Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

May I be the very first person to wish you a happy new year!

It is now January 1, 2011 here in Turkey.

It is still December 31, 2010 back in the country we will always call home.

No ball dropping here ... but if we get up at 7am we'll probably be able to see it happening live in the U.S. of A. We had a wonderful evening at Dan and Angelica's and for the first time in more years than I can count, I managed to stay up to usher in 2011. I think the company we were keeping was responsible for that!

Happy New Year everyone. I pray today for those of you praying for and believing for something in your life. I pray today that 2011 brings an answer to your dreams and a peace to your sadness.

Happy New Year!

Laughter to close out 2010

I hope to complete my "year in pictures" in the next few days, but for now, I'll close out a great 2010 with a few smiles from two very popular men in my life.


Isaac: "I love you Mommy. And I love pluto (play-dough."


Mommy while changing Isaac's diaper. "Oh, Isaac, You have diarrhea."

Isaac: "It's not diarrhea. It's poop."


Isaac walking around wearing his pretend stethoscope. "I'm a doctor just like daddy. I make people feel better."

Mommy: "You do?"

Isaac: "Oh yes!"


Elijah has been using the phrase "Got them!" to express his excitement at catching bubbles. The only thing is, "Got them!" in Elijah grunts sounds more like "God ___." Not good. He also says his friend "Aksel's" name like another bad word.


Isaac to Mommy as she emerged from the bathroom she often shares with little kids and dog: "Did you go potty all by yourself Mommy?"


Isaac: "There's a baby in your belly Mommy. Do you like babies?"

Mommy: "Yes, I like babies."

Isaac: "Do you like ice cream?"


Istanbul Day 2: Grand Bazaar

Well I continue to plug away at our Istanbul adventure. I appreciate those of you who have expressed that these posts have allowed you to "visit" from afar. That is truly what I am trying to do for those I love (and even those of you I have never met.) I know most people will never visit Turkey or some of the other locations we will get during the next two years. I really want to bring a bit of the world to all of you!

So, back to Friday, the biggest adventure-filled day on our Istanbul trip. After our morning at the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern, we got some quick lunch at a nice Turkish Cafe. Once again, your order in the hopes you are getting something you sort of wanted. (I ordered a quesadilla and ended up with what was actually a fajita filled wrap.) Here are a couple of pics from our lunch stop:

Elijah eating, what else ... french fries? We stuck to ordering some french fries and fresh fruit at nearly ever stop and then trying to pick something else that seemed semi-kid-friendly. Unfortunately, Turkey, on the whole, while very tolerant and welcoming of children, does not cater to them like, at all. There is very rarely a kids' menu (especially not one that has things that kids may actually eat.) Elijah eats everything so it's not a problem. But our little Isaac is much more American at heart and doesn't want to get too far away from his comforts!

William lovin' the fries as well.

After lunch it was off to ... The Grand Bazaar. This Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops. In fact it attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily! It is well known for its jewelery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods. The Bazaar has been an important trad ing centre since 1461.

We didn't do any major shopping, but we did explore and try to get a taste for the Bazaar. It is normal for store keepers to come at you with everything they have and to then expect you to bargain for the product. (You shouldn't pay more than 50% of an item's listed price we have been told.) One thing we did find though was that if I spoke some Turkish (I would often say "we are just looking" in Turkish or some other statement in the "second tier" of Turkish language which indicated I actually knew more than just the most common phrases) that the storekeepers would assume we were more than the normal American tourist and back off of us a bit. So this became my strategy on behalf of the whole group.

In general, most tourists are visiting Turkey for just a short time. They do not meet many people that actually live in Turkey. While we are encouraged to conceal the fact that we are military (which often means that we have to conceal that we live in Turkey since mentioning Adana is nearly synonymous with Incirlik), when people hear me speak, they are often fascinated that I am actually learning the language.

I have to admit that learning Turkish has become a passion of mine. I find it empowering and comforting as we tour around the country. While I know I won't have time to become fluent, being able to communicate on a bit of a deeper level, really opens up the door for meeting people, learning the culture, and frequenting tourist areas.

Okay, so I have gotten off task here. Here, are a few pictures of our time at the Grand Bazaar. Following this afternoon, we would head back to the hotel for naps before dinner later that night.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Istanbul: Our room view

Dan took care of the room "ordering" for our hotel. We were all supposed to be in the same 3 suite apartment building, but due to some confusion, were split up a bit. In the end though, if we are all honest, JB and I ended up with the best room -- a beautiful 3rd floor view of Istanbul and the Bosphorous. Glorious!

Istanbul: Day 2 Basilica Cistern

After touring the Blue Mosque (previous post) we made a short stop at the Basilica Cistern before pushing onward with lunch and a visit to the Grand Bazaar! Thursday would definitely our "big day" with naps getting pushed to well into the afternoon.

The Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century by an estimated 7,000 slaves. The enlarged cistern provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings on the First Hill, and continued to provide water to the Topkapi Palace after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 and into modern times. The cistern was used as a location for the 1963 Jame Bond film From Russia with Love.

You can click on the picture below for more details about the Cistern.

Here are a few pictures from inside the Cistern:

Inside the cistern.

