Monday, April 30, 2012

As we headed to the playground, I was hoping to capture some photos with the kids. I mean, ME, with the kids. I have no idea why, but Mother's Day approaching, always makes me want to snap a photo with my kids. It's practically the only time I want to get in front of the camera with them.
Instead, what I saw through my viewfinder was something really special to me as a mom.
So, getting in front of that lens will have to wait this time.
What I noticed right through that tiny eyepiece was how very different my kids are. I knew that, of course. But it was SO blatant on the playground yesterday.

Emory- the cool, calculating, thoughtful yet innocently naive, but oddly well organized 6 year old boy, just trying to find his own place....

And Arleigh-  the funny, sweet, hair tousled, bumbling 3 year old who wakes me with kisses, consistently every morning (a daily highlight) and goes to sleep with 'bun bun' every night.

Stella- everyone knows Stella. The free spirit, risk taking, creative, strong, independent, out of the box thinker who just wants what she wants. She's an all or nothing kinda kid.

And Addie- wow. She's really growing up.

 Always thoughtful, helpful, caring. Teachers at school have even separated her from other kids because she was "so mothering to them". 

 Nope, I didn't get to capture them with me, but I feel like I captured something even better. The way they are right now. Their real image at that very moment.
Maybe next week will be the right time for pics with mom, but for right now, I'm just really happy to be mom to this group.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Like no other

Returning from the birthday party she explained, "the other kids just wrote their names."
Of course they did...but not Stella.
"The other kids didn't decorate their plaque enough."
Their 'name' plaques were lovely. But not to the child who marches to her own drummer.
This kid thinks 'outside the box' eh?

So thoughtful. Now we know just where the bathroom is located in our home.
Ahhh. What a relief!
Finally, she got her lemon birthday cake with fluffy meringue icing, almost a full month later.
The stored in the freezer 'vintage' taste made for an interesting appeal. Nevertheless, it's official now, 8 candles ignited and birthday wishes made. Happy Birthday Stella! May you have 108 more!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Funny Faces

(Wouldn't wantcha to miss a thing. Be sure to mouse over/click buttons for the full show)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sound Proofing

So, the big, spring, violin concert is coming up. The kids have been practicing a bit longer than usual to prepare.
Apparently, Arleigh dug into Matt's tool box because he has heard enough, as this was the scene at this morning's lesson....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bluebell Forest

Yesterday we headed out with our new trailer and bike rack for a test run, to the Bluebell Forest.
The Bluebell forest lies just beyond Waterloo, where the ground cover in the forest, for as far as the eye can see, is an amazing cast of blue for about 2 weeks a year. There are bike trails, horse riding trails, walking trails, and 'bluebell spotting' trails. We didn't bother to unhitch the bikes, as we left the house in overcast sun, and arrived at the forest 20 minutes later in a dreadful hailstorm. So glad we made the trip though. The forest was just beautiful. I'd say it felt as if we were in a fairytale as the sun set. However , 'ah-hem', one of the shorter folks in this crew was slightly put off by the scene, stating "Bluebell forest if fake. The flowers are not blue. They are purple. And they are not bells either."
The sun seemed to shower over the blanket of bluebells after the rain.
The lack of buds, or green on the trees, gave way to greater contrast of the trees to the forest floor.
When I walked past this, it reminded me of a stained glass window (use your imagination okay?)

Definitely worth a stop if you are in the Brussels area at the right time of year!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trip to Turkey

We decided to spend the Easter holiday in Turkey visiting friends there. That turned out to be one of the best decisions we've made in a long time. It was a wonderful trip chalked full of incredible experiences. Some things you just can't read about in a book, or learn about in a classroom. They must be experienced. That's what this trip was about- experiences.
Instead of outlining the trip by days, or posting it here by event or location, I'm going to post by experience-
Hope you enjoy the adventure. We sure did!

Turkish People

There's no doubt about it. Turkey has a LOT of people, pulling from a diverse section of cultures, ethnicity, and religions. It's an amazing blend of Asia and Europe. We are incredibly lucky to have friends living there and to have made the trip. We encountered so many different people, all who were welcoming and kind. Usually they wanted to touch our kids' hair, chat with us, and often requested photos together with the kids.

Many of the school kids we met wanted to ask questions about living in America and about our kids.
Emory was offered a future job in the bazaar selling rugs....

