From the Mommy Files…

Archive for May 2010

After my post the other day, I’ve received a few notes about what kids say, in their mispronunciation of words. I could just die laughing! (not a bad way to go…)

I’d thought I’d share a few and give you a chuckle for your day!

The kids at BooBoo’s preschool are getting ready for their end of the year program tomorrow. They’ll recite poems, sing and dance. The 3 year-olds have been working on memorizing and reciting their poems since the end of March. One little boy has a poem, that says phonetically in Greek, “Eimai naftaki…” which means, “I’m a little sailor.” This little boy keeps saying, “Eimai aftaki,” which means, I’m a little ear.”

This one was emailed to me the other day. Love it!

Many Greek Americans speak some “Greeklish,” meaning they have made English words sound Greek and they use them in regular conversation. A 4 year-old boy recently heard his grandfather talk about going to get something from the “besimo,” Greeklish for basement. The little boy promptly said, “Eeeeoooo! What is Papou going to get out of a beesino?” “Beesino” being the Greek word for your rear end.

LMAO! (pun intended)

Another mom wrote to me about the time she told her 3 year-old daughter, “We better plant this louloudi (Greek for flower) in the ground.” They planted the flower, and later, the little girl reported to her father how they spent their day. “Daddy, daddy!” She shouted. “We planted that floozy right in the ground!”


We could go on like this all day, but I’ll share one last one from BooBoo, an infinite source of inspiration. 😉 

Boo has become infatuated with the film “Fiddler on the Roof,” and loves to sing the song, “Matchmaker.” This morning, as we were driving to school she began to sing. “Matchmaker, matchmaker I’ll bring the veil, you bring the broom, summer and pale. Bring me a wing for I’m longing to be the envy in all I see. For Papa, make him a scholah, for Mama, make him witch or a king. For me, well, I wouldn’t fall down if he were as handsome as anything!”

I about pee’d in my pants with that one.

‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy!

Now back to your regularly scheduled day. Enjoy!


You’re wondering, where the heck is she going with this? 😉

Ah yes, I’m talking about the hit song by Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze,” of which the misunderstanding of the lyrics, “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” is probably more famous than the actual song. I bring up this dictional distortion (I think I made that up, but it sounds good – wink, wink) to tell you about some things that my kids say. You always hear, “kids say the darndest things,” but is it really that the way they said it is the way it sounds to them, and that they don’t know what they are saying?

Let me explain.

I’ve mentioned that in our quest to proliferate our culture, we are teaching our children to speak Greek as well as English. BooBoo even goes to a Greek/English preschool. Occasionally, they say things in Greek that don’t make any sense at all – and sometimes sound like a curse word or something that a young child should not be saying. I mentioned this once to BooBoo’s teacher and she said it happens all the time, and that sometimes the teachers can barely hold contain the laughter.

One day, BooBoo began to tell me a story, and then it sounded like she said the Greek word for testicles. I tried not to freak out, so she wouldn’t repeat it and think it was funny. I asked her where she’d learned it, and she said at school. I asked her teacher about it and she said that she has heard what sounds like that word as well, but she said the kids have no idea what the word is or what it means.

BooBoo learns songs at school, and sometimes I can’t understand her. I speak Greek, but she doesn’t pronounce all the words correctly. I found out that other parents face this issue too. We asked the teacher for the song lyrics so we knew what they were singing!

Bebs is becoming a chatterbox in her own right, and listening to her speak, this is all starting to make sense. I’ve concluded that it definitely may be the way they hear the words – the sounds – and that’s how they duplicate them. For example, she will say ‘I love you’ in Greek, “s’agapo,” but it sounds like, “dagado,” with all the right inflection and rhythm. I know she understands the word. I also know that some sounds are more difficult than others, and they come later.

