Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saint Thecla (Silifke, Turkey)

On Good Friday, we visited the grotto of Saint Thecla in the town of Silifke. 
After doing some pre-trip research, here's what we found:

Saint Thecla was born in Iconium (present day Konya, Turkey) in a pagan noble family around 30 AD.  After hearing Saint Paul preach, she was inspired to devote her life to spreading the Gospel with him.  The rest of the information about her life has been written in The Acts of Paul and Thecla composed in the 2nd century.
It is said that after Thecla converted to Christianity and vowed a life of virginity to follow Christ, her mother and fiance reported her to the governor.  The governor ordered that she be burned at the stake, but as she approached the roaring flames a strong wind and sudden rainstorm exstingushed the fire.  Later, while in Antioch in Pisidia, Thecla was thrown to the lions as punishment for being a Christian.  The lions approached Thecla and started licking her feet as she peacefully trusted in the Lord.  Many were converted after seeing these miracles and Thecla was set free.  Saint Paul sent her to preach the Gospel throughout present day Turkey.  She spent the last years of her life in Silifke, living in a cave and caring for the poor.  She died and was buried in the cave in Silifke and a church was built over her tomb, which has been a destination of pilgrims for centuries. 

Saint Thecla is especially popular in the Eastern Church, where she is called  "Apostle and protomartyr among women" and even "equal to the apostles".

We made this pilgrimage, about 2 hours west, to see the resting place of this great woman of faith.  The remains of her basilica sit upon a mountain overlooking the town.  Upon arriving, we paid a man who worked for the Turkish tourism department.  He grabbed a set of keys and lead us to the holy site.  Our tour guide knew about as much English as we knew Turkish, so he kept it short and sweet.  "Basilica" he said, as he pointed to the ruins of what must have been a breathtaking church.

The ruins of Saint Thecla Basilica

Then, he led us to an iron gate leading into the entrance of a cave.  He unlocked the gate and led us down the stone steps into the cave.  This was the cave that Saint Thecla, friend of Saint Paul and champion of the Faith, prayed, cooked, slept and meditated.  My heart felt suddenly drawn to her as I felt the peacefulness of the dimly lit little cave and imagined her there. 

Our guide led us further and motioned as he said "tomb".  We silently prayed for Saint Thecla's intercession as we stood at her resting place. 

We made two more Silifke stops before heading back home.  Silifke became part of the Roman Empire in 72 BC and became famous for its Temple to Apollo.  The ruins of this temple are now in the middle of the city, ignored by passersby as they go about their daily routines.  That's the amazing thing about Turkey, there is so much history here, it seems commonplace to see ancient columns, archways, and ruins scattered throughout cities and countrysides.  Dan hopped out of the car and took a few photos (it was getting chilly and windy, so Peter and I opted to stay in the warm car).  Soon we were on our way to the last stop of the day, the Goksu River. 

Frederick Barbarossa drowned to death in the Goksu River, bringing an end to the 3rd Crusade.  Dan took pictures next to the monument.  Peter and I picked up rocks and enjoyed the scenic view.  Peter took a great nap on our drive home while Dan and I enjoyed the view of the Mediterranean Sea and planned our next adventure.  

Custom Made Furniture

A unique perk to living in Turkey is the opportunity to buy custom made furniture.  We recently purchased a television stand at a local furniture store.  We brought photographs of television stands from the Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn websites into the furniture shop.  We described exactly what we wanted, gave them the dimensions we needed (tall enough so that our DVD player would be out of reach to a certain someone's curious little hands), and picked out the hardware and the color of wood.  A few weeks later, we received a beautiful, handmade television stand at a fraction of the cost of what we'd pay in the United States. 

Ta da!  Our new television stand!  It is our first large piece of furniture that we have purchased as a married couple.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nineteen Months

I've found myself declaring "this is my favorite age!" every time Peter hits a new milestone.  I loved the cuddly, new baby stage.  Then, when Peter smiled for the first time, I thought "it just can't get any better than this".  But then he started laughing.  And then crawling.  And walking.  And uttering his first little words. 

And, as always, I have found my new favorite age!  My 19 month old little man is just brimming with personality.  It just amazes me to hear the new words he discovers, to listen to him "sing the ABC's", to watch his sense of humor develop, and to see what a big helper he has become. 

Peter loves being a helper.  He's recently started a "cleaning" phase.  He's all about picking up his toys, wiping the dinner table, throwing away trash, and sweeping.  Maybe this phase will last into his teens?  A girl can dream, right? 

