Monday, February 16, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Almost Two: A Week Of Mishaps

Except for the illness and medicine, last week was a usual sort of week...

Monday: LE develops a goopy eye thing. Does not care at all for the drops, which must be given twice a day. There’s pinning down and screaming involved. LE also trips over his carseat, hits his nose, and gets a nosebleed.

Tuesday: LE misses the potty. Poo everywhere. Manages to start empty washer and fill it partway with water. Later, he puts clean clothes from the drawer into the puddle in the washer. The eye worsens. Bashes his head after flinging himself backwards for a tantrum.

Wednesday: Is found to have a budding ear infection. Starts antibiotics. Eyedrops increased to four times daily. Medicine is extremely yucky. Must be bribed with jellybeans. Getting the eyedrops in involves tempting him with a bribe, pinning him down, him screamimg and writhing, getting the jellybean, and running off quite pleased. There are no major injuries today, but LE gets a small wire basket stuck on his head.

Thursday: LE falls off slide and almost splits chin, but just gets a nasty bruise. Learns to climb the monkey bar ladder.

Friday: Gets carsick all over self and carseat. It’s very stinky. I think about how many years of cleaning puke from difficult places (like carseat buckles) lie ahead of me.

Saturday: Upon waking, LE picks a bloody booger from his nose and rubs it in his eye. BE wakes up to LE in his crib looking like he has a bloody eye. Panic ensues. I am fetched from sleep to deal with it.

And this was before the week was even over. As of today, the chin bruise is almost healed, his ears aren't quite better and the eye thing may be coming back, but now it's rain, rather than sickness, trapping us in the house for the third week in a row.

It's a good thing LE and I can hang.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stuff You Might Not Know About Me: A Meme

A meme from David over at ELT World.

I have to say, I like getting memes because then I don’t have to think up my own topics.

1 Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog
2 Share 7 facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird
3 Tag seven people at the end of your post
4 Let them know they’ve been tagged

1) These are the famous people I’ve seen in person: Julia Child (San Francisco airport), Danny Glover (Reno airport), Bobby McFerrin (on a plane from San Francisco to De Gaulle), Cory Feldman (Magic Mountain), Julia Roberts, (Clement St., San Francisco), the guy who played Skippy Handleman on Family Ties (twice—once when he was part of a Yale a capella group that performed at my high school, and a few years later on Haight St. in San Francisco when he was handing out flyers for his comedy show. The flyers said “He’s not Skippy Handleman anymore” and he was a little bit mad we kept calling him that), Judge Mills Lane (guest speaker in my 3rd grade class), Senator Harry Reid (guest speaker in my 6th grade class), the bassist from the Pixies (in Portland), Jack Johnson (several times at his shows), David Ogden Stiers (in a restaurant in Eugene), Jimmy Carter (guest speaker at my college). Oh, and my one of my next door neighbors was Dawn Wells’s nephew.

2) I have three gross hand tricks. One is bending my fingers back to a 90 degree angle. Another is bending my thumbs back almost to my wrist. The third is locking all the top joints of the fingers on my left hand at 90 angles while keeping the rest of my fingers straight, then moving just the top joints. The thumb thing is apparently congenital, as my grandmother could do the same. LE’s thumb joints are so loose that they bend all the way back painlessly when I pull his shirt on. When he was first born, there were several times I went, “Eek! Where’d your thumbs go?” while dressing him.

3) The longest I’ve gone without sleeping is 52 hours.

4) I save all the extra buttons that come with my clothes.

5) The first record I ever bought with my own money was Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. The first tapes I ever bought (at once, with the same gift certificate) were the soundtrack from Amadeus, the soundtrack from Footloose, and Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

6) I do not, nor have I ever, owned an I-Pod.

7) I have rosacea. If I’m not careful, I could end up looking like Charles Bukowski, and it wouldn’t be from the liquor.

And with that I tag: Bri, Siobhan, Melissa... Well, it's not seven but those are the only blogs I've been reading lately.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

LE's Top Ten

With special thanks to a commentor for reminding me about making lists, here's a list of LE's favorite things. I only wish I had thought about doing something like this long ago, when his favorite things included stuff like moving lights and things that made crinkly noises.

