Category Archives: Cultural Mishaps

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.



Filed under Cultural Mishaps, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby

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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Filed under Blessed, Cultural Mishaps, Food and Drink, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby

Life is Never Dull

Living life in Istanbul is many things, but dull is not one of them. Everyday it seems that something seemingly out of the ordinary happens, and I thought it time I document some of these things before they become so normal I forget there was a time they weren’t.

The other day I was walking to the seaside with my friend, Zeynep. I was pushing Ellie in the stroller and we walked along enjoying the beautiful day and conversation circling around topics with a depth that only friends of 9 years can share. Out of nowhere a woman approached and asked while looking at Ellie, “Eleanor, isn’t it?” My friend was amazed. “You are famous in this neighborhood?!” The truth is no one gives a lick about me, but Eleanor with her big blue eyes, darling dimples and charm that would sweep the queen off her feet definitely is a star in our neighborhood.

Two days ago I was buying milk at a grocery store. Unfortunately, their card machine wasn’t working. So, they told me to just come back later to pay. Could you imagine this happening at your local store? Another local store I know keeps a list of the people who owe him. It’s like pioneer days. I love it!

Another time I was walking down the street minding my own business. (I realize all of these sentences sound like I’m about to tell a joke) A woman ran out of the local print shop with a roll of tape. A few days before this incident Eleanor and I were strolling down the street and one of the front wheels came off her stroller, unfortunately, not for the first time. I popped into the print shop, bought some tape, and taped that bad boy with all the gusto I could muster. In my joy at solving our problem I left the tape in the shop, thus the reason for the woman running with the roll of tape. I employed one of my new language learning strategies on her. In these early days, instead of learning verbs and nouns for opposite things, I just remember one and then negate it when necessary. So, in this situation instead of saying to her, “Oh, I forgot it!” I simply said, “Oh, I didn’t remember it.” Genius? Why thank you.

Today new adventures await me. I wonder what shenanigans this happy girl and I will get in to.

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Filed under Blessed, Cultural Mishaps, Culture, European Travel, Our Daily Life, Pregnancy and Baby, To learn, Uncategorized, We love this land

I’m forever weird

If I seriously decide to camp out in another country for the rest of my life, I might as well come to terms with the fact that I’m going to be permanently weird.

Yesterday I was far too surprised by the neatly organized rows of colorful bell peppers. I turned on the radio and didn’t know a single song. I was asked to show my id and responded with shock- not because of age but because it hasn’t happened in two years. I was annoyed at the store that as I looked around every single person was on their iphone. I was far too amazed that you could purchase Starbucks with your iphone. I may have mixed up a few idioms and figures of speech.

And soon I’ll go back to my current home and be weird for walking around the market and accidentally saying “boobie” to get Ellie to laugh. You can’t win no matter what you do.

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Filed under Cultural Mishaps, Culture, Our Daily Life, To learn, We love this land

New Most Embarrassing Moment Ever

Wow. Living over here never gets dull. Today I am congratulating myself on my new most embarrassing moment, or rather moments, ever.

As Ellie and I did our usual market shopping we were of course swamped by the crowds swooning over her cuteness. Before heading off to the market my neighbor had taught me the word for dimple in Hungarian, so I was actively trying to get her to show off her dimples. In order to do this I kind of poke her cheeks and say, “tsi tsi tsi tsi tsi”. It’s just the mama voice I usually make when ticking Ellie or trying to get her to laugh. I’ve been doing this for FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS. I was telling one of the vendors that she has dimples and using my usual trick to get her to smile. The man responded to me in Hungarian, “That’s not cici, this is” and gestured to his chest. I thought he was being crass and I was a little put off.

Not too long after my friend Jennifer stopped by and I related the story. She informed me that “Cici” in Hungarian, which sounds exactly like my “tsi tsi tsi” means boobie. Yes, boobie. Now, stop for a minute, imagine a foreigner walking through the grocery store smiling at their baby and others around saying, “boobie boobie boobie boobie.” And, yes, ladies and gentleman, you have me.


