Saturday, December 28, 2013

Obligatory Christmas Photos

Christmas was pretty low key for us this year, but it was still a lot of fun.  This was the first year E was really aware that such a holiday existed, so he was excited about the whole Santa and presents thing.  What kid isn't?  He told us very early on that he wanted a "castle and a dragon and a princess so he can save the princess from the dragon," and S and I made damn sure Santa brought it for him.  I seriously don't think the kid has stopped playing with it since Christmas morning.  He couldn't be happier.  Not to mention he was totally spoiled by his grandparents and aunts this year.  We actually hid some toys and arts and crafts to open for later because it was just too much.

Gift opening was followed by lots of playing which was followed by a home cooked holiday dinner and then an early bedtime since we were all exhausted.  It was a quaint little celebration, and it was perfect.

And now for the obligatory photos...


The dragon!
Pulling the box off the castle

His beloved castle
**All the photos were pulled from video and they are all out of focus for some reason.  I apologize for assaulting your eyes with such blurriness.**

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bidding Round Two: Our Next Post

S got his bid list in early November, and since that time we have spent countless hours poring over post reports, school reports, housing and security information, and pet policies for dozens of cities around the world. We read, we watched videos, we looked at first-hand blog accounts, we talked with S's colleagues who have more experience than we do, and in the end we ranked our preferences and turned in our list of 30. 

Then, with a quickness that I was totally shocked by, S got the email informing us that we will be moving to BOGOTA, COLOMBIA in Summer 2015.  And we are ecstatic.

But let me back up a bit.

When we got the list, we had a few must-have criteria when it came to our bidding strategy. We wanted a). to get on a summer cycle b). get the best job for S's career (natch) c). try to get to an Embassy d). get a post with language requirements.  Allow me to break it down for you.

Get on Summer cycle: E will be starting Kindergarten during our second year at post, and we would really like to get him on a cycle that does not disrupt his schooling.  Uprooting a kid every 2-3 years is hard enough, but it gets even more difficult when you're uprooting them in the middle of  a school year.  So, one of our main priorities was to get a post that would have us arriving between May and September.  A lot of families do this, which is why the winter bidding group is always smaller than the summer group. Goal #1 achieved.  

Get an in-cone job for S: This was hard and I can tell you right up front that this goal was NOT met.  S is Management and he is currently serving a Management/Consular position. The bid list had very few management jobs on it to begin with, then after priority staffing position/hardship officers got their preferred jobs (these are people that are serving in places deemed more difficult than Adana) all the management jobs were gone.  After seeing the jobs that remained, S decided he would be fine with whatever job he could get as long as it was at an embassy.

Getting posted to an Embassy: The consulate here in Adana is small.  S loves it, but he really wanted to see what it was like to work at a large Embassy.  He was actually advised by several people to go to an embassy next, so once a management job was off the table, getting to an embassy was his next priority. Goal #3 achieved. 

Getting a post with language requirements: S didn't get to learn Turkish at FSI before coming here. The post badly needed a management officer right away, so they waived his language and sent him with the assurance that he would learn the language from a private tutor at post.  They delivered on the private tutor, but learning a language a couple hours a week between conference calls and meetings doesn't garner the same results as sitting in a classroom at FSI for months on end.  S needs a language in order to get tenure and get off so-called language probation, so we could only bid on cities that would give him that.  Obviously, that took places like London and Sydney off the table.  The other factor was that S tested at a 2+/3 in Spanish before we left for post back in January.  We knew going into bidding that he would need a 3/3 in Spanish (at least) to get off language probation,  so he had to find out just how much classroom time he would need to do that. Once he got the estimate from his CDO (career development officer), we started looking closely at Central and South American posts.  We knew that if we wanted to get on summer cycle and get to an embassy, learning Spanish would be our best shot.  In the end, goal #4 was achieved.  

Needless to say, we are very happy.  We had two Bogota assignments listed as #2 and #3 on our list, and we were pretty confident we would get it.  In fact, I had a dream a couple nights before getting the email that we had indeed gotten Bogota.  

