0

Yasi’s fun time in Chicago

We had two weeks in Chicago. One of my favourite places in Chicago was going on Kirk’s boat – that was really fun and Kirk goes so fast on his boat. Kirk is my baba’s friend and he has a really nice boat and it’s big. We went on his boat twice. Tina is Kirk’s girl friend and Wyatt is Tina’s son
Tina and Wyatt were very nice also. Wyatt was around Emlilo and Zoi age – he came with Tina on the boat with us. When we

were at the dock the second time I made a hut with sticks leaves and some flowers, I though that it was very nice. At the dock I got to do lots of paddle boarding and kayaking.

I also liked going to Devon place in Chicago. He’s another friend of my baba’s and his wife’s name is Yvonne. Their kids’ names are Cormac, Aiefe, Ciren and Nimph. They live in a very big house with a pool at the back and really nice gardens – we had fun.
We stayed the night in the guest house. In the morning we went for a swim, played a game where we see who can jump the highest over some one and we also played Limbo. I played all these games with Aiefe.
Aiefe, Ciren and Nimph come with us to the beach where there was an ‘Air and Water Show’ – we went to the dock where Kirk leaves his boat. Kirk took us all for a ride. Devon and Yvonne come with us on the boat but they didn’t come with us to the beach.

 

Kathleen even visited us at the dock. It was like a party. This was our second time going on the boat. We loved it.
By Yasi

0

ChevLightning – our beloved new car

Do you want to talk cars? Let’s talk Chev Lightening!

imageWoohoo. I’ve been assigned family car trialling and buying in North America. It is expensive to travel as a party of seven…flying, bussing or renting a car, so the next best option is to buy a car and hopefully sell it in LA before we fly home. Christos did a little investigation of 7 seater car rental prices one way for the last three weeks doing the national parks around the east coast, and the cost was many multiples beyond our budget, so talk of buying a car soon evolved from fantasy to need.

Talk about fly by the seat of our pants. Things change here daily. It’s a challenge to not get overwhelmed by it. Actually, we’ve just had a few days in a friends country log cottage in the middle of the Wisconsin forest, and on the second day, I felt myself ‘landing’ there. I had been using the word ‘overwhelm’ a little, but all of a sudden the word ‘overload’ seemed right. Overload of the senses. Cars, Chicago style pizza, constantly living in other people’s space, buses, homeschooling on the run, trains, too much crappy TV time for the kids, and new wonderful people, and more new awesome people, and late, late nights!….I had started to wonder whether I was Arthur or Martha!

imageSo stopping in this wonderful large, full of games and toys and space place, with no TV or Internet was a stroke of luck from above. Which brings me back to the point of this blog…. We couldn’t have got here without our NEW car! She’s still unnamed, but perhaps as I tell you our story of getting to know her, a name might emerge. ( Editors note, Chev Lightening is her name – very American, and rolls off the tongue like a song from a musical… Very important!)

As I said it started with Christos floating the idea of the car being the most economic and wise option. Someone we spoke to early on didn’t know too much about cars and we kind of got put off a bit – it all sounded too hard, where the hell do we start, international drivers licences expired, insurance etc… But, then we went to my ‘big brother’ Kumars for the weekend and all that changed.

imageI originally met Kumar back in 1995 at the fruit and vegetable market in Miryalguda, Andra Pradesh, India. A voice came across the mangos (that part is fantasy- I can’t remember what was in season, I was probably buying onions) “where are you from?”. I replied “Melbourne, Australia”. “I am going to study at RMIT” he replied, and so began a long friendship.

How are Kumar and cars connect little miss rambler I hear you say? Well cutting a long story short, Kumar lived, studied and worked in Melbourne for 10 years. Mum was like his mum in a way, he was like my big brother. He moved to Singapore, and eventually the US. Christos often has Facebook contact with him when he comes to the US for his iridology, but we have not had physical contact since 2003.

So, we borrowed our friend Kirks’ mums’ car, and drove 4 hours to St Louis to visit Kumar. That is a whole other blog. But for now suffice to say immigrants to a country have to learn a huge amount. Kumar knew all about cars, he knew all about setting up a SIM card so we could call people about cars! He knew where to start looking; ‘Craigslist’. We mentioned what we need in a car, did some figures and started the hunt. With Kumars help we wrote down a whole lot of car questions to ask, we looked at many over the internet, rang about insurance, etc etc. By the time we left Kumar, my big brother, my golly, life felt so much more possible.

imageHe even added a phone line to his phone contract and ensured we have unlimited internet so we don’t keep getting lost and not being able to contact people. He rings regularly to check on us. We had a few cars lined up to check out in Chicago and we had tummies full of exquisite Indian food and chai thanks to Sujatha’s incredible cooking!

