Merry Christmas!

Here are some videos of Liam and his stocking from Santa. He’s been having fun with his cars and oranges (which he calls apples) all morning. We all had some fun popping open some Christmas crackers too. Now we’ve got a roast in the oven and some apple desserts waiting for us for later. Yay for Christmas!

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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!

Granny came to town!…

Well, as is usually the case these days, I don’t have much time for a real post. But Richie’s mom was here with us for a week and a half (she went back home on Monday), and I want to at least post the photos in a timely manner! We had such a great with her here and it’s been tough the last few days getting used to ‘normal’ life again without her! We had some nice outings, went to a couple restaurants, playgrounds, etc. I was very happy for the boys to have their granny around, and Fred especially got lots of snuggles, which was great (not least because my arms got a rest!). We ate delicious food, including Irish goodies we’ve been missing since our last trip to Ireland in January, such as sausages, rashers, cheddar cheese and black pudding. Since we were all in the holiday spirit, we also indulged in lots of sweets, which was amazing. I really need to cut down on all the sugar now though; I am seriously addicted at the moment! I really do think that chocolate and caffeine are necessary drugs when you have babies/small children. I don’t think I would have made it this far without them!!!

Anyway, back to the point… It was so fun having such delightful company, lots of chatting and all that good stuff. It was just so nice having her around, even though with two little people, we didn’t ‘do’ a whole lot. It just felt very homey and lovely and I wish she could have stayed longer! I feel quite lucky to have such a great mother-in-law!

Anyway, here are the photos…

Easter in Istanbul…

Well, being in a predominantly Muslim country, I must say Easter doesn’t necessarily feel very Eastery, but we had a lovely day all the same. The weather was absolutely gorgeous today! It was warm and sunny and perfect. The three of us had a relaxing morning at home, treating ourselves to breakfast from the bakery and some time downstairs in the garden. I was pleasantly surprised to actually feel hot in the bright sun! We didn’t stay out too long this morning because I was afraid of Liam getting burnt; he’s not used to all that sun! I also dyed eggs this morning. It was fun, but I’m really looking forward to Liam being able to help next year. I’m sure that will make it exponentially more fun.

Oh, and Richie got Liam a new scoot-around ‘car’ this week, as a sort of Easter present we’ll say, and Liam’s been loving it! He’s been scooting around the apartment loads every day. We took it down to the garden today so he could try it out down there, but rocks, snails and dirt were too distracting this time. But I’m sure he’ll get lots of use out of it this summer.

After Liam’s very short nap, we headed out for lunch and some time in the park. There were loads of people in the park, and tons of children around! We ran into a lovely couple and their baby, whom we met last autumn, which was a nice coincidence. The little girl, who is about 11 months old, was adorable, smiley and very interested in Liam. It was hilarious though when she gave him a hug and it looked like he was trying to move himself as far away from her as possible. He didn’t know what to make of that female attention! He was a bit freaked out.

Again, we didn’t want to keep Liam out too long in the sun, so we headed home earlier than I would have liked. It was just so lovely out I hated to leave, but realistically I don’t have to worry because soon it will be like that every day!!! So, all in all, a nice relaxing holiday. And we still have some chocolate and fresh bakery cookies still to enjoy!

Happy Christmassy fun…

Well, we’ve had a lovely Christmas so far! On Christmas Eve we had a few friends over for a nice festive dinner and it was really great. We had roast chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole, plus friends brought a lovely winter salad and cake to round out the meal. I was so happy with the green bean casserole recipe I found! I’ve been missing that dish at holidays for years, and I was thrilled to finally have it again! Liam was in great form and we actually got to sit around the table for ages eating and talking. So, it was a great start to the Christmas celebrating.

Yesterday was more low-key, but it was a nice day all the same. Richie was with us for the morning, which included Liam opening his presents from Santa! He went right for his packages and started opening them. I wasn’t sure if he’d pay much attention to them, but he knew exactly what to do! Richie had to work a bit in the afternoon, and then at night he had an appointment to apply for his new residence permit since he lost his a couple weeks ago. It was a strange way to spend Christmas night, but at least it’s taken care of now.

I was just happy to have pretty much nothing to do except play with Liam yesterday. It had a been a few busy days leading up to Christmas and I felt like I hadn’t seen Liam nearly as much as usual! So yesterday we just played, took a nap together and the weather was sunny and nice so we spent a good hour in the park in the afternoon.

So, next we’re heading off to Ireland for a week, where the Christmassy fun will continue. Richie’s family decided to wait to have the big Christmas dinner for when we’re there, so this weekend we’ll get to have a good proper feast! I’m so excited about it! Yum. It’s nice to know the holiday isn’t over yet. I’m not ready for the end of Christmas yet! So, today is preparation day, getting packed and organized, and then tomorrow evening we’ll be safe and snug in Templemore, sitting in front of the fire, hanging out with family, and having a great time. Can’t wait!!!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Liam is taking a rare second nap this afternoon so I’m going to hurry up and write a post!

