Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ultimate Packing List for a PCS to Incirlik, Turkey

When researching what to pack in our unaccompanied baggage and our luggage we would be carrying with us, I found a few lists here and there of essential household items that the typical person would need in order to get by until their household goods arrived. All-in-all I would say these lists made a lot of sense, but what they, or maybe I, did not accommodate for was the time between our arrival in Turkey, and our UB actually being delivered. So I thought it would be helpful to put a list out there of what you will need to get by, period. And how to avoid having to buy a ton of stuff when you’ve most likely got it coming in your UB.


These are things that you will need once you get in your house, and possibly while you are in lodging waiting for your house, in order to function day-to-day.

Pack in Luggage

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair Dryer (if you are used to drying your hair instead of air drying)
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Lotion
  • Soap - body, hand, and dish
  • Nail Grooming Supplies - clippers and a nail file always come in handy!
  • Towels (and washcloths if you use them)
  • Shower Curtain
  • Shower Hooks
  • Pet Food - enough to get through three or so days until you can buy more on base
  • Pet Supplies (leashes, food bowls, medicines, toys, treats, etc…)
  • Water Bottles - so you can refill at the water fountains and not spend a fortune on bottled water at the commissary
  • Chopping Knife (they only have a few steak knives in the loan locker, so if you cook a lot you will need a decent knife)
  • Pillows (*see note below in loan locker list)

Buy Upon Arrival:

  • Paper Towels 
  • Toilet Paper
  • Trash Bags (and trash cans if you don't have them coming in your UAB or HHG)
  • Laundry Detergent

Between what you have provided in temporary lodging and what you can usually acquire from the loan locker, these few items will at least allow you to get by without too much discomfort. The first few days here there are lots of in processing tasks, and unless your sponsor is available to be your personal chauffeur, this means you will be doing a lot of walking in the Turkish sun. Instead of filling your suitcase with fun outfits and your favorite shoes, I strongly recommend going heavy on things like tennis shoes and workout clothes that you will be comfortable in and not afraid to sweat in or get dirty. Remember that you will have washers and dryers available to you, so really try to maximize your luggage space for things you really need versus another dress or pair of shoes that you most likely won’t end up wearing for a while. You can always pack those extra clothes you want in your unaccompanied baggage.

Another thing to note is that unlike many other assignments, you most likely won't be leaving the base to go out to eat in your first week or two here. Until you acquire your temporary gate pass you actually can't leave. There are a few dining options on base, but we found cooking at the hotel or our house was really the easiest, even if it wasn't anything fancy. So if you require anything more than the basic provisions of the loan locker (pots and pans, basic utensils, a can opener, etc...), you may consider packing them in your luggage. Of course you can always enjoy a few days of Burger King, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut if you would rather :)

Available From the Loan Locker

I know the loan locker is changing how it does things, so the process and availability may be a little different for those arriving from this point on, but these were the things available to us.

  • Plates, bowls and cups
  • Eating, cooking and serving utensils
  • Pots and Pans
  • Baking Pans
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Coffee Makers
  • Irons and Ironing Boards
  • Bottle and can openers
  • Colanders
  • Bedding and Linens - note, they only generally give you one linen set per bed, and each set only includes one pillow and a blanket that doesn't fully cover the double bed you will most like receive in the loaner furniture

In your unaccompanied baggage, with the theory that it will be arriving weeks or months prior to your household goods (although ours arrived on the same day and I have heard stories of people who received their HHG before their UB), you should include the following…

Unaccompanied Baggage Checklist

  • Broom and or vacuum 
  • Linens - blankets, comforters, sheets (I’ve heard beds are made in odd sizes here so it can be hard to find sheets in the correct size to fit your american bed. It’s a good idea to buy an extra set to have if you need them), pillows, and padding - the beds are hard so you may appreciate packing your mattress pad or down comforter to help make your loaner bed sleep-able
  • Microwave
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry Baskets
  • Trash Cans
  • Coffee Maker
  • Clothes Hangers
  • Drill
  • Tools
  • Medicines
  • Pet Food - if your dog requires a special food that can’t be bought on base
  • Bikes
  • Bike Helmets
  • Bike Locks
  • Bike Tire Pump
  • Extra Clothes, Lounge Clothes/PJ’s, and Shoes - it’s amazing how tired you can become of wearing the same things for months on end
  • Jewelry - so it doesn’t have the chance to get lost in the sea of your household goods
  • Air Mattress (optional) - you will most likely get a bed(s) from the loan locker, but it’s always a good idea to come prepared in case they are out of stock for some reason…or in some cases your air mattress may actually be more comfortable that the rock hard beds they have here

