Monday, June 18, 2018

The second half of my life


I’ll be turning 40 in a few months and as I look back on my life I’ve done many worthwhile things. I’ve done many things that have made me happy and have produced good and happy memories. I’ve experienced the usual rites of passage for my generation and culture such as graduating from high school, first kiss, first job, having that favorite teacher, going to college, serving a mission for my church, falling in love, getting married, having kids, graduating from college, traveling to cool places, blah blah blah. Now that I’m almost 40, which ever since my childhood has always been old, I’m am scrutinizing what I’ve done with my time. Am I happy with it? Can I say I’ve done enough? Do I have any regrets? Are there things I’ve wanted to do or learn that I have never approached either because I didn’t have the money, time, talent or age for it? Turning 40 doesn’t mean you’re dead, no. By all means, no. But, there are some things you just can’t do when your body isn’t young. Having kids for example. I wouldn’t want to wait until I’m 40 to have kids. Becoming a ballet dancer is another. I’m 20 pounds overweight and I’ve got bad knees. Now is not a time to begin a dancing career.
The thing is I’m not beginning a career. I’m living life. I’m experiencing life through this body and mind I’ve been given. So, that’s why I’m taking up dancing again. I love music. I love dancing. My mother put me in ballet classes when I was a little girl and I went to those classes for many years. Until I was 12 or 13. Basically, I didn’t have a ballet dancer’s body and when you’re 13 and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror next to the other girls in the class, and you realize you’re just bigger than everyone else and you actually have boobs, you just want to quit. It was your mom’s idea anyway, right? So I quit and never looked back until I reached my mid 30s. Then I recognized there was peace in ballet movements. The mobility I could have maintained had I retained my ballet habits would have been beneficial to my health through the decades. The fitness trends of the day are jarring and fleeting and are unable to engage my mind as much as dance can. Plus, watching someone dance is entertaining. It’s a gift to spectators and a work of art. Running on a treadmill is purely self-serving. So, next week I’ll be the fattest, oldest lady signed up for the community belly dancing class at the local university. My fat will jiggle but I’ll try not to care.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8re8kEIMbJ0  She rocks!

As inspiration I will always remember the women I’ve met in my life that despite their age, have tackled new activities. I met a woman in her mid-fifties in Los Angeles who decided that she was going to learn Latin dancing. Alyona was her name. She had come to the USA from Russia to take care of her grandchildren and as they grew she began going to college again to improve her English, to get certified to be a math teacher in the States and to top it off, she learned how to Latin dance. She would even go dancing by herself at the Latin clubs in LA and dance with men half her age even though she was married. She had no intentions of slowing down. I have no idea if she knows what an anomoly she is.  
Another woman I admire is Gayle Davis. She was a librarian at the San Jose Library for many years. If you believe that the things in your house reflect something about you as a person, then she is definitely the most interesting person in the world. She didn’t have a huge house but she had a full size loom in her front room, a piano, and all the usual furniture most people had. She had a collection of masks and hats on her wall, a collection of magnets on her fridge, a collection of mini flags that bordered her dining room, and lots of scientific gadgets and knick-knacks sitting around. Microscopes and a bird-bobbing thing on her kitchen window sill. She was obsessed with the Day of the Dead and would make dioramas and jewelry. There was a timeline drawn on her wall that continued down her hallway simply because history literally goes that far back. Another interesting thing about her is that she is an enormous person. Most people would look at her and say she is just another fat lady. But I believe she has a health condition that causes her obesity. She has to buy two airplane seats when and if she flies. When I was a young child she moved around fine. But now she has to use a walker to move around her house and to her car. It has inhibited her movements for a few years now, but it has never kept her from accessing the things she’s wanted to access. After she retired from her librarian position, she took a bead making class and became very interested in making jewelry out of different materials. I even brought her back a collection of bottle caps from Turkey. She’s a kind, empathetic person and has been my neighbor and emergency contact for as long as I can remember. I admire her greatly and always try to visit her when I visit my parents. 
I also know many older women that don’t inspire me. They let themselves be limited by their culture, by their fears, by their age, by their size, by what they don’t know. It is depressing to watch how their lives are unchanging as they drift off into the oblivion.
If you know me, you know I love Dostoevsky with a passion.
I think my husband is even a little jealous sometimes when I snuggle with The Idiot or Brothers Karamazov at night instead of him. Fyodor said this:
It seems, in fact, as though the second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing, but the habits he has accumulated during the first half.
I intend to prove my precious Fyodor wrong.   