One shot of the cistern. It's pretty dark so pics are hard to get. Good job Dan and Ryan.

Located in the northwest corner of the cistern, the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. The origin of the two heads is unknown, though it is thought that the heads were brought to the cistern after being removed from a building of the late Roman period. There is no written evidence that suggests they were used as column pedestals previously. Tradition has it that the blocks are oriented sideways and inverted in order to negate the power of the Gorgons' gaze. However it is widely thought that they were placed sideways and upside down only to be the proper size to support their columns.

Day 2 (The Blue Mosque)

The cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque (better known as the "Blue Mosque") dominate the skyline of Istanbul. In the 17th century, Sultan Ahmet I wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would be even better than the Hagia Sophia, and the mosque named for him is the result. The two great architectural achievements now stand next to each other in Istanbul's main square, and it is up to visitors to decide which is more impressive.

One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is visible from far away: its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two, or just one minaret. According to one account, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets.

Whatever the origins of the unique feature, the six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the sultan solved the problem by sending his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret.

We certainly enjoyed touring this incredible mosque. The architecture was amazing and the kids had plenty of space just to run around and be kids. One of the hardest things about traveling in Turkey with kids is that there are so few "kid-friendly" places. Everyone loves kids and welcomes them, but safety and fun for them is just not taken into account.

Here is the closest we came to getting all five kids in one photo. This is, from left, Elijah (23 months), Isaac (who KNEW what we wanted and therefore refused to participate), Rowan (14 months), William (3 months younger than Isaac), and Noah (3).

Here is a great piccture of Dan and Angelica with Noah and Rowan. It isn't often that you meet couples that match you so wonderfully but our travel partners were just that. Dan is a very outgoing and caring guy -- (and he's a pilot!) Angelica is one of the most beautiful people (inside AND out) that you will ever meet. She grew up in Spain and while she lived for seven years in the U.S., is still learning some of the nuances of the English language. Their kids are bilingual.

A picture inside the blue mosque. No one is praying right now but the carpetted area is reserved for prayer (five times a day.)

Here is what drops your jaw. Look at the ceilings in here!


Here are Sarah (aka "Stebbs") and Ryan. Like I said in the description of Dan and Angelica above, it is often you meet couples that fit together. You often have women that get along or men. But in this group, we all really enjoy each other. Each time we move, I always believe I will not make friends like the ones we had before. God continues to bless us. Sarah is a funny, down-to-earth, laid back gal who loves Auburn. Both of these women are good for my soul. We are all sold-out Christians who push each other to be the best women we can be and to also cut ourselves a substantial amount of slack.

Our little Eljiah. He was definitely one of the more challenging members of our travelling team simply because he is pushing our limits on his desire to listen. Very selective on what he chooses to obey or not.

Such a cutie pie.

The entire Stebbins family.

A picture of four of the children. They were all willing to participate. It was Isaac that put a damper on our plans!

Lots of pics of Elijah but he's been quite the photogenic kiddo recently. Him and that hat!

Elijah and William are the BEST of friends. They hang out all the time, talk about each other all the time, and seem to communicate in their own language. So fun to watch them together. They are always nice to each other and just seem to "get" the other one.

A frontal portrait of this impressive mosque.

JB took this pic of our boys. Pretty artistic I think. Maybe he's thinking about returning to graphic design?!

He can be such a cutie and a handfull all rolled into one!

Our little stinker!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Because of Isaac

At long last, we are ready to introduce:


Only the announcement of the adoption/birth of our children have I been this excited to put up a post on my blog. I am so very excited to finally get to share this with the world.

The goal of Because of Isaac is very simple: We want to help raise funds to help childless couples adopt. We are starting with a couple very near and dear to our heart: JB's older sister Elizabeth and her husband Grant. But it is our hope that if this first adoption goes as planned, we will be able to spread our wings and continue onward ... helping more and more childless couples hold their child for the very first time just as we did with our little Isaac.

But we need to your help!

In order for this organization to get off the ground, I am seeking the support and prayers of people close to us. Blog readers. Facebook friends. Family. Friends. Acquaintances. While we will be moving forward with advertisement of various means, the way that this will most be spread is by word-of-mouth. Or by word-of-web!

Please take some time to visit our website. And then I am asking you to do the following:

1. Pray for this organization and for Grant & Elizabeth.

2. Post a link to: Because of Isaac on your blog. Post it on Facebook. And send an email to those in your contact list.

3. Pledge to donate $100 BUT ...

4. ... if you cannot financially donate $100 would you pledge (to yourself) to FIND 10 people to donate $10 each? If we can find 250 people to donate $100 (or a combination there-of) we will reach our goal of $25,000 -- the estimated amount for Grant & Elizabeth to become parents. I have nearly that many people who read my blog each day.

I am so very excited to share this with all of you! How amazing will it be for each of us to know that we contributed to a family's creation! Please spread the word today!

Istanbul Day 1 Chinese Dinner

As I mentioned in my previous post, our first night out in Istanbul included dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Here is a video of our gang intent on taking Istanbul over!

