Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breaking News: Mommy blogger reachers new level of stress and worry

H1N1 has been on my mind these last few days because a couple of very young people have suddenly died from this flu. It is all I have been talking about with my family and friends, and it's all I've been talking about on Twitter, too.

I'm the type of person who has a hard time deciding what to wear each day. I have a hard time deciding on what colour - what shade of brown - to paint my walls. I am a very indecisive person. Making decisions does not come easy to me, and I often need re-assurance by other people. Mostly by my family and close personal friends, but I value the opinions of my online community, too.

I have lost sleep and calories (meaning, I keep forgetting to eat!) because I have been debating the H1N1 vaccine for several days now. Yes, people die every year from the regular flu, but H1N1 seems to be a far worse flu for various reasons. Young, healthy people are dying everyday from this flu. Our hospitals are seeing many cases of this flu daily. In some cases, very severe cases. It's just scary. At the height of my worry, a few months ago, I was hoping 'they' would come out with a shot to help everyone stay healthy.

Finally, a vaccine was approved in Canada. And then there were doubts... doubts about the safety of a vaccine that was made so quickly, doubts about the ingredients this vaccine contains, doubts overall.

I have read everything you can imagine from the Public Health Agency of Canada website, from the Health Canada website, and other medical articles. I have read all the Q's and A's. I have read articles from the World Health Organization. Basically, everyone across the board - and by everyone I mean all the experts, the doctors, the researchers and scientist - all say the vaccine that is out right now is SAFE and effective.

The vaccine that is currently available in Canada contains Thimerosal, which, as we all know, contains a small amount of mercury. The amount of mercury in this vaccine is about the same as the amount of mercury found in a can of tuna. Nothing I would worry about. Also, Thimerosal is in all the flu vaccines that are given out in Canada, anyway, from what I've heard. It's nothing new. The controversy around this preservative has never been proven; in fact, the fears have been all but dismissed as completey untrue. My doctor says not to worry. That it is safe. It's such a small amount.

The vaccine we have in Canada contains an 'adjuvant' - basically, an element that includes a substance that boosts a person's immune system and increases their response to a vaccine. An 'unadjuvanted' vaccine has no booster element. Adjuvanted vaccines are in other common vaccines, like tetanus shots. The adjuvant in Canada's H1N1 vaccine is made up of natural ingredients like water, squalene oil and vitamin E. Squalene is a naturally occuring substance found in plants, animals and humans. After reading about this obsessively, the conclusion is that it is safe.

In June of this year, the WHO held consultations on the safety of adjuvanted influenza vaccines to discuss known and theoretical safety concerns. The outcome of the WHO consultation was that no significant safety concerns or barriers to evaluating or using adjuvanted vaccines for the current H1N1 virus were raised. All evidence is suggesting that the adjuvanted vaccine is just as safe as the unadjuvanted vaccine. Apparently, the adjuvanted vaccine offers greater protection than the non-adjuvant vaccine.

The bottom line is this - if we can prevent a serious flu like H1N1, we should do whatever we can. Washing our hands more frequently, coughing and sneezing into our sleeves, staying home if we are sick, eating healthier, taking our vitamins.

And getting vaccinated if there is a vaccine available to us. This is the year 2009. We have amazing scientists, researchers and doctors who did not just press the green light on this vaccine 'for fun'. This is serious. It's a pandemic. And I believe, I have to believe, I choose to believe - that my counry has my best interest at heart. It's not a totally new vaccine. It is very similar to the regular flu vaccine, which people get every single year. And did you know that every year they 'tweak' the flu vaccine? There are different ingredients in it every year, however, most of us have never questioned this before.

Now, we are being urged to get vaccinated - especially those in the high risks groups - which include children between 6 months old and 5 years old. My oldest son had a bad case of pneumonia last year - so bad, he required surgery in his lung to drain fluid. He had a chest tube in him for 4 days, and was on morphine. He had to wear an oxygen mask. IV, countless ultrasounds, C/T scans, x-rays. It was a nightmare, to say the least. I have seen my child that sick. I never want to see that again. I have been given a chance here to prevent my children from getting H1N1. An approved vaccine is available to me. I'm no doctor. And we all know (besides a few reputable sites online - such as Health Canada and WHO) we can't totally trust all the negative information we read.

I wish I could run away with my children, to a place far away, where H1N1 doesn't exist. But that is not a real choice. Instead, I can choose to get my children - and myself - vaccinated. I spoke to my children's pediatrician, whom I trust. And he is recommending this vaccine. The one that is out now, the adjuvant one. I am feeling strongly about getting this vaccine for my children. Even though I do have doubts. It's in our best interest, health wise. Getting H1N1 is a far worse scenario than any adverse effects the vaccine may have.

I never questioned any of the immunizations my children received. Shot after shot, I approved and happily got them vaccinated. I never even asked what the ingredients were in these vaccines. I just trusted the doctor. And got my children vaccinated.

