Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Photo...




Here is our Christmas photo. I was on the ground, keeping Petros from standing up. Pavlos, the entire time, kept saying over and over again, "Are we done yet? When will we be done?" And then, after I ordered the pictures, here is a cutie picture of the two of them eating chocolate chip cookies! Merry Christmas everyone!!! Christ is Born! Glorify Him!!!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Message from my sister....

Hasbro has pledged to donate $0.25 to Operation Smile in celebration of their 25th anniversary, for everyone who pushes the "Oxygen Pump" on their website (yes it is a plug for their new and improved game Operation) You can visit once a day, everyday, and Hasbro will donate up to $75,000 to Operation Smile. It is super fast - just one click and you are done.
http://www.hasbro.com/games/kid-games/operation/

Operation Smile is an organization that sends teams of doctors/nurses/specialists to developing countries to assist children born with craniofacial defects, such as clefts. (I personally prefer SmileTrain as 100% of donations go directly to the cost of surgery, and their aim is to train local doctors to repair and care for children with clefts, but hey, Operation Smile rocks too!). Here is their site -
http://www.operationsmile.org/

Check it out - click the pump and send some much needed funds to developing countries to help cleft affected children. - pass it on!Thanks!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Now we know where he gets it from....

My mom mentioned this article to me so I had to look it up. This is Pavlos. He eats a high carb diet with an occasional natural hotdog thrown in for protein (and peanut butter is ok too). He does not like vegetables or fruit (except apples, applesauce, sometimes raisins).

Who did he inherit this from? Pappous (my dad). He does have to try everything I serve (usually, he has to eat five bites of whatever it is). He is getting better at those five bites, but that doesn't mean he likes it (getting better is defined as he doesn't battle us to eat those five bites). He eats the same thing everyday for lunch at school. And he would eat the same thing every night for dinner. He almost eats the same thing every day for breakfast (oatmeal). At least now I can blame my dad for his pickiness:)

Monday, November 19, 2007

I go in spurts...




Yes, I realize that I will go for weeks without blogging and then, boom, three in a row. We hit a dry spell, but here I am.




Pavlos is home with pink eye. He will be home tomorrow. Maybe this will be the day to work on that picture of Pavlos and Petros for the Christmas card?!?!?




Pavlos was St. George and Petros was the dragon for our All Saints Party at church. Petros was sick and so he didn't go to the party. Pavlos and I went with my parents:) Gotta love grandparents! Here is a picture of St. George and the dragon.


Paul and Pavlos went camping. Pavlos is definitely not afraid to get a little dirty. And he has never been afraid of any creatures. Here he is holding some newts that he wanted to bring home. Thankfully they were left in their natural habitat:)
I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! We are doing little things to make it a gluten-free thanksgiving (or, at least close to it). I am making a pumpkin cheesecake with a gluten-free gingersnap crust.
Tonight, for dinner we are having a Greek Potato Casserole. Here's the recipe...
Potato Casserole
2 cups canned tomatoes
½ cup olive or vegetable oil
2 onions thinly sliced
1 clove garlic crushed
4 Tbs. parsley chopped
1 Tbs. mint chopped (I use dried mint in the winter)
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4-6 large potatoes thinly sliced
2 peppers cut in 2 in. pieces
1-2 zucchini and or summer squash thinly sliced

Mash tomatoes with a fork; combine with oil, onions, garlic, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. In a greased 8x12 baking dish, alternate layers of tomato mixture, potatoes, peppers, and squash, ending with tomato. Bake covered in oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover; cook until vegetables are tender.
I did something wild and crazy this year for the fast; I have planned all 40 dinner (there are a few repeats). They are written in my notebook. I plan my meals usually up to two weeks in advance. I figured that to do 40 days would not be that difficult and it wasn't/hasn't been. We will see if we stick to it. That's all from here (I think)!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thanks...

I was at the grocery store earlier today and a man came up into the checkout line next to mine. He was behind someone who had a huge cart full of food. And he just had a bottle of wine. So I asked him if he would like to go ahead of me. He said thank you and then, without me knowing, left $5 with the checker to put towards my grocery bill! To the man out there who did this, cheers! Thanks, that was nice...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

busy day...


Today is Pavlos' last soccer game. My parents came for the game. We are going out to dinner on Tuesday night with his team. DH is at a men's breakfast and then painting for the new gym at the school. I'm making prosphora for Liturgy tomorrow. It is also our godson's 2nd birthday. Happy Birthday Athanasios!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beautiful Day...

Petros and I are trying to soak up all this sunny weather we have been having lately. We have been going on long walks through falling leaves. It's beautiful. This is my mom's favorite time of year. She's back from Greece, by the way. They came over last night for some lentil soup. It's been soup weather, at least for me. I am making Avgolemono Soupa (Egg Lemon Soup) for dinner tonight. I have opened all the blinds in the house to let the sun in. I'm thinking about painting. Will probably go to Home Depot tomorrow to pick up paint chips just for fun. I still haven't planted my fall bulbs. And there's raking to do. Better do the raking today, while it is sunny. What are you having for dinner?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More lamb recipes...

On Friday I pulled out what was labelled "Lamb Roast" and put it in the refrigerator to defrost for Sunday dinner. On Saturday, I actually looked at the "lamb roast" for the first time because I was going to put it in the crockpot to cook on Sunday while we were at church. It was a bit fatty and I noticed it had two bones in it. So, I decided to make a stew. DH (who is actually as much Irish as I am Greek he just doesn't really know anything about being Irish) asked that I make an Irish Lamb Stew which is what I did. It was very yummy, very hearty. Here is the recipe (and it is modified for those who eat a gluten free diet).

