Thursday, May 31, 2012

Out of the mouth of babes....

Elisabeth and I were walking back from a neighbors house, when she said, "I want to see the whole world." I rather liked that idea myself, but I kept my opinions to myself and simply asked, "Why?"  She said, "Because I don't want to forget the whole world." Hmmm.. okay I thought. "So why would forgetting the whole world not be a good thing?"  "Because, God made the whole world and loves it and I love God so I don't want to forget it."

I attended a conference recently primarily for children and youth ministers, which as a parent we are regardless of any particular ministry titles. I can't remember specifically who said it but one lady stated that all children have a relationship with God and commune with God in their own way and one of our challenges is to nurture it without getting in the way with our own agenda. Also during the conference, we were exhorted to really listen to children and not try to provide all the answers but rather to wonder and ask questions with them. I'm so glad I chose to listen instead of talk during this moment or I may have missed God speaking.

“Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?” - Jesus (Matthew 21:16)
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day at Fort Fisher State Park

We took the RV to the beach for Memorial Day weekend. Tropical Storm Beryl stirred up the surf - Saturday in particular was rough and very windy. So we didn't stay long at the beach. Our privately owned campground had a pool, so that made for a good substitute.

We were able to hang out with some friends quite a bit (you know who you are), which was a highlight for us.

Monday morning, we went to the Fort Fisher Beach to give it one more go. The wind and surf was much calmer and we were able to enjoy the beach for a couple of hours before they lifted the red flags again (red flags mean no swimming).

I enjoyed walking on the beach and searching for seashells (I have plans for a seashell related homeschool activity later in the week). And for the first time that I can recall, I found Portuguese Man o' war washed up on the beach. The first one I found was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand - not that I was stupid enough to carry it thus. I scooped up in a broken shell to take back to Kelly and the kids to see.
portuguese man o' war
portuguese man o' war (Photo credit: 4Neus)
Later I found four more, one double and another triple the size of the first one. It certainly made me a bit concerned about the kids playing in the water. As it turned out, they were more interested in playing in the sand anyway and I still got in the water as well.

I was tempted to touch the stringy, blue tentacles just to see how painful it really was - a science experiment of sorts. But exerting intentional pain on oneself is a hard choice to make. As we were leaving the beach, someone told me that a boy had been stung that morning and had gotten "the help he needed." I suppose I'll be researching what to do for jellyfish stings for future beach trips.
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Garden of Friends

Last week, we went to the NC Botanical Garden with some other peeps. These guys have such a fun time together. It brings joy to my heart to watch them grow, bloom, and interact.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Turkey Travelogue - May 29th: Goreme & Derinkuyu

We woke up to a light breakfast at the hotel. And then loaded up once again and drove into Goreme (a place I was pretty sure I had just seen in a National Geographic Magazine a few months prior.)

The town was amazing! People lived in caves! 

Yes, that is a "For Sale" sign.  Anyone want to move to Goreme?
It comes with a garage.
And there were cave hotels as well. 
I seriously want to return and stay here....
...... or here (Anatolian Houses).
 We also saw carpet makers at the Gallery of Cappadocia.
After walking through town we got back in the van and drove on to the Goreme Open Air Museum.
Compared to Zelve, Goreme has more elaborate and finer cut rock rooms and chapels. As a result, the access to Goreme is a bit more limited. That probably had something to do with my preference for Zelve. 

While in the Chapel of St. Basil at Goreme, my son lost his first tooth.  

Go here to find out information about the Chapel of St. Basil as well as Goreme's other cave churches. 

Here you can see the entrance and open nave of one of the churches followed by details in some of the other chapels.


We left Goreme and stopped mid-afternoon for a late lunch. Then we drove about 40 minutes south to the Underground City of Derinkuyu.  

Derinkuyu is a labyrinth of tunnels and rooms some of which are narrow and low. Again I felt like an explorer investigating an old archaeological site. This underground town has been around for a very long time. Many think the first rooms and tunnels were built by the Hittites before the time of Christ or the common era and then added to over the centuries by conquering civilizations.  
The round doors were to be rolled into place when the current residents were under attack.
After this, we headed back to Ankara, which was about a 4 1/2 hour drive. Back in Ankara, we were taken directly across town to one of our friends houses where we had a lovely meal prepared for us by the Eren family. Somehow our foursome made it back to Vildan and Levent's, though at the moment I can't remember the details of how we got there.

After recounting the events of this tremendous day, I wonder if the world stood still. I'm not sure how we squeezed it all in, but it is a day I am very thankful for experiencing. 

Turkey Travelogue: May 28th

Our friends borrowed a 15-passenger van and some of them accompanied us on a four-hour drive to Avanos and Nevshehir. On this particular trip, our group consisted of our family of four, Jeff Burns,  Levent Eren with his son and brother-in-law, and Suleyman with his wife Serap and their baby boy. We arrived in Avanos around lunch time and checked into a state run motel that caters to government employees.

After dropping off our overnight bag, we drove to a restaurant famous in Avanos for a dish that is cooked in pottery that must be broken in order to pour out the food.  (I cannot remember the name of the restaurant - the fact that I can remember the name of the town is remarkable.)  

