From the Mommy Files…

Archive for April 2011

The Crib is gone.

Why am I so sad?

I agreed it was time to sell it.

Following the molar pregnancy, chemo, and of course, “advanced maternal age,” as they say – I’m 41 – we decided it was best to count our blessings, and not have any more kids.

We have two amazing daughters.

I always wanted three kids.

And of course, a little boy to complete the family.

Well, when the molar pregnancy happened, I thought things would clear up quickly and then we could try again.

I was practically counting the days.

Then my numbers began to rise, and I was told I needed chemotherapy.

That forced me back into reality.

I felt like God was tapping me on the shoulder, saying, “Hey! I said no more kids. Didn’t you hear Me?”

It sure was a wakeup call.

We heeded the message, and decided it was time to move to the next phase.

It didn’t make it hurt any less.

But we trust that God has another plan for us.

So we began getting rid of all the baby things.

A lot of it went to my cousin for her new baby girl.

Some went to my older daughter’s Godmother, who is awaiting the birth of her first child.

Yet other stuff went off to the Salvation Army.

There’s only a little bit left.

The last of the big stuff – crib, stroller/car seat set, swing – it all went up for sale on Craig’s List.

It didn’t go as fast as the other nursery furniture.

I took it as a sign that it wasn’t the right time.

Especially with my due date approaching.

The ad expired, and my husband renewed it.

Then, a couple of hours later, the call came.

Someone was interested in the crib.

My husband described it, and answered a few questions.

The couple was expecting a baby soon and they wanted it.

Did they want to come and see it first?

No.

They have a truck.

Could they come for it tomorrow?

Yes.

I didn’t really process that the crib was actually going to leave.

It was time.

The next morning, my husband disassembled the crib.

I heard the commotion upstairs.

I probably should have offered to help.

Something held me back.

In fact, I couldn’t leave the kitchen.

In anticipation of the couple’s arrival, he brought all the pieces downstairs and placed them in the front room.

I knew they were in there.

But I couldn’t go near the room.

Later, I went to get the mail and something made me peek in.

There it was.

You’d think there was something hideous in there, because I turned away so quickly.

Back to the kitchen, I made myself busy.

It was only 2:00 pm, but I began preparing dinner.

As the people arrived, I stood at the island, feverishly chopping vegetables.

I didn’t even go out there to say hello, add anything to the conversation.

My husband handled it.

All of a sudden, the tears began to stream down my cheeks.

This was really happening.

This is reality.

It’s real.

We’re really done.

No more kids.

I’ve made peace with it, but the reality was slapping me in the face.

We’re really done.

I cried for a good 15 minutes.

I couldn’t even go upstairs to see the void.

When we did go upstairs, I couldn’t even acknowledge the missing piece of furniture.

Days later, we haven’t even rearranged the furniture to accommodate the newly available space.

What’s the hold up?

Can’t do it yet.

Still trying to accept what’s right there.

Or not there.

My due date is approaching.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so sad.

It’s just a crib.

But moving out the crib is symbolic of us moving out of the childbearing years.

Hard to move on when the choice was not yours.

This is reality.

Yesterday, I saw an older woman pushing a stroller.

The sweetest little girl was inside.

She couldn’t have been more than 3 months old.

I thought to myself.

Someday I will be a grandmother.

And I will have some baby time once again.

Without the sleepless nights.

Though I would do it all again if I could.

And I can babysit all the new babies of my friends and family members.

I’ve already told them that Auntie Maria’s babysitting service is always open.

Come on over!

I’m keeping the pack n play for this reason.

My husband thinks I’m nuts.

But where will these little ones sleep when they visit?

Let’s fold it up and put it in the closet for now.

But it’ll be there for the little sweeties to come over anytime.

Time to move forward.

Time to embrace the future.

Time to look forward to all the new and wonderful stages my girls will go through.

THE CRIB IS GONE.

Time to go rearrange the furniture.

I’ve written before about my love for our Greek heritage and how I am passing down the traditions to my daughters.

We should be proud of where we come from.

If we don’t pass the traditions down to the next generation, they will be lost.

So celebrate your roots!

Holidays are a great time to get the kids together and begin teaching them about traditions.

Get them involved.

Make it fun.

This special time spent with our children – time together preparing foods, the home and ourselves, for that matter – should be at the top of our lists this season.

