Sophia Jane

What a joy it has been to welcome Sophia into our family. What a blessing for Eleanor to have the gift of a sister, and what a blessing for us to get to raise two girls!

Sophia means “wisdom” and Jane means “gift from God”.

She was born on May 17th  at 5:38am after four and a half hours of labor. It was extremely painful, much more painful than Ellie’s birth. In fact, I say it was three times as fast and three times more painful than Ellie’s birth. My theory is that the pain increased so quickly that the endorphins couldn’t keep up with the pain. If you are interested in more details you can watch the video I recorded with the birth story.

She was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 19.7 inches.

And here is a photo bomb of the last month and a half. Some fun highlights: my mom came to help us- what a tremendous blessing! You can see I look tons like her, but the girls take after their dad. Who knew I’d ever live with so many cheeky people?

We had a Starbucks in the hospital- one point over homebirth- and so Scott got us some more than once. Yum!

Ellie loves being a big sister. Everyone always asks us if she is jealous. The answer is no. She’s delighted to have another friend!

My friend, Elif, who is the girls’ Turkish aunt, met Sophie when she was five days old.

One week after she was born my mom, Ellie, Sophie and I hopped on a boat and went to a nearby island. You can see Ellie and I drinking our Starbucks on the boat. What a fun day!

We’re still enjoying lots of cuddles and sweet days with our little one. She’s grown a lot and is a sweet, chunky, hiccupy baby.

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Slowing down and learning to be okay with it

Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant with a squirmy little sweetie pie that has certainly reminded me that it’s time to slow down. With a busy and active two-year-old to keep in mind, mentally I had prepared myself for not slowing down until after baby made his or her appearance. I think I forgot how the last ten weeks of pregnancy necessitates slowing down, and was feeling a little too ambitious for my own britches.

This weekend I had a lovely get away weekend. The first night involved getting out to get some shoe shopping done, and then I spent the night at the home of some single girls in my church. The next night those girls watched Ellie for us while Scott and I hopped over to a nearby island to sit and be in love without a toddler requesting to pee every so often or to tell us what the name of every item on the table was called. It was magical. But, even the getting out the door was tough. In fact, by the time I got to the girls’ house Friday night I was dead. Cleaning and cooking and playing with a toddler in the midst of preparing to leave for the weekend is a lot more difficult when hauling around 20 extra pounds!

A few weeks ago I had a forced slow down that should have been a cue that slowing down is inevitable. I was stuck inside for two weeks with a nasty cold that was tough to shake. And, once I was feeling better and ready to get on with my life, I sprained my ankle while walking to the store to finally get caught up on groceries and cooking. The funny thing was that when I sprained my ankle I dared not believe it could be true, so hopped up (figuratively, not literally) off the sidewalk and waddled on with my shopping. Once I got home my ankle was the size of Atlanta and I resumed my cooped up, shut-in lifestyle for another week. It was depressing.

The problem is that I have so little grace with myself. I have pretty high expectations of what I’d like to accomplish on any given day, and it’s beyond frustrating to be inhibited from getting my to-do list done. Moreover, I have a language to keep learning that’s not simply going to implant itself in my mind from living in this country. And as an extrovert I really do enjoy seeing friends! So to be a little more home bound for a few months sounds as appealing as eating cabbage soup for lunch everyday for the rest of my life. No thank you!

However, just this week I’ve had a turn around. I don’t have a choice on this slowing down matter…my dogs are barking! I do have a choice on to accept this slowing down with grace or with resentment. I think I’ll choose the former. I’ll soak up more and more hours of these one-on-one moments reading and building towers with Ellie. I’ll take great pride that my family members are all in clean underwear instead of considering it an at least accomplishment. And I’ll be okay with the fact that my one outing for the day was to the grocery store knowing it’s no easy feat pushing a 30 lb toddler in a stroller, walking a 20 lb belly, and hauling 40 lbs of groceries the one kilometer home. Instead of tackling a to-do list of 15 things I’ll scale down to a to-do list of 3 and be okay with one of them being taking a nap and considering it cuddle time with the little one growing in my body. And, when I do get extra hours of studying language in or get some great quality time with friends I’ll be grateful for the extra special blessing that it is.

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Ellie’s big day

I rarely sit down and blog because when I have free time I pick up the books and study Turkish. Even though I get tons of practice speaking daily with moms at the park or clerks at stores, and I can get by quite well, I want to continue to actually get better and to use more sophisticated language structures. I also want to be able to speak about more complex, or just plain different, subjects. So, that doesn’t leave a ton of time for social media, but as fellow busy humans, I’m sure you understand.

