Hello There

This is going to be a blog post in which I ramble on endlessly about unimportant things.  Whatever happens to pop into my head at the moment.  And right now I am thinking of being on a plane next weekend.  Flying to America.  Hugging the necks of all our family.  Dreaming of smelly dog kisses from our sweet Polo.  And of course eating some good ol' American cuisine, with a healthy dose of Mexican food thrown in about every other day.  Because as you know that is how we Hansons roll.  The food tour is how we refer to our traveling style.  Even the Things have become acquainted with mine and Husband Jared's love of FOOD.  They too have their list of "fav's" that they would like to visit.  Special eateries where memories have been made and meals shared.

 Of course our time will be spent engaging in other various activities, such as hiking, playing games, and just "hanging out".  We can hardly wait.  The Things have a countdown on our white board in the school room, "How many more days until we go to America".  Fantastic!  There will also be appointments, dentist and eye doctor and hopefully seeing our favorite hair stylist, for Thing 1 that is.  All the necessary business will be taken care of.  I hope. 

Yet, with all this anticipation I am feeling a tad "homesick" already.  Being away for three weeks from our home here in Urla will be challenging.  There are people here I will miss.  There is FOOD here I will crave.  There is the sea, beckoning to me everyday, that I will miss.  Although it will be waiting for our return.  All of it, and we will soak in each and every moment we have remaining in this place upon our return. 

And for certain we will savor our time in the States.  Everyday.

Guest Post: Thing 3

A Day in the Life of Me, Thing Three
I get up, I make my bed then go upstairs to eat. After that my mom tells us to make our beds, brush our teeth,and get dressed. Today, Wenesday, our house cleaner came so we went and took my dad to work and did some errands. My dad got off work early so we went and picked him up on our way home. When we arrived our house cleaner was still here so we all went downstairs since she was up. Will and I went outside to play soccer while Makenzie and Delaney did school.  Makenzie is still doing school, Delaney is playing the wii, and Will is going outside to play. My mom went to the manav,the produce market, to get us some fruit and veg. Tonight we will probably watch a movie or play a game. Then go to bed.

Weekend Recap

Thursday began another busy weekend for us.  The above photo was taken on a staircase in Cesme, where I spent the afternoon with two of my friends.  We toured the marina and had lunch trying to enjoy the sun all the while clouds were trying to hide it away. 
Friday, our house looked like this.  We were preparing for a going away party for an American family that we met a few months ago.  I have not "entertained" since moving here and Husband Jared and I joked  that we felt like "grown ups" this evening.  It was quite the gathering. 
The Things and I were busy preparing all day Friday.  Baking, cooking, cleaning and rearranging furniture.  Their friends all joined in the festivities.  They even played a game of hide and seek, dodging the rain and darkness.  Our sweet friends, whom I didn't even take a photo of, spent the night chatting away and sharing stories of their brief time here.  All in all a great time spent with great friends;  Friends whom now share the unique expreience of being Americans who have lived in Turkey. 
The teenage hang out spot on Friday night.
Saturday was relaxing.  We watched movies, played games and enjoyed each other's company.  Thing 1 babysat and Thing 3 tagged along, since it was her friend's house, and Thing 2 and Thing 4 both had friends over for a sleep over.  We watched the Man Utd. match, roasted marshmallows and had more treats and sugar then should be allowed.  Fun!
Sunday was more relaxing, sleeping in and devouring a big breakfast of sausage and french toast.  With the evening time came more rain and a birthday celebration for a dear friend.  We celebrated his special day at a local fish restaurant with a delish chocolate cake decorated for his fav football team, Manchester City.  The Things and their friends made a special card complete with art work. 
A fantastic ending to an already fantastic weekend.   

Thankful Thursday #55


* Sarcophagi at Ephesus

491. warm banana bread
492. trips to the kemeralti, in which I force the Things to practice their Turkish
493. gift giving
494. planning a visit to the States
495. surprise skype chats with long time AZ friend
496. long walks through the mountains
497. finding shells with Things
498. my camera
499. impromptu coffee chats
500. hearing squeals of delight when I say "yes" to the Things

Writing

This morning it has hit me afresh.  I crave writing time.  As I sit at the table, the laptop, a cup of coffee and the sun rising outside I need these moments.  More and more.  I am feeling the pull to write. 

