Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Iftar Dinner

The word "Iftar" refers to the meal that breaks the Muslim community's fast every evening. During the month of "Ramadan" (the Turkish call it Ramazan), Muslim's fast from sun up until sun down. Ramazan falls at a different time every year as it follows the lunar calendar.

We had the opportunity through our church last night to take a bus into Adana and have an Iftar dinner on a roof-top of a hotel overlooking the "Sabancı Merkez Camii." It is the most visited mosque in Adana, as it is one of the largest mosques in the Middle East.

We left the church at 6:30pm and when the sun set, dinner was served. Here are some pictures of our evening (courtesy of my new friend Amanda since I realized our camera didn't have a card when we got there.)

Here is the mosque as the sun was beginning to set.

Our group. You can see JB and me, if you look very closely, at the far left table.

Another picture of the mosque at dusk.

A night out! (Thanks to Hannah, one of our new babysitters.)

The guy on the right is a Hodja. This is the head of a mosque and more specifically, a district of mosques. The guy on the left was translating for him. It was exciting to listen to the Turkish and English translation. I have only learned just a little bit of Turkish but am finding that the language is quickly becoming more familiar to me.

How gorgeous is this mosque lit up at night?

I learned some very interesting things during dinner that I wanted to share:
  • The two major Muslim holidays include celebrating the "coming of the word" and the "sacrifice" of that word. This is nearly identical to the Christian faith in which we celebrate Christmas (the coming) and Easter (the sacrifice) of the word.
  • From sun-up to sun-down, the fasting includes food, water, sex, and smoking.
  • Muslims pray five times a day. Last night I decided that every time I hear the Muslim call to pray, I am going to pray! What a great reminder to pray loud singing over loud speakers presents.
  • One of the major parts of the celebration of Ramazan is the giving of alms. "Rich people" (who are defined by a certain amount of net worth) are supposed to give to the poor during Ramazan.
  • The Hodja took the time to discuss misconceptions about Jihad. Jihad, according to the Hodja, has to do with the importance of spreading the word of Muslim faith. The faith itself does not teach violence unless you are defending your own country. While I know some Muslims do not hold to this belief, it is important for me to remember and for those that read my blog to understand that the vast majority of Muslims are incredibly peaceful people. It is a very small minority that make a bad name for their community.
  • This Hodja made a point of saying that He believes Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all worshipping the same God. We may argue differently, but this viewpoint still reveals what they personally believe.

John and I intend to learn as much about this culture and truly participate in their community while we live here. It is my hope that I can bring back my learning to this blog and that you can vicariously experience this community through me. As a Christian, I do believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. But that doesn't change the fact that we are called to love and live peacefully with the world.

P.S. I would love, with the help of JB, to answer any questions you might have about Ramazan or the Mulsim faith. I'll do my best. Just post a comment.


Today I cleaned six dirty diapers before lunchtime. But today, Isaac told me, for the first time, "Hey Mommy. I love you." No prompt. Not me telling him first. He just came up to me and said it.

I'll take that exchange. Dirty diapers for "I love you" any old day.

I hesitate sometimes to express my love for my boys on my blog to vividly. I do not want anyone who is grieving motherhood to be saddened by the reminder that their womb is empty. But sometimes I need to express how much I love these two little men. I hope people who read this find encouragement in the fact that the love is identical from Isaac to Elijah. It is exactly the same. They are both my boys.

I am humbled, blessed, overwhelmed, and elated to be their mom. There is often difficulty among women who parent after infertility for them to express the fact that there are still hard days. Parenthood is not easy. I still frequent Hannah's Prayer Discussion Board where I read a comment from a Mom just yesterday. She felt bad saying that she was having a hard time because it would make her sound ungrateful.

There are many things we do in life that we do by choice despite how hard they are. Needing encouragement or feeling overwhelmed does not quantify as saying you do not want something. You can want something and be blessed by something and still feel that it is a hard thing some days. That is okay.

If you have a mother in your life that is parenting after infertility, please remind them of this. Remind them that it is okay to express difficulty to the right people. Complaining is different than asking for prayer or encouragement. And complaining to the right people is also preferred. I avoid talking about the hardships of parenthood with my infertile friends. Those hard days can be reserved for a safe person.

And now, I am off for an evening out with my husband! I'll share pictures and details tomorrow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Toddler's Busy Book

My friend Jessie, an online friend from way back in my early HP (Hannah's Prayer) days, and now a loyal blog follower, mailed me a book this weekend. It's called: The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

Jessie, you are my brand new best friend. Seriously. Lovin' this book already, and I am just a short bit into it.

This book could not have come at a better time. I am "trapped" on a tiny Base. There are no indoor playlands or museums or zoo's or malls that I can take the boys to myself. The pool will close down in about a month. There are very few things on Base to do. That means it's me and my front and back yards. That's all I got.

Two toddlers. Me. And now this handy dandy little "Toddler Bible."

I decided that since many of you out there have toddlers (defined by this book as 1.5 to 3 years old) or plan/hope to have a toddler in your foreseeable future, I would share my successes and failures from this book. My goal is to do at least an activity a day. Something new. We read books. We watch videos. We play outside. But when it comes time to do something inside, we are often struggling to come up with something new that doesn't evoke fits of boredom. This book is going to be my guide.

For example, let's start with today. I tried TAPE CITY (Page 28). You can see the pictures of my attempt above. We didn't get very city-like. We stuck with the basics: a racing track like the one in Cars for Lightning McQueen. The result: a track that I can leave on for a few days that they seem to be interested in. Isaac actually wanted to run around it like he was a race car more than he wanted to actually use his race cars. But either way, it seemed to hold their interest for fifteen minutes. And that's all I am asking for these days.

So this is how it will work. I'll post about my activity choice and the result whenever we do one. If you would like to participate, I'd love to hear what did or did not work for you as well. What activities are you using with your toddlers to help shorten the long days? It could be something that is in this book, something you've been doing forever, or something new you tried. I may even share it on my blog. You can send a photo and brief description to me via email at: flakymn@hotmail.com. I'm not going to have a contest like I did with the Food Recipes since I never finished them all or judged them all. I'm just going to include what I can, when I can, and I hope you will enjoy and learn from the ride as well.

If you want to read all entries from this particular topic, you can click here. The list will keep growing.

A few funnies from Isaac

Isaac and Elijah are playing in the other room. Elijah starts crying. Isaac runs into the room.

Mommy: "What happened to your brother?"

Isaac: "He's fat."

Mommy: "He's fat?"

Isaac: "No. He sat."

Mommy: "He sat? He sat on what?"

Isaac: "He sat on the cat in the hat."

* * * * *

Isaac and Elijah are playing outside. Isaac pushes Elijah down the stairs. Elijah starts screaming. He has a huge bump on his forehead. After a time-out, Isaac comes to say sorry to Elijah, and Mommy attempts to show Isaac what his actions caused for Elijah.

Mommy: "Do you see that?"

Isaac: "See what?"

Mommy: Points to the bump on Elijah's head. "What is that?"

Isaac: Pauses. "Skin."

* * * * *

And then, the most classic of all. After a bath last night Isaac looks down and says, "Mommy. I have a peanut."