Recently, BooBoo was singing a song from her favorite Greek singer Elli Kokkinou; her words made no sense. One line says, phonetically in Greek, “monaha ‘si na eheis simasia,” which means roughly, “only you will have significance.” BooBoo sang, “Anastassia ehei simasia.” So in her version, some girl named Anastassia is number one. She went on, and well, I had trouble holding back the laughter. The song says in Greek, “To yelyio, to dakri, to alati mes’ti zoi,” meaning, “the laughter, the tears, the salt of life.” BooBoo sang, “To yellow, to dakri, agape mes mou zoi,” which means, “the yellow, the tears, love in my life.”

‘Scuse me me while I kiss this guy!

An article by Caroline Brown on speech development, explains that “a small, typically developing child’s speech can be quite difficult to understand because his or her sound system is not yet organised like adult speech.” She indicates that when kids are learning to speak like adults, all kids make errors in pronunciation – which are not really errors. She refers to the “errors” as phonological processes or phonological derivations.

In another report, she states that “children’s speech does not sound like adult speech because they make typical child-like ‘sound replacements’.” Also, all kids occasionally misunderstand words that are said to them, and therefore “utter oddly worded sentences, and put speech sounds in the wrong spots (or omit them) when they are learning to talk.”

In terms of bilingual study, an article in Preschoolers Today says researchers believe that the best time to teach a child a foreign language is when they are young. I agree with their conclusion that there are enormous benefits to speaking more than one language. They say it broadens  “a child’s understanding and acceptance of other cultures,” “improves English comprehension skills” and “research suggests that learning a second language at an early age can enrich mental development.”

So, for a little while longer, we’ll hear Bebs say “die!” when she’s waving goodbye to you and BooBoo will keep singing about Anastassia. We’ll continue to positively correct them and reinforce their learning. And explain to people what they are trying to say. 😉

It’s not just the kids…have a laugh and check out or for more misunderstood lyrics…There’s even a name for it – mondegreens. I’m cracking up at, “there’s a bathroom on the right!”

OK, so this one is obviously not about my little characters. 😉 However, I really wanted to share this with you.

The other day, in preparation for an article I’m writing, I attended a performance of the Child’s Play Touring Theatre at a local Chicago school. The company is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.

Child’s Play works with children through their schools and in camps, to cultivate and encourage their creativity and imagination. The group was the first theater company to realize the value of children’s own writing and exclusively perform stories and poems written by young authors. Through their programs, over the last 30 years, they’ve served more than four million children, educators and adults. Additionally, they’ve performed the original works of more than 15,000 young authors.

The other day, I attended a performance at a nearby elementary school. Since area schools significantly have cut arts programs, teachers at this school worked together to obtain a grant to bring in Child’s Play; the grant allowed them to bring music, drama and visual arts back to their school. This year, they focused on improving the children’s writing skills. Since last fall, Child’s Play has been working with the children, and helping them to use their imaginations and develop stories. Then they selected a few to perform on stage. Some of the short plays were written by single students and others by an entire class.

The kids worked for months to learn their lines and bring the stories to life. The performances included a piano playing-narrator (from Child’s Play), who tells the stories through some basic direction and music. There are a few backdrops, some basic props, and the kids act out the stories. The students just think they’re having a good time, but the entire process helps them to develop their writing skills; helps them in memorization; promotes confidence and self-esteem and even assists with public speaking abilities. Basically, it validates the kids in their talents and encourages them to excel. The program was quite enjoyable. It was evident that the kids enjoyed it. I was really impressed.

It’s such a great experience. I hope that someday my daughters will be able to take part in a program like this. Child’s Play also runs summer camps (around the country) and have programs at their local studio.

As I listen with frustration at all the latest school budget cuts, and think about all that our children are missing out on, it’s refreshing to learn about a program like this. Last week, I talked a lot (and posted on Facebook and Twitter) about how music enhances children’s learning. The arts help children excel, and create well-rounded individuals. I’m heartened by Child’s Play’s work with kids, and the determination of these teachers to being this experience to their students. It’s my hope that more schools will actively seek programs like this and find a way to bring them to our kids. It’s an important part of their education.


