Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beer Brewing

Chris' latest hobby is beer brewing. It started last year with one batch with his friend and has turned into quite an operation. I think we currently have 4 batches in our basement fermenting. They are staggered to be done throughout the next few months, just in time for Monday night football.

It's an interesting process and a fun hobby for him to do with the guys.

This nifty red thing is what they use to put caps on the bottles.

Liliana likes capping the bottles and my 1 year old daughter has now added the word BEER to her vocabulary. (Mama, Daddy, Hi, Bye, Up & Beer)

Yeah, I don't think we'll let the grandparents know about that one quite yet.

Friday, September 16, 2011

2 Way Street of Hospitality

Tonight we had dinner with our friend Emily. She is Chinese and cooked traditional dishes for us. Dinner was at 6:30 and she told us she started cooking at 2:30. She spent 4 hours cooking these Chinese specialities to share with us. I can't tell you how honored I felt.

(On a funny side note.. one of Sophie's favorite things to do lately is wave. She loves it. Literally every time she sees someone's hand go up or someone leaves she can't wait to wave at them. So, as we were leaving, Sophie saw Emily's buddha statue. This particular Buddha had one of his hands up in the air. Sophie was so excited when she saw him, pointed and started waving Bye-Bye to Buddha. So cute!)

Earlier today I had lunch with the lady who heads up Madison Friends of International Students. It is an organization that has been around for almost 40 years and they work with international students at UW to offer them conversation partners, opportunities to eat Thanksgiving with American families, furniture loans, etc.. It is a great organization and we have been involved for 1.5 years.

Sherry asked me why I am involved with MFIS. I told her that my dad immigrated when he was 17 and left his entire family in Greece. He would share stories of people who invited him into their home and made them feel like family when he first arrived in the USA. Those acts of hospitality are what helped my dad acclimate to this culture and start a new life for himself, his family back in Greece and the future generation. He would often tell these stories and so it just stuck with me how important it is to offer hospitality to people, particularly those who are far from family.

Hospitality is an amazing thing we have as human beings. Inviting someone to share a meal in your home, going to their home to try foods you can't pronounce. Laughing. Waving at Buddhas. It is life-sharing life. And I love it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Who Thought up This Stuff?

Tonight I took the girls to play place at the mall to give them an outlet for their energy. As I watched Sophie climb on big spongy trucks and Liliana jump off of gigantic tunnels shaped like light bulbs, I wondered who in the world invented this stuff?

When I was a kid and you went to the store, you simply walked alongside your mom. Now kids have mini shopping carts at the grocery store and even a play area with pretend food and wall chalk. (This is what you find at the store up the street from our house. Liliana loves it when we go grocery shopping!)

Life as a kid is so much different. Gone are the days of having to sit perfectly still and quiet when in public. Now there are coloring books and activity walls and all sorts of goodies to entertain the kids.

I have to admit as a mom, it is nice having these luxuries so close to home. In the dead of winter, I am grateful for story times at the local Barnes and Noble where they have Clifford the Big Red Dog appear. Or when the library serves free donuts for the "Donuts with Dad" story hour.

Although I also want my girls to enjoy the calm of nature and to delight in sitting in the back yard and watching birds fly overhead, I am still very grateful for all the fun extras in our lives.
Thanks to whoever thought to put big sponge shaped objects outside the JC Penny's entrance. I am one grateful Mom!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Yesterday the weather was gorgeous and my girls happened to take an extra long nap. So.. I sat in the back yard with my journal and had a great time of thinking and catching up on life. It was much needed.

At one point I was thinking about Sept 11 and the 10 year memorial. I was actually flying into Germany 10 years ago on Sept 11. Shortly after we landed I was tired from jet lag and taking a snooze when our friends woke us up and made us go to the tv to see what was going on. It was so surreal. It was especially surreal not even being in the USA while all this was going on. The Germans were amazing and comforting and so compassionate. We were traveling with our band Warrior Poets (my husband used to play with a band that traveled around). It ended up being our last tour we did as a band and I will never forget it and the impact it had on our lives.

So, here I am 10 years later. I am a mom. I live in a safe neighborhood. My kids have no idea what terrorism means as they happily went to bed tonight with full tummies and a fun day under the belt. We have so many freedoms. I can read and write and have access to just about any resources I could possibly need. I can drive. I have a husband who values me as a partner in life. The list goes on.

I don't know anyone personally affected by 9/11, yet my heart can't help to be stirred. I think about the losses. I think about the heros. I think about the evil. I think about redemption and hope.

I remember as a kids going to lots of memorials. Greeks do a great job of honoring those who have departed.
(Of course as a kid the best part was the snack we received- a traditional wheat berry dish with raisins and powered sugar.)
As I have grown older I have come to appreciate memorials as a time to remember and share perspectives. They are a time to cling to life and make sure it is lived to the fullest.

So, while I pray for God's comfort to wash over the 9/11 families and individuals affected, I am also reminded to live my life today with no guarantee for tomorrow. To enjoy life and make the most of whatever moments I have. I am going to bed tonight with a full and thankful heart. I will wake up tomorrow ready to live dreams and take moments to look directly into the eyes of my family, to give lots of hugs and kisses. To live the life given to me.

Thank you God for life. What a precious gift!

Friday, September 9, 2011

End of Summer & Anniversary

The end of summer has arrived. Whew! (It was good, don't get me wrong. But I am super duper excited for Fall)

This Sunday will be our 2 year anniversary as a church. Looking back it seems like WAY longer. It's hard to believe all the people we've met and lives that we've connected with in just 2 years.

Two summers ago we had arrived in Madison and met with a handful of people in our apartment living room talking about our vision for Madison Vineyard Church. Now we have a vibrant group of people who call MVC their church home. Each Sunday is full of new people to meet & stories to hear. I never get tired of hearing people's stories and their spiritual journeys. It is one of the best things ever.

As we get ready to launch year 3, I feel grounded on one hand and completely full of faith on the other hand. We have no idea what this year will hold, but I know in my heart it will be good. We feel momentum and favor and JOY.

Bring on the Fall!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sophie Turns 1

My little Sophie had her first birthday in June.

We actually had an early birthday party in Texas with our family there.

Then our cousins from St. Louis visited and we had a 2nd birthday party going to a water park at the Wisconsin Dells and having a blast swimming, playing and hanging out with them.

I love my Sophia Analise. (or more affectionately known as Sophie, Soph-Soph, Sofa, and Sofamatic)
Her smile brightens my dad and her joy is absolutely contagious!

Summer Fun part 1

Considering I am digging out our long sleeve shirts today and transitioning to the Fall, I thought it would be time for some summer updates.

We've been able to travel and see family and friends during the beginning of our summer, which is always great.
Chris' cousin got married in Texas, so we had the chance to go there for the wedding.

(Chris lavishing his love on his younger brother AJ)

It was the first time for Sophie to meet most of her cousins in St. Louis and my first time to meet my cousin's beautiful twins!

We also went to Chicago to visit my dad's sister, Georgia.

Very thankful for all the loving family in our lives.