Monday, December 29, 2008

Gigi's Christmas

We enjoyed our Christmas celebration and Gigi did also. She's adapted well to spending a few days in an apartment. Why wouldn't she? She's just as spoiled as the children! I don't have much to say as I believe that pictures tell her Christmas day story.

Yeah, baby! She scored some turkey from the table!! ( We never feed her from the table...Merry Christmas Gigi!)

Yia-Yia made her a sweater and Thia outfitted her with a shiny bow.

Here's what she thought of the bow.

I'll be back soon.
Wishing you all peace & love this holiday season!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here's a picture that my sister sent me. My nephew is wrapped snugly in his fleece blanket gazing out at the snow. It's a perfect representation of what I family and a cold, snowy Christmas in Wisconsin. I think that it's the perfect picture for my holiday message.
So, wherever you are and whatever your weather is like, I want to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


In Greece, kalikantzeri are goblins that appear from the earth during the 12 days of Christmas. They're known to engage in mischievous behavior during this time. Honestly, I didn't know anything about "kalikantzerakia" until this year when our children came home and excitedly told us that they'd perform as the goblins during their school Christmas program this year.

The little kalikantzerakia causing trouble!

The lights were low and the costumes and the background were glowing.

Both of my goblins tossing confetti simultaneously.

They had a great time performing with their friends and the program was adorable!

Friday, December 19, 2008

My heart is broken.

Last week our koumbaro, friend and Godfather to Alexandra passed away. He was only 35 years old. So, for the last week I've been with my koumbara and her family.

It was early Thursday morning. I was getting the kids ready for school and the phone rang. All that I can say is that it was the phone call that we all dread.

It's been a long week.

Time seems to be standing still.

He had symptoms, but never had them checked. I suppose that's because he was only 35 he probably didn't think that they were that serious, we'll never know.

My sweet koumbara is torn and needs support so we're doing whatever we can to help her.

I haven't had the time or the appetite for blogging as I'm sure that you all understand.

I took some time to check my email Wednesday, for the first time in a week and found a nice surprise. My friend Phivos sent me a link to one of his more recent posts. His post is titled
"Peace on Earth-Children of the World". He kindly included our children in the post and it was a sweet and welcome surprise. If you have a chance please take a moment to check out the post and his amazing blog.

Thank you Phivos. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thessaloniki, turkey & tree...

So I mentioned that I don't like to let more than a week lapse between posts and then 2 weeks slide by...

The main reason?

My laptop crashed. I was out of commission for a few days.

Now that everything is working again I'll share some pictures from last week...

We went into the city to take care some things and Alexandra loved visiting the pigeons.

Before leaving, we enjoyed coffee at Starbucks while Alexandra indulged in a giant cookie.
That evening, we listened to an amazing woman speak about working with children in Africa.


Thanksgiving!!! I hope that all of you that celebrated had a nice one! Although it was a regular weekday I still made a turkey & some fixings. I didn't go overboard though. This year's Thanksgiving was much nicer since I had myself together and shopped earlier. I bought the turkey a few months ago so all that I had to do is remember to take it out of the freezer on time.

The kids helped by helping mash the potatoes and also setting the table. It's not a formal setting by any means but we love our Fiestaware. My friends Beth & Linda turned me on to it years ago. I think of them each time I use any of it, which is daily. Thanks you two!

Kosta's plate-turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and stuffing.


We put up our Christmas tree.

That's last week! This week has been a sick week. Iza & Foti came down with a nasty virus and have been home from school since Tuesday. Actually, Iza went to school today. Foti will more than likely go back tomorrow. Iza is excited to go to school tomorrow because she'll be bringing a cake and treats in order to celebrate her name day, which is Saturday. Her middle name is "Victoria"-a version of my mother-in-law's name-"Niki"- which is what we celebrate. She's been announcing it to everyone a week. So, I hope that she enjoys herself tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's been over a week since my last post! I usually don't like to have that much time lapse between postings but I've been very busy. Kosta was in Wisconsin for the whole month of October and there's a lot of work to catch up on. Also, the first week that he was back I was very sick so he had to step in and help. I have perfect timing, don't I?

That weekend he left to visit his family and later in the week he had to travel to Athens to finally have the emissions tested on our car that we imported over a year ago. So, he was gone for another three days so I've been on my own a lot.

