Monday, September 29, 2008

One of the locals we met while in Sweden said that 'this is Stockholm at its best'. And it was beautiful while we there. Although it was very cold in the mornings and evenings, we had some beautiful days. The sun was shining and the leaves were starting to turn golden. Stockholm is fairly peaceful and we spent a lot of time at Djurgarden, a gorgeous tranquil island with woods, gardens and museums.

One day we stumbled into the Nordiska Museet, which I really enjoyed. It wasn't a 'wow, you have to go there' type place, but it had a lot of exhibits that were just the sort of thing I liked. They had a exhibition on shoes (what's not to love about that!), Swedish homes, Swedish interiors (a history of Swedish interior design), a gorgeous dolls houses exhibit and another with amazing examples of folk art - all that work done by hand that is really worth the description 'art'.

The carved wooden sculptures exhibit was inspiring. This is a huge wooden sculpture of King Gustav Vasa -the first king of a united Sweden. So many of the characters and creatures looked like they were just waiting to be in a children's story. A story with snow and forests, bears and mittens and warm cocoa by the fire.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

We are back from Sweden and glad to be home. Actually I was discussing this with Senol in the taxi on the way back from the airport - about whether it feels like he is coming home when he gets back to Istanbul - and, strange as it may seem, we both agreed that it was like coming back to our second home. Australia (Melbourne to be exact) still rates above Istanbul for that coming home feeling even though Senol was born and grew up in Istanbul.

Stockholm was refreshing. It made me think about and compare the positives and negatives of Istanbul. So if I had to generalise -ok I don't have to but I will anyway! - I would say that Stockholm is more organised, has way less traffic, has cleaner streets, lots of bikes (yay! Sweden is very environmentally friendly as far as I could see) and excellent education. Stockholm also has a ridiculous number of tall, thin well dressed people in that very Swedish, thick rimmed glasses, designy, slim pants kind of way. Do you know what I am talking about at all here??? So cool.

But there was one thing I really missed about Istanbul - it was all the love and attention Yashar gets from everyone. Here in Istanbul every time we go out and about Yashar gets smiles from everyone. If we go to have a coffee the waiter or waitress will come over to say hello to him and play a few little games with him and will often pick him up and carry him around to say hello to all the other staff and customers! We are stopped on the street every single time we go out by people wanting to say hello and tell me what a cute little boy he is. In Stockholm, it was kind of sad to see him waving away at people as they went past, his eyes bright with anticipation, and often they would give him nothing back. Of course there were some lovely people we met in Stockholm that were friendly with him, but it was no where near the kind of attention he gets here. Children are truely adored in Istanbul.

Stockholm is a gorgeous city, made up of many small islands so that beautiful water views are intertwined with the city streets. This post is starting to get essay like though - so more on what we got up to next post!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In case you were wondering where I had gone...

I had a bit of a stressful time last week, which I am now going to unload on you - sorry! Instead of being a good story teller and letting the suspense build up, I will tell you right now that I am ok.

Anyway, you might remember me posting about how tired I was because of the sleep 'issues' with Yashar. Well early last week, while we were over visiting my sister in law for Iftar, I was a little shocked when I weighed myself and discovered I was 7 kilos less than my usual weight. I had also been feeling nauseous and getting head aches so decided that I should visit the doctor to make sure it wasn't anything more than just being totally exhausted.

The doctor decided to run quite a few tests, including doing an ultrasound. So there I was, lying down having the ultrasound, and the operator kept holding the ultrasound thing (that's the technical term) in the one spot. She asked 'Do you have back pain?'. Me - 'Sometimes, I guess'. Her - 'ah-ha' - in a tone that said 'well of course you do'. Me - calm on the outside, freaking out on the inside.

I went straight back up to see my doctor to discuss all of the test results. He had a small stack of papers in front of them. Then like a game show host he started flicking them, one by one, to the side...'this test was fine', 'everything is normal with this test' but... ‘the ultrasound showed a sist between your liver and your pancreas. I would like you to go for a further test straight away....etc, etc...yes it is possible that it is cancer, but if it is anything bad we will operate and take it out straight away.’ Ahhhhh! I was trying not to panic, it might be nothing...but the thoughts that were running through my mind.

I won't go on with more details, except to say that we spent the rest of the day at the hospital, getting the scan(I had to drink a bottle of white stuff - more technical terms - over two hours). Sorry about my complete lack of medical knowledge but I think it was an MRI - it looked kind of like this. Anyway my Turkish isn't good enough to understand everything they said, and it seemed like half the time they didn't try to explain it anyway, which left me feeling even more stressed and helpless. I wanted information! At the end of all of this they said 'its nothing bad'. So I am now still exhausted but very relieved!

But moving on to much more exciting things...I am in now in the home country of Ingrid Bergman, where the temperature was 5 degrees when we landed, where there is the highest ratio of unmarried people in any country in the world, home of the dala horse, good design, plenty of herring and meatballs!

Any guesses?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the namesake

One of my sisters recently sent me a surprise gift in the mail. It was the amazing book by Jhumpa Lahiri called the namesake. I flew through the book (woo hoo! Another step closer to achieving the '28 things I want to do before I turn 29') - it was a fantastic, easy read. Very briefly summed up: it is about the Ganguli family's transition between India and America and it explores themes of dislocation, heritage and escape from that heritage.

Although the story told in this novel is quite different to my own situation, I found the passage below particularly striking. I often found myself thinking about it and how Ashima's thoughts fitted in with my own experience.

Ashima has recently arrived at the hospital, soon to give birth to her first child.

