Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A morning greeting

This morning I opened the shutters upstairs and saw my neighbor and his friend. Here's what happened...

Me: "Good morning!"

Him: "Good morning! How are you? How's the family?"

Me: "Great, everyone is fine, thanks."

Him: "Your rose bushes need pruning!"

Fantastic hey? With that I let out a big sigh and closed the sliding door.

Sunday morning banana bread

For months I've been hanging on to overripe bananas hoping that I'd make banana bread, only to toss them into the trash just before the onset of a swarm of fruit flies. Sunday was the day that I finally decided use a pair of bananas that I'd been hanging on to for the last week and make banana bread.

I've been looking at several recipes online and in my own cook books and I decided to use one from Joy of Izabella helped me mix the ingredients and we popped it into the oven. The recipe calls for pecans and also sliced bananas for the top. I didn't have any nuts on hand and I also decided not to put sliced bananas on the top of the mixture either because I thought that the kids would see baked bananas on top of the bread and not want anything to do with it.

The house smelled wonderful as the bread was baking. The aroma of the bananas and cinnamon slowly enveloped the entire house, what a pleasant smell. Both Kosta and Foti couldn't wait for it to come out of the oven. When I did take it out of the oven, they were the first to get a slice. Izabella didn't want any which was surprising because she used to love banana bread. Anyway, the bread was a hit, we loved it and I'll definitely make it again, but it really does need to have nuts in it.

Quotes from my men-

Kosta: " On a scale from 1 to's 110! Make it every Sunday!" (we'll have to see...)

Foti: "Mama, you make the best banana bread. Can I have more?" (of course my little bug...)

Here's a link for the recipe that I used.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Early Saturday morning we had coffee with Thia Nitza (Kosta's aunt that lives on the corner, up the dirt road from's because of them we found our home). She served us coffee with a homemade yellow cake and the chocolate chip cookies that I made for her. We had a nice conversation and the kids played outside. We finished our coffee and set off for Mediterranean Cosmos, a mall that's not too far from us.

It was insanely busy. It usually is on the weekends. Luckily, we found a parking spot relatively quick for the situation at hand. There were cars parked on the sidewalks, on the grass and down the narrow roads surrounding the mall. We walked the mall for a bit and then decided to get something to eat. As you might have guessed, the food court was packed. It was like a giant smoke chamber too, as people are allowed to smoke anywhere here. Ok, it's technically prohibited in some places in the country, but it doesn't matter, people are still lighting up wherever they want since almost nothing is ever enforced here. Hence, parking on grass and sidewalks. (there really is not enough space) So I said to Kosta, "It's too smokey to stay inside let's find a table outside". And just as I said that a younger woman said to her friends, out loud, in Greek "Ti lea, Ti lea?" . ("what did she say?") It's irritating because I understand Greek but yet because I am obviously a xeni (foreigner), so typically it's assumed that I just don't understand or speak the language. I turned to the woman and replied, in Greek, "Exi poli kapno atho..." ("There's too much smoke in here")....with a smile of course. She got quiet really quick. I love doing that to people here. It's like you're saying "Boo!" or something. "Gotcha!" Hee, hee.

There's a nice carousel and also a train at the center of the mall so we let the kids have a ride. They were so happy. Iza kept saying that we were the best parents ever. That was really sweet. Foti waved each time that his train car went passed me and Alexandra just laughed in the stroller as she watched.That's what it's all about folks, just the joy that flows out of these little people is enough to keep me going.

After a long day at the mall the kids had major melt-downs and fell asleep only minutes after we got into the car. We had really planned to go to IKEA on our way home but with the kids sleeping there was no way we were willing to wake them up so I offered to sit in the car with them while Kosta went in to pick up the things that we had on our list. I was in the car for an hour! I just love sitting in the car. Anyway, as I sat there I had no choice but to watch everyone else coming and going. What disturbs me is the number of people willing to put their small children in a car without a seat belt. Don't people know how dangerous it is to have children in a car without a seat belt? I witnessed 7 people get into a BMW, 7. There were 4 adults and 3 young children...2 adults in the front seats and 2 adults in the back-with the 3 children. It was almost like one of those clown cars that you'd see in a circus, only it's not funny. What would happen if there was an accident? Next, a woman came out of the store with her husband, toddler daughter and infant in her arms. Her husband helped the toddler into the backseat along with his wife and the infant. The infant remained in her arms as they drove away. It's nuts. But that's just the norm here. I do, however, want to point out that I did witness many more families properly buckling up their children and themselves, so it's clear that not everyone lives their lives on the edge.

