Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012

As I sit here on the last day of 2011, I am so thankful for many things.  This year continued to see us survive (and even thrive) in a hard place to live.  We have been blessed with safety, friendship, good health, and travel.  We have seen and experienced things that I never in a million years thought I would see and do.  We were able to travel home and reconnect with family and friends.

It has been a good year.

2012 will be interesting for us.  It will involve us saying goodbye to the community here at Incirlik and starting over again somewhere new.  There will be upheaval, change, and transition.  There will be tears, anxiety, and stress.  All of this I know for sure.  But I have learned that I grow the most through these times.  I lean on the Lord. I depend on Him more. 

There will also be new opportunities.  Ryan will have a new job.  We will have a new home and new friends and a new church.  We will have new places to see and serve and belong.  And with any luck, we will be doing all of these new things back on American soil. 

We are ready for the New Year and all it holds for us.  Happy 2012 cyber-friends!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Greece

As you gathered form my earlier post, I just returned from a trip to Greece.  The chapel subsidized about 90% of the cost, so this was truly an amazing opportunity.  I didn't know what to expect because, like Turkey, Greece is a place I never really thought about.  It isn't that I have a bad opinion of it, I just didn't have an opinion at all.  Below are some highlights of the trip:
  • Seeing the ruins of Philippi and Corinth were amazing.  I understand what people who have been to the Holy Land mean when they say "the Bible has been brought to life." I will read Paul's letters with a new perspective now, for sure.
  • We traveled with some teenage boys.  I got a glimpse into my life in about 12 years. Wow.  I am so not ready yet.
  • Greece is a stunningly gorgeous country.  I wasn't expecting that.  It is probably the most naturally beautiful place I have seen to date.
  • Like Turkey, the Greek people are friendly and welcoming.  These two countries have so much in common.  I will say , however, that Greece is cleaner and slightly more Western than Turkey.  I think much of this has to do with the fact that Greece is a 97% Christian nation (Greek Orthodox).  I just felt I had more in common with the Greeks than I do with the Turks.  But, again, these two places are so very similar.
  • I am glad I got to travel with other Christians that I wouldn't have gotten to know otherwise.  There are 3 Protestant services on base-traditional, contemporary, and gospel.  Since we go to the contemporary service, those are the folks we know.  The Greek group was a wonderful blend of the 3-and it made the experience that much more meaningful.
  • We only spent about 12 hours in Athens.  I wish I could have seen more there.  But what I did see was so cool.  The Acropolis is amazing.
If you are interested, click here to view a very brief photo album I posted on facebook.

I think I am done traveling for awhile.  I am worn out.  But December was an eventful month with both Italy and Greece checked off the ole "to-do" list.  Who knows what's next?!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Turkey Christmas

Making a birthday cake for Baby Jesus!

The boys with the finished product.

The neighborhood girls on Christmas Eve.  These ladies (and their hubbies) make being away from family during the holidays bearable.  They are truly family!

The guys

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas morning chaos!!

Merry Christmas 2011 from the Stebbins!!
Our holiday in pictures:

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Big Fat Greek Trip

I couldn't resist :).

The whole group at Philippi
I just returned from a 5 day Chapel sponsored trip to tour Greece from a biblical perspective.  We saw so much more than that though.  Ruins, ancient cities, monasteries, museums.  Long, long days jam packed full of activities.  Exhausting to be sure-but such a cool thing to experience with such an awesome group.  No one on this trip was a problem or was anything but fantastic-which I think is a rarity when you travel with a big group.  I will get into more details after the Christmas rush is behind us, but it was an unforgettable trip that made parts of the Bible come to life.  I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

School Days

One of the (many) things that I worried about when we were told we would be living in Turkey for 2 years was preschool.  That might not be tops on everyone's list of things to think about in a move, but you see, I am a huge fan of preschool.  Having taught it for many years, I couldn't wait for my son to experience early learning and socialization in a fun, friendly, and creative environment.  In the States, I knew I would have many options wherever we lived, and knowing what I know, could choose the right one for us.  But Turkey was a game-changer (understatement of the year).  I wasn't sure if there was a preschool program here, and if I even wanted W to participate.

We registered him for the CDC preschool program in August, knowing we could pull out should it turn out to not be for us.  I have been very, very pleased.  They do the best they can with what they have to work with.  I have not seen any developmentally inappropriate activities for my 3 year old being introduced, and he is allowed the freedom and creativity that I would promote in my own classroom.

This week was "dress up" week at school.  Tuesday was pajama day and Thursday was "crazy hair" day.  What fun!!  W loved it.  On Thursday, I got to go to the classroom to decorate a gingerbread cookie with him.  He was THRILLED that I was there and was excited to show me his school.  He kept telling all his buddies "this is my friend Sarah" as he showed me around :).  I noticed him taking pride in his learning-which was very cool to see indeed.
With Daddy at school on PJ day.  Thanks to Nana for the awesome Christmas pj's!!

Crazy hair!!

With his buddy Silas

Busy school boy!

Fun, fun!!

Decorating a cookie

Eating the gingerbread boy!!

Such fun.  Such memories.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ryan's Rome

Sarah and I returned from an amazing trip to Rome recently.    It was a wonderful time to get away for a while, just the two of us walking in a city rich with history, ancient sites, and amazing food.  We’ve had some incredible opportunities to travel while living in Turkey both locally and throughout Europe.  While in Rome, we visited the Coliseum and spent some time walking around and reading the stories behind this amazing structure.  Of all the history behind the Coliseum, one part stood out from the others… the story of the martyrs.  Interestingly, we visited Vatican City the day before and that was a totally different and wonderful spiritual experience.  Trust me, I didn’t wake up that morning, board the bus and expect to be awed spiritually.  I don’t think we ever do, God shows up when we least expect him to, and this was no different.  I believe it was a combination of seeing the cross in the Coliseum and scripture flooding my mind while standing there in that ancient place that caused me to be so moved.

