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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot and Hoppity Happenings

It is hot y'all.  Real hot.



This sweet little cookie has, at least around the house, abandoned all her adorable summer wardrobe in favor of her new uniform.  A diaper.






At least that helps out on the laundry situation.





Our handy dandy thermostat in our house is in Celcius, and I knew it has been hot in our house, but due to my inabilities (or laziness) on the matter of learning Celcius, I was not aware of how hot until yesterday.  I was on the phone with my parents, sweating buckets, holding a hot little body against mine who was also sweating buckets, when I decided to google the conversion to Fahrenheit so that I could adequately complain about the heat in our house.  Even I was surprised to realize that it is consistently between 87 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit IN OUR HOUSE.  That is with two oscillating (summer camp) fans and every window in the house open.  It is hot y'all.


So, we have taken to spending our afternoons doing this




Every afternoon, Maria and I pack up and head to the pool.  And we are all happy about that!!!!



All day I wait for the sun to be low enough to take Maria without fear of the sun's rays on new baby skin.  As soon as the shadows start to grow long, I run down and start the car and crank up the AC (at least the car has it!!!!) come back and change us into our bathing suits, and away we go!!!!

We play and swim and Daddy always meets us there as soon as he finishes work.




Maria loves the pool, and she has made a lot of friends there.  Many of them are of the human variety.

But she has also enjoyed hanging out with these two.



These bunny rabbits are the pool mascots and behave a lot more like dogs than rabbits.  They roam freely and have no qualms about hopping over to you, or, in fact, hopping right up on your sunbed with you...especially if there is food around.



They are not at all ashamed to ask for a taste of whatever you are eating a la puppy dog fashion.  And it is funny because, as they make their scavenging rounds, you can often feel hopping under your chair as they pass you.



The afternoons at the pool have done wonders for my sanity.

It is wonderful just to get out and about every afternoon and get some fresh air and sunshine.  Also, I always have friends down there to chat with, and the adult interaction is much appreciated.  And, after a swim, Maria always has a little snack/ snooze under a wet towel (she loves it under there...all dark and cool...and actually hates it when I pull the towel off...ha!) and Mama enjoys a magazine and an adult beverage!  Ah, the joy of it all!!!!

I also think the cool water relaxing her, all the new faces and sights to take in, and all that crazy kicking in the water help her sleep better at night.  Which has also done wonders for Mama's sanity.  Thank goodness!!!!

And, I also love that Christos and I both are really relaxed when we are there.  Neither of us feel like we should be doing something else, so we get to really chat and catch up on our day before heading home to start the whole dinner, bath, bed routine.

Maria and Christos also make sure and have their special chats. 


I wonder what they are talking about there.  Looks really special.  Whatever it was, she got a kiss out of it. 


((The pictures above must have been taken a couple of weeks ago...it would be abuse to make a baby wear something that warm today.))


The majority of people around here say that Maria looks exactly like Christos.  I also see a really strong resemblance between the two of them.  Especially in pictures like this.


Maria is amused that she looks like Daddy.  And that Daddy is a really good napper.


I also think she looks a lot like me.  At least she looks a lot like my baby pictures.  I am wondering if we were in Alabama if we would have more people say that she looks like me.  Maybe not, because many Alabamians also gasp "ah, a little Christos" at first glance.

Guess you cannot really compare since there are no pictures of me!  Ha!  I thought I would spare y'all, as well as my dignity, any bikini or early morning shots of me.  I promise I am around.

When we are not at the pool, Maria and I spend a lot of time sprawled out on my bed with the fan on us reading and playing and singing songs. 


 She has loved to be read to from her early days, but now she really seems absorbed and smiles at the pages the whole time.  She also still loves to sing, mostly all of my old camp songs, and she definitely has her favorites!!!! 

 
She laughs all the time and just is so happy.  She really is so much fun to play with these days, and we adore her more each day!!!!  We are amazed at how fast she is learning and changing!   We love our baby Maria!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hot Date

Last Saturday night I had a hot date.


Christos and I went to a wedding last Saturday night, and it was our very first time to really just be us together AT ALL since baby Maria arrived...four months ago!!!!  And it was ABOUT TIME!!!! 

I was so excited that I even got my hair done the day before (so I actually had two outings sans baby in two days...very much a record around here.)  It was my first haircut since December (that is six full months and that is toooo long...no pun intended.)  I also got it colored...hoorah!  I ran out of the hair place before they dried or styled it as it had already been 3 hours since Maria had eaten and I was worried about baby's tummy and daddy's nerves.  I hightailed it home to find them happily playing on the sofa.  They literally both turned their smiling faces towards me when I walked in the door and looked at me like "Oh, hello there.  Good to see ya...Although we were kinda having so much fun we forgot all about ya!"

