Wrecked by S

April 16, 2014

We had an awesome visitor last month. A college student. The son of a dear friend. A role model to my son. Full of enthusiasm. A lover of life. A lover of his Savior.

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J and I, oldies that we are, learned lots of new hip jargon from S. One of his words that took some getting used to was ‘wrecked’. For example, “He’s getting wrecked.” or “That girl is going to be wrecked by the end of the day.” But, ‘wrecked’ always has a positive connotation, not the negative that we oldies would assume.

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On the first day, we took S to a college football game where he was able to go on the field and interact with the players. A football player himself, this was a great opportunity for him. Later in the week he was able to go out with the team captains and talk through plays and drills with them.

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He and J did. not. stop. all week. They worked so hard and accomplished so much. It wasn’t easy but the persevered. Might I say that we unintentionally ‘wrecked’ S as he interacted with the people here and developed an unexpected love for them.

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We also did some eating out. At one restaurant, the chef spelled N’s local name on the bread!

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Another unfortunate highlight was N having to have a thorn cut out of his foot during S’s visit. S told jokes during procedure and stitches and carried him to the mall afterwards for ice cream. It was a less-than-ideal situation but as a mom, S’s being there was a tremendous blessing as N wanted to be ‘big’ with S around and it made the procedure much less traumatic.

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My favorite quote from the week was staying up late one night and S saying, “I just want you to know you guys are much cooler than I thought you were!” Ahem. Thanks? I mean, I thought I was cool. Who knew?

S’s visit came at a bit of a low for me. His enthusiasm was contagious for our family and his time with us pushed us forward and launched us into a joyful run.

S, you wrecked us. Yes you did. And, if you want to come back, you can do it again.

Fish Market and the Hungry Cat

April 12, 2014

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Second First Day of School

April 10, 2014

SK started preschool in the fall but only went for 3 days because we were quickly able to discern that her particular school wasn’t a good fit for her.

As you may know, I worked very hard to create pre-school activities for her to do at home. But, try as I may, we still felt as though she wasn’t getting enough stimulation and interaction with other kids her age. It was Baba who suggested looking a pre-schools again. So, we decided to check out two more schools. There was a very clear favorite after the tours and we decided to allow her to go for a three day trial period. It is the school’s policy to do a trial period before you pay to make sure that the child is happy.

On the first day, SK only went for one hour. I waited in the lobby and watched her on security cameras that span each room of the school. She only interacted with one of her teachers for the entire time. They played together and developed a trust relationship.

On the second day, she went for one hour and 15 minutes and again, I stayed in the lobby, watching her. On this day, they allowed her to interact with the other children, with her new teacher friend beside her. It was good to be able to ask her specific questions after her time. “Who held your hand when you walked to chess class?” or “Did you get to play with your friends in the ball pit?”

The school is a bi-lingual school, teaching both English and the local language. There are two teachers in the room at all times- an English speaking teacher and a local teacher. In theory, both give every command in both languages so that kids can learn English. In practice, they learn a bit of English each day but the classes are predominately run in the local language. But, having the English teacher there at all times really provides a layer of comfort for SK.

I can’t begin to express how thankful I am that SK loves her school. She goes from 9:00-12:30  Monday through Thursday, just the time I need to home school the other two kids. She asks if she can stay longer. She wants to go on Fridays too. She runs to the door each morning. This little social butterfly needed more interaction. I’m so thankful that we have found a safe place for her to receive this.

Even after two weeks, we’ve seen a jump in her local language usage. Just today when I spilled some water, she responded to the situation in the local language slang! I had to laugh! I’m proud of this little girl!

On a humorous side note, this was the craft displayed at the school’s entrance last week:
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Can you tell what the pictures are depicting?

It is bad to smoke cigarettes and it is bad to drink whiskey!


Shouldn’t they be learning things like it is good to share and don’t tell a lie? I’m just sayin…I don’t know that SK has ever had the urge to smoke a cigarette but there have been plenty of times that she’s walloped her sister over a toy!


