Archive | March, 2013

Does this baby make me look fat?

26 Mar

Yesterday was a holiday here.  I’m not sure which one because I am a bad Greek and because I don’t really care.  Some kind of Independence Day, but I was informed there is no Independence Day here.  Hmmm?  Nevertheless, it seemed like everyone in town (all 200 of us..just kidding!) were out and about enjoying the day.  Strong winds from the south were dominating the forecast bringing in lots of dust and sand (from Africa? How exotic!) and also pleasantly warm temperatures.  The dust clouds are not what your mind is probably conjuring up.  No Tasmanian devil type of clouds or Iraqi sandstorms with a mouth full of dirt and a side order of zero visibility.  Nothing quite that dramatic.  Just a gradual overcasting of the sky giving it an eerie Midwestern summer rain quality to it.  But we are not in the Midwest I was quickly reminded, by the towering mountains and the beautiful sea, dancing passionately with the wind.  The snow on the mountain tops, so lush and pronounced when I arrived, has begun to disappear back into the atmosphere.  I guess we have made it through another winter with our sanity intact!

Back to the holiday.  I met a friend for coffee at a local hot spot otherwise know as Haagen Daaz, everyone’s favorite ice cream.  It was packed to the gills with people enjoying a day off from the grind.  Everyone was drinking coffee and no one was eating ice cream.  My kind of place!  There were lots of families crowded around small tables laughing and having a good time.  Everyone, with the exception of myself and the children under the age of 13, was smoking up a storm!  Holy sheet!  While I was waiting on my friend to arrive the waitress came over to take my order and asked me if I needed an ashtray.  I’m not delusional (at least I don’t think I am) I look pretty damn big.  I have a watermelon (a big one) underneath my shirt not to mention an extra 30 pounds or so enveloping my chest (finally some cleavage!), upper arms (wtf?), thighs & ass (gee what a surprise).  Last night I had a dream that I grew a pretty healthy beard due to the fact that I was getting so heavy and my hormones were getting out of control.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Family Fat Doctor and gastric bypass stories.  In any case I woke up sweating and had to go look in the mirror just to be sure.  I swear the mind plays tricks on itself during pregnancy.   I declined the ashtray but appreciated the gesture.  One can never be sure.  Besides it’s not polite to make assumptions.

This got me to thinking about attitudes towards pregnancy in different cultures.  Greece is not so wildly different than the US in many aspects.  We are still in a modern, 1st world, western country (at least that’s what they tell us but sometimes I’m not so sure)  If you took a snapshot of life here and you compared it to one from the US, the only difference might be that one is analog and the other digital.  My point is is that we aren’t living in mud huts, wearing penis gourds and gathering around a sacrificed virgin to pray to the gods.  This might be happening further up in the  mountains though, I can not say for sure.  But there are definitely different approaches to what is and is not OK to do while pregnant.  I’m curious as to what these differences are in other countries as well, readers I’d love to hear your comments.  Is anyone in fact reading this besides my mom? Hi mom! Cant wait to see you!  My favorite, and possibly the most striking example of a difference, is the following:

I have heard from numerous women that their doctors have told them it was OK to smoke while they were pregnant. Just to keep the number of cigs down to about 3 a day.  I always laugh when I hear this.  (I really have to disagree with that advice, but I’m not a doctor am I? )  I only wish that was the kind of crap a doctor said to me when I was justifying smoking my 23rd cigarette of the day.  The reasoning behind it is that it is better to be in a calm relaxed state than in an anxious one, which many people are when they can not smoke.  I just can’t picture any American doctor dishing out this “age old” wisdom to a woman.  A yoga class, some mediation, a hot bath, a stroll around the park. Shit, lets get crazy and throw in some retail therapy while were at it.  All healthy activities in which one may try to achieve a relaxed state.  It’s not my place to judge now is it.  But I do feel ahead of the game for having cold turkey-ed the cigs the day I found out I was going to turn into a big fat blimp.  I wonder though, if smoking is so bad for our health (and we all know it is) and we are encouraged to quit (even here in Greece!)  why would it not be harmful for a growing and developing fetus?  I’m just not sure I follow.