I  felt an amazing sense of awe and humility regarding what the early believers, my brothers and sisters in Christ, had to endure to be called a Christ follower.  Don’t get me wrong, we all have our “crosses to bear” in life, but very few (if any) of us risk dying on them as well.  I always knew Nero was a crazy dude, but reading about it and walking where he did, put it in amazing context.   I could see thousands of Christians being martyred in the Coliseum.  I felt the pain, tears and sheer horror of seeing 3,000 believers hung from crosses for miles and miles on the road entering Rome.  Of all the amazing sites in Rome (and there are many), I sat at this one the longest.  Around the 16th or 17th century a cross was erected in the Coliseum honoring those who were martyred for their faith and soon after it became a sacred place.  The Pope visits the Coliseum  every Good Friday with the intent of honoring those who died.  I wonder what he’s thinking as he touches that cross?  I wonder if I would have the faith to endure as the Romans believers did?  One of my favorite passages is Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Paul wrote this to the church in Philippi, like most of his letters he wrote to encourage others, to encourage those to endure through pain and suffering knowing a greater reward await them.   I am encouraged to carry on, to endure, to persevere, to be there for others when needed …I believe that’s what Paul wanted, I believe that’s what Christ calls us to do.

Rome was many things and we’ll never forget it.  I expected to see amazing sites--and we did; I expected to have great food--and we did…more importantly, I did not expect to be moved spiritually-- but God did.
Lastly, Sarah already mentioned it, but it needs to be said again, we could have not gone on this trip if it weren’t for some amazing friends…thanks again.

~Ryan

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Roman Recap

A few weeks ago, my friend Sarah inspired me.  She and her hubby had planned 2 trips over the holidays-to England and then Rome.  It got me thinking about how our time here is waning and there is still so much to see around us.  The Turkish discount airline flies to Rome cheaply, and neither Ryan or I had been.  So we booked our tickets.

A few highlights:
  • Vatican City exceeded my expectations as well as disappointed me.  The Sistine Chapel wasn't the impressive sight I was hoping for-but in all fairness, I am not an art person.  However, St. Peter's Basilica overwhelmed me.  It;s sheer size, history, and purpose were amazing.  It was definitely the major highlight of out trip.
  • I think I could eat Caprese Salad every meal for the rest of my life.  Delicious.  As was the other food we ate.
  • On the subject of food, Italians have a MAJOR thing for Nutella.  It was everywhere.  Even at McDonalds-no exaggeration.
  • It is so hard to believe how much history there is in Rome and how well it is preserved.  The Pantheon was around in ancient times and it is still standing and looks very much like it did then.  It makes me realize yet again that things in America that we view as old are really very much the opposite.
  • Rome has a very New York City feel about it-fast paced, vibrant, and slightly pushy.  
  • We walked no less than 10 miles in 3 days.  My friend Casey told me I couldn't wear tennis shoes, and like a fool, I didn't pack them.  My feet ached something fierce!! 

It was an unforgettable trip that made me appreciate again the value of living where we do.

Ciao for now!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Snow

Have you heard this awesome song?  It can be found on Chris Tomlin's Christmas CD and is sung by an incredible artist named Audrey Assad.  I read a little about her-she became a Catholic in 2007 and since then, her lyrics focus on singing to God and not about God.  I love that idea.  Listen to this and be blessed!


Toddler Talk

Me: W, I got you a brand new kind of snack.  Do you want to see it?
(show him a nutri-grain box with yogurt bars inside)
W: (mouth hanging open) Well, bust my boilers Mommy.  Thomas say that too.

Ah, 3 year olds.  Never a dull moment around here!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rome in Pictures

The Turkish internet speed is giving me fits tonight.  Downloading pictures to Blogger is taking an eternity.  Click here to view my facebook photo album of our Roman holiday.  I will write more about it later, but we had a fabulous time.  "The Eternal City" did not disappoint!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stepping Up

Ryan and I just returned from a fabulous little weekend trip to.....Rome!!!  More to come on that later.  We were planning to leave W with a friend on base whose husband is deployed.  She would just stay at our house and things were going to work out perfectly......until they didn't.  Our friend didn't get back from the States when she thought she was.  So there I was, 2 days before our trip, panicked.  Where would W go?  Would he be okay?  Should I just cancel the whole thing?

My friend Wendi called me.  "Stebbs, (she calls me that) this is going to be fine.  We are going to handle this.  Don't worry about anything." She sent out e-mails to organize play dates while we were gone.  Our friends Curt and Paula took him over the weekend.  We got home to a smiling boy who looked just as happy and settled as he would if had spent the weekend with us.

I know I might sound like a broken record, but our friends here are incredible people.  They just step up when there's a need-and they don't think twice about it.  Again, broken record here, but they are totally family to us.  Although I missed my boy while we were away, I felt completely at ease about his care-like I would if he were with my parents or in-laws.  I know my friends here love him like I do.

Like I told Wendi the other day-how am I going to part ways with these folks?  I can't even think about it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Love Him

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day in Turkey

We just returned from a lovely Thanksgiving Day Feast hosted by our dear friends John and Wendi.  With only a few exceptions, everyone who is near and dear to us on this base was there.  It was a wonderful time-lots of laughter, kids running all around, and delicious food.  It occurred to me more than a couple of times this afternoon that this is it.  The last Thanksgiving here.  The last Christmas is coming.  Many "lasts" have either already happened or are on their way.  While I am certainly excited about our future-I am definitely sad about this chapter closing.

Unless you have lived overseas on a small base, it is very difficult to describe the degree to which you bond with the others living around you.  It is not an overstatement to say that they feel like family.  Truly.  It will be so strange to leave them all not knowing when or if our paths will cross again.

This Thanksgiving, I am, as usual, counting my many blessings.  There are always too many to even name-but family is always at the top of the list.  Alabama family, Washington Family, and now...Turkey Family.

Beaudoins, Mayos, Clarks, Kitsteiners, Yerringtons, Balskus, Marrons, Jones, Kellihers, Stepps, and many more....I am so grateful for all of you.  You are a blessing to both me and my family, and I am glad to have shared this journey with you.  I know I will remember this Thanksgiving for a long time-and I think it will probably go down as one of my favorites.






Thursday, November 17, 2011

Welcome Home Luke!

Luke and Katie are our neighbors and good friends here in Turkey.  They have had quite an adventurous time here so far.  They are both active duty.  Katie found out she was leaving for a 7 month deployment shortly after they arrived.  And then, when her time away was finally drawing to a close, Luke found out he was leaving for Iraq for 6 months.  Luckily, they were able to spend about a week together when she got home right before he left.  When our President announced that American troops would be out of Iraq by the New Year, it meant Luke got to come home early-only having to serve about 2.5 months there.

We went to the passenger terminal to greet him today.  W has always loved "Uncle Luke" and was excited to see him.  As I watched my son run up to Luke with his sign, I felt so grateful for this experience.  So blessed that even at this young age, my boy is being given the opportunity to learn and understand what our brave men and women in uniform do for him.  He sees them for the heroes that they are.  Hopefully that will be something that will "stick" with him from our time in Turkey.  I hope he never takes for granted the freedoms he has or the people who provide it for him.