This must have been a good Chinese restaurant because there were large groups of Asian individuals eating all around us. They were (1) obsessed with Rowan because she's absolutely adorable (2) obsessed with my boys and William and I think convinced themselves that they were triplets. They sorta look like it, huh?

Here are JB and Dan showing us all how to master the use of chopsticks (and sippy cups!)

Fresh fruit is often available in "Turkish" resturants. It's a great item to order for my boys. At this restaurant it came particularly jazzed up! Look how beautiful this is!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Istanbul (day 2)

Stebbs was right.

Packed in the back of a taxi cab somewhere in Istanbul with my youngest son throwing a fit beyond anything I've even observed as an outsider, Stebbs said that sometimes you get to a point where you either have to laugh or cry. "They really are the same emotion. They just come out in different ways."

At the moment I wasn't sure I agreed with Stebbs. Laugh? I think not. We had taken a beautiful boat toar of the Bosphorous that morning followed by a cable car ride down a beautiful hillside. While Elijah had done well on the boat ride, sometime on the bus ride between the boat and the cable car, he lost his mind. We think it was fatigue. And heat. And being squished. (Kids are free for everything in Turkey if they do not take up a seat but this often means big ol' Elijah sitting in a less than ideal spot on our lap.) He had sobbed. Thrown his body around. Screamed. Yelled. Begged. JB and I were completely at our witts end. Each of our travel companions had taken a stab at calming Elijah to no degree. We think he was just so over-tired (which is our fault) that he had moved beyond the ability to reason.

I felt like crying. In fact, I think I teared up on a few occasions. I was incredibly hungry and not feeling well myself. Eljiah wanted nothing to do with JB, and while I wasn't fairing much better, it was a slight improvement with him on my lap over his Daddy's. I tried letting Elijah stick stickers all over my arms and face. I tried singing. I tried lollipops. I tried pacifiers. I tried games and stories. Nothing worked.

But laugh? No Sarah. I don't feel like laughing.

And then we got into McDonalds, and JB put Elijah into a corner to sit down. He wouldn't sit on any of our laps. His pacifier didn't help. Toys didn't help. Food (which always helps him) didn't help. So he gave up and told Elijah he'd just have to sit in a corner next to JB until he calmed down.

And calm down he did. He fell asleep sitting up. The poor little guy. He wouldn't let us touch him. When his head jerked forward, and he woke up, he got mad at JB for trying to fix it for him. He wanted nothing to do with any of us. He just wanted to be by himself and sleep.

And as he nodded off, I found myself starting to ... well ... laugh.

Stebbs was right. Sometimes the way you are feeling can only come out in one of two ways. And when it isn't crying, it's laughing. Which feels much better in the long run even though you are laughing at your own child in a most unfortunate situation.

Christmas Eve in McDonalds in Istanbul trying to communicate that you want nuggets of the chicken variety not a sandwhich of the same meat with your son sleeping sitting up in the corner.

Gotta love an adventure don't you?


Istanbul (Day 1)

On Wednesday, December 22 our family boarded a plane for Istanbul. Along with us were two families that we have come to think of as an extension of our family. Dan, Angelica and their kiddos Noah and Rowan. And Ryan and Sarah (Stebs) and their little guy William (Elijah's BFF!) The flight was only 90 minutes long so well before dinner we arrived at the airport in Istanbul. As is the new "rule" on my blog, I didn't post about where we were going until the trip had concluded. So now that it has concluded, let's flash back!

Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople is the largest city in Turkey and 5th largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.8 million, also making it the second largest metropolitan area in Europe by population, and the largest metropolitan city proper. Istanbul is the cultural, economic, and financial centre of Turkey. The city extends both on the European and on the Asian sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. The history of Istanbul generally begins about 660 BC.

I'm not sure I have ever taken a trip where JB hasn't done all the planning. But for this trip, it was Dan that took the lead. He booked us a fantastic hotel in the heart of the city, and after checking into our rooms, we enjoyed a wonderful Chinese dinner before the women and children turned in for the night and the men hung out for a few extra hours before hitting the sack. It may seem strange to eat Chinese, but in Adana, we really can only get Turkish food. So anything different is a treat!

Tomorrow (Thursday) will bring new adventures. We'll get to spend the first of three full days in Istanbul before we had back to Base on Sunday.

It is a bit strange to not be "home" for Christmas. But since we are all "family-less" we thought, why not be family-less together. I think Angelica is the least homesick of our crew. She grew up in Spain and then spent seven years in America away from her family. So she is used to living away already. And while we have always lived away, this year feels particularly hard for me. We are living in a country that doesn't celebrate Christmas and have had trouble even Skyping due to connection issues around this holiday time. I just want to be on the phone with my Mom for a bit and have a normal conversation.

We are looking forward to a few days of the "Europe" side of Turkey!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Will you do me a favor ...

... and pray for those people celebrating Christ's birth today far away from home.

I am homesick.

And I know I am not alone.

Unlike many of the servicemen deployed on this day, I am "deployed" with my family. They often call it that in Turkey. "Deployed in place." It's why JB does not deploy while we are here. They consider it enough of a sacrifice to serve where we are serving. (That being said, there are a few servicemen that deploy from Turkey! How agonizing that would be for them and their families.)

But many people don't get that option.

