Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I Want the World to Know About ...


This is post #8 in a series of guest blogger posts entilted, "What I want the World to Know About ..." Want to submit a post of your own? Click here to find out how.

By: Kelli D.

Kelli is originally from Michigan but moved to south Florida eight years ago. She and her husband Ryan have now put down roots in South Florida and are expecting a daughter this November. Kelli earned a Master's Degree in Environmental Education and works at Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton where she loves teaching people about nature. She actually knows me through AD (my brother's wife), whom Kelli met when she first moved to Florida. She has been a follower of my blog for several years now.

There is an amazing variety of life on this planet! And God created this world and all of the life inhabiting it for His pleasure. And believe it or not, each species has a specific purpose, and it has been laid on my heart to share with people that we should be good stewards of God’s creation.

I am a manager at a nature center in south Florida, and we strive to help people become aware of the wonderful and unique environment around them and help them appreciate the awesomeness of nature. We then want people to turn the awareness and appreciation into action, with the ultimate goal of encouraging people to take ownership of this earth, and make environmentally responsible decisions in their own lives.

Let me explain what I mean by "ownership." If I were to go into someone’s home and throw my candy wrapper on the floor, or dump my trash in their yard, it would make that person upset – because it is their house and their property, and my actions aren’t respecting their home. People don’t see the earth as their home. They have become disconnected from nature; it’s not personal to them. This is among the top reasons why people litter or don’t recycle, or really don’t even think about how their actions impact the earth and everything else living on it.

We also want people to understand and respect nature. For example, how many people don’t like snakes? Many people don’t understand that snakes play a super important role in controlling the populations of rats and mice. With the high reproductive rates of rats and mice, if it weren’t for snakes, we would be overrun with rodents which would cause enormous problems for people. Problems would include eating crops (which in turn would cause less food for us to eat, and profit loss for farmers) and invading our homes. Who wants those problems? And if there weren’t snakes, what would the animals that eat snakes feast on? The cause and effect relationships in nature are very complex and I’m just giving a few very simple examples, but I am using these to illustrate a few reasons why snakes are important, whether we like them or not. I’m not asking you to like snakes, but please try to respect and understand that they were created for a purpose. And please refrain from killing one with a shovel if one shows up in your garden, and PLEASE, whatever you do, try to put on a brave face and don’t pass along your fears to others, especially easily influential children! Nurturing a respect for nature in children is difficult enough, especially as societies have become more and more detached from the great outdoors.

We all know that some animals can be dangerous to people (and of course, these are the stories we hear on the news), but the vast majority of animals you may encounter are more afraid of you than you are of them. They just want to get away from you! Only if they feel trapped or threatened (or if it is a mother with babies around) would they show aggressive behavior towards a human. Oh yeah, and all animals will show warning signs before attacking – it’s only if we ignore their warning signals with they actually attack. And keep in mind, of most of the shark and alligator attacks we hear about, the people survive, because after the attack has begun, the animal realizes that we aren’t the prey they were looking for, and the animal stops attacking. Granted, the damage has been done, but that doesn’t mean that sharks and alligators are "bad."

(Back to snakes for a second - the vast majority of venomous snake bites occur to people that own them as pets.) All in all, we have a better chance of being hit by lightening than by being attacked by wild animals.
The more we (humans) develop and destroy creation, the less places animals have to live and the more potentially negative encounters people may have with them. Don’t get me wrong, people are God’s "special" creation and we live on this planet too. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t build homes because it destroys natural areas, but development needs to be planned carefully and should take into consideration environmental effects.

Boulder, Colorado is one example of where the city planning was just done superbly! They took into consideration future population growth, and surrounded the city with protected parks, so the city cannot expand outwards! They’ve really taken a close look at water and energy resources to supply the city as well. This is a city that is more sustainable than most here in the states.

Please know that I am not saying that human needs should take a back-seat to the environment, but we need to be aware of the other life that is on the planet and how important that life is, and how that life is actually important for us and our health. Many animals are considered "indicator species" and careful observation of their populations can give us a lot of information about the health of the planet’s air and water quality, and the health of specific environments. If we don’t have a healthy planet, we won’t be able to live healthy lives!

God put man in charge of the earth, so we have a responsibility to take care of what He has given us. I know it is not feasible for all of us to covert our homes to using solar energy, but there are soooo many simple little things we can do to help protect and respect God’s creation. Just think about the amounts of water and electricity that we use; the amounts of trash we create; the chemicals we use that get washed down the drain or absorbed into the earth. These are good places to start. It may seem overwhelming, but just make one small change, and then when you are comfortable with that, add another small change. Doing something, no matter how small, is better than doing nothing at all. You may think, “I’m just one person. Will it really make a difference?” YES. Yes it will. And it just might make a positive impact on your wallet as well!

We only have this one planet for us and for future generations. If you have questions or would like more information, your local nature/environmental centers can be a good source of information. I really want you to know that I am not trying to "preach" to anyone. I’m just sharing my heart about a small piece of what I want the world to know.

What I learned before nap time

1. Getting Pez into the Pez container isn't nearly as easy as the picture on the back of the package illustrates.

2. "Strings" on bananas are a major stressor for toddlers.

3. It is possible to do a puzzle (Elijah), feed a baby (Abigail), and read a book (Isaac) at the same time. Sorry Scrubs.

4. The moment that I have my hands most tied up, is the moment the dog will want to play with me the most.

5. I can walk three kids to the Community Center by myself. Abigail loves the baby Bjorn!

6. We have a new channel here in Turkey. I can't be sure what it is about but it looks like a Turkish religious channel. Since I don't speak (much) Turkish, and I am not Muslim, the channel is pretty useless.

7. Hatice believes that rubbing breast milk on Abigail's blocked tear ducts will heal them. I'm thinking this is a Turkish wive's tale?

