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?  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Road Trip: Gaziantep/Zeugma Muze

We recently had relatives in town, so we used their visit an opportunity to take a few road trips that we had been planning for a while.  The first trip was to visit the Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep, a city approximately 2.5 hours east of Adana. S had visited this museum on a work trip a few months ago, and when he came back raving about how amazing it was, I knew I had to see it.

The Zeugma is the largest mosaic museum in the world, located along a portion of the historic Silk Road. The museum itself gets its name from the ancient city of Zeugma, a town in southern Turkey near Syria, believed to have been founded by a general in Alexander the Great's Army.  The mosaics, which were decorative pieces on the floors of homes in Zeugma, were unknown for nearly 2,000 years, until they were discovered in the 1970's.  Then in 2000, they were excavated in an emergency effort to save them before a dam that was scheduled to be built on the Euphrates River flooded them all.  A team of Turkish, British and other international archaeologists got together  and worked around the clock to remove as many mosaics as they could.  Unfortunately, not all were saved, and portions of Zeugma are now under water.  What was saved, was restored and preserved and put on display in the Zeugma Museum, which opened in 2011.   

The mosaics are breathtaking.  Some of the more simple ones contained geometric shapes and basic patterns, while the more intricate ones contained images of Poseidon, fish, the sea and more.  The most famous of the mosaics, however, is the one called Gypsy Girl. She is secluded in a dark room, on display under a dim light where an employee stands guard at all times. She is so popular, in fact, that she is known as the Turkish Mona Lisa.  No one knows who she is, but the intense gaze of her eyes, which seem to follow you from every corner of the room, are so life-like, that you can't help but be mesmerized.  Some have even theorized that this was not a Gypsy Girl, but was  Alexander the Great, in woman's clothing. 

Whatever your particular belief though, you can't walk away without admitting it is a stunning piece of artwork.  The entire museum was well-worth the visit, and I can't wait to go back with future visitors.

Poseidon Mosaic

Doesn't it almost look like a painting? Such talent.

The famous, Gypsy Girl.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Snapshot Tuesday: Bayram

Not the best photo, but this (nearly empty) candy basket was given to E at school
 in celebration  of Bayram,/the end of Ramazan, which is tomorrow.