Friday, September 2, 2011

The Glamorous Mom

We all dream of becoming mothers from a young age because, let’s face it, babies are cute, fun and have the new baby smell.  Then we become mothers and find Motherhood is nothing less than glamorous, right?  Okay, perhaps that is not quite the case.  While babies are not just cute (they are adorable), fun, and have the new baby smell for those first few days; they also cry, poop, are painful to feed, poop, double the laundry load, keep us up all night, poop, are expensive and create some very stinky smells.  Did I mention how much they poop?
The job of being a Mother has been the most rewarding job I have had thus far in my life, despite its never-ending work hours.  Both of my daughters have been my motivation and source of happiness.  They have helped me find my inner-joy and I would not undo being a Mother for a second.

Being a Mother also creates some interesting memories.  Let’s reflect...

1.)  Waking up feeling refreshed, thinking my daughter slept through the night.  Until I realize I put her to sleep in her basinet, and she is now sleeping in bed with us.  I had no memory of getting up with her and moving her.

2.) Daddy coo'ing at her with the biggest googlie-eyes and then watching her cover his face in a giant baby sneeze, followed by a large cheesy baby grin.

3.)  Big sister snuggling up to her, and then explaining to me she smells like cheese.

4.)  After church, letting Daddy having a turn to hold baby while I go to socialize with some women and returning to him holding her away from his body, with a giant wet spot on his shirt.  Diapers do leak!

5.) Hearing baby make a surprise in her diaper during a middle of the night feeding, and having every intention of changing her.  I get the diaper changed, only to wake up later and realize that I only had a dream of changing her diaper and fell asleep feeding her. She still was stinky.
6.) Going to a friend's house and spend the whole time doing the "Mommy dance" to keep her from crying.

7.)  Being "that lady" to try and bring her infant to the movies and have to excuse myself and leave because baby doesn't appreciate the loud movies.

8.)  Walking to the car to head out for a hot date with my husband and family, and realizing my shirt is still pulled down to my waist from the latest feeding.

9.)  Flashing my BFF on Skype and not realizing it.

10.) Last but not least, the whole family's favorite part of having a baby in the house is the world's CUTEST baby smiles and giggles. 

Of course, the list could go on, but these are just a few of my favorite things.  Bear with me, I am still working on a blog that is going to privy you to details about having a baby in the Middle-East. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ultrasounds

Technology is amazing, I doubt anyone would argue.  It's difficult to believe that in times not long ago, women did not get ultrasounds, nor even think to consider what gender baby they might be having.  Now, technology has made the ultrasound an automatic perk to pregnancies in modern countries.  There is even the 3D ultra-sound.  Expectant mothers like myself can learn that we are having a beautiful baby girl, or a boucny baby boy; and even possibly see any family resemblances.  I thought I would share my ultrasounds in this blog so we can see how Baby Taylor has grown these past 7 months. 

In this ultrasound, baby is about 8 weeks old.  The image had to be enlarged so we could see my small uterus and the little peanut that habitated it.  We were checking for gestational age in this, as well as many other things I'm sure I wasn't even aware we were checking. 

At about week 17 I got another ultrasound I had hoped to learn if we were having a boy or a girl in this, but baby did not reveal herself.  There was no enlarging, nor "zooming out" in this one. 

This is an ultrasound of between 27 and 28 weeks.  I had to get another ultrasound to monitor the placenta location, and will have to get another ultrasound just weeks before baby makes her grand appearance.

 Here is a similar shot, but switched over to 3D.  I am convinced by this shot that she has the same curve in her lips as her father, and his distinctive chin.  I think I even see his curvy eyebrows here. 
This is another 3D picture of the baby's face.  It's a little more difficult to "see" in the beginning, so I will try and explain.  Baby's hand is on the left side of her face, next to the placenta.  It is covering her left eye.  Directly next to her left eye is her open right eye.  If you look very carefully, you can even see her iris.  There is a large nose right where the nose is supposed to be.  I think her nose looks very large, but the ultrasound is taken at an angle below the nostrils which makes it look larger than it actually is.  The large black semi-circular shape inside the orange is the baby's open mouth.  This particular image makes her look very surprised.  I find it funny.