I'm no expert at PCS's, but those are the things that got us through, or that we wished we had packed differently, so we hope it is of some help to those of you coming to the 'Lik.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Off Base Adventures: Goreme, Cappadocia

Our hotel was great in that it was just a couple minute walk to the heart of town, but was located just outside of the hustle and bustle. This came in handy because at 35 weeks pregnant, my feet could only handle so much heat and walking before they swelled up like balloons. We were able to head out for short exploratory sessions, then come back to hotel and put our feet up for a while at our leisure. 

The town was just amazing. If you are looking for a true Turkish rug (or slowly becoming an addict like we are), this place is heaven. I want to do a post later on all that we've learned about Turkish rugs, but a fun fact to note here is that the tribal looking rugs originated in Cappadocia. 

Seriously, just look at this place. I had to wipe up the drool running down my chin :) 

There are a number of restaurants and shops all through town. Local souvenirs included hand painted pottery pieces, rugs, colorful lanterns, hookahs, tea sets, clothes, and other trinkets. Will and I had been eyeing the little hand painted bowls in Adana to use for our rice air fresheners around the house (pour in some rice and your favorite essential oils), and decided at 4TL a piece this was the place to stock up. After digging through an entire box of them and picking out my favorites, we ended up with five gorgeous pieces. They look very anthropology-esque...minus the $40+ price tag.

We also found a hand painted piece of art with the whimsical fairy chimneys and hot air balloons floating overhead. We bought it for the nursery so I'll post a pic when I do the nursery reveal.

These beautiful painted carts were used by a number of the townsfolk. So much beauty in simple, everyday equipment for these people. 

A lot of the Turkish women, and even some of the Turkish men, wear these gypsy pants. They are basically like a closed skirt with holes for your legs. I have wanted a pair ever since I first saw them, and had planned to find some fabric I liked and have someone at the women's market make me some. But then I found these in Goreme and fell in love. Bonus points for the very elastic waistband to accommodate the bump!

That evening Faruk (our hotel owner) suggested the Köy Evi Restaurant for dinner, and so kindly arranged for the restaurant to pick us up, which we were immensely grateful for once we realized it was way up on the hill. Once seated we got to soak in the setting sun over the gorgeous Cappadocian landscape. 

Another quick fact, there are stray cats everywhere in Turkey, and no less than five that stalked the tables at this restaurant. The waiters shewed them away from time to time, but it was not uncommon for them to jump up on the tables, sit in the chairs, or relax under your feet while you eat. 

There was an older Turkish lady working away by a large stone oven. We later learned she was busy making the most delectable, perfectly crusty, with a dense spongy inside, mouth watering, best freaking bread we had ever had. Made even more delicious when smothered with the fresh butter and goat cheese it came with.

It was all we could do to stop ourselves from finishing the two gigantic loaves they served us in order to save room for the whole "sleeve" of lamb we had coming.

Faruk has suggested this place because everything was made fresh in house, and you could tell. I won't say our entree was necessarily the best thing we've ever had, but it was good, and the lamb was so tender it completely fell off the bone. Out of all of it I couldn't get enough of the tomatoes. I seriously don't know what it is about Turkish tomatoes, but they are incredible. 

After dinner we walked down the hill, enjoying the nighttime chill in the air (after constant 115 degree heat in Adana I have never been so thankful for a few chill bumps on my skin), and took in the night lights in the city, as well as a free show taking place in celebration of a Turkish holiday that day.

The second morning we hopped in the car and drove back towards home about 10 minutes to the town of Uçhisar. Driving towards it looks like something out of a fantasy movie. 

We drove up the little winding cobblestone roads until we reached the top, then parked and set out to explore. We forgot it was Sunday, and the day after a big holiday, and kind of early in the morning, so most of the shops were still closed. But we ventured up and found the Uçhisar Castle, and because we had nothing else to do we paid the 6TL entry fee and made the trek to the top. 