1) Pushing buttons. He's almost Rain Man about it. Any button he sees, or anything that looks like a button, or even a picture of something with buttons, he's compelled to push it again and again. One of his few words is "push." He says "poosh" whenever he sees a button, or thinks about the possibility of buttons. I've even heard him murmuring it in his sleep. One of the first things I do in the morning is make sure 555-5555 is the most recently dialed number on the house phone, otherwise he'll hit the redial and call the water guy or one of BE's friends 1,000 times a day.

2) Tums. This started by mistake when LE discovered my dad's bedside Tums. We freaked out the first time he ate one, but a little research seems to say it's okay. Calcium, right? Then he discovered where the Tums were, and would run to the bathroom pointing to the cupboard shouting "Ah-haaa! Ah-haaa!." Upon receiving the Tums, he holds it up in the air and shouts and parades around the house showing it to everyone. It took him all of two days to discover where we keep the Tums in Turkey.

3) The Wiggles. The insanity doesn't stop. In stores he even developed the ability to spot a Wiggles tape or CD amongst all the others. About 18,000 times a day, he points to the movies and says "Yo yo!" or "Wuh wuh!" When you take one down he jumps up and down and screeches with pure joy. He has the same reaction, in fact, whenever he sees the Warner Brothers logo.

4) Flushing the toilet. LE's gotten pretty good about pooping in his potty, but every time the littlest thing comes out of him, he jumps up and says "Ah poo Ah poo!" and waits to flush it down the toilet. A normal potty session can take up to8 flushes. The neighbors must think we've got issues up here. When the water goes down he says "Bye bye poo poo."

5) Danino. Danino are these brightly colored little cups of something like fruit-flavored cream cheese. The kid won't touch fruit-flavored yoghurt (only plain will do, the little weirdo), but even though Danino tastes a lot like fruit-flavored yoghurt, he's just nuts for it. His request for Danino is "Noooooo!" so it's very context-oriented. It sounds just like "Noooo!" as in, "I do not want my diaper changed, get away from me, devil woman!" Incidentally, he somehow got the Headway-perfect RP pronunciation of "no." For those who don't find this description helpful, imagine how an old dowager in an Oscar Wilde costume drama says "no," add a couple more syllables, and there you are. Where the hell he got this from I have no idea.

6) Whatever I'm doing. It wouldn't matter if BE were in the kitchen driving a car and juggling and making waffles with blueberries, LE would probably be in the bathroom with me watching me take a dump.

7) Laundry. This is an offshoot of #6 as well as button-pushing, but it's a good thing he likes helping with the laundry so much because there's so damn much of it. He goes "wash wash" whenever he passes the machine, or sees clothes, and he seems to do a lot of wasning in his dreams. We're working on a rule about not touching the washing machine while it's running. It's going slowly. Nonetheless, I'm enjoying this brief time where he thinks it's super fun to help me with the laundry. I should be so lucky in ten years.

8) Balls. LE thinks balls are great. Whenever he sees anything round (in the world, on TV, in pictures...), he gets really excited and shouts "Ball!" 'Ball' was his first word, after 'Mama' and 'Baba.' One day at baby school when I came to fetch him, he grabbed my hand, pulled me to a tub of balls, and said "Ball," all cool and smooth like he'd been saying things for years. If we bring LE's ball to the park, he drops it and forgets about it but if other kids try to touch it we have to have a lesson about sharing. If another kid has forgotten his ball in the park, LE snatches it and plays with it like it's the most wonderful thing on earth. If the kid decides he wants his ball back, there's another lesson in sharing, though LE is a lot less reluctant to share other people's balls with them.

9) Bubbles.I've hidden them. I'm sick of blowing them for a little while, and LE hasn't quite got the blowing thing down yet. I was shocked when LE said 'bubble' because I'm pretty sure he hasn't heard that word in months.

10) A tie between Water and His Knees. Yeah, okay, that's two things, but the kid's really into both. His and my goals for hand-washing are quite different. Same for baths. Actually, I think it's the combination of water and pushing buttons that makes flushing the toilet so appealing. As for his knees, whenever he sees them he mentions it to me. 'Knee' was among LE's first five words. Shortly after, he learned 'diz,' making it the first word he learned in Turkish and English. Most recently, he said 'bath' to me and 'banyo' to BE, making it the first time he's said a word in both languages to the appropriate parent. He clearly really wanted that bath.