So, we had a nice time getting out and away from the house on Saturday. On our way home I realized that we might have been gone a little longer than poor Gigi might have been able to "hold it". I'm so used to cats. I'm not used to rushing home to let the dog out yet. She was fine and didn't have any messes for me to clean up, what a relief.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some photos from our week

**Alexandra loves to put Gigi down for naps**

**Gigi loves to tease me. She runs away when it's time for her to come in. This pic is of her after she spent hours sticking her face in the mud...3 days after her bath.**

**We finally found the box that contains the majority of our winter accessories. I know, it's only the end of January. **

**Wednesday, we woke up to find our resident lizard on the wall near the ceiling. He's been hanging out inside for about a week. Can't catch him! Four months ago I freaked when I saw these guys in the house. Now, I just try to shoo it out the door when it's possible.**

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Friday morning I went to the city to have coffee with a friend. She's American also and it was refreshing to have a conversation with someone that actually gets me. (Thanks for the coffee A! ) Kosta dropped me & Alexandra off because he had some errands to run. He was late picking us up so I walked around the block with Alexandra about 4 times, back and forth and then I finally went back into Starbucks with Alexandra to warm up. It wasn't very cold- just damp. While I was walking I saw a man pick up a piece of candy from the sidewalk. He looked at it and then stuck it in his mouth. That was just nasty. I know that it wasn't his because I passed the piece of candy a few times while walking. Eeeew! The one thing that I miss about living in the city is that there is always someone doing something peculiar. One of the funniest things that I saw last year occurred about 1 block from where I lived. There's an odd "heavy set" man that lives in a house on a corner, across from 6+ apartment buildings. One day I was walking by on my way to meet my friend Julie for breakfast and I couldn't believe my eyes. There was the guy sitting on his front walk in nothing but a Speedo, surrounded by cardboard covered in aluminum foil in the middle of winter. He smiled and said "hi" -so I just nodded with a grin, acknowledging his greeting. I was cracking up inside. I think that he was trying to be the next Dick Bacon. (You're so NOT Bacon dude!) It must have been about 35 F that day. When we were finished with breakfast I made sure that Julie drove past to see if he was still out there. He was and we laughed so hard! He still does it, I think. My husband and I dubbed this man's house as "middle earth" because of the things that go on there.

< Dick Bacon

Anyway, back to what I was saying...When Kosta finally arrived we decided that we would pick the kids up from school since we were in town and school was just about to end. They were so happy that we surprised them since the bus ride home takes about an hour. On our way home we stopped at a garden shop. It's been really mild for the last few days and I'm getting garden fever. We bought a lot of bulbs- tulip bulbs, freesia bulbs, crocus and more. It seems strange that I'll be planting bulbs soon opposed to how they would have already been planted in October in Wisconsin. Izabella planted some in a pot yesterday but we didn't actually have time to do more than that because we were moving Kosta's office into the basement. It's all moved so now all that he has left to do is organize his things. The basement is beautiful now. It's one of the first things that we had done after we moved in. I realize that I haven't really posted much about what went on in the first weeks/months that we moved in as we didn't have access to the Internet and also that we were so insanely overwhelmed with the entire process. This definitely wasn't a home that we could just move in to, we had to empty it first. I'm still healing from the ordeal. I promise, I'll get around to the details soon.

So all is well with us. It's different for us to live out it the sticks but we're adapting well. It's great that we're a short drive away from the city because we can enjoy it when we want, but not have to deal with it on a daily basis. I don't really think that I could handle Thessaloniki, it's so much more intense than Milwaukee. The East side of Milwaukee is tame, it's not even comparable. I think that Thessaloniki tops Chicago on the insanity meter.

*photo of Dick Bacon from Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel*

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's never too early

She really knows how to navigate the mouse. We're working on clicking.

I've got 5 minutes to spare!

Alexandra capping my photo session...

Wow, it's been over a week since I've posted anything. I've had the hardest time doing anything online lately. It seems that our connection is sporadic. I'm glad that we have a connection but jeez, it doesn't have to be so unreliable. For example, I edited the previous post about 5 times because the spacing is off. It looked great as a draft and then each time that I published it, it came out looking the same-not edited. ARRRRGGHHH! I've also been trying to use our ancient laptop in the living room and have had no luck with that. That poor dinosaur just shuts down on me half of the time and it's so frustrating.