Waiting for Luke with Molly, who made these great posters.  "Guncle Uke" is what W calls Luke-definitely an inside joke that would take way too long to explain on a blog!

So excited to see Luke and show him the poster!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grocery Grumbling




Pity.....party of 1.

I feel like grumbling.  I don't do a lot of it on this blog or in life in general because it seems pointless to me to complain about things you can't change.  But today, I am making a small exception.  The source of my ranting this fine (well, gray, cold, and rainy) day?  Our commissary.

For those unfamiliar with military terms, the commissary is our grocery store.  In the US, commissaries are mostly filled with retirees looking for good, tax-free deals.  But when you live in a remote part of Turkey, the commissary is the ONLY gig in town.  It services our entire base (some 2500 people, including civilians) and is still the size of a small grocery store in the States.  And because of our location, we don't get many items that are readily available to most of you.  Produce is horrendous.  We have had multiple milk and meat shortages in my almost 1.5 years here because some plane was delayed with our shipment.  Haven't seen my almonds that I like for breakfast in several months.  The variety of what we do have is seriously lacking...or, maybe I an used to too much variety in the States. I don't know.

Today, I loaded up W for our biweekly trip.  We go a lot because, let's face it, there isn't much else to do.  The commissary is closed on Mondays, so Tuesday is very busy.  Today, it was more lacking than usual.  I managed to get about 25% of what was on my list.  Frustrating to say the least.  I work hard to plan healthy meals for my family only to have a big door slammed in my face when I go to buy it.

Okay, enough of that.  There are many people out there with real problems and daily struggles.  I know this pales in comparison.  I get that.  But sometimes, you just have to get things off your chest.  Thanks for listening.

**Update (grrrrr.......): I had to stand in the post office for 30 minutes today with a melting down 3 year old because it was on lock down.  I am glad the base practices these safety measures, but that being said, it was very irritating.  Here's hoping tomorrow is a grumble-free day in Turkey!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Be Inspired.

This clip has been making it's way around facebook.  When I looked it up, it is actually a few years old.  Not about life in Turkey, or even about me.  Just something to make you smile and remember that there are many good things going in a world full of bad news.  Enjoy!

Thursday Quote

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us"
~Joseph Campbell


This quote popped out at me because I have been thinking a lot about the life that God has given me lately.  About the twists and turns that I wasn't expecting and the road blocks that I have come up against as well as the abundant blessings.  I was reading a blog the other day and the author was talking about what the Bible says in Hebrews 12:1-

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

The blog author pointed out the phrase "for us".  I never looked at it that way before.  My race has been marked out for only ME to run.  I can't and shouldn't run another's race for them even if it looks more appealing than my own.  Whenever I get discouraged or envious of my friends who are living the life I had planned for myself, I need to remember this verse.  God has equipped me for the life he has marked out for me and me alone.  How great that our God cares for us on such an individual basis?

Can I get an Amen??


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

I have to say, one of the times that I absolutely love this base is on Halloween.  The small town atmosphere is on full display.  It seems like everyone gets into the spirit of fun and making it a special evening for little ones.  We met several of our friends and their kids for pizza at one of the parks and then we trick-or-treated as a group.  W enjoyed being with his friends and we did too.  A great time was had by all!!
Our little Tiger wanted nothing to do with picture taking.

Trick or Treat!!

One tired Tiger!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

About A Boy

I remember it like it yesterday.  Laying on the cold table in the ultrasound room and staring at the monitors.  It was time for the big reveal.  "See that?", the nursed asked.  I knew what that was.  I was going to have a boy.  Ryan grinned.  I stared blankly at the that and thought about what mothering a son would be like.  I was scared.

Being a girl, I always wanted a girl.  I know girls.  I grew up with a sister only.  She was the mother of a baby girl at the time.  This boy thing blew my mind.

Fast forward 3 years.  I am a total boy's mama.  I love building train sets and racing cars.  I have learned the names of various construction trucks and their jobs.  We like to find frogs at night on our walks and jump in mud puddles after it rains.  He is just such fun.

This post may seem random, and it probably is.  It might look like it has absolutely nothing to do with life in Turkey.  It is, however, an example of how God gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want.  I am so glad he gave me my little boy.  And I am beginning to be so glad that he has also given me Turkey, even though it was not what I wanted.  I am starting to see it may have been just the thing I needed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Islam 101

Before moving to Turkey, my only real contact with the Islamic religion was through my TV.  Like most other Americans, I watched the planes hit the Trade Centers and burned with anger.  Osama Bin Laden became the poster child for Muslims-all of which, I thought, were evil terrorists who hated America.

Then I moved to Turkey, a nation that is 99% Muslim.  I became the minority, religiously speaking.

I have been given the opportunity to learn about the Muslim faith from a new perspective, and to erase some erroneous ideas and prejudices I never knew I had.  Before I share, let me be clear.  I am a Christian.  That will never change.  In fact, my own faith has deepened during my time here.  Learning about another faith shouldn't threaten your own.

I have learned that Turkey is pretty progressive in the Islamic world.  It seems to me that the faith is more of a cultural thing and not so much of a personal belief thing.  The same, I think, can be said about America.  Many people calling themselves "Christians" don't practice the faith necessarily.  But they grew up going to church and hunting Easter eggs and celebrating Christmas.  So culturally, they are Christians.  Get my drift?

When the Call to Prayer sounds 5 times daily, no one stops what they are doing.  Things continue as normal.  Most women here do not wear a burka or even a head covering.  When I have had conversations with some Turks about their faith, they all take a very universalist approach to it.  They believe what they believe, but don't make any effort to evangelize anyone.  They think that many roads lead to God, and think that what works for them doesn't necessarily work for you.  Again, Turkey is progressive, this is not always the case in the Middle East.

I have also learned that the events of 9/11 sicken most Muslims.  Some of my friends here on base have actually been given apologies by Turks for what happened.  I think I know how these Turks feel.  Exactly how I would feel if people viewed me in the same light as radical so-called Christians who bomb abortion clinics or picket military funerals.

So when I return home and see a news story about Muslims, I won't think of Osama Bin Laden anymore.  I will think of Seyhun, Hatice, Cigdem, and the many more friends I have made here.  I will also think about how learning about anothers faith has the curious effect of strengthening your own.  And for that I am really grateful.

