Monday, December 28, 2009

Nativity Scene alive in '09

I never knew a Nativity Set could be so much fun.

A few days before Christmas Zhaina helped me to unpack each individual figurine and set them out where she believed they belonged. As we unpacked them one by one I explained who they were and their significance in the Christmas Story. The baby Jesus was one of the last to be unwrapped (if not the last) and Zhaina was very excited to put him in the lovely scene she had created. The initial set-up took longer than I thought possible, but the fun didn't end there.

In the days that followed the initial "set-up" every time I looked over at the windowsill I noticed that everyone was in a new configuration. The first time I noticed they had changed places I giggled a little to myself because it was almost as if they had come to life when I wasn't looking and walked to their new positions. I mean, I knew that Zhaina must have been playing with them when I wasn't looking, but since I didn't actually see her I was able to convince myself that my porcelain representation of the birth of Christ was alive in my very own living room.

I let that magical thought stay alive in my head for a few days, until I caught her in the act.

Which oddly enough, made this scene all the more sweet :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Yesterday during a ride in the car I was explaining the meaning of Thanksgiving to my 3-year-old daughter, Zhaina. After a brief explanation I said that I, for example, am thankful for our new apartment. Then of course I asked her what she was thankful for, and she said, "you mean like, M&M's?!" I giggled and said, "yes, exactly like M&M's."

So whatever you are thankful for this year, as big as your shelter, or as small and simple as the enjoyment of a sweet candy, enjoy it and give thanks.

Zhaina and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What's been goin' on

If you're anyting like me you are constantly wishing that you had the ability to sing through your typed words. You know, in email, texts, blogging, social networking...these days there are so many electronical devices that we comunicate through that I just miss the days that you could inflict a little melody with your message. For example, as I was typing the above title to this blog I wished that I could sing that title to you, or at least that YOU sing it when you read it, because this title in particular is meant to be sung, as some things in life just are.

Well anyways, back to the point of this blog. Take a look at what's been goin' on...

Halloween came and went.

The Big Move was accomplished.

And now for the continued cleaning and unpacking...

Friday, October 30, 2009

TuTu Cute!

When I couldn't put it off any longer, I sat down to complete craft project #2.

With all supplies at hand I went to work.

turns out I had purchased WAY too much tulle

At this point of construction I wasn't exactly thrilled with how it was turning out.

But when I saw the completed project I was pleased and proud.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

1st Time for Everything

I’ve been called a lot of things, but crafty is NOT one of them.
Until now.
I’ve taken it upon myself to MAKE Zhaina’s Halloween costume this year!

Let me start from the beginning. A few weeks ago I asked Zhaina what she wanted to be for Halloween and without hesitation she replied, "Tiger." Okay, I could deal with that. So I started researching ways in which to transform my uber-girly preschooler into a ferocious tiger. After a few days I gave up, it wasn’t possible. On to Plan B.

"Zhaina, I can’t find a tiger costume, what else do you wanna be?"

And Zhaina being her little sweetheart self, wasn’t disappointed in the least (thank God)! She just took a minute to think that over and then informed me that she’d like to be a Rainbow instead. Rainbow?!!? And I thought a tiger was hard…

Rainbow research commenced and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of inspirations I was able to find. But now comes the hard part…construction of said costume.

I started with the "pot of gold" (at the end of the Rainbow, get it?) that will play double duty as part of her costume and as her trick or treat bag.

I was able to reuse a play-doh bucket from Zhaina’s toy closet along with a few simple inexpensive supplies from the fabric store and

voila…Pot of Gold!

Stay tuned for crafty project #2, where you'll see the above tulle transformed into a
Rainbow Tutu!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Between

Since successfully arriving Stateside late last week I've been trying my darndest to get reacquainted with the American way of life, but it all feels so...well...hectic. In the few short days we've been back we've done everything from run our selves ragged to spending the entire day in our jammies, and yet I don't feel "happy" doing either exclusively. I'm left thinking,
"isn't there something in between?"

