Sunday morning begin with finding Easter bunny stuffed baskets on the dining room table awaiting the Things.  Husband Jared and I were met with early morning wake up calls by all four of them.  Reluctantly we found our way to the kitchen where all I had to do was press the button for some caffeine delightfulness.  Amen. 

We shared breakfast and stories and laughter around the table and maybe indulged in a few pieces of chocolate.  The Things marked their territory and did not however share the chocolate with ANYONE.  Not even their Mama. 

Friends and Things listening to me explain the rules of the hunt,
see I'm the short one being towered over by her daughter
All the kiddos after the hunt
Big kid helping smaller kid retrieve the golden egg

Parents blowing up punch balloons for the gang of kiddos -
I forgot how much fun those were!
And then Husband Jared and I hid around 100 plastic eggs and even more individually wrapped pieces of sugar in some form or another for the Things and their friends.  All of whom were joining us for cakes and coffee and egg hunting.  Fun.  The photos above showcase all of the fun the Things and the friends enjoyed in our garden.  The weather cooperated and it was a truly glorious morning!

Hard Boiled Eggs

What a title for a post about Easter, I know.  Hey it's my blog and that is what I wanted to call it.  There is some irony there right?

Our celebration of Easter began with making Nana's Easter cookies.  We rolled dough, frosted and sprinkled and ate and then admired the product of our work.  It was fun.  Always is when I'm in the kitchen with the Things.

Later that day we colored eggs.  Not just colored.  We made art.  Marbled eggs, wrapped eggs, decorated eggs.  You name  it and we did it.  Well the Things did it.  And they did a marvelous job. 

A few days before the cookies and eggs the Things made art out of eggs.  Hollow eggs.  They painted and designed and created.  They were beautiful.  The idea came to us when we were in Prague.  There are amazing hand crafted eggs there.  Each with their own unique Bohemian design and we were inspired to have the Things make their very own.  The finished products each portrayed the Thing's own personality.  They are keepsakes for sure. 

That was the preparation portion of Easter.  Well that and all the baking and cooking and cleaning and egg stuffing. 

And here you have Husband Jared and I in a very random picture taken by Thing 3, where we are in the kitchen of course, preparing.  For what?  I don't exactly remember, I am sure it had to do with the gathering we were hosting on Easter Sunday. 

Thankful Thursday #57

Thankful Thursdays are back!
And today I am thankful for:

511. large Spring pictures
512. the 4 hands that drew the scenery
513. hard days that cause searching
514. prayer
515. prayer
516. lunch with friend
517. laughing
518. blog ban lifted
519. trip planning
520. coffee in the afternoon

What We've Been Up To

A look at the past month or at least the last few weeks, excluding our visitors' time. 
 Lunch in Kusadasi with friends -
these photos are a peek from the window near the restroom

The teenager Things and friend at lunch

 Graveyard the Things and I came across when we drove through Cesmealti

 Minaret from a mosque, the glass is brilliant green and stunning when the sun shines through it

 Thing 4 jumping on our neighbor's trampoline

 Thing 4 and said neighbor flying a kite through our compound,
 I took this photo from our kitchen balcony

 Thing 2 and friend, preparing for the dance battle

Thing 1 and friend dancing for the dance battle
(side note, they won!)

I'm Back

Hello there faithful readers.  The ban has apparently been lifted and I am able to blog once again.  Look for many posts and photos and all the catch up from the last month.  I have so much to share.  To begin with, I recapped my parents' visit from the beginning of the month.  Translation, it might just be the longest post ever.  My apologies but I had to have it written down so I could remember.  And still I am sure there is plenty I have omitted, not intentionally of course.  Enjoy.

Poppi and Nani Recap, Day by Day

Day 1 - Poppi and Nani arrive in Izmir at 4pm, local time.  Woo hoo!  The Things were unable to pick them up from the airport with us due to space issues in our vehicle.  Husband Jared and I anxiously awaited their arrival and then we wisked them home for the Things.  Thing 4 had "dressed up" in snazzy clothes for them and the girl Things helped prepare a feast of lasagna, salad and home made carrot cake.  We told stories and caught up around the table.  The Things' friend even joined us for dinner and was nice enough to snap the photo above of all of us.

 Thing 4's Football Club

Thing 3 and Poppi showing off their dance moves

Day 2 - On this day we all woke up a bit sleepy and lazy. The sky was pouring down rain and we weren't certain of our plans.  We spent the better part of the morning snuggled on the sofa watching movies and playing games.  As soon as a ray of sunshine broke through Thing 4 wanted to take Nani and Poppi to football training, so off we went.  Well, everyone except Thing 1.  We watched Thing 4 score four goals.  Each time he scored he looked to the sidelines and gave Poppi the thumbs up, so sweet.  The girl Things wanted to show Poppi and Nani the mall so we headed over and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a stroll around Agora.  And then home for more games and dancing and fun!