Friday, October 14, 2011

W Lately

**This post comes with the warning that it will probably only interest grandparents.

I am trying to remember to blog about our little boy's likes, dislikes, interests, and milestones from time to time.  It has been awhile, but here you go:

Favorites:
  • TV Show: Thomas the Train, Ni Hao Kai-Lan, Seasame Street
  • Song: ABC's, Down by the Station (Lately, he has also started singing "Baby" by Justin Bieber.  Long story there.)
  • Toy: Thomas, Thomas, and more Thomas.  He is OBSESSED. 
Milestones:
  • Can peddle his tricycle well.
  • LOVES going to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Is fully potty trained and usually doesn't need any help anymore in the bathroom.
  • Knows his first, middle, and last name
  • Continues to be very social and loves playing with his friends. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Love Hatice!!

It is hard to believe that this will be my 136th post since arriving in Turkey.  I've had a lot to say, I guess.  But I honestly can't believe that it has taken me 136 posts before I mentioned maybe the most important relationship I have formed since arriving, and maybe the single greatest thing about living here.  Her name is Hatice (pronounced Ha-tee-jah) and she is our housekeeper.  She comes every Monday and cleans my house top to bottom for 3 hours.  And it costs me a whopping $25. 

At first, I was bound and determined not to get a housekeeper.  I can manage to keep my house in order, after all.  It was just an expense we didn't need if we were going to be serious about saving money while living here.  However, after seeing and hearing all my friends gush about it, I decided to give it a try.  I only hired Hatice for half a day, which means she doesn't have time to cook or do laundry (which she occasionally does anyway).  She is fabulous.  The house is sparkling clean and smells oh so fresh.  I haven't had to deep clean a bathroom or kitchen in over a year-and I gotta say, it feels good.  I also feel good about helping this sweet lady.  Hatice has a huge heart and is one of the kindest people I have met here.  As with many Turks who work on base, money is always tight for her.  She is a hard worker that just wants to do her part to provide for her family.  It is a pleasure to have her in my home on Mondays and I consider her a friend that I will miss when we leave.  And my husband?  I think he would marry her if something happened to me.  She irons his uniforms-he was blown away!

So, there you have it.  A big "pro" to living in Turkey.  I wonder what kind of cleaning I could get for $25 in the States?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life

Today is one of those strange days where I have no doubt that God has lined up certain events to teach me more about Him.  Let me explain.  Today:
  • A friend on base went into labor, and is having her second child any minute.
  • Another friend, back in the States, will also have her baby today.  This little one, however, has some serious health issues and is not expected to live.
  • Yet another friend is going to a fertility clinic to have her embryos transferred to her uterus in the hopes that she will get pregnant. 
Three different stories. Three different friends.  But one God who is in control of it all.  In each case, He has ordained and created a life-from the most microscopic embryo to the healthiest baby.  He also has a plan for each.  Gracen, the little one who has health issues, has touched more lives before her birth than I have probably touched in my 34 years of living.  It is truly amazing how her story and her parents faith have strengthened and inspired so many, including me.

So today, I am thankful to a God-the only Creator of life, who has a plan and a purpose for each of us and holds us all, even the tiniest among us, in the palm of His hand.

**To read more about Gracen's story, please visit this blog.

**UPDATE: My friend here in Turkey had her baby.  A little boy named...wait for it.....Grayson.  How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yeah Ryan!!

The following was a news release from Incirlik's website:


Ryan Stebbins, 39th Force Support Squadron, misses a putt during the Club Championship Sept. 24, 2011, at the Hodja Lakes Golf Course, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Thirty-one people competed in the championship. Stebbins won with a score of 154. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released) Digitaltion

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Luck of the.......Turkish?

I know, I know.  That statement should end with the word Irish.  But, based on our experience here, Turkey puts Ireland to shame in the luck department, even with no clovers in sight. 

I think I already posted about the first time we won the Club's weekly money drawing. Notice I sad the first  time.  It happened again a few weeks later. Unbelievable.  Last night we were at the golf course for dinner following the Base Championship (Ryan WON!) and our ticket was the first pulled for a raffle.  We-or rather Ryan-won a new set of irons.  As our number was called, Ryan showed me the ticket as we both looked rather embarrassed and sheepish.  It really is getting ridiculous.  And it will probably be ending.  We have taken ourselves out of contention for the money drawing.  I don't foresee many more opportunities for prizes in the near future.

But it was such fun while it lasted.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Something Magical


Ever get bogged down in the mundane details of daily living?  We all get into our routines and schedules and it feels as though we move like robots sometimes.  There is so much bad news out there.  So much negativity and cynicism.  I think we can all use a little magic injected into our lives now and then.  To be in awe of something.  To believe in something even though it is proposterous.

I give you my niece.  A little girl fully into the "princess phase"of her childhood.  Her parents took her to Disney World last week.  Here she is meeting the princesses for the first time. Can't you just see the twinkle in her eye?  Doesn't her excitement and wonder just ooze from these pictures?  This absolutely made my day.  Made me smile and remember what it was like to suspend all disbelief and cynicism for a moment and embrace something magical.  I hope it does the same for you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

AF Gala 2011

When you live on a VERY small base smack dab in the center of Turkey, there just isn't alot going on.  We make our own fun usually.  But once a year, the base throws a formal Gala to commemorate the founding of the Air Force.  Practically the whole base turns out, and it is a lot of fun.  Ryan got into the spirit of things by rocking some "party sleeves" this year.  We had never seen them before the Gala last year, and Ryan really liked them.  They are basically a way to individualize a mess dress uniform while still keeping the uniform code of the Air Force.  I must say, he wore it well!

The debut of the party sleeves

Showing off the back of the shirt with our friend Jordan, who chose a Texas theme for his shirt. 

With my good friend Sarah, who I meant on the way over to Turkey a year ago.  She was my first Turkey friend and continues to be one of my best friends here one year later. 

Great neighborhood friends-Casey, Molly, Katie, and Logan.  Katie just returned from 6 months in Afghanistan.  We are so glad she is back safe and sound!

Sarah, Angelica, and me.  What great friends I have been blessed with here!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday Ramblings

We are getting back in the swing of things here.  W has started 2 day preschool, which has given me 2 free mornings a week.  I am so used to multi-tasking with a toddler that I find it hard to know what to do with all that free time.  So I have started working out both mornings for about an hour.

