Friday, December 30, 2011

Kids say it best

As eleven o'clock a.m. drew near and Patty's arrival at our house to pick up Veronica and take her to the airport, came closer, both V and I were starting to cry harder and harder. (Veronica made the decision to ride with Patty instead of us because she thought it would be too difficult to say good bye to the kiddos at the airport.) At one point, both boys came up to me in the hallway and gave me hugs.

"Why are you said?" Isaac asked.

"Because Veronica is leaving," I replied.

"But she is going to go and see her Daddy and Mommy," Isaac said.

Good point. Nice of me to only think about myself and not Veronica's parents. Thanks for that insight Isaac.

"Yeah," Elijah agreed. "And she is going to visit us in the Azores."

And if that wasn't enough encouragement, Isaac continued by coming up with, "And we are going to make her room into a playroom!"

We are? I don't remember agreeing to that.

Either way, kids are something amazing. They can look at the side that should be looked at. They skip over the meaningless stuff and look at the truth.

Veronica is going to see her parents. I should be happy for her. And happy for them.

Veronica is going to visit us in the Azores. That will be so much fun. Lots of catching up.

And yes, we can use her room for something cool too.

So there you go.

From the mouth of babes.

P.S. But I've spent the whole day crying, still.

Please pray ...

... for my heart today. For the heart of my boys. For Veronica's heart. Today is a hard day. Today we say good bye to Veronica. She lived in our home for nearly a year. She travelled with me to Germany to have my daughter. She watched my boys when we vacationed in Spain. She dog sat. She changed diapers. She wiped bottoms. She made lunches. She packed diaper bags. She put kids to bed. She disciplined. She watched movies. She played cars and puzzles. She colored. She threw a Frisbee. She took trips with us. She wore Abigail in a Moby. She rolled play dough. She made cookies.

She sanded a table.

Okay, so that never got done. Just a little inside joke there.

While she did all those things and losing all those things will be hard, what I grieve most is losing my friend. I talk to Veronica every day. She has been there for me during a very difficult year. Living away from family. Going into early labor. Storknesting in Germany. A sprained ankle. Three kids under three.

She is my kid sister. (I won't say daughter. I'm not that old yet.) I love her. She is part of our family. She fits us so perfectly. How can she not be here tomorrow when I wake up?

How do you say good bye? How do I say good bye? How do I teach my boys to say good bye? What do I tell them when they ask why Veronica's room is empty (and subsequently, clean?)

How do you make them understand that their Er-onica will no longer live in our house.

Veronica made the decision to allow Patty to drive her to the airport today. To say good bye to us at the house instead. To not have us see her off at the airport. She didn't think she could handle it.

I don't think I can either.

Today is bittersweet. Veronica had to leave sometime. This wasn't forever. It was a good fit for us. It was a good fit for her. For a time. For a year. We knew it would come to an end. She is moving on to bigger things. She is going home to Minnesota for a few months and then going to Nigeria on a three month mission trip. The Lord has great plans for her life.

I'm happy for her.

But sad for me. Sad for my boys. For my dog. And for my little girl who had so nestled herself into the very deep parts of Veronica's heart.

I love you Veronica. You will always have a place in our home and our hearts.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas morn

Christmas morning was low-key here at our house. We opened up presents with Veronica, and just hung out around the house. Later that day we had a dinner at our home. But the morning was just spent lounging in our pajamas. Here are some videos of our house during the Christmas season:

Race track from Daddy (he used to have these tracks when he was a boy)
Magnetized cars from Katie (is this not the coolest toy ever)
Veronica the Green Lantern (not sure what to say about this)
Seeing Santa (seeing Santa at a Christmas party)
Writing Santa a letter (Writing a letter to Santa at the Christmas party)
Sweaters  (the boys wearing their sweaters from Joni's sister Rita)
Christmas morning (the boys coming down the stairs and realizing it is Christmas)

It's been bitter sweet around these parts lately. Veronica is preparing to go home. So many of the gifts -- both for her from us -- and for the boys from her -- were sentimental. Man are we going to miss her.
Joni's sister Rita sent some clothes for all the kiddos -- including these sweater vests!
Isaac was way fun this year for Christmas. It was the first year both boys obviously "got" that Christmas was something way cool.

Elijah waiting for me to open one of the cars "Santa" left in his stocking.

Veronica made this recordable book for the boys with her reading and singing nursery rhymes to them. I can't listen to it without crying.
So this is not a good picture of any of these three -- but I love it just the same. 

Here are some clothes that Aunt Katie and Uncle Eddie sent for California.
Abigail dozed and watched the festivities from her swing.
Here is Isaac celebrating with the poster paint AD and Big Keith sent for the boys.
AD and her family use reusable cloth bags for their Christmas presents. I asked AD to send me some for MY Christmas present this year. I love these! They are such a great idea.
Poor Isaac fell going up the stairs the day before Christmas -- and got a busted lip to show for it.
Here are the boys posing with their shirts from Aunt Katie.
The hats are also from Eddie and Katie. Someone is about to get thrown down here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Craziness in two forms

I have two bits of good news.

