Such is The Basketball Life

So we’ve been back on US soil for 7 days now, which is what I’ve been looking forward to for months. One would think that would make me happy, but considering my hubby has been gone for 6 of those days makes it bittersweet. He’s in Venezuela playing with a team in contention for the championship and I’m here not entirely able to enjoy my time home.

Many people think it’s insane to fly all the way home after a long season, only to immediately jump on a plane to play for another team. It probably is a little bit nuts, but those involved in this life knows that this happens all the time, and that basketball never stops. It’s like you’re sucked into this basketball vortex of practice, team events, summer workouts and training, and a myriad of tournaments. Basketball is truly a lifestyle, and not just for the players.

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I’d like to say that I’m used to it, which I am really, but at times like this when basketball comes calling before I was ready and without much warning, it can be difficult.

In most European countries the official seasons are over, but the playoffs are in full swing. If you were like us, and on a team that didn’t make the playoffs, then you would have been home, or heading home, by now. It’s a time when most athletes take a few weeks off to rest their bodies before throwing themselves into their summer workout regimen, while waiting for word about the upcoming season (if not lucky enough to be in the middle of a multi-year contract).

It’s also a time when many playoff teams get so close to a championship that they can taste it and they try to do anything to get that big win, including bolstering their team with the best available athletes they can find, if only for a few weeks. All of this happens in a frenzy mind you. Hubby begins receiving calls asking if he can be on a plane the next day, regardless of the fact that he would still have some regular season games left and a large family to think about. They entice the athletes with large sums of money, but are often ridiculous with their demands in their rush to build a winning team. On the one hand, the players just want the season to be over so they can go home and relax with their loved ones, but on the other hand they have an opportunity to be paid well to continue playing, which is what they would be home doing anyway, albeit not as seriously.

This happens almost every year, but this is only the second time he’s accepted an offer. The last time was three years ago, also to a team in Venezuela, but the kids and I were able to travel with him so it seemed more like an extension of the regular season, and not as an interruption of summer like it feels now.

After a semi-final win in Venezuela 3 years ago

After a semi-final win in Venezuela 3 years ago

I would love to spend my time relaxing by the pool as I did last time, but it’s not always possible, especially since I’m pretty seriously pregnant right now. I know I’m hating a little, but I do take solace in the fact that he’ll spend the next few weeks in serious playoff mode so there won’t be much time for beach jaunts and my jealousy will be under control.

So it’s not a summer lost, just delayed a bit, and once he’s home we can begin the official summer season activities of beaches, bbq’s, and the countless zoo, museum, and aquarium visits that bring the kids so much joy. This will all revolve around hubby’s basketball training schedule of course, but such is this basketball life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For now at least.

Our relaxing time in Venezuela last time around

Our relaxing time in Venezuela last time around

 

Homeward Bound

I’ve reached that point in the year when all I can think about is going home. I’m tasting sushi, buffalo wings, Starbucks, Red Lobster, and a whole lot of Ben and Jerry’s in my mouth. Individually, all at once, I don’t think I care. I just want to go home and eat and be merry.

The season officially ended a few days ago and we’ll be home 7 short days from now. To make things even better we’ll be taking a short vacation to Izmir, which is where we lived last year. I plan to soak up some rays, see some friends, and we can have a nice relaxing end to what was a pretty unspectacular season.

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Last game of the season

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People always ask me how can we continue to pack up entire apartments over and over again and if I get tired of it. The truth is, it’s just a part of this lifestyle we live and I’ve gotten used to it. Not to say that it isn’t annoying though, because it surely is. The house is filled with boxes, suitcases, and packing materials and no matter how early I begin packing things up, there always seems to be a mad rush in the end.

There are piles of everything everywhere. Piles of books and toys to take with us, put in boxes to store for the summer, and piles to give away. Our children grow at ridiculous rates so we spend hours trying on clothes that fit just two months ago, but are now in the give away piles. Our toddler could give two craps about piles and organization so toys that were already packed are somehow scattered across the living room and he’s often found playing in a half-packed box.

