Friday, July 30, 2010

Burned Birthday Boy and a Baby at the Beach on the Black Sea

Yesterday was Shannon's birthday. So we took the day off.

We went to the beach.

Lots and lots of people! And lots of bikinis strange for a Muslim culture...

The Black Sea is very close to Istanbul, only 60 kilometers (40 miles) or so, and it's a very popular place in the summer for people to go to escape the city and the heat. We decided to be among those people, take the day off, and relax a bit. Plus, Lane hadn't been to the beach yet, so we thought this would be a good chance to take her and let her wear her bathing suit that Meme bought for her.

We rented one of these umbrellas and 2 chairs and a table. That's us on the left with the kid in the sand in front of us.

We left a little after 9 am, hoping to be at the beach by 10. We got there at 11. We were trying to find a beach that our friends hadn't been to before, which is why it took us so long to get there. We eventually gave up and went to the beach that they knew how to get to. Lane took a short nap in the car on the way, and as soon as we arrived she ate. She was thrilled by the wind and was so excited to be there.

This is so much fun! All this sunshine and people paying attention to me. Plus, I'm all smiles and it's dad's birthday!

Until she got wet.

What IS this on my toes? It feels so weird...

Oooh, I don't think I like it...

Nope, I don't!

Lane was not a big fan of the water. But as soon as I sat down with her so that only her toes got wet occasionally, she did much better, even starting to smirk and smile a bit. I think that the sound of the waves scared her, as did getting too wet, but she seemed to be ok with getting her feet wet, as long as she was close to mom or dad!

Boy, am I glad mom's here for me to snuggle against! Otherwise that big loud noise might wash me away!

Well, I guess this is alright. I mean, at least I look smashingly cute in my bathing suit!

Shannon got a teeny bit (oh, alright, a lot) sunburned. He didn't put sunscreen on anything except his neck and ears because he planned to just hang under the umbrella most of the time, but little did he know that the right side of his chair was exposed to the sun, so he's a bit lobster-esque. My feet got burned, but other than that I was fine, and we of course slathered the 50 spf sunscreen on Lane, so she's fine and not even a tad bit pink or brown.

And all those Turks, they love to talk to me and coo and me and make me's so much fun, especially when mom is there to make sure that they don't take me too far away...

But boy, the beach is tiring! I'm pooped!

We left the beach around 2 and got home at 3, where we all got cleaned up and Lane took a good nap. Then we had homemade spaghetti (Shannon's favorite meal) and leftover birthday cake (I made one the day before because we had people over), skyped with Shannon's parents, and then went to bed early. And Lane slept all night, which was amazing. I don't mind a 5 am wake-up call nearly as much when she doesn't wake up at 2 or 3 as well!

August is supposed to be even hotter than July (it's been about 90 most days, occasionally hotter or cooler), so I think that we'll make another trip or two to the beach before summer is over. Hopefully Lane will enjoy it a bit more as she gets used to it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Color Purple

Last night, right as we were getting home from home group, Lane threw up all over me. She was strapped up against me in the Ergo and right as we got in the door, bananas and milk, all over mom. And all over Lane too, of course. We're still not sure what exactly caused her to upchuck her entire dinner, but we think it might have had something to do with the heat and the jostling from the walk home.

Anyways, we make our way into the bathroom and get me and Lane undressed and into the shower, leaving our banana-and-milk-covered clothing on the floor and in the sink. After getting cleaned up, more milk in Lane, and her in the bed, I went to tend to the banana/milk mess. I quickly rinsed the puke out of her clothing and mine as best I could and threw them in the wash, adding other clothes from the hamper to make a full load. I even set the wash on a longer cycle to make sure to get all the banana puke out. So, an hour later when I went to get the clothes to hang them to dry, imagine my chagrin (nice word, huh?) when I opened the washer door and out fell our clothes with a horrid, purplish tint to them.

The culprit.