We're glad we did. It's the highest peak in Cappadocia, and since we weren't able to do the hot air balloon ride this go around, it was a great way to see the area. 

Afterwards we walked through some of the now open shops, and got on the road back to Goreme.

That afternoon we picked up some of the souvenirs we had been waiting to buy, ate lunch, and walked around town, also picking up a couple of couch cushion covers I had been searching for (You can see them stacked in the picture below. They take damaged kilims that can't be repaired and cut them into squares to make these cushion covers.) 

We stopped for a beer (for Will) and a soda water for me for a bit before dinner. Will took this photo trying to show how many flies were swarming around us, although most moved before he could take the photo of course. 

That night we dined at Pumpkin. It's a newer restaurant, just off the beaten path in downtown Goreme. They have a fixed menu (which I actually love because I don't have to think, and I feel like you get what the chef considers to be his specialty), served in four courses. 

As we sat down a man who had been selling his things on the street stopped by our table and gifted us with a couple of bunches of grapes...for the baby. I'm not kidding when I say Turkish people love babies. Our waiter, and also one of the owners of the restaurant washed them for us and brought them back out on a serving dish. He then informed us he had a special gift for the baby that he would bring after the meal. 

We started with bread, followed by a brothy lentil soup, then a beautiful plate of fresh tomatoes (yay!), cucumbers, some carrot dish that was out of this world, cheese, stuffed grape leaves (that were SO much better than the Greek versions we've had), and some börek (puff pastry stuff with cheese). Our main course was a Turkish crepe served with chicken and beef, and melt in your mouth roasted potatoes and vegetables. And to finish we were presented with a plate of fresh fruit, ice cream, and homemade baklava. 

To say we were stuff was a serious understatement. I was begging the baby to move over and give my stomach some more room so I could keep eating. 

After we had stuffed our faces, and asked the good Lord to forgive us for our gluttony, our waiter had his wife make her signature Turkish coffee. Our first experience with Turkish coffee was pretty terrible. They don't filter the grounds, so you are basically drinking an espresso complete with the grounds. This however had had time to settle, was sweetened just perfectly, and ended up being pretty enjoyable. 

I was afraid the gift for the baby was going to be more food, and sat worrying how I could possibly fit one more thing in my stomach. Luckily he brought out a little decorative sachet with a keychain inside. The keychain was adorned with a hand painted bead, along with a collection of the blue evil eye beads the Turkish believe keeps bad spirits away from children. It was so kind. We promised to return in a few months. He specifically requested that we come back and he would serve us...and the baby :) Babies are gods over here! 

Before heading back to Adana the next morning, we made a quick detour to the town of Avanos, just about 10 minutes further up the road. Avanos is known for its pottery and Will was dying to bring home one of the vases he had seen around town. We plan to come back and explore this town more in depth. It's located on a river and had a lot more to see and do than we expected. We did end up finding a great pottery store and Will found his vase at the low, low cost of 10TL. Something like it in the states would have easily have been $20-30 so now he plans to go back and stock up haha!

And with that our first Cappadocian experience was over. We can't wait to go back! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Off Base Adventures: Cappadocia - The Kismet Cave House

I discovered that the wifi in the DFAC dining room is actually fast enough to upload pictures, blog, Facebook, iMessage, and check my email...all at the same time! Or at least it is on this lazy Sunday when there are hardly any people around. So, I jumped at the chance to get some blogs written and share some photos from Cappadocia! 

Cappadocia is an area in Central Anatolia best known for its bizarre moon-like landscape speckled with unusual rock formations, and a history that dates back to the late 6th century BC. Tourists clammer here to explore the underground cities, relax in the cave hotels, marvel at the homes, churches and businesses carved into the rocks, and catch a fantasy-like ride on a hot air balloon through the fairy chimneys.

Lucky for us it's only located about 3.5 hours from where we live so we put Will's day off for the Labor Day holiday to good use, and drove up for a long weekend. 

I'll get to pictures of the town and how we spent our weekend in the next post. I took a lot of pictures and I didn't want to flood your screen with them all at one time. 

