Trip to the American consulate and more moving prep…

Tuesday was a big day… we finally took the boys to the American consulate to apply for their American birth certificates and passports! They are now on their way to officially being American citizens. Since we’ll be living in Ireland, they won’t be Irish Americans, but American Irish! Strange to think that I didn’t even have a passport until I was 20 and my two boys ages 2.5 and 6 months, will have not one, but TWO passports and are already international travellers! Crazy to think how different they’re childhood experience will be from either Richie’s or mine, although I suppose that’s true for most kids in one way or another. Things change fast!

Next I have to sort out dentist appointments for myself and Richie, because doing that here will be much cheaper than in Ireland. Besides, we haven’t been to a dentist for YEARS and it’s just way past time we got that done. And then I have to do a bit more research on shipping our stuff. It looks like we won’t have enough to go with an actual moving company, so we’ll just send things with UPS or something like that. This move is a great opportunity to minimize our possessions again. We arrived here in Istanbul with two rucksacks and two carry-on bags. We won’t be able to go with quite as little as that, especially since we’ve added two people to our travelling party, but we’re only taking and shipping the necessary stuff. It’s hard thinking of leaving things behind, even stuff that wasn’t ours to begin with but we inherited when we moved into this apartment… possessions become an extension of yourself and symbols of your life, but at the same time, it will be liberating to leave behind unnecessary clutter and try to just stick to the essentials. Besides, we’ve got quite a bit of stuff back at Richie’s parents’ house, from our ‘former life’, so it’s not like we don’t own anything at all! I bet there are loads of things packed up there that I don’t even remember having! It’ll be like getting a load of new stuff!

Well, Fred’s awake so that’s the end of this post!

So, is it seriously February of 2014?

How did this happen!? Time goes too quickly. Also, the weather here in Istanbul has been very un-wintery (which I’m not complaining about!), so it is a bit difficult for me to actually get my head around the fact that is is February. Woah.

Well, life has been pretty good around here. I won’t even bother trying to do a proper re-cap of the last month + since my previous post…. just too much to say, and if I start along those lines, let’s be honest, I’ll NEVER finish this post!

So, everyone is happy and healthy. Liam is now 2 1/2 and Fred turned 6 months last week. I did a couple of weeks of work (teaching a one-to-one lesson with a teenage boy at my school), and it was a bit rough the first week, but better the second week. Fred is not big into the whole bottle thing, which isn’t a big surprise since we never tried to give him one until about 2 days before I started work! Ooops. That’s procrastination for you. Luckily, I wasn’t gone for long each day, so taking a few sips from a cup was enough to keep him alive until I got home!

Other big news!!!! We booked our flights back to Ireland! This whole move thing is really happening! I’m really excited about, but it is sort of a bittersweet sort of thing. There are so many things about Istanbul that I’ll miss and it will be hard to leave behind this part of our lives. We’ll miss our lovely friends and wonderful relaxed lifestyle most of all. Being in an amazing beautiful crazy busy interesting city. Delicious food, gorgeous fresh produce, street markets, etc. Having a real summer with sun and heat (and sometimes fantastic holidays to the sea and that sort of thing). Lots of things. It’s hard to list them all.

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Looking at this photo makes me feel like I might die of the cuteness!

One thing I think about a lot is how lucky we’ve been to start our family while living here. We’ve been able to comfortably live on one income since Liam was born (although I did work part time before Fred was born), and I know I’ll always have fond memories of our tiny little cramped and sort of crappy apartment, with it’s lovely windows, sunshine, amazing view over the city, sparrows darting past in the summer mornings and evenings, and even more than all of that, I’ll miss all this time we’ve had together. First the three of us, and then the four of us, just spending so much time all squished in here together, talking and playing and eating and reading stories, and snuggling together for naps, having the luxury of family time ALL THE TIME! How many people get to enjoy that!? Not too many I’d imagine. I know that our current lifestyle isn’t sustainable, since we have no savings (and actually, no jobs at this particular moment!), no insurance, you know, that grown up stuff that you need, especially when you have kids to look after! But the four and a half years we’ve spent here have really shown me that it is possible to live simply and just enjoy the people you live with, make lots of time for friends, find pleasure in small things like cups of tea, visits to playgrounds, picnics in parks. I haven’t even shopped for clothes for over two years (apart from a couple of maternity items), and I don’t miss the shopping at all! In a way, I just feel liberated! Don’t get me wrong… occasionally I’d love to go out for a fancy meal and a bottle of wine like Richie and I used to, but I know we’ll do that again someday, and for now, I’m very satisfied with life. Doing with out all the fluffy things also makes me appreciate it more when we actually do get a treat, which is nice too.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a new start, a new job, hopefully having something rewarding to work at, a new direction, etc., but I know I’ll miss our magical, free-and-easy togetherness years in Istanbul.