S is excited about how new and different this experience will be for him and I personally am excited to finally learn Spanish, a language I have wanted to learn for a long time.  Of course, there will be no FSI classes for this girl because S will be there for such a short time that it won't be possible for me to take a spouse course.  However, we have an Argentine friend living here in Adana who has already agreed to teach me over the next year. Plus, I have Rosetta Stone and other FSI resources at my disposal.  E will hopefully get to learn Spanish once we enroll him in preschool, but I do worry it will be totally confusing for him at first.  He will have been in a completely Turkish-speaking school environment up until that point, and plopping him directly into a new language kind of makes me nervous.  But S will work with him on the basics before we move, so hopefully the transition won't be too difficult for him.  

We are also happy that this move won't be nearly as stressful for the pets.  Getting them home from Adana already puts my nerves on end and and that's still a year down the road.  But getting them to Bogota will be far less harsh and a lot shorter than traveling to Turkey.  We read that the people in Bogota love dogs too, and that there is excellent vet care available as well.  We love our pets and we want them to be happy too!

So there you have it.  Bogota, get ready.  The McGuires are coming.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Athens Classic Marathon

It just dawned on me that with all the baby news and holiday cheer occupying our times these days, I never blogged about our trip to Athens for the Classic Marathon back in November.  

S chose to run this particular marathon because we hold fond memories of Greece, we have friends there that we were eager to visit, and because he has always wanted to run the original course from Marathon to Athens.  S, bless his heart, trained like a beast all summer in preparation for this marathon.  He set his alarm for 5 a.m. every weekday morning, save for his day off which was Friday, and woke up to run whatever mileage was on his schedule for that day.  Then he would put in a good 10 hour workday before coming home and somehow finding the energy to run around the apartment playing Monsters Attack or Rocketships and Dinosaurs with E.

His weekends were spent running loop after loop in the large park near our house, coming up the apartment only for water stops or bathroom breaks that lasted mere minutes before going back out there.  Once his training called for "long runs," he would be out there for hours.  In the dog days of summer. In the sun with absolutely NO shade. In the 100+ degree heat. In the 100% humidity.  It was insanity.  But he did it.  

On the trip over, S was over the moon to discover we were seated on the same row with an Ethiopian runner who happened to be on our flight out of Istanbul.  S wished him luck and told him that he would be right behind him, nipping at his heels at the end of the race. I think the joke went over the guy's head.  Of course, I love my husband, but professional Ethiopian running speed he does not have.  

The day before the race was rather low-key.  We tried not to do too much walking so as to let S get as much rest as possible, but we spent a good bit of time exploring the Runner's Expo where we went to pick up his race packet and number.  While there, S discovered his birthday had been entered as 1992, which had us howling in laughter, so he spent some time trying to get that fixed.  Then the evening was spent doing the usual carb-loading on pasta and bread and salads. No, I wasn't preparing for a race, but being pregnant gave me an excuse to carb load too.  I mean, it was for the baby, right?  I need the energy too!

Then, right before bed time, S walked into the edge of the platform bed at our hotel and promptly BROKE HIS TOE.   I mean, he screamed, and folded into a clump on the bed. Out of pain or fear of not being able to race, I still don't know, but he just lay there while I tried not to freak out.  Then he got up, turned off the light and we went to bed.  Not one glimpse at the toe, not one sentence uttered about it.   That was that.  I think he just wanted to forget that it had even happened.

The next morning I could hear S getting ready to walk to the free shuttle.  I quietly asked how his toe was feeling and as he fumbled around in the dark, I heard him mumble an unconvincing "fine."  I knew to not pester him, and off he went, ready to run. 

E and I spent the morning walking around souvenir shops, eating breakfast in an outdoor cafe, and sharing cups of hot chocolate together.  He was being so sweet and kept asking when we were going to go see Daddy "run that maratom."  