I'm gonna have to get back to you on that one.

For now I'll fill you in on what kind of foolishness we've been up to since we landed.

1. I had my hair did. new color. very dark. very, very, very dark.
2. Held a meeting with Baby Obrean and big sister Ava. complete cuteness.
3. Photo shoot with some of our bests. gorgeous fall colors.
4. Sang our hearts out at Mothersong. a high point.
5. Viewed the new dwelling. overwhelming.

I'll only elaborate on one of the more "hectic" days (see above #3) where we spent the afternoon with family at Jay Cooke, an exteremely beautiful nearby state park. Here are some of my drastically amature shots from the autumn photo shoot. I'm patiently waiting for the veteran photographer to develop her film (yep, the old fashioned way). Until then feast your eyes on these.

the cutest playmates EVER

I told you it was dark

P.S. I'll let you know when I find that balance.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Detained in Switzerland

We have arrived Stateside. We are home. We made it to America. So many ways to say we've made it, I can't decide which to choose, so I'll say them all. And wait till you hear this, you're just not gonna believe it.

Remember when I was saying how long the trip home was going to be? I didn't think it was possible, but it became longer. We were detained in Switzerland.

It all started after airplane ride #1. We had landed in Zurich and were patiently waiting in the passport control line. When we came to the front of the line I handed our 3 passports to the immigration officer and he proceeded to scan and type and look back and forth from the screen to us, to our passports and back again. At first I didn't think anything of it, but then the people waiting behind us in line started to crowd us and had long ago stepped over the clearly marked yellow tape on the ground (of which you are supposed to stay behind until you are summoned by an officer). I then began to wonder, what is the hold up? And as if the officer was reading my mind he said to me, "you overstayed your visa in the Shengen." Knowing full well we had, I replied, "yes." to the question that was never asked. He picked up the phone and and looked at our passports for the one hundredth time and spoke quietly and quickly to the person on the other end of the line. After he hung up the receiver he motioned for us to wait "over there" for the police. THE POLICE?

A few moments later a stern looking man appeared in full uniform. He motioned for us to follow him, and like little sheep, we did. As we walked through high security doors I read "POLIZIA" across his back, and that is when I noticed his weapons. I scanned the area at the other officers and took a quick inventory of their weapons, you know, just in case. I counted pistols and batons, handcuffs and sprays, but most importantly machine guns. That is when I decided, this is serious. I had no prepared defense against machine guns!

And so we sat and waited like good little girls. The room was a glass cage, with no bathroom or water fountain, but no shortage of machine guns, that was for sure. When our officer returned he informed us that we'd have to pay the penalty for overstaying our visa, a mere 410.oo Swiss Franks. When we asked how that translated into US dollars all he had to say was he'd have to check on that, he thought it was equal. He thought, did ya catch that? We had no idea.

Our stern officer continued to ask us if we had enough Swiss Franks to pay the fine, or US dollars, either would do. Oh and he'd provide us with a receipt, as if that was any consolation. I informed him that regardless of whether or not we had the Franks or Dollars I did not feel we needed to pay the fine seeing as how we hold all of the rights of a Greek citizen, through the blood of our father. I thought I sounded quite convincing, that was until he asked for proof in the form of a Greek passport or ID card to corroborate our story. We had neither. Shit.

And so we waited.

After some time another officer came out to speak to us and had us sign some paperwork. I had flashbacks to Brokedown Palace and hoped we had not made a drastic mistake by signing the papers. And then to our great relief we were ushered out of the glass cage and back into the hustle and bustle of the Zurich airport to catch our flight to America. Thanks be to God.

As it turns out our case is going to appear before a Swiss Judge and he will send us his ruling via snail mail. It is possible that there will be a fine greater or equal to the original fine quoted. And it is also possible that we will be denied entry in the future. Entry into where exactly you ask? I'm wondering the same thing.

