Monday, November 30, 2009

An OH-Mc-Scary holiday interview!

You all know how much I love Christmas, right? You know what else I love? Awesome bloggers! And these 3 ladies - Jen, Jill and Pauline - are at the top of my 'must read daily' blogs list! I loved interviewing them in the past, so I thought it would be fitting to put together a festive q's and a's with them - enjoy!
















With the holidays around the corner, what is your secret to making sure your husband gets you just what you want? And how early do you start dropping the hints? Like, "Oh, look! The Tiffany catalogue just arrived... " Or "My goodness, my Louis Vuitton is really feeling the brunt of carrying around sippy cups, wipes, diapers, toys and books all day every day for five years..."

McMommy: Hahahaha! OMG! Get me “just what I want”? Hahahahaha! I’m sorry! Seriously, I’m sorry, I can’t stop laughing. It’s just that…well, if you know my husband….his idea of a fabulous present includes things like wires and RAM and motherboards and insert-more technical-language-that-I-don’t-understand-here. If I said the words “Louis Vuitton” to him, he’d want to know why I want a French man for Christmas.

Which brings me to... what are you asking for this year?

McMommy: A French man. Who answers to the name Louis Vuitton. Or a maid. But not a French maid. This present is for me, after all. Not my husband.

Jill: My husband and I don't go crazy with holiday gifts for each other. Gift giving really hasn't been so much fun since we started sharing a bank account. And a salary!

How early do you start your holiday shopping?

McMommy: How early? Um yeahhhh. Like four days early. I’m not exactly what you would call a “planner”.

Jill: I am totally inconsistent: Some gifts I will find months in advance. I love to stock up on baskets and filler when it goes on sale in January. But, somehow still, I always manage to be that idiot in Target on Christmas Eve.

How do you prepare for the craziness? Wine? Massages? Ear plugs?

McMommy: Uh, yeahhhhh, that’s the ticket! I drink a glass of wine every night to “prepare for the craziness”…yes, that’s why I do it! It’s a matter of holiday survival! I love the way you think, Mrs. LouLou! In fact, I’m feeling like we need a little more preparation around the McHouse. You can never be too prepared, you know.

What are you excited to buy for your children this year? (Note: Not something they have necessarily asked for - but something you can't wait to buy them anyway!)

McMommy: I helped the boys make “Wish Lists” this year. I let them cut out pictures of toys they wanted from catalogs and we taped them to big pieces of paper with the boys’ names on them. They looooved making these lists. So I’m excited to pick a couple things from their Wish List and see their reactions when they open them.

Jill: I am counting down the moments until I can play with Lily's new doll house furniture. I'm most definitely going to be more excited about it than she is. I'm also excited to give my kids walkie-talkies- I know they're going to love playing with them.

How many gifts on average does each child get? I don't really have a limit, which gets really out of hand, especially since my kids seem to have everything already! I even have to hide my purchases from my husband sometimes - we go way overboard with the give giving!

McMommy: We spoil our kids with gifts, but I try not to go overboard. They are still so little (5 years old and 2 years old) and they get overwhelmed with it all so easily! That’s the reason I’m not getting them the “real-life gas station” they put on their wish list. I mean, first of all? How would I even wrap that? Secondly? You may disagree with me but little kids shouldn’t play with gasoline. And finally, I don’t have the million dollars it costs to buy a real-life gas station. Sorry, kids. I bet you are wishing Dooce was your mother now, right?

Jill: We celebrate Hanukkah, so it's a present a night for a week. Some nights, they'll get a few little tiny things.

Pauline: We celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas as most Polish families do. So, on the 24th our entire family gathers after a 12 course meatless dinner and we welcome Santa into our home. Each child needs to demonstrate what they have learned through the year and then they are given a present. (I will blog about this soon as I did last year, teehee.) Typically, they get about four/five gifts that night. On Christmas day we open presents under our tree that we have purchased for one another. So my son buys a gift for both sisters and so on.... little gifts.

What are the 'must-buy' toys your kids are buzzing about this year? What do you think are the hottest finds out there right now for children that will likely be on your 'must-buy' list?

Jill: My kids aren't really old enough to be concerned with the hottest toys. I know that Ben will love anything dinosaur related, Evan will be thrilled with anything that makes noise and Lily just wants dolls. At the moment, they're pretty easy to buy for!

Pauline: My 7 and 5 year old are getting ipods this year. I can't stand filling up my house with more plastic toys made-in-china that will be tossed aside before Easter. They love music and dancing and are old enough in my eyes to be responsible for something like an ipod. I can't wait to see their faces when they get them.

Do you ever use the "Oh... remember... Santa knows if you've been good or bad!" tactic? I do, and I feel terrible doing it, but you know? It actually works!

McMommy: I’ve been using that line since April.

Pauline: Um yeah! Nearly everyday following Halloween.

Do you love to entertain around the holidays? What is your favourite holiday recipe, or favourite holiday treat you like to make? Or do you, because you've spent too much time shopping, opt to get food catered instead for your parties?

McMommy: We do a party every year called “The Eve of Christmas Eve” party. This tradition started many years ago with some friends, based upon the assumption that even though we worked, no one would REALLY be expected to concentrate and actually conduct business on Christmas Eve. Hence why we could stay out late and party it up. It’s one of my most favorite parties of the year because it is laid-back, fun, and most of all? No one comes expecting catered food. But you better have wine. You know, to help everyone “prepare for the craziness”.