imageSo we get back to Chicago and Kirk is on hand to help us check out car number one. It is technically a P.O.S. (Piece of shit) in Kirk language, but early on was not off the possibilities as there was not much on offer. But then with the updated internet ‘Craigslist’ search we found some new cars to check out. I rang about one on Sunday afternoon, Monday morning we had an appointment. But with 5 kids to care for and homeschool in some sort of fashion, I was allocated the car job. Vicky, Kirks’ mum offered to come along…. Thank goodness.
imageI would have bought it for the advertised $2300. Vicky was a professional. With 25 years in the real estate business she checked out and questioned all the documents, and with 2 brothers as mechanics she could talk the language. It turns out the guy we bought from buys cars does them up and then sells, instead of his original ‘it’s grandpas car and too big for him’ story. So with more honesty on the table, negotiate we did. Albert agreed to re gas the air conditioning, check the spare tyre access, and re check the brakes overnight. As long as all the paperwork checked out, I planned to pick up the car the next day for $1900!

imageThe next day came, and finally we got an afternoon call to say all was ready. I am so excited about my new baby! Kirk and his dad Ron came for the final expressway test drive to check the wheel alignment, the aircon was awesome. We did all the paperwork activated insurance and on the way home Kirk, Ron and I stopped off and bought one new windscreen wiper, and got a new key cut, but it would only open the car not start the engine as the official key has a chip in it.

Just to be safe we looked up a Chevrolet dealer close by, Christos got out of the car and met ‘one of the nicest people in the world after Kirk’ who arranged a new key, with 25% discount in minutes. We now are less fearful of locking the keys in the car.

And we’ve fallen on our feet again!

imageSo this car is better than any we have had in oz! All the windows open, there is space in the back for our luggage, there is a bench seat in the middle which means when Jen comes we can fit quite comfortably, it’s got 130,000miles, rear and front air con, cruise control, one electric sliding door (the other one only works manually) and most importantly it runs like a dream! imageWe’ve got insurance, our Aussie licenses are fine as travellers, and I get to take the number plates back to oz because the plates go with the driver here- my tractor will have Illinois plates! And Christos wants one of the plates for his office…

Thanks to Kumar, Kirk, Vicky and Ron, we love our new car. We are safe, travelling and flexible. The Milikings American Adventure has begun in our Chevrolet Venture..
ChevLightening!

1

From the Roscetti sisters to the Nijhawan family!

imageAngie and Erin Roscetti were two of the best friends I made at the U of I. It was interesting at how many embarrassing stories I had forgotten about! Crazy uni days. One of the funnest times was when Mike and I went to see Frank Sinatra with Angie and Erin. We dressed up, felt all grown up and had a little party at their place first. If Angie had said to me then that one day you will drive up to North Western Wisconsin with your wife and 5 kids to see my family and I – well I probably would’ve choked and said she had gone mad! ……… But here we were and how awesome – we were only there for about 30 hours but it had a big effect on the kids. Angie and Vinay’s house is so welcoming and comfortable and most importantly their kids Adam and Luke were so so friendly to ours – despite the huge age difference. Brilliant role models.
By Baba MiliKing

imageWe went to Eau Claire – and stayed with my baba’s friend Angie and Vinay from his college days. They had two boys -Adam who is 17 yrs old and Luke who is 15 yrs old. There was also an exchange student from Brazil who was staying with them – his name was Raphael.
imageWhen the boys went to soccer training Angie took us to ‘Summer snow’ which uIs a van where you can get snow cones. It’s mashed up ice with any flavour you want and ice cream at the bottom. It was very very nice – I had blueberry and raspberry. Yummy!
We also went to a big park and went to Adam’s band performance at the library, but unfortunately we just missed it. He plays the saxophone in a jazz band. He’s very good and the saxophone sounds so loud.
imageWhen we got back to their home we had some dinner – yummy burgers, home made chips and some corn. Adam, Luke and Raphael played some musical instruments for us. Raphael could just follow any tune with instruments he hasn’t played before. Very talented. The boys were really fun to play with – we played a board game (I forgot the name) but it was fun. Raphael and I were on a team together and we won by a lot. We had to get a track right across the board and we made a few lines before the others got across the board.
In the morning I slept in quite a bit. All the other kids were watching TV but we stopped it so we could play instruments.

imageThese boys know how to play so many instruments – very good of them to let us try.
The neighbours had a pool and they let us play in it – it was very cold but it was very fun because Toby and Emilio were squirting us and we had to duck behind all the boogie boards but I had protection because I can stay underwater a long time.
We had pizza and pesto pasta for lunch – with fresh pesto from the garden which was delicious and yummy. After lunch Toby and I played kick to kick with the soccer ball and then Luke, Adam and Raphael went to soccer practise, so we left then to go back to Devon’s cottage in the woods. By Yasmina

imageI loved making a Band with Luke and Adam and Raphael – I was very good at the trumpet. Those boys were cool because they were fun playing soccer with. They let me have the ball because they didn’t know if I can play soccer or not but I can play soccer – they just made it fun for us. By Moochie

imagePal the dog was so fun. It was fun giving him treats and playing. We even made a little pool for Pal. The boys were so fun
I loved them – by Zoi.

