Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Genius Gabbi

I wrote this post the other day. Gabbi, how did you find nearly the exact sign I was talking about? It's even in Turkish!!! You are an Internet genius sister-in-law.

surprise shower

Just a few days before we left for Germany, some of my dearest friends at Incirlik threw a surprise baby shower to celebrate Abigail's birth. 

(Side note: did you know that there are two other Abigail's on Base with the name Abigail Grace? One is my friend Tina's daughter. The other is my friend Laura's daughter. I had no idea!) 

Anyways, when I had to go to Germany earlier than expected, I had to leave before our planned shower. (We use any reason here on Base to throw a party -- including babies after the traditional #1.) 

I finally got some pictures from the event and wanted to share them with all of you. This was a wonderful evening of friendship and celebration. I still can't believe, after all those years, I have three little kids ... and one big dog.

Tina, me, Angie, and Casey

Not sure this picture does the cake that Janet made justice. It was awesome!

Angie & Casey.

The "Welcome Abigail" sign was done with cardboard from cereal boxes. I "stole" it and now have it hanging in Abigail's room.

Me with Rana and Angelica.

Angie and Tina.

A girls' video series Janet said I need to get on board with.

Pretty sure I am eating one of the MANY chocolate truffles Tina made here.

Joni is here!!!!

She's here. And boy was Isaac excited to see her! Click here to see for yourself.

What is that, Mommy?

Isaac has become obsessed with a sign sprinkled all over our Base here. I thought of putting a picture of it on the blog. But we are reminded often that we are not allowed to take pictures of any Turkish buildings or equipment or personnel so I decided not to do so.

This sign is on any electrical building. It has a skull, and, in Turkish, warns people to stay away. Every time we pass one, Isaac says something about it. In fact, now, he seems to know where they are, and even if he doesn't see it, he says it when we pass where he knows one of those signs is.

The dialogue that ensues is some combination of the phrases below:

"What is that sign Mommy? What is that man on the sign? Is that where I can get a big boo boo? I can get shocked there, right Mommy? That man is on there. He tells me to stay away. I can get hurt there."

I have tried to explain the sign to him in a way that tells him to stay away but does not scare him. And yet, he continues to be obsessed with the sign. The other day, he said something about it while riding in the car with both JB and myself. I told JB that he had been infatuated with the sign and asked JB how I should handle it.

The next day Isaac said to me, "You asked Daddy how you should tell me about the sign Mommy. He told you to tell me that it causes owies. Didn't he, Mommy?"

How did kids get so smart?!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Photos

I realized that it is almost more fun to look at bad Christmas photos then it is to see the perfect one. Here is our attempt at a photo with the kiddos for a Christmas picture. Yes, Abigail has a bow on her head. And yes, I even thought it was kinda cute. (Although it did leave a mark on her head which reminded me why I think they are a form of torture.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Day in Turkey (Title Stolen)

Stole this Blog Title from my good friend Stebbs. You can read a post from her by clicking here: Turkey Day in Turkey.

It's hard to be away from home on holidays, but good friends make it feel like the family isn't quite so far away. I also have Joni coming in a few days to look forward to! 

Here are some pictures from our day.

Our great friends Jake and Rana. Jake and JB have such similar loves of life and are great friends. Rana is such a beautiful person who encourages me daily in my role as a Mom to three small children. And she speaks THREE languages! (English, Arabic, and Turkish.) We were really blessed when Jake got a civilian job on Base, and they were able to move to our side of town. Their kiddos: Axel and Mia are fantastic playmates as well.  

Probably Elijah's very best friend ... William! I can't even think about leaving this little playmate next summer.  

We did the food inside. Desserts got the dining room table. Yum! We also invited our gardeners (they are a team of five.) They seemed to enjoy the desserts a lot! 

This is a sort of "newer" friend of mine Casey. I've known her since I got here, but during the last few months, we have really been united by some similar themes in our life. Here she is with the awesome Stebbs.  