 Poppi, Nani and The Things at kahvalti

 Goat Crossing
 Hidden gem, Urla winery
 Thing 4 and his friend
 An impromptu tasting
Day 3 - The photos above begin with a trip to our favorite kahvalti cafe, Yoruk.  It is hidden in the hills of Urla through the windy forest roads.  We introduced Poppi and Nani to the joy that is the three hour breakfast tour, and that really isn't breakfast at all but more lunch.  There was fresh bread, homemade quince jam, blackberry jam with cream, hot pepper paste with olive oil, fresh olives, gozleme (Turkish quesadilla) with fresh spinach, honey and cream and tomato and cucumber salad.  The food was devoured and savored and laughed over.  And then we left to do some exploring.  That is when the goats decided to cross the road.  Their shepherd was watching from the roadside and they took their sweet time.  We stopped, we had no choice, and enjoyed the view.  After following some signs and driving through the hills we came upon Urla winery and we decided to check it out.  The first go around we couldn't find anyone to help us so we drove on.  That was when we discovered a farm and I practiced my Turkish to gather information regarding the vineyards we passed.  Once we were redirected we toured the winery with the Things, science lesson for the day, and enjoyed an impromptu tasting.  The Things found a frog near the entrance and it proved to be entertainment for all.  I couldn't resist posting the photo of Thing 4 above, it so captures his personality.  Once finished at the winery we headed home for some play time with friends and card games around the table.  What a day!

 Wandering through Kemeralti

Lunch at Konak Pier, Mezzaluna

 Grandparents and Things at Smyrna Ruins

Smyrna Fountain

Day 4 - Today was Kemeralti day and the Things were schooling Poppi and Nani on how to haggle and score the best deal for their goods.  It was amusing.  Before we could begin our adventure Husband Jared had an adventure of his own.  His first speeding ticket in Turkey.  Ugh.  After living here for almost a year and having no encounters with the polis he has his first with visitors in tow.  When the officer approached we both looked pleadingly and said, "English?".  No luck.  He was caught on radar and issued a ticket all the while having to navigate through broken language barriers on both sides.  Despite the ticket we managed to make it to the Kemeralti.  We wandered through the narrow, crowded halls of the pazar and found some great items.  Blue eyes, mosaic lamps and Thing 4 even tried to bargain for a new watch for Poppi.  To no avail though.  We had cay in the tea garden and people watched and walked some more.  Taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of Izmir.  With our stomachs growling we walked to Konak Pier for lunch.  What was once an old factory is now an upscale shopping center with restaurants bordering the sea.  We enjoyed a spectacular view of the "other side", seagulls and jelly fish.  With our hunger satiated we drove back to Urla and spent the remainder of the day laughing and playing games.

 Thing 4 swimming - it was a mere 60 degrees outside and the water was colder than that!

 Poppi, the Things and Me at Katherine's Castle in Cesme

 Poppi and Nani cooking the best American burgers and homemade chips...EVER!

 This sweet dog smiled for us in Alacati

 My Daddy and Mom at the castle with me

 Manchester United Match

Day 5 - I woke early this day to drive Husband Jared to the airport for his weekly Istanbul trip only to return home and go back to bed.  Which I never do.  Lo and behold when I woke later coffee was made and breakfast too.  Lucky girl I was!  We planned to do a bit of driving today and head to Cesme and Alacati.  The Things just couldn't wait to show Poppi and Nani the crystal blue water and the place where they had windsurfed.  If it weren't for the wind the day would have been perfect.  No complaints though, we were spending the day near the sea.  We stopped off for coffee and cookie bars and a quick swim for the Things.  Thing 2 and Thing 4 were the only ones brave enough for the frigid water.  The others played paddle ball, searched for shells and soaked up the scenery.  Since it wasn't high season the beaches were empty and not too clean but that didn't stop us.  From there we headed to Alacati.  A quick drive by the windsurfing capital of the world and then off to lunch in old town.  Not too many shops were open but we found a few and perused and had lunch at a cafe.  After a windy day of salty air we headed home to pick up Husband Jared from the airport and cheer on United.  Poppi and Nani had never experienced the Hanson Familly fanatacism in full effect, tonight however, they did.  The Things even caught Poppi shouting at the ref a few times.  Thankfully the Reds were successful and we all went to sleep happy.  I hope. 