This top ten quickly turned into an account of LE's baby talk. That's probably because all day long, these are the main topics of our conversations. All day long, I'm letting him do one of these things, stopping him from doing one of these things, and reassuring him that we might do one of these things later on. Here's one example of a conversation:

LE: (grunts and offers me his glass of water)
ME: No thanks, that's your water.
LE (grunts louder and offers me the glass more insistently)
ME: Ew, no, I don't want that. It's all full of your backwash.
LE: (running towards a sink or a washer) Wash wash wash

The truth is, I'm positively enthralled with every shred of his developing language. I'm sure you couldn't tell.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beaten: The Worst Wine Ever

I've been drinking wine for a long time. More than twenty years, probably. In that time I've had a lot of good wine, but also a lot of really bad wine. I've drunk Carlo & Rossi Sangria from a gallon jug. I've drunk wine that costs $3.99 per liter at the gas station. I've drunk corked wine. I've drunk wine that's been sitting out open for more than a day (after checking it for cigarette butts, of course). I've drunk Güzel Marmara.

And it's not just bad wine I've drunk. I've drunk a lot of other horrible, borderline-undrinkable things. Jaegermeister. Yukon Jack. Goldschlager. Night Train. Mad Dog. The "punches" people make at high school parties. Robotussin. Homemade absinthe. You get the picture.

Until last night, never in my life have I drunk something that is SO BAD, so completely foul that I couldn't drink it. I couldn't even finish the small glass I'd poured. The only reason I saved the bottle was to take a picture.

This wine was akin to sake, but not in a good way. I've always thought sake has a somewhat farty taste to it, yet there's something to the heat of it, or maybe the food you have with it, that makes it okay. This wine just tasted like farts. And it's not like it was corked or anything-- it's a screw top. Sometimes when a wine is really nasty, I try to salvage it by heating it with mulling spices and maybe even some sugar, but I don't think that would do any good for this wine. And I certainly wouldn't insult food by trying to cook with it.

After tasting the wine, BE called it "köpek öldüren" (dog killer). In English we might call it rotgut or dog piss. However, I wouldn't use any of those terms to describe this wine, because to me they imply that something is yucky but drinkable, or at least worth drinking to achieve a goal. You might bitch the whole time you're drinking it, but you can still get it down. Not this wine. I tried. LE is sick and I'm recovering from his same sickness and it had been a hard day. There's nothing like a nice glass of wine after dinner before I pass out from exhaustion at 9.30. After four sips and a lot of grimacing, I gave up and dumped it down the sink.

Living in Turkey, my wine standards have fallen pretty low. I started drinking white wine here because most wine is pretty bad, but with white wine you can at least chill it and take some of the taste away. Prices have gone up so much recently, my usual acceptable cheap wine no longer seems very cheap. This particular disaster was on sale for 11.90YTL at Tansaş. If you live in Turkey, don't go for this bargain. Just don't.

Trust me. I know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mr. Gums

One thing I love about World English is the things that are printed on clothing. BE just got this T-Shirt for LE:

What I want to know is, who is this Mr. Gums, and what makes him think he has a snowball's chance in hell against Victory Machine?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our Parks

I know I've ranted before about the parks here, but due to unseasonable warmth and general cabin fever, LE and I have been spending a lot of time in the playgrounds near our house. After the nice nearby playgrounds in America, I've been finding the ones here quite troubling, a feeling that's tempered only by LE's pure joy in them. LE thinks playgrounds are the greatest places on earth, so he's blissfully unaware of any underlying scariness.