Just for a little comparison:

Before I left for Greece I agonized over whether I should take a  Xanax on the plane, (just a half of a half of a half I swear) I Googled the hell out of that and got a wide range of opinions.  I thought well my backup can be a glass of wine.  FYI I don’t LOVE to fly and that trans-Atlantic is a bitch!  I decided to call the doctor and get the 411.  His answer:  Do not take a Xanax and do not have a glass of wine.  Pretty cut and dry there.  No wiggle room at all.  No concern for the mother’s state of relaxation in that response.  I did have a glass of wine about an hour into the flight due to some (heavy-ish) turbulence and just felt nauseous and then guilty for the next 8 hours.  Gee what a blast!

My point, if I even have one, is that there really is no cut and dry way to  be pregnant.  Just keep that bun roasting in its cozy little oven for 9 (really 10) months and keep your fingers crossed!

 

Obviously she's NOT pregnant!

Obviously she’s NOT pregnant!

Too much of a good thing……is great!

21 Mar

I’m just now getting underway in my 7th month of being a big old gal.  Lumbering around like a giant penguin.  Seriously I think what I do these days instead of being called walking could be described as wobbling from side to side.  I’m not going to present a list of all the gripes one might have during pregnancy…boring!  Actually I have been quite comfortable (interpret loosely) and have had a pretty easy (read: boring) pregnancy.  Which is just the way I like it!

I did get around to thinking, however, of the differences between being pregnant stateside and here in Greece on the island of Crete.  Even though technically I am still in Europe, I am really not in Europe.  Crete has always occupied its own continent in my mind.  The same rules do not apply here as they do there.  But that’s besides the point.  I put together a short list inspired by the frequent “What to Expect” emails I receive a few times a week. Here it is:

Here’s some of the things you can find in the USofA:

prenatal massage

prenatal yoga

lactation consultant / breastfeeding classes

birthing classes: lamaze etc…

birth plans

the option to have a home/water/non medical birth

chiropractors experienced with pregnant women

parenting classes

cheap baby supplies (not made in china)

mom groups

dad groups

moms and tots groups

medicaid

just to name a few

Here on Crete you can expect:

Prenatal care at your gyno or hospital

fresh air

nice scenery

meat!

Here’s to 12 more weeks of sobriety!

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A conversation between Mr Mallios and I (me?). Or, the shortest post ever.

19 Mar

Me:  I shaved my legs today.

Mr Mallios: Why?

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When John Gray coined the phrase “Men are from Mars” what he really meant was Crete!

14 Mar

Last Sunday was gloriously beautiful.  Seems we are having an early Spring here on Crete.  I can’t complain about that after having spent countless winters in Chicago where Spring doesn’t seem to start until the end of May, sometimes not until middle of June.  My mother would beg to disagree but she is the eternal optimist, bless her, which is why I think she’s been able to tough it out in the Midwest after all these years.  A few winter vacations to warmer climes doesn’t hurt either.  Love you mom!

We decided to take a (short) trip to the fresh water lake and have lunch to enjoy the afternoon en plein air.  When we were discussing what to do with the afternoon I kept suggesting we be Real Greeks and go for a stroll on the boardwalk and then spend 3 hours drinking 1 single shot espresso at any of the numerous trendy cafes on the strip.  Mr. Mallios didn’t like that idea, sometimes I wonder if I’m more Greek than him?  Pre pregnancy I would usually drink a pot or two of coffee in the morning.  Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little but you get the idea.  Then I’d enjoy at least one, but sometimes two, icy cold Freddo Cappucino in the afternoon.  Greeks go for coffee at 11 o’clock at night so I didn’t need to be ashamed for my love of the bean.  But at 11 o’clock at night the only coffee I’m ordering is of the Irish variety if you catch my drift.   So lunch at the lake it was!  I guess we do have to feed this growing baby so a liquid lunch of strong coffee probably not the best idea.

We found a great spot perched on a little hill affording views of the tavernas below and the growth of everything from thyme to fennel to wild sage.  We ate slowly and enjoyed the strong sun on our pale forearms.  About 20 minutes into our meal another table requested the awning be lowered to provide for more shade.  The owner happily complied and began lowering it to shade us from the (amazing!) sun.  Mr Mallios and I looked at each other tragically and thought aloud, we’ve been in Chicago all winter!  Bring on the sun!  But the locals were having none of it!  Typically they don’t sit in the sun, or go to the beach I should say, until June.  Even if it’s 80 degrees!  There’s definitely a rhythm to the seasons here.  Despite the high temps it is quite common to still see people dressed in heavy coats and sweaters.  I guess winters not over until the calendar says so.

