Wednesday, June 25, 2014

5 Hour Tour

On Saturdays during the semester James taught English to some of the university faculty.  He got to know an Islamic Studies professor pretty well.  We asked him to take us to a mosque and explain some things to us.  I know we are allowed to go in (even though we have kids, don't wear headscarves, aren't Muslim, etc....but feel kind of lame just walking in on our own.

He took us the next day.  I was expecting to visit 1 mosque and figured we would be an hour tops.....yea right.  I should have known better.

Here we are in front of the thing that shows you the direction pointing to Mecca (can't remember the name).

A man sitting and reading the Koran

TJ and the girls played underneath the pulpit...I kept freaking out that they were being to irreverent, but everyone kept reassuring me they were fine.

A picture of one of the mosques we visited.

James with the professor, Mevlut.

Sofia thought she wanted to read the Koran as well.

An inside picture of the most modern mosque.  It was pretty...lots different than the old ones.  There was lots of ceramic tile.  They have that all over Istanbul, but it was my first time seeing the ceramic here.

After the mosques he took us up to a ski jump that overlooks the city.

After that he took us to a historical site.  It used to be a rich person's home, but now it's a restaurant.  Naturally we had to eat dinner.  The kids made it through, but spent the last 15 minutes climbing under/around/through the tables.  Luckily there was no one else around.

3 mosques, a ski jump, a cafe for salep (since we don't drink tea), and a tour of the home plus dinner later we made it home.

It was nice, but very long.  5 hours long to be exact!

Memorial Day Hike

Our Memorial Day hike has been an annual event for about 6 years now.  This year we were a little late because we had to wait for good weather and for James to have time off of work.  There isn't much by way of hiking around here, but there is a ski mountain.  So, we drove as far as we could up the road to the ski lifts then started ‘hiking.’  Or should I say, walking at a very slow pace toward the peak?! 

Here’s the before photo.

A little stop to admire the view.

Naturally we picked quite a few flowers.

We didn't make it to the peak, but we did make it up to some snow.  Here’s the walk down.  With lots of rest stops.

It ended up being pretty enjoyable.  The girls complained a little at first, but ended up having a good time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Hannah has gone to preschool the past 3 months.  It was a very interesting and overall a good experience.

One of my favorite things was watching Sofia wave goodbye to her in the morning.  She'd climb up to the window and wave until Hannah and James had walked out of sight.

On the last day of school she got a picture with the 2 teachers and the helper.  At least I'm pretty sure that's who they were.  

We never really knew what was going on...but it was a good experience.

Birthday Girl

Hannah turned 5!  I can’t believe she’s that old - it means we must be getting older too!!  She started the day off with her #5 pancake. The day was pretty low key - we spent some time at the park and at the grocery store. For dinner she chose chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy. 

Here she is.  It is a number 5 in case you were wondering.  James did a really good '5' but we had to move it out of TJ's reach and it got a little skiwampus.

After dinner we invited a couple of neighbors over for cake and ice cream.  She wanted a funfetti cake. I got a really good recipe for the cake from a friend.  The only problem is we don’t have a mixer and when the directions call for 6 minutes of whipping at low speed followed by 8 minutes at medium speed for the cake and similar for the frosting….your arms get tired.

One of our friends gave her a dress.  She promptly put it on!!  We got her a kid camera (thank you ebay and grandma and grandpa for bringing it).  She's been taking pictures since!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Father's Day

Here is James opening up his presents on Father's Day.  The girls were pretty excited about it - we made coupons for him.  Hannah wanted to scratch his back, Sofia thought he'd like a foot scratch, and I went with a back rub.

I had to document our dessert.  It's just a chocolate trifle I used to make - and it's a pretty darn easy to make.  At least it is in the States.  Here - it was a little more labor intensive.  It involved:

* making brownies from scratch - which isn't too difficult.
* making sweetened condensed milk - I've never made it before and it wasn't hard, but it was a 2 1/2 hour long process .  And our stove couldn't just simmer, so it kept boiling.  It was way too runny, but it still tasted good.
* since we can't get cool whip I replaced it with whip cream - but since we have no hand mixer I got to 'whip' it for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes it still wasn't stiff enough, but I was done.
* instant pudding doesn't exist here, so I got to cook a batch of pudding.
* for the snickers (which we can get here much cheaper) I cut them all up in advance...then had a bad day and ate them I got to buy and cut up some more.