Hot chocolate face.
When the time came, we ventured over to the finish line when I estimated that S would be nearing his finish and found a prime spot 250 meters from the end.  We stood and waited.  And waited.  I tried to hold our 30 pound toddler on my shoulders so he could see, while he begged to be put back in his stroller so he could nap.  I tried very hard to keep him awake to see his Daddy, but nearly 30 minutes had passed since I expected S to finish, and I just didn't have the energy to hold him any longer.  So off to nap he went while I stood there trying not to worry.  "Is he okay?"  "Why hasn't he run by yet?" "Wait, did he run by and I just missed him?" "No, that's not possible, we got here right one time." 

Then the bigger fears started to creep in as our waiting ticked to near an hour.  "What if he collapsed?" "What if he really hurt his toe so bad that he can't walk?" "What if he's in the hospital and I don't have a phone that works and I have no way to contact him?!?"

And then, his red shirt flashed in the distance and I could see him running toward me, determination and exhaustion etched into his face.  I shouted his name, he ran over to give me a kiss, cast a disappointing look downward at E sleeping in the stroller as I apologized for not being able to keep him awake, him saying it was okay, pecking me once more on the cheek and taking off for the finish line.  He was okay.  Exhausted, but okay. 

S--he's the one in the red shirt behind the other guy in the red shirt :)

The finish line.

Proud of his medal
After the race S told me how impossible this marathon was.  For him, it was the worst one he has ever done. He just couldn't believe how hard it was. It was straight uphill for nearly 75% of the race, only dipping downhill a couple times, before entering another climb.  He said his legs seized up on more than one occasion, and the pain that he had in his toe was all but forgotten when his legs started to give out and his muscles started to spasm.  He said he never understood why people "walked during a marathon" when they should just push through it and keep running (umm, what?!?) but that now he understands. I had to laugh at that sentiment.  But despite being 50 minutes over his personal best time, he was still proud that he finished.  And so was I.  He was not prepared for hills.  He didn't train on hills.  And he realized that was his biggest mistake.  He was just so excited to run this particular race that he never bothered to check the elevation charts and reviews from other runners, and he was under prepared for the intensity of the course.  But he still finished.  Now he is looking for his next marathon.  I saw him Google "flat course marathons Europe" the other day and had to stifle a giggle. 

As for the toe.  It was indeed broken.  And BLACK from bruising when he took off his sock after the race. I will spare you the photo that he took, just know that it was nasty and now almost completely healed.

All in all, it was a fun time for the family to be together.  And S now likes to rub it in that we are tied at 4 marathons each.  I used to have bragging rights for having run more than him, because after all, it was me who introduced him to the sport, but not anymore.  However, you better believe that once this baby pops out, I will be training for my next marathon.  Then I will be back on top with FIVE.  Mwuahahaha!  But he will always be faster than me, so there's that.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Turkey Day in Turkey

As I've mentioned many times before, the consulate here in Adana is small.  There are only 5 FSOs on staff and a little more than a handful of locally employed staff.  Because of that, the employees and their families are pretty close. Happy Hours and Ladies Nights aside, we also gather for random BBQs and celebrate all the kids' birthdays together. So, it was a no-brainer that we would celebrate Thanksgiving as one big, happy family.

We each contributed some of our favorite family dishes then gathered in the early afternoon to feast, drink and be merry.  Being nearly five months pregnant of course meant I couldn't partake in the drinking, but the eating?  Oh yes.  Plenty of that.  And all of it guilt free.

Dinner was followed by some football, of course, and then we went home for back-to-back Skype sessions with our families back in the U.S.  It is always sad to be so far away from our relatives during the holidays, but we also enjoy creating new family traditions and celebrating with new friends.  And this is only the beginning.

The kiddos

Carving the Turkey

Just a fraction of the food that was served.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Growing By Two Feet

"E, do you want a baby brother or a baby sister?"

"Ummmm, a baby jaguar!"