Love that smile! 


Dan and Peter are two peas in a pod.  They look alike, they have similar personalities, and they've always shared a close bond.  Here they are making some important work calls. 

Peter and I try to go to daily Mass as often as we can on base.  Peter loves our pastor and has recently started "celebrating Mass" just like Father Efren.  It's so sweet to see him proclaim "dah duh duh dah dah" as he lifts up a plate, cup, or toy. 

Dan and Peter...lifting weights! 

Peter joining daddy for some post-run push ups. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First Haircut

Peter got his first haircut while we were in Germany!

This had been a topic of much debate in the Beaudoin home for weeks and weeks prior to the event.  Dan felt strongly that his little boy needed a clean, short cut.  I was just not ready to let go of those little curls (I am convinced that Peter's curls are the only trait inherited from me.  He is all Dan, through and through and I love that.  But I'm happy that he has just a little bit of his momma in him too.)

On our last day in Germany as we were waiting for our flight home (and Peter was looking especially scruffy after his hospital stay) we decided that the time had come.  We stopped by the Barber Shop on base and took a number.  I must admit, I was almost feeling ill from nervousness!  I was not anticipating such a reaction and I have no idea why it affected me so much.  I think this milestone was just a reminder to me that my little boy was growing up.

The "BEFORE" photo

Another "BEFORE" shot
Peter was not thrilled about the idea at first.  The big, black cape was just too intimidating...and then the tears came.  Our hairdresser, a German girl that Dan would describe as "colorful" and I would describe as "cute and trendy", jumped into action.  She hid the cape, let Peter sit on my lap, and gave him some combs to entertain and distract him.  It worked like a charm!  Soon she was snipping away while Peter examined the fallen hair as it landed on his arm.  When she was done, all three Beaudoin's were happy campers.  Peter looked so cute and grown up!  And the best part: his hair is even curlier now!

A little nervous at first...

Ta da!  All done! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Turning Twenty-Seven in Turkey

Last week I celebrated my 27th birthday.
My friends and family- both near and far- made it an unforgettable day!

Receiving cards, phone calls, and packages from the States means so much!  It makes me feel like we're not so far away after all.  It is so comforting to know that our loved ones back home are thinking of us.  Thank you, everyone, for the calls, cards, packages, and Facebook messages!  I treasure them! 

During Lent, our chapel on Base hosts "Lenten Lunches" on Wednesdays.  It's a chance to share a meal and listen to a reflection on Lent.  My friend, Katrina, and I volunteered to bring the lunch.  I brought two big pots of soup and Katrina made a salad and yummy birthday cupcakes!  What a fun friend! 

Dan really spoiled me this year!  He is so good at making me feel special on my birthday.  This year, he ordered me a beautiful cake, gave me dvd's that reminded us of fun past movie dates, and the grand finale...he surprised me with freshwater pearl earrings that he secretly bought while we were in Germany!  Way to go, Dan!

A friend of mine, Beth, shares a birthday with me!  Several of our wonderful friends had a birthday brunch for us!  These girls are so much fun!  I don't know what I'd do without them!

Angelica, Beth, Wendi, and Sarah
Last night, our dear Turkish friend, Sefer, invited us to his home for a birthday dinner.  Sefer and his family are such genuine, generous souls.  We enjoyed a huge feast with lots of fun company!  Sefer and his wife, Fatma, invited their daughter, son, daughter-in-law, & three granddaughters to join us!  Even though Sefer is the only one that speaks English, we felt truly welcome and at home thanks to their wonderful hospitality!

Turkish food is delicious!  What a beautiful meal!
Peter felt right at home and quickly made friends with Sefer's granddaughters.  It's amazing to watch them play together. Cultural and language barriers don't matter to children.  Though they couldn't speak the same language, they took such joy in just playing together. 

Sefer's youngest granddaughter, is a spunky, happy 4 year old who proudly counted to ten in English for us, bounced energetically around the room, and whispered secrets in my ear ( Turkish...I wish I knew what she was so excited to tell me!). 

Peter is shy around big groups of people,
but once he's comfortable, he's Mr. Personality. 
As you can see, he was completely at ease around Sefer's family! 

And last but not least, the cake!  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Hop, Skip, and a Jump to France!

Our 5 days in Germany flew by and we suddenly found ourselves at the last full day of our trip.
We decided that our destination for the day would be France.  Neither Dan or I had ever been to France and it was only one hour away.  How could we resist?