We observed people strolling on the path below us and decided to play a little game called tourist/local.  This is usually pretty easy on Crete, and probably most Greek Islands.  The Greeks while not only having strong physical characteristics that might set them apart from say Germans or the Brits, also dress and behave differently than their European counterparts.   The first couple we saw had a stroller which the man was pushing (tourist) and wearing shorts (definitely tourist).  Like I said, because its still March even though it’s 80 degrees, the locals are still dressed in their parkas and winter gear.  Not until the Spring Equinox (21st) will we start to see shorts and summer gear. Maybe. The next group of people we saw we’re two couples strolling leisurely down the path.  They walked in a line man, woman, man, woman (tourists).  They seemed to be speaking together in a calm manner (tourists). The men, it was noted, had little to no hair (tourists).  About 30 minutes later we noticed two men walking side by side.  Hard to tell at this point. One had quite a large gut protruding from his pants (local?).  The gentleman next to him was twirling something in his right hand. Komboloi? (Local).  Up ahead, a good 100 feet or so, Mr Mallios spotted two women walking side by side.  Both were dressed modestly in below the knee skirts and wool sweaters (locals), hair cropped short in the fashion of most women over 60 here (locals). They seemed to be carrying a lot of stuff (locals).  They lumbered on, burdened with the weight of their packages but never once seemed to be bothered by it (locals).  A cackle echoed up the hill as one of the men slapped the other on the back in appreciation (local…could be drunk tourist…no, local).  He lit a cigarette (local).  The taller man clasped his hands behind his back and continued on.  We surmised that these two couples were actually traveling together and in true Greek fashion.  The women well ahead of the men clucking away about their children and life in the village.  Shouldering loads of whatever they thought might be useful to them on their journey or at their destination.  While the men, a good half mile behind the women, hands suspiciously free of any packages, lazily strolled up the path laughing and passing the time with jokes and cigarettes.

We enjoyed this cultural distinction and the differences between men and women and returned to our meal.  Rice wrapped in cabbage leaves with a tangy red sauce, wild greens dressed lightly with olive oil and lemon, a salad of seasonal greens and vegetables, and a shit ton of grilled meat!  Lamb chops, pancetta, chicken, little beef patties, local sausages.  All fresh and all prepared by the owners mother!  I could just picture her back in the kitchen  sweating away since the early morning preparing for a day’s work while he stretched his legs and imbibed another raki.  Locals for sure!

Lovely Lake Kournas!

Lovely Lake Kournas!

 

How to prepare a Freddo Cappuccino (Italian for COLD cappuccino)

Take one, two or three freshly pressed shots of espresso (pronouced es-PRESS-so…no x sound in there).  Four if you are having one of those days.  If you are opting for a decaf option I would suggest having just the milk part of this drink.  After all what is the point?  In a metal shaker put two ice cubes with desired amount of sugar and pour hot coffee over ice and sugar.  Gently mix allowing sugar to dissolve and liquid to cool.  In a milshake type mixer pour about a quarter cup COLD milk over one ice cube to achieve maximum results.  Hit the milk in the mixer allowing milk to froth up.  This is similar to the process of making whip cream.  Cream must be very cold in order to achieve desired results.  The longer you hit the milk the frothy-er it will be.  While milk is frothing take a clean tall glass and put two ice cubes in it.  Some people prefer crushed ice.  Pour cold coffee over ice in glass.  Fill remainder of glass with frothed milk.  Voila a beautiful refreshing freddo cappuccino!

Freddo Cappuccino! Yum!

Freddo Cappuccino! Yum!

This girl can paint!

7 Mar

This young lady from Memphis, TN likes to take her talents on the road!  She rambles around various parts of the USA and world (currently headed to New Zealand with a pit-stop in Australia) with her palette and paints what she likes.  Check out her latest work at betsybrackin.com

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