I’ve mentioned before that I help prepare and serve hot lunch every Friday at BooBoo’s preschool. I noticed with my own kids that things have to be the same or someone’s upset. Add 36 or so kids, and well, it can quickly fall into chaos. You can’t give them any excuses to not eat. So school lunch becomes a lesson in symmetry.

Let me count the ways.

Kids are pretty picky. And they are very observant. Sometimes there are a couple of us getting tables ready, or plates, etc. So sometimes one plate looks a little different than another. Not acceptable. So I’ve learned that these are the rules, to keep them happy (one less distraction) and then there’s a greater chance they’ll actually eat their lunch.

It’s a good thing I worked in restaurants and at banquets, so I’m already experienced in this “art.”

Rule # 1: You must use all the same dishes, napkins, cups and utensils. “Hey! Why does he have a monkey if I have a tiger?”

Rule # 2: You must serve the same juice box or kind of juice and in the same cup. “I don’t want orange juice, she’s got red juice! I want the red juice! Gimme red juice!”

Rule # 3: All napkins must be folded the same way and set on the same side of the plate. The slightest positioning change messes them up.

Rule # 4: Portion sizes must be the same. “Why did he get more than me?”

Rule # 5: Arrange the food in the same place on each plate. “I want my strawberries on THAT side!” Again, the slightest thing distracts them.

Rule # 6: Don’t stray from the “known” foods.  One day we served macaroni and cheese, but it wasn’t the “traditional” elbow macaroni. “What are these screwy kinda noodles? I don’t like these!” And most didn’t eat them. Even if your kid isn’t so picky, she’ll go along with the crowd and not eat it. When we served the elbow mac kind, they gobbled it up quickly.

Rule # 7: Each spot at the table must look the same, i.e. cup at 1:00, napkin to the left of the plate, fruit at the top of the plate, etc. Trust me, it saves grief.  

Now you’ve learned your lesson in school lunch symmetry – perfectly proportioned, everything the same, well-balanced. No one said they had discerning tastes, but they’re definitely easily distracted and super finicky.

So now you know the lunch rules. Apply these in your own house too, to keep the peace and promote eating lunch without problems.

Who said this was easy?

There are only a few weeks left to go for this school year, and I have to say, I will miss hot lunch day. It’s really been fun.

Last time I wrote about my music-loving girls requesting songs they wanted to hear – before we even got into the car. They love music – all kinds – and love to dance. I meant to raise music lovers.

I’ve read about pregnant moms putting headphones on their bellies, piping classical music into the womb. In an article about the Mozart Effect, the expert indicates that it can’t hurt, and he also suggests that the mother spend some time herself listening to soothing music. I’ve heard that only playing classical music for your fetus will bring you a calm child. Pregnancy Magazine  once did a piece on “Baby’s First Classroom” and talked about all these things.  There are even things called “Prenatal Education,” and moms add another stressor to their pregnancy time – they feel like they have to start teaching baby NOW, before it’s even born. I think it all has an effect on the baby, but so does the stress. Experts agree and disagree, but do what you feel is right for your child. Just don’t stress yourself out trying to “get everything right” and worry, “did I do enough for my child while I was pregnant?” Just eat right, get some exercise – take care of yourself. Be good to yourself.

My mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, my older siblings were at school or out playing most of the time; my dad worked endless hours, so she spent a lot of time alone. She passed her time listening to Greek music, singing and dancing around the house. In her younger years, she sang in the church choir and performed in a folk dance troupe. These were things she really enjoyed. She also told me that she didn’t do these things while she was expecting any of my siblings. I should tell you that none of them have any musical tendencies and they really don’t dance.

Mom said I could hum well before I could speak. I could bounce to music before I could even roll over or crawl. When I became mobile, I danced all the time. Every gathering brought me an audience, and I performed for our family and friends. Everyone thought for sure I’d pursue a future in the arts. That was my original plan.

