Nina’s birth story

March 2, 2014 § 1 Comment


This is the story of how Nina Nicole came into the world.

I was up before the sun came up that Tuesday. Partly anxious, partly hungry, I just couldn’t sleep but six. That Tuesday, January 28, was going to forever change my life and the life of our family! I was schedule for a c-section at 10:30 am.

I had spent the evening before repacking our hospital bags with my mom and making hair bows for our sweet girl. That morning, all was left to do was get myself ready and go to the hospital. No breakfast needed, which was incredibly hard for this hypoglycemic mama. No make up, no nail polish, no jewelry either. So at least I got my hair fixed.

We left O at home with my parents and arrived at the hospital at 9 am. We quickly signed all the paperwork and they checked us into our room.  My nurse for the day came in and asked all the questions in the world and prepped me for surgery. The OR was having an incredibly busy day. It was break week, so everyone had schedule their surgical procedures for the day of my c-section. It was 11 o’clock before I got in.

This part was the easy part. I knew what to expect, how things were going to feel. How to epidural procedure was going to be. It doesn’t make the anxiety and anticipation any easier though. Knowing you are going into major surgery just makes it all a little more nerve wrecking. My blood pressure dropped quite quickly and I began to feel whoozy. As I’m quite experienced with the feeling of fainting, I was well aware I was about to blackout. I immediately told my wonderful doctor and she just coached me through some deep breathing exercises until the adrenaline shot the nurses gave me kicked in. After this, it was all very quickly until we heard that beautiful cry. The husband was sitting right next to me, smiling from ear to ear. We exchange a knowing look: She looks just like her brother, only smaller! They took her to the pediatric nurse to get all cleaned up and then brought her over to us. We took pictures, I kissed her. She even nursed for a few minutes before they whisked her away and proceeded to stitch me up.
My nurse took me back to my room and the husband was already there, waiting for me.

It felt like forever before they brought Nina back to us. They were getting her cleaned up, giving her shots, etc. Husband and I just sat there, anxiously waiting to see and hold our baby girl again. Meanwhile, the nurses helped me get ready. The hospitals here don’t provide gowns, so I came prepared with some cute and comfy nursing PJs this time. Last time, I only took regular clothes and I just wasn’t comfortable at all. I wore like this one and like one. In fact, they are so comfy I still wear them every night.

Finally, our sweet girl arrived, all decked out in pink and we got to really see her for the first time. Needless to say, we thought she was beautiful. Our sweet, beautiful girl.

As I began to nurse her, I couldn’t help but think about how her big brother would react once he met her. But that’s a story for another post.




on reflections of the past year

December 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

We had to take down our Christmas tree early because we had guests coming to stay and we needed the space. Normally, this would have made me cringe. I mean, what kind of person takes down Christmas on the actual Christmas day? Honestly, it felt good to put everything away. Ready to start the new year. I’m ready to set new goals.

First, however, I like to take the time to reflect on the year that has past. It’s been a good year, I have to say. Unexpectedly good. Like last year, I’m using Simple Mom’s reflection questions, answering the ones that are pertinent to me. Hope you enjoy them, as much as I enjoy answering them.


What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

As always, many wonderful things happened this year. On personal, spiritual and even physical levels. But when I look back on this year, the one thing that stands out is our trip to Paris. It marked a new beginning for me, not to mention a dream come true.

What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Ah, there are many a challenge I lived through this year. Understanding friendships in cross-cultural settings, packing up and leaving for a six-month long trip…

What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Can I bring up Paris again? Because that was a surprise I won’t soon forget… The buttery croissants, the macarons, French being spoken all around. It was glorious!

Also, parenting O has been such an unexpected joy this year. Not that before it wasn’t. But I think I’m finally coming into my own as a mommy. Plus, parenting a little boy is

What was an unexpected obstacle this past year?

A week before we were to leave Turkey, the husband got really sick. It was crazy and unexpected, and yes, I was panicking. After he received some fluids at the hospital, he fell asleep and woke a new person. I was so glad! I don’t think we could have crossed the Atlantic without his invaluable help.

