Monday, July 1, 2013

Greece 2013

This summer we were blessed to get the chance to go back to Greece to visit our family! The kids and I traveled there separate of hubs for two weeks, then he joined us for the remaining two weeks for a total of a month. We had an amazing time catching up with our family members. So much had changed in 3 years, but then again, it was like we never left. Seeing these pictures again makes me long for our family. We had the best time with my father in law, and also an amazing trip to Northern Greece, just the four of us.

One of the first things the kids wanted to do when we arrived at our house was slip and slide on the marble balcony. They would get a nice running start then slide down the marble giving themselves "marble burn" and squeeling with delight.

Our cousins were still in school, and the school was nice enough to let Steven and Amanda Lily come to class with them. Papou' packed them lunches each morning, then Aunt Heidi would come pick them up. They had a fun time making new friends. All the girls loved Amanda Lily's long blonde hair.

Saturday morning Vegetable market in downtown Sparta.

Picking Cherries out of the neighbors tree at our families mountain home in Agrianos. Amanda Lily would eat them before Papou' could pick them!

In the two weeks hubs was still in the States, Papou' took us on many adventures. We saw and experienced all things Greek, and loved every minute of our time with him.
When Hubs arrived, we kicked it in high gear and did a lot of traveling. ...
Here he is throwing Amanda Lily around in the pool in Northern Greece. We stayed at a hotel called Ionian Blue. It was amazing.

Our favorite getaway was to Northern Greece (6 hours from home) where we stayed and explored for 5 days. We rented a boat for a day and cruised to the different islands, stopping frequently to snorkel.

Saying Goodbye to family is never an easy thing to do. Here we were saying goodbye before heading the spend two days in Athens, then back to Florida.

In Athens, we had to fit in a ride on the underground Metro. Steven had been on the Metro 3 years prior, but he still relished every second of it.

Our sweet cousin Paraskevi, who lives in Athens, gave us the day tour. 

We visited the Greek Parliament, and a beautiful garden.

And found more cousins to have lunch with.

This is the view of our olive trees from the balcony at home in Sparta.

The island of Elafonisos is so gorgeous. It is the most beautiful island that is close to our home in Sparta. We make the 3 hour drive every time we go to Greece.

At our hotel in Northern Greece, we had our own personal infinity swimming pool that overlooked the Ionian Sea.

Before leaving the islands in Northern Greece, we visited a local church where we each lit a candle as a symbolic prayer.

Our final tradition is to grasp the door handle before leaving. Greek's believe that doing this will cause you to return home once again. I can't wait til we do. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sports Banquet and Best Steak Marinade

May seems to become a blur to me once it's over. Good thing I have this blog to look back on. We've been wrapping things up for this school year, and our most recent event was Steven's end of the year sports banquet. Steven played JV Basketball and ran track this year. He's already very excited for the next season of basketball, but track.....not so much. Let's just say he's not a runner like his Mama. We told him that he would have to finish out this years track season, because Kountanis' don't quit. So, he finished, but I highly doubt he will be running with the track team next year. And, that's ok. He tried it, and decided he doesn't like it, so that's that.
The basketball season is another story. He didn't get much play, because the JV team is really for 6th and 7th graders, so being a 5th grader meant he was a fill in when one of the older boys got tired. However, he and his other 5th grade friends practiced just as hard, and were ready when they were called. Basketball was new territory for our entire family, so we all learned throughout this year along with Steven. There were some tense competitive moments this season, and I have to say, I am now a fan. Our little group of players ended up going UNDEFEATED the entire season, then won the entire CFLAA tournament. This was a huge accomplishment because we played against other private schools in the Orlando area that were much bigger than our little school. Our family had a lot of fun supporting this team, and look forward to next year when we can do it all again!

The basketball coach handed out trophies to each player.

The track coach gave each runner a medal and the ribbons they had won during the season.

And finally, the BIG REVEAL! For the first time in our school's history, a JV basketball team won the CFLAA tournament. That meant our school got a new banner to hang in the gymnasium. 

The boys and Coach Hoffert pulled the cord to reveal the banner......

And celebrated their hard work and efforts.

Now, the 2014 boys will have a title to defend!!!!
Go Crusaders!!!!

That night for dinner, I made one of Steven's favorite's. He loves this marinated steak, and it's easy for a hectic night because all you have to do is throw the steaks on the grill. 

Best Steak Marinade
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp basil
1 tsp ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds.Or, just put it all in a bowl and whisk. Pour marinade over steaks. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Cook steaks as desired.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Steven's Adventures in Airsoft

For Steven's 11th birthday, he chose to bring a few of his friends to an airsoft complex. We borrowed a friends large SUV, loaded it up, and made the 45 min drive. Afterwards, we brought the crew back to the restaurant for pizza and cake.

Here the kids are getting to know how everything works, and going over the rules of airsoft.

Christa was the only girl in the class who was interested in coming. She got in there with all those boys and didn't flinch. Steven said he was impressed and that she always had his back during the matches. I think there is a little "crush" action going on between these two. 

This is the "ready room" The kids get themselves locked and loaded here, and ready for battle.

Birthday Boy and his Dad. They are like me and mini.

After 4 hours of running around and sweating, these kiddos were hungry. 

The birthday boy somehow ended up with whipped cream in his face. Something tells me his Dad had something to do with this. He was a good sport about it though, and got a good laugh.

Happy Birthday to our sweet Steven.