Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Turkey Family

Our good friend (and W's pediatrician) Linda has been experimenting with photography lately.  She was so kind to take a few shots of our family.  We went out to some railroad tracks near the base-appropriate if you know our son's love of trains.  What a great souvenir of our time here.  Thank Linda!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

These Two....

Continuing on with posts dedicated to the friends we have made here, let me introduce you to Casey and Logan.

I met these two in my first weeks here.  I actually got in touch with Casey first via a mutual friend.  It has been amazing how God orchestrated my relationships here even before my arrival-but I digress.  Ryan and I quickly began to spend our weekends with these two (and their husbands) as well as others in their friend group.  Game nights, football parties, and cookouts were common experiences.  It isn't often that you find women that you like and get along with, and your husbands are equally compatible.  That has been the great blessing of these friendships.  I know that not only have I made lifelong friends, but Ryan has too.

Casey- Ummm, I am nervous about this one, since I know you will be reading it and will demand perfection :).  Thank you for always being honest and authentic.  I can always count on you for that.  We all need friends who will shoot straight with us-even in Turkey.   Your humor and sarcasm has also made Turkey a little more fun for me.  On a more serious note, thank you for allowing me to walk with you through a tough time you had here. You may not realize it, but being your friend during that challenge helped me to grow too.  Watching you and Jordan handle adversity with grace and faith was a wonderful example for me.  I can't wait to hold your little one and tell him how much I prayed for him, and what a miracle he is to his Mama (and to me too).

Logan- I think out of all my friends here, I probably most closely identify with you.  Both SEC sorority girls who love college football-and the similarities don't end there.  When things got tough here, I would always think to myself.."Logan is doing this, and doing it well.  So can I."  Thank you for being a positive, happy force in my life.  Even when your man was gone for 6 months, I didn't hear one complaint leave your lips.  You are also just such fun.  When I am with you, I relax more, smile more, and enjoy life more. Isn't that the very definition of friendship??

Luckily, both of these girls (and soon to be Mamas!) will live within driving distance of us, so the farewells should be a little less painful.  So ladies, it's not "goodbye", it's "see you soon!"..........

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happiness is.....

......a purple and green cupcake.  And bare feet in the grass.

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Tough Stuff

A lot of things about living here are tough-or at least tougher-than living in the States.  But I don't think anything is more difficult for this tiny community than when we lose one of our own.  It has happened far too many times in my two years here.  And in the last month, it has happened twice.  Two freak accidents claimed the lives of 2 young airmen-both from the same squadron.

For you non-military folks, a squadron is sort of like a department in a corporation.  There is the Contracting Squadron, the Security Forces Squadron (law enforcement), the Engineering Squadron, and so on and so forth.  Except on bases, squadrons aren't just where you work, they become your family-especially if you are here without your own. There are squadron picnics, family days, and the list goes on and on.

So, the Security Forces Squadron has had 2 deaths in 2 months.  These kids (and by kids, I mean KIDS-some aren't even 20 yet) have had to process losing 2 brothers.  And they are having to do it thousands of miles from home.  It's just tough stuff.

And it isn't just tough for the guys who knew the fallen.  It's tough for all of us.  This is a small community.  We are all each other has over here.  We each feel it in one way or another.  One friend's husband was a first responder to this latest accident, another's husband works in this Squadron as a supervisor and was at the hospital with the deceased.  And my husband?  His squadron is responsible for Mortuary Affairs.  He left our house at 2am this morning to transfer this soldier to a proper case for his last flight back home.  Ryan and his co-workers made sure that the flag was neat and secured on top.  And then they drove over to the Flight Line around 3am.  Ryan told me that the entire squadron was waiting-and standing at attention-along with our Wing Commander, Command Chief, and others.  The honor guard took this soldier on board the cargo plane, and then the base leadership gave the casket a dignified farewell.

Tough stuff.

Please pray for this little base.  Pray for these kids as they go out everyday, even here, and do dangerous things.  Pray for all the broken hearts-both here and back home. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Peak Into Our Future

Unless something strange were to happen (which it always could-trust me, I am living in Turkey), you are looking at our new home-at least for the next 2 years.  We are excited and so thankful to God for His provision.  It is only 2 miles from Ryan's metro stop, which means his commute will be short.  There is a neighborhood pool and 2 parks for toddlers.  It is close to all the big sites of the area, but is still on a quiet, tree-lined street.  W's school is only about 5 minutes or so away.  It seems perfect for us. 

Come and visit!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

83 Days......

...and counting.  We have that many days left to spend before we board a plane and say farewell to Incirlik Air Base and this crazy, surreal, almost out-of-body experience we have lived the last 2 years.  I have had many questions about what goes on during a military move and how it is different from a civilian one-so here are some FAQ's-

Who pays for everything? The Air Force does.  There is a Travel Management Office (TMO for short) here that coordinates all the details of a move.  Pack out dates, car shipment, airfare, etc.  All taken care of by good ole' Uncle Sam.  We do have a weight limit (determined by rank) that we must adhere to and there are restrictions on air travel, but other than that-it is a really sweet deal.