Ebru Art

April 7, 2014

As part of our super-fun-and-amazing home school co-op, we took a class on Ebru art together through a local community center.

Ebru is art that is  started in a rectangular tub of water. The paints are dropped into the water but stay on the surface. When the picture is complete, a piece of paper is laid over the paint, transferring the design from water to paper.

Each child was able to create their own masterpiece, with the help of the instructor.

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Here are all the kids with one of the finished paintings.

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This was a great experience and we all learned a lot about this traditional art form!

True Love

April 4, 2014

This is true love.


The best gift I have ever been given.

Not because it sparkles.

Not because it is costly or rare.

But because it was made by my  husband. The one who knows me better than anyone in this world.

It took creativity, ingenuity, time, persistence and patience.

It is a water fountain made from an aquarium pump.

Parts had to be found in a place where resources are limited and many times the thing  you are wanting stays just beyond your reach as you wander from tiny shop to tiny shop, asking for the thing you are wanting.

Scavenger hunt. Wild goose chase. Needle in a haystack.
They all mean the same thing. Creating this fountain was an act of love.

There are three of us now, each morning, on my little balcony, in the stillness before children have realized the day has begun.

My fountain.


And my God.


One Thousand Pigeons and a Frog

April 1, 2014

At a home school co-op this recently, we went to the park to feed pigeons. We are studying winged creatures together all year this year in science so pigeon feeding seemed like a worthy cause!

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A man sits at the park all day selling bird seed. You buy a cup of seed and then he expects you to give him the cup back so that he can use it again.

It seems funny to us. We Americans are so wasteful.

Each kid takes their extremely well worn cup and offers it contents up to the birds.

Some kids are timid and need moral support.

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Others are a bit braver, as long as the birds keep a fair distance.

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And some are fearless in a bird-loving sort of way.

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As we walked through the park, we also discovered this little guy swimming around in a water fountain. The same guy who was fearless when it came to birds was also the one who was fearless when it came to frogs.

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A Letter to Şalgam

March 30, 2014

Dear Şalgam,

You are such an amazing drink. Made from black carrot, your nutritional properties are incredible. You are packed full of vitamins and cancer fighting goodness.

You are such a part of the culture in the area in which we live. You come in regular and spicy and you taste somewhat like pickle juice. I see you in huge jugs, for sale on street corners, in supermarkets, offered in homes. Everyone loves you.

Except me.

I tried, I did. Oh how I wanted to love you. I ordered you at a restaurant. But, I almost lost my lunch as a result.

I resolved to buy a huge bottle of you and drink every last drop. In doing so, surely I would begin to love you as everyone else does.

Before I ever even drank my first, you leaped out of my refrigerator and shattered all over the kitchen floor.

Glass in big chunks, little shards, thick red liquid searching for a place to stain.


I hate you now. My grout is blue in the places where you crept.


How does that happen?

I tried. I did. But now I accept the truth.

I do not like you, şalgam.

Never have.

Never will.

With regret,


Gymnastics Comes to an End

March 27, 2014

N and J started gymnastics in the fall. Originally, it was a small, run down, crowded gym where they took lessons two times per week. Low key. A coach who ended each class with a talk about how the most important thing was to have fun.

Old gym:


We’ve come a long way since then. The gymnastics club moved to the brand new gymnastics stadium that was built this summer for a large competition. State of the art, best gym in the country, hands down. It is nice to have one or two places where you can close your eyes, open them again and feel as thought you are in America. This is one of them.

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With the new facility came a new resolve for improvement from coaches. N was asked to start coming to an all boys class that met 6 times per week. The physical exercise and social interaction were so good for him. He loved it. We were able to have one on one time with our girls. Everything was going well….

Enter trampoline.

