Monday, April 30, 2012

Mini Golf

We are always looking for new things to do on a Base that we have seemingly explored every square inch of. Yesterday we went miniature golfing on an old and unkept course next to the pool. It was dirty and some holes didn't work, but the boys didn't care. They had a great time. I laughed hard when Isaac said, "How can I simply get this ball in?"

True to their personalities, Elijah wanted me to show him how to hold the club and help him get ready to hit the ball. Isaac, on the other hand wanted to do it all himself and in his own way. Isaac wants me close but doesn't want me in his business. Elijah would prefer to have me playing right with him the whole time.

In addition, at the first hole, I did talk them in to letting me demonstrate how you actually played. My family loved mini golf when I was growing up so I have played a lot of it! My brother and I also played golf in our living room all the time as kids using the in-floor air conditioning vents of our mobile home as the "hole."

Anyways, as I demonstrated, I went to hit the ball for a second time to go in the hole; Elijah started yelling and ran after the ball. I realized that having never seen a course, he thought the ball would disappear down the hole. He had no idea that it was just a cup in the ground, and he could get the ball back.

You pick up your clubs and balls at the Base hotel. The man gave each of the boys a club and ball, but I held them while they rode their bikes across the street to the golf course. I thought it amazing that in the few seconds they held them, they each knew which ball and club were their own. Apparently one of the white balls had a two on it. One had a three on it. One club was silver. One was black.

I am constantly amazed at how many toys we have and how they know who has ownership of which one. I love having "twins." We have tons of cars. They've been given to us. Are birthday presents, etc. They know who every single car is for. Who it was given to. They've even gone to asking us to write an E or an I on the ones that we have doubles of.

I love having "twin" boys!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

West vs. East Coast

I received a lot of comments in regard to my post on Humanure. Some comments were in regard to their opinion of composting toilets. But many were in regard to the following paragraph:

As I have mentioned previously, my husband's passion is not medicine. His passion is permaculture. He wants to buy some land on the Eastern side of the United States (Virginia? North Carolina?) and farm. He'll practice medicine. But only enough to afford our home and land. He wants to have as much time as he can to work our land.

The comments were asking when and why we switched from our plan to move to Washington. I thought I had discussed this on my Daily Blog previously, but in looking back, I found no record of me mentioning it.

It is true that for the last five years or so, we have been making plans to move to Washington State. There were many reasons why, but most had to do with picking a place that met JB's desires for land. He wanted a certain type of growing season. And we liked the fact that the people were a bit more "organic" in nature.

JB started looking at land. We even had a real estate agent and made a trip there to look at the area. We loved Whidbey Island and were seriously considering buying something there. This was a major decision. Whatever we bought, we were planning on living there for the rest of our lives. Making this a place that will stay in our family for, hopefully, generations.

But Abigail's birth changed all that. There were three main reasons that following her birth, we began altering our thoughts about where we wanted to settle down, but the final decision basically boiled down to:

1. Distance from family: While JB's sister lives in Oregon, our family is from South Florida. While JB's parents hope to move wherever we live, my parents and brother will probably stay in South Florida. Isaac's birth family is in South Florida. Washington is quite a far way away. This didn't bother JB much at all. However, it did bother me. A flight would be an all-day affair. And coupled with the item in number two, it was a bigger deal.

2. PPD: But the biggest reason we altered our plans was the depression I battled after Abigail was born. Germany was a gloomy place. It has a very similar climate to Washington. It is very rainy. Very overcast. Not a lot of sun. I found myself quite annoyed by that while I was there. Complaining about it a lot. Add to that depression issues and it was a big deal. We didn't want to buy a place and then realize the climate was hurting me. JB started thinking and started talking to me. If I was battling depression, did we really want to settle down in a place that seasonal depression could play such a significant role?

In the end, the depression and location issues became too overwhelming, and we went back to the drawing board. We realized that we needed to rethink where we were going to live. In the end, the need for more sunlight and a closer distance to family caused us to change our minds.

We are now, definitely, looking at the East coast somewhere. We love Asheville, North Carolina. We love Abingdon, Virginia. We'll see where the Lord settles us down. JB is looking at land, and we are thinking that we might purchase something in the next year or two.

I hope that explains it!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I love to smile!