We came up with some things for the kiddos to do outside. One of those was going to be using Ryan & Stebbs jumpy castle. But silly us plugged a 220 into a 110 and fried the darn thing! 

 Elijah helping Veronica show off her cowboy boots. As always, these pics are all her.

This kid is growing up like crazy. When he pushed a young child at the jumpy houses this week, Stebbs (who was watching him) explained that he could come to her and she could handle it. "Oh I can handle it!" was his reply. 

Our outdoor setup. It was just bearable enough temperature wise to eat outside. 

Isaac eating either cranberry sauce or a croissant -- as those are the only two things he touched. Unlike little brother who had a plate full. They are so different ... 

... and yet so much the best of friends.

They are always looking for trouble together.

This picture of our little Elijah who was a bit under the weather. Later, after everyone left, we found this McQueen car and another favorite car tucked behind a pillow. He didn't want the other kids to play with those two! Smart kid.

John smoked a lamb. Our friends the Mike & Bri brought a Turkey. And Emily brought a ham. (We gave our gardeners special instructions about where the pork was located since Muslims eat NO pork.)

Our little gal -- who was much happier inside and out of the cold. 

 It takes awhile for the youngest kiddo to catch up in your hearts with the older ones. But as JB put it the other day, "She's there." She is permanently intwined into our family now. Love her, love her, love her.

 Not sure what I would do without this gal. Love this pic of the two of them.

Ryen -- Mike and Bri's little gal. 

Abigail avoiding the cold. She really dislikes being cold at all.

Kid friendly

I continue to try and find kid-friendly meals that are (a) easy to make (b) popular with the kiddos (c) provide healthy options (d) expose them to a variety of foods. It also has to not be egg-centered due to Isaac's allergy. (His allergy continues to improve; he now only seems to have to avoid quiches, puddings, and eggs themselves.)

Traditionally in our home, JB gets home around 5pm. He plays with the boys for awhile and then he cooks dinner for us. Lately we have been doing some sort of fish and some sort of greens nearly every night. Even better is that the vegetables are nearly always coming from our garden. How cool is that?

But here's where problems begin. Five o'clock to seven o'clock is a crazy time in the house. We try to have the boys eat what we eat, but they often don't even want to try what JB makes. This is primarily true of Isaac. Elijah will try any and everything and usually likes most things. But Isaac is much more picky.

So Veronica and I have been trying to do a healthier dinner at lunch time and then do a light dinner (trying some of the things we eat and maybe some fruit or yogurt or grilled cheese or PB&J) at dinner time. This allows me to get the boys dinner ready while JB is preparing our food.

We always said we would not  be those people who make separate meals for our kids. But the thing is, we are eating a lot of salad and fish and light meats and not family dishes (like lasagna, spaghetti, etc.) The boys are trying it but not getting full on it. So we are trying the new strategy instead.

Here are the four meals we tried this past week:
Tricolor Pasta Salad: Not sure how much the boys liked it, but it was super-easy to make and pretty stinkin' healthy. We kept the sauce on the side for dipping in hopes that they would eat more of it. Veronica and I also really liked this dish.

Macaroni and Cheese Muffins: This was a total bomb. I don't know what we did wrong but the muffins did not taste right and did not work at all. In addition, the recipe seemed to be missing a few things. (For one thing, it tells you to keep your boiled water but then it never tells you what to do with it.) We won't try this one again. Especially because it wasn't really healthy at all.

Cheese Whiz: This was a fun idea. The cheese sauce isn't really healthy but the stuff we provided for the boys to dip in the cheese sure was. (Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and some bread.) Okay so Isaac requested honey and skipped the cheese altogether for dipping, but Elijah got into it.

Creamy macaroni 'n cheese: Veronica made this. She couldn't find the evaporated milk so she used sweet & condensed instead. This mac & cheese tasted AWESOME! However, the boys didn't chow on it like I hoped, and it really wasn't very healthy.

To view past recipes that I have tried for the kiddos, view this link.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This is the first year that the boys actually understand what Christmas is. They understand that Santa comes if they are good little boys to give gifts to help celebrate Jesus' birthday. They want to hang ornaments! They like the lights. (Although they liked lights last year actually.)