Pick three words to describe 2012.

fun = I had a lot of fun this year. After two years of dealing with cross-cultural adjustment and stress, I finally reached a point where I could have fun again. That was such a blessing.

morning= 2012 is the year I became a morning person. Well, not really. I did finally achieve my goal of waking up before my boys were up. To have some Bible time, some workout time, some quiet time. It didn’t happen every morning, but it happened most mornings and I’m so much better for it.

simple= it was the year of going back to basics. Finding my way back to my roots, relearning to apply my gifts and talents in new ways. Most importantly, it was the year of keeping things simple and meaningful.

What were the best books you read this year?

I always say the best book is the one I’m reading at the moment! I read two wonderful parenting books, that, in many ways, changed my outlook on motherhood. One was The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and the other was Wild Things:The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David S. Thomas.

A fun light read that I thoroughly enjoyed, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

Honorable mention goes to Thin Within by Judy Halliday, a book that has helped me in my journey to stay healthy and not be controlled by food.

With whom were your most valuable relationships?

Always and forever, my guys. Not a day goes by without my heart exploding with gratitude to God for these two wonderful people in my life.

Going back to my words (simple), I learned even more the value and the beauty of the relationship I have with my family. My sisters were my very first friends and continue to be my best friends. I miss them, immensely, everyday.

What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

As mentioned before, I turned a new leaf. To quote Florence + The Machine:

Happiness hit her like a train on a track… The dog days are over, the dog days are done.

It was the year of many prayers answered. Big, small and outright impossible requests were seen. The God of Impossibles showed me, once again, that He is control. That with Him, the possibilities are endless. It was the year of finding a childlike faith. Gone is the cynicism, I’m not so jaded anymore. And that friends, is pure victory.

I am most certainly not the same girl that woke up on January 1st, 2012. I’m thirty, I’m thinner and I’m certainly happier (not because Im thirty and thinner, mind you!) 🙂

In what way(s) did you grow physically?

I am about the complete my 2nd round of the Insanity workouts. Just the fact that I was able to complete the first round is victory enough. But decide to go through it again and actually enjoy it? That, I never saw coming.

What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

Laughing, wrestling, baking. Drawing, watching, playing. Running. Smiling. Learning. It’s been a fun year for this stay at home mom. Oh, and reaching an Advanced level of Turkish was the cherry on top!

What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

Time management and flexibility. At one point I had four different guests coming to stay with us one after the other. One day the husband dropped off one of our guests as he was picking up some more friends that were coming to stay. I barely had time to throw new sheets on the bed. It was challenging, but we did it!

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Oh, the usuals… Facebook, Pinterest. Of course this was the year of Instagram. Everybody and their mother is wasting time on Instagram these days.

What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Maximizing my times in the mornings was crucial to set the tone for the rest of the day. I am finally seeing the value in some housekeeping rules my mom taught me growing up. Finding a place for everything has helped me keep everything in its place.

What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

I learned that after a storm, comes the calm. And that in life, I’ll live through many storms still. Knowing that I have Eternal hope helps me know that there’s always light after some dark times. And dare I say it, there’s light even during it.

Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you.

Joyful Endurance.

Wishing everyone a fantastic new year. 2012 was great, but I’m ready to see what the new year will bring.

Happy New Year sweet friends!


A baby, a toddler and a little boy’s Christmas pictures

December 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

A look at our little boy over his past three Christmases.

1st Christmas, 2010:


2nd Christmas, 2011:


3rd Christmas, 2012:
(look at that big boy!)


I just can’t get over how cute he is. It’s ok though, ’cause I’m the mama!

Check back Monday for a 2012 recap! 😉

mom-mode post # 227- on making cinnamon ornaments

December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment


If you have read this blog long enough (and know me). You know I’m a maker. Always been. I always have some sort of project going on. When I don’t have a project going it could only be indicative of two things: 1. something is wrong with me or 2. something is really wrong with me.

For the past few years, I have come up with all kinds of overly involved Christmas Craft projects. This year I wanted to keep things simple, while involving O in the process.

So we made these cinnamon ornaments I found on Pinterest.

It was simple enough, that he was able to help me and not get bored with it. It only takes about 10 minutes to get the ornaments done, then the rest of the process is done in the oven.

I didn’t find baker’s twine at my local Walmart ( we have no craft stores… It’s a small town), so I settled for this red sparkly yarn.

All in all it was a fun little project that can be done in one day and be used the next. I love the idea on the website to use it as gift wrapping decorations. It would be a nice touch to add to a teacher gift, or sweet memento to give to friends. We put them up on our tree and they smell terrific!!!