On that note, I’ll head off to bed. Here are a few photos and more to come!

Fred’s first outing and other nice things…

Well, we survived week 1 of Richie being back to work! There were some mental moments, but we did it! And as a reward, we had an absolutely lovely Sunday. Richie was off work the entire day and we took Fred out on his first recreational outing (he’d been out and about for his and my doctor’s visits, but those don’t quite count). We set out just after 9 am (to avoid the crazy heat and sun!) and headed for one of our many local playgrounds. The one we went to is nice and shady, so it was perfect for a little baby. It was also the first time Liam’s been to a playground for ages, and I was so so happy watching him play and have a good time. He was up the stairs and down the slide over and over again and he seemed just delighted to be out. Fred did not enjoy the buggy ride to the playground, but once we got there, he was fine. He had a bit of a feed, looked around a bit, and then slept most of the time. It felt great to be outside and there was just a bit of a refreshing breeze, and it was shady and not so hot… basically, it was perfect. We all took naps when we got home too, which were much needed, and that was pretty freaking great too! I think Fred and I must have slept for nearly 3 hours back in our room, nice and cool with the fan on. Ah, it was lovely.

Today Richie was back to work, but with a slightly lighter schedule than last week, so the day felt really relaxing. I got Fred in his wrap this morning so I could have some breakfast and a cup of tea (essentials so I don’t turn into a walking zombie), and then later Fred chilled out on Liam’s big bed looking at a book and I actually got to read and play with Liam for a bit. He invented this little ‘game’ of pretending to eat the food or food looking objects he sees in the pictures in his books. Today there was a picture of some cupcakes on one page, so he wanted me to scoop them up with his play fork and feed them to him. Then he went over to his little potty in his room and pretended to spit it out. This was repeated about one million times. Then he found a page with a picture of the sea with fish and seaweed and such things, so he would point out different things for me to scoop up and feed him, especially the colourful seaweed. Again, this was repeated about a million times. But it’s cute to see his imagination developing and I enjoy his creativity! It just felt so good to spend some time focusing almost completely on Liam for at least a few minutes.

Anyway, it’s getting late and I still have to shower and hang up some laundry! Time just goes too quickly and Fred fell asleep a bit later than he has been, so my ‘freetime’ has been cut a bit short tonight. I better be sensible and get to bed soon!

Doula visit, plans for baby’s arrival and a few brief outings…

Well, I see it’s been two weeks since my last post, so seems like time for an update.

The first thing that comes to mind is that last week we had our June visit from our doula. She went over various massage techniques we might use for labour, etc., so that was quite relaxing and enjoyable. I bought this DVD a while ago and loaned it to the doula. My doctor had recommended it before Liam’s birth, but we didn’t really have enough time then to learn the massages, etc., but it was something I knew I wanted to try if we had another baby. I’m hoping the massage will help as a natural pain management and with keeping me calmer to make the whole process a bit smoother. We’ll see! You never know how these things will go, but it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!

We’ve also been trying to figure out what exactly we’ll do with Liam when the whole labour thing kicks off and we have to go to the hospital etc., and I must admit it’s been weighing on my mind. We have a few friends we’re sorting out baby-sitting plans with, but people have jobs and other commitments, so it could be a bit hectic. Luckily, our doula suggested a great plan to help with this! She’s just moved to a new apartment really close to the hospital we’ve chosen, and also quite close to our doctor’s ‘headquarters’. So, we discussed me heading to her place early in labour, where it’ll be quiet and relaxing and she’ll be there for support. That way Richie can stay at home longer with Liam, which will make things easier in a general way and also make it easier for whoever will be coming over to watch Liam. I really want to ‘stay home’ longer this time (by which I really mean, just not go to the hospital so early this time), but our small apartment with a busy little toddler won’t exactly be the most relaxing place for me to get into the birthing ‘zone’. This fact became especially apparent when the doula was going to begin the massage demonstration on me, and then Liam pushed her away, climbed in my lap and then wouldn’t let her touch me. Then Richie put on a DVD to distract him while her and I escaped to another room and shut the door to hide from Liam for a bit, but when he realized we were missing, he just came bursting through the door and that was the end of ‘relaxation time’ for me! So, yeah, going over to her place sounds like a much better and more realistic option. I’ll be close to the hospital so we won’t have to worry about travel and timing so much, and then when it gets closer to delivery time, Richie can come join us. This plan has made me feel much MUCH more relaxed about everything. Once again, doulas are amazing!!!!!