A man we had spoken with in the hospital waiting room (his toddler was also having surgery) mentioned an interesting French citadel about an hour away.  Dan was excited about the history, I was simply excited about France, and I'm sure Peter was excited that it was only an hour away.  It was a unanimous vote. 

The citadel was located in the city of Bitche, France.  (We heard one tour guide pronounce it "beach" and another pronounce it...the other way....)  Though the name is enough to make you blush, the town itself was very charming.  We were blessed with another beautiful day, which made exploring the in's and out's of the citadel very enjoyable.  The view from the top was specatcular! 

At the top of the Citadel

The view from the top!
 Afterwards, we stopped by a cafe in town for a snack.  A young friendly girl at the counter exchanged smiles with Peter as we pointed to the yummy pasteries and chocolates we wished to try.  Once we were back in the car, Peter happily munched on a French croissant.  Mmmmm.

Our awesome friends at Ramstein loaned us their
stoller, carseat, and MINIVAN for the week!
On our way home, we stopped to snap some photos at the Maginot Line, then hopped back in the car to enjoy the beautiful drive.  Our short trip to France made us eager to return.  Maybe Paris next?

Cologne, Germany

Peter's surgery went well, praise God!  We asked our surgeon about post-operation care for Peter and he actually encouraged us to get out and travel a bit.  The day after Peter's surgery, he was already feeling better and trying to run all around our hotel room.  We decided that a 2.5 hour trip to Cologne would be perfect- and that being strapped down in a carseat during the long car ride would help us keep our energetic little man from overdoing it! 

The weather was absolutely perfect.  The sunshine and cool breeze felt fabulous!  Our destination in Cologne was the Cologne Cathedral.  It was absolutely breathtaking!  This cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark, visited by 20,000 people every day.  Construction began in 1248 and took until 1880 to complete.  It is the largest gothic church in Northern Europe. 

Inside of this beautiful cathedral were countless side chapels, statues, gorgeous stained glass windows, and beautiful architecture.  We arrived just in time for mid-day prayer.  We prayed the Our Father and the Angelus in German and "listened" to a homily in German (okay, okay, I spent that time nervously trying to keep Peter entertained and quiet).

The Cologne Cathedral is also home to the relics of the three wisemen!  These relics are housed in a ornate gold box.  How amazing!

After exploring the cathedral, it was time for lunch.  We were all famished, so we decided to hop across the street to grab a quick lunch at McDonald's.  We took our burgers and fries "to go" and ate lunch in the square in front of the cathedral.  It was a perfect picnic spot- we were able to watch the crowds of people enjoying the beautiful weather and take in the grandeur of the cathedral.

After lunch, we spent some time enjoying the city of Cologne.  I loved Cologne much more than I anticipated.  I thought it would be a stressful, busy big city.  But even though it is large, we did not find it overwhelming at all.  It felt very traveler friendly. 

We found the Church of Saint Gereon next.  Saint Gereon was a Roman soldier in Cologne in the 4th century.  He was beheaded for not sacrificing to pagan gods.  This church was built on the site of his martyrdom.  His tomb rests in the crypt of the church. 

Inside of Saint Gereon's Church

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More of Trier: Abbey highlights, the charming square, and wienerschnitzel

I almost forgot to share one of my favorite experiences while inside of Saint Matthias' Abbey!  After visiting the tomb of Saint Matthias, we spent a little extra time visiting the two side chapels.  First, we visited the Blessed Sacrament chapel.  Dan showed Peter how to kneel in front of Jesus in the tabernacle while I said some silent prayers to our Eucharistic Lord as well.  How refreshing it is to be in a Catholic Church after living in a Muslim country for 7 months.  It was completely rejuvenating to sit in Christ's presence and soak up His graces.  Peter's prayers were not so silent, so we soon moved on to the other side chapel. 

The other chapel was in honor of Mary.  It was a very simple chapel with a beautiful painting of Our Lady hanging on the front wall.  Two German ladies, one elderly and one very young, were softly praying the Rosary together.  Though we cannot speak German, Dan and I quietly prayed the Hail Mary with them in English.  We were able to pick out enough of their words to match their German with our English.  What a beautiful reminder of our universal Church!  Both Dan and I have German grandparents, so it was incredible to listen to the words of the Rosary in German and know that our ancestors spoke those same words in prayer! 