Jill: I love entertaining in general, and the holidays are no exception. I refuse to get anything catered, though I usually end up regretting that. My favorite easiest recipe is a Kaluah dip-- it's super easy and always a huge hit!

Pauline: I am not a domestic Godess and always count on catering small get togethers, especially around the holidays. Nothing gets me more excited than researching locally owned places to cater my next event! At my next dinner party, after the village tree lighting ceremony, we are having Lebanese food. Nothing says Christmas like.... Lebanon. Right? I like to keep everyone on their toes and think that my guests enjoy it as well. They keep coming back!

What is your favourite thing about Christmas/Hannukuh?

McMommy: I’m sure I should be saying things like “The joy of the Christmas spirit!” or “The twinkle in my children’s eyes!” or something like that…..but one of my favorite things about Christmas is so simple: I love dimming the lights in the house every evening and turning on the Christmas tree lights and my lighted garland. I love that glow from the lights! Put on some Christmas music in the background and I’m on cloud nine.

Jill: Making gift baskets. I begin assembly style in November and for a month and a half, my dining room is turned into a holiday workshop. I love it, but it drives my husband totally crazy. Not that I care. :)

Pauline: I know it's sappy but I love giving gifts. Finding THAT perfect gift for my sister or watching my best friend open the gift I searched high and low for. I love gifts!

What songs do you love listening to over the holidays?

McMommy: Three of my favs: Baby It’s Cold Outside, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and All I Want For Christmas Is You. (I hate that I like a Mariah Carey song!!! Don’t tell anyone or my reputation is ruined!)

Jill: I adore Christmas music, but for my heritage's sake, I'll say AdamSandler's The Hanukkah Song. It always makes me smile.

Pauline: Last year, I couldn't get enough of Straight No Chasers the 12 days of Christmas. So much fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kYEK-pxs_A

Do you have a particular special holiday memory?

Jill: I've always been sad missing out on the beautiful traditions of Christmas. I remember loving helping my best friend's family decorate her tree. It was just so warm and cozy, sipping hot chocolate and stringing popcorn- I loved it!

Pauline: The memory I associate most with is our tradition of sharing Christmas wafers with our family. Before sitting down for our meatless dinner, on Christmas Eve, we share our wafers with each member wishing them all sorts of things for the next year. Nothing made me smile more last year than witnessing my small children take part of our very old tradition.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Changes

In September, before my son started kindergarten, I panicked about how he would do in the classroom. I was nervous for him, especially because he was extremely shy with other people, because he was stubborn, because he had never gone to daycare or pre-school, and because, well, he would be on his own for the very first time.

Now it is almost December, and the changes I see in him take my breath away. He spends a good part of the day, when he is home from school, singing not only the Canadian national anthem, but the Greek anthem, as well. He speaks so well for his age - and understands three different languages! The amount of words he speaks in French increase daily, and I think, at the rate he's going, he'll be able to teach me a thing or two by next year!

He has grown in many ways, not only in terms of his vocabulary, or in his ability to draw better (stick men! snowmen! squares!) write letters, numbers, and his name, but also in the way he acts around other people.

That is the most profound change of all.

My once very shy boy is now very social with other people. It used to take him some time warming up to others, but now, he talks to and plays with other children he's just met right away. He doesn't cling to me anymore - he runs off to play, laughing, sure of himself, talking. This makes my heart swell with pride, and I am thankful - thankful to the great school he goes to, and to his patient and kind teacher.

The other day, a boy older than my youngest son threw a train at him in the bookstore, making him cry. I picked up Dimitry, walking away, and then noticed Christos going up to the child, saying:

"You're not suppose to throw things at other people, okay? That's not nice."

To see that he was sticking up for his baby brother made me so happy!

It's amazing what school can do to a child. It's amazing to see him growing, everyday.

Thank goodness for wonderful teachers - especially kindergarten teachers! Their job might be almost as hard as the job of 'mom'!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You don't have to love Twilight to love this post!

I read Wuthering Heights when I was 15, in England, so I could get more of a 'feel' for the story and the characters. No, I didn't plan a trip to England around the fact that I was reading this book, it just happened that way. (Funny how this book is referenced in the Twilight Saga, too!)

I read To Kill A Mockingbird in Grade 9, and it is still one of my favourite books, along with A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Kite Runner, The Alchemist and The History of Love. I love reading. Usually quality literature. And yet. I am not ashamed to admit that I'm a Twilight Saga obsessed 33 year old mom of two.

There. It feels so good to get that off my chest. Oh, wait - you already knew that, right? I promise, this obsession will go away soon. I think?

I decided to ask one of the funniest bloggers I know Marinka, a few questions about this 'obsession' everyone has been bitten with lately. (To all my Twilight haters: this is for you, okay?)

Her comments about Twilight always make me laugh, even though I personally have nothing bad to say about the books or movies. (Have I mentioned just how much I loved New Moon? It was excellent! And oh, my God? When Eclipse comes out in June, I'm going to do a major happy dance! How awesome will that be? Especially the tent scene?!)

Anyway, Marinka kindly agreed to a Q's and A's about Twilight, giving us a sneak peek into her views about the Twilight Saga.

Marinka, tell me, how do you feel about the whole Twilight Saga phenomenon?

I am a big fan of anything that gets people to read. And I, myself, read two and half of the Twilight books. But then, my lobotomy was reversed and I couldn't take one more soul-draining page. My 11 year old daughter is a fan, though.