The first is that we now know that our dog Scrubby has the ability to be a hunting dog. His sense of smell is something to be reckoned with.

Just ask Stebbins.

The proof?

He busted out of the house when Veronica opened the door yesterday and followed the scent of me and the boys four blocks to where we were playing at the Youth Center Park.

Stebbs and I were standing there talking when all of a sudden we looked down and saw ... Scrubs. Scrubs? For a moment, both Stebbs and I found ourselves looking at each other in complete shock. Almost an out-of-body experience. "Is this your dalmatian?" Stebbs asked. "I think so," I said back. "Is there another Dalmatian on Base?" She asked. "There's not," I said. "It's Scrubs."

As he ran off a few feet to mark a tree, four little boys came running with treats in their hand calling his name. Veronica had enlisted their help to lure Scrubs back home. I took the treats, thanked them, and Scrubs followed us all the four blocks back to our house nibbling treats the whole way.


But if that is not the craziest news you've heard today, this definitely will be.

Me. Wendi. And my kids. Three of them. Flying home to America. In just over a month. Seriously.

It's a long story. But it involves the fact that JB has two conferences to attend. Each a week long. Two weeks that I'd be here by myself with the kiddos anyways.

Add to that the fact that I miss my home and my family and my country quite a lot.

And so, I have decided to make the trip home to America.

The only catch?

I must do it alone. JB has no leave left. Therefore I must travel across half our world with all three kids by myself.

Am I scared?


However, here is what I know. If I get on the plane, I will eventually get off. I can't just give up part of the way through the flight. It might be exhausting. Okay, so it most definitely will be. But I will succeed. And when we get off the last plane, some 36 hours later, we will be home. For a month.

And that is worth it.

Craziness. But really exciting!

Some humor

While reading the news online, Isaac peered over my shoulder and saw the picture above. "Is that Joni?" he asked.
As JB left for work the day, Elijah called out, "Stay away from dragons, Daddy!"
Phone rings. Elijah calls out, "The phone is calling you Mommy!"
This morning Elijah told me I had to plug in the Christmas tree. 
Me: "Oh," I said. "That's right. And only Mommies do that."
Elijah: "Daddies do it too."
Me: "Yes ... Daddies and Mommies."
Elijah: "And Veronicas and Jonies too."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A look back at Greece

Veronica, Abigail, and I have just returned from a nearly week long trip to Greece. I have decided to tell about this trip in one post. I have also decided to put all my photos in an album so that those who would like to look at them, can do so easily. You can find a link to these at the end of this post. There is just too much to try and put in individual posts. And this way, those of you who are interested, can quickly see everything. And those of you who aren’t, can just come back tomorrow for a new look into our lives.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I woke up at 3am. I didn’t have to get up until 4am, but when you wake up at 3am, or at least, when I wake up at 3am knowing I have to get up at 4am, the list of what I have to do mounts. My head spins. Sleep moves far away from the forefront of my mind. And the fear of not hearing my alarm or it not going off, mounts. (This despite the fact that I was assured Veronica had set a back-up as well.)
So I got up. I took my time. I got ready to go. JB didn’t stir. The boys didn’t either. Only Scrubs took a moment to rub his face against my legs and leave remnants of his fur for me to remember him by.At 4am Veronica woke up. At 4:30am we scooped Abigail out of her bed. At 4:45am when picked up Stebbs with the van, and at 5am we parked our van outside of the gate and meandered through it where our bus was waiting to take us to the airport in Adana, about twenty minutes away. (JB told me that later that day he took the boys out in the stroller on a “scavenger hunt” to find the van. They loved it!)

I think there are around 35 or so people on this trip. Run through the chapel, Ch Boulware is leading the group spiritually. His assistant, Catherine, is there to take care of the little details. In Greece, we met up with a bus driver and tour guide who would be with us throughout the duration of the trip. We also had a Turkish guide who came with us from Adana. Her name is Nevin, and I thought it was very noteworthy that she is the owner of her tour group and only likes to travel with chapel groups – because the groups are always so kind and well-behaved. That really says something! I’m proud of us Christians when people tell us something like that!

The chapel actually paid for the majority of this trip. All we had to pay was $150 plus a tip to the driver/tour guide. All meals were also covered. What an incredible blessing this trip was. It was definitely worth getting in line at 6:30am the day the tickets came available in order to get a spot. The flight via Istanbul to Thessalonica was uneventful. Abigail was an all-star. No issues at all.