This has been the hardest choice and decision I have had to make as a parent yet. It's not fun. It's not easy. It's absolutely stressful. And I hate it. It makes me cry. I feel horrible for all of us having to make such a critical choice. We can only do what we think is best. Whatever that may be.

Good Luck to you all. And let's hope this flu goes away soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

When doing it solo makes more sense

Sometimes, certain things are better enjoyed alone, even though they can also be enjoyed with a partner. Or even with multiple people at the same time. And while it can be very pleasurable when you do it as a threesome, or a duo, there is something to be said for doing it alone. When you do it alone, you will almost always have a happy ending. You know what you want and what you like. You don't have to do anything but the task at hand, and you can do it as quick as you like or you can take your sweet time, if that's your thing. You can fantasize and you can leave all your troubles at the door.

Of course, I'm talking about shopping.

When you go shopping, do you prefer to be alone, with your husband/significant other or with your friends?

To be honest - I love shopping solo. I get the most satisfaction and 'bang for my buck', so to speak, when I'm alone. I don't have to talk to anyone, I don't have to go into stores I don't want to go into, I don't have to wait to tell my friends they look good in what they're trying on, and I don't have to have a panic attack if I see my friend pick up the shirt that I was going to buy but damn it it's in her hands and now I can't say I want that shirt, too and I hope it looks terrible on her so I can buy it type of panic attack. Because that sucks.

When I'm shopping alone, I don't have to feel guilty about spending money on items I don't need. Tell me, is there anything more annoying than shopping with someone whose only goal is to make you feel bad about the experience? I often go shopping with my little sister, who is 6 years younger than me but also somehow more practical about things like shopping. (Even though she has a dozen pairs of designer jeans, and several pairs of UGGS, but I digress...) When I shop with my sister, this is what typically happens:

"Loukia? Why are you holding that black shirt? How many black shirts do you have? You don't need another black shirt. I thought you wanted to renovate your kitchen?"

"But, Gina... I don't have a shirt like this..."

"Yes you do. How many black shirts do you need? You're ridiculous."

Sigh. "Fine."

"Oh, my God, put that sweater down, it's ugly."

"Gina, but I love it!"

"Eww, really? I'm telling mom. You shop way too much!"

"Look, this is an awesome brown sweater and I'm totally buying it because it will go with my new brown boots and this way, I will have to wear the boots more often and it will be worth the money I spent on them if I buy more clothes to wear with them."

"Loukia. Look at what you're wearing right now. A brown sweater. You don't need another brown sweater. Seriously, no wonder you complain you never have any money..."

"I love this sweater, Gina! It's not the same shade of brown!"

"Fine. Buy it. You're just buying it for the sake of buying something."

I buy the shirt. I feel terrible about it, but I buy the stupid shirt.

Moving on, we enter a toy store. I see 2 cute trucks that I think would be great for my boys for Christmas.

"Oh, look, I'm totally buying these, so I can give them to Christos and Dimitry from eachother for Christmas!"

"Loukia. It's October. You have a shopping addiction and you need therapy."

"Therapy costs money, and I don't have enough money, remember?"

I buy the trucks.

And I remind myself to avoid bringing my little practical sister shopping with me again. Because that was a ruined shopping experience. Talk about unhappy ending! I got what I wanted, but it came at a price, and it wasn't the most enjoyable way to spend money. I hate having to justify my purchases.

Makes me want a refund on the whole experience. Next time, I'm doing it alone. It's always a better time and I always leave a satisfied customer!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A whole new world

This week I have had the opportunity to read some excellent blog posts about motherhood, courtesy of Jill from Scary Mommy, because she is holding a Scary Mommy contest, (the winner gets to have their post on the Motherhood website, under Eliza's blog - you know, Uma's character in the movie? Sweet! And? A flip video camera!) The entries have been incredible to read through - and I have also loved all the comments my post has received... thank you!

In keeping with excellent writing assignments this week, the lovely Mama Kat is having a contest of her own, and has posed the question: How has Motherhood changed you?

How has Motherhood changed me? It has changed me in ways I never thought possible. It changes me everyday. Life for me in certainly not the same as it was before becoming a mom. The most obvious change has been the incredible amount of love I have for my children. Never a second goes by that they are not in my thoughts, when I'm not with them; and when I'm with them, I can't get enough of looking at them, hugging and kissing them, and telling them how much I love them. I sometimes sit back and am amazed that I created these perfect little boys - boys with smiles that melt my heart, boys with strong and funny personalities, boys who are, well... mine.

Besides all the wonderful and joyful moments that come with motherhood - there is another side too, a side filled with worry and fear that no one can possibly relate to until they enter the crazy world of motherhood. It's probably the the thing I like least about being a mother - but it comes with the territory. It's a constant worry, a constant fear. I once said that the only time I will stop worrying about my children is when I pass away. Even then... doubtful. It is time consuming, and even if I'm out with friends having a good time, my children are always in my thoughts. You can also feel on a deeper level - I feel connected to other mothers, and their problems, although not my own, are felt deeply. I cry at commercials more often. I'm am emotional wreck, most of the time.