Of the more important things that needed to be done last week were having our diesel delivered so that we could finally have real heat in the house and we had to have the property tilled(freza) since it rained most of the month of September and it didn't get done then. So, here are some photos from last week...
Freshly tilled soil-I always love how the earth looks just after this is done.

Gigi really enjoys the fluffy soil after it's been tilled. She rolls in it! (drives me over the edge!) But, it makes her happy. Dirty dog! :)

The man that was tilling our soil made an amazing discovery in the olive trees...a beehive! The bees must work very fast because I was just back in the trees picking olives about one month ago and this wasn't there. It's impressive isn't it? The best part is that now we have our own honey!

Here's a closer look at the beehive. I didn't want to get too close as I'm sure that most of you understand!

Our neighbor has the experience and equipment to handle bees so he said that he would help us remove this hive. We're probably going to set up our own boxes(is that what they're called?) so that we don't destroy the colony. Bees are disappearing rapidly and we'd like to do our little part in keeping them around. This beehive is just amazing and it's a great experience for the kids to see them at work, priceless experience.

Here's a photo of Gigi basking in the dirt, like a little piggy.

It rained a few days later and Gigi decided to really act like a little piggy and she almost turned black. She had more burs on her than normal on this day also. So, we've decided that Gigi isn't allowed outside without a leash this winter. I can't bathe her everyday. I don't like it and she definitely doesn't like it so we'll see how this works out.

I'll leave you with a photo of a beautiful sunrise that I captured. Have a great week!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today's weather was gloomy and cool. I took this picture last Sunday when the weather was sunny and warm...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! The kids have been waiting for this day for the whole
month! We've had our decorations around the house since the first week and I
bought the pumpkins about 3 weeks ago. They wanted to carve them immediately but
I made them wait until last night because our weather here is so mild that they
would have been eaten up by critters and bugs before Halloween arrived. Besides,
we had to wait for Kosta to come home to help us carve them. He was in Milwaukee
for the last month and just arrived home on Wednesday, so we've had quite a busy
week. Here are some pictures from our pumpkin carving last night...

The kids waiting to get started...

Iza "gutting" her pumpkin...

Foti watching Kosta cut through what I consider one of the thickest
pumpkins I'd ever dealt with...

Foti with his finished pumpkin! (Iza's is the one at the
beginning of the post)

Tonight we're having a small costume party complete with a candy hunt. We have scary sounds, candy corn and other snacks. We're lighting a bonfire and ending the evening with walk through our haunted woods. This little party is just a warm up for the years to come! So, if you celebrate Halloween enjoy yourselves!

****I also want to wish little ALEXIS a very Happy Birthday!****

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My husband and his "double"

There comes a time in most of our lives when someone approaches us and claims that we have a twin or a "double". I've had this happen to me throughout most of my life. First, I have a younger sister that could have been my twin. People that don't know us very well always get us confused and if they realize that we're not the person that they thought we were, they usually stand in shock with their mouths wide open. In fact, I've been sworn at by someone that thought that I was my sister. They called me a b#! a friendly sort of way, wondering why I was supposedly ignoring her. And, we have some uncles & aunts that we rarely see-they almost never get our identities straight. It's always fun to laugh about the confusion.
Next, there are those random people out there, the ones that look like me that I always hear about but have never actually seen. When I had a stint as a waitress many, many years ago an Arabic family kept telling me how I resembled an Arabic actress, they almost didn't believe that I wasn't her. Yeah, I'd give up my great actress job in Saudi Arabia to wait tables in the U.S...not very likely is it? Anyway, I still don't know who they were talking about. The incidents are countless in my life.

My husband, on the other hand, has only been mistaken for one person in his entire life. He's been mistaken for Greece's Prime Minister...for years! So many people have approached us and asked questions and/or pointed out the resemblence. A good friend of mine, Phivos Nicolaides, took the time to create a post on his blog- dedicated to sharing with the world just how much my husband resembles Greece's Prime Minister.

Have a look at his post for yourselves!

