From the Mommy Files…

Archive for November 2012

On this blog, I’ve talked a lot about the importance of keeping traditions alive.

Family history goes hand-in-hand.

Many people don’t know how their family ended up in America, let alone when or where.

At our house, these traditions and history are part of our everyday.

My children know all the names and towns.

They’re fascinated by it, and ask questions.

This past Thanksgiving Eve, I had the pleasure of having my nephew/Godson come to stay with us.

My brother is a single dad.

Maybe he doesn’t have time – maybe he doesn’t know about family history.

He certainly doesn’t celebrate any traditions or customs, unless I do it and he joins in.

So here I was with my nephew, on Thanksgiving Eve.

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was making my maternal grandfather’s meat stuffing recipe.

It’s a lot of work, so my aunt didn’t want to take that on, along with everything else.

I totally get that, but it’s just not Thanksgiving without it.

The last few years I made it at home anyway, because, well, it’s just not Thanksgiving without it.

Sad thing, these days, only one of my cousins (of nearly 20) make it.

My aunts and uncles do not either, because it’s a lot of work.

This is why there used to be a party BEFORE Thanksgiving, when we all gathered to lend a hand in the stuffing preparation.

This party would include family, friends, some appetizers, wine—and lots of laughter and storytelling.

For a while, this actually became more fun than Thanksgiving, but I digress…

So here I am with the nephew – the kid is 9 and he’s one inch shorter than me. 😉

He offered to help.

The girls decided that if he wanted to help, that I should have that time with him.

They told me so.

So they stayed downstairs, while Nephew and I cooked.

He got a big kick out of the food processor! He’d never seen one before, let alone used one.

We took each ingredient, one by one. I cleaned, chopped, put things in bowls, etc., and he inquired about each and every one and why it was prepared that way.

Then I asked him if he knew whose recipe this was.

Holiday time is a great time to share family recipes, history and to keep traditions alive. This is my papou’s “famous” meat stuffing. It’s just not Thanksgiving without it.

The conversation went like this:

Nephew: You said it was Papou’s (grandfather).

Me: Yes, but it is MY papou’s recipe…my mother’s father.

Nephew: Really? It’s been around a long time then!

Me: Yes. It’s just not Thanksgiving without it!

Nephew: I promise I’ll try it this year, since I’m making it and all.

Me: Great. Do you know what my papou’s – your great papou’s – name was?

Nephew: No.

Me: His name was Jim.

Nephew: What?! That’s my dad’s name! Is that where my dad got his name, like I’m named after my papou?

Me: Yes!

Nephew: That is soooo cool!

Me: Do you know what my yiayia’s (grandmother) —your great yiayia’s – name was?

Nephew: No.

Me: Maria.

Nephew: Get out! How cool! Was that on purpose?

Me: Yes. This is our tradition. Auntie and Uncle were named after Papou’s parents.

Nephew: So is that how Boo and Bebs got their names?

Me: Absolutely!

Nephew: That is the coolest thing! Does everyone do that?

Me: Not anyone else in our family does that anymore. But many Greeks follow this tradition.

Nephew: I would really like to go to Greece someday. Would you take me?

Me: Sure. Do you want to learn Greek?

Nephew: I know about 10 words in Greek. Could you teach me some more?

So everything that we did, I described in Greek. He listened intently.

Nephew: So tell me about your grandfather Jim.

Me: He came to the US in 1906.

Nephew: You’ve got to be kidding! That was more than 100 years ago.

Me: Yes. He came here when he was a young man. He went to join his father and uncle who were working out West on the railroad.

Nephew: With trains?

Me: They helped to lay the tracks.

Nephew: Maybe that’s why I really liked trains.

Then I proceeded to give him the abridged history.

Papou eventually moved to Chicago and went to work with his uncle in the grocery business.

Later, he opened his own store, and also a restaurant and bar.

He married my yiayia and they had 7 kids.

My mother is the oldest.

My papou also imported cheese and olives from Greece, and became known around the country.

He also sponsored about 1000 Greeks from the area around Tripolis, Greece, near where he was from, to come to Chicago.

These people would come, and he’d help them start their new lives.

He’d either train them in his restaurant, got them jobs somewhere else, or help them start their own businesses.

He was well-respected.

Nephew: That’s amazing! Did you ever meet him?

Me: No. He died many years before I was born.

Nephew: How old would he be now?

Me: About 125.

Nephew: What?! Did my dad know him?

Me: Your dad was about 2 when he died.

Nephew: Oh. How come no one else talks about him?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe they don’t know about him. You should ask Yiayia to tell you stories about her dad.

Nephew: That would be so cool.

So the stuffing was complete, and Nephew actually tried it, and he liked it.

At Thanksgiving dinner, he proudly announced to everyone that he helped make it, and that it was his Great Papou Jim’s special recipe, and that’s who his dad is named after.

It was a really special time with him.

He asked me later that night if there were any special Christmas traditions.

I told him he’d have to come over again to find out.

As we left, I hugged him and he thanked me for telling him about the stuffing, and my grandfather.