Do you think the moms who are obsessed are a little... crazy?

No, not a little. More than a little.

What do you think it is about the series that has people so addicted?

I'm not a mental health professional, although I think that asking these questions is the first step towards getting the necessary help. Overall, I think that the story is very approachable (no big words!), the plot is pretty straightforward (so if you fall into an alcoholic stupor for fifty or so pages, you won't miss too much!) and some people have mentioned that Edward is "hot". Personally I don't see it, but I prefer my men without make up. And with deodorant.

Did I lose my street cred with you when I openly admitted my obsession and the fact that I've lost sleep staying up far too late reading the books, or the fact that I went to the movies 2 hours early to make sure I had great seats for New Moon?

You lost street cred with me by using the expression "street cred". Some of my best friends love Twilight, so no need to worry. Except that's a total lie and none of my friends, best or otherwise, like that book. My daughter does, though. Or did last year. When she was 10.

Of course, I need to know: Are you Team Edward, or Team Jacob? And why?

I'm Team Mike. Because I like humans. I know, I know, so closed-minded. In Twilight, I liked Jacob. Because Edward was glistening all over the place and it was super irritating to me. But then I saw the movie and I didn't find Jacob attractive at all. Now in New Moon, (spoiler alert!) Jacob is a dog. Personally, I disapprove of inter-species dating.

Is it normal for a 33 year old to relate to a 17 year old and suddenly like vampires?

This is such a slippery slope. I think you like vampires because you think that Edward is hot. If you really and truly love vampires, you should put pictures of Bela Lugosi all over the place.

What's the one thing that bothers you about this 'obsession' everyone has right now?

The fact that everyone has it. This is the mindset that elected Bush twice and got us into two wars. But I'm trying not to blame everything on Twilight.

I love Marinka's humour, don't you? And see? I can laugh at my obsession! Oh, and if you want to read a really funny post about a mom's love for Twilight, you have to read this written by the lovely and always hilarious Barefoot Foodie!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas traditions

Can you believe it is almost December? That is very exciting! You know why? Because Christmas is almost here! And Christmas just happens to be my favourite holiday - especially since becoming a mom. It’s so much more magical now. I get giddy with excitement for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.











A tradition I have always loved has been celebrating Christmas Eve with my entire family. Every year since I can remember, we hang out at my parents house in front of the fireplace, drinking and eating appetizers, as Greeks do any day of the week, watching Christmas movies on TV and getting into heated discussions about Greek politics. And we've even had a few unexpected visitors on Christmas Eve, too, from the nice folks from the local fire department!

At 11 p.m., we get dressed and head to church for midnight mass - there is something so beautiful about this, I think, and to me, it's the true meaning of Christmas. After midnight, we go back to my parents house where we eat a huge dinner that lasts until well after 1 a.m.

Dinner consists of lamb, potatoes, Greek chicken rice soup, tiropites (cheese pies) salad, bread, cheese, araka (a pea dish) and of course, wine. A little heavy for a midnight dinner, but one that is enjoyed very much! Oh, and of course, dessert and coffee, because we need that caffeine fix!

After we eat, we make our way, with great difficulty, to the living room, where we open presents like crazy people. Gifts are being tossed here and there, and all you can hear is 'Thank you!' 'I love it!' and from my sister, 'Loukia got more presents than me!' and 'What? That's not for you, there must be some mistake... where is the coat I bought your father? Oh, shoot, I forgot to wrap it!' There is mass confusion, a lot of laughter, and a lot of noise.

Now, this tradition has changed a bit since I've had my children - we do the dinner early, and then open the presents so the boys can fall asleep before midnight. They'll enjoy midnight mass when they're a bit older!



Adding two little people into the Christmas Eve tradition is even more crazy, if you can believe it... imagine a lot of loud toys, giggles, tantrums and the pitter-patter of little feet searching for batteries!

It's a tradition like no other, a family tradition that I look forward to every single year - it's the most beautiful time of the year, made more lovely by the falling snow, the glittering lights, the lit candles, the beautiful Christmas tree and the nicely wrapped presents - and all my loved ones together, celebrating.

The next morning, we celebrate at home with our children, where they open even more presents, including "Santa's" big gifts, and their stockings, hung by the fireplace.

We then make our way over to my in-law's house, for another huge Christmas Day feast, and yes, more presents. The festivities last all day, and that evening, the thing that is on everyone's mind? Sleep... blissful, wonderful, much needed sleep.

And of course, I start planning my diet yet again, because in those two days alone I'm sure to have gained at least 5 pounds!

Ah, yes... traditions are the best!


In keeping with the Christmas theme, a fabulous interview with some of my most favourite awesome bloggers will be up on my blog very soon - so stay tuned! You'll love their answers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moms fight the flu!

One of the worst parts about motherhood is having to look after a sick child - the lack of sleep, the endless hours, the worry, the fear - it's pretty dreadful. We feel terrible for our children when they are suffering from a high fever, a runny nose, a bad cough and a decreased appetite.

I've talked about the flu before, here and here.

I've actually lost sleep over H1N1, and it has made me even more worried than usual.

The reason I worry more than usual is because last year, my then 3 year old got very sick - he got a severe case of pneumonia, and was in the children's hospital for two weeks. His case was especially bad and he needed surgery to drain fluid from his lung. He had a chest tube in him for 4 days, was on an oxygen mask, and an IV, of course. That was a nightmare that I'll never get over, ever. I've seen a child that sick, and I never want to see it again. So I think it's especially important to do whatever we can to protect our children, to try our best to keep them healthy in any way possibe.