This is also the first year, in my 13 years of marriage, that JB caved and got a fake tree. The reason? Well, there are no Christmas trees for sale here in Turkey. Okay so the BX has a few out. But they are incredibly expensive, and, incredibly pitiful. Charlie Brown for sure! They really don't even come close to resembling a Christmas tree. The fake trees are hard to come by too so you usually try to find someone selling theirs. And we did! Twenty bucks later, we had a tree!

So we put up this little tree that isn't really much to speak of and our dear Isaac said, "This is the best Christmas tree EVER!" My heart wanted to melt. Here we are in Turkey, away from all of our family, in a country that doesn't even celebrate Christmas, with a tree that is only a little better than nothing at all, and he thinks it's the best ever.

I tried to get him to say it on video, but he wasn't going to repeat it. When I asked him if this was the best Christmas tree ever he just said, "Yes, that's what I said before."

Another provoker

Let's hear from you all. What was a life lesson you learned the hard way? Please leave a comment. And remember, you can be anonymous if it is too personal to sign your name.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thought Provoking

I'd love to hear from my blog readers. If you could go back, what would you tell your 18 year old self? Please share in the comments and feel free to be anonymous if it is too personal to sign a name.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Depression Revisited

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, I can honestly say that the depression that swallowed me after Abigail's birth, is nearly gone. I still have moments when I feel like it is returning, but for the most part, each day is, while overwhelming, very happy.

I know that the course of my depression was short in the eyes of some. Many people struggle for much longer. Years even.

I was lucky. Lucky to be married to someone who recognized the symptoms. Who could tell me that this would not last. That we would figure it out. That I would one day feel like myself again. He had seen it enough to know it, and he tried hard to convince me of that.

To those of you battling sadness today, I want to remind you of one thing that JB and my counselor reminded me of every single day: THIS IS TEMPORARY.

For those of you loving someone battling sadness today, I want to remind you of the same thing: THIS IS TEMPORARY.

It will get better. You will not feel this way forever. And you will not watch your loved one feel this way forever.

Each day, force yourself to remember this. Remind yourself of this. Remind your loved one of this. Even if you don't feel it. Know it.

At some point, maybe soon, you will spend a day together and realize that things were like they used to be. Happy moments will occur, and you will realize that the periods of sadness are becoming more and more of a distant memory.

It will start with minutes. And then hours. And then days and weeks ... and finally months and years. Longer and longer periods of time that the darkness lets up and light shines through.

I am thankful today that I know depression is temporary. And I want anyone reading this today to know it too.

Giggle Giggle

Isaac is sitting on the side of the curb after church, his shoe accidentally half off. He gets caught in a stutter and says, "Daddy, could you ... Daddy, could you ... Daddy ..." (Big sigh.) "I'm having trouble here."
I had to crack up when Isaac asked to call Papa and Grama Di on Skype by saying, "Mommy, do you want to call your parents on the 'puter?"
John: Isaac, do you know where milk comes from?
Isaac: Yes.
John: Where?
Isaac: (Thinks for a moment.) I don't know.
John: From cows.
Isaac: Really?
John: Yes, really.
Isaac: (Thinks for another moment.) Do cows get thirsty?
To Elijah, a rice krispie treat is a Christmas treat.
Elijah: "My name is Elijah Luke Kitsteiner Lion Two ... That's how I call me."
Isaac: "We took a plane to Germany. Germany is in the sky."
Isaac and Elijah are conferring about something on the couch. Veronica walks in. Isaac says, "Veronica, did God make castles?" Veronica confirms that yes, God made castles. (Sort of.) Isaac then turns to Elijah and says, "She said He did."
While reading a book one day, Elijah decided to assign names to each of the characters on the page. I was  a short red head, but I agreed anyway that that was probably me. But when Isaac was assigned a chubby Asian girl, he shook his head and said, "Elijah, that doesn't look anything like me!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving from our home

I plan to put up some videos throughout the day so that our family back home can share with us even though we are continents apart. Tune in for clips throughout the day.