Eiljah said the other day, "Are there turkeys in Turkey?" Then he laughed as if he were the first person ever who made that joke.
Me: "Isaac, that was so nice to give Abigail an Easter egg."
Isaac: "Yes, but I made sure it didn't havea an M&M in it."
Me: "Right, because M&M's can hurt her, right?"
Isaac: "Yes."
Me: "What could happen if she ate an M&M?"
Elijah: "She could die."
Me: "Well, she could choke."
Isaac: "And then she'd have to go to the hospital?"
Me: "Yes."
Elijah: "And then she could die?"
Me: "Could we please stop talking about dying so much?"
Me: "Elijah did you just throw that toy at me?"
Elijah: "No. I tossed it."
Me: "Did you have fun last night with your babysitter?"
Elijah: "Eh ... not so much."
John went to tell the boys to quiet down while he was holding a knife from cooking. "You guys need to be quiet," John said. Elijah said, "Or you'll cuts us up?"
Me: "Elijah, please do not stand on that rocket ship."
Eljjah: "I just have my foot on it."
My friend Stebbs was teaching the boys' Sunday School class. She asked them what the best gift was they had ever received. Her son William mentioned a Thomas toy (no surprise.) Isaac mentioned his cars (again, no surprise.) "But Elijah made everyone look bad," Stebbs said. "He said 'My Mommy'."
Isaac: "Look, that's an island like where Patty is from. Patty-rico." (Instead of Peurto Rico.)
Elijah has been very into saying, "Have you ever done that before?" This morning I asked him what he wanted for breakfast. "Do you want pancakes or waffles?" He got this enlightened look on his face and said, "How 'bout pancakes annnnnddddd waffles. Haev you ever done that before?"
John asked the boys what they wanted to be when they grew up. Elijah said, "I dunno." But Isaac said, "I just want to be a daddy."
Other recent sweet/funny statements:
  • "Does Jesus have a birthday and God does not?" (Isaac)
  • "When is Scrubby going to talk like Abigail is going to talk?" (Isaac)
  • "I love to smile at you." (Elijah to Mommy)
  • "Are we gonna take our whole house with us to the Azores?" (Isaac)
  • "Are we gonna take our doors with us to the Azores?" (Isaac)
  • "I'm gonna take those toys from you, Elijah, and borrow them from you for 51 weeks." (Isaac)
  • "Are those airplanes sleeping?" (Isaac when seeing the airplanes parked on the flight line.)
  • "My lips are chap-alated." (Elijah)
  • "Do zebras have black stripes and white stripes?" (Isaac)
  • "Do we have to wash our feet in the sink if we step in Scrubby's poopy?" (Isaac with me left wondering when we have ever washed our feet in the sink.)
  • "If we pull that fire alarm, will the smoke come out?" (Isaac)
  • "If we pull that fire alarm, will the fire start?" (Isaac)
  • "What happens if we pull that fire alarm?" (Isaac)
  • "If I touch this will it give me a big boo boo?" (Isaac about every outlet he sees.)
  • "Oh, I just dropped my beautiful marble!" (Isaac)
  • "Could Abigail choke on this marble?" (Isaac)
  • "Can we drink clean water when we go in the bath?" (Isaac)
  • "Mommy, are you a dinosaur?" (Elijah)
  • "Mommy when is Abigail going to talk and when is the ice cream truck going to come?" (Isaac)


"So are you excited about buying some land and finally settling down?" My husband asked me as we sat at the park watching our boys chase each other down the slides.

I told him,"Yes!" enthusiastically. I'm so tired of moving. Ready to have our own house. Ready to pick where we want to live. Ready to live there forever. Or for a very long time.

As I have mentioned previously, my husband's passion is not medicine. His passion is permaculture. He wants to buy some land on the Eastern side of the United States (Virginia? North Carolina?) and farm. He'll practice medicine. But only enough to afford our home and land. He wants to have as much time as he can to work our land.

"How do you feel about our plan?" he asked me.

The plan to buy the land? Great. The plan to build our house? Fine. I'm really easy. My only request was that we lived within 30 minutes of a Target. Not too out in the boonies. If he wants me to help him farm, I can do that. I'm not a needy woman. All I truly need is for my family to be together and have time together. And to be within 30 minutes of a decent sized city and a Target (or an equivalent that does not start with W and end with mart.)

But JB was getting at something. And I couldn't figure out what. He was asking me too many questions. Skirting around. I couldn't put my finger on it. So I played along.

"You okay with a well?" he asked.
"I am."
"You okay with solar panels?"
"You okay with the hay bale home idea?"
"Sounds fine."
"And a composting toilet? How 'bout that?"

Aaahhhh ... there it is. There's what he was working his way toward. Human composting. Am I okay with that.

I am not a high maintenance woman. But I must draw the line.

No ... I ... am ... not.

But JB was not through with me. As he artistically tried to describe for me the wasting of resources that a septic system and toilet requires, he mentioned something about sawdust, and I glossed over.