The most important thing you can do, I think, is to educate yourself about H1N1. Read up on it. Find out what you can do to protect your family and to prevent yourself from getting this flu. Because H1N1 is a pretty serious flu.

My children, my husband, and myself all got the H1N1 vaccine. I did have some difficulty with this decision, at first - I talked to a few trusted doctors, read up on the vaccine, and finally decided it was in our best interest to get the shot.

If you want to find out information about flu clinics, go here.

If you think your child has the flu, check out this influenza assessment tool at The Ministry of Health - you can find tips on what to do if you think your child has the flu and if you should ride it out at home, or seek medical attention.

Even more useful information can be found here.

Note: I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central and received a Mom Central gift pack to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Caption Friday!

UPDATE! A winner has been selected - thank you all for your totally awesome and hilarious captions - you guys really had me laughing!

My favourite photo caption was by the fabulous MommyNaniBooBoo:

"...and that's why Edward thinks that Bella has killed herself, so he goes to Italy to...'boys? Boys???..' "

How totally perfect is that? I LOVED it! Congratulations!

Runner-up? The lovely Jessica, with this caption:

The narcoleptic version of "What is Love" by Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell (Night at the Roxbury)

I also loved Maria's caption:

"OK, children, now that I have successfully hypnotized you, repeat after me - MAMA DID NOT BUY ANOTHER HANDBAG".


I was looking through some old pictures of my children, and I stumbled across this one. It instantly put a smile on my face, but the picture remains nameless.

I was hoping you could come up with a great caption for this picture!

The caption I love best - the one that makes me laugh the most - wins a prize! (Hint: The prize rhymes with Farflucks!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time for a meme!

Sometimes, when a meme comes your way, especially when it's from someone as fabulous as Lisa, aka @PartyMummy from YummyMummyClub - it's really fun to play along! (Especially when you're too busy to come up with any original blog posts!)

And just in case you didn't know enough about me, you can find out even more riveting information right here!

Name someone with the same birthday as you:

Elisa and Jessica! And Charlie Sheen, argh.

Where was your first kiss?

God, is it terrible that I can't really remember? I'm going to say at school. Because I'm pretty sure that's where it was.

Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property?

No, never!

Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex?

Not really...

Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people?

If memory serves me correct, no. And thank GOD for that!

What's the first thing you notice about your preferred sex?

Eyes and smile.

What really turns you off?

Big ego, mean personality, selfishness.

What do you order at Starbucks?

My favourite drink ever is a Caramel Macchiato.

What is your biggest mistake?

Like Lisa said, not following through with things. Not sticking to a plan - whether it's a diet or renovations, I tend to get too busy and forget. Or too lazy. I give up too easily.

Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose?

You mean, like, staying up past 1 a.m. when I know I have to get up at 6 a.m.? Besides that torture, no.

Say something totally random about yourself:

I have a few favourite pillowcases, and I love my pillow a lot. Especially when it's nice and cold.

Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity?

I used to get Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, and Faith Hill. Now, I don't get anyone famous. Sadly.

Do you still watch kiddie movies or TV shows?

With two young children in my household, there is no choice! But luckily, my boys don't watch shows that I don't like. I don't mind watching Mighty Machines, anyway!

Did you have braces?

I did!

Are you comfortable with your height?

On most day, I'm totally content being 5'5.

What is the most romantic thing someone of the preferred sex has done for you?

My husband, before we were married, made me a huge 'love' box filled with beautiful things like letters, personal items, and some of my favourite things. It was so romantic!

When do you know it's love?

That warm mushy feeling inside!

Do you speak any other languages?

I speak Greek... and a tiny bit French.

Have you ever been to tanning salon?

Way too many times...

Have you ever ridden in a limo?

Yes, a few times. Most recently on our last trip to Bahamas, with my children! They loved it, because they were not in car seats!

What's something that really annoys you?

People who bite on their fork as they're eating, traffic, people who can't drive, pushy salespeople, not knowing what to eat for lunch, not losing weight fast enough, not being able to sleep in, the cold.

What's something you really like?

I currently really like the Twilight series. Never thought it would happen to me, but, alas, I too was bitten with this addiction.

Can you dance?

After a few glasses of wine, you bet I can dance!

Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room?

No, but I have sat in an ambulance a few times.

Now I'm tagging:

Jessica
Elisa
McMommy
Chelle
Jessica

If you want to play along, let me know so I can read your answers, too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wish list

Dear Santa,

I don't really want a lot for Christmas this year. You see, I have everything I could have ever wished for, right here:



But I decided to put together a list of things I thought were nice, things I wouldn't mind seeing under the Christmas tree, you know, in case you were searching high and low for something to get me.

First of all, I'm not too picky. So shopping for me should be rather... simple. I would be happy with one of the following items. Or all. Up to you!

I drool for these shoes. These shoes would make my closet so happy... and my feet. They would be eternally grateful.



I'd take this pair, too... (I know they would last me a lifetime, I just know it, so it's totally worth the price tag!)



And who doesn't like a little something every Christmas from Tiffany & Co., right? Right, then. My 'blue box' request this year is this adorable bracelet:



I'll also take the matching necklace, please.

If you're feeling especially generous, I'd love to sit back with a tropical drink at one of my most favourite resorts, in one of my most favourite places on earth, Florida. Don't worry, my passport is up to date.



