Archive | April, 2013

a surgery and a concert

25 Apr

After a very sleepless night full of nightmares of how Yianni forced fed Iliana a bottle of milk (I blame everything on the anesthesiologist who called me the evening before to make sure Iliana arrives at the hospital on an empty stomach) I woke up in a pretty messed up state.

Stressed is an understatement.

I had 40 minutes to wake both children up, help them get dressed, have the breakfast argument with Yianni on what he wants to eat, convince Iliana that it’s for her own good NOT to have the bottle of milk she was desperate to inhale, get dressed myself, put both kids in the car and drive off (while having to listen to Yianni tell his sister how SHE COULD NOT DRINK ANYTHING, NOT EVEN WATER for a minimum of 15 times-when I tried to explain that I didn’t like him rubbing it in her face, he wore his innocent smile and told me that he just wanted to make sure she understood – yeah right).

We dropped Yianni off at school and arrived at the hospital.  I don’t think  Iliana had actually realized what she was going to go through. The first alarm bell rang when the chief nurse took her blood. You see I had shared with her the absolute necessary: ‘Honey you are not breathing right, you are neither eating nor sleeping properly and the nice doctor will operate you (I am positive she didn’t fully comprehend this word and I didn’t make an effort to really explain what it means) while you are sleeping’.

The moment she actually freaked out was when the two paramedics came with the stretcher to take her into surgery. I undressed her and wore her the cutest (and saddest) small surgical gown. I convinced the paramedics that I would carry her into surgery instead of forcing her to lay on the stretcher and we headed to the 1st floor.

A few minutes later I held her tight and watched her fade away in 3 seconds. No matter how minor a surgery is, when you see your child put to sleep under general anesthesia, shivers go through your whole body. I thought I would be prepared. After all, I have been there 3 times already with Yiannis. I am familiar with this. Or so I thought. I was wrong. It scares the hell out of me EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I was asked to sit in the waiting room. The TV was on and I watched as the hospital ads repeated themselves over what seemed to me the longest 40 minutes of my life. When I heard the announcement that the surgery was over I ran (run, Forrest, run) to the e.r. where I was greeted by the surgeon with a smile on his face. ‘Everything went fine’ he said.

Relief is one of the greatest most underestimated feelings one can experience.

As I patiently waited by her side for her to wake up I felt gratitude. Gratitude for my healthy kids, gratitude for my husband who still has a good job in a country which has amongst the highest unemployment rates in Europe at the moment, gratitude for a roof above our head, gratitude for A GOOD LIFE.

I held her in my arms as we went up to her room. The paramedic that escorted us told me to make sure I held her head as she was still pretty much dazed and confused from the anesthetic…..Last time I made sure that I held her head was 3 years ago when she was still a tiny baby.  TIME FLIES.

A while later my dad walked in. From the detrimental look on his face I realised how difficult it must be for the grandparents to watch their grandchildren suffer like this. We have a saying here in Greece: το παιδί του παιδιού μου είναι 2 φορές παιδί μου (the child of my child is twice my child – again it sounds soooooo much better in Greek).

quality time

The hours passed by slowly but I didn’t mind. I had my mom to keep me company and stay with Iliana as I ran around the hospital to settle the paperwork & insurance claim.

All in all she was a good patient. What bothered her the most was the IV in her arm which she managed to pull out herself causing a minor blood bath (for a moment there I thought I was in the set of the next splatter movie). A few doctors visits and numerous hours later we finally left the hospital to head home.

I gave Iliana her medication, got her ready for bed, tucked her in and left Yiannis with my mother in law and N. My head was pounding, I felt too tired to even move, let alone drive but I had promised my niece, Angelina, that I would do my best to attend her music school’s spring concert. I pulled myself together and drove off.

The next two hours passed like a breeze. It was the perfect end to a very stressful day. It was the proper way to celebrate my birthday. I watched my sister trying to convince her daughter to swallow her chewing gum while singing on stage, my niece almost choking while trying, the girl in the 2nd row who is the next Shakira (or so she thinks) and some meanly talented kids. MUSIC ROCKS!

Until next time

love,

tatu

birthday overrated??

22 Apr

I am usually super excited about my birthday. My mom always made THE BIGGEST DEAL out of it. The day started with my breakfast plate being surrounded by handpicked flowers (you get the picture). She always made me feel like Christmas on an April day.

Then I met N.

N. never got the proper birthday treatment as his special day is in September which coincided with the end of summer/back to school days. Furthermore, his younger brother was born two days (and two years later) so my mother in law thought it would be more convenient to celebrate once, on the day between the two birthdays.