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But annoying as it is, I know that next week at this time we’ll be touching down in New York with the biggest smiles on our faces. My daughter will get to resume the play dates she loves so much, with friend’s that actually speak English, and we’ll get to see family and friends we haven’t seen all year. I’ve already booked a prenatal massage, body scrub, and bikini wax (woohoo) and will be making a beeline for the nail salon the first chance I get.

It’s a magical time and I couldn’t be more excited. The people of Edirne have been very good to us but there’s no place like home :-).

If I can say anything about Edirne, it has been peaceful

If I can say anything about Edirne, it has been peaceful

Happy Easter!!!

Living in a Muslim country means that Easter means absolutely nothing to the majority of people, and those few that want to celebrate have a hard time doing so. There are no church’s to attend, no Easter bunny, and not a jelly bean in sight.

I spent all week going from store to store searching for something resembling an Easter basket, and some kind of bunny or egg candy. At least when Christmas rolled around they had a few fake trees and some basic decorations to choose from. The best we could find to celebrate Easter were a few gift boxes and some pastel colored candy. Randomly, there was a sale on some Christmas chocolates that could resemble an egg if you looked long enough so there it was.

The baskets were then filled with random small toys like bubbles, markers, and cards, for hours of non Easter related fun.

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We were able to paint eggs though, which is a biggie. They have no edible Easter egg paint out here, and we learned from last year that water color and boiled eggs do not mix, so we just had fun with regular paint and glitter and just won’t be able too eat them.

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I feel bad wasting them, but we will be able to use them for our Easter egg hunt later this afternoon so they won’t be totally wasted.

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Happy Easter from the Francis family!

The Elusive Pedicure

It’s been 8 months since I’ve had a pedicure and I’m pretty torn up about it. I do understand that compared to people with real problems, my lack of pampering is very low on the list. Nonetheless, I stand by my mani/pedi pity party.

So while life in general is not so hard, it is hard to be somewhere where everything is new and different and you miss out on the comforts of home. The difficulty communicating because of the language barrier is probably the hardest thing, but the lack of social outlets is another biggie. I really miss my friends and being able to grab a drink or have a nice brunch on the weekends. But what gets me year after year is my yearning for a nice spa treatment, a pedicure with a good scrub and rub, and the coveted 10-minute massage that can be had at nearly every nail shop in NYC.

I’ve tried to find that out here and I’ve failed miserably. My first attempt a few years ago was pointless and a complete waste of time. After months of neglect I finally found a hair salon that had a section for manicures and pedicures. I had my hopes way up only to have them come crashing down. They literally washed my feet, rubbed them with a brush, put some lotion on, and then painted them with the skill of an 8 year old child. I changed my mind about the accompanying manicure and hightailed it out of there, 40 liras poorer, and disappointed beyond belief.

The next visit a year later was with a few fellow WAGS and was to an actual nail salon in town. Although I was able to get a foot rub, they still didn’t know what was going on. No one spoke English, and they didn’t seem to understand what we wanted, even though it was a nail salon so it was pretty self explanatory why we were there. While we all sat there wanting the same thing, they gave us three different pedicures. They put a sparkly design on one of my friend’s nail, even though she didn’t ask for that and didn’t want it, while the other one didn’t even get soap in her basin and we had to spend 5 minutes figuring out how to ask for ‘bubbles.’ When it came time to pay we were all charged different rates and our nails just looked ok. So that was the last time I went there.

This year I didn’t even bother to search one out for fear of another let down, even though I have yet to even see any kind of nail salon anyway. I’ve resigned myself to my home spa. I buy as many nail care products as possible and once a week I go to work, scrubbing, clipping, filing, and painting so that I can have the illusion of pampering.

My trusty nail bag I bring to every country. Weighs a ton.

My trusty nail bag I bring to every country. Weighs a ton.

