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!

Visitors, growing baby and toddler kisses…

Well, I’m super tired at the moment, so I don’t really know how coherent this post will be. I just know I’ve had it in my head all day that I really want to post something, so here goes!

First of all, I just want to say what a fun autumn we’ve been having. Obviously, it’s been fun (of the hard-work variety) having Fred with us. Then Richie’s mom came to stay for a week and a half, followed by our friends Phil and Anouk over from Hamburg, and just this past week my best buddy Jen and her friend/co-worker Nicole visiting from Kenya! It’s been so delightful to have the company, the chats, to have a houseful of people, and then it’s also been great to get out and about, visit some restaurants with guests, share the sights and tastes of Istanbul. Having a small baby is lovely, but being home so much with two little people can feel a bit isolating at times, so it’s really saved my sanity to have some fun and enjoy our visitors… makes things seem a bit more normal and all that.

Well, my last post was a Liam update, so I guess now it’s time to catch up on the news with Fred. He’s just about 3 months old, which I feel is a big milestone, the end of him being a newborn. He’s so smiley and adorable, I love it. I love the way he gives a big open-mouth smile when I tickle him and sort of scrunches up his whole body, legs and arms in the air… it’s kind of like a whole-body-smile. I love his baby ‘kisses’, which is what I call it when I’m giving him a kiss or nuzzle and he reflexively opens his mouth and licks my face. I love his sweet baby breath too. Yum.

I think he’s getting cuter and cuter all the time, filling out a bit, working on those chubby baby cheeks. He’s getting better at holding his head up and I think he’ll be pretty stable soon. I’m looking forward to being able to have him in the wrap while he’s awake, but not having to be watching and supporting his bobbing head all the time. He’s close now, but his neck just isn’t quite sturdy enough. Once it is, I’ll be ready to make it over to my friend Katherine’s place on my own with the two boys, Liam in the buggy and Fred in the wrap. I’m looking forward to having that little bit of independence. I still won’t be able to do much or go to far on my own, but getting over to her place will be a big accomplishment. He’s also doing a decent job holding up his head when he’s having tummy time, especially considering I still haven’t had him on his belly all that much.

I’m still swaddling him at night, because I think he’s prone to startling a bit too much still. He’s upgraded from his newborn size Woombie and is now in the ‘big baby’ size. He’s also wearing 3-6 month size clothes. It seems like it was just about 2 weeks ago I started putting the 3-6mo stuff on him and in the sleep suits his feet were getting all bunched up when he kicked because they were still too long on him. Already now it seems like he fills them out lengthwise! Crazy how fast babies grow!

I also started doing EC (elimination communication), aka ‘baby pottying’ with Fred about two weeks ago. Lucky for me, Fred on average just poops once a day, and almost always at the same time, and is really obvious about it because it’s in the wee hours of the morning after a feed and he wiggles and kicks like crazy. So, no surprise when he goes. Since he’s still so small, I’ve started out with a plastic bowl in my lap while I sit cross-legged on the floor and hold him over it to poop. We’ve had pretty good success so far, and I’ve only had to change one poopy diaper since we started! Anyway, we’re just keeping it simple and trying to get those obvious poops for now, and I feel really happy just doing that small bit for now. Next I really want to get the cloth diaper stuff sorted out and get him in those. I’m not sure if it really saves money compared to disposables, when you factor in water and electricity for washing, etc., but I enjoyed using cloth with Liam so I just need to get organized and get to it.

Fred is now happier doing a wider variety of things, which makes life easier and means I also have a bit more time and attention to give to Liam. Sometimes Fred will sit in his bouncy chair for ages, and I can get something done, or play with Liam for a while or whatnot. He also likes laying on Liam’s bit mattress and the three of us can look at books, or Fred will now look at toys and he likes being played with, sung to and tickled. I love holding him a lot, but it’s also great to have more to do with him while he’s laying down, if for no other reason than to give my body a rest! Liam is still doting on him and gives him kisses and hugs. It’s so sweet!

Actually, on a side note with Liam, I just have to say how cute and loving he is, because it’s just the best thing ever and I have to share it. Just yesterday he was giving EVERYTHING kisses. He kissed my two cheeks, my two ears, my nose and my hair. Then he kissed Fred. Then he kissed a pair of Richie’s trousers and a towel. Then his car. And on and on it went. He’s got love for everyone and everything! Today we were playing football with this really soft ball he has, kicking and throwing it around, and then we’d both race to get it first. Well, at one point I kicked it and it hit the wall. Liam picked it up hugged it very gently and then held it out for me to kiss because I’d injured it by kicking it so hard. He’s just so adorable and loving, I just want to eat him up. (I’m adding this the morning after writing this post- This morning when I gave Liam a piece of bread, he cradled it lovingly in his hands, kissed it and then took a big bite! So funny!)

Well, now I’m so tired I have a bit of a headache, so I better head off to bed. Fingers crossed Fred will have a very sleepy night and very short wake-ups, because I don’t think I’ll have much energy tonight!

And this photo doesn’t have much to do with this post, but I thought it was cute, so here it is…

The professor

Fun weekend and other things!

