Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Cheer.

Yeah, I know the holidays are almost over. As usual, I never got around to mailing any cards (I forgot to even buy the cards this year, ha!) and the annual quintessential holiday email I send will probably be postponed until the week of January 5th.
Attention shoppers, Z is very lazy and busy this year, plus she's running around planning parties and gifts for 1179 children (seriously, the holiday parties at school were great but they really took their toll on me), plus a book fair involving over 60 publishers, plus getting together a gazillion documents for our trip to Austria (I swear, the only thing the Embassy did not ask for the visa documents was the color of my mom's underwear) plus getting tickets and dealing with everyone who canceled out at the last minute for our trip to Mount Ida plus getting gifts for my own children (Arda got an Ibanez GRG Micro electric guitar that he has asked for the past two years, as well as a sketching set, Tunca got my camera plus a little robot that, well, just walks) while having a grand time with my newest find, the Rowenta Lissima Clip and Press.
I am a bit scared that this blog will morph into a shopping frenzied mom's list of her endless endeavors into the shallow world of capitalism. Might happen, sooner or later, because the "purpose" of zymzym is my attempts at forcing myself to write. The countless stories and the two novels I started then dumped prove that I am not a long project oriented person but a shallow one with the attention span of a sparrow. Or a guppy.
Anyways, tomorrow we leave at 6AM to try and get on the boat to Bandırma to reach Mount Ida at a reasonable time for us to comfortably celebrate the arrival of the new year with our closest friends at Zeytinbağı, a nice little hotel on the outskirts of the mountains. But the boats have been canceled for the past two days due to storms and we are actually having a hard time deciding what route to take.
Anyways.
Happy new year everyone!
PTA members standing guard for the gifts.
All we need are earphones for Arda and earplugs for us now.
My new favorite gizmo.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The meltdown.

Turkish holidays are grand. After a 9 day holiday in November, we braced ourselves for the celebration of Eid, a Muslim holiday, for another 9 days, packed with activities. Most people go on a vacation of some sort, some overseas, some south to the Mediterranean, but we make do with short getaways during Easter, winter break and spring break since Burak works with an European schedule.

The first few days we managed fine, with lots of crafts and restaurants and family visits. Burak's birthday allowed us to keep them busy making lots and lots of cards and origami ("here mom, I made an elephant for dad but it turned out to be a boat") and sporadic food experiments (yes, we did the mentos & diet coke experiment in our backyard and dudes, it's awesome!) Then we went to a basketball game (well, we first took the kids to Asmalımescit and Pera area and walked around a bit), and the anticipation of that kept them excited and busy. Then we tricked them into staying at home for a few hours with the promise of a movie - at night and 7+ rating (they really did get a kick out of all the swearing in AROG, a Turkish comedy of some sort). But today, after all our plans fell thru and their cousin was late for a playdate and all my efforts (puzzles, more crafts, a 2 liter diet coke bottle and two packs of mentos, the computer games, 7 songs on Guitar Hero, cookies, more cookies, decorating the cookies, letting them clean up the mess from the cookies by licking the freaking table and giggling endlessly, then burning the cookies and letting them experiment with the burnt cookies) failed at keeping them entertained, I gave up.

I yelled at them after they started screaming into each others ears with makeshift loudspeakers, and they were very loud. I asked them over and over and over and over again to stop screaming, then they started to wrestle and screamed again and I had my first official meltdown of the holiday season.

So I decided to get my hair colored again, this time, back to its original brown. So there. I am the mother of two little boys, who seem to be having a great time screaming and giggling and doing silly stuf, just like they're supposed to be doing, and I just could not handle it anymore. So I want my hair back to its original color. That should do the trick.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Dream

While speaking to my mom today, she said, "we all had dreams, and somehow we had to compromise and make do with whatever life dealt us. What's important is not to get bitter about it and move on."

She's so cool. And deep. I wanted to write something about dreams, and hopes and something deep.

Here's what came up:
I promise not to get bitter if I don't get it, though.

