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


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