Thursday, May 31, 2007

She's been chipped!

Amalia inspects the camera

Amalia spent yesterday at the vet. She had all of her shots updated and she now has a microchip. Having a microchip is now required for bringing cats into Greece. The last time that we moved to Greece she only needed have her vaccinations current.

I am really concerned about her this time around. She turned 16 yrs last Friday. She's an old lady! I know that she is one tough kitty (lots of you know too), but as she is a senior now I hope that the trip itself doesn't stress her out too much.

There is also reason to be concerned about her while we are in Greece. The apartment that we will be in for the summer is surrounded by strays. I lost her for 4 hours in that neighborhood once and I was just sick thinking about where she was and what could have happened to her. We walked up and down the streets looking under cars and behind bushes when finally we saw a little black figure moving toward us. It was Amalia. It was the 1st and last time that she actually ran toward me and literally jumped up into my arms. She was dusty but did appear to be unharmed. I was so relieved. She was not allowed on the balcony again after that.

I do want to mention that while I was worried sick and we were searching for our cat our neighbor kept saying, "It's just a cat. Get another one. " I ignored her comment completely and kept searching. That is the general attitude toward animals in Greece. One of my husband's aunts almost fell backwards when she visited us and our Amalia was roaming about freely in the house, she didn't visit long. I think that she thought that she was going to catch a disease or something. The man that came to install our phone line almost kicked her when he saw her, naturally I stopped him before he could. And finally, as we were preparing to move back to America we loaded our baggage into a taxi with Amalia in her carrier when the taxi driver said, "you aren't going to bring that stinky animal into my taxi!"-in Greek of course. Kosta's quick reply was "I am sure that this cat is cleaner than you asshole, do you want to drive us or what?"-again in Greek. The taxi driver apologized an drove us from Drama to Thessaloniki with our cat in his car. A classic moment to say the least.

So we will bring our cat with us once again, but this time she is much more fragile. She will live the rest of her little cat life with us in Greece. We will do our best to keep her safe from other cats, stray dogs and heartless natives that want to harm her, just because she is a cat. She has given us many years of companionship and unconditional love, she deserves to stick with us wherever we are.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day in the Gardens

Our weather was spectacular yesterday! We decided to spend our afternoon at one of our favorite places, the Boerner Botanical Gardens . I usually take the kids there a few times each year, throughout the different seasons. We let the kids run and chase chipmunks, try to catch butterflies and look at the thousands of tadpoles that filled the ponds. It was lovely.


You may have to click on the picture to read the plates...
I agree.

Friday, May 25, 2007

After a long week Friday has emerged. I am completely exhausted as me and Foti have been sick. He seems to have held on to this virus longer than me, and let's just say that when Foti is sick everyone is sick. That being said it is great that we have a long weekend ahead of us without any plans. We figured that we can skip Memorial Day festivities because we have a family event planned for every weekend next month. This weekend will be dedicated to sorting, packing and throwing things away again. I really hope to make a dent in the work that we have to do.

I have been so busy that I haven't had the chance to watch last week's episode of the Soprano's. I just realized it last night but I was way to exhausted to watch it. I did, however, somehow manage to sort of watch both nights of American Idol. I didn't get to actually sit and watch it but the show was on the TV and I caught some performances here and there. I think that the finale was great but for me, nothing will ever top last year's surprise performance by Prince. Again, it was good and the winner, Jordin Sparks , is an excellent singer and she is adorable. Aside from those 2 shows I am not really into watching TV lately.

The crab apple trees in front of the house have blossomed and since lost their petals. I didn't even have the chance to take a picture this year. But here is one that I took 2 years ago when they were in full bloom. I love this picture.

I know that you can barely see the blossoms but as the branches come right up to the window all that you can see when they are in full bloom is white. I love these trees!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ghost Citation Surfaces with an Ugly Late Fee

The City of Milwaukee has done it again. I received a "Notice of Past Due Violation". The funny thing is that I didn't even know that I had a violation. It took me about an hour to figure out why my car would have been where the alleged violation took place. I finally figured out that I was cited while literally running up to some one's mailbox, dropping a letter into it and coming right back down...and all 3 kids were in the car. I had my hazard lights flashing also. Here's the thing, I saw the little parking jeep pull up behind me and I waved to acknowledge its presence. I also signaled that I was leaving. It turns out that whoever was in the jeep issued me a citation. OK, thanks dude. Why couldn't you have given me the citation? They drove off before I did. Is this fair? Now I have pay a late fee for a citation that I didn't know had existed and I can't get anyone on the phone to discuss the matter.
What's more funny is that I can count the many times that I have called to have a car towed from in FRONT of my driveway and had to wait an hour or so each time...and take slack for the phone call. Once I was pregnant and they didn't tow the car away for 3 hours. So now, I am actually with my vehicle as I was dropping something off, it took a total of maybe 3 minutes-if that and I am going to be issued a ghost citation? What my taxes aren't enough? I will have to pay it anyway and it is just WRONG!

