Sunday, December 30, 2007
Kosta's mom and sister arrived shortly after 11:00am and we were all dressed and ready for the day. Small miracles do happen. Izabella wore her favorite "princess" dress and Foti sported a nice shirt and vest combo. Alexandra wore an adorable red and white Santa-style dress complete with a faux fur collar. I managed to dig a nice outfit of my own out of one of our remaining boxes.
The turkey was in the oven and the kids were behaving. Although Santa(Aghios Vassilis) doesn't arrive in Greece until New Year's Eve they were giddy with the anticipation of the gifts that they would receive from everyone else, including some gifts from America that they'd been slowly tearing open since Kosta's return. At first I wasn't sure how I'd handle telling Iza that Santa doesn't visit us on Christmas Eve but everything worked out just fine, if not better. I mean, how much better does it get for a kid? They receive presents from their family and friends on Christmas day and then Santa brings even more presents on New Year's Eve!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Well, it' s been a while since I've posted one of Izabella's drawings so I decided that
there's no better time than Christmas to share another. She' drawn hundreds but this is one of my favorites.
It's Christmas Eve and we're preparing to have a house full tomorrow. I know it's kind of silly to blog when I have to start some more dishes and straighten up the house but I just wanted to pop online to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. It's just like me to do something like that. I think that I work best under pressure.
Tomorrow we're having MIL , SIL , Iza's godfather and another friend here for Christmas dinner. I'm making a multicultural type of feast. We'll have turkey the American way complete with stuffing and mashed potatoes on the side. Puerto Rican rice will be on the table as well as eggplant salad, tzaziki, tigania, green salads and a lot more. I just hope that everything goes well. It's Christmas after all:)
As fresh turkeys are probably wonderful I am perfectly happy with buying a frozen one since that is what I am accustomed to. What fun would it be if I didn't have to start thawing a bird 3 or 4 days before I can cook it? I also figured that if I found a frozen turkey it wouldn't be nearly as expensive as a fresh one. When I finally had another chance to look I checked out another store and finallly found one that is 12 lbs (5.4 kg) and was only 12.99 Euro(Just under $19.00). I can live with that!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
My favorite thing to do in there is to walk through the open market and buy fresh fruits and veggies. Actually, I like to do in any city or town here but Kozani's market takes place on Saturdays so it's more convenient for me.
Last Saturday I visited the market and I just loved the color of the tangerines. I got a great deal...1 kilo for .50 euro. They were gone by Tuesday!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
What did we do?
Well, first I want to let everyone know that I couldn't find a turkey. I didn't search high & low for one either as I haven't had any spare time. The kids were home sick from school as we've been battling horrible viruses once again. I honestly didn't think that finding a turkey would be so difficult because 12 years ago, when we lived in Drama, I did find a turkey. At that time we had a traditional Thanksgiving meal even if it was just another work day for us.
Since the kids were sick and I was exhausted I ended up making meatballs and rice for lunch. For dinner we had frozen pizza. Hey, I just wanted the kids to eat something and I knew that these foods would entice them. We did talk about the holiday and talked to several friends and family members back home. We talked about what we needed to be thankful for. I also had to explain to Iza over & over why we didn't have or couldn't find a turkey. She pointed out that our neighbor has several running around in his yard and said that maybe we could buy a turkey and put it in our yard so that we would have one next year. I didn't say anything, we just laughed. A friend of ours asked her what we were doing for Thanksgiving and she replied, " Well, um, my mom has a tablecloth with a turkey on it". That was it, the tablecloth really made the difference. So we didn't have the dinner, we had the tablecloth and all was fabulous. We enjoyed our day together even if we were all sick.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I do want to mention that a few weeks ago we did hand pick the olives that we want to eat for the next year. I really enjoyed spending the time choosing the best olives that I wanted to cure. Those olives are almost ready to eat!
We ended up with 66 lbs.(30 kg )of oil from the nearly 500 lbs.(227 kg) of olives that were picked. I couldn't believe how heavy those sacks were! (yes, I helped K lift them into the trailer...) The oil was still warm from the press when Kosta came home and I just have to say that I've never tasted better olive oil in my life! It's really amazing!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
In the beginning, we thought that the smoke was just the normal smoke that you get if you use a newspaper to light the fire like we did. After a few minutes we realised that we were wrong. Each time we thought that things were looking better, whoosh-another gust blew smoke down the chimney. Kosta finally decided to close the big metal doors in the fireplace and eventually the smoke cleared out. It took about an hour or so. So, we had our fire and it was warm but I'll think twice about lighting up on a windy day such as this one.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
So, here we are in Greece, with a new home, new school and a new puppy. Needless to say, I'm beat.
Where did we get the puppy? Well, one day when Kosta was running errands he ended up at a hardware store complete with a junk yard in the back. He noticed that there were puppies in the yard and asked the owner what breed they were and if they would be available anytime soon. The owner told Kosta that they were Kanis (greek for poodle) and that we could have one for 20.oo euro if we were interested. So, Kosta came home and told me that we could get a poodle for Iza if we wanted. Naturally, I said that I'd think about it given the timing. We talked about it for a few days and asked the kids if they wanted a puppy. Of course the answer was YES. After a few days passed Kosta was getting ready to go to the same hardware store and on his way out he asked if he should bring a puppy home or not, since the decision rested in my hands as I'd be the primary caregiver to this pup. I said, "why not?"(what was I thinking?)