In Adana, a man accidentally left his cell phone in the security line, and I was able to track him down, and, in Turkish, tell him that I thought he left his phone behind. There was a moment of confusion since, in hindsight, I used the word for “over here” instead “over there” but he got the idea and thanked me in Turkish and disagreed that my Turkish was not very good, which I always say just to make sure people don’t think I actually speak the language well. (Since I look so Turkish and would blend completely otherwise – ha!) I was pretty proud of myself to be able to communicate something outside of my normal conversation topics (children, weather, where I'm from etc.). I have really not met very many people on Base who have attempted to learn the language. When you are here for such a short period of time, it seems pointless. But even though – come summer – I may never use this language again, I don’t regret the time I invested. It has made my experience and the experience of my family and friends a lot better.

We were in Greece by lunchtime. And after a quick pit-stop at our very nice hotel, we were off on a tour of the surrounding areas.  We toured Thessaloniki seeing the city walls, Ossios David monastery, the arc of triumph, the castle, Agia Sofia church and the holy Demtrius basilica and crypt. By 7:00p we were back at the hotel. We had a wonderful buffet dinner at the hotel, with more American-style food than Greek. (This was fine for all of us since we are living in Turkey after all and don't get much American food at all.) Greeks traditionally eat much later than we are used to. Lunch is often between 1pm and 2:30 and dinner, for Greeks, at 9pm. They pushed it back to 7:30 for we Americans -- thank goodness. 

Veronica, who was still a tad under-the-weather, went back to our room with Abigail while I attended a group Bible Study. It was wonderful to talk about all the things we had seen and to reflect on our time there. We also took time to share our own personal “alpha and omega” (beginning and end) stories. To read about the places we had just walked was incredibly powerful.
I came back to the room to find Abigail and Veronica sound asleep. I was in bed by 10pm – later than I would have liked but worth the adventure.

Monday, December 19, 2011
Abigail is an all-star sleeper. 8pm down. 6am up. Glorious. There was no place to bathe her however. The sink was way too small. The tub had jets on the bottom which would be quite uncomfortable to lay on. So Veronica and I came up with a plan. I took a shower. Then I called Veronica. She handed me a naked baby. I bathed said naked baby. Then I called Veronica and handed her wet and clean naked baby. It worked great. I think this will be the norm on the road for us.

I took Abigail to breakfast while Veronica went to find Starbucks. That girl and her Starbucks. When in Rome … Veronica still needs to do what the Americans do … when it comes to coffee.

One of the great things about only having one baby and 30 some teenagers/adults is plenty of people to help hold the baby. In fact, while I am writing this on the bus in a word document, another gal is holding and playing with Abigail. It’s wonderful to have a huge village helping me and Veronica. Casey and Stebbs are big helps. There are also two other gals that I became friends with shortly before this trip: Brittney and Laura who have gladly held her whenever I needed someone.

In addition, Abigail is IN LOVE with one seventeen year old boy. Not sure how I feel about this, but James is currently rocking her world. There are seven teenagers on the trip. All wonderful kids. I especially enjoy watching James and his brother Tristan. They are two years apart, and I can’t help but wonder what kind of relationship Isaac and Elijah will have years from now. They have a younger brother and sister well, and imagining my family all grown up is bitter-sweet.

If Abigail is playing with James and the other teenagers, we have come to realize that she goes a few minutes beyond the time that she should take a nap. All of a sudden she’ll start screaming uncontrollably, and we have realized that she is having so much fun, she doesn’t realize she is tired until the point of no return has set in. At that point, a pacifier and mom can quickly rectify the situation.

My boys were never good sleepers away from their beds. I am realizing that third child Abigail is going to need to be more flexible. I have been working with her to get her to fall asleep in my arms. Or in Veronica’s arms. Or in the Moby. And she is great at it. I hope I can continue this for many months to come as to make our life more flexible. 

Another digression is THE MOBY. LOVE THIS! I have used the Bjorn in the past, and it is great for short distances, but The Moby is way more comfortable and keeps the babe much closer to my body which she likes. Abigail and I are both fans.

Anyways, back to Monday. At breakfast, Abigail got a little cranky. I gave her a pear to suck on and she was in heaven!

We spent the entire day – from 8:30am until 6pm on and off the bus but on the road. We travelled to Philippi. On our way there we drove by a lion statue of Amphipolis. From ancient Amphipolis we were able to see the ruins of the Agora, a Macedonian tomb, and the water cistern. Once in Philippi, we were able to see the sites where the apostle Paul came and worked, establishing a strong church. This was the church he sent a letter to -- Philippians. Of all the churches Paul founded, probably none was so near and dear to him as the church at Philippi. We saw the spot where Paul was most likely imprisoned. We saw tons of historic ruins dating back into the 4th century BC. Can you even fathom how long ago that was?

We also got to see the place where Lydia was baptized. I am not sure what it is. I think it’s the fact that we almost named Abigail … Lydia … in celebration of the first Turkish convert to the faith. I just find myself drawn to her and her story. Her devotion to the faith. We toured a beautiful church near the river that Paul baptized Lydia. And Ch Boulware gave us each a blessing – water from that river on our foreheads. I don’t find myself moved very often. But I was moved by this experience.