Of course it’s not really pampering if you’re doing it yourself, but it’s the end result of having a nice mani/pedi that makes me feel like I’m a put together grown up living in grown up world. If my nails aren’t done, or are all chipped and raggedy looking I almost feel like I might as well wear sweats every day and do yard work or something rugged. When living in a small town like this, even if I have nowhere nice to go and no one to give two craps about my nails, it’s still the one small thing I can do to feel girly.

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Sometimes I try to get creative

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But the end is near and the count down has begun. We have one month left before we’re back in NY and the first place I’m running to is my friendly neighborhood nail shop. I already have visions about what kind of super luxurious spa pedicure I’ll get, complete with a nice relaxing foot massage. I’ll pick the brightest and most fun color I can find for my nails to show my joy at once again getting a real mani/pedi, and then I’ll get a 10 or 20 minute chair massage while my nails are drying. Best of all I won’t be forced to spend two hours giving my self a mediocre manicure that will only be smudged/dented/chipped two hours later. It really is the little things.

My happy Christmas manicure

My happy Christmas manicure

 

The Foreign Doctor Experience

If you’re an American woman you are pretty used to the standard doctor’s office routine, especially for that yearly gynecological check-up or Obstetrics visit if you’re pregnant. You’re first seen by a nurse who takes your vitals, you’re then left alone and told to change into a paper robe until the doctor comes in and the fun begins.

That yearly pap is never a good time, but it’s a necessary evil and it’s all very clinical, so bearable. Upon learning I was pregnant in Germany a few years ago, I was pretty surprised and uncomfortable to experience the German doctor visit. Vitals were taken before going in with the doctor, and once in the office/exam room you are seated to discuss the reason for your visit. The doctor then instructs you to remove your pants, underwear, and shirt, keeping on your bra if you prefer. No paper robe, no privacy screen, just me sheepishly removing my clothes while the doctor waits at the foot of the exam table. Over the course of that year, it never did get easier for me to walk across the room butt naked.

I’ve come to learn that Europeans are just more open and comfortable with nudity and their bodies. Although I was born in Europe, I was raised in the states so my bashfulness is American all the way. Even in Turkey, where I would think it would be a bit more conservative, they show breasts and ass freely on television, but censor any hint of cigarette (although just about everyone out here smokes btw). It’s an interesting thing for me to get used to.

With this pregnancy I was prepared for anything, but what I found here was also pretty strange for me. I’m now in my 6th month and I have yet to have a single pap smear. Not even a blood test to confirm pregnancy. Upon telling the doctor I believed I was pregnant she immediately gave me an ultrasound, prescribed some prenatal vitamins, and sent me on my way.

My hastanesi (hospital)

My hastanesi (hospital)

I’ve also found that in keeping with the general lack of personal space here, there is also a complete lack of privacy. There are no Obstetricians in the hospital that speak English so they said they would have a translator to help during my appointments. It was only after my first appointment that I discovered they couldn’t find a translator so they used another patient who spoke English and also happened to be a teacher at my children’s school. Upon hearing that I was pretty pissed, especially because they were all joking about how I could have possibly gotten pregnant while on the pill and were offering up options, including abortion. How they felt it was acceptable to just bring a random person in, especially one that could tell all my business at school, just boggles my mind. After I complained about how inappropriate that was they found a hospital employee working in the lab to translate, which is at least a little better.

Still, on another occasion, they (which included the doctor, the assistant, and the translator) brought in the man from my husband’s team who accompanies us to appointments and helps with other miscellaneous things, and discussed what medications I needed and God knows what else. What if I had hemorrhoids, a yeast infection, or some other embarrassing affliction? This random guy would be privy to it all. Lucky for me the diagnosis of the day was anemia, which he would know since he’s also the one who gets our prescriptions. Ugh.