My answer was not one I had to think about. The words spilled from the depths of my soul.

"I'm sorry JB. I can get on board with nearly anything. But I cannot get on board with a toilet that does not flush. What will our friends think when they come in our house and need to use the bathroom, and I have to show them how to throw sawdust in the toilet? You aren't going to bring me to your side on that one. Not ever."

His response?

"All right. I'll research more and figure out a way to bring you to my side," he said.

And thus ended the discussion.

Eighteen years together, and I knew better than to convince him he would not. One because he wouldn't believe me. And another because I didn't really believe myself.

My husband has a blog. On permaculture. On resources. Raising food. Preserving rainwater. Waste not. That sort of thing. I don't read his blog frequently. The concepts are too complex. Way beyond me. Confusing. Uninteresting (to me.) But he has a huge following. People are very into what he is doing. I support him. But I don't really care to read about it. Not regularly at least.

Today, I noticed he had left the browser open. So I decided to read the post he had written. No doubt my always-thinking husband did not leave this post open on our computer accidentally. He left it open so as to begin my transformation.

I have no doubt that somewhere down the line he will bring me over to his side. He always does. But I plan to drag my feet for as long as possible. There are very few things he has not eventually won me over on. Eating asparagus is the only one that quickly comes to mind. (I have decided that since I am a grownup I am going to not waver on my loathing of that food.) Anyways, I imagine he will convince me on this as well.

Want to read for yourself? Here his post on poop. Human poop. And the ability to use it for compost: Humanure.

Sigh ... stay tuned.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sign Language Giveaway

I have spoken freely on my blog in the past about my love of sign language with babies. I have used it with each of my children. I won't reiterate what I have spoken about frequently. So if you have missed these past posts or are new to my blog, you can click here to be refreshed on this topic.

I was very excited when I was contacted by Lila Retnasaba from She saw my previous post and sent me an email. She even offered to send me a baby Sign Language Kit. And she did! I told her that if she would send me doubles of anything, I'd be happy to offer them as a giveaway on my blog. So I am!

Included in the packet she gave me were some wonderful tools including a poster, flashcards, a dictionary, and a Comprehensive Teaching Guide. In fact, there were two of the teaching guides and so that is what I am going to give away on my blog. Just leave me a comment and include your email address to be entered into my "random number drawing." The winner will receive an extra copy of this book for themself or for someone they love.

Abigail has now added a second sign to the "all done" I originally posted about. She is now signing "milk." I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to be able to communicate with your baby months or even years before they can communicate verbally. It is incredibly helpful. I am a huge fan of Baby Sign Language and hope that this book will help someone else become a fan too!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Please vote for Kristen

I recently got an email from an old friend. Her name is Camille. Camille and I played AAU Basketball together in high school. She and I were great friends. I was always so blessed to have Camille by my side because she and I shared the same values. I always knew that there would be someone else with me on road trips and during games and practices who loved the Lord like I do.

Camille has a friend. Her name is Kristen, and they have been friends since childhood. Kristen is a mother of 9 children between the ages of 2 and 14. Yes. I said 9. Not only that but after watching her husband compete in a triathalon, she has decided to train for one herself.

I undersand that bug. Loyal blog followers may remember that I did a sprint triathalon with my best friend Kristi in 2010. I was hoping to do another one soon after but then God surprised us with Abigail and a Base that doesn't have a pool but a few months of the year. Either way, I definitely know I will run/bike/swim another in the future. I am really hoping our pool in the Azores will afford me the chance. 
Kristen has done a few small triathlons, but now she has another goal. She’s trying to win a spot to participate in the Kona Ironman. This is the granddaddy of all Ironmans. You have to qualify to get in or win a lottery spot. You can't just go. Kristi's husband Lee qualified and participated in the Kona. A huge accomplishment. And now Kristen wants to win a spot. So Kristen created a 90 second video and entered it in the “Kona Inspired” contest. 

From those who have entered, 8 winners will get to participate in the Ironman in Hawaii.  Fifty percent of the judging comes from public voting. If Kristen wins, she will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles within 17 hours. Unbelievable.

I especially loved Kristen's message when I watched her entry video. Here she is training for an ironman with nine children! She is swimming laps while pushing her baby in a floaty. They are biking and running as a family. None of us can make excuses and her message is loud and clear. She wants to inspire mothers to exercise with their children, and to do things as a family. In her own words she says, "My goal is to inspire mothers around the world to exercise with their families, so they can be strong and overcome life's challenges together."

This is a message that has become especially close to my heart as of late. My life is very busy. Exercising is very difficult. So I have made it a point to get out with my children everyday and do something active. Even if it is running around in circles on the lawn. I am so encouraged and inspired by Kristen's message and want to help share it.