How long does your "stuff" take to get to you? When we moved here, it was right around 3 months.  It comes in crates by boat.  The car was about the same length of time.  You do have something called unaccompanied baggage.  It is a separate, smaller shipment that is supposed to get to your destination quicker.  Most people pack essential things (towels, plates, TV, microwave) in this shipment. However, there is no guarantee it will arrive early.  Ours arrived the same day as our larger shipment when we got here.  At overseas bases, loaner furniture is provided until your shipment comes.  In the States, no such luck.  Air mattress, here we come!!

Do you do any of your own packing? No. I try to clean out and organize, but the packers must pack everything themselves for liability reasons.  And so far, we have had good luck.  Not a lot of damaged items in our moves, knock on wood!

Any other burning questions out there?

The next few months will be c-r-a-z-y, that's for sure!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Rewind

This is probably my favorite picture that we have taken since we moved to the Middle East.  And we have taken A LOT of pictures.  When I look at this image, I think it perfectly encapsulates our experience in Turkey.  The huge mosque in the background is a giant reminder that we are NOT home.  This place is strange and foreign and presents us with many challenges.  But the three little boys running towards the mosque aren't paying any attention to their surroundings.  They are being toddler boys who are running in a park.  Life goes on.  Birthdays, holidays, friendships, work.  All of it keeps happening, whether you live in Adana or Alabama.  It's what you make of it.  And these boys choose not to let their surroundings change or define them-whether they know it or not.  And I hope that's what I've done in my time here.  Hopefully, I am leaving this place a little better, a little wiser, and with a little more perspective.....

.....but I am still just Sarah too.  A southern girl who loves college football and her friends and her family.  And I'm a girl who can't wait to get home.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Goodbyes........

......are starting.

 Ugh, this is going to be hard.

 I have put off thinking about it for awhile now, but with every moving truck I see parked in front of my friend's houses, the reality of all of our departures is beginning to sink in.  Today, I went to a brunch at Angelica's house.  She packs out Tuesday and will be on an airplane May 1.  It was fun as always, but the undercurrent of sadness was almost tangible at times.  There were gifts distributed, photos shared, and memories that we all laughed at.  Simply put, these friends hold a place in my heart that no one else can touch.  We have shared such an intense, stressful, and life changing experience together.  I cannot expect or hope to replicate this in DC, or anywhere else we might live.  It is unique to this place, with these people.

I hope to blog about my friends individually over the next few weeks as a way of remembering them. My eventual plan is to get this blog made into a book as a reminder of our Turkish adventure.  It wouldn't be complete without a record of the friendships.  So without further ado......

To Angelica: You were one of the first friends I met here.  I remember being drawn to your warm personality and adorable children and exotic Spanish accent.  As we got to know each other, I discovered you to be one of the most tender, kindhearted, and loyal friends that I have ever had.  You have such wisdom in so many areas.  I particularly admire how you mother your children and how your family grows together. I also so admire how you desire to walk ever closer with the Lord.  Thank you for being an example for me to follow. You are funny, spicy, and super sweet all at the same time.  And your hospitality!!  I have amazing memories of tapas parties, brunches, and dinners with your sweet family.  Thank you for your friendship over these last 2 years.  I love you, friend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest Bloggers

From Amy (Nana):
 Turkey did not disappoint!  As I was preparing for my trip, I was told not to have high expectations for the area around Adana.  However, I found the area to exceed my expectations.  I saw very modern cars, roadways were good, and the highrise apartments looked very modern.  We did see poorer areas that reminded me of my mission trips to Mexico.  The people were SO friendly and seemed to go out of their way to be welcoming.

 The base also exceeded my expectations.  It is exactly like a small American town. Ryan and Sarah feel very safe.  I loved the cul-de-sac street where they live, and the many parks that are within a minute's walk of them.  We stayed in the base hotel, which was wonderful and very comfortable.  W even had 2 sleepovers there with us!  We had a great time shopping and I will be bringing home lots of souvenirs.  Tomorrow, we end our adventure in Adana and continue on to other parts of Turkey.  We look forward to seeing the family again around Thanksgiving!

From Karen:
  I don't know exactly what I expected Turkey to be, but what I found was a study of contrasts. A very modern mall with an ice skating rink in the center, across the street from Kurdish slums. Modern American cars share the highway with cows, sheep, and horse drawn carts.
  The American base is much nicer than I expected, with nice neighborhoods and well kept yards. The children have many play areas and many friends to play with. What I found really impressive,  was the comradery amongst the spouses and the family's, and I think that's what Sarah and Ryan will miss. The thing that I am so jealous about is the roses! They have beautiful foliage with absolutely no signs of rust, mildew, or black spot! I can hardly believe how beautiful they are.
  I will be going home with wonderful memories of this trip, and I want to give my thanks to Ryan and Sarah for being such wonderful hosts. Especially Sarah who went out of her comfort zone to show us around the Adana area, the alley, and put up with all of our shopping. I am going home with a lot more than what I came with, even a Turkish carpet. For Ryan who drove us to Tarsus, a place he had never ventured before.
  I thank God for our time with Ryan, Sarah, and W, and am looking forward to our next adventure to Istanbul and Ephesus.

