Where the Time Went

It’s been awhile, feels like forever.  It’s absurd that it feels like I haven’t written in years, but when I actually look at he time that has passed (5 months), I feel like the contents of the past 5 months could have been spread out over years, and I would be overwhelmed.  Did that make sense?  That was my confusing, over communicative way to say, “A ton has happened in only 5 months, and I wasn’t in the mood to write about it.”
During April my Dad’s health started deteriorating fairly rapidly, and he very quickly went from a state of us knowing he would probably be dying in the next few years because of some health issues, to hospitalized, brain surgery, hospice, and then death.  He died June 7, 2015.
So, that would be the main reason I haven’t written… I really have wanted to document my feelings, and to keep up to date on the amazing things my kids are doing. The cool places we ate in the city, the ways we are learning and living. But my Dad died.  And it sucked.  It felt horrible, I felt horrible… my family and all the ramifications of ones death felt horrible… and most of the time I was in Istanbul, not Southern Ca, so that was a pretty hard and jagged pill to swallow.
Thankfully, I was able to hop on a plane with Nora the day before my Dad passed, to be with my family in California for two weeks during and after the death.  Two weeks didn’t seem like enough.  What would have seemed like enough?  I don’t know what would have actually been enough.  I mean, I still want to grab Starbucks for my mom and show up at her house almost every day. Oh the ache of the pull.  Life is so hard sometimes.
During all the  grief and the management of all the death details that follow you for months, maybe years?… I came back home to my boys, hosted a number of summer guests, got on with life, called my mom a lot, went on a vacation to Thailand, and continued to learn Turkish while digging deeper roots here. I am planning to document it all, so let’s slowly get to it.
Until the next post, here is a copy of my Dad’s obituary, and a cute little collage I found in my parents house that I made him for Father’s Day one year.
ssdad's obit

Mother’s Day.

We had a really great Mother’s Day, which I know was 3 weeks ago, but I still wanted to blog about it. The actual day, was sandwiched between two programs, one at Eli’s school on Friday, and one at Evan’s school on Monday.  Their programs were really cute, with songs, a short little play, and handmade gifts from our kids.  Oh, and cake of course.  It was fun, and really adorable.  I felt really appreciated, that the teacher’s took time to make us feel really special for an hour or so. Here are some pictures of Eli’s program.  They had a little slideshow they played for us. Evan’s class all dressed up for their Mother’s day performance, and all the mom’s.  The photo is crooked because Evan took it. :)

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On Sunday, I got to sleep in, and Derek made my favorite breakfast.  Banana french toast with brown sugar and bourbon glaze. Oh man, so good. After that, we laid around, and got ready to go to the seaside.  We walked up and down, stopping at parks, and letting the kids run and play.  We watched Evan play (or try to play), basketball with some elementary aged boys  It was really hilarious, and my inner baller wanted to go and play with him, but I let him do his thing.

Corey & Eli snacking.

Evan, my firstborn. He is so tall and won’t stop growing! I can’t believe he will be 7 soon. :(

About an hour before we wanted to eat, we started to walk to our favorite kebab restaurant, had a delicious dinner, and got ice cream.  It was a really great day.  One of those days you would definitely want to repeat.  the sun was out, the weather was great, and all the children held it together, which is the key part to Mother’s Day, or any day being pleasant.

Our dinner! A bunch of grilled meat kabobs (steak & chicken), grilled wings, grilled veggies all over rice. Also, bread on top, and a cucumber & tomato salad and pickled veggies on the side.

We came home, and relaxed and laughed watching the SNL 40 clips, which I had been dying to watch for months now. In other news, I found this really cute shop on Etsy, where I got our moms some adorable Mother’s Day necklaces, from Layered and Long.  We got the grandkids initials on them… because at their age isn’t that what life is all about, the kids your kids gave you? I might need to head on over and get something for myself soon! Lastly, an attempt at some family pictures with my little chicks.

Family selfie (with a selfie stick).

On City Living.

City living is a learned experience.  I remember going places by myself in our first month here and being so scared!  Am I going to get on the wrong bus?  Can they tell, I’m a noob? What if I end up in the wrong neighborhood?  There are so many people and crowds!  So many cars honking and SO MUCH traffic.  It was really overwhelming at first. There is a clear line I feel like I crossed in my first few months being comfortable hopping in and out of buses, and navigating this place… especially with kids in tow.