She's definitely not 100% poodle. I don't know much about dogs, but she doesn't look like the poodles I've met before. I've tried looking up hybrids and mutts online and can't quite figure out what she is. She's cute though. Kosta and I have sat on the couch just trying to figure her out as she wrestles the sock spider that we made her. He thinks that she might be part mouse.
I'm learning a lot about her and really trying hard to train her. I think that I've got her figured out. I just think that dogs are weird. And then she does this when I point the camera at her...
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday Kosta had two appointments. The first appointment was at the courthouse and there was no parking within a mile so I assumed my post. The appointment lasted about a half hour and I didn't have to move the car so I was relieved. The next appointment was in the center of the city at a bank. At first, Kosta wanted to park on the sidewalk across the street from the bank. He informed me that he'd parked the car there before without incident. I wasn't going to be a part of it so I made him move the car off of the sidewalk and double park. For those of you who aren't familiar with the way things work here-parking half of your car on the sidewalk or sometimes completely on the sidewalk is quite common since the streets are so narrow and/or as I mentioned before, there is no parking available where it's technically allowed. So, there I was at my post reading a magazine and listening to my Jennifer Lopez CD when all of a sudden a bus came up behind me and the driver was sitting on the horn! He was cussing me out like you wouldn't believe so I drove the car forward. That didn't give him enough room to pass so I turned the corner. He was still behind me so I kept driving. The bus finally turned on to another street when I realized that I didn't have a clue as to where I was going. Oh crap. I am not familiar with Thessaloniki at all. I don't have a mobile phone yet, I don't know Kosta's number on his by heart and I didn't really look at the name of the bank that he went into. I started to tremble. I hadn't been this scared since I lost Foti in the airport in Munich. I was trying to remain calm so that I wouldn't really lose myself but it wasn't working, I was trembling and almost went into full panic mode. I turned onto a side street which, luckily, was a dead end. I sat there for a minute to piece myself back together when saw an Asian woman cross the street. I though that she'd speak English for sure and that I'd find my way back to where I started. Well, she didn't even look at me. That's another thing about being in a big city like Thessaloniki, nobody hears you. They have to hear you before they can help you, but how can they help someone that didn't even know where she started out to begin with? That's what I thought immediately after she didn't respond. What the heck was I going to ask her, " ah, I lost my husband, do you know where he is?" . Or how about, " I was parked near a bank in the center of the city with a blue sign can you help me?".
As I sat in the car trying to decide what to do I remembered that Kosta had pointed out a statue of a man on a horse, King George or someone and that the bank was on the street right behind it. OK, so now I had something to go on. I turned back on to the very busy street and kept driving forward. I decided that I was going to try to make a circle out of my journey so I only turned right. I kept driving until I found Ippocratus, one of the city's main streets. I turned right. I was driving so slowly that everyone that passed cursed at me but it didn't matter, I needed to look at everything. After about 5 minutes I saw the statue but missed the first turn that I would've need to take so I decided to just take the next one. As I was trying to look for the bank I saw my husband walking down the street. He looked worried and said, " Chica, where have you been?" I burst into tears and told him what happened. He was very supportive and started talking about how we should find a landmark to meet at and getting me a mobile phone soon. He offered to stop at Starbucks for a little coffee so that I might down. As we drove away from Starbucks he figured that I was calm enough for him to say, " you should have just let me park on the sidewalk, then you wouldn't have gotten lost." I guess that I had that coming. After all this is Greece, anything goes here...BUT it's still not right to park on a sidewalk!!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Kosta is great at bringing in an octopus or two but he hasn't all summer. So today he went in the water with his spear gun and promised a catch. He was only in the water for about 45 minutes when he emerged like Poseidon with an octopus on his spear...only he was wearing a mask and snorkel.
Foti was so excited because he hasn't witnessed his Daddy's great skill until today nor has he touched a real octopus before. Izabella wanted to hold it so of course, the two of them were fighting over the thing. I took a lot of pictures today and I wish that I could share them. I promise that I'll post a picture or two as soon as I get the chance.
With a native emerging from the sea with an octopus on his spear comes the flurry of tourists running over with their cameras and kids. We laugh because it happens every time and although it's funny we love to share the experience with people who've never witnessed it before. Some men from Serbia were standing by in their Speedos checking out Kosta's spear gun. I noticed how their stance turned super macho when asking questions and looking at the spear. And then there was a young woman who literally ran over to where we were with her camera phone. She was snapping away and just all a flutter. I can only wonder who she'll send her photos to. As I mentioned, I was taking pictures too and I took pictures of our audience.
Kosta took the octopus back into the water to pull out the eyes and the tooth and when he showed the tooth to the Serbian men their chest elevated some more and started a discussion that I couldn't comprehend. I can only imagine. After that, Kosta told me that he was going to find another one and it was my job to tenderize the octopus.
Tenderizing the octopus means that it has to be slammed against a rock about 100 times. Actually the process goes like this...
Slam the octopus against the rock 10 times,
Take it back to the water to rinse it,
Bring it back to the rock to and rub it around until a foamy liquid appears,
Slam the octopus against the rock 10 times,
Take it back to the water to rinse it,
Bring it back to the rock to rub it around until a foamy liquid appears...
You get the picture.
