Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad Luck? No Worries Just Rub Your Vagina!

Hehe.  I bet this title grabbed your attention!  You see, according to some, rubbing your vagina apparently really is an antidote to bad luck... But more on that in a minute.  Let me explain how I came about discovering this important piece of life advice.

The other night after we'd finished dinner Ky was running around outside like a crazed lunatic.  Running around for Ky is not so unusual but running around like a crazed lunatic is out of character.  Although extremely energetic, Ky is usually quite controlled in his behaviour.  Unlike the other children around here, he doesn't run around willy-nilly, he runs with a destination in mind (for example, to the irresistible mound of dirt in the carpark behind our apartment).  He runs with a purpose (for example, to get a few minutes pretend driving in the complex' golf buggy, before someone drives it away).  He runs with agility (for example, up the stairs of the playground, down the slide, under the bushes in the garden, up and through the hole in the fence of the mini soccer field, out the gate at the other end of the soccer field, straight through another shrubby bush, and over to the high back fence of the complex where he yells for me to lift him up to be able to watch the tractor plowing the fields next door).  But on this occasion he was just running.  Running in circles.  Running from pole to pole.  Running from one person to another.  Running to and throwing himself against the fence of the soccer field.  And running over to a vacant park bench... where he promptly tripped and fell head first, hard, onto the bench.  The thump was so loud I was certain he'd broken his little head.  Several people sprinted over to him and he had barely touched the ground before at least 4 pairs of hands were picking him up and holding him and checking him all over.  My hands were among them.  I held him to me afraid to look at his face (it was his forehead that connected with the bench) while everyone else around me, with faces full of fear and empathised agony looked on, patted Ky, patted me, and offered advice.  I managed a quick look at my angel's little face and saw a lump already the size of an egg right above his eyebrow.  My instinct was to find ice and I quickly took Ky to the ice machine in the cafeteria.  A couple of people helped with the ice while Ky screamed and screamed at being touched.  A couple of other ladies busily chewed up pieces of bread and started sticking them on his head.  This concept of sticking salivary lumps of bread onto bumps and bruises was not a surprise to me because since I've been living in Turkey, it has been suggested so many times by so many people and although I don't put much faith in it's effectiveness, I've learned that it's much easier to just allow these people to help in their way.  Finally, I'd had enough of all the good-intentioned assistance and took Ky inside so I could cuddle and kiss and do what mother's do best with their babies' 'owies', in private.

Fortunately it didn't take long for Ky to calm down and stop crying.  I think it was all the fussing and touching of his head that upset him more than the injury itself.  He's never been a baby to cry easily over any kind of bump or scrape or bruise - he's tough like his baba.

As the night wore on, several concerned neighbours stopped by to check on Ky and offer more advice.  Every single one of them proclaimed that Ky obviously had the evil eye* on him and that's why he'd hurt himself.  One young man instructed us to pin a couple of evil eye beads (boncuk) onto him straight away.  These little talismans are so common in Turkey that it's actually not normal to see a baby without one pinned to their sleeve at all times to ward off the evil eye.  So this advice did not surprise me.  It was the next couple of suggestions we received that really caught me off guard.  One woman insisted that we were to take Ky's clothes off, turn them inside out and hang them above the toilet, as a sure way to get rid of the evil eye.  Strange?  Yes, but not as strange as the next piece of advice we received.  And this brings us back to the title of this post.  Apparently, when you've exhausted all other efforts of warding off the evil eye and your child continues to experience misfortune, you should, while praying for the health of your child, rub your hand on your vagina then rub that same hand on your face, three times!  According to the woman who suggested this... ahem interesting method of getting rid of that dreaded evil eye, it worked like a charm for her daughter who'd previously been quite accident prone...

Of course I took up the advice... yeah right!!

It's a couple of days after the accident.  After repeatedly checking on him throughout the night, Ky woke up this morning without any sign of concussion and only a scrape across his forehead.  The chewed up, saliva-soaked bread, the prayers and the evil eye beads must have worked.

Hopefully, he doesn't suffer anymore accidents in the near future because the only vagina rubbing activity I'm interested in involves my husband and does not involve saying prayers and rubbing my face.

* From Wikipedia, who've put it more succinctly than I could, "the evil eye is a look that is superstitiously believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike." The concept is completely enmeshed within the Turkish culture. It is a very real belief for village people and internationally travelled modern city people alike.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Times and Tears

We've just returned from spending a wonderful 4 days in Ankara visiting Ky's grandparents.  The weather outside was miserable and cold but the weather in our hearts was lovely and warm.  Kaya so loves playing with his Dede (grandfather) and Babanne (grandmother).  The first word he said when he woke up each morning was "Dede!!!" and the newest word added to his vocabulary (which he practiced saying over and over and over ... and over) was "Baba-NEE".  Each morning before the sun had barely spread its golden fingertips across the horizon, Ky had woken his grandparents with his incessant "De-DE Baba-NEE De-DE Baba-NEE!"  Each day started with a Dede-Baby walk around the neighbourhood while Mummy and Baba got to sleep in for an extra hour or so and Babanne prepared breakfast.  Kaya inevitably came home with muddy boots and frozen fingers, a tired smile and lots of babbling about his adventures.  The rest of the day was taken up with lots of good old Turkish home-cooking, visits to and from relatives, Kaya's investigation of every cupboard and box he could find, and some Mummy and Baba date time.  All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable mini-holiday.  But holidays inevitably have to end and with this one, the smile left Ky's face as soon as we started loading ourselves and our bags into the car.  Sitting on Dede's shoulders, Ky watched quietly as we gathered near the door to put our shoes on.  He said not a word when we carried our bags to the car and loaded them neatly inside.  He didn't even make a sound as Baba hopped into the driver's seat and started the car.  But as soon as I put my hands around him to lift him into his car seat he started screaming!  He grabbed Dede around the neck and refused to let go.  Whenever I touched him he would scream louder.  After lots of soft words and several gentle attempts to take Ky from Dede we finally managed to get him to let go.  He didn't stop crying though.  And when I put him into his seat he arched his back and refused to sit.  Meanwhile Dede couldn't handle it anymore and with tears rolling down his cheeks, he snuck away and went back inside.  Baba, also a little teary-eyed, was not much help either.  Ky wanted his Dede.  He did not want to leave.  After several more minutes of cuddles, rubs on the back and soft murmuring, I finally got Ky into his seat and we were able to drive away.  I felt so sad for little Ky having to leave his beloved Dede behind and was wondering how long it would take for him to calm down when suddenly the crying had stopped and Ky was happily demanding "mama! mama! mama!"  Mama is the Turkish baby word for food.  And just like that our little one had recovered from his loss and was back to his normal hungry self again.  Phew!

The relationship between Ky and his grandfather is truly beautiful.  Unfortunately neither Murat nor I enjoyed relationships like this with any of our grandparents so we really love watching these two together.  What's going to happen when we finally move to Australia?  How are we going to nurture Ky's special relationship with his Dede from so far away?  Maybe we can encourage Dede to retire in Australia ....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's not much, but it's our home

Lots of people have asked about where we live.  With the exception of one of my brothers, none of my friends or family have been able to visit us since we moved to Antalya.  And I know they are all curious about where we live.  So, here are a few pictures to help you get an idea of how we transformed the company provided, boring, beige, little, 2-room, hotel suite into the place we call home (for the time being).

Please excuse the quality of the photos.  These were among the last pictures I took on our worn out camera before it gave up on it's not-so-glamorous photographic life and became too de-pressed (on/off ... get it?) to even get turned on by me anymore.

The little "kitchen" we put together using the hotel-provided desk, our camping fridge/freezer combo, and an el-cheapo oven-cooktop combo we picked up on sale.  The desk drawer contains the cutlery and the coat cupboard in the right off the picture houses all the other kitchen utensils, plates and glasses as well as serving as our pantry.  All those jars beside the oven contain all kinds of medicinal herbs we use for tea and some dried fruit and nuts - Kaya's staple snack foods.  The double teapot is traditionally turkish.  Strong tea is cooked in the top pot and diluted using the boiling water from the bottom pot.

