Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I forgot I had a blog...

LOL I actually forgot I had a blog. Well, not entirely, but almost.

We've spent the last 3 weeks battling swine flu, viruses & other infections - not always my own, but definately this is starting to feel like a sick house. Mehmed just finished a round of antibiotics on Sunday and he seems to be doing better. Mom had pneumonia, she suffered the worst in the house, partly because she waited too long to get help I think. But her antibiotics seem to be working now and she seems better. Unfortunately I got antibiotics too and they have been helping my chest feel more clear but I have a wicked sore throat and sinuses that seem to follow their own will. But the tickling cough is the thing that's driving me the most NUTS. The antibiotics are not helping those so I guess I'm stuck with it until my body figures out what to do.

I don't remember if I ever blogged about it but in September we bought an SUV - a Mercedes ML320. It was nice, not brand new or anything, (2002) but it was kind of cool to have a Mercedes, and to be able to get into a car without ducking your head down. Anyways, 6 weeks after we got it, on the 23rd of October, Orhan was out doing an estimate for a customer and just after he got out of the driveway and started down the road, a drunk driver came flying down the hill and skidded into Orhan's lane. Thankfully, Orhan and his helper were not injured at all but the car was a write-off. Oh well. I guess we were not meant to have big-name vehicles after all. Lucky for us the Honda hadn't sold yet, so we're back in it and have decided to be grateful for what we've got. Al Hamdu Lillah (Praise be to God).


Anyways, so a cop came over to the house a week or so ago to take the official report on the accident - apparently the officer at the scene failed to do that. So, given all the complaints I've been getting from the school about Mehmed's aggression, I decided to see if he'd tell Mehmed that Mommy and Daddy are not lying when we say that that kind of activity can land you in jail.... man, he didn't scare Mehmed much but he scared me!!! Apparently Orhan and I can get sued if some parent thinks that we haven't done enough to prevent their child from getting injured! Which sucks because there's NOTHING I can do when he's at school. I'm not the one standing there supervising him and able to yell out to stop when I can see something's about to happen. And at the school they are too understaffed for recess to have somebody who can catch him before he's done something. It's so frustrating! The cop did say that he's never seen a kid go to a juvenile detention center before the age of 12.

Gee, how reassuring.

It's lit a flame under my butt though & I'll be meeting with his pediatrician in December to discuss his aggression as well as his hyperactivity (which are kind of connected - he's so impulsive). Thinking I'll cave and try the ADHD meds.... although the last time we discussed it, she advised that kids on the Autistic spectrum only respond well to the ADHD meds 50% of the time, compared to 90% success rate for kids who have just an ADD or ADHD diagnosis. I hope they work for him.

I'm also gonna meet with a Consultant at Kerry's Place - it's a center specializing in helping people with Autism. They will be able to refer us to whatever treatments we might need. I'm thinking he should be getting IBI (intensive behavioural intervention). That probably sounds scarier than it is. From my understanding it's kind of like physiotherapy but the repetitiveness is not physical, it's something that's meant to help him retrain his brain on how to respond appropriately to various stimuli - meant to improve the way he communicates and responds to stresses and stuff.


n e ways.... that's all for now. I guess I am so long-winded I'm better off only updating once every 6 weeks!


Bayram Mubarak Olsun
Eid Mubarak to all the Muslims! (that's coming on Friday).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happier Play thanks to advice :)

Just updating to say that on Wednesday at Dinosaur school I got awesome advice about how to avoid the gun play. I guess part of the problem was that I partially misunderstood the assignment. We were supposed to allow the kids to completely dominate/rule the method of play - but we didn't have to make them choose the activity - we can first suggest the activity and then role with however they want to play it. So now instead of asking him what he wants to play, I just suggest something and then let him completely rule the play.
So far we've played ladybugs, crafts, his pirhana game, and just lots of fun times. He's so sweet when he's given the command of playing....
And when I picked him up at school on Friday, he was so excited, carrying a Turkey made out of an apple stuck with a popsicle stick and some feathers. Said he wanted to give it to Aunt Sandra (I guess because he remembered that she has REAL turkeys at the farm). It was so cute, I can't wait to go there for Turkey dinner tomorrow!
Anyways, all is well! Guess I have a lot to be thankful for :)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is it ok to play guns with your kid?

Mehmed started Dinosaur School last night.

After a summer filled with small acts of violence - first in Turkey, hitting, kicking or spitting on what seemed like every kid he encountered, then at Day Camp, then punching two girls on the second day of school.... my days have been remarkably more peaceful since I haven't had any "complaints" since that phone call from the principal on the 2nd day of school. What a relief!

I am of course concerned that part of it is that some of his actions are either not getting caught since most things probably happen at recess with 150 other children in the playground and only one supervising teacher.... But I got to watch him for about 5 minutes from behind a 2-way mirror and he seemed peaceful and content in the Dinosaur School. Mind you he is well supervised and the environment is very calm, but he was happy.

Except for the high-strung emotional outbursts over silly things like still getting frustrated when he can't do up his jacket-zipper, or if I don't hear or understand something he said and he has to repeat himself, I'm starting to feel like I'm just dealing with typical 6 year old parenting stuff. He doesn't listen to me when I tell him it's time to get his pajamas on. Frustrating as hell but pretty typical 6 yr old stuff.

So while Mehmed is in Dinosaur school, the parents are simultaneously given a parenting course -this one is called "The Incredible Years". The number one thing we are advised to do is actually spend more time "playing" with our kids. We are told to play with them for a minimum of 15-20 minutes but on THEIR terms. We cannot take control over how the play is to be made. If the kid wants to park his car in a lake, we can't say "You can't park your car in a lake" - because at their age, it is not going to affect how they grow up or where they actually park their cars by the time they are able to drive. We're also supposed to stay away from competitive games since that is just setting yourself up for failure if the kid loses, and for any activity we cannot impose rules.... let THEIR rules be the rules of the game for that play time. It sounds simple enough but omg it actually is hard.

I used to think I was good at spending time with him but after being told to play with him this way, I realize that most of the time I spend with him is "parenting";
"Get up, get dressed, what do you want for breakfast, it's time to go to school now, don't forget to use your words with your friends if you have a problem, ask a teacher if you need help, hi did you have a good day at school, were you kind to your friends, yes you can play at the playground but only for 5 minutes, I have to make dinner now, wash your hands, come to dinner, eat all your vegetables I only put 3 on your plate, ok you can have dessert, wash your face & hands, go play alone in your room while I clean up from dinner, time for bath, time for pajamas, time for story, are you actually listening to me, go to bed now good night."

omg. NO WONDER he balks at doing stuff sometimes.

