kristi and I at a practice. This was pretty typical of Kristi. Flying by me. She was the most tenacious player I have ever, ever, ever encountered. If you were in her way, watch out. She'd stop for no one.
I became very good friends with all of my teammates but specifically two other freshmen: Shea who I am going to be seeing next weekend, and Heather who I was also be seeing next weekend! Heather left after our freshman year. Sophomore year my bud Jaime (who is here visiting me now) moved into Central Hall. She became a very close friend as well. Here's a picture of me and Jaime at Kristi's wedding. I am holding the "nutt bucket" and yes, this was featured on the The Wedding Story on TLC. We were castrating cattle, and as the Matron of Honor, I was entitled to this privilege.
And here is a picture of me with Kristi and another great friend that I still talk to online some today, Laurie. She is now a mother of twin boys. We are in San Francisco here:
So, college basketball. It was an amazing opportunity. I got to see places and go places and participate in things I would never have been able to do without basketball. Here's me experiencing snow in Maine. I was not enjoying this as you can probably tell. The Florida girl in her first experience with cold weather.
And here I am on a horse at Kristi's family's ranch in new Mexico. We played in the NIT that year in New Mexico and spent a few days enjoying her home.
I had no idea how to dress in cold weather. I was naive and clueless about nearly everything. My teammates took me under their wing and taught me everything I needed to know to dress like a southerner and not stand out like a sore thumb.
My scholarship at WKU meant I didn't owe a dime for my schooling. What an amazing blessing. I actually got better grades in college then I did in high school due to the fact that my boyfriend (now husband) was back in South Florida and I just wasn't in to the party scene. When all of my teammates would leave for the night, I'd study. What else did I have to do?
I loved basketball, but I don't think I loved it enough for the commitment involved with big-time basketball. Don't get me wrong. I worked hard. I worked as hard as I could. After returning from my only summer at home in South Florida between my freshman and sophomore years, the coaches told me that I was the most improved after the summer break. And I agreed! I had worked my tail off at home. I was disciplined and did what I was asked, even when eyes weren't watching. At the end of my freshman year, I was awarded the "Harry Burns Courage Award." I think this was given more for my support of my teammates and refusal to participate in the party scene and instead focus on my grades.
As the years went on, I definitely became known to my teammates, coaches, and fans as the "mother hen" or the team mother -- the person that could be trusted at all times. When two of my teammates got into a drunken brawl one night in college, both of them called me for help. The cops ended up releasing one of them into my custody knowing that she'd be okay with me. That was my team role, and even though I didn't participate a lot on the court, I worked to do so off off it all the time.
But no matter how hard I worked on the court, I wasn't as good as many of my teammates, especially my first two years. I remember feeling so frustrated that my teammates, some of whom didn't work very hard and were out all night the night before practice, could still do things on the basketball floor that I would never be able to do. But I stuck with it and was determined to be the best I could be. Here is my entire team sophomore year. What a great group of girls and friends.
Getting ready for a photo shoot. This says October of 1995.
Of course Bri was a huge fan! They made numerous trips to come and visit me at WKU.
I was known as one of the most energetic "Lady 'Toppers" (short for Hilltoppers). I was supportive of my teammates, even from the bench, and would always get a roaring cheer when it was finally my turn to go in the game my freshman and sophomore year.
I played those first two years under the legendary Coach Paul Sanderford. I remember that he worked us very hard. That he expected nothing less than our very best. That he was, nearly always, very fair. That every time I made a mistake he would say, "Wendi, how could someone with a ___ SAT screw that up so badly?" Each time he did this, my SAT score got higher and higher. And quite honestly, I didn't have that high of an SAT in the first place!
He still credits me with helping him develop his coaching philosophy "nine pounds of air" in telling me that this ball was just air at the end of the day. That I didn't need to let it effect me so much.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, JB moved to Kentucky. He had graduated from the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute with his Associates Degree in graphic design and quickly got a job for an advertisement firm in downtown Bowling Green. He got an apartment and our relationship moved forward. It was difficult for John. He knew NO ONE in town but me. And I was very busy with a life that was not my own. I can remember one night planning to have dinner together and being told minutes before I was to arrive for dinner that we instead had to go to a team function. He had no money and was living with boxes for furniture for quite some time. But the team quickly embraced him as one of their own. Here is Natalie at a hayride about to plant one on John!
We moved ahead with our wedding plans and plans for me to red-shirt. However, during my junior summer, Coach Sanderford unexpectedly left WKU for Nebraska. Coach Steve Small, who was an amazing Associate Head Coach during my first two years and was one of the coaches I was closest to and most influential in recruiting me to WKU, took over. After long discussions, Coach Small decided NOT to red-shirt me. Mostly because I begged him not to. However, the wedding plans went on and before my senior year, I was married. I became the first ever married Lady 'Topper. Here I am before my wedding:
Again though, that is in the past. I hold nothing against my head coach. I loved Coach Small. He did the best he could. I just wish things would have gone differently the last two years on the court.
Off the court, things continued to go well. John and I were married, and I had the extreme privilege to receive WKU's academic athlete of the year award my senior year. My family flew in to surprise me for the event.
My last year on the hill.
The seniors I graduated with: Shea, Kristi, me, and one of my other great friends, Katashia.
I belonged at WKU. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and one I am most grateful for. Sports molded me into the woman I became. I owe WKU and the entire coaching staff more than I can put into words.
And that is the end of one of my longest posts ever. I've stayed up WAY too late writing it. But there you go. College basketball in a very large nutshell. ;)
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
- 2-3# boneless/skinless chicken (cut into bite size)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup (Healthy Recipe works great)
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup (Healthy Recipe works great)
- 2 t garlic pwdr or 2 garlic cloves (chop garlic)
- 1/2 white/yellow onion - diced
- 1 Cup Sherry (cheap works well)
- Pepper to taste
- 2-3 shakes of Worchshire
Directions: Line slow cooker with liner, fill with above ingredients, stir well. Cover & cook on Hi for 4 hrs or Low for 6-8 hrs. Great served over pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, or dressing.
- Simplicity: 3.5
- Taste: 4
- Nutrition: 4
Total rating: 4
Wendi's report: Jodi joined us for dinner tonight after watching the boys so I could go swim. (Have I mentioned that I think swimming is hard?) Anyways, this was a fabulous dinner. Scrumptious. We ate it over mashed potatoes (thanks to Jodi!) Elijah didn't dive in, but I think it was just because he wasn't feeling himself. He seemed to like it. Isaac wouldn't try it so we don't think that makes him a fair judge. Either way, this was a healthy, easy, and very tasty recipe. Loved it! Give it a try.
To see all the food contest results, click here.
Just today I called about passports. Apparently I and the boys need "no-fee" passports to get into the country. These are free. However, they will do us no good while there. We need "regular" passports to do any travelling. While I have a regular passport, the boys do not, so we will need to get both a non-fee and regular passport.
You know, that type of thing.
And of course, the most important thing of all. What in the world am I going to call my blog now? Please leave a comment with a suggested name change. I'll pick a few and do a blog vote like I did when the Polar North defrosted.
Turkey, here we come!