 

 

imageI really really liked Angie and Vinay and their boys Luke and Adam and Raphael – they were so fun and friendly. they had so many toys and instruments to play with. Luke played the trumpet, Adam played the saxophone and I got to have a go at the trumpet and the saxophone. I thought they did an amazing performance. I really really liked playing those instruments. It was hard to make a noise on the saxophone because I had to get used to it. I had such a lovely time there. Angie is the sister of Erin who we visited in Kansas City and they both bought us a snow cone! I thought that the one here in Eau Claire was the best but not by much. I had blueberry and raspberry. imageIt was so good. I asked for ice cream at the bottom. When I got to the ice cream I mixed it and made a smoothie with the juices from the snow cone. When we were eating the snow comes we walked over where Luke was playing soccer and next to the ground there wer people playing American football. We went into the neighbours pool and played. I got to hold their bird and they also had two mice, a guinea pig and a Dog who’s name is Oreo.
imageAdam is in a jazz band and he got to even play in New York City. Isn’t that amazing. I hope that they all come and visit us in Australia.
Love from Kikibelle

Luke, Adam and Raphael – they are all strong, fit and have good attitudes and are very nice. They are the cousins of Zoe who we visited in Kansas City. They played lots with us, hardly ever said no to things we asked them to do with us, and were just very welcoming and polite. imageWe thought that they were very polite but they thought that we were very polite as well. We played a lot of darts,soccer, and Xbox soccer. We also played lots of instruments with them. They were amazing musicians – each one had a instrument that they could play amazingly.

imageLuke’s instrument was trumpet, Adam’s was saxophone and Raphael was amazing at guitar and he played a Coldplay song for us. The funny thing about Raphael is that he’s left handed but they only have right handed guitars in Brazil so he has learnt to play guitar upside down. Which is pretty clever.

imageThe boys were all very good soccer players. I was impressed with everything about them. One of the most things I was impressed with is Raphael who only knew to speak a little bit of English when he came two weeks ago – his English is as if he’s been here for a year. He’s made a few funny mistakes like when we got there for breakfast he asked for orange milk instead of orange juice. I don’t blame him cause it kind of is like orange milk. Vinay is nice although I didn’t get to see him as much cause we were busy playing with the kids. Angie is a great cook and really nice and friendly. I wish I could stay there for a whole week or more but we had to go Back to the cottage we are staying in.
Adam is a great soccer player and I only just found out that he is the captain of his soccer team and he’s a senior in high school which means 12th grade. He has his own license and car. Here in America you can get your own license at 16 years old. Luke is also a great soccer player – he’s a great trumpet player and is really friendly. I found all the boys really inspiring. I find Angie a really inspiring cook also – her food was awesome and Vinay made delicious burgers.
By Tobes

0

Hanging out with the Hogans – what fun!

imageWhen I was at the U of I, Kathleen was one of my neighbours and a great friend who worked at the study abroad office. She decided to take three crazy Aussies home for the Easter holidays. I was blown away when I first walked in to Mike and my room – it was so welcoming. On the beds were towels so perfectly folded and a lovely small soap and yummy chocolate. It made a big impression on me and I’ve done that for most of our visitors staying with us ever since. It was also very interesting cause her dad Jim didn’t know what we would drink so he bought us ‘Fosters’ which we had never had before – it was such a fun weekend. Sister Audrey and brothers Jim and John were always so welcoming – We didn’t need any excuses to go back and visit – it was always so much fun. I didn’t actually study with Kathleen’s good friend Sarah but she would come down to uni to lots of our parties and she stayed with us in Melbourne for a while so already knew Sandy. Such fun to hang out again. It was brilliant for the kids to meet the family and put faces to some of the stories I’ve told them. It was great for Sandy to meet Kathleen’s mum Ann and see where i got the hospitality inspiration from!

Kathleen and Audrey are my baba’s friends from university. Actually baba went to university with Kathleen and Audrey is her big sister. We also met up a lot with their other friend Sarah.

First thing we did with them was go to Audrey’s house and we found Audrey who just got home from work. She let us grab some bicycles from her brother’s nearby home a ride down to the beach where there was a park and places to ride. I haven’t been on a bike for ages so it was lots of fun. imageWe ate amazing cooked grilled chicken with salad and fruit. It was very very yummy. They were so generous that they even gave us ice cream with a bowl of sprinkles each to dip it in. Kathleen said that ‘everything tastes better and life is better with sprinkles’. Their mum and dad Jim and Ann also came for dinner to meet us. When my dad was at university here, Kathleen took him and his friends Mike (from Perth) and Steph (from Sydney) home for Easter to meet her family. They’ve been friends ever since. We had such a good time the first night that we saw them again. imageWe even met Kathleen, Audrey and Sarah downtown after work one day and they took us to an amazing place for dinner – I can’t remember what it was called but it was kind of like a grocery stall or a mall. You could just choose whatever you we liked and they just weighed it. Kathleen bought us dinner which was so nice of her. We had a dinner that’s kind of like a Buffet breakfast but dinner things instead- we could choose things and put them on a plate and they just weighed it when you pay. By the time we were eating dinner it got extremely cold and we had only summer clothes. Only Yasi had a long sleeve. So we got hot chocolates to warm us up. They were quite extraordinary. They were a normal amazing hot chocolate, then they put whipped cream on top and usually they put sprinkles on but they didn’t have any left so they put chocolate sauce on top. I drank all of mine and Kalika didn’t like hers so I drank hers as well but she had taken her lid off so it was getting colder – but it was still so good. I talked a lot with these girls. I even learnt a few things about NBA such as since Miami Heat were flogged in this year’s final their best player Labron James (who’s considered by most people to be better than Michael Jordan) has moved back to his hometown basketball team. When he originally moved to Miami the people in his hometown were so mad they were tearing up pictures of him. His contract had ended and he just wanted to go back home to play. Also I think he wanted to help his home team out.
Those girls were really fun to hang out with.
By Tobes