Up to this day I am not quite sure which is better. No wait. That is a lie. I am sure the way to go is to celebrate your birthday to THE MAX! Unless your birthday falls on the same day your daughter is undergoing surgery and you will have to and I quote my son Yiannis: ‘celebrate on another day’.

Iliana is scheduled for an adenotomy tomorrow morning. Nothing major. She just needs to be able to breathe right again, resume eating and sleeping properly and stop snoring like a train (bless her).

I will still celebrate tomorrow. I will celebrate my daughter coming out of surgery.

Until next time

love,

tatu

what are you? 3?

19 Apr

While I was desperately trying to find THE MANUAL on how to be THE PERFECT PARENT (spoiler: there is none) I swallowed a few dozens of parenting books. Some I loved, others I breezed through and a few didn’t appeal to me after all and were left unread on the shelf.

What I realized after reading all these books was one thing: Too much information can be as harmful as too little information. The key is ΠΑΝ ΜΕΤΡΟΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΟΝ (pan metron ariston=moderation is the key).

What I have done in the last couple of years is reread some chapters of the books that I found helpful and keep in mind little gems and treasures I find on the way.

One of these treasures was a phrase an author suggested we should tell ourselves each time we forget that we are dealing with a child. The deeper meaning was that we tend to get carried away and expect way too much from the little person we have in front of us.

Let me give you an example.

Iliana asked me yesterday to play hide and seek. In the effort of spending more quality time with my kids I decided to drop everything I was doing and play along. If Iliana asks, you usually obey since she is the sweetest, most sunshine-y little girl on this planet (objectively speaking of course).

What I had forgotten was that she hadn’t really grasped the concept of the game. Yiannis absolutely loves to play hide and seek and usually finds it extremely entertaining to scare the hell out of her whenever he hides and suddenly reappears (accompanied by a shriek voice and frightening face while pretending to be a lion). So the whole concept of hide and seek is a bit distorted in her little 3 year old mind.

Iliana: Mama, count to three and I will hide under the couch

Me: Honey, you are not supposed to tell me where you hide, I will count to ten and you will hide wherever you want, ok?

Iliana: Ok mama, I will hide under the couch and you will then count to 3.

Me: The whole purpose of this game is that you hide without telling me where you are and I will try to find you ok? don’t tell me WHERE you hide, ok?

Iliana: Ok mama. I will hide first and then you count to 3. She didn’t seem like grasping it but I decided to play along, anyway.

Me: 1……2…….3…….I am coming….

Iliana: Ok mama, I am behind the curtain!

I rest my case…

Until next time

love,

tatu

Image

even if she hadn’t told me, her ‘kiki’ kind of spoiled her hideaway 😉

 

growing beyond me

17 Apr
It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of my favorite blogger friends, Larry from me myself and kids. He is a high school English Teacher, Free-lance writer, tutor, father of two children, sports enthusiast and a blogger since the Summer of 2011.
I have been stalking following him for a while now and I am always amazed of his ability to perfectly put his thoughts into writing.
Enjoy Larry’s wonderful insight on bath time with the young ones:
It was Friday afternoon. My wife was harried as she was working from home while trying to prepare for the oncoming Sabbath.
Being the wonderful husband that I am, I asked how I could help. “You get the children bathed,” she instructed as if a quarterback barking orders to the rest of the team. “Anything else,” I inquired. I told you I was a wonderful husband. Anyway, the quarterback had no more instructions.
She did not realize she had given me the easiest job.
Some of you may be scratching your heads and thinking, “Easy? This one crazy dad.” You are conjuring up images of children who loathe the bath. They need a countdown, a staredown, and ultimately a rundown to get them into the tub. Then, when they are in the tub, they splash around like a fish who is out of water. When it comes time to actually wash them, they are furious for the interruption to their playtime. By the time, you get them out of the tub and brush their hair – another battle, you are sweating, tired, and trying to figure out who got the most wet – you, the floor, or your child.
Well, actually, I am completely sane.  You see there were times when the scene I described above occurred. As I was cleaning up the bath, I was left wondering just how often I really needed to bathe the children. Would once a month be enough?
I am here to tell you that those days have passed my friends. And it is now smooth goings.  My children don’t require the countdown. In fact, they often go into the bath themselves and seem to find the bath relaxing. They wash themselves (well, they claim to and they don’t smell, so I am inclined to believe them) and get themselves dressed after getting out of the bath. By the way, they seem to think underwear is optional, but that’s another story. Okay, the bathroom is still a mess when they are done but cleaning it up is much easier and less unpleasant when you don’t have to go through a bath experience like the one noted above.
Now, I have to make a confession. You know how you are excited for your child to move forward in his/her development? You think to yourself, “I can’t wait till I don’t have to burp or feed or diaper or carry etc.” Then suddenly, the child is past the stage. You are happy for the child and for the easing of the burden of rearing your children. Yet, part of you misses it. Part of you feels nostalgia and sighs and sees a glimpse of the child growing up and needing you less and less.
I feel it too. So, I offer my children assistance, “you okay in there?, you need any help?, you want me to sit in here and wait for you?”. Normally, it’s a negative. So, I move on feeling both happy and sad. My boys are growing up and my days as a father to small children is nearing an end.
Well, I have done my job on the busy Friday afternoon. The boys are bathed – with little thanks to me. I wonder what they will need from me next.
Larry D. Bernstein
Blog:        memyselfandkids.com
Website:  larrydbernstein.com