In completely unrelated news, we’ve finally managed to venture out with our little potty-training guy! I know, it’s taken us ages. He’s been doing great at home and is pretty much completely independent with it when pants-less. We’ve started more practice with shorts on, and him telling us when he needs to go, but this still involves watching him really closely and being on-hand because he hasn’t got the pulling-the-pants-down on his own thing yet. He’s started trying to pull them up, which is something, but it’s still going to take him a while. However, he’s getting better about telling us when he as to go and so I’m happy with our progress. But, before this whole potty training adventure began, we were used to getting out a lot, so I think it was finally starting to make me a bit stir-crazy! Thank god we’ve got the garden to go down to, but it’s just not quite enough. So, on Saturday we just took a walk with Liam in his buggy, stopped by a couple of shops for a few things and then headed home for some garden play-time. He peed before we left and then held it until we got home to his potty, so it was a small success. And yesterday we actually went to a local cafe for tea and dessert (it being father’s day) and it was great! We tried out Liam’s new travel potty and it worked great! One reason why I wasn’t brave enough to venture out with him before was that he was REALLY resistant to us prompting him to use the potty and would kick up a huge fuss. But in the last few days, he’s calmly gone a few times when I did prompt him to go, so I felt a bit more confident taking him out knowing he’d just sit when we arrived and before we left if necessary. Anyway, the little potty is amazing and I’m really happy with it! He sat and went potty no problem and we had a lovely time at the bakery with no accidents.

Okay, I started writing this post about a week ago! Aaaah, I just haven’t been able to find time to sit down and write these days! Richie is putting Liam down for his nap at the moment, so I’m just going to hurry up and finish this thing finally. Anyway, we just got back from a nice Sunday breakfast at the same local bakery mentioned above. It is so fun to be getting out again and still no accidents! We had quite a feast this morning, and it’s been like this for a while, but I still just think it’s great Liam’s at an age where he can just eat what we’re eating. Richie had some spinach and meat borek (pastry stuff) and I got a Turkish breakfast plate, so Liam had bits of everything we were eating. He sat in a chair like a big kid and it was great. I was so happy to get out the door this morning for such a relaxing outing! It is strange how much of a morning person I’ve become, getting up at about 6am most days and actually enjoying getting out or getting things done before 11am. Especially now that the hot weather has arrived, I love that fresh coolness in the early morning hours, before the daily non-stop sweating begins! Okay, I think I’ll stop here because I feel that soon I’ll just start to ramble. Hopefully I’ll get to post more frequently again now, at least for the next few weeks. It’s so much more fun to be able to keep up with the writing thing on a regular basis! I’ll try to post a few photos later too!

Protests in Istanbul… and completely unrelated photos of Liam…

Well, as I type this, people all around us are banging pots and pans and flashing lights from their apartments, cars are honking, people are shouting and whistling from somewhere, air horns are being blown. You may or may not have seen/heard something about this in the news, but here in Istanbul there have been days and days of anti-government protests. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like much of an authority on what’s going on, so I don’t really want to write much of an explanation or opinion. What I can say is that yesterday I walked to work at about 8am and the street where my school is was partially blocked off by a city bus and there were a few protesters out and about already. All the classes were cancelled for the day, due to the protest moving from the city centre and Taksim Square to Beşiktaş, so after a little bit of peppery tear-gas dissipated, I walked home to our nice quiet neighbourhood to spend a lovely day off with Richie and Liam. Anyway, that’s the very small bit of the action that I’ve seen. As an uninformed foreigner here I don’t feel like it’s my place to say anything else about it right now.

So, protests and craziness aside, we have had a quiet and relaxing weekend. This morning was cloudy and showery and I was feeling pretty tired, so not much happened around here before nap time. This afternoon we spent some time in the garden, had a nice dinner and that’s about it. Unfortunately, Richie is still trying to get Liam to sleep, about an hour after bedtime. I think he was a bit wakeful, then there was all the noise of the 9:00 pot-banging-protest which kept him awake, so we brought him to the sitting room for a cuddle, and now Richie’s in there with him trying to get him settled down again. Sigh.

Well, enough of this rather uninformative post! Here are a few photos!

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Liam got a package of lovely new summer clothes from his granny. He wanted all of his shirts and shorts piled up on his head. He has a very unique fashion sense!

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Our little Tipperary man in his cool GAA jersey!