Irish Lamb Stew
3 - 4 lbs. lamb cut in 1 1/2" cubes
2 T. butter
1 T vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
*** note: I used 1 cup water and 2 cups homemade vegetable broth from the freezer***
1 to 2 t. salt or to taste
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
4 medium potatoes peeled and quartered
8 sm. white onions (ok, I didn't have any white onions so I used one large yellow onion)
1 package frozen peas (I used petite peas)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms (I don't like mushrooms so I just didn't put mushrooms in the stew)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour (instead of flour I use gluten free all purpose baking mix)

Over medium heat, brown lamb in butter and oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add water, broth, and seasonings; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove surface fat. Add potatoes and onion; simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Combine milk and flour; stir until smooth. Add to simmering stew and simmer for about 1 minute or until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings.

***Note: I threw the lamb bones in with the water, broth, and seasonings just to add more flavor.

Women's Retreat Notes:

I went to our women's retreat both sessions, but I only took a few notes from Saturday. Let me just say that even though I had never heard of Dr. Muse, I was very impressed. And if he ever comes to your area to speak, I highly, highly encourage you to make every effort to go and hear him.

So the theme for Saturday was "Passion Bearing: Clothing our Theology in Flesh" (and he defined "flesh" as "life" at one point).

Dr. Muse had a short discussion of little "p" passion v. big "P" Passion. Little p passions are the sinful passions and big "P" Passion is what Christ opens us up towards... a Passion Bearing Life.

Asceticism is acquiring a body. Why would God become flesh is flesh is evil? Asceticism renders us vulneralbe to divine energies. Asceticism is a freely shoen act of love whose purpose is to acquire a body responsive to the Holy Spirit (I believe that this is a direct quote from Dr. Muse, I definitely could not have written something like that on my own:)

We need to study our attention. Are we present in our lives, in our bodies?

We spoke about what women want. He told a story but I won't repeat it now because I will probably get it all wrong. The moral was that women want sovereignty. The slave does not give all of herself unless she chooses. You have to know what you want to be able to choose. And fear is what stops us from choosing. (God giving us free will to choose Him, etc. and our fears stop us from choosing Him).

Little p passions possess us (he said that they were demons). Real Passion is the Passion of Christ- God's love bearing the world.

Love has to have freedom; only a free person can love.

We read Luke when Archangel Gabriel appears to the Theotokos as a point of her saying "yes" to God completely.

We broke up into groups and discussed the following questions:
1. what are the three most significant turning points in your spiritual life?
2. what are the three most difficult choices you have ever made?
3. how are these choices related to your spiritual life and moments when you feel most alive?
-feeling most alive: on Sunday Dr. Muse talked a little about how those moments when you totally feel alive, at peace with everything around you like when you are watching a beautiful sunset? How those moments cannot be forced. They have to just come.

How do I say "Yes" to God (like the Theotokos)?

The spiritual is in our ordinary life we have to find it.

The Power of Yes (annointing of Christ by the sinful woman)
We broke up into groups again and discussed the following:
1. what were the obstacles to those three most difficult choices you have ever made?
2. what was the price you paid for those choices?
3. did God provide a "Way" for you to bear the pain? What was that "Way"?

We watched clips from the movie "Ghandi" and "Entertaining Angels" (Dorothy Day).

Judgment = idolatry
-me taking God's place

We don't have a body, we are body.

Finally, we read about Christ in the garden of Gethsemene that shows Jesus' humanity and the love Christ has for us is too great.
discussion questions:
1. what is your Garden of Gethsemene?
2. How are you "sleeping" (like the disciples) in your life?
3. What prevents you from truly praying "Thy will be done"?

That's all the notes I took. Some make sense, others may not. I apologize. I am currently reading "Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios" and came across this passage the other day,
Fix your unwavering gaze towards Christ. Become familiar with Christ. Work with Christ. Live with Christ. Breathe with Christ. Suffer with Christ. Rejoice with Christ. Let Christ be everything for you. Let your soul long for and cry out to her Bridegroom, 'I crave for You, O my Bridegroom...' (words from a dismissal hymn) Christ is the Bridegroom. He is the Father, He is everything. There is nothing higher in life than love for Christ. Whatever we desire we find in Christ. Christ is everything: all joy, all gladness, all Paradise. When we have Christ within us, we possess all magnificence. The soul that is in love with Christ is always joyful and happy, however much pain and sacrifice this may cost. (p. 106)

I left with these questions about my own life: Where is my attention? Am I present in my life? Is Christ present in my life, day to day? How is Christ present in my life? Is it a head (intellect) presence or a whole body presence?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Food...

Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned DH went to the monastery fundraiser dinner and bought half a lamb? Well, we have our half, in the freezer, right now. Like our friend who we split the lamb with said, I don't think I have ever had this much meat in my freezer. We only have the small freezer that comes with the refrigerator. One future purchase will be a freezer because I do a lot of doubling dinner recipes and then freeze them for DH's lunch (and my lunch too). I also have been making my own vegetable broth (you can't believe...well, maybe you can... what kind of yucky stuff some of the broths out there have in them.... and many of them have MSG (which is yucky in and of itself but is also a no-no on DH's diet).

Anyway, back to the lamb. We had lamb chops last night. I am posting the recipe and I am also going to do that food meme that's been going around (I think Katie did it first?!?!).

Baked Lamb Chops with Potatoes (this is from Popular Greek Recipes cookbook)
8 lamb shoulder chops
4 T. butter
6 large potatoes, sliced
3 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. chopped mint
2 cups canned tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes)
1 cup water

I did the "variation" method. Do not broil meat. Arrange meat and potatoes side by side in a large bakcing pan. Cover with the rest of the ingredients. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour or until browned and tender. Stir occasionally. (I ended up baking it longer because the potatoes were not done).

It was really yummy.