imageKathleen were Audrey were so fun because they gave us lots of treats and were fun to talk to. They can make a good conversation even with kids. Same with Sarah. Yasi

imageI loved playing with Audrey – she was fun. She even had a dog called Roxy. Zoi

0

What a great city! – Kansas City

imageWe couldn’t possibly be so close to wonderful Erin Roscetti and not embrace the opportunity to catch up with her Wonderful family. The USA is such a big massive place and the distances are pretty huge – we were in St. Louis and Kansas City is a 4 hour straight drive but it was brilliantimage. As soon as we drove out from St Louis the road and scenery really opened up and you felt like it was the real Wild West. Every few hundred metres was a billboard – it really kept us amused. So much variety – everything from Jim Beam whiskey, to the closest Adult superstore, to anti abortion, to anti evolution, the closest all you can eat Chinese buffet, western boots etc. It was very interesting.
Anyway – Kansas City really surprised me – it is in my top 5 (or6) of US cities (after NYC, Chicago, Boston, New Orleans and San Francisco). It’s sister city is Seville in Spain so it had quite a Spanish architectural feel, almost as many fountains as Rome, a beautiful river and an amazing museum that is totally free. Oh and parking is all free as well – you’ve got to love that!

 

In our younger days!

In our younger days!

Anyway – Erin and I’ve been close friends since the early days of Uni and have caught up in three different continents. She lived in Italy for ages which is where she met her cool husband Kaveh. It was such a treat to hang out with her eating great food, drinking Italian wine and reminiscing with old photos (though I wish some of the old stories didn’t come out in front of the kids – now they think I was really naughty!).
The kids were well amused and looked after by Zoe and her friend Lanie – they have been so inspired by gymnastics ever since…….and I bet the dogs needed a huge rest the day after we left……..
By Baba MiliKing

imageKansas city was a nice place. We stayed with baba’s friends Erin and Kaveh and their daughter Zoe. Zoe is a gymnast and showed us some very very cool tricks. She won first place in a lot of stuff. Zoe’s friend Lanie came over and they both took us out for a snow come. I had blueberry and Raspberry which was delcious. We took the dogs with us – They are Izzy and Kernel Longbody. I walked Izzy the most cause the boys were hogging Kernel. We also went to a park with Zoe and the dogs – but we were kicked out by a summer camp who had to use the park. We went to another park.
The next morning we went to the plaza and I had tacos for lunch – I love them they were delicious. By Kikibelle

imageIzzy the dog was so cute and she was pullish when we had the leashes on and walked them. She could do tricks and Zoe also knows how to do lots of cool tricks. She’s very flexible and can do cart wheels with no hands and other awesome tricks. Kernel Longbody is the other dog had lots of tricks too. I loved to give them treats. I loved staying with them cause they were so nice and friendly and let us lead the dogs and I loved them sleeping at he same house cause they have dogs. I guess that’s it. Love from Zoi

imageZoe is a amazing gymnast. She makes me want to know how to do gymnastics but at the same time I’m kind of aware you need to start gymnastics sometimes at a young age if you what to be state champion like her – I don’t want to be state champion I just want to do gymnastics for fun. Erin was so nice and cooked really amazing pasta because she’s lived in Italy for a long time. She also made some yummy fruit salad with fancy ice cream. Lanie is Zoe’s friend who was over for a sleep over. They both admired and were inspired. by our accents which we think are plain and we think their accents are so interesting. They thought our accents are very cute. Sometimes we had to repeat ourselves cause we speak too fast and couldn’t understand us. By Tobes

imageI’ve been practising heaps more gymnastics since meeting Zoe in Kansas City. I’m getting better at floor routines. It’s fun meeting all of baba’s friends from university times.
By Yasi

Moochie in KC

Moochie in KC

0

University of Illinois and Chicago musings

imageThe University of Illinois changed me life in so many ways. Not only leaving home at 19 years of age but moving to another country was pretty big for my ‘quiet’ Greek family in Melbourne. I didn’t realise just how big the world was out there and I just made some of the best friends. We all studied (a little), travelled, partied and grew together. imageKirk was one of the first people I met at the University of Illinois through the study abroad office. A group of them took the ‘new Aussies’ out the first night we arrived and the rest is history. His family were kind of my adopted family in America and I spent much time at there house over Thanksgiving and other holidays.image Kirk’s parents, Vicky and Ron have now become my kids adoptive grandparents – it’s pretty cool.
It’s always a treat to come back to Chicago and see my amazing friends.
We didn’t really follow the tourist trail while in Chicago but we got to hang out in some amazing places with great friends.