The kids helped me with rinsing and rubbing but not the slamming. They were also counting out loud as I did the slamming. I think that I probably went way over 100 times because they were laughing along the way as they were so excited. Also, they were counting in English, Greek and Spanish. What happened to French? So there I was in my bathing suit with my designer sunglasses slamming an octopus against a rock in front of a crowd of tourists snapping pictures. Lovely. Oh and for those of you who know- me go ahead and piss your pants laughing...I know you will. But I really didn't mind doing it because I love to eat octopus and this one is about 1 1/2 lbs.
In the end Kosta didn't spear another octopus. I could see the disappointment on the faces of a few tourists that were sitting near by. I noticed that they would eagerly look in the water to see if Kosta was coming out with anything. That's ok, we have one great octopus to eat tomorrow. We just have to decide whether we will grill it or broil it.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Aside from the stress of moving our entire lives overseas and living in a little space I have to say that our summer was nice. I enjoyed watching the kids play on the beach, meet new friends and learn about their new environment. We grilled fish, took road trips and enjoyed the company of friends-old and new. Even though we had a few mishaps in the yard with neighbors we survived the summer without a major incident. (this doesn't include SIL -she was hosed down by a neighbor!) Last night I went to the bakery and bought sweets for the neighbors that are still here. I figure that since I wasn't hostile toward anyone, even if they were acting like children, that I would bid "Kalo Himona" (Good winter) with a smile and some sweets because that's just how I am. I may get irritated, but I won't go down the toxic path with the rest of the bitter old biddies. I have started to pack up our little condo to move into our new house. We will be moving next week and I am excited. The kids will start school and I will start to assemble my life again. And hey, I will get to cook again! MIL has been doing most of the cooking since we've been here. We ate all of our meals at MIL's because of this and it will be nice to not have to get up and get dressed to go somewhere else to eat. My kids can't wait either since they keep asking for their favorite foods.
I will also have my own car again! Our stuff has been at the port for over 1 month because we didn't have anywhere to store it. So, we will get our car and all of our things from America to put into our new home. It will be a lot of work but it's work that I can't wait to tackle.
So overall, we have had a really nice summer and we are looking forward to fall in our new home.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Although the school that we chose is completely adorable and just what any loving parent might envision as a school that their children should attend I am a little reserved and have a few concerns about how our children will be taught. I am also concerned about the distance that my children will have to travel via school bus. I think that we will probably drive them for the first week or so. Last year the school that Iza attended was so close that we could walk. That's not the case this time around so I think that I just have to get used to the idea of them traveling on a bus and not with me.
Another concern that I have has to do with the bathrooms. The bathrooms are cute with little toilets just their size but there are no stalls or partitions between the toilets. There are about 10 toilets lined up in a row. I was wondering just how many children use the toilet at the same time. I was assured that usually no more than one student may use the facilities at once unless there was an emergency, but I am still concerned because Iza doesn't even like us in the bathroom anymore, how will she deal with another child busting in? I am sure that everything will work out and that she will adjust but it's just strange.
The last concern that I have is cultural. I feel that most natives baby their children so much that they act like babies until they are 10. I can't stand it. To see a 6 year old whining and talking like they are 3 is almost heartbreaking because I know that given the chance, children can do almost anything. To discipline a child here is almost unheard of. I do know many natives that do try to correct their children when they make mistakes but not too many. For instance, my son has been smacked around, intentionally pushed off of his bike and also pushed down 5 cement stairs that left a scar on his back. When I express that I am concerned with the way that children play here most natives just sit silent and tell me that's just how it is and that kids will be kids. Sure, kids will be kids but they don't need to play like monsters. Someone has to step in. I am concerned as to how the school will deal with this sort of behavior since most people here seem indifferent to bad behavior because "kids will be kids". I guess I just have to have faith in the staff of the school and hope that things will work out.
So at the end of the day I am excited because the kids are bored out of their little skulls and it's time for more stimulation. I am sure that they are excited too. Foti thinks that he will be going to a school like Harry Potter's and he talks about it all of the time. I hope that he's not disappointed when he doesn't find a chamber or isn't handed a magic wand to make the bullies disappear!
Friday, August 31, 2007
The view from where we sit on the beach.
More photos to come!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Here's the story.....
The people in this complex are all pretty much screwed in the head. Each day since we've been here we have been careful to not get involved with anyone aside from cordial greetings as we pass one another. Unfortunately, my daughter has become friends with the granddaughter (GD) of one of the craziest families here. We always watch the children play as we just don't want anything to happen, just in case. (The granddaughter usually comes for the weekend). This last Sunday, GD was at our door waiting for my kids to come out. When we opened the door, she had a bag with toys for the kids. She gave Iza a doll, it was brand new with tags and everything. Iza loves this doll and plays with it a lot.
Here's where it gets weird...
Iza was playing with other kids in the complex and having a great time. GD has been gone since Sunday so she's not here. Grandmother walks through the yard and sees the doll on the grass and takes it from my daughter and goes upstairs to her condo and closes the door. WTF? Iza comes in the house crying telling me that GM took her doll. I said, "honey I thought GD was gone." Oh, by the way, GM and GD have the same name, this is Greece after all. We refer to them as " the big one" or " the little one." When Iza said, " the BIG one" I just couldn't believe it. So Kosta went upstairs to knock on the door and ask what the heck happened. The witch said that the doll was her GD's and it was her favorite doll (BS) and that Iza couldn't play with it unless she was playing with her GD. Oh and also that she should take better care of it. Are you kidding me? You are going to play your freaking' mind games with MY child?
