Saturday, January 29, 2011

With love...

There are many things my children do that melt my heart every day. When I hear them talking to one another, when they tell me they love me, and when I see them drawing, making crafts, or writing new words.

I cherish my children's doodles, and proudly display the best pieces of 'art' in their playroom.

It's amazing how at the tender age of five my son is able to write anything he wants, in nice, neat penmanship, (most of the time) asking for help to spell words correctly.

The other day, as I was yelling telling my children to stop fighting, I overheard my son ask his dad something.

"Daddy, how do you spell shut-up?"

This made me giggle. For some reason, hearing my children say inappropriate words always makes me laugh.

A few minutes later, my son presented me with this:


Aww, right? I'm thinking I should hang this up in my office, so I can constantly be reminded of how much my son loves me.

It will also serve as a reminder of why I work outside the home five days a week!

Thanks for the blog post inspiration, Marinka! Your post made me think I needed to document this so I never forget the good old days!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GTL before FLA!

In three days, I will be soaking up the sun in south Florida with my boys and family.

But first, I have to GTL! You know... hit the gym, go for a tan, and oh yeah, tackle that huge pile of laundry!

I cannot wait to leave this cold, miserable weather behind! I'm really not a huge fan of winter, if you haven't been able to figure that out yet. And lately, it has been really cold here—minus 40 degrees cold!

However, on the days that I do manage to bundle up my children and go to the neighbourhood park for some fun on the skating rink, I do enjoy myself. For about 30 minutes, max.




Then I'm bribing the kids with hot chocolate and extra whipped cream, telling them it's time to go home. Once we get home, we start the process of taking off all our winter gear, leaving a trail of soggy mittens, snowpants and snow covered hats in a pile, as we rush towards the fireplace to warm up... of course, getting our socks all wet as we unavoidably step in the mushy snow.

I can't say I'm going to miss the coats and the boots and the hats next week while we're in Florida. Crocs, flip flops, tank tops and flowy summer dresses are much more to my liking!

I promise I will be thinking of you as I sip my pina colada by the pool, while looking at the beautiful ocean.
__________________________________

If you are stopping by from SITS, HELLO! So nice to meet you. I am so happy to be the featured blogger over at SITS today—thank you all for stopping by! I am so touched by all the sweet comment love!

Now, blogging has taught me a lot—I even wrote a post about the top 10 things blogging has taught me over the years—and something else I have learned is that the blogging community is a wonderful one!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Lump. An Ativan. And a Mammogram.

A few months ago, after showering, I felt something in my right breast that wasn't there before.

I felt a lump.

That night, I was nervous and worried and stayed up for hours examing one breast, than the other, to make sure I wasn't imaging things. Yes, there was definitely something there. Although I am a huge hypochondriac, I tried to put it out of my mind, and somehow, I didn't think about it again, until three nights ago. Lying in bed, I felt it again. A definite lump.

I went to the doctor on Wednesday, and after a thorough examination, I was told it was probably not cancer, but I should go for further testing, to rule it out for sure.

Thanks to our health care system, and thanks to very special doctors and nurses, I was able to go for a mammogram and ultrasound yesterday. The day went by quickly, and was filled with emotions, tears and concern from my entire family. My mom came to be with me, and my husband stopped by to see me from work.

At the imaging clinic, I had a consultation with a very nice nurse, and she marked my boob with an 'x', where the lump was.
I wore a gown, and walked into the mammogram room. It was painless and quick, and then I sat in the waiting room with my mom, who I always need during difficult times.

Going through a health concern as serious as this one is always uncomfortable, and your life suddenly flashes before your eyes. At least, it did for me. Everything gets put into perspective, and through the panic, there is also a feeling of calmness. (Who knows, that could have also been the Ativan I had taken, too.)

As a mother of two young children, the idea that something could be seriously wrong with me was a very real and present danger. Why not me? Although 34 is kind of young to get breast cancer, it is not that uncommon. I know many people who have had breast cancer and have passed away, and many more who have had breast cancer and have survived.

Seeing all the other women in the waiting room was a bit comforting. In a way, we were all in this together. All the charity events I've organized and supported, all those pink ribbons I'd worn, and all the money I've donated to friends involved with Run for the Cure, all of that was suddenly front and centre in my mind, and regardless of what the outcome would be with my tests, I knew that along with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, breast cancer research would continue to be the other charity I wholeheartedly support.

