Thankful Thursday #25

239. Traditional Turkish Breakfast
240. Memories made while shopping in Turkey
241. Effis
242. Seaside Restaurants
243. Welcome Flowers and notes from BBuy Team
244. Seatbelts, enough said
245. Grandparents that love your Things while you are away
246. Uncle and Aunt who drive to soccer games while you are away
247. Finishing my first half marathon
248. Squeezes from Things when I arrived home

Kids Country Music Marathon... Completed

For the last month Things, 2, 3 and 4 have been training for the Country Music Marathon.  They have ran 25 miles on their own and on Friday night the 23rd of April they finished the last 1.2 miles of the marathon. 

The family loaded in the van and headed to LP field to watch the Things run.  We had the cooler packed and us along with thousands of other parents, grandparents and friends, cheered the runners on as they crossed the finish line. 

We have pictures of the Things running and with their medals, take a look.

Country Music Marathon...Completed

The marathon is finished.  I ran it.  The entire 13.1 miles.  No really I did.  I have had to pinch myself several times since the race on Saturday to remind myself that I did actually accomplish that feat.  Up the countless hills, without stopping and more importantly, without puking.  Amen sister.

It wasn't that I thought I couldn't do it.  I was just flat out scared.  Fearful even that I didn't train enough, I wasn't prepared, my body couldn't handle it, and all the what if's that we allow to seap in when there is a challenge before us.  Despite all of those, I DID IT!

And my parents DID IT as well.  We all started out together in the corral, waiting anxiously to have the rope drop and take off onto the course.  After we ridded our bodies of all the "nervous pee", that's what I call it.  Pretty sure that is not the technical name for it.  I must have had to find the porta potties at least 2 times before the race and maybe 2 during.  My body was literally running on adrenaline.  Anyhow, Dad, Mom and I all separated on the course.  Each of us in our zone and running our own race.  Periodically I would look up at a turn and look for them but by mile 6 everyone started looking the same. 

By mile 9 I wasn't sure I could make it.  I lie.  I knew I could I just wasn't so sure my 100  pound legs could make it.  And then I would power through.  Mind over matter.  A fast paced, upbeat song, a prayer that needed to be said and then I would look  up and see the next mile marker.  Thats what carried me through.

Side note here, we three runners were sharing stories and Dad said, "About mile 9 I hit a wall".  Thing 3 responded with, "Really?".  As in she was concerned that her Poppi actually ran into something.  Out of the mouths of babes, or Things in this case. 

Crossing the finish line was the reward.  We may not have all three crossed together but I ran my own race and finished.  I have the medal to prove it. 

Another Turkey Post

A seaside monument in Izmir
And me sitting on a plank of wood, where the fishermen fish from, in Izmir.
The coast in Izmir, fishing boats, yachts, high rises.

I am home, for now.  These were places we frequented while in Izmir.  You can walk along the coast line and take in the sights, sounds and smells of Izmir.  Makeshift stands selling fresh mussels, sesame pretzels being sold from a plank of wood on some man's head, and outdoor cafe waiters enticing you to sit a spell, have some Effis and play backgammon.  That was Izmir.  Laid back.  Mellow.  Beautiful and soon to be home.

And on to Istanbul

Today is our last day here in Turkey.  Husband Jared is at the new store in Ankara and I am here in our hotel, catching up on emails, working, studying, enjoying my coffee and preparing for the last leg of our journey.  And of course counting down the hours until I can hold my Things again.

Thing 1 has not wanted to SKYPE with us.  She will casually walk past the computer screen when we are chatting with the others but she will not put the headphones and speak to us.  I have missed her voice so last night Nani tore her away from distractions and she sat and talked to us.  Well, she really didn't talk so much as just answer the questions that we asked.  One word answers.  Except for the "I don't remember" she gave us when we asked how she scored her goal in her game on Sunday.  Really?  Oh to be 13 again.