8. 2 out of 3 for naps (Abigail being the "out of") down for naps is 66%. That's a D in report card standards but in comparison to 33%, it's pretty good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Big bros

Blog visitor poll

In viewing the current results of my blog visitor poll, I have to say I am quite surprised. I had no idea that more than half of respondents would be people who have never met me! I truly thought most readers were those who knew me on a personal level. Check out the blog poll below (and take it if you haven't yet.

P.S. Also, Tuesday evening (that's tonight for me but nearly a day from now for those of you back home) John and Becky are going to be meeting their son for the first time. You can read her prayer requests for their trip to Korea here. Please keep this family in your prayers as they head back to the USA with son in tow!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Putting Others First Review

Mothers and Fathers can review a children's product. But in the end, does what we think truly matter? Whenever I review a product for kids, I make sure to let the kids do the actual reviewing.

I was not a huge fan of Chuck Swindoll's Paws & Tales: Putting Others First. I thought the animation was just okay. I thought the story was just okay. I thought the message portrayed was just okay.

But my sons, ages 2.5 and 3, thought that my assessment was way off. They loved it. How do I know? Well, firstly, they sat the whole thing: two episodes approximately 15 minutes a piece. Secondly, they asked to watch it again. And again. And again. They don't watch anything again unless they really enjoy it.

To me, their responses speak for themselves.

Here's what I did like. I liked the Biblical messages. I love that instead of watching Mickey or Diego and getting messages about animals or friendship, they are getting true messages from God's Word.

On this particular DVD, there were two episodes. The first episode "A Race Against Time" is based on Matthew 22:39 in which the lead characters, C.J. and Staci have to finish off a list of errands for Paw Paw Chuck and must decide whether or not to help someone in need. The second episode "The Hire Principle" is based on Philippians 2:3 and pins C.J. against a bully named Tiffany who is forcing fellow classmates to be her personal servants. Both episodes deal with, you got it, putting others first.

Some other high points for me? The animal were colorful. The characters were fun. The lessons were good. There are also music videos, activities, and helpful teaching resources included on the DVD.

My overall assessment? I don't think you will be blown away ... but there is a good chance your kids will be. And isn't their opinion more important?

Some more humor

Patty recently showed Isaac where Peurto Rico was on the big map we have on the wall in our playroom. We have a US map as well as a world map. We have stars on the places we have lived, and we often talk about where states and countries are. (We also have a clock that tells us the time in the USA.) Since Patty and "Mr. Meal" are from Peurto Rico, this was a natural thing to show them. However, we didn't realize how well Isaac put it altogether until she and Isaac had the following conversation the other day while I was at a meeting with Abigail:

Patty: (While watching Isaac transport a tiny race car on top of a truck) "Is that truck carrying your car?"
Isaac: "No. It's carrying YOUR car."
Patty: "Is that truck gonna bring my car here to Turkey?"
Isaac: "Yes. This truck will bring your car ALL the way from PUERTO RICO. And now, I will show you where Puerto Rico is. Come with me. (runs to the other room and points to the map) HERE it is. This is Puerto Rico. This is where your car is, and that truck will bring it HERE."


And staying with the map theme, he showed JB where Chili was on the map this morning and then said, "We ate there when we were in Germany Daddy." The restaurant? Yes we did!


Two of Elijah's cute sayings recently are, "Give me Five man!" and "Sorry 'bout that," if he accidentally does something wrong. I love hearing him say those.


Elijah asked for help putting on his shoe. I was trying to guide him in doing it hiself and decided to use the quotes from the book The Little Engine that Could. "Elijah you just have to think you can and think you can and think you can," I said. He looked up at me and squinted his little eyes and said, "Mommy, you do I think I can."


And how is this conversation for an example of random?

Isaac: "Jesus lovs in my hugs."
John: "Really. Where did you hear that from?"
Isaac: "From my belly."
John: "Your belly?"
Isaac: "Yeah. You want to smell cookies through my belly button?"

Couldn't pick just one ...

Linda stopped by the other day and took some pictures for fun. She really enjoys photography, and I enjoy her practicing on our family. Let me preface this by saying that JB and I are not big fans of bows on our kid. However, Linda was a fan, and Joia gave us some cute bows and so we agreed to let her try it. JB thinks they look silly, but I think they look kinda cute. I don't think we'll have her hanging out in them, but they are fun for pictures. (Thanks Joia ... and Linda!)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A jog?

Abigail was six weeks old yesterday. I decided to celebrate six weeks of healing with a jog.

Okay, okay. So jog may not be the word for what I did. If your dog is just sort of walking next to you then maybe that means your jog doesn't qualify as actually running? Either way, I actually did something more than walking and that alone makes me proud.

I am not completely healed. I still have some discomfort when I move in certain directions and it is difficult to lay on either side in bed still. But I am progressing nicely. This was my fourth stomach surgery. Hernia surgery in high school. Two c-sections. And the appendectomy back in January. I'm ready to keep the knives out of my tummy for awhile.

But the jog will hopefully help me with the at least twenty more pounds that I want to lose. I'm not panicking about the weight yet. JB said to give myself at least three months before I start checking the scale. So I'm going to try that. But I do want to see some numbers dropping off big time in the not-so-distant future.

Oh and jogging isn't the only cool news in our lives. The boys moved into twin sized beds yesterday thanks to an ad I answered on the Incirlik Yard Sale's Facebook page. (Love that site!)

And, we had a block party last night. More details and pics to come soon. Way fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thanks for lovin' our kids

Being away from family is tough. Lately especially I have just missed the connection with family. I know that we haven't technically lived by family since we were in high school. But just being in the same country provides a closeness I never knew until we weren't there anymore. We are so blessed that our kids have other people in their lives that help love on them.

Like Dr. Linda

and Mr. Shane

And Ms. Patty and Mr. "Meal" (Yamil)

And tons of other people, some of which (Stebbins, Angelica) are out of town! Come home soon guys.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fun with Fingers

On Wednesday I had a packed day with a MOPs meeting in the morning and then a meeting at the chapel regarding my work on the bulletin in the afternoon. Abigail came with me and the boys hung with Veronica. They got to do fingerpainting!