How else how motherhood changed me? I am more responsible. There is no room for error here - I can't screw this up. Not in a major way, anyway. I'm the pilot, the captain, the air traffic controller. I must be 'on' 24 hours a day. No calling in sick, folks. Motherhood is the real deal. You don't get a day off. Sure, you can get a weekend away with friends, or you can go to work for a few hours a day, but you're still 'on' - phoning home, shopping for your children, planning the week ahead. It's a full-time job! I'm changed because before becoming a mom my responsibilities were not as important.

Motherhood has also made me realize the value of time. You know how in the army they do more before 6 a.m. than most people do in a day? Well, the same is true for motherhood! It is truly a phenomena how MUCH we get done as mothers every single day. We wake up early, get ourselves and our children ready, feed everyone breakfast, get everyone dressed, break up fights, play with our children, prepare snacks and lunch, take them to school, or to the museum, change a few diapers, clean up, pick the children up from school, play, do crafts, prepare dinner, break up another fight, clean the house, put away laundry, feed everyone dinner, clean up, bathe the children, read books, and put the kids to bed. At the end of the night, I'm exhausted! Remember when you used to complain about being tired before having children? That is such a joke now. Really. I remember those days well. Staying up all night studying and being tired the next day? Nothing in comparison to when a mom is tired. We can't just nap if we want to. We have to be cheerful! all! the! time!

Motherhood has changed my views on things, too. I used to complain about the city I lived in because it wasn't that exciting. Now, as a mother, I see the value of living in a city that has plenty for children to do, has an amazing children's hospital, beautiful parks and museusm, and wonderful schools.I feel safe here. Now, instead of complaining, I am thankful about where I live.

Motherhood has also made me a more patient person. A person who can be on time. A person who can looked pulled together on a maximum of 4 hours sleep - broken sleep, I might add. A person who can mult-task like never before. I am a diaper-changing, nose-wiping, boo-boo kissing champion, a milk pouring, potty-training, clothes changing, laundry folding expert. I am a human vacuum cleaner. I have become fascinated by constuction sites and value the work construction workers do. I know the difference between an excavator, a bulldozer and a front-end loader. And trust me, I am put in my place if I get it wrong! I protect and teach and guide my children, I show them right from wrong, and I am their favourite playmate.

Motherhood has ultimately made me a stronger and more capable person. I feel like an accomplished person because I am a mother. The greatest joy of all!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm one very "Scary Mommy"

The fabulous Jill from Scary Mommy is having a contest to find someone else who fits the descption of 'Scary Mommy'. What is a 'Scary Mommy', you ask? Well, according to Jill, it is the definition of the anti-perfect mommy. The mom who loves her children more than anything else in the entire universe, but well, lacks something called 'perfection.'

I'm one heck of a "Scary Mommy".

I woke up to the sound of two boys calling for me: "Mama! Mommy! Mommy! Mama!" I glance to my left, and my youngest son is looking at me with a big smile. I look up at the clock - 7 a.m. "Damn it," I uttered under my breath. Yet another day that I forgot to get up before the children to get things - and me - ready before our day begins. I pick up my baby, and go to his big brother's room, where I try to get them ready for the day ahead. I've grown accustomed to showering in 5 minutes while my baby plays with things like tampons and floss on the floor in my bathroom. And I tell myself, yet again, that one of these days, I'll become 'that mom' - the one who rises before her children, showers in peace, prepares breakfast, does a load of laundry and works out - all before her children get up. However, I know in my heart that's a very unlikely scenario. I'm just too tired!

I love my children more than anything else on earth, but I'm far from perfect. I swear in front of my children. I yell too much. I sometimes rely on the television to entertain my kids so I can finish the housework. I've left the house with a messy ponytail in my hair. I do things I'm not proud of, things that make me a 'Scary Mommy'.



While there is nothing I enjoy more than being with my children, I have been known to take the easy route many times to avoid total meltdowns when we're out in public. For instance, if we are in a toy store, and my boys are filling the cart with items they want to buy, I will generally buy them whatever their little hearts desire. Why? Not because we need another bulldozer or two or three in the house, but because if I say 'no', they will be heartbroken, they will love me less (at least for the time being) and they will cry. Or lay on the ground and scream and kick and yell. Or all of the above. To avoid this, I do what any 'not perfect' mom would do - I give in. And we all leave happy.

I have also been known to let my boys raid the 'junk food' drawer at home right before bedtime. If they want to eat Dunkaroos, so be it. Orange frosting and cookies as a snack before bedtime makes them happy, and I'm okay with that. No perfect mom would allow these types of snacks to even enter her house!