9am Thanksgiving morning

P.S. So much for that idea. We had about 30 people (including children over) and I totally forgot to video tape again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

I often avoid the Turkey comparison to the country we live in. Yes, we live in a country named after a bird. Ha ha ha. But in fact, we are the ones who named a bird after a country. So ha ha ha on we Americans. 

I thought it might be fun, on Thanksgiving day (aka "Turkey Day") to explain why we call a bird the name of a country. 

Centuries ago, Constantinople was an important hub of international trade, where merchants sold goods from Africa and the Far East to distributors in Europe. These products, instead of retaining a sense of their origin, often became known by the nationality of the exporters ... these new North American birds became a popular commodity throughout the world -- sure enough, mostly by way of Turkish merchants.

Ironically, the name of turkeys in the Turkish language is even more geographically off base; they're called Hindi, short for "bird from India." The Turks, better than anyone, knew the birds weren't from their homeland, but may have originally thought they came from India -- thanks to a little miscalculation by Columbus.

Happy Thanksgiving Day from our country to yours today. Please remember all of the servicemen and women celebrating far away from their families today. We are having a huge potluck at our house today with lots of friends who are all away from their "real" families.

To read the original article, click here. 

Deployment 101

My friend Joia wrote a post for her friend Laura's blog. I asked if I could reuse it, and Joia said I could. I thought it was such valuable information for those of us who don't understand what deployment and military life is like. Enjoy!

Laura wanted me to post about “Life as a Military Wife”. While I Am a military wife, my life is much less “military” than most, because 1) My husband is in the Air Force, not the Army or Marines or Navy, 2), He’s a doctor, so he’s a “non combatant”, not carrying a gun and “fighting the bad guys” and 3) We have only been stationed at one base (where we will likely remain for the duration of our military time), so we haven’t had the typical military experience and trial of moving every few years.

All that being said, I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about “how different military life is”, because our life is, for the most part, pretty normal. Okay, so we have fighter jets flying over our house every day, it’s not uncommon to hear bombs being tested out on the range, and we have to have military ID to get on base multiple times a week, but really, for the most part – Normal.

Really the biggest thing about being a military family is that, while you are signed up with them, they “own” you. The military decides when you are eligible to take vacation time, what countries you are permitted to visit, and, can at any time “recall” you to report for an exercise or real world situation, should you be needed. Being in the military means that you are constantly responsible to guard and protect anything you know about how the military runs, so information posted on blogs, facebook, etc must constantly be kept in check.

Deployment ... When Philip joined the military, we knew that deployment would be inevitable, so I don’t want to ever come across as “boo hoo us, look what was done to us”. We know we chose this life and deployment is part of the deal. However, when he joined back in 2003, deployment was a looong way off, and over the years of med school and residency it was easy to not think about it or even hope that it wouldn’t happen, just because it was so far away.

When he graduated from residency and got deployment orders, it was a brutal snap back to reality. Seriously, who in the world does this? Spends 6 months to a year away from their family in a far away, dangerous country? I can’t think of any job other than the military where someone would choose to do this. But here we were and this is what we had signed up for.

As the day loomed closer, lots of different thoughts clouded my mind: Would it seem like eternity? How would the kids do without their dad? How would I do as a single mom? Would I go completely insane? And the big one: What if he didn’t come back??

In the couple months before Philip left, I sought out four or five different “veteran air force wives” who’s husbands had deployed several times. From them I gleaned invaluable wisdom and encouragement about single parenting several small children, how to stay close with your husband when thousands of miles separate you, how to keep yourself sane on the home front, etc. They told me that I could do this. I cautiously believed them.

Finally the day had arrived. We were at the airport and I was in shock (surprisingly not a mess of tears), thinking about the 222 days and nights that loomed ahead… without Philip. We made the goodbye fairly quick, so as not to draw it out and just make it worse. We hugged, we kissed, I told him I loved him and respected him so much (and willed myself to not say “PROMISE me you’ll come back”), and he was gone.