And so began our conversation with our two-year old about the fact that yes, we are expecting another baby.  I am due at the end of April, shortly after E turns 3, so I keep telling him that mommy is going to bring him a baby brother to play with for his birthday.  That's right folks, we're having another boy!  Not a boy jaguar, mind you, but a human boy.  Hopefully, E won't be too disappointed.

S and I knew we wanted to eventually have a sibling for E, but we had originally planned to time a second pregnancy so that we were back in the States for training for his second post.  We obviously changed our minds.  But because of our original plan, we left everything baby-related back in storage in Maryland.  Or so we thought.  Come to find out, while looking for Christmas decorations in our storage room the other day, we discovered a large box containing a changing pad, a breast feeding pillow, the cradle E slept in as a newborn, and some old bottles.  Some of E's 0-6 month clothes were even in there.  The box was labeled "basement," so I had just assumed it was camping gear or something.  I'm glad we decided to look! The rest of our things, like the baby swing and tummy time mat will have to be re-purchased. Such is life.

Needless to say, we are excited.  I have a lovely doctor here in Adana who has been a-okay'd by the Med Unit in Ankara, and the hospital where I plan to deliver has been approved as well.  I debated med-evacing back to the States (and even received a bit of pressure from the powers that be to do so), but after hearing glowing first-hand stories from expat Americans and other FSOs about their delivery experience here in Adana, I decided I would stay.  My only concern was that because Turkey has a VERY high c-section rate, I would have a doctor subtly try to convince me to have one myself.  (Different people have told me that child birth is often viewed by the Turkish people as dirty and should be done as quickly and cleanly as possibly, thus the sudden rise in c-sections here.  And it might even explain this.) So, the first thing I said to my doctor was I did not want a scheduled c-section (emergencies are a different story, obviously) and I planned to deliver naturally.  He agreed, said he actually tried to encourage all his patients to do that, but he always honors the mother's wishes, even if they choose a scheduled c-section.  I was happy with that answer, and I am happy with the decision to keep him as my doctor. I am hoping that all goes according to plan with the rest of the pregnancy and the delivery.  

For now I am focused on eating right, taking my vitamins, getting the right amount of exercise and having baby-related conversations with two of my expat friends who are also pregnant.  We are all due within weeks of each other and we are all going to the same doctor and plan to deliver at the same hospital, which I find very exciting. 

Also, S and I have already started the fun task of choosing (and agreeing on) a name.  Right now we have a pretty good list going, but we have only agreed on a couple of them.  But we have plenty of time.  Who knows, maybe we'll just call him Jaguar. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Halloween was a blast this year.  That's not to say we didn't have fun last year, because we did, but this year was particularly fun because a). E got to do real trick-or-treating b). he was actually old enough to understand the holiday and know what was going on and c). there was a party for adults too!

We kicked off Halloween week by going to a Fall Fest at the airbase about 25 minutes from our apartment. The fest, which was more than we expected, was complete with a bounce castle, funnel cakes, hamburgers and a haunted house.  We didn't go into the haunted house even though E was begging us to take him (the kid has a serious obsession with ghosts and monsters), so we let him run around the playground and jump in the bounce castle instead. That seemed to distract him long enough because he forgot about the haunted house and never looked back.  Apparently E could bounce in a one of those all day if we let him.  Only the promise of face painting was strong enough to lure him away.

Then on Halloween night, we went back to the base with a group of Consulate families for a little trick-or-treating.  Several neighborhoods were participating in trick-or-treat, so we chose one of the more popular spots and let the kids have at it.  Was E scared or nervous or shy?  Um, no.  I think the kid was born to celebrate this holiday.  On the drive there he was convinced witches were following us on their broomsticks, which he found hilarious, and when we arrived, he boldly walked up to every house and screamed trick-or-treat as loud as he could.  We had to remind him to say thank you, but he eventually started saying it on his own.  