If I need a few more minute online, I will give my youngest son a chocolate pudding and let him eat it by himself. He's very independent, you know. And the mess? Oh, the mess! I bet no perfect mother has to deal with this type of high chair clean-up, right? But see... I'm no perfect mom. Chocolate pudding allows me time on the Internet!



My children are also very familiar with Starbucks. In fact, I can bet large sums of money that both my children were saying 'Starbucks' around the same time they learned how to say 'Mommy' and 'Daddy'. And sometimes, they'll even have a sip or two of my warm beverage. But often times, I'll buy them their own kid's hot chocolate. While other 'perfect' moms might think this is not a good idea, I love it - and so do they.



If we are out of town, a stop at Krispy Kreme is always in order, too. Who doesn't enjoy sinking their teeth into a warm donut? A donut that has too many grams of fat and too many calories to even mention here, but hey - I'm a 'Scary Mommy', remember? And I let my children indulge in food other 'perfect' moms try to avoid!



My children are also not the most well-behaved when out in public. I, as their mother, even let them to play 'bookstore' when we're in book stores... they have fun, even though they make a huge mess. Allowing them to do whatever they want makes things easier for me. I pick my battles. I have enough on my plate already!



And I always manage to snap a picture of one of my children when they're crying, instead of trying to console them, because there is nothing more cute than a picture of a crying baby who is getting a haircut! Unless, of course, you're a 'perfect mom', and therefore, would probably not even think of taking a picture like this.



I sometimes allow my children to do dangerous things, too, because I know they'll be really happy. Like the time we got really close to a construction site and I let my son sit on a huge bulldozer. Just look at that smile... something a 'perfect mom' wound never allow!



I have done some pretty incredible things since becoming a mom. I rarely say no, I am not good at sticking to the rules I try to enforce, I complain almost as much as my children, I hide the last chocolate so I can eat it, and I have let my boys go days without taking a bath. Sometimes, there is just not enough time in the day! The same pajamas might be worn two nights in a row. Nothing in the house of 'off-limits'. Except the alcohol cabinet.

There was a time where my oldest son refused to take a bath. We had to think of some really creative ways to get him into the tub - like letting him take a container of whipped cream into the bathtub with him. He did this for months. He would eat whipped cream, I would wash his hair. Then we moved on to food colouring, where he would take a bath in blue and green water. Hey - this 'Scary Mommy' has tried it all - and no matter how ridiculous it might sound to you, these things have worked for me.

And while other children's moms will always bring an extra change of clothes with them in case their children get really dirty, I let my little ones run around with candy apple stains all over them.



I let my boys help in the grocery store, too. Which means letting them loose in the fruit and vegetable aisle, where they always manage to pull the plastic bags out a bit too much...



I also let my children sit and play in the kitchen sink. Sometimes, I'll even feed them while they're playing in the sink. As a distraction. And it works.



I'm a 'Scary Mommy' - a mommy who loves her boys so much it is actually... well, scary. And all these little things I don't do perfectly? I do them with love. I'd rather be a 'Scary Mommy', anyway.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My two peas in a pod

Being the mother of two young boys means that if they are awake, they are constantly on the go. They are very active, and it is almost impossible to keep up with them.

And the house? As much as I try to pick up after them, it is always such a mess. For about one hour after our housekeeper has gone home, our home looks very neat and tidy - sort of how it looked before we had children in the house. I take the time and enjoy the neatness, because I know it's not going to last. It truly is amazing how much craziness two little boys can get into!

But when the house is messy, and when the boys are running around playing, I enjoy it, too. I might complain as the mess is being made, but then I hear something like:

"Dimitry! Come here and jump on the couch with me!"

And I see my baby running towards his big brother, laughing, and jumping with him. Having fun. Two brothers having a great time.



I've made an observation lately, one that really warms my heart. My boys are playing together and they are enjoying eachother's company. They are friends. Christos is a very protective and caring older brother, and Dimitry looks up to Christos. They love eachother. And it's amazing to witness their relationship blossom.





They sometimes hold hand when they're walking outside. "Christos, hold your brothers hand," I say to him. And Dimitry looks up with his big brown eyes, and grabs on to his brother's hand, tightly. Watching them walking in front of me, I get all emotional, because it's just... awesome.

Seeing them interact nicely with on another is a welcome relief from the times they fight and get mad at eachother, which, for the record, is still a common occurance in our house. (It's amazing that, despite a house filled with more toys and books than a toystore itself, they will both want to play with the same thing at the same time!)

But more often than not, they are together, and they are happy. This morning, Christos gave Dimitry a gentle kiss on his tummy and needless to say, this melted me. I hope their relationship continues to grow, and that they remain best friends forever, because there is no bond like that between two siblings. It's simply amazing to see my children growing right before my eyes.