Thank you, again, Phivos!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday Celebration

These guys can make anyone smile...except for Alexandra! She was terrified of the clown on the stilts. Can't blame her, really.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday Evening at the Beach

Living so close to the sea gives us ample opportunity for discovery. This last Friday evening our neighbors were on their way to the beach for an octopus expedition and they invited us along. While Mr. Neighbor snorkels for octopus Mrs. Neighbor spends her time quietly on the beach either reading or picking up the trash. (There's always plenty of trash, you'll see.) Sometimes they'll take Iza & Foti with them to keep Mrs. Neighbor company. I'm always invited but I usually decline as I always have so much to do and I can't fathom spending my time lollygagging on the beach. Well, this time I decided to join them and even Alexandra was able to join in the fun. We got our collecting jars and our bags and met them at the beach.

As soon as we arrived, the kids started digging up shells and sifting through the sand.

A little while later, Iza spotted a blueish jellyfish at the shoreline. Can you see it? Of course, we had to get it for her.

There's always enough garbage to collect and use for viewing our specimens.

The kids were thrilled with this discovery as we haven't seen a jellyfish this big all summer.

When Mr. Neighbor emerged-his net was full. Yes, it's all octopus. At the time he didn't have a count of how many he caught. Last week he speared fifteen in just under an hour. Kosta has definitely met his match!

Off in the distance there were two men fishing near a fire to keep themselves warm. It looked so relaxing. It's too bad there's so much garbage on the beach. See the garbage?!

The kids wanted to see how many fish that they had caught so we walked over to find out. At that time, they hadn't caught any. But, their night had just begun. Armed with their beer, cigarettes and a fire they were set to last for hours.

The night might have been young for the fishermen but it wasn't for us. So, we gathered our things and headed home. On the way to our car the local sheep herder passed us with about one hundred sheep. The kids just loved that!

Two big bags of trash were collected and left at the proper trash bin. That didn't even put a dent in it but it's better than nothing. The kids were happy to have new shells and also to have inspected a jellyfish.

As soon as we arrived home the kids went to play hide and seek with Mrs. Neighbor. We enjoyed some chocolate and then it was time to go home and get cleaned up for bed. I was gifted three octopuses. They're in the freezer with the other three that we were gifted last week. It'll be really nice to bring those out in the middle of winter.

In the end, I'm happy that I took the opportunity to join our neighbors at the beach. I'll have to make sure to join them again instead of just sending the kids along. It was refreshing.

Friday, October 10, 2008


We've been picking olives for curing this week...hence my absence from the blogosphere.
I hope that everyone has a great weekend!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Tortalitza" the tortoise

Here it is..."Tortalitza"...that's the name of our newest resident. If you would have told me two years ago- that my oldest daughter would become the princess of all things reptile in Greece; I would've never imagined it. Tortalitza arrived last Sunday. Iza is thrilled and actually obsessed with her new friend. Although the chosen name sounds feminine, the gender of our little friend has yet to be confirmed.

Foti was interested in the tortoise shortly after it's arrival but could care less about it now. Alexandra loves it. She points at it and screams, "toi toi"! (how cute is that?) I didn't really mind its presence at first but then I read up on how to care for it. First things first...everyone and I mean everyone... told me to feed it grapes and apples. Wrong! I read that fruit should only be given to the tortoise as a rare treat as it may cause the thing to have diarrhea. Not on my balcony! So, I snatched the apples and grapes that had already been provided. I'm going to pat myself on the back here because I knew better and put some romaine lettuce out for it, not fruit. I have some tortoise knowledge tucked away up in that mushy brain of mine. As I looked for information about it I discovered that it's a Spur-Thighed or Greek tortoise. It was difficult researching it though, because most of the information regarding care is directed toward people that purchase these tortoises at pet stores. This tortoise was picked up from of my mother-in-law's, aunt's farm. Hence, it was wild. It was moved from one outside location to another and I have no intention of having this little reptile join us in the house in an enclosed environment. We have it confined in our garden for now and there's plenty of greens for it to eat.

Gigi doesn't like Tortalitza at all. She barks and barks...and barks at it. Although I've locked her out of the garden, she's managed to wiggle her way through a hole in the gate. I heard her barking for about 10 minutes the other day so I went outside to see what was going on. She was digging a hole in front of it and barking incessantly. So, I picked up the tortoise so that Gigi would follow me. I tricked her out of the garden. It was difficult handling the tortoise because its hind legs would jet out and scratch my hands. As soon as I passed the gate I took a step back, put the tortoise down and slammed the gate shut. So, I went back into the house and within 5 minutes Gigi was at it again. I built a barricade in front of the gate. It's now blocked by a huge wooden case and a small barrel. Going into the garden won't be easy anymore. I'll have to make a new enclosure before the spinach and romaine start to grow.