I do not, for a moment, forget how unbelievably lucky I am to see Biblical history come to life. I know not everyone can do this. I know many of you cannot. I hope you take the time to view my photo album. To see the places I went. To try to see history for yourself, through my eyes. I am constantly thinking of how I can best bring the things I have done back to the people I love who are so far away from where I am right now.

Greece is, believe it not 97% Christian. It’s actually Greek Orthodox to be more specific. (Greek Orthodox believe in the Trinity but do not believe that they are 3 in 1 -- this is the major difference from Catholicism.) This is incredibly encouraging that the place where Lydia was converted still adheres to the faith of Christ. It is often disheartening when we realize that the Turkish country, where so many of our early Christian “saints” first walked is now over 99% Muslim. There is relatively no Christianity in the country. But to see Greece, a bordering country and only a short distance away, still living for Christ, even if in a very religious way, was encouraging. 

We learned so much about Greece from our tour guide while we travelled around Thessalonica and Philippi. There is so much that the information is starting to float around my head, and leave before it finds a place to land. But a few interesting points that have stuck with me:

  • Greek joined the EU in 81. This is when things became more expensive.
  • In 2000, things became three times more expensive when they went to the Euro.
  • The temperature right now is chilly (about 30 degrees at night and 50 degrees during the day) but it snows very little in the non-mountainous areas of Greece.
  • That being said, 80% of Greece is mountains!
  • We really enjoyed eating Meze-style lunch. They just brought plate after plate of food to be shared amongst our table. Yum! It’s similar to Turkish but quite different as well.
I also wanted to share some of my Bible Study notes as well.
Sunday nite notes: (Ch Boulware)

  • Paul’s three main trips were to Philippi, Thessalonica, and then the Corinthians. We started our tour with his second group: The people of Thessalonia.
  • Paul was here in 49 AD. He wrote 1st and 2nd Thessalonians in 51 & 52 AD. He visited again in 56 AD.
  • Paul planted a church with Simon and Timothy but was then forced out of Thessalonica. Thessalonica was a major military and commercial port. There were 200,000 people there at the time – the largest city in the Macedonia area at that time. Paul often used the analogy of ships and ports – because this was a port town and the people could relate to this.
  • Paul left and sent Timothy back to check on the people. Timothy said they were good but needed help with (a) escatology ... end times ... and (b) Christian ethics. Pagans viewed death with great horror. Timothy and Paul were trying to teach them to have faith that they would rise again. Would we travel that much by foot for Christ?
  • Paul had these books written by his scribes. But Phillipians 3;17 was written by his own hand.
Monday nite notes: (Lawrence Hicks)
  • Book of Philippians – visit to Philippi
  • Lydia and her family were the first people on the European continent baptized into the faith. We got to see the place where she was baptized. There was a beautiful church near the spot as well. We were given a blessing by Ch Boulware there as well.
  •  Touching these places brings the Word alive.
  •  We saw the prison where Paul may have been held. It was so small. What he was willing to do for the faith was amazing. We never ran into the persecution that these people did. Would we be willing to do what he did?
  • This book was written by Paul telling how he loved and missed everyone. Paul went through Philippi twice and had found memories of the church there. Philippians 1:1-6 “I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  •  “12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” God gives all of us a platform in life to share our faith. Folks know there is something different about Tim Tebow. Do they know there is something different about you? It doesn’t matter how “small” what you are put over is. God asks you to do it and to do it well.
  • Do you wonder if Paul was trying to influence himself to do more? Sometimes writing something down encourages you to press on.  
  • He was in jail for approx. three years. He was being guarded by the elite soldiers. Paul was great at relational ministries.
  • We don’t forget we are US citizens. Do we forget we are citizens of heaven?
  • We are often the worst to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Tuesday, December 20
Today we drove from Thessalonica and stopped for the night at Kalambaka through Berea, at the base of the Meteora monasteries. We enjoyed a spectacular five up to visit Meteora. Collosal symmetrical gray and reddish boulders sustain breatakingly beautiful monasteries perched high above the ground. First built int he 14th century by monks seeking isolation and salvation, they were accessible only by ropes thrown down from above.
The day was primarily spent on the bus with many stops along the way, primarily at two different montestaries. I got out at the first one, but during the second one, I opted to stay on the bus and let Abigail sleep. Bible Study was cancelled for the evening, and I was so blessed that the hotel brought dinner to my room instead of requiring me to eat with the group so that little Abigail could go to bed on time. I roomed with Stebbins on this evening in Kalambaka.

Wednesday, December 21
We left our hotel in the morning and headed to Delphi. We toured an indoor museum where we saw relics as old as 1400-1500BC! Can you believe that? Then we toured the open air section where we got to see the Sanctuary of Athena. We visited the sanctuary of Apollo, the treasury of the Athenians, and an archaeological museum.
One funny thing. The tour guide has a deep Greek accent. In fact, she sound just like the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Not the depth of her voice but the way she says things. I thought she was saying the century of Athena. So I turned to Ch Boulware and said “What is a century?” He crinkled his nose and said, “100 years.” I didn’t mean that kind of century. I meant the century she was talking about which was actually a sanctuary.

