Saturday, April 26, 2008

Preparing for Easter

Yesterday was Holy Thursday. (click here for a description of Holy Week traditions) It's the day that's set aside to color Easter eggs-not a day before or after, like I'd suggested. Traditionally, Greeks color their eggs red as the color symbolizes the blood of Christ and rebirth. I used packages of egg dye this year and it ended up all over my hands. As you can see, we colored our eggs red and blue. The kids enjoyed dipping the eggs in the dye and then polishing them. Alexandra tried to eat one right away and ended up with a blue mouth. I didn't get a picture because I wanted to wash her face right away-so she wouldn't have a blue mouth for the weekend.

School projects:

This week the kids brought home several school projects pertaining to Easter. The picture above is Foti's tsoureki made out of clay. The picture below is Iza's. Very cute.

Sources: Greek food

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unnecessary tension

The everyday crap that's part of living in Greece is finally starting to wear on my nerves. I usually like to keep my blog light and fun but I just have to whine or rant-whatever it turns out to be for this post.

I'm only going to write about one thing that's been irritating me lately and it's the grocery store -aka- supermarket. I hate going. I never thought that going to buy groceries was the greatest but then again, I've never dreaded it as much as I do now. First, most of the supermarkets are small. The aisles are small, everything is small. If there's someone restocking shelves and blocking an aisle just be prepared to go around the other way because hell will freeze over before they'll move to accommodate a customer.

Next-the produce section. If you want to buy produce you're supposed to put your food in plastic bags and give them to the person working in produce so that they can weigh your food and put the price tag on it. The problem here arises from the fact that half of the time you have to hunt down the person assigned to produce so that this can happen. I don't believe in putting all of my produce in plastic bags. For example, when I buy bananas I prefer the price sticker to go directly onto the bananas, without a bag. Well, the last two times that I wanted to go bagless with the bananas I've suffered verbal attacks from the idiots that work in produce. The first time I refused a bag it ended up in a 3 minute battle of words...the employee saying that he HAD to give me a plastic bag because that's what they're told to do. It leaded to him asking where I'm from -as if it matters-and said, "oh, well you Americans have all of the answers don't you?" Yep, whatever dude, just give me my friggn' bananas. He wasn't Greek, he was Italian...FYI. This isn't about Greeks vs. anyone-it's just about me vs. idiots that work in the supermarkets that I shop in.

The second banana scuffle occurred yesterday. Again, no one was in the produce section except for the arrogant store manager. After having me stand there for a few minutes I finally had to ask him to weigh my bananas. He sauntered over to the scale. This man is visibly annoyed by me. Guess what supermarket manager...I'm not on vacation, I'm not going away-deal with it. Anyway, so I hand him the bananas and he started to put them in a plastic bag. I politely asked him not to do that and he said, " well where will I put the price sticker then?!"-in a very aggressive tone. I said, " directly on the bananas". He rolled his eyes and said, " no, I'll put them in a plastic bag! That's what we have them for." I said, "I would prefer to not have one, it's just more plastic and more garbage for me -it's not necessary." Now, he's really angry. (idiot) So he yells at me and says, " I'll give you the plastic bag because that's how we do it...that's why we have recycling here in Greece-put your bag in the recycling!" I just took my bananas and walked away, it makes no sense to argue with a rock. Besides, my little Alexandra doesn't need to listen to this BS.

Some other issues I have had at the supermarket include being asked for identification to use my stupid store issued discount card. What? " I need to see your identification"....the cashier scowls. I refused as I thought it ridiculous. She let me use the card anyway.

Recently, with the discount cards customers were able to accumulate coupons that could be counted as cash toward a future purchase. I obviously accumulated a lot of those coupons shopping for a family of five. As I handed my coupons over to the cashier she asked me for all of the receipts from the purchases that awarded me the coupons. What? OK, so I had one receipt in my purse and then she refused to take the coupon that it matched because it wasn't from the same location that I was shopping. Luckily, an employee with a brain intervened and informed her that I don't need a receipt and I don't have to redeem the coupons at the exact location that they were issued.

There's one more issue that I have. There's one cashier at one particular store that dreads to have me in her line. It's obvious. Why? Because more than once she's remarked about the size of my purchase. She's said, " every time that you shop here, you buy so much. You back up my line." Excuse me, but I thought that I was shopping for my family in a there a limit as to how much I can buy?

So, there that's off my chest. I do want to acknowledge that there are a several employees that are very kind and seem almost happy to see me. A lot of times it's those employees that intervene and rise to my defense. I'm not conditioned to walk through life looking for the next argument and I refuse to adjust my personality just because some people can't be civil. Yes, the same type of crap does happen where I'm from-just not as intensely and definitely not as frequent. Going to buy groceries shouldn't have to be such a burden.

***all of these interactions took place in Greek***

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Bee?

Yesterday, as I was ready to sniff the lilacs I spotted this little bee. It was literally rolling around the leaf with the lilac as if in euphoria. Very cute...unless it was dying of a lilac overdose.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My laptop crashed!

Dag nabbit! My laptop crashed. My life line to the outside world.... it's been down for 4 days and I miss it already. I keep it on the kitchen table and it's usually at the center of my world. I'm not the only one complaining either. The kids have been whining because they can't play on Noggin while I'm cooking dinner-or doing whatever I usually do. I really hope that it isn't gone for good because I don't think that we can afford a new one right now & what's worse...I may lose all of my spring pictures. I always said I'd back them up but never got around to it. ARRGGGHH!

I'll just have to make time to sneak into Kosta's office and use the PC -like now.

Ok, on to what's going on...