And while I am homesick with my husband and two little boys, I can only imagine the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children and grandchildren who are homesick with no one they love close by. Sure we have our surrogate family. Our support system. But it just isn't the same.

It's funny. I'm not sure what I miss exactly. A country that celebrates the holiday maybe? My family maybe -- even though sometimes I celebrate without them. The comforts and familiarities of home? I just miss "home" even though I am not exactly sure where that is for me right now.

And I know I am not alone.

Merry Christmas to everyone we love today. Please remember us in your prayers today. Please ask the Lord to give us an extra "oomph" as we miss home and loved ones and the home we are familiar with.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9

Feeling sooooo much better

I am a new woman.

I am taking B6 (someone on the blog recommended that but JB beat you to the punch and started me on it a few weeks ago.) I am also taking another over-the-counter medication that I am currently drawing a blank on the name of. Not sure if it is the B6 or the OTC or the fact that I am starting to near the end of the first trimester but my morning (and afternoon and sometimes evening) sickness, is all but gone.

I am still dealing with some fatigue but it has lessened. I also have to limit how quickly I try to"move" throughout my day. I just don't have the ability to conquer the day as I once did before. For instance, if not pregnant I could spend the day at the zoo walking around, I now have to only tackle half the zoo. Or tackle the zoo at half the pace. (I haven't been to the zoo in ages but you get the idea I think.)

But other than that, I am doing wonderfully. Praise the Lord. Taking care of the boys while not feeling well was quite a challenge. But the Lord is sufficient. He provided the friends on the days that I needed them. A husband who tackled all his jobs and mine too. I also had the co-op and naptime to push me through.

Either way, life has improved drastically. Thank you to those of you who were praying for me. Please pray that this improvement continues.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


If you wonder if God is truly in control, read below. I thought I would share two "coincidences" that I believe are more than just a mere chance event.

Both of these things happened on the exact day we found out we were expecting again.

The first was that, the day we found out we were pregnant, we were scheduled to call Mayo Clinic and discuss returning for some of our embryos in the spring. The exact same day! We were going to go over to Shane & Linda's and use their magicjack to make the call! How amazing is that? God really does have things scheduled on His time table doesn't he?

The second was that, the morning of our positive test, I received an email from a long-time family friend. Veronica is the daughter of our great friends in Minnesota Ron & Ebby Ray. We have known Veronica since she was four-years-old, and in fact, lived in the same house with her for a year when we first moved to Minnesota. Anyways, she just graduated from high school and was hoping to "see the world" a bit. She asked via Facebook message if I might be interested in her being our live-in nanny for a year or so.

I didn't think much of her message until later that evening, when I took that positive pregnancy test. I emailed her back and told her that we were in fact, very interested. Long story short, it appears that if everything goes as we hope on her end and on our end, Veronica may be moving to Turkey to live with us as early as March! She would stay with us, help with the kids, travel with us, and just get to explore a different part of the world for at least a year of her life.

Veronica is working on her passport and some things on her end. We've been meeting with the legal office and some other places here on Base trying to get things sorted out on our end. We are excited about the possibility of having another set of hands available around here. We just don't think we can look a gift horse in the mouth!

Just a few fun tid-bits that, to me, illustrate God's perfect plan! He really does have things figured out way before we do.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

There is something called "Club Membership" here on Base. If you are a "Club Member" you can participate in all these extra perks on Base. I think this is something that most Bases have, but only on a small Base like this do you actually participate in enough events to make it worth while. (And here, they give you an Internet discount and it is basically equal to the monthly cost of membership.)
This morning was the monthly Club breafkast. We made sure to go, especially because Santa was going to be there!
Isaac telling Santa all about his little "fire dog" cars that he got from Uncle Ray and Aunt Gabbi. We thought he'd want nothing to do with Santa, but he actually thought Santa was a very funy idea!

Is that a bit of a smile from Isaac for a photo? Could it be?

Elijah, who has not been feeling well, did not want to take a picture with Santa. So JB sat down with him on his lap and Santa snuck in behind him!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Points of interest?

Things I learned today:

  • Scrubs barfing is bad. Always is. But Scrubs barfing when I am on the verge of barfing is an absolutely horrible combination. I calculated the time to see how long before JB was going to be home. Could it wait? It could not.
  • Candied ginger is terrible stuff. I tried it. Bad. It almost made me sicker than I was to start with.
  • Your kids are smarter than you are. While reading through our animal book, Elijah pointed to a bird and asked me, "What's dat?" While searching for the specific name of the bird on the page, Isaac sighed and said, "It's a bird Mom." Right, it's a bird. I knew that!
  • Puppies are scary. We let the boys go outside to meet a new boxer pup on Base. The dog began jumping all over Elijah. We watched as Elijah grew afraid of the puppy and actually sought refuge with Scrubs! Scrubby is such a good dog.

Bikes Rock!

Here is a fun video of the boys playing one of their favorite games: driving down the ramp at the house next to our's.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

There is no Christmas tree in our house this year. And there are many reasons for this. A main reason is that the Mom in the house (aka ... me) is just not feeling well. The nausea comes in waves, and while I do not throw up, I am basically useless to myself or my family, during a bad wave. I can't eat anything and the only thing that brings me relief is to be asleep in my bed. (Not usually possible with two little two-year-olds in the home!)