The school kids wanted to know if we knew Justin Bieber personally. If we had signed posters we could give them. If we knew about other "American rock stars", a few of who, sadly, I'd never heard of, despite the kids best effort to make me understand by singing 'covers' in English (with Turkish accents). As they called up photos on their ipohones of people with guitars- most of whom I didn't recognize, I felt really old and un-American when I couldn't answer their questions. Apparently I need to watch more TV.
They wanted to know our favorite foods. Where we lived. What we did for work and how we liked it.  Where our favorite city was in the US, and then they'd chatter amongst themselves to try to recall what state the city was located within. They wanted to know if we liked Turkey (the country), and if we liked "history".
They appreciated the fact that our kids attended a local Belgian school, and had learned another language. They'd often say in parting that our kids "are beautiful", but I couldn't help but to think that the Turkish kids were really beautiful- in the way they were fun, inquisitive, approachable, curious, well mannered, and interested.  That's just the kind of thing that make a kid beautiful.
Really, we met so many friendly people that week that it was almost overwhelming. Statistically speaking, in such a vast sea of people, you'd think we'd have come across at least one jerk. Nope. Not a one. That kinda thing makes a journey really impressive. But you know what? Of all those people who we encountered, the one that I will remember most, was the first Turkish lady I met.
I don't even know her name, but I know that I will remember her most for a long time to come. We met accidentally in a park when she was looking for her grandson. I will treasure her joyful, toothless smile. The way she joked that my Turkish was "good" (but I know no Turkish). I will no doubt, ponder about her status in the future, wondering how she's doing and where she is at times. Despite the obvious miles of wear and tear life has put upon her. She was welcoming, funny, hospitable and so kind. She hugged me. Offered food. Chatted. And took photos with us. She's a complete stranger really, and is probably an everyday kinda person like the rest of us.
But what she represents to me, is the very heart of every Turk I met.

Tokapi Palace and the Cisterns

Built by Fatih Sultan Mehmed in 1478 this palace was headquarters for the country and Ottoman Empire for about 400 years. Eventually the 4,000 people who lived there and the sultans, evacuated the palace to live elsewhere. (There were newer, better palaces to dwell within). Now a museum, it hosts a collection of artifacts, gems, cloaks, swords, and sultan related items- like thrones from the Ottoman Empire and the spoonmaker's about a rock!

The Cisterns- built by emperors, the cisterns were important to the locals way back when in order to meet the water needs of the palace and as a back up water supply in case of an invasion. The cisterns, built under the current city of Istanbul, were cool, wet, dark, and a bit mysterious....

Hagia Sophia

We made lots of stops along the way on our visit to Istanbul, and one of the favorites was Hagia Sophia.

Built by the Byzantine Emporer in 537 and used as the Great Church in Byzantine for 916 years, this place is quite unique. It was made into the mosque later and known as the Great Mosque in the world of Islam for 481 years. It was eventually opened as a museum in 1935.

The Islamic calligraphic roundels suspended from the main dome since the 19th century remain in place and make for a fascinating religious contrast with the uncovered Christian mosaics.

Squatter Experience

Setting out to post the Turkey trip organized by experience, this one might be comfortably overlooked.
Although it was part of the overall experience, so it will be documented for the record. Children protested, and had the option to "pee outside in the grass". Like camping, this sort of slight discomfort made us appreciate the quiet comfort of own bathroom, and western style commodes.

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, built between 1609 and 1616 in decorated in blue, green and white ceramics, all over. It's known to be the main mosque of Istanbul and together with its social complex, it happens to be one of the biggest building complexes in the city. The complex consists of the mosque, which is open to visitors except during time of prayer, the madrasahs, sultan pavilion, Ottoman bazaar, shops, a Turkish bath, tomb, fountain, hospital, primary school, and rooms for rent.  

We were chose to take Addie and Stella inside with us while the boys waited with our friends, who were getting started at lunch. We had to take off our shoes, (and use head coverings for gals), and I do wish I'd have had a second to take a photo of the complete chaos just outside the mosque doors with everyone scrambling to remove shoes and get heads under wraps. I was too busy myself, trying to be in compliance, to actually stop and capture the scene. So glad photography was allowed though. The blue light cast off of the tiles was truly impressive.

Ride on the Bosporus

The natural border separating Asia and Europe, the Bosporus divides Istanbul as well. It's known for  both its strategic importance as a passage way and for its unique beauty.
Our friends arranged for a boat to take us all from one side to the other, have dinner, and then return. So,we passed under the Bosporus bridge which connects Asia and Europe on our way to dinner and back.

The kids had a fantastic time, taking in the views during this one in a lifetime experience.
We returned to our hotel for the night, happy and full, and in awe of all we'd seen that day.