Things 2, 3 and 4 have been quite conversational and very interested in all that is happening here.  After our house hunting adventure Thing 4 said, "Just make sure I can see the ocean and it has a pool".  Why yes Prince William, your wish is my desire.  Things 2 and 3 were concerned about my clothing situation and needed to approve my purchases.  I had to be a model mom and do turns for them so they could see my outfits and offer their fashion advice. 

Oh how I miss them. I simply can not wait to squeeze them and kiss their sweet little cheeks.

And lest I forget, my luggage arrived safely late last night after it enjoyed a nice vacation in Amsterdam. 

Hopefully today will bring adventures in Istanbul and tomorrow will bring trouble free travels back to the states.

The Team

Another gorgeous day here in Turkey and a lighter, happier me.

I must say the Best Buy team here has been nothing short of wonderful.  Husband Jared and I met "the team" for dinner last night at a traditional Turkish restaurant.  A restaurant that began as what we Americans would call a "lunch truck".  It is now a well established, incredible eatery.  I only wish I would have taken photographs of the amazing display of food that was presented.  Oh my, a foodies dream. 

Waiting on the table when we arrived was a flower arrangement that took me by surprise.  Thinking the restaurant had arranged it for the "Best Buy" people I nearly fell over when I was presented with a display of day lillies with lemon leaf and babys breath.  All were concerned about my rough start on my first visit here.  The flowers are simply stunning and the gesture so genuine.

After meeting all these people and being able to place faces with names I have only heard of I began to fell at ease. I must admit to having a case of nerves before the dinner.  First impressions are important.  I tried.  We laughed and all the anxiousness began to melt away.  Well somewhat.  Introductions to the food, the style, the expectation of Turkish meals not to mention enlightening insights to each and every person sitting at the table was a treat.  Each member bringing some unique talent and personality to the team.

What an honor.  I am filled with respect and touched at the grand welcome I received last night.  I look forward to returning the hospitality once we are settled in our new home.

No Pictures, Only Words

With the sole purpose of this trip to Turkey being house-hunting I thought I should share a bit about that experience.  Read on if you're curious.

The first two days of this journey were fully scheduled.  Meet with the administrators of the International school, meet our relocation agent and tour all the homes available for lease in Izmir and the surrounding areas.  Well, the school appointment had to be rescheduled due to the luggage situation and there are not an abundance of available houses in Izmir.  No worries though there was plenty to take in and see. 

On Friday and Saturday we headed out with our English speaking relocation agent.  What a welcome relief that was.  We drove into the country side.  Citrus, olive and fig groves surrounded the area and local produce stands littered the streets.  Let me take a moment to describe the streets to you.  Some were paved, others not.  Some were wide enough for a single car to pass through yet two or three attempted the way almost always.  Horn honking is a language unto itself.  That should be a course for drivers ed here.  Not sure they even have those classes. 

The homes are different.  Most are in compounds.  Which are similar to gated communities in the states.  Those that are not in a compound and are considered "private" still have heavily fenced yards, most with barbed wire and sliding steel doors and gates that surround the home.  Washers and dryers are not the norm around here.  Clothes lines hanging around the yards are common. Some homes have air conditioners, others don't.  Some have floor heating and their own wells.  Others don't.  Each house is unique.  We visited one home with full maids quarters, including its own kitchen with a "caddy" that sent the food up to the main kitchen where the family would be.  Bizarre.  No thank you. 

And then we drove along the coast and into what once was a hillside olive grove.  Hence the name Olive Park.  There was a Dutch architecture company that partnered with a Turkish company and built 30 homes, all of different design in this compound.  Most had their own pools and there was a recreation center within that contained tennis courts, basketball and football courts and even mini golf.  It was beautiful.  It was quiet.  It is only 30 minutes from Cesme, the beach city.  The house itself felt like home, if anything could this came the closest.  It wasn't extravagant or showy.  Simple design and enough space for four Things and their Dad and Mom.  This might be the one. 