With a little extra time (and patience) we can teach our children these customs so they may continue them with their own families.

Kids learn by example; if we live it, they will live it.

These memories will last a lifetime.

The children will then share them with their own children.

These holiday preparations and celebrations are among my most cherished childhood memories.

Below, you’ll read about how I’m sharing our Greek culture and Orthodox Faith with my girls.

Perhaps some of the ideas for how to get them involved will help you think about how to share your traditions.

Start Them Young

Many parents involve their children from an early age. It’s important to start them young, as these traditions will be ingrained in them. They will come to expect them with great anticipation year after year.

Baking and Cooking

Boo, now 4, has been baking since she was 2. She looks forward to it. In fact, she can roll koulouria (Greek Easter cookies) with the best of them! She asked me at the start of Lent when we’d make these cookies, as well other sweets and tsourekia. She knows the time is approaching, and knows this is a fun way to prepare for Easter.  Last year, my then-one-year-old sat nearby in her high chair with some measuring spoons and cups, and was somewhat involved. She heard the stories we shared as we made our treats. This year, Bebs, 2, will get hands-on time. This provides the opportunity to explain about breaking the fast, the Easter celebration, and tales of my Easter celebrations as a child.

The girls also help with the cooking. They learn how to cook traditional dishes and it gives me a helping hand, too.

Eggs

On Holy Thursday, we color Easter eggs. This ritual allows us to discuss the symbolism of the red eggs: they are colored red to symbolize the blood that Jesus shed for us. Also, when we crack the eggs – a fun game for all – it’s symbolic of Christ emerging from the tomb. Additionally, the winner gets good luck for the year. Boo can’t wait to color the eggs. Her “job” is to shine them with oil after they’ve been boiled and cooled. 

Kyra Sarakosti

This is a fairly new tradition in our home; I didn’t learn this growing up. It’s a fun way for kids to track the weeks of Lent. Kyra Sarakosti – in paper doll form – is a nun. Her hands are together since she’s always praying. She has a tiny mouth, as she is fasting. Also, she has seven legs – one for each week of Holy Week. Each week, the children fold back a leg and count how many weeks until Easter. 

Preparing the House

As we prepare for a house-full of guests (or even not), we clean our homes – some call it spring cleaning – to usher in a new spirit, the renewal of life provided by spring. Put your little helpers to work! Make a game of it – who can finish first? Who’s room will be the neatest? Whoever does extra chores gets a prize. They can go through their toys and allocate ones to give to the poor. We do this a couple of times a year. This teaches them not only sharing, but also to give to those in need. Every time we do this, my four year-old says, “Every kid needs a toy.”

Preparing Ourselves

One of the most important things to share with our children is our Faith. During Lent, we should strive to take them to as many services as possible, especially the ones that are only celebrated at this time of the year.

Greek school and church retreats provide a fabulous opportunity for kids to learn with their peer, which not only is fun, but reinforces the messages; “my friends are doing it too. Girls can be mirofora (myrrhbearers); older boys can help carry the Epitaphio; younger boys can be altar boys. Engaging them in these first-hand experiences helps bring the Faith the life and provides greater meaning.

Read Easter stories during reading time. There are many books out there suitable for different age levels. Crucifixion may be too heavy a subject for a younger child, but they can understand that “bad people put Jesus on the Cross,” and that “He stayed there for us, because He loved us.”

Anastasi (Resurrection) is one of the most beautiful services in our Church. Bring them. Show them to hold their lambada (decorated Easter candle) with great joy, and sing the triumphant hymn, “Christos Anesti.”

The Celebration

The preparations are important, but so much takes place on Easter Day. From setting the tables, to passing out the eggs, to selecting the Greek music and dancing, there’s so much for kids to take part in and enjoy. These celebrations of faith, family and love are at the core of who we are. These festive occasions are for all of us, young and old.


Don’t Overstress

Keep explanations to an age-appropriate level. Don’t overwhelm the kids, or yourself. There are so many things to do in preparation for the holiday, and so many facets. Each family has their own traditions and rituals to impart. Start with simple explanations and build on their knowledge each year. These are but suggestions for getting started. Make it an enjoyable, yet informative time for all.

Happy Easter! Καλό Πάσχα!


This post was adapted from my article of the same name, in the special expanded Easter issue of The Greek Star.