And that was it. It was done. We were on the other side of goodbye, and this new phase of our lives had begun. Now it was time to deal with it.

The first few weeks, I was plagued with nightmares, depicting scenes from movies where the wife opens her front door to see two uniformed military guys standing there, bearing the news that her husband was dead. Thankfully these subsided, and, with the regular contact I had with Philip, I was able to reassure myself that he was actually quite safe where he was.

Although we had regular contact, it was always very brief. Philip couldn’t usually talk for more than 15 minutes at a time, and he could tell me almost nothing about what he was doing or where he was if he was traveling from his home base. This was pretty frustrating as I was super curious to hear about his days! There were also several times when he couldn’t contact me for several days, since communication had been cut off due to some event that happened on base.

For us – the deployment really was the best it could have been. I had no kids in school and we had the means to travel and see friends and family to help the time pass. During the time that Philip was gone, we travelled thousands of miles. We made two road trips to Central Florida to spend time with Philip’s family, two road trips up to Canada (for several weeks at a time) to visit my family, I flew to Colorado for a weekend with some girlfriends, and we also flew to Mexico to spend two weeks with my oldest brother and his wife and kids. These trips, I believe are one of the main things that kept us sane and going during those long months. Had we been stuck at home, getting cabin fever – who knows where we’d all be today. =)

Another thing that made this deployment not as devastating as I had feared was the amazing support we had from friends, family, and the staff at the hospital where Philip works. If we needed anything, there was always someone to turn to.

It wasn’t all rosy and travel filled, however. The days at home got long, my temper with the kids got short, and the ticks on the calendar didn’t seem to be adding up as quickly as I wanted them to. Three or four times during the seven months, I came to my breaking point, where I completely lost it and didn’t think I was going to make it. This usually happened in the evening, after the kids were in bed, after a particularly overwhelming day, and not being able to pick up the phone and call Philip to talk about it. I would feel completely alone and sad and would just cry and cry and cry until I was completely spent. The next day was always better.

Most of all, as we all know, the Lord is really the One who was our daily support and the only One who really know what it was like day in and day out. I am soooo thankful to have a Heavenly Father who cares about the trials of a mom at home with two kids and a husband on the other side of the world. The prayers of our family and friends all over the world meant everything to us!

Surprisingly, this time apart proved to be very healthy for our marriage. Philip and I both read a book called, Sacred Marriage, while he was gone, and benefitted greatly from it. We learned a lot about how much we took each other for granted, and learned to appreciate and respect each other in a whole new way.

He has been home now for a month and it has been fantastic! Our adjustment back to normal has been amazingly smooth (which is not always the case). Praise God for bringing our family safely through this deployment!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tarsus through Sarahbee's eyes

I so want those who visit my blog to get to "experience" the world that we see here in Turkey. I have previously written about trips to Tarsus, but I wanted to share a blog post from my friend Sarah. (We call her Sarahbee since we know so many Sarahs here and her last name starts with a "b".) Here's the post about their trip with the Catholic Parish here on Base to Tarsus: Sarahbee goes to Tarsus

Monday, November 21, 2011

More good byes

Today we got official word that we are, in fact, headed to the Azores. JB got his "RIP" which is one step below official orders. While things can change, a RIP is pretty permanent. We are due to arrive in the Azores (Lajes Field Air Base) sometime in late August.

I am so excited but reminded that we will be saying good byes again in under a year.

We also finalized Veronica's departure date. She will be leaving us right after Christmas. We have enjoyed having her with us more than I can ever put into words. JB and I said to each other the other night that we never had one day that we felt "bothered" by Veronica. She was just a part of our family from the beginning, and saying good bye to her will be one of the hardest things I'll ever have to do.

The good news is, Veronica is considering joining us later, after her mission trip to Nigeria, in the Azores. She has a lot of decisions about her future to make, but for now, she misses her family and America and is ready to get back.

The military life and good byes. Stinky. The military and possible spending cuts? Even more stinky.