While that was the one that caught our attention there were others on Saturday that were equally intriguing.  One with its own orange groves and garden.  The owner called it a garden but it was far from it.  I would be afraid of losing the Things.  There were rows and rows of citrus and jasmine trees.  The fragrance intoxicating.  And while I found myself loving the thought of living outdoors there the inside house was not as appealing.  At least not for me.  There again was an indoor pool and maids quarters and formal living space that just doesn't suit our lifestyle.  But the garden, oh how I loved that garden.    And it was only minutes from the water.  Not a swimming or beach area but the water nonetheless. 

So now for decision making.  And yes I will have photos to share soon I just don't have the capability to do so while here in Turkey.  I will when I return to the states. 

My descriptions do no justice for the breathtaking views and the tantalizing sea that have captured my heart and continue to beckon me to call this place home. 

Observations from a Foreigner

Yet another post from me with woes of lost luggage, misunderstandings and a country I think I might fall in love with. 

It is day 5 now with no suitcase.  None of my own clothes.  No hair products.  No undergarments.  No travel journal.  No devotional.  No running shoes.  No work-out clothes.  None of this in a foreign land where English speakers are few and far between.  No small comforts from my home land.  Dramatic enough for you, shall I continue?  I really should stop.  Really.

Yet another observation made by this outsider. And this for some reason really throws me for a loop.  When you are ordering at a restaurant there is no lingering over the menu.  When the waiter approaches the table you must be ready with drink, appetizer and main course order.  Dessert is the only exception.  Although if you sit back from your plate for even a moment it is gone.  And if you did not become a member of the "clean plate club" at a meal you are asked if the food was to your liking or if something was wrong. 

Not to mention the lack of personal space and manners.  Don't misunderstand.  The people here are beautiful. Generous and loving.  There is no lack of P.D.A.(public display of affection) around these parts.  Which actually is refreshing.  They love children.  Their laughter instantly brings smiles to faces.  Even when they are running circles in a restaurant and driving their toy cars all over the guests' seats.  No one seems to mind.  I so appreciate that.  I am soaking this in.  Learning a new culture and finding new reasons everyday to learn the language.  Acclamation is important. 
I so love people, in fact fascinated by them.  Enthralled with our differences, the similarities and all the life in between that makes us who we are.  For me that may be the most challenging aspect of being here.  When I am in a new place I want to hear people's stories.  Know about their families.  Where they live, who they are, make a connection with them, laugh with them.  I have not been able to do that here.  Well, with the exception of a waiter at a cafe where we watched the Man Utd. game on Saturday.  We spoke football and no not the American sport. That was fun. 

I will not give up.  Husband Jared and I have braved Turkish shopping malls, wild taxi rides and even the Kipa together all in an effort to enjoy the journey.  Kipa is the local hyper market out here.  To clarify, the Hyper market is on the same scale as a Super Target.  Except not.  It was unnerving to walk into this store where I could not understand the labels or even ask for help.  Jared and I searched the aisles for all the girly things I would need since my toiletries were M.I.A.  Not only did I buy sampuan and kremi but also undergarments, in a grocery store.  It totally went against my senses.  I survived.  And when I feel like crying about it I grab a healthy dose of perspective and smile.  Or at least try.

Turkish Travels - Part 1

I had just written this post, at least 6 paragraphs of detailed information and stories about the escapades of my trek to Turkey.  And then with an inadvertent click of the mouse it vanished.  Just like that.  I pounded my fists against the marbled desk and it did no good.  All those words lost in cyber space.  Lost.  Just lost.  Which is exactly how I felt yesterday after 20 hours of traveling.  I guess I will begin again because to not share would be sad.  Why deprive all of you the joy of reveling in lost luggage stories, running through foreign airports and bad food.

It all started with a tearful goodbye to the Things.  What should have been an uneventful hug and kiss turned into squeezes and air kisses all the way to the crosswalk with the other Moms no doubt thinking that our routine was a bit too dramatic for a regular Wednesday morning.  On to the airport.  The flight from Nashville to Minnesota was easy in comparison.  Other than the small plane and an apprehensive traveler to my right, however she was quite delightful and a writer no less.  I enjoyed her company and the little wink that God sent to me on that plane. 

After a four hour layover before my flight to Amsterdam I made use of my time enjoying lunch and a beer and purchasing some magazines.  Mindless reading for the weary traveler.  And no not People, Food and Wine and Runners mag, if you must know.  I'm not knockin' People here either.  Anyhow, after boarding the rather large aircraft for Amsterdam and the 10 hour flight that lay ahead of me I was overcome with anxiety.  And just the way things work a sweet gentleman was sitting next to me.  Eager to hear of my story and why in the world Best Buy would be relocating a family to Turkey I heard all about his family and his story.  Everyone has a story.  He had traveled the world and was quite the storyteller.  Yet another wink from God.  We sat on the runway for over an hour before departing.  Seems as though the pilots were new and had not been trained completely on Delta's systems.  No worries there. 

Ok, let me just pause here a moment and ask y'all a question.  How do those people, you know the ones I am talking about here, score a whole row of seats to themselves?  In the middle of the plane?  Sprawled out, sleeping with no care in the world, shoes off, blankets covering them and a load of pillows.  Hello?  No one asked me if I wanted to sleep, let alone stretch my legs.  Enough complaining.

I digress.  The flight was again smooth, yet long.  And strangely enough I felt alright.  That is until I realized the time in Amsterdam.  My connecting flight to Istanbul left in less than 10 minutes.  Boarding started 45 minutes ago when I was somewhere in the air, preparing for landing.  I pushed past people on the plane, not my usual style and a challenge for me when no one understood my English.  And then I ran through the airport in which there is not an abundance of screens shouting at you the gate and departure times.  Spoiled much?  Anyhow, I pass through security only to find that my seat has been given to another passenger.  Pardon?!  Oh and my luggage won't make it on the flight even if I do.  Here I had to supress my inner Varuca.  You know her, "I want a golden goose and I want it now", from Willy Wonka.  Bad movie reference I know.  I was her.  I felt that whine began and then I stopped myself.  Either I get on the plane and run into the arms of Husband Jared in Istanbul, or I wait, afraid and lonely in the airport.  Not in Turkey.  So, in my sweetest Leanna voice I asked if there was another seat and to the heck with my luggage.  Not really.  The luggage was scheduled for the next departing flight to Istanbul.  So I boarded the plane and flew to Istanbul. 

After a bumpy landing I was in Istanbul, Turkey.  Not my final destination.  With specific instructions on the Visa and customs line I again was thankful I had put my big girl panties on today.  Without them who knows if I would have made it through all these grown up situations.  I have never flown Internationally without Husband Jared at my side, able to navigate through the sea of unfamiliarity.  I did it. And rather successfully I might add.

Husband Jared was waiting on the other side of baggage claim for me.  Instant messaging me a thousand times it seemed asking me questions that I had no answers to.  Where is your bag?  Did they tell you when it would arrive?  Will we be able to make our flight to Izmir?  Is there a gate agent you can talk to?  Uh, I DON'T KNOW.  Yes, that was all I was ab le to say.  Seems as though my big girl panties didn't make it through customs.  And then, Husband Jared heard from his boss.  Whom not only 2 days ago had to deal with lost luggage in Istanbul.  He directed me to the correct office and we were able to problem solve together.  Ok, not really together but at least via messaging on our phones. 

A sweet agent named Arife  guided me behind the screened desk and paperwork was assigned.  After sharing all the needed information I was informed my luggage would be arriving the next day, Friday and they would send it through to the airport in Izmir.  We would be able to catch our connecting flight and continue with our travels.  I complimented Arife on her beautiful name and she told me it meant "Christmas Eve".  She was an angel.  She even marked my bag, URGENT.  Can I get an Amen here?  So, after yet another wink from God in a land unknown to me, I was feeling better.  Kinda. 

And then I saw Husband Jared.  My man was a welcome sight in such a strange place.  We boarded yet another plane together and landed safely, albeit abruptly in Izmir.  My feet were grounded.  Let the angels sing!  On our short cab ride through the city and to our hotel I had my nose pressed to the window trying to take in all the sights and sounds of our soon to be new home.  Overwhelmed would be the understatement of the year. 

That my friends is all I have to say about that, for now.  I am typing this post on Sunday morning in Izmir with a breathtaking view of the sea.  Yet I still have no luggage.  Seems there was a volcanic eruption in Iceland that halted all flights from Europe.  I must remind my inner Varuca to be grateful that she was able to board the plane in Amsterdam when she did.  Otherwise I might be writing this from some unknown "coffee shop" in Amsterdam.   By myself. 

The View From There

This is what Jared woke up to this morning.  Out his hotel window in Izmir. 

And this is the other side.  Buildings stretching into the hillside.

This is his view, daily right now. 
It will be our view soon. 
It is different.  I don't think these photographs do it any justice. 

Thankful Thursday #24

229. safe flights
230. stories told
231. the word squishy
232. sunrise
233. sunset
234. moon phases, as told by Thing 3 and Thing 4
235. SKYPE
236. IM on my Blackberry
237.  surprises
238. laundry

Tilling Time

Well another week has passed and I am that much closer to having to run 13.1 miles.  On my own.  In front of thousands of people.  Without passing out.  Hopefully.  I am looking forward to proving to myself that I can do this and own the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal.  Throughout this journey I have learned much about myself. 

I think that my daily runs have become my tilling time.  Time to think things through.  Meditate if you will.  Once I place those headphones in my ear and pick up my legs it begins.  A flood of thoughts.  A flood of emotions.  And then sometimes just a clear head with nothing but pavement in front of me.  That is refreshing.  Tilling time. 

Now, I don't know about having tilling time for 13.1 miles but you know what they say.  Well actually I don't know and come to think of it I don't know who "they" are.  Do you? 

Eggs, Eggs and More Eggs

On Saturday before heading out for the day we dyed our Easter eggs.  It was a new experience for us.  We marbled them.  Blue, green, yellow, purple and pink.  They were beautiful.  Here are a few photos of the project. 
The Things were all so careful as not to get the dye on the counters, or floors, or themselves.  Ok, maybe not so much themselves.  They had one gloved hand and then we placed a warm hard boiled egg in it, squirted the correct amount of marbling color and they went to work.  Fun was had by all.
And then on Easter morning after church and breakfast we hid the eggs around the house.  Taking special care with the coveted Golden Egg.  All of the other eggs were found with exception of the Golden Egg.  The Things scoured high and low and still no luck.  Until..
Thing 3 looked in an empty coffee cup on the kitchen counter.  Way to go Thing 3!  She was rewarded, with cash money of course.  And so the tradition continues.  Better luck next year the rest of you Things!

Nana's Cookies

The three girl Things helped me Saturday night with the making of Nana's Italian Easter cookies.  A family tradition. 
We rolled the delish almond flavored dough and dipped in colorful frosting and sprinkles.
And then we played around and made some more.
And here is the finished product.
And of course Thing 2 ventured off the normal path and created a butterfly.
Nana would have been proud.  And so am I.  It tickles my soul to have my three girl Things in the kitchen with me.  Baking and playing and laughing and learning.

Thankful Thursday #23

219. flat iron steak
220. dinners with family
221. sunshiney days
222. holding hands
223. coffee with husband Jared
224. adrenaline rush after a hard run
225. answered prayers
226. lunch dates with friends
227. sidewalk chalk drawings in the driveway
228. sleepovers