The new Blog will be found at:
The new Blog will be found at:
Tomorrow we are having Zoe dedicated and we have a small video we want to show of her. If you are in America we wanted to post the video online so you can see it. If you are in Thessaloniki we can see you tomorrow in the person!!
Today our little Zoe is 1 year old!!!
Thanks Manny for putting this together!!
This week I filled up my heating oil tank in my home. Three years ago the tank cost under 175.00 euros to fill 500 liters. This week the cost would be right at 500 euros to fill the same tank. That is almost $5.00 a gallon for heating oil.....
To put that in perspective: A good income was over 1,000 euros a month, and averaged 800.00 a month 3 years ago. Statistically incomes have been cut almost 40% in the past three years due to all of the IMF measures. Prices on items go sky high. Incomes go down. Who knows what the future holds.....
Lets hope the weather warms up because there are a lot of cold houses in Greece this winter.
If you click on WIkapedia today you will see a strong protest against the Congress attempts to monitor copy written material on the internet. This idea is interesting because where does the rabbit hole end?
Yes its wrong to take material such as movies, music, and other goods on the internet. However, a law like this could go deeper into web content as well.
As an American living in Europe there is very little regard to the upholding of these infringements. Do you know that if your outside the US your not able to access shows on sites like ABC, NBC, Hulu, or other sites sanctioned by the industry. If these sites made it easier would people pirate television which is offered free anyways? The bigger question is how can the media industry adjust instead of trying to police something like the internet?
In 2007 Radiohead offered an album for free to download on the internet and people paid the amount they desired. However, almost 60% of people still paid nothing. The article is here.
How do you think the music and movie industry can be more creative to stop the piracy problem? Do you think Congress should police the internet? Whats a creative idea to stop piracy?
You can find out more about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) on the Google page here.
We have just moved in 6 new people to Thessaloniki for this upcoming year. I am so excited to see what 2012 has in store for us. I believe that this year will be fantastic for the iheart coffee house, our study abroad program engage, and our efforts with A21. This is truly a multiplication opportunity. Watch out 2012 we have 5 Texans, a cajun, mixed with a few PA people, and a MT boy! As my fiends from Australia say....... The best is yet to come.
My beloved 49ers have the first playoff game in 10 years. I have faithfully worn hoodies, pajama pants, and t-shirts this past decade. And its finally time to watch a playoff game. Its all going down on Saturday. I'll be staying up late to watch it live!!!
I thought I would post this video in honor of "the playoffs"
We are in the middle of Birthday week at the cbass household. Jamie celebrated her birthday yesterday, and had a great cake baked by her husband!! We also had a date night thanks to our friends Kali and Themis.
The Birthday festivities continue quickly with Mac celebrating the big 5!! He slept with a crown on, and wore it to school today! He has a cowboy party on Saturday!! (we got him a skateboard for his birthday but its a surprise)
Early this morning a 3.1 magnitude earthquake hit our local area. It woke up my wife who was obviously startled. I felt the final little twitch, and was surprised at how this small earthquake can pack such a punch!!
I would have totally slept through it if my wife had not woken me up...... Thus proving I can sleep through almost anything!!
If you a local you can get more of the details about the quake HERE
Earthquake, Thessaloniki - January 9, 2012
This year held some very big moments for our family. Those moments translated into trying times of stress, but also had a flip side of joy and accomplishment.
In 2011 we stated work on our coffee house called iheart located in Thessaloniki. It was a challenging process through the Spring to get the cafe to a point where it was not only nice, but inhabitable. The outcome has been awesome, and we have seen a tremendous response from the locals visiting our shop.
During the middle of the renovations we had our third child Zoe. She has been so precious, and she is growing like a weed. I am so happy to have a little daughter. She has a smile that lights up the room even though she only has four teeth!
As for living in Greece we have punched in three years on the time clock. The boys are getting extremely good at Greek, and mom and dad keep working on it daily. The life here is beginning to feel so at home.
We ended the Fall with a lot of activity including students from our Engage program, teams coming for a short time, and conferences. The Fall flew by bringing our time with our co-worker Andrea to an end. She lived here in the city with us for a year and a half and she helped make 2011 one of the best years we have had.
To 2012...... Here we come!
