Thankful Thursday #52

* Pretty lights at Kemal Bey, the horse stable where we celebrated Boxing Day

461. friends
462. grace
463. listening and being still
464. learning the difference between being still and doing nothing
465. cold, wintry nights
466. new movies
467. coffee dates
468. drives along the sahil (seaside road)
469. waves splashing onto the road
470. watching presents being opened on SKYPE

Another Christmas Post

Christmas night was spent at our friends' home.  A celebration of sorts for what I like to call, "friend family".  All the other people you know that are without their flesh and blood families during this season.  It was fabulous.  We roasted chestnuts, lit sparklers, had fizzy cocktails and even witnessed a karaoke competition.  Which I might add was won by the small boys, Thing 4 and his buddies.  The girl Things and their friends did their best to compete but they just didn't have the moves like the boys.  Red faced and sweaty our Things retired soon after that with nothing but sweet memories of delicious treats and thoughts of dancing until dawn with their friends.
The Things, dressed to the 9's and ready to go!
 Our snowman pizza, we were in charge of the "kid food", and of course Jesus' birthday cake in the background, red velvet this year
 Thing 2's fruit tree creation, rather impressive, I think
 Thing 3 and her sparkler, preparing to run around the garden, screaming "ole" with Thing 4
 Thing 2 decided to wear this lovely dress up outfit all night, what do you think?
 How I love me some sparkly cowgirl hats!  The girls singing for their turn in the karaoke competition
And the boys, Thing 4 sporting the hat now, all of the Things must have had it on and one time during this evening.  At the end of every song he made sure to thank the crowd and give us an Elvis, "uh huh" and point to the ones he loves.  What an entertainer.
Yes, that's Thing 1 in the chair, donning the glitter cowgirl hat, eyeing the feast before her.  What a spread our friend prepared for us, complete with parm ham and too many goodies to list. 

Christmas 2010

 Our Christmas day was very merry.  Here we all are, with the camera on the tripod, smiling through sleepy eyes.  The Things, and even Mama and Husband Jared, all have on Christmas jammies and some treats on our feet from Santa this year, slipper socks.  A great invention. 
 The Things and me ready for brunch
 Thing 1 with her new I-pod, we might have lost a child to his gadget!
 Thing 2 with her flashback suede, fringed boots
Thing 3 smiling big after opening her American Girl doll horse
And lastly Thing 4 with his Wii Sports Resort which has brought hours of laughter and competitive remarks to our family this Christmas

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, while anticipating the birth of Jesus, our family was preparing.  Preparing food, ourselves and the house for a weekend of celebrating. 

We were invited to our friends' home for a Christmas Eve dinner.  An authentic Spanish dinner, complete with seafood soup.  It was delicious.  The pork made my eyes roll to the back of my head, really.  I brought our fried cauliflower of course.  There was good company, great conversation and sweet memories made.  We are truly grateful to have met such wonderful people and to have the opportunity to share traditions and learn new ones as well.

 Thing 2 and Thing 3 preparing Christmas Eve Food
 Thing 1's bedroom where all the Things slept while waiting for Santa
 Our sweet Spanish friends' Nativity scene, even more beautiful with the twinkling lights that surround it
 The kids' table
Our Christmas tree

Thing 4's Bowling Bash

 The sister siblings of Thing 4's buddies
 The boys
 Chocolate peppermint cupcakes
 Enjoying lunch
Husband Jared showing off his skills and Thing 3 laughing, surely  not at her Daddy

Thing 4 decided to have a bowling party.  Seems as though his birthday comes around every year and he likes to celebrate, not to mention it was his year for a friend party.  So, we headed to Planet Bowl here in Turkey and had some fun.  A few of Thing 4's buddies came to celebrate and their siblings too.  Husband Jared even joined in the action.  We shared lunch, honmemade chocolate peppermint cupcakes, bowled and even managed to play a few video games.  Fun was had by all and Thing 4 scored some great presents.  What a blessing the day was.

Birthday Boy

This boy turns 9 today.  At exactly 5:56pm I will be singing his happy birthday song. 
Quite possibly with tears in my eyes. 

What happened to my baby?  If you find him tell him his Mama misses him.  Sorta.  It is a privilege that I don't ever want to wish away or take for granted.

Thing 4 makes me laugh, at least once a day, if not more.  He snuggles and sometimes grabs my cheeks and kisses me.  That makes my heart smile.

And now as he grows up I am watching him become quite the young man.  A gentleman at heart he opens doors for his sisters and I, sometimes, and always wants to help in the kitchen.  He even takes the garbage out to the bin.  Thank you very much.

