Monday, 31 March 2008

I love this about Turkey... child friendly restaurants

A few weeks ago we went out to eat at one of the nicest restaurants in town. Elise didn't sit at the table with us. Most of the time she was running around between our table and the play area, singing at the top of her lungs. A lot of the time even Marie wasn't at our table. The owner of the restaurant picked her up and carried her around, showing her to kids, other customers, waiters, and cooks.

That experience is a perfect picture of one thing I love about life here. Kids can just be kids, even at restaurants. People just accept it. They smile at Elise and at us when she walks by their table singing. They think its cute. I really don't know what it's like to go out to eat with little kids in the US, but I have a feeling it's nothing like this. I can't imagine people being happy about my kids running between their tables. I really can't imagine the restaurant owner taking our baby so we can eat in peace, and I'm having a hard time picturing the other diners being happy about the restaurant owner bringing a baby over for them to see while they're eating.

That's really a bummer because I love food in America. When we are there (which is only one month away!) I want to eat out. I really really do. I want to have burritos and pizza and steak. I want to have hamburgers and Chinese and Italian food. Am I going to have to train my 3 year old to sit still and quiet while I eat my meal? Am I going to have to take care of my baby rather than pass her on to a waiter or manager? How am I going to eat in peace? Why oh why don't Americans just let kids be kids?

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Our next baby will be a boy!

Do you see this little bluish spot on Marie's forehead?

I think it's some sort of birthmark... I've heard it will disappear by the time she's around one.  

My friends and neighbors tell me that when a girl is born with one of these spots between her eyes, it means the next child will be a boy.  Hmmmmm.... Maybe they're right about that.... at least 50% of the time.  

And in case the title made you wonder, no, I'm not pregnant.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Two Things You Can Find Almost Anywhere On the Planet...

Coca-Cola and french fries.

I can't think of anything really good for a person that's easy to come by at any restaurant in any country in the world.  Not carrot sticks.  Not rice cakes.  No little cans of slim fast shakes.  Not fruit smoothies or whole grain breads or vegetable juice.  But when it comes to fried starch and carbonated sugar, be assured of this... you can find it and you can eat it.  And we do.  The end.

*photos and title compliments of Gary.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

I keep my milk in the pantry.

This is milk.
My thoughts and observations in no particular order...
1.  This milk's expiration date is June 29, 2008!!  (Wow!  That's my 31st birthday... what a strange coincidence.)
2.  Until that time I can keep it anywhere - in the pantry, on a shelf, in the hot sun, in the bathroom... well, maybe not in the bathroom.
3. It tastes, um, not exactly like milk.
4.  It took some getting used to.
5.  James loves the stuff.
6.  This kind of milk is much easier to come by around here than the fresher variety we drank when we lived in California.
7.  Most Turkish mothers serve it to their children  at room temperature (bleck!)  With honey.
8.  Many Turkish kids' baby teeth rot out before they would naturally fall out.  Hmmmmm... too much honey milk??
9.  After I open it I have to keep it in the refrigerator.
10.  This kind of milk was the main ingredient in the chocolate milk shake we drank recently.
11.  Does milk that lasts for months and months with no refrigeration seem strange and wrong to anyone other than me?

A taste of home

A couple of weeks ago some friends from the US came to visit.  We had a wonderful time together and they left us with a delicious parting gift: Jelly Bellies!  A box of assorted flavors, including a few things we haven't tasted in a long long time.  Dr. Pepper, root beer, and black licorice.  Mmmmm!  We can't get any of those things around here, and the Jelly Belly factory does an AMAZING job of replicating their flavor.  Luckily Elise (who gets one Jelly Belly every time she successfully goes pee in the toilet) doesn't like the flavors I just listed.  She has never lived in America and developed a taste for them.  That means those ones are all James' and mine and we're loving every last little bean. You know, I didn't drink Dr. Pepper or root beer very often while we lived in America, but now that I can't have it I really crave it.  And now that I've had those delicious flavors in my mouth thanks to Jelly Bellies, I am feeling so so ready to step off an airplane onto US soil (or US asphalt) and drink some cold refreshing root beer (with crushed ice... I don't know why but that just makes it taste better).  