So for this post I'll focus on our hotel in a town in the Cappadocian region called Goreme, home of the Goreme National Park (a World Heritage site), and a great spot to shop for handmade Turkish rugs. We stayed at the Kismet Cave House

Contrary to what the internet would have you believe, not ALL hotels in Cappadocia are built into caves. In fact, many are reconstructions of old stone houses that decorated the city. I had been told that in order for a hotel to call itself a "cave hotel" it had to at least have a room or two built into caves. I'm not sure that our hotel fit that requirement, but we loved it nonetheless. 

Over the weekend we became close friends with the owner Faruk, an occurrence I think is common with these hotels. These hotels are personal businesses and the owners take hospitality very seriously.  Faruk had bought the three bedroom house, then spent six years building onto it to create the hotel, doing his best to keep its look and feel as close to the original as possible. We sat with him on more than one occasion enjoying a cup of "cay" (tea) and talking. At one point we mentioned we had been looking at rugs and learned he dealt in rugs years ago. He proceeded to spend the next hour or so showing us his collection, reviewing the ones we had found and giving his opinion on the prices we had been quoted, and even offered us a few deals on a few rugs he owned. 

Although there were a few other people staying in the six room hotel, it felt like Will and I had the place to ourselves. Our dogs were welcome, even their barking out the open hotel window (a requirement due to the heat) okayed, and Jeannie girl got to sit with us during our rug lesson. 

Each morning we sat on the terrace and were treated to an amazing breakfast spread included in the cost of our room. 

Fresh brewed tea, apple tea (which we later learned is a HUGE favorite of the Turkish people and can be served hot or cold - particularly refreshing served cold when you've been walking the Cappadocian streets and find yourself dripping in sweat), coffee, milk, and juice.

An assortment of fresh and dried fruit, yogurt (we later learned Faruk makes his own yogurt for his use at home - the Turks take their yogurt very seriously!), olives, nuts, tomatoes (the tomatoes in Turkey are heavenly!), cucumbers, and a few different cheeses.

Fresh loaves of bread, a variety of spreads and jams (I fell in love with the cherry spread - as in maybe ate more than half the bowl by myself each morning), and cereal. 

And if you were still hungry, eggs - cooked fresh or hard boiled. 

We've commented a couple of times that if you go hungry in Turkey, it's your own fault. The people here always seem to present you with a table full of food, even if it's just the two of you eating. 

The only downside to our stay there was the heat. None of the hotels and businesses in Cappadocia have air condition due to most being built into the rocky terrain and thus benefiting from the naturally cool atmosphere. It's also a little cooler in this region, and very dry humidity-wide. While we enjoyed the perfect cool mornings, and delightful breezy nights, our hotel room itself had ZERO air flow even with the windows open. It felt like a sauna in there. We cursed at having not brought our fan from home, and I resorted to laying wet towels across my body to try to capture some of the cool. The poor dogs just laid on any cool tile they could find and panted the entire time we were there. Having the windows wide open also meant we heard every car passing by, every conversation on the street, and every dog bark and baby crying. 

So needless to say it wasn't a particularly restful weekend. 

This area does actually receive a little snow in the wintertime, and Will and I both agreed that it may be best enjoyed when it's cooler and you can enjoy cozying up next to the fireplaces that were present in almost every establishment. So we plan to return when the threat of sleepless, sweaty nights are over.

We also promised Faruk we would be back...with the baby of course, because as I've said before, the Turks LOVE them some babies! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 36: From Turkey to Germany

* This is an epically long post :)

Week 36 was a big week of transition. After returning from Cappadocia we came home to find that our AC was broken in the house. It.was.miserable. We had to spend a night sweating it out before CE finally came the next evening to fix it. Turns out a starter switch was broken on the outside unit. I spent that hot day taking care of the last few things I needed to do before leaving for Germany, then Will and I cooked dinner at home and tried to enjoy the last night we would have in our house without a baby (I always feel the need to add hopefully or providing all goes well to statements like that. I'm really not a worrier, but speaking in absolutes always makes me nervous. Anyone else a nut like this?? It's like I'm scared to jinx myself.)

The Rotator
I was taking the rotator up to Germany. For anyone not familiar with military jargon, a rotator is a plane that basically rotates between certain bases. Military members and dependents are able to travel on these rotators free of charge, or at a very low rate (like $35 from Turkey to Baltimore, that is basically the tax cost). These flights are in place to help move military personnel around to the various bases for whatever duties they have there, but they also offer a great Space Available travel program. Once the seats have been assigned to those traveling on military orders, the rest of the available seats are up for grabs on a first come first serve basis. You sign up ahead of time, check in for roll call, and if there is an open seat for you, you get on the flight. There are categories assigned to those traveling on Space A determined by rank, whether you are on leave, and various other factors. The higher your category the more likely you are to get on the flight.