I’ve also received some medical advice that I have found strange. One night I had strange pains that I had never felt with the other three. Sharp and fairly constant over a period of 5 hours or so. They felt unlike any contraction I ever felt and different from the usual growing pain jabs I feel from time to time. We went to the doctor the next morning and they felt my stomach and gave an ultrasound to make sure that everything was ok. The diagnosis, to my surprise, was gas. Even more surprising to me was the treatment. I could not exercise for three weeks, had to lay down often, could not drink my daily glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, and had to wear socks at all times. Ok then. I wasn’t really sure what wearing socks and exercise had to do with gas but it wasn’t like I could really get a second opinion. Seeing the ultrasound gave me the peace of mind I needed so all was well, but still.

On the positive side, I’ve never had a pregnancy where I’ve had an ultrasound performed at every single appointment, including both 3D and 4D visuals. So at least if I’m unsure of exactly what’s going on, I know that I can see my little girl kicking and moving at every visit, and I get to hear and see her heart beating, which brings me much comfort.

My million ultrasound print outs

My million ultrasound print outs

The other good thing is that I’ve not been warned about my weight gain, which has been the case for two out of my 3 prior pregnancies. Doctors seem to discount the fact that my husband is 6’11, and coupled with my size, we were never destined for small babies. When I was pregnant with my first, the doctor in Boston warned me every visit that I needed to slow down with the weight gain because the baby was too big. She even tried to push a c-section due to size, which I thankfully avoided. I gained 35 pounds total, my least amount to date, and my daughter was almost 10 pounds so I really felt like she could suck it. With my last in Germany they gave me the same weight warnings, but there really isn’t much that I could have done to slow it down. I ate well, exercised, and still gained 55 pounds. My son was 11 pounds and I had a lot of amniotic fluid so I was bound to gain some weight. I didn’t need to hear about it every five seconds.

Here, there hasn’t been one word about my weight and it’s such a relief. 20 pounds gained in 6 months is more than most, but they just say that I’m fit and healthy and that’s it. They asked what kinds of food I eat and recommended a daily boiled egg and yogurt (which I already eat) and that was that. It’s very refreshing that they don’t harp on something I can’t entirely help.

The big belly in all its glory at 24 weeks. I'm aware that my Christmas stocking are still up. Don't judge me.

The big belly in all its glory at 24 weeks. I’m aware that my Christmas stockings are still up. Don’t judge me.

Everything seems to be done very casually and no one is ever in a rush to get you in or out. Appointments can be made within a day, times changed with ease, and unless you have a major problem, there are no problems. Sometimes I miss the rigidity of the states, but I have come to appreciate the more relaxed environment out here. Only one appointment left and then it’s back to America where they’ll hopefully tell me that all is well, nothing was missed, and they won’t yell at me about my weight.

The Oil Pulling Update

As promised, I’m back 14 days after I began my daily experiment with oil pulling and coconut oil.

This is the before.

Day 1

Day 1

Day 3: So I keep telling myself to think of the oil as thicker mouthwash and I think it’s finally starting to work. Today I actually had it in my mouth for 22 minutes before I even realized it.

Day 5: My jaw does feel better, but it’s been about a week so the soreness in my jaw should’ve started to subside anyway. So as for the TMJ relief, I can’t say whether it’s due to the oil swishing or time.

Day 7: As I sat in the car waiting for my husband, I started examining my teeth and they looked significantly whiter I thought. Then I realized that I was looking at them while outside on a sunny day which didn’t properly control for my environment, since I had previously been looking while in my darker-lit bathroom. Once inside I thought they looked the same.

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Day 7

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Day 8

Day 12: It’s become pretty easy to keep up with this routine now that I’m used to doing it first thing in the morning. I’ve just been doing lots of gesturing with my husband and kids.

So at the end of this little experiment I will say that I thought I would see some kind of remarkable results. I thought my teeth would be ridiculously white and my skin would be flawless. Overall, my teeth *might* be a little whiter and my skin honesty looks the same. I still have dark circles under my eyes, and depending on the angle of the picture and how much sleep I’ve had, my skin looks better or worse. I can’t pinpoint any other benefits, but I’m a pretty healthy person so I don’t have many of the problems oil pulling was supposed to help and heal.