I'll let you know once I hear from the judge, for now I'm just happy we were welcomed back into the United States. And by a very cute immigration officer may I add ;)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The long "road" ahead

Our return to the States is a few weeks earlier than originally planned, the trip begins this Sunday. We'll be leaving the Island at dawn, as the sun is rising our plane will lift up into the skys. The first flight of our journey will set us on course to a new chapter in our lives. We will spend some time in Athens and then when we must, we will aboard a number of aircrafts in our pursuit of home. In total our itenerary will span about a week, and for that I am thankful, it gives me more time to leave my troubles behind me.

As I prepare for this trek "home" I imagine being lifted up into the sky and I feel lighter than when I came, more peaceful. I know that all my time spent on the beach was more than just pleasure, it was the medicine I needed. These past 4 years have been heavy. I went from being madly in love to alone. From living life in the fast lane to life in the car pool lane. From everything being about me to having a child who's needs come first. As I prepare to fly I imagine all the weight of my struggles to be left behind in those rocks on the beach. I imagine that I have let go of all my heartache and we are free.

The new chapter of our lives will be set in a new city, a new home, and hopefully a new outlook. And I, for one, am excited to see what it looks like.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We need your vote!

The other day when I was online "shopping" (aka looking but never buying) I came across this casting call for new Gap Baby models and I was like,

"Zhaina could soooooo do that!"

so I entered her! We're a little late on voting since it is nearing the end of the contest, but there is still time!!!! We need

go to

and just click VOTE

you can vote once a day up until October 22nd so log on and get voting! Tell your friends, and your friends friends, and their friends too. Spread the word and let's see what happens!
Maybe you'll be seeing Zhaina girl's sweet face in a Gap store near you soon!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Are we there yet?

Now that color week is over, it is back to business as usual: Lengthy posts of our daily shenanigans.

First, I want to tell you all about a day this past week when we went on an Island excursion with the whole gang.

The whole gang
me, Melissa, Zhaina girl, Yianni, Panos, Papu

When we left we were told that we'd be visiting a nearby beach referred to as Psili Amos ("sandy beach") which we've been to many times before and is probably the most famous beach here on Samos. Boy was that misleading! My dad proceded to drive us in his oversized Chevy Avalanche along a 2 lane road that soon became a 1 way, that soon turned into a dirt road, that soon disappeared altogether into the rocks that made up the side of the mountain. We drove along these mountain side rocks for a number of minutes with all passangers holding on for dear life as my dad drove inappropriately fast around corner after sharp corner. Ultimately we came to a stop on a cliff where Zhaina announced, "Papu, that's enough! It's scary!!!" We all piled out the truck amazed we were still alive and shocked at where we had ended up; a small private beach all tucked away in the side of the mountain.

I had to admit, it really was an amazingly beautiful place.

We spent the afternoon rock climbing, swimming, fishing, rock skipping, playing racketta, exploring, and of course picture taking.

Melissa and I unpacking our picnic while Zhaina climbs to her perch in the background


the winning photo of the day

Oh and one more thing, Melissa and I spent the day admiring a mysterious man that we found on "our" private beach.

In fact I'd like to take this time to addres him, where ever he is.

Dear first man (that's what we call you),

You were a breath of fresh air, sitting there on the cliff overlooking the Sea. So beautiful, so handsome, so natural. Almost like you had been made by God for the purpose of just sitting there like you were part of the rock that made up the mountain that made up the Island, as if God had made you to exist there for all of eternity. You looked so right.

Thank you for being there.

the loud family at the beach the other day

remember us?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Well it's one for the money, Two for the show

Singing has been a lifelong passion of mine. I sang in choir from the 5th grade all the way through college and loved every minute of it. One of my favorite concerts I ever performed in was one of my firsts, at Wahburn Elementary back in the early 90's. I remember it to be a Blast from the Past sort of show where we sang poignant songs from each decade up until present time. One of the biggest crowd pleasers was a medley of Elvis songs, one of which I am reminded of on this the last day of color week. Take a minute and visit it here, tap your toe and sing along, it might just be the medicine you need to lift you up if for even just a few minutes.