We finally pulled into our hotel in Corinth at about 5pm and had a few hours before dinner.  I roomed with Stebbs again, and during this time, I got a fantastic migraine. Ugh! Thank goodness my doctor hubby had sent me with some good meds for this. Abigail went to sleep. I went to bed. And I woke up in the morning feeling great – Praise the Lord.

Thursday, December 22, 2011
On our way to Corinth, we drove over the biggest cable bridge in Europe. Our bus driver played the Olympic music at this point as it was where the Athens games were held. We saw the Agora, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Odeon, the Bema and Galilo's seat. We drove along the spectacular Greek coastline to reach the Corinth Canal. We stayed that night in Athens. We got to see the Parthanon. Wow!

Friday, December 23, 2011
On our way to the airport, we toured Athens some more. We were back home by 4pm. In the airport in Istanbul, I overheard a couple, in Turkish, talking about me and the fact that I must have played basketball. When I responded in Turkish that I understood him, his face turned so red, and we both had a good laugh at my (and his) expense. It was really funny.

Here are a few videos from our trip:

Here are some photo albums from our trip:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Five months old

This post is a little late due to being in Greece, but better late than never. Our little five month old:

  • is rolling over both ways but more from back to stomach. She is rolling over both shoulders and occasionally rolling stomach to back. 
  • has no teeth yet.
  • is starting to sit up a bit (as illustrated in the picture) but far from on her own. She will do the tripod sit a bit.
  • chatters like crazy.
  • does not have stranger anxiety yet.
  • seems to prefer people in this order: mom, Isaac, Veronica, Scrubs, JB, and then *Scrubs*. (Edited per comment.)
  • loves when mommy (me) sings to her. I usually sing "Somewhere, beyond the sea ..." and she smiles like crazy.
  • is eating some rice cereal.
  • has sucked on some apples and bread crusts.
  • takes a pacifier when she sleeps.
  • is wearing 6 month and 6-9 month clothing.
  • still has a blocked tear duct in her left eye.
  • is very content. Cries when tired or hungry only.
  • sleeps through the night (7:30-7:00 usually). 
  • takes a lot of naps still. And I especially have no idea how many right now due to the trip screwing everything up.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

This is a short video of Isaac telling us about the cookies and milk they are leaving out for Santa. But keep an eye on Elijah, who eats one of the cookies like it's not a big deal AT ALL!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Home from Greece

Veronica, Abigail, and I just returned home today from a girls' week in Greece. What an AMAZING trip. More details and pictures to come ... so stay tuned. For now, I just want to hug all my boys, including the one with black spots, and enjoy some family time.

Glimpses and more glimpses

Here are some glimpses into our life, via video and JB's blog.

John and his chocolate ice cream (JB blog entry)

JB feeds me duck neck (JB blog entry)

Joni and Isaac looking at his baby book

Isaac conversing

Trying to get Abigail to laugh

Christmas Cookies 1

Christmas Cookies 2 (Isaac talking about God's birthday)

Couch Games

Stalking Abigail (Abigail laughs hard in this one)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Scrubby

As it wasn't busy enough to have three young children at the same time ...

Our dear dog Scrubby (re)discovered "counter surfing" while we were out of town in Germany with JB's parents. (He had done this once as a pup but pulled a towel and thus a bunch of pans down on top of himself and scared the begeezers out of his little puppy self and then never did it again.) We knew leaving him home for long days alone wasn't ideal, but Veronica had another babysitting job during every day while we were gone, and despite daily visits by Angelica, and Veronica home with him in the evenings, his curiosity got the best of him.

He figured out how to take dishes out of the sink to eat the food. He discovered how to get into a trash can. Oh and did I mention that he learned how to open the sliding glass door all by himself to go outside? Are you serious? (Not that the last one is all bad. Sure is nice in the middle of the night when he lets himself out instead of waking me up. And, I still have the power to lock the bolt. He isn't that smart!)

JB said we have just lucked out. For four years, he's been crazy ... but he hasn't done the things dogs often do.

Now he has.

And yes, he is still swallowing socks. Pairs of them. Whole. And barfing them up. That happened on Wednesday again. A pair of Veronica's socks on a rug. It's always a rug and never on the tile. Veronica said she doesn't want them back. I don't blame her.

He leaves most of the boys things alone. But those darned bumble bees. JB's mom gave the boys a plush bee hive stuffed with ten little bumblebees to help the boys learn how to count. He just can't resist them.

We have lost eight. Two left. I cannot tell you how many piles of bumblebee wings I have found in the yard or in the kitchen or on the rugs.

Pacifiers is another. Do not leave Abigail's pacifier within his grasp. He will eat it.

Every ... time.