"Across-the-board cuts in military spending triggered by a congressional committee's failure to craft an alternative spending plan would devastate the U.S. military, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said Monday, vowing to fight the cuts with legislation."

Today I got ...

These babies (shown above). Stebbs was at the Commissary and a shipment had just come in. There were only a dozen left so she bought half of them and saved the rest for another lucky person.

Do I have great friends or WHAT?!

But the crescent rolls are only the beginning of my great day.

Guess where I am headed in a few weeks for only one hundred and fifty dollars!?

Did you guess ... Greece.

Not right now. But soon. The chapel was offering a great deal on a trip to Greece for 24 lucky individuals.

What is normally a $1300 trip per person was being offered for $150 a person. Yes, you read that right. I didn't miss a zero. Really! And that includes everything -- even food! The Chapel had some excess funds to disperse before the end of the year, and so, Greece was put on the agenda.

The tickets went on sale at 9am this morning.

I showed up at 6:30am. Casey and Stebbs went with me.

I've never done a Black Friday before. But since Black Friday doesn't exist here in Turkey because ... well ... Thanksgiving doesn't exist in Turkey ... this was the next best thing.

We were #3, #4 and #5 in line. Veronica stayed home with the boys, but I was allowed to buy her a ticket too.

Unfortunately, JB doesn't have leave left. But he is off of work much of the week we are going. So he is going to stay with the boys, and Veronica and I are going to take Abigail. My buds Stebbs and Casey are also going.

What a great husband I have to tell me that I just HAD to take advantage of this trip.

I'm going to Greece ... on a Biblical tour.

And, there will be croissants for Thanksgiving in Turkey.

How awesome!!

Can you guess what this is?

And I don't mean all the toys and whatnot in the background. I mean the "lai" hanging from the shelf in our kitchen. (And if you live in Turkey -- no voting -- since you'd know what it is.)


I'm not talking about exercise as in "Bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health." I'm talking about exercises. As in "something done or performed as a means of practice or training."

This Base is in a critical part of the world. The Middle East is obviously one of the biggest areas of concern for our country as well as many other world powers. And we are right smack in the middle of that drama.

Therefore this Base is constantly doing exercises to prepare for emergencies that may occur. Whether it be on a local or natinoal level. Truthfully, I'm not in danger of saying more than I am supposed to here because I don't know more than that. I know that JB has many days that he is in exercises all day long and not seeing patients. I know that he is sometimes called in to work in the middle of the night. Sometimes he cannot leave work when he normally would because there is an exercise  in play.

The only other thing I know is when an exercise effects me.

Last year it happened after my work-out at the gym. I was told that I was not allowed to leave the building to do an "exercise" emergency. I sat there for thirty minutes while I paid a babysitter to watch my kiddos. Another woman with a lot more guts than me actually asked if she was required to stay. Their response was, "We have no way to force your participation but would appreciate your cooperation." She said that was not going to play and left. But I am a people pleaser, and I was unable to leave until given permission.

Last week it happened to me while I was at the "jumpy castles" with all three kiddos. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the Community Center on Base opens up their ballroom and sets up about four different jumpy castles and lets the kids go crazy. It has gotten a little overrun with Turkish nannies and their charges (many families use nannies instead of daycare on Base due to the inexpensive nature of the service) so we don't go all the time as it can be a little crazy with two-year-olds everywhere, but every 3rd or 4th time it is open, I go. I decided to take all three kids so Veronica could have a bit of a break.

I don't venture out with all three kids by myself very often. I'm still not used to it, and it is difficult. I can't take two strollers which means I either have to have (a) Abigail in the Bjorn and the boys in their stroller (b) or the boys on their bikes and Abigail in a stroller (c) or take the van or something like that to have a way to "hold" all three kiddos. 

So I have Abigail strapped to my chest in a Bjorn. I recruit Stebbs and Sarahbee to put my boys' shoes and jackets on since I can't really do that with Abigail strapped on. I get the boys ready to go. We head to the door.

And we are stopped.

"You cannot leave the building due to an exercise."