let me share some wisdom

15 Apr

Not mine obviously. The one I got from the workshop I attended on conflict resolution at Yiannis’s school two days ago.

But first some events of the last few weeks which seem very relevant to the above.

About a month ago Yiannis came home from school with a party invitation. He is the cutest, proudest and most schmusable(my word, comes from the German word ‘schmusen’=cuddle) little guy when it comes to announcing that he has been invited to a party. You see, one day at the beginning of the year, he came home from school and told me that he had heard in class that the other kids were going to a friend’s party and he told me that he wanted to go as well. I opened his bag and searched for the invitation only to realize that there was none. My heart broke while I tried to explain to him that he had not been invited. The concept was too hard to grasp and he begged me to call the mom and ask her if we could go. I didn’t.

Ever since that incident I make a bit deal out of every invite that goes into his bag. And we made a pact with N. that we would try very hard NOT to miss any party chance there is. Even if it means that we would travel to the end of the world and put ALL our plans on hold.

A few days after the invite, my friend N.K. called and suggested we should reschedule the trip we had canceled a few weeks back due to bad weather and ill children. While we were trying to find a suitable weekend for all, the only available seemed to be the one were Yiannis had his invite. At first we declined N.K.’s offer to spend a WHOLE weekend away but when sense came back to us I decided to ask my son what he preferred in the hope that he might choose wisely. I want to go to the party. No surprise there.

After some blackmailing convincing I did on my part he changed his mind and preferred the and I quote ferry ride, goats, sheep, pigs, friends to play with a whole weekend vs a few hourseating out, taking Benny along. Do you see where I am getting at??

A day before our trip I got an sms from the mom who was hosting the party informing us that her daughter got sick and the party will be postponed until the following Saturday. Great news, I mean awful news for the mom & the kid but WIN WIN for us, we would spend a great weekend away and Yiannis would still go to his party.  The only catch was that it was rescheduled for the Saturday N. & myself had both signed up to attend a workshop at Yiannis’s school. It was then decided that N. would bring the kids to the party & I would participate in the workshop.

The kids had a blast and I attended a great workshop. The topic was: conflict resolution within ourselves. The purpose was to work on ourselves, find all our inner voices (thank God there are others with inner voices), identify them, find the chief voice which will rule out all other (according to circumstances & priorities) and accept that YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL! How wonderful to be reminded. YOU simply CAN NOT DO IT ALL.

Until next time

love,

tatu

Image

 

3 chauvinists and 2 parenting fails

11 Apr

I knew my day was off to a bad start when I spent the first half hour of the very early morning in the bathroom trying every parenting technique in the book to convince Yiannis to pee in the cup for his annual blood and urine examination. I think the I-will-slap-the-pee-out-of-you-if-I-have-to did the trick.

I then dragged his very hungry and thirsty little ass to the Social Security Organization to renew our family health book only to encounter Mr Chauvinist no 1 treating me as an imbecile for not understanding the 156th change in the renewal procedures.

After making us wait painfully for 25 minutes for no reason whatsoever, he practically threw the health-book in my face and told me that I had insufficient documents. It was 08:30 in the morning and I was already starting to lose my patience. I left frustrated and angry and remembered why I despise going to all Greek public social services.

While driving to the clinic for Yiannis’s  blood test Mr too-old-to-drive-let-alone-have-a-drivers-licence Chauvinist No 2 forced me to reverse my car when he misjudged the distance between our two cars and almost crashed into mine. He then slowly passed my car, lowered his window and started swearing at me for no apparent reason. Poor Yiannis heard more swear words in the one sentence the grandpa articulated than he has heard in his entire life.

The first tears of the day were shed.