Totally shifting gears here... but I was interviewed on sweetmama.ca and you can read my interview here!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Motherhood

There is a new movie coming out called Motherhood starring Uma Thurman. Uma plays a mom... but not just any mom - she's a mom who blogs! How much do you want to bet I'll be first in line to see this movie? A lot of great bloggers I know are involved in the promotion of this movie, and some even got to meet Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver in New York City. How cool is that?

In honor of Motherhood, Mama Kat's writing assignment this week is to write about your mom. I thought this was a great idea, because, well, I love my mom!

Describe a moment when you realized your mom was more than just a mom.



I can't answer this with just one moment, because my mom has always been more than just a mom to me. My mom and I have a very close relationship - closer than most people I know. In fact, some would say we are too close, because we see eachother almost every single day and when we're not together, we are on the phone with one another. Not only is she a fantastic mom who has done everything for me, she is also the greatest grandmother there is. My boys are madly in love with their yiayia, and she showers them in such love, it is amazing to see. I still hope to one day be as great a mom as she is.





My typical day begins with a phone call to my mom, on the days she's not over to babysit. After I've kissed my children goodbye, and I'm on the way to work, I call her.

"How did the boys sleep? Did they wake up a lot at night? Did they eat a good breakfast?" Those are the typical questions that are asked within seconds. My mom, even though she is a full-time artist and career woman, babysits for us 3 days a week. I don't know how she does it all, to be honest... she even makes wonderful home-cooked meals for us to enjoy every night.

My mom is also a great teacher. She has taught me so much about life, she has dried my tears many times, and she is contantly teaching my children new things. She talks to my boys as her equal, and talks to them about important things. Even going on a walk with my mom is an educational adventure - my oldest son and my mom will talk about a tree, the falling leaves, or the changing weather. My mom will get in her car with my son to follow a street sweeper for 45 minutes just because it makes my boy happy.



She is always suggesting new places to take my children, and when she's with her grandchildren, she is fully hands-on - reading with them, playing with them, painting with them. She even finds it in her to take them swimming alone! She spoils them silly, but I don't mind. She never says no - and while this can be a problem at times, I understand how hard saying 'no' can be.

We also almost always travel together. My husband has gotten used to this arrangement, and truly? Best way to travel!





My mom is the one I go to when I need advice on anything. She is my best friend, and we've never had anything short of a great relationship. I am proud to be her daughter, and even though we also, being Greek, yell and fight, it's never anything that isn't forgotten about 2 seconds later. We are dramatic, and we are loud, but we're happy. And we're happiest when we're all together, as a family.

My mom is more than just a mom because there is nothing she can't do. She's driven, she's successful, she's a go-getter, she's a cook, a cleaner, a babysitter, and an all-around terrific person.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My three favourite books

One of the things I love most about being a mom is spending time with my children reading to them. To foster their love of reading is amazing. If I catch either of my boys with a book in their hands, I sit back and watch them as they look at the pictures, turn the pages, and get lost in the story. I'm an avid reader myself, a lover of books, and it brings me great joy to read to my children - it's one of the most important things you can do as a parent.

My home looks like a library because I buy books all the time. I think a house filled with books makes it a 'home'. I love knowing that my son's bookcases are filled with all kinds of books. And it's money well spent, too. Sure, we do frequent the library, but I love to own the books we love. Books are something that will never lose value.

There are a few books that are truly special to me, books I can barely read to my boys because I always end up crying and having to wipe away my tears.

The books that I hope my children will enjoy reading when they're older, when they can fully grasp the meaning behind them, and when they have their own children, are:

The Giving Tree
Love You Forever
Someday




Someday is a book by Alison McGhee. I first saw this book in the bookstore over a year ago, and I picked it up and started to read it. I instantly started to cry. I put the book down. Every time I was in the bookstore, I'd pick it up, read it again, and cry. I finally bought the book. I was torn, though - I didn't know if I should buy two copies or just one because I want my children to take this book when they're older to pass it on to their children, too. If you haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend it. I am warning you, though - you will have tears streaking down your face, so make sure to have a few tissues handy!

An excerpt from Someday:

"One day, I counted your fingers and kissed each one.
One day, the first snowflakes fell, and I held you up and watched them melt on your baby skin.
One day, we crossed the street and you held my hand tight. Then, you were my baby, and now you are my child. Sometimes when you sleep, I watch you dream, and I dream, too."


And it keeps getting better. It's the most beautiful book I've ever read. The author perfectly captured with words and emotion how a mother feels about her child. It's a book to cherish.

During an interview with the author, Alison McGhee said: "...once you have a baby, you're filled with that overwhelming love. And you're also filled with fear all the time, because you love something so much. And maybe it was a way for me to understand what John Keats' called negative capability - that ability to hold contradictory thoughts in your mind simultaneously. You know, I love this child more than anything and I want to keep this child safe. In order to keep this child safe, this child needs the strength to go live her own life fearlessly."

Well said, wouldn't you agree? It is a book that will pull on your heart strings, but perhaps not a book to read to very young children.