Now, I am not that big a fan of Scandinavian design, though some stuff from Eva just blew my mind.

How appropriate is this for Turkish culture? Bring your own grill.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tunca's World

Here's a new picture he drew:

Istanbul, on a good day

Istanbul can be heaven.

When I get a cab just as I step outside, and catch the boat to Eminönü without waiting, and it's mellow and cool at the same time... When dolphins swim along the boat and everyone just forgets about the looming economic doom and their general state of dispair for just a few moments. When I chat with strangers about cookie recipes while looking at baking supplies and Christmas decorations (right before a Muslim holiday, too). When I dance without noticing to some Turkish pop tune and noone stares at me as though I am crazy (people usually do, especially when I dance when I'm driving and stuck in traffic) and some even smile.

When I miss the boat on the way back, and just when I am about to complain and wait for the next boat, I realize that the usual blue green waters of the Bosphorus has turned purple and the sky is both blue and grey and pink and burgundy and an old man squeals with delight when a seagull grabs his sandwich on the boat.,

Istanbul can be heaven.
video

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Belted

Now, here's something completely philosophical and deep...

I have a total of three belts, two of which are military style buckled gray belts by Quicksilver:


And one that's a bit more dressy, a suede one that has a light brown shade. Couldn't find a photo of that one because I have no idea where I got it (probably off the street a decade ago in New York?).

Here's what I want as a belt:
Yeah. That.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Scanner

Burak brought home his ex printer, which doesn't print (or fax because, well I have no idea) anymore and I wanted to use it as a scanner. I haven't had the chance to connect it yet, but if I did, I would have scanned this picture of our family that Tunca drew:

Four stick figures, all with eyelashes, right hair colors (no hair for Burak), phalanges (look it up, it's one of my favorite Bones' scenes) standing next to each other. Everyone is labeled: mom, dad, brother and ACNUT (he spells his name backwards for some reason). Plus floating around are the following:
An orange goldfish labeled "ketchup" (passed away summer of 08).
A freckled goldfish labeled "dalmatian" (passed away winter of 07)
A yellow cat labeled "bead/boncuk" (the kitten we found under our car in August 2007 that had two broken hind legs and took to the vet to get platinum pins etc).


All part of our family.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

PTA

Well. Some of you may know that I love being a part of Arda's school's PTA. I get to work with some really nice people, spend time with my son, and drive. A lot.

Here's how much: usually, a tank of gas gets me thru a whole month. I walk a lot. And love cabs. Since I became the president of the PTA (yeah, had to put that one in, too :), I've been filling up once a week. Because I drive 52 miles, round trip. That's like 85 kilometers for those of us on the metric system. And there are committees and meetings and all kinds of actually cool stuff going on, which makes me drive to and back from school, like, three times a week.

Arda takes the school bus every day. He can handle it. So should I.

Speaking of which, I really need to change the scale in the bathroom. The one we have works just fine, but only displays lbs, so I have to try and calculate how much I weigh every single time. And my brain hurts from the exertion.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Muse

My post about my distractions included a reference (and the video clip) to Muse's Knights of Cydonia.

I am listening to Muscle Museum, finally, after writing down a few sentences of the lyrics on the radio today (because it would just kill İstanbul's K Rock 94.5 to bring back the "name of the song/performer" gizmo back online for car radios, right?). And I love it.

Since YouTube is still banned in Turkey, I can't give a link to the clip, but do look it up and listen to it.. It is heaven.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Spoils of the Trip

So there is lots to post about the wedding, about how I got see some people I haven't seen in over 15 years, and the trip etc. Hang tight.

For those of you wondering about the plunder, here's a preview:

This one:

and this one:

And this little baby:
(I love outlets)

Blogger is back!


This is what you would have seen instead of my usual minty green blog if you tried to access it during the past few days from anywhere in Turkey.

