Constant state of sneezing

I arrived here in January with a cold. I’ve been sick ever since. Or at least it feels that way: sick for two weeks, well for one week, sick again for two weeks. I’m not the only one. Parents I’ve met at the Embassy complain that their kids are catching everything this spring. It must be a rite of passage for newcomers. Our immune systems have to adjust. It doesn’t help that I have a mass-transit-obsessed grade-schooler and a weekly class for Violet at the “Germ-boree.” I’ve been trying to escape the American stereotype of nervous germaphobe, swabbing my children with Wet Ones at every opportunity, but I think my cavalier stance on germs has backfired. It seems that at least one member of the family is sick at any given moment. Violet is just recovering from a snotty nose and fever, and now James and I have runny noses and sore throats.

About a month ago I completely lost my voice. Not fun when you’re trying to give your address over the phone to a confused Ikea delivery guy who hardly understands English. By some miracle our wardrobe arrived. Actually, no miracle – I ended up just texting him.

When Violet was born, my aunt and uncle bought us this super fancy humidifier off our registry. You could dial the steam up or down, very handy when your sick baby sleeps in the smallest room of the house. We wanted to bring it to Greece, but the voltage was all wrong, so we left it behind. (As an aside, there are two options when using American appliances in Europe: adapters and transformers. The US uses 110V and Europe uses 220V. Looking at the back or on the plug, if it says 110V-220V, you can use a simple adapter. But if it only says 110V, you have to use a bulky transformer, a one-foot square box that you plug the appliance into, and then plug the box into the wall. The transformer gets so hot you have to put it on a ceramic tile, and they advise you to turn it off when you’re not using it. They’re also very expensive. The embassy provided us three, and we don’t plan to buy anymore. James already has them slotted to run the TVs and Blu-ray players. You know, the important stuff.)

While in the midst of a particularly virulent strain with a horrible hacking cough, I decided I needed to track down a humidifier. I had to go to five different places before I finally found one at a pharmacy…for 70 Euros. And it’s completely bare bones…no filter, no steam control. I basically plug it in, it almost instantly boils all of the water in the box, and after an hour it shuts itself off because all of the water is gone. My fairly large bedroom is comfortably steamy most of the night, but Violet’s room turns into a sauna if I run it too long. Back home you’d pick one of these up at Target for $25, it would work much better, and I could have one for each sick kid’s room.

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Liam enjoying his book nook.

I’ll tell ya one thing, though. I’m not letting my constant state of sneezing get me down. The kids seem to recover from these colds faster than I do, so as long as they’re rearing to go, I’m getting myself out and about as much as I can. I spent our entire trip to Delphi in a Musinex haze, but I still had a great time. I’m careful not to get too handsy with the little kiddos at Gymboree – I’ve had one cold or another the last three classes. And I’ve been working hard to make our townhouse feel like home. I made Liam a little “book nook” in the stairwell. Friday we’ll be swapping our furniture – the embassy will take back the stuff we don’t need and provide us with some stuff we requested. Next up, they have to send someone to hang things for us (we’re not allowed to put any holes in the house ourselves. Just as well – it always takes me a few tries to get my pictures hung straight.) With any luck, we’ll have everything put away and hung up by the time I recover from my last (knock on wood) cold of the spring.

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