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Today I spent $15 on blueberries. Frozen blueberries. I didn't mean to. We went to a Turkish store. I thought they were 5,00TL. Somehow I bought something that was 20,00TL.

Big oops.

I asked JB as we checked out with our five items why it was nearly $30USD. He didn't know. I didn't know. We don't know enough Turkish to explain that we wanted to wait and not buy what we were buying until we figured out why it was so expensive.

So instead, we took our five items home. We looked at the receipt. We discovered that the berries were very expensive.

Dave Ramsey says that's a "stupid tax."

I say they better be some darned good blueberries.

P.S. I really miss berries. Unfortunately I haven't seen fresh ones anywhere around. They aren't local in the market right now. And the Commissary obviously can't get them here in one piece.

P.S.S. We also went to a fast-food restaurant off-Base. I am going to have to learn how to say "ketchup only." Without knowing those words, you are going to have a loaded burger. :)

Culutural Curve

Here are some things that occur when I am off-Base that I am still trying to get a handle on:

  • No obesity. While no one seems extremely "fit", there are very few, if any, obsese people here. Everyone is built very similar. I think this is because so much of life is done by foot. Walking is the norm.
  • Smoking. There are a lot of smokers here. Tons. Most restaurants allow it. It seems nearly every Turkish person I meets, smokes.
  • Men congregating together. You see men sitting together, talking together, drinking tea together, playing cards together. The women are never with them.
  • Kids sitting inside grocery carts. Turkish people do not feel comfortable with kids sitting in the seats of grocery carts. I took my housekeeper to the store to pick out some products she needed, and she insisted Elijah sit inside the cart. Parents will sometimes bring pillows and blankets and lay infants inside the carts. Many carts do not even have the seat for children.
  • The call to prayer. Five times a day. Still strange to me. We can hear it from Base.
  • Trash. There is trash everywhere. And I can sort of understand why. I can't EVER find a garbage can. If I have trash, I usually have to stash it in my diaper bag or purse and wait until I get home to throw it away.
  • Driving. Completely and utterly terrifying to me. Sometimes I just hold onto the side of the door and pray for JB. I don't know how he does it. I can't figure out what these people are doing. Roundabouts and squeezing in and out of non-existent lanes. Yikes. JB is, amazing. He really seems like he belongs here the way he can navigate and drive. I don't know how he does it.


I am really getting into this coupon thing on Base. I just saved 25% of my grocery bill! Yes, Jenny, here, they let us use them 6 months after their expiration. How cool is that?! And there are all kinds of "military only" deals companies offer on their products. I think the reason that this is "doable" for me is that the coupons are already cut. Already provided. It feels like something I can really get a handle on. Although we have enough Ortega and toothpaste now to last us, umm, maybe until we move.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Activities Abound

Last night we went to "Glow-in-the-Dark-Bowling." The church was hosting the event. We had pizza, the boys bowled, and we got to fellowship with some wonderful people. I am really excited about our church on Base. Such great people and, because of the lack of things to do in close proximity, lots of fun activities. There seem to be 2 or 3 opportunities to participate every week.

This morning, Isaac went to his first gymnastics class. They have a 2-4 year old class that meets every Saturday. JB took him, and apparently, the teacher, while incredibly sweet and knowledgeable about gymnastics, had never really had the opportunity to "herd cats" before. The kids kind of did their own thing. But Isaac still loved it. We think we'll let him try it for a month or so and see if it's worth the time and money.

Unfortunately, post-bowling brought on another upset stomach from Isaac. He actually told us he had a belly ache and we found him in his bed a few hours later after he had "had the upsetness." Both times this has occurred, it has been after eating out of the house. We have been allowing him to have occasional items with egg cooked in, but are now wondering if this may be what is causing him to get sick. Felt so badly for the little guy. He snuggled with us in our bed until close to midnight. He's gotten to be such a snuggler!

We watched the movie Changeling last night. A bit disturbing. Not strongly recommended for that reason, but otherwise good. I also read a wonderful book that I wanted to recommend. It's called The Help. Apparently, it is going to be a movie soon too. The content is one I greatly enjoy -- breaking down racial stereotypes. While there were a few slightly disturbing parts (including a sub-plot of miscarriage) it was a wonderful book. I loved it.

In other news, I've been dog sitting for Sasha and Max, Nick and Kristy's dogs, this weekend. Their pups are staying at their house due to Sasha's slight hesitation with other dogs. We haven't tried to have them meet Scrubs yet but we are hoping to see if they will get along when Nick returns on Sunday. Poor Scrubs. Whenever I come back from hugging on their dogs, he sniffs me for like thirty minutes and just has the look like, "How dare you? I thought we were exclusive!"

We've thoroughly enjoyed having JB off for a three-day-weekend. Apparently, the Base doesn't give four days in a row off, so they decided to give back-to-back three-day-weekends instead. No complaining from me.

I've also been enjyoing spending time with my new friend "William's Sarah." They are hoping to get their HHG early next week. "William's Sarah" introduced me to "Peter's Sarah." Added to this are "Scotty's Sarah" and "Elica's Sarah" and you can tell that I am a bit inundated with Sarah's!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Wedding Justin

If there is one event that I wish I could fly back to the U.S. for, it would be my cousin Justin's wedding, today, in Illinois. Justin and I bonded during a cruddy time in both of our lives. We both dreamed for each other the answer to our prayers. His prayer was a Godly wife. Mine was a child. Whoulda thunk I'd get two children? (At least Justin didn't get two wives.)

Today Justin is marrying Julia. Her daughter Bella will only add to their perfect family. May the Lord Bless you and Julia, Justin. I thank Him for providing the miracles you and I prayed for each other during a very dark time in both of our lives.

Aaaahhh . . .

We could not figure out why, every evening we'd set our clock, and every morning we'd wake up to discover that it was now three hours earlier than it should have been. Then I read this on the discussion board on Facebook:

The power here is 50 cycles per second, unlike the US, which is 60. That means plug in clocks won't work, they use electricity to actually measure time. Battery powered clocks are the way to go. Some microwave clocks don't work either, for the same reason.

This is way better than Tupperware!

Last night there was a visiting dignified person here at Incirlik. He was a Colonel and in health care, and JB and some of his colleagues were invited to attend a dinner with him. How nice that spouses were included!

We were told to show up at one of the local carpet stores for dinner. Baylee babysat for us again! She's fantastic and lives just around the block. She showed up at 6pm, and we headed to the carpet shop in the Alley.

We had no idea how you ate dinner in a carpet shop. But we soon found out. Basically, these are "way cool" Tupperware parties. A fantastic dinner is served, and carpet lessons are given. We learned a ton of stuff about carpets here in the Middle East and ate an absolutely amazing dinner.

The carpets at this particular shop (Uzbek's) were ALL handmade. I have a feeling that before we leave here, we will buy at least one handmade carpet. And this is the color one we would like. Something like this will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 USD. However, if you were to try to buy the same carpet in the U.S., you could pay tens of thousands of dollars. The reason is that the items are taxed so much leaving the country and customs just saddles you with tons of fees. Thus the reason that buying a carpet when here with the military is such a great deal. We can ship these over for about $20 from our military post office. If you are interested, let me know! :)

This is Leslie, the only pediatrician on Base with her new husband Shane. They are awesome people. They attend the same church service we do.