You know living where I do, (you, of all people should know! Brr...North Pole!) that we have to put up with a lot of snow, a lot of ice, and a lot of cold. Not to mention, it gets dark at 4:30 p.m., and that is kind of depressing. So a nice sunny vacation down south is just what I need!

A personal trainer would be great, too. Because since I am going down south, I need to get bikini ready, and fast!

Of course, I'm going to need a nice new water bottle for when I break a sweat in the gym, so I'll take this, please. (Team Edward, of course. Like you didn't know that!)



And this tshirt would look cute over my lulu's, no?



And perhaps this is not something I want, but it does stir up a craving in me to have another baby... how adorable is this baby Burberry outfit? I can't get enough of Burberry for kids!



You know what else I desire? Comfortable, warm sweaters that can be warn all winter long.



I hope you don't think I'm being too greedy with my 'wish list'. It's just that, you see... a 'wish list'! And while I know I won't get all that I want, I'll truly be happy with a few of these awesome presents!

So... what's on your wish list this year?

More sleep?
Tickets to some tropical island?
Confirmation from Stephanie Meyer that Breaking Dawn will, in fact, be made into a movie, too?
Your children to never disagree with you again?
Diamonds?
A house that stays clean for more than 10 minutes?
A Starbucks next door to your house?
A personal chef?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Decorated-homes-gone-bad

Is your house on fire, Clark?
No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.
(National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation)


There is so much I love about the holidays. The music, Christmas cards, holiday baking (mostly the eating, not baking), shopping for presents and celebrating with loved ones. I also love looking at beautiful Christmas lights hung with care outside people's homes. I am usually happy with what I see, but sometimes, I see decorated-homes-gone-bad and I shake my head, wondering: "What were they thinking?!"

You know what I'm talking about, don't you? The people who shouldn't have bothered? I mean, I'm sorry - either do it well, or don't do it at all! Because I really don't want to stare at badly hung Christmas lights everyday for an entire month! Looking at decorated-homes-gone-bad is like having to work with someone who enjoys wearing tacky Christmas sweaters, you know?

Let me give you a few examples of decorated-homes-gone-bad:

Totally tacky home: The homes that try a little too hard and go out of their way to make their home look like the HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS HOUSE ON THE BLOCK! You know, the house with three giant inflatable Santas, a giant inflatable snowman, a few penguins, some reindeer on the roof and a billion lights in all the windows, doors and around the garage, as well as lights on all the trees, and candy canes lining up the driveway? Yup... this is the definition of a tacky and over-dressed Christmas house, and if I lived beside a home like this, I would cry tears into my eggnog every night.(Not that I even drink eggnog, I just though it sounded good to say that.)







Mis-matched home: Sigh. This is probably the type of festive home I dislike the most. It's the home that started off with good intentions, but for whatever reason (probably the cold) the person doing the decorating just gave up. I have some advice to offer here: Get your lights up early. That way, you won't freeze and just give up. This is the type of house that had potential but in the end, failed miserably. The house whose lights, hung across the roof, started off white, but then somehow, got mixed up and turned into coloured lights. Going from white to colour on the same row of lights is just totally wrong. Totally. Wrong. Where is the consistency? If you must, do your tree in white lights, and your house in coloured lights. Although, I would much rather see your house in either all white or all colour. Maybe that's just me? But still, mis-matched homes usually don't look good. Even if they're trying to be funny.



I-can-so-tell-you-rushed-this home: This one is pretty bad, too. This is the home whose owners felt bad that it was December 14th and they were the only house on the block with no Christmas lights hung yet. So, what do they do? They rush out to the nearest store, buy whatever lights are still left, and throw them - yes, literally just throw them - over their evergreen tree outside. We're talking. Half the tree does not have any lights on it. Just one side does. Oh, the horror! I have seen this before! It doesn't even make sense, but it has been done. And it's not pretty, let me tell you. I know it is hard getting the lights to go around a tree perfectly. But they have something called Mr. Long Arm to help you with that! It works for us and our ever-growing evergreen tree!

Are-you-pretending-you-don't-see-half-your-lights-are-burned-out home: Okay. I know it is frustrating when you plug in the lights to see if they are all working, only to realize that half of them are burned out. This does not mean your job is done. No. Do not give up! This means you have to start again, okay? Because really? Do you think it is nice to leave only half the lights across your roof, or over your garage, lit up? NO! It is not really okay. It doesn't look good. And I'm sorry if it means you have to go back to the store to buy new lights, but you'll feel so much better once you do. Your house will feel better. And it will make your neighbours happy, too.

I just wish people put a little bit more care into how they decorate their home for the holidays, you know? Remember: class over trash! Am I overly critical? I hope not... I just want things to look good!

For some ideas on how to get it done right, visit her. You know she's got great ideas, even if they might make you cry because you'll never be as good as her. At least, that's how I feel. But still, her ideas are beautiful.

As for my house? I'm happy with what we have going on. We have 3 large columns outside, and they are wrapped in perfectly spaced coloured lights, and acrosss the roof over our front patio, as well. Our big evergreen tree also has coloured lights around it. We used to have white lights, which I actually prefer, but since having children, we thought coloured lights would be more 'festive', and our boys love them! And we have a nice big wreath on our front door. Our Christmas tree can be seen from the front of our house, through our huge living room window, and our tree is decorated in white lights.

So what about you? Are you happy with how your neighbourhood looks around the holidays? Or are there a few decorated-homes-gone-bad near you?