Sunday, May 20, 2018

FORCING KIDS TO DO THINGS THEY DON'T WANT TO DO


      
San Pietro has so many ladybugs. I enjoy their company.
    



       

San Pietro before I began working there.

 I can’t express how happy I am in some aspects of my life right now. Ever since I’ve been back in the States I’ve had access to an empty lot of land that my brother and sister in law own. I call it San Pietro, after my brother in law, Peter. But also to remind me of one place my family and I lived in Rome one summer. We rented a little cottage in a jungle hidden right in the middle of Rome, near Vatican City. And walking out of our nestled hideout in the shade of the trees we could see the Basilica of San Pietro looming above us down the street. So, now I have my own little jungle in the middle of Provo, Utah where it seems every last tiny bit of land is being purchased so developers can build some more cookie cutter homes for potential buyers. This little natural area is by no means a jungle. Even though it has tall weeds now that are probably an eyesore to the neighbors, I don’t care. I go to San Pietro at least three times a week to work my ass off and feel my back strain as I wrestle with stubborn rocks in the soil. I like how my body aches and feels like it’s going to crack when I finally stand up straight again. I know the exertion probably contributes to an early physical demise, but I prefer to live fully in the present rather than amble along in mediocrity.



       Yesterday, I forced my whole family to come with me to San Pietro to work. Yep, I forced ‘em. Sometimes I read books that make me feel guilty about forcing my kids to do anything. Like Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn. I enjoyed the book and I believe what the author is saying, but when it comes to putting that stuff into practice, I crumble, as a lot of other parents do. Well, to my defense I offered no reward to my kids to come and work at San Pietro. No money. No surprises. Actually, I did say that we were going to get Slurpees but in the end we didn’t get them because my husband, a big cheapskate like myself, wanted to wait until 5 pm to get points on our 7-Eleven rewards account. So we passed right by the 7-Eleven at 4:15 PM with the understanding that we would return in the middle of our labors to get our beverages. By 5 PM we were all engrossed in our dirty garden tasks that no one even mentioned any Slurpees or Big Gulps. For those readers who have never stepped into a 7-Eleven convenience store, a Slurpee is a frozen sweet flavored drink that is like pourable snow. There are usually at least four flavors to choose from in each store at a time. A Big Gulp is a large, American version of large, soda or beverage of your choice that you can get yourself from the tap. I go to 7-Eleven for the Slurpees or just because my kids want to. (In the past I’ve tried to act like I’m too good for 7-Eleven, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m not. 7-Eleven is a truly working class American establishment run by lovely Indian people who to me seem very upbeat and hard working. I’m American. I work hard. Therefore, I belong at 7-Eleven when I get sweaty and want a beverage that isn’t water.) They do sell water though. But the only people that buy it are the Americans who don’t really belong to the working class. They kind of accidentally arrive at 7-Eleven because they are from out of town and don’t know where anything else is. Kind of like my relationship with McDonald’s but I’ll explain that another time.

