Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's Been a Bit Warm Around Here...

90° Fahrenheit, to be exact, for at least two days in a row. (I didn't think to check before yesterday.) A couple weeks ago it was even hotter.

We don't have an air conditioner.

So we're doing what we can to stay cool.

Me and my girlie, playing in the balcony pools.

I feel ridiculous, wearing my bathing suit and sitting in two inches of water on my balcony where all my neighbors can see me. But let's face it. It cools me off. And Lane loves it.

Once again, another win.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Little Bit Bazaar

It's no secret to those who know me that I love to go to the local bazaars to do my shopping. At least my grocery shopping...buying clothes and other random goods from an outdoor street bazaar is not usually my idea of a good time. Probably because I also usually have at least one, if not two kids in tow with me, and "fun" shopping is never fun with children in tow.

When we moved into our apartment last July I was so excited. We have not only one, but two outdoor bazaars within walking distance; one on Sundays (the same bazaar that I went to when we lived in our first apartment here), and another on Thursdays. My excitement was compounded by the fact that those days are at the beginning of the week and the middle of the week, more or less. Produce here never lasts a whole week (well, carrots and potatoes and onions might), so you're guaranteed to have to go buy produce at least twice a week. We still end up making grocery-store-runs as well, but I usually try to plan our menu for the week around going to the bazaar on Sundays and Thursdays and using what I buy wisely so that I don't waste food.

My haul from the bazaar today, plus a bunch of bananas I forgot to include in the photo.

There are certain vendors that I always frequent for the same things: the bread/cheese/egg trailer, the dried fruits and nuts vendor, and one man who sells seasonal fruits. I usually buy vegetables from wherever they look the nicest, but it's nice to have a few select people that don't rip me off remember me for the things I buy weekly.

Today I strapped Noel into the ERGO, Lane into the stroller, and we headed to the bazaar and to the pharmacy (a new paci and iron drops for Noel). My list wasn't long this week since we'll be eating out tomorrow evening and during the day on Saturday, but we were completely out of fruit and I needed veggies for dinner tonight. Plus, I'm about to embark on baby-food making adventures and needed some food to work with!

My haul for the day:
6 bananas (1 kilo): 5 lira ($2.77, or $1.26/pound)
1/2 kilo cherries: 2.50 lira ($1.39, or $1.26/pound)
1/2 kilo apricots: 1.50 lira ($.83, or $.75/pound)
250 grams raisins: 2 lira ($1.11, or $.50/pound)
250 grams dried apricots: 3 lira ($1.66, or $.75/pound)
10 fresh eggs: 3 lira ($1.66, or $1.99/dozen)
1 kilo peaches: 3 lira ($1.66, or $.75/pound)
1 kilo zucchini: 2 lira ($1.11, or $.50/pound)
1 kilo green beans: 3 lira ($1.66, or $.75/pound)

I spent 25 lira, or about $14. I got 11 pounds of produce, 10 eggs, and 1.1 pounds dried fruit. How'd I do? I love the variety of affordable fruits and vegetables in the summer (although I do miss broccoli!). How do prices compare where you live?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day 2012

Unfortunately, this year for Father's Day we really weren't able to do a whole lot. Shannon has been taking this class that is torture...I've pretty much been a single mom for the last three weeks. He has loads of homework every weekend, and this weekend was no exception. So we did what we could to make his day special.

First thing in the morning I had Lane run to Shannon with a small gift: a new Starbucks travel mug, a card decorated by Lane, and a card that I bought for him while in the States. Lane was so proud of the card she made, shouted "Happy Fodder's Day!," and enjoyed unwrapping his present for him. Shannon then played with the girls while I got a shower.

Daddy and his girlies.

When I put Noel down for her morning nap, I took Lane out for a "key-sont" (croissant) and chai in order to give Shannon some time alone to do his homework. It was our first mommy-daughter date. I let her walk down to the restaurant where we sat outside and leisurely enjoyed our chocolate croissants, chai, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Lane had a blast.

Enjoying our croissants and tea in the gorgeous weather!

Then it was home again to console a crying Noel (she had a rough week of it, nap-wise), play with Lane, fix lunch, and so on. After lunch, Shannon finished up his homework and asked if he could go to the movies. Of course, I let him, so he went off to enjoy Prometheus while I took care of the girls. He arrived home with lilies for me, and then he played with the girls while I cooked his Father's Day request: breakfast for dinner.

Quite possibly Shannon's favorite meal, other than spaghetti. And he could do without the fruit, but I make him eat it so that there's something on his plate that doesn't include butter or oil!