Pictures taken from www.uglychristmaslights.com

Friday, November 13, 2009

Regression

Something strang is happening to me, and I can't quite explain it.

I'm regressing back into my teenager years. Only with better hair.

Perhaps I'm having an early mid-life crisis, although I'm only in my early-thirties, so I doubt that is what it is.

Maybe it's just me. I mean, I certainly still sometimes feel like I'm just 'playing house'.

I'm a mom of two, yet my two favourite things right now, (besides my children, of course) are:

GLEE

and

TWILIGHT



And Twilight, the biggest selling book in 2008, the first book in a series of four books about a high school student who falls in love with a vampire, is totally awesome, okay?

Edward and Bella. Sigh.

And Oh, my God. I cannot put this book down.

I feel like I'm a teenager again! I never in a million years thought I would read this book, let alone see the movie. And yet, one night, Twilight was on TV. So I watched it. And a few days later, I went out and bought the books. Yup, I did. And I'm a 33 year old mother of two. I'm reading books that teenagers are reading. And I know I will be lining up next week to see New Moon, the next movie in the series.

Who is with me here? Did you fall in love with Twilight, too? It's so romantic...and dark... and just... addictive.

And what about Glee?



The best one-hour on television right now? I think so! This musical-comedy is a totally fun show to watch. The music is fantastic - and the characters are great, too. I'm hooked! Again, this is a show about teenagers. Oh, and the teachers. I love the teachers. Especially Sue. And I love it... are you a Gleek, too? (You can even take a quiz to find out!)

So what does this all say about me? Well, that I'm young at heart, of course! And there is nothing wrong with that, right?

Now... back to reading Twilight...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time

Every year, in the late fall, we go to the same pumpkin patch near our house. It's become a tradition, one I enjoy very much, especially because we make new memories every year, and because my boys seem to love the experience, too.

Every year, we take a picture in front of the same pile of pumpkins, and I love looking back throughout the years to see how much my children have grown.

The first time we went, in 2006, my oldest son was 14 months old.



The next year, in 2007, I was very pregnant with baby boy number 2. I love this picture of my son and I. I totally valued the time we spent alone together before the newest member of the family came along.... I knew once my new baby was born, spending time alone with my oldest son wouldn't be as frequent an occurance.



In fall 2008, the newest member of our family joined in for the traditional picture... notice he isn't wearing shoes? Yeah, some things change with the second baby, don't they? I had a tendency of leaving the house without putting any shoes on my baby boy!



This year, the boys posed alone for the traditonal picture... and it amazes me to see how much they have grown.



Where does the time go, really? How are the years going by so quickly, right before my eyes? It is amazing, wonderful, and sad all at the same time. The definition of bittersweet. I want to hold on to my baby boys right now, becaue they are at such magical ages, and every day they make me laugh, filling my heart with happiness. Every day they fill my heart with worry, too. It's a roller-coaster ride, being a mom, isn't it?

Sure, the days are sometimes long, and I complain about the little things. I lose my patience. I complain. I get tired. It is tiring, being a mom. But it is also so worth it, so worth this journey and adventure. Because it really is totally awesome. Especially experiencing the little things - the little things like singing in the car with my children, watching them dance, reading a book to them before bed, sleeping beside them, bathing them. Each moment is like a picture captured in my mind forever. A memory I'll always have. And seeing the pictures of the years gone by is totally amazing.... and always makes me smile.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Facing your fears

Facing one's fears is never an easy thing. If you're arachnophobic, suddenly being face-to-face with a giant, eight-legged creature is never a good thing. And if you're scared of flying, (aka pteromerhanophobia) every time the plane takes off down the runway, your heart skips a beat and your panic doesn't subside until the plane has safely landed. Another common fear that many people suffer from - acrophobia - being afraid of heights - can make someone very anxious. Having astraphobia - being afraid of thunder and lightning - can be quite scary, too. Especially if you're home alone, worried the power will go out at any moment, leaving you completely in the dark... and thinking all sorts of horrible thoughts - well, let's just say, all these fears are very real, and can be debilitating at times. I suffer from all these fears, to some extent.

But there is something I fear much more than all of those 'other' fears combined together. I suffer from mysophobia. The fear of germs. I'm not insane, although I do Purell a bit more than is even recommended. My children know the importance of hand-washing, and my oldest son, after he sneezes and sees my eyes growing as large as saucers, says to me:

"Don't worry, mommy, it's not H1!"

Well, I had to face this fear of mine in a huge way this weekend.

There is nothing like having to take your child to the bathroom for 'number 2' at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere to put you face-to-face with your biggest fear: germs, bacteria and of yeah - H1N1! I was in this situation yesterday, as we were driving back from a day trip to Montreal.

"I have to go to the bathroom!" my 4 year old exclaimed from the backseat.

Secretly, I was hoping there would be no rest-stop in sight, so that he would just have to hold it until we go home, but 'home' wasn't for another hour, so I knew we had to stop.

I contemplated letting my husband take Christos to the bathroom, but I had a feeling the state of the men's washroom - in the middle of nowhere, Canada - would be more... um, dirty than the ladies room.

With Purell and baby wipes in hand, I took my son into the rest-stop, and decided to go to the 'family bathroom', thinking it would the 'cleanest' of all our choices.

I covered the toilet seat in paper towels and toilet paper, and my son said:

"Well, where am I suppose to go to the bathroom?" I had covered the seat so much, the opening was almost not visible at all.