For the storknesting program I was flying on actual medical TDY orders so I was guaranteed a seat. The flight left at 6:00am, and due to the above mentioned process, I was required to report at the lovely time of 2:35am for check in (if you are on orders and do not check in by your report no later than time, your seat will be given up to those waiting for Space A seats!). After check in I waited in the waiting area until the Space A seats were assigned, then we went through a customs and passport check, and finally around 5:15am we boarded.

I was shocked at how big the plane was, and that although it was a little older, it was a really nice plane. Although I had been told it was just like a normal commercial plane, I couldn’t get it in my head that I wasn’t going to be flying on some military plane and basically sitting wedged up against the wall of some cargo hold. All in all it was very similar to a normal commercial flight process.

The rotator stops at Aviano, Italy on its way to Ramstein and everyone de-boards while those joining the flight are checked in. Different from a commercial flight, once everyone gets checked in and ready to go, they re-board and get on their way, regardless of what your layover time is stated to be.

We arrived in Germany at noon. This is where flying on a military flight is really nice. We walked straight from the plane to a small passport/customs check line, grabbed our waiting bags and out the door. I had a small scare because none of my bags except the car seat were waiting. Thankfully after reporting it to the woman working in baggage claim they turned the belt back on and my bags and one other person’s finally came through.

Will’s boss is stationed at Ramstein and was so kind to offer me a ride from the airport to my hotel on Landstuhl. He along with one of the other ADC’s stationed here helped me with my bags, and after getting only slightly lost (they are new to Germany too), we finally found he entrance gate and located lodging. I cannot tell you how grateful I was for their help. There was no way I could have managed my two suitcases, the car seat, my backpack, pillow, and purse all by myself. Not to mention because there are SO many storknesters here right now, I was placed on the third floor instead of the first. Military lodging facilities don’t have elevators so that meant lugging all my stuff up multiple flights of stairs. My feet had swollen so much during the flight they made Miss Piggy look like a runway model, so the rest of the afternoon I spent getting my things put away and keeping my feet up.

Getting Settled in Deutschland 
Over the next few days I met with the storknesting coordinating nurse here, got to know my way around the hospital, got a new SIM card and data plan for my phone, picked up my rental car (with the help of a fellow storknester that gave me a ride into town to get it), and ventured over to Ramstein to check out the BX (Base Exchange) and pick up a few essentials. One of the other storknesters let me crash in on her lunch and pedicure appointment on Friday, then as I got back to the hotel the ADC that helped pick me up and his wife invited me over for dinner.

The cellular data system here is pretty terrible. And the internet in lodging is basically unusable. So I was a little nervous about navigating my way from Landstuhl to the little German village where they live. Luckily I had started to learn just enough to get myself on the way, and to the point where I finally got 3G service and google maps would kick in.

They have an adorable house, and I’m envious of all the land and picturesque surroundings they have. I forgot how green, and clean and beautiful Germany is. The military is so nice sometimes in the fact that almost anywhere you go there is someone you can reach out to for help or company. It’s pretty awesome to come up here not really knowing anyone, and within a few days be invited to someone’s house for dinner, make new friends, and realize you don’t have to face weeks upon weeks in a foreign place all alone. I successfully made it there and back…even in the dark. And for someone with zero navigational skills, I was very proud of myself.

Respecting Our Turkish Experience
I wondered if I would get here and never want to leave to go back to Turkey. Will and I spent a short amount of time in Germany a few years back, and on the flight up here I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a break from the craziness that is Turkey, and to be somewhere I am a little more comfortable with. I was afraid I would get here and really wish we had gotten a western Europe assignment instead.

