My Brother Earned a Meme

I have been home visiting my family for winter break.  I love my family, but also feel very lucky that we are friends too.  Not everyone has a brother or a mother that they would chose to be their friends.  I have been having a great time with both, but hanging out with my brother is particularly fun.  And on that note, he has earned a meme.  Generally he is a great guy, but in the last week there were two really amusing incidents which illustrate his matter of fact stance on equality.


Elliot has never been one to discriminate, but as he got older and more aware, he became a feminist and an equal rights supporter.  The best part is how nonchalant he is about it, it is not something he believes, it is just something he does.

While I was home for winter break my mother and I were considering going out and getting pedicures.  But then we had a discussion about not having enough time, and we decided to forgo the pedicures.  My brother was in the room and was aware of the subject, but not participating.  My mother then switched the subject from human pedicures to the dog’s nails.  Elliot still wasn’t paying attention fully yet when mom asked him if he would give her, Pumpkin–our Rhodesian Ridgeback, a pedicure.  Unaware of the subject change, he glanced at me, shrugged and said, “Sure. But I am not sure how good I will be at painting the edges.”  He was willing, if not able, to give me a pedicure.  Instead, together we ended up taking care of Pumpkin’s nails.  He wielded the trimmers, while I held the huge dog still.

The next day we were picking up a four wheeler.  We had to get it repaired for the new owners of our childhood home. We had to move a table with two large (occupied) rabbit cages on it to access it.  Once we had access to it, it was still a little tough to get it up on the truck.   We only had two narrow boards and a hand winch to get the massive four wheeler up on the back of the big truck.  We started out with Elliot working the hand winch, while I guided the four wheeler up the boards. Then we changed places thinking if someone had to push it over the edge of the truck bed, it should be him.  Feminism aside, this dude is way stronger than I am.Image

So there I was, slowly winching the four wheeler up the steep boards, and Elliot is somewhere off to the side.  I called out to ask him what he was doing, and he said he was standing away from the four wheeler so if the sagging boards cracked he wouldn’t be in the way.  It made sense.  Though if the boards did crack, I would be the one holding the the ATV by the hand winch with no other supports.

So I finally finish winching the four wheeler up, and the ATV is completly up on the bed.  After, Ell comes around from the side. I hadn’t seen him the whole time.  I asked him what he was doing in the garage when I was getting the four wheeler up onto the truck.  His reply, ” I was petting the bunnies. They are really soft.”

So there you go, from pedicures, abstaing from the assumption he would do the heavy lifting, to petting bunnies, for equality in all ways, my brother.  Though I have to say, I was dissapointed.  I would have liked to pet the bunnies too.  Image

Kaida Rocks the NICU

My friend Sarah is my oldest friend and was the amazing Matron of Honor at my wedding.  We met on the first day of first grade, when she let me sit with her on the bus.  We pretty much have be together ever since.  She is even the one who helped Bülent pick out  my engagement ring.

She was expecting her first baby in September. I joked with her that her timing was bad, since I was leaving the U.S. in August, that she should hurry it up.  I didn’t expect her to take me seriously.

She and her husband, Chris, were originally planning to name their baby Olivia, but changed their minds and decided on Kaida (the Japanese word for “dragon.”)  They made an excellent choice, the name is completely apropos.  Kaida is a damned amazing fighter, something she has shown already.  As her mom says, “Don’t poke the Dragon.” 

Kaida was born a full month early and was a very sick baby.  Sarah was rushed to a hospital over an hour away, that specializes in high-risk births and infant care.   They asked all family members to wait to visit Kaida until the family was home together, but Sarah contacted me and invited me to come meet Kaida before I left for Turkey. 

Being invited by my friends to see them while they were excited and joyful, frightened and in awe of this tiny being they had brought into the world, was incredibly special and a privilege I will never forget.  I can see them now, Chris holding  Kaida, her eyes closed, so tiny and fragile, Sarah gazing at the two of them. Sarah and Chris were madly in love, with Kaida, so much so that their love was almost tangible.

Since Kaida’s birth Sarah and Chris have ben doing anything and everything to help their little girl.  For the last three weeks they have either been sleeping in the hospital or a a dorm nearby.   Thankfully, Kaida has been doing just as much for her parents as they have for her.  Each day she has been fighting, growing stronger and healthier.  The sick baby I saw in the hospital is a far cry from the rosy, alert baby with the chubby checks, in the pictures her mother is emailing me.  She is doing so well, in fact, that she has been transferred to the local hospital NICU, since she is no longer high risk!  Woot Woot!  Kaida Sarah and Chris, Congratulations on your very precious new daughter.  She couldn’t have more kind, amazing parents, ones who even gave her an awesome name to fight with!  Welcome to the world Baby Kaida, clearly you have a sense for the dramatic, but we’ll need to have a serious talk about how it is not polite to rush your mother.