I've given our parks names. The one nearest us is Broken Glass Park. If I take LE to the corner store, we have to stop by Broken Glass Park because he sees it on the way. I try to keep our visits there short, and I surreptitiously gather bits of broken glass and throw them in the trash (I have to be secretive because if LE sees me doing it, he'll want to do it too). I have no idea why there is so much broken glass in this park. I expect the proliferation of empty vodka and beer bottles might have something to do with it, but since the park is right below our bedroom window, I should think I would hear glass breaking all the time, which I don’t. I've toyed with the idea of making a collage of broken glass from the park and posting it in the foyer of our building, explaining where the glass is from and including a big "Çok ayıp!" (shame on you!) or "Neden?" (Why?) to see if it makes anyone feel bad, though I'm afraid it'll just get a kapıcı in trouble.

LE's favorite Park Rusty Crowded Park. This park seems to get the most use, and it also seems the oldest, as the name implies. Rusty, flaking paint galore. Tons of trash and cigarette butts. Several times, LE has nearly been beaned in the head by basketballs flying from the small court that abuts it. This park is full of tots, bigger kids, and a crowd of inattentive mothers and grandmothers lining the bench and intent on their conversations and cigarettes. They become particularly engrossed when one of their kids does something naughty or purposely hurts another kid. Last time we went there, we were pursued by a group of five girls about ten years old. With their arms linked, they followed us around giggling and whispering and daring each other to try to talk to me. One of them finally got the nerve to say "Hello" in English. I said "Hello" back, and they ran away squealing. I thought they'd find something better to do, but no dice. This continued for almost twenty minutes. One of their mothers called out for them to leave the yabancı alone, but she didn't make any effort to enforce this. Figuring that speaking to them in either language would just encourage them further and keep me from paying attention to LE the way he needs when he's climbing in high places, I just packed him up and went to another playground. That's right. I was bested by a gaggle of little girls. I try to convince myself that they were just being sweet and curious, but at the same time I think they're old enough to know it's not nice to follow a person around and stare, and their stupid mothers should have the sense to teach their kids that foreigners aren't monkeys placed on this earth for their amusement. So it'll probably be a very long time before we go to Rusty Crowded Park again.

My preferred playground is alternately called Good Sand Park, Poison Berry Park, or Creepy Man Park. Despite these apparent failings it is the best of the three. The equipment is in decent condition, and it's less crowded. Most the kids there are also small, and generally their minders pay attention to them, though there was an incident about a year ago when a four-year-old girl threw sand in LE's face (he was just over one). Her mother saw it and became very interested in the sky. So far LE hasn't discovered the red berry bush right next to the slides (I can't remember the name of this bush, but I know we were forbidden from eating similar delicious-looking red berries as kids), and he's only had a couple of close brushes with the thorn bush slightly behind the berry bush. The creepy men, however, give me pause. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Aside from the one truly creepy old guy who was trying to lure me back to his place with some handy phrases he'd learned in Russian, English, and German (he was promptly chased off by some other mothers and duly reported to a passing security guard), the other guys who turn up in this park just seem creepy because they're guys standing around in a park with no kids of their own. They're usually between the ages of 16 and 25. Sometimes they just lean against a pole in the play structure and smoke and it's hard to tell if they're checking out the moms or the kids. Other times, they breeze through and swing on the swings a bit or take a couple runs down the slide.

The weird thing in Good Sand Park is the how many of these bottle caps are in there. LE finds every one. The reason it's weird is because I've never seen a bottle of Chat Cola being sold anywhere, or drunk, and in fact Good Sand Park is the only place I've seen these lids.

I know I shouldn’t complain. At least we have all these playgrounds nearby, right? It's certainly better than having no playgrounds, right? I think I get frustrated because these playgrounds are part of what we pay for out here in the suburbs. They built the buildings, popped in some play structures (that have had very little maintenance since), left a lot of open space (which is slowly being chipped away at as they build more and more apartments), then sell them as lüx (luxury). Hardly. If we were in America and I saw a park that looked like any of these, I wouldn't take LE there. I probably wouldn't even be there myself because parks like these would be in some scary ghetto. Just because I haven't found broken hyperdermics and used condoms in these parks doesn't mean they're not there.

I know. I'm American and I'm spoiled and I'm used to relatively well-kept public places funded by all the citizens rather than everything good cloistered off for the wealthy. I'm used to spending a little extra money to buy actual quality rather than a veneer of status. And while I'm glad LE and I can walk to a playground as often as we like, I just wish someone cared about kids enough to make these places worthy of them.