C- chocolate chip cookies (I used three C's:) Something Pavlos and I like to make together and we did make these last week for our women's retreat!
H- honey. Ios honey. The best. or hummus. I have an awesome homemade hummus recipe.
R- restaurant: a place we rarely go to now that DH is gluten free. too much of a hassle. or Roast: something I like to make in the crock pot. I love my crockpot! or Rice: something we eat a lot of lately because of the no pasta thing.
I- ice cream! something I don't eat too often as I have a slight lactose intolerance. but I like ice cream:)
S- salmon. yummy.
T- tiramisu. my favorite. or how about Thai peanut sauce? I like Thai food.
I- (more ice cream?!?!?). I is for Icky. Something Pavlos says at least once a day in reference to something I have cooked.
N- nectarines: what popped into my head first.
A- Avgolemono Soupa. Egg Lemon Soup. I remember my mom making this when I was growing up. So yummy. It takes two people to make Avgolemono and I remember my dad helping my mom as they mixed they egg lemon sauce and added it to the soup.

My name is too long.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Housekeeping Tips...

So this is for Katie.
I will say that I am no expert on housekeeping but there are a few rules that I follow that make it a little easier.

1. plan your meals at least a week in advance. Do two weeks if you are able. I usually spend about 1/2 hour every other Sunday evening planning our menu for two weeks. I pull out my cookbooks, make a list on a piece of paper with the day of the week (Mon, Tues, etc.) and write the meal name and cookbook and page number of cookbook (so I can find the right recipe I am looking for). At the same time, I write out a grocery list and include any of the more exotic spices that I might need for the meals. That way I know that I will have everything on hand when it comes time to make dinner. No quick trips to the grocery store for one item! That doesn't mean I only go grocery shopping every other week! I do a big shopping trip every other week for those dinners on our menu and day to day staples in our life. By planning meals, you know that you have all your ingredients and you know that you can start things the night before (put your meat in the refrigerator for the next days dinner instead of trying to defrost something at 4:30pm:) That doesn't mean that we always completely follow the meal plan. Sometimes I switch things around in the week (like I might be more in the mood for chicken over beef and so I switch dinners around). And if we decide to go out (which is very rare for us because of Paul's diet), I still have what I need to make that particular evenings meal and can move it to another day. The weeks that I don't do this are more stressful for me, I can tell you.

2. Get rid of your mop. All you really need is a bucket and some rags to mop your floors. Just use good old fashioned elbow grease and get on your knees! It actually does go faster when I mop on my hands and knees. I use old cloth diapers that are no longer good for Petros to wear (fraying, etc.).

3. Have a plan, even if it is in your head, of what day of the week you do what. I know that grocery shopping usually falls on Tuesday. Bathroom cleaning is on Monday (with spot cleaning in between). Laundry is everyday, one load (but we have a really tiny washer and dryer and so I have to do laundry everyday... hey, one of those yiayia things... back in the old country my yiayia would wear the same thing two or three days in a row. That really cuts back on laundry! We have too many clothes and feel like if we only wear it once, it must be dirty. Now, if your baby throws up on you, go ahead and throw it in the laundry. I bet if we were all hand washing our clothes like my yiayia did, we would be wearing the same thing more often!).

4. Keep your sink clean. This is one of those flylady things that I love. I am not on flylady's list anymore, but this is probably the most important thing... Keep your dishwasher (if you have one) unloaded... do this ASAP! And put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher ASAP! If you don't have a dishwasher, wash your dishes as you use them. That way you have a nice clean sink and not a huge pile of dishes to do at the end of the day.

5. Keep your counters free from as much "stuff" as possible. If you eat toast everyday, then, by all means, keep your toaster out all the time. If you eat toast only once a week, find a nice home for it in the cupboard. I only wish that I had a cupboard big enough for my KitchenAid mixer! I have tried every way to get that mixer off the counter and my cupboards just aren't big enough. Right now the thing that is driving me crazy about my counters is that our garbage can is on the counter (otherwise Petros would get into it). I want to put it under the sink, but we have a really deep sink and it won't fit. So I probably need a smaller garbage can that will fit under the sink. Future purchase.

6. Make your bed everyday. Right when you wake up. It only takes a few seconds! And makes the room look great.

7. Lay out your clothes the night before (this is a flylady thing, too). I have been doing this since school started. I lay out all of out clothes (well, everyone but DH) and it makes the mornings so much easier (esp. since we have to get out the door by a specific time in order to pick up our carpool).

8. When your children want to play with you, play with them!

9. Teach your children from an early age how to do housework. Give them responsibility. Even if they can't do it as fast as you or as good as you would like, it will give them wonderful skills for when they are older. My mom made us do our own laundry starting when we were 12 or so. We also each had one night a week that we were responsible for dinner, from start to finish. So by the time I went to college, I knew how to do my own laundry and how to cook a good number of meals. My mom also divided the house chores into areas. Cleaning dad's bathroom was easiest so you would also have to vacuum the living, dining room, and hall. We actually didn't really ever get money for doing chores, it was just expected. Don't get me wrong, we argued, cried, fought, etc. to get out of doing them, but it was part of being a part of our family.

About yiayias... I think that they just looked at what they had to do as their job and did it. There really isn't a secret to it. It was their job. Cooking, cleaning, feeding, bringing water to the house, baking, laundry (by hand) all of this was their job and they did it. I really don't have any insights to their secrets:)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Updates...

First, please add my sister in law to your prayer lists. Her name is Kathryn. She is 17 weeks pregnant and has lost the baby (they can't find a heartbeat anymore). This is my husbands sister. They are going through a very difficult time right now; what I would consider my worst nightmare... I know that when I hit the 12 week mark in my pregnancies I felt like ok, now the baby is fine (especially having gone through two miscarriages). But life is so precious. And my miscarriages, though very difficult for me, I think are not as bad as what she is going through right now. May the Panagia protect them!

In other news... today is my dear husband's birthday! Happy Birthday to you, Paul/Rob or whatever people call you:) The other day we were talking about when John Denver died and he said that it was, you know, in the last five years when he was in college. I reminded him that we have been married for seven years and he graduated college in 1998. Guess his memory is starting to go...