P.S.  Auntie Jules already has started buying adorable stuff to send to her little dragon.

Amazing Travels: Istanbul

I have just been on a one in a lifetime trip. Thank you Mom and Dad. Now, I know people out there are thinking, “Sure, tell us about your sponsored vacation, Little Rich Girl.” Totally not the case. The last time I was in Europe I went with a girl friend, low budget backpaking. We stayed in hostels to save money, would eat the provided rolls and Tang for breakfast, sneak a couple of rolls in our pockets for lunch and for dinner eat whatever was cheapest, that we didn’t think would kill us. It was winter, so we would go to the grocery store, buy cheese and bread, and hang it in a plastic bag out the hostel window at night to stay fresh. Back to the current vacation.
I got engaged in February and have been with Bulent for almost 5 years. We thought it was time for “Meet the Parents” Transcontinental style. Since my parents were planning on flying all the way to Turkey, they thought it would be fun to visit several places in Turkey and Greece. Bulent and I drove up from Marmaris to join them in Istanbul, a city I have not yet visited.

We stayed in a charming apartment with a view of the Bosphorous very close to Taksim Square, Istanbul’s version of Times Square. Lively with pazars, and bars and pedestrian streets, it was a blast.
The view from the apartment was lovely

We visited Dolmabahce Sarayi (“Doll-ma-bah-che Saw-rye-i”). Dolmabahce was an opulent seafront Ottoman palace used during the empire’s last 80 years. It had a tremendous amount of European artistic influence. The palace was incredible and boasts 14 tons of gold in decoration. Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish republic spent his last days there.

Later we went to Kapalicarsi (“Cup-uli-chur-shi”). It is an Ottoman-style covered tunnel with carpet, jewelry and leather shops. It was a maze of shops, ranging from swords and shoes to jewley and carpets. The vareity was truly amazing as were the negotionations. I speak a little Turkish now, and it was suprising how much it counted when haggling about the price. All the shopkeepers would bust out smiling when they heard it, and knock down the price right away. The beggining price offered to me was usually less than my mother could bargain down to on the same item.

The third day we had a packed schedule, the problem with Istanbul is that it is such an amazing city with so much beauty and history. I think that you could live in Istanbul your whole life and not be able to see all it has to offer. On the day of the championship sight seeing we hit up three amazing places, Topkapi Sarayi, Sultanahmet Cami and the Ayasofya.

Topkapi Sarayi (“Top-cup-i Sorr-I-i”): An Ottoman palace from 1400s used as the Ottomans’ adminstration building for 400 yrs. It was filled with artifacts and riches from the Ottomans’ reign.

Photo by sl4mmy

Sultanahmet Cami (“Sull-ton-uh-met Jum-ee”): An Ottoman mosque built in 1600s. It is also known as “Blue Mosque” because of the beautiful hand painted tiles that adorn its walls. It is still a mosque currently, and so you can only visit during non prayer times of the day. Even then, speaking is restricted as people do pray during those times as well.

Ayasofya (“I-yah-sophia”)or Hagia Sophia, a church-turned-mosque-turned-museum. It was built as a cathedral between the years 532 AD and 537 AD(Hagia Sophia). When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in the 1450’s the cathedral was converted into a mosque(Ayasofya). This building was truly amazing in its beauty and sheer size.

To give you an idea of the immensness, this is the stone stair case to reach the top.
It is at least a 10 minute walk.

Origionally, when it was a church the ceilings were covered with mosaics, but when it was converted into a mosque the mosacis were plastered over. It has been under renovations for many years, as you can see there is alot of resortation needed. Slowly the plaster is being removed to reveal the underlaying mosaics. However, the issue is, that in reomving the plaster to unover the mosaics, important and historic Islamic art would have to be reoved or destoryed. For example the Islamic calligraphy below.

The next day we left for Efes the ancient Greek city. After all the sightseeing we were a little tired. However, we knew Efes was going to be amazing. So we hopped in the van, and started our roadtrip south. This is my brother. I had just told him how long the trip would be, you can tell he is thrilled.

Tomorrow: Efes