I performed as a soloist and in choirs through the end of college. Later I performed with a Greek folk dance troupe for 8 years. The singing –I should say the performing – I gave up after acquiring stage fright. (Yeah, that one’s hard to explain.) That fright didn’t affect dancing, somehow. I felt free when I sang or danced. I became known for these talents.

When I was expecting my first child, I thought, I’m going to see if my mom’s theory really works. It can’t hurt. I listen to a lot of Greek music anyway, and I made a point to dance. Yes, around the house. We’d attend functions and people would marvel that the woman with the big belly was dancing.

An article in Pregnancy Today  says that fetuses can hear at about 20 weeks. Some say earlier. Either way, your baby can hear you. So watch your tone, watch HOW you say things. Your baby will learn your voices and be comforted by it (or upset, as the case may be) when he’s born. Once in the great big world, songs she heard while in the womb can be comforting too.

I like all types of music, except for a few. My husband is a music lover too. We listen to foreign music (not just Greek!), opera, classical, jazz, rock – you name it 

I noticed during my first pregnancy, that when we went to church, and the priest would chant, the baby would kick a lot. When the chanting stopped, she’d stop. She also responded to the priest’s voice when I spoke to him one-on-one. I decided that the baby loved church. She’s always liked going to church, and really enjoys the Byzantine Chants.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, we attended a concert of the renowned tenor Mario Frangoulis. This kid went crazy! I never got the impression that it was upsetting to her or stressed her. I knew – she loved music!

While pregnant I spoke to the baby, sometimes read to her aloud, and sang a lot. It helped me to relax. The dancing gave me some exercise and that made me feel good. I was by no means a slave to these practices.

When BooBoo was born, she had really severe acid reflux. It was nearly impossible to calm her. After trying everything else, I sang to her, and that would help her to relax. I’d play music for her, I’d dance around with her and she loved it. For the first few months, only those moments seemed to bring her any peace. Babies respond to the sing-songy way mothers speak to them – it’s calming.

BooBoo has been a singer and dancer ever since – our house seems to be always filled with music. If we aren’t actually playing music, someone is singing. She goes to dance classes now, and it’s one of her favorite things to do.

Now Bebs loves her music too. She likes to dance and she’s been humming for a long time, and sings some words now too.

My husband plays some piano and guitar, and my father-in-law plays too. The girls LOVE it when they play. They like to strum the guitar and will try to play the piano. They are really into it. We’ve exposed them to all kinds of music, too, and they respond to it, in positive ways. They hum, they dance – they smile. Music really sets a mood.

Within the next year BooBoo will probably begin piano lessons. She’s very excited. Music education is said to enhance the overall education of children. That’s a bonus. I wouldn’t force her if she didn’t show interest. The discipline of it, learning to make a commitment and be dedicated to something, the sheer beauty of it –it’s easy to see all the benefits.

So I’ve proved my mother’s theory. I really believe that parents should introduce their children to the arts – at least different types of music – even if it’s not their thing. It provides a very well-rounded experience, helps them to relax, concentrate and express themselves. I believe it opens new worlds; it opens their mind to the beauty and pleasure of music. It’s happiness. It’s good for the soul. You might find you enjoy it too, and it’s something you can do together.

There’s so much more to show them. We’re looking forward to taking them to concerts, and someday to the theater, the symphony and the opera.

On any given day, you’ll find us singing, dancing and making music. If this were a cartoon, little music notes would emanate from the house. It’s a happy, lively house indeed.


You’re saying, “Huh?”

 You know how you would request a song from a band, a DJ or even on the radio? Well, BooBoo AND Bebs are requesting songs too!

We get out to the garage, and they make their requests before we even get into the car!

BooBoo started doing this at about 16 months old. I listen to Greek music a lot and one day we were driving home and a song by Peggy Zina called “Tora Ti Kano” (What do I do now?) played. She began singing along with the chorus. It was like, every time Peggy sang the word “kano,” so did BooBoo. After that, every time we got in the car, she’d shout “Kano!” so we would play her song. She then starting learning the words to a song called “Ena” (One) and would request that one too. “Ena” was the first track of the CD of the same name, and “Kano” was #7. (Yes, I still remember…read on). Every trip in the car had a request for, “Ena” and she’d sing along to that song, and then she’d yell, “Kano!”

