Thursday, May 31, 2012


The movers came last week.  And after two and a half days of craziness, our house was empty.  We moved into TLF (temporary living facility), which is the hotel on base (also known as the Hodja Inn).  (We stayed in this hotel during our first couple of days in Turkey almost two years ago.)  We are now merely days away from leaving this place that has become our home and returning to home-sweet-home, America

I've been wanting to blog about this time of transition, but have not found the words to describe how this feels.  Moving to a small base in the Middle East is such an intense adjustment that in order to truly adjust to it you have to just dive in completely.  Embrace the craziness.  So we tried our best to dive in.  And in the process, we've had some incredible experiences.  We've felt the healthy stretch- and at times, pains- of personal growth and life lessons.  And we've met the most unbelievably wonderful friends who now feel like family. 

It is surreal to say goodbye to our life and our friends here.  Many of my friends I see almost every day, so it feels impossible to imagine them not nearby.  Our friends here have been such an incredible blessing from God and I just can't begin to think about leaving them. 

It is so hard to think of Peter leaving his very first friends.  They are such sweet boys.  Peter loves them and talks about them constantly.

And yet, there is great joy and anticipation in this week too.  We are finally returning home.  I can't describe the joy that it is to see friends I have not seen in two years, to give my family a BIG hug, to be back in the country I call home.  I can barely wait. 

As we say all of the goodbyes and do everything "for the last time", we embrace the exhaustion and mental blurriness. And look to the future...and the new experiences and friendships to come.

Several of my very closest friends are also experiencing this time of transition right now.  It is such a blessing to experience it together.  My dear friend, Wendi, recently wrote a blog post about their family's time of transition.  Wendi is preparing to move to the Azores with her husband, three children, and their dog, Scrubs.  I'm sharing her blog post with you, because it captures the emotions and craziness so very well.

No matter which way you slice it ...

... moving = exhaustion.

You try to plan ahead. You try to not leave too much for the last day. You try to make concessions. Adjust readily. Stay flexible. Think positively. Limit expectations.

Moving across the street would be one thing. Across the state another. Across the country yet another. But across the world? For the second time in two years?


Here we are, mostly moved into the Hodja. And we are just ... plain ... exhausted. We still have odds and ends at our real house. We are still making trips back and forth. It's only a few blocks, but without our van, we have to recruit friends (thank you Tina and Bri) or walk pulling a wagon (again, thank you to Bri) full of stuff.

We could rent a vehicle but there really aren't any to rent that would fit our whole family. So what's the point?

Believe it or not lodging put us in the exact same room we stayed in when we moved onto Base. Seriously. Talk about everything coming full circle. It's nearly eerie. I feel the same fog. The same dichotomy of emotions. The same fatigue.

The only differences? This time there are three children. And this time (game-time decision) there is no dog.

We were planning on having Scrubs with us. But it was actually Stebbs today who said to me, "You are a better woman than me. I'd just put Scrubs at Pati Pet instead of adding to your responsibilities."

Picture a big light bulb popping on above my blonde head. Pati Pet? Why hadn't we thought of that? It's a wonderful facility off-Base. A non-traditional kennel run by Americans. Of course! Taking Scrubs out on leash every time he needs to use the bathroom while chaperoning three tiny children is a lot. Add to that the fact that this little two bedroom is already quite tiny without an eighty pound dog, and Pati Pet it is!

In the meantime, we are settling in for about a week. The exhaustion is so thick. But thick is good because thick doesn't allow other emotions room for visitation. Early this morning I sat in Tina's van. My gardener told me how sad this all was. "You say hi. Then you say bye. Again. And again," he said. I nodded. I started crying.

But that was this morning. Before I was so tired. Now I am too tired to cry.