So last night, the first night of homework after the Parenting class and Dino school, I actually did play with him on his terms... and what did he want to play? Legos. Great, no problem. Except that he wanted to build the legos into Lego men with guns on their arms and and tank and they had to shoot each other. WHAAAT!!!???

ok, the counsellor didn't say anything about what we're supposed to do when the kids imaginary play is violent. Usually I frown upon gun play and don't allow it, but the counsellor was so specific that we have to give over COMPLETE control to the kid and NOT JUDGE AT ALL in fact we're supposed to complement them on their creativity. WHAAAAT am I supposed to complement when his lego man just killed mine????

So, not knowing the answer to that I actually went with the class instructions - I complemented him on his ability to build the lego men well and I complemented him when his lego man put my lego man in the hospital and healed him, but I pretty much "ignored" the rest, obediently shooting at the bad guy shouting out bullet noises.... wondering all the while am I a bad parent for actually allowing this? Arg. Years ago this wouldn't have been an issue. Every kid played cops & robbers. Hundreds of years ago it was sword fighting. And parents didn't even think twice about it. But in the wake of Columbine, what are we supposed to do? And in light of his apparent obsession, what's a mom to do?

Oh, God please don't let me child grow up violent! Please let him be empathetic and love peace and think of negotiating as the first course of action in all conflicts! Ameen.
Oh and PS please let him be a good Muslim.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Post Ramadan Indulgence and Inspiration....

Since Ramadan is over I am entitled of course to not fast. Yesterday I did, because I have several make up days to do having been sick a few times this year, but today I just did NOT feel up to it. I think I need to re-energize myself. So right now, I am sitting at the computer desk, with a cup of tea, and a lunch of eggs, sausage, feta cheese and 2 olives. SOOOO fatty, but sooooo good. Maybe I'll gain back all the weight I lost but right now at this moment I DON'T care.
And I am spending the day reading a blog by Dave Hingsburger. He is an advocate for people with disabilities. He has written several books on the topic, and speaks at conferences, often as the keynote speaker. I had never heard of him before I discovered his blog (Called Rolling around in my Head). He has posted pretty much every day since October 2006. I've gone back to that beginning and started reading and am now up to January 2007. Some of his posts make me laugh, some of them bring out tears of empathy or joy, and to be honest one or two of them have annoyed me just a little. But the majority just inspire me to be a better human being and to try harder to connect with other human beings in the world around me. So sitting here is my indulgence and reading Dave is my inspiration. I will probably even be stuck here until 3 when I have to get ready to go get Mehmed. Until then, I will be sipping my tea with Dave....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Detoxifying....

So many things I want to do these days.... I want to detoxify my house, my body, my spirit, my parenting skills, the list goes on....

I want to detoxify my house starting with the bathroom that has those overflowing, disorganized cupboards. I actually emptied out the middle ones into one of those big plastic storage tubs that I bought at Wal-Mart. Of course I did that about 2 or 3 weeks ago. The truth is I've had more than enough time to work on it. Nevermind all the other changes I need to make time for in the house, I feel like I can get to that stuff if I can just cross item #1 off my "To Do in the House" list - i.e. the Bathroom.
I want to detoxify my body too. I think the recently completed Ramadan Fasting does help a little with that. But there's a difference between Ramadan fasting and Body-cleansing fasting. Body cleansing fasts involve eating practically nothing at all but organic fruits & vegetables and/or their juices along with whatever herbal detox products might contribute to that. I know that I want to do some healthy things for my body but I find that by sunset I'm too tired to plan a truly healthy meal (well most days anyways - once in a while I actually do get inspired). But I did manage to lose a little bit of weight (not too much, which is the "healthy" way to lose, so they say). I was drinking tons of water at night and before dawn since you can't drink anything during the day. Ironically, I'm sure that I actually drink more water when I'm fasting and deprived of water during the daylight hours. Plus, since I couldn't eat or drink anything during the day, I haven't been drinking coffee, which I have figured out does not agree terribly with my body.
I think that the Ramadan fast does help with cleansing my spirit too, but of course it does also help if I avoid that toxic spirit drainer otherwise known as TV. How is it that my personal resolve is strong enough to abandon eating and drinking for 14 hours straight every day for a month, but I can't seem to abandon watching that stupid mind-numbing box?
But the most important detox is the one cleaning up my parenting skills. Although I think I have improved for the most part in that category. My temper boiled a lot during our 2 months in Turkey and I felt like my hands were tied most of the time from disciplining Mehmed. He'd hit another kid, and I'd place him in timeout, or take him away from the park, and I would constantly feel berated from people for trying to discipline my son. And I wasn't even yelling at him, just timeouts and lectures and stuff.... but "he's just a child", they'd say, "he'll outgrow this." So I should just allow him to continue pressing escalator buttons, kicking other kids, hitting them, spitting on people, and let it all to go unpunished just because he's a child and he "might" outgrow it? Arg. Talk about frustrating. And even they all had to admit that he was an unusually angry child. What was almost as frustrating was that people couldn't see why he was getting angry. They'd see him freak out, having a major tantrum, screaming at me, but they couldn't understand our English well enough to realize that he was freaking out because I hadn't placed his plate just right on the table, or I hadn't phrase my words in the exact order he wanted me to say them. Really odd things that children do not normally get angry about.
Anyways, when we first got back in August I think my pent up repressed emotions spilled over because I spent 3 weeks allowing myself to yell at him CONSTANTLY. It's one thing to try to deal patiently with a kid all day and then raising your voice a few times during the course of a particularly uncooperative day, but constant anger and yelling? In the end I got really mad at myself and resolved to change things. So for the last month I have been really careful not to raise my voice and to take better time discussing things with him. It's hard sometimes, particularly when he gets extraordinarily rude, like rolling his eyes at my lectures and saying "ya ya ya", making faces at me, demanding something without so much as a please or a thankyou, even though I've ingrained that in him since he could first squeak out a syllable, or when he freaks out at me because I didn't phrase a question exactly the way he's envisioned it being asked in his head.
But I am actually happy because I feel like I've been doing all right with this. Not to pat myself on the back, I am definately far from perfect, but I am proud of myself for not freaking out at him over the day to day problems. The problems that I will either forget about in 10 years, or at least be able to look back at them and laugh, or at the very least I will be grateful that these stages are over.
But I still want to detoxify my parenting even more. No matter how much you might improve, the roller coaster doesn't stop and I know that I could hit a bump in the road that wears down my resolve and gets me yelling at him instead of lovingly parenting him. While he starts Dinosaur school next Wednesday, parents don't attend with their child so Kinark offers a Parenting class alongside it - mine starts this Wednesday. I was offered a choice between Triple P, which I've already done, and this one that I'm taking. I think it's called the Incredible Years (or maybe the Wonderful Years). All I know for sure is that the title is wonderful and makes me think that it will help me to appreciate these years that I know I will never get back. So, while I may screw up sometimes, like those few weeks in August, and I am ashamed to say a good portion of his JK year (the year of hell until May, when I finally pulled him out of school, for which he was just NOT ready), I am hoping that I can learn to appreciate these Incredible Years 99% of the time.... That to me is the most important detox of all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Turkey Trip 2009, A collage of pics...