My favorite part of the night was when he walked up to a house with a woman (dressed as a black cat) handing out candy, and a very still, statue-like man sitting next to her in a wolf costume.  E took his candy, said thank you, then turned to the wolf (who had still not moved at this point) shook his hand and said, "Hey! You're the Big Bad Wolf!"  The wolf/man was so surprised that he took off his mask just to get a better look at this tiny little child who had just befriended him.  His black cat wife said he was the only kid who was brave enough to come near him all night and proceeded to reward E with extra candy.  Now, I love my kid,  but I don't know whether I should be concerned or proud of his "bravery."  But, I'm telling you--Halloween is his holiday.  

The night ended with E clutching his bag of candy with all his might and telling us all about the fun he had. And with me kicking myself for not snapping a picture of him with the Big Bad Wolf.  

Trick-or-Treat! He was very quick to point out that he was a crocodile, not an alligator.

The Trick-or-Treat Gang
On his way!

The following evening, all the adults got dressed up for their own night of partying.  The Consulate hosted a Halloween bash at a local restaurant with a beautiful view of the lake.   Everyone came in their best costumes, including me and S who dressed as Buddy Holly and his Sock Hop Girl.   I think the party started out a bit slow, but once the lights dimmed and the music started blaring, everyone let their guards down and had a blast.  My favorite part of the night was when the PD officer and I tried to teach the Principal Officer and a few of the local staff how to do the Time Warp.  Because what's a Halloween party without a little Rocky Horror Picture Show!?

I can't wait for next year's party.  S and I are already discussing costume ideas...

Group shot!

Buddy Holly and his Sock Hop Groupie

A Gangster, The Mad Hatter, Zorro and Buddy

Saturday, October 19, 2013

From The Mouths of Babes

Our child never stops talking. Ever.  When he's not talking about monsters and dragons and ghosts (yes, ghosts), our conversations look something like this.

Scene: Breakfast table
E: "Mommy?"
Me: "Yes, Lovie?"
E: "John* smells."
Me: *stunned* "He does? Well, what does he smell like?"
E: "He smells like peepee and he peepees on the floor."
Me: "Ummm, well, sometimes accidents happen. You should still be nice to him and don't tell him he smells.
E: (thinking) "Okay, Mommy."
(30 minutes later at school drop-off)
E: "Mommy?"
Me: "Yes?"
E: "I won't laugh at John when he peepees on the floor."
Me: "Good, baby."
E: "Even if he smells."

Scene: A new FSO's apartment who had just received his HHE shipment
E: "Oh wow, look at this mess!"  When you going to clean this up?"
Me: (dying of embarrassment) E! You need to be nice! They're still unpacking all their stuff."
FSO: (laughing) "It's okay.  It IS a mess."

Scene: Saturday morning
E: (distributes a flute to Mommy, a tambourine to Daddy and a drum to himself) "C'mon! Let's play rock n' roll!"

Scene: Walking home from school
E: "Mommy, the sun makes the rain stop."
Me: "Oh yeah, how do you know that?"
E: "Because the sun came out and the rain stopped."
Me: "That's right."
E: "And the rain makes the flowers grow bigger."
Me: "And who told you that?"
E: "Caillou"**

*John is the Americanized spelling of Can, which is the Turkish version of the name.*
**Caillou is his favorite cartoon.  Who says kids don't learn anything from TV!?"**

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rome Through the Eyes of a Two Year Old

No, we did not go on Authorized Departure to Rome.  We are still kicking around Adana waiting for the next shoe to drop and wondering if it will actually drop.  But a couple weeks ago, we took a little vacay to Rome to celebrate a milestone birthday for S.  I won't tell you how old he is because he would likely kick my butt (hint: he does not look his age, IMO), but let's just say we had an awesome time. We spent 5 days walking around the city, eating all the pasta, pizza and gelato we could get our hands on, and taking in the numerous sites Rome has to offer.  S and I loved it.  E loved it as well, mostly because of the pizza and gelato, but since he's a toddler and has no appreciation for historic places and art, it was challenging to keep him entertained.  But he powered through it, so I'll just go ahead and let the pictures tell the story...