I just left a Zumba class.  One of my good friends on base is the teacher.  I am going to try to go to at least 2 classes a week.  As far as exercise goes, it is the best thing I have found-but I still hate every second.  I despise exercise-everything about it.  I know it is good for you and gives you more energy and blah blah blah....but I still hate it.  Getting sweaty and stinky, being out of breath and feeling like you want to pass out-all not cool.  And the thing is, I am actually in pretty good shape right now, or at least better shape than what is usual for me.  And it still doesn't get easier or more fun. 

I need to revisit this post- http://3tigersinturkey.blogspot.com/2011/02/inspiration.html.

That being said, I still hate to exercise.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9-11

"We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities." 
 
-George W. Bush
(Thank you Casey for the quote)
 
Thank you to Luke, Katie, Brandon, and so so many others that are out there fighting for us so that we might not experience a day like this again.  God Bless America!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We're Baaaacccckkkk.......

After a LONG-but not altogether terrible-trip, we are finally back in Turkey.  A few bullet points for your Wednesday:
  • I forgot how slow you have to drive here.  I am used to driving in America.  I nearly took out 2 joggers last night.  Must. Slow. Down.
  • Jetlag in a 3 year old is pure torture for all involved.
  • My little house feels like a cave.  The ceilings are sooo low.  This will take getting used to again.
  • Back to using old fashioned ice trays.  I would kill for an ice maker.  It's the little things, you know?
  • Our social calendar is nearly booked and we have been back 12 hours.  Love our Turkey friends!
  • Nothing says "home" like looking out of the airplane window on landing and seeing minaret after minaret and mosque after mosque.
Hopefully our readjustment period will go smoothly and sleep cycles will return quickly.  I already miss the States, but it is good to be home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Packing up in Bama

It's a process I've become all too familiar with.  Packing, shipping, planning, preparing.  It has begun for us again.  After a fun summer back home, the time has come to get ready to go back to Turkey.  Boxes of new clothes and toys have been shipped.  Passports and residency books have been located and organized.  Suitcases are being pulled out.  Sigh. 

I know it will be different now.  We are entering the "home stretch" of this assignment.  Less than one year from now, we will be moving.  I also go back knowing fully what to expect (and not expect) from Incirlik.  I am better prepared to handle the unique challenges and opportunities that living abroad can bring.  And I am energized and refreshed by a long visit at home.  I am looking forward to reconnecting with all of my friends and watching W reunite with his.  Sure, the location is far from ideal-but it will be good to be home.

In the meantime, I have suitcases to pack.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life's A Beach.....

Where in the world are the Stebbins now?  Destin, Florida!  We are spending the week in the sand and surf with Ryan's family.  Good times.  There is an Air Force base right down the road, and I keep thinking about how great it would be to call this place home for a bit.

I find myself also thinking about my return to Turkey.  It's just around the corner now.  I am having the same mixed feelings I had when I was preparing to come home for the summer.  One one hand, I am sad to leave the States and the ease and comfort of American living.  On the hand, I can't wait to see my friends and settle back into our "normal" routine.

Hopefully, I can put it all out of mind for a few more days, and just enjoy this time at the beach and relax with family......

Easier said than done.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Good Day

We went to Auburn for Fan Day 2011.  It was such fun to go back to the Plains and reminisce and show off my Alma Mater to some new friends.  War Eagle everyone!

Add caption



Home?

One thing I wondered before I came home for this little break was....will I miss it?  Miss Turkey, I mean.  How could I?  It's Turkey for Pete's sake. I am back home eating my favorite foods and shopping at my favorite stores and hanging out with friends and family.  But in the midst of it all-I find myself thinking about home.  As weird as it sounds to hear and say...Turkey is my home right now and I miss it.  Let that sink in.

I don't miss anything about it culturally.  The Muslim Calls to Prayer and the kebabs and the mosques...I could do without all of that.  I miss the little slice of America there that I (strangely enough) call home.  It just goes to show that "home" really doesn't have anything to do with a geographical place on a map or whether or not your house is everything you dreamed of (mine is NOT).  It has to do with a state of mind, and what you choose to make out of whatever place you rest your head.  It's all a choice, and I have chosen to dig into this community and invest the time and emotion needed to form lasting relationships.

So, there you have it.  I miss Turkey.  Universe, you win.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Three


 

Here's one of my favorite pics of our brand new 3 year old.  He is at the zoo with his aunt.  We see this face alot-a look of intense concentration as he takes in the wide world around him.  Everything is interesting to him right now-he is always asking how, why, and what.  It is such fun to see the world through his eyes, and experience again the simple joys of childhood.

I think that 3 is going to be a very good age.

Happy Birthday to W!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Needs

Have you ever gone through a time when you just felt like, all at once, there are so many needs around you?  It seems like bad news and trying times are all around right now.  Three different situations that have been brought to my attention-and all I can do is pray.  Will you join me?

  • Deborah passed away last night.  I have written about her on this blog.  Sudden cancer in an otherwise extremely healthy women.  She leaves behind her husband and 6 year old daughter.
  • A friend who is struggling with an intense case of baby blues.  Adding to it, she is by herself with her newborn daughter temporarily. 
  • Some friends in San Antonio who recently discovered that their unborn daughter has a chromosomal disorder that will prevent her from living a normal life.
Isaiah 40:26-31.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cousin Time!!



I know I don't mention them much on this blog, but I have a niece and a nephew.  They are W's only cousins.  One of the hard parts of living so far away is that I am missing out on so much with them.  The last time I saw baby "B", he was 3 months old.  Now, he is nearly walking.  His big sister "C" is such fun.  She is into all the girly things that my boy doesn't like.  She even taught me the names of all of the Disney Princess's horses-talk about something I would NEVER learn as a mother of a boy!

  I really wish that W had the opportunity to see them more often, but we are taking advantage of this summer vacation to schedule lots of playdates.  We rode up to Birmingham last week for a short morning together followed by lunch.  I plan to schedule several more before we leave.

 Gotta love cousins!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

8 Years

What does 8 years of marriage look like to this gal?  Let's see....
~3 moves
~2 states
~2 countries
~lots of laughs
~a few tears
~1 funny little dog
~1 final round at the Masters
~2 teaching jobs
~2 rank changes
~an unknown number of Pappasito's fajitas
~1 BCS Championship and Heisman Trophy
~1 amazing little boy

....and that's just the beginning.  I am so blessed by Ryan and so lucky he chose me.  I am not one to get get overly sappy or cheesy (especially on a public blog), but I sure do love that guy and can't wait to see where life's adventure will take us next!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Silver and Gold


"Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold."