I’ve mentioned that we went to Greece when BooBoo was 20 months old. My cousin picked us up from the airport and when we got in the car, he turned on the radio. “Kano!” she ordered. He couldn’t believe she knew who Peggy Zina was! We went to a wedding, and when the DJ played “Ena,” she sang along, to everyone’s amazement. Not so much because she’s American, but because she was singing the song.

Fast forward a couple of years and a lot of songs later.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to interview popular Greek singer Elli Kokkinou for The Greek Star and The National Herald. I told BooBoo I was going to interview her and reminded her that she knew some of Elli’s songs. Well, since Mommy got to meet Elli and got a picture taken with her, Elli became BooBoo’s absolute favorite (and still is). At first there were 2 songs she really liked on her “Sto Kokkino” CD: track # 3, called “Bye, Bye, Bye” (no translation needed, ha ha) and “Sorry” (track #7). I know, English words, but the songs were in Greek. So when we get in the car each day, BooBoo yells out her request. Then she calls out the next song she’d like to hear. It is possible that she will request the songs over and over, so we can go from track #3 to track #7 and back. Now she knows all the songs on the CD, and she’ll tell us which one she wants to hear next. I have memorized all the songs on the CD and what track they are so I can be a speedy DJ. 😉 BooBoo will even ask to see Elli’s videos on YouTube.

Bebs had to get into the act too. Months ago, I could hear her humming along to the songs, and even saying “Sorry,” with a Greek accent, as it is in the song. She did it even earlier than BooBoo and it was so cute. In the last few weeks, Bebs has been requesting her song as well. I was putting her in her car seat one morning, and she said, “Sorry!” BooBoo chimed in. “Yeah, Mommy. Play ‘Sorry!’” I wasn’t even in the car yet, girls!

The other day, we were going out for a family outing and were getting in the car. Once in the car, I do my customary roll call, asking BooBoo if everyone’s there and if they have a seat belt. During roll call, Bebs shouted out, “Sorry!” Daddy couldn’t contain the laughter.

I bet Elli Kokkinou never thought she could have fans so young. Maybe we should start a new fan club – “Toddlers and Preschoolers Love Elli!”

I’m not surprised about the singing; my mom said that when I was a baby I hummed all the time. She’d hear humming come from my room and sure enough, I was in the crib singing! She said it was because when she was pregnant with me, she sang and danced to Greek music all the time. Hmmm…I did the same with my girls (they dance too). I think she may have something there!

Research shows that exposing children to music – all types of music (but not too loud) and music education early on, is great for development. Paul Borghese writes about a Brown University study on this topic, and shows how music can help children with concentration, coordination, relaxation and more. Who knew something so fun has so many benefits! The Mozart Effect  discusses “the use of music to enhance quality of life, including health, wellness, education, creativity and emotional expression.” That will give you a start, but just Google “importance of music in child development” and you’ll find a wealth of resources.

OK, let’s all sing now…

“Bye, Bye, Bye!”

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! You’re awesome! 

I don’t know the origin of this, but it’s really sweet and I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy your day!  


A Newborn’s Conversation with God  

A baby asked God, “They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow,  
but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?”  
God said, “Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”  

The child further inquired, “But tell me, here in heaven I don’t have
to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.”  
God said, “Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you.  
And you will feel your angel’s love and be very happy.”  

Again the small child asked, “And how am I going to be able to understand
when people talk to me if I don’t know the language?”  
God said, “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words 
you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”  
“What am I going to do when I want to talk to you?”  
God said, “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.”  

“Who will protect me?”  
God said, “Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life.”  
“But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.”  
God said, “Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you.”  

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked,

“God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name.”  

God said, You will simply call her, “Mom.”

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