Here you can see Kelly knocking the top off of one of the clay jars.


Then the food is poured into a wooden bowl atop a burner to keep it warm.  Yum!


A snapshot of our dining experience


After finishing this remarkable meal, we loaded ourselves into the van and drove a short distance to Nevshehir (note that I'm spelling the names of towns like they are pronounced in English and not as they are written - in Turkish the sh sound is made by a S with a curly tail at the bottom - Nevsehir)

The province of Nevshehir contains the biggest portion of the area known as Cappadocia. A historical Christian Monastery was located there and is known as the Zelve Monastery complex. Zelve was inhabited until the 1950's and has a rich Christian heritage and is now known as the Zelve Open Air Museum. While some of the caves were off limits there was still so much to see and explore. It was amazing to think that people lived here for centuries.

Fairy Chimneys near Zelve

Kelly took this artistic shot
One of my absolute favorite pictures ever!




This was my favorite place in Turkey. It was the right mix of history of man and the beauty of nature come together. I felt like a kid in a giant play house with hundreds of rooms and places to explore. When I left this place, I felt like I was light as a feather; my spirit was soaring - the kids really enjoyed it as well and did a great job hiking and climbing. Zelve and Macchu Picchu remain the two most dramatic, awe inspiring places that I have ever been.

We returned to our accommodations in Avanos and then found a sandwich shop for dinner.  And then slept like babies til morning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Turkey Travelogue: May 27th

This was Friday and our 6th day in Turkey. After a low-key, relaxing morning, our hosts drove us downtown to one of the government buildings where we met up with the Burns and more of our Turkish friends. From there we made a caravan to a newly renovated older part of Ankara called Hamamonu. If I remember correctly, the area was restored with historically accurate architecture and has become a tourist draw in Ankara. While there, we stopped in an artisan area to shop and a cafe for refreshments.

Jonah and Olivia at the artisan market
From there, we traveled again by car to the oldest part of Ankara where an ancient castle sits atop a hill.  This was definitely one of my favorite places, because it was so old. Many of the homes in the surrounding neighborhood were also very old and in disrepair, but were nevertheless inhabited. The exact age of the castle is unknown but it is believed that it was built by the Romans and expanded by subsequent conquerors. Given the tremendous history of the area, I would guess that the area was fortified to some extent long before the Romans. Parts of the castle have been destroyed and rebuilt through the ages and they would use remnants of old structures to rebuild the castle. So there are several intricately carved Roman and Greek looking stones among plain rocks. (I wish I could have read them.)

The street walking up to the castle
A photo of the closed off portion of the castle from the other side
The Castle Walls
We ended the evening at a lovely restaurant where we met all of the friends we made while they were living in the United States. They treated us to a wonderful meal and we were able to catch up somewhat. What a great way to end the day - great food and friends!

It was late when we made it back home and had to do some preliminary preparations for the next day's journey.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Turkey Remembrances

One year ago this week we were in Turkey having a once in a life-time experience visiting dear friends and enjoying some wondrously historic and beautiful places.  Ah.... God willing, we will return.  To commemorate this, I am reposting a little slideshow I put together for my friends in Turkey. May we see you again this side of heaven.

Also, I plan to finish the Travelogue of the trip that I started but never finished.  Here is my Turkey Travelogue in so far.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

BrickMagic 2012

Cityscape at 2010 BrickMagic Raleigh
For the 3rd year in a row, we attended BrickMagic, a convention of sorts for LEGO fans of all ages. The first year we went, I was blown away by the huge cityscapes complete with moving subways and trains. The second year, I was less impressed as many of the displays seemed very similar to the previous year. This year I was excited about the prospect of going simply because Jonah was so interested in going. In the past, it was really just mommy and daddy's idea, but this year Jonah totally owned it. He woke up Saturday morning and the first thing he did was put on his blue polo with the LEGO logo on the front.

Jonah has had LEGO for quite awhile, but it seems that it's only really been in the last six months that he has been spending focused time building his own creations. More recently, his creations have been getting gradually more complicated. I suspect his intensified interest is partly due to the fact that we have been watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars with both kids. I guess it's no wonder that LEGO's first licensed product was for Star Wars sets.
Getting their picture with a Clone Trooper 2012 Brick Magic
We learned at the show that LEGO is getting ready to release Lord of the Rings products - while I don't plan on rushing out to buy any - I do love LOR and can't wait to see what displays are present at next years BrickMagic!
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012


On Sunday, Mother's Day, Elisabeth had her first nosebleed totally out of the blue.

Last night, Monday, we all walked to the playground and then on the way back we all jogged almost the whole way - a good half mile. They kids did great! It was almost fun (I don't usually enjoy running). Elisabeth is our endurance runner and Jonah is our sprinter who loves a little competition - as long as he wins that is!

Today, I asked Elisabeth why she liked watching Diego so much. She said that she likes learning about all the animals and the world God made.
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

My beloved made me a lovely breakfast, both kids presented me with homemade cards, and Jonah made me this beautiful heart out of LEGO. I am so thankful. Happy Mother's Day!