my fearless first child


Happy, happy birthday to my brilliant, beautiful, confident first child today!
Asya, you never cease to amaze me with your bravery and determination…At the age of 14 you have already managed to surprise me so many times with your decisiveness, courage, and strength! Whether it was the (many) times I ended up having to put you in the shower fully clothed because you had decided NO BATH that night, or the way you pretty much signed yourself up for a full session of summer camp at Rockbrook at age 9, or the way that you have conquered the (very scary to me) strenuous sport of show jumping, I am constantly in awe of your ability to decide what it is you want- and do your best to make it happen!

This year has been a tough and busy one. Preparing for the TEOG exams while juggling the demands of eighth grade and an ever busier riding schedule has not been easy. The serious pressure of eighth grade in Istanbul can be overwhelming all on it’s own; yet you have, as always, managed to take it stride! Your social life has been almost as busy as your school life and while we have sometimes argued over how to balance the two, I am proud to see you coming to understand the importance of creating and maintaining good friendships.

Your love of animals is endless. There isn’t a dog that we pass that doesn’t get a loving look or a horse that doesn’t get a tongue click and a long pat. Anyone who knows you knows that a membership to the Worldwide Wildlife Foundation or PETA is always the perfect gift. Although as a teenager right now showing your feelings isn’t always “the thing to do”, I know that your love for people runs just as deep. You have a giant heart and so much compassion for anyone who needs it. Your friends are lucky to have you in their lives, and I am so impressed that you constantly find different ways to make sure they know that you care.

At home you have been a fabulous older sister to both Alara and Alegra. I think that in Alegra’s eyes you can do no wrong and all she wants is for you to think that she could EVER be as “cool” as you! Things with Alara are always a bit more complicated, as you know, but know also that she has always, always, got your back; and I can’t think of a better ally to have if you are ever in a jam.

For me, and for your baba, it has been the most amazing pleasure to get to watch you grown and mature this year. We couldn’t be more proud of all your hardwork and your amazing maturity and calmness over the past couple of months.  Your quick mind and big heart will get you very far in this world and I am so lucky to be along for the ride and get to watch it all unfold. I love you so much my wonderful, sweet girl.  Happy, happy birthday.

simply magical


Our annual family ski trip is generally a whirlwind experience. Children, parents, instructors, friends… it seems there are people everywhere I look.  Always someone to greet and almost always something needing to be managed; lost gloves, painful shoes, thin layers, dirty socks!

But this year on our last day of skiing, our guides planned for us to ski down to a restaurant to which we’d never been. The final portion of the journey included a short (and admittedly very easy) off-piste section that was breathtaking in its beauty.

As we approached the woods, we skied through what must have been a small meadow in springtime. The combination of sun, wind and cold weather of the week had caused the upper layers of powder snow to crystallize so that it seemed we could touch and count each individual snowflake.  Once we had our fill of playing with the “snowflakes”, we entered single-file into a forest of pine trees.

The awesome beauty and silence that surrounded us is hard to describe.  After the hecticness of the week, and perhaps due to the fact that we knew that the next day we’d be catapulted back into the familiar chaos (and less comfortable political realities) of Istanbul, even the children were reluctant to speak as we glided among the trees. Instead, we travelled quietly, each alone, but also together, until we reached the end of the path.

Although each of us loves something different about our yearly week in Alps; for Erim it is the fresh air, for Asya it is being able to be with her friends nearly twenty-four hours a day, for Alara it’s the respite from the daily requirements of scheduling and school, for Alegra it’s getting to have nutella crepes for breakfast every day, for me it’s getting to be in the mountains and immersed in nature; thinking back on that day we all agreed that our final quiet journey through the pine trees was simply magical.

colors and cultures


In January, I was lucky enough to get to visit the annual Domotex floor covering trade fair in Hannover, Germany. Taking a break from Istanbul for a few days did me a world of good, having the opportunity to lose myself in the hustle and bustle of the carpet world was a real treat, and getting a real glimpse into the business world of my father and sister was hugely educational and inspiring.

Although the merchants and customers came from all over the world, the majority of the merchants we visited were from Iran. Turkish rugs are, clearly, easier for us to access here in Turkey, so my father focused mainly on purchasing the Iranian carpets, Gabbehs, Sultanabads, Herizes, and Samarkands; he felt would be popular among customers in the United States. As one might expect, a significant amount of posturing, negotiating, and bargaining was par for the course over the three days we were there!

Despite the cacophany of voices and the constant movement of fair, the time we spent looking at each carpet provided me a moment of quiet that was almost meditative.  As the colors and patterns moved before my eyes, I began to think a great deal about the cultures from which these beautiful pieces of art have emerged. In particular, the way in which a traditional art form, with a very functional purpose, has managed to form cultural connections between the cultures and nations producing the carpets, such as Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and of course, Turkey, and those who have traditionally appreciated the beauty and workmanship these carepts represent, such as the U.S., Great Britian, Germany, and France (among many others).

The personal connections that I was able to make with the rug merchants we visited varied. Some were Iranians who had travelled to Germany only for the fair. Their family connections in Iran, and their ethnic backgrounds meant that while they spoke little English, they did, in fact, speak Turkish! Although at times I had trouble understanding some of the older Turkish words that have been lost from our daily vocabulary, my father was able to complete his negotiations and purchases without any trouble.  Other Iranian families had been living in Germany for years and spoke German and English fluently. One family in particular reminded us so much of our own family that I felt as though I had known them for years! Like us they had all spent their lives going back and forth between two countries and two cultures, in their case Germany and Iran, as their parents built their now booming carpet business. With them I was able to bond not just over the beauty of the carpets, but also over stories about our children, spouses, and struggles and success balancing our two cultures.

Balancing these two cultures has, for me, at times been a real challenge.  There are parts of each that I would never want to live without, and parts of each that I would be very happy to get rid of entirely. In addition, having lived a somewhat itinerant life as a child, it is certain that the current stability and routine of my life is something I sought out, however also something that often frustrates me. On the whole, as I was reminded in Germany, the vibrancy of this cultural combination, mirrored in the vibrant colors of the carpets that have always been such an integral part of my life, is something that has enriched my world and something that I would never want to lose.



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.