       So, before coming, my oldest son, Atticus, moaned and groaned because he wanted to hang out with his friends. He tried to get out of coming to San Pietro, but I stood firm. The other kids kind of just accepted the idea and didn’t put up a fight. We piled into my in laws’ Subaru Forester because our 7 seater Eurovan is STILL in the shop. There were a few punches between Cincinnatus and Sherman but we got to San Pietro alive. We kind of exploded out of the car like a shaken up bottle of soda. San Pietro is so great for kids because I could see immediately how the kids interacted with the space around them. At home there are walls and flat floors and nothing really pliable that they are allowed to touch and break. At San Pietro they have made pathways in the weeds. Three weeks ago when they all came, I gave Cincinnatus the job of walking back and forth on a set path so there would be a clear path in the future. At that time, the weeds were about a foot high. Yesterday, the weeds were 3 to 4 feet high. The paths have remained and as the kids walked through them I could see their hands reach out and grab the waving weeds. Sherman waved his arms back and forth on them and watched them bend back to their original place. Hansel and Gretel, I mean Helen and Hector, scampered off into the pathways and chattered as they went. Cincinnatus just started walking back and forth, doing his thinking. That’s his main activity, thinking. And Atticus, who didn’t want to be there but is also a very dutiful boy, asked, “What do you want me to do?” I gave them each a job to do and we all completed our jobs without complaint except Sherman. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say, all this outdoor work and activity has made him think seriously about doing better in school. Now he wants to go to Oxford and have some businessman job where he wears nice clothes and works in an office, preferably in England. Maybe he can follow Meghan Markle’s example. He is a little old to be marrying little Charlotte though.

       To tie up all this blabber, I just wanna say that sometimes forcing your kids to work in a garden with their parents is not such a bad thing. They may not see the benefits at that moment, but as a mom, I got to see where their strengths lay. How did they respond to the task? How did they figure out how to do the task if they didn’t know how initially? Did they complain constantly? Did they have a good work ethic? Could they envision the outcome of their labors? Did they work well alone? Could they even stand to be alone for a second? Did they appreciate nature? Could they care less? I learned a lot about each one of my kids during that two hour period.

  • Atticus- he likes using brute force on things, he relishes killing monster weeds, works well alone
  • Sherman- he doesn’t like working in dirt, doesn’t like being alone, doesn’t like being ignored, the only thing he was interested in was the sprinkler system I was setting up
  • Cincinnatus- he likes walking, he likes being alone, he’ll try to do work if he knows how to do it, he gets really frustrated if he doesn’t know how
  • Hector- he has a really short attention span and often forgets what job he was supposed to do, he notices colors, rainbows in the spray of the hose, ladybugs, and admired Helen for finding 25 ladybugs, is scared of touching bugs and dead weeds
  • Helen- loves bugs, not afraid of dirt, really short attention span and doesn’t really like to do hard work but will do small tasks without complaint, loves planting flowers and saving drowning ladybugs, not afraid of getting dirty and touching bugs and weeds


  My kids will probably have no interest in gardening until maybe when they are older, I know. My mom loves gardening and was always involved in her garden. Was always watering her plants and talking about the plants and using their names. I thought it was a hobby for old people. Well, I guess it is, because now I’m almost 40 and now I like gardening.

Helen eating her packed lunch at the garden after school. 


I will “force” my kids to come with me again in two weeks. We’ll see what jobs I can think up for them. By that time my plants will be growing which will add excitement, at least for me and Helen. I’m hoping they will think of their own jobs and want to make or build something on their own. We’ll see.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

He's like Donkey and Prince Charming

 This little stone mosaic is supposed to say Ellada, which is how you say Greece in Greek. There are lots of smooth stones at this particular beach. As I searched for white and pink stones and arranged them, I thought about how much time was put into the mosaics that you find in old churches and temples. My life is pretty basic right now. I don't have much that I have to do except feed my kids and teach them. I have no extracurricular activities to drive them to or school for me to attend. I don't go to a gym and I don't work outside the home. I can definitely see how people a long time ago could pour everything from inside them into a work of art. Something that would reflect their peaceful surroundings and express something meaningful in their lives. I really love art. I love making art, but I don't do it enough. I also don't produce the art I visualize in my head, which means I should be honing some sort of technique or skill. During this down time I've had here in Greece I should be doing that honing of skills. Shame on me. America, with its competition, its continual desire for growth and expansion, its speediness, will never let me sit quietly for long. Not like here. Here, when I wake up in the morning and look out the window, I have time to notice that the colors of the sea and the sky make a dark and light line and the water is still. By midday they blend together in a greyish, tan mushy color. By evening the waves are crashing and the sunlight gleams off each wave as it speeds toward shore and the colors of the sky turn warm. I don't know if I've ever watched the horizon of the Pacific all day long. Nope. I haven't. Atticus has honed his rock skipping skills. I didn't know you could skip rocks on the sea. I thought it had to be still water. "I skipped it 30 times" he said. "Well, it was actually just skimming across the top of the water for a long time," he rephrased it. I think his uncle Cameron might have a challenger about now. 