Here's the story behind it... Blogger & Blogspot was added to one of the many "banned" sites in Turkey (in addition to YouTube) because someone posted (on their blogstop blog) links to sites where you could watch Turkish soccer games without paying for Digiturk's digital TV platform. So Digiturk sued blogger and let the Turkish courts know what was going on and the Turkish courts decided to just ban the whole darn thing. Just in case. No idea how it came back. But I can post & write now. What a wonderful world, huh?

You can find more info here and here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blogger BANNED in Turkey!

I am having a hard time updating my blog due to the Turkish Courts' decision to ban Blogger and Blogspot. These brand new bans are in addition to the youtube ban, and today, Google Video has been banned. I am posting this through a proxy and have lots to post about, but the connection is slow and I cannot upload any photos etc.

I also cannot view any of your blogs if they're posted by blogger or blogspot unless I do the whole proxy thing. Sorry...

Censorship sux.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday...

to me...

We all know the quintessential letter a blogger writes to her children for their birthdays, right?

Here's mine, to myself, for myself.

The aura that surrounds you will keep glowing and you will keep growing and though you may think that you do not deserve all that you have, you do. So trust yourself, and enjoy. Your children are your legacy since you do not seem to understand what everyone says about the "uniqueness" you supposedly have, so keep doing what you're doing - cherish them.

Stop bickering about directions with your husband while he drives. He hates that.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm on my way.

This will be the first "solo" vacation I have taken in... (drum roll, please) 14 years! Ever since I met Burak, I went everywhere with him. Save for a business trip here and there in the late 90s, we were always together. After the kids were born, I did join him in London for the past two years for a weekend, but other than those few exceptions, I went everywhere with family. My parents are actually going as well, so technically, I am not going "solo" but I think this counts as well.

I am going to visit my host parents from high school in San Diego because my lovely sister Alexis is getting married. Wouldn't miss it in a lifetime. I do feel guilty about leaving my family behind, but I think they can manage for a week without me.

As a punishment, I wow to buy/experience the highest heels, the most ridiculously expensive clutches, strangest shades of eye color and great Mexican food.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Orchids

What is up with putting orchids in bathrooms? I have been seeing this "design" idea of orchids in bathrooms for a while now. They are everywhere. Well, no they're not everywhere. But they're probably in every newly renovated bathroom I've been in for the past few years. Cafes had them first, and apparently someone thought, "orchids will do great in bathrooms" and voila! Now they're in houses' bathrooms. Guest bathrooms mostly.

They don't really smell either or maybe the stink of months and years of poop and piss have overwhelmed them into oblivion and they have just given up. I do remember orchids smelling really nice when I first saw them at a fair in San Diego, but bathrooms? Who was that comedian talking about why people put citrusy candles and air fresheners in bathrooms? (The whole orange and butt smell joke??) See I'm getting distracted again.

As I surf (yeah, I know, I hate that term as well) thru design websites, I come across only a few that truly make me say, "well, if I had a house, and buckets full of money, that's the designer I'd go with."

James Mohn is one of those designers who makes me want to buy a (real) house. I love his lofts and the airy and relaxed yet very very comfortable looking houses (yeah, Hamptons baby). So imagine my surprise when I came across this photo:
Copyright by James Mohn Design Studio, you know that...

I would love to post a photo of my bathroom counter space as well, but it is too late and for those of who know me, it is just way too messy to reveal to the public. Even if I did have such a sleek bathroom counter, I would do my best to keep it uncluttered, but the orchid, James?

OK - I understand the need for humidity for orchids, but guest bathrooms do not have baths or showers. They must be missing the point. Besides, even if they were in presence of actual baths, the constant change in humidity would suck the life out of them, right?

Don't tell me, "Z, get a life, who cares?"