Well, we had an extra especially nice weekend this week. Saturday was the last day of the term for me, which was nice. I’ll still teach the same classes next term, but it’s still a sort of relief to finish up that nine-week period. Usually I stay after my Saturday classes to do all my planning for the upcoming week, but our friend Amanda was having a barbecue at her place so I left right after my class so we could head over there.

It was such a nice evening. We couldn’t stay too long, so we could get Liam to bed at a reasonable time, but it felt so good to be out. We don’t get to do that sort of thing too often these days, so it was a special treat. They had an old mattress brought out into the courtyard for Liam to play around on and he got lots of attention and got to do lots of exploring, so he certainly had fun. Richie and I had a great time too, and there was lovely food, great weather and it was very pleasant to get to chat with friends we don’t see often and some new people as well.

Sunday was our normal day off and we did our usual stuff… chilled out morning, naptime, then out for lunch and some playtime in the park. Today Liam had a very cranky day, which was a bit exhausting, but Richie came home early from work which was a treat and my friend Katherine and her baby came for a visit, so that redeemed the afternoon anyway! The weather’s been a bit all over the place, but hopefully we’ll have dry weather so I can get Liam out to play a few times. And Thursday I have a doctor’s appointment, so I’m looking forward to that.

Liam’s still sprouting teeth all over the place! He’s gotten 5 new ones in the last month and I think it won’t be too long till he gets more! Poor kid. He’s taking it all very well though. The latest cute things he’s been doing are giving us kisses and giving Richie hugs goodbye before he goes to work. With the kisses it’s cute because he pooches out his lips so much and gives me a kiss on the lips. First he would just lean in his face towards Richie so that Richie could give him a kiss on the cheek, I think because of Richie’s beard, but now he’ll give Richie kisses too. It’s adorable. Last week Liam started giving my belly kisses too! So cute! He’s also started taking notice of my friend Katherine’s baby. We’ve been visiting Katherine every week for ages, but usually Liam didn’t pay any attention to her baby Daniel. But just recently he’s started patting him, giving him hugs, talking to him and trying to play with him a bit. It’s so sweet to see him interacting so nicely with Daniel and it also helps me imagine how he’ll be as a big brother in a few more months.

Holiday 2012: delightful beginnings…

It all began on Saturday last week, bright and early. We had intended to head off on Sunday originally, because it would be the second day of the big end-of-Ramazan holiday, and we’d hoped that travelling would be easier that day with less traffic and fewer people trying to take ferries, etc. However, a friend of mine and her husband, Katherine and Alper, were leaving Istanbul early on Saturday morning by car and heading to Alper’s family’s summer home near Eceabat, a small town of about 5,000 people on the eastern shore of the Gelibolu Peninsula, which was close to where Richie and I were planning to go ourselves. They invited us to come along for the ride and to stay the night in the house with them, which is what we did.

The traffic was heavy enough, and I guess the trip to Eceabat took about twice as long as it does on a quieter day. There were so many people trying to get to wherever they were going, and especially near the end of our trip, there was a huge amount of congestion around the various ferry points with people trying to get over to the Anatolian side of the Dardenelles. Cars were lined up for kilometre after kilometre, and we were really lucky we weren’t trying to cross over that day.

Instead, we stayed in a little ‘holiday neighbourhood’ just about 5 minutes walk from the Aegean Sea. The house was pretty basic in it’s amenities, but it was a fun and comfortable place to stay, with beds and couches for Liam to jump around on, a lovely garden with a canopy of grapes growing as well as plum and fig trees. We sat in the garden in the evening, enjoying the cooler air outside, and most importantly, we got to go swimming!!! It was Liam’s first time playing in the sand too, and we gave his toes a little dip in the water lapping up on the sandy shore. He wasn’t too sure about it, but he didn’t cry or fuss either. It was just gorgeous.

After our evening swim, we all headed by car to a local restaurant by the docks. We had a seafood feast while the sun went down over the sea and we could see the cars loading up on one of the ferryboats nearby. We had squid and seabass dolma, fresh salad, roasted aubergine/eggplant meze, fresh melon with beyaz peynir (feta-like white cheese), and skewers of swordfish and something which translates as ‘tongue fish’ for the main course, all washed down with some rakı, the signature Turkish anise-flavoured spirit. It was delicious. Liam entertained himself by chewing on bread, and acting a little like a wild animal, which was pretty funny.

The next morning we had a lovely Turkish breakfast prepared by Katherine and Alper, with all the usual yummy stuff, like fresh juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, cheese, olives, spicy sausages, honey and kaymak, and thick slices of village bread. Then it was time for another swim in the sea and playtime in the sand. I just find the sea so invigorating and amazing. I’ve been craving a swim in the sea for the last two years, and I still feel like I haven’t had enough of it. I love the salty taste of it, the lapping of the waves, the sound of the wind blowing over the water and rattling away in your ears, that fresh coolness that washes away all the worries and cares of everyday life. When I’m in the sea, it’s almost like there’s nothing else in the world except that deliciously cold refreshing water, and it makes me feel alive and awake all the way down to my bones. Ah, sea, how I love you…

Festive fun and Liam’s first Christmas…

It was a really nice Christmas, although we obviously didn’t get back to Ireland for it as we’d originally planned. Liam’s passport wasn’t ready in time, but at least it’s ready now so we’ll be doing our home-travelling at the end of the month! Can’t wait!