And after you've had your Elvis fix, please enjoy the blue in my world.

I'd also like to send out a big THANK YOU to my cousin Barb for hosting this color week that filled me so! And thank you to all the other participants that took the time and consumed my mind with beautiful shades all week long. It was a joy to sign on each and everyday to see the color wonder that you were able to capture within your own life to share with me and others. Which reminds me, thank you to all who stop by MaMa Ocean each and everyday! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In the Pink

Pink has been a color lover of mine as long as I can remember, so looking for inspiration for this day of color week was met with pure joy. Just sitting in our room and looking around I had ample amount of pink to capture, but decided it would be more fun if I took my search outside of these four walls.

But before doing so my mind wondered off to just over a year ago to Zhaina's 2nd Birthday party. To my baby turning 2. We had to have the party a few days early since we were leaving for Greece just before the anniversary of her birth. It was early June in Wisconsin, and we had been blessed with a gorgeous summer day and all of our favorite people came to celebrate with us. During Zhaina's nap I had drawn out a special chalk birthday message for her on our back patio where the party was to be held and set out a few tables in various sizes for our guests. But the part I was most excited for was the cake. I had designed it myself (leaving the creation of it up to a bakery in town) and thought it was the best birthday cake ever! It featured a cartoon character that doesn't say much, but finds himself in a lot of mischef! Can you guess who it was?

Times up...Pink Panther! I dug up the photos taken on that day and showed them to Zhaina. She was astonished by the cake and so happy that one of her beloved cartoon friends was there too! And so we took out our Pink Panther Vol. 1 DVD and watched it with smiles plastered across our faces. One of my favorite shorts is Pink Posies, which you too can enjoy here. And who doesn't love that Henry Mancini!!!

Later that day I was able to get back on task and capture these hues on "film."

Come back tomorrow when we wrap up color week with my other favorite, BLUE!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Now that everyone is "Going Green" I thought I'd give it a shot too.

* all puns intended

he's just a little guy

Zhaina's turtle sun bathing at Glycorisa Beach

One of these things just doesn't belong here

One of these things just doesn't belong here

So excited for tomorrow, all photos dedicated to the colors Pink and Red!!! Stay tuned!

*Remember to visit these photos full size, please visit them here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Orange you glad I didn't say Banana?

It's times like these that I wish I was back in the good ol' MidWest. Looking for ORANGE in a place where fall has yet to arrive was a hundred times more challenging than it should have been. I can just picture now; Wisconsin...all the pumkins, gourds, hunter blaze orange...oh the possibilites!!!

However, even while feeling sorry for myself I did manage to spot this festive color out of it's element afterall.

one lone swimmer

Zhaina's 4th pair of arm floaties this summer, these ones are a keeper!

Dad's flowers

Who knew Papu could garden?

Color week
is just gearing up, stay tunned for my world ala GREEN tomorrow!

Monday, September 28, 2009

And it was all Yellow

And so the week begins with Yellow, the center of the rainbow.

Although not a huge ColdPlay fan (what’s with their wardrobe anyway?), this song comes to mind when searching my world for things colored yellow.

And this is what I found on the hunt:

Lemon Fanta, lower cooler shelf, Notos.

Soft yellow in the form of apple juice, lovely.

When I explained color week to Zhaina, she was all too eager to participate.

Meet Belle, Photo cread. Zhaina.

* to view all photos full size visit them at

Stay tuned tomorrow for a little MaMa Ocean in Orange!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yay for a healthy baby boy!

I new beautiful soul entered our world yesterday.

Welcome Baby Obrean!

So happy for proud MaMa Candice, Daddy Vee, and big sister Ava!!!

Invitation Participation

Happy weekend Readers!

Beginning this Monday September 28 I will be joining in the fun of Color Week! My cousin Barb is hosting for the first time and is asking that anyone who may be interested in playing along to email her at by tonight 9 pm CST.

Keep a look out next week for my world IN COLOR !