As women, and as mothers, we should stay united in the fight against breast cancer. It's all too real, and it can happen to any one of us.

I had my ultrasound next, and then the waiting game started.

Questions were asked during my exam, questions like "Did the doctor feel the lump?" "How long has this lump been here?" and "Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family?" These questions only escalated the level of my worry.

During the waiting game, you start thinking... "Well, if I live 5 more years, at least..." or, "If I only have 2 years..." or, "Well, I could survive, too."

Waiting is the hardest part. Cue Tom Petty.

Luckily, my doctor read my results instantly and I received a phone call an hour later.

I received good news—it was nothing serious. It was not breast cancer. I was going to be okay.

When I saw my children a few hours later, I was relaxed and happy. I counted my blessings when I put them to bed. It's when I'm reminded how lucky and fortunate I am that I also remember to step back and enjoy the 'now'.

I want to do more support women and breast cancer research. I know a cure can be found in our lifetime, or in our children's lifetime.

Last night, I went to bed feeling thankful, but still thinking about others who received news that wasn't as good as mine. I wrap my arms around all those women.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three

On this cold day in January, three years ago, I was admitted to the hospital to give birth to my second son.

Having had the easier labour and delivery ever when I delivered my first child, I was confident things would go just as smoothly the second time around.

However, I went into that delivery room much more prepared than the first time—I didn't bring a suitcase filled with novels with me. Not only did I pack more appropriately, I was wiser as a mother, with over two years of experience under my belt.

After my son was born my sister brought me fettuccini alfredo from my favourite Italian restaurant. I ate my dinner and watched CNN as my new baby slept soundly beside me. This time around, I wasn't afraid to close my eyes, and I didn't jump with each sound or movement my baby made. I even managed to sleep that night, something I didn't do for 72 hours after my first son was born.

I was so much more relaxed. And very blessed, to be the mother of these two little boys.

The next day, my best friends came to visit and rather than panic and break out the Purell, I was calm, happy, and talkative.

"Loukia, you are so much different this time around! It's like you're not even the same person!" my best friend pointed out to me.

This was true. The second time is much easier, in every way.

My little monkey is the biggest ray of sunshine in our lives, making us laugh uncontrollably daily. He is hilarious and brilliant. The things he knows, the things he asks, and the things he says—mispronounced words and all—leave me in awe all the time. When I pick him up from my inlaws or parents house after work, he runs to me, smiling, and recounts his day for me, telling me everything that happened.

He is such a character, such a little actor, and so very dramatic! His theatrics make me giggle. If we lived in Hollywood, he'd be a star, with those facial expressions and big eyes that let him get away with anything.

One of the most amazing parts of motherhood is knowing your children so completely. He is similar to me in many ways, but vastly different too—he is very social, more outgoing than I ever was as a child, and enters a room with purpose and determination. If he's late to the party, he joins in, not missing a beat. He's a confident child, an athletic child, and the most energetic child, always ready to go.

He share a special bond with my grandmother, which is lovely to see. My grandparents don't really have a 'favourite' when it come to their three great grandchildren, however, I know he warms their heart like no one else, and he's the reason they shorten their summer vacation to Greece year after year.

He calls sugar 'sugie'. He loves to snuggle and he talks non-stop, in Greek and in English. He loves hearing stories, and he loves playing with his older brother and riding on his plasma car.

He is fiercely independent, and has been doing many things on his own for a long time, like feeding himself. He makes me proud. He like to negotiate with me about why he should have just one more snack before bedtime, and why he needs to watch just one more episode of Caillou before I turn off the television.

His brand new double bed and brand new comforter sit untouched in his room. He still sleeps with me at night, in my bed. I just can't transfer him yet—I love having him snuggle up next to me, his feet sprawled all over my body. I kiss his little baby toes, and inhale his sweet scent, knowing that one day soon, he'll be too big to sleep with me.

Now that he is three years old, he's not an infant anymore—however, he will forever and always be my baby.


Happy Birthday, lovely little boy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Greek Mothers Are Superior

I'm sure you've read it by now—the article in The Wall Street Journal called "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior", by Amy Chua, (exerpted from her new book called "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother".) The writer lets us in on the secret of how Chinese parents raise such "stereotypically successful kids."

She says her children were never allowed to:

attend a sleepover;
have a playdate;
be in a school play;
watch TV or play computer games;
choose their own extracurricular activities;
get any grade less than an A;
not be the number 1 student in every subject except gym and drama;
play any instrument other than the piano or violin and
not play the piano or violin.