Oh yeah, that's right, I hadn't yet washed the skirt I had been wearing.

Sigh. What was already a long night (I mean, with getting puked on and having to do laundry at 9:30 at night and all) turned even longer as I tried my darndest to get the horrible purple tint out of our clothes.

What used to be my favorite towel of Lane's. Now it's no longer pink, but instead looks like it was used to dry Barney off after he got caught in a downpour.

Success and I did not meet.

This onesie used to be green. The couch is beige. Now they match.

Lane's poor little socks are no longer a cute shade of pink but look like they were swallowed and regurgitated by the Purple People Eater. Her washcloths look reminiscent of rags used to dry hair after it's been dyed brown. My favorite bra is no longer beige, but instead is a hideous shade of pink. And Shannon's underwear...oh, the poor guy. They're not grey anymore, but look like they were on the losing end of a fight with Barbie.

I think this used to be green. Or blue. It's hard to tell.

And you all thought I was going to talk about the movie, I bet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

6 Months Old

Dear Lane,

Today you are six months old. What a big milestone: half a year! Wow, I cannot even believe how fast the time has gone and how much you are growing! Your little personality is coming out more every day, and you are learning new things all the time.

This past month you learned how to scoot forward (as opposed to just around in circles), and you are really fast when you want to be! You get a really determined look on your face when you're after something, which is so cute! Plus, you're almost crawling, but you haven't quite figured it out yet. You can move your knees accordingly, but you haven't figured out how to move your hands and arms in rhythm with your knees yet. I bet you'll be crawling really soon though. You are also sitting up on your own consistently. Last month you could do it, but not for very long and you would often topple over. This month you got more stable and can sit for long periods of time, even leaning forward to get something. Sometimes you still fall over, but you can control yourself so you don't hit your head too hard. And of course, you still like to stand up with support!

Your new favorite song is "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and you smile so big when mom does the hand motions. You still like "Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink" too, but it is no longer your favorite. You're talking so much, babbling while scooting after a toy, making "yummy noises" when we feed you solids, and just jabbering away at anything! You still like to put everything in your mouth, too, and we're constantly having to keep you away from power cords and plant pieces. Some of your favorite toys are your plastic keys and rings. You also like the teethers that Grandma got you, and you like to feel your stuffed animals with your mouth. You have a fascination with fabric and love to suck on any fabric, but especially on mom's shirt sleeves. But you're also content to suck on pants, blankets, washcloths, tablecloths, and almost anything else! You're so funny!

This month you got your first stamp in your passport! You flew across the ocean to Turkey, and everyone here loves you! You get fussed over all the time. Random people in stores want to hold you and fuss over you. Mom has no idea what they're actually saying, but she thinks it's along the lines of: "Oh, look how cute she is!" because of course, it's true. Jet-lag was a bit of a challenge for you, but you did really well and 2 weeks later you are sleeping well at night. You're still waking up once most nights, but we're hoping to get over that really quickly, because you're definitely big enough to sleep through the night! You also got to see five of your grandparents this month, because they all came to see you before we moved to Turkey. You got spoiled rotten.

We started giving you lots of different foods this month, and boy, do you love them! You've had bananas and peaches, which you love, and you've also recently tried green beans, carrots, and zucchini. You like those too, but the texture is a little strange, and you make really funny faces when you eat those, even though you still swallow them! You are so curious about food and sounds and new're just a curious girl! You're still so good and happy, unless you're tired or hungry and then you get cranky. You smile so much, especially when we make funny faces at you or play "peek-a-boo" with you, which you really like.

Your eyes are still blue, but they're darkening some, and we'll be surprised if they stay blue for much longer. You still don't have any teeth, so we're curious to see when they show up! Mom weighed you on the scale with herself the other day, and we think you're about 14-15 pounds-right on track! But we'll have to wait until your checkup tomorrow for the official stats (update: 14 lbs, 9 oz, 27 inches long, and 16.25 inches head circumference). What we do know is that we love you so much and are grateful for these last six months...what a wonderful blessing from God you are.