This is Ky's play area / day bed / guest bed.  The 2 drawers below the bed are part of an old baby crib that someone had thrown away and house Ky's wooden blocks and wooden train set, as well as lots of balls of different shapes and sizes.  The top 2 shelves of the book case are mine and the bottom one is Ky's.  The cupboard below the books is also Ky's and is full of stackable toys and puzzles.  Under the bed on the right side you can see a basket full of soft animals.  Behind that is another basket of musical instruments.  On the other side of drawers, under the bed is my God-forsaken sewing machine.  I painted the swirls on the drawers - a fun little project.  The blow up mattress in the right of the picture is sitting in front of the "forbidden area" - TV, DVD player, and drawers of CDs, stationery and computer paraphernalia.

This is the family bed.  It's just 2 mattresses lying together on the floor.  We removed the actual bed bases  because Ky was constantly rolling off the edge.  The bases actually stacked together quite nicely in an upright position (out of the picture opposite the bed) and we use them as a storage cupboard for our sheets and blankets and suitcases.  The rocking horse was Kaya's 1st birthday present from his Turkish grandparents.
This area beside the bed was originally planned to be Kaya's sleeping area but we quickly figured out that it was much easier for everyone when Ky slept with us rather than in a bed of his own.  

This set of 3 pictures is my knock-off version of some artwork I saw on the internet (I can't remember the name of the artist or where I saw the pictures).  I painted these while I was pregnant with Ky.

This soft monkey is also one of my creations.  I made him to match the bedspread and curtains I made for Ky which we've never had the opportunity to use.

My 1st year wedding anniversary gift to Murat.  What do you think?  Did the artist do us justice?

And finally, this is our bathroom.  Unfortunately, the basin also serves as our kitchen sink since it's the only water supply in the apartment.  I wish we had a bath.  My goal is to be living somewhere with a bath by the time our next baby comes along.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Bloody Car

One of the things I like best about travelling is experiencing cultural differences. Now that I'm living in Turkey, I'm exposed to a myriad of differences on a daily basis - cultural, religious, national, political, secular. Sometimes I smile with pleasure when I witness or experience the difference. Other times I'm shocked and sickened. Many times I laugh. 

One day I'm going to have to devote a post entirely to all the interesting customs, old wives tales and religious duties that I've experienced in Turkey. And the faux pas I committed because of my lack of understanding or acceptance of them. There have been some funny experiences, let me tell you! But today I want to describe a custom that I observed for the first time only recently. 

Kaya was taking me for our usual daily expedition of "outside". We were wandering through the carpark when I noticed smears of blood all over the wheels and front bumper of a brand new car. At first I was shocked and saddened, imagining the poor animal that must have been hit by that car. And then I felt disgusted that the owners of the car hadn't even bothered to wash the blood away. A few hours later when Kaya and I met Murat after he arrived home from work, I showed him the car. Murat informed me that the blood was not caused by an animal being run over, it was purposely smeared on the car! Apparently, when a new vehicle is purchased, it is common practice in Turkey to sacrifice an animal, such as a goat or chicken, and smear the fresh blood on the car. And apparently, the brutal killing of this innocent animal and it's blood being splashed all over the vehicle is somehow meant to prevent the vehicle crashing when driven. What the F!@#? Where am I? What century is this? How ridiculous! 

Looking at the statistics of traffic accidents in Turkey, obviously this stupid practice is not working. Each year in Turkey, there are approximately half a million traffic accidents, 9000 of them fatal. How about instead of slaughtering animals for the sake of preventing accidents, let's educate drivers to stop at red lights, observe speed limits, wear seat belts, drive one car per lane (instead of the usual 4 or 5 cars across 2 lanes), drive on the correct side of the road, not stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason ... oh and here's a novel idea, how about teaching drivers to give way to other traffic occasionally! 

On the topic of driving in Turkey, I cannot believe how often I see children jumping around in the back seat and even on the driver's lap! Oh, and what about the families of 3 or 4 or clinging on to each other on the back of a moped? The other day I even saw a moped going along the highway carrying a man (driving), a small boy, a woman holding identical twin girls on each KNEE, and a second boy on the very back! I wish I'd had my camera with me that day. Incredible! Incredibly idiotic!

You know what else is normal practice in Turkey? If a car breaks down, or has been in an accident, the driver places a large rock, or pile of stones on the road about 15 feet behind the car to warn other drives of the upcoming hazard ... doesn't anyone wonder what their hazard lights are for? Rocks are also used in this way by council workers digging up roads. One day, Murat and I were driving home along a brand new road late at night. There was no street lighting. At the last moment we noticed a sizeable rock in the middle of the road and Murat quickly swerved to miss it. About 20 feet in front of that rock was a huge hole. And I mean HUGE. It was deep enough to fit several cars inside and in fact there was an earth mover down in there. Can you believe it? No reflective signs, (in fact no signs at all), no barriers, nothing. Oh except that one big rock.

*Sigh* Living in Turkey is certainly interesting. But fortunately most of the interesting characteristics of Turkey are not as negative as those I've just described. In fact, most of the time I feel inspired by my experiences in Turkey. Next time I write about Turkey, I promise to write about some of the beautiful things that distinguish Turkey from other places.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm never going to be like Martha Stewart

One look at that dusty machine and Kaya was all over it with his cleaning equipment!

It's not that I really want to be like Martha Stewart, it's just that I'd like to have the opportunity to be like her. This sewing machine situation is not helping me in my quest. If you read my earlier posts here and here about what I've gone through to be able to sew, you'll probably have some idea of the frustration I'm feeling. And you might even be waiting to hear how things have progressed. Well ... there's good and bad news. Let me tell you what happened when I again rang Brother in the U.S. to reorder those needed parts that never arrived by mail.

It was a steamy, hot night. I'd just put the baby to sleep and hubby and I had some time to ourselves ... hmm this is sounding like a post quite different to what I wanted to write. Let me rephrase that. The other night, after I put the baby to sleep, I had some time to get on skype to call Brother. It was late, the air-conditioning wasn't working as usual and I was tired. These things didn't bide well for the poor person who answered the phone... The conversation started out well enough with me explaining that I wanted to place an order and I was going to make it especially easy because I wanted to reorder exactly what I'd ordered 3 months ago. The woman told me, "sure! Just let me have a look at your order." Short pause, and then the words that almost caused me to pull all my hair out and throw myself, screaming through the glass in the window, "I'm sorry but we no longer stock internal sewing machine parts." What! The! F@#$!? I almost screamed at the woman and then I almost cried. I was more than a little bit angry when I asked the poor woman what the hell she was talking about, I mean, I'd just ordered those parts a few months ago! She told me they recently changed their system and no longer carried internal parts. However, she was nice enough to find me the number of a service provider who'd be able to help me. Well, that was at least something.

Seriously, are these Sewing Gods really trying to tell me not to use this machine? This is all just too much! Already I'd spent almost as much as the cost of the machine, in parts and I'm still not guaranteed to be using it anytime soon. Eventually, I decided that I was not going to use the bloody machine, instead, I would buy a new one when I got to Australia. But I would still order the parts, fix the machine and then sell it here in Turkey. I should even make a profit because here, the machine retails for approximately US$800 whereas I only paid about US$160 (plus the cost of the parts).

So I called the number she gave me, and this is where the good news starts. The guy I spoke with was so helpful and even though none of the part numbers Brother gave me, matched the part number he had, together (after a couple of emails back forth with photos of the parts) we were able to figure out exactly what I needed. The credit card details were given and the parts were posted that very same day!

Now, once again, I just have to wait a couple more months until I get to Australia, to see the parts, my brother will bring with him. Let's hope he doesn't forget them, lose them, or break them!

To Kill the Fungus!

I started a detox today.  It's been 6 1/2 hours and I'm starving!  Just looking at the bowl full of pine cones beside the computer is making my hungry! How am I going to manage another 6 1/2 days of this?

I've been thinking about doing this particular cleansing diet for a few years now but always found an excuse to put it off. But finally, even though I can think of some really good reasons not to do it, I willed myself to start anyway.

