18 years old!!!

18 years ago, today i woke up and got ready to go to the hospital to have my first baby, asya. 

asya, as is still her habit, took her sweet time making her entrance 🙂

asya’s birth story, mercifully, was unremarkable as birth stories go.  being the older and wiser woman that i am now, i am so grateful for the relative ease with which she arrived in this world.  asya emerged into a world of love; surrounded by tons of extended family from both my and erim’s family.  even derin happened to be in istanbul for her spring break and was able to meet her niece within minutes of her birth.  

it would be impossible to fit all the adventures and learning that asya and i did together into just one essay; but believe me when i tell you that i have learned at least as much from being her parents as she has from being my child. 

as a small child asya had a constant refrain of “why mommy?” s. she asked question after question after question.  her curiosity and need for knowledge and clarity was insatiable.  and now, while the style of questioning may have changed, the need for answers and search for the “why” has not.  asya’s wondering has pushed me to question so many of my beliefs down to the basic core; and has even given me the courage to throw out things that don’t serve us as a family; we’ve all grown stronger for it.

keep asking the hard questions, kiddo. they will take you far. 

anyone who has spent time with asya knows she brings a sense of ease and lightness to a room.  her laugh is infectious and since her bedroom is right next to the kitchen, i often find myself laughing out loud right along with her as she reads or hears something funny.  i don’t actually know what’s funny, but her laugh is enough to bring joy to my soul.

her sweet nature also makes it impossible to say no to her! even when she asks for something difficult, i frequently find myself trying to figure out a way to say “yes” when “no” is really the only option 🙂

and so, this is 18.  how did it happen, i will never quite understand. time went by slowly and too fast all at once.  all the cliches about time flying apply.  and all the ones about how i’d go back and do it all again are also true.  

i wouldn’t trade a single sleepless night (and there were many); a fever induced trip to the emergency room; a teenage curfew battle or eyeroll for all the tea in china.  i have adored being asya’s mother and i can’t wait to witness the next chapter as young adult asya emerges.

i would be remiss to not mention the global pandemic and the hardships that have come with it this year.  asya has weathered the storm as patiently and gracefully as possible. i am proud and impressed with the strength and continued ease that she was able to display despite the many frustrations and disappointments she was forced to deal with. 

i am praying that his year will be better, and we will be able to send her off safely to georgetown in the fall. i hope for her to be able to arrive on campus to enjoy college life and thrive in the way i know she will. 

asiko, i love you so much and i am so proud of the beautiful, intelligent, sometimes silly, always kindhearted, animal loving, mega bts fan and loyal friend that you have become.  happy birthday, my sweet girl. 

not finished grieving yet…

exactly one year ago today the girls went to school with empty bags to empty out their lockers.  at the time, like most of the world, we assumed this would be a 2–3-week hiatus; all we needed was a good break from close personal contact, a proper disinfection of the school building, and some time for authorities to get a handle on this novel coronavirus and get things under control.  then everything would quickly go back to “normal”. 

my family had already made so many plans for the upcoming months that a part of me was thrilled to have a little downtime before we all started flying all over the place. if all had gone as expected, i would have flown back and forth from istanbul to the u.s. at least three times in spring of 2020.  one trip we had planned was a college visit tour with asya and alara that would have taken us from coast to coast with a stop in chicago too! 

it was also the summer of erim and my 20th wedding anniversary. although we hadn’t planned anything for that yet, i had high hopes of spending a long weekend in the south of france; celebrating with leisurely lunches, walks on the beach and beautiful wines.  

and of course, we had planned on spending a huge chunk of time in asheville.  my nephew teddy would turn two- and he was walking and talking and perfect for cuddling. alegra was all signed up for sleepaway camp in the mountains, asya and alara were going to intern for the democratic presidential campaign, and i would finally have time to complete my yoga teacher training.  all this was already on the books.

instead, like almost everyone i know, we’ve been mainly at home.  although the arrival of warm summer weather, and the availability of our boat in the south of turkey, allowed us to move around much more freely than before, we were still so nervous and careful. we drove back and forth to the coast- 8 hours each way- only ate in outdoor settings; and really debated whether or not it was safe to have my parents join us for a week on the boat.  knowing what i know now, i am so grateful that we took advantage of the lull in the virus and only wish that we had recognized just how good we had it then! 