Anyway, this Christmas felt much more festive than our first one in Istanbul. I decorated the plants in our sitting room with some cheap baubles and fairy lights. We got a couple parcels with chocolate and other goodies from Richie’s mom and sister and we’ve been enjoying stuffing our faces with those and drinking hot chocolate (and the occasional sip of brandy!) while watching Christmassy films like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. I also found shows like the Grinch and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer on, so that was great too!

On Christmas Eve we went to a party at our friends Sara and Amanda’s apartment, which involved delicious cookies, some mulled wine, festive music and they even had a lovely Christmas tree! Although I think the best part was the light-up Santa hats. On Christmas morning Richie, Liam and I hung out at home and enjoyed a relaxing start to the day, while watching It’s a Wonderful Life and eating yummy stuff from our local bakery. And Liam got his first presents from Santa! It was fun, although obviously, he didn’t really know or care what was going on. In the evening we went to Dan and Kathleen’s place for an amazing pot-luck, vegetarian Christmas feast. It was delicious and I was appropriately over-stuffed at the end, in proper holiday fashion.

So, here are some photos and videos from it all:

Ten weeks old…

Little Liam is now ten weeks old (as you may have gathered from the title of this post)! He’s basically an awesome kid. He’s fully into smiling now, and we now have conversations with him cooing at me, and me cooing or talking back to him and him responding with more coos. It’s so cute and fun to actually communicate with him (although I have no idea what we’re really communicating about, but who cares- it’s cute all the same). He’s slowly starting to get more into longer naps, which is great for me. I haven’t done anything to create a schedule or whatnot, but over the last few days, he’s started having a long nap in the late morning or early afternoon and then another long ‘nap’ in the evening (although, this might really be him falling asleep for the night, and then just waking up for his normal feeding/changing routine at about midnight). I’ve been able to take some long naps along with him which makes my life so much easier. I love having him all swaddled up next to me on the bed looking so peaceful, and I just take my snooze next to him. Sometimes I think he sleeps better that way, knowing I’m right there with him.

Last week my lovely friend Jen came to visit, and we had a great time. We were out and about every day, basically eating our way through Istanbul. There was a little shopping involved too, and a few films watched at home, but mostly just eating and talking. Perfect visit. And through it all, Liam was calm and happy and amazing! I could hardly believe it. Last Wednesday we had a busy day, getting out early-ish in the morning, and then he had his 2-month doctor appointment which involved 4 vaccinations, and even having gone through that ordeal, he was in a perfectly happy mood the rest of the day. Unbelievable. He’s awesome.

He’s still on the lower end of weight gain but he’s grown enough over the last month, so I’m not worried about him. Just seems like that’s the way things will go for him. He certainly eats all the time, so I’m not starving him! He grew a few centimetres too, and now he’s too long for most of his 0-3 month size clothes. It’s been fun to dress him in some cute hoodies and fleeces as the weather gets colder. I also love wrapping him up in this fleece blanket he has for naps, and holding him while he sleeps in that is so cozy. It does make me a bit jealous though, because I want to be all wrapped up in fleecy blankets too, but at least I get to snuggle him to feel warmer.

Well, he’s been sleeping on Richie’s lap but is starting his stretching and wriggling wake-up routine, so my time here is probably about to run out. But here are a few photos of Liam over the last few weeks.

Visitors, baby shower, and other things…

Well, I’ve just been looking at photos on facebook that Richie’s sister Frieda took while herself and Richie’s mom were here. Luckily someone was on the ball, because I just downloaded the photos off of my own camera and apparently I only took four photos the entire time!

Anyway, their visit was great and I can hardly believe I’ve already worked for a week since they left! The weather was perfect when they were here, we were out all the time, enjoying cafes and restaurants, sitting in lovely shady spots, enjoying the fresh air. I literally only worked for one hour while they were here, which was amazing, so it definitely felt like a holiday for me too. Richie didn’t have to work too much either. We got a lot of talking done, and of course, eating, two of my favourite pastimes!

During their stay, a couple of our friends, Kathleen and Marijke, organized a baby shower/picnic for us in Yildiz Park. That was great too. The park is on a hill and there are lots of trees, so you get a breeze and shade, not to mention it’s quiet and there are birds, squirrels and the occasional hedgehog. It was lovely for people to come out and we really appreciate all the gifts people brought! One of my missions for the weekend is to start writing thank-you cards for all the gift givers, both here and elsewhere- quite a diverse group from three countries!

Our apartment is now filling up with baby things! It’s pretty fun, I have to say. A couple of weeks ago we basically had nothing, and now we’ve got nearly everything we need! Just a few tiny bits and pieces left to buy. I’ve started the washing and organizing of all the baby clothes and blankets, etc., and it’s so fun to look at all the cute stuff over and over again. Still finding it hard to imagine actually putting a little person into all those outfits in a few weeks though!