It is the only way I can tell a story.  Spoken words do not come easily to these lips.  Broken sentences, forgotten details, they never make sense.  I look to Husband Jared to finish it for me.  Yet when I sit here and type away, or find my pen and a blank sheet of paper, they flow.  Independence.  Freedom to share what I want, to leave out the mundane or make it the spotlight.  It is by my choosing. 

A gift.  Each memory written to be savored so as not lost.  An outpouring of my soul.  Other times hilarity abounds and there is no rhyme or reason.  A writer's perogative, right?  For now yes.  Yet I know where the words come from.  He hems in the before and after and I thank Him for giving me another day to write.

Mother Mary, Ephesus and More Ruins


Another field trip.  This time Husband Jared, the Things and myself headed to Mother Mary's house and Ephesus. 
 This sign greeted us as we entered the House of the Virgin Mary. 
It is said that the Apostle John brought Mary here after the crucifixion.  This is the place where her final days were spent.  It explained the historical soundness in the discovery of the location, complete with an address in the USA to write to for more information.  Interesting.  The Things and I were expecting to see an actual home that was still standing.  I know, ignorant.  At any rate, the location is beautiful.  And there is a "silent chapel" for candle lighting and reflection.

A prayer wall.  There were bandanas, scarves, remnants of clothing, paper, tissue, even wrappers.  Scribbled with prayers offered. 
And from here on to Ephesus.  Which is down the windy mountain road.  Ephesus is a well preserved site in comparison to others we have visited here in Turkey.  The original pedestrian marble street leading to the library and Agora are still in tact.  Exquisite.  There is even an ancient "restroom".  Husband Jared offered an example but the Things would not participate. 

The best was yet to come, for me anyway.  The facade of the library took my breath away.  Seriously, any of you who know me, know how I feel about books and libraries.  I touchedthe walls of this structure and imagined the literature that must have been housed there.  The scrolls, the feet that would have walked across the threshold.  Awestruck.  That was me. 
Husband Jared pointed out to us symbols that were carved into the marble.  They were put there to let the people know which stores were Christian owned.  There were also game boards carved directly into the marble.  They looked similar to mancala boards, and even tic-tac-toe.  On the library steps there was even a carving of a Menorah.

From the library and Agora it was onto the ampitheatre.  This particular setting could hold 24,000 spectators and was said to be originally a Greek ampitheatre.  When the Romans controlled Ephesus there were gladiator battles as well as the lions.  We walked the hall and saw the hidden rooms behind the "stadium" where lions, people and gladiators would have been, chilling.  While there we even heard an Italian tourist display his opera skills.  The acoustics were phenomenal. 
Yes, those are the Things, way up at the top!
As we do when headed to a historical site such as this we read the passage in the book of Revelation contained within John's letters to the 7 churches in Asia Minor, this time the letter to Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7 NIV).  The church in Ephesus was commended for their perserverance and reminded to stay fervent in their love and passion that was prevelant when they first became believers.  We also found a passage in the book of Acts (Acts 19:23-41 NIV)pertaining to a riot that took place in Ephesus.  Paul had been residing in Ephesus during the time of his third missionary journey.  In the ampitheatre, the same one we stood in, the silversmiths protested.  They were in the business of building idols, and worshipping the Temple of Artemis.  The Word that was spreading through the area threatened their livelihood.  It is said that the conflict was not directed towards Paul's words but rather the threat of losing their profits. 
Everywhere we turned history surrounded us.  In front of the terrace homes, where the wealthy would have lived, there were gorgeous frescos, such as the one below.
Statues, carvings, marble were at every turn, more than I could process.
 Even the Things noticed every remnant of the aqueducts, the various style of columns, and of course they quoted their Mama as they always do, by saying, "Just imagine the conversations that took place on this very ground, in this place, thousands of years ago".  Apparently those are my signature words.  Really though, my brain can not even process what took place.  And then the relation and perspective I am able to incorporate as I read His Word.  So blessed. 
With that conundrum and lack of cohesive writing style I leave you with this photograph.  The Things to their credit did share that this was the "best" of ancient ruins thus far.  Thing 4 commented on how well the "streets" were preserved, Thing 2 made rest stops at each and every fountain, Thing 4 wandered through, embarassed that her Mama was taking photographs of everyone and everything and Thing 3 asked questions as to what time period every fresco was from and whom was buried in the sarcophagi.  I think our upcoming school lessons will involve the history of Christianity and ancient civilizations.  This Mama has much to learn.