Mommy and Daddy

Caught in the act!: you're a fabric-sucker!

You're trying to crawl, but not quite there yet.

You like it when we read to you.

You're sitting up so well!

Kitchen toys make lots of fun noises on the floor, and they also feel strange in your mouth.

You make this face a lot when we give you foods that aren't totally smooth.

You still love to be outside and go for the balcony any chance you get!

You sleep in the funniest positions, sometimes with your blanket over your face!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

To market, to market

Today I ventured into the Sunday Bazaar right down the street from our apartment for the first time.


I had no idea if I would make it back home with the things on my list, or if I would be empty handed. After all, the only words I know so far relating to market-shopping are "one," "two," and "watermelon" (since I've bought 4 of them in the last week!). And "kilo" seems to be pretty universal, so I guess you can count that too.

As it turns out, I was pretty successful:

A kilo each of cherries, peaches, beans, tomatoes, and onions, plus 1/2 kilo of peppers, broccoli, and a bunch of basil.

My grand total was about $11.00, or 18 lira. Peaches and beans for less than $1.00 per kilo, tomatoes for just over that, and cherries, eggplant, and peppers for just over $2.00 a kilo. I love it when cultures make it affordable for you to eat healthily. On the menu for the week: pasta primavera, stuffed eggplant (we ate that tonight! A recipe will follow after I've perfected it), chicken bruschetta, veggie lasagna, homemade pizza, and couscous chicken salad. Yum.

I think that going to the Sunday Bazaar will be a weekly occurrence, and there's another bazaar up the hill in the opposite direction on Thursdays, so I may frequent it as well after the August heat has passed, of course, since the grade on the hill looks to be at least 30%.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


the many sleeping positions of Lane:

First, there is the classic "sleep with your butt in the air" position:

Next is the "sleep on your side with your belly flab hanging out" position:

Third is "cram your head into the corner and fall asleep sucking your thumb and your shirt" position:

And last is the "fall asleep spread eagle because you were too tired to move" position:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eksiksiz beslenmede tahıllar neden önemli?

Every day I am asked this question. Every afternoon at around 6 p.m., it beckons to be answered. It glares at me and demands an answer.

The problem?

I don't know what it means.

Turkish rice cereal for babies. At least, I'm assuming that's what it is.

I long to answer the question, I really do. I mean, it's on the box of rice cereal that we feed to Lane every day. It's next to a picture of the food pyramid, so it must be important!

Buying rice cereal here has presented me with a world of challenges. Buying "grown up food" is not such a challenge. Since I've lived in Poland before and am already used to things being packaged differently, I can maneuver my way around the bagged spices, canned and jarred goods, and baking products fairly well. But shopping for something new, like baby food, presents a whole new realm of insecurities.

There are about a million different kinds of baby cereals here: oats with apples, rice with bananas, and so on. They all have pictures on the front of the box, so that's fantastic and quite helpful. But when I buy the above pictured cereal (with the only picture being of rice) and get it home, pour it into a bowl, and notice that it looks really weird, like powder, I begin to question my ability to parent a child over here. Then I decide to taste the cereal because it looks so different than Gerber rice cereal, and I discover that it's sweetened and flavored like vanilla, and doubts flood over me. Is this cereal safe for my baby? I thought she wasn't supposed to have any sugar until later. If this is sweetened and flavored and the package doesn't show it, what other mistakes will I make with regards to baby stuff until I can speak this language?

She likes it! Who wouldn't like it? has sugar in it!

I'm not concerned with jarred baby food, since I've decided to just pureé our veggies (and later meats and dairy) to give to Lane, but for these early months when she needs the cereals...well, I guess we'll be experimenting a lot!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Footage Squared

When Shannon and I moved in July '08, we moved into a place that we were told was 600 square feet.