This image threw me off at first as well.  I thought the circle at the top center was the baby's eye; it is actually just a reflection off the top of her head.  We are looking down at an angle on her now.  You can see her right eye and the profile of her nose, ending just beyond the left side of the picture.  Her mouth and chin cannot be seen from this angle.  She looks like she might have some eyebrows growing in this one. 

video
Here is a short video of the baby opening and closing her mouth. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brownies can Dance!

One of the things that Arion does here in Turkey is be a Girl Scout!  She has a great troop this year and one of the things her troop did this year to earn their sports patch is take a dance lesson.  After their lesson they got to show us Brownie leaders and volunteers their moves.  Here is their video!  (If you have trouble viewing this video, you can also see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cNhnyJozNo&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

Go Girl Scouts!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our latest shopping adventure

I may have mentioned this before, but living on a Turkish airbase really is a great scenario to living in another country.  We are surrounded by English-speaking people and have American amenities (excluding our severe lack of groceries as of late).  Directly off base, the pace of life changes and we step into Turkish culture. 

I have the world's cutest nieces and nephews and am ashamed to say that I have been late getting two of them their birthday gifts.  I knew exactly what I wanted to get them but they are deep in Old Adana and the truth is, I have been to this shop once but have not been confident that I would ever be able to find it again.  Michael, Arion and I decided to give it a shot this past Saturday since we were feeling adventurous and the weather was in the upper 70's to 80's. 

Right off base is a dalmus stop.  We prefer to take the dalmus into Adana, because driving there is terrible, and parking is impossible.  This day seemed particularly busy; as a good three dalmus buses passed that were packed so tight the Turkish people inside looked like very warm standing sardines.  Finally, we found a bus that we (sort of) fit in.  Not that it mattered, as the driver picked up a good 7 more people before it seemed travelers began to get off on various stops. After the passengers thinned out and the three of us were able to sit together, another Turkish man came and sat with us.  He introduced himself and told us that he used to work in "The Alley" (the small community right off base that focuses sales on the American's on base). He spoke great English and was very friendly and explained that he had just gotten back from visiting his sister in the States, who was a Turkish National who had met and married an American Airman and PCS'd back to the States with him. 

It was particularly busy out and about this day; more so than we had seen in quite a while so we asked him what was going on.  He explained that it was a Turkish holiday, for children.  He added that there is a great "flea market" nearby.  We explained to him what we were looking for; puzzle-boxes for my beloved niece and nephew.  He said that he knew EXACLTY where we should go and said that he would take us, because it was at the same stop he was getting off.  Fabulous!  So we winded through the streets and alleys lined with vendors and shops and ended up at the same shop I had been before.  I was thrilled we had a guide, as I was pretty sure we would not have made it again without his help.

I knew exactly how much I wanted to pay; when I had gone before with a friend we were told that they should cost 25 lira a piece.  When they said "fifty" I agreed immediately.  Did I have a sign on my forehead that said "stupid American"?  I must have... because when I handed him 50 lira, he was unhappy.  It turns out, he wanted 50 DOLLARS.  Let me explain the difference.  The exchange rate is about 1.57 Lira for every dollar.  This means that 50 lira equals $31.84 USD.  I was pretty irritated that our tour guide was trying to convince me that this was such a great deal when he knew I was getting "turked". 

I talked our friend down to 55 lira for the two puzzle boxes and felt very accomplished. After all, 5 lira IS only a few bucks. I was, however, ready to lose our little volunteer tour guide.  Our plan was to get the puzzle boxes, eat and go home.  He wanted to take us to the flea market next so I kindly explained that we were hungry and were going grab a bite to eat, thank you.  He grew excited and said he knew the BEST restaurant just down the street.  We decided to join him to this restaurant and had delicious doners. At 3 lira a piece (which makes them $1.90 USD) one can NOT complain. 