You're right. I have these bamboo sticks in my living for the past three years as well. In case we get a panda to come by or something.

ps: coming soon, foliage, in a bathroom near you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Family First Days

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I left home when I was 15 to go to high school in San Diego... I am desperately attached to my parents. At the age of 34, the thought of spending a few hours with them makes my day, and yesterday, as I sat on the edge of the Bosphorus with my dad, eating grilled meatballs in my Beşiktaş uniform and then walked to the stadium to see the game (in which we kicked Ukrainian Metalist's orange clad butts 1-0) I definitely felt happy. Truly happy. Yelled and screamed and cursed and jumped and cheered the Beşiktaş style among the raunchiest fans ever. Had a great time. Wished we had more tickets so my sons and husband and mom and brother and his son and wife and my in laws came as well, but just being with my dad was also enough.
I will tie this to Rebecca's and Kristen's shower, I really will.
When I was pregnant with Arda, 3 weeks before he was due, I went to my routine check up where I was informed that I was 3cm dialated and the baby looked and sounded great and not to make another appointment, that Arda would probably show up that week.

So I called my parents, who were living in İstanbul, while Burak and I had been living in NYC for the past 6 years and at the time enjoying the wonderful 175,000 degree NYC weather. My mom came two days later. Arda had other thoughts in mind, though, so he decided to show up a whole month later, a week after he was due. That made everyone's plans a bit tighter than then had planned, my brother, sister in law and my dad got on a plane the day Arda was born and arrived the next day.

So for Arda's first days at home, I was surrounded by all my family. It was wonderful to see everyone precious to me there to witness the most meaningful creation I had brought to this world. In that tiny one bedroom apartment, 3AM nursing sessions (no matter now painful and frustrating) turned into family chat times when my mom told me of my first days in life. The sporadic "this child is hungry and your milk is not enough" comments faded the second I told them I was determined to give it a serious try - they trusted my instincts. Arda was fussy, sleepless and I was such a novice - but having my very supportive family around for the first few days made me a more patient, more sufficient mom. With Arda's every whim, with questions about his umbilical cord, circumcision, breastfeeding, everything, they saw me, day by day, learn to be a "mom." We went to Bryant Park together in the afternoons for lemonade and sandwiches, and Arda was luck enough to spend his first days of life with everyone that I love.

It was the same with Tunca - this time it was easier and much much more fun because we were living in İstanbul then, and everyone could hang out at our house for hours, playing with Arda, eating, watching soccer games, taking walks, yet everyone had the chance to go back to their homes at night to leave me with my beautiful sons. But when the morning came, someone always dropped by, sometimes with a juicy watermelon, sometimes with some DVDs but more often, chocolate and ice cream.

So, I don't know Kristen's family relationships, but as far as I can tell, Rebecca has a wonderful time with her parents, and I do wish for both of their babies (and other children) to be surrounded by loving, supportive extended families as they grow up.

On another note, the seeds of the virtual community of "mom bloggers" probably soared from the pregnancy and playgroup forums back in the late 90s. I still keep in touch with some wonderful women from my June 2000 pregnancy (and then playgroup) IVillage board, and I am profoundly proud and lucky to have such a support group, no matter the thousands of miles and the millions of opinions that separate us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"What Happened to Me on My Holiday"

This is a short story by Martin Amis. I read a Turkish translation of it in a literary magazine back in 2004 and actually have been looking for the story for the past few weeks.

Tunca and I found a dead fish in the water back in Bodrum. Actually Arda saw it first, swam by it, then went surfing with friends while Tunca begged me to go and get the dead fish. So I did. I assumed he just wanted to see what it looked like. He examined it. It was missing an eye, but other than that, there were no apparent injuries (I did watch enough CSI and Bones to determine "no apparent cause of death") so I told him that the fish probably got sick and died and another fish ate his eye. Tunca thought another way - the fish had an eye injury and because he couldn't see, he couldn't eat, so that's why he died. From hunger.

We ended up taking the fish back home, so he could show it to his dad.

At home, he said, "I will keep this as a pet" just like Pablo said in Amis' story. I told him the fish stank, that he was dead, and that he could show it to his dad and then we could "free" him back to the seas where he would be happy. "Other fish will eat him," said Tunca. "They will eat his other eye as well. He'll be more hurt than he is now."
He is dead, Tunca. He is not hurt anymore.