One of the most amazing rugs I have ever seen. This one is at the high end of pricing: about $4,500 USD.

Learning about the various types of carpets and looking at samples. I learned that there are very few rugs being made IN Turkey anymore. The reason is that as Turkey modernizes, the amount of money a rug can generate is not enough to be an acceptable salary. As a result, many of these rugs are coming from other places: Afghanistan and Iran for instance.

The dinner. Folks, this stuff is just so amazing. I L-O-V-E the food here. Lots of breads and meats. The brown pot holds something called "tava" -- a mixture that you put over rice. So yummy!

A close-up of the food.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Want to hear my ABC's?"

My parents sent this adorable book to the boys via mail. (By the way, have I told everyone on here how much we appreciate mail here? It feels great to have some sort of connection to back home.)

The book is one in which they record their own voices reading the book to the boys. As Isaac sat and turned the page, Papa and Grama Di took turns reading various pages or lines to the boys.

Elijah didn't quite get it yet. But Isaac loved it. The only thing was, he kept looking into these little holes in the book (where the battery is I am assuming) and saying, "Papa? Di? Want to hear me sing my ABC's?" It was so sweet and touching and sad at the same time.

He asks, every time we get on Skype to my parents, JB's parents, or Joni, if, "I come to your house?" He really misses our families.

I miss them too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Incirlik Yard Sale"

We have an "Incirlik Yard Sale" page on Facebook! It's awesome! There is also a freecycle email list for Incirlik as well. So many people coming and going here. So many cool things to scoop up. Or, a great place to sell things too.

We have been wanting to get a bike trailer since there is such little need to drive places. We got one on the Facebook page last night for $25! So cool! The guy brought it by last night. Yippee!

I'm excited to be able to sell our stuff if we no longer want it and get new stuff for cheaper. I'm all about the deals!

Oh, another big "deal" here. Coupons. Apparently, this Base was featured in Redbook and people from all over the world send their extra coupoons here. There are ziplock bags FULL of coupons everywhere. They are in the Commissary, Post Office, BX. Everywhere. Well, I saved 16% on our grocery bill the other day. So proud of myself.

Advice anyone?

All right folks. Bring it on.

In our last house, I felt like I had a "safe spot" for the boys. I could shut the gate to our kitchen, shut all the doors in the hallway, and know that they, basically, couldn't get into anything.

I could sometimes even take a shower (if I had timed it badly and couldn't do it while they were sleeping or JB was home). I could get ready to go somewhere. I could do my hair and put on my make-up. I could look like I cared about my appearance.

I do not feel that way here. At all.

We are going to put a gate up at the top of our stairs. I think that will help. (We have a lot of things that we are "going to put up" but we haven't gotten to it yet.) But the bottom line is, when I need to get ready to go somewhere, I just don't know what to do with the boys. It just seems like there is so much that they can get into.

My only option has been to turn on a video. But we try to avoid "excess TV." And yet, I am finding that a video is my only way to keep them occupied so that I can have fifteen minutes, or ten, or even five, to get ready to go somewhere.

I feel like I look like I threw myself together. Last night we went to church. JB had sports physicals so he wasn't there. And it was just me. In order to get ready I have to bring both boys up the stairs. I have to put a video on. And even then, they may not sit and watch it straight. They are running down the hall. Jumping on Scrubs. "Helping" me do the laundry Hatice folded by dumping it out. Isaac brought me his nightlight which means he pulled it out of a 220V socket. Then he shut a door (and we have HEAVY SOLID DOORS) and Elijah's toe was underneath the door and he got quite a nasty bruise on his toe. He was screaming. I tried letting them up on my bed to play but it is really high, and Elijah almost fell off. I have set up their room with toys but they wander out of there to other things. I can't shut them in the room because all the doors have drop handles. And they'd scream. And screaming doesn't really make me feel rosey.

Sigh ...

Any advice?

A quick note. I don't want to use pack-n-plays or cribs to "hold them in." We have decided that these are places for sleeping, and if we use them to "contain" they are goign to see bed as a bad place.

So what am I missing? Help!


The video above is of the boys demonstrating some of their singing abilities. The song I am singing (please forgive me) is a song my Dad and Mom sing to the boys all the time.

Some other funnies from the past week:

  • Elijah has not only discovered how to take his own diaper off (we have to put shorts on him immediately after he gets a diaper on), but he has apparently learned how to take off his brother's diaper. Poor Isaac came up, naked as a jay-bird, stripped down by his brother.
  • I came down the other day wearing an old St. Charles volleyball t-shirt. It had a large oval in the middle of the shirt. Then, inside the oval, was a tiny volleyball. Isaac looked at my shirt and said, "There's a ball Mommy." I corrected him. "No," I said. "That's an oval." He squinted his eyes and touched the volleyball. "No Mommy," he said. "It's a ball."
  • Our Commissary has little grocery carts for kids to walk around with. While I think Elijah would be too young to handle steering and putting things in his basket, when I took just Isaac to the store the other day, he did AWESOME! He loved it. He walked around, put things in when I told him what we needed, and was just generally having a fantastic time shopping.
  • Isaac seems to understand who to say "Meerhaba" to. It's as if he gets that it is a Turkish word and reserved for Turkish people. In the grocery store, he'd say "Meerhaba" to any of the Turkish people who worked there. At one point, he said it too soft and the guy that was passing did not hear him and did not say it back. Isaac turned around and said, "I said Meerhaba."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I LOVE Hatice

Today is Tuesday. Tuesday is my new favorite day. Tuesday is the day that our housekeeper Hatice comes to clean our house. She is amazing. She just takes over. She does the entire house. She does my laundry. And, she informed me today that she would be cooking a meal every other week for us. (She said that because our house is so much bigger than the ones she usually cleans, she would slack a little every other week and do some cooking as well.)

I took the boys out this morning for Tuesday morning playgroup. Some of the moms "rent out" the youth center's gym from 9:30-11:00 so that anyone with toddler age children can come and play. Then at 11:00 I went and worked out while the kids played in the glassed in area. After that we stopped at the post office before meeting JB for lunch in the "food court." By the time I got home, the house was completely smelling like clean from top to bottom.

Hatice is amazing!

After she left I figured it was a good time to take some pictures of our new rugs. The rooms aren't completely put together, but I think you can at least see the potential in these photos now.

Our foyer

Playroom. This is in our kitchen area. We are going to mainly eat at the counter. There is a small TV in the cabinet against the wall.

The laundry room. I'm pretty impressed with the curtain I rigged up. This allows us to hide all of our "baby items" that we brought with us. Swing, carseats, old clothes, etc.

Our bedroom. We decided to do runners in here since our bed would take up most of a carpet.

Another shot of our bedroom.

The hallway leading to our bathroom in our bedroom. My closet is on the left. JB's is on the right. We also have a double sink in the bathroom. This is a first for us. We have, in twelve years of marriage, never shared a bathroom. JB always takes up the guest bathroom. Here goes nothing!

The hallway upstairs.