 
I made dinner with the leftover chicken broth and meat from the other night. Rice, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and a few eggs. My version of fried rice minus the soy sauce. 12 days left until we get to America. Should I buy a bottle of soy sauce for just 12 days? No. We don't use it that often. Then I decided to go to the store because there was not a snack in the house but I didn't want to go alone at night. When Jonathan is out of the country I always get scared and never do anything that would separate me unnecessarily from my kids. I am my mother's daughter. Skilled worrier. Sherman was willing to accompany me to the store, a 20 minute walk from the house. He's a willing companion and enjoys being with people a lot. Jonathan and I wonder where he got that trait because neither of us really love being with people ALL the time. Sherman must be with someone. In fact, we watched Shrek 2 tonight and Atticus and I realized that Sherman acts exactly like Donkey: very loyal, slightly annoying at times and extremely comical to people watching from the outside. But, he looks like Prince Charming. 

As we scurried down the beach pathway in the dark, huddled over from the wind, we discussed the menu for the next day. We have to because we don't have any excess food in the house since we are moving again soon. We will be eating red lentil soup for lunch and baked potatoes with assorted toppings for dinner. Sherman is also very good at shopping. He also likes hugs and isn't afraid to hold my hand or smile or talk to me. He's very sweet even if he tries multiple times to interrupt my alone time at night. 


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Lucky seven

 I get exhausted just looking at this picture. It was taken almost ten years ago on a trip to London our family took while we were living in Turkey the first time. I remember the trip with fondness, although I can't for the life of me think of why. Look at those wiggly kids. It must be because I was still young and energetic with dreams of making my kids geniuses by showing them the cultures of the world. Well, those days are gone. That they just be good people is enough for me. 
This photo was taken a few days ago. Jonathan couldn't come with, I was taking the picture, and we had two additional kids. They enjoyed the Natural History Museum about the same as they did when we went ten years ago. It was another lovely experience. Its still free and still beautiful. 

London exhausts me though. Like most big cities, it is tedious. London was a bit strange though. It was easy to get around and find things but it was expensive, food portions were small, and no one talks. Seriously, we got on the underground and every seat was taken. Maybe there were a few people standing, but the entire space was silent. No one was talking or making any noise. I felt like I was in church praying that my kids would be well behaved. My kids were the only ones making noise and they weren't being naughty. They were just being themselves. It startled me that they could be so quiet. The metros in Istanbul were loud. Athens, they're a bit quieter but there is always some human noise. But in London, silence.
 This time around we rented a car and drove outside of London. We saw Stonehenge. It was really expensive. 19 pounds for an adult ticket. I told Jonathan that I didn't really care about going in myself and that he could take the kids. I had read a disappointing review of Stonehenge by a fellow Worldschooler on Facebook recently. She wasn't impressed, nor was her family. I kept thinking to myself, its just a place on Earth. Just like my house or a patch of grass. It doesn't mean anything. I don't need to spend that 19 pounds. I'd rather read my book. Jonathan insisted that I join them. Atticus even wanted to go in. I asked him why and he said that there is a scene in Transformers that takes place near Stonehenge. Of course. I'm glad we forked over the money. The museum portion was excellent and I wish I'd had more time to enjoy it and go through more of the exhibits. Stonehenge itself is striking and strange. It wasn't just another place on Earth. It was discovered and we get to know about it now.  
Then we drove southwestward. It was peaceful and the people were kind, open and friendly. Simply because of that, I want to make another trip to England in the future. I thought I'd had enough. I've probably been to London six times in my life and not once have I ever thought, "Gosh, I have to come back. This place has got something that I'd like to experience more of." Well, maybe the seventh time is the charm. I'm coming back and staying out of London. Anyone wanna come? 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Can feelings really be "fixed"?