He can also wake up the entire house in a matter of seconds. During naptime one day, he came into my room where Elijah and I were sleeping. Woke us up with a lot of sniffing in our faces. (Which is mighty cute even though slightly annoying.) Then he went into Abigail's room and sniffed her awake too. Which started her crying and woke up Isaac next door.

Four people.

Five seconds.

One dog.

I must remember, when I am stressed out over Scrubs, the good he brings our house. Protection. Companionship. Teaching the boys kindness to animals. Devotion. I must remember how much I love him.

I just finished the book: The Art of Racing in the Rain which is creatively narrated by a dog. It is an AWESOME BOOK! If you are a dog lover and can handle books that are a little sad, READ THIS! It was my first read on my husband's Kindle. And it was fantastic. One of my favoritest books ever. LOVED IT!

This book reminds me how loyal Scrubs is. How much my buddy he is. How soft he is. How comforting.

He is part of our family.

And he is a good boy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Post Joni funnies

In church, our worship leader, Mark, reminded us that the Lord wants us to enter his presence. Isaac turned to me and said, "Mr. Mark said we are going to get presents."
I took the boys to go to the bathroom when we were out the other day, and they started going to the bathroom at the same time on the same potty. Elijah said, "My pee pee got your pee pee, Isaac." Isaac agreed as Elijah continued. "It wooks like a rainbow."
Elijah has a friend named Aksel. Only Elijah doesn't pronounce Aksel's name like Aksel. Because I don't use bad language I won't say how it sounds in so many words. He calls him, "A__ 'el." We can't help but laugh at this although we don't let him know.

Military Targets

Please keep our military, their families, and all they do in your prayers as you read this article. It is a reminder of the evil that is in this world. It is a reminder that we actually do live in the Middle East. It is a reminder that my husband has committed to give his life for his country. And that we, as Americans, can be targets for no other reason than that. It is a wake-up call to me who often lives in a bubble. We need to pray for our military every day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Turkish (Old) McDonalds

Fast food in Turkey is basically non-existent. I say basically because there is ... McDonalds. It tastes very similar to McDonalds in the USA. Although there are a few more Turkish-like sandwiches. And of course they serve Ayran. But it is a lot "classier" than a fast food restaurant in the States. It costs considerably more than regular Turkish food as well. A McDonalds in the State is considered a "cheap date." A McDonalds in Turkey is considered an "expensive date." You often see people very dressed up and enjoying their night on the town at the Turkish McDonalds. Joni took a few pictures of the Turkish McDonalds. It's funny to me that I don't even see these signs as being written in another language anymore.

Here is a video from our first trip to the Turkish McDondals. Back in November of last year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas activities on Base

The Airmen Committed to Excellence group on Base held a little Christmas party for kids on Base last night. You give a donation and then the kids go from table to table doing something Christmasy. The boys wrote a letter to Santa which an airmen kept. Apparently, Santa will even write them back. I got a short video of the boys writing their letters. You'll notice Isaac is having difficulty understanding when Christmas is actually going to get here. Anything we do surrounding Christmas just fakes him out!

We also got to make reindeer food (that you are supposed to spread on your lawn the night before Christmas?); decorated cookies (Isaac does NOT like red hots); and even got to see Santa, as you can see from this video.

There is not much to do at Christmas time in a country that does not celebrate Jesus' birth. However, we are making the most of it and truly appreciate activities like this to help make the holiday more festive!

Oh and speaking of Christmas here are some videos (Christmas cookies 1 and Christmas Cookies 2*) of our cookie decoration party the other day. In the morning, Veronica made cookies with the boys while Abigail and I were taking a nap. Each boy helped cut out cookies with a star cutter while the other watched Rio. Then in the afternoon, the boys each decorated a few of the cookies and then they put them in bags. We then loaded up our wagon (with the cookies Veronica decorated since they were less germy) and went around to our neighbors bringing cookies and a homemade Christmas card (shown below).

I got this idea from Angelica who was trying to teach her kids about giving to others. I thought it was a great idea, and the boys had tons of fun with it. (Except for fighting over who got to pull the wagon. But I digress.)

Also, the card above was our only Christmas Card this year. In an attempt to simplify my life, I did not send out cards for 2011. So don't think you were left out when your mailbox is found lacking! As I was preparing to order them from Snapfish JB said to me, "Do yo really want to address and stamp 100+ cards?" I wanted to but knew my time was better spent elsewhere.

So, enjoy this Merry Christmas wish from our family to your's!

*You'll notice Isaac talking about Sarahbee in this video. I have told the boys that after Christmas, we are going to start having Isaac go to Sarahbee's house once a week and Elijah go to William's on the same day. With Veronica leaving, this will be my chance to just run errands with one child thanks to this offer by my two friends. Isaac LOVES Peter and cannot WAIT for this, as you can tell! You'll also hear him reiterating the fact that while Jesus has a birthday, God, technically, does not. It's amazing to watch kids' minds work.