I had countless numbers of sleepovers, and playdates every weekend. I was in school plays, I watched TV, and I was allowed to choose my own extracurricular activities. I played the guitar, after a few years at trying my hand at the recorder and violin. Clearly, this mom would have disowned me.

Last summer, my four year old played soccer for the first time. Initially he didn't want to, but I told him to try first, and then decide if he didn't want to play. With each game, he got more comfortable on the soccer field. He never scored a goal, and he didn't bend it like Beckham, but I was still the proudest mom there, cheering from the side lines. After each game, I hugged him and told him I was proud. He felt like a soccer superstar, and I'm glad. It is very satisfying to see confidence grow in your children.

When I was growing up, I played soccer, too. I never scored a goal. I was more concerned about my hair, and my friends and I would huddle together, gossiping, as the other team scored against us. My dad was the coach, and he'd tease us after each game and we'd laugh along with him. After all, we were only playing for fun.

As a child, I was enrolled in many extracurricular activities: tennis camp, swimming, ballet, jazz, guitar lessons, Brownies and Girl Guides, Greek school, Sunday school, art classes and more. I was never forced to take anything I didn't love.

I remember staying up late some nights with my father, practicing my Greek school homework, and to this day I have a story memorised that I struggled with in grade four. I was pushed to do better, but I was never pushed to be perfect.

If I wasn't doing well in a certain class (always math) my mom would hire me the best tutor around. She wanted me to succeed and to do good, but I never felt immense pressure. I was allowed to be me, faults and all.

I watched as much TV as I wanted—it was never an exorbitant amount of television, because we were so busy doing everything else, but I didn't hear the word 'no' too often.

We travelled a lot, and spend our summers in Greece. Being a well travelled child taught me a lot more than the textbooks did.

Of course, I did have plenty of rules, coming from a Greek household.

Greek parents are strict, proud, and want the best for their children. However, their hearts are filled with love and acceptance, too. And that's the most important thing. To know that no matter how many B's (and C's) you get on your report card, you'll still feel accepted and loved. That's what makes a confident child, a successful child.

Greek mothers feed their children well. Greek mothers spend hours in the kitchen, making the perfect meals for their family, three times a day. (*with the exception of Loukia.*)

Greek mothers worry about their children all day and night.

Greek mothers insist their children don't move out of the house until they find someone to marry, and then they hint about how great it would be if they moved in the same neighbourhood.

Greek mothers are proud of their children's achievements but don't necessarily push them to the point of exhaustion.

Greek mothers would rather their child has a good night's sleep, rather than waking up tired after staying up too late studying for a test.

Greek mothers know that if you put your mind to something,you can make it happen and if it doesn't work out, it's okay, too.

Greek mothers yell and fight and make a big deal about every little thing, and scare you with stories of 'back in the day', but at the end of the day, all troubles are forgotten. And you're given more food to eat.

I can't imagine not supporting my children, even if they aren't perfect at everything they do. I am so glad I'm a Greek-Canadian mom and not a Chinese mom, if Chinese moms are, in fact, the way Chua describes in her article.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doomsday

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an airplane...

It's the end of the world as we know it,
It's the end of the world as we know it,
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.


So apparently the end of the world is near.

And here I was, naivly thinking we had at least until 2012. Well, turns out the ancient Mayans weren't as smart as we thought. Doomsday is, in fact, upon us, one year earlier than expected.

Why do I know this? Because BIRDS ARE FALLING FROM THE SKY AND DYING. All I can think about is the The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. I gotta say, I'm a little spooked.



As if that's not enough, FISH ARE DYING IN RIVERS.

Next up? Be prepared for a massive earthquake. Apparently, that's the 'next step' to the world coming to an end.

A few days ago, Arkansas was in the news. Even on CNN! Clearly, the fact that Arkansas was in the news was an indication that something was not right with the world. Just kidding. Anyway, as you all know by now, a really strange phenomenon happened. Thousands of fish washed up dead on the banks of the Arkansas River. As many as 100,000 fish died.

Then, in an eerie turn of events, on New Year's Eve no less, only 100 miles away from fish disaster 2010 - thousands of birds - THOUSANDS - just dropped from the sky, DEAD.

If that's not enough to freak you out, over 500 birds were found dead on the side of a road in Louisiana.