The video is kind of "cropped" so if you want to watch it in higher quality, just click on the video after it starts to play, it should pop up a new window directly to the Youtube vid, which you can also choose to play in HQ.... This one's only a bit over 3 minutes so not too torturous...

Mehmed's back at school :)

Mehmed started grade 1 last Monday! Woohooo! You should see my happy dance ;). He goes to school EVERY DAY. The only disadvantage to this of course is that I now have to make lunches every day so I no longer have the luxury of the occasional sleep-in day... Oh well, I guess that's why people love weekends. Oh, and in the first week of school, I've only gotten 1 phone call from the office (on day 2).
But I have DEFINATELY changed in the last two years. Two years ago I would have been devestated and beat myself up over it ('I'm such a bad parent, I can't make my kid stop hurting others'), and I would have yelled at Mehmed over it way too much. Poor little guy.
So I'm very happy that there was no freaking out this time. Just a terse lecture (he is only 6 after all, I can't hold his attention for very long). I know he knows better, but I also know that he really has trouble stopping himself. I'm just hoping that being deprived of TV, Computer and DVDs for 5 days will help him to remember that he needs to control himself... This is the first week back after a LONG break away from that kind of overstimulation and I'm hoping it doesn't take too long for him to get back into the habit of halting himself before it happens.... I've resurrected our morning mantra of "I'll use my words first and if they don't work I'll ask a teacher".
But honestly, I don't know what these phone calls do to stop his behaviour. How much more do they want me to do from home? Send him in with handcuffs? Make him wear a mini-cam that has 2-way voice control so I can prompt him when I see he's starting to escalate? Arg.
So on that 2nd day, when the principal had me on the phone, I simply asked her if she was familiar with his file. I pointed out that this is a recurring weakness for him, particularly during times of sensory over-stimulation such as recess & gym & that's precisely WHY he was recommended to have an EA at school and I promptly told her that I think the school should get right on top of that... *BIG GRIN* Suddenly I feel so grown up. :)
Anyways, his teacher's name is Ms. Maxwell, and so far I've only heard awesome things about her.... And he survived "move day" without getting taken out of her class so it looks like she's stuck with him :). I met her yesterday and was really happy with the accomodations they're making to help him. He's supposed to get taken in on the first bell after recesses because he doesn't deal well with the chaos of the line. The noises upset him greatly and he often winds up acting out as a result, hence the changes to when he goes in. And for the dressing & undressing, he has a little space off to the side away from the other kids. He can also go there if he starts to get upset about something. Ms. Maxwell said she was impressed that he is agreeable to moving away from the group when he does start to get upset, as opposed to running away down the hall or hiding under a desk as some of the other kids do. She was also impressed with the fact that he's used to the after-recess exercise routines and how it really does make a difference in calming him down. Anyways, she was very sweet, I liked her a lot and I have a very good feeling that this will be a good year for him. My biggest worry right now is recess time because that is when he is the most over-stimulated and most likely to act out, but it is also the time when he is the least supervised.

He'll be starting "Dinosaur School" in a couple of weeks, a weekly evening program provided through Kinark family services which is supposed to help teach the kids about acceptable social behaviours and how to recognize feelings in others & to respond appropriately to that (i.e. to not laugh when somebody else is clearly upset, or to stop certain behaviours when it is apparent that they are annoying the other kids). Hope it goes well. Anyways, that's all for now....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lazy Summer, West Nile (?), Fasting and a few Photos...

Man! I can't believe we've been back for over a month. I haven't done ANYTHING. Lazy lazy. I think I was burned out from all that travelling... and now I'm fasting (It's Ramadan) so most days I'm too tired to get anything really done after about 1pm.

Plus I am not 100% sure but I think I actually might have had a bout with West Nile at the beginning of Ramadan. I got this weird, unbelievably horrible headache (the worst I've ever had), had a fever, chills & shivering, and then this headache lasted for 12 days. My eyes became incredibly photosensitive. I know it wasn't a blood sugar or fasting thing because I still had the headache & fatigue on days that I could not fast on account of being sick (we are excused from fasting when sick).
Given how long the "headache" lasted, the photosensitivity, plus the fact that during the 2 previous weeks I had practically done nothing/gone nowhere that I could have picked up a virus, AND was bitten by a mosquito about 10 days before.... I arrived at the conclusion that it was probably West Nile. Which sounds horrible, but I read up on it - most people who contract the virus actually show no symptoms at all, and then about 20% or so actually get West Nile Fever and the symptoms include fever & headache. Only in the rarest of cases does West Nile actually progress to encephalitis or more complicated infections to nerves that it could cause death. But ya, I can't prove it but I'm fairly convinced that it was West Nile. Oh, and nobody else in my family came down with similar symptoms, in spite of all the germ-sharing we do around here. So my theory is West Nile and I'm sticking to it.

And poor mom has a pinched nerve, which is really causing her a lot of pain. She can't do much of anything except stick around the apartment, ice her back all day & take lots of drugs. Not much fun. Yesterday she kept me company though, went all the way to the city with me for an ultrasound even though she didn't have to, and today we went to see Dr. Mark again in Newmarket. I don't think the driving is much fun since she probably doesn't get the comfort she needs to relax the muscles around the nerve. Lots of chiropractic & massage & 2 weeks later she's still in lots of pain. Hope it passes soon because I know she's really frustrated.

So, in my laziness for the past month, I haven't posted any pics from Turkey. My bad. So, better late than never, here are a few choice ones, with a little history to boot....

From our boat tour of the Bosphorus (the Strait that separates the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side), below is a pic of the bridge as it reaches European side, and the "Rumali Hisari" or "Roman Fort" - where the Ottomans built a fort on the Roman/European side, which already had a counterpart (the Anatolian Fort) on the opposite shore. They used chains stretched from one fort to the other to restrict boat traffic, thereby gaining control of the Straight, and ensuring victory when they captured the city of Constantinople in 1453.... This fort was commissioned in 1451 by Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han (Mehmed Han the Conqueror King) - for whom our little Mehmed Han takes his name.... hmmm I wonder then if that could be why our little man is such a bully?



Orhan also went out on his own one day in Istanbul when Mehmed and I were both sick. Poor little guy was throwing up and had diarrhea all day - it was probably hard for his little body to get used to the change in air and food - all kinds of foreign germs that he's never been exposed to before, so I would say it took a few weeks before his body got accustomed to the changes... Anyways, while we were busy sleeping it off, Orhan toured the Topkapi Palace, the palace of the Sultans from 1465 to 1853.