A few minutes later I pulled myself together, entered the clinic with Yiannis, handed over the pee in the cup only to be told that he actually didn’t need a urine test. G R E A T. The whole parenting fail had been for nothing.

We returned home to cranky Iliana who was trying to deal with the lack of sleep and too much TV (fatal combination – I can reassure you). After inhaling a toast in milliseconds (have I ever told you I use food as comfort??) I played the referee between the siblings who were out to get one another and mainly THEIR MOM (or so I thought).

I tried to reason with them, it didn’t work. I tried yelling, it didn’t work either (it never does). I tried threatening that I would not take them with me to the local farmers market, it didn’t work either. In my last attempt to get their attention I turned into Cruella and started hitting the trash bin. Not only did it not work, I now have a semi broken trash bin.

We avoided each other for half an hour. It worked. I apologized and we hugged and then I tried explaining to them that I am not having one of the best days and they kept on saying: mama, es max nix! Oh but it did. I felt awful. I felt guilty. I decided to move on. I didn’t have the time or energy for self loathing. I left the house with the kids and went fruit and vegetable shopping.

In the late afternoon I kissed my kids goodbye, left them with my mother in law and headed to Yiannis’s school for a parent teacher meeting. I was tired and sad but I was thankful that I didn’t have to deal with bedtime as I was confident that I would commit the 3rd parenting fail of the day.

3 Minutes later I was pulled over by the traffic police.

‘License, registration & insurance’ were the orders of Mr Chauvinist no 3 (and worst of all). S H I T. The insurance paperwork had failed to reach our address on time (no surprise at all if one thinks of the lack of Greek postal efficiency) and although properly insured I was lacking the evidence to prove it. I tried explaining Mr Scumbag that and showed him the email of the insurance. Not only did I fail to convince him of my innocence I was ordered out of my car and threatened to be ripped off my licence plate & driver’s license should I not comply.

I approached cop no2, handed over my papers and tried hard NOT to completely lose the tiny amount of patience I had left. I was given 2 tickets. One was for 10 EURO for not carrying the insurance papers and the other one was for 500 EUROS for the lack of proving I do have an insurance. You see we still live in the Stone Age where police cars are NOT online with the system to double-check  the validity of the insurance. I now have to go to the post office, pay the 10 EURO, go to the police headquarters to prove the validity of the insurance and erase the 500 EURO ticket. WHAT the fuck FOR?

I love my country but not on days like this.

Until next time

love,

tatu

chauvinists

a priceless getaway: Andros

8 Apr

The greatest of times are spent unplanned.

When N.K. suggested to reschedule the weekend getaway we had cancelled 3 weeks earlier for this weekend I was a bit skeptical. My mom was still in the hospital and I wasn’t in the right mood to leave everything behind. But then I thought that there will never be the perfect scenario (when 4 children under the age of 6 are included) and I went for it.

I packed all things (packing for two kids, one dog & myself can be quite time & energy consuming), closed the house, put everything in the car (including Benny & Iliana) and drove off.

Half way through the ride Benny looked like this:

Image

5 minutes before arriving at the port he threw up. On the towel he was sitting on. A second later I decided to throw the whole thing away (a huge step for me as I am obsessive compulsive about NOT throwing things away). This is not starting the way I planned. Maybe it is a sign. I thought to myself.

Still pretty disgusted I decided NOT to linger on that thought and drove to the port. I picked up N. & Yianni (the latter being so ECSTATIC about the whole riding a FERRY thing he was actually glowing).

We boarded the ferry and went on deck.

ImageAfter a 2 hour ferry ride we headed for N.K.’s house. Iliana was tired and cranky and wanted to return to the ferry (bless the ferry deprived young heart of hers) and Yiannis fell asleep after talking non stop about the ferry and the engines and the water and the waves (you get the picture). WhileYiannis was in dreamland, Iliana started whining about wanting her kiki (a pillowcase she grew attached to the last 2 years). 40 too-long-to-listen-to-a-child-whine minutes later we finally arrived at N.K.’s house.  It was then we made the horrid realization. We lost THE KIKI on the ferry. To be precise N. lost the kiki on the ferry.

For the purpose of not making a TOTAL FOOL out of myself I will not disclose of what went down the next thirty minutes. Let’s just say: I didn’t take the loss of the kiki that well. Yes, you read correctly. It was ME that didn’t take it well. Not Iliana. She was super fine with the replacement I found a little while later. Anyway, I blame it on the stress that had build up due to the events of the last three weeks. 

The next morning I took Yianni and Benny for a walk and bumped into this lovely crowd:

ImageNeedless to say they were both ECSTATIC.