The kids are very out of sorts. Scrubs is really out of sorts. He has no idea what is going on. Just knows the house is getting emptier. And his people are getting crabbier. And he has no idea where he fits in. Everyone who stopped by the house was met with Scrubs jumping into their vehicle. Four different people. I kid you not. Each time, you could tell, he was wondering is this who is going to take us to our next place? If so, make sure I'm going with you!

Home stretch. But still a ways to go before we settle into a normal life again. Your prayers for stamina. Stength. Peace. Appreciated

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Market

We live in a very agricultural region of Turkey.  It is common to see women picking potatoes, horse-drawn plows in the fields, and truckfulls of watermelon on the highway.  On base, we have orange, lemon, and banana trees in our yards.  Fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables are abundant in this region.
One can find fresh produce markets (similar to American farmers' markets) almost every day of the week all across town. Truckloads of lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries are lined up, glistening in the Turkish sun, just waiting to be purchased. 

I fell in love with the Turkish markets during my second year in Turkey.  My friend, Katrina, and I walked to the local neighborhood market off base almost every Sunday afternoon.  Oftentimes, our sons, Peter and Zack, rode along in their strollers; they were very entertained by all of the sights and sounds of the market. 

The walk to the market was just as entertaining and cultural as the market itself.  During our 10 minute walk, we took in the sights of the little Turkish neighborhood: old men sitting in the sun drinking their tea, children chasing a soccer ball in the street, women hanging clothes on the line. 

Upon arriving at the market, your senses are immeadiately stimulated.  (Remember the market scene in the movie Aladdin?  That's it!)  The truckfulls and tables of colorful produce, the yelling of the vendors ("buy my eggplant!" in Turkish), the hustle and bustle of shoppers weaving through the crowds, the aroma of Turkish spices and fish; it's a unique experience every time. 

And the best part?  This beautiful, scrumptious produce doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  It actually barely costs anything at all.  Right now, 1 Turkish Lira equals 54 US cents. 

 For example: 1 kilo (about 2.2 lbs) of oranges costs 1 Turkish Lira (54 cents)!  We devoured these oranges this winter.  They were the most scrumptiously sweet oranges I've ever tasted. 

And a kilo of these tasty, fresh strawberries costs 3.50 Turkish Lira ($1.91).

Katrina and I filled our strollers full of fresh fruits and veggies each week, then proudly walked back home with our treasures. 

Yummm...Turkey, I will miss you!

Behind on Blogging...

To our dear friends and family that semi-regularly follow our blog:  hold on tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride!  We have countless experiences and travels that we want to share with you and record for our own memories.  We plan on wrapping up all of those memories into blog just may take awhile.  I'm a little (okay...maybe more than a little) behind on blog posts after I took a two month break from blogging during my pregnancy morning sickness.  Throw in a super-toddler who never needs naps and preparations for an overseas move (we leave for America on Friday!) and I've been a little short on time lately.  : )

Dan and I promise to share all of our memories from our February trip to Europe by the time Peter graduates from college.  : )

Thank you for sharing this two year journey with us.  We are truly humbled and grateful that you've taken the time to be a part of our blog.  It is such a comfort to know that our dear friends and family have stayed connected to us during our time in Turkey.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A New Addition to our Family

We are beginning to wrap up our two year adventure in Turkey (only ONE week until we're back in the USA)!  And as one adventure comes to an end, we look to the many new adventures ahead of us.  The most exciting new blessing for our little family will be a brand new addition...

We're pregnant with Baby Beaudoin # 2!  We're due September 8th (just about one week before Peter's birthday...we just love September babies)!  : ) 

Our dear friend, Linda, took our family pictures.  This girl is so talented!  In addition to being our wonderful friend during our two years in Turkey, she's also been Peter's pediatrician!  Linda and her husband, Shane, will be moving to Germany soon.  We will miss them so much! 

Linda took our photos in the little village right near the base. 