Dr. Ashley pokes in his head from time to time. "No need to worry," he chirps, putting a stethoscope to Ashima's belly, patting her hand, admiring her various bracelets. "Everything is looking perfectly normal. We are expecting a perfectly normal delivery Mrs Ganguli."

But nothing feels normal to Ashima. For the past eighteen months, ever since she's arrived in Cambridge, nothing has felt normal at all. It's not so much the pain, which she knows, somehow, she will survive. It's a consequence: motherhood in a foreign land. For it was one thing to be pregnant, to suffer the queasy mornings in bed, the sleepless nights, the dull throbbing in her back, the countless visits to the bathroom. Throughout the experience, in spite of her growing discomfort, she'd been astonished by her body's ability to to make life, exactly as her mother and grandmother and all her great grandmothers had done. That it was happening so far from home, unmonitored and unobserved by those she loved, had made it more miraculous still. But she is terrified to raise a child in a country where she is related to no one, where she knows so little, where life seems so tentative and spare.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yashar aint Rocket Surgery

Did I mention that my Mum and her partner had been visiting? I was so sad to see them go back to Australia and I know Yashar will miss all of his 'Ni-ne's' fun games. Yashar and I both learnt so much from her while she was here. Mum just has the knack for teaching and having lots of fun with Yashar.

The books I have talk a lot about care, sleeping, feeding, illnesses and development (which is all great!) but not much about how to have fun with and teach your baby. It makes me laugh now to think that before Senol and I mainly just shook a toy at Yashar and then expected him to take it from there.

So now, thanks to Mum, I:
1. Get Yashar way more involved in the actual doing of things - like I press the button to make the music play on the toy (the music that will slowly drive me insane by the way) and then I physically put his finger on the button and say 'now you press the button, go on, you can do it - yay!'

2. Have learnt to not have such low expectations. I no longer think that he couldn't possibly learn it because he's 'just a baby'. It is amazing how much he learnt in the short time Mum was here and it has to be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a parent so far.

3. Do silly stuff! I now know that Yashar thinks it is soooo funny when I stick his bathers on my head...or anything on my head actually!

OK, I know, it's not rocket surgery, or brain science for that matter, but I guess we had never really thought about all. Before this we were students, spending our time listening to lectures, drinking coffee, working in crappy jobs where a name tag was required but no brain necessary, eating kebabs from Charlie's in the Agora, going out. Then we were both living in the inner city, working, going to movies, having after work drinks, drinking coffee... We really didn't have that much contact with babies. So, now we know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I mentioned a very cute little book in my last post called 'Softies: 22 friends for you to sew, knit and crochet'. So that finally got me motivated to finish sewing these cute little bunnies.

Aghh, now that I see the photo I wish I had stuffed around the ears a little more to get rid of those crinkles. Ohh well, I'm sure Yashar won't mind.

The pattern is by Sarah Bowe. I just had a look at her blog and it is gorgeous - I am very jealous!

I made the pink one pretty much according to the pattern, except I stitched the eyes instead of using beads and put a little bell in the middle of it so that it could be used as a nice soft baby rattle. I made the blue one a little smaller and changed the face to that it looked all sleepy and peaceful. Hopefully this will motivate Yashar to sleep a little better! ;)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I know, it's still hot but...

Even though it is still 30 degrees here most days, the evenings are getting cooler and I am definitely in the mood for Autumn to arrive. I'm dreaming of thick woolly scarves for me and cute knitted beanies and corduroy coats for Yashar. Here are a few favourite Autumny things I discovered on Etsy.

This one is from 'While She Naps' - what a gorgeous name. This little owl looks like it is cloaked in Autumn leaves. Amy's soft sculptures are beautiful and are more art work than toy. You can see more of these wise creatures over at her
blog, her website and the 'While She Naps' Etsy store. She also has a couple of patterns in the second 'Softies' book. I have the first book and it is so cute!

Aren't these little baby shoes cute? That hand-embroidering is gorgeous. I can't believe she is selling these shoes at this price - all that work! These are from Anneeta's Etsy shop.

And this little bear is looking rugged up and ready for the cold winter that is on its way. It is handmade by Shanna Murray and you can find Wintery bears, little dresses and fluffy pillows at her Etsy store, and read and see more at her website and her quietly beautiful blog.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Up in arms

I made this cute little pair of pants for Yashar from the sleeves of an old business shirt of Senol's and I am so happy with how they turned out! I especially love the cuffs, they remind me of little sailor pants for some reason and I also love that Yashar gets to wear something that was his 'Baba's'.

Yashar needed some light cotton pj pants. His legs always seem to get a little cold at night, especially now that it is getting cooler in the evenings (what a relief!) and I wanted to keep off any mosquitoes that manage to get in at night. I couldn't find any at the shops nearby so decided to make some.

I cut the sleeves off 40cm up from the cuff (34cm for the pants length and an extra 6cm to sew in the top elastic (I based the measurements on another pair of his pants). I cut a wedge/triangular shape out of each arm, with the point approximately 22cm from the cuff end of the sleeve and the wider end of the triangle at the top of the sleeve. The wedge was slightly more curved on one side to allow a little more rounding for the seat of the pants. I then sewed the matching edges of the wedges from each sleeve together (i.e., the two legs of the pants together). After that I folded the top of the sleeves/pants over twice to form a 3cm wide waist band and sewed around the bottom of that, leaving a gap at the back to insert the elastic. I threaded the length of elastic through using a safety pin and, once in, sewed the two ends together. I then sewed over the gap.

Voila! A pair of cute little pants. Hope you like them!