Anyway, I was really happy about having my hair done, a new dress, and getting myself all fixed up for a date with my husband and our first night out in four months.  My hair was an air-dried rat's nest disaster from the day before, and I was about to start getting ready when....the power was cut!!!!  Power cuts are part of the strikes that are happening all over the country at the moment.  There may have been tears on my part.  All my dreams of feeling good about my appearance were quickly fading, and I had about resigned myself to the wavy air-dried look when the power miraculously came back right at 7 for our 7:30 wedding (it was out for 2 hours exactly.)  I had just enough time to tame my mane and we were out the door.

None of it mattered AT ALL anyway, because it was CRAZY windy that night and everyone's hair looked like a rat's nest disaster.  See picture above...  In fact, I ended up with it in a rubber band for a lot of the night simply to avoid having it in my mouth.  Oh well, at least it looked good when I left the house.

Our date night actually started as a family, as we took Maria to the church.  


This may not be our best angle, but it is the angle that you get when a cutie pie teeny-bopper is your photographer.  Please note Maria's red eyes...it was a no nap kind of day.

Of all the Greek weddings I have attended, this is the only other one that I have been to in the same church where we married.

Greek weddings are so different than American ones.  Throughout the ceremony, everyone mills about inside and out...chatting and catching up.  Maria was not really too impressed with it all.  At first she enjoyed the wind taking her breath away, but even that got old fast.  She is not really a fan of strangers up in her face...nor am I.  I want to take her out, but how can I get people to respect personal space boundaries????  

We spent part of the ceremony inside of the church and part out.  As Christos was holding Maria in the church, she passed out and became about 40 pounds heavy, and it was burning up in there.  After she drooled all over his jacket, and he was overheating fast, we completed a pretty smooth baby-in-arms, middle-of-church jacket removal. 


This is another not-so-stellar picture...but it tells it all.  Christos carrying an exhausted rock of a baby...me carrying everything else.  All of us dressed the part but perhaps not looking up to par.  Maria is not the only exhausted party in this family.  All the men are standing outside the church talking and smoking.  And see those trees over my left shoulder??  It was blowing hard!

After the wedding, we ran home to prepare to hand off Maria to Kristal, who graciously offered to babysit so that we could have a night out.  We were planning to give Maria a bath anyway to stick to her bedtime routine, but we realized we absolutely had to when we saw the state of her.  She was filthy!  Her hair, her clothes, her skin...all covered in the dirt that the wind had been throwing all over the place.  I am sure we were all the same way, but, because of her light colored clothes and hair you could really see all her nastiness.  We cleaned her up, fed her, and away we went.

It was so strange to actually being going OUT with my man that it was almost surreal.  I was so happy I was almost giddy to know my baby was safe and in good hands and I had a whole night out ahead of me.

For some reason, I do not have a lot of pictures of the wedding...perhaps because I was too busy partaking in everything.  There was a lot of good food...of which I partook.  

And a lot of this


Of which we also partook.

Apparently, I need to partake in cleaning my camera lens.

The night was even more special because at midnight it became these guys' birthday!!!!


((If the trees above did not tell the story of how windy it was, perhaps Christos' hair can give you an accurate account.  Makis' was unharmed.))

The fact that it was their birthday at 12 made it even more gracious and special that Kristal offered to stay home with Maria.  

Due to Kristal's crazy work hours and my crazy mama hours, the birthday boys may have been a little shafted this year.  There was certainly not the same hooplah we have created other years.  In fact, on Sunday I called Kristal to apologize and say that Makis' present would be a little late this year.  She said she had been planning to call and say the same thing about Christos' gift.  Oh well...I think that they probably understand.

While we did not celebrate his birthday in grand fashion, we did celebrate the fact that Christos was born and how much we love and appreciate him.  We also celebrated the week before when he had his first Fathers' Day.  (Technically he was already a father last year on Fathers' Day...we just were not aware of it yet :)

Christos has been every bit as good a daddy as I knew he would be...and more. 


Maria absolutely adores him.  And the adoration is mutual.



 And he tolerates me and all my irritable exhaustion with endless patience and grace.  He works hard every day and then comes home and works even harder.  I am well aware that I do not say enough how much I love him and appreciate all that he does for our family!




And he is handsome.

I love my handsome husband and am so happy to celebrate another birthday with him.  And I am so happy to celebrate Fathers' Day with him and to celebrate the life that we created that made him a father.  And I am so happy to have a date with him occasionally.  And I look forward to many many more years of all of these! 





















Tuesday, June 28, 2011

4 Months....And a Few Days

As of last Thursday, Baby Maria is 4 months old!!!!


I am a little late with the posting because that whole nap thing she did for about a month went the way of the dodo bird this past month.