Peter is so excited for our new baby to come!  He insists that we are having a boy (we don't know...we've decided to wait until September to find out!) and thinks that his new little brother will be ready to play football with him right when we bring him home from the hospital.  : ) 

Peter will often kiss my belly and then announce proudly "good big brover (brother)". 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Christmas in Italy: Our Last Day!

Our last day in Rome!  Luckily, our flight to Istanbul (and then to Adana) didn't leave until 4 PM, so we could explore more of Rome until around 1:30 PM!  

Dan was prepared to make the most of our time.

Our first stop was the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli (The Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven). This church was built over a Roman Temple to Juno on Capitoline Hill (site of the ancient acropolis of Rome).  Capitoline Hill is huge and very steep.  There were MANY stairs to the church...Dan picked Peter up and in Rocky Balboa fashion ran up the stairs to the top!

The interior of the church was beautiful...

One of the very special parts of this church was that it held the relics of St. Helena (mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine).  St. Helena is another special Saint for us.  For an All Saints Day parish event in 2011, Sarah dressed as St. Helena.  To visit the final resting place of this holy empress of Rome, who was key to the Church's success in toppling paganism and cementing its primacy as the religion of the Roman Empire, was very amazing. (The night before we had visited the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem which was built over her personal chapel and palace.)

Sarah at the Tomb of St. Helena

Another one of the parts of this church that we really thought was amazing was the Latin words "Providentia Dei," meaning (God's Providence) over the altar.  We felt that "God's Providence" was a theme for our Trip to Italy.  We were very blessed to go on this trip...we almost had to cancel our whole Italy trip the day before we left because Dan was needed last minute at work.  We put the situation in God's hands and trusted in His Providence and graciously, He allowed everything to work out and we were able to truly was a miracle.

We climbed down the Capitoline Hill and walked over to the Il Gesu Church.  This is the mother church of the Jesuit Order.  In this beautiful church is the right arm of St. Francis Xavier which it is said baptized 300,000 people in his lifetime.  Also inside the church was the tomb of the founder of the Jesuit Order, St. Ignatius Loyola.

St. Francis Xavier's right arm

The tomb of St. Ignatius Loyola

Not far from the Il Gesu Church is the Largo di Torre Argentina, an open area in the middle of Rome where ruins of 4 ancient temples were found.  In addition to these ruins, remains of the curia of the Theater of Pompey was found.  This chamber was where Brutus assassinated Julius Caesar by stabbing him in the back!  Dan kept on quoting "Et tu, Brute?" as we walked around this famous spot.  As we looked at the quiet ruins, we tried to take ourselves back in time and imagine the shock, noise, and commotion of the Romans as they ran from this spot announcing the death of the great conqueror and dictator!

From this spot, we crossed the Tiber River and tried once again to visit the Basilica of San Bartolomeo di Isola (St. Bartholomew of the Island).  This time it was open and we got to pay our respects to another one of Christ's Apostles:  St. Bartholomew!

St. Bartholomew's bones are in the sarcophagus under the main altar

After visiting St. Bartholomew we jetted over to see the Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (a neighborhood of Rome).  Here we visited the beautiful basilica containing the tomb of the famous St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians.

St. Cecilia was a beautiful young Christian woman of ancient Rome who was arrested for her beliefs.  Roman authorities tried to smother her in the steam room of her house.  She sang beautiful songs of praise to God as her captors awaited her death.  When she would not die, a soldier attempted to behead her.  He tried three times and was unable to behead her.  Cecilia would survive another three days before expiring on 16 September.

The Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is built over the ruins of her house.

The front gate to St. Cecilia's Basilica

The courtyard of St. Cecilia's

A statue of St. Cecilia as her incorrupt body appeared when it was disinterred in the 1500s.  She still had 3 chop marks on her neck.

After visiting St. Cecilia quickly, we had ONE LAST STOP on our quest through Italy:  the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.  This church is an Eastern Catholic church--followers of this type of Catholic Christianity are still in communion with the Roman/Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, but have different traditions.  We walked inside the ancient church and saw an impressive sight:  relics of THE St. Valentine!