Here is one of the buildings overlooking the Bosphorus:



Here is a beautiful view from it's marble terrace (seen in the distance in the above picture, and part of it's view below)....
Here are some more of the buildings and courtyards:





This is one of the interior rooms - I believe it is in the living quarters section, this is like a large Ottoman Style lounge. Notice the stained glass windows...

Some birds enjoying a bath in one of the (many) marble fountains :)
And of course, what palace is complete without a marble toilet?

Like I said before, they have so much marble in Turkey they just don't know what to do with it all...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Home at last....

Well after 2 months of living out of a suitcase, I can happily say that we are home at last! Happy to see green green grass and cold weather. I guess if we had been in Canada for the last two months I'd be griping about the cold summer, but after burning day after day, seeing virtually no rain for two months and no green grass except on the odd little site that had sprinklers, I am loving our crappy Canadian weather. Here's a couple pictures of the typical Turkish landscape taken from our bus as we travelled from Didim to Ankara. Unfortunately we were travelling so often in places where there was no internet access, so I found it hard to update the blog. Maybe later I'll try to post a few pics from some of our favorite moments.
This one is from a roadside restaurant which is very typical especially in the South where the weather is warm year-round - completely outdoor, sitting on Ottoman style cushions around a low-lying table - with a vine for a roof...
Here's one of me and Mehmed (you can hardly see us) swimming at a little alcove that we went to by the side of the road as we were travelling through Marmaris.... no charge to park or swim here! The sea was so warm you could just walk in without hesitation....
One travel lesson I took for my self - don't bring a ton of suitcases... no matter where I'm going, I can't really count on having a closet and a drawer. And less to carry is way more valuable when travelling. Even if it means wearing the same 3 outfits over and washing frequently, it's far more convenient (just make sure you have access to laundry - don't get it from hotels they charge more...) And number two would be make a plan about where you want to travel and book ahead. We spent extra money in many ways because we hadn't booked ahead. One 5 star hotel which was beautiful, wanted 600 Euros for 2 nights just because it wasnt booked ahead (we didn't stay obviously) - but the same hotel only charges 50 Turkish lira per person ($38) per night when you book at least 6 months ahead. Next time I go to Turkey I would really love to stay there.... Third lesson would be stay in either Villas (where you can cook for yourself) or all-inclusive resorts, so you don't drop a ton of cash on restaurant meals.
Surprisingly I would have to say that overall Mehmed adapted really well to the hardships of travelling. For a kid who flips out if you don't give him an answer in the exact way he's imagined it in his head (verbatim), he adapted just fine to living in different places every few days. Sometimes he'd say "I really want to go home now" and I'd ask him where he meant (thinking maybe he was missing our home in Canada) and 99% of the time the answer was our hotel or my sister-in-laws house.
But there's nothing like coming home to your own house after 2 months away. Gives you a whole new appreciation for what you have.

Al Hamdu Lillah, we are home :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Turkiye Komur Isletmeleri - TKI Didim

Orhan's sisters husband Sait (whom we call Said Eniste, since "Enishte" depicts his relationship to us as "Brother-in-law) has access to this vacation spot outside of Didim called Turkiye Komur Isletmeleri which is basically the headquarters for the Turkish Coal Workers, but it's a vacation village where your meals are all-inclusive. It's on the Sea about 10 km East of Didim. We stayed there from July 9th-19th with Orhan's sister (Kiymet Abla), her husband (Sait Eniste), her daughter Derya, Derya's husband Fatih Eniste and their son Efe (Mehmed's little cousin). Orhan's brother's family also joined us there, Uzeyir Abi, Gulsen Yenge, & their grown up kids Mikail & Ayse. It was nice to stay at the beach with family while we waited for Orhan to come back from his Army obligation.... here is a photo of the beach site from TKI and Mehmed on the dock enjoy the evening breeze....
Mehmed's favorite part was going to the "Disco" every night which is part of the TKI site, and dancing like crazy. Definately his cup of tea. He actually thinks he's a pretty good dancer but omg does he ever have 2 left feet. I wish I had it on video but unfortunately it was dark and I didn't bring the nightshot cam with us.

Mehmed loving his cousin Efe


Mehmed has been loving his little cousin Efe since we met him in Ankara - Efe is 2 & 1/2 and he calls Mehmed "Abi" - according to Turkish culture you have to address people older than you with some kind of a title which depicts your relationship to them - "Abi" means "Older Brother" (in Turkish, brother extends to more people than just your literal brother) - Mehmed LOVES that - he's like, I'm a big brother now, and he adores Efe.

I had a hard time snapping good pictures of them but they love each other so sweetly - give kisses & hugs & stuff - here's one that I caught...


And Mehmed can't wait to get back to Ankara to see his little "brother" Efe....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beautiful Bodrum

Well I have barely had opportunities to have internet access but here I am now ın an ınternet cafe!
After Orhan left to the army on July 1st Mehmed and I were in Ankara with his family and Mehmed LOOOVES hıs lıttle cousın Efe. He calls hım hıs lıttle brother. He was rough wıth hım a couple of tımes and I remember one day he told me he wanted to put ALL the lıttle kıds ın jaıl so they wouldnt touch hıs toys. But they love more than they hate and rıght now Mehmed ıs mıssıng Efe more than anythıng.
We spent 10 days ın a lıttle Vacatıon vıllage where all meals were ıncluded and we spent all day on the beach - that was wıth hıs famıly. I thınk everyone realızed just how dıffıcult Mehmed can be sometımes especıally at mealtımes.
After my ınlaws all left the TKI Kamp on July 19th Mehmed and I stayed alone at a Bed & Breakfast untıl Orhan arrıved. Then we vısıted Altınkum & Dıdım and now we are ın Bodrum. Weve drıven all the hılly roads whıch ALL have gorgeous mountaın vıews. I cant even post any of our pıctures because I am not typıng from the laptop.