In case y'all have not caught on by now, my amount of blogging is in direct correlation to Maria's amount of sleeping.  When was my last post?  A couple of weeks ago?


 How does this baby not sleep????  I mean, really, how can a human manage on so little sleep?  This mama human sure cannot.  Although, I am constantly surprised by how little sleep I do manage to be (relatively) functional on.


I was not allowed the luxury of my monthly coloring therapy this month due to the no nappage situation, thus there are no cute 4 month pics with a four month sign, but some of the pictures today were actually taken on her four month birthday, so that counts!!!!

In all of her non-sleeping hours of the day, this little baby is a busy one.  For one thing, she is growing fast.  At her check-up last week, she measured in the 75th percentile for both weight and height.  I was so happily surprised at this given how petite she was at birth and for the first couple of months.





I was also elated that she is so big and healthy with breastmilk alone after all the discouragement I got about that in the early months.  The pediatrician actually said that I "must have good milk."  Ha!  Take that all you Greek doctor breastmilk doubters!!!!

She really plays with her toys now.


And she is really really vocal, talking and talking all day long


Also, in the past month, Maria has really begun to enjoy the beach.


We usually start with a little water play time.


 

Followed by a walk to the end of the beach and back.  Always in daddy's arms...he is not much in the way of sharing when he gets the chance to hold her and show her off.  And he is so proud.  He struts down the sand like a saltwater peacock.  And that is okay.



She usually gets tired and falls asleep in Daddy's arms on the walk.


And she ends up like this...and for at least a small amount of time Mommy and Daddy relax. 


She is also a hair-puller extraordinaire.  She has pulled hair since birth, but, as she has gotten stronger she is able to do a lot more damage.  She literally pulls out my hair by clumps.  When I do lay her down in our sleep attempts, it is usually with a fistfull of my hair in her fat little hand, and our house is covered with her discards.  I am endlessly fascinated by examining my hair and how BLACK it is on the top half.  It is crazy.  I really am a natural blond, and while it has naturally gotten darker as I have aged (counteracted by me unnaturally restoring it to its natural state) it has always been fairly light.  My roots are now dark, I mean really dark...not just dirty blonde, or chestnut, or mousy brown...they are black.  Strange.


Speaking of things that endlessly fascinate me, I also have another random and maybe gross fascination.  I do not really make earwax.  Ha!  I know it sounds crazy, but I am constantly trying to find some in my ear...and when I find the smallest amount of orange on the end of my Q-tip it is like a major accomplishment.  Really, it makes my day.  Christos does make earwax, and when he has a particularly large amount he always runs in to brag and show it to me and "nanny nanny boo boo" about it.  (If this mental image is disturbing and you stop reading now I cannot really blame you, but, really, what house does not have some strange things going on behind closed doors????)


Anyway...MARIA MAKES EARWAX!!!!  And my new favorite passtime is to search for it while she is eating.  It is like unearthing treasure to dig out sweet little pieces of orange wax with my nail.  (Don't worry, I am not thrusting anything down her ear canal...just scraping along the outside  Joy of joys there is enough that it actually falls out!)  Maybe you have all lost all respect for me, but I do not care.  It entertains me, and I never fail to give Christos a full wax report at the end of the day!    

So, that is an account of Maria at four months.   Maria is a happy happy baby!!!!


 Almost always!!!!  HA!!!!!


Maria has so much laughter and causes so much laughter around here.  She really is such good company and a pleasure to be around.

HAPPY FOUR MONTHS MARIA!!!!




.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

She's an American Girl



Officially.

On Monday we took our first trip as a family of three.  We went to the US Embassy in Athens and "declared" Maria as an American.  It was a special day!!!!

Besides becoming an American citizen, Maria also took her first ride on a plane, a trolley, a tram, a taxi, and a bus!  Whew! 

And she did AMAZING!!!!  We woke her up at 5am for our 7am flight, and we got back home about 8:30pm.  She cried ONCE all day, and that was about 4pm when she was (we all were) hot and exhausted.  I gave her a paci and she crashed for about 40 minutes and was happy as a clam again.

Maria was in heaven all day looking around at everything, and it was her DREAM DAY COME TRUE....she was held ALL DAY.  That is all she wants...to be in our arms....and she was not put down all day long.

 So, to recap our day.....


As I said, we got an early early start


Daddy and Maria are relaxing, waiting to board our plane.  Christos was pretty jealous with Maria all day.  He kept saying (which is true) that I hold her all day every day, and that was his day.  So, for the most part, he had her ALL day.  


Some people were still waking up on the plane, but I felt pretty good.  One good thing about the lack of sleep I have had in the last several months is that it did not phase me AT ALL to get up at 4:30am to catch a plane.  I felt totally normal. 