And now? Dead birds in Sweden, too.

Officials are saying the fish died from some terrible disease, but what is even stranger is that some of the birds apparently died from trauma, and reports say that the "birds hit something very hard and had hemorrhages." What exactly did 100,000 birds flying in the sky hit?

An invisible UFO, that's what.

Of course conspiracy theories are circulating now, and not surprising, some people are saying the deaths happened because of secret government testing.

Since I trust CNN for the latest breaking news, and since I trust Anderson Cooper even more, I was a bit confused when he brought a Christian expert on to talk about this mysterious turn of events. Who was this expert, you ask? MIKE SEAVER.


You might know him as born-again Christian Kirk Cameron, too. What did our 'expert' have to say about this disasater? "It's silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some kind of end-times theory..." Thanks, Mike! I'm not frightened at all anymore.

Wait, though. He went on to say: "Life is short. And I need to be ready whenever it is that God decides to end my life here on earth."

Okay, now we're talking.

So let's say, hypothetically speaking, the Mayans and Mike, or Kirk, whichever you prefer, are right, and we have limited time left here on earth. We need to ready ourselves! And quickly!

Apocalypse Now?

If the world is really coming to an end, then I have to make some serious life changes.

My list of things to do NOW if end-times are here:

1. Eat more McDonalds.
2. Have pizza for dinner every night.
3. Lots of sex.
4. Start smoking again.
5. Drink more alcohol, while listening to The End by The Doors.
6. Max out my credit cards in Neiman Marcus.
7. Do something totally insane like sky diving.
8. Hit more concrete posts with my car.
9. Tell off every single person that pisses me off.
10. Move to a beautiful island in Greece for the last 52 weeks.
11. Travel extensively with my family and friends.
12. Get a refill on my Ativan.

Okay. There's got to be more fun that that to be had, right? I mean, these are things I do now, more or less! Honestly, though? Thinking about the end of the world, or just the univerise in general, completely creeps me out. I think I'll just stay home, get into my big bed with my kids, and hug them tight. Or, just go on living like I am now, knowing that none of this is really true.

What would you do if you knew the end of the world was near?

Monday, January 3, 2011

This and that, and welcome to 2011!

It's the first Monday of 2011 - Happy New Year, everyone!



The year has started off well, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I rang in the new year at home, with my loved ones. Usually, I'm out at some party or another, totally dressed up, but this year, it was the complete opposite, and it was totally awesome. Drinks, great food, more food, more drinks, card games and me in my lulu's - seriously?

Perfection!


Christmas was filled with wonderful moments and new memories.

It was joyful, festive and happy. For me, it is all about family, and our special traditions. My children are so fortunate to spend almost every day with their grandparents and great-grandparents, and to see old Greek traditions carried on to my boys is very heart-warming. Christmas at my parents house is always so much fun, and of course, a little crazy, too!






Family and good friends and parties and a surprise visit from an out-of-town best friend, a completely unexpected visit that had a bunch of us girls squealing with delight outside my house on December 26th, made this holiday season even more fabulous.




I drank a lot of wine in December, and I liked it. I must remember to keep that up in 2011!

My goals for this year? I have quite a few, actually. It's not like I really stick to resolutions, but it's kind of nice to start the year confident and on a positive note, you know? There is a lot I want to learn this year, so much I want to do with my family, and goals I'm determined to achieve, both at work and in my personal life.

As each year passes, my confidence as a mother grows. My boys are my life. They completely fascinate me, make me laugh, and leave me in awe daily at how smart they are. It's the small things, really, that I love the most. Homework with my five year old, reading books with my almost three year old, and making new memories while on vacation.

I started dieting again, as is my tradition every January, because I'm going to be in a bikini at the end of the month. Diet and exericise! I'll be breaking a sweat in Body Pump tomorrow, and I cannot wait. I NEED the exercise after weeks of terrible (but oh-so-good!) eating.

In a few weeks, we'll be on the beach in south Florida, and I cannot wait to inhale the ocean air again, find rocks and shells with my children, and totally relax. My boys are over the moon with happiness, too.

2011 is sure to be filled with lots of love,


some emotional breakdowns,


amazing discoveries,


and lots of happy memories.












2011 is going to be an awesome year. I am very excited! I am blessed and thankful for my family and for all my amazing friends - thank you. I hope this year is going to be amazing for you all, too.

Blog Designed by: NW Designs