Here ıs a link to a map:
http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/mapcenter/map.aspx?refid=701511219

Here ıs a lınk to google ımages - the WHOLE regıon ıs really breathtakıng. We are serıously thınkıng about buyıng some land here to buıld on later.
http://images.google.com.tr/images?hl=tr&q=bodrum&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

We have a rental car whıch ıs a bıg relief and the ferry boat to datça carries automobıles so we are savıng a lot of road tıme. The weather has been SO hot Mehmed sometımes crıes that he wıshes ıt was zero degrees. He gets great bıg beads of sweat on hıs face. But we stop a few tımes a day to swım. That ıs somethıng really nıce about Turkey there are a lot of places on the sıde of the road where you can stop and swım and every town seems to have a free beach too. Earlıer we had mantı (Turkısh ravioli ın Yogurt sauce) ın a restaurant by the seasıde. I just wısh I could post the pıctures but even they cant show how nıce ıt ıs. Anyways that ıs about all the tıme I have - I am startıng to mıss Canada sometımes * especıally my own bed dresser and closet * lıvıng out of a suıtcase can be a real pain. p.s. sorry about the punctuatıon turkısh keyboards are also a paın.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The night of Thursday June 25th we went to Orhan's niece's Henna night.
Her name is Sevgi & the groom's name is Erkan.
In Turkey, there are several stages to getting married. We missed the first stage, which was the engagement - first the boys' family comes to ask the girls' family for permission to marry her. In older times, they didn't use to date, they would just come and ask permission, and then the dating period would be during the engagement. Nowadays in Turkey though, usually the boys family only comes because the boy & girl have already known each other for a while and they want to get married. So anyways, we missed that part, last year. Shortly after both parties agree to a marriage, they bride and groom perform an Imam Nikah - this is an Islamically recognized marriage. The same day they go the the government and get their government recognized marriage. Then the engagement period follows.
In Sevgi's case (Orhan's niece) it was a year because they wanted to wait for their Canadian relatives to come. In Derya's case (Sevgi's older sister), she didn't want to wait, when she got engaged, they had their wedding 3 months later (in 2002). We missed that one unfortunately.
Anyways, after the engagement period there are two nights to the wedding - the Henna night - and then the wedding. The Henna night is maybe something like a bachelorette party. It used to be that the men and the women celebrated it separately, but now most families have it mixed.
Basically the bride's family gets together and dances a lot, and then the groom's family arrives to join the fun - then they do the Henna - they sing a song about how sad it is that the bride is no longer going to live with her family - usually there is crying but this time the bride made her family promise not to cry, or she would cry and her make up would smear. They kept their promise.
The grooms family wants to spread Henna in the hand of the bride, but they have to give her a gift first or she won't open her hand - they put in a piece of gold (the gold tokens are fairly standard here, worth about $80 Turkish Lira or $60 Canadian). Then she opens her hand to receive the Henna. The bride's family does the same for the groom. The Henna symbolizes the celebration and the fun that everyone is having. Mehmed desperately wanted the Henna in his hand, but unfortunately we missed it - the grooms family chose to hand out individual packets instead of spreading Henna, and we were not in the room when they did that.
But just like at the circumcision party, Mehmed had lots of fun running everywhere and pretending to dance. He was quite dirty by the end of the night. I made another video, again a little bit long, but to see the different types of dancing (the chain dance is very traditional here and is called Halay- pronounced ha-lie), the bride and groom (he wears traditional green and she wears traditional red) and the Henna ceremony. You can also see Mehmed poking his nose as close as possible to the middle of the action everywhere you turn....Enjoy...
video
Oh and P.S. I had my scarf styled at a hairdresser who also does scarves. It turned out pretty neat and only cost $30 Turkish Lira ($23 or so Cdn)...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Ankara + Circumcision Party...

Well we left Armutlu Vacation Village and went by ferry back to Istanbul & spent the last night there at Orhan's friend's Mehmet's house. His parents were there too & the kids tried to play together but not very successfully - Mehmed wanted to use AbdulMejid's toys and Abdul Mejid didn't want to share. They were kind of fighting a few times and finally somebody hit him back! He didn't like that at all. Unfortunately it didn't teach him any lessons either - here in Ankara he kept on hitting the son of Orhan's cousin (aged 7 & 1/2) who wouldn't fight back and in fact went out to the store and bought Mehmed a lollipop even after he kept hitting him. He also took me "secretly" aside just to tell me that if I needed any help with my Turkish I should come and ask him & his mom. LOL, so sweet.


The next morning we got up at 7 & went by taxi to the bus station & took the bus to Ankara. Mehmed was mostly well behaved for the bus ride except when he randomly decided to flick the head of the man in front of us, and towards the end when he started to get really bored (it was about a 5 hr bus ride) and his crashing noises started to get way too loud - the bus host came back to see what he was doing. Oh and the head flick reminded me of when we were in Istanbul walking around the park of Sultan Ahmet (Blue Mosque) & Aya Sofia when he randomly decided to kick the dangling foot of a man who was sitting with his leg crossed on a park bench. Ummmm... can anyone say embarassing? I'm hoping some of that impulsive stuff really stops now that he's off the medication.


We arrived safely at Orhan's sister's place last Tuesday afternoon (June 23?) and the last 2 weeks have been hectic which is why I haven't had any time to open the computer until now. His niece's wedding was on Friday June 26th and there was a parade of guests constantly coming and going and she was always feeding them all. You should have seen the quantities of food they bought and prepared. Wow. Canadian Weddings are definately easier to host.


Mehmed is warming up to hearing Turkish all the time and he does make little efforts to speak. As long as he's in an agreeable mood he will copy what you prompt him to say as long as it's relatively short. If you try to make him say a long sentence he usually just screams and then cries that he can't speak Turkish yet. But when he's in a good mood he says he already knows Turkish but that he only speaks English to me because I don't know it yet. lol. Everybody tells me that my Turkish is getting a lot better but man does my tongue ever trip over words so easily. And Turkish words can be so similar to each other so sometimes I mean to say one thing and I say something completely different. I also have to be really careful not to use the word "Sick" out loud here because in Turkish it's the "F" word only with a vulgarity factor 10 times worse than the F word. So I either have to remember to whisper or use the word "ill" which kind of sucks because Mehmed really doesn't know that word. And the poor boy has been sick a lot so I'm sure people around here are wondering why on earth Orhan's wife & son have such foul mouths....


Anyways, on Wednesday night, Orhan's friend Nihat (who lives in Canada) called for us to come to his son's circumcision party. Islamically all men are obliged to be circumcised and over here they usually do it for boys who are around 6 years old - they are old enough to understand what is going on and also to appreciate the big fuss that is made over it. Nihat's son is only 2 & 1/2 so he is a bit young but I guess they did it because they probably don't know when they are coming back to Turkey and it is definately easier to do here than in Canada.

This is Nihat with his daughter Jayda & son Alper (the boy whose circumcision we were celebrating). Incidentally, Jayda is also the girl who Mehmed thinks he's going to marry when he grows up, even though she has already made it clear that she's going to be a Doctor and has no intentions of getting married. LOL.



Anyways the circumcision party was interesting. It was just in the middle of the street and they had speakers up with a DJ playing music. People were just dancing in the street and during the entire night I think only 1 or two cars wanted to pass by.







Mehmed LOVED it - once he got used to the loudness of the music (it was REALLY) loud, he was running all over the place trying to dance. I guess it is just his type of thing & a great way to get out his overabundant energy. He was also greatly amused by a man who was dancing and doing some little tricks - he danced with a watermelon on his head, a glass of water on his head, and they placed the glass of water on the ground & he got down and drank it without using his hands (except to hold himself in a push-up position). He was very entertaining.