It is definitely wonderful being here (the fresh air feels so good in my lungs), but surprisingly being here has made me very happy we are stationed in Turkey. Let me explain. One of the main reasons I was pretty disappointed in being stationed in South Dakota was because outside of the crazy winters, life there wasn’t really all that different than it was in North Carolina. The activities and sites available to us weren’t drastically different from those available back home. We could still hike, fish, camp, shop at Target, see a movie, visit breweries etc…I hated being 1500 miles from home and family and friends just to be doing the same things we had always done. When you have to be that far away you at least hope you will be experiencing something totally different, or at least I did. Ramstein is not quite SO similar to home, but true to what I had been told, it is VERY Americanized. The majority of the people here, even off base, speak very good english, and in general this area isn’t super German looking. In many ways the landscape looks a lot like our hometown in NC. All-in-all I don’t really feel all that much like I'm in a foreign country. Maybe it's because my life seems to be filled with extremes, but Ramstein wouldn’t have provided that drastic change I wanted. Turkey is like living in a whole other world. Sure it’s challenging, it’s not very comfortable at times, and the constant smell of burning leaves me praying that we aren’t going to develop lung cancer years down the road, but it is an experience…in every sense of the word. Many people go to Germany, not many people go to Turkey, and even fewer go to the part of Turkey we now call home. I’m thankful we have the option of catching the rotator up to Germany when we need a break from kebab and to clear our lungs, but I’m happy to be spending a couple of years exploring all things Turkey.

Letting Go
I find it hard sometimes being torn between holding onto the life we’ve known with just the two of us, versus this new life we are about to embark on. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited beyond belief at meeting your little one, especially after being here in Germany and seeing all these newborns, but I’m ok with not rushing things. We’ve got four more weeks till our due date, and I’m ok with baby waiting until then to make its appearance. While at dinner at the ADC’s house, we all talked about going to a wine fest that was taking place in town today, and my heart skipped with excitement. Normally this is exactly the type of thing Will and I thrive on. Walking around some town we’ve never seen, testing and tasting all kinds of new drinks and foods, and just breathing life in. I realize that that scenario is entirely possible with a baby in tow, but it will be different.

More so than ever I’m so thankful that we have had the life experiences that we have. That we waited to start a family and focused on us first. That we have years of memories, countless trips, and a beautiful life pre-baby to look back on and remember for the rest of our lives. Having a baby is a whole new adventure that will be so awesome, but I’m glad that we had our time just being married first.

Hitting Town Solo
And to wrap up week 36, I headed into Kaiserslautern (K-town) to piddle around and locate the Birkenstock store. The last pair I owned I bought while in Germany, and I’ve been waiting to buy a new pair until I got here. The prices here aren't really all that much different than in the states, but I’m a nerd and it excites me to buy things in the country where they originated :)

After acquiring my new kicks I went in search of somewhere for lunch. I was ready for some wiener schnitzel. Ironically the first few restaurants I found were all kebab places. The LAST thing I wanted considering kebab is nearly all you can find when eating out in Turkey. I happened upon a street festival and the main shopping district of K-town, and found a seat outside at a cafe in the heart of the action.

I've gone places on my own before. And I've eaten at a few small fast few type restaurants by myself before. But I don't think I've ever gone to a sit down restaurant and eaten a meal completely in my own company. It's something I've always wanted to do, but either chickened out or was just lucky enough to have someone with me. I've also never really been one to be comfortable exploring on my own. I'm not one that would ever choose to take a trip by myself, and thankfully I've had the perfect travel partner to accompany me all these years so I didn't have to. So coming to Germany I was a little disheartened because I wasn't sure I had it in me to still live up my time here, because I wasn't sure I was brave enough to venture out on my own.

I surprised myself yesterday. Fear didn't find it's way into my heart. Not as I walked through the crowded streets with people staring me and my huge belly down. Not as I sat alone at the restaurant and dined on my wiener schnitzel covered in mushroom gravy and french fries (which I managed to order with the help of my limited knowledge of french, recognition of a few German words, and some google translate since the entire menu was in German and my waitress didn't speak a word of English). Not when my curiosity and need to see just one more festive street caused me to forget how to get back to my car. Not when I got to the car and found a parking ticket (which I had to again use google translate to decipher).

I would have given anything to have had Will with me and to hit up the biergarten and enjoy the live music well into the night of course. But on my way back to the hotel I was filled with pride in myself. I hadn't let fear hold me back from enjoying this awesome opportunity. I didn't let being pregnant serve as an excuse to hole up in my hotel room. Heck, I even wore heeled booties, and relished as the wind caught my scarf and my hair as I walked through town. I let myself live for an afternoon and it felt great. I can only wish we can instill this sense of wanderlust in our child. I hope they are always brave enough to face life head on.