Here are some of the kids’ thoughts:

imageKirk was awesome – he has an awesome boat that can sleep 6 people happily. We hanged out with him a lot and we also played with his girlfriend Tina and her son Wyatt.
In Chicago we stayed at Kirk’s parent’s place. They had so many stuffed toys that we loved to sleep with them. Even Toby and Yasi did. Kirk’s parents who are Ron and Vicky, told us lots of stories and Kirk’s mother showed us lots about rocks and she also gave us some. It was so nice of her to give us lots of rocks. She was a very very nice person. imageRon named us some new names so that it was easy to remember our names. I was Matilda, Yasi was Agnes, Zoi was Chip, Toby was Isaac and Emlio named himself Vicky Branch. We named Ron – Bob – even mummy calls him Bob now. Vicky was called Vicky. One night Bob took us to an awesome ice cream shop called ‘Hole in the wall’ cause it is a hole in the wall. I had vanilla soft serve with chocolate coating on top – they dipped it in chocolate. It was really really awesome.
By Kiki

imageKirk is our friend and he is fun to play with and he has a boat and he took us on it. I played with Wyatt on the boat and it was a pretty big one – there was a downstairs and it was really cool cause you could sleep in it and there was a couch and you could even watch TV – there was table, a kitchen, an oven and a fridge. It was the smallest boat that could fit so much stuff in it. I liked playing with Wyatt – he’s his kid. By Mooch

imageBob and Vicky were so nice and they had lots of teddies and stuffed toys and a television and they were so nice and let us watch movies and told us lots of stories. imageI sat next to Bob while we watched a movie and he cuddled me. He was so nice to us. Vicky taught us about rocks and they had a very big house. They let us mess up a bit but we packed it up. I liked their place. The upstairs was pretty cool but we played in the basement a lot of the time. I did some homeschooling at their house and I finished my Maths book because I’m very good at maths and doing plusing. I liked it when Vicky gave us some rocks – it was so good. By Zoi

This is Chicago style pizza - so yum

This is Chicago style pizza – so yum

We stayed with my dad’s best friend Kirk’s parents when we were in Chicago, which was about 2 weeks. It was fun staying there and we learnt a lot about American history and rocks cause Kirk’s mum Vicky is very into that stuff. Ron who is Kirk’s dad is very funny and made up names for us. He would also makes us laugh. He was a Jokey man. They were very kind, and talkative.
By Yasi

0

Storytelling, Agates and arriving in Chicago

imageWe arrived in Chicago at 2am (by greyhound bus from Toronto) and it was so nice of Vicky and Ron to come and meet us at the Greyhound station even though it was about 2 hours late. Vicky and Ron are Kirk’s parents. Baba met Kirk at a university called ‘University of Illinois’ when he was an exchange student in 1990. Ron and Vicky are very friendly and nice. Ron is a bit of jokester. He said that he couldn’t possibly remember all our names so he made up names for us. Yasi is Agnes, I’m Isaac, Kalika is Matilda, Zoi is Chip and Emilio is Vicky branch. He’s a funny person.

imageVicky is a loving and caring person. I would say she’s very good at caring for kids because she is good with us. She takes out lots of her rocks and shows them to us. She is just one of those people who’s good at talking about lots of different things. She knows so much history. She taught me a little bit about Native American Indians that still live in the desert. The stuff I learnt was how they owned a lot of America and then when white people took over there was a lot of stealing of land and other things from the native Americans – especially if they found gold in their land. They also get given some money each month now to help them. Indians often collect feathers from eagles but no one else in America can collect eagle feathers because they are protected. Also no one can shoot any birds out of season otherwise they can get a fine.

imageShe taught me a lot about agates – where to find them, where the cracks are and how the minerals and other things get into them. I did a presentation to my school in Australia about them on Skype.
Kirk is an amazingly kind friend and he cares so much for others. He has taken us out to do lots of things around Chicago and has seen us almost every single day that he’s been around Chicago and when he isn’t flying. He’s a pilot on big planes. He introduced us for the first time to the amazing Chicago style stuffed pizza. It’s like two or three pizzas on top of each other and you get full on just one piece.

Here is my presentation about Agates:

We’re in Chicago with some friends Ron and Vicky. Vicky is into rocks. Someone like that is called a lapidarist. She has shown and given us some of her rocks. Some of the rocks she gave me are Agates and Obsidian.