To vote for Kristen, all you have to do is click here. You can watch her 90 second video and/or look to the left for a box that says “Vote for this” with a heart. Click the heart. That's it. You don't have to download any applications or login or register or anything.

Would you not only vote but consider linking to my blog entry so that you can help spread the word as well. Let's get this lady a spot in Kona!

The world from below

All Abigail does nearly all day every day, is try to crawl under things. Tables. Chairs. Her exersaucer. This past week at two of my friend's houses, she pushed things out of the way and climbed under their tables as soon as I set her down.

At first we tried to block her. But she'd just get frustrated that things were in her way. Or she'd go anyways and get stuck. So instead, we've made them accessible.

And at first, I tried to stop her from bumping her head. But then she didn't learn how to navigate properly. So instead, we've let her bump her head a few times. Let her cry hard. And now she is getting the hang of it and getting hurt a whole lot less.

Under one of our many loaner end tables. They'll give you a ton of these things, but only two chairs!

Sometimes she gets stuck. And then she gets mad. She loves going under the coffee table.
Here she is getting UNDER the exersaucer while our goddaughter Reese is in it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two brothers and a dandelion

Once upon a time there was a brother and a dandelion:

He really loved his dandelion:

Suddenly, second brother gets interested in what first brother is doing:
 He moves in:

Second brother has a dandelion too. And he's fascinated by this blowing thing first brother is doing:

He decides to give it a try too: 

He gets ready to blow: 

Here it comes:

Only, woops. He blew in instead of blowing out:


To see the rest of the awesome family fotos that our dear friend Dr. Linda took, please click here. She did an AMAZING job and there is no way I can choose which ones to put on the blog.

Dad'z Tagz

Abigail loves to eat anything hanging around someone's neck. And her favorite meal of choice? Daddy's dog tags. If he is ever holding her in uniform, tags in place, she knows it and has them in her mouth before you can even blink.

China shoes

I have very few items on my "get-out-of-my-house-if-there-is-a-fire" list. The quilt our friend in Florida, Rachel, made us for our wedding. Some photo albums. A cross JB made me while we were dating with our names on it. A scarf Hatice made me.

And these shoes. 

The story behind them is not unfamiliar to regular readers. In 2007, just after we had suffered our fourth failed IVF result -- just after we had decided to adopt a daughter from China. We received a gift from an online friend. You can see a picture of the shoes, as they arrived in my mail box by clicking here: Our "China" shoes.

Fast forward. We have two boys. We make the difficult and very painful decision to withdraw our Dossier from China due to increasing wait times and increasing costs. To not adopt China. To not bring the daughter we always pictured being in our family ... home.

I sent the shoes to a friend who was having a daughter. Her name was Rachel too -- but a different Rachel from the one who made the quilt. I told her to keep them. That I couldn't use them anymore. That I couldn't even see them anymore. They made me sad. Not that we weren't going to have a daughter. I didn't care about that at all. But that pulling out of China made me feel, in a sense, that we were losing a child.

And I couldn't be reminded of that.

But then, a surprise. We were pregnant again. And this time it was a girl. And my friend sent the shoes back to me. She had kept them!

And now, Abigail wears them. She's almost outgrown them. But they remind me, in one moment, of God's providence. Of his amazing ways. Of His ways not being our ways.

And while I was always be a bit sad when I think back on the China adoption that wasn't meant to be, I have realized that Abigail's presence is the presence of the daughter that HE  always planned for us to have.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Migraine Recap

My migraines (which I asked for prayer for here) have been much better. I have given up on finding a medicine or figuring out what is up with me hormonally. JB fervently suggested a change in diet. So I changed. I gave up all processed foods. Not all the time. Not forever. But for awhile. I am not without cheating, but I have stuck to it very well. Sort of a Paleo type of diet. And wouldn't you know, the headaches have gotten TONS better. It's still to early in the trial to know if it is coincidence or factual, but either way, I feel better. And isn't that all that matters?