"Right here, sweetie", I said to him, and lifted him up.

I don't know about your children, but my oldest son prefers going to go the bathroom with his clothes off. Yet another challenge in a public restroom, that in my mind, was just swimming in all the germs I did not want to encounter. I took off his shoes, placed them on the counter, and held his pants and underwear.

"Christos, don't touch anything! There are so many germs in here... it's so icky!" I said to my boy.

I realized I was a little insane, as I was giving my son ridiculous fears, fears he didn't need, especially because he's only 4 years old. But I could not help myself... as I imagined little H1 bugs crawling all over the place. I begged him to hurry up, as this was not suppose to be an enjoyable experience, certainly not as relaxing as it is at home.

"Hurry up, darling... daddy and Dimitry are waiting in the car!"

We talked about why there was a shower in the bathroom, and we figured out that it was there for all the truckers to use. Great, I thought to myself, just thinking of all the people who had showered mere inches from us that day.

Luckily, this experience didn't last longer than 10 minutes, and after I dressed my son again, ever so carefully, we washed our hands well with soap and warm water. I then used paper towels to open the door, and told my son that since his hands were so clean, he should avoid touching anything until we got back to the car.

Phew... we made it back to the car in one piece. And we're both fine today.

Note: I have always been a clean person, as I am sure you all are, too, but this 'fear' didn't really enter my life until I became a mom. I can't even tell you how many things have changed since I've become a mom! I mean, I used to be the girl who would have no problem lying down in an airport terminal to wait for her flight! Hmm.

Anyway, so I faced my biggest fear. And we survived. However, it wasn't exactly something I look forward to doing again anytime soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interview with a 4 year old



Oh, the things our children say! I never get tired of hearing my little boy, my 4 year old, talking. The conversations we have, the things he says, the way his mind works - it's totally amazing. He teaches me things. He corrects me, even. He asks questions I don't have the answers to. His mind is constantly working, constantly trying to figure things out. He is his happiest when he is 'working', and doing 'real' projects around the house. He is always inquisitive.

The things he says also makes me laugh. Lately, if he sees his brother going towards one of his toys, he'll say:

"I was JUST going to play that!" and take it away from him.

The other day, I decided to keep him home from school, and after I told him, he says:

"I was JUST thinking about not going to school today! Yay!"

Or, if he really likes something, he'll say:

"I just LOVE that!"

Every so often, I sit down with my oldest son, and ask him a list of questions to see what he'll say, even though I pretty much already know how he'll answer. It's a nice way to keep track of all the things he loved at certain stages of his childhood.

What does your little brother Dimitry like to do?

He likes to play around, take my stuff, and do everything I do.

What do you like to do?

I love to play bulldozers, stuff like that... and play crystal store.

Do you love school?

Yup! Right away!

What things do you do in school that you like?

I do nothing!

Okay... what else?

I play, I do crafts, I go to the gym.

What are your favourite books right now?

Destruction books, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, Amelia Bedelia.

What is your favourite song?

No One by Alicia Keys!

Who do you love?

Daddy.

You can say more than one person, you know...

Daddy, mommy.

And? (I point to his brother)

Dimitry.

Okay.

What is your favourite TV show?

Animal Mechanicals, Busytown Mysteries, and Mighty Machines - Mighty Machines is my really favourite. It's just my favourite!

What do you want Santa to bring you?

Transformers, a bumblebee suit, and a snowplow.

What's your favourite word?

Raccoo!

Favourite food?

Noodles. Actually, shells.

How many languages do you know?

Greek, English, French bonjour comma ca va!

What is your most favourite place you've been to? Florida? Bahamas?

Toronto!

What is your favourite planet?

Saturn!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A destruction worker.

Ah... the innocence. I love it! And I figure I still have time to convince my son that a career in medicine is better than a career as a destruction worker, right? Unless he wants to own his own construction company. Then I'll be all for that, too!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Everything you wanted to know about you-know-what but were afraid to ask

So, you want to know what do about H1N1? Well, you have come to the right place. Because let me tell you - I am a wealth of information! I have read everything that has been published about this nasty flu over the last few weeks. In fact, I feel confident that I could hold my very own press conference, and give some solid answers to people.

I have read everything from the World Health Organization, from the Public Health Agency of Canada, from Health Canada, from CDC, and all sorts of articles from local and national media. Of course, I have watched the nightly news, I read the Globe and Mail daily, I have talked to my pediatrician's office several times, I have called in to our local news talk radio show and have spoken with a very educated doctor. I battled with my decision to get my children vaccinated, and decided it was in their best interest to get the shots over with. However, despite my knowledge about this flu, I, like most of you, still have lingering questions.

So, here you go...

The vaccine is safe. It is. I have had the shot, and I'm still standing. My children have had the shot. We got the shot with the adjuvant. However, if you're pregnant, you should wait to get the non-adjuvant shot. Oh, wait - now they're saying you can safely get the adjuvant shot, too. It's up to you. But Canada has ordered the non-adjuvant shot, just in case. Well, no, there has been no clinical study with pregnant woman, ever, but we still say it's safe. But it's up to you. But you should get the shot. When you're more than 20 weeks. Or if you're just pregnant. Or think you're pregnant. Or not.