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Boxes

Today I had another representative from yet another shipping company come through the house to look at what we have and how much dinero $$$ it will cost to pack up our home plus one car and ship it all to Greece. We have had various different quotes from other shipping companies so now we need to settle on the best service and pick a date to send everything ahead of us.

It's funny, we have empty boxes and full boxes. We have a room full of boxes and yet we need MORE boxes. We have already given a lot of our stuff to charity organizations such as the American Council of the Blind, the Salvation Army and Goodwill.

My next project is to take photos of the things that we want to sell and get them posted online. Today I have taken down all of the nursery decorations sorted through all of the extra crib bedding. Even though we feel that we are ahead of the game, we have A LOT to do.

I have to schedule an appointment for Amalia, our cat, to have her physical and also to get micro-chipped or tattooed before we leave. I am really worried because she will be 16 years old on Thursday. She's a tough one so I am sure that she'll do fine. She has already survived the journey twice! I couldn't even think of leaving her behind.

Ok, I know, if I have all of that to do...why am I blogging? :)

Hronia Polla Kosta!

Hronia Polla From your little family! We love you !!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Birthday Week

Well another year has passed for me-one year older and one year wiser. I have to say that I wouldn't change anything about the last year, it was great. So how did I mark the special occasion? By having pizza of course! It wasn't just any pizza, it was a pizza from Kenosha ! There is nothing like a pizza from Kenosha. Me and the kids met my Mom and sister, Gina, at Ruffalo's Pizza. We celebrated my birthday as well as Mother's Day because my Mom had to work on Sunday. I haven't been to Ruffalo's in years and the pizza was just as good as I remembered it, although the restaurant could use some updating. I swear that they have the same tables, plates and carpeting that was there when I was a teenager. The plates were plastic, ( i don't like eating from plastic...) and, honestly, so retro. They HAD to be the same plates that the restaurant had when they first opened many, many years ago. It was fun to reminisce.

(Gina at Ruffalo's)
As I have five siblings it seems like our celebrations never end. For instance, we celebrated Mother's Day and my birthday together during the week and the rest of my family will celebrate my birthday with a BBQ tomorrow. That is why I refer to this post as "Birthday Week", it usually isn't over on the actual birthday, it goes much further than that so everyone has a chance to be included.
We have birthdays, Memorial Day, graduations and Father's Day to look forward to in the weeks ahead, there is ALWAYS a reason to celebrate. I will miss my family so much when I am in Greece. I know that I will be busy sending cards and gifts, that's for sure! I will also be waiting for many visits, that's why Kosta and I are looking for a home with a lot of bedrooms, we need the space for our huge family!

After lunch I took the kids to Petrifying Springs Park. My parents used to take us there year round when we were children. It is such a beautiful park and the kids love walking on the mini trails. We had stick races from the walking bridges and then played at the playground. The playground equipment seems the same as when I was a child also. Everything is metal, including the slides. I rarely see metal slides anywhere these days. It was also the highest slide I have seen in a while! I nearly had a heart attack every time Foti went up because he seems to love to run up stairs and ladders. I guess I have to just continue to hold my breath and give him the space to learn. I know, he is only 3 years old, I'll have a lot of opportunities to pass out as he grows older. He is definitely an alpha male! Kosta and I watched the movie "300" and joked about sending him out to the wolves as the Spartans did with their boys...only the strong survive. OK, not so funny, but you get the picture.

Over all I have had a pleasant birthday week. It was extra special because I shared more memories of my childhood with my children. I wonder if they will remember all of this as the grow up in Greece. I guess that is up to me and that is a big fat YES, I will make sure of it!!! :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just a few pictures that I've taken this week

Mother's Day

I know that a few days have passed but I just want to say that my Mother's Day was wonderful. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary or go anywhere fancy but I had a great time. My day started with Izabella coming downstairs to the kitchen saying, "Surprise mom, it's Mother's Day!" She was so excited about this Mother's Day because she had made me a necklace at school. In fact, she told me to go look under her bed to find my present. It was really sweet and she was really excited and proud.
I was then instructed to not let any babies, boys or Daddies touch the necklace. I was also told that I had to take off my gold cross to wear it. She is something, isn' t she? I love her gift! Below is a picture of me wearing the gorgeous handmade necklace. Sorry, my hair is kind of over it, but you get the picture.
Later that morning Kosta and Iza went to Whole Foods to pick up some breakfast as well as food for lunch. Kosta is so sweet, he picked up some Teriyaki patties and thought that they were beef, but on the grill he discovered that they were actually made of salmon. They were still great! Early in the evening we went to one of our favorite parks and played. Like I said, nothing over the top -but it was just perfect for me!

(Kosta gives a thumbs up at the end of the day as his kitchen duties have come to an end! )

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bathroom Blues- I mean BLUE Bathroom!! Μπλε λουτρό!!!