 "Oooh, is that a fountain behind me??  Let me down so I can play!"
(Trevi Fountain)

"Ahh, thank you!"

First gelato of the trip.  "Thanks Mom and Dad!"

"Mom, do I really have to smile?"
(at The Vatican)

"Hey Dad, check this out!"
(This was his favorite phrase of the trip.
S and I had to "check out" everything)


"Hey, they're taking their clothes off.  Can I take off mine?"

"Dad, just so you know, I'm bored."

"Dad, are you supposed to be putting holy water in your bottle?"
(The Vatican)
"Mommy, check this out!  Can I touch them?" Um, no.
(St. Peter's Basilica in the background)

"Is there a giant beer behind me?  Ok, just checking."

"Mmm, this is good pizza, Daddy!"

"I'm free!  I'm free!"

"Now let me see how much trouble I can get myself into..."

Any trouble this way?

Another fountain = Trouble

Umpteenth Gelato break: "Can I taste yours, Daddy?"
(E insisted on tasting everyone's gelato to determine the best one.)

"Let me outta here!" (Parthenon)

"Mom, seriously?  Let me climb the steps!"

"Finally. Thank you." (Spanish Steps)

"C'mon! What are you waiting for?"

"Yay! Finally something fun!" (Borghese Gardens)

"Can I play in the water?  Pretty please?"

"Never mind, I'll play with this cool toy instead."
"Daddy, are there monsters up there?"

"Look Mom, there's monsters up there!"

"You mean, people used to live here?" (Pompeii)

"Do you think they'll mind if I climb on their old stairs?"

This trip was seriously exhausting, guys.
Wake me when we're back in Adana."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Authorized Departure

So, this happened yesterday.  Yes, that means that we have been put on Authorized Departure here in Adana.  While we have no plans to leave as of right now, we are paying close attention to what is going on just across the border (in Syria) and we are weighing our options.  Of course, should the powers that be put us on Ordered Departure, as was the case in Beirut, we will have no choice but to leave.  But for now, we are laying low and crossing our fingers.  

Needless to say, this has been quite a memorable first post.  In the past eight months, we have seen 1.) numerous protests over Patriot Missiles located here in southeastern Turkey that resulted in the local air base being locked down for a short time and our movements restricted 2.) a crazy violent incident that resulted in the destruction of our diplomatic passports (still not allowed to blog about that one) 3.) nationwide Turkish government protests and riots that lasted for weeks and resulted in several deaths, including one here in Adana, and now this.  I feel like a life in the Foreign Service should share the same tag line as CBS's reality show Big Brother: Expect the Unexpected.  Because that has certainly been the case here in Adana.  

But, like I said, we are making the best of things and hoping that nothing escalates.  We really love it here and we don't want to disrupt our lives if we don't feel it is necessary.  Of course, I would never put my family in danger, so we will do whatever it takes to stay safe.  I really don't want to have to leave my husband behind, though (he is considered essential personnel) and the idea of leaving our pets makes my heart hurt. So I will try not to think about it for now.  Except that it's hard not to...

Positive thoughts and good vibes are welcome! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Snapshot Tuesday: Fifty Years Ago - March On Washington

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, I thought I would post this little gem for Snapshot Tuesday.  This is a photograph of my grandfather at the MOW in 1963.  He is on the far left, wearing the hat.  My cousin found it online after discovering that the picture is featured inside the current issue of TIME magazine.  Our family is very proud of the work my grandfather, his friends and colleagues did for civil rights 50 years ago, and we never let a family gathering pass us by without telling stories of him and our grandmother and the amazing lives they led.  This country has come a long way in the fight for equality, but there is still more progress to be made.  Here's to the past, present and future.  Here's to the people who fought for their rights.  And here's to you Granddaddy.  Thank you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tales of Potty Training

E started showing interest in the potty a while back, but to be quite honest, S and I just weren't ready for potty training.  So we waited.  And waited.  At the beginning of the summer, his teachers at school tried to get him to use their potty, but apparently that was a disaster.  He cried, and they didn't force him.  But because we didn't want him to be completely terrified of going to the bathroom when it came time to really train him, we gradually introduced the concept at home.  We asked him to sit on it before bath time or in the afternoons when I picked him up from school.  He would go every now and then if he was really encouraged, but we didn't do anything with regularity, so he just wasn't learning from it.  