Of course this is not the only project I have going on… I’ll share my other makings sometime soon!

mom mode post #215 – on a letter to my 15-year-old self

September 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

This week many bloggers have written letters to their teenage selves, and I thought I’d join in. You can read more about it here. This was a great exercise for me to talk to that brokenhearted girl of 15 years ago. I sometimes don’t realize how much I’ve buried this part of my story. It’s a beautiful tale of pain and redemption though. It may be time to start putting this part of my story on paper. 🙂

Dear 15-year-old me,

Oh honey, my eyes are filled with tears just thinking about the pain you (we) are going through this year. Let me tell you something dear, it gets better. This unimaginable pain you feel right now is redeemed and the wounds in your heart are healed by your ever-loving Savior. Keep holding onto Him, He is indeed Your Rock, and you’re about to discover what true intimacy with God is. I’m excited for you in this aspect. The lessons you will learn this year, be them emotional or spiritual, will take you on a an incredible lifelong journey of letting God be the controller of your life. However hard this year is, you will one day come to the conclusion it was all worth it. You will learn to cherish this as part of the beautiful narrative God is writing in your life.
This year you will also learn the pain of rejection. Your best friend will start dating and stop hanging out with you when you need her the most. Commit to forgive her now, don’t carry this grudge with you. Don’t let this decide how you face new friendships from now on. Be willing to be vulnerable in your friendships, darling. It might be painful sometimes but if you aren’t being real and open, it just isn’t worth it. This friend will go through many a trial later in life, she will finally understand the pain you are going through with your parents’ marriage crisis.
You will be thrilled to know that the Lord answered your many prayers and counted your many shed tears: Your parents marriage is strong today and your family is still together. Stronger than ever. They will go through many a battle still. In the end, a few months before your own wedding day, your daddy will ask for your mom’s forgiveness. He will apologize for the pain he caused you and your sisters and he will come back home to never leave again. Your parents and your sisters will become a very valuable support network as you move away. You will love spending time and talking with them. Right now all you want to is to get away. Trust me though, when you do get away you will miss them muchly and dearly.
I have more good news for you: All these dreams you have in your heart? They all come true. Yes, I’m not crazy. You serve an awesome God who heard every prayer you prayed. You will get to see the world, even more than you imagined. You actually don’t even live in your own country anymore. You become a citizen of the world, you speak many languages and you love every minute of it all.
God blesses you with the man of your dreams. It will be a fairytale-like whirlwind romance. Your marriage will be one of happiness and much love and respect. Your husband will be so trustworthy. No need to fear darling, God redeems this part of your life too.
He blesses you with the sweetest little boy ever. I know now you’ve decided you don’t want to ever get married, let alone become a mommy. Trust me, your marriage will be a balm to your wounded soul and motherhood will be the sweetest unexpected gift ever.
Trust your older self when I tell you, life is just about to get so much better and so much happier for you. Soon you will be singing along Mary J. Blige: ’cause we are celebrating no more drama in our lives’. Well, there will still be drama, but now you know who you can count on and the Lord will give you a wonderful support network that will carry you through some of the rougher times that will come your away.
Keep bending your knees in prayer, keep going to scripture for refuge. The Lord will keep you under His wings in the next turbulent years of your life. You will be safe with Him.

One more thing, keep making art. Don’t ever stop. It’s your life’s passion. Draw, write, paint. Learn how to sew. He made you for this.

Oh and no matter what people say, you are beautiful. And by no means or standards are you fat. Let’s get this straight now, ok? Keep swimming, working out and eating well. Block out the voices that tell you aren’t athletic enough. Your body is way more powerful than you think. Trust me on this one.

Keep dreaming dear one.