Mom and Dad are in Greece RIGHT THIS SECOND! I have heard from them twice. I hope they have a safe and productive trip. I am responsible for picking up their mail and paying their bills while they are gone. So, after dropping Pavlos off at school in Beaverton I drove all the way out to their home in Vancouver (about 35 minutes). It was then that I realized I did not leave Pavlos' booster seat at school... it was still in the car, with me. I had this grandiose plan to do my grocery shopping over by my parent's home and then go on to my own home. Quickly, I revised my plans, drove back to Beaverton (remember, 35 minutes) and dropped off his seat at school (we are in a carpool where I pick up a little boy and take him with us to school and his dad brings Pavlos home... what a blessing to be in a carpool! I don't have to wake Petros up from his nap to drive out to school!). Anyway, that completely threw off my entire morning.

Paul went to the monastery fundraiser dinner and bought half a lamb! I don't know when we are going to get it but I guess we will be eating lots of lamb sometime in the near future (we are actually splitting a whole lamb with some friends). Good thing I know how to cook lamb!

I finished reading Fr. Seraphim Rose's book "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man". Very interesting. I really liked the first part of the book. One thing that I kept thinking about over and over again while reading this book is if I truly have faith in God, then it shouldn't be a problem for me to believe that God created the universe in a week. If God can do anything, He can do anything. Anyway I don't want to get into an in depth discussion of this on my blog, just had some realizations while reading this book. I guess I had never given much thought to creation v. evolution. I remember learning some combination of the two in my Catholic school biology class, but I only took the required science credits to graduate from college (I chose to take environmental studies classes:)

That's about all from here, I think. We have been eating a lot of brown rice lately in place of any pasta I might have served in the past. Costco now sells a 12 lb bag of brown rice. Awesome!

OH! I almost forgot... Packers are 4-0. My DH is very happy! And we are going to be able to watch the game Sunday night with a friend who is a Bears fan. Should be fun... although I don't know how much of the game I will be able to watch. I will probably be chasing little boys around the room, keeping Petros from pressing buttons on the TV, etc.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Save the Date and Pavlos Quote or johnny cash meets john denver...

Save the Date!!!!
Out 6th annual Women's Retreat at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Portland, OR is coming up next month!!! Go here for more information and to register. If you are from out of town and need a place to stay, let me know. We don't have a big home but we do have an extra bed, couch, and some floor space:)

This morning, on the way into school, we were listening to John Denver as Pavlos requested (he is right now really into John Denver and knows all the words to a number of his songs AND is not afraid to sing them out loud). Anyway, from the back of the van, I hear Pavlos singing Rocky Mountain High and this is his interpretation of a line in the song, "I've seen the ring of fire in the sky." Johnny Cash, meet John Denver:)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

For Mimi...


I don't think I need to say why this picture is for Mimi, it speaks for itself:)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back to school, sort of...

Yesterday was the first day back to school.
Big P went for one hour (that was the teacher's plan for all the students).
Today: no school for him because the MWF half day students will be at school.
Tomorrow: the full time students (M-F) and half day (M-F) students.
Friday: everyone!

The school has changed their preschool program which we are really excited about. Pavlos should be entering Kindergarten but they are now following Montessori for 3-6 year olds. Pavlos will work his way up to 5 full days a week! So some students are MWF half day, some students are M-F half day, and some students are M-F all day. He will be eating lunch at school.

I took pictures yesterday but haven't uploaded them to the computer. He has been in school for 1 1/2 years! What a big boy!

Today we have nothing planned. Yesterday was crazy. Tomorrow and Friday will be the new normal:)

Next week will really be the new normal. I am so ready for this new schedule!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How I was Deported from China....

How I was deported from China…
I would love to be able to write that I did something heroic and that’s why I was booted out of China, but that’s not the case. This story may change my blogger rating from G to something else. And, my blog will probably no longer be able to be viewed in China:) This is kind of a long story so go get a cup of coffee, use the bathroom, and pull up to the computer!

I went to China on a Post-Graduate Fellowship program through my college. This was back in 1995. That summer, prior to leaving for China, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy and put on Dilantin which, two weeks before leaving, I had an allergic reaction to Dilantin and decided to go to China un-medicated (there were so many obstacles for me to go to China that I really think that God didn’t want me there and I was just being stubborn about going).

Anyway (I should warn you, the reader, that there may be a number of side stories off of the main, why I was deported story). I arrived in China in late August. I was assigned to a school that was outside of Chengdu in the Szechuan province. Chengdu is most famous for being the gateway to Tibet and, the actual “small” village where I was assigned to teach was at the base of the mountains where the Panda preserve is located. This small village had a population of almost 600,000 people (I don’t know about you, but when I think of a small village I think of Greece and my dad’s village, population 1200). This was a private boarding school where I would be teaching English to 4th graders. Most of my students were first year English students.

Getting a visa to enter China is a difficult process involving a physical exam, letters of invitation from the host (the school), letters from my college, etc. It took months to process and I actually had to mail my passport to the Chinese consul in San Francisco to get a special stamp in my passport that would allow me entrance into China. This entry stamp was valid for six weeks (so I had a six week time period in which to enter into China). This is important later in my story. Once in China, the school would help me to get a worker’s visa. They would be my sponsor. And this is so I could remain in China for the year that I wanted to be there. So I fly off to China with a year’s worth of stuff. I bought things like English children’s books, different teaching resources, clothes (but not too many as I would be hand washing all of my clothing), year’s supply of medicine (things like Benadryl and cold medicine that I would not be able to find in China), my own needles in case I had to have a shot or blood drawn, my own acupuncture needles (I was really, heavily into naturopathic medicine at this time in my life), and tons of things that my naturopath gave me to help fight crazy bacteria, etc. that I might encounter in food and water (I would mix this powdered stuff into water every day and drink it… I was the only Westerner at the school who didn’t suffer from diarrhea or other abdominal problems while I was there so it worked!). I also brought pictures, lots of mixed tapes of favorite music, some favorite books, just a few things to remind me of home (a camera, of course). It was a lot of stuff, but looking back I don’t think I overdid it because of how long I was going to be gone.