 I'm tired of keeping my feelings inside. This is my place to vent. I'm mostly done with putting real feelings out on Facebook simply because it's not a great place to write extensively. I always need to write a lot and Facebook is too brief. 
I read this article on CNN today. Kohn's conclusions are clear but her suggestions are broad, flimsy and overly punitive. If I ran a newspaper, I'd ask for more concrete ideas in my Opinion pieces. I'd want to give the public more interesting ideas to discuss.  
To stop mass shootings, fix culture of hate
By Sally Kohn, CNN Political Commentator
Updated 2007 GMT (0407 HKT) February 20, 2018

“When it comes to hate and violence, we need to hold perpetrators accountable while simultaneously examining the climate and context that creates them -- and look at whatever it is that we, as a society, can do to prevent future atrocities.

Yes, I believe in holding perpetrators of violence accountable according to law. However, perpetrators of hate should not be held accountable by our government's laws. How can you hold someone accountable for their feelings? Should people be controlled by the law for feeling hate toward someone else? For feeling lust for someone they shouldn’t be feeling lust for? For feeling jealous? For feeling angry? For feeling anything? Really? Feelings? Can they and should they be controlled? One thing I love about the USA is that we can freely express our feelings without being put in jail. I do believe that feelings of hate can lead to violence, but I don’t think it’s one human’s right to exercise force upon another for having these feelings. Sometimes people act on their feelings but sometimes they don’t.

ENOUGH OF HOLDING PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR EVERY SINGLE THING. ENOUGH PUNISHMENTS. ENOUGH FEAR. YOU CAN’T SCARE PEOPLE INTO ‘NOT HATING’. DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY WILL STOP HATING A CERTAIN GROUP JUST BECAUSE IT’S ILLEGAL? HATE WILL ALWAYS REMAIN IN THE BACK OF THEIR MIND.

Kohn says we need to hold people accountable for hate and violence. Not sure if she meant ‘hate and violence’ as one thing, or ‘hate’ on its own, or ‘violence’ on its own.  

Kohn also calls for an examination of the climate and context that creates this hate and violence. Well, I think we already know what’s out there. I think most people know what’s out there. We see it all over the news, we hear people talking, we see hate and anger all over social media. If we happen to be a member of the targeted groups of hate and violence, then we know what’s out there because we are on the receiving end. Yes, there are people who have sheltered themselves from what some people are experiencing. That’s why there needs to be more dialogue between different groups of people. Jews and handicapped, Blacks and Asians, Mormons and battered women, LGBTQ and homeless, Democrats and Republicans, Muslims and Mexicans, Turks and Kurds, and Whites with everyone, etc.

Her idea to look at what we need to do as a society to prevent future atrocities is an obvious one. Everyone wants a solution because people don’t want to see kids shot up. Kids. Innocent kids. So, if the shooters are fueled by a climate and context of hate, then we need to make a conscious effort to fill people’s lives with the opposite. Love and kindness. Why can’t we just see that the government can’t solve these problems for us? Getting a law passed or regulations changed can effect small changes, but if the climate of hate and anger still abounds, then atrocities on the innocent will continue to occur with or without specific weapons. Efforts to show love and kindness are probably the most potent solutions we can offer as a society because they take time, they require self-control, sometimes they require self-restraint, they have to come from the heart and we have to mean them. Our world is full of quick-fixes, time savers, bland expressions of love (do ALL women love roses?), and cliché phrases that are meant to make people feel better but fail miserably. Many of us may not know how to show true love and kindness. That ability may have been bred out of us over the last few generations.  Love and kindness should be customized for every person on this earth and that, my friends, takes a concentrated and localized 
(not done from a screen) effort each day.