This picture is how the meat of a tavuk (chicken) is prepared.  The cook slices the meat off, collects it, and then puts it into a wrap of flat bread along with other grilled vegitables. It is seasoned very deliciously; and I am not ashamed to say that Turkish bread is amazing! 
Tavuk Donor, at its finest.

We dined, and had hopes of returning home.  Our new friend wanted to take us to his uncles shop before we left, however.  Reluctantly, we decided that we could take the time to go to his uncle’s shop only after reminding him that we had to get home soon.  So, on we walked to a shop and met his family.  This family sold rugs for a living and it just so happens that Michael and I are in the market for a rug. 

After getting the run-down on rugs and what makes them great (or not great, depending on the quality) we did find a rug that we both actually really liked.  Our new friend of course did try to make a sale, but after the puzzle box experience I was not trusting enough to buy one on the spot.  I still need to compare costs compared to other rugs of similar quality and size. 

One thing is for sure, the cost is significantly less than what a rug would cost in the USA.  Now, if we decide we do want this rug, we get to try and find out how to get back to his store.  Sounds like a never-ending story, right?  

Until next time, 

Sonra görüşürüz!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

Selamlar, arkadaşlar

It has been several months since I have updated my blog; I didn't realize just how long until I started looking at my past posts and noticed the last date being near New Years.  Oh how time flies!  So here I am, on my husband's computer after just getting he and Arion off to work and school, watching the rain pour down with a vengeance. 

Here is an update on our family... 


Appologies for the washed-out picture
Michael is knee deep in his work.  There is a large base-wide inspection (UCI) that is approaching next month here on base and Michael, being who he is, has hopes of a perfect score.  His hard work, however, has not gone unnoticed.  He was a nominee this year (again) for Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the year here on base.  While he did not win at the base level, he was second in running and we both were treated to several days of fun festivities and fine dining.  He has also been selected to attend numerous conferences and trainings in the USA.  He will leave at the end of April, and return around the end of May.    I would love to join him during this time; as he does plan to visit family in Montana during this time.  Unfortunately, me joining him would mean taking Arion out of school and traveling later in my pregnancy than the doctor recommends (I could just see myself going into labor on the 9 hour military flight from Baltimore).  When he returns, I will be 36 weeks gestation and considered full-term.  

Arion is excelling like any proud mother would hope in school. She is in the honor's choir and has several presentations throughout the year.  She has the second grade equivalent to straight A's and takes her grades very seriously. She is also a proud Girl Scout Brownie and has been working hard on helping her troop sell cookies.  We are not allowed to sell cookies door-to-door at overseas locations, so the girls set up booths at the Commissary, BX and Shopette.  They did manage to sell every cookie and between donations and cookie sales her troop alone made around $500.00 profit.  Go Incirlik Girl Scouts! 

 Yesterday at church, one of teachers at Arion's school approached me and expressed interest in getting Arion tracked into the gifted student program.  She primarily worked with the older elementary school children, but Arion stood out to her particularly in helping the adults figure out how to run the smart board and other new technology.  Arion was very flattered and Mom, needless to say, was not surprised but was flattered all the same.  

Arion on "Wacky Tacky" Spirit Day
There is one household conversation that gets her most excited, however.  The arrival of her new baby sister seems to always be on her mind and in her conversations. She loves to sing and talk to the baby, and rub Mommy's belly; waiting for that all-to-familiar poke coming from the other side.  She is going to be such a great big sister!  Amazingly, Arion could tell you any random day exactly how many days are left until the baby's due date.  

I myself am doing pretty good.  The weather in Turkey has turned to nothing short of amazing, particularly when I consider the forecast back in Wyoming around this time of year.  At month six in my pregnancy, I am feeling less get-up and go.  Having to share a car keeps me on my feet, though.  One can usually see this pregnant chick walking somewhere on base, or riding my bike.  This, I assure you is a GOOD thing.  Low-impact exercise is exactly what someone in my condition needs.  