Tunca cried. Cried and cried and cried some more. Then we made a deal. He could keep the fish until after his nap. Then he could either toss it back to the sea, bury it, or feed it to the stray kittens in the yard. So he cried some more. Like Pablo, he said he could stop the fish from smelling. He would clean it every day and put perfume on it and stop it from smelling.

I did not understand. Similar to Pablo's cries of "I'm a lion costume" Tunca has a different sense of reality from me most of the times. Probably all children do at some age. It is when I realize that I have lost that special sense of reality that I feel old.

The kittens loved the fish by the way.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Chair Issue

I have this chair. A simple, burgundy office chair that Başak, my sister in law gave me as a birthday gift back in 1995 when I was a Senior in college. I spent thousands of hours writing on this chair. Probably more playing solitaire. A few hundred just spinning it with my sons. It has an suspension system with a lever that allows you to adjust its height with adjustable lumbar support- but that broke back in 2001 when we were moving from NYC to İstanbul so its just a wiggly back now. Still, it is the most comfortable chair I have. My beloved chair. Looks like this:

Tunca was watching a movie on my computer yesterday while Arda and I watched a basketball game on TV and he somehow broke the suspension system while trying to make the chair higher. So everytime I sit on the chair, I have to adjust it and the moment I get up, the chair moves, by itself, to the top position. Then I sit on the darn thing and it slowly lowers itself down to the bottom. It is just annoying. And weird.

Somewhere and sometime along the hazy days and nights when I was devouring baby and toddler books, I read that as a parent, you have to pick your fights. One of those fights, for me, is the "breaking stuff" issue. Kids break things, by accident, it's a given. That's why I don't have expensive furniture or vases or mirrors or plates or glasses and such at home and never make it an issue when they do accidentally break things. So Tunca thought it was very strange that I was upset because neither him nor his brother have seen me upset over something that was broken. I explained to him that I really liked the chair, that the suspension could be fixed quite easily, but that he was not a baby anymore and should stop messing with the furniture (he has a thing for jimmying locks and clocks and washers and vacuums and writing on tables and what have you).

It really was not a fight worth picking. It just made him sad and he really did not do it intentionally. So even though I knew deep inside that I should not have made a big deal out of it, I couldn't stop yapping about it.

When I realize that I have done something wrong with my children, I feel totally helpless. I know I can't be a perfect mom, there is no such thing and my children will always have a memory of me doing something wrong, no matter how hard I try. The point is, I try my best. But I do fail at times.

But come on, my beloved office chair?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hamam Stuff

Our sweet friend Müge gave Burak & I the coolest (and only!) anniversary gifts ever from Bodrum Havlu - robes and peştemals (loincloths used in Turkish baths) that are so soft, so quick drying, so absorbent and oh so sooo wonderfully luxurious:

These got me thinking that I could get similar things for Alexis' wedding gifts when I go and visit them in October. I am looking online, but have already found a couple of stores in İstanbul that sell similar products. Let me know if you have any suggestions as to what to get for baby Hannah (almost 1.5) and İlayda (will be 3) as gifts as well.

Waves

Here's what I could do with one of the videos:
video

Reality check.

Well, we are back. The grueling two hour drive from a friends house that's about 20 miles away proved that. İstanbul is back to its chaotic days, with the wonderful addition of school buses to traffic and Ramadan rush hours. Upon my return t my beloved blogmarks, I learned that my friend Ahu started to teach nursery school, though her plans were something, well not that, so I need to catch up and be a better friend. And Susan seems to be having problems with her theme and photo quota stuff, so stop by and let her know if you know a cool theme with a gigangic photobucket quota. (I don't even know if that's possible but hey :)

Arda is trying to finish his never ending summer homework. I was actually thinking that it is not fair to expect him to finish all the stuff they gave - I was not about to ask him to give up on swimming and playing in the sand and hide and seek at night to go home and do homework. Today, the PTA meeting I was put at my right place - "that homework needs to done, by Monday" said his teacher. Ugh. So we are back to doing homework again. what happened to just reading books for the summer? Anyways, she has a point. But so do I.