I've got so much to tell and so little time to do it. I have a moment now because Kosta went to Kozani to run some errands today and he took Alexandra with him. For those of you that know me well hold the applause, it's still tough for me to let my babies out to my sight. I'm letting them go little by little and it kills me. It's not that I don't trust my husband with the baby, it's just simply the fact that I feel that I need to have my baby with me. I still have a hard time putting Iza and Foti on the school bus everyday. Foti resists getting on 3 days out of 5 and watching him being driven away with his lip trembling just breaks my heart. On the flip side, I know that once I'm out of sight he's ok and he does actually enjoy school now so that's how I get through the few minutes of agony as we practically force him into his seat. So, I'll get over my children spending time away from me, it's just going to take time.


We are all in great health now and moving forward with our new life in Greece. It's been a week since we've given anyone any kind medicine. I have all of the medicine bottles lined up on the window sill above the kitchen sink and I call it my little pharmacy. Since we're all better the pharmacy is closed and I have to find new homes for the medicine bottles.


I'm logging off for now, but I'll be back soon with a lot to say. Although this move has basically sucked the life out of me I haven't given up on the blog!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy New Year! Kali Hronia!

I hope that 2008 is a great year. I really haven't had time to reflect on 2007 yet as I've been sick, again. Sunday evening, Dec. 30, we were in the car driving home from a great dinner with friends and my throat started to hurt. I was almost afraid to tell Kosta that my throat hurt because we were just really sick right before & after Christmas. I think that I had about 2 good days last week. As soon as we got home I put the kids to bed so that I could get some rest myself. That's when my fever started.

Monday morning, New Year's Eve, I woke up to let the dog out and also to alert Kosta that I was going back to bed and wouldn't be getting out for a while. My fever persisted and my throat was nearly swollen shut. I couldn't swallow my tea! I didn't get out of bed all day. It's a good thing that we didn't have any plans. I woke up late at night because we had to prepare for Santa's arrival. I was awake long enough to wish Kosta a happy New Year and suggest that he take the kids to MIL's for New Year's dinner on his own.

The next morning the kids woke me up so that they could see what Santa left for them, I wanted to die. I was so sick. But, I peeled myself out of bed and pretended to be well. I made breakfast and sat on the couch. I never sit on the couch, the couch is foreign to my behind. I turned to Kosta and pleaded for permission to stay home by myself, I didn't care if it was the New Year...i was sick. At first he agreed that it was probably the best thing for me to do and then came the guilt trip. He was pointing out how much everyone would miss me and that his mom was already making special soup for me. I told him that I thought all of that was just dandy but I wasn't looking forward to getting dressed or sitting in the car for an hour & a half.

I went.

I have to say that MIL was extraordinarily sweet. She had hot tea ready for me and a pair of slippers for me to keep my feet warm. She made youverlaki (lemon/meatball soup) for me. After dinner I went straight into the bedroom and took a nap with Alexandra. I slept longer than she did. When I woke up I had another cup of tea and insisted on leaving as it was late. I just wanted to be in my jammies at home.

Once we got home we realized that the house seemed a little cold. We ran out of diesel, fantastic. We just ordered some 3 weeks ago(3oo euros worth!) and we were already out! We have to get used to having a boiler. So, there I was sick and freezing. We bundled the kids up in sweatsuits and extra blankets and went to bed. Oh, I should also mention that it just happened to be colder than normal that day-Murphy's Law.

The next morning I took the dog out and had enough energy to fill the wheelbarrow with wood so that I could start a fire before everyone else woke up. My throat was still very sore but I had energy for the first time in days. It's a good thing because Kosta woke up with a sore throat. He ordered diesel for the boiler and hit the couch. As the day progressed he got a fever. He felt like crap. I couldn't help myself so I asked him if he'd like to go anywhere for dinner. I still wasn't 100% but I took over as the adult in charge once again. The diesel wasn't delivered until almost 9:00pm that night so we felt crappy as we kept the fire going throughout the day.

Thursday Kosta couldn't talk because his throat was so swollen. Again, I had to ask him if he'd like to go anywhere or visit anyone, I just had to. I think that this move has added a new dimension to our relationship as we like to taunt each other now. We've never really done that before. Anyway, Kosta was down for the count and then little Foti said his throat hurt so I kept him home from school and took him to the pediatrician. It seems that he was in the beginning stages of the virus. Today he has a fever.

That sums up how our winter has been. We've been really sick and viruses spread like wildfire within our family. It seems that as soon as we catch up with work or commitments another virus invades our home. I can only hope that we don't have to endure any more illenesses once this one has passed. I'll start reflecting as soon as my throat stops burning. Until then I'll begin hoping that 2008 is a healthy year for our family. It can only get better!