Friday, September 25, 2009


I hear the welcoming call of Fall, but I do not see it.

You see, here it is still 80+ degrees, sun shiny days EVERYDAY. I wake up every morning (okay more like noon) wondering if today is going to be the last day of summer, or as Melissa puts it, "the last beach day," but everyday we are surprised at how increadably beautiful the weather still is. (And by the way, I have decided that September is by far the most beautiful month in Samos. So if any of you are saving your pennies for a pipe dream vacation, make sure you book your tickets for September of whatever year your dream becomes realized).

I feel so lucky to have this extended summer, to still be wearing my flip flops and ponytail, and swimsuit coverup everyday. I know that soon I'll have to start wearing real clothes during the day, but for now I'll relish these last few weeks of swimsuit wearing, sun glasses rockin' days!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dear Pomegranate, We Love You

In the past few weeks we've been noticing the pomegranate trees coming into full bloom during our walks around the village. There is one tree in particular that we've been keeping an eye on since it is in what seems to be a deserted plot of land. Melissa and I have wondered aloud what is to happen to the fruits once they ripen and there is no one there to harvest them. I mean, we mind as well climb in there, right?

Thankfully that was not necessary. Today my dad showed up with the beginnings of what promises to be a bountiful pomegranate season.

the little thief

so delicious

Zhaina inspecting the "Pearls"

For further reading on the significance of this fruit start here.

As for me, THIS is next on my reading list. Now if only I could get my hands on a copy...

UPDATE Family Portrait Challenge

Our family portrait has been included on the original blogger's post along with dozens of other families from around the world. It is still not too late for your family's portrait to be included as well. So get out there and gather your family for backyard photoshoot! Can't wait to see the results! Post them here in my comments section and don't forget to email Jenny!

see details below

Monday, September 21, 2009

Our Family may be small, but we pack a lot of punch

I came across this blog last night before bed. I LOVED the photos (and the challenge) and immediately began brainstorming ideas of how I could capture my little family and make the photo pop. I decided that our equivelent of a "backyard" is the beach and so we woke up this morning put on our swimsuits and went to where we always go, Tarsanas Beach. I should also add that I allowed Zhaina to do what she always begs to do, wear nearly every accessory she owns at once.
We scoped out a few different locations on the beach and tried a few shots at each place, but this photo won my heart. (not to mention in 98% of the other photos all or most of our bodies never ended up in the frame). I brought the blue chair and a stool (on top of which I placed my camera and set the 10 second timer) as props and then just let the beautiful setting do its job. I told Zhaina ahead of time that we were doing a "photo shoot" today and she acted like it was no big deal, and was most excited about deciding where to stand.
If you haven't had your family portrait taken in who knows how long (for whatever reason) I strongly encourage you to answer my call and take part in this challenge. Link your family's portait back in the comments section here and send it to Jenny. Whatever means family to you, big or small, take a few moments to capture yours, and I know you'll cherish the results.
I sure do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Today while on the beach my dad told me to "Watch out for Zhaina. The weather, it changes now, maybe she's cold."

It was sunny and 80 degrees at the time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My inner Photographer

eat your heart out
Originally uploaded by MaMa Ocean

Since adding a Flickr account to my already enormous online portfolio I've discovered I'm not at all what one would call a "photographer." I'm more of a bumlbling idiot with a camera in my hand. After years of being on the other side of the camera, I'm finding it a little strange to adjust to being behind the lens. I mean, I have always like having my picture taken and think it odd that others don't share that feeling. But alas, today I had the most uncooperative subject!

This afternoon my dad came down to the beach with this ridiculously large piece of karpuzi (watermelon) for Zhaina and all I wanted to do was snap a cute shot of her eating it but every time I lifted the camera she turned around! I'd have to pretend I was walking away and then run around her really fast and click! After a few moments I was able to get this shot, but not without the lack of trying.

But I have high hopes for my future photos and am bound and determined to let my inner Photographer out! (subjects willing).