This is the room next to our room which will eventually be an office. It's the last on our priority list.

Here's the guest room. This rug is completely different than the others. But it was a wool one on sale for 50% off! Love a good deal.
And the best news of all? My friend Sarah has arrived in town. Since like, every friend I have here is named Sarah, I have decided to call my friends that have this name by their son's name (since I don't like to use last names no the blog.) So Sarah A. will be William's Sarah. That's the best way I can think to do it.
William's Sarah and I connected online through my online friend Amy. She and Amy attended the same MOPs group. William's Sarah and I have been emailing and chatting for many months now and finally got to meet for dinner this evening. I can already tell that I have found a kindred spirit in her. I am so excited to have her with us now!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Jaime!

My college teammate Jaime just had her second little girl. The picture above is when she came and visited me a few months before I left Florida. She also has a birthday today. Happy birthday Jaime! Jaime was one year behind me at WKU and came in as the best basketball player in the entire country. She was also one of my most dear friends during my three remaining years on the Hill. Have a great one Jaime!

Belly Ache for Isaac

JB has struggled with his stomach here. I haven't really had too many issues. It's difficult to know if the boys have. Until last night that is.

After church, the boys were playing in the driveway with our neighbor kids when Isaac came up and told me he wanted to go "night night." Isaac never does this so I immediately assumed something wasn't quite right. I changed him, gave him something to drink, and put him to bed, only to return two more times to clean up the "upsetting" of his stomach.

Not a very fun activity -- cleaning up "upsetness." He ended up sleeping in a pack-n-play in our room and after the second 'bout around 10:30pm, slept through the night. An early nap is in order I think.

GI issues are pretty common here as our bodies are meeting all sorts of new "stuff" that we have never met before. John wants to avoid taking an antibiotic and let his stomach create a new level of "protection." We'll see how well that goes. So far, Isaac's illness is the worst of the four of us.

If you could think to add to your prayer list an absence of stomach GI issues over the next few years, that'd be great!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my Grama M.! I love you Grama! I also want to wish my brother-in-law Eddie a happy birthday. (I can't find a picture of him at the moment.)

New Rugs!

Yesterday JB and I had a date -- our first one since the weekend we took away back at the end of June to go to Key West.

First, we stopped at a highly recommended Turkish restaurant about three miles from Base. Outside was a huge oven where five or six men were tending to breads and meats and vegetables.

We sat down at a table outside unlike all the Turks who didn't seem concerned about the heat and were congregating around tables outside. I'm not sure I'll ever fully get used to the fact that men are always hanging out together, eating, playing games, talking, selling things, but there are never women congregating with them. Men walk hand in hand quite frequently. But public disaplays of affection between members of the opposite sex is not as welcome. It's so different than what I am used to.

There was no menu. They just bring you what they are cooking in their kitchen that day. Lucky for us it was "Adana Kebap" (Kebab) day. Turkey's different regions have foods that they are known for. Our region is this delicious Kebab. It's almost a meat paste. I'll have to take a picture of it. It is delectable. So yummy!

There are a lot of tomatoes in Turkish food. I like tomatoes and the taste of tomatoes but do not enjoy eating whole pieces of tomato. I wish I could change this fact as it seems my inability to eat tomatoes might limit my eating on occasion. There are a whole lot of tomatoes on the non-existent menus in Turkey.

Afterwards, we headed to downtown Adana where a "friend" had told us we could buy rugs. However, there was some miscommunication somewhere because we could not find the rug store we had been directed to. We did however, get a sampling of "desserts" at one of the gazillion eateries they have scattered throughout the blocks and blocks of Old Adana. So good! We got two chocolate looking things, 2 cinnamon looking things, and 2 fried looking things all for about $3!

But when we couldn't find rugs, we finally opted to head back to The Alley. We had a babysitter after all and gosh darn it, we intended to get some rugs.(

Not being able to speak the language creates such barriers. I am really working on my Rosetta Stones lessons. I love doing this and am really learning a lot. I really want to be able to communicate better. I am learning the basics, but I know that if JB or myself can communicate better when we are out, we are going to enjoy the process so much more. Being lost and not knowing where to go and not having the ability to ask, is quite a frustrating feeling.

But carpet shopping in The Alley was wonderful! We are told to avoid The Alley when possible since the prices can often be a little escalated (in comparison to Adana). However, we worked with a wonderful Turkish guy -- Ender. Ender helped us and before we were done we had purchased 12 rugs and he had thrown one in for free.

Turkey is known for its rugs. The famous ones are handmade. Making one 8 x 10 rug can take one person up to a year and a half, and they sell for about $2,000 a piece. We spent half of that on our 13 machine made rugs. After a good lesson on rugs, we definitely can tell the difference between machine made and hand made. But our pocketbooks were okay with machine made. And our house looks so much more homey and echoes so much more less with them in it.

Buying rugs is quite an experience. Tea and cokes and waters are the norm. Meals are usually included and because we came in between lunch and dinner, we were told we need to return to eat a meal with Ender in the future. Ender spoke very good English -- English he has learned while selling rugs to Americans during the last three years.

At one point during our shopping Ender asked us how long we had been married.

"Twelve years," JB said.

"Oh," he said. "I'm only 28. And I never want to get married. I am so scared of marriage. One time, I had a girlfriend. After one year she asks me about the marriage. I tell her I can't get married. I have no car. She says not to worry. She has car. I tell her I can't get married. I have no money. She's not to worry. She has money. I tell her I have no house. She says not to worry. Her parents give her house when she marry. So I have to tell her the truth. I just don't want to get married."

The girl is long gone Ender said.

The pictures at the top of this post are just a few of the rooms in our house. I'll take some more pictures when the decor around the rugs looks as beautiful as the rugs.

As for the boys, they had a wonderful time with Baylee. She's a very sharp teenager and totally on the ball. Okay so Elijah climbed into the pool with his clothes on and Isaac lost one shoe somewhere. Those are things that happen to me on a daily basis. No biggie at all. All in a day's work.

So wonderful to spend some time with just me and JB. I really needed that.

New pool!

We picked up a new pool last weekend at the Turkish version of "Sam's Club." It has two little worms that shoot water. The boys LOVED it, and I think it will be a welcome addition to our last dog days/weeks/months of Summer. As I had mentioned in a previous post, activities that I can do with the boys while JB is at work are fairly limited on Base. So we are really making our front and back yards a big priority!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to ...

... two people that while a bit shorter than me are big people in my hearts! :) (I'm trying to get better bout posting birthdays. Bear (or Bare for Danielle) with me!)

My sister-in-law Danielle turns 24 I believe today. Here she is with our niece Grace. Man Matt got lucky catching a Babe like her! :)

And here is Jodi (holding our new arrival Isaac back in May of 2008). Jodi is still one year younger than me but she's gaining ground! Jodi is in Minot, ND now, and I miss her terribly.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I'm sorry. Does anyone else find this story Kitchenistas even slightly strange? I mean, I can understand storing clothes in your kitchen. But not needing a refrigerator at all? How can you eat every single meal out of your house? Seriously! JB told me about this article and I didn't believe it until I read it for myself.