Getting to China is an adventure. I thank God that I traveled with a woman from my college who was teaching in a different part of China. We had a layover in Hong Kong and had to sleep in the airport with our luggage. We tied it to ourselves. It was very uncomfortable. The next day I was supposed to meet a guy from my college who was going to teach at the same school as me. He didn’t show up at the airport so I had to go alone. He ended up not being able to get his visa in time to make our flight, but he showed up a week later.

At the school, we each had our own room with our own bathroom. It was extremely humid and very hot when I arrived. There were other Westerners who were teaching English at the school. Most were Baha’i. There was one man who was married to a Chinese woman and they were Evangelical Protestant. There was a woman from Canada who was from a Christian organization. I sort of felt like the Baha’i were sizing me up for conversion. The Protestant man warned us about them. It was an interesting mix of people, that’s for sure. And we were the only Westerners in the whole village. We were on the receiving end of lots of stares when we actually went into town to go shopping or for bike rides. Andrew, the guy who was in my program, had almost a full beard. People really stared at him! I also remember getting on the bus and being taller than everyone else on the bus (I am a whopping 5’4” tall).

I do have lots of stories and memories of being in China from the five weeks that I was actually there. I even was able to teach my students for the majority of time that I was there. So, how did I actually get deported? The assistant to the headmaster of the school took all of us into Chengdu one day to register at the US consulate and to apply for our work visas. The application for the work visas required us to have blood tests to see if we were HIV positive or if we had Syphilis (thanks goodness I brought my own needles). So we had our blood tests, filled out paperwork and we went back to the school (which was a good 2 ½ to three hour drive… now driving in China is worthy of a whole different post). About a week later, the assistant (I can’t remember her name, now), told me that we had to go back to Chengdu to re-do my blood tests because one was positive. Ahem, yeah, right. So we went back. Not only did I have a blood test, but I had to sit in a room and face a panel of male doctors and a very young male interpreter while they questioned me about sexual encounters that I may or may not have had before coming to China and even, how many men in China I had infected with syphilis! They wanted to examine me and I refused because I just couldn’t believe what was happening (and I was a bit concerned that I was going to be carted off to a Chinese prison to spend the rest of my life). They rushed the blood test and, again, it came up positive so they gave me my deportation papers. I was absolutely floored. Imagine, having to call your parents at 3am (their time) and tell them that you tested positive for syphilis and that you are coming home (and saying over and over again, I don’t have syphilis, I don’t have syphilis). Imagine having to call the Dean of Faculty at your college and telling him that you are being deported because of testing positive for syphilis (and telling him over and over that I don’t have syphilis… he believed me… but it still was extremely embarrassing. Andrew, my teaching partner, said at least I didn’t test positive for AIDS. That was a little bit reassuring.

From what I understand, the school made an attempt to bribe the officials (not an uncommon thing to do) but they wouldn’t take the bribe. Most likely because at the same time I was in China, the United Nations was holding their Women’s conference in Beijing and even though we were very far from Beijing, I would be an example of Western women and how evil they can be.

So the school was very sad to see me go (no, really, they were). The Dean of Faculty at my college offered to re-send me back to China after I came home and cleared up any of this confusion but I pretty much decided that someone really didn’t want me to be in China and I just better not go back. So I left. But on my way out, at the airport, I was detained. It seems my entry visa into China hadn’t expired and they were concerned that I might try to come back in after leaving. So they were not going to let me get on my flight. I have one Chinese bureaucrat telling me I have to leave the country right away and another one telling my I have to stay. So I thought about this for about 5 seconds and decided to pull the hysterical-American-woman act. I cried. I wailed, actually. Anything to get me on that plane and back to the US. It worked. I came home and went straight to my doctor and told her to run a syphilis test on me to prove to the world that I do not have syphilis. She ran the more advanced test that actually looks for syphilis in the blood and it came back negative. In China, they did a syphilis screening test that can come up false positive. And a false positive syphilis screening is actually one of the signs of Lupus, which I was diagnosed with three years later (in 1998).

So this is my story of being deported. Some bonus China memories: two men who couldn’t speak a lick of English drove me to the airport (in Chengdu). We were early so I had to go to a restaurant with them for lunch. I was the only woman their. And one of the men was a soldier, sort of like my escort out of the country. The other man worked for the school. He was also the man who would deliver us our mail. But sometimes he wouldn’t give us our mail. No one received mail for a few days and so I went into the guard office where his desk was and opened it up and found a whole stack of letters. I saw him as a man who didn’t have a lot of control in his life, but by golly, he could control when and if we received our mail! I was in China for the moon festival. I ate some moon cakes. I went to a Buddhist temple in Chengdu and saw the absolute worst deformities that I have ever seen in my life. These were the beggars outside of the temple. And I imagine that here in the US these people would have had surgery when they were young to fix these deformities. There were the numerous Chinese people who came up to me and whispered in my ear that they, too, were Christians (I wore my cross when I was there like I always wear my cross). That is a big risk to take. I have always been fascinated with the Chinese culture (ancient and modern) and their history. In China, I heard from many people that they actually respect the Greek culture and history because of how advanced Ancient Greece was. So if someone found out I was Greek, they would ask me lots of questions about Ancient Greece. It was very fascinating. Our interpreter told me that the Chinese really think the rest of the world is barbarians except for the Ancient Greeks!
Ok that’s all for now…

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Us and Celiac's Disease...