Day 14

Day 14

IMG_00005121Would I continue doing it? Possibly. Once I’m back home and have more to do I don’t know that I will keep up with it since I haven’t seen any major results. Though it’s one of those things where even if I can’t pinpoint a major benefit, I can’t say that it has harmed me in a any way. I’m one of those people who believe that if something has been around for thousands of years then there must be a benefit in there somewhere or it would be a forgotten practice. On the other hand, the most annoying aspect of this whole experiment was the 20 minutes I was out of commission and unable to talk (read: say no) to my energetic toddler. He gets away with a lot during those 20 minutes, so for that reason alone it may have to fall to the wayside.

 

My Gluttonous Month Filled With Samoas and Comfort Food

I’m finally past the halfway point at almost 24 weeks and I’ve gained 20 pounds so far. I don’t know how I feel about that. It seems like a lot, but being that I gained 55 pounds with my last pregnancy I can’t imagine gaining more than 35 pounds in the next few months and surpassing that ridiculous number. It’s actually quite surprising that I haven’t gained more given how much I’ve been eating.

I’ve been chronicling my meals this month just to see what I’ve been eating and to see if it’s any different from what I normally eat. My pregnancy cravings used to consist of yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, and lots of salads, but now I’m craving all kinds of comfort foods and baked goods.

The baked goods are the top of my list and if I could eat dessert for dinner I would, but my hubby would probably have something to say about that. A few months ago I went crazy for a cinnamon roll recipe I found, this month it was an amazing recipe for samoas. It’s been awhile since I had Girl Scout cookies but oh my goodness did they taste just like I remember. They did take double the time they should have, but that was partly due to not having any sweetened coconut shavings, so I resorted to all sorts of ridiculousness to get the shavings from a fresh coconut, including beating it with a knife, putting it in the oven, and repeatedly smashing it on my kitchen floor. The end result was heavenly, pure bliss. Here’s the recipe: http://www.justataste.com/2013/02/homemade-samoas-girl-scout-cookies-recipe/

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Then I had a hankering for coffee cake and happened upon this yummy recipe for coffee cake muffins with raspberry filling and it had to be done. I found it here: http://therecipecritic.com/2014/01/coffee-cake-muffins/

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Then hubby wanted to get in on my baking extravaganza and shared this recipe with me, followed by a ‘hint hint’ of course. It wasn’t as sweet as the others so I didn’t get a sugar high eating it. http://rumblytumbly.com/2013/09/03/apple-fritter-bread/

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As if those weren’t bad enough, these are the things I eat for breakfast. Not terrible, but definitely heavy on the sugar.

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In my defense, one plate is for my little one, and the syrup is made from fresh honey since they don’t have syrup here

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It’s actually quite ridiculous the foods I’ve been eating, but I must admit it’s been quite fun trying out so many recipes. Since they are all from scratch it really eats away at the hours of the day, so if I don’t have anything else to do then I might as well stuff my face and give the family new things to eat.

I’ve made chicken Marsala a few times

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Chicken pot pie, the best comfort food ever

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Cheesy shepard’s pie with ground chicken

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Chicken and shrimp pad thai

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I’ve also been making lots of my old favorites, many things that might have been too fat filled for me to make when we were trying to eat well. But now that I’ve thrown caution to the wind I have no shame.

Chicken Parmesan is a fav of my husbands

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Along with chicken burritos which the kids love

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It’s not all bad though, some foods we love just happen to be not so bad for you, like these delicious baked buffalo wings, baked with a little butter for that extra crispy taste.

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These Basil Parmesan chicken wings are also a big hit and are baked as well

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Baked chicken also never fails, along with some Greek style lemon potatoes and fresh tzatziki

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Last but not least, I love tapas and I love ceviche so whenever I can find some fresh plump shrimp this is my go-to.