They lied.

Since we're now in Turkey and will be looking for an apartment at some point, I was wondering how many square feet we had been used to living in, versus the square footage of the place we're currently staying in, and so on. So, our previous landlords told us that our 1-bedroom apartment was 600 square feet. We never measured the rooms or anything...we trusted them! The apartment we're currently "house-watching" is 1200-1300 square feet, and I was thinking to myself, "There's no WAY our old place was half this size..." I was right.

The result is in: 487 square feet, including closets, the laundry space, and the HVAC unit.

Our old kitchen: 11.25 feet by 10.25 feet.

Our old living room: 10.66 feet by almost 14 feet.


I don't even know where they got the number 600 from, unless their room measurements are wrong. But if they're right, 24.16 feet by 21.16 feet does not equal 600 square feet.

I feel cheated. Wronged. Deceived.

What I could have done with an extra 113 square feet...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


A week ago today, Shannon and I were still trying to sell our car. It had been on craigslist for a week and we hadn't had any calls about it. We thought it was a really good deal because it had low mileage and was still in really good condition. The catch: it had been rebuilt. I bought the car for $1000 back in early 2006. It was a rental car that had been wrecked: someone hit a moose. So, the front end was damaged. A friend of mine rebuilt the car for me and didn't charge me for any labor but just for the parts. It's been a great car and I've never had any problems with it, so I was really shocked when we didn't receive any calls, but I guess the fact that it had been rebuilt was holding people up.

Our faithful Ford Focus. May you be as good of a car for Alfonso as you have for us.

So, when we finally received a call about the car we were ecstatic. The only problem: he was offering us $800 less than we had posted the car for, and we'd already dropped the price $800 off of the Kelley Blue Book value. So, after many phone calls between us and Alfonso, our prospective buyer, we finally agreed on a middle ground. Now the only catch was that Alfonso works every day until 6:00 and lives in Durham, so he wanted to finalize the sale on Saturday. Saturday wouldn't work for us because we were flying out that day. And in North Carolina when you sell a car you have to have a notary public notarize the deed. So, we were going to need a notary to notarize the deed after 8 p.m. We started making phone calls to see if any notary publics worked that late. Finally we found a notary named Matt who agreed to meet us after hours. He met us at a McDonalds at 9:30 at night and let us buy him a sundae for payment. Alfonso and his crew showed up, we made the exchange, and Matt notarized the deed and bill of sale. It was unbelievable the amount of insanity and craziness that ensued that day in order for our car to be sold 8 hours after we got the initial phone call.

The saddest part of the car sale for me was that when I bought the car I ordered a specialty license plate for it: SZKODA. It means "bummer" or "what a pity" in Polish and is one of my favorite Polish words. Well, I no longer have a car to put the plate on. So Lane and I got our photo taken with it for remembrance:

Lane's face is a perfect "szkoda" face!

Monday, July 5, 2010

23 Hours to Istanbul

Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m., we embarked on adventure:

We moved to Istanbul.

With this:

3 bags, 8 trunks, 5 boxes, a stroller, 2 carry-ons, a travel guitar, 2 backpacks, and a diaper bag.

It only cost us $2150 to check our bags through! Well, not only, but that is how much it cost. Yikes. But it was either pay to check our stuff through, or pay to buy it again, so I think we got out ok.

We left Greensboro at noon after saying some tough goodbyes. After a 4.5-hour layover in D.C., we flew for 7.5 hours to Munich, where we had a 4-hour layover. And then we flew 2.5 hours to Istanbul, arriving at 3:00 p.m. local time.

Lane is now an international traveler with almost 6000 airline miles on her frequent flier program card!

Our friends and a rental van came to pick us up and we were at their home (where we'll be staying for the next six months while they go back to the States) by 5:00 p.m. We sent emails home letting them know we (and all 16 of our bags!) made it, ate some dinner, and went to bed. Lane did alright, all things considered! She woke up every 2.5-3 hours but after I fed her she went back to sleep. I'm hoping that she gets over jet lag quickly! Then we'll start working on sleeping through the night (yet again)...

