About me

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Random Saturday

1) I love seeing these elderly men and women gather at the plateia every morning.  They shuffle to their benches and shuffle home like clockwork.  It must be so nice to count on seeing friends every morning.

2) We said good-bye to family last night and are praying for their safe return.  We'll miss them and we're looking forward to seeing them again this summer.

3) Homesickness has been hitting me in waves lately, and the visit from familiar faces was the little glimpse of home I needed.  I am more content to be here for the next few months.

4) I have Paul Simon stuck in my head.  Goodness knows why.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Poor, Part 23

As families do, mine came bearing gifts, and mostly of the literary nature.  We already love Ezra Jack Keats, but find this book very relevant these days.

Yep, M and Z hear this on a regular basis.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesdays: Greek

Is it cheating that I am including a recipe from Sunday?  B went to the fishmonger's on Saturday and came home with two whole fish.  Being a girl from the 'burbs, I had never actually fixed a whole fish.  B and I consulted the internet for a psarosoupa recipe, and it tasted pretty good.  The rice absorbed too much of the liquid, which made it kind of a rice dish rather than a real soup.  Sadly, all of the fish fillets were destroyed in my attempt to debone them.

My family arrived on Saturday--in time for the holiday--and declared the soup totally edible. (High praise.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cut-throat Catan

My whole family is currently visiting, and despite my intentions to blog while they're around, I have been sucked into this game.  Tradition has it that we're brutal--we trash talk, we drive hard bargains, and we terrorize our opponents. We have been known to make the uninitiated cry, and it might be responsible for breaking up a relationship.

But it's all in good fun...

...or is it?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keeping House

I've only visited a few houses here in Greece, but in every single one I have been impressed by the housekeeping.  There is such are and attention paid to even the smallest details.  The corners are dust free; the floors are immaculate.  There is minimal clutter, and toys are contained.  Linens are free of stains and neatly pressed.  And so are clothes.

I have been thoroughly convicted about my slapdash housekeeping, friends.  I am trying, I really am, to have a system and a schedule.  I have assigned an extra chore to each day of the week, and I am sticking to the schedule.  No awards will be given for my dishwashing, but I have begun to iron-regularly-everything that needs ironing.  I find that when I care just a little more for the needs of those around me, and a little less for my own needs, our lives are vastly different.  There's nothing like Lent to help drive this lesson home.

I will still need some major help when we move again, and so will the kids.  I would dearly love to attend a camp for clueless housekeepers, and a personal coach isn't a bad idea either.  The previous two items might be unobtainable currently, but I would like to have a Chore Camp for my children when they turn 10.  We would learn how to wash dishes properly, how to sweep thoroughly, how to iron a shirt properly.  Kind of like a Home Ec for homeschoolers.  Anyone else interested?

Friday, March 23, 2012


After a week's worth of what felt like idle talk, with mothers, with my husband, with my own children, with Greek children, I am feeling quiet today and thinking of the prayer of St. Ephrem.

O Lord and Master of my life,
take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, 
lust of power and idle talk;

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, 
patience and love to thy servant.

Yea, Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults,
and not to judge my brother;
for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages.

-St. Ephrem the Syrian, 4th century

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Poor, part 22

Are you a girl? Do you like girly things?  Are you a girl obliged to do girly things to help your family, even though you'd rather learn to fly an airplane and repair automobiles?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might like this book.

Ballet Shoes has been around since the 30's, but I have been reading it for the first time this week.  Z is hoping that I will read it aloud, but M objects strongly.  (Perhaps the pink cover gives it away?)  This is a very girly book, but with enough substance for me to consider it a Good Read.  It also piques my curiosity about Dancing Shoes and Theater Shoes, two other books by Noel Streatfeild.  And if I can find them used with the first edition covers, all the better.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesdays: Greek

Would you believe, dear reader, that in my ten years of preparing Lenten meals I have never made Revithia?  I've definitely tasted it, but never made it.  As I was planning meals for this week, I decided to give it a try.  I know that my two older children love chickpeas, and the other ingredients are pretty inoffensive.  In fact, I've made the same recipe using every bean under the sun...except chickpeas.

The result? Delicious.

I sprinkled some cheese on the kids' platefuls, sliced up the bread, and we had a meal.

p.s.  Bonus footage of T chanting some morning prayers.  He got very shy when I turned on the camera.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just in time for warmer weather...

yarn: Noro Kureyon in colorway 215(?)
needles: size 7
mods: none!