Then, during Bayram weekend two weeks ago, S and I came to the mutual agreement that we just needed to suck it up and train him.  Also, according to his teachers, all his buddies at school were now trained, and therefore E was showing more interest, this time without the tears.  He was clearly ready, and so were we.  

The three-day weekend was perfect timing because a) it was three days and b) we had no plans.  But then, uh-oh, we did have plans to go to the beach on Friday.  Because of that we were *this* close to putting it off again, but decided against it.  It was now or never.  So, we stocked up on rewards like small candies and stickers, covered the couches, put towels over the rugs, and braced ourselves.  That first day (Saturday) was a nightmare. He would go if you reminded him, but he would only sit long enough to allow for a splash of pee before hopping up and saying he was done.  Then he would go back to his toys, or DVDs and inevitably, he would finish going to the bathroom in his pants.  I spent the entire day washing towels and sheets and underwear and even couch covers (ours are removable AND washable, thank goodness).  He started to get the hang of it by mid-afternoon, but when he woke up from his nap he refused to go. We all got frustrated so we eventually put Pull-ups on him for a few hours before bed time and figured we would start again on Sunday.

Sunday was a much better experience, and we were actually quite shocked.  S and I were prepared for the absolute worst, but E surprised us.  He told us when he had to go and actually sat long enough to let more than a splash out.  He even went number 2, which was quite a dramatic performance on his part, but he still did it.  S and I were quite the cheerleaders too.  He only had one accident all day and we were stoked.  The kid was learning! 

Then Monday rolled around and it was back to school time.  I told his teachers about the weekend training, and begged them to keep it going at school.  This part made me the most nervous because I knew it was at school where he had cried and refused to go, whereas he was always comfortable at home.  But when I picked him up that afternoon, they told me he did "wonderful"  and went to the potty all day. I was so happy!  Not only did he go, but he picked up the Turkish word for pee (çiş) and is using it at home now too.  "Mommy, I need to çiş!"  

So, far he has only had one accident since we trained him, but we are always cautious.  We remind him about going çiş at regular intervals, but for the most part, he tells us when he has to go.  I was quite surprised the other day when he came into the bathroom during my shower and announced that he had gone çiş all by himself.  He couldn't figure out how to get his pants back up because he was naked from the waist down, but he had in fact gone çiş without me.  We even tested out the whole "public bathroom" thing last weekend while grocery shopping.  He had to go, but when S took him, he suddenly changed his mind.  I was sure he would wet himself in the store (I had come prepared with wipes and spare clothes) but he managed to hold it until we got home.  And when we attended dinner at a friend's house later that night, I again, showed up prepared for an accident.  I even apologized up front in case he had one.  Luckily she herself has a 2-year old that was recently potty trained, so she understood.  But he told me every time he had to çiş and when I took him to their bathroom, he had no problems. Success?  Success!

Now our next step is to do away with night time Pull-ups, which we still use. He wakes up dry most mornings, but we're just not ready to eliminate them completely. I figure that will come later.  But for now, we take joy in the fact that our little guy is potty trained!  Whoohoo!  Fingers crossed it stays that way :-)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Road Trip: Cappadocia

The other big road trip we took while my relatives were visiting last week, was to Cappadocia, about 3 hours north of Adana.  I will admit, I wasn't familiar with Cappadocia before we moved here.  I had read a bit about it, but I didn't know enough to realize it was a must-see.  After our arrival last January, pretty much everyone we met said, "You have  to go to Cappadocia while you're here!" So, we waited until we could share it with our relatives, and promptly booked our trip. 

