Hoşgeldiniz to 2013

Welcome to the New Year!  I hope everyone had safe and happy New Years celebrations.  Bülent and I have been so busy lately that we welcomed the New Year from bed, where we had been snuggling and watching movies.  It worked for me!  Start the New Year as you mean to continue right?  I am sure many people are thinking about New Year Resolutions and how to make changes.  I think I am just going to continue the journey I started several months ago, trying to appreciate the good, and live a more balanced life.

It has been a difficult year.  This day last year I was packing my bags to go back to the U.S.  I  had taken a leave of absence due to my father’s health and was supposed to head back at the end of the semester in late January.  I had spoken to my family a couple of days before and I had decided to change my plane ticket on December 30.  It was expensive to change a ticket two days before the flight, but it was the best decision I ever made.  My father’s funeral was on the original date in January on which I was supposed to arrive. 

I had taken the semester off and my school had hired someone to take my place, so I stayed in N.H., grieving and healing with my family.  It was difficult to be separated from my husband for six months, but has changed our relationship for the better.  We are stronger and more united, we know there is nothing we wouldn’t do to help the other…been there, done that.  We have now had bad and trying times and just love each other more for our individual responses to them. 

My time in the U.S. last year was very precious to me.  It allowed me to spend time with my mother while she needed me, and while I needed her.  I was able to get to know my brother as the man he is now, as opposed to the boy he was when I left.  I was also able to get to know his long time girlfriend, who is as lovely inside as she is out.  I went to my college roommate’s wedding and celebrated her happiness with her, and our college friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in five years.   I drove from Texas to New Hampshire, meeting Bülent’s dearest old friends, and visiting mine along the way.   I also went to BlogHer ‘12!

My oldest and dearest friend made me an Auntie—albeit in a terrifying way.  Due to her daughter’s insistence to make a (extremely early) entrance I was able to meet her in the NICU before I came back to Turkey.  

Health wise: Bülent and I went vegetarian (almost six months now) and I joined a gym a few months ago.  The breast lumps have been vanquished—well not vanquished but at least identified as benign.  To top it all off, our dog, Butterfinger, is not letting cataracts get her down.   

The year has been challenging and rewarding.  I am hoping that this next year will be easier, because we kind of need a break.  But we are starting the year off right.  Last year my dad wanted to take our family on a last vacation, a cruise, due to his limited mobility, but he died before we were able.  

Well, we are taking that fucking cruise.  Come January break, my mom, brother and I are going to go.  We are going to celebrate what was, what is and what is to come, because that is what life is all about.  So 2013—bring it on!

School is Back!

I was on a posting roll, and now silence it back.  I am working on building new routines.  I have been away from the apartment for about seven months in total since January.  Coming back spurred re-organization and new projects.  I have also needed some time to re-acclimate and settle back in to Turkey.  I am also spending lots of time just enjoying being with my husband. 

Also work. School hasn’t started yet, but we have had a couple of weeks of teacher In-Service days, getting ready for the new semester.  I am excited about the new school year, and without the stress from last year, believe I will be a better teacher, person and friend this year.  I really did not have a lot of patience for anything last year, all my thoughts were at home. 

I am working on developing balance this year.  Balance for work, health and home.  (More on health balance in another post.)  I also have a few trips coming up, and am looking forward to those to.  Technically the New Year is in January, but for teachers, it really starts in September!

Welcome to the New-ish Year!

I am a little late for the obligatory New Year post, but I have good reasons.  We spent New Years Eve with some very good friends of ours.  It would have been a lovely evening if I had not been huddled under a blanket, drinking herbal tea, being miserable and running a fever.  We stayed until midnight and then headed out.  Bulent tucked me into bed and took care of me for the next couple of days.  I feel much better now, but was really out of it for a week and a half.  I had sort of gotten better but talking (and yelling) at children for seven hours a day really slows down the healing of a sore throat.  I actually sound pretty sexy—if you like a raspy low pitched growl.  Bulent thinks it is cute. 

I was also dealing with the loss of my laptop.   My hard drive crashed.  I lost a little data but I had backed up a few weeks ago.  Luckily, I had it back within a week all fancy and like new.    I replaced the hard drive with a larger one and upgraded from Windows Vista to Windows 7.  So yay!

The new year also started a new adventure…A Masters!  I found a great distance program through a public university in the States.  So that has started and I have completed my first Saturday of homework.  Whee…Graduate level education, here I come. 

Christmas is Here!

Whee!  I love this holiday.  While I don’t do religion, I do really like the warm fuzzies that come with Christmas.  I love dressing up the house, buying gifts, baking sweets with tons of yummy spices.  We do live in Turkey and while they do not generally celebrate Christmas, there are Christmas trees EVERYWHERE.

Turkey celebrates the New Years with gift giving, decorated trees and lights and garland.  When I feel the need for Christmas cheer, pretty much every mall is a great bet!  All the malls and stores in the main shopping districts are decorated with greens and lights, probably more so than in the States.  It really is lovely.  Trust me, I know.  I spent five hours at the mall(s) today shopping.  You can see my efforts under the tree.  Another great aspect of Turkish culture is the service industry.  In EVERY STORE they offer complimentary gift wrapping.  Sometimes it is not ornate, but it usually is very nice, especially for those of us who are less gifted at the cutting of paper and folding of corners.  My wrapping efforts look like a preschooler’s, you know, lacking general gross motor skills.

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We also hung our stockings for the FIRST time ever! They are hanging our by Ataturk.  It is pretty normal for most households in Turkey to display a portrait of the founding father, and ours is no different.  There are three stockings.   One for Bulent, one for me, and one for the dog.  Hers already has some bones in it.  Growing up my family always hung a stocking for the pets, because Santa loved them too!   I thought that our puppy deserved the same.  There may even be a wrapped present under the tree for her.

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I apologize for the quality of the photos.  I took them with my phone.  I could have gotten up, gotten the camera, retrieved  the cord and downloaded the photos, however, I am exhausted from all the shopping.  Two malls, four floors each.   That’s a lot of shopping.

Start the New Year Out Right

With mimosas.  We did.

New Years was great, quiet and wonderful. In Turkey the New Year is a huge celebration, trees are decorated houses draped in garland and big family parties.  Bulent and I went on a date out to a lovely French restaurant.  The food was great and the ambience just gorgeous.  We rang in the New Year with friends and champagne.  The leftovers I then used to make mimosas for breakfast.  Nice way to start the day, or year.

I think I will indulge in the obligatory decade post…As I was trying to write this I realize since I was five my life has been measured through the academic year.  It still is.

2000—I was a junior high school and got my drivers license.

2002— Graduated high school.

2003—Went to college.  Fell in love with “Swells,” made lifelong friends and cemented my feminist ideals.  My grandfather died.

2004—Joined a sexual assault awareness and counseling group.  Now a feminist with a passion for education and prevention of sexual and domestic violence.

2005— Met Bulent. Backpacked around Europe for a month.

2006—Ran the sexual assault awareness and counseling group.  Raised over $20,000 with my friends to bring Alice Sebold, author of the Lovely Bones to campus.  My grandmother and grandfather died.  I moved to San Diego.

2007— Started working at a Charter school for at-risk students.

2008—Continued working at Charter schools in San Diego.

2009—Bulent and I became engaged.  We decided to move to Turkey. Spent six months travelling around Turkey, visited Ephesus, Istanbul, Amasra, Marmaris, and Izmir.  Started learning a new language.

2010—I can’t wait to see what it brings…