......after reading this, Amy says "ditto, ditto, ditto!"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Pictures.....

I could do the normal, expected, traditional thing and post the normal, expected, and traditional Easter pictures we took today.  They were cute and looked great.  If you want to take a peek, click here to view my facebook Easter album.  Instead, I want to leave you with these 3 images of our day:


Doesn't this face just scream "Easter joy"?

There are eggs almost everywhere-- but probably not in there, buddy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fun with Nana and Karen

Ryan's mom Amy (Nana) and her friend Karen arrived yesterday.  We are thrilled to have them.  Just like when my mom came, I could not be more appreciative of them spending the time and money it takes to come all the way here to see us.  W is lapping up all the attention and is loving every minute.  They have only been here a day, but we have already played with W's friends at a park, had sprinkler time, and taken an extended shopping excursion to the Alley (those girls can SHOP!)

We are looking forward to the rest of the week and showing them around our part of Turkey before they finish their trip in Istanbul.  Look for a "guest post" from them towards the end of their stay!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Busy, Busy!

We are getting ready for a fun and busy few days.  What's going on?
  • Nana is on her way.  Ryan's mom and her friend are traveling here after spending a few days in Paris.  We can't wait to have them and show them around our part of Turkey!
  • Easter, Easter, Easter!  Egg dyeing, egg hunts, parties, and a church picnic will all take place in the next few days.
  • We are getting several pieces of furniture made in the Alley (the area right outside the base.)  
  • When Ryan receives his final orders-which could be any time-we will schedule our household goods and car to be shipped back to the States and start to make our return plans.
I am praying for a safe and blessed Easter for all.  My specific prayer (via Beth Moore) is that someone who badly needs "spiritual CPR" will have their heart awakened anew by the miracle of Christ's resurrection.  Would you join me in that prayer?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday to a Toddler

While trying to tell W the story of Palm Sunday, I explained that the children waved palm branches and sung songs and shouted "Hosanna!" as Jesus passed by.  He thought about that for a second, and then said, "No Mama, I think they waved the leaves and sang the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song. Jesus likes that song better."

Maybe so, son.  Maybe so. :)

Trip Recap

We are back from Germany.  What a great week!

Tuesday:We took the rotator up to Ramstein with the other award nominees from our base.  Due to a funding issue, not all spouses went, but there were a few.  We checked into the big hotel at Ramstein that connects to the awesome BX.  I can't describe how it feels to walk in there for the first time after being in Turkey for awhile.  It was refreshing to be in a normal, American store.  It felt like home.  After my initial walk-thru, we met our good friends Luke and Jessie for dinner at Chili's.  Ryan and Luke have been stationed together twice.  We are both heading to the Pentagon this summer.  It was great to catch up with them...and to get some Chili's!!

Wednesday:I went with Ryan in the morning to the first set of briefings.  It was interesting...but I decided to skip out after a little bit.  The best part of the morning was hearing our host for the week speak.  Gen. Welsh is the 4 star general in charge of all Air Force operations in Europe.  To say that he is an impressive man is a giant understatement.  His speeches are some of the best that I have heard from anyone.  After he gave opening remarks, there was a group photo op outside.  Along with another spouse, I hung back to watch.  We suddenly heard a voice behind us asking why we weren't in the picture.  We turned around to see Gen. Welsh.  The other woman said "we aren't nominees sir, we are just spouses", to which the general responded "there isn't any such thing as 'just' a spouse."  According to the rumor mill, Gen. Welsh is in line to be the next Air Force Chief of Staff and be a member of the Joint Chiefs.  I couldn't think of anybody better.

That evening, we attended an icebreaker at the Officer's Club.  We were joined by all the other European nominees as well as all the Wing Commanders from Europe's Air Force bases.  They were having a separate conference and we combined many events.  It was good to meet other people living life overseas and get different perspectives from different locations.  It was a great group of people and I enjoyed getting to know  them all.

Thursday: While Ryan toured the Rhine with the other nominees, I was invited by another spouse to take a tour with her aunt Sandy, who lives in Germany.  Sandy is actually a USO guide, so I felt like I was getting my own private tour!  We went to Kaiserslautern for sightseeing and shopping (I LOVE H&M!!) and then to another smaller village to tour.  It was such a fun day! 

Friday: Ryan had a day worth of briefings and functions, so I laid low in the hotel, went to the BX, got a haircut, and read The Hunger Games.  Then we both got ready for the evening banquet at the Officers Club.  First was a medallion ceremony, where the nominees are all presented with their official medallions by the general and command chief.  Then, we headed  into the ballroom for the banquet.  We had great food, entertainment, and fellowship.  I truly didn't realize how big of a deal this was.  I am so proud of Ryan.  Even though no one from Turkey won in their category, we all had a great time and will take back priceless memories.

Pics to come!