The detox I'm doing now is the part of Stage 1, the Detoxification Stage of the anti-Candida cleanse. Even though I don't get yeast infections, I just know that disgusting candida fungus has spread it's filthy tentacles throughout my body and I want it gone! How do I know? Well first of all, pretty much everyone in today's day and age has a candida overgrowth. If you've ever taken antibiotics or eaten meat fed with antibiotics or been on the pill or eaten too many sugary foods or not enough vegetables or have silver (mercury) fillings, or drunk fluoridated water, or you're under a lot of stress, chances are you too will have an overgrowth of candida. And candida can be quite noxious. It normally lives in your gastro-intestinal system along with millions of other micro-organisms, but if you treat it right (stress, antibiotics and bad food, for example), it will happily grow and grow and will break through the lining of your stomach to infect all other body systems and causing innumerable health problems.

Some of the conditions caused or exacerbated by candida are:

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • lupus
  • prostatitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • psoriasis
  • asthma
  • skin and nail fungal infections
  • gallbladder disease
  • schizophrenia
  • PMS
  • vaginitis
  • cancer
  • multiple sclerosis
  • arthritis
Not nice! And the symptoms of Candida paint an equally ugly picture:
  • bloating and indigestion
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • bad breath
  • chronic fatigue
  • chapped and dry flaky skin
  • stiff shoulders or headaches
  • sexual dysfunction and impotence
  • urinary tract infections
  • arthritis
  • irritability and mood swings
  • autism
  • depression
  • muscle pain and fatigue
  • hyperactivity
  • menstrual irregularities
  • memory loss
  • short attentions pan
  • learning difficulties
  • chronic allergies and gluten intolerance
  • hypoglycemia
  • cravings for sweets
  • acne

Hmmmm, there's more than a couple of these symptoms I suffer!

So the cleansing diet will go on!

By the way, the seven day detox is not a compulsory part of Candida cleansing, but a detoxifying fast like the one I'm doing (that includes lots of nutritional broths) is a good way of cleaning out the colon, providing a good foundation for the actual Candida cleansing diet.

During weeks 2-3 food is reintroduced but only those foods that Candida does not have a taste for.  The idea is to starve and kill the Candida fungus. Candida particularly loves sugar so during these 2 weeks absolutely no sugar is allowed, not even fruit sugars. The hardest part of this diet for me is sure to be not eating any fruit... Candida also loves starchy and high carbohydrate foods which the body converts to the sugar. So out with all glutenous grains and no potatoes either. And since I'm cleansing my system, all other baddies like caffeine and alcohol are also no no's. Eating lots and lots of vegetables is extremely important because they absorb some of the toxins being worked out of the system by the cleanse.

End of week 3 marks the end of Stage 1 of the cleansing program. By this time, a lot of that nasty Candida will have died off. One way to know if the diet has been working is to look at how you've been feeling. If you've been feeling yucky with flu-like symptoms or headaches and nausea than you know the diet's working. These symptoms are a result of the Candida cells releasing by-products into the bloodstream as it dies off. Drinking lots of water and taking lots of vitamin C are a couple of ways to reduce these symptoms.

Stage 2, the Elimination Stage, takes 4 weeks. During this stage the diet is a lot less strict and we can reintroduce some foods like green apples and berries back into our diets. Complex carbs and beans can also be slowly reintroduced. Throughout these 4 weeks, some specific anti-fungal treatments are used to really attack that Candida. Things like oregano oil, garlic, goldenseal and olive leaf extract are particularly effective. The worst part about Stage 2 is that the Candida die-off symptoms will get worse before they get better...

Okay, Stage 1 involves detoxifying the system for 3 weeks.  Stage 2, which takes 4 weeks, will  hopefully eliminate every last bit of Candida. That's 7 weeks so far. At the 2 months mark, it's time to start Stage 3, Repopulation. The idea here is to repopulate the gastro-intestinal system with all the good bacteria it needs to function efficiently and keep us healthy. So during this stage probiotics are added to the diet. But the best part of Stage 3 is bringing back all those foods that were avoided for the previous 2 months! Mmmm grapes, cherries, mangoes! It's important that these foods are reintroduced one at a time and if any adverse symptoms or reactions are noticed then this is a sure sign that the body is (and probably always has been) allergic or sensitive to that food and so it should really always be avoided.


I had this blog saved in my drafts folder and didn't realise I hadn't posted until now when I planned to update you on how I was going ...

It's actually 4 days after I started the diet and I'm ashamed to admit that I wasn't able to continue with the fast. I thought the nutritious broths and all the vitamins and minerals I was taking would be enough to keep feeling strong but I didn't realise just how much breastfeeding was taking out of me! I lasted only one day... However, as I mentioned in my post, the fast isn't absolutely crucial, so I moved on to the second part of Stage 1 and I'm currently doing pretty good on my strict diet of no sugars, or grains (besides brown rice), or dairy (besides natural yoghurt and kefir).

I'll keep you updated.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Rant

Thoroughly enjoying some eggplant infused whole wheat fettucine with a mildly spicy tomato and broccoli sauce
I witnessed something today that really saddened and bewildered me.  And the worst thing was that I did absolutely nothing about it. And now I feel guilty too. This morning I watched a mother, one of my neighbours, completely fill her baby's bottle with cubes of white sugar before adding UHT milk.  I then watched her give it to her 4 year old son telling him to "drink your milk. It'll make you grow up big and strong". And I stood by and did absolutely nothing.

There are about 15 families living in this complex with children more or less the same age as Kaya. As a naturopath and someone particularly passionate about health and nutrition, I can't help but observe what the parents feed to their children and babies. In every case the children are regularly and routinely given nothing more than junk food.  For example, in the 18 months we've lived here I haven't yet seen one particular little girl given anything but sugar laiden junk "foods". Since she was 6 months old, I've watched her parents force feed her white bread heaped with jams or chocolate spread and coco-pops for breakfast, fries dripping with ketchup, puddings, cakes, white bread and occasionally white rice or pasta for lunch and dinner and every kind of lolly, gum, ice-cream, biscuit or cake in between her "meals". Her only source of fruit is sugary fruit drinks, her only source of vegetables are fries, her only source of dairy is flavoured milk and yoghurt, her only source of grains is the refined flour in the rice, pasta and cakes she eats and I've never seen her eat any kind of meat. When we first arrived here, I just couldn't sit back and watch this little baby screaming as her parents pushed this crap down her throat.  So I pushed Murat to talk to them about it. But it was to no avail... nothing we said would convince them to give up the sugary foods because they were afraid she wouldn't eat anything else and would end up starving to death.... Oh dear! By the way, this girl at almost 2 years of age is fat and has severe sleep and behavioural problems. And of course this is no surprise considering her malnutrition. In my opinion this is child abuse. Lack of education is not an excuse.

Unfortunately similar feeding habits are shared by every single family here. It seems that not a single parent has an issue with giving their babies sweets and lollies throughout the day. It's rare to see a child here without a lolly pop or ice cream in their mouths. And I'm talking about babies younger than 1 year old! How can so many people be so naive? I understand that people generally tend not to read (except newspapers and magazines) and instead rely only on the TV for their information, but surely these parents watch programs other than advertisements for junk food... Surely it's not possible that these parents just don't realise junk food is bad for kids... Is it only the parents living here in this complex that think this way? Or is this an accurate cross-section of this country's general public? Is this an accurate cross-section of the world population in general. If so, what kind of people are we raising.

The mothers here are constantly complaining that their children aren't sleeping properly, that they're violent, that they're hyperactive, that they refuse to listen to their parents, that they're having problems in school, that they're always sick, that they're constantly needing to visit the dentist, that the're always fighting with other children, that they babies are very slow to crawl, walk and talk, that they won't eat their meals...  These poor kids are living their lives surfing on waves of sugar and chemical induced highs and lows! How can children in this state of being learn? How can they grow and develop into happy, healthy, well-adjusted, intelligent, contributing members of society?

Just wondering, that's all...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Message from the Sewing Gods?