...more fingerless mitts.  I finished these last week and have been able to enjoy their warmth a couple of times.  They're especially handy in the evening.  I'm happy to say that the weather has (Επιτέλους!) taken a turn for hot--today I broke out the Chacos. B was in total disbelief when I began knitting them(and not working on a project for him), but the pattern was so easy that I could read while knitting.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Me and My Shadow

It seems these days that I can never be too close to the baby.   
(Here he is, adjusting the hanger for a photo shoot. ) 
Preview of this before it gets popped in the mail.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here and There: Teenagers

THERE, we actually have very little contact with teenagers, other than relatives and the family friends from our parish.  These family friends are, without exception, the kind of teenagers I'd like my children to be: kind, polite, mentors to the young.  The few "stranger" teenagers that we encounter while out and about are generally consumed with their own business.  That's fine; I expect teenagers to be fairly self-absorbed.  Were M to try and join in a game of soccer or basketball being played by teenagers in our neighborhood, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that he'd be asked to play somewhere else (either politely or no).  Were M to play in the middle of the basketball court during a pick-up basketball game, he would also be asked to go elsewhere (or just run over).

T watching the simultaneous games of hide-and-seek and basketball being played at the γήπεδο.

HERE, teenagers are, at least toward my children, like the ones we encounter at our parish in the States.   Today M, Z, and a gaggle of their friends were playing at the γήπεδο(basketball court), weaving in and out of a group of teenage boys, who were playing basketball.  Not once did the teens, by word or action, make the younger kids feel unwanted; they actually tried to play so that the ball wouldn't hit the young children.  In addition to what I saw today, I have noticed other examples of kindness toward young children throughout our stay here.  M constantly tries to join in the big kid games, and is included at his level.  Even the teenage boys pinch T's cheeks and interact with him!  Amazing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Morning According to M

I have so much to accomplish before school.  Here's my to-do list.

1.  Wake up and find iPod.
2.  Take 400 pictures of various subjects, including 200 of right index finger.

 Baba fixing sister's hair.

 Mom and T, both in pajamas, fixing snacks for me and Z.

 I straightened the icons last night.

 I am choosing something to wear.

 I spend a few minutes looking out the window in my bedroom.

My feet.  
I'm ready for school.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Poor, part 21

May I just say(again) that Charles Dickens my favorite author?  B is definitely sick of hearing me extoll the virtues of his writing, and we have definitely had some heated "Kazantzakis v. Dickens" discussions.  Does it go without saying that one of us is an Hellenophile and the right one other is an Anglophile?

Bleak House is the source of my latest outpouring of enthusiasm for Dickens.  B overheard my guffaws and my gasps as I read it (but I sobbed over it alone on one of the nights last week when he was working late).   If you have time to watch the BBC version of the book, I recommend it.  

 I got the book for free through iBook, my go-to for reading material while we're living in Greece.  Definitely not the same as real paper between my fingers, but fabulous for obtaining reading material in English.  Also, books that are no longer protected by copyright law are available for free! (Yet another reason to like Dickens over Kazantzakis.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesdays: Greek

I know, I know.  The "Manestra Lent" occupies an all too recent place in the memories of my family. The older kids aren't especial fans of this dish.  But what's not to love?  It's pasta, tomato sauce, and a few veggies.  Yum.  I make ours as close to our adopted Yiayia's style as possible, which basically means adding carrots, celery, onion and dill to this recipe.  Easy, friends.

(And I don't think that I will ever find employment as a food photographer.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

::right now::

Right now, I am

:: finishing some knitting.  One project is off the needles, and another simply needs buttons. (A third is languishing.  Help!)

:: enjoying warm hands.

:: humming this (Definitely a throwback to my past.).  And this.

:: waiting for this crazy winter weather to change.  Our periptero ladies told me this morning that this winter has been the coldest and cloudiest in sixty years. I totally believe it.

:: hoping that the spring weather will be with us for a long, long time before summer arrives.

:: laughing that our friends in the States have had a warmer-than-usual winter.  We would miss it!

::  crunching into a package of store-bought, lenten koulourakia.

:: contemplating making my own.

:: dreaming about my sewing machine.

:: planning for next school year, as much as I am able to.

:: reminding myself of this quotation: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." (Woody Allen)

:: re-reminding myself (see above).

Monday, March 12, 2012

What's that saying about idle hands?

Amazing how much mischief a child can't get into when he's using his hands to chop veggies.  
(I know.  It took me this long to figure that out?)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sick Day

Never again will I make light of the 'flu shot, that I promise.  This year I didn't really put much effort into obtaining one for me or my family, and I am convinced that the latest calisthenics for our white blood cells are the result.  We're slowly, slowly on the mend.