I have known the ladies in this picture since I was an awkward, annoying 7th grader.  We have shared laughs, tears, and New Kids on the Block concerts.  When we are together, the years melt away and we giggle and chat like high schoolers.  We got together at a lake house this weekend for a sleepover and "girl time".  We stayed up until 3:00!  That's the thing about old friends-you can pick up right where you left off as if no time has passed.  The same day as this picture was taken, I had lunch with Kelley.  It might be hard to believe, but we STILL talk almost every day-even though an ocean separates us.  She knows me as well as anyone.  That's another thing about old friends-they really KNOW you.  They remember you as a teenager, a college student, a young adult.  They were there for your triumphs, failures, and embarrassments.  They have seen it all-and still love you.

The funny thing is, I find myself missing my "new" friends too.  I thought that once I got home, I could just press the "pause" button on Turkey for a little bit.  What I failed to realize is that they too are an important part of who I am.  One great advantage to frequent moving is the opportunity to constantly make new friends.  I think that when you live in the same place for an extended period, you tend to socialize with the same people day after day, year after year.  Nothing wrong with that, but making new friends is just as important as keeping old ones.  They meet you where you are, and might walk you through a particular season of life.  They inject fresh energy and life into you.  They don't know the "old you" and never have too.  They too are a great blessing.

So today, I am thankful for ALL of my friends-both the silver and the golden ones :).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

She was.......an American Girl

Any Tom Petty fans out there?  I have always loved this song.  And man, can I identify with it's chorus.

We arrived in the States 2 days ago.  I am just relishing everything.  Driving my car.  Listening to my favorite radio stations.  Shopping and more shopping.  Seeing my family and friends.  Going to Wal-Mart for the first time in almost a year was amazing for both me and W.  I am seeing everything through fresh eyes.

In the last year, I have seen amazing places.  Biblical ruins.  Charming German villages.  The stunning Austrian Alps.  But nothing is so beautiful as my home.

July 4th is tomorrow.  I can't think of it coming at a better time for me personally.  I am so in love with my country right now-everything about it.  I know this place isn't perfect.  I know that in a few weeks the newness will fade.  But right now, I am so grateful to celebrate the USA while actually being in the USA.

Happy 4th everyone!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ups and Downs

Up: Just a few more days until I am stateside once again.  I am excited, but super anxious about the trip alone with W.

Big Up: Ryan and I won the weekly cash giveaway at the club (called "Moolah").  We couldn't believe our ears when our names were called!

Down: Our tiny base is reeling over a drowning accident involving one of the clinic's nurse practitioners over the weekend.  She is currently on life support at the local Turkish hospital.  Although I do not know her personally (we have met once I think), many of my friends do and are understandably in a state of shock and disbelief.  When you live in a small town, the ripple affect of things always touches you, even if you are not directly affected.  You see the same faces day in and day out, and to think that one is suddenly missing is quite upsetting to think about.  Please remember this community in your prayers, particularly the Medical Clinic, as we come to terms with this in the coming days-whatever the outcome.

That's all, folks.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Golf with Daddy

Finally, W is at an age where Ryan can begin to introduce him to his hobby (more like obsesssion)-golf.  We ordered a set of toddler clubs for him and the two of them have been taking frequent outings to the base course.  It is a neat time of bonding that Ryan has been looking forward to for a long time.  This past weekend, the base photographer was there getting some shots for The Happenings magazine (a monthly publication highlighting all that is offered here at Incirlik).  He got some sweet shots of my two favorite guys.  Enjoy!




Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

As I get older, I become more and more aware of the importance of having a great dad.  Ryan has told me before that one of reasons he knew I was a good "catch" was in observing my relationship with my father.  Like me, W is so blessed to have a good dad.  Sending love to all you fathers out there-thank you for all you do!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turnover

Imagine a small town.  Everyone knows everyone else.  You see the same people day in and day out.  There is a comfort that comes from that-kind of a security blanket.  And then imagine that within 2 months, 67% of that small town moves away and new people take their places.  Can you picture it?

That is precisely what is happening at Incirlik right now.  The summer is the most popular time to PCS (military slang for moving to a new base) and our tiny base is undergoing quite the transformation.  There are new faces everywhere you look. 

The good thing is that these new people will no doubt inject a fresh energy here.  Many, if not most, of the people I have met have small children-so it also means new friends for my son.  The hard thing is the goodbyes.  So many good friends are leaving.  People I have grown accustomed to seeing and interacting with on a regular basis.  It is almost as if I am new here again too.  I have to learn new names and faces.  I don't see the familiar faces when I am out.  It is a new base to me again.

And as I am about to be home in the States for a long stretch, it will be even more different when I return.  Another strange fact of life in this crazy season that the Lord has placed us in.  You just have to roll with the punches......

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Power of a Blog

I took W to the Community Center for jumpy castle playtime today and was able to meet several moms who just arrived on base.  It is so nice to see all of these new faces and be able to answer some of their questions about life in Turkey.  One sweet lady told me that her small group in Illinois had been praying for a lady here at Incirlik.  Apparently, one of the other women in the small group stumbled upon this girl's blog and saw that she and her husband were trying to start a family but were finding it difficult.  After a little discussion, we quickly determined that this girl is one of my dearest friends here.  The lady I met said that she couldn't believe it when her husband told her they were moving here-the same place as the girl she had been praying for lives.

Imagine-a group of ladies praying for someone they have never met and have no connection to that lives on the other side of the world....all because of a blog. Blogs are powerful.  They connect the writer to people they never would have met otherwise.  They give the writer a creative outlet and a unique support system.  Most of my friends here blog.  Some more than others.  But here is a sampling of other "Turkey blogs" if you are interested in checking them out:

Life in the.....-Wendi
Turkey Nuggets-The Beaudoin Family
Keeping Up with the Joneses-Shane and Linda

Hope you enjoy!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gimme a Break! (from Turkey)

I live my entire life in roughly 1 square mile.  My ENTIRE life.  My neighborhood, all of our friends and W's friends, our church, grocery store, BX, post office, gas station, swimming pool, library, Ryan's work, a putt putt course, and even a bowling alley-in 1 square mile.  Contrast that to living in San Antonio-everything is super spread out.  I don't think anything was 1 mile away.  My world has been shrunk considerably living here.  There are days I feel almost claustrophobic-I want to get in the car and just drive.  But within a mile, I would run into a big security gate where the base and my little "world" ends and Turkey begins.

Sigh.