Today when I opened the box of Jelly Bellies to let Elise have her post-potty treat,  I decided to take one of the little treats for myself too (after all, I successfully use the toilet all the time!)  I grabbed the pure white coconut variety and as I chewed on it, a memory that I think I've repressed for the past nine years suddenly came rushing back to me.  Not just any little memory.  A horrible, embarrassing, and painful memory.   I could choose to keep it from you but I want to show you my life in a real and complete way... so here it goes.

When I was living in the college dorms, my RA would sometimes plan building activities.  I guess he wanted us to bond or something.  Most of the time I didn't take part.  I was a transfer student and everyone else was in their first year.  At 21 and with two years of college under my belt I felt oh so much more mature and cool than all those 18 year old kids who had just gotten out of high school (now that I'm 30 I roll my eyes at thinking 2-3 years is a big difference).  Plus I got tired of them asking me to buy them alcohol.  There was one particular trip though that I decided to take part in... the trip to the Jelly Belly Factory. 

We all loaded into a big bus type thing and set of on our 45 minute journey to Jelly Belly Lane in Fairfield, CA.  Once inside the factory we were greeted with the sights, sounds, colors, smells, and TASTES of those delicious little beans of flavor.  It was an interesting tour.  One thing that stands out in my memory were the amazing mosaics of presidents faces made strictly from Jelly Bellies!  Oh the creativity people possess!!  Anyway the tour ends up in the gift shop (of course) and as I browsed around, I just couldn't pass up the cheap bags of belly flops (mutilated Jelly Bellies), and the extra extra cheap bags of post holiday Jelly Bellies.  I bought the Hanukkah variety - all blue and white, perfect for your family's Hanukkah parties.  Oh.  Your family doesn't have Hanukkah parties?  Neither does mine.  I guess that's why this wasn't a big seller and there was so much left over.  I took home a good sized bag of blueberry and coconut mix, and another large bag of the belly flops.  I told myself I wouldn't eat it all.  I lived in a dorm after all!  And in the dorm you can just keep your door open and random people who are procrastinating from doing anything responsible stop by and chat.  And while they chat, I told myself, I'll have a nice little snack to offer them.  I'm so hospitable.  Plus, I reasoned, in a month or so I'd be going home for Christmas.  And my family would love some Jelly Bellies.  

The problem was that everyone else in my dorm bought Jelly Bellies too.  No one was very  interested in my bowl of post-Hanukkah  blueberry and coconut mix.  No one wanted the mutilated globs of buttery popcorn or lemon or cinnamon flavored beans.  So what did I do?  I ate them myself.  As I studied Organic Chemistry, I'd pop them in my mouth one by one in an effort to stay awake.  As I read my Linguistics book I ate them two or three (or maybe seven) at a time.  I guess my thumb and index finger were getting tired of picking them up and I decided it would be easier to scoop?  Mid terms came and I went into high gear eating those little suckers.  By the time I was through with my exams, I was sleep deprived, sick of studying, and I had blisters on my tongue and raw tender spots all over my mouth from eating indecent amounts of colorful little beans.  And my blood sugar levels?  Let's not even go there.  The bags of Jelly Bellies I had purchased - bags that were big enough to supply a family of 7 with Jelly Bellies for 6 or 8 months - were empty.  

I don't know how long I waited before eating them again.  Years probably.  And when our friend brought us this current box I was filled with excitement and joy at the prospect of tasting the flavors of America again.  If only I'd resisted popping that one memory inducing coconut flavored bean in my mouth.  Ick!  Bleck!  Now I don't know if I can eat another bean.  Well, maybe just one... or two... or three... or ... 469. 

Monday, 17 March 2008

I'm a horrible mother. Reason number 2- ice cream

Okay, so it's not really ice cream, it's a popsicle.  But the point is that it's cold.  And that makes me a horrible mother.  I don't know if it's worse than letting your child go sock-less, but I do know feeding your child ice cream when it's cold out is a very very bad thing.