So, our big news around the house is that Paul was diagnosed withe Celiac's disease. We are attempting to go gluten-free. He is, of course, completely gluten-free while we are still eating some things. But I am considering all of us going gluten free because of the high chance that Pavlos and Petros could also have celiacs. Anyway, it's been a bit of an adventure. Especially when going out to eat.

I am also thinking of starting a gluten free blog where I post recipes (I made this great dish with corn tortillas last night) and post products that I like or products that I don't like (for example, do not buy Trader Joe's tzatziki... it has modified food starch which is a no no on a gluten free diet... you just don't know where it comes from).

Anyway, that's all for now. I have made two loaves of gluten free bread for Paul and it is better than the store bought bread! Go figure:)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What did you say?

Two quotations from Pavlos...

The other day we were at my parent's home (Dawn came to dinner with us) and my dad said, "Christina, don't use that it's old." Which Pavlos replied with, "It's not old, Pappous, it's Greek!"

Second is from about two minutes ago... (what prompted me to actually put both of these on the old blog). We are in the midst of making chocolate chip cookies, one of Pavlos' favorite activities. As I am cracking the eggs into the bowl Pavlos says, "Oh no, watch out, I'm cracking" and he re-enacts an egg cracking in the middle of the kitchen floor.

PS: we are having a wonderful time hosting Dawn in our home. She is an absolutely lovely houseguest. Tonight, Katie and her family are coming over for dinner:)

Friday, July 13, 2007

thank you, thank you, thank you...And a tribute to the loveliness of boys:)







Thank you for all your well wishes for our anniversary and the big-name-day-of-everyone-but-me.
This post is a dedication to the loveliness of boys:) Since I have three (including DH). The pics represent my boys and what they love to do! Thanks, Monica, for asking us to honor our boys!
We had a wonderful time visiting Rob/Paul's family in Wisconsin. We had excellent weather. It was only too hot/too humid the last two day's of the trip.

My mom came up with a nickname for Petros... pigpen. Check out the pic and let me know your opinion. Everyone in Rob's family believes it to be accurate (he actually smells great, just loves to play in the dirt... and he actually never eats the dirt which is a good thing). Rob/Paul, for a while, thought that Petros looked like Pop of Snap, Crackle, and Pop fame.

Here is also a picture of Pavlos catching his first fish. The kids caught tons of fish, none were keepers, but they loved it! And the fish were so smart, I even caught one without bait on the line (and I didn't have a fishing license... I was just playing with Pavlos' fishing pole).

I will post the story behind me getting deported from China. It's an interesting/crazy story, sometimes I think it was just a dream (a bad dream) but it actually really happened:)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Name Day!!!


Since we are leaving on Saturday to go to Wisconsin to visit Rob/Paul's family, I probably won't be able to post anything tomorrow. So, Happy Name Day to my husband, Paul, my sons, Pavlos and Petros, my dad, Petros, and my father in law, Fr. Paul (May his memory be eternal). Tomorrow is a big name day for our family. We are going to Liturgy tonight and I made Artoklasia (five loaves of sweet bread as an offering). Pavlos helped:)


Eight Facts Meme...

Here are the rules…
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I was tagged by Kiera/Kristin...

Eight random facts about me.

1. I've been deported by a communist country (China).
2. Rob/Paul and I met on June 24, 1998. June 24, 1999 (a year to the date later), he officially "asked me out"
3. My brother thinks that I do not hiccup normally.
4. My sister and I can both put our entire fists in our mouths (big mouth, small hands, I guess).
5. I know more camp songs than a normal person ought to know.
6. I speed read which can be a good thing (during college) and a bad thing (when reading a really good book and I have to force myself to slow down to enjoy it).
7. A goal/dream I have is to set foot on all the continents (been to three).
8. I love to Greek dance.

PS. I am not going to tag anyone because I think everyone has been tagged!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Happy Anniversary...


Ok, so I am a day late. We celebrated a day early (on Sunday... because of the Apostle's fast beginning yesterday). We packed the kids over to my parents home and we went to eat something and see a movie (Spiderman 3... Paul's choice... last year was Water... my choice:) I will not go on and on about how much I love my husband, etc. because that kind of stuff really embarasses him. I will just say that I love him and thank him for all of his support (especially last year). Happy 7 years:)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A good article about saying no to your child. It ties into the overblown self-esteem issues that we are seeing in high school and college students where they feel they deserve success. Remember that just say no campaign? Just say no... to your child:)

Friday, May 11, 2007


Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Pavlos,

Happy Birthday to you:)


May God grant you many years!!!!


(PS. He's five... FIVE... I can't believe it)

Pavlos was born on bright Saturday, five years ago. It was the day before Mother's day. He's my best and favorite mother's day gift:) We made cupcakes (or "pupcakes" as he calls them) for his class today. Now doesn't that just make me feel like a mom:)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yardwork Part 2...


Yes, a third post today...

My mom's first cousin, Bridgette, left a lovely comment about this picture on my myspace blog (click on the link if you want to be my friend:)

The comment is, "Oh, I think your pictures are wonderful. You guys have done a really good job (on the yard) and that tyke you planted in that hole. He looks like he's going to grow to be sturdy. I bet he smells good too. Just water with kisses and trim with love and he'll be just fine!"
Isn't that sweet?

Guns and boys (and girls, too)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18214871/site/newsweek/

The above article is about kids and guns. After having just finished reading Raising Cain, and with my almost five year old constantly talking about who is a bad guy and who is a good guy AND with this recent attack at VT, we need to not restrict normal, children's play. My brother had GI Joe's and Transformers and a plastic gun or two and he is a total pacifist. My husband grew up in rural Michigan. He spent many weeks of his life hunting. He is not a violent person by any means. It doesn't have to do with kids playing cops and robbers, it has to do with how you raise your child. What is right or wrong. And, anyway, this young man that attacked his fellow students was mentally ill! Even the best of parents cannot/may not be able to combat urges in a young person who is mentally ill! I hope there isn't a backlash against normal child's play...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Travelling...