unlike some of our peers, erim and i have tended to err on the side of caution throughout this period.  my refrain has become something along the lines of, “everybody has to take on their own burden of risk”.  despite sometimes facing criticism, we have made a point of only socializing in open air spaces.  istanbul’s traditionally damp winter weather is not really conducive to this- although we have remained valiant in our efforts to connect with people we care about- we’ve purchased multiple outdoor heaters, become proficient fire pit tenders and frequently invoke alfred wainright’s well-known quote that, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

and thus, as we hit this one-year anniversary of our lockdown and a complete upheaval of life as we knew it, i sat down this morning to make a list of all the things we’ve learned and gained. 

however, all i can think about is all that we’ve lost.

while i am keenly aware that my family has felt the repercussions of the pandemic much less acutely than so many others, the state in which the world finds itself brings me unimaginable sorrow. i am sad not just for the things that my family has had to give up, but for humanity as a whole.  

so many lives have been lost over the past 12 months; and so often unnecessarily. 

thousands of people have lost their jobs; and so many women have been forced to leave their careers unexpectedly to care for their now homebound children.  this is a terrible setback for womens’ rights around the globe. 

millions of people struggling to keep their families afloat have now fallen below the poverty line; and they are scared, hungry and hopeless. 

millions of children have lost access to school, setting a whole generation back educationally.  tragically, for many of these children this loss also means a simultaneous loss of access to nutritious food.  how can millions of children living in new york be dependent on school lunches for their main meal- still, in the twenty-first century?

on a more personal level, i don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered some sort of covid related loss.  either the death or severe illness of a loved one, a change in economic situation, a change in life plans, or a sudden need to readjust hopes and dreams.

recognizing all the pain and suffering in the world leaves me ever more appreciative and aware of all that i still have; healthy children, economic stability, a loving partner, a kind and caring community, strength of body and mind.  

but as we mark one year of this global pandemic, i cannot yet sit to list the things for which i am grateful. 

i am just not finished grieving yet.

as an eternal optimist, i can’t help but believe that this terrible time must lead to something better. 

everyone says the next decade will be our roaring twenties. but the historian in me knows that the roaring twenties were followed by the rise of extreme nationalism and fascism and the devastation of world war two. 

i don’t want the roaring twenties; i want a roaring change.  

i want people to truly care about one another, regardless of race or class, and to try to raise each other up. to work not just for their own sakes, but for the good of all humanity.  

i want education to take precedence over production and consumption so we all learn to love and cherish was what already have.  

i want us all to recognize that without a healthy environment life as we know it is not possible.  we must work together to repair the damage we’ve already done and avoid future damage so that we can all live here on earth more peacefully.  

i want simple things, like home-cooked meals and handwritten cards, to be important again so we can all remember to slow down and just care about each other.  

i know it’s a lot to want, but the only way i can mitigate the immense grief of this past year is with unbounded hope.

maybe next week i’ll look back on all the wonderful things we gained this year.  but this week i feel sad; i am just not finished grieving yet.

some much-needed nature therapy….

it’s been a very difficult week for us. on sunday night, just as we were settling in for a nice glass of wine and some delicious comfort food, we received a call from the stables informing us that asya’s beloved horse, donovan, was ill.

a gentle giant, donovan had eaten his nightly meal just an hour earlier and was in great spirits in the stable videos only 30 minutes before they called us.  then, for some unknown reason, he laid down and wouldn’t- or couldn’t- get back up. asya and i dropped everything and rushed to the stable.

anyone who knows me knows that while i am a true animal lover; my respect for and love of all animals figures strongly into my vegetarianism; i am actually terrified of horses. i don’t know exactly when or why this fear started- i have vague memories of a large horse walking toward a very small me- but it is ironic that i have two daughters who are horse obsessed.

funny side story. when asya was about 6 erim and i decided that her love of riding was getting too intense and could only lead to dangerous moments requiring her to be on a horse unaccompanied in the near future. so, we cancelled her horseback riding lessons and signed her up for every other sport under the sun- tennis, volleyball, swimming, scuba diving- anything she wanted that wasn’t riding. less than two seasons later asya came to me with a form to sign for her afterschool activity. then a new mother of three i went ahead and signed it without much scrutiny and sent her on her way. off she went to the afterschool riding lessons that she had sneakily signed up for! needless to say, that was the last time erim and i meddled with anyone’s riding. 

