Tuesday, July 31, 2007

First I want to apologize for not having any pictures posted lately. I have taken plenty but for some reason when I upload them to blogger, they delete themselves. I think that it has a lot to do with my laptop. Maybe when I get my PC and some extra time I can work things out. I have a lot of great pics already!

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

I surrender

I knew that our daily schedule would change shortly after arriving, it always does. I just didn't' remember how drastic the change would be. My neighbors all said that I would have to change my ways in order to manage life here. As a stubborn independent American I was slow to agree. The days passed and our jet lag has subsided and we still can't find a daily routine that we are comfortable with so I have surrendered to the hours that Greeks keep, at least Greeks on vacation.
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

Our journey

Our journey started on July 7th, early in the morning. We woke up and started to pack the last few things that were left out of the suitcases and tried to clean up around the house without much success. My family will, thankfully, take care of our mess.

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

Last Post from U.S.A.

I am logging in for just a few minutes before I try to get an hour or two of sleep. The last few days have been filled with anxiety, happiness, love and sadness...and any emotion in between. The kids have been anxious as we keep them informed of where we are in the moving process. I think that they may handle it better than me.
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

Busy, Busy, Busy

Kosta's last day of work was Friday. I think he is relieved to be finished working and looking forward to the new opportunities that await him. It was also a sad day for him as he will miss seeing people that he worked with for over 10 years. I brought the kids to his office so that we could say our good-byes later in the day and I even felt sad to know that I wouldn't be seeing a lot of the people that have become part of our lives over the years.

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!