Saturday we spent the day tearing out the closets in our bedroom. We suspected a mold problem and we were right. There was a lot of black mold on the back of the closets and on the wall. Can anyone guess why we've been so sick this year? Now we have all of the proof that we need. I called the pediatrician on Monday to let her know that we did, in fact, find black mold and if she needed to check the baby-since she still sleeps with me. Well, since she didn't have a cough or a rash( like last week) she said that as long as we take care of the problem we should all be ok. I don't know though, we were exposed to this for months...since September to be exact.

We've moved our mattress into the living room and kept it there since. We have to bleach the walls once more and then we'll move back into the bedroom. The kids really love having the mattress in the middle of the living room. It's perfect for acrobatic stunts and Alexandra is learning well. We've also let Iza & Foti sleep downstairs with us, so it's kind of like we're camping out in the living room. So, outside of the inconvenience of having the mattress in the middle of everything, it's kind of fun and I think that we'll miss it when things go back to normal.

So, outside of the everyday chaos we've got a little extra this week. I won't be online as frequent in the near future but hopefully, everything will work out. My time in the office is up.

This song has been in my head all week-it's definitely one of my favorites. I often listen to it when I feel crappy because I can't help but smile when I hear it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April Meme: 7 Quirks

Well, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I'd be tagged for a meme. I was tagged by both Kat and Mel for this, my first meme. Since I've been double tagged I'm more than happy to participate.

These are the rules:

1. When tagged, place the name and URL of the tagger on your post
2. Post the rules
3. Write 7 non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
4. Name 7 of your favorite blogs
5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged

7 non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself

1. I don't like to eat off of plastic/plates cups. (like kid stuff) I will, but I just don't like it. Can't explain it & it drives my husband nuts. I'll ask him to get me a drink and if he brings it in a plastic cup I cringe. I think that he does it just to annoy me. (btw-he pointed this quirk out for me)
2. I love kitchen gadgets, can't have enough of them. Currently, I'm looking for a new lemon zester & also a garlic press.
3. I'm very particular about my kitchen utensils/gadgets. For instance, a bread knife is for cutting bread-please don't cut meat or tomatoes with it. I especially don't like when people take it out in the yard to cut horta!
4. I talk a lot and I talk fast. I know it, I try to control it- but I can't.
5. I could eat rice & beans every day.
6. I love Prince. I think that he's a genius.
7. I can't leave the house without wearing lipstick.

Name 7 of your favorite blogs

1. An American in Athens (tagged me)
2. Mel's Diner (tagged me)
3. Whatever is on my mind today
4. Exotic/Mundane
5. Tastes like Home-Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
6. Mimi on the Breach
7. Livin' La Vida Pedraza

Just a few of my regular stops in the blogosphere. If I tagged you-don't feel obligated to participate. I'll still love your stuff!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Looking for a Poppy

After weeding my 16 rose bushes and planting a few flowers & seeds yesterday I felt a little stressed and I was crabby. I think that's because I usually view gardening as refreshing and therapeutic. Yesterday, however, it wasn't. Alexandra kept attempting daredevil-like stunts and would go missing from time to time. I had to keep getting up to find her. Gigi kept trying to dig in the freshly worked soil around the flowers that I planted. She also kept pouncing on Alexandra when they were playing but knocked her over a few times only to make her cry. It's amazing to watch a toddler and a puppy fight. Foti wanted to watch a movie inside, then he wanted juice...and pudding...he needed assistance in the bathroom...he wanted to go in the basement to see his dad...he wanted to play outside...he wanted to go back inside. His shoes were off & on at least 5 times within an hour. Izabella was whining because she couldn't figure out what she wanted to do, it was the same with her- in & out. Finally, I tried to redirect their attention and it worked. I had Iza help me with planting and watering. I gave Foti the job of watering the planted seeds. Finally, I gave Alexandra a spoon from the kitchen and a pot of dirt. She was thrilled. Everyone was busy and I finished my work.

As I was cleaning up Izabella asked me if I had seen the one poppy that was growing in the back by the garden. I said "yes, but I thought that it had lost its petals already". She insisted that there was another one so we went to look for it. Iza also mentioned that she could tell that I needed to take a little walk around to relax-and that I needed to bring my camera to take a picture of the poppy. Aren't kids perceptive? So here are somethings that we noticed on the way to find the lone poppy...

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth... It took me about 10 tries to get this shot. We have a lot of arugula that's flowering and it's always full of bees, butterflies and these little cuties.

The one poppy that we were looking for. It might be the only one in bloom for now, but there are a lot more on the way.

Our quince(kithonia) trees have blossomed. I hadn't noticed until I walked through the yard with her. (please excuse the huge, dead branches behind Iza-still cleaning up & gathering wood from the major pruning event)

The blossoms from the quince trees are just beautiful!

The walnut tree is blossoming.

The apple trees are in full bloom.

We also found a green catepillar that Iza put in her bug jar in hopes that it'll turn into a butterfly. To be honest, I can't tell if it's a catepillar or just a worm but we'll see.

Iza was thrilled to take this little walk with me and I was more than happy that she suggested that we look for that one little poppy. She helped me out of my funk and I'm so grateful. She redirected my focus...just as I had redirected hers earlier. I was refreshed and ready to make dinner, which she said was the best that she'd ever had! (talk about boosting mommy's ego!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

First day at the beach this season

Sunday we met a friend in town and headed out to a local beach for the day. The weather was gorgeous, near 70 F with plenty of sun. We packed sandwiches, rolled up our pants and tossed our shoes aside. The mothers enjoyed conversation, the kids ran and the babies explored. It was just a taste of what's to come in a few months.