a horse lover is a horse lover. sorry to be the one to break it to you if you have one in your house; but that child will love horses no matter what you do. best to just lean in and let things run their course.

so, with my two riders i have done my best to get used to being around horses. i am lucky because every pony and horse that we have owned has been lovely. i have been able to look into their eyes and see their beautiful souls and kind hearts shining through. 

and donovan, well he was the best of the bunch. despite being the biggest horse in the stable he always had a truly gentle aura surrounding him.  when he cantered, the whole riding rink would shake, but never once did i see him take advantage of his size or use his presence to frighten or intimidate.  

in fact, he seemed almost uncertain of his own beauty at times.  when we would come to give pat him or give him treats, he would act nonchalant; as if we couldn’t possibly be there for him. but then as soon as we turned to walk off, he would kick his door and remind us that a little more love never hurt anyone- big baby, he loved the attention.

sunday night was awful. he was hurting and frustrated and uncomfortable. a tremendous team of grooms, veterinarians and friends helped us to keep him as calm and as comfortable as possible, but after a whole night of waiting and hoping his condition did not improve. in the end we had to make the decision to let him go- a heart-wrenching decision that i do not wish upon anyone. 

since then, asya particularly, but i too, have received so much support and kindness from so many people.  i think it is hard for someone who does not have horses in their lives to understand the depth of this loss. i know that i could not have done so before donovan came into our lives. he was special and his loss has left an ache that will take a long time to heal. 

one message spoke specifically to the pain of losing a horse and i would like to share it here. for all the horse lovers- it is poignant and apt.  for all the others- may it help you to empathize with the loss of a horse and remind you that horse-people will need a little extra love to offset this loss. 

an asheville friend, shelly pew brown- a horsewoman through and through- writes-

            “a horse is so much more than a companion or a pet. a horse is your partner. you go through tough courses or tough situations together. you rely on one another. this big 2000-pound animal trusts you in scary situations or when you have to give them medicine or whatever.  but the horse also takes care of you – he navigates the course or rough terrain or whatever, even if you’re giving him wrong signals or no signals – he will take care of you   and much of your dreams for the future are based on him.  when you lose a dog, your dreams aren’t threatened. but when you lose a horse, your dreams of future accomplishments are very much threatened.  so, it is a very significant loss. loss of a beloved companion; loss of a protector; loss of the vehicle of your dreams; and loss of a partner.”

so dear donovan- asya’s beloved companion, her champion, and her partner in crime- i hope you are cantering through heaven with all the hay you could ask for. we love you and will miss you. rest peacefully our gentle giant with a huge heart. 

asya and donovan circa 2019…. ❤️

welcome lenten season

lent has been an important season for me since my childhood. although i was not raised in one particular religion, the notion of spirituality, especially in terms of the idea of a shared humanity and mutual love and respect for all beings, has always resonated with me.  

and, as such, the lenten tradition of sacrifice as a way towards greater understanding of the needs and challenges of other humans has always appealed to the highly sensitive person in me. 

in our household lent was a time (as was ramazan actually), in which we were encouraged to recognize and celebrate our basic comforts and privileges.  the sacrifices that came along with these seasons were meant to encourage us to be grateful for our own lives and empathetic towards those of others. 

over the years, i have given up many things for lent- candy, chocolate, junk food, fizzy drinks, hard liquor, wine, negative thoughts… each abstention has had its own challenges and benefits but none as important as the way in which each season has reminded me of the role that habit, and habitual thoughts and actions, play in our lives. 

how often have i popped a piece of candy in my mouth without thinking twice, munched on chocolate without really even tasting it, poured another glass of wine without considering if i had already had enough? 

we live so much of our lives without really noticing what’s actually happening. mindfulness takes practice and the pace of our days can sometimes border on ridiculous; there have even been days when i find myself running from one task to another in my own home! 

in this way, the lenten season asks us to take a moment to pause and consider our comforts and to appreciate them more fully.

normally i start talking about lent and what we are going to give up two or three weeks before the season begins.  we often have a small mardi gras celebration amongst ourselves and i always enjoy pancakes on ash wednesday. 

this year alegra made us traditional italian carnival cookies as part of our mardi gras fun!

but this year the whole season snuck up on me. it wasn’t until we pulled out alegra’s academic planner to start scheduling things for her second semester that i realized lent was just days away.