Incirlik (and life in general) notes

  • I miss Angelica and Stebbs something awful. They are both out of town and both return in the next week or so. I can't wait to see them.
  • Our boys seem to be adjusting to a new little sister without too much of a glitch. I definitely feel some mother guilt about trying to split myself three ways instead of two, but I know this is just part of the adjustment.
  • Baby Abigail is really chunking up. I love when little babies start getting chunky. Feeding is going so much better. She is happier. Mom is happier. We are continuing to breast feed and bottle feed every feed. I am also pumping to try and keep my milk supply up.
  • Summer in Turkey is not nearly as hot as it was last year Praise the Lord! It is still warm, don't get me wrong. But more South-Florida-like instead of Middle-Eastern-like. The cool thing is (no pun intended) that it gets into the 70's early in the morning and late at night which is a nice treat.
  • I thought Abigail's sleeping through the night would end when we fixed her eating. However, she has continued to sleep through the night. She goes to bed around 10pm and sleeps until about 5am. Glorious!
  • Believe it or not we are planning a return trip to Germany in a few months. Not exactly what I wanted to do but getting to see JB's parents who are going to meet us there is worth going back. I can't wait for them to get two weeks of time with their grandkids.
  • Now that the school year is starting again (Monday), activities on Base are starting again as well. Things really shut down for the summer as so many people travel. I am going to be involved with MOPs. I am also going to be involved with an infertility support group that is starting up. In addition, I am helping at church with the Bulletin. I think that is enough for now!
  • The ATM took my debit card today. Just sucked it in. Not happy about that. I've got to figure out a way to go through all the steps written on the paper on the top of the ATM to get it back now. Bummer.
  • JB is really enjoying the new doctor who has come in: Yamil. He and Yamil have really hit it off and work right across the hall from each other which has been great for JB. His wife Patty is also awesome so that is great (for me.)
  • Please scroll down and participate in my blog poll if you haven't already.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Funny email

Thought I would share a funny email I received from my husband yesterday. Having a baby involves paperwork. Having a baby overseas? More paperwork! Having a baby overseas in a different country than that of your residence. Egads! Oh and add to that having a nanny here from another country and it gets even better. See if you can follow what it is that is wearing him out lately.
Got Veronica’s pass.
I hate paperwork.

Got Abigail enrolled in DEERS.
I hate paperwork.

Got the Residency Permit started – they do not need her passport.
I hate paperwork.

Got the paperwork for her No Fee Passport – we need to get that filed.
I hate paperwork.

Working on Hatice's new sponsorship stuff.
I hate paperwork.

Got the paperwork for her Command Sponsorship letter – we need to get that filed.
I hate paperwork.

Once we get the Command Sponsorship letter than I can complete the paperwork for her to get enrolled with Tricare and finish the No Fee Passport application package.

Did I metion…

I hate paperwork.


Other side!

Thanks Gabbi for sending me a recent picture of your kiddos. In addition to my two nieces on my side of the family, JB and I have two other special kids in our family. This is Grace. She is going to be 9! And this is her little brother Nathan. I do so wish we could see our brothers and sisters and their kiddos more often. Being away is just tough on me and my hormones lately.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Time to go!!!!!!!!!!!

It's time for John & Becky to go pick up their little boy in South Korea.

He's coming home!!!!!!!

So incredibly excited to watch my friend Becky finally hold the little boy that God made for her family. Yayyyyy!!!!


For those of you who don't know me well, you may not know that I have just one sibling: a younger brother, Keith. Keith is married with two little girls. Charleigh was actually born right around the time my boys were. So my parents went from 0 to 3 grandkids in 9 months. Here are a few pictures of my two nieces:



JB has five brothers and sisters! Only his brother Ray has kids so we have a niece and a nephew on JB's side. I am working on getting some pictures of them. Gabbi (the mom) get on it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All three

A rare moment. All three kiddos in one place at one time, acting peaceful enough to allow Mom, home alone with all three, to get out the camera and shoot a little video. I loved these few moments:

How is the mom doing? I am doing okay. I would love if you continued to add me to your prayer list. I still appear to be a little on the "blue" side although I am having more good days than bad right now. We are doing well but are still quite bleary-eyed and overwhelmed with our three kiddos.
Abigail is doing fantastic. She is gaining weight beautifully. She is also sleeping through the night. She is usually in bed by 10pm and sleeps until at least 5 and often 6am. I know, it would probably be advised that I wake her up for a feed, but as long as she is gaining weight so well, my plans do not include doing that thank you very much. She is eating approximately every three hours through the day now. This includes a 30-minute breast feed followed by up to 4 ounces of formula. I am also pumping 3 times a day to try to keep my milk supply up and to store breast milk for future use.
I am still in complete awe of where our life is right now. I had someone email me the other day asking about an old post I had written. She was looking for a poem she remembered vaguely. I found the post, written in October of 2005. Here it is. Two whole years would go by after that post before we began the wait for Isaac. That was in 2007! Now, here we are, in 2011 with three kids. I truly cannot believe it. I can't believe I am a mom. I can't believe, I mean canNOT believe that I have three children. It is nearly unfathomable to me. I feel incredibly blessed. I feel that our life is a miracle. I feel so lucky. I feel so undeserving of these three gifts. I feel that I am not enough of a woman and a mom right now for all three of them and my hubby and my doggie. I feel stretched and overwhelmed and in love and tired and ecstatic and excited and nervous and scared and hormonal all rolled into one.
I hope that our story continues to provide proof that the direction of your life is not determined by your track record. Our record would have told anyone that we would never have biological children. While people tell you that pregnancy after adoption is the "norm", it is far from that (as I wrote about in a post here.) We were that couple. We were the couple that just wasn't going to have biological children. And we surely weren't going to have three children within three years.
But God is bigger than our plans. God's direction is unique and beautiful and so exciting. Wherever you may be on this journey, hang on tight and truly try to trust the Lord's perfect timing.
Speaking of adoption and speaking of exciting. jump over to John and Becky's blog. They should be going to pick up their little boy any day now. How awesome is that?!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tattoo time!