Now for those of you who don't know me personally, you may not know one of my weak spots as a human being. And that weak spot is something happening that is not in my plan. I stay calm most times. I go with the flow most times. But when a curve ball takes places, especially when I have two boys running around at my feet and a baby strapped to my chest, I don't know how to react.

Well I do know how to react. But I don't do that. Instead, I freak out.

I thought about asking the question that that other girl asked the day at the gym. If I had to participate. But I just didn't have the spine to do that. So I walked back into the ballroom and returned to Stebbs and Angelica and Sarahbee and proceeded to have a slight breakdown.

My great friends were ... great. They recognized that my breakdown was completely unneeded and told me that they would help get the boys un-shoed and un-jacketed and then re-shoed and re-jacketed when the exercise was over. They told me not to worry. That they would help me.

Not that I ended up needing it. They released us a few minutes later. (Although Stebbins was stuck in the Post Office for forty-five minutes after leaving the Community Center.)

The next day I had plans to go off-Base to the market. But the exercise was still going on. So I opted to not leave Base. I just didn't want to get stuck off-Base during an exercise with three little kids.

I know these things are important. But it really throws a kink in the mind of one planner on Base. And it is just one more way that I reminded that I am a really long way from home!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cider time

My hubby and one of his bestest friends here, Jake, decided that it was the season to make cider. See the apples occupying my dining room below? That is 50 kilos (about 110 pounds) for 41.5 lira ($21USD). How amazing is THAT?! I think I may go into full body shivers when I move back to the U.S. and have to pay regular prices for produce. What will I do without the Turkish market?

Tickle My Brains Out

Every day when JB gets home from work, the boys go crazy waiting for Daddy to "Tickle their brains out!" Here's a video of what happens every single work day around 5:00!

It appears ...

... we may have to celebrate Thanksgiving without our traditional croissant rolls by Pillsbury.

Am I the only one who has these every single year?! It's like having Thanksgiving without stuffing. Without Turkey.

I suppose there is still a chance that something may change, but right now, the Commissary is out. And it's not like I can pick another place to get those. If the product isn't Turkish, I am not going to find it at any shopping establishment off Base that's for sure.

They Commissary has been out of these for about two weeks now. And not just of that product. Milk has been very low. The kind of yogurt we like has been missing for weeks, and now the only other brand they sell is nearly out. Orange juice was down to the last few containers.

They've got the signs up. Telling us about transportation issues between here and Germany. It seems these signs are up more than they are done. I was so glad when I saw Stebb's blog last week and was assured that I am not the only who feels the need to vent just a little bit.

I know we live in Turkey. I know it's in the middle of nowhere. But when you only have ONE grocery store that has American products, it's difficult when those American products aren't there. Holidays are a bit "touch-and-go" on Base. People buy canned pumpkin months ahead of time in fear the Base will run out when it comes time for Thanksgiving pies.

I was talking today to JB about the fact that I haven't been back to the U.S. in almost a year and a half. And it doesn't appear I will be getting back anytime soon. I wonder what culture shock will await me in reverse when back to America I go.

I have a feeling that the ability to shop at different stores might just send me reeling.

I love living here. I love the culture and opportunity for travel. But lately, I've just been a little homesick. A little weary. A little bit wanting the comforts I lived with for the first 33 years of my life.

Truthfully? We all know Thanksgiving is not about the croissants. It's about our country. And thanks. Of which I have more than I can count.

But boy oh boy would I love to have croissants to add to my list of blessings!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yesterday ...

... Saturday ... Abigail rolled over for the first time completely by herself. She'd sort of done it before but her one arm kept getting stuck.

This time ... no stuckage!

I decided to look back and find my boys rolling over dates. I remembered that Isaac first did that at nearly six months.  I remember Dr. G. had told us that if he didn't do it by six months, she recommend physical therapy. He got in just under the deadline. The kid was just so chilled out; he didn't seem to have the motivation to do anything but smile. And rolling over late didn't seem to hurt him at all. He ended up walking at ten months or so.