They also fired off a gun into the air several times. I guess it's something people do at some parties. I am certain that not everyone does it because nobody did it at either the Henna night or the wedding for Orhan's niece. But the gun was definately real, here are the casings to prove it....






I also made a video of little clips from throughout the night. Most of it I already talked about - dancing in the street, Mehmed loving it, firing guns, etc. There is also the Henna - that is a tradition which is done when celebrating something. The Henna here was supposed to be first given to the little boy who was circumcised, although I have no idea if they actually got any onto him. Then they spread it on the hands of the guests to symbolize the celebration and having fun. The video is kind of long but might be interesting to see some traditional Turkish dancing (albeit not very crowded), the Henna tradition and Mehmed having tons of fun....

video

Monday, June 22, 2009

Armutlu Tatil Koyu (Armutlu Vacation Village)




So we are staying at a big vacation village, actually we are just waiting for the ferry to leave which is why I have the laptop with me at the internet cafe. This is the view from the balcony on our apartment.
It's been a lot of fun, today Mehmed spent the day playing in the arcade with his dad while I went to the Hamam. The hamam is like a huge hot tub but it comes from a natural hot spring. There are many all over turkey so they are very popular. They are supposed to be very healing for a lot of health conditions. The water is so hot you can't stay in it for very long. I think the most I stayed was 10 minutes sitting in it up to my waist, after that you get out and lounge on a chaise-longue, you can go into the steam room or sauna, and at the end you go to the Hamam room, which is made of marble - there are little marble sinks with copper bowls and you can turn on the taps for hot (spring) water or cold (refreshing!) water. The ladies usually clean themselves with a hard cloth to sluff of skin. After you feel so soft and smooth and clean. Very nice.
I cant show you any pics of that though its actually forbidden to take photos of course since most of the women are Muslim and cover themselves after leaving the hamam.
Some photos of the facilities here can be seen here:
Mehmed has been a bit cranky this week as I decided to take him off the medication.... I really noticed a huge jump in the hyperactivity and impulsiveness and I just couldn't handle it any more. Hoping that once he's done withdrawing it will be easier to reason him through his temper and whining....
Ok, well gotta go catch a ferry now....


Mehmed in Sultan Ahmed / The Blue Mosque



Sultan Ahmed Mosque, some of the interior, on the right is a huge pillar supporting structure, at the top is one of the smaller domes and some of the calligraphy - probably not clear enough on the blog photo but hopefully we will post more clear photos on flickr.com
Mehmed prayed 2 rakas at Sultan Ahmed and made a little supplication after. Very cute.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No ınternet

So for now Im stuck wıth no ınternet whıch means that I have to use an ınternet cafe * very weırd the turkısh keyboard has a few extra characters whıch means some of my normal characters are mısplaced and hard to fınd.
I also have no pıctures to post wıthout havıng access to ınternet from the laptop....

Saturday we spent the day on a tour of the Bosphorus on a ferry. The weather was beautıful, ıt was a really great day. Sunday we went to Orhan`s frıends Mehmets ın-law`s cottage about 45 mınutes north of Istanbul. It was a beautıful place a lıttle vıllage and theır home was overlookıng the Bosphorus. Hıs father ın law ıs apparently CRAZY about fısh so we ate fısh for dınner freshly caught very yummy. (Thıs computer ıs buggıng me every tıme I go to press the comma I get one of these Ö so forget the commas youll have to fıgure out my punctuatıon as you read along....)

So young Mehmed actually started to make an attempt to speak Turkısh ıt was kınd of cute actually everybody was enjoyıng hıs efforts. Im hopıng thats a sıgn that he wıll actually pıck some up by the team we leave ın August.

Monday was our last day ın Istanbul so we actually went a lıttle bıt sıghtseeıng crazy. We managed to fınd a Prıvate clınıc to gıve Mehmed hıs allergy shot and ıt only cost 15 Turkısh Lıra per needle * but they charged us 2 needles because the Dr dıdnt mıx the 2 dıfferent kınds of serums. Anyways we fıgure ıt wıll only be hard untıl next week because by then well be ın Ankara and Orhans sıster can set us up properly.

So yesterday after gettıng hıs needle we went to do some shoppıng and I dıd fınd a dress that I can wear to hıs nıeces weddıng. We prayed at the Fatıh camıı and Mehmet saw the grave of hıs namesake * Fatıh Sultan Mehmed Han * the conqueror of Istanbul. He prayed wıth us ın the Jamıı but the Jamıı was under constructıon (for restoratıon) so we dıdnt stay long. After that... where dıd we go ıt was yesterday and I cant even remember the order we vısıted thıngs

I know we dıd go to Eyup Sultan Mosque and I thınk that was next * then we took the teleferıque (what ıs the name ın Englısh?) up the hıll to enjoy the vıew from the famous Pıerre Lotı cafe. I cant belıeve I cant post pıctures rıght now because what a beautıful place to have a çay. Then Orhan dıdnt quıte have hıs fıll of panoramıc vıews so we took a cab to the Galata tower. That one raıses up quıte hıgh and you can vıew the world below at 360*. I needed a dıaper up there though because the balcony was quıte small and completely open - lıttle raılıngs dont do anythıng to calm my fear of heıghts and plus Mehmet was not afraıd at all so ıt was everythıng I could do to just follow hım around the cırcle whıle tryıng very hard to force myself to enjoy the beautıful vıew. I defınately prefer to enjoy that vıew from Orhans pıctures though.

After that we wandered the streets around Galata and ate some DELICIOUS baklava at a lıttle pastry shop called şırın (whıch means smurf) - so there were lıttle smurfs ın the wındow * but omg so delıcıous..... Streets ın Istanbul are so tıny you always assume they are supposed to be one way but they never are * cars just beep and honk at each other ın a most polıte way and sometımes they have to back up to get around each other. I could never drıve there. After that we got hoodwınked by a cabdrıver who convınced Orhan that the Rumalı Hısarı (the Fort buılt by Fatıh Mehmed Han ın 1450s) was stıll open - even though ıt was already after 6pm * so we wound up payıng a hefty cab faır to go there and ıt was closed from 430pm.

Orhans frıend Mehmet met us for çay over there so we hung out and he took us back to our hotel and took away some of the bags that we dıdnt want to brıng wıth us. Today we spent the day around SultanAhmet camıı agaın and took a large ferry boat to thıs Armutlu koy that we are ın now. Its lıke a vacatıon vıllage ıt has everythıng prıvate pools for women and a fun arcade for kıds * Mehmed ıs playıng there whıle I type and runnıng back and askıng me for tokens every few mınutes. Cant waıt to go swımmıng after thıs.....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sleep, visit friends, get sick, sleep again...