Then he said, “I’m so happy to be Greek. There are so many awesome things to learn about being Greek.”

That totally made my night.

And made me proud.

Won’t he be surprised when I take him to the National Hellenic Museum over Christmas break and show him the photo of my papou that appears in their newest exhibit, “American Moments!”

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I’m honored to be part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which not only makes me feel like a true member of the author community, but also motivates me to finish rewrites and get my book published!

Nai’lah Carter tagged me for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Her book, You Have What it Takes has come to me at just the right moment, as I have experienced that doubt that we all feel, just as we are getting close to the finish line. The purpose of this promo is to be able to discover new authors you may never heard of, and learn about their work. In this week 21 of the blog tour, you’ll read about my “Next Big Thing.” At the end, I’ve tagged 5 other authors, who will do the same thing next Wednesday.

So, without further ado, here we go!

What is the working title of your book?  Positive About Negative: Adventures in Molar Pregnancy.

Where did the idea come from for the book? In September 2010 I experienced a molar pregnancy. This is a rare type of miscarriage that can become cancer. I endured many complications, and ultimately, 14 weeks of chemotherapy. Each year, about 200,000 molar pregnancies are diagnosed, worldwide; 6500 of those are in the US. There are precious few resources out there for women who have a molar pregnancy. I really felt like I was alone at sea. I don’t want any other woman to feel like that.

What genre does your book fall under? Women’s health.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Don’t know that this would ever happen! I never even thought about this before. My husband said maybe Sandra Bullock could play me… I could see Alec Baldwin as one of my doctors… 😉 LOL

This book will be a tremendous resource for women; their partners, family members and friends; and even for doctors, who wouldn’t normally have that intimate a look into a patient’s journey.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? This book is for women who have endured a molar pregnancy – from diagnosis, to treatment, healing and beyond.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  Not sure yet.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? More than one year. I have two small children, and I was on my own healing journey. There were times when I couldn’t go near it, because the grief would rear its ugly head, or some milestone date was approaching and I was trying to busy myself with other things. I’ve consulted experts as well as women who have also experienced molar pregnancy. Their feedback was extremely positive. I’m currently working on rewrites.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I haven’t found any. There is a book that shares stories of several women who have endured molar pregnancy, but there are none like this. My book not only reveals my journey, but also examines what a woman can expect on her own journey, and more. I share research I have compiled, plus, there are topics such as grieving (so important and often overlooked); advocacy; (critical!); advice for partners, family and friends; controversy within the field, etc. Also examined is the rare nature of the disease, and why there is a lack of a protocol for treatment. Currently, there are no institutional or national guidelines for the treatment of molar pregnancy.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?  As I embarked on this roller coaster of a journey, I couldn’t find any resources. I felt very lost. I was fortunate to connect with women around the world via an online support group. We shared research, offered support, cheered on everyone’s progress, listened while we vented or lamented. I floated the idea about writing a book, and my fellow survivors applauded and encouraged me to do it. I learned so much on this journey. You may not be religious, but my faith was a driving force in getting me through this, and also provided inspiration. I believe that God chose me to go on this journey, because I am a writer and I would not be afraid to share my story. I don’t want anyone else to feel as alone as I did.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Molar pregnancy is rare. A woman goes from the anticipation of a new life and feeling full of love and hope, to learning that the pregnancy is lost. Not only is a woman grieving her lost child, but she faces a health crisis: she’s received this diagnosis of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (doesn’t that get stuck in your mouth?), and the knowledge that this could become cancer—who knew that what started as the promise of a new life could lead one to the chemo lab?

Just when does it become cancer? Ask many doctors and you’ll get many answers. How did this happen? Could this have been prevented? Will the disease come back? Will it happen again? Do I really need to grieve? Do I need chemo? Can I have more children? What’s next? These questions and more are all discussed in this important book.

The foreword has been written by a physician who is widely considered as the top specialist for the treatment of molar pregnancy in the US.

Thanks for reading about my forthcoming book…

And now…

As you know, I am always promoting my heritage, so I thought I’d present to you five Greek authors (OK, one isn’t Greek, but his latest book is set on a Greek island!) Check out these wonderful authors and find out what they’re up to!

Kelly Andria

Patty Apostolides

C. Dionysios Dionou

Bryan Mooney

Stephanie Nikolopoulos

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my dear friend and fellow writer, Patricia V. Davis, who I “met” when I interviewed her a few years ago for The Greek Star.  Three hours later (yes, we spoke for that many hours on the phone!) we were friends. That day, she encouraged me to do more with my writing. She gave me the little push I needed to get out there and expand my horizons. She’s a dynamic and inspiring woman. Check out her site, and see all the things that she’s up to!

I had no idea Boo was paying attention to the news.

In the evenings, we’d watch various news programs while the girls were playing, doing homework or other projects.

One day, Boo, now officially 5-3/4 (I have to include the 3/4 or I will be in trouble. LOL) shared her political insights.

Boo: Why is Barack Obama always yelling at everyone?

Mommy: What do you mean?

She’d seen clips of some of his campaign appearances when he’d spoken loudly and passionately.