Goreme among the fairy chimneys

If you're curious to learn more about Cappadocia, you can read about it here.  Otherwise, I will try to keep the blog explanation simple.  

Cappadocia is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in central Turkey in a region called Anatolia. Cappadocia stretches across three major towns, including the most popular town where we stayed, Göreme. Thousands of years ago, thick ash from a volcanic eruption covered the entire area, and erosion helped shape the landscape, creating "fairy chimney" like structures across the plain.  Years later, people thought these amazing rock structures would make for good homes and churches, so they began carving habitable spaces into the stone.  Just to give you a sense of age, the earliest known inhabitants settled in Göreme during the Hittite reign circa 1800 to 1200 BC. What resulted was a honeycomb-like underground city where people lived, worked and prayed.  

Today, people still live in some of these chimney structures, and many hotels are built into them, including our hotel.  The original portion of the hotel was carved into the rock, while a new portion attached to the cave rooms, allowed for more modern amenities like a restaurant, pool and spa.  The town is rather touristy and most prices are all listed in Euros, not Turkish Lira, but we really enjoyed our stay.  They even set up the cutest little bed for E ahead of time, and he had absolutely no trouble falling asleep. 

Our hotel
Notice how one side is built into the rocks
having lunch at a local restaurant

The city of Göreme maintains a fabulous open air museum where you can tour the caves and peek inside the churches and homes.  We toured the museum on the day of our arrival, and we were pretty impressed.  E, our sweet little boy with the ever-increasing imagination, thought it was the best thing ever, and proceeded to "scare away the monsters" and "get rid of the ghosts."  Don't ask me where he gets that, but it makes him happy.

Posing with the camels just outside the museum entrance.

view from a lookout peak at the museum

Entering one of the chapels

Getting ready to chase ghosts and monsters
looking down from one of the carved out churches

the ceiling inside one of the chapels
my cousin on the left and the McGuire clan

At dawn the next morning, our guests went off for a hot air balloon ride across the valley (which they said was amazing), while I went to a lookout point to take some photos.  The view of the sun rising over the mountains and fairy chimneys while balloons floated in the air was probably one of the top 5 most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life.  Truly breath taking.  A few other visitors had gathered at the lookout point as well, but it wasn't overrun with tourists like I had feared.  I had space to myself to just sit and be.  It was the most quiet and still I have ever been.  A moment to yourself to look at something so spectacular doesn't come along often, so when it does, you have to soak it all in.  And soak it in, I did. 

Some of the balloons preparing for lift off

The sun rising over the mountains

Balloons over Goreme

the lookout point (yes, it was cold at 5am)

a view from the balloon

Upon check-out on the second day, we drove to another small town about 30 minutes south of Göreme  to tour an underground city that was used to hide Christians in the 10th and 11th centuries.  I was all excited about it until I actually walked 10 feet inside and realized what I had gotten myself into.  My claustrophobia got the best of me, and one of the tour guides said she would not recommend that I go any further if I was already nervous.  So, I took her advice and made a quick exit.  I wanted to take E out with me, but he'd already set his sights on some monsters that needed to be eradicated and thus refused to leave.  When S came out with him roughly 20 minutes later, he admitted that even he got a little freaked out too. The caves went about 8 stories deep and got more and more narrow as you descended.  S also said that he had to stoop down and practically crawl through some of the tunnels, but they were the perfect height for E, who thought it was even better than the open air museum from the day before.  And just in case you're curious, he did get rid of all the monsters.  

After our  their tour of the underground city, we did some souvenir shopping, attempted to make a rug purchase, decided that was a stupid idea (prices were outrageously more expensive than here in Adana because it's such a touristy area) and got in our car for the 3 hour drive home.  I have a feeling that we will be taking more visitors back over the next year and a half, but I am looking forward to it.  It seems like there are new and fun things to discover each time.  And could you ever seriously tire of this view?