Our nine pounder!

Can you believe that I weighed more than Abigail does now when I was born. (She's 9.0 -- I was 9.15!) Can you believe that my brother weighed two pounds more than this little lass? (He was 11.1!) Even Veronica beat Abigail. (She was over 10 pounds.) But we are growing fast now, and I know she'll be changing very rapidly. Thanks to Veronica, we can hopefully continue to document her growth. (Because goodness knows I do not have time to be taking pictures.)

P.S. I have adds on my BLOG that I do not want. Need to ask some of my good blogging buddies how to get them off? Casey? Gabbi? Anyone?

Some Glimpses Into Our Life

I added a few more videos to my current list so I am reposting this post!

Reading our Animal Book

Pretzels and Peanut Butter

"What About Me?"

Present from Papa and Grama

First Bath (Thursday, August 11)

My Boys enjoying the Pool

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Feeding good!

It's been nearly a week since we figured out our little Abigail was not eating enough or gaining enough weight. We converted our feedings into a breast/bottle combo and the result today when we went back in for a weight check was a 2 ounce a day weight gain. (They usually hope they are gaining 1 ounce a day.) We are so happy about this. This means that what we are doing right now is working.

A few of you have asked about Baby Wise and "failure to thrive" which is what the term is for what Abigail was doing with eating. I wanted to explain that JB and I do a "modified" Baby Wise. We follow the schedule of Baby Wise which is eat/wake/sleep. We also attempt to get baby on a 3 hour schedule and allow the child to "cry it out" once we are sure they have had enough to eat. (In other words, find the ability to sleep and comfort without requiring food or a parent to do that for them.) However, we do not follow Baby Wise in the strict sense, and we definitely don't follow it until we are sure that baby is gaining good weight. It worked fantastic with a bottle-fed Isaac. However, I don't think you can really use it for breast feeding until you are sure everything is coming together properly.

Speaking of coming together properly, it is getting there at our house. I was sure that having Abigail would be easier than having Elijah. What I mean by that is that I thought having her would not be as difficult as having two babies eight months apart.

I was wrong.

JB and I both agree that adding a third child so closely to the previous two is more difficult than adding Elijah was over two years ago. We think this is because, well, there are three of them. We also think this is because the boys are now mentally challenging us. When Elijah was born, we were physically daunted by the task of two boys and a giant puppy. But we weren't dealing with all the discipline and interpersonal drama that is currently filling our home. The boys are now fighting, talking back, and engaging in personal battles.

For instance, when Elijah was born, Isaac was not old enough to hold the following conversations with me:

Isaac: "Mommy, do you still have a boo boo on your belly?"
Me: "Yes, but it is almost all better."
Isaac: Stops and contemplates this and then says, "Okay. Good. That means you can do Rockababy with us at bedtime now?" (Veronica or Daddy had to do this toward the end of my pregnancy as I couldn't lift the boys anymore.)

Or a conversation like this:

Me: "Elijah, do you think you are ready to not sleep with a pacifier anymore?" (We only allow them in his bed but we haven't taken the final step of removing them from sleep time yet.)
Elijah: "No."
Me: "But you are a big boy now."
Elijah: "No. I'm still a little boy. I'm a baby."
Me: "But you have two pacifiers," I say, holding both of them up as he gets ready to go to sleep. "We can give these to baby Abigail."
Elijah: Grabs one pacifier. "Give this to baby Abigail. I keep other one."

And Elijah got me the other day too when I started working with him on saying Luke instead of Loop for his middle name. I asked him to say the "ck" sound at the end of the word. He did. But when I asked him to say "Elijah Loo-ck" he said, "I am "Ewijah Loop Kitsteiner Lion. I not ck."

That is true.

So it's conversations like those above that keep us on our toes all day. We do have Veronica. Big change. Although I remembered that with both of my previous babies, I had someone there with me for six weeks following their births. We are still in our six-week window. I think I will really benefit from the difference of having a person around as we get out of that six-week window.

Either way, things are hectic. We are figuring it out. We are taking one day at a time.

And we are enjoying seeing Abigail's big chunk cheeks as she starts to plump up. You go girl!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Incirlik AFB: Painting a Picture

I have realized that many people, truly, have no idea what it is like living in another country, living in the Middle East, living on Incirlik Air Force Base. My friend Stebbs told me that she has had trouble explaining her life to people that aren't here living it. So true! I therefore thought I would create a post, that I will most likely edit as I see fit, so people who aren't here can try to understand what life is like on this tiny little Air Force Base. I also thought it would be something I could share with future families, preparing to make the move to Incirlik.

1. Where is Incirlik AFB? Incirlik is located five miles east of Adana -- Turkey's fifth largest city. It is 35 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Adana is approximately 1.5 hours from the Syrian border.

2. Who uses/lives on Incirlik? The U.S. Air Force and the Turkish Air Force use this AFB. There are approximately 5,000 airmen on this Base.

3. Why do we have to have Americans on Incirlik? Established in the 1940's/1950's, Incirlik was designed strategically to counter the threat of the Communist Soviet Union during the Cold War and to be able to respond to any crisis that may arise in the Middle East. In other words, Incirlik is a forward presence in the Middle East. Our relationship with the Democracy of Turkey allows us to "have a Base" outside of the USA that we can use in getting supplies to Iraq or Afghanistan. It allows us to be close to Syria, Pakistan, and other Middle East countries without actually being in these countries. This Base belongs to Turkey, but they allow us to have a presence in the Middle East. The runways on the Base are a very prominent part of the Base so supplies can come in and out easily.

4. Does everyone bring their family to Incirlik? No. You can come to Incirlik "accompanied" (with your family) or "unaccompanied" (without your family.) Some people choose to come without their family because they don't want to take their kids out of their environment/school for such a short time. Or maybe because their spouse has a good job, etc. However, some people have the choice made for them because the Base does not have the ability to take care of their family. For example, if you are assigned to go to Incirlik and you have a child with special needs that the Base does not have resources to provide for, you may have to go to Incirlik unaccompanied. Tours at Incirlik are two years (24 months) if you come with your family. But if you come without your family, tours are one year (12-15 months.)