Well, we haven't done a lot of sightseeing in the last 3 days, mostly because we've either been sleeping, sick, or visiting friends.
After our midnight walk the other day, we came back to the hotel and had breakfast on the rooftop patio. The view is pretty good, which you can't entirely tell because this picture seems to pick up more haze than the land at the opposite side of the Golden Horn - but it's quite nice. And the breakfast is really good too.













Here Mehmed was doing his usual strange flying objects and crashing noises. A normal boyhood craze or a symptom of Autism... I have no idea, people tell me their kids have done that sort of thing too, but I have never seen a kid obsess over it as much as him. I see it everywhere, all the time. It's just as ever-present in Turkey as it is in Canada. Normally I don't mind it but when the knives and forks in restaurants are constantly being spun around in the air it's a bit disconcerting, not to mention embarrassing. Oh, yeah, you say, just take them away - well, the embarassment of the spaceship knives is slighly less than the embarassment of the screaming 5-who-looks-like-8 year-old-in-Turkey when they're confiscated. (Note to self; REMEMBER to bring his harmless big plastic egg-spoon with us to restaurants so that nobody pokes himself and loses an eye.)














Following our Dawn adventures & early breakfast on Wednesday, Mehmed slept in the Hotel room from 10 am to 4 pm, and I napped on & off with him. So Orhan went to visit an old friend from France & when we woke up we went to see him too. This is him at his travel agency. They were neighbours there and went to school together. We went to his house for dinner not the same night (Wednesday night) but the following night (Thursday night). His family was very friendly but I don't have any pictures to post of them since they are probably saved in Orhan's other camera.















He took us downstairs in the travel agency and showed us the historical floors - they are preserved and another floor has been built about 4 feet above them - with glass panes so that you can walk on top and view them. It's quite an ancient mosaic.

We actually saw some small scorpions down there - which freaked me out because I would never imagine them to be in Istanbul, but sure enough they are here - kind of scary because we sleep with the windows open, it's BOILING hot (30 C and very humid), and the windows DON'T HAVE SCREENS. Is that the weirdest thing ever or what?

Our first hotel room had a broken shower, and the air conditioning was pretty much a glamorized fan. It also had a broken shower head, which, if you tried to take a shower, popped out of the wall and turned into a gushing waterfall. And we're told that this is a really good hotel. I'd really hate to see a bad one. Today we finally managed to bump into the maid as we left our room and asked her if we could just see what the other rooms were like - so we asked to switch rooms and are now in a much smaller room (no more attached suite) but omg so happy to have a functional shower and a real breeze coming from outdoors. So I'm just praying that scorpions generally don't venture above the humid sub-terranean world all the way to 4th floors, and also praying that the lizards I've seen climbing walls have a natural fear of hotel rooms. Is it too much to ask?
Anyways, after viewing the scorpions on the ancient mosaics, he took us down another level and inside was this ancient, very tiny church. I'm not sure why it was so small, and I don't actually know how old but it has to be older than 600 years, and my guess is quite a LOT more than that.
Pretty cool stuff.

After visiting with Orhan's friend Musa (the travel agent), his friend Mehmet (used to live in Canada) came to pick us up. He's the one who picked us up at the airport and we went to have dinner with him and his family on the Asian side of Istanbul (we are staying in the SultanAhmet section, which is in the European side). It's the only city in the world that sits on two continents.

The disadvantage to that would be the major traffic problems that we had to get through. Mehmet said that at the right time of day this drive only takes 20 minutes (to his house) but it took us about an hour and a half to get there.


Part of the delay was this bridge that crosses the Bosphorus - too many cars get bottlenecked as they all want to cross over. There are presently only 2 bridges and several ferries servicing a city of 17 million people. Needless to say, that's not enough. Apparently they are planning to build another one in the near future.

But this is a view of that same bridge from Mehmet's balcony. It's quite a beautiful view really. It is lit up like this at night and the lights change colour.


This is Mehmet with his daughter Sueda (pronouced soo-eh-da) (7) and son Abdul Mejid (soon to be 6). They are very sweet, mashAllah. Mehmed had a hard time at first because he really wanted to be able to communicate and neither one can speak the other language. After a few hours, they finally figured out that dinosaurs is a fun game to play - it requires a lot of roaring and stomping but no words. And the word dinosaur in Turkish is Deen-o-zaur.
Later that night, Orhan and Mehmet went out for a long walk, old friends getting caught up - and they stopped for a puff of Nargile (nar-gee-lay) - which is basically a bong for tobacco. We were there so late that we just wound up sleeping over, & got up early to come back to our hotel.



This was the daytime view from Mehmet's patio - on the right. On the left you could see the bridge (below).


The view of the bridge actually looked clearer than this, but for some reason, orhan's camera seems to be a magnet for the haze. Although maybe it does paint the story of exactly how hot it was that day (Thursday).
The night before I had started feeling nauseous, and when Mehmet drove us back the next morning, little Mehmed suddenly started to feel it too. By the time we got back to the hotel he was full on sick & vomited all day.
While Mehmed & I stayed bed-ridden all day Thursday, Orhan took advantage & did some sightseeing. He got tons of pictures of the Topkapi Palace, which I didn't care about visiting but now I'm suddenly jealous and want to go... anyways, hopefully I'll post those another time - but he also met this sweet little old man who knits & sells hats, and this was the same sweet little old man we met here 9 years ago! I guess Istanbul's historic monuments includes more than just buildings ;) JK
Mehmed finally passed the illness after one last big... let's just say hoorah... and then we took a chance that maybe some fresh air would do us some good - which it actually did - he made some Turkish friends at a local park who were quite thrilled to practice their English, and later we went to Musa's house for dinner (Asian side again - only the commute was way faster without a vehicle - we took the passenger ferry and a cab the rest of the way). Had the first normal night sleep Thursday night, went to visit Orhan's cousin Serafettin Hoca (he's an Imam) & his family today. Very nice visit. Tomorrow we're planning on meeting with Serafettin's 18 year old son who will accompany us on a boat-tour of the Bosphorus. Looking forward to that! Now I will try to sleep, listening to the sounds of miauling cats & worrying about whether or not a lizard will creep into my room....
Until the next time.... Peace / Selaam.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Midnight/Dawn walk

So, we're still a little jet lagged and our body clocks are off.... after our long & slightly sleep deprived travels, we were hoping that by putting off going to bed until about 9pm, we would sleep well through the night.... but Orhan woke up about 12:15 am, I woke up about 2 ish and then Mehmed woke up at 3 am. We were all wide awake, still trying to adjust our bodies to a change in time zones... ironically, 3 am is about 8pm Canada time so technically, we were waking up as we should have been winding down in Canada but I guess that's how it is when you are travelling.