Are the Sewing Gods trying to tell me something?  It seems that these crafty (get it? tee hee) Gods are conspiring against me sewing.  It has now been almost 1 year since I ordered my sewing machine and still I have not been able to sew a single stitch.  See my earlier blog for all the obstacles I struggled with in the first 6 months post order.  And now 6 months on I'm still working on getting my brand new, albeit dusty, sewing machine in a workable condition...  The guy I mentioned in my previous post, who gave it to another guy to look at before sending it to another guy eventually came back to me with a "sorry lady, but the part I need to fix the machine is not available in Turkey so there's nothing I can do to help you" or that's what I figured he said from his facial expressions and hand gestures since I'm still pretty hopeless with the local language.  So anyway, after this conversation and a few tears of frustration, I jumped on the internet and spent a couple of days madly googling the part description to find the part number to find out where I could order it.  I even asked my mother in Australia to try to order it from the manufacturer there.  Eventually I discovered that the only place I could get it from was the official Brother parts and service centre in the USA.

So, after figuring out the time differences and loading up my skype credit I called a friendly guy at Brother and tried to describe the part I needed replacing.  He was confident it could only be one part and promptly put it on back-order for me (of course it wasn't in stock when I called!).  A sense of relief and satisfaction started to settle over me.... that was until he asked for my credit card number and corresponding U.S. address.  I don't have a U.S. credit card!  Bloody hell!  "Oh and by the way", he said, "we don't ship internationally".  Bloody bloody hell!  So now I had to find someone with a U.S. credit card and someone in the States I could ship the part to who'd be willing to then ship it on to me.

Luckily I have 2 siblings living in the States.  I thought of my brother first because I knew he had more free time available to be able to visit a post office.  He gave me his credit card details and even told me to order anything else I might want from the U.S. since I'm often complaining to him about all the things I'm never able to find here in Turkey.  But he advised me not to have the package sent to his address because he was going to be away for a few weeks.  As a personal trainer / health coach to a disgustingly rich family, he often trips off to this tropical island or that luxurious resort on the family's private super yacht.  So I spent the next couple of days trying to get in contact with my sister.  My sister is a famous professional athlete so it's difficult to catch her (because she's so fast ... get it?  tee hee).  She's always racing here, there and everywhere.  But eventually I did get a hold of her and she told me she would try to find the time to post my part when it arrived.  So finally I was ready to call Brother again with all the necessary information.  Luckily they still had my part on order and just to be super sure that the part on order was the part I needed, I again described the broken part.  The person I spoke to assured me that the part ordered sounded like the very part I needed.  So the order was confirmed, the credit card details were given and a U.S. shipping address was provided.  Now I just had to wait.

One and a half months later, the package finally arrived.  I ripped open the envelope and there in my hands was ... a part that looked absolutely nothing like the part I needed!  Aaaarrrggghhhhhh!!!

I called Brother again and explained the situation and asked if I could send them a photo of the broken part from my machine.  And after a week of emails back and forth with 3 attempts of attaching the photo in different ways, we realised that their email system did not allow them to receive attachments...  Huh?So they then offered to email me their official list of parts complete with diagrams.  I immediately identified the part I needed, called my brother to get his credit card details again (because of course I threw away the paper I wrote them on), and confidently ordered the needed part.

My sister received the part in the mail more than 3 months ago and posted it about a week after that.  I'm still waiting to receive it.

Last night I skyped my brother again to get his credit card number (why do I continue to throw it away?) and as soon as the Brother office opens for business I'm going to try again.  This time I'll get the part sent to my brother (since my sister is now especially busy leading up to the 2010 Hawaii Ironman World Championships) and have him bring it with him to Australia where we're all planning to get together for another brother's wedding later in the year.

Until then I'll be desperately praying to the Sewing Gods to allow me to start sewing.  Feel free to join me in prayer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Blog's a Mess!!

I spend quite a lot of time looking at other people's blogs. Everyone else's is so pretty and so organised and so cohesively put together. So I know what a total mess mine really is. First, there's too much blah blah blah in the "About Me" section which I really need to rewrite. Then there's the "About Me" tab that I made ages ago but haven't gotten around to finishing yet. And what about all the other tabs I planned on including ... well they're not even thought through in my mind yet! And now I can't even remember how to edit the tabs or create new ones so will have to consult google again. Then there's the "My Favourite Books" thingy on the side that doesn't even work and I have no idea how to fix that! And what about the blog itself! I haven't even got a theme for what I write about. Sometimes I want to write only about topics of a frugal/conscientious/do-it-yourself/naturopathic/health type nature. Other times I have an urgent need to purge some of my thoughts about baby-related challenges or joys I'm experiencing. Occasionally I think it would be a good idea to write about life as an expatriate in Turkey ... but I'm afraid that some of the things I'll say may be construed as negative or persecutory and my words will hurt the feelings of the naturally proud Turks who might read this (especially the Turks I'm related to). Of course I could just write 3 different blogs and cover all topics. Yeah right! I can't even seem to manage keeping a single blog updated often enough. And what am I doing right now? I'm procrastinating. In the time it took to write this blog I could have fixed most of the problems I've just complained about. Or I could do it now ... Nah! Think I'll go make myself a cup of coffee and read through the other blogs listed on my Reader instead.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Part 2 of the toilet training adventure

Warning: This post is about poo!  Please don't bother reading unless you're truly interested in learning about our progress, or if you have a weird fascination with poo, or if you're truly bored and have nothing better to do.

Almost immediately after my first post about Ky's introduction to toilet training we virtually gave up trying because he only ever seemed to want to go to the toilet when we were outside or not within potty-running-to distance.  And while, not before, but while he was filling his nappy he'd happily tell me what he was doing.  Then suddenly, about 2 weeks ago he sat down on his little potty did a poo and excitedly pulled on my hand to help him empty it into the toilet.  After cleaning the bowl and his bottom, he promptly did another poo in the toilet and again excitedly jumped up, grabbed my hand and had me help him empty it into the toilet a second time.  This little performance happened a total of 6 times!!!  (I have no idea where all that poo was coming from .. he only has a little tummy).  Since coming to realise how he can, all by himself, create something seemingly out of nothing just by sitting on his toilet and grunting a little bit, he's happily made this pooing and weeing in his potty business a regular pastime.  He doesn't even make a big deal about it anymore.  Like everything else he's learned, he's quickly undertaken this latest skill with modesty.  He doesn't need all the fanfare and congratulations, he's taken it in his stride as if it's just another notch in his belt of milestones he's accomplished.

So for the past 6 days we haven't needed to use even a single nappy during the day!  It's been lovely not having to wash bucketloads of stinky nappies every couple of days.  It's also been nice to dress Kaya in clothes without a bulky nappy underneath.  He looks so tall and lean without all that extra padding on his bum.  The only problem is keeping his pants from falling down...

A better frame of mind

It's been too long since I've blogged about anything, I know.  But to be honest I just haven't been in the right frame of mind to share my thoughts with the rest of the world.  I've been feeling depressed because I've been feeling imprisoned.  Physically imprisoned.  Our home is really like a prison in many ways with the high fence completely circling the complex and security guards patrolling the gates and the grounds.  I don't notice these things if I get out of the place every now and then but you see, for more than a month we've been without a car which has meant we've been stranded out here in "the compound" amongst the cotton fields with no logical means of escape.  It's a 7km trip to the nearest village.  About 15km to the nearest shopping centre.  And about 20km to the nearest beach.  With temperatures as hot as they've been, this is just too far to walk with a toddler.  Our other option is taking the shuttle bus that runs several times a day and connects to a the regular bus service in the village.  But because the poorly paved road is so narrow with too many blind corners and Turkish drivers tend to believe they're driving formula one race cars at all times, taking Kaya on a bus was not an option for us.  So the only times we were able to leave the complex were when we hired a car on hubby's one day off each week.  For me, Miss Peter Pan, a one week leave pass is just not often enough to maintain any degree of sanity.  So for the past 5 or 6 weeks I've been fighting waves of insanity and wallowing in a puddle of feeling-sorry-for-myselfness...