Not quite what is promised

The UB guys got here at 6pm. We had finally given up waiting for them. JB had put Elijah in his high chair and turned on a movie so he could cut his hair. (Finally!) I started making some brownies to bring to some new neighbors we had met at church. I had put chicken nuggets in the oven and vegetables on the stove.

And gosh darn it, wouldn't you know, that's when they show up.

Cue doorbell.

They brought everything in within about 30 minutes. All of this stuff was packed in gigantic boxes. They would have us confirm that the box was indeed empty, and then bring it and all the paper used to wrap whatever was in it, back to their truck.

I asked the guy when they were bringing the boxes in if they would be taking whatever belonged upstairs ... up the stairs. "Yes, certainly," he said. And I answered with "teşekkür ederim." (Thank you in Turkish.) I then asked him if they would be putting together everything that was taken apart for the trip overseas. "Yes, certainly," he echoed. Another Turkish thank you from me ensued.

But then, after they unloaded, I received the truth behind "Yes, certainly." I was informed that while they did intend to take things upstairs and to put together the cribs and the bikes, we would have to wait until Monday for any of this to occur as they still had another house to drop stuff off at. My face crinkled at this. As I glanced around the living room that was covered, every square inch of it, with miscellaneous items, I crinkled. Hard.


Well that wasn't going to work. JB and I were going to go out tomorrow. Shop for rugs and stuff. We have a babysitter. We surely can't have her babysit with these landmines all over the place. So much stuff for two little men to get into. Crib slats and bicycle parts and taken apart kids' toys. What a mess!

So after dropping off our brownies and putting two little boys to bed amidst great tears (they wanted to play with all their "new" toys and Isaac let us know this by yelling, "I want my Paul Police Car BAD!" over and over and over again,) we began to move everything that belonged upstairs, upstairs. I think we will wait for them to return Monday to put the cribs back together and the bikes as well. But we at least have the pieces in the office upstairs. The boys are in the pack-n-plays again. For a few nights.

Chatted online with my friend Jaime tonight. She reminded me that we are so blessed to have our stuff here. Perspective is vital. Our friends Tristan and Shannon waited until October 29th to receive all of their things when they moved here two years ago. Egads.

So while it hasn't gone just like I had hoped, it's gone well. We have our stuff.

And I'm going to bed.

No UB yet

It's 5:25pm. And it hasn't been a good day for small accomplishments.

  • The tub people called and said they are coming on Monday at 1:30p.m.
  • The loaner furniture people called and said they can't pick up the cribs until Monday. (Not good when you have your two other cribs due to arrive and you want the movers to set them up. JB and I have moved them out to the driveway.)
  • Not sure yet if moving the cribs was necessary. Our UB is still not here! Still not here and it is 5:26pm. We've called twice. They said it will come.

Holding our breath that we don't have to wait until Monday.

Waiting for our UB

I'm at the house waiting. It's 10:30. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse time. I'm waiting for the UB movers to get here. I'm waiting for the movers to come and take our loaners crib back to wherever they store them. I'm also waiting for someone to fix our master bathroom tub -- something that's been a saga since we moved in.

Anyways, it's been a rough morning. Lots of crying and whining and fighting. Just one of those days. We tried playing outside but they started fighting over one of their cars and no amount of taking turns would release the hostility. So we came inside. Both boys were furious over this. Elijah was easily distracted with some book reading, but Isaac held firm that my idea that we come in was a terrible one. He is allowed to whine but he has to do it in the bathroom :) So he sat on the time-out chair in the downstairs bathroom for nearly 20 minutes. He can come out whenever he is done whining. And sure enough, about 20 minutes, he just plain stopped, walked out, and asked me to read a book.

The same drama ensued an hour later over the recliner in the TV room. Both boys wanted to sit in it but today, neither wanted to have the company of their brother. I was so emotionally exhausted. I just told them both that because they couldn't share it, neither one of them could have it. This went over, horribly. Elijah quickly got engrossed in Mickey but Isaac did not give up so easily.

But those are the "hard" things. Whining. Fighting. Disobeying. There are lot of "easy" things. Fun things. Exciting things.

Every day is a day that the boys are learning. Something new. Something interesting. Last week Elijah discovered that his finger fits perfectly in his nose. He walked around for nearly an hour enjoying the experience. Today Isaac figured out that he can blow out of his mouth while holding his nose with his fingers. He snorted and laughed and thought it was the greatest thing ever.

Isaac is saying so many funny phrases. When Elijah takes something from him he will whine and say, "But I was having that!" It cracks me up every time he says it. He is singing his ABC's nearly perfectly. He also decided earlier this week that he wanted to sit on his little potty. I am in no way trying to potty train him amidst the hectic life we are leading currently. But prior to sitting down this time, he hadn't wanted anything to do with that potty. Of course, nothing happened but him sitting there, staring down, and then saying, "I'm all done Mommy." But it was something. And no surprise that Elijah wanted to sit on it after him. He has to do everything his big brother does.

Elijah is talking more and more and more. Still one word grunting phrases, but he tries any sound he hears.

They love playing with trucks. Playing outside. Reading books. Watching movies. Crayons still seem to enjoy being eaten by Elijah. Any bug he can get his chubby hands on, he will. They like crawling in their tent -- although this morning Isaac melted away again when I told him it was physically impossible for his tent to go up on the couch. He didn't agree. I remember Joan once, telling me when Bri was Isaac's age that it is impossible to reason with a two-year-old. Amen to that.

Oh and one more thing, totally off topic. JB started his first "on-call" week on Wednesday. He carries his cell phone around with him everywhere. If people need a doctor after 4:30pm, they call a number, talk to the EMS people who then handle the issue or transfer it to JB. It is a bit "interesting" to hear him on the phone being a doctor since I normally don't ever get to see what it is he does. I'm sure I'll have some days where I am cursing this on-call thing. But it seems to be pretty cool in that he takes it from home, or within one hour from the Base. No need to go into the hospital. No need to sit around for hours or sleep overnight at the hospital. They only have a clinic here. Another one of the reasons we chose Turkey.

All right, The Clubhouse is about to disappear. I better get upstairs to check on my little men.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Elijah's faces

Here is a video of our boys at dinner tonight. Elijah has been trying to make a "sad face". It's not very sad but he tries. He's also been enjoying showing his teeth. Isaac continues to say "Merhaba" (greetings) anytime I turn on the camera. He is making all kinds of friends everywhere we go saying that. The funny thing is, he seems to know when we are meeting a Turkish person and when we are not. He'll say it to Turks but not to Americans. Interesting.

As for us, we are still trying to get our house in order from our Monday delivery while also preparing for a much smaller but still quite intense delivery tomorrow. I am feeling quiet weary. I feel so exhausted. So weary. So tired. So completely worn down. I know this will pass but your prayers for an extra bit of "umph" would be greatly appreciated.