John and I decided that some things would have to give during this time. Decorating for Christmas is one of them. We will be doing something a bit "unconventional" for Christmas this year (more of that to come after the holiday passes). So we let the decorating go.

There are a few things out. A few candles and items I thought the boys would enjoy. There were three snow globes but now there are two. Elijah thought one of them would look much better smashed to smitherines on the floor below!

But the main reason there is no tree in our hosue this year is that we've always been a real tree family. This is mostly at JB's request. He loves the smell and so each year we go and buy a new tree. But here in Turkey, there are no trees to buy. Everyone has a fake tree.

Well, let me correct that statement. There are a few trees for sale at the BX. Below is an example of one of the trees available for purchase for a mere NINETY DOLLARS!

I kid you not folks! It is almost comical. Do people really buy these? I certainly hope not. I'm already missing my family a lot right now. We are all a bit homesick. Everyone on Base I think. And to add this tree to our home would just bring a constant reminder that we are not at home for the holidays. That we are in another country. A country that doesn't celebrate Christmas at all. (They decorate some but it is all in celebration of the "New Year"). The holidays are a hard time to be away from home and this tree ... oh my ... there is so much I could say about this tree. But I'll stop here. Apparently Turkey doesn't have any other options for us outside of this tree. Oh my.

We decided to pass on purchasing this tree and just go tree-less. I think we made the correct decision, don't you?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Driving in Turkey

I have driven into the alley. I have driven as far as M1. But until yesterday, I had not ventured into Adana as the driver of a vehicle. I’d gone with JB many times. I’d allowed a dolmuş driver to take the lead. But myself? Yesterday, was my first experience.

Of course, I wasn’t alone. The one thing about Turkey that can be a bit frustrating is that driving off-Base by myself is just not something I can do. I mean, I could do it, but my sweet husband thinks I am overly naïve in underestimating the risks of being in the Middle East where very few people speak (good) English. I know he’s right. But sometimes, being “trapped” on Base can get a little frustrating. Many women do leave Base by themselves. But I’m not one of them.

So I wasn’t alone. The awesome Stebs was my co-pilot. We were going to a lunch hosted by one of the women in our Turkish-American Women’s Club. We were following Stebs’ neighbor Seyhun, a Turkish lady married to an American man who, unfortunately, wasn’t returning to Base after the dinner -- meaning that I had to follow behind her.

First I must tell you, driving in Turkey is not the worst driving experience I have ever had. Nigeria was, horrendous. I would have never braved sitting behind the wheel in that country. But other than Nigeria, I have never experienced anything quite like driving in this country.

I wish, somehow, I could paint it for you in words, but it so hard to accurately describe a road with lane markers that are simply a suggestion. People coast from lane to lane without any forethought involved. Cars will often be driving the wrong way so as to avoid having to try to find a non-existent place for a U-turn. Bikes and rick-shaws and people walking and stray dogs are only a part of the extra drama. They weave between traffic as if I am not driving a two-ton automobile that can smash them to smitherines.

The Turks have no problem standing mere inches from a vehicle when it passes. And when I slow down and refuse to navigate through a busy street until there is more space between myself and a mother with a baby, the people behind me begin honking and the pedestrians start waving me on. Their eyes are saying, “Just drive! What’s the problem? You have p-l-e-n-t-y of space.” Unfortunately, I do not feel as comfortable as they do with the space I have been given.

Parking spots are often marked by lines which are once again, just mere suggestions. As I tried to pull my mini-van into a spot, a Turkish man stood on the sidewalk and tried to help me squeeze the van in. They are a helpful people but much more confident in my driving/parking skills than I am. He kept waving me in, encouraging me, telling me I could make it without scratching the pole to my right. But I didn’t believe him and ended up backing traffic up for a block to back-up and re-enter at my own comfort level.

When we returned from dinner, people had parked behind our cars. And so what were people doing? They were driving on the sidewalks in order to get around the fact that they were blocked in. And I am talking about sidewalks filled with shoppers in a very classy, up-scale area of Adana. Not exaggerating here folks. It really happened. Lucky for me, the man parked behind me was just getting into his vehicle as I was leaving so that I was able to avoid having to navigate the sidewalk. Thank the Lord.

The way home was much more eventful. Firstly, Stebs and I were on our own – no Seyhun to lead the way. In some ways, this was easier, since following a Turk is not an easy thing to do. They are pushing through people and sliding between objects that I don’t feel quite comfortable with. But since I am following, I have little choice. On my own, I can go as slow as I want while I wait for a man holding a ten-foot cotton candy pole to cross the street. Of course, everyone honks at me, but they honk for everything, and I truly don’t care. I refused to come that close to people on the side of the road.

At one point, we were on a two lane road which appeared to be more of a sidewalk but was obviously used for driving. There was just barely enough room for two cars to pass each other on this tiny road. But that didn’t slow down the people coming the other way. They zipped by me unconcerned that our mirrors were just mere inches apart. And when I would slow down, motorbikes loaded with teenagers would zip around me and slide over in front of me just mere feet before the other car zipped by coming the other direction. Craziness!