my first reaction was to rack my brain frantically to see what i should give up this year- last year was coffee- should this year be wine? sweets? booze? 

but as my mind raced through the options i suddenly stopped and realized that this year I AM NOT GIVING UP ANTHING.

this year, this pandemic year, we have given up enough.

we have given up hugs.  we have given up social interaction.  we have given up in-person school.  we have given up countless plans and dozens of dreams.  we have given up travel. we have given up seeing relatives who live abroad. we have already given up so much.

so, this year instead of giving something up, i am taking something up.

rather than mindfully abstain, i am going to mindfully make an addition. i am going to add something to my life; something meaningful and important for me; something that makes me feel good.  it is unlikely that any one thing can possibly make up for all that we, as humans, have had to give up this year.  but one nice thing for myself will certainly bring me joy, and a little bit of hope, and that is something that we all need right now.

therefore, in this lenten season of 2021 i am adding to my life one hour of creativity.  for one hour every day i will allow myself to create; to move away from all the daily necessities and practical concerns and just spend time creating.  there is no goal in this.  i don’t need to have a specific purpose to do what i do, i just need to like doing it and enjoy that time.  mindfully and with great appreciation of my ability to do this for myself.

what about you? do you traditionally give something up for lent? if so, what will you give up this year? or would you too, rather add something this season? 

let me know, i would love to hear! 

fun. now.

“having fun” has always been a tricky concept for me.

my mom tells me that even as a very young child i was pretty quiet and happy to sit and listen or observe my surroundings for hours; rather than joining in the excitement.

once i learned to read that was my ultimate definition of fun; i am infamous for asking friends who had come for sleepovers if they wanted to get in bed and read- at 6:30pm!!! (my wise mother encouraged me to play a game with my friend first; at least).

as a teenager i was WAY too self-conscious to let loose and really have fun. i did thoroughly enjoy hard work though and poured myself into academics, tennis, and art projects with gusto.

college was a little better. being surrounded by like-minded serious folks helped. as did a glass or two of wine. and fun was had, silliness occurred- not always but plenty for me.

not too long after that i got married and had two beautiful babies back to back (and a third a bit later on too). marriage and motherhood are serious things but the stability and routine that came along with it probably helped to relax me and, oh boy, have i had fun with my girls!

i have played in kiddie pools; danced with gymbo at gymboree; belted out disney princess songs in the living room; discovered “secret beaches” and set up “camps” so that we could munch on oreos; jumped off cliffs in greek islands; swam with dolphins; ridden on elephants; zoomed through vietnamese streets on vespas; watched lions up close; and spent endless hours chatting and laughing. no complaints here.

but this year fun has been a little harder to come by. the stress of the pandemic is overwhelming and i often feel a creeping guilt about how lucky we have been while so many people have suffered so much.

with a senior and a junior mired deep in school work and college prep the past months would have been hard and serious in any case. but covid has compounded it.

i’m probably not the only one feeling this way. but we need to remember that it is ok, and necessary , for us all to have a little fun. and to do it now. not to wait for the post-pandemic world to enjoy ourselves when possible.

i first started thinking about this after reading a beautiful post called “now” on a blog i follow- enough– the author, shauna ahern, reminds us to go ahead and do what we have been waiting for. do it now. enjoy today- read, learn, start projects, make things whatever. stop waiting and get going now.

i tested the waters on our trip to dubai. i have to admit it wasn’t very easy. but i closed my eyes, took a breath and just acted silly! it felt so good- and while i am not the all time silliest of people- it reminded me that i need to seek out fun.

my fun may not be the same as someone else’s but i need to recognize what is fun for me and DO IT!!!

since then i have resumed my nightly kitchen dance parties while washing the dishes; worked on small art projects at least two nights a week; and joked with my girls even when i felt crabby and snappy.

now i’m off to play catan and enjoy a snowy afternoon…

what’s fun for you these days? games, music, the outdoors? share your fun and we’ll keep sharing ours too!

traveling in a covid world

today we took our first international flight in a world with covid.

last year on this day we were in south africa, blissfully basking in the beauty of babylonstoren unaware that the odd virus we were hearing about in china would soon come to dominate the news; and all our lives. (yes, in hindsight we should have worn masks on our capetown-istanbul flight- an idea i literally mocked and belittled at the time!)

a couple of thoughts-

1. this pandemic has taught me that we all must make our own risk calculations as necessary and based on individual circumstances.