The front page of CNN reads of deadly clashes in Athens. The article shows some anarchists throwing rocks while a trash bin burns in the background. Frankly, the media makes me sick in how they are portraying the protests.
I walked the streets yesterday and saw most of the 50,000 protestors in Thessaloniki being peaceful and supporting a case for a better future. However, on the side were punk kids with spray paint. These same kids collected rocks, and later in the day set fire to trash bins. A couple of kids took the spotlight from 50,000 demonstrators.
If you read the "deadly clash" article further you'll find that it was a man in his 50's who had cardiac arrest. He was a Union worker probably going to lose his job with no hope for his future. He was not injured or near the tear gas. His deadly killer was probably too much souvlaki.
I am annoyed at the constant focus on the danger on the streets. The media wields a powerful sword....
Brady came home today and was a little sad. He explained in great detail how he pulled out a tooth in class. Apparently this was super cool to all the kids. Unfortunately, as quickly as he was walking in glory the spotlight faded as he lost his tooth on the floor. He is going to have to write a note this afternoon to the tooth fairy explaining the incident. For a kid who hates to write it became a double whammy.....
Mac came home talking about a girl he has a crush on. However, after 10 minutes of tickle torture we still do not have a name. I think I am going to share with him my atm pin even though he is only four years old.
Zoe has been talking to me all weekend!!! He first words are Ba-Ba..... Which in Greek is daddy. She loves to talk to me and she is bi-lingual!!!
Today a small business owner covered himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire because the debt is to much for him to handle from the banks (article). The banks are worried because there amount of deposits are slowing. And people are afraid to put money in the bank because of the debt Greece faces.
The talk of default is scary. The thought of taxes being raised is even scarier. Imagine paying 23% tax on a meal, a soda at a grocery store, or your electrician. Imagine paying almost $10.00 a gallon for gas. Imagine paying $7.00 for a latte at Starbucks. Imagine 17% un-employment, compounded by 40% of those who are working having delayed or no payments.
Greece is a headliner in every newspaper. However, the markets are looking to prop up the euro while the best interests of Greece are put to the wayside. There are no easy solutions, but the heat is rising in Greece.
The future will be interesting. καλη τιχη η κανουρια πατριδα μου.
As of today September 1st the VAT (sales tax) jumped on cafes, restaurants, and bottled goods. The government desperate to raise 800 million euros in extra taxes for its bailout packages. The previous VAT was 13% which was high already. We can now brag that we have the highest VAT on coffee in the EU.
The feeling on the ground is that the government is trying to get every last drop of revenue as if the citizens are a damp towel that can be ringed out again and again. Now at our cafe or when we go out to a restaurant we have to add on 23% to the bill.
It is what it is..... As if things were not already expensive enough........
Today Jamie and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary... Time is flying by, and I have enjoyed the journey with Jamie. We had a nice coffee this morning and reminisced on some of the best times we have enjoyed this past decade. We talked about the time we back-packed Europe in year 2, went to Disney world with Tim and Liz during year 3 (we were all super fat), our time at CLA, our move to Europe in year 8, and our adventure with each kid.
Top of the list was our 3 day getaway in Rhodes (year 9)!!
Looking forward to more great memories!!
There are times when a a cultural nuance still surprises me here in Greece. Over the weekend we took a trip and wanted to go to a specific restaurant. When we arrived around 7 pm we were told that they did not open until 8 pm..... So we went to our second choice since the kids were starving. As we walked in a little after 7 pm the hostess told us that we could have a seat, as long as we left before 10 pm. The restaurant was booked solid after 10 pm. I guess the early bird does get the worm....
I am a lucky man who has a wonderful wife. I cannot express how amazing she is and how lucky my boys are. The past 12 days have produced some funny moments. So before my wife returns I thought I would write them down. I hope you get a laugh.....
I woke up and got Brady a cup and some milk, and then took a shower. When I came into the kitchen he announced that he had 10 glasses of milk. Sure enough he drank a 1 liter container by himself....
Yesterday Brady wore a sweater vest without a shirt. It was ridiculous, and even more so that I went to the post office with him dressed like that.
Pizza was served by delivery and frozen multiple times.
I counted the water-park as a bath.
One evening Jamie called at 11:45 and was surprised when she heard the boys wide awake. I explained they woke up from their nap late at 9pm. She then asked about dinner. I explained they had it after their "afternoon" nap...... (they had a normal sleep schedule after that day)
I apparently can make a mean chocolate cake. It was enjoyed by the boys for several days.
