Thursday, January 31, 2013

My 'Stay-cation'

This post has been updated (photo).

For the first time in what seems like ages, I'm spending a holiday at home.  It would require too much mental effort to actually stop and think about what we did last year and the year before that during this two-week break between semesters in Turkey; but I'm sure we weren't here, at home in Istanbul.

And I am as happy as ... Well, you can supply your own simile.  Suffice to say, I'm love love loving being a stay-at-home mom with a full-time helper and one child in preschool half days!  At a nice, leisurely pace of approximately one errand per day, I'm crossing things off my to-do list that have been there for months: getting a second pair of Isofix hooks installed in my car so that both my kids can ride safely in their car seats; dentist; chiropractor; pediatrician; pedicure; a trip to IKEA.  I've even cleaned out and restocked my medicine cabinet.

And I'm busy at home, too:  you'd think I were pregnant again, the way I've suddenly found huge reserves of energy for domestic chores.  I finally attempted the New York Times no-knead bread recipe I've been saving for about five years; and I'm baking several batches of bran muffins so that I can finally use up the supply of All-Bran (not available in Turkey) an American friend who was leaving Istanbul gave me two years ago.  (Yes, the cereal is well past its expiry date, but I'm choosing not to be bothered by that.)  And a few days ago I made several jars of quince jam, one of my favourites.

I have a sneaking suspicion I promised photos in a recent blog; and here I am again, photo-less.  I won't promise, but hereby declare my best intention to snap a few shots of my handiwork and post them soon.

This morning, my youngest and I practiced saying a few more words (he's currently got either about ten words or zero words, depending on whether it counts that his mother is the only human being able to understand him); and in an hour, I'll take my oldest to the Thursday farmer's market, where he'll be given homemade string cheese by the cheese man, and a cucumber by the vegetable seller.

So here's the question I'm deliberating as I take our 10-week puppy out every other hour and wait for her to pee not-in-the-house:  would I make this good use of my time, were I indeed a full-time stay-at-home-mother?  Or am I making the most of these preciously long days precisely because I know I only have fifteen of them?

My first attempt at bread!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year's Miscellanea

New Year's is more than a week behind me, but I still wanted to put together a few random thoughts.

Even though this was my seventh Christmas/New Year's in Turkey, I'm still surprised each year by the way so much of western/Christian Christmas symbolism is used by Turks to celebrate New Year's!  For me, it means I get more Christmas spirit in December, as malls erect beautifully decorated trees, and stores sell wrapping paper and ribbons.

We were in Adana, and although, when we lived there I always longed for cold, snowy Christmases, this year, the blue skies and warm sun (16 degrees Celsius during the day!) was therapeutic for me.

The coal-smoke air from dusk until dawn was not!  Although I remember being mildly bothered by the smokiness of the winter air in Adana, as many people heated their homes with wood-burning ovens, this year, my throat was actually burning by 6pm, and I'd wake up coughing in the middle of the night.  It seems most households have switched to coal, which the current government is greatly subsidizing and sometimes even handing out free, to gain popularity.  What this does long-term for the health of people and the environment, seems to be a worry for another day.

On New Year's day we went to friends for brunch, and shared our resolutions for 2013 -- just the kind of meaningful conversation I love.  We also shared our new tradition, something I've gotten from a colleague, who in turn got it from a student: throughout the year, we will write down 'happy moments' and put them in a box, to be read on New Year's Eve twelve months from now.  Should be a great way to capture and relive the best parts of the year and be thankful.

Sorry no photos ... Still haven't gotten them off my camera!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sweeping Snow

Istanbul has been covered in what looks to me like a good foot of snow, and it's still coming down, which means tomorrow is the third snow day in a row!  Schools are closed, and I'm enjoying romping in the soft fluffy stuff with the kids.

One thing I do miss, oddly, are the chores that come with winter -- shoveling the driveway, deicing the car.  Now that I have the opportunity, though, I lack the equipment!  I felt like a fool, clearing snow off my car with my mitts; and was glad there was no ice to scrape off underneath that snow!

And this evening, I cleared the snow off our front steps ... with a broom!  Not as satisfying as with a snow shovel, but it worked surprisingly well.