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.

January 2014 196

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!

New directions, changes on the horizon and Christmassy fun…

Well, I’m going to try and actually WRITE a post, instead of just putting up photos. I feel like I’ve had lots to say, but no time or energy to say it!

First of all, I’ve started a training course to become a doula, aka birth assistant. I’m so excited about it! I had two such great doulas for Liam and Fred’s births, and their help made such a big difference in how I experienced the births and the overall outcomes, I basically want to be able to give that same help, encouragement and care to other women during their childbearing experience. Right now I’m doing some online studying, learning lots about the physiology of labour and birth, as well as lots about nutrition during pregnancy, routine hospital procedures during labour and birth, managing pain in labour, breastfeeding, etc. It’s so fascinating and I love it! I never would have imagined I’d find this stuff so interesting until I started doing research when I was pregnant with Liam. Since there’s such a high c-section rate here in Turkey, I was really nervous about what would happen when it came time to give birth. I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth and the more I read, the more I was convinced that that was the best option for me, and with some luck, a few helpful connections from friends, and a bit of persistence, I found a way to have a natural birth here, and in the meantime, found a topic I’m pretty passionate about! Anyway, it feels so refreshing and energizing to be starting on a new path. I haven’t decided that I won’t go back to secondary school teaching in the future.. it’s just that with the uncertainty in the job market, I don’t want to have all my eggs in one basket. It feels great to be taking a real step to hopefully giving myself a better chance of finding work when we leave Istanbul. If I can get started as a doula when we get back to Ireland, I have a sort of multi-step plan for the next few years… I’d also like to train as a breastfeeding counsellor and childbirth educator. I’ll still be in an educational role, working with women and their families in a caring and supportive role, doing something important that I can feel good about! The brilliant thing is that, even if I end up as a secondary school teacher, I could still do some of this birth related work too, maybe not much, depending on my schedule, but a bit here and there. So, either way, it’s a win!

Besides new job/career options, the other big thing is that Richie and I are planning to move back to Ireland next year! Richie’s brother is getting married in June and his sister in July, so we’re going to be spending a bit of time back there anyway for the weddings, so we decided we should try to find work while we’re there. It’s nothing against Turkey… Istanbul has been very good to us. But at the same time, I miss Ireland and with two little boys, it’s really hard to be so far from both our families. And I suppose, realistically, it’s time we got going on a more sustainable way of life. It’s been great here, Richie having so much free time to be home with us, having a comfortable standard of living on such an easy work schedule, etc. It’s been a great few years and I’m really thankful this is how we got to start our family. However, in some ways it feels like things have stagnated and we need to make a change. Also, there will be other things to think about in the not too distant future, like Liam going to school, us needing to save a bit of money, have insurance, more stable jobs… grown-up stuff like that. Basically though, it just really feels like it’s time to start a new stage of our lives. It’s a bit terrifying at the moment, because we have no idea if we’ll be successful in finding work or what exactly what is in store for us in the next year or so, but it’s exciting and it’ll be so great to be home, with family and some of our closest friends, and all that kind of thing.

Hm, I guess that’s about it for now. Fred’ll be awake soon and Richie will be back from work any time now. Tomorrow afternoon/evening, we’re hosting our little Pre-Christmas cookie party with a few friends, so I’ll be heading out when he gets home to get some delicious cookies from the bakery, some wine and odds-and-ends for mulled wine, and that sort of thing. Yum. I’ve never made mulled wine, but I’m really looking forward to giving it a go and having such an indulgent festive treat tomorrow. I think it’s going to be a mix of this recipe and this recipe, so we’ll see how my improvised version turns out! Also, I know one of our friends, Marijke, has been slaving away in her kitchen, making about 5 kinds of treats for tomorrow and I can’t wait to eat all those goodies!!!!!! On that delicious note, I shall finish up here! Hopefully I’ll have some cute Christmassy photos of Fred and Liam soon!

Two weeks old…

Well, Fred is two weeks old today! Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo to post, but then again, he looks pretty much the same as he did in the previous two posts, so there you go.