Thing 4 has a little boy smell.  You know that smell, very distinct.  He asks just about every other day if he looks taller, or grew overnight.  In the morning he covers his head with his U of A (University of AZ) blanket and curls up in a ball on the sofa.  Thing 4 tells me his dreams, most of which involve being a professional footie (footballer/soccer player) when he is big. 

He is a wild man on the football pitch.  The celebration after he scores causes the crowd to cheer.  Thing 4 is fascinated with cars.  Not just any vehicle, fast and shiny sports cars.  He is always pointing them out to us.  Right now he is loving his nerf guns, teck decks, legos, anything Wii related and playing outside.  Math is his favorite subject and he loves "Horrid Henry" books! 

Happy Birthday my little man! 

Thankful Thursday #51

451. festive decorations
452. friends who understand
453. birthday parties for Thing 4
454. snuggles
455. baking with Things
456. late night laughter
457. keyboard tapping emails to faraway family
458. Christmas cards in the mail
459. grateful little boys
460. hugs

Busy Bees

The last few days have been filled with all manner of activity.  We have decorated Christmas cookies, walked in Alsancak, shopped and spent time with friends.  All of which have generated some lively Christmas spirit and great fun. 

Below are a few photos of what we have been busy with.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 waiting for their hot chocolate and treat

Crossing the sokak, Elf style

Decorating cookies

Berrin and Can (Jon), playing backgammon with the Things

In Stitches...Again

Well it happened.  Something I had been hoping didn't.  It went ahead and happened anyway.  Thing 2 and I made a visit to the Hastane, hospital, here in Turkey.  Not just a field trip type of visit.  We went with a purpose.  I only wish now I had taken photos to document the experience.  I have "after" photos. 
Thankfully Thing 2 is just fine and on the road to recovery as they say, whoever they are. 

And here is the sequence of events.  I was upstairs preparing lunch, lentil soup.  Soup was ready and I called the Things up to the table.  Next thing I know I hear a thud and Husband Jared is telling me Thing 2 bumped her leg on the stair case.  I am walking to the freezer to fix a bag of ice for her and that is when I hear the scream from Thing 2 and Husband Jared shouting, "We have to go to the hospital!", and "Now".  I ran quickly down the stairs and what I saw I won't soon forget.  A small, but bone deep gash on Thing 2's shin, blood red.  I cradled her in my arms, practically running to the car.  All the while shouting at Thing 1 and Thing 4 to get a bag of ice, a towel and Thing 2's blanket and jacket.  They were quite helpful and quite scared for their sister.  I tried to keep my composure because that is definitely something Thing 2 was lacking, can't say I blame her one bit.

Next I knew we were on the phone with friends, getting directions and thankfully learning that their Turkish speaking daughters were near and able to meet us at the hastane.  The entire 20 minute ride Thing 2 repeated, through her tears and trembling lip, "I don't want stitches, if I have to have them I want to be put to sleep".  Bless her heart.  I prayed. 

We arrived at the hastane and were greeted by our friends.  They brought a cookie for Thing 2.  She wasn't interested in eating, at least not at the moment.  After paperwork and translation we were ushered from room to room, similar to an American hospital.  The doctor looked her over and affirmed stitches were necessary.  By this time Thing 2 was compliant.  We moved to another room where there less people and fewer onlookers.  There are no curtains or private rooms.  All the Turks were quite concerned with Thing 2 and her leg, making squeamish faces and constantly telling her, "Geçmiş Olsun", which means, "Get well soon".  Nice. 

Husband Jared, myself and our three friends that accompanied us stood by Thing 2's bedside.  Speaking softly and reminding her to breathe and be still.  Her leg was numbed and then the fixing began, about 10 stitches in all.  They had quite a job to do.  Needless to say it was an experience.  The room was so hot that Husband Jared and I almost passed out ourselves.  More from the sight of blood for him but for me the heater was on full blast and I was standing directly under the only working vent.  Ugh.  Embarrassing.  I have never experienced anything like that.  The room seemed small, everyone's voices were far away and I was spinning.  Bizarre.  Enough about that.  As for Thing 2 she was so brave.  And when it was all over she said, "That wasn't so bad after all, when can I eat?".  Now that's my girl!

The obvious ending to our afternoon adventure was lunch at our favorite pide place and an evening of movie watching and pampering for Thing 2.  What a story she has to add to the list of her Turkish adventures.  As for this Mama I would be just fine if we didn't make another "field trip" to the hastane.  Of course I am grateful for the competent doctors who stitched up my Thing 2 and helped her feel better.