Now I’m happy to say, I’m mostly comfortable in our city of 15 million.  I’m sure I look dis-shelved and panicked when I’m out with all 3, but I feel less fear than when we began. This is a crazy place… think traffic, that doesn’t stop for pedestrians, cats and dogs out everywhere, cobblestone roads unfriendly to strollers, and trying to catch buses, taxis, minibuses, boats, metros, or trams all with kids.

When people ask how we are adjusting, we say the hardest parts have been moving from a suburban environment to an urban one, and moving from a really mild and warm desert climate, to a Mediterranean one with all 4 seasons.  We are learning about layering clothes, how to survive in a city with rain, and humidity (which brings mold problems-ugh), and the best bus/taxi/metro route to take to our destinations.

Our kids, especially, are learning so much.  Evan will hail a taxi on his own (while with us of course), and sometimes will do it because he just doesn’t feel like walking anymore.  We’ve had to work on “when to hail a taxi” with him, silly kid.  But I understand, walking a lot because you have to can be tough.  They have mastered the art of hopping in and out of buses, metro etiquette (for the most part), and see and interact with such a wide variety of people and children.  It has made me really proud to watch and be a part of.  They are such strong and kind boys, and are doing so well.

As I’ve been thinking about the hard parts and great parts about this transition, and thought I’d share.

Here are some amazing things about city living:

-The city is the center for everything.  Istanbul is the NYC of this area of the world.  Not many are from here, and most came here for the opportunity, access, and work.  Most people we know either came here from somewhere else in Turkey, or Europe.  Not many are actually “from” Istanbul.  This means we get to interact with a really wide variety of people.

-There is never a shortage of things to do.  Every day, every weekend.  Something is going on somewhere, for us to enjoy, our kids to enjoy etc.  Malls put on amazing kid activities, there are festivals, museums, nature to explore, food to eat.  It is a really vibrant atmosphere.

Headed out with all 3 alone, a tough day of transit with no Derek to help.

-Learning.  I once heard a talk about raising kids in the city. The big points were all about learning about the world. So much happens in the city, that doesn’t happen in suburbia, which is really valuable for children to be raised in.  It also highli hted how much easier the back 9 years in parenting are, as opposed to the first 9.  Younger kids in big cities are way harder (mostly because of public trans and apartment living), but the back 9 years they can do so much more on their own with access to public transportation.

-Walking: We walk everywhere.  Our kids at the ages of 3 & 5, could walk blocks, even miles to get around the city at times.  They really are way tougher than we think they are.

And some harder ones:

-Public transportation with 3 kids is really hard, while having a car would help… city living with a car is also hard… for example: finding parking.  Strollers make me laugh.  You never know when you’re going to need to carry your stroller down 75 stairs, or push it up a massive hill.  Right now my best bet is putting Nora in our Ergo, unless I can be sure my trip will be stroller friendly. IMG_0424 cityliving1 -Apartment living leaves no room for privacy.  My neighbors see what I bring home, when I leave, who is over, and can even keep tabs on my children’s behaviors and sleep patterns (when Nora’s up at night). We often hear our neighbors yelling, watching TV, or fighting.

-Walking.  Sometimes you just want to walk to your car in the garage to get to your destination.  That is not a thing here.  Not a thing at all. cityliving4 Overall, I really love living in the city.  I am not sure how long of an endurance I have for it, I guess we will see as time passes.   Our family as a whole, is really starting to love this city.  We are so thankful.

Random Things I Miss (besides you of course)

-Target and even (gasp) Wal-Mart::  It’s the feeling of opportunity, freedom and possibility at your fingertips.  Everything is in one place.  And you literally can buy the most fun, hot off the press/trendy items for 99cents (hello 1 spot, I’m talking to you!).  I have already requested a mommy day/budget to spend in the biggest Target I can find when we visit for the first time.  Preferably one with a Starbucks inside.

-Drive throughs.  banks. Starbucks.  In & Out.  El Pollo.  Oh man, I’m tearing up.  #ilovefood

-Donuts.  This list is making me sound really bad/sad.  But food is life.  They have a Krispy Kreme here, where you can purchase a glazed donut for 2$… but what can beat a donut shop cake donut?  Or maple bar?  Or buttermilk maple?…  Nothing, that’s what.

-Trader Joes… and everything in it.  Flowers, Wine, Cheese.


-Silence.  The city is loud.

Ps. This list was about things not people.  I miss my people most.

PPS.  Maybe this should have been titled “Random Foods I Miss”  ?