Our first experience with the fear of eating cold stuff came even before Elise was born.  One night way back when we first came to Turkey we had James' language helper Ozgur over for dinner.  Ozgur was 19 years old and from a village in the north.  We were the first foreigners he'd ever met.  We didn't know Turkish and he didn't know English but with a lot of signing back and forth and dictionary usage we communicated okay.  We ate dinner, and I made cultural mistake number one: no bread.  We played Go Fish and translated the name of the game something more like a command toward a fish,"Go fish, go!" which makes no sense whatsoever.  And afterward we fed him ice cream.  

Ozgur looked a little worried when I handed him the big bowl of vanilla ice cream.  But after a little prodding he ate it anyway.  I went back to the kitchen to do some dishes and Ozgur chatted with James.  If we take out the hand signs back and forth and the frequent dictionary usage, the conversation went something like this:

Ozgur: You know, Turks don't eat ice cream in the winter.  Probably hinting that he didn't want to eat it which of course went right over poor James' culture shocked head.
James: Really?  Why not?
Ozgur:  We think it will make us sick.  Again politely letting James know that he didn't want to eat it without just coming out and saying it.
James: Oh, don't worry.  We eat it all the time.  It wont make you sick. 
Ozgur: Slowly finishing off his bowl with a sad and concerned look on his face.  Well everyone I know gets sick.  I usually stay away from this type of thing.
James:  Looks like you finished yours off.  Can I get you some more?
Ozgur:  No thanks.

Later James and I laughed about the fact that Turks think ice cream or other cold things will make them sick.  I mean we eat it all the time!  Winter or summer, we love milk shakes and popsicles and ice in our drinks.  Two days later James showed up for his language lesson with Ozgur, who had a horrible cold.  And we stopped laughing.

Since that time this recurring theme has come up: eating cold things, especially in the winter (but oftentimes even in the summer) will make you very sick.  Who knows the ills that will befall you but it's not good.  It's not good at all.

Our friend Murat had ice cream with our friend Henry.  Afterward Henry threw his back out.  According to Murat it was the ice cream that did it, and that wasn't even the winter! 

My friend Demet once came and had tea with me.  She brought her sister Esra and nephew Eren with her.  Before Eren went down for a nap Esra pulled a box of milk out of her bag to fill a bottle for him (yes, I said there was a box of milk in her bag... more about milk boxes later.)  I told her she didn't need to open that box because I already had some in the refrigerator.  Surprised and shocked, she said, "But I can't give my son your milk.  It's cold! He may get sick." 

I tell you these stories to illustrate my point.  I'm a bad mother.  A very very bad mother.  I let Elise eat cold things, even freezing cold things.  I let her eat them winter or summer, as well as spring and fall!  I put her her health and well being at risk on a daily basis. 

So, what could become of her?  Well, I can't get a really straight answer from anybody I've asked so far.  All I know is that her future looks very grim.  Here are some examples of what happens to people after they eat ice cream, especially if they eat it in winter.

1. Paralysis.
2. Heart attack
3. Colds, runny nose, soar throat
4. Throwing their back out (as we saw happen to Henry)
5.  And the most common thing is they just plain get sick.

Post Script:  Turks eat ice cream too!  Why?  Because ice cream tastes good that's why!  They just stay away from it in winter and would definitely not feed it to their kids when the weather is cold outside.  I guess they know there's a risk of sickness (in summer too) but are willing to take that risk from time to time.  

The travel bed and some nagging questions.

This baby travel bed was bought around 12 years ago here in Turkey.  It was handed down and handed down and handed down from family to family until it eventually ended up with us.  It's been great to have around.  We use it whenever we go out of town and currently have it set up in our house so that Marie (who is sick with a cold and waking up a lot) won't wake up her big sister during the night (they usually share the same room).  The problem is that whenever I look at it I get a bit uncomfortable.  I mean I'm grateful to have it and all, but there are a few questions that haunt me whenever we get it out.

1. What?
2.  If this is the picture of the "Sweet Kid," what does the mean and violent kid look like?
3.  What is that green x on the sweet kid's face?  A cross?  Bandages from his most recent knife fight?  A tattoo?
4.  READY... It's OK! Ready for what?  What's okay?  
5.  Did the creators of this pack and play actually know English when they wrote these phrases on the side of it?
6. Will my daughters have any long lasting negative effects from waking up in the morning and seeing a violent looking sweet kid standing by their heads?
7.  Does this seem strange to anyone but me?