We all ate and did bath time/bedtime routines and actually got in the bed early for a change. Overall I think Shannon felt special and loved, even if we didn't do anything extraordinary.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

6 Months Old

Dear Noel,

Today you complete half a year. Six whole months. Six months ago today I had no idea that you would be part of our lives later that day...I thought you were going to wait a couple more weeks like your sister did, but you wanted here in a hurry! We kind of thought that your personality was shining through in how impatient you were to get here, but you have proved us wrong. You are the most laid-back, easygoing baby there is. You love to watch ceiling fans go around and around. You love it when I read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" to you and Lane. And you love your sister. You watch her almost constantly when she's around. You have decided that sucking your thumb is old news and refuse to do it these days, preferring your pacifier. I have to say I'm relieved.

Noel, this past month you've learned how to do a lot. You are now a rolling machine. You can roll from back to tummy and tummy to back with no problems. You can push yourself up onto your knees kind of like you're doing a "girl" push-up. You can push yourself around in circles while you're on your belly, allowing you to reach toys that we've scattered around for you. You found your feet this month and enjoy grabbing them while you're on your back. And you can sit up on your own for a bit before toppling over.

You also had your first solid food this month. You ate an entire avocado over the course of a week, you've tried some banana, and yesterday I gave you a bite or two of carrots. You're not the best yet at eating and swallowing, and it takes you a really long time to get a teeny bit of food into your belly, but you really enjoy eating and attack the spoon to get the food. You'd been eyeing our food and trying to grab it for awhile, and you're definitely enjoying eating, even if you're not the best at swallowing yet. You've grown a bit and are up to 14.5 pounds and 25.5 inches long.

Just chillin' at the park.

You also went to the U. S. for the first time this month. You visited Alaska and Texas and got to meet Grandma, Uncle Ben, Aunt Rachel, and your cousin Maddox. You were such a trooper during the traveling and did so well. I hated to force jet-lag on you, but you've recovered pretty well and are almost back to your usual, sleeping-eleven-hours-at-night self. You're napping pretty well during the day, taking three naps, and being awake for about eight or nine hours total of the day. We also moved you up into 6-month clothes this month, as all the 3-month ones are definitely too small now. You're growing up so quickly but we're enjoying every minute of it. I can't wait to see what you're like in another six months!

I love you,

Playing with Daddy after two weeks away.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

But they might put her in a bathroom.

After a few rough nights of a screaming, jet-lagged baby, and a few days of said baby not napping well (seriously, why do my children not like to sleep, even when exhausted?), we decided that maybe if we moved Noel's bed somewhere where it was darker that it might encourage better naps during the day, which would encourage better sleep at night, and so forth.

Well, our apartment isn't really that big. And there weren't that many options available. So...to the back bathroom it was! We haven't really used that bathroom in four or five months, but Shannon had cleaned it while I was gone and begun to use it, so we just moved all the shampoo and stuff back into the other bathroom, moved the pack-n-play in, and viola! Noel has her own room!

Snoozin' away!

Haha, well, not really. BUT. I think it did help. It's quieter back there because it's got an extra wall and an extra door between that room and the rest of the apartment. It's darker because there are no windows. I don't think she hears us when we crawl into bed or roll over anymore. She hasn't slept through the night in a month now, partly due to jet-lag and partly due to growth spurt (and probably partly due to habit now, which we'll work on breaking in three weeks [more on that later] if she's still doing it then), but the night after we moved her into the bathroom she began going right back to sleep after eating in the middle of the night. And her naps improved.

I'm going to call it a win, even if it is a little unorthodox.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


You may remember that three years ago I surprised my mom and my brother when I showed up in Alaska with my sister to watch Sean graduate from high school.

Well, three weeks ago today Noel and I set out for the biggest surprise of my other brother, Kyle's, life: we flew to Alaska to watch him graduate from high school.

Not only did Noel and I come, but my sister and my nephew also came from North Carolina. And Kyle didn't know they were coming, either.

Hanging at the restaurant before graduation.

He was shocked, to say the least.

I left Lane with Shannon, all the laundry done, lots of friends lined up to help Shannon out, and 14 meals frozen in the freezer for dinners. I took one suitcase, one backpack, one purse, and one baby in the Ergo and we embarked on the 48-hour trek to Alaska. I have to say that the traveling itself wasn't bad (jet-lag with a baby, on the other hand, stinks). I mean, American Airlines hooked us up with a bulkhead seat with lots of legroom and a bassinet. While Noel didn't sleep in it that much since it was daytime for us, it was so nice to have a place to lay her down and let her play or sleep and give my arms a rest.