A few little snips of our life

  • The new shoes I bought while at Becky's seem to be helping my feet heal. The stress fractures aren't giving me any issues so I am hopeful that the time off has healed them. I am returning to the world of exercise very slowly. I am running very short distances one time a week. I swam this morning at the pool. JB not having to go in until 8:30 on most days allows me that luxury -- until it gets cold that is. I am also going to the gym on occasion. Really hopeful that sometime next year I can do another sprint triathlon.
  • Our UB comes tomorrow! Tomorrow we'll have all the "important" stuff like our microwave, our toaster, JB's food processor, and the rest of our clothes! Also our iron. We could use that.
  • We love our "new" water table. We bought it from Della and family before we left Base. Although Elijah really wants it to be a pool. I caught him sitting in it yesterday!
  • I am realizing that one of my biggest struggles here is going to be keeping the boys occupied. There is preschool playgroup at the youth center on Tuesdays. There is a "Story Time" at the library on Fridays. But the other days, if the weather isn't good enough (too hot, cold, or rainy) to be outside, you are sort of out of luck. There are no fast food joints here with indoor play lands. No museums or zoos that I could take them to by myself. I do not plan to leave Base with both boys by myself, ummm, ever. So we have what is on Base. Today we went to the pool just the three of us. Then we ran some errands, stopping at the post office, the library, the Commissary, and the BX -- all in our BOB stroller. Thank goodness, once again, for those ring pops. Man they keep the boys happy!
  • I love Skype!!! Thank the Lord for Skype. How different this would be living here before Skype!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TV woes

First time with cable since we've had the boys. Comes automatically with the houses and includes a lot of Air Force news and commercials and some popular shows at strange hours. (Oprah comes on at 9am for example.)

The boys are not used to TV. They are only used to videos. So here is my new advice.

Do not tell your child that we will watch Mickey Mouse Club in fifteen minutes. They will not understand why you are not just pressing play. Trying to explain the concept of TV starting at predetermined times will also not work.

Much crying (times two) will ensue.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Feels like home

Having our sofas here. Our bed here. Our dining room table. Photos. Books.

Finally it is beginning to feel like home. Like we are really going to be staying here. Like we aren't living in a hotel anymore.

Early yesterday morning the loaner furniture people came by to pack up everything that we had been using. Then, around 3pm, eight Turkish men and their "chaperone" (everyone on Base who doesn't work on Base must be escorted) showed up at our house with our eight crates! How very exciting.

The next three hours were a whirlwind that didn't end until this afternoon when a few of them men returned to put together some of the furniture that had been dissembled. I hung out by the truck, learning Turkish, attempting to communicate, and finding that sometimes you don't need language to make jokes and be kind. JB was inside, directing traffic. Scrubs was leashed since they had two guys who were deathly afraid of dogs. And the boys were around the house loving all the attention. Our thirteen year old neighbor, Baylee, was also around. (I think she'll be here quite often!) She took the boys to the park and just helped provide an extra set of eyes. Teenagers here LOVE to babysit (probably due to the lack of things to do or ways to make money).

Today was spent getting our house in order. I thought this might take weeks but thanks to the fact that our new housekeeper Hatice (pronounced "Ha-tee-jah) was here today, the house is really already, somehow, in working order. Hatice is absolutely and utterly amazing. She speaks very little English, was fasting food and water until sunset for Ramadan, and is booked every single day of the week for good reason. I'm so lucky to have gotten her on a free day. When I told her I really didn't know what she needed to do she just said, "No problem" in that cute way people who don't speak English say a phrase that they know well.

And then she took over.

She cleaned our kitchen and got all the gunk and grime off everything JB had unpacked last night. She mopped floors and organized and put tinfoil on our oven burners and in it. She did the bathrooms and watched the boys when I had to go run something to JB. We also went to the Commissary together so that she could pick out the cleaning supplies she needed. Seriously. Awesome.

At some point I will write a separate post on the three things that are most "on my mind" right now.
  • The first is that I feel incredibly guilty having someone in my house all day working while I sit around. Okay, so, I very rarely sit around. But you know what I mean. I'm not sure how I feel about having a gardener and a housekeeper when what I am paying them is so minimal.
  • The second thing is that every time I am out of my "American bubble" (like when moving people come or Hatice was here) I feel culturally exhausted at the end of the day. Trying to communicate through sign language and the Internet's translating tools is wearisome! I remember my Tante Jan (who was a linguist in Indonesia) talking about that once. How at the end of the day she just needed to be in her own house, by herself to recover. That's how I feel. I totally get that.
  • And the third is the safety issue. Yesterday I was stopped from going to the post office due to a sensor that had gone off incorrectly. I was also stopped at another outing by a guy in more gear than anyone should have to wear in this heat as I went to walk into the convenience store to get some waters for our movers. Apparently a sensor had gone off a second time. Anyways, I say all that to say, that safety is an issue here. We are in a tumultuous part of the world right now. We are Americans. And we are on a Base that is very important to the world. I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Okay so more organizing to do. Enough thinking Wendi! I'll be sure to post pictures very soon folks!


This pulled up yesterday! Hoorah!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I can't access youtube. I heard that the entire country of Turkey has it blocked, but I am not sure. I think there is a way around it, but I have yet to figure it out.

Anyways, here is a video I took this morning. This was after our "stick" furniture had been removed but before our trucks had been unloaded. (It is 2:30pm right now and wile the trucks with our furniture are parked outside, we are still waiting for the unload to begin.)

Some things you'll see on this video: Isaac has recently started telling me that Bri is his best friend. So sweet. Elijah has been telling us that he is "one" and holding up one finger. Isaac's Turkish vocabulary now also include dolmis (stuffed van I wrote about this morning) and merhaba (which he says everytime I take his picture or take a video) and gule gule (good bye.) I dont know how to put those little dashed over the words that the Turkish alphabet uses.

Circles @ Yahoo! Video

HHG due to arrive!

I'm sitting on the tile floor in the corner of our soon-to-be playroom because, well, we don't have any furniture. We don't have any furniture because the loaner people picked it up this morning. They picked it up because our HHG are due in sometime today! We can't wait!

Each few days since we had our truck packed up, Isaac becomes obsessed with a different item that was packed up that he doesn't have. The last two weeks, he has become very focused on his piggy bank and car bank from Papa and Grama Di. Whenever we have extra change lying around, we bring out the banks and let the boys load them up with coins.

This morning when the loaner truck pulled up, Isaac walked up to the first guy through the door and said: "Meerhaba!" He paused only briefly before saying, "Do you have my piggy bank?"

While the guy spoke some English, he did not speak enough to understand this question. JB stepped in, explaining to Isaac that this truck was picking up our loaner furniture. The next truck would be bringing the piggy bank.

We didn't even want to attempt to explain to him how long it might take to find that piggy bank amidst all the boxes that are due in.

P.S. No word yet on our UB. Hopefully it will be in by week's end. We got word the middle of last week that it is in the country, and they say it takes about a week to get from port to front door. We'll see.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Experiencing a Dolmuş

This is a Dolmuş:

The word Dolmuş (pronounced dole-moosh) actually comes from a common Turkish word. Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes in the Cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions.

They are yummy.

The word "stuffed" is the appropriate similarity here.

A dolmuş is stuffed. A dolma is stuffed. Stuffed full of meats and rices (in the case of a dolma) and stuffed full of people (in the case of a dolmuş.)