We got the doll back and Iza was very happy, but still a little shaken by the incident. The other kids that were playing with Iza were shaken as well and one even went home crying. Her father came out and yelled at the witch. It doesn't make a difference, she won't change. We will just have to make sure that GD doesn't play with our daughter. I really feel sorry for the poor girl.
Aside from that our lives have been good. I will have to post our good news later as I'm still sizzling!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I never blamed her.
The kids get the cold, one by one. Nothing is said about how or where the virus evolved. We all feel better. A week or so has passed and now MIL has another cold. She says it's the air conditioning in the house. As she explains how she feels to our neighbor-the neighbor says, "Be careful, you have AIR CONDITIONING."
It's funny that I was raised with A/C and heat from a furnace (aka forced air) and I was never diagnosed with an illness that was caused by either one. Ay!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The pharmacist was EXTREMELY friendly (always is).
The price of the medicine was only 1.15 Euro ( about $1.57).I thought that he said 15.00 Euro and I was prepared to pay it. I had 20.00 Euro with me and he didn't have change for it so he told me to just take the medicine and pay him later in the week. That's when I went into shock because I couldn't believe how inexpensive the medicine was. It paid him 2 days later.
-A local restaurant doesn't really have a delivery service, but they deliver to locals.
-The local grocer knows us and often reduces the prices of his/her products for me, and I never ask. It is usually when I am buying a treat for the kids and because they know us they treat the kids.
-I was standing in a long line at the bakery one morning with Alexandra in my arms. The bakery employee took me ahead of about 5 other customers because I had a baby and nobody behind me or ahead of me complained about it.
-At a puppet show I was standing with Alexandra in my arms(again) and a strange man insisted that I sit in his chair. What's significant about this point is that the puppet show was a "karogzi" (shadow puppets) and it is outdoors...and you have to bring your own chairs. We learned that the hard way. :)
-I have never left a restaurant here dissatisfied with the food or service. The food is always fresh and not filled with preservatives or over processed.
-There is always a beautiful view wherever I go.
There are just a few things that I really love about being here.
Friday, August 10, 2007
As we are submersed in a collectivist culture it is good because everyone pretty knows what's going on with everyone else. It's good because if my kids are playing in the common areas I know that they are safe and that they are usually treated well. For the most part the neighbors have remained courteous, except for the one right next door to me. She tries to push my buttons every time she sees me. Lately she is trying to tell me that I can't only make American friends because I am in Greece and I must make Greek friends. Hmmmm, don't I already have Greek friends? I think that I have been living next to her for too long and she's starting to get to me. She's also informed me that I am in Greece, I must live, breathe and eat Greece. I must make Greek friends and do what my MIL asks. Ah......Que? What? Who does she think I am, a Greek? I can't walk to my door without her attacking me or my children with her fake smiles, endless questions and never ending unsolicited advice. I have experienced this before and I have survived. She peeks in my door and often just walks in when the door is open. Again, this is not new to me and not every native does this, but it can happen more often than not here. I also know that she is gathering information about me and my family for the rest of the porch dwellers in the complex. There is always a gathering on some one's porch. Don't they have anything else to do? My husband told me to think like I am living in Rome, that is his example for me to follow. (boy I miss my HBO!) Anyway, can I do that? I am tough but I am not sure that I have the capability to be conniving, to think one step ahead. It's just too exhausting and I truly believe, toxic. I will remain neutral and true to myself and just smile be on my way, that's how I survived the last time that I lived here.
Hopefully everything will work with our house out in the middle of nowhere (strategic move) and I can really be happy being myself without having to avoid the reptile next door. I laugh because I've often compared her to the aliens in the series "V"...her reptile eyes are seething through her human disguise. Summer is nearly over and soon we will be moving on. I really, really miss my old neighbors!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
On Saturday I showed her around the peninsula. We had coffee in an adorable village, Athitos. The view was amazing. I FINALLY saw dolphins in the sea as we were having our coffee. I have been here off and on for 17 years and I have never seen dolphins swimming near us. I was really excited! I can't find a decent link for this particular village so I will share photos another time. After coffee, we took a long walk through the village. We looked through shops and then got into the car so that we could venture to the other side of Kassandra.
I took the wrong turn only to find myself driving through the center of the peninsula. Up and down winding roads, through the woods, we passed farms inhabited by goats and cows. It was pretty cool though. When I found the main road we stopped in Skala Fourkas for dinner. We found a taverna situated right near the sea shore and enjoyed a long dinner. I really hope that she enjoyed herself.
Sunday we met our Koumbaros(best man) in Thessaloniki and he took us to St. Dimitrios. Our tour of the church was a good way to end her trip. We dropped her off at the airport and then had dinner. The weather was crappy on Sunday, it rained and it got really cool. I am only complaining because I wasn't prepared for it to be so cool and I was freezing. I did grab coats and sweaters for the kids and Kosta, but I didn't put socks on the baby because it wasn't cold here. So I had a coat for the baby but no socks or shoes so I wrapped her in my poncho, therefore, I was freezing because I was wearing a sleeveless shirt. Although I wasn't prepared we were all happy that it had rained as it was needed it hasn't rained at all since we've been here, so poor Mother Earth needed a drink!