5. What is "The Alley"? Incirlik has everything that a person would need to survive for their entire tour without leaving the Base. If the Base does not have what is needed, "The Alley", which is an Americanized strip of shops right outside the Base can probably meet your needs. "The Alley" has shops, tailors, restaurants, carpet shops, etc. that cater to the Americans who live on Base. Most owners speak very good English which allows people living on Base access to anything they might need. Stores are even "governed" by the Base. If owners are not acting ethically or the environment is deemed unsafe, they can become "off-limits" to American personnel. Venturing away from "The Alley" does not offer the same insurance. In addition, it is unlikely that a store owner will speak English away from "The Alley."

6. Do you have to live on Base? All personnel are required to live on Base. Only teachers can choose to live off-Base since they are governed by a separate entity. In order to get on Base or off-Base, you must pass through fairly intense security, especially upon entry. Most people would tell you that even if given the option, they would not choose to live off-Base, especially if they have children. While being off-Base is not technically "unsafe", those who do live off-Base live in a sort of "compound" with high gates and intense locks.

7. What is the food in Turkey like? On Base, there are restaurants (a Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Taco Bell food court), "The Club" (a sort of Chili's-like restaurant), a Turkish cafe, a restaurant with limited hours at the Golf Course, a dining hall (for enlisted personnel), and a little Turkish fast-food place. If you want to leave Base, you can also easily walk to restaurants in "The Alley." They are all Turkish food, and, while good and English-friendly, better Turkish food can be found away from the Americanized area. In Adana, there is a plethora of restaurants to choose from. Most are Turkish. Other than a few McDonalds and Burger Kings scattered here and there, there is no fast food to speak of that is not Turkish in style. You can get a doner on any street corner. But not American fast food. There are two malls in Adana, both relatively new, that have food courts which, while definitely specializing in Turkish food, also have some things that are familiar to Americans -- an Arby's, a Sbarro, KFC, and a Popeyes for example. There is a (decent) Chinese restaurant that will actually deliver to the Base, and the Hilton hotel has Chinese and Italian dinner nights. There are also a few Italian-like restaurants in Adana. And there also some sushi options, but they aren't very good (according to my sushi-eating husband.) For the most part, if you leave Base, you are really limited to a few American fast-food options or Turkish food. Turkish food itself usually involves bread, meats, and salad-type sides.

8. What services are available on Base? You can get almost anything you need on Base. If it is something you want, you may be more limited. For example, the Base has: an arts and crafts center, a church, a mosque, a tailor, a salon (also available in "They Alley"), dry cleaning, car rentals, a grocery store (Commissary), a BX (Kmart-like store), a post office, a gas station (with American prices), a library, a fitness center, a Clinic, a school (K-12), a Childcare Center (0-4 years old), a Community Center, a Youth Center, a pool, a hotel, a (not-so-good) dog park, a golf course, a small movie theatre, two different places to play miniature golf, a flower shop, a bowling alley, an auto shop, a car wash, and more. There are many parks, tennis courts, baseball/softball fields and other places for athletic opportunities. There is even a place where you can get (cheap!) massages or take fitness classes. You can get everything done on Base that you need to get done but you can't be picky about what you need. If you can't get what you need on Base, you can venture into "The Alley" or farther into town (Adana.)

9. What are prices like? On Base, prices are very similar to the U.S. In addition, all services are tax-free. Off-Base, things are very inexpensive. The currency is the Turkish Lira which is currently treating Americans very well. My husband and I can go out to a nice dinner for $15 or less total and get more food than we can eat. If you use a Turkish tailor or go to a Turkish market, you will spend a fraction of the cost that you might in the U.S. or even on-Base. Things are much cheaper than the rest of Europe.

10. What are the houses like? Houses vary greatly. There are three main living areas:
  • Eagle: brand new houses of which we live in right now and are utilized by Enlisted* (and Officers*.

  • Falcon: the oldest houses which have undergone the least improvements. Largely officers but I have heard more enlisted are moving in here.

  • Phantom: has the worst location (away from the "center" of town) but have undergone extensive renovations. This is just for enlisted. I don't believe any officers live here.
Houses are given based on rank and family size.
11. Is Turkey safe? Turkey is relatively safe. However, it is advised that individuals do not leave Base by themselves when possible. Some people do choose to go into the "The Alley" by themselves, but when it comes to venturing further, it is recommended that you travel with someone else. The vast majority of people are friendly and wonderful, but this is the Middle East, and it is important that people remember that. There are al-Qaida cells present in Turkey.

12. What is the religion/worshipping like on and off the Base? This country is nearly completely Muslim. There is a mosque on Base (mostly utilized by the Turkish military and their families.) However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and wonderful people. When you leave Base, there are mosques everywhere. There are only a handful of churches off-Base and most are home churches. On Base, there is just one church but there are multiple types of services. There is a contemporary service, a gospel service, an LDS (mormon) service, a Catholic service, and a Seventh Day Adventist service. The protestant services are often combined for various activities. Services are on Sunday. There are also Bible Studies on Wednesdays.

13. Can family visit you on the Base? Yes, visitors are welcome. It does take some time to get them a pass to get on Base so you don't want to try to come at the last minute but visitors are welcome. I have been told that unless your visiting family member has the same last name, it is easier to just call them a "friend" to avoid having to "prove" a relationship. We have called all of our visitors (including my mom) a friend and have no had any problems. Visitors to the country will have to buy a Visa (for $20) when they enter the country either in Istanbul or Adana. Non U.S. citizens can also visit.

14. Is Turkey a place for children? The turks adore children. While it may take some getting used to when leaving Base with your children (the fact that so many people want to hug and kiss and hold them), on Base you are in a mini-America. Truly, the Base here is a "Mayberry" for young children. There is still crime on Base and sexual assaults do occur (especially around the dorms where young airman live), the proportion of crime is so much smaller than any place in America. I love the fact that my kids can play outside so much of their childhood here in Turkey. You will love this community for your young children especially.