Being a military family has great benefits- and the Air Force absolutely does take care of its' own.  We families do pay a price, however.  As I said before, Michael is going to be State-side for the majority of my third trimester.  While unlikely, if I happened to experience any third trimester complications during his absence and need emergency care I am on my own (with the help of Arion).  Luckily, there is an ambulance on base that can take me to the hospital in Adana.  We pray this does not happen, but are ready if it does. More than anything, I am going to miss him terribly and will be very excited to be reunited with him upon his arrival. 


Baby Taylor is developing and wiggling around right on schedule.  We did have our ultra-sound; and to our surprise, she was indeed a baby girl.  Her ultra-sound revealed no concerns, except for a low lying placenta.  The majority of pregnancies have the placenta on the upper-half of uterus, while mine is at the bottom.  It is actually covering the cervix, the area that opens at the bottom of the womb.  The majority of these cases conclude with no complications.  I will get another ultra-sound at 32 weeks which will hopefully prove that all is well.  In some rare instances, the placenta remains in place and therefore will not stretch like the uterus is designed to do.  This can cause it to peel and bleed, posing risk to us both.  Should this happen, I will have to stay at the hospital for daily monitoring until we are ready for an early cesarian.  Only 1% of low-lying placenta's actually have these kinds of complications and our doctor remains optimistic.  We are still struggling to come up with a name for her, but I'm sure we will eventually agree on something.

Salem, the cat is also fat and happy.  She is oblivious that another member of the family is soon to arrive and enjoys the nice Turkish weather.  She is afraid of the large spiders here and is comfortable leaving the house, careful not to leave the back yard and only if the back door remains open.  

All-in-all, the Taylors' are doing pretty great!    Be ready for a blog with many pictures when our newest daughter makes her grand entrance.  

Görüşmek üzere!






Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kizkaleski, The Maiden's Castle

Off the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, in the present city of Mersin, lies two Amenian castles of Kizkaleski.  One of the castles rests on the sandy beach and the other is literally out in the sea, about 150 meters.  The city of Mersin is a two-hour drive from Adana, with the city of Tarsus rests between the two.   The two hour drive is an interesting one; as Adana is flat, fertile and heavily agricultural.  As we drove South towards Tarsus, we found ourselves entering into the Tarsus Mountains.  Yet further south, in Mersin we found ourselves driving along the Mediterranean coastline.  Although I have not spent a great deal of time around the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, I would have to say that the Sea I saw was an amazing clear turquoise-blue; much more so than the oceans I have seen in the USA. 
We were under the impression that Kizkaleski was just past the city of Mersin, so when we passed Mersin and had not found it, we started to get a little discouraged.  Leah encouraged me to stop at a gas station and with limited Turkish and a great deal of “charades” she eventually communicated that we were looking for Kizkaleski and the gas station attendant in return communicated that it was still another 30 km down the road. 

It was impossible to miss.  We found the castle out in the sea first; quite a way down the road, and then saw that another castle sat on the coast. 

Visiting any of these castles is free; as one could actually swim to the castle out in the sea.  Given that it is winter here right now, and at best 65 degrees, we decided to take a paddle boat to the castle which cost us 15 Lira.  We enjoyed the paddle boat, and loved looking into the Sea and seeing our shadows, and the bottom.


The history of this land goes much further back than Yilankale.  I learned that it even dates back to before Christianity.  The original founder of this castle is thought to be a Cypriot Prince, built around 197 BC.  It was then taken over by Syria and eventually the Romans.  Christianity became this area’s State religion around 391 AD and numerous churches and basilicas were built in this area and the ruins still stand here today.  The city continued to be developed and was finished during the period of the crusades and became part of the Cilician kingdom. It was then seized by the Sultan of Karaman and then later conquered by the Ottomans.  Following the Ottomans, the area was abandoned and people began to settle and this is when this castle was named Kizkalesi (Maiden’s Castle). 
Of course, there are also legends about why this castle exists.  The most popular being that a prophesy foretold the death of a princess via snakebite.  Her father, with hopes to protect her built the castle to prevent any snakes from being near her.  Inevitably, a viper did get into the castle in a basket of figs and the prophesy was fulfilled. 
The land castle was actually built-up by the Romans from the ancient Korykos remains, and therefore has many Roman columns, towers and doors, as well as three churches inside of it. 
The sea castle has walls that are three meters thick and 8 meters high and has towers that are 10 meters.  There is also ruins of a church located in this castle. 