Our loan was approved yesterday and we went to Thessaloniki again today to take care of more paperwork. We also made our offer for the house and went to look at it again. It really is beautiful. It needs a lot of TLC but that's not a problem. The last house that we bought is over 100 years old and this one is nearly 30 yrs. old, made of concrete and marble, so we figure it's not such a big deal. Although it is great to have so many neighbors that are good to our children, I think it is time for us to have some quiet. I feel like a crazy woman every time that I have to discipline my kids here because all eyes are on me-from every direction. Of course, as I am in Greece, disciplining one's own children is virtually unheard of, because they are only children, they're all babies until they're 90 or some crap like that. A hunk of BS I'll save for another post.
So anyway, we are doing well. Alexandra has had 4 teeth come in since we've arrived, exactly one month ago today. It seems so much longer to me. She is also pulling herself up to standing and trying to take steps around the furniture. Izabella has made a lot of new friends and is very excited. Since the day that Amalia died she has been nagging me about what kind of new pet she wants. It changes every day. She wants a dog, a parrot, a canary, a duck, a pony and maybe some fish. And Foti, my poor Foti. He is so lost and my heart is breaking. He has been so naughty lately. I mean REALLY naughty. He is constantly pinching Iza, pulling her hair and/or slapping her around. The other day he bit Alexandra's toe while riding in the backseat of the car. My patience is running out and I am almost out of tactics. I am sure that once we move into our new house it will get better. I mean really, we went from living in a 3 story house with 2 kitchens to renting a 1 bedroom apartment for the summer. Plus, we almost never have family time, just the 5 of us. It is due time. I am coping because I keep reminding myself that this is all temporary and that things could be worse.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
My family has had there summer condo for 30 years, thus most of the neighbors have been here for that long as well. I can't say that it's a good thing since most of them are pretty old and they spend their summer peeking out their doors and telling each other what to do. It's just annoying.
So, about a week or so after we arrived one of the neighbors, (one of the worst of them), stops Kosta in the yard and tells him that the septic system stinks and is backed up. Then she says that they found a diaper (of all things) in the pipes and that we should stop flushing our diapers down the toilet. Are you kidding me? Is that even possible? Has anyone ever even tried to flush a friggin' diaper in a toilet? Kosta is always so diplomatic and calm and his reply was pretty funny. He advised our neighbor that we don't do that and that maybe she should ask some of the old farts around here what they're doing with their diapers!
So, after a few days the president of the condo association approached Kosta. She is a very sweet woman and I am sure that she is under A LOT of pressure from these people. She also told Kosta that IF we are flushing diapers in the toilet that we need to stop because it will back up the septic system. Again WTF? So he assured her that we don't do that and they parted company. Isn't it just ridiculous? Where do these people think we come from? We had a lot of good laughs over this during the last few weeks.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Everything is going fairly well here, I have to say. We went to look at the house that we want to buy last week. It's an older home but the lot is huge. There are about 100 olive trees and many fruit trees. There are fig trees, pear trees, pomegranate trees, apple trees and more. From the balcony there is a view of the sea and Mt. Olympus across the bay. It really seems like paradise. I just don't know how ready I am for that sort of thing. I am definitely not complaining I am just a little squeamish. Kosta has been running around trying to file paperwork for the purchase. He had to translate our tax papers again, yippee. Yesterday he went to Kozani with his mom, Iza and Foti to get more things accomplished. They are coming back today and I can't wait. It's weird for me to only have one child around.
Last week I met another American, so that's 2 that I've met here so far. It's nice to have someone to relate to. Anyway, the woman that I met last week moved here 5 years ago with her husband for a lot of the same reasons that we did. Kosta and I went out for pizza with her and her hubby last Saturday and it was great because they had some very useful information for us based on their own experiences. I got the low down on the schools that we are considering and also what you can and can't find in stores here. We had a great time!
Tomorrow I have to go pick up an American friend from the airport. She's doing a tour of Europe this month and is breezing through for 3 days. It'll be nice to have her here, I hope she brings lots of sunscreen!
Life is good!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
For us, a typical day begins at 9:30am. We crawl out of bed put our swimming suits on and walk over to Yia Yia's (grandma's)condo. There we have a long leisurely breakfast that takes about an hour or so to finish. We still have a hard time with that. Today Kosta suggested that we find some cornflakes at a local store and just have that for breakfast-its quick and easy.
Next, I take Alexandra back to our condo for her morning nap while Kosta and Yia Yia take the kids swimming.
At about 2pm (or as close to it as possible) we have a long lunch. So far Yia Yia has made stuffed peppers, pastichio, faslolakia, briam and much more, so we are eating well. There is bread at every meal which is killing me because thus far my kids were only familiar with wheat bread which they would have only a few days a week. Bread is so bad for us!!!-but its also so yummy! :)
After our long lunch the kids take a nap at like 3:30pm or 4pm! Yep, it bugs the hell out of me and I tried to resist but if they don't sleep at all they turn into little monsters. I wake them up at around 6pm and then we go swimming again. We swim until about 8:30 or 9pm and then take showers only to sit down for dinner at 9:30 or 10pm. After dinner we may go for a walk or sometimes(if we are lucky) the kids want to go to bed.