15. I want more information! 
Click here for a post I did discussing life/culture in Turkey
Click here to watch an outstanding three minute video featuring the colors/sounds/smells of Turkey.

This is a post in process. What other questions do you have for me?

*There are two distinct career paths in the military, Commissioned Officers, and, Enlisted. The minimum educational requirements for enlisted members is a high school diploma (or GED), while a bachelors degree is required for commissioned officers. Many high school graduates enter the military as enlisted members and utilize their educational benefits to earn a degree and a commission!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Outdoor Fun

The boys have found their new favorite hats. Isaac's is an army hat courtesy of Papa and Grama Di. Elijah's is the wheel to a tractor!

We are so enjoying the not-quite-so-brutally-hot-as-last-year Turkish summer!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pregnancy Loss Video

I recently received a link to a video from Tyrone Howard. I don't know Tyrone personally. He found me through my blog, and he sent me a copy of a short film he had done that he wanted my opinion on. He also hoped I would share it with my blog readers if I found it appropriate. "Unforeseen" was actyally designed to illustrate a life of second chances. However, Tyrone found that it was gathering good support amongst individuals who lost a child before he/she was born.

After watching the video, I can see why. While I have never experienced pregnancy loss, I do believe my history with infertility allows me to be a fair judge of the appropriateness of this video. I am asking my readers, especially those with a similar history to mine, to watch this video and help provide Tyrone with some feedback. Butbe forewarned that if you have faced pregnancy loss or even infertility, it may make you quite emotional. It is incredibly well done (in my opinion) and I believe very accurately portrays this difficult part of life. Please leave a comment that I can share with Tyrone -- either positive or negative. Here is the link to the video. We need more individuals opening up dialogue on this part of life, and I think Tyrone's video is worth your time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

For real?!

Isaac: "Can I have some candy Daddy?"
John: "No way!"
Isaac: "We shouldn't say that. It's rude."
John: "I was just playing around Isaac."
Isaac: "You should not say no way. You should say Okay Isaac."


Elijah: Is sitting on the ground filling up his piggy bank with coins that we emptied out of said piggy bank moments before. (The kids love to do this.) Elijah decides this is taking too long though and tries to enlist Mommy's help.
Wendi: "No, I can't help. I'm feeding Baby Abigail. But you can do it. Look at your big muscles."
Elijah: Flexes muscles and shows them to Veronica, and me, and then JB. "See my big muscles Daddy?"
John: "Woah! Yeah. You have big muscles."
Elijah: "Do you have big muscles Daddy?"
John: "I don't know."
Elijah: "Let me see your muscles Daddy!"
John: Flexes his arm muscles.
Elijah: "Woah Daddy! You have big muscles. You can help me with my piggy bank now."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Feeding issues ... again

Well it appears that Abigail and I are facing the same darned feeding issues we faced when Elijah was born. A weigh-in earlier this week at the Clinic revealed that she, like big brother, is only gaining about one-third of what she should be gaining. Dangnabit!

So after a pow-wow with Dr. Linda and JB, we are going to be moving to a breast feeding / formula combo. I cried a lot after the weigh-in about this, but then my husband (in a nice way) told me I needed to "snap out of it." You can't control the uncontrollable, right? I have tried hard and it just isn't what is best for Abigail so we'll try something new. Okay. Snapped out of it I have.

We are pretty sure, now that this is happening for the second time, that the problem is probably related to how fast I expel milk. I produce enough, but we think it just comes out very slowly. Both my breast feeding babies (Isaac was obviously formula fed) have eaten for incredibly long periods of time, slept through the night very early (most likely due to exhaustion from feeding so long all day long), and then didn't gain good weight.

With Elijah, we waited way too long, and by the time we figured it out at three months, we decided to go straight to formula. I didn't have a Veronica at that time and I had another tiny little babe in the house and just didn't think I could manage trying to eat and pump and watch another baby. But this time I have Veronica and so I think I am going to attempt to pump and bottle feed and breast feed. We'll see how it goes.

Once her weight catches up, we could consider trying to return to only the breast, or at least only breast milk. In a sense, I am slightly relieved. I was basically feeding her all day long. I didn't have more than a few minutes between feeds, and with two other children and a big dog, this was incredibly taxing and emotionally depleting. After just two days of the new schedule (breast feed thirty minutes and then give her a bottle with formula), she is soooo much more content between feeds, goes longer, and I have time to get some other things done (like take a shower or brush my teeth.)

I'm going to have a good attitude about this. In the end, no on can tell which one of my boys was formula fed and which was breast fed. They are both happy, healthy children. That ist he goal with Abigail, and if that means bottle fed, so be it. Just going to do what is best for him and not get myself in a tizzy about something relatively meaningless.

On to our next adventure!

A Meercat

The boys have decided that they are varieties of cats at this point in their development. Isaac is a tiger. Elijah is "Ewijah Loop Kitsteiner Lion." They call Daddy and Mommy a leopard and cheetah respectively. So when asked what Abigail was, one of them came up with, "A ... Meercat!" Quite fitting I think for our little lady.


Isaac has a shirt with a grasshopper on it. We let the boys, each morning pick out their underwear and t-shirts and then we find a pair of shorts to match it. Yesterday, Isaac asked to wear his grassPOPPER shirt. In addition, Elijah has gone to calling snow-plows no-plows.


I asked JB to put Pandora on this morning. Pandora is an online music station that, while blocked outside of the USA, is open on Base! Thank you to the powers-that-be for making that possible. Elijah thought I said Dora however as in Dora the Explorer. He didn't seem impressed by Pandora after getting his hopes up like that.