Leah and I are standing on one of the walls of the castle.
It feels amazing to sit uptop a castle tower and look out along the Mersin coast.

The towers, especially have many rooms and stairwells in them; perfect for exploring.

Here is another room in one of the towers.  A window was at each side so one could see any trespassers or visitors coming from any direction on this side of the castle.


The stairwells were curvy and steep.  Leah and I had to "duck" to get up them without hitting our heads.

Panoramic view of half the castle from the inside.

Although we did not get the opportunity to travel beyond the Kizkaleski castles, further up the road one can find ancient tombs, towers, Roman roads, gorges and caves and remains of ancient Christian churches. There are a few in mind that I am already looking forward to visiting.  I'm sure they will be equally as spectacular. 

All in all, it was pretty surreal that Leah and I, two related Wyoming natives spend our holiday together in Turkey, touring castle ruins.  This is a New Year that will not be forgotten.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How did you spend your New Years?

Some people may have heard a lot about Turkey’s beautiful and diverse countryside.  I assure you, these stories are factual.  We all have experienced seeing landscape so breath-taking with hopes to freeze that moment in time so it may last forever. Inevitably, being disappointed with the photograph and finding that the picture does not encompass the same effect that the real experience offers (unless you are a professional photographer with amazing capabilities; which I do not).  None-the-less, here is my effort to share with the world my amazing New Years adventures. 
 My cousin, Leah, blessed our family with her trip to Adana, Turkey from her home in Ankara.  We got to give her a tour around the base and show her how we live on a Turkish military base. 
The following day, we decided to take a half-day trip and picnic just a few miles from base to witness the illustrious Yilankale (Snake) Castle for ourselves.  I had never been, but was told it was close and a must-see.  Rumor said Yilankale is a very easy find and we soon found that it was in fact, nearly impossible to miss. 

Feeling self-assured at our successful spotting of the castle without any real directions, we ventured up a windy gravel road towards the base of the hill.  We found parking area and began our hike.  The path began very wide and paved but soon transformed into a rocky trail.  We followed this trail, until there was nothing of the sort left. 

 We were not going to give up quite so easily, as Arion was in favor of a nice climb.  So climb we did; and began the next part of our journey up the castle.  



As we ventured up, the trail became more obsolete and eventually disappeared all together.  There were no safety signs, equipment or guard rails of any sort on this climb so each climber was on their own while exploring this area. 

The view from Yilankale is breath-taking.  As I said before, snap-shots are frustrating in that they just don't give the same ombiance as being there in person.  Standing so high above everything else made it pretty clear why this castle was built on this very location. 


The precise history of this castle is unknown; however it is suspected that it was build by Armenian Crown Prince Leo III sometime between 1270-1289.  This castle contains a cistern, storerooms, chapel, other rooms and several interior gates. Ancient mythology states that the castle was owned by a ruler who was half man and half snake and used snakes to enforce his will.


There were many obscure passageways and stairwells we discovered in the castle.  Arion enjoyed imagining that a beautiful princess and a handsome prince once ruled this castle.





The view from any window in this castle could hold the attention of even a child for a long time.  There simply is nothing else like it.


Arion looks forward to going back to Yilankale again soon to show Michael.  He, unfortnatley was not able to go along on this trip, but I plan to get him there in the very near future.  Our next adventure, Kizkaleski was equally as amazing, for many different reasons.  But I will talk more about that in a later blog.