Last week we went out for dinner at a local taverna at 10:30pm. It was completely packed. I would have never even considered taking my kids anywhere at night past 8pm in the States, but here its a lot different. It was nearly a disaster though because the kids were falling apart as each minute ticked by.
So, I surrender. As long as we are at the summer house I will just try to enjoy myself and stop trying to maintain any routine.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Kosta decided to hire a limousine to take us to Chicago since we had so many bags as well as there were 5 of us and a cat. The limo arrived just before its scheduled arrival at 9:15am. I was near a front window when I saw it pull up and I immediately shifted into panic mode. I saw our neighbors from both sides come out of their homes to send us off. I left the room and burst into tears. I didn't think that I could handle the what was to follow. I finished what needed to be done and then found Amalia, to put her in the pet carrier. I called my mom to let her know that we were leaving because she planned to meet us half way to Chicago. Our neighbors were waiting outside and the kids were running and playing. As I went outside I was really trying hard not to get emotional, it took everything. Again, I wasn't saying "good-bye" only "see you again." We got into the limo and we kept waving as we drove down the street, until we couldn't see our neighbors anymore.
The limo stopped in Kenosha so that we could see my mom and get a few hugs and kisses for the road. We took pictures and hugged a lot. That was hard. We left from there and headed for Chicago. It was so hot that day and the air conditioner in the limo was scant. It just wasn't getting cool enough so we were all sweating for the whole ride. When we arrived at the airport we were so relieved to go inside because it was so much cooler. That lasted about 10 minutes. It was so hot out that it even felt hot in the airport after a while. It took a little less than an hour to check in. After checking in and paying for Amalia's ticket, we headed for the security check point. The line was long but was fluid. We had a little issue with Izabella at the security gate because she didn't want to let her stuffed horse go through the scanner. She screamed bloody murder until she got it back. Plus, she refused to go through the metal detector in protest. I had to take Amalia out of her pet carrier and the baby out of her stroller. Once we finally got through and Izabella got her horse back we were on our way to board the plane. That was easy since the flight attendants for Luftansa were wonderful. They carried the cat in and also some of our bags. Our flight was wonderful, no turbulence and no delays. It just seemed like we were on that plane forever. None of us slept very much, maybe and hour here and there so by the time that we reached Munich we were all toast.
We had to go through customs in Munich and that went well also. Again, I had to take Amalia out of her carrier only to discover that she had peed herself, yay. So I had to hold my poor kitty and she was so smelly the German woman that helped us seemed peeved. Oh well, what can we do?
We had 4 hours to kill before our flight to Thessaloniki. We had breakfast and freshened up. I cleaned Amalia up also. So things were going pretty well until Kosta took Foti with him to get some coffee. That's when it got scary. Foti decided to wander away from Kosta when he was getting his coffee. As soon as Kosta realized that Foti wasn't with him he ran over to me to see whether or not he came back to where I was sitting. My heart dropped and I jumped out of my seat to look for him. A woman that was traveling with us watched Iza and Alexandra while we went to find Foti.
The staff at the airport didn't seem to be too concerned that a small child was missing. One woman told me that it would be "impossible" to lose a child in this airport, not what I wanted to hear. I ran to all of the places that we had been before, no Foti. I had her call the police anyway. After about a half an hour I saw the silhouette of a small boy sitting on the floor. I couldn't tell for sure if it was my little Foti or another boy. As I drew closer I knew that it was him and I ran over to pick him up. My little bug was so tired and disoriented that he didn't really react. He almost fell asleep as I carried him back toward the terminal that we were waiting at, that was 6 terminals away. The woman that said that it would be impossible to lose a child in the airport noticed that I had my boy in my arms and just said, " oh good, now I can call the police to have them stop looking," as if it was ridiculous to begin with. So now we had our Foti and couldn't wait to get on the plane to Greece so that we could just relax for a little while.
That is exactly what happened. Everyone, except for me, slept for about and hour on the flight to Greece. The kids couldn't even wake up once we had landed. Both Foti and Iza were in the stroller sleeping while we were at the baggage claim and didn't wake up even when we put them into the car. It was hotter than hell also. Luckily we had 4 people waiting at the airport in Thessaloniki to help us with everything.
We drove about an hour to my mother-in-law's summer home and the kids finally woke up. We were so glad to have made it safely to our destination, but it was HOT. We rented a place in the same complex as MIL (mother-in-law) so we put our bags there and let the cat out. She was scared and tired. She drank a lot of water and retreated under the bed. I figured that the tiles were cool and she needed relief. The day after our arrival she vomited blood and I knew that she wasn't well. She stayed in the shower all day and tried to run out the door a few times. She was hot and sick. I did everything that I could to try to comfort her, but I knew what was happening. She stopped eating food and wouldn't leave the shower, even when I needed to take a shower. I would move her out and she would crawl back in. She didn't even flinch when I brought her tuna. I used a syringe to try to feed her but her jaws were clamped shut. Early Wednesday morning she crawled under my bed and passed away, three days after we arrived. I can't help but to wonder if it was cooler if she would have recovered from the trip without incident. I also wonder if it was just that she was so old. Nevertheless, we have lost our kitty. Kosta and I buried her on a hill under an olive tree. It' s beautiful there as it is peaceful and there is a breathless view of the sea.