Richie started back at work this week, but not full time thankfully! I’m glad he has the schedule he does, which means he takes care of Liam first thing in the morning so I can get a bit of extra sleep with Fred, and then he’s home for a number of hours in the middle of the day, so we have lunch together and get a bunch of things taken care of, like Liam’s bath, a bit of dish washing, cooking, etc. Just the essentials at this point, but I really don’t know how I’d do it if Richie wasn’t here!

So, I have some time with my two boys in the morning and in the evening, and it’s been interesting. Talk about a learning curve! Yesterday Fred seemed to be cranky all morning and I could hardly put him down for a second, but luckily Liam was in a pretty good mood and was happy playing by himself. And then last night was nice and smooth, Fred fell asleep in my lap and Liam went to bed very easily. Today was the reverse. Morning went much better, but evening was a bit messy. I did have my first Moby wrap victory today, which made me really happy! It was a bit cooler this morning, so I decided to give it a shot on my own and managed to get Fred in there comfortably on the second try. He was probably in there for 20 or 30 minutes, which meant that I could actually DO SOMETHING! Liam and I danced to Bob Marley, I got to feed myself breakfast and give Liam a late morning snack, and I even got to make a much needed cup of tea! And Fred just had a nice snooze and it was all snuggly and wonderful. I’m so excited for the weather to cool down more in general and I want to have him in the wrap ALL THE TIME! It feels so nice to have him close, and it feels amazing to be able to actually do a few things while holding him! It made such a difference even just to have that peaceful half hour this morning and get those very small things done. I tried to put him in it again this evening so I could throw together a bit of dinner for Liam, but I wasn’t so successful. Fred was already a bit fussy and he just didn’t take too kindly to me trying to get him in there. Plus I suppose it was a bit hot still, so maybe that was part of it. Anyway, I think I’ll stick to putting him in the wrap when he’s already peaceful for now, until I’m really used to the whole thing.

Anyway, the evening was a bit mental with a fussy Fred, and it made me feel like I could really do with at least two more arms. Trying to juggle a discontented newborn while feeding Liam was a bit tricky, but we managed. I was feeling a bit frazzled getting things ready for Liam to go to bed, but in the end, we managed it and I suppose at this point, that’s the main thing. It wasn’t very gracefully done, and we skipped brushing Liam’s teeth, but oh well. I know it’ll get easier and at the moment I have to just take every minutely small victory I can get and feel good about all the things that go right instead of setting my expectations too high. Also, I know that many a person has had more than one child to look after and somehow managed to survive, so I shall take comfort in that!

Welcome Frederick!

Holy cow, I don’t know how it happened but our new baby is almost a week old! We welcomed little Frederick Seneca Morkan on 7 August at 5:00 am, Istanbul time. He weighed 3.84 kilos (about 8 lbs 7 oz) and was 51 cm long (almost 21 inches). He took to breastfeeding almost immediately and has been an eating machine ever since! So far, he’s very peaceful and easy going (just like his big brother!), and we’ve had a pleasant week getting used to being a family of four. Liam is taking things in his stride and is doing a great job as a new big brother! I’m so proud of him! I have so much to write about, but I don’t know how long I’ll have the two boys sleeping, so I’ll get to the photos because they’re the most fun (Richie’s ventured out to get Fred’s birth certificate today, so this was my first time putting Liam down for his nap, while also taking care of Fred. I feel like it was a great accomplishment!). I’m working on writing out Fred’s birth story too, so hopefully I’ll be able to post that up soon! But for now, some photos from Fred’s first week, and a couple silly one’s of Liam from this morning thrown in for good measure…


Mind (and body) in motion…

I’ve noticed in the past couple of weeks just how restless I am now! I feel a bit like an antsy child who can’t sit still. I think the past few weeks of work, especially since it’s been with nice children, and a great schedule working in the mornings with the rest of the day free, has been really good for me. It gave me nice amounts of work to focus on, something constructive to do and a feeling of accomplishment, all before lunch time five days a week! I then noticed that on mornings I’m free, I sort of wander around aimlessly at home for a while, obsessively check email and blogs on the internet, hoping for entertainment and distraction. Then I sit around for a while, maybe reading a tiny bit in an unfocused manner, and by about 9am my mind is already full of random thoughts and I feel wound up so tight like a kid on Christmas eve, waiting for things to happen, wishing time would speed up, wanting, wanting, wanting things! I just feel like I have a huge ball of energy trapped inside me just waiting to burst out!