The book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a classic. I remember reading this book when I was young, probably in grade 4 or 5. My son received this book for his birthday last year, and I recently started reading it to him. The Giving Tree is about a little boy and his relationship with a tree. A tree that for years provides him with a place to sit, apples to eat, branches to swing from, and more. As the boy gets older, he needs the tree less... and as the boy gets older, so does the tree, until the tree feels he can offer nothing more to the boy. This book shows how life goes from being innocent and easy to more challenging and hard. It's a truly touching book, one that everyone should own because it tells a beautiful story with a beautiful message.



Of course, if you're a mom, you probably already own Love You Forever. I bought this for my oldest son for his first Christmas, and I have a hard time reading it without getting teary. You probably know this off by heart:

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."


My 4 year old likes me reading this book to him now. He especially likes the part when the little boys make a big mess in the bathroom... because it's something he can totally relate to!

These are the three books I think everyone should have in their home 'library', because these books are beautifully written stories and classics that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Do you have a special book you will always cherish or a book you love sharing with your child?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm good in the kitchen now, too!

The task at hand was not too difficult. It had been done before by mothers around the world, so I knew I could do it with some concentration, too. I didn't want to be that 'mom', you know? The one who wouldn't even try. The one who complained she couldn't do it. The one who gave up too easily, the one who would give in and find a more simple solution. No, this time, I was going to go through with it. No matter how bad the end result might be, there was no stopping me.

I told my husband to leave the house, to go to Starbucks, as I know in mere minutes the state of the kitchen would look as if a tornado had passed by, and I wanted to avoid any and all discussions about why I had even bothered.

I found what I was looking for in a cookbook I took from my mother-in-law's house. A recipe. A recipe for a simple dessert that most people love to eat. Carrot cake. A somewhat, um, healthy dessert.

I gathered the ingredients I needed, and bought what I didn't already have at home. My oldest son got to work with me. He peeled and grated all the carrots. At one point, I said to him: "Sweetie, I think we have enough carrots. We only need 2 cups." And he, my darling son, said: "No, mommy. When I made this cake with yiayia the other day, we used way more carrots than this!"

Thankfully, my son, my 4 year old son, was right. He peeled and grated more carrots.

Then... we started to bake the cake. And it was... simple, actually. All I had to do was read and follow the instructions. Although, to be quite honest, I didn't follow them exactly as the book said. For instance, when it said to mix the butter and cream cheese together first and then add the icing sugar for the icing? I added all the ingredients together at the same time. I don't think this really mattered, though, because it tasted great in the end!

And after 35 minutes of the cake sitting in the oven, I realized I hadn't really turned it on. I did something, because it was warm, but it was not where it needed to be - at 350F. So, anyway, in the end? The cake turned out perfect. It tasted amazing. And everyone enjoyed it at our big Thanksgiving feast yesterday!



Now that I have baked for pretty much the first time ever, my confidence has grown in the kitchen. I can totally do it again! Just keep me away from anything Martha Stewart - I'm never going to be that good!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. Actually, Monday is officially Thanksgiving, but I'm writing this post a little early because I know I'll be too busy to write anything this weekend!

I hope you all take the time to look around and say thanks for all the small things, for all the blessings, for all you have!

I'm thankful for:

A wonderful, loving, caring, and giving family who is always there for me. The bond my family has is so strong and I'm thankful for every single family member! I'm truly blessed.

My husband, who puts up with me every day and cooks for our family.

My children... I'm most thankful for my children, my darling boys. The love I have for them can not be described in words and the love I feel as a mother is so strong my heart feels like it's going to explode a million times a day!

I'm also thankful to live in this great country. We are blessed to live here. The quality of life we have, the health care, although not perfect, our education system, our parks, our museums, our trees - O Canada, indeed!

And I'm thankful for other things, too...

I'm thankful for some great fall tv shows, like Glee! And the fact that we are getting a Bath and Body Works, and that my favourite mall keeps opening up more great stores so I can blow my money on, and I'm thankful for Starbucks caramel macchiato. I'm thankful for great friends, and wonderful bloggers, and comments and my iphone and the fact that Christmas is around the corner. I'm thankful for good home cooked meals and chocolate and I'm thankful for songs that make me smile.

I'm thankful for everything, big and small. This weekend, I will not complain at all, about anything. That is my Thanksgiving challenge! And as for dieting... well, that can be put on the shelf right next to 'do not complain'!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful

First there was one,
and he was so much fun.
I learned something new every day.
The panic and fear was here to stay,
but the love was real when I watched him play.



Then there was two, and life changed again,
but the love in my heart blossomed like a flower in May.



These two boys, the loves of my life, remind me of summer and everything nice.
There is no greater joy than that of a mother, to see her children playing nicely together.





The laughter, the smiles, they warm me to pieces.
And watching them sleep always leaves me speechless.

A mother's love is like no other,
the feeling of pride she feels for her young,



And even when the day is long,
and even when your sanity is gone,
and even with marker all over the wall,
Just take a look at what you have, and be thankful,
for being a mother is the greatest gift of all!