So after the first week of adjusting to the time difference, Alexandra's teething and losing Amalia things are starting to look better. Alexandra's fever from teething has ceased and the kids sleep through the night. We now have air conditioning, Internet and a phone. I am so thankful that Kosta installed AC. The week ahead will be a scorcher.
I already have a few funny stories that I will share. I haven't had too much time to communicate with anyone via email or Internet so I thought that I would give you all a look at how our trip went. Until next time...
Saturday, July 7, 2007
We're set for our new adventure. I can't wait to see what lies ahead! My next post will be from Greece. I won't say good-bye to my family and friends, instead, I will say "See ya later"! The chaos is coming to a plateau!
Monday, July 2, 2007
Friday night we went out for dinner with Tom and Lisa. They treated us to our favorite gathering spot, Jalapeno Loco. I believe that it's the best Mexican in town! Thanks Tom & Lisa!
Although it's great to go out to eat and visit people, the kids aren't as entertained as we are. Saturday I took them shopping with me for some last minute things and they did OK, I think I was the one that was about to lose it if we were to continue any longer. We went to Southridge Mall so the kids had entertainment between shops. We went to one store and then I went to buy them a cookie. After the cookie, we went to another store. The next stop was the train. We can't go to Southridge without riding the train! After they got to ride the train I went to another shop with the promise of visiting the toy store, if they were good, on the way out. Kosta had given the kids $5.00 each to spend there. So, they managed to behave well enough to go to the toy store. While we were shopping, Foti had his $5 bill in his hand while he was trying to decide what to spend it on. For one moment he decided to put his money on the tray of the stroller and abracadabra...it was gone. There was a group of 3 little girls in the same aisle that we were and I knew that they took it, I just couldn't prove it. They were giggling and pointing and looking for toys that cost just a little bit more than what they were originally planning to spend. I knew this because they were discussing it just minutes before. They originally had only $2.00 to spend and "wala" all of a sudden there was $7.00 and their choice of toys grew which, in turn, made them just a little more excited. My poor little bug didn't even understand what had really happened, just that his money was gone. I talked to the store manager and we both agreed that there was really nothing that we could do unless we actually witnessed them take the money. The manager was really nice and gave us a gift card for $5 to use on another visit. I think that was really nice and not expected. So, the kids got their toys and we moved along.
Next, I had one more store to go to on our way out. I was shopping for a new bathing suit of all things. As I haven't lost nearly the weight that I wanted to before the move this was a little more painful. While I was searching for my new expanded size, Alexandra let out a scream. I looked over at the the stroller and there was Foti, covering his ears. I knew by looking at him that he definitely had something to do with the reason for her scream and I was right. He bit her finger. I couldn't believe it! In the middle of the store he bit the baby's finger! I was definitely the crazy mom out on Saturday. So that was it, we had to leave.
I decided not to attempt any shopping on Sunday so I just took the kids to the park. We picked up a few Happy Meals from McDonald's on the way and had a little picnic as it was an absolutely beautiful day. The weather was in the low 80's F . It was just beautiful. Later that evening we had friends drive in from Wausau. It was great to visit with their family and see how much their kids have grown. I think that it was the first time that all of our kids were finally big enough to play together without too much adult interaction. We also had a few "pop-in" visits as well.
Yesterday we drove out to Mukwonago to have a barbecue. I just love Mukwonago! It's so rustic and peaceful. Our friends' home is on a perfect lot that is serene but not too removed from civilization. It's one of my favorite places in Wisconsin. Thanks Brian, Paul, Nancy and Stevie! We had a great time and we will miss you!
We arrived home in the evening to meet more friends for a night a great conversation and great pizza. We ordered from our favorite, Lisa's Pizza. We are really going to miss that pizza! Oh, and we will miss you too Allen & David!!
Today will be filled with errands and more visits. I can't believe how time is just slipping by. I feel like I won't have enough to get everything done and see all of the people and do all of the things that we had planned for our final week. I have come to realize again that this time I am leaving for good, this is not just another vacation. So, as the days are winding down, I won't be posting as much. It won't take long for me to get back online though. We have my sister-in-law getting high speed access set up for us. Until then, we will be enjoying more barbecues, fireworks, friends and family!
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Today is the first day of Summerfest in Milwaukee. I can't say that I am too excited. Although it is meant to be a whole lot of fun I have to say that I have never really had a great time there. The food at the festival is always great, I will admit ,but it is just way to difficult to try to enjoy eating in the crowds.
Here are some reasons for my lack of excitement.
1. It's too damn crowded.
2. Too many drunks, I mean really drunk drunks.
3. Too many macho guys getting in fights.
4. People from everywhere descend upon our beautiful city only to abuse it and act like idiots...and pee everywhere.
5. It's too damn crowded.
6. Even if you go to see an act, you are lucky if you can actually see or hear the act that you want to...(excluding the Marcus Amphitheatre of course).
7.If you have to drive through the city like I do, you will get really frustrated by the massive amount of cars with drivers that have no clue as to where they are going.
