Saturday, June 12, 2010

American Girls NOT in Moscow...

The view from the lobby where I can access free wifi.

We're all on the beach in northern Greece for a week, enjoying the peace and quiet outside of Thessaloniki. Katya has actually been here for a week already, and she'll stay for one more week after we return to Moscow. She's participating in the school's intensive three week study/summer camp program and loving every minute of it.

Last year both girls and I went on the school's three-week summer program to Italy and it was great; this year, however, I'm not working it. I ended up sending Katya, though, because she has been utterly obsessed with Greek mythology and Ancient Greek history for over two years. She has read multiple encyclopedias on those subjects, both in English and in Russian. This trip is right up her alley and she is thrilled that the über-talented High School history professor (recognized as one of the best in Russia) is also teaching Greek history and culture to the kids in the Elementary School this year. She even made herself a Greek/Russian/English conversation guide notebook based on information she was able to find on the internet!

As for Chris, Natalia and me, we don't plan to do that much while here... As much as I'd love to explore the country, we are tired. This is our first vacation in three years and we are long overdue... On top of that, I'm almost positive I have Strep throat. The school's doctor will check me out tonight and I'll be able to start treatment...

In the meantime, I'm trying to rest up. This morning I just lay there while watching Natalia swim non-stop in the beautiful ocean and pool! (I'll bring my camera to the beach tomorrow).

Relaxing by the pool, happily savoring the milkshake and sandwich that were brought to her as she lounged...

It has been fantastic for the girls to have some time apart... They've never really had that in their lives. If we still lived in America, they would often visit grandparents, and it would be very different... They could make little trips without us, getting a little break from us (and, um, vice versa!!!)... They could also take turns visiting grandparents on their own, thus getting a break from each other. Since we live in Moscow, that's just not a reality—and they have to share a room in a city where they can't even play outdoors on their own. One top of that, their summers are spent visiting relatives instead of relaxing in their own neighborhood, and the travel isn't easy (it's particularly hard on Natalia).

They needed SPACE and some peace and quiet. So did I. When my best friend at school offered to personally keep her eye on Katya, I gladly accepted the invitation to have her take part...

By all accounts, Katya has been thriving. So much so, that I was a bit afraid she wouldn't even be that excited to see us... She had, in fact, earlier complained to my mom that Chris, Natalia and I had chosen to vacation in the exact same place where she was having camp... But once we arrived, she came running up, elated that we were there. It helped that I was a mini Santa Claus, bearing trinkets sent by parents still back in Moscow—so her friends were pretty happy to see us, too!

I think the peer pressure from her roommate to clean up after herself will have taught her more than any chore chart I've tried in the past five years...

I can tell how much she has blended in with her peers from a comment made by someone on staff at the hotel here... I was curious how Katya has been doing managing her pocket money, and I inquired in the little gift shop/convenience store. The woman immediately knew who Katya is, and I was tickled pink to hear that while she examines everything, she is very frugal in her choices and usually only picks out one small item—which she often then gives as a little surprise to a friend who is feeling homesick. The woman then complimented me on Katya's fantastic English, telling me that she must be one outstanding student!

I concurred that she is—but then let the woman in on the secret that Katya is, in fact, AMERICAN! The woman was so surprised!


Tina in CT said...

How nice for you to hear how sweet Katya is with thinking of her friends that are homesick and that she's blended in so well with her classmates.

Did Natalia borrow a bathing suit as I don't recognize it?

Hope you've bought the water shoes so you all can enjoy the beach.

Your view from the lobby looks nice with the palm tree. Nice to sit there with your laptop and fancy coffee.

I sure hope Natalia joins the school group so you can relax.

I sure wish you were in NY (as you know) and the girls could come for weekends as Katya used to. I miss that so very much.

Today I'll continue in my cleaning campaign.

I started making the pages last night for Katya's camp scrapbook. I want to have it all done before you arrive so you can take lots of pictures when we bring her and also pick her up. Hopefully she'll have a camera there to take pictures during her time there.

Tina in CT said...

P.S. You had the same strept last year in Italy. I'm not surprised you are sick with the unbelievable schedule you have. Hope the meds perk you up. Handy to have Peter there with his meds.

Rachael said...

If anyone deserves a real vacation, it is you!! Hope you are feeling well soon and that you enjoy the rest of your trip. I've always wanted to go to Greece! I would be jealous, but we just returned from 10 days in Barbados, which was its own little paradise. I hope you will share more about what you thought of Greece though! And Enjoy!!!

Anonymous said...

That is so funny that the woman complimented Katya on her English!
Hope you feel OK.
Enjoy and relax!

Annie said...

It is hard to fathom that your children could have as rich and varied a life if you lived in America....but I'm sure you could manage it.

My kids look forward to a trip to the Mall? camp at the park? A one-day excursion to OHIO, for heaven's sake! Your girls are SO, SO fortunate.