Note to self: Don't quite your day job, Loukia. A poet you are not! This post was prompted from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, but instead of writing a poem about summer, I wrote a poem about being a mom... something I love more than summer! Also, it's national poetry day! So, happy poetry day to all you good poets out there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Don't sweat the small stuff

My son has been in kindergarten for almost one month now. It has, so far, gone exceptionally well - he loves school, and he's even beginning to open up about his day with me. I love hearing him talk about school! And I know he's happy there. But today? Today was a tough day. He just didn't want to go to school. And if you know my son, you'll know that once his mind is made up about something, there is almost nothing you can do to change it. He's very stubborn that way. Hmm... I wonder where he gets it from?

I was on my way to work when I got a call from my mom. She was trying to figure out how to work the DVD player, because Christos wanted to watch Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. She knew it was not a good idea to put the movie on, since it was 15 minutes before the time they had to leave for school, and I told her she should just talk him out of watching the movie and just get in the car to go to school. I could hear him saying "NO!" in the background.

I turned around and drove back home. I wanted to make sure he went to school, as I knew it was going to be 'one of those' mornings.

When I got home, he was riding his bicycle around the block. He told me he didn't want to go to school. I told him he had no choice, and that he had to go. I talked to him calmly, I reasoned with him, I told him he could come home after and play.

"No, I'm not going to school today."

That was pretty much it. I tried some more. I yelled, I even screamed. I threatened to call his teacher, even. I was at the end of my rope. I picked him up. He went limp, and he slithered out of my arms, and started to cry.

I was upset that this was happening, as we have had no problems yet with him going to school. But? Of course days like this are to be expected. And after a certain point, I think you just have to realize it's okay. It's one day. He's in junior kindergarten. And he'll go to school tomorrow. Was it worth it for me to continue pleading with him to go to school today? I didn't think so. I know tomorrow will be a better day. (It better be - it's picture day!) He's just a child, and he just wanted to play and go to the museum with his brother.

I kissed and hugged him, and told him tomorrow he was going to school.

"Okay, mommy!" he said, happily.

Yes, he won. And I'm okay with that. I know this won't happen often, and I know other kids sometimes don't feel like going to school, either. We really shouldn't sweat the small stuff.

What I'm really sweating over? What he should wear for picture day tomorrow! How stressful of an experience is that going to be? Any chance the school will let me in to stand behind the cameraman to make sure my son is smiling? And to make sure his collar is just right, and to make sure his hair looks good? Hmm... didn't think so, either.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Excitement. Panic. Realization. Calmness.

It happens around this time of year.



The stores are decked out for the holidays, Christmas trees are displayed, winter clothes are being worn, and shopping lists are being planned - the 'I want and I wish' lists, and the 'I can't wait to buy this for my children' lists.

Holiday outfits are being bought, but more importantly, the idea of actually starting that diet has taken over your thoughts. In order to fit into a really pretty party dress - whether to go to a party or to entertain for friends at home - you first have to fit into this dress. With new shoes, of course. So, the diet commences pretty much NOW in order to look your best two months down the road.

The idea of hosting a big Christmas party, a party you've always hosted and had great success with before having children, becomes a possibility in your mind again, knowing that your children could spend the night at their grandparent's house. You start thinking up your 'invitation' list - 8 to 10 couples, with a few other friends, should make for a very festive party. You remember how much fun hosting those big holiday parties were, and you fall into 'planning a party' mode.

You look for the perfect invitations.

Then you buy all the holiday baking magazines you buy every year, except this year, this year you vow to actually make something more than just sugar cookies with sprinkles on top. You, being the brave woman you are, visit your friend Martha's website. Where you are not only overwhelmed and depressed with all her organization tips, her holiday decorating ideas that are sure to make you declare bankruptcy, and her neat wrapping suggestions, but oh, the cookies! You tell yourself you can actually do more this year. There are dozens of cookies to make, all so very pretty. Recipe in hand, you begin to read:

Keep your gingerbread people looking their best: Make sure the disks of dough are well-chilled so they're easy to handle and roll out nice and thin. Roll from the centre out, and aim for an even thickness, stopping just short of the edge of the dough. A quick dip in flour wil keep the cookie cutter from sticking to the dough. look for powdered egg whites in the baking aisle at your supermarket. Prep time: 55 minutes. Total: 1 Hour, 15 minutes, plus chilling.

You begin to sweat, and your nose gets itchy, the way it used to in math class when you never knew the answer. You are under pressure, as you now not only have to become a great baker, but you have to 'keep your gingerbread people looking their best'. You can't even keep yourself looking your best on most days! You realize that this was just the beginning - not even the actual steps for baking the stupid gingerbread men!

Screw that.

You look up the best caterer in town and call up your best friend, who is great at baking, asking her to supply your party with yummy treats.