But not anymore!!  We have our car back = our parole hearing was successful = FREEDOM.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hot as Hell

Remember when I recently described how idyllic it was living the village life here at the "lojman" ... well life is not so idyllic lately with the mercury sitting above 40 degrees (celcius, that is)!  Antalya is always hot this time of year but right now we're experiencing record temperature highs.  And it's a sweaty, dripping, suffocating kind of heat.  A wet-towel-over-your-head-in-the-sauna kind of heat.   A make-you-crazy, claw-at-your-skin, pull-your-hair-out kind of heat.  And unfortunately for us poor souls living in the lojman, this heat is inescapable because we're being deprived of air-conditioning.  I don't know what I did in a previous life to deserve this punishment, but truly I feel like I'm dying a slow death.  As I write this I'm watching parts of my body melt into a puddle under the computer.  And I feel like my brain has shrivelled into the likeness of a walnut.  In fact, if I shake my head, I'm sure I can hear it clack around inside my skull...  To make matters worse, we were even without electricity for much of yesterday, which meant not even a fan to ease the suffering.  Of course, poor little Kaya is feeling it too.  He has an angry looking heat rash covering most of his torso with spots on his face and head as well.  He can't sleep.  He doesn't want to eat.  He's cranky.  How much more of this I can endure, I have no idea, but for sure if I had some kind of transportation to get us out of here we'd be camping out in the closest shopping mall.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I sometimes feel like I'm failing ...

I've posted before about how wonderful it is to be Kaya's mummy and how much I love this new job of being a mummy.  But sometimes, like today, I feel like I'm not doing the job well enough.  I look at my sister-in-law who works full-time and still manages, with the help of her husband of course, to look after three kids under the age of three without the help of any kind of childcare service.  And then I look at me.  A stay-at-home mum who has only one child to look after and doesn't even need to worry about cooking (since all meals are provided here) and yet sometimes I feel so overwhelmed like I just can't manage.  What's wrong with me?

I've read so many books and researched so many websites about how to be the best kind of mother.  And together with my husband, decided that a combination of the principles of attachment parenting and mindful parenting were how we would parent our children.  But it's really really hard!  And I feel like I'm failing in so many ways.  Some of my failures, I understand are mostly out of my control (like not being able to spend as much time as I'd like outside because of the 40+ degree weather, or the spraying of pesticides on the neighbouring farms), but by and large I feel like there is so much more I should or shouldn't be doing.  And I often feel like I just don't have the time or the skills or the patience or the personality to do everything right.

Most days I feel like I didn't provide enough learning opportunities or experiences for Kaya's development.  I should have planned more games to play with him, or taken him on a nature walk, or read to him for longer, or organised more crafts/painting/drawing/play dough modelling for him, or did some cooking with him, or sang and danced with him, or.... the list goes on. Other days I wish I had just been more attentive.  For example, in the playground, by stopping Ky from watching other children fighting and behaving badly, or in the communal restaurant by making sure other parents didn't get the opportunity to give Kaya junk food while I wasn't watching, or in the house when I was cleaning another room, by making sure Ky couldn't reach the remote and turn on the forbidden TV.  There have been occasions when Murat and I argued in front of Kaya, which I sadly regret.  And there have been times when I've let Kaya do something I'd previously told him not to, just to get him out of my hair.

But the worst thing of all is my feelings of selfishness and how I sometimes resent all the time Kaya "takes from me" when I'd rather be taking a nap, or reading a book, or browsing the internet, or going for a long walk by myself, or taking a long, long shower...

Maybe I should take up meditation to help me become more patient with my job (yeah right!  As if I'm going to find time for that!)  Or maybe I should stop wasting my 'oh so precious' time on the computer, and instead make use of this time while Kaya's sleeping, to lie down and read that book I've been trying to finish for the past year and a half.  Then I'd have no reason to complain that I don't get a chance to read a book!  Or better yet, maybe I should just harden up, do my job properly and stop bitching about how hard it is!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Whoops! Too Much Sun Fun

Because yesterday was

1. Murat's day off; and
2. Murat's father is visiting with us; and
3. it was a typical Antalyan hot and sunny day; and
4. we all love swimming, playing in the sand, and getting out of the house,

we decided to go to the beach.  Since Ky doesn't sleep anywhere except in our bed or in the car we always have to carefully plan our days around his sleep schedule.  So with this in mind, we decided to go to the local sandy beach early in the morning and then when the sun started to get too hot at around 11am, which is also coincidentally Ky's nap time, we'd jump in the car and slowly make our way to another, rocky beach, about an hour's drive away, while Kaya napped in the car.

The plan started out well enough and we had a lovely morning.  As soon as we arrived at the beach club Murat and I settled ourselves on the lovely deck overlooking the beach while Ky and his grandfather built sandcastles together by the water's edge.  (By the way, we never use the public beaches because they are so dirty and I just don't even want to think about Kaya playing in the sand amongst cigarette butts, decaying food scraps, plastic cups, dog poo, and other disgusting and unidentifiable items hiding in the sand - but my thoughts on this deserve a post all of their own which I'll get to another time).  While we were there, Kaya met a little boy called Saney and sometimes they came up to the deck to push each other around on a kid-sized toy car.  Other times we all swam together in the sea.  Murat, who's friends with the owner of the beach club, jumped behind the bar and made us a couple of delicious, tall ice coffees sweetened with honey.  I very much enjoyed sipping on mine while watching the kids play.  Kaya's grandfather found time to relax too and did what he loves best - reading the newspaper while drinking a strong black turkish coffee.  Ky painted the deck with ice cubes.  Murat chatted on the phone to his brother.  I pushed Kaya in the little car.  We paddled around in the calm water a bit more.  In fact we were all enjoying ourselves so much that it wasn't until just after midday that we noticed how hot it was getting.

What typically happens when you've neglected to keep track of the time while playing in the sun?  You get sunburnt!  Being so fair, Kaya was the worst affected and his little back glowed red....  Bad bad bad mummy!  We jumped in the car and headed for the nearest nursery and broke the leaf off an aloe vera plant found right near the entrance.  We opened the leaf and scraped all the gel out and onto Kaya's little back.  Fortunately Ky didn't yet seem to be bothered by the burn and we crossed our fingers that the healing magic of the aloe would start working right away and soothe his skin until we got home to our own aloe vera plant.

By the time we got home most of the redness was gone but we applied more fresh aloe gel all over for good measure.  And this morning, you wouldn't have even known that Ky had been in the sun at all.  That stuff is magic!

Even though it's very old and looking really unattractive.  I really love my aloe vera plant.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Spoilt Mummy

The other day was my birthday.  My wonderful husband had tentatively planned two different surprises for me but due to forces beyond his control, both plans fell through.  So, a couple of days before the "B" day he informed me that he'd taken the day off from work so he could come under my employ instead.  He offered to be my servant for the whole day!  Let me tell you that he certainly didn't have to make that offer twice!   I didn't even need a second to think about it.  I knew exactly how I wanted my day to go.  And this is exactly how it went:

A sleep in!  At about 7am when Kaya woke up, Murat took him out of our bed and I slipped back into a wonderful dream of sunbathing on a private yacht in a secluded cove of a little lost island somewhere in the Pacific.  A gentle breeze caressed my skin.  Juicy grapes were being pressed into my mouth and when I lazily opened one of my eyes to see who was feeding me, an arm rippling with muscles momentarily blocked my view, but a second later my eyes beheld my very own Adonis!  Skin the colour of a perfectly prepared mocha.  Abs so defined, I wanted to strum a melody on them.  Biteable lips.  A chiseled jaw.  Wavy black hair.  And a naughty twinkle in emerald coloured eyes ...

Breakfast in bed!  At 9am I was suddenly ripped out of my fantasy by a little boy jumping on my chest with an excited squeal!  Then I got two kisses, one of which was particularly sloppy (Kaya's kiss, not Murat's).  As I sat up, a huge tray of delicious delicacies was placed on my lap.  There was a giant glass of fresh watermelon juice and a cup of tea.  The usual Turkish breakfast fare of goat's cheese, olives, cucumber and tomatoes.  A boiled egg.  Fresh melon.  A little bowl of dried fruit.  Another little bowl of CHOCOLATE!!!!  And a little vase containing a sprig of fresh basil (I love the smell of basil).  How lovely is that?