Well, we’re having our first snow day here in Istanbul. It’s been snowing all day, and it’s the lovely sticky kind with big fat snowflakes, so all the rooftops and trees are covered. It’s still snowing now and I have to say, it looks gorgeous and very Christmassy. I feel sorry for everyone out on this blustery day though, including Richie, because while it’s all nice too look at from a warm apartment, I’m sure it’s not so fun trying to get around in.

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The negative part is though that poor Liam has been stuck indoors for too many days. I wasn’t quite on the ball the last few days with getting him outside, and now today it isn’t an option! Poor kid. I think he’s a bit sick of our flat.

Just in time for this very wintery weather, I found a great chicken noodle soup recipe. I just got it into my head that I needed some warm comfort food the other day and found this recipe, which I made yesterday. I think we’ll be having this regularly this winter! It was the ultimate warming experience and my belly felt very happy after a bowlful this afternoon.

My next exciting cooking project is this completely-from-scratch green bean casserole. I’ve missed this casserole at holiday times since I left the US, and couldn’t get things like cans of cream of mushroom soup and crunchy onion things, so I just didn’t know how to replicate the recipe. But, now I have renewed hope that I can, in fact, indulge in green bean casserole at holiday times once again! Haven’t tried it yet, of course, but I’m going to make it on Christmas Eve and I’m feeling very optimistic about it! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Well, we’ve got a bit more preparation to do before our trip to Ireland next week. Not too much, but the time between now and then will fly by! Tomorrow Richie’s off work, so I’m going to head out on my own to get a few things, like wrapping paper and a few gifts, etc. It will be rather relaxing doing a bit of shopping without carting a little guy around, so I’m actually looking forward to it!

I’m sitting here next to our little Christmas tree and I’m so happy we got one this year! I’ve also been watching some of the old Christmas shows on youtube with Liam, so that’s certainly helped add to the Christmas spirit. I couldn’t find a full version of the Grinch though, which is extremely disappointing. That’s possibly my favourite one! Sigh.

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I’m looking forward to Christmas morning and seeing if Liam has a bit more reaction to presents than he did last year. Obviously, he’s too young to really have any idea what’s going on, but still. Maybe a gift from Santa will be at least a little exciting for him! Regardless of how he feels about it, I’ll probably be about a million times more excited about it than he is! It certainly is true that Christmas becomes way more fun again once you have a kid of your own to share it with.

Okay, Liam’s awake again, so that’s all for now!

My, how the time flies…

Well, once again, it’s been ages since I wrote a real post here. I don’t know where the time is going these days! I have lots of little updates to write, but come evening, I just can’t seem to get myself in front of the computer to actually write anything.

In short, we’re all doing well. We’ve been keeping quite busy, which explains my evening tiredness. Actually, I’ve been thinking we might need to slow down for a bit, because while it’s been fun having so many social things to do, and it’s been nice to feel generally productive getting things done, I’ve been a bit worn out and I think it’s made a bit of a mess of Liam’s daytime napping (which, as we all know, leads to CRANKY TODDLER).

Anyway, Liam’s doing really well and is as cute as ever (possibly even cuter!). He’s a speedy guy now, walking like a pro. Now it’s hard to imagine him crawling around at all! And he’s finally looking like he’s got some hair. It’s still pretty thin on top, but there’s more in the back. It looks like it’ll be a sort of sandy blonde/light brown colour when it finally all grows in. Although he does still have his funny dark brown patches on the back of his head! I wonder if those will stay!

We’re going out to local playgrounds as much as possible these days. Winter in Istanbul is really wet generally, so I’m trying to make the most of dry days and get him out to burn off all that toddler energy! I really enjoy getting the fresh air myself, so we both win. And on extra special days, if Richie goes to work late or finishes early, then all three of us go together, which is obviously the most fun. He’s so much braver now, going up stairs and down slides (with me still, since the equipment is a bit too big!), exploring everything, buzzing around everywhere like a busy bee. Any day I get to take him outside, it makes me feel like a good mother, just to see him have fun and not be cooped up in our apartment. I just love to see my little creature, bouncing around the place, getting dirty, wearing himself out with some good wholesome outdoor fun!

We just got a package from Richie’s mom this week that has Liam’s Christmas jumper in it and I’m so excited to see him wearing it! This Sunday we’re having a few friends over for pre-Christmassy fun, with cookies, whiskey, festive music and the like, so he will most definitely be wearing it then! I’ll be sure to take photos of that! We also just got our Christmas tree yesterday. It’s a fake one, but it’ll do nicely. It is pretty great to be able to find a Christmas tree and all the decorations and lights in a Muslim country. Of course, they use Christmas trees for New Years and not Christmas, but that suits me fine anyway. I’m just glad we could get one at all. So, I set that all up yesterday afternoon and I felt like a little kid looking at it for the rest of the day! It definitely helps to get that warm fuzzy holiday feel when you’ve got a Christmas tree. I think Liam was pretty fascinated by it too, especially the lights.

Well, as far as photos, I’m months behind on posting, so some of these are actually from October I think. I need to keep up on this better! Maybe that’ll be my New Years resolution!