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Going for a drive

A few days ago James and I were on a long drive.  We stopped at a market to buy some snacks and when I walked back to the car James (who was in the drivers seat when I got out of the car) was sitting in the passenger seat, assuming  the I'm-all-ready-to-take-a-nap position.  Apparently that was my que to take over the driving.  I opened the door and climbed in then suddenly my body started filling with that hyper alert, adrenaline pumping "I'm scared" feeling as I realized that what used to come automatically with no thought involved seemed to have slipped away when I was busy doing other things (mainly changing diapers)... I couldn't remember how to drive!

Me: Ummm James, which one of these is the gas pedal? While staring at the three petals at the floor.
James: Jamie. . . come on!  Pausing while he slowly realizes I'm not joking.  It's the one on the right.  Sitting up straight and no longer looking so sleepy.
Me:  Okay.  Just checking... you have to get these things straight before you drive you know.  Trying to downplay the fact that I m pretty sure I'll wreck our beloved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang truck as Elise calls it.
James:  Why oh why did I ever marry you???  Okay, so he didn't say that and probably didn't even think it but he sure should have at this point!

To let you know how things ended up, aside from being really scared at first when I had to back out of the parking lot, I did just fine.  James didn't get his nap in but that was more due to kids crying in the back seat than to my driving (at least that's what I'm telling myself).  And in my defense, I haven't driven in months and months!  And on top of that I've probably driven only around six times in the past four years!  Plus driving in Turkey is different than driving in the States.  So if you think about it I was actually doing great by even remembering that those things on the floor of the truck were pedals and that I made the truck go by pushing one of them.  

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

I can't really speak Turkish...

The other day I was watching a video of two friends singing.  Isik was singing the lead part (what is that called? the melody?) and Linda was singing the second part (I believe that's called the harmony?)

Linda was doing a wonderful job and I commented to Isik (who was watching the video with me), Wow!  Linda really does that pee pee sound well!
I said cheesh sesi (pee pee sound) rather than cheeft sesi (two-person sound.) 

 These are the embarrassing types of things that happen to me everyday.  On one hand they make me feel like an idiot.  On the other hand they make me fun, funny, and popular.  And they provide my friends with good stories to go home with.

It's not that I don't know those words, it's just that when operating in a second lanuage my brain gets twisted up and mushy and tired and begins to resemble overcooked spaghetti.  And when that happens strange things slip out of my mouth.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

I love this about Turkey... the fruit and veggie market

Our building is 12 stories tall. Each floor has 3 flats, that makes 36 families living here. A lot of those families aren't just mom dad and kids. They are grandma, grandpa, unmarried uncles and aunts, plus mom, dad, and kids. If I felt like doing the math, I could tell you approximately how many people are packed into this building with us, but as I showed in my last post, I'm lazy, so that's not gonna happen. Even without me doing the math, you can imagine that each building is basically like an entire street of homes in suburban America. One block here holds seven or eight suburban American blocks worth of people, many of whom don't have cars. Having this many people all stacked up on top of each other has quite a few advantages. For example, I never need to get in the car to do my basic shopping (fruits, veggies, basic groceries, bread). There are shops in the bottom of every building, so I have access to all sorts of things. Here are just a few of the shops within a one block distance of my home: 5 hair dressers (that's a low estimate), 3 grocers, a copy machine place, 8 pharmacies (we have a ton of them right here since a hospital is across the street), a kids clothing shop, a butcher, a restaurant, a bakery, and a fruit and vegetable shop, oh, and I almost forgot, there's also Target, Starbucks, and a place that sells hot dogs. Okay, so I wasn't completely honest about those last three, but a girl can dream, can't she? Now even without all that Starbucks business, wouldn't you like to have all those things at your fingertips rather than a car ride away??

The other day James and I took a little walk to pick up some groceries. I snapped some shots in the manav (the fruit and veggie store).

I love this place! It's so colorful!