Snoozin' in the bassinet.

We had a 20-hour layover in Dallas on the way to Alaska and a 16-hour one on the way home. Normally that wouldn't be so great, but I happen to have lots of friends in Dallas, so I hooked up with my longtime friend Marci. She let us spend the night at her place on the way to Alaska (where we got a little sleep...Noel did a fair amount of screaming from being super exhausted from the long travel day) and hang out and nap on the way back. She let us borrow an infant carseat. She drove me to the mall where I got new blue jeans. She treated me to Chic-fil-a and Mexican food. I got to meet her little boy, William. I treated her to Starbucks for breakfast when she picked me up at 6:00 a.m. on my return journey and Dairy Queen for dessert during a trip to the mall. We schmoozed, chatted, and just enjoyed getting to catch up. All in all, it was great to see her (and it was great to have a real bed to nap on and a shower!).

Me and Noel, Marci and William, at Uncle Julio's.

And my chicken enchiladas. So yummy.

I met up with my sister at the airport (we managed to get on the same flight from DFW to Anchorage...awesome, huh?) where I met my nephew for the first time and got to see my sister for the first time in almost two years.

My nephew, Maddox. Yup, he's a cutie.

We made the flight to Anchorage, collected our bags (yeah...they wouldn't check them all the way through for us), ran (well, walked as fast as we could with baby, toddler, stroller, backpack, carry-on, and two suitcases) to the check-in counter for our flight to Kenai, checked in, and booked it to our gate. We barely made our flight and were very grateful that there's no security check for flights to/from smaller cities in Alaska. And we were shocked when we boarded the plane to find out that it was bigger than usual, carrying 25-30 people instead of the usual 15, even being a large enough plane to have a bathroom. That was the first (and only, as my flight back to Anchorage was on a 15-passenger prop plane) time that flight has ever had a bathroom!

And we got to Kenai, met my mom at the airport, and shocked the pants off my brother an hour or so later. We spent the next few days introducing ourselves to new-in-the-last-two-years family members:




(Noel's first tastes of solids: avocado.)

Observing the wildlife:

Attending graduation festivities:

And playing Settlers of Catan:

(Noel liked to help.)

I got to eat steak, yellow squash, good yogurt, flavored coffee creamer, salmon, ice-cream sandwiches, Cherry Pepsi, halibut, Chic-fil-a, and real Mexican food for the first time in two years. I got to go to my church in Alaska. I got to play Angry Birds for the first time. I got to meet my nephew. I just got to be myself with my family, staying up late watching movies, talking, and playing games. I got to watch my brother graduate, hug his neck, and tell him how proud of him I was.

All of us. Except for my brother Sean. And Lane. And my and Rachel's husbands. =)

And I came home to this:

It was a good trip.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Filter Check

In Turkey, the tap water is not safe to drink. Everyone either buys bottled water or uses a high-grade water filter. Since we lived in other peoples' homes for a year, we got to experience both, so when it came time to get our own apartment, we opted for a filter (especially since we bought a used one from someone else leaving the country, so we got a great deal on it).

Having the filter has been great, because it means that we never run out of clean water. We never have to wait on water delivery. I can use filtered water for things like soup or rice (that would be boiled anyways and technically probably ok to drink) without feeling the slightest bit like I was using our clean water unwisely.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to Shannon that I thought our water tasted funny. He didn't think so, so I let it go. Then a few days later, Shannon said that he thought our water tasted funny. So we decided that maybe it was time to change the filters.

Yeah...I think it was time.

See those two clean, white filters? And see the two yucky brown ones in the dish behind the white ones? Yeah...gross.

The one with the blue top is filter number 2 out of a five filter system, and the new one looks about the same as the old one...as far as we can tell. We figured that if numbers 1 and 3 looked as bad as they did, surely number 2 needed to be changed as well!

Our elaborate water filtration system.

The tank on the left is the holding tank for clean water, and it travels through a hose up toward our sink where we can get our clean water out of a spigot. The three filters on the right are the first three filters (the three that you can see in the first photo above), and then there are two smaller filters on top of the three larger filters.

Taking the filter apart...

So Shannon and I spent an hour or so one afternoon with lots of towels, wrenches, our box of new filters, and the instruction manual taking the thing apart and putting it back together, trying not to throw up as we thought about how brown the used filters were.

And you know what? The water tastes normal again.

Maybe Shannon should listen to me the first time when I say stuff like that the water tastes funny!