Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peter Turns TWO (and other blessings)!

It rained today!  Maybe not an all out downpour, but just enough of those cool little drops to feel a bit refreshed after an extremely long, hot summer in Turkey.  I can't even remember the last time it rained.  April...May...maybe?  Going that long without a drop of rain just makes you feel...thirsty.  It was so nice to have a little 3 minute sprinkle today.

Those little moments of refreshment have been such a blessing in our lives lately.  When life gets a little too stressful and tiring, these moments feel even more precious.  Today is a good day to count blessings.  Here are a few more:

Peter, as always, is such a source of blessing and joy in our lives.  And last week, our little man turned TWO years old!  I'm not sure who was more excited for this big birthday...Peter or his parents!

Months before his big day, we ordered a little tikes truck for Peter on-line.  After an adventurous journey through Turkish mail, it arrived safe and sound.

The night before Peter's birthday, Dan was up late building his birthday car.  Peter woke up the next morning to find his birthday gift waiting for him in the living room! 

After driving laps around the house (with Daddy's help...his legs need to grow a little more before he can pull himself forward on his own) we decided to take a drive outside!

Peter drove his new car to the park!  Life is good.

We continued the celebration with more gifts from Peter's grandmas, grandpas, uncles, and aunt!  They sent him such thoughtful care packages.  Everything was Elmo, cars, and football themed!  Perfect for our little guy!

We finished our little guy's big day with cake and ice cream followed by phone call birthday wishes from our families back in America.  A wonderful birthday.

The following day was the Air Force Birthday Gala.  It was so much fun to dust off our formal clothes and get dressed up! 

Here we are with Tom and Emily!  They were our sponsors when we first arrived at Incirlik.  They answered our millions of questions before we arrived and assured that we were settled and cared for once we landed in Turkey.  They introduced us to our first Turkish meal and gave us a tour of the grocery store.  They were our lifeline that first overwhelming month.  They are such generous people!
Tom and Emily will be moving with their four children to Japan in December!

My dear friend, Sarah! 
She was my first friend in Turkey (we met at the Baltimore Airport) 
and continues to make life so much fun here!

And here's my handsome date!  Dan wore his Mess Dress at our wedding, so it's always fun to see him in it again!  A few days after the Gala, we celebrated our three year wedding anniversary! 

I love you, Dan!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Demre & Patara: Our Journey to Saint Nicholas!

After a relaxing day on the beach in Antalya, we were ready to hit the road and begin our Saint Nicholas pilgrimage.  We ventured out bright and early and drove on a twisty, turvy highway that tightly hugged the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the mountains on the other. 

After a couple of hours of curvy roads, we reached Demre.  Demre, once called Myra, is where Saint Nicholas was bishop in the 4th century AD!  How incredible to walk the streets where this legendary Saint lived!  Demre is now a tiny, humble Turkish village.  In the center of this ordinary Turkish town is the ruins of a large, beautiful church built in honor of Saint Nicholas in the 8th century (likely built over the ruins of the church that Saint Nicholas prayed in while he was bishop).  We arrived at the same time as several buses full of Russian pilgrims (Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia and is very revered there).  It was exciting to see this small Turkish town bustling with devout Christian pilgrims. 

In Demre, Turkey: Where Saint Nicholas was Bishop

As we walked through the Church of Saint Nicholas, I wished to travel back in time to when this church was new.  The magnificent archways and vivid, detailed frescos hinted that this church had to have been breathtaking when it was newly constructed. 

Saint Nicholas' tomb! 
His bones were here for over 500 years, and then were transferred to Italy.

Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of sailors. 
This cross with anchors represents his protection over sailors.

The Beaudoin's and Saint Nicholas! 
After Demre, we continued several hours down the long, curvy highway to Patara, the birthplace of Saint Nicholas.  In Patara, we hiked and climbed around the dusty ruins of the ancient city. 

Dan, our fearless navigator, checking his map in the ancient Amphitheater in Patara.
  Peter's a happy camper. 

After lots of exploring, we were ready for a refreshing swim in the Sea!  A gorgeous beach was right there waiting for us near the ruins! 

Peter fell asleep as we drove back to the hotel after our busy day.  He held an icon of Saint Nicholas in his arms as he slept.  Saint Nicholas is also the patron Saint of children.  Saint Nicholas, Pray for Us!

Antalya, Turkey: Clear, Blue Sea and Majestic Mountains

We recently took advantage of a three day weekend and booked a couple of plane tickets for Antalya, Turkey.  As you can see on the map below, Antalya is in the western part of Turkey and sits right on the beautiful Mediterranean coast.  Turkey's western region is more Western and "European feeling" than the central region that we call home.  We love central Turkey for its interesting culture, amazing ruins, and incredible Biblical sites, but it's always fun to experience something new in other regions of this diverse country.  Many Europeans visit Antalya's beautiful beaches and breathtaking mountains for vacation. 