2. the istanbul airport was much more crowded than i expected.

3. masks have become a pretty normal thing here in turkey and 90% of people were wearing them properly. that made me feel better.

4. thank you richard quest and cnn traveler for teaching my family to wipe down and disinfect our seating areas on aircraft years ago. we are pros.

5. covid is inescapable. as we entered the airport i had one surreal moment when it felt as though we would fly off and leave and magically land in a land with no covid. sort of like when we flew out of vietnam two years ago; exiting a communist country and finding ourselves in a safer feeling, calmer environment upon landing. instead we landed in dubai and are still wearing masks; washing our hands; and social distancing. we were required to present proof of a negative pcr test upon arrival and despite the advantage of increased outdoor space and warm weather we still feel a little wary of other people.

international travel during this period is a calculated risk we needed to take. and one we were fortunate enough to be able to take as safely as possible.

i am grateful.

growing pains

all three of my girls have been, at various stages of their lives, relatively tall for their ages.  as a result, they have all, at one point or another, experienced some growing pains.  literally, achy backs, sore knees, weird shin-related pains that seemed to come out of nowhere.  when faced with complaints over these pains, it always took me a minute to realize what was actually happening. i would ask all the usual mom questions, “did you bump yourself? fall down and don’t remember? jump on the trampoline for too long?”. only once we’d managed to go down this list did it occur to me that these were just growing pains. here today, gone tomorrow as the bones and the muscles and the ligaments all caught up to one another.

my own growth was relatively average in compared to my girls.  in addition, i was a relatively clumsy child too so when i had an odd pain it almost always had some sort of mishap attached to it! this is probably one of the reasons it always took me so long to recognize what was happening as their limbs expanded.

this year though, completely unexpectedly, at the ripe old age of 42, has been filled with growing pains!  not your usual growing pains, of course, although i have had my fair share of achy shoulders, stiff neck, and out of the blue stomach aches, but growing pains, nonetheless.

for me, living through the pandemic has laid bare truths and realities that i had somehow previously managed to keep hidden, lurking just under the surface of my consciousness.  so many feelings and hurts i had attributed to bad timing but good intentions; kindheartedness with a lack of empathy; good natured self-centeredness; necessary sacrifices that would eventually receive due recognition. 

i have written before that it seems to me the pandemic amplified us.  our personalities, challenges, fears, strengths- uncertainty, stress and worry has placed them on clear display- to embrace or reckon with as the situation requires.

for me, this has come with a whole slew of growing pains.  in particular, i’ve realized that there are so many things that i just need to let go of.

first and foremost, the idea that my truth is less true than those of others; it’s not. mine is just as true; but i really don’t need to convince anyone of this. i know it. that’s enough.

also, the shame that sometimes comes with putting my own truth first. that’s got to go. the idea that self-care is selfish goes high on the list of things to throw out.  regret and “what ifs”.  these are pretty useless too.

turns out that letting go of all this is painful.  literally, not just figuratively, i have woken up some mornings with a persistent ache, a kind of grief, as not just my soul, but my body too, tries to acknowledge what is being released. 

and with these growing pains, just as in the case of a child, there comes a new sort of space.  i’m the same size, clearly, as i was last year, but i feel bigger.  there is more of me to fill with new ways of being, new ways of thinking and new ways of feeling.

and just as it is for children, i can tell that these growing pains aren’t going to be a one day, one week or even one month thing.  it’s going to take a while and i am likely to have a good deal of aches in the process.

this week it’s my neck. it’s a sensitive spot for me and where i deposit a lot of sadness.  i was really sad this week, but instead of taking some advil and using lots of china gel i worked hard to be sad. to be really sad and get through the ache that way.  i slowed down and watched as the sadness washed in and out like waves on a beach.

there’s something coming in behind the sadness. i don’t know what it is quite yet, but it feels hopeful and strong. and i have the new space to hold onto it when it gets here. 

don’t postpone joy

this was laurey’s signature motto.  

a cancer survivor, laurey was a pioneer of farm to table cooking; basic but delicious catering; and later, upscale deli style restaurant dining in Asheville, nc.  a catered dinner from laurey’s was the first time i ever tried oven roasted seasonal vegetables and all of her meals always, always featured dessert- more often than not brownies and cookies- true comfort food.