While navigating through one of these tiny roads, a man coming the other way had gotten distracted looking for something off to his right and failed to see me at all on the side of the road. He was coming straight for me, and all I could do was slam on my breaks and put my hand on my horn and leave it there for a full five seconds. He came to a screeching halt, and while neither of us were going fast enough that the front-end collision would have resulted in injury to either party, Stebs and I were breathing quite a bit harder than normal due to the fear of a front-end collision in a country where an accident is always the fault of the American and my Turkish is only as good as a two-year-old. The man apologized with his eyes and hand-gestures, acknowledging that he was completely distracted and at fault, and we continued on our way.

We eventually ended up at home completely safe and sound and feeling a tremendous amount of relief for the Base. The dinner had been wonderful with nine Turkish women and Stebs and myself experiencing an Italian dinner in Turkey. Nearly all of the women spoke good English, but they still often slipped into Turkish. It’s a great opportunity for me to practice the language and learn more about the culture. These are very educated Turkish women, and as we would say in America, quite “kept”, so they only represent a fraction of society. But what a fantastic opportunity.

We did however have to laugh when one of the women told us she didn’t like driving in America. “There’s too many rules,” she said in her heavy Turkish accent. Yes, too many rules!


Bring on those rules!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Many people I know now didn't know me then. They didn't know me during our years of infertility, during our adoption, or during our miracle pregnancy. They keep asking me about my body and pregnancy.

So for all of you out there who have never seen me with a basketball stuck under my shirt, here I was back in December of 2008. Isaac is about seven months old. And I am due to deliver in just about one month. You can read the previous post here that I wrote and see more pictures if you are very interested.

I cannot believe how little Isaac is in this picture. Last night we had some friends over for dinner and they had a tiny baby in a swing. I realized that this time everything will be different. I will have toddlers. I will be having to teach them how to share Mommy. How to be gentle with the new baby. How to accept the new baby. How to understand why Mommy isn't able to run or wrestle as easily as she did before.

Isaac was just a baby the first time we did this. But now he is understanding. When we told him that I had a baby in my belly he said, "Mommy, there's no baby in your belly, okay?" And then he changed his mind and said, "What's it gonna be?"


It is 2:10pm. Isaac won't nap. He's been in there for over an hour.

And worse, he's totally figured out how to stall!

"Isaac you must go to sleep," I say as I peep in to make sure he isn't climbing on the walls or doing some dangerous something-or-other. I then begin to shut the door.

"Mommy. Wait. I need ..."

"What do you need?"

"I need ... something," Isaac says in a very sweet, sleepy, cute voice.

"You don't need anything. You need to go to sleep," I say (and begin to shut the door again.)

"No. I do. I need ... a huggie."

Oh geez. Like I can turn that down. "Okay," I say as I cave to his cuteness. "I''ll give you a hug." I do, and then I say, "Okay. Now you need to go to sleep."

"But wait Mommy. Could you stay here with me?"

"No, I can't. You have to go to sleep."

"But could you just hold my hand?" he asks.

Oh for crying out loud. How manipulative and gooey and amazingly intelligent can a two-year-old be? Who taught him how to do this? Of course, I sit there, holding his hand. I then allow him to lead me to his toy box full of stuffed animals so he can pick just one more out to have in bed with him.

When I finally do give in and shut the door, it's only because I was quicker to the draw. I shut before he could come up with something else that would draw me back in.

Isaac is definitely growing up. For the first time in his entire life, he is challenging us. He is starting to talk back, "I don't want to eat those, okay?!"

He has learned how to skirt the truth by answering, when asked why Elijah is crying with, "Because he hurt himself." Asked how he hurt himself? "He got hit." Only when asked what hit Elijah does he finally reply that, "I hit him."

But even though I know he is growing up and getting wiser and becoming more sinful in nature, my love for him seems to double by the moment. By the day. I feel so lucky, every day, that two teenagers saw fit to make me his mom. Truly can there be any better gift?

Sorry. He's calling me again. And if I have to be honest, I know I'll probably be a sucker and be watching a movie with him on the couch before a few minutes have passed.

Love that little boy. Even if he's making me work harder with every day that passes to out-wit him, to out-think him, and to discipline him. My sweet little Isaac.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I would tell Infertile Me

I got an email from a friend dealing with infertility today. She asked me a question.

"If you could go back in time and tell infertile Wendi one thing, what would it be?"

It's funny she asked that. It's a question I've thought about many times. And I've formulated many different answers.

But here's the one that resonates most within me.

I would tell myself to try my hardest to enjoy my life. To try to embrace where I am at currently instead of wishing the months and years to speed ahead until our next treatment or the next holiday that maybe I would be a mom. I would tell myself to sleep in as often as I could. I would tell myself to take more naps. Lie in bed and watch movies and don't get up just for the sheer relaxation of lying around Wendi! I would tell myself to go on as many dates with my husband as I could. Go for runs whenever you want Wendi. Take long walks in the park for no reason at all. Travel. Travel. Travel some more. Volunteer. Embrace your hobbies. Sit on the kitchen counter and drink a coke and stay up way too late talking with a girlfriend. Don't worry so much about becoming a mom. Try to remember that God doesn't promise us tomorrow. Children won't solve your fears of being alone Wendi. And then travel some more gosh darn it!