I flipped on the TV just to check what was on Channel 10 -- the family channel. I'm trying to get used to the schedule after being in Germany for so long and the fact that they change the schedule so frequently. Elijah turned around, a beacon attached to him, I'm sure of it, that says the TV is on. When I told him there was nothing good on, he got upset, and I told him that later Diego would be coming on. "Not right now," I started, but a few hours from now, you can watch Diego." He turned to Isaac and said, "Isaac, we can watch Diego in two minutes." Such different perceptions of time! Minutes, hours, same thing.

So Proudof JB

JB has been published in the very prestigious American Family Physician magazine. Just shoot me an email at if you would like to receive a copy of this article. The article is on "Acute Mountain Sickness" -- a good match for my John. He was also recently awarded a fellowship in Wilderness Medicine with the Wilderness Medical Society.* JB's blog illustrates his love for the outdoors, and I am so glad he found a wat to merge his love for medicine and nature in so many great ways!

*Founded in 1983, the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) is the world's leading organization devoted to wilderness medical challenges. Wilderness medicine topics include expedition and disaster medicine, dive medicine, search and rescue, altitude illness, cold- and heat-related illness, wilderness trauma, and wild animal attacks. WMS explores health risks and safety issues in extreme situations such as mountains, jungles, deserts, caves, marine environments, and space.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kolay Gelsin

The Turkish expression kolay gelsin goes over well with the Turks. It's sort of like telling an actor to break a leg. You are telling them to have a good day at work; hoping that it comes easy for them. The literal translation is easy come but you only say it when someone is in the course of their work. I tried saying it to Hatice as she was leaving our house one day and she quickly corrected me. Kolay gelsin is used when work is still in progress -- not when it is completed.

(It is also used a lot when you tell someone you will have three kids three and under. They say it to me in that case -- as if to say I am crazy. The Turks rarely have more than two children and those two kids are usually spaced five or so years apart. So I am quite abnormal to them.)

It's been many months since the boys have heard much Turkish. While I continued practicing it in Germany (and decided not to learn any German so as to avoid confusion), the boys only got some number and color practice. No real day-to-day immersion.

But with our return to Turkey came a return to Turkish. Hatice is here every Tuesday (and other days that she stops by to see us). Our gardener is always out and about. The baggers at the grocery store. Our waiters at "The Club". That sort of thing. On Thursday I took Patty to the local market in "The Alley." On Saturday our family showed Yamil and Patty the M1 Mall and on Sunday the big market by the river. (JB also tried to take them to see Harry Potter on Sunday, only to discover that it wasn't in English with Turkish subtitles as he had been lead to believe. Big bummer.)

And so hearing Turkish and practicing Turkish has returned. On one of our outings, I mentioned kolay gelsin to the security guard as we exited Base, and Elijah thought this was hilarious. He repeated the phrase nearly perfectly and has since taken to using it with any Turkish person he meets. Since the Turks love children and since the Turks love when people attempt their language, they have really loved Elijah jumping on the kolay gelsin bandwagon. Isaac has even halfway jumped on it. It's making them very popular when out and about.

This is just one small example of the type of things that make me smile lately. I am still a bit hormonal post-pregnancy. A bit nostalgic. I cry easier. I'm a bit more melancholy. And my boys can just light me up inside and out. Last night at church, they did a bit of VBS flashing back. They sang some songs that the kids had been singing all week and showed a slide show. Isaac was glowing! He was totally trying to sing the songs and doing the motions. Elijah clapped and said that he saw Hatice in the slide show. (He didn't.) Anytime he heard the name Jesus he turned to me and said, "They said Jesus." He gave baby Abigail a kiss (and smooshed her face accidentally with his hand.)

We also said good bye to the nursery last night (at least until Abigail is old enough to join in.) Elijah moved into Isaac's class -- something we were planning on doing after we returned from Germany. As I walked them down the hallway for the start of their class, Isaac wrapped his arm around Elijah's shoulder and said, "You're going to go to the big boy class with me. Okay buddy?" We then walked into the classroom. I expected one of them to cry or not want to go in, but both of their faces lit up when they saw play dough at every seat, and Elijah climbed up on a chair next to Isaac as if he had been doing this his whole life.

Everyone has told me to "enjoy the moment." They reminded me that these days would pass by with incredibly quickness. Oh how right they are and were. My boys are growing up before my eyes, and in the next year, Abigail will change so incredibly much. Most likely by this time next year, she'll be walking and saying words.

This job I have, kolay gelsin to me I say! Despite the fact that I had to pause in typing this to respond (and attend to) Isaac's, "Mommy, I just did pupe-eee! Do you want to see my puup-ee?", I really don't want my kids to grow up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I forgot ...

During the nearly three months I was gone, I forgot a lot of things. I forgot ...

... what it would feel like to see Cheryl's house and not see her walk out of it. Seeing her house everyday makes me a bit emotional. I didn't emotionally prepare for her departure. Why do I often expect her to walk out the front door when I know she is gone?

... about hearing the call to prayer every few hours during the day. Hearing the "call" and seeing minarets at every toss and turn reminds that I live in a country that is 99.9% Muslim. I tryto remember to pray for this country I live in every time I hear or see these things.

... how small this Base is. The BX is just tiny. I see people I know everywhere I go. After being in Germany for most of the summer, I completely forgot what a small town I live in. I missed it tremendously.

... how wonderful my bed is. Oh how I missed my big king-sized bed.

... how dirty Turkey is. I don't know a nice way to say this. I don't think, truly, that there was ever a piece of misplaced trash in Germany. Everything was thrown away properly. There is so much garbage here. It is so brown here. Just dirty. The comparison between this country and Germany is so extreme in this area.