AGATES
Agates are usually formed by gas or magma that is trapped in a hole underground. These following things is how an agate is formed:

1. Holes are filled with gas or magma.
2. The gas or magma escapes through cracks leading to the earths surface.
3. Rain water goes down the cracks, as the water goes down it collects minerals from the soil. So the water goes down with the minerals dissolved in it. When it reaches the hole it settles.
4. The moisture evaporates leaving the minerals to crystallize by themselves, the process is continued until the hole is filled or not filled.
5. People then find the rocks somehow and uncover the surrounding rocks.
6. The agate can now be polished and sliced.

OBSIDIAN
imageObsidian is made from magma which is hot lava from volcanoes. It is formed when the magma cools rapidly like when water and magma meet.
imageIt is usually formed in a shell shape.
Obsidian is an Igneous rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

imageSTORY-TELLING VICKI

Today Vicky told stories about a women called Mavis. She said the story in a funny accent. Mavis isn’t alive any more.
Mavis liked to do everything by herself. One day she made a beautiful brick wall that she was proud of. She had also brought a barbecue that she was also proud of. One night a car came by and drove through her fence, turned around and went back into her yard and drove into her beautiful brick wall. I think the car knocked down the brick wall away back to the point.so after the car broke the wall it drove into the barbecue and then drove off. The people in the house had not been sitting in bed, not the went down to see after the car and they saw the damage and called the police. They came and looked around a bit. 10 minutes later the car drove past with the broken barbecue and bits of fence. There goes the woman running after the car saying ‘Stop – there’s my barbecue you’ve got there’.
The police stopped the car and arrested the people and then drove off. All this happened at 2.30am. The people that drove the car and got arrested were a drunken teenager and his friend.

Vicky is an amazing storyteller.

 

by Tobes

0

Tobermory – a wonderful Canadian paradise

Christos’s Tobermory blog

imageTobermory was a Canadian paradise. I had heard so much about Daryl from Sandy’s enlightening retreat with her last October. I never expected that they would invite all seven of us to stay. They are such an inspiring couple. They are in touch with nature, in touch with themselves and very loving.
Living on Lake Huron is so romantic, they have their own jetty into the lake and life can’t help but revolve around the water. We all adored their assortment of water craft from; kayaks to canoes, to tubes, to motor boat, to paddle boat, collected over the years and lovingly maintained by Doug.
imageThe connection that we and the kids felt with Daryl and Doug was easy and instant. Like we had known each other for years. Oh how fun it would be to have summer holidays here, if only the distances weren’t so great!
Sandy and I are both in amazement at the seasonal extremes that is normal for people in this region of the world. While seasons certainly exist at home, with little seasonal jobs like, pruning, wood collection, fire prep, planting and mowing, the concept of ‘winterising’ to the extent they need to to survive, is quite foreign. Everything from emptying pipes completely, to dismantling the dock in the water, and putting it undercover because the months of ice on the lake would warp it out of shape. It is amazing to think that the lake is so still in the mornings, yet can get so choppy at times. And in another season one is able to ice skate on it in the winter when the strong winds blow the surface snow off and leave a clean ‘rink’ for the ‘Torvell and Dean’ of Tobermory to ‘do their stuff’. The fury of the seasons is so enthralling that I would dearly love to do more winter travel in Canada, Iceland and Russia.
I’m sure the kids will tell you more about ‘s’mores’, what a delight it was to end each day sitting around the lake with the fire, enjoying these wickedly delicious treats.

 

imageDaryl and Doug.
We are driving away right now from a remarkable place on this earth. The perfect place. Water, rocks and moss, snow, community, stunning nature, shipwrecks, national parks, meaningful work, a charity/opportunity shop, yoga on the beach in summer, and wonderful people. And amazingly all right outside the door literally, if not a 9 min drive away.
I met Daryl last year, she ran/lead the Womens Wisdom Retreat I attended. An awesome woman of integrity, of nature and of love. Now I have met Doug more completely. I am truly convinced they have their values and priorities in the right place. Neither Daryl or I imagined that our families would bond further and talk of visiting Australia would enter the conversation. Some things happen for a reason. It was through Daryl that I found out about the Kids Coaching Connection training (incredible stuff- watch out world here I come) that I attended last week in Toronto. And coming so close (4 hours drive from Toronto) we could not miss this opportunity to catch up. We never imagined how easy and fun it could be.
Doug is the master of equipment storing and repairing and maintenance. His gentleness and enthusiasm for getting out his boat and going tubing will be with the kids for a long time.

I will bask in the ever growing web of inter-continental and inter-generational connections that feed love into the hearts of our kids and grow peace, love and tolerance – exactly what we hoped this trip would do. Daryl had just read an article about sustainability and adaptability – talking about the need to develop the skill of ‘adaptability’ because we cannot predict the future, we need to learn how to adapt to whatever comes. And Daryl noted how ‘adaptable’ our kids were, and with pride we have to agree, as we see the kids connect and bond with all the amazing people we visit and stay with in our travel. Our world family continues to expand.