The fruits and vegetable assortment changes with the season. I can't wait for the strawberries and cherries... and for the white mocha frapachino grande! Oooops, sorry dreaming again....We buy produce by the kilogram here. All this stuff is cheaper than it is in America, and tastier!

We don't even have to mess with touching our fruit until we get home. Here's how it works, we ask for whatever we want and the manav man picks it out and weights it for us... watch!

James: Bir kilo portakal lutfen. (One kilogram of oranges please.)
Doesn't James have great pronunciation??
Manav man: Tamam. (Okay.) Do you see him hopping to it?! That's the kind of effect James has on people. Or maybe it's just the guys job, but either way that was impressive.

Impressive and exciting... Elise is just worn out from all the excitement.

I love the manav!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Can you really potty train a 6 month old?

I was a psychology major in college.  I loved it too.  One particular thing that I haven't forgotten (my memory is like a steel trap) is the study this guy Maslow did and how he conditioned his dogs to salivate when they heard a ringing bell... er, I think it was Maslow.  Hold on, I'm going to google it... Okay... so Maslow was this other guy who talked about a heirarchy of needs (which of course I totally remember as if I sat in that class yesterday).  Pavlov was the guy with the dogs.  And really, I knew that all along.  I was just, um, I was just testing you guys.  Like I said, my memory is like a steel trap.  Anyway this guy Pavlov started ringing a bell right before he would feed his dogs.  They would salivate when they saw their food, then they started associating the bell sound with food, and eventually they would salivate just by hearing the bell, even if there was no food.  Amazing, huh?  Doggy drool!  So now there's this whole thing called Pavlovian Conditioning which I would thoroughly explain to you because I like know all about it (not really) but I think you should go study that stuff for yourself.

So, back to life in Turkey...

When Elise was a new baby I frequently visited a family down the street.  The mom often bragged to me about how she had potty trained her two youngest daughters by the time they were 5 months old. I would oooh and aaah on the outside and tell her how great that was, but on the inside I was secretly thinking, you're either a big fat liar or you have a horrible memory....  Three years and one baby later, my friend Neriman (who I'm convinced has a good memory and is definetly not a big fat liar) told me that lots of Turkish women, especially villagers who can't afford disposable diapers, potty train their babies around 6 months old.  
At the time, Marie was about 6 months old and I was sick of the potty training process that seems to have gone horribly wrong with Elise.  Neriman told me how they do it and I decided to potty train my 6 month old.  No more of this changing diapers till age 3 for me, I thought, I'm going to have this one trained before she can run away and say no! 

I set my mind to it and for about a week I worked hard to potty train Marie.  Neriman told me it would take about a month, but I only did it for a week.  That's how much determination, perseverance, and will power I have.... when I start something I really follow through and finish it... at least until I get tired of it.
Here's how it works.  Maybe someone out there who has more perseverance than me can try it out.  Maybe one of you can benefit from what I learned.  First you figure out the times your baby goes pee.  It's usually right when she wakes up, right after she eats, and a few other times.  Then you set her on the potty (or hold her over the Turkish toilet) during those times.  Now here's the important part... you have to say "Cheesh" with a long drawn out sh sound at the end.  Cheesh is how you say pee pee in Turkish.  And the word sounds like the sound of peeing, especailly when you really drag out that sh.  The baby hears the sound of peeing and goes pee.

Okay so if you follow these instructions then eventually you'll catch the baby enough times when she actually needs to go that she'll start associating sitting on the potty and especially hearing "cheesh" with going pee.  Then she'll just start holding it until she is surrounded by those pee pee inducing conditions and wah-lah!  She'll be potty trained.  Just like those dogs started drooling when they heard the bell, the baby will start peeing when she hears "cheesh."

So I worked faithfully at this Pavlovian conditioning type potty training with Marie for about a week and by the end of the week you know what had happened?  I held her over the Turkish toilet and said cheesh and she went... even if her diaper was already wet and she didn't have much to give, she would almost always at least let out a teeny little squirt!  She knew that cheesh was the command to pee.  It was really amazing!