8. My neighborhood gets trashed.
9. Did I say that it's too damn crowded?
10. Even if you don't drink, you'll definitely smell like you've had more than your share by the time that you leave.
Again, this event is supposed to be fun. It is a blast for a lot of people but I can't nor did I ever get into that type of fun. How much fun is it to get stepped on, sworn at and have tons of beer spilled on you? In the past I have been burned by cigarettes, soaked by beer and punched, just by walking through the crowds. One of my sisters was slammed up against a brick wall once and her only way out of the situation was to punch the drunk woman who squashed her. My sister would NEVER punch anyone. I never liked dancing on picnic tables because they are too wobbly and you might get pushed off of one of those as well.
I guess that I have come to realise that if you really want to enjoy the event without worrying about the condition that you will be in when you leave is that you just have to be drunk. No thanks.
But even if you don't drink and want to brave the crowds go ahead and enjoy what the festival has to offer. Originally it was meant to be a lot of fun without all of the riff-raf behavior of today.
side note: just in case you are wondering...
yes I do like to have a good time
yes I do have a drink from time to time-I just don't get drunk for the sake of getting drunk, to me, that's just stupid.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I haven't had time to keep up with the news but I did manage to learn that our Paris Hilton was released from jail yesterday. Boy, I'm glad. Now , I can move out of the country. I just don't get it, she is an heiress, right? So why didn't she have a driver or someone drive her for her late night burger that landed her in jail. And if she was driving on a suspended license, that is even more pathetic. The most pathetic thing about the whole story is that she received so much media attention regarding the jail sentence. It's a shame that our media focuses on our celebrities so much, even when they are criminals, when there are truly tons of other news events happening in our country and across the globe that warrant more attention than this pathetic heiress. So, I will stop giving her more air time now.
I do want to mention that now I know how to make naughty kids...just don't pay any attention to them. As we have been so busy with the move my answer to any of their requests has been, "not now", " maybe later" or " just watch some TV." It saddens me to have done that, but the last few days have been chaotic. Izabella and Foti are fighting constantly. Now Foti has learned that biting his sister could get him some attention, negative attention, but attention nevertheless. What also doesn't help is that the kids have almost no toys to play with and our house is nearly empty. Luckily, my sister, Joanna, had them for a little while on Monday as well as our neighbor, Lisa. And Lisa, is SO wonderful that she brought over her daughter's play kitchen and a whole basket of toys for them to play with until we leave. (What will I do without her?)
Since things have slowed down a bit I have been able to sit and read with them and even enjoy lunch with them again. I am the type of mom that will let dust bunnies run free in my home before I will let my kids down. Yeah, I know, where am I moving? The country where everyone constantly sweeps their balconies and clean is never clean enough. Anyway, back to what I was talking about... Having been so busy makes me realize just how important it is to have the time to spend with your kids and that it has put into perspective (once again) just how lucky I am to have the opportunity to stay home with mine. The next time I want to complain about how tired I am or how unappreciated I feel, I will think about how sad they have been without me doing what I normally do.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
For those of you that know me well, you will probably know of whom I am speaking about, but for the purposes of this blog we will call him N. Before I go into what he is up to now I will give you a list of idiotic and nerve-wrecking behavior that has impacted my family and my every last nerve.
-First, he decided to move to Milwaukee because his mom knew my mother-in-law...not my husband. (can you see where this is headed?)
-He arrives and we drive him around town to look at apartments, nice apartments. He rejects every one of them and finds his own rat hole, complete with drug addict neighbors, the kind that knock on the door for a dollar or two from time to time....and then he complains about it.
-He didn't take a shower for his 1st week here, because he couldn't figure out how to work the shower. Sister-in-law showed him how to TURN THE FLIPPN' HANDLE.
-skip ahead a year or two because some of it might just seem too unreal....
-My husband goes to Greece to visit his family and N. wants to send something along for his mom. He comes over with an antique SILVER TEA SET and a leather trench coat, I am not kidding. It put my husband's suitcase over the weight limit.
-He decides to move to another big city in the U.S. and dares to ask us if we know anyone there that can help him. I stayed out of it. But, my husband gave him a name of someone. He moved there, rented an apartment, rejected a job that our acquaintance offered him and moved back here less than a month later only to arrive at our doorstep needing a place to stay. My son was only 1o days old.
-I will skip another year...
-He buys his mother a curio cabinet because it's a " good deal". My husband has to go get it with his truck. My husband asks how N. is going to send it to his mom. Hmmmmm....he didn't think of that.
He hangs on to it for a year or so and decides to move to another city. He puts the cabinet in storage. (is this still a good deal for him?) That city didn't work out for him either so he comes back here 2 weeks later.
After we tell him that we are moving back to Greece for sure he is struck with a great idea, he can put his mom's cabinet in our container. Never mind that she doesn't live where we are going, but at least it will get to Greece. Hubby tells him that we'll take it only if it fits. N. thinks that it will fit for sure because it's a container, hell if you can fit a car and the contents of a 3 story home into it, surely there will be room for one more piece of furniture. Ever since his great idea he has called every week to talk about it, you know, so we won't forget. Tomorrow my husband will go get the dang cabinet, so it will be here when the movers come and we seriously don't think that it will fit. My husband told him that it is the LAST thing to be loaded and if it doesn't fit...N. will have to figure out how to get it back to his apartment without his help. It's all so annoying.
I feel bad ranting about this but when does it end? I do realize that he is really good to our children and he thinks the world of us, but how doesn't he know that what he does is just out of control? His mom is wonderful to us also and I think that she feels bad for us having to deal with him. I can't wait to see how this turns out. ARRRGGGH!!