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Hubby fake complains and says that I’m trying to make him fat, but then eats it all and flashes his six pack so I’m not worried. As the summer approaches and I get bigger and more uncomfortable, I’m sure my desire to cook will wane, so I’m glad to have gotten it all out of my system now. Gluttony be gone.

 

 

 

My Experiment With Oil Pulling

So my husband came across an article a few months ago about the benefits of this new, yet very old, thing they call oil pulling and he was excited to try it. He sent me the article and it sounded absolutely disgusting. It consists of swilling coconut oil (or sesame oil) in your mouth for 20 minutes, and then spitting it out. The purpose is to ‘pull’ out the many toxins and bacteria in the tissues in your mouth and in your blood supply. The purported benefits are whiter teeth, a reduction in plaque, protection against cavities and gingivitis, prevention against bad breath, bleeding gums, and dryness of the lips and mouth. It also claims to help with eczema, headaches, arthritis, bronchitis, insomnia, allergies, sinus congestion, and many other ailments, as well as being a hangover cure, clearing your skin, and increasing your energy. So as disgusting as it sounds, those are some pretty great benefits.

Unfortunately we don’t have very many “exotic” foods and ingredients out here so coconut oil is hard to come by. During one trip to Istanbul we drove all around the city, going deep into Taksim Square, in search of an organic store that carried the oil. It was pouring rain and the whole family was starving, but the hubs was determined to begin his oil pulling regimen so the equivalent of $30 was spent on this magical and hopefully transformative coconut oil.

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Fast forward two weeks and he has yet to touch this jar of oil. I have jokingly asked him how the oil pulling is going and he just laughs. Luckily, coconut oil is also good for moisturizing pregnant bellies and for conditioning hair so I’ve been using it for me and the kids. Still, every time I walk by that jar I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness that it isn’t being used for its intended purpose and it feels like a failure. I’m weird I know. So I thought that maybe I could be the one to swill it around my mouth and give it life, even though the thought of something so oily in my mouth makes me a little sick.

Then today while watching E! News (one of the few English language channels we get on our crappy satellite) they were talking about oil pulling and I considered it a sign. I googled it again to remind myself what the benefits are and one I missed from before is the treatment of TMJ and general jaw soreness. I have had bouts with TMJ over the years, mainly when I’m stressed, but for some reason this week my jaw has been killing me and I have no idea why. So of course I took that as my sign to at least try and see if this gave me some relief.

I went straight to the kitchen, put a hearty tablespoon full in my mouth, nearly gagged, somehow held it in, and started the clock. What I failed to do was tell my 3 year old, who was home sick and screaming “mommy” over and over, that I would be unable to talk for 20 minutes. So I was forced to spit it out after 3 minutes and explain that mommy had to gargle for a few minutes so please don’t ask any questions or terrorize his brother, at least until I could spit this shit out. I am a person who is turned off or on by smell, so luckily coconut oil smells lovely and that helped.

Unfortunately, it’s still oil and tastes like pleasant smelling ass, especially when mixed with saliva and all the apparent toxins I have floating around my mouth. My mouth hurt and my cheeks ached and I had to give myself a gym-level pep talk to get through the minutes. After what seemed like an eternity, I checked my clock, triumphant in the knowledge that I made it through the first day of this new holistic journey. The glee soon turned to despair however, when I realized that I had only made it a sad little 11 minutes. I swished on and eventually made it to 20 minutes.

Pictures should never be this close up, but I need a clear starting point

Pictures should never be this close up, but I need a clear starting point

No pain, no gain is my motto so I’m determined to push through with this experiment. Two weeks is the minimum you should do to see major benefits so that is my goal. I also aim to do this the proper way, which is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and not in the middle of the afternoon after having eaten a crepe, banana, egg, and coffee. The fact that I have now published my goals is that much more motivation, so I will be back in a few weeks to report on my *hopefully* whiter teeth, smoother skin, and increased energy.

