Category Archives: Our Daily Life

Humbled almost every day

I can’t remember perfectly clearly, but I think I may have thought I had it all together before I had kids. This is probably just my memory playing tricks on me, or sleep deprivation playing tricks on me, but this is how I’m thinking these days. Sure, I didn’t have it all together, but I certainly never let others down, or myself down, to the degree I do now that I’m a mother- especially a mother of two.

Today I raised my voice at my 20 month old. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d do that. In my pre-kid dreams of one day being a mother, I thought I’d have endless patience, a calm voice day and night, a serene, yet super fun demeanor despite any challenges that were posed day or night.

That was before I was tested. I think it’s easier to think you have it all together when you have lots of time to yourself, when you can go out with your spouse to a dinner and movie and not think about how much you’ll pay for that late night with the 6am wake-up call, when you can make dinner without one yelling from the bathroom to come wipe their bottom and the other hanging on your leg begging you to wipe their green snot off their face (bet you’re itching for an invitation to our home for dinner now!), when you drink coffee hot…

A round of illness is working it’s way through our house. Since I’ve not slept well for over a week- I can’t get into a deep sleep when I hear their coughs from another room and know I’ll be needed any minute- now I’m the last to get sick. Sophia seems to be on the upswing- praise!- and if I can find time to sleep, to drink a hot cup of tea, to get outside for fresh air, I may feel better soon as well. And, I hope this grumpy mommy leaves as well, although this grumpiness that flares up from seemingly nowhere reminds me of my need for Jesus, so I’m thankful for it.


Someone else is fed up with this illness that is working it’s way through our house!

I’m so thankful for my children. I’m so thankful that life with them shows me that I really, REALLY, don’t have it all together. I train them and mold them best I know how, and then I fail, and need to ask forgiveness, and by my failings, and through my repentance, I show them that I need Jesus too- more than I ever thought! I remind myself that I need grace just as much as they need grace. I’m humbled because not only do I not have it all together, I can’t even begin to fool myself or anyone else into thinking I have it all together. For better or worse.

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

I’m always praying and asking for more wisdom…. first things first, I guess!

Even when tired, there’s always the joy that comes when baking with a really cute ballerina.balletbaking


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Filed under Blessed, Our Daily Life, To learn

2016 Reading adventures

I hope to continue to read and learn more in this year than ever. I have plans to really scale down social media and other time wasters to enjoy letting my brain soak up more of what really matters to me most.


Here are some of the books I’ve read already:

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics– The ultimate, and I mean ultimate, underdog story. Scott and I read this one aloud together, and I think we always wanted to read one more chapter. I’m proud to be an American!

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who needs to breathe; Sally Clarkson is just so darn wise. I couldn’t resist as it was only $1.99. I don’t feel particular desperate in this season, but I thought a little dose of encouragement wouldn’t hurt. Glad I read it. Good reminders in there, and so much wisdom.

The Fringe Hours; The perfect book for me in this new year. I also snagged this one for $1.99 on kindle. If you are someone who wants to be a little more strategic with how to spend your time, and also want to think about how fitting self-care into an already time-tight schedule, then this book is for you.

Gilead– I dubbed this one the right book at the wrong time. This book is quiet, the ponderings of an Iowa pastor who is nearing death. It is also a pulitzer prize winner and written by an author from the great state of Iowa, the same state my husband is from. I think I’ll pick it up again another time.

As for 2016…

Peace Like a River– this one is a recommendation from my mother-in-law. She is a voracious reader and a writer, so I’m looking forward to this selection.

Caffeine Blues– I’m physically addicted to caffeine, and emotionally addicted to coffee. The smell, the taste…even the thought of drinking it can make me feel better. But, I had a disturbing thought recently.  What if it’s actually worse for me than I think? Maybe I should just see…. Guess I’ll find out!

Jane Eyre– I’ve wanted to read this one for some time. It’s our February book club selection, so I’m glad I’ll finally get to enjoy it. I’ve heard great things. I’m excited!

And, well, probably a few more…



Filed under Our Daily Life, To learn, Uncategorized

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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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.


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.


Getting our feet wet


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


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?


Filed under Blessed, Culture, European Travel, Food and Drink, Our Daily Life, We love this land

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.


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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You can’t have the crop without the ox

Today I was reading in Proverbs 14. I’ve felt thirsty for fresh wisdom from the Proverbs as of late, so that’s where I try to park every morning with freshly brewed coffee in hand and an open heart.

This morning proved a struggle. I was up for 2 hours in the wee hours of the night with a teething little one. After I put her down for her morning nap, all the chores that I really hadn’t the heart to attend to at the time were calling my name, as usual. But, I decided I needed to get my heart in check first. So, I sat down on the couch and tried to ignore the toys scattered everywhere, tried to not think about the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the washer waiting to be put in the dryer.


Keeping it real

As I was reading I stumbled upon a humbling verse.

Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

My take away today: Where there are no children, the house is clean, but abundant JOY comes by the delight of children.


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