Your 30-year-old self

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my 15-year-old self. Gotta make sure I ask my mom to scan some for me.


mom-mode post #213 – on going to the movies for the first time

September 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

There are so many wonderful things about being a parent, and one of my most favorite things is to get to see my child experience many ‘firsts’. First smile, first steps, first trip to the movies.
It wasn’t a planned outing. I don’t think I had ever thought about the frist time I’d take O to the movies. My friend called asked if we wanted to come along. I, without giving it too much thought, excitedly said yes.
O and his buddy were thrilled to get to sit on booster seats to watch the “big TV”, wearing cool glasses. The movie was Brave, in Turkish, no subtitles. This didn’t seem to faze my trilingual child, although I’m pretty sure I missed a few of the jokes. He didn’t take his eyes off the screen (and the delicious snacks we brought along) until the first half of the movie. Here in Turkey, like in plays, they do intermission in movies too. The husband and I have gotten so used to this, when we go to the movies in America or in Brazil, we desperately miss being able to go to the potty or fill up on snacks without missing parts of the movie.
After intermission things got a little tricky. O had to go potty but was struggling with the public restroom, it was getting close to his nap and he got a boo boo on the way back from the bathroom. Alas, he was still super excited about it all. He has been sword fighting and playing pretend bears ever since. And talking about the movie he saw on the big TV.
My favorite part? The parts that got him a little scared, he jumped on my lap and I got to cuddle with my usually never-stop-moving-toddler for a loooong time. I was in mommy heaven. 🙂


20120913-150721.jpgcrappy iPhone pictures of my big boy in front of the movie poster and inside with his buddy and glasses, but it was too dark. Should’ve brought a better camera. 😦

mom-mode post #212 – on mommy guilt, perfectionism and perfectly abiding grace

September 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve talked about my struggles with it here, I came face to face with it again last year.
This week it came back again, rearing its ugly head, filling up my mind with lies. Telling me I wasn’t good enough for my sweet boy.
I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life. And usually this mommy guilt comes up as I start looking around and comparing myself to other mommies, other parents. Telling me I am not doing this mommy job perfectly. When I was in Kindergarten I got in major trouble because I was upset a group project didn’t come out just the way I wanted it. The teacher was trying to teach me to just accept it, but I was having a major time dealing with it. I remember my mom just telling the teacher to go easy on me because I was a perfectionist.
Facebook, Pinterest and whatnot, can also be a trap for thinking other mommies have it together. They have the perfect solution for their tantrum-throwing kid, they serve the yummiest healthiest meals, they keep their cool when their toddler flat-out refuses to obey. I know better not to get caught up in this, yet I find myself longing for real mommies that I can relate with and be real and not feel like I’m being judged by the decisions I make as a parent. I compare myself to someone else’s blown-out perfect reality and I don’t measure up.
I have been blessed with a few friends that are very much an encouragement in my motherhood journey and I couldn’t have been more thankful for their timely insight into my life as a mama. But I also have a few friends that always seem to make me feel worse about my mothering skills. You know the type of friend that seems to look at you judging as you choose not to discipline your child for something they would have chosen to discipline their own child for.
After situations like this, I found myself crumbling under the pressure and impossible standards I set for myself. I can blame it on a judgemental friend, or the stress I’m under as we prepare to move again. Truth is, I’m the one setting myself up for so-called failure as I bite more than I can take. Striving to achieve more than unreasonable goals.
So last night I went out for a run, right as the sun was setting, I felt the Lord whispering in my ear: I didn’t call you to be a perfect mommy. I’m the Perfect One. I just called you to be O’s mommy.
This morning I got a chance to come to a coffee shop by myself. Coffee in hand, I was reminded again to stop striving so much. He calls me to abide in Him. To stop trying so hard.O just needs me to love him, not to be perfect. That’s enough. I’m going to make mistakes as I parent, I’m going to apologize, I’m going pray that the Lord will cover over my multitude of sins and grow my O to be a well-adjusted, lovable, kind, smart, God-loving young man. My job is to abide in Him, to remember that His grace is enough. To live my life fully in Him and trust Him to guide me in this crazy uncharted territory that motherhood has been to me.
Earlier today we had the best time playing “baskball” (i.e. basketball) in the hallway, my little pajama clad boy, smiling from year to year, just happy to have me play with him. So what? What we were playing didn’t even resemble basketball. So what? I was never the sporty type and have no idea what to do with a ball. To my son this morning, I was like Kobe Bryant, professional basketball player. Yet O didn’t want to play with Kobe, he wanted to play with me.
Thankful for the gift my son is to me, his very existence has allowed God to work in the depths of my being and bring out some nasty, ugly things, so He can continue to mold me and sanctify me.
Praying that as I walk further in this life of a mommy, I walk farther and farther from the trappings of guilt, comparisons and perfectionism.

Today I’m linking with O, my family

20120913-122953.jpg O’s perfect work of coloring iPad art.

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