At any rate, we had a fun week last week. A couple of months back Ellie was one of those rare humans who gets spotted out in public and invited to be a model. The manager of a baby clothing company here in Turkey saw her and asked if we’d be interested in letting her be in their summer catalog. Now, as a side note, it’s no secret she’s cute, but Turks cannot get enough of blue eyes and blonde hair, so in their book she’s ten times more beautiful because she has such rare features. So she’s basically the token asian kid you find in kid’s brochures in the States. It doesn’t hurt that she’s cheeky, has the world’s cutest dimples, and is not camera shy. The photographer hasn’t sent me any of the great photos yet, the ones that will make me cry, you know. But here are some of the bloopers (at least that’s what I call them).

 

First of all, I demand to know who taught her this???? Does she think she's a Victoria's Secret diaper model?  Second of all, is this dress not the cutest?

First of all, I demand to know who taught her this???? Does she think she’s a Victoria’s Secret diaper model? Second of all, is this dress not the cutest?

Secondly, it's positively shocking that no one has ever stopped me on the street and asked me to be a model for their catalog.... Or maybe not so shocking? And, again, isn't this dress so cute?
Thirdly, it’s positively shocking that no one has ever stopped me on the street and asked me to be a model for their catalog…. Or maybe not so shocking? Although I could be THE look for goofy maternity moms all around the world with an expression like this! More importantly, isn’t this dress so cute?

This outfit is way too big. Is that going to be the new style for 2014? I guess we all have to wait to find out.

This outfit is way too big. Is that going to be the new style for 2014? I guess we all have to wait to find out.

Here I am buttoning up her dress. She's beautiful.

Here I am buttoning up her dress. She’s beautiful.

Here we are for a little mid-session snuggle. She made it the whole time without whining or crying, but she needed a little mama hug for reassurance. I guess that's excusable for a child that's not yet 2.

Here we are for a little mid-session snuggle. She made it the whole time without whining or crying, but she needed a little mama hug for reassurance. I guess that’s excusable for a child that’s not yet 2. And look at Baby Rank #2 cooking away!

 

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Coming soon to Istanbul…

Well, after a crazy few years we decided 2013 was going to be the year of No Big Changes. So glad we gave ourselves a break from international moving, having babies, changing jobs, changing homes, saying tearful goodbyes, and international flights. However, the Ranks are movers and shakers so we decided to shake things up for 2014. In May we’re expecting another baby! I’m 12 weeks now, and found a great doctor here in Istanbul. She assures me the baby is developing beautifully. I think I’m most excited for Ellie to have a sibling. She’s such a social butterfly that it will do her (and me) well for her to have a friend at home.

This pregnancy has been a tough one, much more difficult than with Ellie. I’ve done my fair share of vomiting, and Ellie learned a new phrase- “give Mommy some space” You know it’s your second when you cannot even vomit in privacy. Yuck! My gag reflex was out of this world, and nothing, nothing sounded good to eat. The fatigue was pretty special. Ellie would hit the sack around 7:30 and I wasn’t far behind. Thankfully around 11 weeks I turned a corner. I feel so much better and the fatigue is bearable. More and more things are sounding yummy to make and eat, and I’m finally able to invite friends over for dinner again. I so love hosting, and missed seeing people!

I had an inkling I was pregnant about a week and a half after the baby was conceived. It was 9:30 in the morning and I wanted nothing more on earth than a juicy, steak burrito (really a durum for those who know what that is). I tried to find one, but no one was open. Later that day, I had one and nothing was more satisfying on the planet. Women who’ve been pregnant know the thrill of having a craving met. It’s bliss. A few days later I had a positive pregnancy test and am still craving beef. Maybe it’s a boy? Guess we’ll all find out in May!

One embarrassing story was one evening I was headed to a girls’ night at our church. On the way I was riding a double decker bus and sat on top. There was a lot of stopping and starting and I had the feeling I was going to vomit. I walked down the stairs and stood by the door to get off at the next stop, but we were stopped at a light. I needed to get off immediately, but couldn’t open my mouth to speak or I would’ve had an accident. Not sure why, but the driver opened the door and I rushed off and vomited in the nearest tree. I looked up and two men were staring at men. I assured them I was pregnant, then vomited again. It was so embarrassing. I’m sure they thought I was drunk or something since I was only 7 weeks at that point and not visibly pregnant.

We’re delighted, thrilled, praising the Lord for this gift!