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It looks like he’s going to attack me with the tiniest stick ever, but really he was just showing me and making a silly face.

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Mr Tipperary, playing with the hose again.

Birthday, mother’s day and home projects…

Well, since my last post, nothing extraordinary has happened. But I did get the results of my glucose test thing and I’m normal! As my doctor reminded me when she passed on the news, that doesn’t mean I can eat sugar freely still. I have been incredibly well behaved these past few weeks though, if I do say so myself, but it’s nice to know that if I have the occasional potato or treat I’m not going to die of carb/sugar overload!

Which is a good thing, because yesterday was Richie’s birthday, and I’ll admit to indulging in a small piece of delicious chocolate cake. Since he was working yesterday, we sort of celebrated Sunday as his birthday, and it was mother’s day too, AND our friend Marijke shares the same birthday as Richie so we saw her in the evening for wine and cake too! Actually, it probably wasn’t the most relaxing day because we decided to do some apartment rearranging we’ve been wanting to do for a while. It was a bit of physical labour, especially for Richie, but we got a lot done and are feeling really good about it. Basically, we switched rooms with Liam, so now he’s got the nice sunny big room as his bedroom/playroom and we’re in the smaller room. We still have lots of throwing away of things to do, and organizing before everything will really feel settled, but we’ll get there. Yesterday Liam and I just stayed home all day because it was a bit drizzly and overcast outside and I had a headache, so while he played, I just pottered around throwing things away and sorting stuff out in his new room, so even though I felt a bit blah yesterday, I felt like things were certainly accomplished. I think Liam’s having fun in his new room too!

I’m also making plans to decorate his room more, make it more colourful and kid-friendly, because it’s a bit plain and boring now. I started on a bit of a project last night to make some colourful animal pictures for his room, and he did his first ever painting project yesterday too, so we’ll be hanging up his artwork in there as well! I put a piece of paper in a ziplock baggy with a couple globs of watercolour paint, a small bit of water and a small travel-sized shampoo bottle, just to put some object in there to help squish around the paint. I found the idea on this website, and I’m excited to try a few more things too. It is hard to think of many crafty/arty ideas for an under-two-year-old, so this was helpful. Honestly, the ‘project’ kept him interested for about 2 minutes, but still. I think I still want to try and do more arty things with him, just to give him something different to do really, and I’m sure he’ll get more interested in such things when he’s a bit bigger. But no harm in letting him play around with stuff now.

This morning I’m feeling much better so we headed out to the playground for about an hour, which was refreshing even if the weather is still a bit dodgy and a few drops of rain fell on our heads. Liam definitely needed the outside time though. I just wish a) birds and cats and dogs didn’t poop and b) people would never ever drop rubbish or cigarette butts on the ground! I hate having to tell him no ever 2 minutes to keep him from picking up gross stuff! It’s not like the park is really dirty or anything. It’s actually pretty clean. It’s just that Liam manages to find every minuscule bit of junk around, no matter how out of the way or tiny! If only he were that tidy at home! But despite that, it’s still great to see him have fun outside and it sure makes him take a good long nap!

Well, I don’t have any photos for now, but I’ll work on that! Now, however, it’s naptime! Yippee!

Breakfast picnic in Yıldız Park…

Today was picnic-adventure day, and it was lovely. We went with our friends Katherine and Alper and their baby Daniel, and had breakfast in Yıldız Park, which is a great big park not to far from us, with lots of grass and trees and all that good nature sort of stuff. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny morning and we laid out blankets and enjoyed a delicious Turkish breakfast, with all the usual stuff; tomatoes, cucumbers, cheeses of various kinds, boiled eggs, olives, honey and cream, pastries, and tea. We provided the easy part, which was the stuff from the bakery. Katherine and Alper brought everything else!

It was great to be out, and there were lots of other people having their Sunday morning breakfast in the park too. It was rather interesting trying to keep Liam from stepping in all the food, as he basically wanted to climb right into EVERYTHING. Or if he wasn’t about to climb into it, he was doing things like trying to take each little cherry tomato half and lick it, or stealing ALL the cheese, or play with all the cups of tea, etc. It was a bit mental, but hey, whatever. The only down side was that he only slept for a little while in his buggy around noon, and then that was all the sleep he had for the day. 30 minutes instead of 3 hours is quite a difference, so it was a bit of a cranky afternoon. But it was still nice to do something different with our Sunday free day and the park was absolutely wonderful. Despite the cranky toddler, I felt quite refreshed by the morning outing. It really made it feel like summer has arrived!