I wouldn't mind some brighter, smoother skin so let's see

I wouldn’t mind some brighter, smoother skin so let’s see

That Freak at the Gym

I really wish people would stop staring at me at the gym. I understand that I’m looking rather large and I understand that I may appear to be struggling from time to time, but the constant stares are beginning to work my nerves. There are pregnant women here, but apparently the gym is not one of the places they frequent. People stare, sometimes with open mouths, and as is the Turkish way, they don’t even attempt to look away when I catch them looking. I guess this is how zoo animals must feel.

This is what a freak looks like apparently

This is what a freak looks like apparently

I don’t grunt when I lift and I don’t wear scandalous itty bitty outfits. I admit that I may occasionally let a few lines of “Pour It Up” or “Feelin’ Myself” slip out when I’m in the zone, but mostly I keep it to myself so the stares and glares are unwarranted.

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Didn’t catch anyone staring right then but they were!

When I was pregnant in Germany, I went to the gym more than I do now and I don’t know that I ever even made eye contact with another gym goer. They just don’t care. There were what seemed like millions of pregnant women walking the streets so perhaps the sight of one in the gym wasn’t a big deal. I’m thinking maybe the pregnant women here are supposed to just take it easy and not over exert? I have had a few people come up to me when I’m on the Stair Master and ask me if I’m ok. Maybe I don’t look as cool and in control as I think, and they fear I’m on the verge of keeling over? I don’t know.

My husband says they all stare because I just look so good, which is a nice thought of course, but that’s his reason for everything. I could have bird poop in my hair, spinach in my teeth, and toilet paper stuck to my skirt and he’ll still insist everyone was staring at me because they were blinded by my beauty!

I really shouldn’t care, and at the end of the day I don’t, but it really messes with my workout routine when I’m in the middle of some good reps and I think I’m doing it and then see two people staring and whispering. It throws off my focus and makes my work out that much longer while I wait for them to start a rep themselves so that I can do my thing without all the eyes on me. I’ve started putting on a mean face in the hopes of intimidating people into looking away, but with my luck they’ll just stare more and wonder why I’m angry and pregnant at the gym. Le sigh.

My game face

My game face

 

 

My Love Affair With Istanbul

As I sit here on a Saturday afternoon watching a youth track meet from my window, I realize that this will be the highlight of my day and decide that’s pretty depressing to my city girl sensibilities. It’s no secret that I think Edirne is the pitts, but my saving grace has been the amazing city of Istanbul. Oh how I love Istanbul. Last year when we were in Izmir we visited once, but this year we’ve been monthly fixtures out there. Last year we were total tourists, visiting the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, and many of the unique streets in and around the Bosphorus.

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This year we’ve been drawn more to the food, the shopping, and the nightlife. It’s a vibrant city with so much to do, for us and for the kids. The aquarium is great, and there are a million arcades and indoor amusement parks in the many many malls in the city. Istanbul is also where we load up on the goodies we just can’t find here. Red hot, Siracha, sesame oil, sour belts candy, and fresh raw shrimp are the highlights on my shopping lists. We scour the many Walmart sized supermarkets like Carrefor and Migros and I jump for joy when I find these things. We are also faithful visitors to Pinkberry, Krispy Kreme, and lest we not forget my faithful Starbucks. Things that bring me some of the comforts of home.

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The boys had a blast in the balloon pit at the Cevahir Mall, even though Kaden was a big bully to poor Tristan.

I of course want my husband and his team to win their games, but the selfish side of me REALLY wants the win so that team management might be generous with their days off. For a good win they usually get one and a half days, and occasionally even two, which better facilitates our trips. We found a great babysitter as well so we have been able to take advantage of the many restaurants and nightclubs the city has to offer. I don’t even like Chinese food but I sure will run to P.F. Changs every chance I get. It’s amazing what being in another country will make you miss or yearn for.

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The season is almost over so our trips are coming to an end. We probably have just one trip left, two if I’m lucky, but if we end up in Turkey again I know that Istanbul and I will resume our amazing love affair.