Friday, August 31, 2007

Our View

I know that many of you have been curious as to what it's like where we are. To say that it's beautiful isn't enough. This is the view from MIL's porch. We eat all of our meals here. The peak that you can see in the background is Mt. Athos.

Foti & Alexandra enjoying breakfast.

Foti drawing on our porch, the view isn't as grand but it's still great!

The view from where we sit on the beach.

More photos to come!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I took this pic this morning. Kosta went into town so I had him stop at a photo store that uploads photos to CD/DVD. There really isn't anywhere to do that here and it's been driving me nuts to not share any photos. Soon we will have all of our toys back so that I can share more. The photo was taken outside of our condo.

Happy 1st Birthday Alexandra!

( photo taken in the Redd's beautiful back yard on the Monday before we moved)

We are so happy to celebrate our little Alexandra's 1st Birthday! We are also celebrating her name day! Hronia Polla glikia mou!
I can't believe that our baby is already 1! It seems like just yesterday that I gave birth to her. She is pulling herself up, walking around furniture and having baby-babble conversations with everyone. She loves to read and she likes to color with chalk and crayons. She's so big already!
Today we are having a few of the children over for cake and games. Don't worry, I'll take lots of pictures!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Well I was going to update my blog with all of the great things that have been happening here until I was interrupted by Iza running in the house crying.

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

It's the air conditioner...

For the last few weeks MIL has had a cold. First she blamed the air conditioner in the car for her dismay. A day or so later I got the cold but I wasn't in the car with her to catch the mysterious virus that brews within the air conditioner. So I tell MIL that it must just be an airborne virus. She gets defensive and screams..." I clean everything in this house with bleach!"
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

Good things about Greece

-I went to the pharmacy to buy some pain reliever for the baby.

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

Good neighbors

If you are fortunate enough to have good neighbors, be thankful. Bake them something, buy them something or just send them a "thank you" card. I had really, really good neighbors back home. I knew it and I appreciated them. I find myself writing this post because I really miss my neighborhood, even if the college students peed on my house from time to time. Where we are staying now is both good and not so good.

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

What's going on?

After another long pause I have found a few moments to blog. Last weekend I had a friend here from the U.S. She only visited for 4 days because she is traveling throughout Europe this month. We took her to a beach on Friday, although I don't think that she likes to swim very much. We had a great time, aside from figuring out how to dig MIL's car out of the sand. I can't say that I didn't see that coming. We were looking for parking near the beach when along came a huge patch of sand. Kosta saw it and stopped our car and MIL didn't see it at all. My friend rode with her and Iza and she knew that she was driving into sand but it didn't matter because she can't speak a word of Greek so even when she said "you're driving into sand!" it was useless. We went to the beach anyway and left the car where it was. Kosta left after an hour or so and said that he would figure something out. When he came back to the beach he had a smile on his face. Apparently he found someone with a jeep and a rope and the car was pulled out.

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

Here is Alexandra playing at the beach!! ( photo origianally uploaded by cheryl)

Diapers in the septic system

Here's something funny that I can share with all of you...

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.