Thankful Thursday #54


* This lovely character was staring us down as we drove past her on the hill leading to our compound, the Things were mortified when I pulled the car over and snapped a few photos of "Betsy".  That's what I call her.  She was not very pleased to be having her picture taken, thankfully she didn't have much choice as where to go, see the chain around her horns and under belly?  Guess she was being let out to graze a bit.  

481. random happy moments
482. seeing "friends" post on FB that they are having a "good day"
483. Christmas cards in the mail
484. folded laundry
485. empty hampers
486. a visit "home", soon!
487. every sunrise
488. rescued photographs on our hard drive
489. my brother, turning 30!
490. husband Jared taking care of me

A Nearly Perfect Sunday

Sunday was a sublime day.  We slept late, had a leisurely breakfast, drove through the mountains, walked the cliffs and had kahvalti at our favorite place.  To top it all off, our team, Manchester United, managed to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup match and we had a candle lit dinner, altogether, albeit unintentionally. 
The entire day was spent together.  Laughing, exploring, reading and even cheering for our team. 

The Things were squeezing between the cliffs, trying to enter a cave, one in which you had to jump over the sea and land on a specific rock in order to be safe.  Um, no thank you, please stop before you are soaked and crying and I have to rescue from the freezing water.

A crab we discovered in one of the small pools created from high tide on the cliffs.  He was dead. What a dissappointment.

 A smallish fish we found in another pool, he was suffering.  The Things decided to save him, only no one really wanted to touch his slimy tail.  Thing 4 bravely reached in to catch him and then dropped him on the rocks as he was preparing to throw him back to freedom.  I had to step in and finish the job. 

That small red spot in the sea is the rescued fish.  Victory!

That turquoise water was our view for our cliff hike.  Breathtaking.  Everytime I see it.

And this was the finale to our fantastic family day.  A random power outtage that came and went the entire time I was preparing our meal and then was out for good while we were eating dinner.  Of course as soon as Husband Jared snapped this photo the power clicked back on and we all laughed ourselves out of our chairs.

Thankful Thursday #53

471. field trips
472. relaxed sea side strolls
473. warm dinners
474. laughter around the table
475. slipper socks
476. shiny wood floors beneath those slippers
477. laundry finished
478. curious minds
479. books, books and more books
480. coffee with friends

Field Trip

The Things and I went on a field trip yesterday.  Can you guess where? 
 If you guessed a submarine you are correct!  In Narlidere, there is a Turkish Navy submarine and ship that is open to the public.  Tours are given on both the ship and the submarine.  The submarine was given by the United States to the Turkish Naval forces in 1994 and was in service through 2005.  It was fascinating.  The Things and I imagined ourselves to be sailors.  All the while wondering what it would have been like to live on the submarine.  We all decided we weren't sure about the sleeping quarters, talk about small.  And we weren't certain we would be able to maneuver safely through the narrow halls and high thresholds.
It was a gorgeous day by the sea.  Quite enjoyable.  After the tour we walked along the sea side and looked for shells and hoped the seagulls wouldn't bring us any luck. 

On the Lighter Side

After the post yesterday I thought I would lighten it up a bit.  For today at least.  There are several oddities that I have noticed around these parts.  Usually I am inclined to throw my head back and laugh at most, sometimes my hands fly in the air in disbelief and then other times all I can do is shake my head. 