With a full belly and the memory of my dream still fresh in my mind, I got up to get ready with a silly smile plastered all over my face.

First stop was the local hamam.  For those of you who've never visited Turkey and don't know what I'm talking about, a hamam is a public bathing place where you lie on a marble "bed" in a giant marble bathroom while a half naked bath attendant smacks you all over with a soapy wet pillow case filled with air and then scrubs your skin until it becomes so translucent, your internal organs can be seen....  Actually it's much nicer than it sounds.  Included in the experience is the use of a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.  Most hamams also include a full body oil massage in the price.

Unfortunately for me, at exactly the time we arrived, a busload of tourists also arrived, so we decided to give the hamam a miss until another time.

Instead, Murat drove me to a hair salon to get a fon (pronounced fern) which means getting your hair washed, scalp massaged and hair styled anyway you like for the equivalent of about $5.  I was still feeling a bit romantic after my dream so I chose a wavy hair style hoping to resemble, at least a little bit, Jessica Alba (yeah right!!!).  I love having my hair done.  Having my hair played with, scalp massages - that kind of thing always makes me feel so pampered and relaxed.  I even drooled a little bit...

Next stop was my favourite coffee shop to get my favourite coffee, the good old, no added flavours, no milk alternative, stock standard cappuccino.  I really needed one to get me out of my dreamy mood.  And as usual before I'd even finished the cup I was already feeling power-packed with a wonderful energetic high.  Coffee has such a powerful effect on me, I suppose because I don't drink it very often.  But how I do love a good cup of it especially when in good company.  And what better company than my loving husband and angelic child?

So, then with a bounce in my step, Murat took me dress shopping.  I wanted something comfortable, I wanted something appropriate for the sizzling heat of Antalya, and I wanted something pretty.  After trying on several dresses in several shops, and without a single angry word uttered by either Murat or me (which is virtually unheard of in this type of situation), I finally found a dress that made me feel like a fairy princess and look a little like a lost gypsy.  It was perfect.

By this time we were all well-and-truly starving.  As Murat would say in his poor rendition of an Australian saying, "I was so hungry I could eat a low-flying duck arse".  So off we went to find the only non-Turkish restaurant we knew about in our city of Antalya - an Italian restaurant.  Luckily one of my all time favourite foods is Italian pasta and even more luckily, this restaurant does pretty good Italian food.  We were the only customers in the restaurant so the service was fast, even if it wasn't particularly skillful...  Our food was tasty, made even more so by the fact that it was well after lunch time by the time we ate.  We were all feeling happy and satiated and I didn't think I'd be able to eat anything else for the rest of the day.  Then suddenly a giant chocolate cake arrived and everyone sang a mishmash of "Iyiki dogum gun/Happy Birthday" while I wondered how I was going to be able fit in even a single mouthful of that rich deliciousness.  In fact after the first mouthful I was mysteriously able to eat several more.  It was like magic.

Afterwards, Kaya and I had a nap in the car by the beach while Murat popped in to work for bit.  Then we happily made our way home as the sun made its nightly retreat behind the mountains.

Later, when the angel baby was sound asleep, the most wonderful husband in the whole world put me to sleep with a soothing foot massage.

And so ended the best birthday ever.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What is Corexit 9500?

Have you heard of Corexit 9500?  Well I found out today that this is one of the brilliant "solutions" currently being used in the Gulf of Mexico to "solve" the oil spill problem.

BP with the approval of the US government have dumped more than a million gallons of Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 into the Gulf of Mexico.  

So what is Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527?  (By the way, this stuff is toxic that some countries have banned it's usage under any circumstance).  It's a chemical oil dispersal agent.  Dispersal of oil does not eliminate oil, it does not decrease the toxicity of the oil.  What does it do?  It just breaks up the oil into small particles so that it becomes less visible ... How is this a solution?  It isn't!  But I guess from the perspective of BP it does solve some problems.  Namely, when something's out of sight, it's out of mind.  Hiding the effects of this oil spill will mean public attention will slowly focus elsewhere. 

Meanwhile the sea animals that are killed by the combination of the toxic oil and even more toxic dispersant will sink (another effect of Corexit) and disappear rather than wash up onto the shore where the the public can see the disastrous affects.  Just imagine the outcry!  But that can't be allowed to happen.  The public cannot be allowed to see what's really going on there!

Furthermore, not only does Corexit make the oil less visible, it also becomes pretty much impossible to collect.  To disperse the oil means it will never be cleaned up!  Instead, it will spread throughout all the oceans of the world, polluting everywhere, killing everything in the water and affecting everyone using the water.  The implications of this are huge!  Huge for marine life.  Huge for the environment.  Huge for the human race....

This makes me so sad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A day on the farm

The other day, Kaya and I did a bit of exploring around the farming neighbourhood....

This last picture is a shot of the complex in which we live.  Besides the giant, but occasionally-used football stadium beside the complex (in the right of the picture), we're completely surrounded by farms.  Ahh ... a peaceful life.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why I Boycott Nestle

There are a number of companies my family actively boycott including Monsanto (the most evil company on the planet!!), Coca-Cola, Nike, MacDonalds and BP, but the one company that has really offended me especially since I became a mum, is Nestle.

Isn't it interesting that Nestle aggressively and unethically promotes infant formula for babies in third world countries as being "protective" and yet it continues to utilise child labour and slavery in the manufacturing of it's chocolate products?  It goes without saying that they do not care about protecting children at all!  

By the way, Nestle's latest strategy of telling mothers its infant formula "protects" babies from disease or malnutrition is a big fat lie.  Nestle knows that babies fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies, and in poor settings they are more likely to die.  In fact, UNICEF and WHO have estimated that by improving breastfeeding practices and reducing the use of infant formula in the developing world, the lives of some 1.5 million innocent children could be saved every year!  1.5 million children!!!

Some other reasons to boycott Nestle:
  • Nestle is not a fair trade company.  Less than 1% of its cocoa is certified fair trade.
  • Nestle has not kept its 2001 promise to end child slavery in its cocoa supply chain.
  • Nestle violates the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes more than any other company.
  • Nestle is a HUGE user of palm oil and knowingly purchases its palm oil from companies that are destroying Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands and causing the critical endangerment of Sumatra Orangutans. 
Meanwhile, Ky continues to enjoy his breastmilk whenever he can get it (which is just about every time he notices me sitting down ...) and up until now we've thankfully never had to resort to formula for any reason.  Did you know the WHO encourages breastfeeding at least until the age of 2?  For all the benefits to both bub and mum, I think it's a shame that so many women wean their babies before this age.  I also think it's a shame that so many women in our society wean their babies because of pressure they feel from others.  Regardless of the stares or tsk tsks I might receive, I plan to continue breastfeeding until at least another 6 months.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Year Up!

This morning when I looked out the living room window of our fourth floor apartment, I felt so blessed to be living in this little village on the outskirts of Antalya - the most popular touristy city of the Turkish Mediterranean coast. The view is so lovely. Our complex is surrounded on all sides by fields of newly planted wheat and corn, young pomegranate trees, glasshouses overfilled with tomatoes and fragrant orange orchards. There are no other buildings within miles, there are no highways to be seen.  Magnificent snow-capped mountains provide the backdrop below a sky of bluest blue.  The only sounds are of birds singing, children playing, tractors plowing and the occasional farm dog barking.  It's very peaceful here. And we're so fortunate to be able to call this place home.

We've been living here for just over a year now and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown.  When we first arrived, Kaya was just a smiling little bundle entwined within his baby sling.  Every day I carried him for long walks along the winding tracks separating the farms. I would point out the wild mulberries, stop to show him turtles swimming in a waterhole, mimic the whistles of birds, and hold flowers close to his face so he could learn the lovely smells.

Now, one year later, Ky, now 15 months old, is taking me for walks around the place.  He's the one pointing to birds in the sky, showing me trails of caterpillars, bringing me handfuls of bright flowers, copying the sounds of barking dogs and tasting everything within reach. When did this switch in roles happen? I must have been looking the other way because I completely missed it!

