Wow! This month has just been one big blur. I will not fill you in completely right now, seeing as it is midnight here. I did however want to make sure you all know that we are alive and well. I realize I have let too much time pass since I last wrote. And my dear friend Jon reminded me that because there was a bombing relatively close to our home, I should probably assure all my loved ones of our safety.
We have spent the better part of this month traveling. Michael's brother Robert came to spend Christmas with us, and we wanted to show him a good time. We definitely kept him hopping, if nothing else. We will all need a vacation after this vacation! =) We spent time in Cappidocia - a series of ancient cities carved out of rock. In fact the hotel we stayed in was a bunch of modified caves. I have numerous pictures to upload and share. It was amazing to see halls, churches, caverns, homes - all carved into mountains. The family had a bit more fun than me, because I spent two days in the hotel room throwing up. Good thing it is close enough for me to go back.
I also had a run-in with a Turk at a gas station on the way home. Apparently, my being American, gave him the right to grab my butt. I think he figured I didn't know his language and so who could I tell? He seemed a little shocked when I kicked him and swore at him in Turkish. Then I whipped out my cell phone and called a Turkish friend to give me more words to chew him with. When my friend Sefer heard what this guy had done, he didn't need any prompting. I made such a scene that his buddies came over to find out what had happened. When I told them, the guy denied it (of course) but his burning face and stammering gave him away. He picked the wrong tourist to mess with. Hopefully he will never do it again.
Our travels this month also took us to Istanbul. It was amazing! It reminded me so much of the cities in Europe I visited with my brother and sister-in-law. It was nice to see a completely different side of Turkey. Istanbul is light-years away from where I live. It was like going from Hurricane, UT to Manhattan. (To give you an idea what Hurricane is like, there are only like, 3 people that live there - and a horse) Now I see how Turkey could possibly want to join the EU. Before I was just confused. This side of the country is more Middle Eastern.
We saw so many sites and walked till I thought Dallen's legs would fall off. I think he did too. We had wisely left the two youngest home with a babysitter. The big kids had a great time, riding on the ferry and touring palaces. We also saw an unbelievable Roman Aqueduct. (Okay - admit it - how many of you just now said "The Aqueduct??" with a squeaky Monty Python type British accent?)
We were treated to a dinner show the first night we were there. It ran a little late though and Dallen really got restless. At one point he loudly complained, "How many more Belly Dancers are we gonna have to watch!!??" We laughed as someone pointed out that in about 7 to 8 years, he would be riveted to the stage. Maryn's favorite part of the trip was the pottery store. A man there was using a kick wheel and he let her throw her own pot. We even got to bring it home for free! We took a video of it that I will try to upload. So far, I have hit and miss luck with that.
The history and energy of the city were breathtaking. And I found out the answer to one of life's burning questions: "Istanbul not Constantinople, been a long time gone Constantinople, Why did Constantinople get the works?" Well - apparently the name of the city was changed when the Ottomans defeated the Byzantines. The Ottomans were muslim, and they named the city "Istanbul" which means "City of Islam". Also they didn't want to call it "Constantinople" when it was no longer Constantine's city. So now you know. And now you all have a catchy song in your head.
Another little tid-bit that some of you might find interesting. We had Condalezza Rice stay next door a while ago. Do you remember her surprise visit to Iraq? She stopped here on her way. And our house is next to the VIP house. We didn't get to meet her because it was very hush-hush, but Dallen made friends with one of her Secret Service Agents. He even gave him an honorary badge. Dallen has carried it around telling everyone he is a special agent.
Sorry for the nutshell version of our trip. I promise to write more and post some pictures when I am not falling asleep at the keyboard. Till next time....