Lovin' a Turkish Tailor

Here I am with my new clothes. I have ventured off the front row of the Alley, which caters to Americans and usually has higher prices, and gone to Hatice's family's tailor shop. They ... are ... amazing.

Case in point: one pair of tailored jeans, one pair of made jeans, one sweater, and one pair of yoga pants all completed in about a week for approximately $40USD.

Veronica went as well: two tailored pairs of jeans, one pair of yoga pants, one pair of work-out tights, one tailored shirt and one tailored skirt: all completed in about three days for approximately $21USD.

I have decided that I am going to get a BUNCH of stuff made while I am here in Turkey and the prices are so cheap. But I have also decided that I am going to use tailors in the future for ALL my clothes. I have written previously about how difficult (and expensive!)  shopping is for my 6'3" self. I have fallen in love with finding a picture online and paying someone to recreate with longer sleeves and torsos and pant legs.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa talks to the boys

There's always a debate in the Christian community surrounding how prominent a role Santa should play at Christmas time.

I can't tell you what to do. But I can tell you what we do. It's the same thing our parents grew up doing with both of us. We tell the boys about the true meaning of Christmas -- Jesus' birth. And we discuss how St. Nick, in honor of Christ's birthday, gave toys to young children. In the same way, we should be givers during this Christmas season as well.

But we also include Santa. Santa is a Christian by the way. And he comes to give gifts and help us celebrate the birth of Jesus. He wants us to be good boys because that is what Christ asks us to do.

So in honor of Santa's plan to come to our home at Christmas ... I made the FUNNEST videos. (Thanks to my friend Stebb's reccomendation.) You actually plug information into the computer and Santa talks directly to your child. IT IS SO COOL! Check out the boys' videos below:

Elijah's Santa Video

Isaac's Santa Video

We also recorded the boys watching their videos for the first time. These probably aren't that exciting to most of you, but I thought the grandparents would like them:

Here is Elijah watching his Video from Santa.

Here is Isaac watching the first part of his video (before the computer froze).

This is the first year that my boys truly understand what Christmas is. And it is so stinkin' fun to watch them experience the magic that only children can come to know.

(And if you don't have a child or one that is old enough, don't despair! You can still participate! My husband plans on making one for his boss -- putting him on the naughty list.)


Joni's sister Rita and her family refer to Christmas celebrated at Thanksgiving as Thanksmas. I thought that works. We decided to have a "Thanksmas" day with Joni. JB made a wonderful breakfast, and we took the boys out of the room and loaded up the gifts under the tree. Oh, and P.S. this is obviously an old post as Joni has now been gone for a number of days.

Here are some videos of the celebration:
Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adoption: In His Own Words

I showed this video on the Facebook page for Because of Isaac a few weeks ago and received many wonderful comments. One of my favorites was from a reader of my blog. I wanted to share both the video and the comment, below.

"I'm a fan of your blog, and I just watched the video you posted on Because of Isaac's facebook page. SO adorable, and may I just say what a blessing it is to see the fruits of what care you've taken to explain his arrival in your family. My daughter came to us by adoption, and we're all homestudied and ready for adoption #2 whenever God weaves that story into our lives. My daughter is two and a half now and we're little by little introducing pieces of her adoption story to her. She watched your video with me, then requested it again, and again, and AGAIN, and then proceeded to try and share her Rice Chex with your kids through the computer screen.

Anyway, I feel like her seeing adoption explained from a fellow adoptee not too far from her age is an amazing blessing in helping her understand her own story, so thank you very much! Thanks for your dedication to adoption advocacy, and for so openly sharing your journey."

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!

Turkish Meal

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE Turkish food. Sometimes it gets a bit old because when you go out, there is nothing BUT Turkish food to eat. But the flavors are amazing. Rana came over and made Turkish food for Joni. She cooked for the adults, and I made something for the kiddos. What a great friend Rana was for wanting to make sure Joni got some authentic Turkish cuisine while she was here. 

Manti. Delicious. It is handmade little pasta squares with meat in them and a yogurt based sauce. Delicious!

Hummus made by Rana' cousin. Soooo yummy on Turkish bread.

Gone too soon

As I mentioned in a previous post, Daughtry came to Incirlik last week. Afterwards, JB sent me the lyrics to a new song by the group. It was written after the birth of Daughtry's twins, as he imagined never having gotten the chance to meet them.

I want to preface this post by telling you that this song may be too difficult to watch/read for those of you who have lost a child. JB and I were both incredibly moved by the lyrics and the meaning behind the song. Check out the lyrics below:

Gone Too Soon lyrics

today could've been the day
that you blow out your candles
make a wish as you close your eyes
today could've been the day
everybody was laughin'
instead i just sit here and cry
who would you be?
what would you look like
when you looked at me for the very first time?
today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a ray of light we never knew
gone too soon, yeah

would you have been president?
or a painter, an author or sing like your mother
one thing is evident
would've given all i had
would've loved ya like no other
who would you be?
what would you look like?
would you have my smile and her eyes?
today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a ray of light we never knew
gone too soon, yeah

not a day goes by, oh
i'm always asking why, oh

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a beautiful life we never knew
gone too soon
you were gone too soon, yeah

Being as we experienced many minutes after Elijah's birth when we thought we would never get to see him grow up, this song particularly touched us. It also touched us in thinking about the 11 embryos that we lost during our IVF journey. 