The past year has been oh so busy with Ky's business of growing from a bubbly baby to a tenacious toddler. There hasn't been a dull moment and we only expect things to get more interesting, more exciting, and more  as Ky approaches his second birthday.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A blog about poo

Two days ago I was rinsing a smelly nappy and fantasizing about the day when Kaya would take himself to the toilet and I wouldn't have to deal with another nappy (until the next baby came along). I started wondering when the best time would be to start his toilet training. I'd already read a little bit about the "how to" but I wasn't so sure about the "when to". At 15 months of age, is now a good time to start? He's walking and very able to do a lot of things by himself. And the weather is warm enough now for him to be able to run around the place naked and not get a chilly bottom. I consulted some of my baby books and had a bit of a browse online. All sources agreed that it was important to wait until the child was "ready" before even thinking about starting training. What did "ready" mean? Well, it seems that the little one should be able to recognize the sensation of needing to go and be able to associate this sensation with the end-product left in his nappy. He should also feel some discomfort in being wet or "pooey" (we're not allowed to use words like dirty or smelly because apparently using words or expressions with negative connotations can cause your kid to not respond well to toilet training) and either try to remove the nappy himself, or communicate to his mummy that he's created another "masterpiece" so she'll remove his nappy for him.

"Bugger," I thought, Kaya either doesn't seem to realise or doesn't care when he's poo'ed or wee'ed in his nappy.  And I resigned myself to a few more months of hosing poo out of nappies....

But then yesterday, I noticed Kaya standing quietly in a corner and was just about to ask him if he'd done a poo, when he started pulling at his pants leg and saying over and over "ba-ba, ba-ba" (unfortunately ba-ba is Kaya's word for poo-poo.  Needless to say, Murat's not very impressed that Kaya chooses to use the same word for acknowledging both his poo and his father).

Yeah! So it seems Kaya's met all the criteria for being "ready" for toilet training. I just have to get my plan of action figured out and hopefully we'll have a toilet trained little man very soon. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Five Finger Vibrams

"The human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering" - Leonardo da Vinci

For my husband's birthday last month, I ordered each of us a pair of Five Finger Vibrams.  Ha!  I can only wonder what kind of images are flowing through your mind after hearing of a product with a name like that!  They're becoming more and more popular these days and were even featured in a recent Sunday newspaper here in Turkey with a story about an American actor photographed wearing them.  But for those of you who haven't heard of them yet, they can most basically be described as gloves for your feet.

Wearing them is almost like wearing no shoes at all.  They fit so snuggly and have no padding.  The bottom of the shoes are tough enough to prevent cuts and scrapes from sharp stones but thin and pliable enough to allow you to really feel the earth beneath your feet.  This connection with the earth is very important to me.  Oh and they are so very comfortable!  Because they individually house each of my toes, my feet can work as they're meant to and playing outside becomes much easier.  I can walk, run, jump, climb and play without really feeling like I'm wearing shoes.  I can also wear them in the water.  I have a bit of a phobia about walking in water when I can't see the bottom.  Now I have my Vibrams I don't need to feel scared of standing on something yucky or bitey or ouchie.  They're fantastic.  Can you tell how excited I am?

I virtually grew up without shoes.  All five of my brothers and sisters and I spent our weekends and afternoons roaming around our farm and exploring the bush behind or property, barefoot.  We loved the liberating sensation of having naked feet.  I remember how lovely it felt to squelch in mud puddles and how agile we were climbing trees.  We were born without shoes and it felt more natural going barefoot than squeezing our wriggly toes into rigid and confining shoes.

Even now the first thing I do when I come home is to kick off my shoes.

Unfortunately it's not socially acceptable to go around barefoot.  If I walked into my local grocery store or restaurant without shoes I'd most likely be asked to leave.  As a foreigner living in a very foreign country, I have to be careful about what I wear to avoid being stared at or verbally abused.  So going without shoes in public (in fact, even in my own home I'm frowned upon for not wearing slippers) would ostracize me even moreso.  Now I can wear my Vibrams (and still get stared at), conform to the custom of wearing shoes, and still feel as though I'm barefoot.

What do you think of them?  Kinda funny looking, hey?  But man oh man, they're good fun!  I just love 'em!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Fun

As someone who believes in God without religion, Easter has never been a spiritually important time for me. Instead, I prefer the pagan ritual of celebrating the Spring Equinox. Did you know, the word Easter is actually derived from the name of the Goddess Eostre who represented the renewal of life - sunrise, spring-time and fertility?

Spring has always been my favourite time of the year. To me Spring is happiness and new life, flowers and butterflies, warm weather and cool breezes, colour, fun, sunshine, dandelions, fluffy clouds, trickling streams, green grass and baby birds.

With a constant state of little boy wonderment toddling along by my side I felt inspired this year more than any other time to put a bit of effort into celebrating Easter.

First, a rabbit ... I saw a cute little sock rabbit on Elsie Marley's blog and thought it looked simple enough to make even with Kaya "helping" me. All I needed was one of Kaya's mismatched socks, some matching thread and some cotton (picked from the cotton field next door):

The cute bunny tail was the first step:

Next, I shaped the body and tied it off at the neck:

Stuffing the head was next:

Although the next step was just as easy as all the previous steps, it did take a bit of time.  First I cut the top of the sock right down the middle to the top of the bunny's head to make the two ears and then closed each ear with a some simple stitching:

And here's the completed bunny with another bunny friend:

How's that for a simple and very cute little Easter decoration?  Even better, each bunny meant one less mismatched sock lying around!

Since this craft was so easy and so much fun to do, I got into Martha Stewart mode and started searching the internet for something else to make. Eventually I decided to make some easter bread to take to Easter supper at Angeline and Wolf's place. The recipe from Simple Bites looked simple enough (for me, "simple" is a prerequisite for making every cooking decision) even though it was still bread.

My bread-making record is pretty dismal. My 1/2 dozen attempts over the past couple of months have all been less than .... bread-like .... and I'd told Murat a couple of days before I tried this recipe that if I wasn't able to deliver the goods on my seventh try then I'd buy a bread maker. I don't know what I do wrong. But the bread always ends up wet and doughy in the middle or it doesn't rise or it just tastes really bad! I've tried everything like pre-testing the yeast, kneading the dough for hours (not really that long), using different flours, trying different temperatures of water or milk and even meditating beforehand. Nothing has worked. Until now that is!

I followed this recipe almost exactly but ended up having to keep it in the oven MUCH longer than specified. Did I mention that my oven is a piece of crap? Oh and I did modify the ingredients very slightly. Instead of all-purpose white flour I used wholewheat flour. I also used raw goat milk from our local village pasture fed goats, fresh eggs from the free range chooks in the village, fresh yellow butter, and olive oil instead of vegetable oil for shining up the eggs. And if I'd had more time I would have made natural dyes for the eggs instead of the not-so-good-for-eating artificial food colouring that I did use (I just made sure no one ate the pieces of bread stained by the dye).

This is what the dough looked like after I'd kneaded it for ages:

And this is what it looked like after I'd lovingly plated it and gently placed it in the baking tin:

And this is what it looked like right before it was eaten - a little more black than golden but no one complained.

Although not exactly breakfast bread, it's bread none-the-less. And it rose perfectly! And it wasn't wet and doughy in the middle! And it tasted lovely! Perhaps the secret is in the added sugar. Or the eggs. Or maybe it's the plating of the dough. Who knows? But this recipe is definitely a keeper. I made it again last night with some mashed banana thrown in and half the giant loaf has been gobbled up already! Next time I'm going to try it without the sugar since sugar's not a favourite ingredient in this household. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beauty, Laughter, Love

My little angel makes my life so rich.  I can spend an entire day doing nothing but watching him.  I marvel as he uses his every sense to satisfy his intense curiosity in every single ingredient that makes up his world.  By looking at the world through the eyes of a 14 month old toddler, I'm reminded of how beautiful even the simplest things can be.  I love watching his facial expressions as he tastes different foods and experiments with the different textures in his mouth, in his hands, spread all over the table or rubbed through his hair.  I love watching his little nose wrinkle and his lips purse as he sniffs loudly at a flower he's buried his little face into.  I love watching his deep concentration as he manipulates and tests the relationship between household objects.  Does the telephone charger plug into the electrical socket?  How does this rock need to be positioned to fit into this bottle?  If my wooden xylophone is put on its side and I stand on it, can I reach the apple on the kitchen counter?   Where is the button that opens Baba's shaver to reveal the batteries?