I feel like I need motion. I’ve been taking time in the mornings, sometimes even just ten minutes to sit on my meditation cushion in the lovely bright living room, attempting to meditate. Or if I can’t even focus on my breath, I try to one by one notice and release my busy thoughts and instead focus on actually being in the room. Noticing the sun and clouds and blue sky, the plants on the table in the corner, the various tweets and chirps and squawks of the seagulls and crows and swallows and other little birds outside, the colours and textures and shapes in the room. Even there, I want to sway, to rock, to stretch, to fidget, and part of me wants to bolt up off that cushion and just do ANYTHING! But if I sit there for a while patiently with myself, I gradually can actually connect to my surroundings, at least for a few minutes.

The other day Richie and I were chatting with a friend, after our hospital visit, and I think she summed up my current feelings so well when she compared waiting for the baby to getting ready to move to another country. You’ve made this big, life-changing decision, and you can’t help but feel anxious, overwhelmed and excited about it. You keep imagining what it will be like, even though you can never really know beforehand. You sort of just want to hurry up and get there, to begin this huge new experience, you feel ready to do it NOW, but on the other hand, not quite ready. It’s hard to go about normal life with these big momentous changes looming on the horizon.

Today I plan to do a few things around the apartment, not too much, but things that really should be done. And then my other goal is to cook dinner. Not too ambitious. But now I’m waiting for Richie to come home from work and I really want to go out for a walk or tea or whatever! Just being out and about, with all the sights and sounds of the world to distract me, plus talking, talking, talking- very therapeutic… I seem to feel much more relaxed and centred when I’m out than when I’m at home these days.

Meeting the doula, part 2 (and other random updates)…

So, Amy the Doula came over to our flat today for your second meeting. It was lovely. We chatted about various things, birth related and general. She’s really nice, so it was a pleasant visit. At the moment, I’m actually really tired, so this post probably won’t be the most coherent or informative, but still… it’s better than nothing.

Next week, Richie and I are going to head over the the ‘birth school’ I visited once before to meet another doula for a sort of crash course in birth preparation. This will involve, I presume, learning and practising some helpful positions for labour and some coping techniques like massage and whatnot. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been reading quite a few books on labour and birth, so I have a bit of an idea of all this (and Richie’s started to study up too!), but it will be good to actually physically try some things out and learn whatever we can.

I’ve just actually worked for seven days in a row, which is the most I’ve worked in ages! Last weekend I finished up my classes from the previous term, and then right away on Monday morning I started a week long kids class. Every week teachers teach a different class of kids, to keep a bit of variety for both the students and the teachers, and the classes are 5 mornings a week for three hours a day. This week went pretty smoothly, I have to say. There is a rather loose curriculum, so we have a lot of freedom to do what we want to with the kids, which was nice, but maybe not the most organized for me! But my three students were really lovely, and we did some nice activities and I think overall it was successful. But I’m so so SO happy now to have two days off to recuperate! Especially since next week will be a bit mental. I will have another kids class, plus a private student of mine (just for two hours) and then I’m covering a friend’s classes (an extra six hours) while she’s away on holiday. So, split shifts and more hours than I’ve worked in ages. I’m going to make sure to take relaxing walks in the park in between classes and then come home for naps! I’d say by next Friday I’ll be wrecked!

Other than that, we’re slowly getting organized for baby. We’ve got a few shopping trips to go on for sure, and we’re trying to get our heads around what all we need, how to get out and get it, what needs to be ordered, etc. So far there’s been more thinking and planning than action, so I’m going to be excited to just get out to some shops or whatever and actually get things!

Well, I guess that’s about all I have the mental energy for at the moment. Now I will start my weekend by sitting on the couch with Richie, like a vegetable, then eat some dinner and watch a film. Sounds beautiful!