throughout this whole pandemic laurey’s motto, don’t postpone joy, has been popping into my head at the oddest moments- just before i go to bed, right as i get out of the shower, as i’m cleaning up the kitchen after yet another meal, while i’m hanging up the laundry or taking out the trash.  

i love the sentiment, but how do we hang onto joy these days? 

the covid crisis seems to be on the cusp of getting worse yet again. the most recent mutation is likely to cause more illness and effect members of the population that were previously less vulnerable- especially children, which terrifies me. the situation in the u.s. is heartbreaking and nearly impossible to even grasp.  turkey has done a pretty decent job of getting its daily infection rate under control this past month- but this has come via strict weekend lockdowns, evening curfews and the complete closure of schools, restaurants and bars. to say we’re all a little stir crazy might be the understatement of the year.

the recent events in the united states are just awful.  i don’t know whether to stop listening to the news all together or to listen even more carefully with the hope that things may actually change in the upcoming months. i know that many observers, especially those living abroad, believe that the ideals touted by americans are not real- the black lives matter movement; a daily covid death rate of 4,000 people; the insurrection at the capital; the fact that the president believes he is within his rights to lie about a fair election and encourage violence against fellow citizens- all of these seem to prove that america is not what it seems.  with this i wholly agree- but america represents an idea; the hope that things can be different, and i choose to continue to believe in that idea- while accepting wholeheartedly that things need to change. but will they? 

at home we are done. my older children seem to be on track to graduate from high school via zoom- alara has never actually met any of her teachers in person and whether asya will even be able to go to college in the fall is unclear. alegra seems to be in the best position of all of us; luckily ten-year olds still love running around outside, even in the rain and sleet, so she has been able to see some friends and keep up a semblance of her “normal” life. erim has the art of online card game down pat.  he connects to his friends on the phone and joins the game on his ipad and has had many happy hours trading manly insults while attempting to trounce his buddies- lockdown weekends feature two games a day so he has gotten pretty internet savvy, i must admit.  as for me, i had so many plans for this year; and of which have been postponed

and there we are. so how do we manage to not postpone our joy in all of this?

i honestly don’t know.  i do know that we are so grateful for all our privilege and comforts. our warm home; our well stocked kitchen; our personal electronic devices that keep us connected with school, work, and friends; and our health.  but joy has been a little hard to find this winter. 

we’re trying. today the girls baked gluten free caramel brownies (recipe coming up in the next post).  i have a chilled glass and a cold bottle of champagne ready to pour while i watch the crown this afternoon. our fireplace is warm and toasty and ready for some smores this evening. and we’ve got our fingers crossed that it will snow tonight and we can make a snowman tomorrow. 

what about you? what is bringing you joy today? 

they changed the rules again….

new rules… and a new food delivery app too!

last march, with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, turkey shut down swiftly and strongly. schools, restaurants, bars, shopping malls; even outdoor spaces were closed almost overnight.  banks and other essential businesses were allowed to operate on very limited schedules and most people remained at home.  as the pandemic picked up speed in turkey more stringent rules were put into place- including limits on travel international and domestic travel; complete curfews on the weekends; and rules requiring children under the age of 20 and seniors over the age of 65 to remain at home- with the exception of a three hour “outside time” window once a week.  

it was a very quiet time for families in turkey; trying for the thousands of families who did not have an economic backup plan and extremely stressful for the millions of people who live in crowded small apartments. the overall uncertainty that was felt across the board didn’t help.

but the silver lining of the hardship was that these measures seemed to work. at no point did the turkish hospitals get completely overwhelmed. ppe was available to anyone who needed or wanted it- and with people sheltering at home, a surplus of protective material soon existed. not once did i hear of a shortage of ventilators.  demographics probably helped.  the median age in turkey is 31.5 years old.  this virus preys on the weak and the elderly. 

by the middle of may turkey was opening up again. new rules (again!) shopping malls were open. restaurants and bars too; with limited seating and outdoors spaces open only; but open, nonetheless. schools remained closed but people were able to travel and many did. turkey is a beautiful country and there is so much to see. we took advantage of canceled international trips to see parts of the coast that we had never visited before. it was almost, almost, possible to forget that a deadly virus had kept us shut up in our homes just a couple of months ago.