Sounds great, right?  Well here's the problem and here's why I gave up.  This method of potty training is not for lazy people.  It's not for those people who like to lay in bed for a few minutes after they hear the baby wake up.  It's not for people who try to feed their toddler and their baby at the same time and linger a little too long in the kitchen after their baby's last bite.  Nope, it's for people who will pop out of bed the second they hear that baby wake up and get her on the potty.  It's for people who pay really close attention to when their baby has stopped eating and might possibly start pooping.  It's for people who immediately notice a little grimace on thier baby's face, or their baby stiffening their body up just a little indicating that the baby's doing some business down below and can immediately get her on the potty.  It takes that kind of determination to train her that the potty (not her diaper) is where she goes pee.  Even though I got Marie trained to go on command, I didn't stick with it long enough to train her not to go when she didn't hear the command.  

 At this point I just put Marie on the potty when I feel up to it.  She is far from being potty trained, but I'm hoping that my more lazy method will at least get her trained a little earlier than her sister (and that shouldn't be too unrealistic a goal since at the rate Elise is going, that will be the year 2048.)

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I'm a horrible mother. Reason number 1 - bare feet

I'm at it again... risking my daughter's health by letting Elise go barefoot. 

My first encounter with the bare feet issue came a couple months after I arrived in Turkey.  Serap came to my house to help me practice Turkish.  I greeted her at the door wearing big pregnancy overalls, a sweatshirt, and (here's the important part) bare feet.  After giving me a kiss on both cheeks (Turkish greeting), she pointed to my feet and with a very concerned look started telling me something.  I couldn't speak Turkish yet. I didn't understand a single word, but something about my feet bothered her, so I decided to put on some slippers, and that ended it.  Maybe my feet stank?  

A couple weeks later my other language helper, Sumru, came over and I was barefoot.  Sumru knew a little English and with a frightened look on her face told me that what I was doing was very dangerous for the baby.  VERY DANGEROUS.  Of course I didn't want to hurt the baby growing in my belly so I asked her what this horrible thing I was doing was.  She told me I wasn't wearing socks.  She couldn't explain exactly how my bare feet would harm my baby, but since I could tell she was seriously frightened, I went and put on slippers.  Slippers weren't  safe enough for the baby, I needed socks too.  I put them on and we went on with our lesson.  From then on I tried to keep my water retaining pregnant feet covered when any Turk was around and that was that.

A couple months later Elise was born.  She was a cute little peanut, but colicky.  She cried in the morning.  She cried in mid-morning too.  She cried at noon and afternoon and late afternoon and evening and night.  Especially night.  Especially right after my eyes finally closed and I tried to sleep for the 345th time that night. that I think of it, I wonder if the colick had to do with the lack of sock usage during my pregnancy.  

I had language lessons while James tried to take care of her and sooth her in another room of the house.  As if I knew the answer and was just choosing not to do anything about it, my language helpers always asked what was wrong with the baby.  Every time they'd go check on her and find the source of the problem.  Socks.  I thought I understood that they were concerned that she was crying because her feet were too cold, but once again Sumru helped me understand things a bit more clearly.  One day before my lesson with Sumru because I didn't want to hear cold feet again, I put Elise into jammies with the feet in them.  Of course at some point during my language lesson Elise started crying.  Sumru stopped the lesson, and we brought out the baby for inspection.

Sumru: Is she wearing socks under those pajamas?
Me: Yes.  Okay, so she wasn't really and I totally lied, but I was soooooo tired of hearing that I wasn't keeping her feet warm enough and chose to lie rather than hear it for the 17 thousandth time that week. But hey, at least I'm being honest for you!
Sumru: What about booties?
Me: Um, booties under the jammies?
Sumru: Of course!
Me: No. My guilt from the first lie was already getting to me and I just couldn't do it again.
Sumru: Aha!  That's why she's crying.  She has gas.
Me: I don't understand.  I understood maybe she had gas, but what that had to do with her feet was beyond me.
Sumru: She needs to be wearing 3 layers on her feet at all time.
Me: I don't understand.
Sumru: Her feet got cold which gave her gas, which made her cry.
Me: Cold feet gave her gas?
Sumru: Of course!
Me: I didn't know that about babies. . . Do little molicules of air somehow get absorbed by the feet when they get too cold and go into the digestive system???  Have you seriously thought this through?  Okay so I didn't say that bit about the air... but I really wanted to.
Sumru:  Well, she also could have gas because you had bare feet which gave you gas, which got into your breastmilk, and that gave her gas.
Me: Wow, I'll have to be more careful. And I'll have to remember that my feet are like big sponges for air, which then must go into the bloodstream and wreak havoc throughout my body.  Okay, so I didn't say that part about my feet being sponges either, but I still wonder how she would have responded if I had.