Let's talk about driving.  For instance, there are painted traffic lines on the road.  Similar to what we have in the states, yet here they are a mere suggestion.  Much like the posted speed limit and "no passing" rule.  Brights are flashed if you are headed the wrong direction, if you are driving too slowly, if there are polis waiting for you ahead, or maybe for no other reason than the driver oncoming or behind you was too bored.  Round -abouts are a fairly new addition here, designed of course to help with the flow of traffic.  Only no one knows quite what to do with them; yield as you enter or yield as you exit?  Who knows.  Not me apparently, I am always yielding, unsure of what the other drivers might or might not be looking at.  Oh and red lights, forget about it.  If you choose to roll through the light and continue on more power to you.  Except for when there might be a traffic control officer watching from the center divider.  But hey even then your chances of escaping without a ticket are favorable. 

I know what you're thinking.  The drivers in America do not necessarily heed to the traffic laws either.  They do, though, in comparison.  And we are all well aware of the significant consequences, monetarily and otherwise, that await us if we choose to disobey. 

On another note, let's just discuss the idea of personal space.  A foreign concept here.  As I mentioned in a previous post about Thing 2's visit to the hastane.  Regardless of medical privacy acts our business was every elderly lady's business in that place.  Albeit sweet and I think genuinely harmless, it was quite odd and a little invasive.  Walking anywhere here you are likely to be bumped, shoved even pushed out of the way, no matter your age.  Ladies use handbags as weapons in the mall and rarely do you hear a "pardon".  When the Things and I stop to let someone in front of us or move to the side for an elderly person we receive the strangest stares.  Not to mention the concept of forming lines, or ques.  Uh no.  We have been cut in front of  and pushed aside.  Of course Turkish words are exchanged and we just move aside.  It is not in our nature to argue and hey I think they must be in a hurry.  For what I am not certain.

I need to pause and just laugh for a moment.  All of these nuances are not of huge weight, this I know.  I also know that there are reasons, justifiable to the culture here to answer all the "why's".  It is not important that life here is sensical to me, only that I can live here honestly and to the best of my ability.  With that being said it is humorous for to read what I have written above.  From each of these I have gained a lesson of some sort. 

On to the next.  Affection is common and expected.  It is not unlikely to observe to young adult men walking arm in arm down the street, young girls also.  A typical greeting includes kissing on the cheek twice and shaking hands, warmly.  I love it.  Respectful though of the opposite gender.  Children are loved on by strangers and family members alike.  Babies are cooed over and if they aren't covered properly for the weather a stranger has no problem saying so.  It is fascinating to watch the dynamics of this area play out publicly. 

Stray cats and dogs are everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere.  They sit near our garbage bin every night, hoping something tasty awaits them.  The dogs for the most part, are kind and mind their own business.  I am not exaggerating in the least bit when I say they are everywhere.  At restaurants, parks, tourist sites, official buildings, pazars and even within the compounds.  They aren't necessarily considered pets by the people here.  Dogs are usually kept for security purposes. And the cats, well I guess they are an added bonus. 

More to come on this subject.  Of course please do not consider this an intellectual cultural analysis, just some observations from a "yabanci" trying not to forget anything about her time as a foreigner here.

Reflections Told Within a Very Lengthy Post

As the beginning of a new year always does, this one being no different, I find myself reflecting on the year past.  More specifically, the last six months of 2010.  While the process of this life altering move began early in 2010 and was solidified in February of last year it almost seems like a lifetime ago.  The year flew past me with amazing speed.  I was no spectator by any means but I seemed to have been caught in the whirlwind.  At least these last six months.

There is so much to say, so much to remember.  Much that I have hoped to capture on this blog.  What hasn't been said very often is what these past 6 months have taught me.  The lessons that have been learned, the tears that have been shed and the changes that have occurred.  So here is my reflective offering for the months of June through December.  Oddly enough, the months we have been residents in a foreign country. 

Goodbyes are never easy.  I tried to look at leaving our familar life filled with incredible family and friends as temporary and just a "see you later", not a forever goodbye.  It didn't work.  I have mourned every holiday and moment we have missed with all of them.  'Tis life though.  And I have learned that while goodbyes are never easy I certainly don't want to miss an opportunity here in the present because I am to occupied with what I am missing in America. 