Right now, our base is going through a huge transition-just like every summer.  Roughly half of the population is moving away or just arriving, and the rest of us are halfway through our time.  I have talked to several folks like us with one year left and we seem to all feel the same way right now.  Worn down.  Tired of this tiny place.  Ready for a break.  Even though we have one year behind us, the prospect of one more year here seems daunting to say the least.

The good news is that I am about to get a much-needed respite from Turkey.  I am going home (insert cheesy Michael Buble' song here).  W and I are leaving together at the end of the month and won't be back until September!  There isn't enough space on this page to list all the things I am looking forward to doing and people I am looking forward to seeing.  And getting in my car and just driving..........ah, bliss.  I am hoping to return in the fall renewed and ready to tackle the last phase of our time here.

But in the meantime, as the song says, "Sweet home, Alabama-Lord, I'm coming home to you!".

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday Quote

"Life begins at the end of our comfort zone." 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cell Phone Ramblings

It's Memorial Day-we have had a nice, relaxing 3 day weekend...and I feel like rambling.

So, I'm thinking about cell phones.  A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I hadn't used one in about 10 months.  Seriously.  Not once.  The closest thing I have is my I-pod, I can check e-mail/facebook in a place that is Wi-fi enabled (try finding that in Turkey).  The big surprise?  I don't miss it a bit.

I haven't ever really been a technology junkie.  I don't need or even want the latest, greatest computer, TV, or phone, or camera.  Even back in the States, my cell phone was bare-bones, no frills.  And that was fine with me.  I will confess that I was never without it.  I talked to multiple people many times a day.  If you would have asked me at the time, I would have definitely called it a necessity.  The first thing we bought for our move to Texas and the last thing that we canceled when we left was our cell phone plan.

Being in Turkey, I have gotten some fresh perspective on a lot of things.  Certain items are so readily available and commonplace back home that we never even have to think of not having them.  But, believe it or not, most of us can recall a time when we didn't own a cell phone.  And then, we had "car phones"-remember those dinosaurs that flipped open, were stored in a bag, and weighed about 10 pounds?  We kept them in our car, and only used them in case of emergency.  And now, most of us think we would be totally lost without a phone attached to our person at all times.  For some of us, this would include not just a phone-but e-mail, internet, and facebook access 24/7.

If you stop to think about it, it really is silly.  Do we really need to update our status on facebook that often?  Won't most e-mails wait until we can get to our computers?  And 95% of our cell phone conversations really aren't that important-just nice chats to help pass the time while we are in the car.  Yet, we have convinced ourselves that all of these things are a necessity, not a luxury.

I know when I return home, I will get another cell phone.  And I will probably be told by some slick salesman that I NEED one with all the bells and whistles.  It will be fun to have it again-and I am sure once I am home for awhile, I will absolutely be glued to the cell again.  But for now, I am enjoying a simpler, less accessible lifestyle.  One I will surely miss.


.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Few Favorites

**This post will probably only interest Grandparents-so, fair warning!

W's favorites lately:

TV Show: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (he is re-obsessed with it lately!)
Movie: Cars
Song: "The Wheels on the Bus"
Toy: Trains and train tracks
Phrase: I don't sink so (I don't think so).  Example: Me-W, will you put up your trains?
W-I don't sink so.      
Foods: Apples, muffins, chicken fingers, french fries, oatmeal
Book: "Pooh book" (as he calls it).  It is a Winnie the Pooh mystery book-no clue where we got it!

Some Milestones:

~knows every letter of the alphabet -even when in random order
~can USUALLY count to 10
~knows his colors
~says "please"and "thank you"without being prompted. 
~sleeps in a toddler bed without a paci!

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Been Awhile.......

So, I have been in Turkey going-on 10 months.  I got to thinking.....what are some things that I haven't seen/done in 10 months?

1.  Used a cell phone
2.  Been at an intersection (as the driver)
3.  Gone to a grocery store on a Monday (the Commissary is closed on Mondays)
4.  Been to a mall/shopping center by myself just to shop
5.  Had my own car
6.  Been to a drugstore
7.  Watered my own grass (gotta love a gardener)
8.  Had a glass of water at a restaurant (it's ONLY bottled water here)
9.  Been through a drive-thru
10.  Seen a movie that is a new release at the theater
11.  Had a good steak/good seafood
12.  Had fresh blueberries/raspberries

And folks, that's just scratching the surface..........

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Little Goodbyes

Our good friends Wendi and John leave tomorrow for Germany.  They are expecting a little one, and chose to have her there.  They weren't supposed to leave until next month, but early contractions moved the date up.  W and I stopped by to say our good-byes today.  I was surprised at how difficult it was.  I mean really, it's only a couple of months.  But when you live here, you become so intertwined with each other that you don't know what to do if one of your "family" isn't there.  Wendi and her boys are part of our daily routine.  It will be so strange not to have them for awhile.

It made me realize how hard those final goodbyes will be.  I saw an acquaintance at the BX tonight and she was having her last meal here before heading to the airport.  I thought about what that moment will be like for me.  I am sure I will be excited to get out of Turkey-that is actually an understatement.  However, leaving our friends that have become family will be excruciating.  It will be like losing an appendage.  We all just function as a group.  I don't even want to think about it yet, really.  And I don't have to.  I have a year still to get ready.

We will miss you Wendi and boys!!  Bon voyage and get back to us soon!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Steel Magnolias (aka Military Spouses)

I witnessed an all too familiar scene while we were preparing to leave Germany last week.  We were in the security line for the rotator-along with lots of men and women in uniform on their way to a deployment.  I think I have explained the military rotator system before, but here's a refresher.  The Air Force contracts an airline (the oh so lovely World Airways) to fly from Baltimore to Germany to Turkey to Krgyzstan and back again.  Once troops arrive in Kyrgyzstan, they take smaller planes "downrange" to Afghanistan.

Anyways, there we were in line.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a husband, in uniform, standing with his wife-who was clearly upset.  I immediately got a familiar sinking feeling.  They were stationed in Germany and he was deploying.  She was there to see him off.  She walked as far as she could with him in the security line.  When she could go no further, she stood behind the ropes and watched him, in tears, until he disappeared into the waiting area.  My heart hurt for her.  I thought about all my friends here who will be saying good-byes to spouses soon who are deploying.  I thought about my friend Amanda-who has a 2 and 4 year old, pregnant with number #3 and without her husband who is Afghanistan.  She was in Japan when the earthquake and tsunami struck.  She traveled across the world back to Texas with both kids to prepare to prepare to have #3 at home.  I thought about my friends Luke and Katie.  Katie is currently deployed and Luke just found out he will be leaving on a deployment a little before his wife is scheduled to arrive back home.