Dad is flying to Greece tomorrow for 2 weeks. Please pray for safe travels. He is only going to go to Athens and Ios (and possibly Aegina to visit an old friend ;) This trip is just to spend time with my pappous! Kalo Taxidi!!!

(note: I tried uploading pictures, but blogger won't let me for some reason. I will try later!!!)
Second NOTE: blogger let me upload pics! That is my pappous with Pavlos (Pavlos was one) when we were in Greece 4 years ago. The other is a picture of the sunset on the village where my family is from:)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yardwork






























Christos Anesti! Ok, as you can see I'm terrible about posting pictures to blogger. I think I need to start with the "after" pictures and then post the before pictures. Ok, so the top three pictures (behind the swingset) is the back of our yard. Paul put up a retaining wall and, yes, that's Pavlos in a hole:) So that is a "new" garden plot for us. We are thinking potatoes or transferring our lettuce there. Anyway, the bottom pictures are shots of the side of our house. Paul built a raised bed (the first of, hopefully, three or four... depending on how the first one does this year) and a new little garden shed. Our yard is finally coming together:) I have tons of seeds to plant (flowers and veggies). And I just planted two planter boxes of geraniums (one of my favorite flowers... geraniums, pansies, and hydrangeas are my top favorite flowers) for our front porch railing. I also bought a clematis to plant in the front, on one side of the porch. Very exciting things going on. Now, if only it weren't so cold and rainy outside I could get all this work done:)
Finished Reading:
Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert (whew, only one more left)
Currently Reading:
Genesis, Creation, and Early Man by Fr. Seraphim Rose (almost done)
Zoli by Colum McCann

Monday, April 02, 2007

Holy Week and Icons

Go here to read about Pavlos and The Bridegroom Icon/Holy Week from last year. Needless to say, nothing has changed in Pavlos' love of this icon. Forty days ago (well, today it will be 41 days ago), Rob/Paul bought the icon of the Bridegroom, we had Fr. place it back in the altar so that on Palm Sunday, we could pick it up in time for Holy Week. Pavlos' new favorite icon is the Crucifixion. He gets fixated on some small detail of the icon and stares at it, talks about it, etc.
We are all well. I know that I do not post often enough and this post has to be short as I need to make prosphora to take to church tonight for service tomorrow morning. Not a big deal, it's only one loaf:)
Have a blessed Holy Week!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Petition for Cyprus...

Another petition... this one regarding the Cyprus Issue. I did my college thesis on the US Governments involvement (or lack thereof) in the Cyprus issue. If Cyprus only had oil, maybe it would not still (32 years later) be half under Turkish control. A control that the UN and many, many nations around the world condemns but DO NOTHING ABOUT!
Thanks,
christina (I was not a politics major for nothing:)

The Global Campaign for the Return of Varosha/Famagusta/Cyprus, to its Lawful Inhabitants is underway here.
Sign the petition and forward the campaign to everyone you know!


Please also sign the petitions to Tony Blair on the illegal Turkish occupation of Cyprus if you have not done so already and are a UK national
Here
Here and
Here

Friday, March 16, 2007

First Flower....


I planted over 100 bulbs last fall and the fruits of my labor are coming forth:) We moved into a new home (brand new, we are the first owners) and so there aren't surprise daffodils in the spring from any previous home owner (we are the "previous" homeowner). We are also working on the side of our house... we have built a little shed and Paul has put in a raised bed for me to plant our garden (we will see how one raised bed does this year and if I can live up to my dreams, maybe we will put in another raised bed next year). Here is our first flower for the spring. And I have a before picture of the side of the house but have yet to take the after picture (with shed and raised bed) so I will wait to post those at a later date!


Finished reading:

Einstein's Dreams- Alan Lightman

God Emperor of Dune- Frank Herbert


Currently reading:

Genesis, Creation, and Early Man- Fr. Seraphim Rose

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys- Dan Kindlon & Michael Thompson
"if you really want a tour of your own dark impulses, have children; it, too, will put you in touch with all of your most uncontrolled and regrettable impulses."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NPR, Boys with Sticks, etc....

NPR had a nice report on boys and toy guns. Are we overly reactionary with some of our zero tolerance policies (such as when a boy turned a stick into a gun and pretended to shoot at his friend and then was suspended from school). This report was interesting to me as my son has, in the past five or six months, begun to turn everything into a sword or a gun. It doesn't help that he has the playmobile knight set and they have swords. Or that we let him pick out fake/plastic armor for himself. Or that all the other boys his age (and older) are doing the same thing. As in the report, someone called in (from Hillsboro, OR no less) and mentioned that their son played with sticks as guns, etc. and why wouldn't he? We are in the middle of a war and have been involved in some type of conflict for decades. Pavlos doesn't watch TV or the news, but maybe he picks up on it from children around him who are watching TV or the news. And maybe it's just that he is a boy (I'm also reading Raising Cain right now and they are writing about boys tendency towards violence). I do believe that their is a healthy violence and an unhealthy violence. As was noted in the NPR piece, boys playing war will, many times, go through the "we have to rescue our men who have been hit" and that is a values teaching tool (in a boys way)... values like courage, sacrifice for someone else, etc. Our only rule with Pavlos is he can't "shoot" people. I hope we are doing what's right!

Here is a link to a blog that I lurk around... this blog post regarding boys with sticks (not used as guns in this case) prompted me to write this blog based on hearing that NPR story. BTW... Pavlos is an avid collector of sticks. Everywhere we go he finds a new stick and wants to bring it home. He is also an avid collector of flower petals, too:)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Petition (or a note from my father)...