Tunca started school today, after spending the past two days whining about not wanting to go to school. I was sad that I couldn't be there for his first day in his "big" class because I had to go to Arda's school, but Burak says that he seemed happy to go back. He is in a different building, but with the same teacher so that should work out fine, I guess.

Our month in Bodrum was great - once again, I was able to see how the boys grew so much and were so happy with all the swimming and the clean air and the playing and being with family and friends.. My uncle was there as well for about 10 days and they really loved hanging out with him. My dad played with them in the water, my mom told them stories, my brother advised them on how comfortable it is to hang out without underwear, and lots and lots of friends showed up for great lunches, dinners, and just hanging out. Here are some pictures:
On the boat..

Surfing with Emre, Tunca's friend.
View from our rental.
Learning the multiplication table with grandpa.
Surfing.
Water sports with friends. Scary.
Snorkeling gear ready. That's the little boat Burak's sister lent us - we ended up having a great time with it actually.
Arda on the boat.
Waves... Very rare at the beach where we are. There's a video of this as well - if I can figure out how to make it smaller, I'll upload that as well.
Yes, that is a finger. And its not for me, it's for grandma.
Tunca snorkeling. There's a video of that one as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bodrum Bodrum

We arrived in Bodrum after a 24 hour cruise ride which was pleasant. It was a bit hard to keep the kids occupied for hours because I really did not want them in the greenish mucky pool and Burak was working, so we ended up playing Uno for hours and walking around the boat. Oh and the guy who runs the Playstation 2 booth must have enough money for a new house - the three of us played PES and some race game for hours.

I will post pictures soon, but as always we love the place where we're staying. It's right on the beach, the boys can go in and out of the sea and just walk back home, play hide and seek with friends at night and just hang out by themselves (and dare I say, leave me be for a while). They're very happy here. Tunca is somehow swimming without his floaties, and he is very proud of himself while Arda found his friends from last year and keeps building castles and dams and towers and all sorts of architectural wonders which he turns over to babies and younger kids on the beach to ruin and watches and laughs... He truly makes the most of the beach here - he goes by himself around 9:30am and save for a few hours I make him stay home because hey, it's like 200 degrees outside during the noon hours, he stays there and swims until about 7pm. 

Pictures to come soon (I did bring the cable to the camera, I know I did).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

After

Well, I wanted to do a "before and after" thing for the couch, but the "before" shot got mysteriously deleted from the camera. I found this photo from last year, you can see the burgundy coach on the far right:
And here's the after:
Yes, I love Guitar Hero 3.

Camp Pictures

Here are some pictures from the CD that the camp sent us...
The buses arrive - Arda was on bus no. 2.

The coaches greet the kids...

... with "high fives"

and confetti...So the kids have basketball practice 4x daily.
But they take breaks
It seems cold.
Stretching...
You see the kid with the orange shirt in the back? Looks like he's sleeping? Yeah, that's Arda.
Shooting hoops.
Again...
They get to choose a 5th activity, and apparently, that was soccer for most of them..
"Disco" party. Arda looks really out of it. Emre looks sad. That's their room coach, Ufuk. "He's really cool." says Arda.
But they do get to watch a movie once a week, after lunch.
Itinerary for the 26 km hike. Starts far left by the tack tagged "Beyzbol Sahasi" (baseball field) and goes all the way to the right where it says "Zirve" (peak). The CD had zillions of pictures on it, and by far, the organization of the hike was what impressed me the most. They photographed the preparation of the sandwiches, the "orientation" where they apparently went over every step of the way, where they would stop, where they would eat, what they were going to see, what they needed to wear, and to bring along.

Yep, they went all the way up there, and that's not even the peak!
He looks happy!
The field day, where they had blindfolded yoghurt eating contests and other stuff that I can't figure out.
Award ceremony - I think Arda got "best sportsmanship" and "best dribble."

And here are the pictures that I took:
The buses arrive...
And here he is... My baby.