I have discovered a little secret since becoming a military wife almost 8 years ago.  It isn't for the faint of heart or spirit.  It usually involves a lot of heartache and tear and frustration.  I am quite frankly in awe of some of the ladies who have crossed my path.  Their strength and spirit are inspiring.  You just don't come across these type of people everyday, and I am thankful for the chance to know them.

Please remember military spouses in your prayers.  Lots of marriages get torn apart temporarily for our freedom.  I hope I never forget the face of the women in the terminal here-or how it felt to be without my husband for 5 months.  I think it will give me gratitude for the rest of my life for the sacrifices made by so many on my behalf.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Germany-Take 2, Part 2

I am sitting here in our hotel room at Ramstein reflecting over a wonderful 3 day vacation.  Ryan and I both agreed that while 3 days seems short, it was actually the perfect amount of time to be gone.  Any longer, and our toddler might have crumbled-any shorter, and it's not quite worth the effort.  Here's a brief synopsis of our adventure-

Day 1-Rhine River Tour
We took a trip with the base tour group to see the famous Rhine River for Mother's Day.  We had luxurious (by our Turkish standards) double-decker buses that made the 1.5 hour ride quite comfortable.  Our itinerary included a tour of a medieval castle, stops in 2 villages, a lunch cruise down the Rhine, and a cable car ride.  It was a hectic day, but so wonderful.  The villages and towns that dot the Rhine's banks (and for that matter-the side of the autobahn!) are so picturesque and charming that it is hard to believe they are not fake.  It is like some Hollywood movie set that someone forgot to take down.  I kept looking for one that was at least moderately charming, and failed.  Everything is like a storybook here.  Perfection.  We ended the day back at Ramstein with Subway sandwiches-and oh, how we've missed them!!

Day 2-The Prisk Family
We drove north of Ramstein this day to visit with some friends stationed near Darmstadt, Germany.  Ryan and Luke have worked together several times and we have gotten to know their family quite well.  They live in the cutest German house filled with antiques they have collected during their time here.  We enjoyed lunch and fellowship, and W LOVED playing with their children.  It was so great to reconnect.  The drive to and from the Prisks was made more enjoyable by our great rental car.  Ryan has thoroughly enjoyed driving the autobahn how it was meant to be driven-in a BMW.  This car had more gadgets and technology than I could believe-but Ryan was in heaven with all of it.  I think at our fastest, we were going 170 km/hour (105 mph)-but in a BMW, you don't even feel it.  When we got back to base this day, we enjoyed Chili's for dinner (fajitas-YUM!) and a shopping trip at the B/X.

Day 3-Viva La France!
Since my high school days, I have always wanted to see France.  We decided this day to take the short 2 hour drive to Strasbourg, France and take in the sights.  Again, the drive was fun and easy.  We parked and walked around an area of town called La Petite France.  We read that it might be the most charming neighborhood in the whole country.  I can't disagree.  The smells alone made this place unforgettable-fresh breads baking and savory sauces filling the air.  There were cafes and restaurants everywhere you looked.  Most were outdoor with huge shade trees and flowering vines decorating the area.  There was a canal that wove through the neighborhood and charming buildings.  We finally settled on where to eat after a long search, and made the perfect choice.  Ryan and I both agreed that it was some of the best food we have ever eaten.  I was able to communicate with the locals in their language-which was fun and empowering for me.  We had a great day-France didn't disappoint.

It has been a wonderful few days for our family.  We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see all of these places and have these adventures.  Pictures to come soon!

PS-THIS IS MY 100th POST!!!!  Wow!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Germany-Take 2

Not long ago, Ryan and I decided that we were in desperate need of a vacation OUT of the Middle East.  Since one of our goals during this time to save as much money as possible, many of the places we wanted to go were a little pricier than we wanted.  Even though we have been here recently, Germany fit the bill-easy, inexpensive, and the perfect change of pace. 

Our flight to Ramstein Air Base from Turkey was pleasantly uneventful, given we have a 2 year old.  You never know what you will get with the rotator in terms of customer service and timeliness, but everything was smooth.  We got a sweet rental car (BMW 5-series) and a cheap room on base. 

After checking in and settling down, we went to dinner and the B/X.  I know, sounds like a pretty boring evening.  But when you live in the Middle East, dinner at an American restaurant (Macaroni Grill) is pretty special.  I can't describe how nice it felt.  The B/X here is HUGE.  I'm talking about twice the size of a Wal-Mart with a car dealership, a spa, a Basset/Broyhill gallery, and a TON of other things.  I have to admit, I felt a little bitter.  Our B/X is about a fourth of the size of a Wal-Mart with about a tenth of the selection.  Coming here makes one acutely aware with just how rough an assignment to Turkey is in terms of amenities.  But I have to remember that no amount of grumbling will change my circumstances, so I just need to roll with it......

Moving on now.  This place is just a breath of fresh air.  It feels exactly like home.  It looks much like home.  Whenever I am here, I just feel renewed and refreshed.  More to come in the days ahead about some fun day trips that we are taking.  Stay tuned!

Auf Wiedersehen!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Quote

"A smooth sea will never teach us how to best sail the boat"

~Anonymous

Amen.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A "Major" Accomplishment

I know I am a little behind in posting this, but we found out that Ryan will be promoted to the rank of Major a couple of weeks ago.  We expected that he would make rank, but were pleasantly surprised to learn he is also a "school select".  This means that he was in top 20% of everyone who is being promoted. We will be going for a year of school somewhere in the US in a couple of years.

I try not to be a "bragadocious"(thanks for the word, Dad!) person, but I am really proud of Ryan.  He loves his job, and truly loves to serve his country.  He wants to do the best work possible, and that excellence rubs off on those around him.  He is deserving of whatever good things come his way in this career.  Oh, and he is a pretty great dad and husband, too :).

Way to go, Ryan!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is not here.......

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
HE HAS RISEN!

Have a blessed Easter!
Ryan, Sarah, and W

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Antioch, Part 2

Some pictures from our day:

The boys checking out the Mosaic Museum.  These tiles and other artifacts have been excavated form the ancient city and moved here for preservation.

The outside of St. Peter's Grotto.  This facade was constructed by the Crusaders between 1000-1200.

The altar inside the Grotto

I was there-even though this was the only picture I have to prove it!

The Communion elements-notice our cups made from olive wood from Israel.