If it wasn't for Kaya, during this past week, I wouldn't have noticed a train of hairy caterpillars emerging from under a bush.  I wouldn't have felt that wonderful warm spring breeze caress my face as I watched Kaya collect rocks to throw into a hole he found in the garden.  I wouldn't have found that giant ball of fluff hidden under the lounge chair.  I wouldn't have noticed the little bird pecking for worms under the park bench.  I wouldn't have paid attention to the dust fairies dancing in the sunlight streaming through the bedroom window.  And I wouldn't have discovered that after offering him just a couple of cloves of roasted garlic, the smell of Kaya's 'garlicy' pee would permeate our whole house for several hours the next morning.

And I'm sure if Kaya wasn't in my life I wouldn't laugh anywhere near as often as I laugh these days.  Kaya loves to dance.  He's not fussy about the kind of music playing.  If it has a beat, for him, it's dance music!  He's so funny and so adorable to watch.  I don't know where he learns his dance moves.  Neither his father nor I dance the way he does and he doesn't watch TV.  I guess he just feels the music and his body does the rest.  He generally starts with a little bit of a bounce and then he raises one hand up in the air in front of him while he bobs up and down.  He'll often incorporate a little twist where he simultaneously bounces up and down, twists his torso and rolls his hips.  Sometimes he'll crouch down low and bounce with his little bottom sticking out behind him.  And lately he'll throw in a few spins.  Even though he'll put on a dance show several times a day, his moves never fail to make my whole body smile!

So many other things he does make me laugh too.  For instance, some of the sounds he makes are so funny.  His favourite word lately sounds like "Abu Dhabi"..  He says it so often we're convinced that perhaps this should be our next holiday destination.  He also likes to hum tunes that combine a very low pitch with a very high pitch.  When he hums the highest pitch, he raises his little eyebrows and opens his eyes wide.  It always makes me laugh.  He loves playing chasey and laughs hysterically when I come after him.  That of course makes me laugh too.  Oh and his fascination with toes!  Wiggling my toes makes him giggle uncontrollably and then for some reason he's drawn to bite them.  Since my feet are so ticklish, feeling his little hands grab my toes as he tries to get them into my mouth, gets me giggling uncontrollably too!

How I love my little boy.   While giving birth to Kaya I gave birth to my own heart.  My heart no longer resides in my chest, my heart was reborn in Kaya.  I feel this to be true especially when I hold him to my breast and watch his beautiful eyes flutter closed in absolute contentment in his 'milk time'.  I feel butterflies in my tummy every single time I nurse him.  I feel my heart beating in his little body.  I feel a love so overwhelming I can't feel anything else.  This little gift of heaven, my little angel, is my heart, my love, my everything.  I am so blessed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Sewing Fantasy - An Ongoing Saga

Ever since I became pregnant with Kaya I've had an insatiable urge to sew...  For anyone who knows me, this is quite an extraordinary statement.  Afterall, I've actively hated sewing my whole life!  I remember sitting in my mother's claustrophobic sewing room as a little girl.  My mother's constant reminders of the necessity of being able to sew, echoing in my ears.  The summer heat stifling.  Sweat pooling in my belly button.  The smell of freshly cut fabric in the air (I bet you didn't even realise fabric had a smell worth mentioning).  Trying without much success to exert even pressure with my foot on the peddle.  The whirr-whirr-whirr of the old Bernina as I push the material beneath the machine's foot.  Then the inevitable whirr-clunk sound as the thread becomes tangled around a pin and breaks the sewing needle...

Every single time I tried to sew something I would either break a needle (or two), knot the thread into an unworkable mess, or run out of thread right before I finished my "creation".   Every single time I tried to sew something it just wouldn't turn out the way I wanted.  Every single time I tried to sew something I would find myself becoming so frustrated I could hardly breathe.  Every single time I tried to sew something I would vow to myself and everyone else within yelling range that I would never ever try to sew anything ever again.  By the time I was 16 I was avoiding any kind of sewing at all costs.  Instead of sewing a button back onto a top, I would have much preferred to throw the whole thing away (not that my mother let me of course).  That's how much I hated sewing.

But then Kaya came into my life, and I developed this insatiable urge to start sewing again.  In the 4 weeks before Kaya's arrival, using my mum's same old Bernina (the one from my traumatic memories), I madly sewed an entire bedding set with accented jungle animals, matching curtains and even a giant soft toy monkey.  And since Kaya's entrance into our lives I've been fantasizing about all the cute clothes I could make for him, if only I had my own machine.

So, in October last year, after almost a year of sewing all kinds of things (in my imagination), and researching the best machine for my needs, I decided upon and ordered a beautiful little sewing machine of my very own.

Little did I know how difficult it would be to get this machine from the shop into my house ...  What a saga it turned out to be!

I made the purchase online from the United States, but unfortunately they wouldn't deliver to Turkey.  So my husband came up with ingenious idea to send it to the cruise ship where his brother is currently working so that when the ship made it's regular visit to Kusadasi (a Turkish port), his brother could post it on to me.

I waited about 5 weeks for the machine to find its way to Europe and onto the ship.  But by this time my brother-in-law (Burak) had returned home for vacation.   So I waited another 6 weeks for him to return to the ship.  Then I waited 2 more weeks for the ship to sail into Kusadasi.  The day finally came but instead of a message telling me my machine was in the mail, I received the bad news that the Turkish customs authorities refused to allow any machinery of any kind into that port.  Huh?  So I started researching postage costs from the various other ports and the location of the post offices in relation to the port (to ensure the least inconvenience to Burak who would be posting the machine).  Finally I discovered a post office in Dubai, right in the port terminal where Burak could easily jump off the ship, post the machine and get back onboard without interrupting his time off too much.  I waited another 2 weeks and my machine was finally in the mail.  Then I waited 3 weeks more and it was here.

I can't begin to tell you just how excited I was to see that white PTT box sitting in my living room.  I didn't want any distractions while I was opening the box so I waited until Kaya was asleep before I even took a peek inside.  I wanted to enjoy the moment.  Two hours after his usual naptime, Kaya finally went to sleep.  I ripped the box open and wah-lah!  What a beauty:

Boy was I going to have fun.  A brand new computerised sewing machine.  I caressed it a bit and pushed some buttons and pulled the thread holder thingy up and down a bit, then I open the bobbin compartment.  Inside was a little bag.  A little bag full of bits.  And pieces.  And funny looking things.  Holy cow!  There were so many little bits and pieces.  How many bits and pieces do you actually need to sew a pair of kid's pants?  Apparently a lot.  Have a look at this:

I started feeling a little bit anxious that this sewing business was not going to be as straight forward as putting a piece of material under the foot and pushing the peddle.  I might even have to read the instruction manual.  And I hate instruction manuals.  I pushed the bag of things away and ignored them.  I would just figure it out as I went along.  So I attached an adaptor to the lead, plugged it in, turned it on and ....


I blew up my brand new little beauty!  After all that it took to finally get it into my hands and I blew it up!  It didn't even cross my mind to think about the electrical supply difference between US and Turkey.  I didn't attach an electricity converter.  And I blew the bloody thing up!  What an idiot!

That was over a week ago and my little sewing machine is still in the process of being repaired.  Nothing is straight forward here in Turkey.  So far it's been looked at by a guy who passed it on to another guy who suggested parts from another guy who tested another part of the machine and then ordered a different part from another guy who assured us it would be ready 3 days later but then when we stopped by 4 days later his wife told us he couldn't fix it and wanted to send it to another guy for another part and it would take another week.  Something like that anyway.

So, in summary, I bought a sewing machine 4 months ago and hope to be able to make Kaya something nice ... one day.