Filed under Cultural Mishaps, Culture, Our Daily Life, We love this land

A new approach to getting our meds

This week has been beyond rough in the Rank household. I’ve been very sick, and unfortunately, my sweet baby caught my illness. The problem is that the easy, go-to methods of getting restored to full health that I’m accustomed to in the States just aren’t here. And, for a first-time Mom with a burning up baby, you have a recipe for tears, stress, and fear.

If I were in my comfy cottage back in Riverside on a Sunday like it was here, I wouldn’t fret. I’d call my Kaiser nurse hotline and ask her opinion. Ah. Instant reassurance, at least getting to talk it through with a medical professional who speaks flawless English. If that didn’t reassure me enough in my distress of having a baby with a 101.1 temp and needing advice, I could call, oh, about one zillion other moms at the drop of the hat for advice. No need to take her in you say? Just go to CVS cause it’s open on Sundays, they’ll have pharmacists who can recommend a dose, and all will be well? Really, that easy? If I do take her in, it’s to a lovely Kaiser hospital, speaking to nurses and doctors in my native tongue and being understood, and having the confidence that the medication will come with instructions in my beloved English so I don’t have to spend hours translating medical terminology online with a sick baby in arms.

Well, since that wasn’t my experience, since I no longer live in my beloved cottage in Riverside, I’ll tell you how it really went down. And, truth be told, and praise the Lord, it all ended up okay!

Ellie’s temperature got higher and about 4pm I called the doctor. She was working in a hospital so informed to come in. She said on the phone, in her broken English, “I’m at Hempa hospital at Nagy Varad Ter.” I googled this hospital, and realized that’s not how you spell it. I couldn’t find it, and I was panicking. The clock was ticking. I got on my phone and called everyone I could think of to deduce what the name of this hospital was. Ring, ring, ring. No answer. Ring, ring, ring. No answer. I’m crying frantically, trying to get dressed, making these calls, and trying sooth my feverish baby. Finally, Reka answers! She knows the hospital. Heim Pal hospital. Whew! Just two metro stops away. Oh no. my pass is expired. I’ll have to stop and get a new one before I ride. More time… ah!

We finally get out of the house, I look like death since I’ve been sick for four days, haven’t left the house, and have been crying. But, no one is going to stop me from getting my baby the help she needs. We make it to the hospital, see my doctor immediately, and after spending some time investigating Ellie’s little body discovers an ear infection. We get our prescriptions and she informs us where the nearest pharmacy is- 7 metro stops away. Ugh… You mean not on the 4th floor like Kaiser? This is going to take more than 20 minutes? sigh.

We tuck Ellie back in my Moby, trek her all over town to get our meds, and head back home having accomplished our mission. It’s 7, I’m starving, and all I want to do is drive-thru El Pollo Loco. Not an option, so Scott got me some Magnum bars to take away my pain- emotional that is.

We survived. We did it. I shouldn’t even go there mentally remembering the luxury of my Kaiser days, but it’s hard not to on a day like this. Even though it was hard, I am so thankful for my super helpful husband, my doctor for seeing us late on Sunday afternoon, and for modern medicine and a pharmacist that could explain all the directions to me in English so I didn’t have to translate. Destiny’s Child comes to mind as I sing to myself “I’m a survivor, I’m not goin’ give up…”

Sad, sick baby just wants to be held, and insists I stand while I do it. Very thankful today for my Moby.


Filed under Cultural Mishaps, Culture, Our Daily Life, To learn

Ultrasounds don’t keep very good secrets…

…as I found out on Wednesday. Or is it doctors that don’t keep very good secrets? Especially when they point at your little ones private parts and say, “See that?”

All I could do is look at him and say, “You are not showing me that right now.” It dawned on him. oh yeah. For the past 6 months she didn’t want to know. I just blew it. So, he said, “I was just letting you know that I know what the sex of your baby is.” What kind of cover up is that anyway? Then, for the remainder of the appointment, he kept stumbling over he and she.

I thought if I looked away fast enough the image would disappear and I would forget. Nope. It doesn’t work like that. The surprise I’ve waited patiently for for 35 weeks was gone in two seconds…. without my husband there (the one time he didn’t go)…. and I don’t even have a picture to prove it…. or the standard dvd that we usually get….

So, before the big unveiling, what are your guesses?


Filed under Cultural Mishaps, Pregnancy and Baby