Happy 4th of July from Little Miss Independence!

Lane did wear her 4th of July dress that Mimi bought her all day long on Sunday. We changed her into it on Sunday morning when we landed in Munich.

This makes the second time in my life that I have moved out of America and landed on foreign soil on a holiday. Back in 2002 when I moved to Poland I left America on October 31st and landed on November 1st (All Saints Day). It makes me wonder how many other times I'll move on a holiday.

So, from here on out, you'll be hearing about our adventures in Asia, starting...maybe tomorrow. Today we're unpacking and resting. Tomorrow we'll begin real life.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Take One

Back in February, Lane had her first photo shoot at three weeks old. My mom has had the disc of pictures and I had only gotten to see a few of them on facebook, but since she brought the disc and I was able to get all the pictures, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites:

I love the grin on Shannon's face here.

Proud new parents!

My mom and brothers with Lane.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From the Archives...

Rewind 13 1/2 months in your mind. Where were you last middle-of-May? I was insanely busy with schoolwork and trying to finish up my master's degree. I was six weeks pregnant. And I was wanting to go to Alaska. My oldest younger brother was graduating from high school. My sister was going to attend the graduation, and I wanted to, but his graduation was thisclose to the rehearsal of my own graduation, which had mandatory attendance. But...we made it work! For starters, we organized it with my sister to be a surprise for everyone in Alaska: no one knew I was coming. Second, I arranged it with a professor to miss my last class, take my final early, and finish reading a book on the airplane in order to finish my classwork. Third, we searched and searched for the best deal we could find on an airline ticket, and approximately $600 later, I was headed to Alaska for the quickest trip I've ever made there.

Saturday, May 16th, I got on an airplane at 6:00 a.m. in Raleigh, arriving in Anchorage at 2:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. East-Coast-time). I waited about an hour for my sister to arrive, and then we waited about an hour for her in-laws to drop a car off for us. We grabbed a bite to eat and then hit the road to Kenai, a three-hour drive. During the drive my sister confessed to me that she had so many friends who were pregnant and that she really wanted a baby, so all that she could think of when she was around them was were they jealous that she was so skinny? I was pregnant and hadn't told her yet. Fail.

When we pulled onto our road in Kenai, I hopped in the backseat and hid for the 1/2-mile drive home. Rachel hugged mom while she bemused that the only way things could get better would be if Michelle were there. And then I hopped out of the backseat and shocked the pants off my mom. She was so excited. Then I broke the news that it was great I was there, but that I wouldn't be able to come for Christmas. After my sister asked why not, I replied, "I don't think they let you fly when you're 8 1/2 months pregnant." Shock of all shocks, they both cried and were happy for us, and my sister immediately felt horrible about what she had said.

Anyhow, that was the crazy part. We spent Sunday and Monday relaxing and just chatting. Tuesday evening was Sean's graduation and we arrived early to get good seats. We watched him graduate, and afterward we headed home, grabbed our stuff, and Rachel and I hit the road to head to Anchorage, arriving at around midnight. We spent the night with one of Rachel's friends, and Wednesday morning we headed to the Great Harvest Bread Company and then to the airport. I caught a flight at 9:00 a.m., getting into Greensboro at 11:00 p.m. Shannon came and picked me up and we got home at around 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, and then got up and headed to our graduation rehearsal at 10:00 a.m. that same morning. Shannon's parents arrived that evening, and then we graduated for real on Friday. It was such an insane trip, but totally worth it! Especially now that I have a baby and can't do crazy things like that anymore, I'm so glad that we made it work!

Congrats, Sean!

Sean's the one in the middle, in focus, looking up at his (unseen) floating cap.

All the family (minus husbands): Me, Rachel, Sean, Mom, and Kyle