Truth for mature people

I have no idea where I found this or got this from as it is has been sitting in my draft box for quite some time, but I thought it made some very funny and insightful points. So here I share something I stole, but I have no idea where I stole it from:
  1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die. 
  2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong. 
  3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. 
  4. There is great need for a sarcasm font. 
  5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? 
  6. Was learning cursive really necessary? 
  7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. 
  8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died. 
  9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired. 
  10. Bad decisions make good stories. 
  11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. 
  12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
  13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever. 
  15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. 
  18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well. 
  19. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.
  20. I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in. 
  21. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text. 
  22. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger. 
  23. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
  24. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
  25. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever. 
  26. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?
  27. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
  28. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bicyclists.
  29. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is. 
  30. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Second boat

I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people during my time in Turkey. And some of them were on the "second boat." These were gals that came in a year after I'd bee nhere. They moved in while I was in Germany having Abigail. Women like Bri (far left) and Anu (far right) who will still be in Turkey another year. Of course Stebbs (in black) is heading to D.C. and myself to the Azores. Rana, in the center, is my Turkish friend. Such wonderful women! Here we are celebrating Anu's birthday in the alley. What amazing friends I have here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A difficult weekend

Saturday was busy. We did a lot. JB was called over to accident on the softball field. A woman who had sprained her ankle.

I suppose it was just the beginning of what was to come.


A hard day for JB -- for a lot of people here on Base.

Around midday, JB received a phone call that there had been an accident on Base. I was outside with the kids, and he started yelling, throwing on his shoes. I quickly found our new neighbor Steve and asked him to drive JB somewhere. I didn't know where. Just knew that he needed to get there in a hurry. Steve grabbed his keys and they flew down the street -- faster than I have ever seen any vehicle on Base drive.

I won't get into all the details until the investigation is complete, (you can read a preliminary press release here) but a young man was killed in a vehicle accident. JB was on the scene as the physician in charge. Another man was injured but not seriously.

I don't know how John handles things like that. Seeing someone die. I did it once on our scuba diving trip. I hope to never do it again.

He returned home a few hours later. We talked for a long time while the kids napped. He was working his way down from the adrenaline rush of the morning events. Decompressing.

We decided to head over to Arkadas park where they were having a huge Turkish festival with many visitors from off Base -- something that does not happen frequently. John didn't really want to go. He was still in shock and exhausted from the events surrounding the airmen's death but agreed to go to get the kids out of the house.

We were waiting in line to order some food when JB was suddenly pushing Abigail's stroller in my direction and yelling something about a man collapsing. He ran off. It was so crowded; I couldn't really tell what was going on. I managed to yell in that direction to ascertain whether someone spoke English. I yelled it in Turkish. Someone replied in English. I wanted to make sure JB didn't need a translator as poor as me. He didn't. There were a bunch of people who were able to translate thank goodness.

The man had been electrocuted. JB stayed on the scene until the ambulance cleared him out. He was a Turkish man taken to a Turkish hospital so we are not sure when we will get information on how he was doing, but JB was pretty sure he was going to make it.

Pray for our Base today. Security forces just lost a man a few weeks ago in an off-Base electrocution accident. A second death in such a short time is sure to be even more difficult.

And please pray for JB. He'll be fine. But seeing those things cannot be easy.


Random time fillers

Our house is currently quite a Smorgasbord of odds and ends right now. We have loaner furniture from the Base. We have a friend's portable DVD player as our only source electronic entertainment. (Our's broke!) We have our tiny little laptop to communicate with our world back in America. We borrowed a microwave. We've borrowed toys. We've checked books out at the library. We have random squares of carpet that were pulled out of someone else's house when they moved out. We have clothes at a minimum. We have only one garbage can so I decided to pull one of our big garbage cans up onto the back porch to help in the absence.

And with everything so different, I'm forced to try to make "new" fun for my kids. To come up with different things for us to do. And here, are some of the things that the recesses of my mind and creativity brought them:
Putting the two loaner chairs we are allotted makes a very cool boat. Time to play "Pirates!"

When the boat got too small, we decided to make two boats using our loaner couch. It even had cushion "stairs" leading out.

Our neighbor behind us, Christina, is back in the States. So (with her permission of course) we decided to bring some of their backyard toys into our backyard. The kids have LOVED playing house outside. Here is Elijah with another friend, Dylan. And Abigail is thrilled to be outside -- as long as she has her brothers to entertain her.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Turkish & Portuguese

I am so close.

I have worked so hard to learn this language, and I feel that I am right at the cusp of really, really learning it. I truly feel that if I had one more year in Turkey, and could spend it living off of the Base, I would have it down pat. It is all starting to come together for me. The pronouns. Endings. Harmony. It's all making sense.

And now it is almost time to go. Now, when I can go into a restaurant and talk to people and even, sometimes, share something humorous in their language.

I have decided that I will have to stop learning and practicing Turkish when we move to the Azores. While I could keep learning it, there won't be anywhere to practice it, and that practice is what truly aids in the learning. And, as I already knew, Turkish is not a very useful language outside of Turkey. It isn't like Spanish. French. German. It's much more obscure than that.