I believe that if we chose one person in our neighborhood, or in our own home, to love and show kindness to over the course of a year or two, our world would change for the better. The emotional climate in our communities would warm up and webs of affection would start appearing on our streets and in our apartment buildings that would bind us together forever, even after people move away. Memories last a long time. That is what our societies can do, and it doesn’t cost anyone a penny.      

Monday, February 19, 2018

Buying local, study abroad and HOME!

 The street market, laiki, comes every Saturday to our neighborhood in Athens. In the past my kids have expressed distaste at accompanying me to these street markets, no matter where we've lived. But those expressions over time have dissipated due to the fun that can be had a such places. The Turkish "pazar", street market or bazaar, tops all street markets I've been to. Lively, loud, musical, tasty, economical, and you leave feeling pretty good about your purchases. In Greece, the vendors are loud and lively too. The produce isn't quite as varied as you'd find in Turkey, which is not surprising since what you get depends entirely on where you live. That's a beautiful thing, to support and consume something that was planted and harvested not too far away from you while you are contributing to the livelihood of your neighbor who works out there on their farm, not 100 miles away from your doorstep. In Athens, my kids like the candy seller the best. I like her a lot too. There are three types of candy you can see in the bottom left corner of the picture above. The red one is a rose-flavored soft jelly candy, the green one is mastic flavor, and the purple one is grape. These are flavors typical of the Aegean region and I plan on buying a few kilos of these candies because after one bite of the mastic flavored one, my mind is immediately sent flying over the wine dark sea to the island Chios.
 When I was a young teenager I dreamed of travel. I dreamed of seeing the wonders of the world. I dreamed of speaking other languages. I thought it would turn me into some cosmopolitan, cultured person who had found happiness in discovering and connecting to the world around her. Now that I'm living in Athens, with my kiddos, and I see their reaction to the "wonders of the world" and ancient historical places, I realize that this whole idea of "seeing the world" is only what you make of it. It also matters WHO you choose to do this with. Be selective who you decide to see the world with. It matters. That's why I do not recommend university study abroad programs. If you want to see the world, go on a study abroad program. If you want to experience the world, don't. Maybe I'll write about my experiences with study abroad programs some other day. Some of my kids hate the Parthenon. One of my kids refers to the Greek Gods as "Rapist Gods", no offense intended for any people out there who worship these Gods. Sometimes I try to get my kids to appreciate the beauty of Greek architecture by taking them up Muses Hill, a few minutes walk from our apartment, and spend some time drawing the Parthenon. I hope they will remember what it was like walking around on that hill and what the views were like. An extremely beautiful place to be. Better than being in the Acropolis, in my opinion. The reason I want them to remember what it was like is because when people are exposed to beauty somewhere, it's likely they will recognize it in other places too. There is definitely not one beautiful place on earth. There are too many and wherever we are, we can find it.     
 I took this picture in front of the Olympic Stadium. Maybe my kids will think it's cool one day. I think it's cool because it symbolizes the coming together of different rich people to celebrate their love of sport. Of pushing physical limits. And being with others who love the same thing. During the Panhellenic Games that took place in different parts of Greece, they all competed nude, except for the charioteers. I can't deny that I enjoy watching certain events in today's Olympics. Some athletic expressions are beautiful to watch and I'm glad that some people spend their lives perfecting their art for all to see.
 My middle kid on Mars Hill.
I'll miss the days of stuffing seven people onto four chairs in the subways or buses on the way to church. Our family has been so united these past two and a half years. We do EVERYTHING together. I know where my kids are all the time. They come to me for everything. They play with each other. They don't seem to want anything else outside what we offer them. But, I know that once we touch down on American soil, that will all change. America is the home of independence and individuality and I know those values will penetrate my kids' hearts the moment they begin attending school in America, watching American TV and just being around other Americans. What is wrong with individuality and independence you ask? Individuality fosters selfishness as does independence. Independence is a myth. No one on Earth is independent. Everything we do is dependent on something else or someone else. Even our country is not independent. America is dependent on maintaining friendships with other nations that possess resources we want. Just because we have capital to pay for said resources doesn't mean we are independent. Blah blah blah . . . On a more positive note, I love America. It is my birthplace and always will be my true home. I want to live there and put down roots. I may not be the most patriotic person on the 4th of July but I will be an active person in my community wherever I end up living. I will talk with my neighbor, try to know him/her and love them. I will speak to people in the grocery store line and smile at people on the street. BECAUSE I CAN!!!!! If you live abroad long enough you begin to hear things about Americans. Not just the imperialist stuff but you hear things like how wearing white socks is so ugly and how Americans smile too much. Well, that's something I've stopped doing while abroad because it doesn't fit the cultures out here. But when I get home, I can smile again and not be afraid. 27 more days. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hector's 7th birthday

