Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sabanci Mosque

I have a stubborn little boy still loitering inside my belly, so while I wait, ever so patiently, I thought I would post some photos of Sabanci Mosque that I took a while back.  

Sabanci Mosque, or Sabanci Merkez Camii as it is called here in Turkey, (Merkez meaning "Central" and Camii meaning "Mosque,") is located at the far edge of Merkez Parki (Central Park) and is the largest mosque in Turkey.  That's right folks, Adana boasts the biggest mosque, not Istanbul or Ankara.  And while the mosque looks old and historic, many are surprised to learn that it was only recently built in 1998.  One of the richest families in Turkey, the Sabanci family, funded its construction.  It has six minarets, a 32-meter diameter dome, and has the capacity to hold more than 28,000 people.  In other words, it's gigantic.  If you Google images of Adana, this mosque is most likely the first thing that will pop up, as it has become a symbol of the city.   When its calls to prayer go out multiple times a day, they can be heard across the city, which is something we have grown quite accustomed to since moving here.  

The mosque is open to the general public and tourists (except during prayer times, which are usually posted on the front entrance) and photographs are encouraged. I must say, that even after touring the ancient mosques in Istanbul, the Sabanci Mosque here in Adana remains just as breathtaking, in my opinion.  So, without further ado, here is Sabanci Mosque. 

View of Sabanci Mosque from across the Seyhan River
Close ups of the exterior

The interior--arches and windows

32-meter dome

Stunning marble tile work

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Easy E, you are 3-years old.  We celebrated your special day with a weekend-long celebration, spoiling you with pizza and ice cream, parties, cake, hot dogs and special friends.  You were excited when Daddy and Mommy let you open all your presents on Saturday morning, two whole days before your actual birthday. Saturdays have become very special to you, and we wanted to make it even more special since it was your birthday.  Every Saturday, you bounce into our room at dawn, climb into our bed and beg us to turn on the cartoons in the living room so you can snuggle with Daddy before he goes off to make his special family breakfast.  Saturday morning is your time with Daddy, and sometimes you even tell me to stay in bed so you can spend extra time with him, just the two of you.  It makes me very happy to see the bond you two share. You and I share our own special moments too, like walks home from preschool where we talk about how your day went, afternoons spent at the kitchen table with play-doh, or cooking dinner while we dance to the "Frozen" soundtrack over and over again.    

Over the past year, we have watched you grow into the most amazing kid any parents could ask for.  You are extremely inquisitive, and I don't think five minutes in a day goes by without you asking a question followed by another question, and another...  You want to know--wait, scratch that.  You need to know the answers and if you're not satisfied, you will keep asking, creating more and more questions in your little head until you find what you are seeking.  "Mommy, what is this?  What does it do?  Why do we have this?  Where did we get it? Mommy, why don't the trees fall down when the wind blows?  Where do the monsters go during the day?  If I eat all my peas, can I have two cookies for dessert instead of one?"  And that, my sweet boy, is just a tiny glimpse into your 3-year old mind.   And we love you for it.

You are a talker.  You always have been, and I think you always will be.  You are a social butterfly who isn't afraid to say hello to people in elevators, despite my warnings about talking to strangers.  You do not shy away from a conversation and will try to talk with mommy and daddy's friends like you're old college buddies.  It makes us all laugh.  You ooze confidence in public, but there are still times when you hide behind my legs in an attempt to make yourself invisible, reminding me that you are just a normal 3-year old boy with shy tendencies and insecurities.  

You are very kind and loving, and you wear your heart on your sleeve.  Just the other day you made my heart melt when you turned to me and said I was pretty and that you loved me.  And your daddy burst with pride the other night at dinner when you hugged him and told him he was a good daddy.  

You are expecting your baby brother to arrive at any moment, so you are obsessed with all things baby. When you see a baby on the street or at a restaurant, no one can stop you from walking up to say hello. You love our friends' babies and give them kisses every time you see them.  You talk about your baby brother all the time, and you keep reminding me of all the things you are going to do to help once he arrives.  I get nervous about how having a new brother will truly make you feel, and I fear that jealousy might take center stage, but deep down I know you will be a fantastic and caring brother.  I can't wait for you to have Little D in your life, and I can't wait for him to meet his big brother.  

E, you are a creative soul.  You can't sit still to save your life sometimes, and God forbid we try to get you to respond to the question of "What letter/number is this?" because you just don't want to be bothered.  Even though you know the answer.  Even though we will be walking through a store or down the street and you will point to something and say, "Hey mommy! That's the letter Y!"  You are smart, but you hate being "tested." You love fantasy worlds, and you are constantly slipping off into the land of dragons and castles and pirate ships.  I sometimes sit on the couch and just listen to you playing in your toy space around the corner, out of sight so as not to interrupt you, while you slay the dragon and hide the pirate's treasure from the bad guys.  You love books and will drop anything to sit in Mommy or Daddy's lap to read.  In fact, it's one of the few times you don't mind sitting still.  

But just as much as you love to use your imagination, you love to run.  You have always loved to run.  Lately, we have started playing the "race" game with you.  You race daddy down the hall and through the living room, then the winner stands on the step stool to be presented with a medal.  It's just mommy's old Turkey Trot medal from like, 2002, but in your eyes, it's the best. thing. ever.  You just got a scooter for your birthday and you ride it through our apartment all the time.  You love playgrounds and slides and hide and seek.  Your favorite thing in the world is "baby doggy" and you can't get to sleep without him.  You love fruit and would eat little else if we didn't encourage you.  You love to dance and sing.  Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Caillou are your favorite cartoons.  Broccoli is your favorite vegetable, but you hate green beans.  You speak and understand two languages, and you are learning a third.  You like going with mommy and daddy to watch basketball and soccer games, and even though they only hold your attention for about 20 minutes, you talk about how much fun you had for days afterward.  

E, you are the best, and we love you.  Sometimes I can't believe how quickly three years have passed.  You are growing up, and we love nothing more than watching you become a smart, sensitive and amazing little guy.  Happy Birthday.

You recently discovered a love of soccer.

Our first photo as a family of four (sort of).

Your love of slides is never ending.

Waiting to blow out the candles on your pirate cake.

Sugar overload. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Relationships: U.S. and Turkey Edition

Turkey has made headlines recently regarding their policies in responding to leaked recordings of private conversations between major politicians, including the Prime Minister himself.  Those conversations were posted on social media sites, which led to a government crackdown in an effort to prevent more leaked information.  A few weeks ago, just before the March 30th local elections, Twitter was blocked throughout Turkey.  The site is back up and running now due to a court ruling, but that was not before the government blocked YouTube as well. YouTube, however, is still blocked.  Corruption allegations within the government are running rampant and have been since the conversations were leaked back in December. Arrests are being made and Turkish politicians have been partially blaming outside governments, namely the U.S. for alleged interfering.  

Because of all that has been going on, the current U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, gave an interview today with a Turkish-owned, English language newspaper, Hurriyet Daily News.  In the interview, Mr Ricciardone answers key questions about Turkish-American relations, the U.S. government's view on their social media ban, and the hopeful future of Turkey.  I thought the interview was important and worth sharing, so I'm linking it here. Please take a look if you have the time.