So, in response to the question everyone has been asking me: "Do you plan to learn Portuguese?" the answer, is, "Yes, I do." I'm going to quit studying and practicing Turkish and make a clean switch. I have to. My brain cannot learn two language at the same time. I get way too confused.

And, even better, is that we are hopeful our boys may be able to acquire a second language at one of the most perfect times in their life. There is a free Portuguese preschool available to the boys, and we think we are going to put them in -- three mornings a week. This will hopefully give them a second languagebetweent the ages of three and six, some of the best years to do so.

And me. There's no free preschool for me. So back to the computer and audio recordings I go. Out with the old, and in with the new.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Forget the Fancy

Sometimes we forget. When we compare ourselves to all the other moms out there ... that all our children want ... is US!

Here's a great blog article that reminds us of just that fact. I know I needed to read it. I don't have to be perfection. I just need to be me.

The contents of her pants

I have recently realized the power of Easter eggs. You can put one M&M in an egg, gather a bunch of eggs, and have an Easter egg hunt any ol' time of the year. Another great activity for three year olds itching for something to do. I plan to continue on with the Easter egg hunting tradition in our house throughout the year. I especially like to do the hunt downstairs while Abigail is sleeping (although I keep the eggs above her reach in case we forget about one.)

But this does mean there can be some random Easter eggs floating around. And that is where the humor of this post emerges. Abigail crawled up to me yesterday ... crying. I looked down as she lay on her belly on the kitchen floor. There was something bulging in the back of her pants.

Here is the Easter egg, and other random object that I found in the back of her pants.

I was unable to ascertain a clear answer as to who exactly the culprit was of stuffing toys down the back of their little sister's pants. But let's just assume their name either started with an "I" or an "E".

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Funniest (Currently)

Isaac: "I just found the gigantic rock you've ever seen."
Elijah, after he stopped Abigail from getting into his waffles that he was eating on the floor when we had no furniture. "It's otay. I handled it."
When JB comes home from work, he tells the boys he is going to tickle their brains out. After Elijah cut open his eye, he couldn't play rough for a few days. "Daddy can't tickle my brains out today," he said. When I asked him where his brains were, he said, "My brains are in here." He was pointing to his armpits. I laughed hard but then explained that his brains were actually in his head.
The next day, Elijah told his Daddy that he now knew the truth. "My brains are in my head," he told John. John replied saying he knew that. "But you tickle me here," Elijah replied, pointing to his armpits.

"I know," JB began. "That's because your head is so hard. The only way I can get to your brains is through your armpits."

Elijah's reponse was a confused, "Oh."

Elijah: "You are big Mommy."
Me: "Ummm ... thanks."
Elijah: "But you are not SO big. Big guys are SOOOO big."


Isaac: "Do we not call people toilet bowls?"
Me: "No. That isn't a nice thing to say. Don't call people a toilet bowl."
Elijah: "Can we call them bath tubs?"
Me: "Yes, I suppose you can call them a bath tub."


Isaac: "I have decided that Elijah can play with the blue car. And I have decided that I will play with the red one."


With two three-year-olds, I am answering questions NON-STOP. Here are some of the questions asked to me in just a one hour period:
  • "Do we not eat poopy?" (Isaac)
  • "Mommy, if Abigail eats a fly, will she need to go the hospital?" (Isaac)
  • "How do workers build a house?" (Isaac)
  • "When did I get born in Bri's tummy?" (Isaac)
  • "Do fishies bite?" (Isaac)
  • "My fork is cold. Could you make it hotter?" (Elijah)

The free stuff

I stole this from a friend's blog. (Thanks Emily!) It has really stuck with me. I have always been a water drinker. I've always said: "I'd rather eat my calories than drink them." But while in Turkey, it got a little more difficult for me. Headaches and sleep deprivation were two culprits that gave me an excuse to go for caffeine-filled drinks. (Since I don't like coffee or tea, the only other way to get a good pick-me-up was through a soda/pop.*) And my favorite? Mountain Dew without a doubt.

Another excuse was paying for water. Ever since JB and I got married, we have always drank "the free stuff" when going out for dinner. I can only imagine how much money it has saved us over the years. But here in Turkey, water is not free. It is always bottled and always costs money. If I am going to pay a lira for a water, why not pay two lira for a Coke? And so it went. I started drinking more soft drinks for that reason as well.

But this picture returned me to my roots. Water it is. Whenever possible. I'll take the free stuff.