The internet at the hotel is terrible so blogging will probably be sporadic over the next few weeks. I still have tons of photos from our trip to Cappadocia to share, but Lord knows when I will find wifi strong enough to actually be able to upload them to a blog. So bear with me. I'll be posting as often as I can.

And for a little 36 week humor :) This made me laugh so hard. #accruate

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

35 Weeks: Tummy Troubles And A Quick Babymoon

Week 35 started off pretty crappy. And unfortunately I mean that pretty literally haha! (Sorry if that's TMI) I ate something Sunday that threw my tummy off and left me spending all of Monday between the bed and the bathroom. I suppose we have been pretty lucky to not have been hit with stomach issues since we've been in Turkey considering we accidentally ate salad off base the first weekend we were here, and have also snacked on various fruits bought at produce stands before we had the chance to wash them. So really we've probably been asking for it. However, the cooked kebab meal we had out for lunch, and a home cooked meal for dinner we had Sunday night did not seem to pose a threat at the time. So you never know! We keep wondering at what point do people build up a tolerance for the water and such in foreign countries. And I keep asking if we give the baby Turkish water from the beginning will they automatically be ok to drink it the rest of their life?? Puzzling.

Anyway, by Tuesday I had enough energy to get out and about, including a weekly visit to the doctor, and by Thursday I had finally recovered. Which is great news because we went to Cappadocia this past weekend. The bad news is I had lost 5 lbs at the doctor.

Pregnancy Weight Gain (and Loss)
One thing I haven't talked much about in this pregnancy journey is weight gain. It's such a sensitive topic, and every woman's body, and every baby is so different in how it affects those bodies, that it's really hard to put a specific number on weight gain expectations and norms. Many doctors like to say if you are of average weight prior to getting pregnant, then weight gain of 25-35 lbs is a good range. What isn't always taken into consideration is if you lose weight in the beginning due to morning sickness, if you are overweight and actually lose weight while pregnant, or in my case - you lose a few pounds from food aversions and loss of appetite, eat like a hog, but also work out regularly, then throw in a stomach bug, and at 35 weeks pregnant you are only 5.5 lbs up from your original starting weight. I had finally gotten over the 10 lbs gain mark the week before and was happy to finally be putting on weight, since you are supposed to gain .5-1 lb a week in the third trimester as the baby puts on fat. So losing those 5 lbs from being sick didn't exactly bring me the joy it might otherwise. Thankfully the baby is measuring right on track and still growing, and moving and squirming up a storm. As long as it's healthy, I'm ok with whatever my crazy body is doing.

A Mini Babymoon
Will didn't like me claiming this past weekend as our babymoon, since we will have some time in Germany together (hopefully) before little one makes his or her arrival, but I decided it was anyway. Maybe we will have two babymoons :)

I will do a separate post with a lot more pictures and info shortly, but we drove about 3.5 hours north to Cappadocia to spend our Labor Day weekend. It's kind of a fantastical place dotted with these crazy looking fairy chimneys, and houses and hotels built into the odd looking rock formations. It really kind of reminds you of something out of Lord of the Rings or something. We spent the weekend site seeing, eating, and doing lots of shopping. It was really nice to have some time to just relax together before I leave, and soak up what could potentially be our last little weekend getaway as a party of two.

Jamison - Party of Three
I realized on the drive up that I was only two weeks away from that 37 week, "full term" milestone, and it was kind of shocking. Pregnancy feels long and short all at the same time, and it feels kind of crazy that we are already here in the final few weeks. I keep wondering when the big day will be. Praying that the baby holds off till Will gets to Germany. Trying to prepare myself mentally for the birth. Wrapping my head around the fact that when I return to this house I won't be pregnant anymore, and I will be returning with a son or daughter (God providing everything goes ok). It's kind of heavy stuff.

I kept saying things to Will this weekend like, "Man, in a month or so I'll actually be able to have a whole beer with you!" and "Here in a few weeks I will get to sleep on my stomach again!"

Because it really is only weeks away now. It's insane for that to be a reality.

And many of you have seen this photo by now, but for those that haven't, a 35 week bump pic taken on the terrace of our hotel in Cappadocia.