Every other Saturday, there is a volunteer on Base who teaches a group of newcomers how to ride these packed buses to Adana and back. It costs $1.40(TL). The best way to compare TL and USD is to take off one-third. Thus, $1.40 in TL is approximately $1.00 in US money. If a kid is not taking up a seat, they do not pay. You only pay if you are taking up room on the dolmuş.

JB and I held both of the boys and thus paid about $2USD for a thirty minute ride to Adana. Whether this is better than driving will remain to be seen. Parking is hard to come by in the city. And while I don't think I would drive to Adana, I would take one of these stuffed vehicles.

So we hopped on a dolmuş right outside the Incirlik gates and headed to Adana. We learned where two of the major stops are and that we get on one saying "Incirlik" if we want to go downtown or if we want to get back to Base. It is a tad bit confusing since the signs on the vehicles do not actually say where they are going but what their route is. Either way, if I stick to one that says Incirlik, I will be okay.

Once on the dolmuş I learned how to pass money to the passenger in the front seat and then pass the change back to whoever it originated from. Change is made by the driver while he is driving. Quite a scary phenomena.

Once in Adana, our tour guide John, took us around the busy streets. Holy cow is stuff cheap here. An example? A woman's sundress would run you about $5-10 USD. Kids' clothes are all well under $5. Everything is very inexpensive and much more inexpensive than the Alley which surrounds Base and exists for the Americans who live on Base. We also stopped and had Turkish ice cream (Isaac and Elijah both got seconds due to the fact that they were very popular with everyone who worked there.) We also stopped at a candy store where free samples set out for the taking, and where we even got to try Turkish Delight (from the Chronicles of Narnia!) We also got to visit a spice store (JB was in heaven.)

Some things were difficult. We can't fit a stroller on the dolmuş, and even if we could, the city streets are not stroller friendly with steps and holes and narrow turns. The boys did very well though, transitioning from shoulders to arms to walking without many issues.

It was also incredibly hot. It reminds me of the heat in Rome when we visited there many summers ago. South Florida is hot, but this seems to be at a whole new level. This is so hot that within mere moments, JB has sweat just pouring down his forehead. Unfortunately, you can't really avoid the hottest part of the day if you want to shop since most stores do not open until 10am and while they stay open late (8 or 9 pm) we don't want to be out that late with the boys or just out that late period.

Going though the meat market? Not my favorite thing. I had no idea they used those parts of the meat! Stomachs and intestines galore. Oh, and it was in the meat market that JB was asked whether he had any marijuana interest. (He answered in the negative.)

The jury is still out as to whether we will opt to drive our own vehicle down or not. We'll see. Either way, it was incredibly educational and definitely opened us up even more to the world outside the Incirlik walls.

Market Day

We went to a Sunday market about 10 minutes outside of Base this morning. It was massive! We only walked through a small section of the market. Due to the fact that our double stroller would take up our entire trunk, we opted not to bring it. The boys did a good job walking along side of us and getting kissed by everyone. Here are some pictures from the market:

A picture of the market.

That's a very sweaty JB getting some tomatoes. There is no bartering. The products are already priced and we Americans were given the same prices as the Turkish!

My three guys.

Isaac and Daddy navigating the market. The boys were really okay without holding our hands except when motorcycles went by.

This young man insisted that I take his picture. So I did!

Less than one hour and about $10 USD later, here was our stash. (The wine was from a trip to a Turkish equivalent of Sam's or Costco later in the day and was about $3-4 a bottle.)

Those are dates in the top left corner and cherries in the middle. The bananas pictured may have been the best bananas I have EVER eaten. Elijah ate 2.5 of them while we were walking around the market.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Newcomers Briefing

On Tuesday of this past week, JB and I attended a "Newcomers Briefing." I'm not sure if this was meant to be an oxymoron, but it sure felt far from brief to me.

Every Tuesday they have a bunch of newbies and their dependents sit in a lecture hall. (JB was one of only three officers there -- which I am learning to tell just by looking at uniforms. The rest were enlisted, and due to the absence of spouses with them, I imagine they came to Turkey solo.) Then, various people from all over Base stopped into our lecture hall and filled us in on everything we needed to know and whole lot more I'm not sure we did.

While some (okay most) it was quite superfulous, there was also a lot of very great information. Some things I learned (and please note that I am including things that are public knowledge that could be found elsewhere on the Internet) includes:
  • There are about 4500 Americans on this Base. That includes about 150 officers (JB) and nearly 1500 enlisted. Many of those stationed here choose to come "unaccompanied." This means they travel without their families. In addition many do not have a family to travel with. However, there are about 1000 dependents here (spouses and children.) If there are only 150 officers, and many are unmarried or come unaccompanied, you can see that the officer spouse portion of those here is very small. Normally, a natural division is created in relationships between enlisted and officers. However, because the Base is so small, those divisions are not inforced. For instance, on many Bases, there is an "Officer's Club" and an "Enlisted Club." Here, it is a mixed club. Normally, an officer's family would not invite an enlisted family over for dinner unless you knew each other well outside service. Here, I don't think any of the same rules apply.
  • This is a Turkish Base. We are guests here. However, we outnumber our hosts. There are only about 700 Turkish military personnel on this Base. All Turkish men must serve time in the military.
  • There are more Greek ruins in Turkey then there are in Greece.
  • If you get in a car accident off of Base, it will be your fault. It just will be. We have a phone number we can call to get a translator on the phone. The "JAG" (military lawyers) also came and talked to us about how to assure we are being represented off-Base fairly, but in the end, be ready. (Tante Jan, I saw your comment about this! It's the same here!)
  • We have a Base curfew of midnight. If we are going to be out overnight, we have to get permission from JB's commanders.
  • This is Base is incredibly important to our country mainly because of its location. We are 60 miles from Syria for example. In 1955 Turkey joined NATO, and the U.S. became a presence here. 46% of all cargo going in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan comes thru here. We are also (and this is public knowledge available on Wikipedia) supposedly housers of some major, hefty duty weapons.
  • This Base is very small. It is like a very small town in the U.S. You will continue to run into people you know. I am quickly seeing that that is true. You see the same people over and over and again.
  • We can hear the call to prayer here if we are outside. Five times a day. I am still learning the times it occurs. Ramadan began yesterday. This means that Muslims are fasting during daylight hours. It is considered rude to eat in front of someone of Muslim faith during this time. Eating and drinking should be reserved for private during this time. However, overall, Turkey is a very secular state. It's sort of like saying America is all Christian. We know this is far from true. While everyone here is Muslim by birth, many are not practicing or devout.
  • The military has a stinkin' lot of acronyms. Just when I figure one out, I'm lost on another.
  • There is a lot of confusion as to what is required. Just one example. One guy got up and told people under 22 they must have a stamp on their license. The next guy got up and said that they shouldn't have the stamp and to see him if they did. There is so much to wade through. JB and I found out that we have to become residents to get a permanent gatepass. Up until this point, we had no idea this rule existed.
  • Black market is a huge problem here -- an attempt to avoid the Turkish goverment tax that is imposed on all items. We receive our items duty free on Base. We may not give anything to any Turks we meet. This is a very strict rule. We are even rationed gas, coffee, and tobacco products to prevent problems in this regard. I was also told we can be limited in the grocery store on buying more than two items. I don't think this is very stringent being as milk is only sold by the half gallon here so we have to buy 3-4 whole milk half gallons each time we go in. Also any electronics that we came into the country with must leave the country with us. If the boys stick a piece of toast into the toaster and break it, we've got to keep it until we get back to the U.S. at which time we can dump it.
  • The reason that people are generally not deployed from this Base is because they consider people who are here "Deployed in Place." In other words, it is a deployment that you can bring your family to.
  • There is currently no specific threat against Americans in Turkey. However, we are supposed to have a bag packed and ready to go in the case of a Base evacuation. Family members have been evacuated from this Base two times in the last ten years so the possibility is real.
  • The most common type of crime off of Base is petty theft.
  • Insulting the Turkish flag, Ataturk (their "George Washington" if you will), or the Turkish Nation is icnredibly frowned upon. These items are incredibly revered in this culture. It is also innapropriate to discuss bad service in a place of business. To "chew" a business owner out is something you just do not do.
  • Alcohol content in drinks is not regulated. A beer may easily have 2-3x the alcohol content off-Base as it does in a beer you bought at the gas sation.
  • Do not go into any "nightclubs" (not that we would) and order any food or drink without first asking to see a menu. It is a common scam to offer someone a drink in a place like this and then the person finds out it was a $2,000 drink or a $5,000 plate of fries. Seriously!
  • Driving in Turkey (off-Base) is way better than our previous experiences in Nigeria. However, it is not to the scale of Europe in any regard. It is basically anyone for themself. Horns are used readily (without threat of bodily harm as you may face in South Florida.) There are some basic rules of the road, but they aren't enforced much at all. We learned this at the parking lot of the mall in Adana. No one parked in the lines so it was just finding a spot, forget about markings.
  • We are told to avoid talk of religion, politics, and war with Turkish people.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sour cream

