Tess had her first belly dance lesson last night. It wasn’t planned, or anything we sought out, it was one of those experiences that just fell in our laps. Friday is “sport day”. It is not the only sport the kids play all week, but it is the fullest. Tess has two hours, and Dino has one. It takes a little bit of kid shuffling to get it all done.

At Dane’s sports one of the other moms stopped me, to make sure I was coming to the Turkish Cultural night at the Kindy. Um, yes? Sure! Yes please. Of course we would be there at six. I flew through my chores, ran back-n-forth to the gym four times and made it to Kindy by 6:15, only to find it was a womens-only type of night. Eeep. I had kiddo’s with me. Luckily I got a hold of Dave and he promised to swing by on his way home and pick up the little ones. Of course, by the time he got there it smelled so good, and it had gotten so exciting, Tess begged to stay. All the other women not only happily invited her to stay, but also made a quick warm plate for Dave to take home and enjoy.

Half the women were in the kitchen cooking up a storm, the other half were in the converted kindy gym (much smaller than a regular gym) dancing to middle eastern music out of a boombox. There were plenty of scarfs for all of us to drape around our hips and join in. Tess threw puppy eyes and managed to score one of the scarfs with jingling coins. When she tries something new, she tries it whole-heartedly. I love that about my girl.

Tess was a little shy at first, so I stepped up and wriggled my hips around to encourage her. I’m beyond grateful I had the only camera, coordination is not one of my strong suits. Despite my complete lack of grace, I was warmly welcomed and encouraged, and, yes, a little laughed at. The laughing was friendly, warm and comforting. Sometimes a roomful of women, on a friday night, is just what I need.

Right when our appetites were really starting to get the best of us, the food was hot & ready. In true Turkish style we sat on cushions around low tables. We all started with a creamy, rich, tomato bean soup, Tess & I skipped the extra red pepper flakes, and a delicious, chewy, sesame bread. The second course was a roasted eggplant filled with a meat stew, a tomato salad, a rice dish, and a Turkish tzatziki sauce called cacik I couldn’t get enough of. Everyone was given their own healthy-sized bowl of the cacik, a savory combination of garlic, lemon, cucumber and yogurt. Thinking I knew what I was doing I happily poured it over my eggplant and ate the whole bowl. While other women did this as well, most ate the sauce directly out of the bowl with a spoon. Maybe it is a side dish more than a sauce? I’m still not sure.

After dinner there was much more dancing. Poor Tess danced till her stomach ached. We tried a Turkish dessert called Pişmaniye much like the American cotton candy, but served in smaller portions and a little richer, buttery-er. In fact, it tastes like cake-flavored cotton candy. I brought some home for Dave, Dane & Cole as well and it’s a new Westberry favorite. We tried strong Turkish black tea out of a Samovar-type kettle and we learned to sing Happy Birthday in Turkish, one of the moms having a birthday last night. We also sang “Frère Jacques” in German, Albanian, Russian, French, Polish, Italian and Dutch. I’d always thought the Polish language was the most difficult, but Albanian was just about impossible for me.

It was a beautiful night. One of those memories I will never forget, and something I am thrilled to have shared with my daughter.

Belly Dancing