Even if, over here, it ain't free.
*Here's a blog entry I did long ago on the debate between whether to call it pop, coke, or soda.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

For Patty

What a joy it is to host a baby shower, now, on the other side of infertility. It has taken many years, but I can honestly say that now, I do not covet this miracle any longer. I pray for those of you who are still in the throngs of the sadness which can accompany barrenness. Whether you be barren of the womb, as I was for so many years. Barren of a spouse. Barren in your soul due to a great loss. Or barren of the spirit due to the absence of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am thinking of you today. Anytime I am celebrating, and especially when I post the pictures later, I think of all those who may be hurting today. I pray that the Lord hears your hurting heart today.

This is a baby shower post though. And while I am always selective in the pictures I put on my blog, feel free to skip this post if it is not a good time for you. 

Angelica and I threw a baby shower for my friend Patty. We had a dinner for men and women alike at the downtown Adana Hilton -- one of the only "America-like" places you can find off of the Base. What a beautiful evening it was. Enjoy the snaps:

My friend Heather (who was born in Nigeria) waiting for the guests to arrive. Heather is a nurse who works with JB and Yamil.

Angelica sporting some high heels. She makes it look so effortless -- but if you ask her, she'll tell you how effortless it is not!

Patty & Yamil plan to decorate the nursery in "Space" theme due to their mutual love of STAR WARS.

Thus the blanket Angelica and I had made for little Troy.

 Patty and Yamil were at Eglin with us and what a great time it was to spend a year with them here in Turkey! They will always be a special part of our family.

And so will they -- Dr. "Winda" and Mr. Shane.

The fact that they put candles on the cake was very Turkish. The fact that I had to do all of the communicating as well. (There were no other Turkish speakers in our group.) But the night itself was truly an escape from the life we all live. 

Patty with her co-shower-hosts.

 JB goofing around with our goddaughter Reese. The hotel provided champagne for our celebrations.

Patty is a hugger. We hug every time we see each other and every time we part. I will miss her hugs.

 Today, the truck came to begin packing up Angelica's things. She and Dan will be the first family to leave in our circle of friends. This picture so perfectly captures her beauty -- both inside and out.

With Linda, Angelica, and Reese.

Angelica made this adorable shower cake. You can barely see the "que' pasa" t-shirt in the front. Patty and Angelica share a mutual love of the Spanish language even though Patty is from Peurto Rico and Angelica from Spain.


Our friends Dan and Angelica have a family tradition of asking someone from their current circle of friends to be the godparent for each of their children. How honored we were to accept the offer to be the godparent for little Reese Summer. (Don't you love Isaac in this picture?) We hope that as she grows, we can offer the prayers, love, and encouragement that she and her family need, and that she grows up to find contentment in life and a love for the Lord.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16th

April 16th has always been a date that sticks in my mind due to the large number of people I know celebrating a birthday on this day.

My cousins, Jason and Justin (brothers) share today as a birthday. In addition, Brant VanWyck (Brianna's older brother and Roy and Joan's son) who passed away when he was seven years old was born on this day in 1982. It is my goddaughter Grace's birthday today. She is now 19! In addition my childhood friend Susie celebrates her birthday today as does my friend from Eglin AFB, Brandi, and Mark, my friend Tina's husband here on Incirlik.

Happy birthday all!

Nine Months Old!

Our little Abigail Grace is nine months old today. She seems to be the highest maintenance of our three kiddos. She requires constant attention and starts crying hard if things aren't going the way she had in mind. She is incredibly curious and loves to climb under things. She also laughs incredibly hard and is very opinionated. As she makes her desires known, we are constantly cracking up at how determiend she is. At nine months old, she:
  • Is saying "Ma Ma" especially when she gets upset.
  • Is saying "Da Da" and it appears to coorelate to JB, but we can't be sure.
  • Has three teeth (two on the bottom fully in) and one on the top still working its way in.
  • Is eating all kinds of table food.
  • Is igning "all done" consistently. Starting to see her sign "milk."
  • Is still eating a little bit of baby food but doesn't really like it.
  • Is pulling up! She just did it for the first time this morning. Here is a video of it. And check out the picture below:
  • Has major stranger anxiety. Really only wants Mom, Dad, or Hatice. Although can be semi-distracted with food and sit with a stranger.
  • Loves to be outside in her stroller.
  • Is taking two naps everyday and still sometimes a third.
  • Adores her brothers -- definitely knows and recognizes them.
  • Sleeps like a pro at night (from about 6:30p to 6:30a) every day.
  • Is wearing 12month or 12-18 month clothes.
  • Crawls all over but still in army-guy style.
  • Is moving to a seated position from crawling (just in the last week.)
  • Loves to take baths.
  • Especially likes: cheese sticks, fruit of all kinds, peas, crackers, apples slices.
  • Loves to crawl around and play with toys; but her favorite is still the little bouncy balls.
  • Enjoys being in her exersaucer when we are outside.
Here was Elijah at nine months old. The biggest differences? He was scaling furniture but picky about his food at all and also not as good with his hand movements.