Last night's dinner was fajitas. Isaac, who loves yogurt, insisted on having some of the "yogurt" on the table. We tried to explain that this was not yogurt but in fact, sour cream, but he wasn't buying it. "Pease Mommy. Want some yogurt."

At last JB decided that experience would have to be the best teacher. He put some sour cream on the spoon and gave Isaac a big bite.

Needless to say, isaac didn't ask for anymore "yogurt" that evening. And he gave us some pretty bad faces to as well.

We tried to tell 'em!

The Alley

"The Alley" is right off Base. It is filled with stores of all types: furniture, rugs, clothes, antiques. There are bars and restaurants and nail salons and tailors. While their prices are much lower than we'd see in the U.S., they are elevated for this area. The reason is, that they are targeting the "rich" Americans who live on Base.

While there are many families on Base, there are even more enlisted men and women who come by themselves. They don't bring a car. And many of them don't go any farther than the Alley. This is shocking to me. I can't imagine living in a place like this and never going any farther than your backyard. But that is the truth of it.

Adana is the biggest, closest city to us, and the place that people who are not afraid to travel will go to do a lot of their shopping. It's about 30 minutes from here. It's the town we went to the other day to go to the mall. Old Adana, supposedly, has prices that blow the Alley out of the water. I haven't been there yet so I can't say for sure.

But I have been to the Alley.

Kristy took me and my new friend Sarah A. and her son William to the Alley on Thursday. While you can walk there, the good stores are quite aways down. So she showed me how to drive my car off Base and where to park. Driving off-Base is nothing like driving on Base. The Turks are not impressed with my cautious driving or the fact that I don't understand that while there are no lane markers, they create their own lanes and I need to get out of their way. I got honked at a lot, but I stayed calm and just followed Kristy.

It was only a five minute drive so I managed quite well for that length of time. My knuckles could take the wheel gripping for that length of time.

We parked in a lot that costs about 1.5TL and then ventured out.

My initial thoughts?
  • The items for sale were amazing gorgeous. Bath robes and towels and blankets. Scarves and jewelery boxes and jewelery. Carpets and hand painted pottery. I know what I am getting as Christmas gifts.
  • My second thought was that I wished the boys weren't with me. I had to watch them so much I couldn't shop and even me, a non-shopper, would have loved some time to shop here. The good thing is that kids are welcome to run around like crazy people at these places and no one cares. They expect kids to do this.
  • Everyone is incredibly nice. The shopkeepers speak very good English, offer you something to drink, and help watch the boys while you look around. One shopkeeper even brought out a parakeet to entertain them.
  • However, despite their help, this isn't something I would ever do by myself with both boys or even by myself. The area was incredibly safe, but it is still something I would want to do with a friend. I borrowed Sarah A.'s single stroller since my BOB is really too big for the doorways of the shops and my other two long instead of wide strollers aren't here yet. Isaac helped push and Elijah rode along. However, the walkways have many steps, jagged edges, and high curbs. So pushing a stroller is not easy. Unfortunately, my boys are too big for those backpacks so I think I'd really need to be 1 on 1 with the boys (or get a babysitter) to do this again.

I have come to realize that I will not be leaving Base myself probably, at all. Kristy who is a pretty seasoned traveler, will go to the Alley by herself but no farther. JB's work schedule looks to be very good. Home most days for lunch and by 5pm with weekends free. So I think I will reserve my off-Base adventures for when he is in tow!

Packing news, windows, and locks

Well good news abounds here in Turkey. We got word yesterday that all eight of our crates are now ready to be unloaded! They will arrive on Monday. We have also been told that our UB (the stuff that is supposed to get here first) is also in the country. It should be here within a week or so. We are utterly blown away with how fast our stuff is getting here. As difficult as moving across the world is, it could be so much worse. We could have been in TLF longer. We could have have had our stuff on major delay.

If you think of it, would you say a prayer for my new friend Sarah and her son William? If you remember, we met her husband Ryan on the flight over to Turkey. She and William stayed behind and will be joining Ryan in just a few weeks. Sarah and I were put in touch via Amy (from Amy's Adoption Blog) who knows me from online and knew Sarah from her local MOPs. Anyways, please pray that their stuff gets here pronto as well. They don't have official word (last I heard). And I know that having their stuff here when she gets here will be a breath of fresh air. I read yesterday that moving is considered one of the top three traumatic events in life (with death and divorce). I have to admit that after going through this move, I agree.

Anyways, in other news, has anyone else ever been in a house that does not have windows in the front of the house? This is strange to me. We have no windows to see into our front yard. Windows on one side and along the back. But none in the front. I don't recall ever having been in a house like this.

I also need some sliding door advice. We had some people come over and replace our toilet. It was still under warranty and not working. While here, they touched up a few other things that were not finished properly when the house was made. One drawer did not have wheels. The lock on the gate did not fit well. That sort of thing. They also informed me that they had to put new locks on the sliding glass door. The Housing Office asked them to replace all the locks because a lot of them had broken. So instead of a lock at my level, they were putting one in on the bottom -- at the boys' level! I asked if they could reconsider. They said they could not.

So this annoys me because, firstly, this lock is hard to open and close all the time. Something that I need to do often to let Scrubs out but keep the boys in. And secondly, while Isaac hasn't figured the lock out, he will soon, I am sure. Is there something I could put in up top instead?