On our way to town N.K. had the splendid idea of stopping by the beach of Niborio where part of the filming of the novel ‘The Jasmin Isle’ or ‘Little England’ took place.

Watching the cast and crew felt like traveling back in time:

Image

After strolling through the beautiful paved alleys of Andros Chora we had a bite to eat and returned home for a much needed rest (kids and adults included).

Image

Y.M. and his son

Our afternoon looked like this:

Image

and this:

Image

The next (and unfortunately last) morning included a bit of this:

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a fantastic walk which started here:

Image

and ended (picnic included) here:

ImageOur lovely host N.K. and ultra sweet miss A.:

Image

We had lunch, packed again (someone must do something about this packing thing) and drove off to the port to take the ferry back.

My mood resembled this picture:

ImageMelancholic but happy.

This weekend had it all: quality time with great friends and family while exploring beautiful nature and its creatures. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend away. Can you?

Until next time

love,

tatu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

an ode to my friend: Panagiotis

4 Apr

It was September 1989. I had left the most wonderful friends and memories from my primary school years behind and was ‘forced’ to start fresh in this new, terrifyingly huge, at times unwelcome new school. I was overwhelmed and excited at the same time.

A month had passed and I was slowly adapting to the new environment. Then, one day I witnessed a shy boy (or so I thought at the time) do an impersonation of our English (drama queen) teacher. It was perfect. I started laughing and laughing and laughing and I couldn’t stop. That was it. I was hooked. This was the start of a beautiful friendship (cheesy but true).

Image

back then: Panagiotis and Charlie

Panagiotis is the definition of my best friend. We have been through fat & thin (well, this is a German expression which obviously sounds sooooo much better in German). We would meet up at my house and watch 3,536 times Naked Gun 1, 2 1/2, 33 1/3 and so on. We knew all lines by heart. He became my blood brother and I became his blood sister (totally influenced by the movie ‘my girl’). 

When we were 16, his parents invited me along a 4 day trip to Monemvasia. One of the best trips ever. Let me share two very vivid memories from that trip:

1) His father handed me a copy of the book ‘The Bridges over Madison County’ in an attempt to get me off the tetris frenzy I was on on one of those lame copy cat Nintendo like pocket size video games. Needless to say, I finished the book in 3 days and was embarrassingly sobbing like crazy (I think I saw regret in his eyes, he might have preferred the zoned out version of me after all).

2) I cooked spaghetti with a tomato sauce where I had mistakenly used hot pepper instead of sweet paprika. Panagiotis urged his cousin to eat 3 plates without giving me up while I was begging him to stop at plate no 1 (I wonder If I permanently damaged his taste buds).

Panagiotis has this rare quality (amongst other) of having THE PERFECT sense of humor. He can be funny and awkward and serious at the same time. He can find humor in even the strangest, darkest and unfriendliest moments in life.

He has been my best friend for 24 years and he is the godfather to my daughter Iliana. So now, he is practically FAMILY.

Image

Panagiotis at Iliana’s christening

Until next time

love,

tatu

the joy of ironing

3 Apr

Today I feel honored that my friend Larry from me myself and kids asked me to write a guest post for his blog.

I have been a stay at home mom for over 5 years now (6 in July, but who is counting?) and I can assure you of one thing and one thing only. Motherhood is wonderfully challenging!

I love both my kids to pieces but every now and then I find myself longing for a break. Even if this break means something as insignificant as ironing. For more info on the possibilities of overdosing on your kids check out my guest post here.

Thank you Larry for inviting me over!

 

an ode to my friends

2 Apr

When my sister Alex was 20 she had two best friends. Both died in the same year. The one died of brain cancer and the other died in a motorcycle accident. Both were horrible losses.

What I remember most from this period of her life is her unwillingness to come to terms with the death of her friend who died in the accident. You see, she had been mad at him and they hadn’t talked with each other for a while. Then, one day, a phone call came through. The unthinkable happened. He had been in an accident and instantly died. Just like that.  Without any warning, without any proper goodbyes. She was furious. She was crying and crying and didn’t really stop crying for days. ‘I didn’t get the chance to tell him I loved him’.

Then and there I made a pact with myself not ever to part with a loved one on bad terms. I have managed to keep it throughout the years with a few exceptions (I was 16 at the time).

I have been thinking for a while to dedicate one post a month on each of my close friends. I promise I won’t share too much information as some of you might not enjoy going public. It’s just that I feel I need to get it off my chest just because some things are better left said.

Should you be one of my close friends and hate the idea, kindly let me know. For all intents and purposes of sharing the love I would prefer stating the whole (given/first) name and not only the initial (as I usually do).

Until next time

love,

tatu

friends

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