You know you've made the attempt. And maybe next year you'll move on to something more than sugar cookies, but for now? Right now, your children need you and playing with them? Is way more fun then being a slave in the kitchen!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A lesson learned

You must know by now that crazy things always happen to me and my family. We are the ones who will almost miss a flight, the ones who will accidentally lock the baby in a 19th floor hotel room, and the ones who will panic over everything. We are Greek, and overly dramatic. We are our very own comedy show.

One New Year's Eve, while leaving the hair salon to go to my parents to get dressed, I hit a car. I decided to continue driving home, because getting out of my car would mean I'd be late and more importantly, ruin my hair. (Don't hate me. I was much younger then, and it was a minor accident!) Also? It's a known fact that New Year's Eve in this city is the coldest day of the year. I got home and as I was running upstairs to get dressed, I sort of told to my parents that I sort of hit someone's car.

Then, the doorbell rang. 2 police officers were at the door, having looked up my license plate number.

My mother and grandmother greeted them at the door, festive music playing in the background. I came downstairs to talk to them. I explaned how I didn't stop at the scene of the accident because I didn't want to ruin my hair, since it was New Year's Eve and all. They laughed. They were offered some kourabies,(Greek sugar cookies) and after they ate them, told me to be more careful next time, and they were on their way.

Things like this always happen to me.

Like last Christmas Eve, Dimitry's first Christmas. We were at my parents house, and Dimitry was taking a nap in the crib upstairs. He woke up, crying. I rushed into the room and noticed his leg was stuck in between the crib rails. I tried to get his leg free, but it would not budge. He was really stuck. He started crying even more, and my panic level began to rise.

"Call 911!" I yell to my mom.
"His leg is stuck! We need some help!"

My mom, panicked herself, calls 911 and tells them what's going on. In the meantime, I somehow managed to get his leg free.

"Never mind! He's okay! His leg is okay!"

My mom told the 911 operators that everything was now okay, however, because the call was placed, and because it involved a young baby, they dispatched emergency workers anyway.

Within minutes, the fire fighters arrived at my mom's house. Imagine Christos's delight to see a shiny red fire truck in front of his grandparent's house on Christmas Eve! It was like an early present.



The fire fighters came in, and again, we offered them some food, since that's what Greek people do. After our short visit with the fire fighters, and after all the craziness, we sat down to our Christmas Eve dinner, laughing about the the experience we just had.

Lesson learned? Always have yummy homemade food prepared in case emergency workers come to your house during the holidays!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Communication breakdown

Information I have learned from my son about school:

"I love school!"

Information my husband has learned from my son about school:

"I have a 'girl' friend."

"I was the friend of the day yesterday, and I got to hold the flag!"

"We went to the gym today, but we didn't do anything except sit down and stand up to sing O Canada and even the big kids were in the gym and then we went back to our classroom."

"There is a time out chair and I have never had to sit in it, but another boy sits in it all the time"

"I have used the bathroom a few times."

"I worked on my tree craft today."


Yeah... so. I guess I am happy that he is loving kindergarten, but I really would love it if my son told ME all this other stuff! I need a new communication strategy to get him to be more vocal with me!

Any tips, moms?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A gift from me to you

You know what always make me feel better when I am feeling down?

Spending time with my children. It is the best thing in the world, you know? Talking to them, laughing with them, playing together, reading, snuggling, and cuddling. Just being together.

You know what else makes me happy? Comments on my blog. I love each and every one of you for taking the time to write comments on my blog posts. Every comment I receive is like getting an amazing birthday present. I am very thankful for all the comment love! I truly love everything about blogging, (well, maybe not the drama) and knowing that you like reading what I have to write is wonderful and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Speaking of warm and fuzzy... shopping is another thing I love to do when I'm feeling down, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Doesn't shopping make you feel good, too? And as much as I complain about the cold, I DO love fall clothes - the boots and the soft sweaters and all the nice party dresses for the holidays!

And you know what looks great with that new party dress? Some new makeup, of course! From one of my favourite stores - Sephora. Walking into Sephora is totally orgasmic, you know? Well, almost. It's like, a little bit of heaven. The choices and selections are endless and you will always leave a happy customer. Your 'size' is always in stock, baby!

As a thank you to you - my fabulous readers - I'd like to give away a 40 dollar gift certificate to you from Sephora! It's my way of saying THANK YOU. I don't often email people back after they leave me comments, but I wanted you to know that all your comments mean so much to me!

So...thanks.

And? Happy shopping!

To enter, just, well, leave a comment telling me you follow my blog!

GOOD LUCK! I'll randomly pick a winner on Monday!

Edited to add: The winner was lucky number 41! I couldn't copy and paste a picture of number 41, as chosen by random.org, so I took a picture of the screen of my computer and posted it on Twitter in case anyone wanted to see! Oh yeah - number 41 was the lovely McMommy! Thanks everyone for playing! I love you all!

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