Gift Giving

I love gifts.  I enjoy giving them more than receiving them.  The way a special someone's face lights up when an unexpected present is received.  Or when you know, just feel it inside, that your gift has made a difference.  That is the feeling I had when the Things reminded me about Oswaldo. 

Oswaldo is our adopted friend from Nicaragua.  We have had the opportunity to share in Oswaldo's life for over a year now through Compassion International.  The privelege is ours completely.  Oswaldo is 12 years old, same age as Thing 2.  We have learned that he is a talented artist and he has a passion for Jesus that inspires us all.  His letters and drawings are a gift to us when they arrive in the mail.  The Things reminded me around Thanksgiving time that we needed to send our Christmas gift to Oswaldo. So the six of us gathered around the computer and checked out our options.  Compassion's website is amazingly easy to navigate and we can sign in to our account and even send letters via email to Oswaldo. Of course they are translated into his native tongue and then sent to him but the process is efficient.  So, we signed in and gave our gift.  The gift giving sparked all manner of questions.  How does Oswaldo's family celebrate Christmas?  What gift will he receive?  Who gives the gifts?  Why does Compassion International do this?  Why don't they have Compassion International here in Turkey?  And so on and on and on.  We talked with the Things and tried to answer their questions the best we could.  Thing is, Compassion does all of this in the name of Jesus.  He is the ultimate gift and we hope that by helping provide basic necessities to these people they might experience the love of Jesus.  The Things understood that, on their level. 

There are countless ways to give this season. 

Compassion has a gift catalog,on their website, Gifts of Compassion.  You can also click on the link, "sponsor a child", on the toolbar to the right of this post.

 A listing of invaluable resources for the children and villages that they serve.  And even some "fun" gifts as well, such as a soccer ball.  So, if you are looking for an alternative to standard, commercialized presents this Christmas season you need look no further than Compassion.  Or simply if you need a gift for the person whom has everything, go and check out the website.  This is not intended to be a sales pitch.  I believe in the work that this organization is supporting and I know that being a part of Oswaldo's life, however minute our contribution may be, has made a lasting impact for the kingdom.  What I also know is that whatever we have given is far outweighed by what our family has received from this relationship.

Craft Thursday #3

Well we had another craft Thursday and all went well.  We had just received a package from Nani and Poppi with an ornament craft so we designated that our "craft Thursday" project.  The Things and friends as well as a few newcomers made beautiful wreath ornaments all bedazzled with glitter glue.  A successful afternoon once again. 
The Boys' table and a Mama helping out

Thing 1 and Thing 3 busy bee crafters

Thing 2 helping our youngest attendee design her ornament

Thankful Thursday #50

Alright, maybe a day late but I do still have much to be thankful for.
450. white twinkly lights
451. Christmas packages arriving safely
452. reading by flashlight to all the Things
453. the smell of fresh baked banana bread
454. quiet time, early in the morning
455. Thing 4 asking a friend why the monkeys attacked the broccoli
456. white snowflakes made by Things
457. Christmas music, all day
458. the sounds of rain on our roof
459. grace, permeating every corner of our lives

Candy Cane Forests and Such

It seems as though my posting these days is either flood or famine, go figure.  Comparitively speaking that is how my days are.  In some respects I am either really high or really low.  No illegal reference intended there.  Just truth.  This season of preparation always gets me, brings me to my knees.  And of course with this being the first Christmas we have EVER spent away from family it is hitting a bit harder this year.  I have no right to complain though.  There are families that go years without seeing each other, I know.  Or families that can't see each other on this side of the veil, I get that.  For us, our family chooses to be surrounded by each other, whenever we are able.  I like that about us.  We truly enjoy spending time together.  Laughing, baking, playing games and just being.  This year will be different. Thanks to SKYPE we will be able to "see" each other.  This year will be spent with friends.  Those around us that are without their families as well.  It is different for us, but we will choose to be grateful for this time.  And man do we have so much to be grateful for. 

Just wanted to share.  Also want to say for the record that Christmas shopping in Turkey is an experience.  I have been to the Kemeralti, the mall, the Goda and all over creation here hunting, figuratively speaking of course, for gifts.  That has been fun.  Entertaining and exhuasting.  You will have to stay tuned to see what Thing 1 will be receiving as a result of my new style of shopping.  Oh help us! 