We were all wide awake, with really nothing to do in the hotel room except watch Turkish TV, so we decided to go for a walk and wait for the Dawn prayer at the Blue Mosque. It was great. The streets were almost empty. It is nothing like the busy-ness of downtown Toronto which is basically 24/7. We could walk on the cobblestone streets, and only move aside once in a while when a car came, which you could hear a LONG time before because it was so silent. It was a much more enjoyable walk than earlier in the day because it was easier to let Mehmed run free without worrying about him running into traffic, hurting himself or disappearing in a crowd.
We were able to drink in the fact that we're here in Istanbul and enjoy that a little bit.
(The mosque in this picture is the Blue Mosque - this was the view of it as we walked up the street from our hotel, the birds were flying all over it and Aya Sofia, but nowhere else).

There were a few people out here and there, a few garbage men cleaning up, some shopkeepers taking care of their shops, one or two Tea Gardens with a few patrons, but other than that, extremely peaceful.

We wandered around, Orhan took lots of pictures, & we met a very friendly (but possibly a little bit crazy) Turkish guy talking with a Sudanese guy. Orhan found him very entertaining - he predicted that Mehmed would marry a Turkish woman from Denmark and that I would have 2 sets of twins. LOL. Highly unlikely. He did correctly guess that have problems in that department, but that's not usually rocket science - you see a slightly older couple with only one young kid, it's out of place - plus infertility issues are as common in Turkey as they are everywhere else these days. Anyways, we had some Turkish coffee with the two of them and we petted a poor little kitten living in around the Tea Garden. It seemed to have an eye infection, and was happy to have a warm lap to snuggle into.

It purred when the Azaan went off (the Call to prayer) even though it had been snuggled happily in my lap for a long time before that without purring, and it cried when I put it down. The cats around here break my heart. There's so many and they're all wild. People just feed them scraps of food, or they pick from the garbage.
This picture is so small, you can't see, but there are actually 5 cats in it, all of them were rummaging in this garbage pile (which was picked up by the time we got back to the hotel 3 hours later).

The prayer in the Blue Mosque was also really nice. It's hardly at all crowded at that time of day and it's so quiet. Mehmed was running free while we waited for the Imam to lead the prayer, but it wasn't bothersome like at a busier time of the day. He also lined up with the men and followed along nicely during the prayer. I found it much more peaceful than yesterday, and I even realized that amidst our fatigue and worries, I had forgotten to look UP when I went in there to pray yesterday. Well I did this morning and wow... The architecture and art are just as magnificent to behold as they were the last time I was here.


Orhan got lots of pictures as we slowly walked back to the hotel. I have to say it's probably the best time of the day here. Nobody is up, and you can enjoy the sights & sounds in absolute peace.



















Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Energizer Bunny is in Istanbul!!!

Oh boy, we're here at last! Our planes were all on schedule but man does it ever seem like a long journey when you can't sleep comfortably.... We got on our first flight last night around 8pm, and right now it only reads 1 pm on my computer, but here in Istanbul it's actually 8 pm, so it feels really long. The journey was uneventful except for the rocky landing we had in Istanbul - the plane circled the city for about 20 minutes, then as we descended you could see the wings rocking back and forth. And then, when the wheels touched down, it almost seemed like the pilot had slammed on the breaks and we were screeching along on a country dirt road. But once he came to a stop, we are all fine - maybe he thinks driving a plane is the same as the way people drive their cars around Istanbul (man, that's scary).
Anways, yesterday (Monday) we got up at 4:45 am, slept later for about 1 hour (about 7-8 a.m.), cleaned all day (my bad, shoulda done it on Sunday, instead I was still packing on Sunday), then got on the road from home about 3pm - and travelled all night. I slept for about 15-30 minutes maybe 3 times during the entire trip. Mehmed slept from about 11:30 pm our time until we got off the plane in Munich, around 4 am our time. I carried him part way, but the movement really woke him up and he's been going strong all day.... VERY hyper, VERY inattentive, driving Mom & Dad both a little insane. I reached a boiling point at a shuttle bus in Munich, but Orhan reminded me that we are all very tired, blah blah blah.... then of course Orhan reached his boiling point at the Ataturk Airport.
Imagine travelling with the Energizer Bunny, only the Energizer Bunny doesn't travel in a straight line, he bounces from left to right and spins at random (highly unpredictable) intervals - and it's your responsibility to keep the Energizer Bunny safe and sound, only the Energizer Bunny cannot be programmed to move in the direction you want it to!
Anyways, we've been here for about 4 hours now, settled into the hotel room, freshened up, little walk around the very old section of Istanbul (called SultanAhmet), had some nice kofte (Turkish meatballs) for dinner & went to pray in the SultanAhmet Camii (The Blue Mosque). Then we had tea at a "çay bahçe" ("tea garden", pronouced chai bah-chay) & marvelled at the fact that we actually can't believe we're here. I guess it's taking us longer to drink in the pleasure when the Energizer Bunny is still distracting us from the sights & sounds.... so far the only injuries he's caused to himself are a fat lip, skinned hands and maybe an extra new bruise or two.... Anyways, I'm hoping that with a good nights rest tonight, and a proper schedule tomorrow, we might have a more co-operative day from our little man.... Plus we'll have the cameras around with us tomorrow so hopefully I can get some pictures posted!!!!
Well, that's all for now, I'm going to gaze out my window at the Bosphorus!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

1 week left before we fly (inshAllah)



Ah! One week left until we fly to Turkey (inshAllah = God-willing)!!! Yay!!! I have 2 bags packed and 5 to go. Hopefully I won't need all 5, and we can just carry empty bags (one inside the other) so that we have room to bring back souvenirs....

Mehmed is doing all right, I can really see a difference with this anxiety medication he's on. Yesterday, I missed a dose, and by dinner time he was back to being miserable. I promptly gave him one, but I also know that once they get used to this medication, they really get used to it. So if I ever want him to come off it, I will have to prepare all of us for a few weeks of misery. And he's only on a quarter dose.

Looking forward to spending time in Istanbul! Itinerary so far: 7 nights in Istanbul, 5 days in the South-Western province of Mugla (silent g), at a little Islamic resort. It'll be nice to swim in a ladies-only pool!!! Then after that we might pass through Pamukkale on our way to his sister in Ankara.

Here's a couple of sketches my little man just drew.... I wish we had a mini scanner we could take with us - I'm going to get him to try to "journal" the trip from his 5 yr old perspective... :)



This one says "Frum Mehmed For Mothr". It's a flower, we're feeding it with plant food, and a worm is flying through the sky yelling "BB".

He drew the roots under the flower, and the orange things are worm trails. Am I totally biased, or is this totally cute?
Well, who knows, maybe the next time I blog I'll be sitting in a Çay Bahçe (Tea Garden) in Turkey! :) (God-willing).