There is so much on my mind I barely know where to start. So, I have thus decided to start with food. Food is a universal topic so this should go well. Hopefully.
Please forgive this post. I fear rambling will result. So many words are flying across the windows of my mind. I have so much I want to share. So much I want to say. It is a jumble of emotions and thoughts and feelings.
I'll do my best to make this coherent.
Above is Elijah and one of his favorite things. Food. We got in around 9pm on Thursday evening. (This is Turkish time which is 7 hours ahead of you all in EST. That is 8 hours ahead of you in CST and so forth.) At 11:30 the next morning both boys were still asleep! Since we put them down in the second bedroom of our small but very adequate TLF
(it has a laundry room, bathroom, kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms) we were especially surprised that neither one of them woke the other up in the course of well over twelve hours of sleep.
We got Elijah up first and JB
already had food ready for him. Both boys slept a lot on the flights, which was a blessing. But neither of them ate an incredible amount. So we knew they would wake up hungry. And hungry they were. Elijah took to the peaches on the plate above like a fiend. Isaac came in soon after and devoured the grapes.
By the time we woke the boys up
had already done a bunch of errands on Base. He stopped at the public library which he said was quite adequate with a lot of resources on Turkey and for kids. He got our house keys. And he stopped by the BX (that's the Kmart-like store on Base) and the Commissary (grocery.) He said both are small but quite sufficient.
John is especially blown away by what you can grow here. It is a Mediterranean climate so there are roses and fruit trees everywhere. It is still quite brown, but quite exciting growing-wise. JB
can't wait to get started in this area.
From a late breakfast, we went and saw our new house. It is, to put it lightly, amazing. Firstly, there is a two-car carport. Since we only have one car, it appears most people use the other side as sort of a covered front porch with tables, chairs, and toys scattered around. Bikes are everywhere and being as the Base is so secure, nothing is locked up. There is also a storage room outside. Inside is the first floor which includes a half bathroom (with cabinets galore), two dining areas, a massive laundry room, a sprawling kitchen, and a living room. There are also sliding glassed doors that lead out to a fenced in backyard. Even better is that there is a grassy area to the side of the yard that I think I can use to play Frisbee with Scrubs.
On the second floor there is a massive storage closet and linen closet. Then there are 4 bedrooms. One will be our's
and includes a full bathroom with huge tub and double sinks (a first for us!) There is another full bathroom in the hall. Then there are 3 bedrooms. The boys will share one. The other two are still up for debate. We think we know which one we are going to use for the boys but we haven't quite worked through all of that yet.
I will try to take pictures of the house early next week and share them on the blog with more details later. Let me just say, in summary, that the house is everything I could possibly want and more. Tons of closets and storage. Tons of space. We are in need of nothing. Praise the Lord. It is quite awesome.
There is a family that lives next door with four children. The mother was not home, but I met the kids. They ranged in age from a three-year-old boy to a twelve-year-old girl. That was exciting since a three-year-old could play with our boys and twelve-year-old might babysit. Ha!
After we picked our house, we went over to Kristy's. Nick came home from lunch. How cool is that? JB
coming home for lunch? Awesome) Since everyone only has one car, Nick bikes to work. Everything is within walking distance on this Base. It's very small. The only deterrent is the heat. It's beastly hot right now so that can keep people from walking places.
Nick and Kristy helped us regroup and set up what we were going to get accomplished the rest of the afternoon. We left Isaac with Kristy and borrowed their Prius
. It only had one car seat in it, so we opted to take Elijah since he was the crabbier one. We went to housing where I picked out our rental furniture and JB
signed a bunch more papers.
Nick and Kristy's son Noah is right inbetween
our two boys age-wise. He will be two in August. He talks very well and is littler than both our boys height-wise. But he wears the same size diaper. Such a cutie!
The people who worked in housing were a mixture of people. Some were Turkish people who spoke fantastic English. Another was an American woman, probably the spouse of someone on Base. Another gal was a 6'1" British gal who is married to an active-duty guy and hoping to adopt. She gave me the name of a tailor in "the alley" who could make me appropriate clothing for venturing off-Base. Way cool!
This British gal was actually the second woman I met on our trip in the adoption phase. Another was a woman with a dog on our flight to Germany. Sharing our adoption/biological story really helped open the doors so that both these women felt comfortable sharing their own journeys with me.
From there, I took Elijah back to the TLF
to get some rest. JB
went to the post office to see if the packages we have been mailing to ourselves for a month were there. The post office was closed so he got temporary gate passes for us, picked up Isaac, and headed back to TLF
. I don't think leaving Isaac at this early-stage of the game was the best decision. Kristy said he was fine but that he definitely missed Mommy. She said he was quite confused and cried for me quite a bit.