By mama Miliking

imageI loved the water at Doug and Daryl’s place and also the boats. The paddle boat was my favourite. We were helpers and we did a lot of helpful stuff. I also loved the s’mores – they’re square biscuits and you put chocolate, roasted marshmallows and a biscuit lid on the marshmallows and it melts the chocolate. They’re delicious.

One day when we come back to Australia we have to make some s’mores with our friends. I loved waking up with Zoi and getting our own cereal because everyone else was sleeping and it was yummy. by Moochie

2

Toronto love

imageCanada is an awesome country. I haven’t seen a lot of Canada yet but I like what I’ve seen.

imageWe arrived about a week ago and we are staying in our great aunt and uncle’s house – but we call them grandparents – Yiayia and Papou. It’s a pretty big house actually – it’s got an upstairs where everyone sleeps. When you go up the stairs and the first door you see is where Emilio and I sleep. Then the door next to it is the washroom as the Canadians call the bathroom. Sometimes when we ask for the toilet people think it’s a bit funny. There’s a basement which is where we usually hang out and do our school work and spend lots of time there. We are allowed to watch telly here in the afternoon and they’re are some really cool shows.
Right now mummy is at a course that helps her to know and manage children better with their emotions, what they like and don’t like I think and how they see the world. She’s been gone for 5 days. In those 5 days we have done 5 days of home school – so don’t worry kids we are keeping up with our schooling. We start school about 8am. Us big kids normally start with 5-10minutes of brain gym because our baba used to do it with his class when he was a teacher at high school and it helped his students be wiser when they did their tests.

Then we do half an hour of quiet reading and Yiayia Mary usually calls us for breakfast. We usually have toast or cereal and eggs. After our reading is done we do half an hour of writing – for instance we had to do different types from creative writing to journal writing to letter writing and blogging. Then comes my favourite – Maths – we have some really good new books that we bought at Walmart, to help with times tables and other things like that. We also have some really good games on our iPod called ‘King of maths’ and ‘Quick maths’. I do recommend it to other parents of you want your kids to practice maths. I’ve learnt a lot from them.
Next we go on to Greek. Some of the things we’ve done in Greek this week is interview our Yiayia Mary and Papou Vangeli and some of their friends as well, in Greek, and then write the answers out in sentences. We’ve also written a letter to our wonderful private Greek teacher who we learnt a lot from. Her name is Kristalenia. Of course we wrote the letter in Greek – when baba corrects it we put it on the iPad and send it.
We’ve also got some wonderful new books for reading and writing that baba bought at Walmart. They’re fun to work through but they’re still new.
Every morning Yiayia and baba sit in the garage that looks onto the street, having a Greek coffee and they say it makes them feel like they’re in the village. She usually makes the coffee and yells for baba loudly or rings the bell lots of times so he comes out.

imageSusie and Nick are our uncle and aunt and are Yiayia Mary and Pappou Vangeli’s kids. We went to Uncle Nick’s and Aunty Vicky’s place on the weekend on Saturday night and it was extremely fun. It was the day of the 3rd place for the World Cup and we got to watch all of that – I was sad about Brazil and seeing Neymar on the bench but I feel happy for Holland – especially cause we have just been there. The food was also delicious – we love BBQs because we just love BBQs and meat.
Uncle Nick also let us have about 100 DVDs – even Alvin and the chipmunks. My three favourite movies that he gave us are Alvin and the chipmunks 1 and 3 and also Beverley Hills Chihuahua 3. I got to play Xbox with my cousin Evan which was so cool. We played soccer and it was awesome even though it was my first time playing soccer on the Xbox. Firstly it’s my first time because we don’t have an Xbox and my dad doesn’t let us play computer games unless we are visiting people or if it’s in OSH (after school care). He thinks we should play soccer outside not on a Screen.


imageWe also went to Aunty Susie’s and Uncle Matt’s place a couple of nights ago for a pizza night. It was absolutely cool and delicious. imageAunty Susie showed us some photos of baba at her wedding and other photos. It was weird seeing my baba posing for photos when he was a teenager and he had lots of hair.

 

 

 

Yesterday we had some visitors who were also cousins and my baba knew them lots when he was younger. They were Mary and Helen who had kids about 14 years old except one girl Lia was three years old. She was very cute and light as a feather. Mary and Helen’s parents are Yiayia Fani and Papou Apostoli. Apostoli and Papou Vangeli are brothers.


It was good having other kids around that were sort of our age to play with. Emilio was playing Lego with two of the boys Nick and Joseph and was attacking them with pillows.

imageWe went to our other cousins place – Cyndi – and had lunch with her. It was sad cause her mum Thia Souli was in Greece so we didn’t get to meet her. But they had an awesome place and we watched the World Cup final game together. I have watched lots of World Cup matches this time.