No Independence for Kosovo. Do whatever you feel is right:)

VOTE NO ON HOUSE RESOLUTION 36We, the signatories of this petition urge members of Congress to vote no on House Resolution 36. We do not support the United States position that Kosovo-Metohija, 15% of Serbia's territory should be taken away from her to appease Muslim insurgents who support Al-Qaeda and a thriving criminal element that imports illegal drugs and which also engages in human trafficking.CONSEQUENCESSuch a position will most definitely contribute to instability in the area and in those regions in Europe and Asia that are watching the Kosovo debate very closely. To continue to flagrantly disregard International Law which provides for the respect of the sovereignty of nations and for the right of such nations to non-interference in internal affairs will usher in an era of unprecedented lawlessness between nations states. Therefore, we urge you to respect the constitution of Serbia which the people of Serbia recently approved and which reflects the will of those who voted for it: that Kosovo-Metohija is an integral part of Serbia.HISTORYWe urge you to be mindful of the historical integrity of the Balkan region and the legacy of Josef Tito. Tito encouraged, during and after WWII, state sanctioned oppression of the Serbian peoples. He sought to displace Serbians in 1944 and in 1974 in an effort to create an Greater Albania at the expense of the Serbian peoples. He encourage illegal land grabs, disenfranchising the native Serbian peoples from their homes and their livelihood. It is telling that one of Tito's first acts after becoming the President of Serbia was to execute the Allied Forces greatest supporter against the Nazi regime, Draza Mihailovich. We urge you not to continue Josef Tito's legacy of oppression against the Serbian people with House Resolution 36.COMMIT TO A PRINCIPLED SOLUTIONWe urge you to commit to supporting a principled solution to Kosovo which would be acceptable to both sides. DO NOT RECOGNISE KOSOVO INDEPENDENCEWe urge you to respect the United States commitment to promoting peace in the world. We urge you, therefore to respect the United Nations Security Council votes on Kosovo-Metohija. We expect the United States to behave honourably in behalf of its citizens in this regard and to respect the legacy of both Theodore Roosevelt the first American to win the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts in the Portsmouth Treaty, and Eleanor Roosevelt one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights of the 100,000 remaining Serbian population is at stake. As a member of the United Nations, you have pledged to be a supporter of the rights of all humans not only of some. Any acts outside of this will mark the United States as a violator of human rights.SUPPORT PRINCIPLED SOLUTION ONLYTherefore, we urge you to support a principled solution that is aligned with International Law and aligned with due respect of Nation Sovereignty.We the signatories therefore urge members of Congress to vote no on House Resolution 36.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Random Tuesday Morning...



So this is one of those rare mornings when I didn't shower until 10:30am. Yes, I am one of those people that sets their alarm clock to get up before her children in order to get in a shower and get dressed (and, on a good day, make coffee, check email, etc. BEFORE kiddos wake up). But, not this morning. Alarm went off, and, rather than hitting snooze, I turned it off. Pavlos woke me up at 8:30 (Mom, may I please have some oatmeal and hot chocolate? My carrots are still there (referring to his pull up... if the carrots disappear, that means he peepeed in his pull up... we are working on having him not pee at night... the reward: hot chocolate with breakfast... but I digress). Petros woke up soon after that. By the time I had breakfast ready, Pavlos and Petros dressed, and had done a few things around the kitchen it was 10:30am and I was unshowered. Today is an easy day for us... no school, just Pavlos' speech for one hour this afternoon. OH, and I am going out to dinner tonight, minus kiddos, with one of my very best friends (she's my other sister). Very happy!!! OK, the above pictures (which I totally suck at posting pics on blogger, by the way) were taken this morning... sorry, no pics of me in my pink flannel:) Have a happy Tuesday!!!

Finished reading: The Historian and Hannibal Rising (which I just realized they have already made into a movie to release this month or next month)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kudos to you, mommy...

So without going into lots of details (blogs are so public and some things I just don't want to talk about with the WHOLE WORLD... but if an individual really wants to know what's going on, let me know and I will send you a personal email)... (I guess that's my disclaimer and I hope the rest of this post makes sense):

Anyway, I'm going to pat myself on the back a little bit... most of the time I feel like the harried mother who is constantly battling with my little one. And the doctor we met with today told me that she was so pleased to see how well I interact with him... how patient I am (and I felt like I was constantly telling him not to touch this or that, etc.), how I engage with him, etc. Anyway, it made my day that an outside person would compliment my mothering when most of the time I feel inadequate (I think we probably all feel this way). Pavlos is totally fine, just needs a little speech and occupational therapy to get him ready for possibly entering kindergarten (or primer as we call it at Agia Sophia). That's all I'm going to say about that....

Friday, January 19, 2007

Happy Anniversary, I guess...



It’s my mother in law’s birthday which is why I know that today is the one year anniversary of when I first entered the hospital. For those who I got to “know” better through that experience (my blogging friends and you know who you are)… can you believe it’s been a year?!?!? I cannot. Do we ever fully recover from an experience like that? The scars are slowly healing (although, the other day, one of my incisions from the splenectomy was bothering me… it’s right on my waist line and so sometimes clothing rubs it the wrong way (literally) and I hope that I have learned a little bit better the meaning of the word struggle.
I tried to read my hospital blog a few weeks ago. It still makes me very emotional. I admit, I cried. I guess I am just too busy with the boys to be able to really spend a lot of time thinking about what happened. I don’t know if that is good or bad. And, after all is said and done, I do have Baby Petros, who will be one in a month. He is one sweet pea who can be very grumpy (like his pappous) but who loves to hug and snuggle (unlike his big brother).
I apologize if this feels a bit disjointed, there is so much more that I want to write, but I don’t have the time. This small bit took me all day! So, here are some pics of the boys. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Like everyone else is doing...

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Milady the Right Reverend Christina the Splendid of Waterless St Mildred
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title




From now on, everyone refers to me as Milady the Right Reverend, ok?