I think of my many friends who lost children. How do we possibly make sense of this sadness? So many others of you who have faced the loss of children too son.

This post is for all of you. 

This moving, grief-wracked ballad about a child never born was sparked by the birth of twins to Chris Daughtry. At one point during the writing session, the frontman had to walk out to collect himself. "The song is about realizing that today could have been the day that someone would be blowing out the candles," he said. "It just hit me pretty hard. I remember playing the demo for my brother and I turned around and he was bawling. I didn't realize that my brother's wife had suffered a miscarriage years before. It was a pretty emotional moment."
Chris Daughtry wrote the song with San Francisco songwriter Michael Busbee. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sleepy time

I have so many pictures of our time with Joni. She captured these while Abigail was asleep in her swing. What a sweetie pie (Joni AND Abigail.)

Ho Ho Ho -- Torticiollis

Yesterday was a big day. 

Firstly, the occupational therapist on Base came to the house. She said that Abigail does indeed have some torticollis just like big brother Elijah. JB and I are pretty convinced this is genetic and not environmental as Isaac showed absolutely no signs of this at all. 

Either way, she is going to need physical therapy for this. Once a week at least. In addition, the therapist said that I need to do two hours of tummy time with her every day. And this isn't just me putting her on her tummy. As soon as I do that, she rolls onto her back. I need to get on the floor with her and guide her through two hours of tummy time, basically holding her in a position on her stomach. 

Do I have any idea how I will be able to do that for two hours a day with two other kiddos and a dog and Veronica leaving? No I do not. But I'll try.

In other news, yesterday we went and saw Santa at the Community Center. Abigail was the perfect age to willingly sit on his lap and just tug on his beard. Isaac actually got close enough to give him a high five. Elijah kept his distance and when Santa asked him for a high five he replied, "No fanks." Elijah instead just wanted to do crafts at the different project stations. 

One funny thing. At the cookie decorating station, he got very upset when we started to decorate his cookie. "I just want to eat it!" he kept saying.

Here are some photos of our morning. Since I had all three kids solo (Veronica was under the weather) the pictures are a bit scant. But you get the idea.

I looked back and found this post of Isaac with Santa. I realized that Elijah has never sat on Santa's lap. Because he was born in January, by the time the first December got here, he was too old to not have stranger anxiety. So he's never had a chance. Maybe next year?

Joni Giggles

Here are some smile stories that we had during Joni's time with us.

When Joni accidentally knocked a vertical blind down, Elijah said to her, "Why did you break that Joni." She replied, "I didn't mean to break it." Elijah then said, "Yes, but you did break it!"
Elijah got up from his nap earlier than Isaac. After I took him downstairs, he wanted to go back upstairs to retrieve his little matchbox cars from outside his room. The boys always leave toys lined up against the closet door upstairs when they nap as they aren't allowed to bring them into the room with them.

Me: "Elijah, I am going to go upstairs by myself to get your cars."
Elijah: "Why?"
Me: "Well, Isaac is still asleep, and I don't want you to wake him up."
Elijah: "Okay. Well ... I need my ... "(and here he starts telling me who he needs by holding up his fingers) "... Lightning McQueen, and my Doc, and my other Doc, and my ..."
Me: "Okay."
Elijah: At this point he looks at me and sighs. Deeply. Obviously concerned that I will not be able to retrieve the cars he needs successfully. And he says, "How 'bout I just go with you?"

Me: "Elijah, you need to sit in time-out for two minutes."
Elijah: "I'm two!"
Me:  "How are you doing boys?"
Elijah: "We are doing great."
Me: "Isaac, look at Veronica. She is all dressed up to go to a party. What does she look like?" (See picture at the top of the page.)
Isaac: "She looks like an angel!"
Everywhere that we go, Isaac is scanning the ceiling for fire alarms. I have no idea what started this, but he is obsessed. The cutest part is that he calls them, "Firey 'larms."
Isaac sees Joni drinking wine. "Is that called wine?"
Elijah was telling JB, "Don't talk to me!" when JB was trying to put him to bed. JB was telling Elijah he shouldn't talk like to Daddy. This went back and forth. Something like this.
Elijah: "Don't talk to me."
JB: "Don't talk that way to Daddy."
Elijah: "But I don't want you to talk to me."
JB: I" do not want you to talk that way to Daddy."
[Repeat about 50 times before Isaac, sitting quietly in his bed decides to pop in]
Isaac: "You can talk to ME Daddy."
Isaac actually said the other day, "This wheel is not working correctly." He also told Elijah, when Elijah knocked over his tower, "Elijah, that disappointed me."