I won't dwell on the particulars, but I will say that mothers need some sick days built into their job descriptions.  Despite my aches, dinner still needed to find its way from the grocery store to the table, dirty clothes needed my attention, and a rambunctious son and daughter needed outdoor diversion.  With B working late, children still needed to be put into bed, and an ill T needed a constant attendant.

By Thursday, I had capitulated to temptation and turned on a movie for the kids, something we especially limit during Lent.  (Habits aren't changing so very much here after all. Sigh.)  Unfortunately Greek television broadcast some really unsuitable shows right when I needed the electronic babysitter, so I got creative.  We watched this and this through youtube.  Everyone loved the first, and there were mixed reviews about the second ("Too girly").  T was interested for a few minutes, but really just wanted to cuddle.

Ok, I'm tired.  I think I'll curl up on the couch with an iBook until bedtime.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Poor, part 20

I would be remiss if I didn't include this book in a post. 

Z has read, and re-read, and re-read it.  She is fascinated by all things "spy" and "detective" and "disguise" right now.  I hope this interest sticks around until our return to the States.  I am eager to see what our local library can add to her knowledge.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesdays: Greek

How do I love thee, Gigantes?  Let me count the ways...

2) Warm with rice.
3) Cold with pita.
5) Warm with pita.
6) While I am cooking thee.
7) As a midnight snack.
9) Straight out of the oven.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Positive Peer Pressure

Once again, the image has nothing to do with the post.  This is M in one of the costumes he made at school before Apokreas.  He loves his teacher and all her ideas.

This weekend we had to opportunity to spend the night at another family's house.  When I say opportunity, I suppose I mean that we were blessed to receive some hospitality rather than make a long journey home late at night.  We stayed for a very important reason, as you, dear reader, will see.  This family made a pointed effort to gather all the children before bedtime and, while standing in a small chapel in their home, have evening prayers.  What's more, the children were excited to take part in the prayers.  

The excitement definitely made an impact on our own children.

We have attempted, off and on, for years to institute something like this prayer time with our family.  What B or I would start (with gusto) would be thwarted by a tantrum, or whining, or both.  Wishing it were so won't make me suddenly able to pray while holding a screaming child.  It's just not a part of my spiritual armor(yet).

So, when our children were quiet and still as we took part in another family's nightly routine, B and I shared a pointed look.  And when we returned home, B asked me very quietly, "Should we capitalize upon the spiritual high?" 

Yes, please.

For the past three nights, our big kids have enjoyed family prayer time.  I'm not going to make any long-term predictions, but hope that this is an encouragement to others who have experienced the same frustrations.  Oh, these habits are a-changin'.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

For Opie

We had a chance to take a train ride today, and we thought of you.  

(Happy Birthday, Ahmie!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!

On Friday nights, after a busy week of chasing children and keeping the house from falling down, the place I want to be most is on my couch(with some knitting in hand).  And every Friday night during Lent, there's a church service.

I admit to thinking unkind thoughts as I scramble to serve dinner early and change everyone so that we can be out the door in time to hear the first notes of the Akathist Service.  Not because I don't like Church, but I like the comfort of my couch and the thought of a reward, however small, at the end of the week.  I crave silence, with my non-stop children asleep(or getting there), and the rhythm of knit and purl.

I am not headed to church this evening, and I miss it very, very much.  I have come, over the last few years, to realize that the reward is the service, rather than my knitting.  It's hearing my older children belt out "O Champion Leader" because they are so excited to hear it again.  It's the bustle and noise of arriving home well past bedtime, and the flurry of pajamas and brushing teeth and kisses.  And, the reward is honoring the ultimate model of motherhood, the Mother of Christ, who nodded her head and said "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word."

(And next year when I fall into grumbling, could remind me that I said this? I'd appreciate it.)

So I'll be thinking of our friends at our parish in the States who are so lovingly and devoutly preparing for this service tonight.  And I'll be humming as I do the dishes and prepare my children for bed.

Rejoice, O seer of the ineffable Will. Rejoice, O surety of those praying in silence.
Rejoice, you the Preface of Christ's miracles. Rejoice, you the Pinnacle of His commandments.
           Rejoice, O heavenly Ladder, by which God descended. Rejoice, 
                                           O Bridge leading those from earth to Heaven.
Rejoice, O Miracle, much marveled of Angels. Rejoice, O trauma, much dirged of demons.
Rejoice, you who ineffably gave birth to the Light. Rejoice, you who revealed the mystery to none.
Rejoice, O knowledge superceding the wise. Rejoice, You who enlightens the minds of the faithful. Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Poor, part 19

This story has resonated with Z, she being the new, foreign girl in her class.  (Although we're still on Chapter 2, so I can't tell you much about the rest of the book.)  We'll let you know how we like it after we get to the end.