little bird boxes take flight…

one of my favorite projects of the past year has been creating and compiling the little bird boxes. each box features a different arts and crafts theme for children aged 12 months and up- there are design your own dreamcatcher boxes for older children, for those aged 3 to 12, there are create your own cloth bag boxes, paint ceramic tiles like picasso boxes, decorate your own treasure chest boxes,and for little ones, aged 1-3 years old, there are process art oriented baby boxes.

the project started off last june with the best of intentions, and so much amazing support from SO many people- inspiration from my office mates, design and printing help from friends, and moral support from so many like-minded parents; however, as often happens, life just sort of got in the way

part of the problem was that little bird boxes were my first real foray into true retail work, and i have to say i was underprepared for the amount of work would be necessary.  i was unable to pay these beautiful boxes the attention that they deserve and soon found myself with a wonderful stock of surplus boxes. 

after much thought, and more than a few sleepless nights, i realized that what would really make my heart happy would be to make sure the boxes found good homes 🙂

to this end, last december, i arranged to donate approximately half the boxes to the pediatric oncology unit at the koç university hospital and kept the rest for possible future sales.

but with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic here in turkey and around the world, the little bird boxes suddenly took on new meaning for me.  as we, here in my home, scrambled to make sure we had enough art supplies, activities, games and books at home to weather at least a couple of weeks of self-isolation (we are now surely OVERLY prepared)- i couldn’t help but think of the very many children here in istanbul whose parents do not have luxury of being home with their children to help with e-learning or propose a continual stream of activities and entertainment; let alone the resources necessary to create an art and game supply closet.

and so…. with the help of the amazing istanbul gönüllüleri volunteer network, all our remaining little bird boxes on currently on their way to children in need of just this sort of assistance!!

the girls and i spent all yesterday afternoon and evening stuffing each box with whatever extra supplies we could find- there are extra boxes to paint for each child, glitter glue with which to decorate them, and plenty of surplus supplies to encourage children to come up with some arty ideas on their own later on. we also added a whole bunch of books to the mix for some extra fun!

Covid-19 has forced us all, the whole world, to take a much-needed pause and reflect on what is really important and valuable in our lives.  for me, this imposed slowing down of my own pace of life has helped me to remember what really makes me happy; giving and sharing with others. in this time of social distancing, uncertainty and fear it is hard to know how and even exactly what we can give to others…and i am so grateful for the opportunity to share some of our good fortune in this way. 

including my children in this work of giving and sharing has always been important to me. it is likely that social distancing will require us to become even more isolated in the coming days… but we have some new ideas up our sleeves… stay tuned!!

below are two donation options currently being run through the istanbul municipal government and spearheaded by their corps of volunteers; istanbul gönüllüleri. 

In addition, the world health organization is accepting donations to help with the global response:

And for those looking to donate in the US, the salvation army is always a good choice:



It has taken me a week to even begin to reach a point where I feel comfortable writing about the New Year’s Eve attack at Reina.

Over the past year Turkey has experienced numerous terrorist attacks, each has had it’s fair share of civilian and police causalities. Each has ended lives before they should have ended. Each has meant that some lost a love..a child, a parent, a sister, a brother, a friend…

But for some reason this most recent attack feels especially painful. It may because I personally had such high hopes for 2017.

2016, and even the end of 2015, were trying times for me personally, both physically and emotionally. Trying to keep myself centered and maintain my health throughout the year was often a struggle, and the added uncertainty and turmoil in Turkey (and the world) frequently made daily life feel truly overwhelming. The notion that a new year was upon us became an uplifting way to search for the positive and believe that things could change, and would, hopefully soon. The hope with which I had prepared to welcome 2017 was for me, a much-needed emotional boost.

The Reina attack shortly after midnight on January 1st seemed to wipe away that feeling of hope entirely. Each time I think about all the young people killed, all those injured, and all those for whom New Year’s Eve will forever be a reminder of devastation and trauma, I am filled with a deep feeling of sorrow.

The aftermath of the attack has only served to heighten my sadness and anxiety.

How will Turkey move forward from here? For me, over the past week numerous political and social issues that have always been pushed to somewhere on the edge of my horizon have now entered squarely into my field of vision…and they feel insurmountable.  Enumerating these issues in an online forum has become dangerous and will have to wait for another day; one that I fear will not come soon.

Eighteen years ago, I made the conscious decision to make Turkey my home. And for better or worse, Turkey took me in wholeheartedly. Turks are extremely kind, hospitable people who consistently go out of their way for others.  Although Turkey has always been in a state of development, it has always shown a great deal of potential and economic developments had always seemed to be helping to foster increasingly open-minded liberal worldviews.

Following the Reina attack, I have begun to feel not only as part of an unwanted minority, but also an unprotected one. I’m afraid that things will only get worse before they get better, and as they do, who will stand up for my rights, and those of my children? Is it possible for us to survive, let alone thrive, in this environment? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, we continue to live in a state of caution as we wait for the seemingly inevitable next attack.



It is hard to keep the news of recent events from Alegra. Whether I like it or not this is the world we are living in right now, and she needs to process what is happening as much as we do. But in the days after the Reina attack my heart was heavy when she turned to me and asked,

“Mommy, was this attack one with long guns like in the Airport, or one with bombs like at the stadium??”

That my children are more than priviledged is a fact that I never underestimate. That their lives are filled with love and joy is something of which I am certain. That I would never want for them to be anything other than global citizens who know the world, and more importantly care about others is a non-negotiable aspect of their upbringing. That we would be given the choice to introduce these concepts in a way that is safe and not the stuff of nightmares was also something I had always assumed as a given.

These questions will inevitably continue, and we will do our best to answer.

our new normal…

This is definitely becoming our new norm. How do you shield your child from this news when a bomb goes off four miles from your home? Alegra knows all about the bombing last night. Asya was at the Swissotel, 100 yards away, with a friend. This is their world right now. Alara has nothing to say but who knows what is going on inside her head right now. The notion of “emergency money, an emergency flashlight, or a safe space” has become a part of our daily lives.