So, now we have a tortoise.

On a positive note-receiving this tortoise helped me persuade Iza to donate the Balkan Green Lizard to her classroom. She's donated a toad, a lizard and a walking stick kind of bug. She really wanted to keep the lizard. So let's see -lizard or tortoise? I'll take the tortoise!

One more thing...and I'm not joking....she found a snake in our empty pool this afternoon (only in my life -right?) I took pictures but I haven't uploaded them yet. I had to convince her that this creature could actually be dangerous but she kept insisting that she wanted it. Now she understands that it could possibly harm her so she's stopped begging for me to catch it. The snake is still in the pool. I have to muster up the courage to help it out.

I'm submitting the photo of Tortalitza to the Camera Critters meme. I guess that there's never a shortage of critters around here. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's still raining...

We had a little break filled with sunshine on Friday but it's still raining.

Some updates...

The kids really enjoy their new school. So far, I'm not sure what I think. The kids have been fighting on the bus so I asked the bus driver and the teacher on the bus to separate them. I don't care if they're's best not to stick them together on the bus right now. It's been a week since their "separation" and things have gone well. There's an open house this week and I'm looking forward to meeting some other parents. Last year their school was so far away that it was difficult for our kids to get together with other children to play. What I really need is to find playmates for Foti. Since moving here, there's been a shortage of boys his age in our reach so I really hope that he can find some friends at this new school.

Iza has provided the class with a toad and now they're studying frogs and toads. That's pretty cool. Yesterday we caught a baby Balkan Green Lizard (thanks for pointing us in the right direction Syd), and soon it will be off to visit the classroom. I took some pictures last night but they didn't turn out because the flash reflected off of the glass jar that it's in and made things a little blurry. Finally, we are expecting a tortoise to arrive any day now. Iza is extremely excited about that. I think that it will be cool to have a tortoise hanging around here.

Gigi is recovering from an injury. Thursday morning I noticed that she was hopping around and she just wasn't herself.. I took her to the vet and it turns out that the tendons in her front left paw are stressed. It could have been caused by anything but who knows what for sure. So, the vet gave her an injection to ease her pain a little and I've been giving her an anti-inflammatory. The kicker here is the other part of her treatment. I'm supposed to keep her inside either on a leash or locked in a bathroom where she can't jump up on anything ...for a week! Ok, I want to do what's best for Gigi but after putting her on a leash for half a day she stressed herself out by crying and trying to get off the leash. She was so stressed that she made herself sick all over the rug. I put her in the bathroom and I thought that she was going to knock the door down. So, we're letting her recover in our company. She does hang out on the couch more than anything and we're trying to keep the kids from playing with her as much as usual. She seems to be better but only time will tell. She's wormed her way onto my bed these days. I always said that I love her but there's no way that she'll sleep on my bed, well, I'm all talk. How can I refuse her warm little body at my feet?

Friday we put together a new bed for Foti and he won't come out of his room. He loves it. We painted his room last weekend. What colors? Spiderman red and blue. Yes, we took a Spiderman doll to the store and chose the colors that way. Here are some photos from their adventures in painting last weekend....

That's all for today. I hope that everyone is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gigi sniffs out a Hummingbird Hawk-moth!

Monday morning Gigi was running around grunting and semi-barking. She paced back and forth around the couch. She jumped on the couch and then she jumped down. All that I could think was, "What now?!" So, I was pleasantly surprised when a little Hummingbird Hawk-moth fluttered itself up against our window. That's what Gigi was after! It was adorable to watch her with the moth because although she seemed irritated that she couldn't catch up to it, she was curious at the same time. I'm glad that I was able to get a few shots and this one is my favorite. There's never a dull moment en mi casa! Ay!

Thanks to Maria V's nudging...and I mean that in a good way...I'm going to participate in Camera Critters Meme. So, this is my first entry. I hope that everyone enjoys this picture.

Camera Critters

Thank you for the inspiration Maria!