And here is Isaac at nine months old. Due to the fact that I was just out of the hospital with a week old Elijah and still very sick, I didn't write down a lot of his milestones. But I do know he was standing very well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Turkin' it

I am a visual learner. I'll pretend that everyone who reads my blog is too as I break down why Turkish driving is so unbelievably crazy.

The parking garage at the Optimum Mall in downtown Adana gave me a perfect example of the confusion you experience as a driver in Turkey. Notice we are supposed to turn left here as indicated by the yellow arrow on the ground and the "no right turn"" up above. Only, there is a cone randomly blocking the turn left. What does that mean? Why is it there? We have no idea. We ended up making a right turn since the left turn was blocked. Was that correct? We have no idea.
You have to get used to the fact that you will see things that would never be permitted in America. Trucks overloaded (usually unsafely), cars towing other vehicles in strange ways. More people shoved into a vehicle or put on a motorcycle than you may have thought humanly possible. Children sitting on driver's laps but almost always unbelted. You have to continually remind yourself that the rules in place in the USA to keep you safe, don't exist here. So when you see a truck like this, above, you have to tell yourself that the stuff really could fall out or the truck could fall over. And you have to think accordingly. If you forget where you are, that's when accidents can happen.
I think this picture may even better prove my point.
Motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians are everywhere. They are never wearing helmets and pop up without much warning. This picture is also indicative of the fact that lanes don't exist. This light is supposed to be two lanes. but you can tell that there are sort of three lanes. The lines separating lanes are not actual dividers as they are in the USA. They are more like suggestions. And if there is room on any shoulder, people will create a new lane. Especially motorcycles.
Many people do not have their own vehicles. You also very rarely see a Turkish woman driving a car -- although in the bigger cities, it happens more frequently. People get around via these buses -- a dolmus. They are very inexpensive and jammed with people, but it is the way many people get around. Taxis exist but are not frequented by the general population.
A Turkish Stop Sign.
There have been a number of times I turned off a city road and ended up on a road like this. The good thing is that men will stop whatever they are doing to help you navigate the holes or the other cars possibly in the way. They look at me as if to say, "C'mon. Why are you going so slow?"
I see things like this all the time! Cars fitting through spaces incredibly small. When I hesitate and don't want to make the tight squeeze, the Turks seem confused by my hesitation. For them, it's completely normal. I often slow down considerably when I see pedestrians crowding an area. But Turks speed by as if there in no cocnern at all of an accident.
This is the entrance to "The Alley." When you make this left turn, you are in much more American territory, with store owners who speak some English. About two miles down this road, you will reach the entrance to the Base on your left.
A Turkish gas station. These are usually very clean and a nice place to stop.

Contrast in Turkey is incredible, and I think the extreme differences are the biggest surprise to visitors. While Turkey is incredibly modern, you can turn a corner and see a scene like this very frequently. Old meets new so frequently here.

There is so much wrong with this picture. I mean there are three spots designated here. Although there really is barely room for three cars. You can tell that we parked our van in a spot. But you can tell that the person next to us and all the people behind JB, did not pay any attention to the lines. The thing is, if three cars would have been in place here, there is no way we could open our doors.

I hope these photos give you a good representation of life behind the wheel in Turkey. Most Americans will drive off-Base, but women especially, seldom alone. You have to have a very laid back attitude and allow people to honk at you, pass you, stop in front of you. You have to expect the unexpected.

Horns are used continually. Turn signals barely ever. Speeding is enforced but nothing else seems to be. Making a left hand turn from the outside lane is completely permitted. Stopping to change drivers in the middle of the interstate without pulling off onto the shoulder has been witnessed on more than one occasion. Motorcyclists never wear helmets. Five people can easily fit on a motorcycle. Twelve people can easily fit in a four door car. Seatbelts are very rarely worn. Cars are very rarely new. Merge lanes are dangerous places. Take a deep breath. You are in Turkey.

When we see someone doing something a bit odd -- like backing up a mile on the freeway to make the exit they just missed, we laugh to ourselves. But then, when we find ourselves doing the same thing, we use expressions like: "We're Turkin' it." Or, "When in Turkey ..." We often call things "Turk-tastic" or "Turk-alicious." You find yourself constantly straddling the law that you know should exist and does exist in your country, and the fact that if you don't do as the Turks do, you'll be left completely behind.

Driving in Turkey is definitely one big adventure. All the time.

Past entriees on Turkey and culture include: