Thankful Thursday #36

360. pool parties
361. Turkish cooking advice
362. fresh produce from the farmer's market
363. lazy evenings
364. teaching backgammon to the Things
365. catching geckos with the Things
366. dead scorpions
367. care packages
368. dance performances by Things 2 and 3 
369. photographs taken by Thing 1
370. Thing 4's bike (given to us by a neighbor)

New Friends

We met friends today.  Friends that have children our children's ages.  Amen.  The Things paired up and headed off into the neighborhood to explore.  We enjoyed Turkish snacks, learned how to cook a few Turkish dishes and enjoyed some fellowship.  It was a treat. And the cupcakes, they were delish. 

Maybe this should become a food blog.  Um, no I think not.  Although I do love food.  Really love it.  And now after learning some survival Turkish, some market language and cooking basics I will try to be more adventurous in the mutfak, (kitchen). 

Though the matriarch of the family and I did exchange stories regarding food and our adventures here in country. 

My story was from the farmer's market visit that Thing 2 and I shared a few weeks ago.  Our first visit to the market I tried to answer the Turkish man with my vast knowledge of Spanish...NOT.  Thankfully he didn't understand me and I didn't understand him.  And that is when Thing 2 stepped in.  She politely said, "Mom, why don't you be quiet and let me do the talking".  Yes, thank you, I will do just that.  And she did.  Rather well I might add.  She was able to ask, "how much", and tell them exactly how much of what we wanted.  When one nice man was trying to explaing to me that the market closed at 3pm, she understood him.  Me, I didn't.  I felt lost and unsure and Thing 2 taught me a lesson that day. 

The next story was another blooper.  Mine, no less.  Humbling.  That is the theme of this excursion as of late.  A constant reminder for me of where I need some refining.  Anyhoo.  I was forced to call and order water jugs for our cooler this weekend.  And when I say forced I mean Husband Jared would not speak into the phone when I handed it to him.  It was my turn he said.  And how was I going to learn if I never tried.  To which I thought, well you can do it.  Your Turkish is better than mine and they understand you and you understand them.  And so on and so on.  Well, needless to say I ran to my bedroom and made the call.  I started in English, told him what I needed in Turkish and all the while I heard their snickering in the great room.  Beneath the laughter they were shouting the right words to say.  When I emerged, feeling rather confident about my latest quest they were there waiting to poke fun.  Laughter.  So thankful for that.  By the way the water was delivered. 

Our new friend shared a similar story about her experience.  Then she proceeded to inform me that I didn't have to do all that talking next time I was in need.  The delivery guy probably programmed my phone number as the "crazy foreigner" with my house # so he knew what I needed when I called.  That's it.  Call, let it ring a few times and there you go.  Water delivery.  Who knew it could be so easy?  For both parties involved that is. 

I am so grateful for the time we had today with our new friends.  For stories and yummy food and Things' laughter and helpful tips on living in this beautiful country. 

Are You a Follower?

This passage was in my devotional this morning,
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
John 10 : 27

  It made me think about being a parent.  Of course, that is what my life is wrapped around right now.  How often have I said to the Things, "did you hear me?", "can you hear my voice?", "what did I just say to you?".  The answer is too many times to count.  I then become frustrated, agitated and begin to ponder the thought of having their hearing checked.  Again.  Only I know it would be diagnosed as selective hearing, or listening, in their case. 
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  How often does the Father think that of me?  Can she hear me?  Doesn't she see where I am leading?  Does she not know I have her best in My plans?  I certainly have turned a deaf ear to the voice of the Father.  On more than one occasion.  This passage in John brings me back to the reality that I need to listen.  To rest in His word, and wait to hear Him.  No matter how many times I have not heard today is the day to hear. 

Aqua City

Yesterday we visited a water park right here in Balcova, near the Best Buy store.  It is hidden near a hotel up in the hills.  The Things and Husband Jared floated the lazy river, rode water slides and swam to keep cool.  It was 41 degrees yesterday. 
I am not much for the slides, but I did manage to snap a few photos of the gang enjoying them.
Another great day and a surprise here in Turkiye.  Who knew there were water parks?  Now we do!

Dinner Conversation Talking Points, Don't Judge

 1. Reaganomics - Totally - Thing 1 pretending as if she knew what Husband Jared and I were talking about

2. Jack Daniels, one of Daddy's top 3 because he has a drink named after him, or so Thing 3 thought he said

 3. "Galaxy don't want to sell him" - in speaking of Landon Donovan

4. Jane Goodall, Mom wanted to be her (spoken by Thing 2, of course)
* she actually asked what other animal activists were Americans!

5. Van Gogh - one of Thing 1's top 3 Americans (yes, we know he was not an American)

6. Jeff F K - Thing 4's top 3 (that's how he said it)

7. And to top it all off, Timmy Boy (Tim Howard, USA goal keeper), Thing 3's top 3!

Thankful Thursday # 35

350. Bacon, real pork people, from England!
351. Cool  nights sitting on the deck
352. Things night swimming
353. Football goals from Kipa
354. New bathing suits
355. Star gazing
356. Gecko hunting with the Things
357. Neighbors to chat with
358. Learning a new language
359. Laughter

Just Bein' Real

I aim to be real.  Genuine to the core.  A what you see is what you get kinda person.  Lately, not so much.  Well really, not since I boarded the plane to travel here.  This new place that is now home.  Maybe even before then.  The goodbyes, the preparations, all the taxing steps and to do's that consumed the last few months of our lives, they drained me of me. 

I am not good at keeping up appearances.  I once was.  Now it is not something I care to do.  I have had to be strong for the Things.  Empowered, fearless and protective.  Ready to jump to their needs at the drop of a hat and then sitting on the edge of the seat waiting for the next fall out, or bump in the road.  Not necessary.  I know that deep down, it just hasn't translated.  I desire for them to be secure.  To feel good about this move, the opportnuities.  For the four of them to know they are loved and safe.  For them to not be afraid of dipping their toes into this culture and trying new things.  It is all new around here.  Everywhere you turn. 

The thing is I don't have to be all those things for them.  I just have to be me.  I will have struggles.  I will be homesick.  I will want to pout and throw tantrums.  All for not understanding the way things work here in this new place.  I will have days where I want to hide myself away and pretend that we are in the states.  It has only been four weeks.  That is normal.  No one is peachy all day, everyday.  Right?  Should I feel guilt over this declaration?  Should I pretend as though it is all okay?  I think not. 

The reason I think not has become clear to me today.  I have a heavenly Father who calls me to lay all this before Him.  He knows the before and the after, even the "during".  Every morning He dances over me and waits for me to wake.  (thanks to Kevin Adams for that visual) All so I can share everything with Him.  To Him be the glory.    Not to say that I can't share this with those around me whom love me.  I can.  First it needs to go before the Throne.  To sift through.  Lift up and  move forward.   It is temporary.

As is this life, it is fleeting.  I for one choose to not waste a moment of it in worry over the here and now that is out of my control.  I will choose to savor these moments for they are gifts.  In all their confusion and chaos I am being taught, molded and readied.   

Thank you for this lesson taught afresh today.  And thank you for allowing me to use this venue to vent a bit.

Let's Sail Away

Just wanted to share this photo with y'all.  I took this at the harbor in Cesme this past weekend.  Rows and rows of charming sail boats.  Waiting for their turn on the open waters.  Waiting for their sails to be hoisted and the wind to fill them. 
Alright enough.  This photo just makes me smile.  Enjoy and happy Monday.

Driving Ms. Daisy... NOT!

Forgive me for the movie reference above.  The traffic situation here in Turkey holds no comparison to a casual Sunday afternoon drive.  Yet, despite my lack of enthusiasm or confidence, I managed to drive home from the airport this morning, by myself.  Husband Jared is in Istanbul for two days, and the Things and I have some plans that required the use of a vehicle.  So, it was time.  Time to conquer the fear and just do it!  And I did. 

Last week I drove about 2 km to the farmers market, by myself.  Yesterday I drove to the hyper market by myself, complete with toll road and motor highway.  Today, airport.  Tomorrow, who knows?  We may just take the beach drive by ourselves.  Or not.  We wouldn't want to get carried away.  There are dirt roads and unmarked routes that no GPS could find. 

The Beach Redux

This time Husband Jared ventured to the beach with the Things and I.  And this was our view on the way there.  Have you ever seen water so turquoise?  I know I haven't.  I am grateful.  Grateful for Saturdays spent with Husband Jared and the Things.  Saturdays free from house chores, or shopping or house chores.  Oops, did I say that already?  Sorry. 
This Saturday was spent driving along the coast line, finding a beach club all on our own and relaxing in the hot sand.  Under an umbrella of course. 
Thing 1 was awfully tired so she napped while Thing 4 did this.
Apparently skim boards are uncommon around these parts so Thing 4 gave quite the show to the locals.  A recent college grad, from Purdue, even asked where he found that, surely wanting one of his own.  We might have found a new business for ourselves?!

There was also plenty of this happening on the beach.
The Things love their roasted corn.  Here they prepare it on the beach and walk around with tongs and coolers and sell it to you.  Delish! A new favorite treat.

After being in the sun all afternoon we swam and were refreshed by the coolness of the ocean.  The water here is extremely shallow quite a ways out so the girl Things and I swam and swam.  We found clear fish and sea grass floating on the soft sandy bottom and beautiful weathered rocks in all shades of colors.  Not many shells though. 

When the sand had taken it's toll on Husband Jared we headed to the new marina in Cesme for some shopping, I know I said no shopping.  We really didn't, we just took in the sights.  It wasn't shopping for "house stuff" so it doesn't count.  There are rows of shops and cafes and it is just a quaint seaside village, if you will.  Oh, did I forget to mention the view of the Greek island Kos (I believe that is the right one) that we soaked in?  So surreal to be living here.  The harbor is filled with sailboats that reach the sky, all moving rythmically with the wind. 
A well spent Saturday afternoon, if I do say so myself.  And I do.

Thankful Thursday #34

Things in Istanbul - Bosphorus Bridge in the background

Today, July 15th, I am thankful for;
330. beach trips
331. coffee
332. movie nights with musicals
333. chocolate chips
334. new friends
335. old friends
336. our pool
337. courage
338. prayer
339. literature

The Beach

I can not say that with enough emphasis.  We read about the beach, we looked at countless photographs of the beach, we salivated at the beach.  And then today we were there.  In less than 30 minutes from our doorstep to the seaside we were there.  Thanks to new friends, we were there. 

Upon seeing the turqoiuse ocean the Things all sighed heavily.  Ok maybe not, but I did.  Seriously.  The water is turquoise.  I am not exaggerating.  I would love to post a breathtaking picture that captures the ethereal beauty of the sites I viewed today, but sadly enough I can not.  My camera was left behind inadvertantly.  Oh well, another time.  Like maybe tomorrow.    Oh, I hope tomorrow. 

We had a delightful day.  Swimming, walking, building sand castles, snorkling and swimming some more.  Not to mention snacking and eating and snacking.  It is unreal the appetite that the salt water stirs.   

There was smooth sand, no rocks, no sharp shells, no trash.  Just crystal clear water, sailboats drifting on the horizon and the joyful sounds of happy Things and their friends. 

Cannon Ball!

The pool is officially open for the season with the first ever cannon ball contest taking place this past Sunday, the 11th of July.  The Things had it in for Mama and Husband Jared.  We also shared the contest with new friends.  Things' friends.  There was splashing and tidal waves and giggles and shouts for more.  
Take a look.

Husband Jared, definitely a candidate for biggest splash.  At the very least most animated face while performing a cannon ball.

The splash!  Thing 4 and buddy look on, waiting for the aftermath.

And now the Things and friends.  Who had the biggest smile?

Forgotten Fourth of July

Not really forgotten, just not posted.  Here are photos from our picnic at Narlidere.  Where we met new friends, ate yummy watermelon and enjoyed the sunset on the bay.  Not to mention a mosquito attack a lost child and a pregnant stray cat.  Of course the Things were absolutely infatuated with the latter.  She was so pregnant you could actually see the kittens moving in her belly.  Oh my.
A trip to the play ground where Thing 4 met some local kiddos and proceeded in forming friendships.  He insisted that they understood every word he said.  Really, they saw the football in his hands and wanted to play.  Way to bridge the gap Thing 4!
A frinedly game of football with our new friends.  The children were taking turns shooting the ball.  If they scored icecream was promised.  Luckily the brick wall pictured below crumbled for frozen treats in lieu of victory.
What a great day and a beginning to new friendships here in Turkiye. 

A man, a grill and some smoke

The man of course is my Husband Jared.  The grill, a put together charcoal grill, not even balanced correctly and the smoke, well the smoke is part of this story.  We purchased this grill at Kostas, a store similar to Home Depot, and the charcoal was not really charcoal afterall.  It was in fact broken up pieces of wood that were so small they just slipped right through the tray of the grill. 
To be expected, nothing is ever what it seems.  

To that effect, we had planned on night swimming, grilling and enjoying the sunset from our deck.  As they say, the best laid plans.  Let's just say that when dinner finally made it to the table, which was actually a beach towel picnic, it was 22:00.  That is 10pm, just in case you wondered.  

Husband Jared called up to me in the kitchen about a half hour after lighting the "charcoal" and said, "Would you mind cooking the burgers and chicken inside tonight?".  Of course I lovingly replied, "No problem dear".  Not.  I could feel another tantrum rising up.  I thought I could fix the problem.  That didn't work.  The wind was sweeping through the back yard, the wood was not staying lit and Husband Jared was attempting to wheel the grill around the deck to find the best location.  It was a sight.  I thought he might be sending smoke signals to the neighbors, "help", "rescue me"!  "Please, oh please just stay lit". 

I will give him an A plus for effort and determination.  His Things wanted grilled burgers and that's what they were going to have.  In the end all was well and the grill master succeeded.  But of course.  He even managed to grill some Hellim cheese, his favorite. 

So the six of us enjoyed our first night grilling in our new home.  We shared our meal watching Germany and Uruguay battle it out on the pitch.  The smoke cleared and Husband Jared won and so did Germany.

Thankful Thursday #33

320. pinkish sunsets over the bay
321. 4th of July picnics
322. new friends
323. summer nights
324. green forests to look at from my window
325. flowery duvet
326. klimas
327. hot water
328. working cooktops
329. Husband Jared

The Tourist Side

We did it.  We ventured out of our comfort zone and set foot in the city.  The Things were a bit unsteady and they grew tired of the non stop photo ops but other than that it was a grand day.
(actually this was last week, but since I had no way of downloading my photos, it shall be posted today, the 7th of July)
Our first visit was to the Konak clock tower, "Sat Kulise" in Turkish.  There is a small mosque in the center of the square as well.  The Things were quite interested but they were not allowing visitors today.  The clock tower is near the center of Izmir and is beautiful. There are intricate carvings of the Turkish flag on all sides.  Same for the mosque.  Detailed iron work and elaborate tiled windows and door frames surround it.  The Things are still enthralled with the minarets and the publicly announced daily prayer calls.  This was their first up close and personal viewing of such. 
I am sure that we stood out like monkeys, once again.
Moving on, at breakfast the Things had all decided that they wanted to visit the Archeology Museum.  Artifacts, busts, sarcophigus' and not to mention the countless mosaics were beyond amazing.  Most of the relics in the museum came from the surrounding areas of Izmir Province, which was Smyrna.  Even the Things were interested when we passed an area with several sarcophagi that were found in Urla, the town we will be living in.  The land there, dating back to the sixth century BC, was a prominent place for olive oil making.  That area is still surrounded with breathtaking olive groves.  And as they say here in Turkiye, if you ask where the best Italian olive oil is from, it is here in Turkiye.
From archeology and onto ethnography.  There was another museum next door that was once a care house for poor Christian families and orphans in the early 1800's.  It is said to be the most informative tourist attraction.  And so we continued on.  For free by the way.  Just an added bonus to our already great day.  This museum explained the Efes tribe and customs, crafts and trades that are still prominent today.  Not to mention the section on evil eye art.  The skill involved in the production of each and everyone and the individual artist's details. The beads are still constructed the same today as they always have been and only in two villages here.  Also, a beautiful collection of furniture, embroidered cloths and of course rugs, handmade and woven felt and Menemenn pottery.  All in all I would second the notion that this museum was informative. 
And to think I haven't even mentioned my favorite part of the day.  This may be another lengthy post.

 From there we decided to take our hand through the local roads on foot to see the Agora.  The Agora was a marketplace from ancient Roman times.  It stands, what is left of it, in the middle of Izmir, amongst all the modern and not so modern buildings.  We trekked through the "new" village marketplace, Kemralti.  Complete with clothing, home goods, handmade crafts and then, are you ready for this, the food street.  That is what I lovingly call it.  Just when I wasn't so sure about the path we were on my sensories were peaked.  And oh were they ever.  Countless stands with fresh produce.  I mean fresh.  Not like anything we have ever eaten state side.  The fruit could even be smelled.  Distinctively.  Cherries, apricots, grapes.  And then the fresh herbs, the lettuce, the peppers, the potatoes.  The potatoes even smelled good.  Just when I thought it couldn't get any better there was fish on either side of me.  Fresh.  Being thrown and wrapped and iced  Then the next stands were butchers.  They do not believe in waste here people.  Every part of the animal was being used and sold and hung for all to see.  Thing 1 did reveal to Husband Jared and I that she was not so fond of the cultural experience provided here.  As for me I will definitely be revisiting that street.  Like everyday.
As we exited our eyes feasted on the ancient market, once known as Smyrna.  Not able to recognize around the barbed wire barrier there were giant columns standing gracefully, reaching to the sky.  Whoa.  There it was.  The agora.  Dating back to Hellenistic times.  This place rocked our world. 

In the above photo are the remains of the city's arches that once formed the marketplace. This market dates back to around the 2nd century AD.  It was remarkable.  On another level of the site they are excavating even more.  We are looking forward to our next visit and the new finds. 

Everything and Nothing

That is my newfound motto.  The six of us have had quite a rollercoaster ride this last week.  In the hotel, out of the hotel, shopping for the house, checking back into the hotel and so the story goes.  No klima, that's air conditioning, no hot water, no working cooktop.  All of that in the house that we have been paying rent on since June 1st. 

And then I step back and remind myself how blessed we are.  Still though the daunting tasks in front of us are somewhat overwhelming.  The language barrier is more than I can handle. at least right now.

If you couldn't tell I am not sunshine and rainbows today.  Really.  I had instant coffee this morning.  Enough said. 

Alright, so let me fill you in.  We attempted to move into our home on Saturday, last week.  That was going to be our first night here.  Thursday and Friday were spent at the house preparing, unpacking and shopping.  Saturday morning our rental car arrived, we checked out of the hotel and we were on our way.  Once arriving at the house we realized the klima wasn't functioning properly.  Ugh.  Phone calls were made.  No dice.  It wouldn't be until Monday that the technicians would be able to service the units.  Then we went through and started making lists of measurements, what was working, what wasn't working, etc.  We had no hot water, the hot water heater was leaking, the cook top wasn't working, our curtains weren't fitting.  We were drilling into cinderblock.  And then I began to feel guilty for complaining and whining.  I must say in the midst of it all we found the positive with the Things. 

We have a pool.  An infinity edge, mosaic tiled pool.  Filled with cooling water.  The Things had played and splashed and laughed for 3 straight days in the pool.  They remind me often what it means to live.  Thank God. 

Needless to say or maybe not, we are spoiled.  We checked back into the hotel.  Of course they welcomed us with open arms and the Hanson 6 was once again cool and in the world of klimas.  Sunday brought it's own challenges but we perservered.  We, I mean, husband Jared, tried once again to hang window coverings.  We did laundry.  We cleaned.  The Things organized.  I tried to stay sane.  No dice again.

And then we met some new found friends at the bay for a picnic.  More on that in my 4th of July post.  For now, the title of this post came from a new friend I met that night.  As I was sharing my angst, upon her prompting, she told me of a saying that her and her husband say often, "it's everything and nothing".  So true.

All of these minor inconveniences are really nothing.  In the grand scope of life these are mere bumps in the road.  Tests if you will.  Opportunities as I prefer to call them.  Opportunities to teach the Things how to handle reality.  How to deal with a new culture, a language barrier and how to show Jesus to these beautiful people that are now our "neighbors". 

If it was really a test, I failed.  Miserably.  Like I said it is everything and nothing.

And then yesterday was a new day.  Filled with new mercies and all His glory waiting to unfold.  With that came a to do list that was crossed off completely.  An adventurous shopping trip to Ikea with no GPS and only our memories to guide us and 4 grateful Things who were able to spend their first night at their new home in a new country.  We were able to hang the window coverings, Husband Jared actually went to work yesterday, I put together a coffee table, I did laundry with a foreign machine upon which the instructions are printed in Turkish and I even cooked a meal for all 6 of us.  That was yesterday.

This morning, having forgotten coffee beans at the store, which are a rarity here to begin with, we had instant coffee.  I think I mentioned that.  What a whiner.  There was still no hot water for showers.  I had no supplies to bake the frustration off.  The cooktop was still not working and the laundry monster was growing.  To really push me over the edge the panels I was hemming for Thing 4's room are now 5 inches too short.  Thanks to my fine homemaking skills.

 As soon as Thing 3 and Husband Jared walked in from their shopping trip it was like a wave washed over me.    Again, everything and nothing.  Emotions were running high and I was homesick for the first time.  Or at least the first time I allowed myself to feel. 

Don't misunderstand, please.  I am excited beyond measure and so grateful.  Truly.  This experience that we are living is an amazing blessing.  Yet, when the familiarity of what I've known has escaped my grasp for weeks now I find myself losing focus and perspective.  So, today I am allowing myself just a moment to say that I am good. 

It is just everything and nothing.

* Just a side note, while I was writing this, Thing 3 was showering and yelled, "there's hot water!".  Amen sister.  Amen. 

Thankful Thursday #32

Today on July1, 2010 I am thankful for:
309. Email
310. Interpreters
312. Ocean
313. Sunset Views
314. Almonds
315. Hope
 316. Deliveries From Customs
317. Honking Horns
318. Street Market Produce
319. Photographs