Boo: He seems like he’s always yelling and pointing. I don’t like that.

Mommy: I think he’s just excited about something he believes in.

Boo: I don’t believe in yelling or any of that stuff. I like Mitt Romney.

Mommy: You do? Why?

Boo: Mitt Romney goes to church and he listens to God. This is very important in our lives. And he doesn’t yell and make fights.

Mommy: I had no idea you were paying attention to the news.

We may be on different sides of the political spectrum, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

Boo:I listen to the news, and I listen to people talking. I don’t like all this fighting.

Mommy: Neither do I.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. We were driving in the car when Boo sprung this one on me.

Boo: How can Mary and I be friends if she likes Barack Obama and I like Mitt Romney?

Wow. I was really taken aback by this. I thought a minute and I knew it was time for us to have the talk.

Not that talk!

The talk about why we choose our friends, and about differences, respect, etc.

Mommy: We don’t choose our friends based on who they want to vote for.

Boo: Why not?

Mommy: We choose our friends based on their character, what kind of person they are. Does Mary treat you nice?

Boo: Yes.

Mommy: Is she a good girl?

Boo: Yes.

Mommy: Do you have fun with her?

Boo: Yes.

Mommy: Does she like a lot of the same things you do?

Boo: Yes.

Mommy: They you should absolutely be friends with Mary.

Boo: But what about politics?

She’s 5! Oh yeah, 5-3/4!

 Mommy: People have different experiences in life, things that happen to them, that make them believe a certain way. Did you ask Mary why she likes Barack Obama?

Boo: No. But I told her that I like Mitt Romney.

Mommy: Did you tell her why you like Mitt Romney? What did she say?

Boo: I didn’t tell her why. She didn’t say anything. I should tell her?

Mommy: It’s OK to talk about why we think differently or why we are different. We have to respect people’s beliefs and feelings. That means we don’t talk mean to people if they think differently. We can ask questions and try to understand why they think the way they do. You might learn something. If everyone were absolutely the same, things would be kind of boring, right?

Boo: I think so. So should I ask Mary why she likes Obama?

Mommy: If it’s important to you, then ask her. But you shouldn’t argue. Everyone gets to have their own opinion, whether you think it’s right or not.

Boo: You said that before.

Mommy: Because it’s true.

Boo: OK. I’ll let you know what she says.

After school, I met Boo at the school door.

Boo: Mom, we have to talk!

Mommy: What’s up?

Boo: I asked Mary why she likes Obama. She said she doesn’t know. How can she like him if she doesn’t know why?

Mommy: She can like whoever she wants. Maybe she doesn’t know how to explain why.

Boo: I told her why I like Mitt Romney.

Mommy: What did she say?

Boo: She said, “That’s nice. He sounds nice.” Then she said she still liked Obama. So how can we be friends?

Mommy: You can be friends if you have fun together and you think she is nice. Maybe you guys can talk about something that you both like, and not about politics. You are alike in many ways. You both are Greek, have January birthdays…

Boo: We both like princesses!

Mommy: Yes!

Boo: So, I can still talk to her if she doesn’t vote like me?

Mommy: Absolutely. Auntie is going to vote differently than you. Does that mean you’ll stop loving her?

Boo: No way!

Mommy: Does it make sense now?

Boo: So it’s OK to love someone who doesn’t think the same as you.

Mommy: You got it!

Boo: I’m 5-3/4 you know. I’m big!

Mommy: Yes. These are important things to remember.

Boo: OK.

The morning after the election, I had to break the news to Boo that her candidate didn’t win.

 Mommy: Honey, I’m sorry but Mitt Romney didn’t win last night.

Boo: I bet many of those people can’t tell me why they voted for Obama!

Mommy: Does it matter? And besides, he is President Obama, we should be respectful.

Boo: I get it. I just don’t know why Mitt Romney didn’t win.

Mommy: More people voted for President Obama, so he won.

Boo: I didn’t get to vote! If I would have voted, Mitt Romney would have won!

Mommy: I’m sorry, Honey. You can’t vote until you’re 18.

Boo: Oh. Not even a 5-3/4 year old girl?

Mommy: No.

Boo: Oh well. I’m not going to talk politics anymore. I just want to have fun. I’m glad I get to keep my friends.

Mommy: Politics isn’t everything, Honey. Just like people pray differently and go to different churches, they like different politicians.

Boo: Mommy, we talked about this already. I’m going to get ready for school. I have so much to learn!

And don’t we all. Seems this election cycle, many of us have forgotten some of these things.

We let politics get in the way of friendships.

Sometimes it takes a 5-3/4 year old to remind us why we chose our friends in the first place.

To remind us to be respectful of others and their opinions.

We don’t have to agree.

But we must respect people’s feelings and their right to their opinions.

You may think differently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends or I can’t love you.

Things got very bitter this election cycle, but let’s not forget why we are friends—why we CHOSE to be friends.

Boo and Mary are little, but how many people are wondering the same things?

It’s OK that we think differently.

In fact, I think it’s good.

We can learn so much from each other.


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