After about 4 hours of work, it was finished.  When we ate it.....I didn't like it.  Way too sweet.  Hah! Simple really is best.A

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I probably shouldn't post this, but every time I see the picture I crack up laughing.

Apparently they heard the Easter story quite a bit at Easter time.  They started acting out the story with one of the girls being Mary and one of them being Jesus.  Here Sofia is as Jesus on the cross.

At least they know the story, right? 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


When we found out we were coming to Turkey I made James promise me we would visit Istanbul, the Black Sea, and Ephesus.  I was beginning to doubt Ephesus was going to happen...but we made it!!

It's one of the 7 churches of Asia Paul lived in and wrote to in the Bible.  It was built in the 10th century BC and it's a wonder of the world.

I know it's a tourist trap, but I really wanted to go.  Something about walking where Paul lived, taught,etc.... it kind of cool.  So we forked out the entrance fee and actually went in (maybe we are getting less cheap?!)

Hannah with the Colosseum behind her.

Sofia posing as a statue.

Both girls fighting....they're getting pretty good at it.

This is how TJ spent most of his time.

We're getting better at Selfies.

Our most recent family photo.

We were all a little tired an ornery from the traveling so it wasn't the BEST experience we could have had, but it was still pretty neat and I'm glad we went.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


After saying goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa Flammer we took a flight further south to Izmir.  We had a hotel room right on the beach - a nice, quiet spot of sand almost entirely to ourselves.

James was giving a presentation at a 'nearby' university, so he was busy majority of the time we were there.  The kids and I, however, got to spend an entire day in the sand and sun.

I had to document the twinners.

It pained me to pay $5 for sand toys when we already had some at our home, but it was definitely worth it.

Gotta love his faces!

It was a little too chilly for me to get too far in the water, but the girls managed to get more wet than I.

It was a short trip, but nice.


You ever have those blah days when you're tired, ornery, discouraged, irritable, etc....?  I was having one of those and was getting more irritated since I have so much I shouldn't be complaining.  Anyway, I decided to make a list of the things I was grateful for to make myself feel better.  It was therapeutic. And funny.  I was thinking of things throughout the day, so my train of thought kind of got interrupted a little.

1. a good night's sleep
2. eternal perspective of the gospel
3. family
4. health
5. dr's for when we are sick
6. kindness of the Turks
7. snuggles from TJ
8. washing machine - in our apartment
9. our washing machine is not coin operated
10. warm apartment
11. warm radiator that helps our clothes dry faster
12. girls like to play together
13. the girls' imagination
14. no debt!!
15. Hannah regularly sleeps through the night
16. kids that are relatively good eaters
17. toaster oven - i don't think we would have survived without some sort of oven
18. a husband that enjoys being a dad
19. a current job
20. past adventures
21. little moments that make me smile as a mom
22. playgrounds
23. jogging stroller (only 4 more weeks until we can use it again!!)
24. car
25. Turks love kids - therefore they don't usually cringe when we walk onto a plane or restaurant with the 3 of them.
26. only 5 flights of stairs to walk up to get to our apartment
27. TJ's development and growth
28. internet
29. books to read
30. I can play the 'dumb foreigner' card when Turkish women scold me about parenting (not warm enough, too hot, etc...)
31. friends we have made here
32. electronic pass to get our car through security to get into the housing complex
33. sunshine (in between the snow/rain)
34. preschool
35. spring weather
36. kids sleeping through the night
37. kindness of everyone here
38. medicine
39. good health
40. neighbor that knows Dr's at the hospital
41. western toilet
42. scriptures
43. internet
44. books
45. free ebooks from the library
46. morning runs
47. trips to look forward to
48. kids ability to appreciate the squat toilet
49. getting emails from people
50. vegetables