I have a greater appreciation for my wife, and had a ton of great dad and lad time with the boys. I have had the chance to watch MegaMind, get a happy meal, and have countless fun moments with the boys. I'll look back fondly on these days, but look forward to Jamie coming home!!
An Applebee's has been taken over by it's workers on the prime road of Nikis in Thessaloniki. Here is how it happened.....
For the past two months the management of Applebee's refused to pay it's employees which is a common practice in Greece. Almost 40% of the workforce is behind on payments in some form. I know firsthand so many stories, and these workers were no exception. They were unpaid for 2 months before they protested. After the protest the management pulled out leaving everyone without payment for their work. No job, not a dime.
The owners walked out, and the employees stepped into place. They have taken over the restaurant and sell souvlaki instead of burgers. I paid a visit the other day to see what the deal was, and it was sad to see these workers receive nothing for their hard work.
Their plan is to make enough money to recoup their loss and walk away. I guess people will still be eating good in the neighborhood..... Sort of.....
Jonathan payed volleyball for PAOK, a local team here in the city and he and his wife became good friends of ours. He is an Olympic hopeful and a tremendous role model.
Check out the article Here
Check out the Winders blog on the right hand side!!
While my wife is away for 10 days it creates a perfect time to break any unwanted habits from the boys. Ask anyone who has helped our boys in the morning and you'll find out they are serious divas with their milk. It needs to be in a particular cup, with a particular straw, each boy needs a particular color, warmed to a luke-warm temperature, and needs to have a cocoa flavor. Basically, they can't get through the morning without their pre-madonna chocolate milk.
After a few days in Athens they have miraculously survived with cold plain milk. I have been commissioned by Jamie to continue this trend to break the chocolate milk cycle.
Today I had victory with only minor whining and one small tear. It helped to use chocolate crasants to lighted the blow.
I would say that in a couple of days cold white milk will reign supreme in the mornings.
Life has been a little silent on the internet side of our life as we have been patiently waiting..... and waiting...... hoping and waiting........
We had a great friend give us some buddy passes to have the chance to fly standby home for the summer. Since we are on a fixed budget it was an amazing option for us to have a visit back home. But as our friend said what we will not pay in dollars, we will pay in other ways. We wanted to beat the rush however, Zoe's passport was delayed which pushed us into the heavy tourist season.
Rewind to last Tuesday. We took our first attempt to fly out of Athens. Little did we know this was the closest we would get to the states. Jamie and the kids got the gate, but ended up taking the walk of shame back through baggage claim. Each day we would try to take the only flight back to the states along with tons of passengers, cargo, and other standby's.
Maria was the guardian of the gate, and in her very professional kind way turned down scores of wandering standbys daily. She would decide if we would fly or if yogurt, fish, or other cargo would take the open seats. Saturday there were 60 open seats, but the plane was filled with frozen fish.
So after six days we have thrown in the towel. I am going to send Zoe and Jamie home, and the boys and I will have the rest of the summer here in Greece. We will trade adventures in Phoenix, Montana, and Pennsylvania for some dad and lad time in Greece.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to make the attempt. There is always a next time!
Last week my friends Kali and Themis received a phone call that every parent fears...... "There has been a bad accident with your son". Their son Daniel was on a bicycle when he was hit by a car, and the trauma was life threatening. His 16 year old body had been under pressures, surgeries, and a medically induced coma. He has survived, but everyone is praying for a miracle. The first miracle has been answered - he is alive. However, we need another miracle today. We need his pupils to respond to light. We are not just praying for this response, but for full recovery.
Kali and Themis are my hero's. They have faced tragedy with confidence in God. They are walking in a strength that is not their own, and living in a peace that only God can give. We don't get to choose the things that happen in life, we can only choose our response. I want to be like them. Kali and Themis are hero's.
Please take a moment a say a prayer and pass this along to your friends and family. We are believing for a miracle.
Brady lost his first tooth this week!! He told everyone about his tooth!! The crazy part is the inflation from the tooth fairy. Kids here get a "bill" when they lose a tooth or a toy. This means that to give Brady the smallest bill possible he cashes in on 5.00 euro or $7.00..... Greece is expensive :o