After our visit to Saint Matthias' Abbey, we explored a little more of the charming town of Trier.  We stumbled upon several other churches and then found ourselves in a quaint, beautiful town square.  I could've spent a whole day in this square, shopping in the colorful, trendy shops, tasting coffee and patries at the adorable cafes, and taking in all of the sights and sounds.  It was lovely.

We found a cute little yellow restaurant for dinner.  We feasted on Wienerschnitzel, mushroom strudel, and German beer.  Peter spent his dinner nibbling on food, coloring, and smiling at the German waitresses.  It was a relaxing, cozy end to a fantastic day!

Dan feasting on wienerschnitzel!  Yum!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saint Matthias Abbey (Trier, Germany)

After a morning of pre-op appointments, we were able to take a little day trip to Trier, Germany the afternooon before Peter's surgery.  Trier is only an hour away from our hotel in Ramstein, so it was the perfect afternoon destination.  Our first stop was Saint Matthias' Abbey.  This beautiful Romanesque basilica contains the tomb of Saint Matthias, the apostle that took Judas' place after Jesus' death and Resurrection!  It is also a Benedictine monastery- which made this Benedictine College Alum feel right at home!

Beautiful Saint Matthias Abbey

A beautifully carved statue of Saint Matthias inside of the Abbey
Beneath the statue, in the Abbey Crypt, is the tomb of Saint Matthias. 

We descended the stairs leading down to the abbey crypt.  The crypt was dim, quiet, and peaceful.  The crypt held a large, stone tomb which housed the relics of Saint Matthias.  St. Helena (the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine) left a portion of St. Matthias' relics in Trier and brought the rest to Rome.  We stopped and prayed quietly near the tomb of this heroic Apostle and friend of Christ.  I got goosebumps as I laid my hand on the stone tomb and asked for his intercession.

Surgery at Landstuhl

Last Wednesday, the Beaudoin's boarded a plane for Germany.  After 3 hours of stickers, books, play-do, crayons, and snacks, (I can only vaguely remember the days of leisurly looking through a magazine during a flight- plane rides are so much more active now that we have a toddler!) we arrived at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.  Ramstein is the headquarters of United States Air Forces in Europe.  It is a huge, beautiful base with lots of American restarants and shopping.  It was a refreshing taste of "home".

Our great little traveler and his new stickers

We spent our first full day in Germany at pre-op appointments.  After speaking with Peter's surgeon (an Army major), I was completely at ease. I knew Peter was in great hands.  We checked in bright and early on Friday morning and Peter's surgery began soon after that.  All of the doctors and nurses were very helpful and reassuring.  Peter's surgery lasted about 1.5 hours, and the doctor called us into the recovery room when Peter began waking up.  Everything went so smoothly and we were able to leave the hospital that afternoon.  Peter was sore and tired, so we spent the rest of the day in our hotel room watching cartoons and reading books in bed.  Peter has been such a tough little man.  Praise God for such a great recovery!

Our Tough Little Man

Since our arrival in Turkey, we have spent quite a bit of time inside of hospitals.  With an infected bug bite trip to the Turkish ER, back-to-back ear infections, and a three night hospital stay for Roseola, Peter has extensive experience with doctors and nurses.  We feel so richly blessed because with each experience, God always surrounds us with amazing friends and skilled doctors.  We have felt God's healing presence so intensely with each experience, Peter always recovers very quickly and seems stronger than ever.  Our experiences have helped us to not take our sweet little boy for granted. 

When Peter was hospitalized for Roseola in February, we discovered another unrelated medical concern.  After a quick trip to the ultrasound section of the hospital, we discovered that Peter had a hydrocele/hernia.  It was purely coincidental that we were in the hospital for one medical issue and another one popped up.  The doctors reassured us that it was not urgent, but that he would have to have surgery.  At the time, my heart sank like a rock, dreading more IV's, more medications, more hospital stays. 

Since Incirlik Air Base is so small, we do not have a hospital here (just a clinic).  So if we wanted to have the surgery in Turkey, we would have to go to a Turkish hospital.  We were happy with the care Peter received at the Turkish hospital in February, however, being in a place where little English is spoken and everything is done differently adds some stress when your little baby isn't well. 
Fortunately, our doctors on base made arrangements for our little guy to have his hernia surgery at one of the best hospitals in the military, Landstuhl Hospital located on an Army Base in Germany.  Most servicemembers who are injured while deployed are sent here.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Peter to a hospital with such an outstanding reputation.  The military helped us make travel arrangments and schedule Peter's appointment.  We felt very blessed that Peter would receive such extraordinary care and that we would be able to spend some time relaxing together in Europe.