Our airplane left the Adana airport bright and early on Friday morning.  Peter has recently taken interest in airplanes, so he was bubbling over with excitement at the airport.  He couldn't wait to board the plane!  Peter was a great little traveler on our short one hour flight to Antalya.  I love short, easy flights!  We landed in Antalya and hopped into our rental car to begin our day.  (Every time we rent a car in Turkey, we are given a Hyundai Getz.  We've become endeared to this compact, zippy car with great gas mileage.  I've decided that if I were a young, single Turkish gal, I'd definitely own a sky blue Getz of my own.  : )) 

We soaked in the bright Turkish sunshine, the clean, fresh air and the magnificent mountains as we drove down the highway to our hotel.  Our hotel was in the historic district of Antalya.    It was a perfectly quaint and adorable little region just a short stroll from the beach.  We wandered aimlessly taking in the natural beauty of the region alongside the charming buildings and narrow European looking cobble roads.  We found a little spot for lunch, refueled on lamb doner kabobs and salad, and then headed to our hotel to relax.  We cooled off in the hotel's pool, then walked to the beach for some more swimming!  (It was a sweltering summer day so the cool, refreshing water was the only place to be!)

Our Hyundai Getz parked in fromt of our charming hotel

Relaxing at our lunch spot

We went to a small, private  beach with smooth pebbles under crystal clear water.  I have never seen water this blue before in my life!  We dove in and floated happily as we admired the majestic mountains in the background.  Peter soon discovered that tossing pebbles into the sea from the shore was even more fun than swimming, so we enjoyed watching Peter play while the waves splashed up on our toes and legs. 

The little beach cove where we swam!  It was so clean and so blue! 
There were a few other European tourists with us, but it was not overcrowded at all. 


Relaxing on the shore
SO blue!

After a refreshing swim, we had dinner at an incredible restaurant overlooking the sea and mountains.  Normally, we try to eat as much of the local cuisine as we can when visiting a new spot.  But when we saw Italian pasta dishes on the menu, we couldn't resist!  In our region of Turkey, there are many delicious Turkish restaurants, but there is no variety.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to find Mexican, Italian, or Chinese restaurants.  We gobbled up our pasta and swore it was the best we'd ever had.  We finished our meal with the best baklavah we'd ever had, watched the warm red sun set behind the purple mountains, and walked back to the hotel for an early night's sleep.  After all, we needed to rest and rejuvenate because the following day we were headed to Saint Nicholas' hometown! 

The wonderful restaurant overlooking the sea


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fanta and Fairy Chimneys: My family meets Turkey!

Last August, we hugged our families goodbye and boarded a plane to Turkey.  I'll never forget that surreal, lump-in-my-throat, uneasy stomach feeling as we walked through the airport security and waved goodbye one last time.  A few weeks later, my family had already applied for their passports and were  planning their trip to visit us.  It was never even a question.   

I went out-of-state for college, but have never been away from my family for more than a couple of months.  My family is very close and I knew the hardest part of being in Turkey would be the distance from our loved ones.  So, every day since that monumental goodbye last August, I've anticipated their visit.  Literally...every day.  I imagined what it would be like to pick them up from the airport, to give them a tour of our home, to introduce them to local sights and cuisine.  Those daydreams kept me going through my first holidays away from home and the days when a phone call home just didn't feel like enough.

On a humid, sticky night in July (July mom's birthday!) Dan, Peter and I waited anxiously at the Adana airport for their plane to land.    The plane was delayed about an hour, so I had to dig deep to find even more patience to wait for their long-awaited arrival.  Finally, we caught a glance of my brother Ryan and my dad!  I felt a tidal wave of emotions rush over me.  It was just as I'd imagined. 

We tried to fill their two week visit with as many trips and new experiences as we could.  We took them to all of our favorite local spots: Tarsus, Snake Castle, Anavarza Castle, the Adana Mosque, a local produce market, and the Mediterranean Sea.  We also enjoyed hanging out on Base, including a Sesame Street Live concert and lots of pool time!  We took a weekend trip up to the mountains of Cappadocia.  The cool, mountain air was such a refreshing break from the 100 + degree heat in Adana!  Here are some fun photos from our adventures in Cappadocia!


Dan, Mom, and Ryan waiting for our lunch

The Seib family (Dad, Mom, Ryan, and Greg) in front of Cappadocia's fairy chimneys

My brother, Ryan, has a fun, adventurous, carefree spirit. 
He didn't think twice before jumping on that camel!  I love that kid. 

Fairy Chimneys in Goreme, Turkey (Cappadocia)
Breakfast at our Cave Hotel! 
 We had a traditional Turkish breakfast of veggies, cheeses, crusty bread, jam,  hard boiled eggs, and tea.  We ate outside overlooking the beautiful mountains and fairy chimneys!
We stopped by Avanos, Turkey; a region famous for beautiful handmade pottery. 
 We each got to try making our own!  It was so messy and fun! 

Me, Peter, and my Mom enjoying lunch in Cappadocia

Cappadocia is famous for "pottery kabobs"; a vegetable and meat stew that is slow cooked all day in a little pottery container.  When it's ready to eat, the waiter breaks it open with a hammer!  Delicious!
(Note the Fanta in the background.  My brothers were on a mission to try as many different flavors of Fanta as possible while in Turkey.  According to my brothers, Turkey and Europe's Fanta tastes better than America's...and they have lots of fun flavors too!)

My Family!  I love them so much! 
Less than a year until we're back in the States with them again!  I can't wait! 
By the end of our two weeks, Peter had nicknames for everyone: Ryan (R), Greg (G), Grandma (Mama...yes, that gets very confusing : ) ), Grandpa (Bop Bop). 
Peter was so sad to see them go.  My brothers are AWESOME uncles and Peter looks up to them so much!  Peter still talks about them constantly!  Thank goodness for Skype and phone calls!  Peter is always asking to call Grandma and Bop Bop!  Thank you, Mom, Dad, Greg, and Ry, for flying all the way to Turkey to see us!  It meant the world to us!