From that day forward I tried to keep Elise's feet covered, I really did, but she was always pulling off socks and I got tired of trying to keep up.  I like going barefoot in my house and so I usually don't wear socks either, but ever since those conversations I've tried to keep some slippers by the door so that whenever I answer it my feet are covered.  I also try to run and put socks on Elise and Marie before guests come in.  

Here is a small smattering of the horrible things that happen to people who don't wear socks.  I've heard all of these, usually as warnings for what will happen to me or my children when people see us sockless (and I'm talking inside the house here people, not outside... we've never even risked that one).
1. You'll get sick (this is the most common, kind of a catch all)
2. You'll get a kidney infection.
3.  Your stomach will start to hurt.
4.  You will lose the ability to have children (your uterus freezes from what I've heard)
5.  Your back will hurt
6.  You may miscarry your baby

Any idea what reason number two is???

Monday, 3 March 2008

milk shake

So, I'm slowly working on explaining what makes me a horrible mother, but I'm not ready to post it yet.  I'm not sure I can bear the shame of exposing my failures and shortcomings.   I promise though, it will come soon.  While you wait I'd like to tell you about last night.

James and I went out to dinner.  As we were in the mood for something a bit more western, we chose a place in town called Park Cafe.  Even from the name you can probably tell that it's not your traditional Turkish fare.  It's got lots of American-ish food.  We arrived at the restaurant a little early so we perused the dessert menu in order to split a sweet treat before ordering the main meal. We narrowed down our choice to splitting a caramel hot chocolate or a milk shake.  James decided the milk shake was a little more fun, a little less common than hot chocolate so we went for it. He was right, you can't find a milk shake at too many restaurants in this country. I chose chocolate (the choices were chocolate, banana, or strawberry). 

Before I tell you about the milkshake that came to our table, you have to understand a couple of things. First, you have to understand that turkish food is delicious.  Really really great.  Second, you have to understand that if you want American food you're gonna have a hard time finding it outside of America.  And if you try to find it in Turkey you have to be ready for it to taste, well, to taste not quite right.  Maybe pizza wont have much sauce.  Maybe the ketchup is spicy.  We're used to those things and so last night we weren't really envisioning a nice thick milk shake like we'd find at Denny's or Chilli's or even McDonalds, but even with low expectations we were shocked and disappointed at what came to our table.

Chocolate milk.  Nestle's Quick.  You know, the kind with that bunny on the package of powder.  That's what we got.  The one difference is that it was a bit frothy, as if it had been shaken together then poured into the glass it was served in.  A milk shake.  Shaken milk with chocolate powder.  For about four dollars.  Yes way. Turkish food is cheap, but if you want American food you often have to pay quite a bit for it,  apparently even for shaken milk.  After it came to our table I remembered seeing Nestle's Quick in strawberry, banana, or chocolate flavor at the grocery store a few days ago, so the flavor choices suddenly made sense.  James took one sip then threw his straw into the ash tray in disgust.  I drank the whole thing hoping that somehow, somewhere in that glass I'd find a little bit or ice cream, or maybe just a few ice chunks that would redeem things for me.  All I found was chocolate milk, straight to the very last sip.

 You know, the menu didn't lie.  We ordered a milkshake and that's exactly what we got... shaken milk.  Now we know.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Fun Photos from Ephesus

"Only 50 cents is enough to feel the magic atmosphere."
Wow!  Does anybody have 50 cents I can borrow???  What a deal!

Gary is checking out the watches.... Wow, that's one nice looking Rolex.  And genuine too.... er... maybe.