... the fact that lane markers do not exist here. We ventured off-Base yesterday. Took Patty and Yamil to the M1 Mall. I squealed numerous times as cars weaved back and forth across lanes. I forgot that lane markers here are just suggestions. I have to get my backbone back again before I drive off-Base myself again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

VBS Wrap-Up

Dear VBS Volunteers,

My husband and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you for taking the time out of your own busy lives to bless the life of our child (and countless other children.) Our three-year-old Isaac is a bit shy and reserved and we really thought that he would revolt before getting on the bus or tell us he didn't want to go back after the first day. But he loved VBS and was so excited each morning to go off with Mommy to get on the bus. He was especially excited about the "blue cupcakes and jellybeans." It was so exciting to me that he was really learning something when I asked him what he made for a craft and instead of telling me what the snack was, he said, "I made Jonah. But then a fish ate him." The last day of VBS, he climbed off the bus, so very excited about his bag of goodies and all the things he made. He couldn't wait to show us each and every single thing in his bag (and to try and prevent his younger brother from taking them over). I never did find out his teacher's name though as each time I asked him who his teacher was he told me, "The green people."*

We have two other young children at home including a newborn baby and were not in a position to volunteer ourselves this year. But we wanted to sayhow deeply we appreciated those of you who gave of your time to give our son his first real exposure, outside of our house, to the love of our Savior.


John and Wendi Kitsteiner

*The volunteers all had on green shirts. This really made me smile.

One month

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blog question

I haven't had a formal blog question in quite some time. I really enjoy them. A week or so ago, I received the following question:

Hi Wendi,

May I ask you two questions?

How do you organize your day to handle all the works and run all erands? I mean having 3 kids and being a truly nice and successful mother how do you strike balance among differenct spheres of your life?

Can Issac speak Turkish or German or any other languages? Do you have any plan for Isaac learning foreign languages?

I really adore your way of being a mother and it raises some questions just for learing and knowing. Thank you very much for your time. Great questions! So here are my answers:

Firstly, I'll answer question #2 about languages. We are trying to teach the boys some Turkish. Well, let me rephrase that. I am trying. JB really doesn't speak Turkish. He and Elijah know all their numbers. In fact, Elijah knows his numbers better than Isaac. Isaac knows all his colors. Unfortunately, since I am not a fluent Turkish speaker, we are doubtful that they will learn more than the basic, overview type words in Turkish. In many other countries throughout Europe (like Germany), parents can put their children in German preschools where they can learn the language fluently. In Turkey, we do not have that option. The Base is pretty isolated and it is not encouraged to put your children in a Turkish school. We try to practice our Turkish with our housekeeper and gardener and any other Turkish employees we meet through the day, but I don't think it will be enough to get them fluent. I wish it was!

Secondly, on to your first question.

I think it is important for everyone to remember that blogs don't present a completely accurate version of a person. You are only seeing what I choose to share and so, while I may seem to have it all together, you aren't seeing the not-together moments.

That being said, I am incredibly blessed to have Veronica here helping me as well as a husband who works very good hours. Also, because we live in Turkey, I have the luxury of a housekeeper and gardener. Although when I had Elijah (and two babies eight months apart), I did not have any of these things. (No Veronica and a husband who was working terrible hours and no help around the house.) So how did I not lose my mind? I have four key "rules" that help me keep things in perspective:

(1) Don't sweat the small things. House a mess? Cup just got spilled? Is it that big of a deal? Probably not. Do you really need to say no to your son about that thing?

(2) Remain patient. Kids feed off of you. Try to continue to be calm. Parent as if someone was always watching you.

(3) Remain consistent. If you have a rule, make it always a rule. Follow through. The kids should know what is and isn't allowed and not be surprised by any punishment.

(4) Remember it is just a season. Your kids are growing up before your eyes. This struggle will soon pass. Try to enjoy the moment.

Oh Yeah!!!

Please hop over to my friend Becky's blog! They have cleared the last hurdle and will be flying to pick up their son sometime in the next 1-3 weeks.

Our V

Veronica is more valuable to me at this moment in my life than I know how to express. Especially right now, while Abigail is eating nearly non-stop during the day, having her here is so incredibly needed. Abigail is doing a great job sleeping at night. She basically is asleep for the night by 9 or 10. I get her up around 3 or 4 for a feed. She then sleeps until 7 or 8. But this means that she is squeezing her required 8-12 feeds a day into a very small window. I have Abigail tied to me most of the day. Veronica gets up when JB leaves for work and is there until the boys go down for naps. So wonderful! Not sure what we will dome come March when Veronica is no longer with us. What a gift.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In the midst of fatigue ... giggles galore

I am not sure if there is anything better in my sleep-deprived state, than having my boys entertain me with their funny statements.
If JB is wrestling with Isaac, Elijah will come up to JB to defend him. He'll say, "Daddy, that's my friend Isaac." I love that they stick up for each other. We joke that Isaac will be the little sneaky guy saying things to other people and igniting tension, and our gentle giant Elijah will have to step in. He'll sigh and say, "Back off guys. That's my friend Isaac."
I asked Isaac what he made for a craft in Vacation Bible School. He replied by saying, "I made Jonah, but then a big fish ate him."
Elijah has been coming up to me through the day and saying, "Um, Mommy. I got a good idea. Do you want a prize (surprise)?" When I tell him that I would love a surprise, he says, "Okay, let's watch a movie!" It currently appears that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has been replaced by Diego. He absolutely loves this show.
Elijah is still taking a nap in what is now Abigail's room and crib. (Although, Abigail is yet to actually sleep in that crib or room. She is still in a pack-n-play in our room.) When I go to get him up, he has been telling me, "I'm still sleeping, Mom." Isaac, who is often with me for Elijah's wake-up will then say, "You aren't asleep Ewijah. Your eyes are open." Elijah will then shut his eyes and begin to pretend-snore. Yesterday, when Isaac and I continued to hang around even after the pretend snoring, Elijah turned to us and said, "I need my privacy, Mom." I kid you not! Privacy? Really?
I have to wonder if Isaac has learned the phrase, "Just be happy," at VBS this week. Any time that eithe rmy or JB's voice silghtly portrays frustration or fatigue, he turns to me and says,
"Mommy, could you just be happy?" What do you say in response to this?
Elijah continues to give "100 kisses" to me, Daddy, and Veronica. He kisses us on each cheek and the lips. He recently added the nose and then this past week also added eyes. Lotsa slobbering going on there.