There's more. But you get the general idea.

What I find interesting is that this is the first place I have lived where people did not know me "before" kids. I had someone mention to me that they have trouble picturing me as anything but a "mom." Yikes! Really? This is so foreign to me since I spent from ages 21-31 as a married wife with no children at all.

But seriously. I was that woman. I was the woman that people would have bet money on would not have biological children. Ever. When we got pregnant with Elijah my doctor said to me that if I would have asked her if I thought I would ever bear a child she would have had to be honest with me. It just was not going to happen. Not ever. Three clomid cycles, five failed IUI's, and four failed IVF's didn't leave a hope left floating around.

It only left God.

I think we have this idea that if we "just get married" or if we "just have kids" or if we "just get this job" or if we "could just pay off this debt" or ... well, the list could go on and on, that then things will be perfect.

But they won't. We will never arrive. There will always be something we are seeking. There will always be sadness and disappointments. Only a relationship with our Heavenly Father can bring us the complete peace we think a certain thing will.

When we pulled away from the hospital with little two-day-old Isaac strapped into his car seat on May 9, 2008 ... with the lawyer and nurse waving at us and feeling like we had no idea what we were doing ... I realized that I was now, nearly officially, a mom. (His five month court hearing would solidify it.) But I didn't really feel different. Something could happen to Isaac the next day. Something could happen to all of us on the way home. Isaac was the child we always hoped to have. But he was not the answer to the hole in our life we often try to fill with things other than Christ.

I pray for those of you today praying for answer to your prayers. For many of you it is a child. For others of you it is something else. A spouse. A job. Reconciliation.

Whatever it is, I hope I can encourage you with three main tidbits of hope:

1. Embrace, as best you can, where you are today.
2. Believe that miracles are possible.
3. Remember that only Christ will bring you the peace you seek.

I always seem to have a group of about 5-10 women in my life that are in my "infertility group" of the moment. Women that I am watching walk the walk I walked just a few years ago. Please know that you are at the forefront of my mind all the time. Really. I am thinking of you by name while I write this. When I see you. When I email you. When I talk to you. I am thinking of you. I am wanting to fix it. And I am praying for the answer to your prayer.

P.S. Happy birthday to my "unofficial" goddaughter Raylee and my cousin Sarah.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good news

Must share my excitement that our government did not vote to repeal a longstranding ban on abortions on U.S. military bases last week. This provision would have allowed abortions to be performed in taxpayer-funded facilities in the States and abroad.

No matter what your opinion on abortion, the idea that tax-payers should have to pay for someone to receive an abortion is completely ludicrous in my opinion. Individuals can still receive an abortion but must pay for it themselves and go off-Base to receive the services.

Good job political leaders. Well done.


So here's the thing I've learned this week. The "rainy season" is exactly that. R-a-i-n-y! Not rain like I've ever experienced before. I've experienced hard rains and a lot of rain, but I've never experience rain for such an extended period of time. It has rained seven days in a row. Yesterday there was a break in the action, but otherwise, it has rained from morning to night, overnight. There is a cold wind that blows. And it drizzles all day. It has rained so much that I finally gave up waiting for a break in the action to get Scrubby outside for exercise and agreed to let him play Frisbee in the rain and just give him a good wipe-down afterwards.

With this rain has come some new challenges. Firstly, like every family on Base, we are a one-car family. Normally JB takes the van into work. We like to do it this way so that he can come home during his lunch break (which is only one hour long). It is only about one mile from our house to the Clinic. But if he were to try and bike it or walk it, he wouldn't have much time with us when he made it home.

I don't mind this at all. I either walk, run, or bike everywhere with the boys. It works out great. Unless I need to go off-Base, which is rare, I very rarely need the van. But when it is raining, all of this changes. I have to take JB in in the morning, go get him for lunch, etc. It really cramps my style! All so that I have transportation for myself and the boys during the day.

Okay so all that really has nothing to do with play-dough.

Digression. My specialty.

We got the play-dough because, gosh darn it, we are having to be in the house a lot. One of the hard things about being on this Base is that you are very limited in activities you can participate in when the weather is bad. There just isn't anything to do with kids inside. It's quite slim-pickens. Normally this is okay for me. We go to parks and play in the backyard and frontyard all day long.

But with the weather so bad, we've had to find some new activities.

Play-dough is a good one.

Here's the funny thing. Isaac, asks many times a day to play with the play-dough. But he doesn't really want me to open it. He just likes to play with the cans and the "tools." Elijah, on the other hand, is thrilled with the play-dough and immediately digs in.

Play-dough is just another way that I see the differences in my boys. Tonight I attended a kick-off to a Spring Beth Moore Bible Study I am going to participate in. JB had the kiddos. He went to the store with them despite the pouring rain. On the way out of the store, he had to carry four bags and had each boy walking along side of him.

John painted a picture. Elijah giddy with laughter at the thought of jumping in puddles. Silly. Stomping. Loving the rain falling.