Today was Hector's 7th birthday. I have no little boys any more. None. All gone. Now they are on their way to being men. First little ones then big ones. I didn't make Hector go to school today. I decided to take him to SnowPark in the Torium AVM on the other side of Istanbul. We traveled 38 km on public transport to get to this curious place that I had been wondering about. When I wonder about something, it nags at me. Then I have a premonition every once in a while of me a few years into the future wondering why I never went to "that" place while I had the chance. My life isn't that busy and its not like I'm going to live in Turkey for my whole life. Taking advantage of these opportunities seems to always be on the back burner. Well, today was the perfect opportunity to go. Just Hector and me and five free hours.
We arrived before it opened and were ready when it finally did. It turned out to be a very small space with very controlled activities. It was fun for Hector but I was used to much more excitement and injuries when it comes to sledding. We paid for a maximum of 40 minutes, 20 of actual tubing and 20 of free time to explore the snowy space. It was kind of annoying that half of the time there was a photographer there telling us to do certain things for a good pic. Hector never puts his hands in the air and smiles. Why would I want this staged photo? At first I encouraged Hector to play along but finally I just stood there waiting. The guy was floored at the idea that Hector didn't want to hug the fake penguin or sit on the tree stump and smile. "No! He doesn't! We paid for a snow park, not a photo shoot buddy!" Hector and I played together and went down every slide there was (there were 3 types). It was enjoyable and affordable. The photo situation was annoying but it makes sense considering we are in Istanbul where many people find pleasure in taking selfies. I wouldn't take any kid aged 8 or older there. It was too tame. Glad I found out before I dragged everyone there for a family outing.
We boarded the metrobus, a guy snuggled up against my backside for part of the ride (super uncomfortable!), got off and boarded a different bus, got back to Sogutlucesme just in time to pick up Cinci from school. When we got home Sherman and Atticus had decorated the house and blown up balloons for Hector's birthday and they were hiding, waiting to surprise Hector. Sherman even set up a treasure hunt with clues for Hector. It was so sweet and really demonstrated how the older brothers care about Hector even though a lot of the time he annoys them.
I made a German chocolate cake for Hector, at his request, but he didn't like it so much. Now he knows that he doesn't like that kind. I loved it. All the ingredients were expensive. I stayed up until 2 AM preparing his cake. With Jonathan in Lebanon right now, its important that I do all I can to make birthdays and holidays special. Hector wanted to play video games for the rest of his birthday. So, I did it and I felt like Hector was happy on his special day.
Hector has had a hard time in school this past year. He struggles with the violent atmosphere at school. Turks are very verbal and very aggressive. Hector is verbal but not assertive. He has learned a lot of Turkish but still has a lot to learn, like problem solving words and sentences. He loves his mommy and I'm so happy he's my kid. He's so tender and sweet with me. He always says sorry if he thinks he's hurt me. If I ask him if he likes the food I made and he doesn't, he says, "Well, I don't like it that much, but I still love you Mom."
I'll always remember the time when he used to say, "Mom, I love you and you love me," like it was some revelation he'd received and wanted to share it with me. He was probably two years old. The best hugger of all my kids. I love Hector for always!