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One year in Turkey

While on vacation we celebrated 1 year in Turkey. 1 year! It’s been such a wonderful year, full of so much adventure and blessing. Thankfully, since we started off our overseas life living two years in Hungary, we got out most of our culture shock blues while living there. So even though most would consider Turkey a more challenging place to live, we have yet to experience culture shock. Rather, I adore living here! The people are incredibly warm, the language is super fun to learn, and our neighborhood has lots of parks and adventure to keep both Eleanor and I busy. It’s incredibly easy to make friends, at least compared to Hungary, so my extrovert heart is often overflowing with thanksgiving.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, blessings has been our church. We wanted to be a part of a church where Scott could serve considering the language he’s already acquired and his gifts. But, to throw Ellie and I into a full on Turkish immersion experience early on would be a little much. Our church is an international church in Turkish. We have a lovely blend of people from all over the world, and many Turkish brothers and sisters as well. I’ve been so challenged and blessed by the people in our church. When I think of many of them the word Grace comes to mind. I can’t say I’ve never met such gracious people, but I don’t think I’ve ever been part of such a grace-filled church. Since I struggle understand grace and being a gracious person myself, I’m deeply humbled.

Scott continues to blow me away with his work-ethic and dedication to studies and his work. I don’t think I’ve ever met a hard worker in my life. No wonder he slept so much on vacation! He needed it! He’ll start a grant this fall, and we’re excited to see how this program helps him to finish his PHD. It’s no easy task, my friends.

In case you haven’t heard, I co-authored a book with Scott. You can check it out here!

Even though I helped with that book project, generally I am pretty strict about my time commitments in this season. Basically my three jobs are to support Scott, take care of Ellie and learn Turkish. I’ve not blogged much because I realize every spare moment helps when it comes to language learning. I’ve been waking up at 6am to have time with the Lord, check my email only twice daily, study language for two hours while Ellie naps, and spend the rest of the time hanging with Ellie and keeping up home. We also like to visit friends and I enjoy lessons with my teacher twice weekly. Life is simple in this season since I have so few goals, but that’s okay. I need to learn language, and it will never be easier than it is now.

One year later. Ellie gets the award for most changed.

One year later. Ellie gets the award for most changed.

One year ago!

One year ago!

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Summa, Summa, Summatime

Oh my word this summer has been delightful! There’s something magical about spending your days at the local parks, soaking up vitamin D, sipping tea late into the night with neighbors, and taking lovely family walks along the sea. I’ve never loved summer like I’ve loved this summer. Perhaps it’s also because spending time with an 18 now 19 month old is magical. Her thirst for adventure and learning all about the world around her is contagious. I get to be her tour guide to the world, and it’s so much fun!

This summer I turned 29. I’m not as excited about 29 as 28. 28 seemed to me to be the sophisticated number in the 20s, not too old, not too young, just right. Really the Goldilocks of the decade. We had a fun day of celebration nonetheless. I’m not one to argue when my husband gets up early to make me breakfast, lets me go to the cafe alone for a bit, and takes me out for Mexican food. And, he bought me Season 2 of Call the Midwife! Here I am with my favorite senor and senorita.

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This summer Ellie passed the 17 month, 18 month and 19 month mark. I can’t believe how much she’s learning daily and how excited she is about learning about the world around her. She wants to know the word for every item on the planet and will shout, “that, that, that!” until I tell her what it’s called. Then it’s, “plane, plane, plane” or “water, water, water”. She won’t move on until I acknowledge what she’s saying.

She’s starting to the get the hang of speaking in sentences. She combines words on her own for example she said, “pine cone tree” or “Mommy bag”. But this week she also said, “Mama, I want help please.” Life is so much easier now that I have a child who can communicate all of her needs. She also can walk up and down our 4 flights of stairs if I hold her hand. My back is saying, “Amen!” to that. She loves praying, giving cheers with her cup, having her daddy throw her in the air, and playing with other children. She’s the most delightful little thing I’ve ever laid eyes on, and she was such a fun little friend to spend my summer with. We had tons of fun and now are full of plenty of vitamin D to get us through the winter.

Scott was awarded an academic grant that will start this fall. Since we hadn’t done a proper vacation since coming to Turkey one year ago, we thought it time. The end of August seemed ideal because that’s when Istanbul is the hottest. We found a great deal for a cheap place to stay, so decided to go for two weeks. Boy am I glad we did! Both Scott and I slept, and slept and slept. We had a lot of catching up to do. We didn’t have internet at the place we stayed, so both of us read tons of new books. A dream come true for the Rank family. We also delighted at taking Ellie to the beach almost everyday and see her mixture of fear and adventure as she chased the waves. Scott taught her how to build sand castles which we dubbed Ft. Rank, Ft. Rank and Ft. Rank, of course. Here are more photos than you bargained for to give you a glimpse.