Who ever knew that trampoline was an Olympic sport! Because of the new stadium, a new trampoline coach was hired to develop children into Olympic athletes for the sport of trampoline. Granted, the competition  field is very shallow. In fact, there is currently only one Olympic athlete from this country in the sport of trampoline. The new coach picked 5 students from existing gymnastics classes to be his first team. Both N and J were chosen and I found myself in a parents meeting where a guy with a few face piercings and a handle bar mustache gone awry was telling us the glories of trampolining. Other parents got stars in their eyes as soon as the words “National Team” were thrown around.

We weren’t so sure. Things were going well in their current classes. The trampoline coach proposed a 4 days per week schedule with 2 hour workouts. J had been wanting to go more times per week and 6 days had seemed a bit much so it seemed like a good fit for our family. The time slot was also earlier in the day which was much more convenient. Two kids at the same time, less days, earlier time…. an all round win.

So we thought.

After the first week, practices grew longer. Times changed. More workouts were added. When it was all said and done, the new schedule was 6:00 to 8:30 every week night except for Friday and 3:00 to 6:00 on both Saturday and Sunday.

He worked those kids like crazy. Strength training. Stretching. Trampoline drills. Have you ever worked out so hard you thought you’d throw up? Sure, I have but I wasn’t 6 years old! One day, afterwards, little J said, “Mommy, that was so hard I thought I was going to throw up!”

After about a week, we knew it wasn’t working for us. So, we approached the coach and with our American mindset, we told him what we were and were not willing to commit to. We explained that we had said yes to 4 days per week, 2 hours per session. What we had overlooked in our planning was the cultural aspect of negotiation so common here for EVERYTHING. Instead of saying OK to our offer, the coach said, “How about 5 days per week?” We got snowed into another day simply because we weren’t prepared for the negotiation! Ha ha! Learn as you go!

We continued on in this fashion for awhile but practices kept getting longer and it was just too much for the kids. In the end, we all agreed it was best to stop.

We met several families through our hours at the gym and the kids had special friendships. It was these friendships that made it so difficult to decide to stop.

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Because the activity and interaction was so good for our kids physically, socially and for language learning, we didn’t want to quit until we had another sport lined up for them.

Now they are on the swim team. The pool is also a brand new, state of the art facility, built for this past summer’s sports event. Swimming is also 6 days per week but you are only required to attend 4 days and you can pick your days each week. This flexibility is tremendously helpful for us. Another benefit is that J and I can also swim during their practice. So, we take turns taking the kids to workouts and we each get to swim twice per week. Exercise for the whole family! SK also enjoys her one on one time with each parent.

Swimming is the new gymnastics around here. Even so, we still maintain friendships with our trampoline friends. They will attend their first competition next weekend in a city 12 hours away. N and J will prepare good luck bags for each of them and take them up to practice this week.

As far as swimming goes, we are meeting friends, exercising and having fun in the process. I am proud of my kids for their resilience and willingness to try something new.

Basement Flood

March 24, 2014

Floods happen.

This one was in our basement.

We were aware of this being a potential issue so we have always kept our belongings elevated. Nonetheless, it still had to be dealt with.

Time for some child labor!

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At first, the work was novel and fun but it soon turned into monotony. Fill a bucket, pass it to Baba who would carry it upstairs and out of the house.

Repeat process. Again. And again.

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We have since bought a small water pump that is much more efficient than the family effort. But, there is still standing water and a fan running constantly.

We may have lost the flood battle but we are determined to win the mold war!

Home School Co-op

March 21, 2014

One thing that has really helped our home school year is a co-op that we have set up with another family. We live  in separate cities but meet every other Friday for a day of joint learning. We alternate hosting and whoever hosts plans the bulk of the activities for that day. We have had a broad range of topics over the year from the Fibonocci sequence, to Ebru art (a local art form), to Vincent Van Gogh, to Pi day, to picnicking in the mountains next to an ancient castle.

Here are some highlights from the year, thus far:

We try to plan some type of PE activity for most meetings.

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Never too young to learn about team work!

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We made castles by the sea after making our own sand play dough.

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We’ve gone bird watching and made nature observations.

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Picnicked by a castle.

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The co-op has breathed such life into our routine and we are tremendously thankful for this family!



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