 The ampitheatre @ Ephesus

 The Things walking to find Cornetto Icecream in Kusadasi

The Four Adults enjoying our cay at Mother Mary's House

 Grandparents and Things with the library facade @ Ephesus

 Poppi sporting the "Mustafa Fez"

Day 6 - What a day this was.  Mother Mary's house, Ephesus and the town of Selcuk.  The sights were breathtaking, as I have posted about before and the company delightful.  Of course.  We toured the grounds at Mary's house and then traveled down the hill to Ephesus.  Every turn and marble stone brought words of amazement.  There were times where we all stared in awe.  The Things however, climbed, ran and pointed to every landmark as if they were tour guides on Red Bull.  Who  knew?  After taking it all in, including an unscheduled performance in the ampitheatre by a group of Turkish students we drove to Kusadasi for lunch and some shopping.  It was here that Poppi and Nani enjoyed their first Irish breakfast and witnessed their grandson barter with a shop owner all in the name of new shoes.  So what, he has three older sisters!  He did in fact score and we walked away with two new pairs of shoes.  Way to go.  I had been wanting to find a fez hat for Uncle Jeff and Uncle Jason and I did.  We donned it the "Mustafa" hat, which means "big boss" in Turkish.  For the rest of the week whomever wore the hat did not have to work.  I think Poppi monopolized it!  On the way home we drove the seashore road.  The view was beyond words.  The sun was setting, the ocean still and blue and clear and the forest towered over us.  Husband Jared had never drove that route before so it was a new experience for him as well. 

Day 7 - Stay at Home Day, games, basketball, seaside walk, FUN!

 The Girl Things and Me, Mama

 The Grandparents and Things at our favorite seaside spot, Ramo beach

The Family at Mythos, Fish restaurant at Iskele in Cesmealti

The Men, big and small, choosing our fish

Day 8 - Today we shared our most favorite location here in Turkey, thus far, Ramo beach club in Cesme.  We packed a cooler, some towels and toys and were off.  Poppi and Nani followed the Things to the cliffs where we trekked to find a load of sea glass and beautiful shells, some drift wood and even a piece of old pottery was unearthed by Poppi.  The beach dogs surrounded us begging for us to share our snacks and after a few hours we packed up and headed back to Urla.  Fish dinner was on the menu tonight and we could hardly wait.  Husband Jared and I love this place.  You pick your own fish, spend an hour or two over the mezes, Turkish appetizers, and then another hour just drinking cay and savoring the company and the view.  It was spectacular!  A superb ending to an already fantabulous day.

Sunset from a balcony in Olive Park

Day 9 - It was the last full day for our visitors here in Izmir.  Husband Jared was in route to America in the wee hours this morning and we intended to make the most of our last hours with Poppi and Nani.  We made a pact not to speak of their impending departure.  In the early afternoon we dropped Thing 4 with a friend for a birthday party and the girl Things and the rest of us were off to the Kemeralti once more to find a few gifts with the promise of a sweet treat if our shopping was accomplished.  Indeed it was.  Nani chose a gorgeous backgammon set to take to Uncle J and Aunt Corynn and then we bolted to Reyhan, the girls' favorite dessert cafe. We indulged in cheesecake, spangle, milkshakes and sweet cookies.  Mmmm, good!  Tonight the Things wanted to introduce Poppi and Nani to their friends' parents so we invited everyone over that evening.  One conversation turned to the next and before long Poppi was off to experience the fish market with the guys and us gals and kiddos were left to gasp at the sunset that God had created for us.  (see photo above) We oohed and aahed and snapped photos so as not to forget the one glorious sunset that Nani witnessed.  And for dinner we ordered pide.  Nani needed to have pilav once more to satisfy the craving.  It is quite addictive, fried in butter and baked.  Who knew rice could be so delish?  The Turks I suppose.  We played cards with the friends and  laughed as though we all knew each other for ages, exchanging stories reminiscing of music and times forgotten.  Oh what a night!  Name that tune.  Bittersweet goodbyes were said and pleas for extending their trip but after it all they packed up and prepared to leave the following morning.  The Things knew they wouldn't wake to join us for the journey to the airport so bear hugs and tears and squeezes and kisses were doled out in excess. 

Day 10 - An early morning wake up call had me scrambling for coffee and tissue.  We spoke reassuring words all the way to the airport with a sleepy Thing 3 snuggled with Poppi in  the back seat.  I do believe that she might have tried to sneak into their luggage if she was able.  One last hug and our visitors were off.  Their journey was uneventful, thankfully, and they arrived home safe and sound in Arizona.  We are missing them already.  Coffee in the morning just isn't the same without them.