Bye for now – by Tobes

My love affair with Toronto began on November 14, 1986. Well I really should say it’s the day that I met and fell in love with my cousins and their whole extended family. Don’t get me wrong – Toronto is a lovely city but a place takes on amazing life with amazing personal relationships.
Anyway – I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was only 16 years old and I hadn’t met these ‘Canadian cousins’ before. Since I was going to Greece for the summer holidays my dad mentioned that maybe I could go to Canada first and meet them. I jumped at the chance so we both went on the tram and almost skipped our way to Parthenon travel in Lonsdale st. Melbourne (yes you still had to get printed tickets from a Travel agent then). Before I new it I was sitting on a plane that seemed to stop at every island across the Pacific (well Fiji and Hawaii at any rate!) and 34 hours later I had arrived in Toronto airport. I was quite excited most of the trip but getting closer to Toronto I suddenly started getting really nervous. What is they weren’t there? What if I didn’t recognise them – the photos we had were a few years old! What if they didn’t like me and wanted me to leave? All the usual teenage fears overcome me. If they weren’t there – what would I do? This is before the Internet, before mobile phones. I guess I could call Australia through an operator………. Just as I thought that I was walkingthrough customs and a window to the crowd waiting below and my aunt Menka saw me, instantly recognised me (as she said I looked like my dad who she grew up with as a brother) and next to her was my uncle Vangeli, my gorgeous cousin Susie and Nick who seemed so tall and planned all these crazy adventures for ‘the Aussie’. I was so relieved.

I also got to meet my wonderful Aunty Souli and Uncle Jim – their kids Cyndi and Gabriel were were little at the time but I felt I got to see them grow. It was so much fun to spend lots of time together and especially loved going to watch them play ice hockey.
I had such a brilliant two weeks with my lovely relatives that I vowed to return. And that I did – this is my 10th trip back to Toronto. I came back for their weddings. We kept in contact through letters – I missed a lot of the growing years of their kids though I felt I shared some of it through Facebook. I’m so glad I’m back now after 15 years so that they can meet my family and renew our strong and growing bond. What a fantastic time we had. My uncle and aunt were so nice to us, so hospitable, we felt really nurtured. While I was driving around on the last day with my uncle Vangeli he said ‘I’m really going to miss these kids – I love feeding them.’ He would come back each morning from the shops with delicious fruits, veggies, and of course – Ice cream! How could I say no when he came down with ice creams at 9.30 in the morning. The kids just loved it. We all loved our time there.
Thanks so so so much.
By Baba MiliKing

0

Border crossings, Belgium and Wonderful cousins

What I love about Europe is that it’s a very big place but in such small distances there is a big change in culture, language, diet – it’s so exciting and I love that!
imageIt had been about 20 years since I saw my Belgian cousins. They are obviously cousins from Greece whose parents migrated to Belgium many years ago. Twenty years is such a long time especially when some of my cousins were 15, or even under 5 years old at the time. However over the last few years I have felt that I have enjoyed connecting with their lives and their paths through Facebook – there are many negatives and drawbacks to Facebook though I love the beauty of connecting with my family and friends overseas.
Anyway – when we were camping in Holland I couldn’t pass up the chance to see my cousins and aunt and uncle again – and it took us less than an hour and a half to get there – yes! Another country. Back in Australia it takes us that long to go shopping in Albury!

Anyway it was quite interesting when we got to Verviers I stupidly pressed a wrong button on my iPad and lost our directions on the map app that sometimes follows us on our drive even when we are offline. So then we had no idea where to go – we stopped in the central area and I walked past a cafe and stood outside Mcdonalds to get onto wifi (at least they’re good for something!) and reboot our directions. Well I wish I had gone into that cafe because as I found out later on in the day – it was my cousin George’s cafe – we went there for lunch. Very freaky serendipitous moment that I didn’t take cause I knew I could get free quick wifi a few doors down. Small world!

imageAnyway – our cousin Chris had just been to Australia a couple of months ago to visit his gorgeous sister Alexandra who is on a working holiday – at the time most of my family was out of Australia which was shame. First time I met him he was a few years old. So good to see him – he was very jovial despite Belgium losing in the World Cup the night before!

imageWe all met at my other cousin Anna’s house who was 15 last time I saw her and it really warmed my heart to see her so happily married to Morad and with a beautiful young son Adam – and just moved into a great new house. I love being able to visualize them all in their Belgian lives now that I’ve seen it and felt it. My other cousins George and wife Fani and aunt and uncle were working in their cafe so we went there for lunch and boy was it a feast. I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat for days after. Very yummy. My cousin George who is my age and who I spent some great ‘young time’ with now has kids and his youngest son is Theo who is similar age to our older kids – great for them to connect and who knows maybe they will connect again independently and have their own relationship and memories. I hope so!


imageAt the end of our day it was lovely to all go together to the point where Germany, Holland and Belgium meet. The kids got a real kick out of being in three countries at once.

imageEven border crossings are a foreign concept to Australians unless we are talking about state lines. Wish we could have stayed longer but it was great to share a fun day together. Until next time…………

By Baba MiliKing