Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Amazing Ani

Ani is an ancient city (9th century-ish) in Eastern Turkey along the silk road.  It was a major city in its heyday (100,000-200,000 people) until an earthquake destroyed it in the 13th century.  Anyway, you walk through the gate to the city to find some of the remaining buildings.

Proof we were there.....Sofia was tired, ornery, and cold.  So, we parked it by the gate to block us from the wind and keep us in the sun.  Mostly we spent our time looking at bugs.

I'm so glad we will get to go back.

Monday, April 28, 2014

29th Birthday

I think I'm at that point where birthdays are no longer exciting.  That's a sure sign I'm getting old!! This year it fell on Easter Sunday.  I got some pictures of the girls with their Easter dresses.  They were pretty excited about them.  :D  I hadn't planned on buying Easter dresses this year since they don't really need them and it's one more thing to fit into the suitcase when we go home....but Hannah remembered getting a dress from last year.  Needless to say they got dresses.

We attempted to get a photo with all of us in normal, smiling faces.  Fat chance!!  The silly faces was much easier.

It was a low key day.  There was an Easter celebration for all the Christians in Erzurum.  We went to it and there was a really good turnout - probably 40+ people.  So, I didn't even bother making a cake because I knew we would get plenty of treats.  That made the day even easier. What more could I want?!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kars Castle

James presented at a University in Kars - just a couple of hours away.  We went with him, and of course had to visit the local castle.

As a side note...we sat in on the first few minutes of the presentation.  Can I tell you how crazy it was to see his name, Dr Flammer, up on the screen and the 200+ people that came to listen to James talk. It was kind of a moment of awe.  

As another side note....he should do presentations for large people in his career...it's natural for him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

No. I. Do. NOT!!!  I want sun and warmth.  Here's what we did last week (or maybe the week before?!)

We got an unwanted snowstorm, but at least we had fun.  This is the biggest snowman I've ever made.

I'm happy to report, that the snow is now (2 weeks later) officially off of the ground.  And the temperature is rising...if only we could get the sun to visit us.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Squat Toilets

James loves them.
I had no problem with them for 2 years in Thailand....but that was before kids.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to undress a toddler (especially in winter clothes) without letting anything touch the dirty/nasty/wet ground
Trying to hold them over the toilet since their legs aren't long enough to reach across the toilet on their own
Balancing them (and yourself) without getting peed on.
While holding a baby that is trying to wiggle out of your arms
And trying to keep the preschool aged child inside the bathroom.
And carrying toilet paper...such a nuissance since a diaper bag never happens when we're out walking around.
And no soap (or sometimes even running water) to wash the hands.

Yeah...I'm not such a fan of the squat toilets now a days.

Unfortunately the girls love them.  And, if there is ever an option between the squat or regular toilet, it's the squat every time!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

V Day

It’s just a little late, but I was trying to organize our photos and clean off our camera.  I came across these pictures and knew I needed to document that we do have some festivities in our home.  I’m one of those people that always detested Valentine’s Day because I felt like you should show your love every day, not need some commercialized holiday coercing you to buy chocolate/gifts.  I still kind of dislike the commercial aspect and think you should do little things every day, not just February 14, BUT it’s a really fun holiday to have (with kids especially).

Our festivities included baking sugar cookies.  That totally takes me back to my childhood – I think that’s the only time I remember making sugar cookies.  But, it just feels right to make them in February.

We also had a candlelit dinner with heart biscuits on top of the chicken pot pie.  And we ended the day with heart brownies.  We had eaten lots of treats (how do you avoid that when baking and frosting cookies?), so I added some zucchini to the brownies and felt a little better about them.  :D

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pasinler Castle

Now that we have a car, we’ve been trying to do some more exploring.  We set out on an adventure to a castle that is only 30 minutes away.  As we got to the city we could see the castle, but no idea how to get there.  So, we picked a road - it soon turned to dirt, then narrowed to 1 little lane, and finally ended when a car was parked blocking the road.  It didn’t take us to the castle, but we saw how the rural Turks live.  These houses made us feel pretty good about our living conditions.

Me holding on tight so Sofia didn’t jump to the stone 50 feet below.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


He works hard.  

Loves teaching, but has some very long days and nights.  Who knew University professors teach so many nights and weekends?  

When he’s not teaching he’s applying for jobs (a full time job in itself).

He drives like a Turk – well almost.  I feel a lot safer with him because he at least looks for pedestrians.

Always finds energy to play and be fun with the kids when he gets home.

He’s majorly torn with the decision of life stateside vs overseas.

Although he might not admit it, I think he’s terrified of committing to a more permanent ‘real-life’ job.

Thanks to my inability to cut his hair without attachments, he is now sporting a buzzed hairstyle.  He claims he’s just going bald gracefully.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Motherhood is not easy for me.  Maybe I should say it's not natural (because I think it's probably hard for everyone).  I'm pretty sure when we were standing in line for talents in the pre-earth life I skipped all of them labeled nurturing, loving, patience, caring, tolerating 5,000 questions a day - you know all those qualities you need lots of to be a mom.  Those things just don't come naturally to me.

As a parent I have no stinking clue what I'm doing.  I realize we are just supposed to do our best, but what is best? Sometimes I just don't know and sometimes (most of the time) it's hard. And frustrating.

Anyway...just trying to give you my background, not a dose of birth control...I came across a website a while ago..... Power of Mom's.  I love it.  I have been able to read articles and listen to podcasts from other moms.  Mom's who understand the challenges and frustrations.  They talk about their difficulties and offer their suggestions and inspiration.  It has been so neat to learn from other mothers.  I feel like my perspective has changed from merely surviving to enjoying being a mom.

Anyway...I have really appreciated the help and just wanted to recommend it to anyone who might benefit.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I am tired.  Very tired – we are averaging 1 out of the 3 sleeping through the night with TJ being up for the day somewhere in the 4-5 am range.

I also feel pretty content.  I’m enjoying the quiet life here, yet excited about the future.

Still terrified of driving in Turkey - I have a few routes I feel comfortable with and try to stick to those.

I stick out like a sore thumb (something about the 3 blonde kids, I think), but it doesn’t bother me most of the time.

My Turkish is improving, but I’m frustrated I can’t say more.

I’m sooo glad James enjoys teaching here.

I’ve gotten better at my storytelling for putting kids to bed, but I really look forward to a more 9-5 job where James can be home every night before kids go to sleep.

Life is challenging, but good.