Overall the boys are doing well but are definitely more sensitive then they usually are. They cry easier and are clingier. They are definitely feeling the stress but handling it marvelously well. I think the hardest thing as a parent is to know what battles to fight when they are obviously not themselves. Do you push the things you normally push? For instance, our family rule is that you must say "no thank you" and not just "no." Isaac normally dose this with tremendous ease but he has no interest in saying the whole thing right now. How much do you try to enforce and how much do you try to let go until they are in better spirits? I think we are just floating somewhere in the middle right now.
At 6pm we met Nick and Kristy at our hotel and went off-Base for dinner. This is where life got interesting.
The Base itself reminds me a lot of Eglin
in its coloring. Most of the buildings are brown and, in general, the area just feels brown because of the climate. Incirlik
is a Turkish Air Force Base. The Americans occupy a section of it. There is therefore a mixing of Turkish servicemen (who look Turkish and also wear blue camo
) and American servicemen. The main difference on the Base, to me, is that there are lots of roses and flowers and fruit trees. Most everyone on Base hires a gardener (it is sort of expected). These gardeners take great care of the work they do around Base. Most everyone hires a housekeeper as well. This, I definitely plan to do.
Surrounding the Base is thick wires. When you get close to the Base outskirts, you sort of feel like you are in a jail. There are towers and men guarding the perimeters. I was not prepared for how thick the security surrounding the Base would be. As we exited, they checked our papers quite intensely. And then, the moment we went through the gate, we were in a whole new world.
The area surrounding the gate is called "the alley." This is a place that caters to the servicemen who live on Base. There are many young men and women, single or travelling "unaccompanied" who live in the dorms on Base. The alley is their "mall." People who work there speak very good English and offer meals on their menu like the "Joe Montana Special."
Base is incredibly safe. For any of you desiring to come and visit me, if you chose, you could stay on Base the entire time and barely be aware, aside from the civilian Turkish people who worked on Base, that you were even in another country. It is that isolated and controlled. It is the type of place that children walk around by themselves and go to the park and don't lock up their belongings. I would venture to say that the crime on Base is probably not existent.
But off-Base, everything changes and you are suddenly thrust into an entirely different environment. I was only off-Base just across the street since we chose not to go far with how jet-lagged we all were.
Here are some things I observed during our first two hours off-Base:
- Air-conditioning is not the norm. It is a luxury. They sat us in front of an AC unit, but most of the restaurant did not have this.
- The people are incredibly kind. Some speak English very well. Others just adequately. The restaurant owner was an incredible funny guy. He came with fake ketchup and pretended to spill it all over JB. Then he did the same thing with some hot tea.
- Children are adored in Turkey. They are loved and appreciated. Nick said that most restaurants have a play area for the kids during dinner. In fact, our boys wandered around throughout dinner and no one cared. Men, especially, love children, and in an entirely appropriate way. They find children to be a great gift and not a nuisance when going out. Kristy said that she has given up trying to keep Noah in a high chair during dinner since he has grown so accustomed to being passed around during the meal. Lollipops were also brought out following dinner to Isaac and Elijah's great delight! While Elijah would shake anyone's hand who asked, Isaac was more guarded. But even he was loosening up to the idea of all these friendly people by meal's end.
- We are trying to learn Turkish immediately. Last night we worked on Merhaba with the boys. This is greeting of hello. We are also working on teşekkür ederim which means thank you.
- Ihlan had dinner with us. He is Nick and Kristy's gardener. He also runs a rental car business on the side. He got us a small, four door car to use for $400 a month. We are excited to have transportation as it is very hot. The only bad thing is that I don't think this car will hold our double stroller so venturing off-Base may get tricky. Ihlan is very nice, and I think we will hire him to be our gardener, eventually. The gardeners are very nice but they are in great competition with each other for clients. They are not supposed to try and recruit you, but there is a fine line in how this works.
- Nick told us to watch out for stray dogs or cats when off-Base. That you needed to stay away from them as a scratch or bite would mean rabbi's shots.
- The main city here is Adana. That is about a 30 minute drive. We hope to see Adana soon but didn't feel up to venturing our admist the jet lag.
Hopefully this is a good summary of where things stand right now. Today is Saturday. We plan to attend a bbq at friends of Nick and Kristy's this evening. Otherwise, we plan to get some things done around our TLF. Scrubs needs exercise. We need groceries. We are hopeful to get to the post office. Things like that. I am also hoping we can attend church services tomorrow. I have to try find that information somewhere.
I have been told that we cannot take pictures outside of our homes on Base. I am going to try to get more information on this soon.
Kristy also told me that I would feel more comfortable when walking in public if I had my legs and shoulders covered. I am hoping to get to the tailor that was recommended to me and get some appropriate skirts made as soon as possible.