Isaac? Not so much. His conversation on the way to the van went something like this: "Daddy, I don't like this. I'm getting wet. I don't want to be in the rain. Daddy I don't like this. No rain. No wet." That sort of thing.

All right. More digression. I'll leave it at the fact that we are doing play-dough. It's quite popular and quite wonderful. Both boys have tried eating it and decided it tastes so vile that I am pretty sure they won't try again.

I continue to read my Toddler Activity Book and search for indoor activities. Your suggestions continue to be valued!

P.S. Happy birthday to my nephew Nathan!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Oh man does this picture bring back memories for me. This was the highway right by my house in Rochester, MN where we lived from 2003-2007. Any Rochester people have the official total of snowfall that fell? It is also true that during one snow storm in 2003, I ended up in a corn field. Thank the Lord my car did not flip.

I do not miss the incredible cold in Minnesota for what can be up to 8 months of winter. (And don't say that isn't true locals. We had a snow in May when I lived there and a snow in October. That's 8 monts!) But while I don't miss the cold, I do miss the beauty of snow. It was such a reminder to me of God and his creativity. (Especially when I was inside the warmth of my house watching it and not having to drive in it.)
I still have many, many friends in Rochester. Hope you all stayed safe and warm.

Medical Christmas Party

Well folks, as mentioned in a previous post, Saturday evening was the Christmas party for the medical group here at Incirlik. It's amazing how many people are involved in people's health. I am not good at numbers but I would estimate there were between 100-150 people for the event. It was a very fun evening! There were games and activities and food. What else could you want? We also won one door prize and at my prodding, JB agreed to participate in a game which resulted in a quite snazzy digital camera. (All he had to do was imitate an owl and a penguin and find his matching person who had the same animal. How easy is that?)

As I also mentioned earlier, I had no idea that this was a formal event until just a few hours beforehand. I dropped-in at the Turkish beauty salon on Base and pulled out the black dress from my friend Michelle's wedding and made the best attempt I could at looking put-together in a very short period of time.

This will be the last time I wear this dress for quite some time. It is true that baby #2 starts protruding much faster than baby #1. The dress will need to be retired for at least a year.

I think it is quite obvious (to me at least) that I already look a bit pregnant here.

This is a great friend of mine, Tina. She has five children. Her oldest daughter, Hannah, was babysitting for us that evening. She is a wonderful Christian gal with a lot of parenting knowledge that I am always willing to "steal"!

This is Tina and her husband Mark. They live just around the block from us. It was so fun to sit next to them for the dinner.

This is Andrea, a fellow doctor, with JB. Nick couldn't make it due to his family just returning from the States and Linda was out-of-town. So Andrea and JB held down the fort.

Not the best picture of us, but an attempt at least. (And I wanted to show you the cool thing this guy did with my hair.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Medical Christmas Party

Saturday afternoon was the 39th Medical Group's Annual Children's Christmas Party. It went from 12-3, and despite great effort on our part, naps were not to be had before the party. As a result, JB left early with the boys while I stayed to help with the Santa Pictures (my assigned task.)

The boys did, however, have a fabulous time, and while Elijah may have been impressed by Santa, I am pretty sure Isaac would have gone into complete rivolt at the idea of sitting on some strange man's lap.

The boys eating ... junk and more junk. (Although we did manage a plate of fruit prior to the M&M's.) Isaac insisted on holding all the M&M's in his hand. The kid is a sweet-a-holic.

Here's the plate of fruit -- proof we did fit it in. These hats folks, are NOT my doing. The boys insist on wearing them everywhere. (They fight over who gets which one. They rotate daily in which one is most popular.) They also tilt them to the side or put them on backwards as I think they can't see if the bill is in front of them.

Isaac wanted to make a candy bag with JB. Here they are working on it.

And here he is hidden behind that silly hat! (Thanks for sending those Mom!)

Elijah thought face painting was a fabulous idea, as you can see from the pictures below. However, Isaac wasn't having none of that!

Elijah sat so still. He was so excited!

Picking out the color he wants. That's my friend Tina's 2nd oldest daughter. Her oldest daughter Hannah babysits for us quite a bit.

So funy to watch him doing this. He kept telling Rachel that she was giving him a boo-boo.

It was while I was at the party that, in conversation with other women there, I discovered that the party I was attending that evening with just JB for the medical group was more of a "gala-style" event isntead of a "casual event." In other words, my idea to wear a skirt with a sweater was probably not a good one. Ugh! That's not something you want to find out with 3 hours before event time.

So on the way home from the kids' party, I stopped at the Turkish Beauty Salon on Base. (Side note: In Turkey, it is the men who do hair. Not the women. Almost without exception.) I went in, not feeling good from all-day-morning-sickness, and asked the guy who did my hair if he could attempt to help me feel a bit prettier than I currently did. I had no idea what he shold do with my hair or how I wanted it or even what I was wearing for sure.

He worked some wonders for $12. I'll get to that post tomorrow. Picture loading here on Base is so unbelievably random in the length it takes to load them. Some days it is fast. Other days, like today, it has taken me all day to load these pictures. It all depends on how many people on Base are trying to Skype home while I am loading photos.

... more Christmas joy to come.