The Beaudoin's with St. Valentine!

Another famous sight at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin is the "Mouth of Truth."  A legend states that this ancient drain cover will bite the hand of a liar who puts their hand in its mouth!  The line to go up to it was extremely long and we had to be at the metro stop in 10 minutes to get to our hotel and take our taxi to the airport, so we had to pass!--at least we got a picture...just another reason to come back to Rome!

We made it to the metro and walked down the streets of the Eternal City one last time before hopping in our taxi to the airport.  Our pilgrimage to Italy had been an amazing journey.  
We were very blessed to have been given such a gift from our Lord!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Christmas in Italy: Saint Stephen's Day in Rome

The day after Christmas is Saint Stephen's feast day.  In Italy, this feast is widely celebrated.  As an Italian Friar explained to us, "On Christmas day, Italians stay at home with their families, relaxing and eating all day.  The next day, Saint Stephen's Day, it is tradition for everyone to go out with their families and visit the beautiful nativity scenes inside of the churches". 

We soon discovered that this was very accurate.  It seemed that almost every Italian had the day off from work and was out visiting the churches of Rome with their families.  The streets and churches were alive with people!  It was inspiring to see the churches full of families in this day-after-Christmas tradition.

We decided to follow in the Italians' footsteps and do a little "church hopping" ourselves.  When in Rome! 

There are four major basilicas in Rome.  On Saint Stephen's Day, we were able to visit all four (Saint Mary Major, Saint Peter's Basilica, Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, and Saint John Lateran)!  The first major basilica we visited on this day was Saint Mary Major. 

Saint Mary Major's Basilica contains wood from Baby Jesus' crib!  It is kept inside of an ornate gold and glass reliquary.  What a beautiful experience to kneel before Jesus' crib on the day after Christmas!

The church also has the relics of St. Jerome, St. Matthias, and St. Matthew.

Next, we visited the Basilica of St. Peter in Chains.  This church contains the chains that were used to bind St. Peter in Jerusalem and Rome.  Legend has it that when the two pieces of chain were touched together, they miraculously attached!

From this Basilica, we headed to the Circus Maximus!  It was very incredible to walk along the greatest chariot racing stadium in Rome.  Imagining the chariots thundering down the track was quite a thrill.  Now, the Circus Maximus is a quiet, open park where runners go to do some laps!

On the ancient chariot track!

After the Circus Maximus, we took the metro back to Saint Paul's Basilica.  Since we were unable to visit Saint Paul's tomb the previous day, we were on a mission to visit our dear patron's tomb on this second visit! 

As I mentioned earlier, Peter is a big fan of Saint Paul.  It's only logical that he would have this heavenly connection, since little Peter has visited St. Paul's hometown three times and has played where young Saint Paul grew up.  Peter can pick out Saint Paul icons in any church.  When we pray our Litany of Saints, Peter never forgets to add "Saint Paul, pah-pah-us (pray for us)".  They are buddies. 

We bought an icon of Saint Paul and gave Peter the honor of holding it as we approached the great Apostle's tomb. 

We touched the icon to Saint Paul's tomb (behind the grate in the photo below).  Above his tomb, in a small gold reliquary, are the chains the bound Saint Paul when he was arrested in Rome. 

After visiting Saint Paul's Basilica, we just couldn't resist returning to Saint Peter's Basilica once more!  We stopped at a famous sculpture of Saint Peter, whose foot has been worn smooth after eight centuries of pilgrims touching it and asking for his intercession.  We touched his foot as well and asked Saint Peter, our little boy's patron Saint and the first Pope, for his intercession for our family and friends.

I love every detail of Saint Peter's Basilica, but the stained glass window of the Holy Spirit is one of my absolute favorite parts.  Throughout Christmas Midnight Mass, the illuminated Holy Spirit surrounded by bold ornate gold carvings, kept catching my eye and drawing me in.  It is breathtaking.  It lifts your soul to almighty God and helps you meditate on His majesty.