Learning a new language at this stage in life is not easy.  For the longest time I kept thinking, or rather hoping, that I would wake one morning and all of a sudden this strange language would be comprehensible.  It would just flow off the tongue without effort.  Better yet, I would be able to understand it without having to ask the people to repeat themselves fifteen times.  Just so you know that hasn't happened yet, nor am I expecting it to.  What I will say is that while I don't understand everything I do understand more than when we first arrived.  And yes I can form a few sentences and manage to place our order at restaurants or at the pazar.  It is exciting for me to hear the Things able to answer questions in Turkish and of course they know their "manner words", please and thank you, etc.  Numbers, no problem.  And many other catch phrases essential for life here. 

Moving four children and an established household Internationally is not easy but it can be done.  This move has brought our family closer together, so cliche, but true.  We have had to rely on each other and life one another up when the reality of life here beats up.  Thankfully the Things adapted much more quickly than we had anticipated.  Friends were made and instant bonds formed for them.  I have come to the conclusion that it may be because the children here are all on a level playing field.  At least the International families.  They understand what the other has left behind but know their time with each other is limited here.  It is remarkable to watch this unfold.

We had the motto when we first arrived that we would choose to embrace the differences and appreciate them for what they are.  Easier said than done.  As for me, I haven't always appreciated the differences.  In fact there have been times I have thrown tantrums because of them.   Hindsight is always better on the other side.  Life is not always what it "should be", whether here in a foreign country or back in our comfortable Franklin.  I was rather ignorant to have arrived here thinking that life would continue to operate status quo, they way it "should".  Not.  Electricians, repair men, delivery men, postal parcels, none seem to arrive when they are expected.  Oh well.  Eventually they do, usually.  And if not, the earth still spins.  That Western mentatlity of needing to operate within certain confines and perameters really defined me when we arrived here.  Not so much anymore.  Without an inkling of understanding of the culture here this lesson would have been lost on me.  That appreciation and desire to learn about the people has brought me a fresh perspective.

Homeschooling in a foreign country is still as challenging as it was in the States.  This is an area that continues to pepper me with self doubt.  A feeding ground for the enemy.  The lesson learned though is that everyday the Things are learning and a majority of that learning isn't coming from their text books.  For the short time we are here, that is ok.  Maybe the more times I say it, write it and repeat it, the more likely I am to believe it.  The life experiences that we are sharing as a family are instructive.  The historic sites we have visited and the geography lessons that has lead us to have are all teachable moments.  The Biblical reference that the Things have experienced, live and in person, where they have seen the aqueducts and thermal pools, the mountains and ampitheatres, the temples and burial grounds, those have all been teachable moments.  And with a load of grace, their Math and "subject lessons" will be up to parr when we return.  One thing I must say is they do read, constantly.  Without an English library here I can not even begin to tell you the amount of money we have spent on literature for them.  Money well spent.  So our school doesn't fit into the standard mold of bricks and mortar classrooms and maybe not even most homeschoolers' ideals but it has been designed just so for our Things.

I would be amiss to not mention Husband Jared.  There is no "lesson" here, rather a newfound appreciation and admiration.  Husband Jared works extremely hard.  His job here is not an easy one.  It has taken much time and dedication on his part to establish the relationships and respect necessary to do his job effectively.  Husband Jared's understanding of the business culture and the customers far exceeds expectations.  He genuinely cares.  Not about the numbers or dollars gained but about teaching the Turkish employees the Best Buy brand, how to be successful and how to do so ethically.  He has a teacher's heart.  And being here has afforded me the opportunity to witness that on a new level.

My reflectiveness has ran out on me.  For now anyways.  My mind is flooded with an abundance of lessons learned, stories to tell that have revealed a weakness or strength, that have shaped me, all of which I will be forever grateful for.  If not as I was walking through it hopefully on the other side of it.  There is a reason for it.  This I know.

Ringing in 2011

New Year's Eve brought yet another celebration for this family of six.  Again with karaoke, fireworks, good friends and good food.  So as 2011 came we rang in it's arrival with an eclectic mix of traditions. 
 Thing 4 and his two buddies
 Girl Things and Friend
 All the children in the garden after the fireworks display
An attempt, albeit hard to interpret, at capturing the moment the firework burst!