Oh, and if you already have children? Then get the shot, damn it! And like, right now! And I mean ALL children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old, because they are most at risk. Oh, wait - it should really be all school-aged children, so all school-aged children go get the vaccine. What? Your older children are not allowed to get the shot once they arrive at the clinic? Ooops. I mean, they could just wait until next week, of course. But then... we'll be out of the vaccine. So go back in line. No, actually, wait. No, go. No, don't go. Just young kids. Not the older kids. Actually, yeah, sure, all school-aged children, get in line.

Oh, and you? You healthy 33 year old? You got the shot? Oops, our bad, we weren't really asking the right questions, it seems. Ah, well. At least you're vaccinated. Oh, shoot. Now we are running out of the vaccine. But we promise more vaccines are coming.

And whatever you do, do not panic! I mean, it's JUST a pandemic. Don't get scared. Even though it's all you're hearing on the news non-stop for weeks on end. Even though hospitals are not sure how to handle the amount of patients they are seeing, even though articles are being written about every possible scenario you can imagine.

Oh, and I know you have perfected the evil eye - you give 'the look' to anyone who coughs within 100 metres of you. I mean, how infuriating is that? If someone is sick, stay home! Enough is enough. If I hear one more person cough near me, I will scream!

And everything I eat now officially tastes like Purell, but anyway. At least it is protecting me, right? I just looked in my purse. I have 2 bottles of Purell, one bottle of another hand sanitizer, and two small bottles of Bath and Body Works anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. My car is equipped with 2 giant containers of Wet Ones! I'm prepared. But I'm not suppose to worry, right?

Don't panic. It's not that bad. Oh, my goodness. It is bad. It really is... or not? What are they sayiing now?

Oh, and you were told your child needs 2 shots of the vaccine, given 21 days apart for maximum protection? And now the WHO is sayinig that actually one shot is enough? But wait... CDC is saying 2 shots are for sure more effective. But we don't have any idea yet. We have not figured it out. Don't worry, though. We'll give you an answer. Someday. Soon. Yes, your children need 2 sho - oh, wait - no they don't. Oh, yeah, that's right, the USA uses the non-adjuvant vaccine. Which means... yeah, we still don't really know what we are talking about. Nor do we have any idea how many people have received the vaccine.

Okay... does anybody have a headache? I am not kidding, I found a white hair in my head this week. I am THAT stressed out. And I apologize, as I just realized I don't actually have the answers. Huh.

Disclaimer: I take this flu very seriously, as anyone who follows me on Twitter or knows me in real life can attest. I really am paralyzed with fear, and I have been vaccinated against H1N1, along with my husband and children. I am very glad we got the shot, and I hope you have all made the best decision for your family, too, whether you've gotten vaccinated or not. I am also thankful I live in this country, and able to get a free vaccine that could potentially save my life. I do appreciate what we have and what we've been given. I hope and pray this flu goes away quickly, and I also pray that everyone who gets this flu gets it mildly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Finally, the month of November is here! That means I can officially start talking about all things festive with abundance without anyone telling me it's too early. Right? I mean, if stores are all decked out in holiday mode, then I am allowed to be festive on my blog too! I promise I won't talk about the holidays everyday for the next few months... just a few posts, okay?

Now, one of the most important things about this time of year - besides decorations and Christmas shopping, of course - those are blog posts all on their own - is the search for the perfect holiday card.





Shopping for the perfect holiday card is something I look forward to every year. This year, along with the tradition card that I will send out to friends, I will also be sending out a limited number of 'picture' cards - you know, the holiday cards with pictures of your children on them? Just because I like to add some variety in what I send out!



What I usually do is go to a few of my favourite stores to see what selection of cards they have. I will pick up a box I love and start walking away to pay for them, confident with my choice, until I notice another box of holiday cards, a box that is calling my name: "Loukia! Pick us! We're much cuter!" I pick up that box, and am happy that I have finally found the 'perfect' box of cards to mail out to everyone. But then... I see another box I love. And another box. And I start getting a little stressed out and I just stand there for about 20 minutes looking at penguins and Christmas trees and Santas and mittens and sparkles and candy cane and ornaments and all of a sudden, that festive mood I was in turns more like 'Bah-Humbug' until I finally settle on a box I love. I try not to look back, because to question my decision now would be no good at all.



For the record, I have used my mother's cards many times before. I love her artwork, and I think her cards are always awesome at this time of year, especially because proceeds from her cards go to the Children's Wish Foundation and to UNICEF, among other charities.



Lately, though, I'm totally into Christmas trees. Which is what the cards I ended up with have on them this year!

And yes, I did buy my cards yesterday. Now, the other time consuming part is getting all my addressess together. Seems every year there are more and more people to send cards out to, but I'm not complaining. Oh, no. I LOVE sending out Christmas cards just as much as I love to receive them. And the one thing I don't like to hear is this: "But I just didn't have time to send out any cards..." Oh, no. If I can do it - a full-time working mother of two young and active boys, then YOU certainly can, too. I'm also used to getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night, too, but I digress...

For goodness sakes, we all have time to find, address, and send out holiday cards. And I'm here to tell you that even though it is only the second of November, if you start early - you will not have to worry about running out of time to send out your cards! Also, I'd really appreciate receiving my cards by December 20th, at the latest, so they can all be displayed nicely on my fireplace mantle in time for my Christmas party, okay? Thank you.

Now, what are you waiting for? I know there is a store out there calling your name... just waiting for you to pick out that perfect box of holiday cards. And I'm just an email away if you need my address. This year, let's all vow to send out our cards on time! It's the... festive thing to do!

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