So, away we went on our first family adventure. 


Once in Athens, we took a taxi to the embassy.  The metro system was on strike all day (surprise surprise) and so the traffic was pretty bad.  That was okay, Maria was totally entertained.  There was so much to see around her...


...and there is always Daddy with his funny games to play....

 
 

Eventually, as always, the car started to make her sleepy,


So she came to Mama for a little snooze before her big debut at the embassy.


And Mama could not have been happier to be out and about, breathing new air, with her man and her baby!!

So, we went to the US Embassy and took care of all we had to take care of.  You have to turn cameras, phones, etc. over to security at the front of the embassy, so we have no pictures of her big moment, but it happened.  Basically, Maria became an American.  Hooray!  

She was born in Greece, so she automatically got her Greek citizenship.  Since I am American, she automatically qualifies to be an American, but the citizenship is not acquired automatically.  There is some paperwork that must be done and documents that must be gathered.  Then, we all have to appear at the embassy in person and swear and sign documents.  We went ahead and got her passport and social security card all at the same time as well.  It all ran rather smoothly, and everyone there was super friendly.  They even let us use one of their official "interview" rooms as a diaper/ wardrobe changing room.  Having a baby certainly softens hearts and opens doors.

It was so much more relaxed being there this time around.  The last two times we were there we were sweating bullets praying that Christos would be granted his visa to travel to the US (he was the second time around.)

Our visit was also much more relaxed than that of those around us.  In the three and a half hours we were there, we watched person after person come in with stories of their passport being stolen.  I hate that that is what they will remember from their time abroad!

So, with a brand new American citizen in our arms (and a pretty darn cute one at that!) we hit the town.  We had about 6 hours to waste in Athens before our flight, and we managed to make a day of it.


We decided to hit the beach and relax little rather than fight the crowds around the Acropolis.  And, we decided that we would walk/ take the tram rather than a taxi to save the cash.  After a quick stop for fluids, we were on our way.  And here is where I have to say it was H O T in Athens, y'all....


We started out with Maria in the Baby Bjorn, but we were so afraid she was going to overheat, and she probably would have, so we just carried her in our arms.



And we were still a scared she was gonna overheat between the heat of the day and the warmth of carrying her in our arms.  But she seemed unphased.


She also seemed unphased by her country's Parliament building.  I am not sure what y'all are all seeing on your news channels, but the building pictured above is the Greek Parliament, and that is where all main the protests in Greece are taking place.  In fact, literally the day before this picture was taken there was a crowd of over 500,000 people gathered in the exact spot Christos and Maria are standing above.  I was a bit nervous about all that, but despite some big banners and a few people scattered around peacefully protesting, it was calm.  Thank goodness for that!

We then hopped on a tram and headed out to the beach.  There was a lot of good people watching on the tram for Maria..



....and of course everyone enjoyed watching her as well.




If you know me and my germaphobe ways, you can only imagine, between having my baby amongst throngs of people and on public transportation, how many times I had to take a deep breath and let..it..go.  I really think that I did pretty okay with all of that. 

 

One interesting thing I watched on the tram was this...in Greece, whenever people pass a church they cross themselves (as in make the sign of the cross across their chest.)  On that particular tram ride, we passed several churches, and every single lady on the tram would cross themself...all in unison.  All these different ladies, all strangers, from all walks of life, would make the exact same movement at the exact same time.  It was as if they had practiced it.  I loved watching that.


So, we made our way out to the beach, and we had our first meal ever as just our family of three...and it was a wonderful meal...on the beach...and it was a happy happy occasion.



See those plates in front of me in the picture below?  I ate everything over Maria's head, and, between the plate and my mouth, I anointed her (aka dripped on her head) with just enough olive oil that her hair sported the "wet look" for the rest of the day.  How European of her!  And, she also smelled faintly of octopus for the rest of the day.  


The couple at the table next to us was from North Carolina of all places.  And, what did they do?  There was an old beggar-lady who was selling little flowers wrapped in aluminum foil, and, as I said, it was a scorching hot day.  The couple from North Carolina ordered a large cold bottle of water and had it sent over to where she was resting in the shade.  Always happy to see that Southern hospitality and grace in action.  (And I was a bit ashamed that I had never thought about doing the same thing.)  


The couple also graciously agreed to take a family picture, but this was exactly when Maria had had enough and had her 4pm phase.  Anyway, it still captures a happy day and a happy lunch for our little family.  And, yes, Christos took his shirt off at lunch...it was hot, y'all, and we were at the beach :)  
 


We thanked the couple and reminded them to watch their passports!!  And we were on our way!

All in all, the day could really have not have been any easier and I am so thankful for that!!!  So, that was our Athens adventure.  It was a happy day all around!!!!