Another one of my favorite parts of Saint Peter's Basilica are the twisty, massive pillars near the main altar. 
They are gorgeous!

Our last trip to St. Peter's Basilica was also an opportunity for Dan to pay his respects to one of the Saints he's closest to:  St. Jude the Apostle.  Dan has been asking for St. Jude to pray for him and his intentions since he was in high school.  In our previous visits to St. Peter's Basilica, the area containing the altar above St. Jude's remains was blocked off.  Now that the major Christmas festivities were over, the area opened up again.  Although the basilica staff would not allow us to pray at the altar for long, it was amazing to personally thank one of our most loved Saints for his intercession. 

Also in the same area of the basicilca as St. Jude was the remains of the apostle St. Simon.  The same area also contained an altar built over the traditional spot where St. Peter was crucified upside down and died.

In front of Saint Peter's Basilica is a beautiful, larger-than-life sculpture of Saint Peter!  As you can guess, Saint Peter is another favorite of the Beaudoin's! : )

One last glimpse of Saint Peter's Square, decorated with a Christmas tree and life-sized manger scene.  Picture perfect.  We love this place.

Next we moved on to the last of Rome's four major basilicas:  St. John Lateran.  St. John Lateran is the oldest basilica in Rome and it was commissioned by the Emperor Constantine to be built over the site of a Roman Cavalry Barracks (the cavalry members of this barracks were loyal to one of Constantine's enemies before Constantine became sole emperor).  The powerful Laterani Family of Rome owned the estate and the basilica was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Apostle--so that's were you get the name "St. John Lateran"!

Because this basilica is the oldest in Rome, it is the Pope's home basilica and cathedral (a cathedral is a church used by a bishop...cathedrals hold each bishop's "cathedra" which is his throne).  Along with the Pope's cathedra, this basilica holds many other important items:  the heads of St. Peter and Paul, pieces of the Last Supper table, the doors of the ancient Roman Senate House, and pillars from the Roman Capital's Temple to Jupiter!

The cathedra--throne--of the Pope!

After seeing St. John Lateran, we tried in vain to visit the Catacombs of St. Sebastian.  We got there at 4:35 and the man letting people in said that people couldn't enter anymore after 4:30...shoot!  Well, another reason to come back to Rome one day!

Moving on, we visited a Basilica not far from St. John Lateran's called the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem.  This basilica was built by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine.  At this chapel, she deposited many holy relics she brought back to Rome from the Holy Land.  Among these are:  a nail from Christ's crucifixion, fragments of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified, St. Thomas's incorrupt finger that he put into Jesus's side, a large piece of the cross of St. Dismas (the good thief who was crucified with Jesus), and a fragment of the "Title of the Cross," the sign hung above Jesus's head during the crucifixion.  The Title of the Cross was can still see the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin letters!

The Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem
Relics in the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem

A piece of the Title of the Cross!  This portion shows the word "Nazarene" written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  One of the reasons researchers think this is authentic is that the Greek and Latin letters are mistakenly written right to left.  Hebrews writers are accustomed to writing right to left for their language, so it makes sense that this was written in Israel.

This is what the whole sign above the crucified Jesus (the Title of the Cross) actually looked like.  The shaded portion of the sign shows the part actually on display in the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem (see the previous picture).

Across the street from Saint John Lateran is a small, humble church called The Church of the Holy Stairs.  This church contains the stairs on which Christ was condemned to death in Pilate's Praetorium.  One can only ascend these holy stairs on their knees.  I visited this church as a high schooler and it left a profound, lasting memory on me.  I knew  then that I had to return to this powerful, prayerful place.  It is so humbling to clumsily crawl, step-by-step, silently, slowly, prayerfully to the top--all the while fixated on the image of our humble, holy Savior on the cross.  It is such a powerful reflection.