Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas with My Parents and the Babies

Well, my parents arrived last Monday, December 21, to see their grandchildren (and us too, I suppose). :)

In the days just before they arrived, Pelagia had her hands full, so to speak (see above).

Here, Paul is signing a Christmas card to his godfather, Paris. He actually made a big scribble mark on the bottom.

My parents were the latest to join us for the daily afternoon walk ritual. Here, my dad carries Phoebe on his back.

And here Benjamin is all smiles with his mother.

Here we are at the cemetery, a favorite place to walk to in Panorama.

On another walk to the post office one morning, my mom carried Phoebe.

In the week leading up to Christmas, the babies got to try solid foods for the first time. Their first food was pumpkin. They all really liked it.

Benjamin loves being upside down.

Here Benjamin is getting a bath from my mom.

On Christmas day, we had an early morning liturgy (6:00-9:30 AM), as is the parish custom here in Greece, and then we celebrated the feast with our dear friends and neighbors the Lillies. Here, the babies are all seated for lunch in the Lillies living room. On Christmas day they got to try their second food, carrots.

James Lillie turned a party favor crown into something that fit little Phoebe -- and went with her Christmas dress.

Here we are enjoying the feast. At left, the Lillies son, John, holds his new spiritual brother, Benjamin.

Here the babies are opening their Christmas presents.

The weather was beautiful this weekend -- highs around 70 -- so Saturday we headed downtown with Paris to take a walk around Aristotle Square. Here, Phoebe is enjoying herself in the stroller.

We stopped for a coffee near the waterfront. Here, Paris holds his godson Paul, while my dad holds Phoebe. Paul, meanwhile, had become really interested in one of Phoebe's shoe, and was here chewing on it.

A family portrait in Aristotle Square.

Near Egnatia, a temporary ice rink was set up. Here, Paris and Paul take in the action.

For more photos, click here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Today, I celebrated two years since my fateful ordination to the diaconate by celebrating the Divine Liturgy with some of the kids at the Apostle Paul school. I thought I'd extend the celebration to you all on the blog by putting up something besides my appeal for money. :)

Above is a photo from last week of our Greek yiayia (grandma) and landlady Kyria Maria holding the two peanuts -- Benjamin (left) and Phoebe (right).

On Sunday afternoon, our Serbian friend Maya came again to help out with the babies. The weather was nice, so we headed out on our afternoon walk. As soon as we got outside, we could hear that there was a soccer game up in the woods above our house, so we walked up there first. Above, you can see Maya cuddling Phoebe in her cute purple monster outfit.

Here Pelagia and Paul are watching the game.

With the boys.

Phoebe and Maya swinging, as another Serbian friend of ours, Branislav, looks on.

Branislav feeding Paul at bedtime.

Since Rebecca left, our neighbor Ann has been helping out a lot with the babies. Here she is with the boys.

This is one of those photos that would make a good album cover when they come out with a record.


Phoebe playing with a big teddy-bear that Paris' parents gave the babies a couple week ago.

The babies got to practice sitting in a high chair this week. They're not actually eating anything -- just chewing on spoons. Here it was Phoebe's turn.

For more photos, click here and here.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Well, once again it's that time of year in which I try to "monetize" this blog by appealing to you for a gift to the tax-deductible "Seminary Fund" which helps support my studies here in Greece.

Even though we are not in the US at the moment, we are aware of the economic strain, which has also affected Europe. So we know that it is even more difficult now than usual to ask for financial support.

Nevertheless, we are making this appeal to you to help support our goal, which is for me to finish my studies here in Greece and return to the US to serve the Church there.

There are several ways you can help. First, you can make a tax-deductible donation by writing a check to: "Holy Cross Orthodox Church" (please write "Seminary Fund" in the note field). It can be mailed to: Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Attn: Maria Meals, 706 Stewart Street, Yakima, WA 98902-4473.

Second, you can make a donation right now via Paypal by clicking on this link.

Third, you can support my studies by purchasing one of the books I need from the following list.

Alternatively, you can check out the wishlist that Pelagia has put together for the babies, if you just want to get the cute triplets a Christmas present. :)

Thank you for indulging this plea. It's tedious to write, but unfortunately it is necessary, and it helps me justify the time I spend updating the blog the rest of the year. :)

God bless you, and may we all complete a fruitful Lenten (Advent) season.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Farewell, Rebecca!

Well, Pelagia's spiritual sister, Rebecca, who has been living with us the last two months or so, left today to return to the US. So we're a little short-handed around here until my parents arrive later this month. Fortunately, we have great neighbors and the people from the parish help out a lot.