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Getting our feet wet

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Ellie singing “row, row, row your boat” to the Black Sea.

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Our Turkish girl. I caught her with this loaf of bread!

Entry way to our apartment

Entry way to our apartment

We bought E glasses for $1. She loved them and wanted to wear them all the time, even indoors.

We bought E glasses for $1. She loved them and wanted to wear them all the time, even indoors.

Working on Ft. Rank

Working on Ft. Rank

She had a blast!

She had a blast!

Running with daddy

Running with daddy

Trying to catch up

Trying to catch up

Simit seller walks around selling simit. What a perfect snack! We ate several daily.

Simit seller walks around selling simit. What a perfect snack! We ate several daily.

Me and my sweetie

Me and my sweetie

Ellie puts on the charm to make friends and to get their food.

Ellie puts on the charm to make friends and to get their food.

Her first hot chocolate. As  you can imagine, she liked it.

Her first hot chocolate. As you can imagine, she liked it.

We took a trip through a pond on a paddle boat. Here is Scott being a typical dad guide..."now Ellie, if you look of yonder in the East you'll spot...."

We took a trip through a pond on a paddle boat. Here is Scott being a typical dad guide…”now Ellie, if you look of yonder in the East you’ll spot….”

Scott is teaching Ellie about a proper duck face so she'll be ready for facebook someday.

Scott is teaching Ellie about a proper duck face so she’ll be ready for facebook someday.

She's showing me what she learned.

She’s showing me what she learned.

And, you never know when you'll see some cows out in the country. Ellie loved them.

And, you never know when you’ll see some cows out in the country. Ellie loved them.

She didn't like the water at first, but slowly she did and by the end was begging her dad to take her out into it.

She didn’t like the water at first, but slowly she did and by the end was begging her dad to take her out into it.

My summer buddy

My summer buddy

This is Ellie's smile when you tell her to smile for the camera. I found her in this basket. She helps with laundry.

This is Ellie’s smile when you tell her to smile for the camera. I found her in this basket. She helps with laundry.

And, cheese anyone?

And, cheese anyone?

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Life these days

As I write this, Scott is at Toast Masters. It’s all in Turkish. My husband is giving professional speeches, or at least working at it, in Turkish. I have some catching up to do, which explains what I’ve been up to.

I’ve laid down the full throttle assault on Turkish. These days I’m devoting every spare minute to study, and I’m deciding to go at it as many ways as I can. So, I’m meeting with a private language teacher to go over grammar. I was in a course, but it fell through, so the private teacher works well for me and for our family’s schedule. I have a book I do on my own at home in addition to the homework I receive from my teacher. If I’m not doing homework or working on said books during Ellie’s nap, then I’m listening to podcasts. There is a new website for Turkish language learning, Turkish Tea Time, and it’s really great. It helps with listening, grammar, vocabulary, and everyday language. In addition to these methods, I also watch a Turkish television program online for about 5 hours per week. I do this in the evenings after the munchkin is in bed. This helps me to hear authentic Turkish, and to learn a lot of idiomatic expressions. Recently, I learned “gotcha!” and have had a lot of fun using it. And, yes, using it is the key to any language learning. I’m inspired by Ellie as I hear her practice different words. It’s usually not perfect the first time, but that doesn’t stop her! I’m pretty much the same in Turkish. In the streets, in the stores, at the parks… If I can find someone who will chat with me, I’m game. (Well, I do have some boundaries, and I bet you can guess what they are.) But, there are plenty of friendly neighborhood folks who know our family and are happy to see how we are doing.

Yay for learning!

Yay for learning!

Besides that, I’ve been reading a lot in the evenings. I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and a simple biography on Mark Twain. I recommend all of them! Currently I’m reading Elsie Dinsmore, another sweet classic that I was prompted to read after enjoying Little Women, Heidi and Anne of Green Gables in the past few months. My days are filled with happiness and Ellie. We attend a bible study on Friday mornings with sweet ladies from my church. On Thursday we go to a fun kid’s club that’s held in English but attracts lots of people from around the world. I meet interesting expats from Russia, England and many other places! Ellie has been singing lots of songs that she’s learned there, so one big reason I go is because she so enjoys being with other people and hearing the songs. Other days we do our shopping, cleaning, hosting, park exploring and more.

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Ellie mostly speaks English, but also says about 8 Turkish words. I joke that here she is working on her Turkish vowels.

Life is full, and happy. It’s peaceful but filled with interesting challenges.

If Ellie marries a Turk, I want her to marry this very sweet little boy. He already adores her, can you tell?

If Ellie marries a Turk, I want her to marry this very sweet little boy. He already adores her, can you tell?

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