Are you saying, huh?

I’m asking if you speak Greek, Italian or French, in the respective languages.

Why?

Because there are so many benefits to teaching our children a foreign language.

Be it the language of your forefathers or something that sounds interesting, just do it.

Learn another language!

There are benefits for little ones as well as adults!

For years, there was a school of thought that purported that teaching a child another language was confusing to the child, and that the child had a smaller vocabulary.

NONSENSE!

Studies upon studies have proved otherwise.

Kids actually have DOUBLE the vocabulary.

They also have the greatest capacity to learn when they are young. And they learn faster.

I’m the Associate Editor of The Greek Star newspaper in Chicago.

Last week, we published an issue dedicated to Greek-American Education.

In this effort, we highlighted topics within Greek-American Education, but mostly importantly, we shared a lot of information regarding the benefits of bilingual education.

An article by Eleni Kanellopoulou-Ntrivalas, M. Ed, Principal of Solon Bilingual Prep in Chicago, called “The Bilingual Preschool: Building the Foundation for Success,” highlighted why preschool is a good place to start.

She said that in her experience, “the greater percentages of children that attend a bilingual preschool have succeeded in gaining acceptance to public school gifted programs.”

“We believe this is attributed to a combination of the bilingual curriculum and the smaller class size,” she added.

She sighted the book, In Other Words: The Science and Psychology of Second-Language Acquisition, by Kenji Hakuta and Ellen Bialystok.

Here, the authors state that “the knowledge of two languages is greater than the sum of its parts.”

They write that the benefits from being bilingual go much further than simply knowing two languages, as the structures and ideas of the two languages are so different, that it forces the child to think in more complicated ways than if they were learning only one language.

A study done by Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin showed that bilingual children have better inhibitory control for ignoring perceptual information. The theory is that children who are bilingual are constantly sorting out extra perceptual information.

Developmental Psychologist and Linguistics Expert Barbara Lust indicates that these are important findings because the ability to focus and pay attention is a key role in academic readiness and success at school.

It’s reported that children naturally acquire more than one language at once – and do so quicker if immersed in the languages.

There are also social benefits.

Bilinguals travel more, can communicate with more people.

They also tend to be more tolerant of other cultures.

Passing on the language of your forefathers brings another benefit.

It’s a wonderful way to pass on your heritage and culture.

And you should be proud of where you come from.

Dr. Angelyn K. Balodimas-Bartolomei, Associate Professor of Education at North Park University, Coordinator of the ESL Teachers Endorsement Program and founder of Academic Odyssey Program to Greece, also wrote about the importance of getting a bilingual education.

She states that bilingual schools  also “prepare children to become more productive, responsible, and contributing members of our changing global society.”

She also says bilinguals are “generally more outgoing and have an edge in high school, college and even in getting jobs.”

Her article also indicated that “Foreign language learning also allows children to improve grammatically and linguistically in their first language in addition to increasing vocabulary in both languages.”

On their website, The Lycee Francais Chicago also cites that its bilingual program nets academic success.

It’s not rocket science.

Pick a language, any language.

Build the foundation for your child’s academic success.

While you’re at it, learn another language yourself.

Learning a foreign language can help boost brain power and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Let’s keep those brains engaged – and healthy!

The time is now.

So…let me ask again…

Milas Ellinika? Parli Italiano? Parlez-vouz Francais?

If you’re child’s a teenager or if you’re a grandparent, it’s never too late.

Yeia sou!

Ciao!

Adieu!


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More Resources on bilingual education

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_advantages_to_bilingualism

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/benefits-of-being-bilingual.html

Guess who’s a guest writer on Harlots’ Sauce Radio?

Read my article, “You Did Not Just Say That!”, which talks about things to say and not to say when someone experiences a miscarriage.

The comments discussed in this article are things that I heard, and things that other women have shared with me.

People try to help, to try to console you because they care.

I’m not ripping on people who’ve tried to console me.

It’s about what goes through our mind, and how we hear these comments when we’re in the depths of our grief.

It’s suggestions of what to say that would mean the most to us.

Unless you’ve ever experienced miscarriage – and I hope you never do – you wouldn’t know this unless someone told you.

Leave a comment on the site.

Maybe they’ll invite me back!


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BooBoo BeDoux

Bebs LaRoux

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