But looking back I realized that Elijah did it at exactly four months as well. 

(And please note that I flashback to see when the boys did it not for comparison but more for fun. To look back at the their sweet lives. I could care less when they actually roll over. My only prayer is that Abigail doesn't start crawling until she is, maybe 2?)

Like this video. A great jump down memory lane.

Here are some pictures of Abigail working her way to the belly! Love this little lady:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Proof ...

... of this little gal's lungs right here. 

So question for all of you. Is this normal baby behavior ... and my boys were just "abnormal." I mean she does this, about half the day! Isaac keeps putting his hands over his ears and saying, "What a racket!"

My boys never did this. Just wondering if this is girls. If this is her. What's with the screaming?

Cookies & Gas

Shortly after Veronica baked these cookies, we went outside. And shortly after that, Scrubs got up on the counter and ate nearly all the cookies. And shortly after that, he got gas so bad that we've had to keep him outside a majority of the day. Oh that dog!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GERMANY: Saying Good bye

Thursday, November 3
I have travelled ... a lot. There is a great difference between a trip and a vacation. The beauty of our trip to Germany was that it was both. And that doesn't happen often. Spending time with JB's parents was so incredibly good for my soul. My heart nearly leapt getting to watch my children with their grandparents. I have not gotten to see Dad K. spend a lot of time with my kids due to distance. To have him be able to just be with them was amazing. And Mom? She has such an amazing gift for making such normal things fun. She brought play dough and kitchen utensils and set up a little play area in a window area of our hotel in Munich for her and the boys to make a bird's nest out of play dough. She brought puzzle pieces and hid them around the hotel room. It was wonderful.

Some of my favorite pictures are the ones included below. On the Wednesday before they were to leave on Thursday, JB and I went to Dachau. Mom stayed at the hotel with Abigail. Dad took first Isaac and Elijah both to the park, and then, after a brief return for a snack and drink, took Isaac back again. (This is very normal. Elijah is much more of a homebody at this time of his life.) Elijah stayed and did play dough while Isaac hung out with Grampa.

Here are some pictures from the kiddos time with the grandparents before we would say good bye on Thursday morning.

Not a bad view, huh?

This park had bucket and shovels attached to ropes that the boys could play with. It's so neat to see all the different stuff parks have in different parts of the world. Parks outside of America are often not nearly as afraid of lawsuits and therefore much more creative!

Dad obviously asked them to hold hands. These pictures so tell a story.

This is what I mean about Mom! She puts a pillow over herself and creates a big incline for their cars and great fun ensues! Elijah especially LOVED the way Grama played with him. (Isaac is still a solo player most of the time.)

The pictures above are from Isaac's solo time with Grampa at a different park. How beautiful is that?

Like I said, Thursday morning JB got off really early and took Dad and Mom to the airport for their long flight home. What an amazing two weeks! JB came back to the hotel and we began the four hour drive back to Ramstein. We spent the night at a hotel on Base, and then took the rotator out on Friday morning. We were back in Turkey by Friday evening.

I recently emailed my friend Joia. Her husband Philip just came home from the Middle East. I told her that I felt like a coward. I feel so unable to handle deployment, that JB and I decided to take a job in Turkey so that we could "deploy as a family." Joia was so wonderful. She encouraged me. What I am doing is different but still hard. I soooo needed to hear that. I love our life. But it is so hard ... I'm tearing up right now as I write this ... to imagine not seeing JB's parents again for a year (or more.) I don't want that to be the way it is. And yet, I know that we are here because we prefer being away from extended family more than being away from JB. I have to tell myself that when the tears come as we say good bye. We are having to say good bye to grandparents because we are choosing not to say good bye to JB right now. Thank you Joia for telling me that my sacrifice is valid. I really needed that.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these two weeks through pictures and recaps. I sure did. I love my in-laws so much. I love our family.

And the good news?! Joni (Isaac's birth grandmother, and, truly, a grandparent to all my kiddos) is coming to Turkey for a visit in just a few short weeks. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE JONI!!!!!