As a final tribute to Rebecca, here are a couple of nice photos with her and the babies. Above, she's with "the peanuts," as I call them, Benjamin and Phoebe. Below she is with Paul.

After Liturgy on Monday morning for St. Andrew the First-Called, I went downtown to the Theology School to do some things in the library.

Thessaloniki is building its own subway, and one of the first stops that they're building is actually right in front of the Theology School. Of course, this project has been going on for years, and there's no end in sight. Why? Well, every time they dig, they run into some ancient archaeological monument. I hate when that happens! :)

I took the two photos above from the top floor of the Theology School. You can see that the workers have hit on something, and they've had to slow down and dig carefully around the ruins. If I had to guess what it was, I would say the circular bit could possibly have been a baptistery, and the walls (above it in the photos) could be part of a church?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

On the Waterfront in Peraia

Sunday was another beautiful day -- sunny with highs in the mid-60s -- so we went with Paris on another outing to the waterfront. This time, we went a bit further east to Peraia.

Restaurants and cafes had tables and seating out on the beach like it was summer -- and it was the end of November! (Unfortunately, starting yesterday, the weather cooled down a bit, and I think the days of highs in the 60s are behind us for awhile.)

Above, you can Pelagia taking Benjamin out to the water.

We also walked out on the long pier. Here, Benjamin is sitting at the end of the pier, with Peraia in the background.

To Pelagia's right, you can see Panorama in the background, stretching up the hill. Thessaloniki is just outside the photo to the left.

The boys are enjoying the sunset over Peraia.

Here's Phoebe grabbing a handful of wet sand.

We then stopped for a quick coffee on the beach, and the babies got to hang out on the sand.

For more photos, click here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Panorama Cemetery

Our daily routine with the babies these days is to take a walk around Panorama with them around 4:00 PM. One walk we like to take is past Panorama's cemetery, which is basically on the other side of the town from where we live. Like most of aptly-named Panorama, it has a great view over Thessaloniki and the water.

Above is a photo of Rebecca with the babies at sunset today. You can't see much of the view, but you get the idea.

On Saturdays, our parish sends a priest to the cemetery for one hour in the afternoons to be available to read Trisagion prayers for the departed. The prayer is relatively short; it takes no more than 5 minutes to sing and read, but it is full of lovely prayers on behalf of the departed. The Greek people have a wonderful connection to their family, which, due to their Christian consciousness, extends beyond physical death. At the cemetery I always see people coming to lovingly tend to their family's grave site and to offer prayers on behalf of their loved ones. Most people have these prayers read at least once a year on the anniversary of the loved ones' repose, but I know some people who come literally every week, for years and years, continually praying for their departed loved ones. How beautiful.

I go about one Saturday a month to do this, and today I was there when Pelagia, Rebecca, and the babies came by. You can see me in the distance in the photo below reading a Trisagion for a family for their departed father.

And while I'm posting, here are a couple good photos of the babies taken about two days ago. They are loving the Johnny Jump-Up seat, especially Benjamin. Below, Benjamin is jumping around in the seat, while Phoebe and Paul look on.

Below, now it's Phoebe's turn. Pelagia is holding Benjamin and Paul is hanging out on the floor in the background.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Babies Go to the Waterfront

The weather has been just beautiful for the last week or so -- sunny with highs around 65. Not bad for the end of November!

Today was another such day, so we decided to take the babies out for a walk along the waterfront in Thessaloniki. The city has done a really nice job making it into a wide pedestrian area, with playgrounds, a rose garden, etc.

Paul's godfather, Paris, also went with us, so we piled into two cars around 3:30 this afternoon and headed down to the Thessaloniki waterfront.

Benjamin, as you can see above, was tired from his Johnny Jump Up adventure, so he fell asleep almost as soon as the car started rolling and had a nice 20 minute nap on the ride down there. That, apparently, was enough for him, as all the babies had a great time during our 1.5 hour walk.

Here Paris is pushing the two boys. Rebecca and Pelagia are walking up ahead, with Phoebe in her favorite position on Pelagia's back.

Everyone really enjoyed the stop at the playground. Here, Paris and Paul, and Rebecca and Benjamin, are having their turns on the swings.

Paul grabbed on to the swing chain himself. He'll be swinging himself in no time.

Godfather with godson at the playground.

Pelagia took Phoebe (on her back) down a long slide.

Here Rebecca and Benjamin are see-sawing with Pelagia and Phoebe.

Now both Paul and Phoebe are on Pelagia's side.

We found a set of chimes to play. The babies seemed really enthralled with all the sounds as we tried to play different tunes.

Here we are walking back to the car as the sun makes one of its usual beautiful settings over Thessaloniki's water.

For more photos, click here.