Well, here we go again. We are looking at a different property in the same municipality as the last. There is a lot to like about it. For instance, it has a huge park-like yard that already has swings and a basketball hoop. The bedrooms are very big and all on the same floor. The home is actually closer to the beach than the other one and has more olive trees. There is a bonus of an apartment that is separate from the house on the property as well. That will come in handy for all of our guests that we will be expecting! :) There is only one thing that both of us agreed that we absolutely don't like:

How about that for some color? Honestly, what in the world....? The kids like it so I guess they may enjoy it if we buy the house. Wait, here is more:

This would have to change. We really do want to buy the house if not just to remodel this bathroom!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Cell phones! Arrgh!

The house has been on the market for about a week and no one has called...until yesterday. It was a woman and I spoke with her for about 2 or 3 minutes and answered just a few of her questions when all of a sudden "KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!@!!!##!#@#@#" -STATIC!
Apparently she was on her cell and the phone cut out! I tried calling her back and got more static! Arrrggggghhhhhhhhhhh!

My cell phone does it all of the time because it is archaic. We aren't replacing it because we are leaving but it cuts out all of the time so it is permanently off. I am bummed!

Maybe she'll call back today? I'll cross my fingers!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Things are Changing Fast!

In just a few months we will be in Greece. It is really hard for me to grasp at times, I want to go and I don't want to go. I have a house full of boxes and the tension level is high. We had our neighbors over for dinner last Friday and the downstairs kitchen is packed up so we ordered take-out. I didn't even have the forks available so I ran upstairs to grab some mismatched silverware from that kitchen. I know that it isn't such a big deal and Bonnie and Gary didn't mind because they understand...oh and because we ordered from Emperor of China , but it is definitely helping to put our time table into perspective.

We have finally settled on an apartment for the summer and hopefully soon we will be able to make a decision as to where we will actually live for the next 20 years or so of our lives. I am very excited about the properties that we have to choose from. I know that I mentioned one earlier, but others have come into play. We are looking at a few different properties and each of them include a lot of olive trees, fruit trees and best of all, space. We can't wait for a quieter home. Living in the city has its perks but we long for a little quiet. The kids and the wildlife can make the noise, not cars, city workers or drunk college students (the worst of them all!). Oh, did I ever mention that I loathe drunk college students? I wish that I could follow them all home to Mommy and Daddy's house and dump their garbage on THEIR lawns. Arrgh! I won't go into a rant...I promise.

So things are starting to move fast and I am starting to panic just a bit. I am thinking of all of the people and things that I will miss while I am away. The world has become smaller through the Internet so I know that I can stay in touch but its not the same. My oldest brother is leaving in a few weeks, he is in the Reserves and he has been called to duty. He isn't sure as to where they will send him yet, Afghanistan or Iraq. Our family had a "going away" get together for him on Sunday. My father is currently in Puerto Rico visiting our Abuelita for Mother's Day. He is also preparing to move back their next winter. I will have only a few weeks to visit with him myself before we leave. My family is strangely making big changes in sync. We will all be fine, I am sure, but things will not be the same. Ok, I won't get sappy on you all!

My oldest brother Mike

Our Dad blowing out his birthday candles ........

Me, Joanna, Gina, Mom, Mike and Rick at Mike's Mike's place. (see the big Harley?)

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Death of the Tulips

The photo above provides an accurate representation of nearly all of my flower beds this spring. You see, we had the house painted and the painters were using my flower boxes as stairs. When I realized what they were doing it was too late, but I decided to point out the damage that they had incurred on my helpless tulips. I spoke to the painter in charge, Andy.

I said: "Andy, can you tell your guys not to step all over my flowers? I need to sell this house and you are killing my flowers".

Andy said: "Oh, you planted those?"

I don't think than I need to say more about the matter, but I will. Why is it that painters that paint homes for a living can't tell the difference between a "planted" plant and a weed? I shouldn't single out painters because almost all of the contractors that we have had here in the past pretend that they don't know that they are stepping on someones hard work. It happened when we had our gutters replaced and also when our neighbors had a new fence put up. There are only about 9 tulips that have survived out of the 2 dozen or so that have been planted by me and Iza. We are enjoying the few that survived...

This one is a survivor of many attempted stompings and rippings. Yes, rippings. Before I had Iza we rented the upstairs of our home to college students. After they received a notice ordering them to move out, one of our not so happy tenants ripped about 2 dozen of these out of the flower bed. This little beauty is the lone survivor.

This one was planted last fall. Iza and I planted these bulbs together. There is only one other like it. The remaining tulips that have survived haven't bloomed yet. We can't to see them!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Spring Walk

Last night we took a walk to look at all of the beautiful spring flowers in the neighborhood. Izabella loves to pick flowers so I always let her pick the tiny ones that have grown wild in the grass, like violets and dandelions. She gathered quite a tiny collection by the end of our walk. At school, her class has "flower arranging" every Monday. Because of her class she is great at trimming flowers and putting them into a vase on her own. She was very proud of herself last night, as you can see in the photo above!