but, as expected, the second wave is here. en force. and in their effort to keep tourism alive, th current regime did not disclose the numbers of daily infections in a transparent and thorough manner. only the number of daily patients admitted to the hospital was reported to the public. reasons for death that could conceivable be reported as anything other than covid 19 were recorded and conveyed as such.  the result has been harsh. with a lack of information upon which to base their decisions people have continued to move about, congregate and socialize. 

for a variety of reasons, the government has finally started to disclose the actual numbers of infected citizens.  some say that the who has put pressure on the government to issue proper statements. some say that the vaccines will be distributed based on per capita infections and that is the real reason behind the recent disclosures. and some just say that the time has come; tourism season is behind us and the general population has not yet been able to grasp the reality of the situation. 

regardless, the rules have changed- frequently in fact- in the month of november.  halfway through the month schools were shut down again, as were restaurants and bars. unfortunately, the overall effect was not quite enough.  with no curfew in place people have stopped going to restaurants- but started going to friends’ houses. restaurants and bars are open for take-out and delivery, which has resulted in continued person to person contact. 

as hospitals have filled up and the number of exposures has multiplied the government instituted new rules; yet again, last night.  hopefully this will help. but it basically means that we are back at home- locked down.  it’s ok. and if it helps, then it is really ok. 

what is strange though is that every time the rules change our world changes too.  once we become accustomed to a certain system is just seems to flow. and then, when the flow is interrupted it is almost as if we start from ground zero  and let me tell you- readjustment is a real pain. inevitably there is a small blow up at home (usually on my part) and it takes us all at least a couple of days to fall into a familiar and comfortable pattern. 

and that is where we are. again, adapting to a new reality. figuring out how the new rules work and creating yet another new existence within these confines. it’s ok. we’ll get there. 

i am eternally, and possibly frustratingly, optimistic- so- in light of all of this constant change all i can say is this– thank goodness for the distraction of december and the festive season!!! here’s to the season of light… 

a salve for my soul…

an aegean sunrise in november…winter in the air

summer was a time of sweet respite and great repose for us this year.  with the pandemic in full swing, we were unable to maintain our usual crazy travel schedule that often had us bouncing from one continent to another: an invigorating yet rather exhausting tradition. 

instead, we spent a lot of time at home, quietly, and the trips that we did take were much quieter and lowkey than previous years.  although most things were open here in turkey over the summer we still thought twice about going out to restaurants or visiting friends in their homes.  rather than take risks we chose to go out for dinner at off hours; made an effort to meet up in gardens or on balconies; and often made plans to take walks with friends or play in the park rather than getting together for drinks or an at-home playdate. 

we took long walks in nature; spent hours swimming, snorkeling and paddle boarding; and took advantage of the warm weather to hold a number of scaled down celebrations outdoors rather than needing to cancel them altogether.

the end of school vacation doesn’t necessarily mean the end of warm weather in turkey, so we took full advantage of online school, continuing to travel to the aegean coast at every opportunity.  whenever possible we would pack up the schoolbooks and laptops and escape the city… setting us a “mini-school” for each of the girls wherever we happened to land that week. although we knew that the coronavirus was still a force to be reckoned with the combination of being in the open air and having less people around us was a constant source of comfort.

it’s hard to believe that today is the last day of november and that turkey has been dealing with covid-19 on a full-time basis for just about 9 months.  the much anticipated second wave is here-full force-and istanbul, in particular, has become a true hotbed of virus transmission.  with numbers rising (and the government finally acknowledging the true extent of infection); new measures are being put into place and life is inevitably going to start slowing down again.

writing this blog and sharing snippets of our daily life was a salve for my soul during the first months of 2020 and i can’t think of a better way to end this difficult year than to return to it. our summer hiatus has been restful and inspiring, and i have much to share; stay tuned for more musings, new recipes, at home activity ideas, book recommendations and more…

ps. here are a bunch of our favorite 2020 summer moments. as strange as it was, this summer is sure to be unforgettable in its own way! 

so many celebrations this summer!

alara and alegra’s birthday- and mine and tunc dede’s too….

there was A LOT of outdoor time… hiking, biking, riding horses and seaside time too…

we learned a bunch of new games and new skills too…

school started…online…which meant exploring could continue 🙂

and with the blessing of good weather we were able to celebrate halloween outdoors in full costume!!!

“something spooky this way comes…”

it was a wonderful summer despite it all and we are so grateful to have been able to celebrate at all… these memories will certainly help sustain us in the coming months-