This post is all over the place.  And right now I am thinking of movie lines from Elf, you know the land of swirly, twirly gum drops?  That is how my brain feels right now.  Maybe because I was  up so early this morning with Thing 4.  His buddy invited him to school for the day.  To say he was excited would be a gross understatement.  He was so thrilled that when I woke  him this morning he didn't stay in bed or hide under the covers or run to the sofa with his blanket over his head.  Who knew?  I am looking forward to hearing all about his day at MEF. 

Now I will refill my coffee cup and attempt to do my Bible study and put some cohesive thoughts together for a much better post later today.  Or not.  It is craft Thursday today and we have 6 additional children joining us.

Tree Lighting

The other night we were graciously invited to the Swiss Otel in Alscanjak.  It was the evening of their second annual tree lighting ceremony and the students of the International school and the ladies of the IWAI were invited.  So, myself and the 4 Things, wrapped our presents for the orphanage (suggested donation), and we were on our way.  We carpooled with friends and sang Christmas carols the entire way.  Well I sang the carols and the Things and friends sang loudly to Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.  Entertaining and ear piercing, quite an experience.  They mocked my elaborate hand gestures and of course my singing voice was not appreciated.  Oh well.  I made them laugh.  Once we arrived we were all quite impressed with the gorgeous decorations displayed at the otel.  What caught our attention though was the life sized gingerbread house with edible decor.  It was too cute.  Of course I had to beg the Things to stand in front of it for a photo opp.  They complied, thankfully there was no ear pulling involved.  The otel even served complimentary treats and mulled wine for the adults.  The evening was a great help for our Christmas spirit and I think we might have even spread some good cheer.

Another Craft Thursday: Gingerbread Houses

This is how it begain.  Clean tables, smiling faces, candy in the designated bowls and frosting bags in tact.
Boys and girls alike working diligently on creating their masterpieces. 
And then, there was this.  I won't even begin to tell you what my floor looked like after this.  Oh, did they have fun.  In fact, I was told by one of our buddies that, "this was the best day of his life".  That is his house above and I would have to agree.  Can you even imagine the sugar high? 

Thankful Thursday #54

* a photo of the travertine at Pamukkale

540. snuggles by the fire place
541. hot chocolate with whipped cream
542. hard runs in the morning
543. sharing stories about Things
544. Thing 1 and Thing 2's opinions about my wardrobe
545. sunshiney days in December
546. homemade ornaments by Things
547. language class 
548. positive attitudes
549. Advent readings 

More Tuesday

schoolwork out the window today
life lessons and life's to do list at hand
trips for errands and trips for language lessons
and trips down the yellow brick road
no, not really, not today at least
this mama is tired and anxious for a night out with friends
to be amongst women and crafts and dinner
and quiet, grown up girl conversation
yet i already know what is to come
phone calls to ask when i will be home
and this mama heart aching to be home with them
snuggled up together, watching a movie, maybe playing a game
why is that so? 
 missed when away from them and not in the moment enough when i am next to them?
they have all of me, bursting mama love
even in the midst of the chaos that is our life


Morning comes, all too early and we wake
Rise out of bed slowly and hesitantly, assured though
A destination waiting for us today, am I ready for this? 
This, another day of chores, teaching, parenting, praying,
And then again, the same round, three meals, three times a day, breaks in between
And four Things' needs and wants and hopes and dreams
Tangled around me, growing in this house, changing with the wind
I will be ready, choose to engage, to be here with them
Soaking it all in, every moment, whisper, yell and question
Yes, even the ones I can't answer
I will listen when they need me and hug them at each meal
When my patience is tried I count to 10
That is when I will whisper, words sent upward for grace and help

Craft Thursday #1

Thing 2 and her friend planning their beads for the candle project.
The girls created beaded wire to decorate white candles.  They were beautiful.  We are using ours as Christmas decorations.  This project required a delicate touch and patience.  Take a look.

The boys' table, planning, painting, and designing their Christmas boxes. 
They all impressed us with their studious art skills.  Ok, who am I kidding?  All five of them needed a break as soon as the first coat of paint went on.  Hide and seek in the dark was how they chose to use their brain break, as we call them at school.  After brain break the project was completed and they look exceptional.  Way to go boys!

Thankful Thursday #53

Today I am thankful for:
530. the Advent season
531. craft Thursdays with friends
532. gingerbread houses
533. sugar hyped Things
534. candles, decorated by girl Things
535. Christmas boxes decorated by boy Thing
536. homemade enchilada sauce
537. pork deliveries from our sweet Spanish friends
538. our Christmas tree
539. a new tradition, our Jesse tree