Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Birthday

Earlier this week it was Niko's birthday. On the boys' birthdays, I always think about their mom.

Tuesday morning I wondered if - like me - she woke up and thought, "He's 5 today." I wonder if she imagined in her mind's eye what his day would be like. Did she visualize his daddy singing Happy Birthday to him, as he grinned from ear-to-ear? Did she know he would hug that man, squeezing tightly, out of sheer joy?

I'm curious if she let her mind run wild that day. Did she paint a vision of Niko's family life? Could she let herself dare to dream that he celebrated his birthday standing next to his big brother, her other son? And if she did, what family did she conjure up for him, for them?

It's pretty safe to assume that in her wildest fantasy she's never pictured the boys with two dads, living in suburban Salt Lake, with a big, fat extended Greek family where everyone and their cousin is a theia or theio.

So did she invent the "perfect" family for him? Did she dare let herself believe that he has the type of childhood she sadly was denied? Or is her imagination only limited to what she knows?

Well, I truly hope she did. Because throughout the day I tried to send this woman, who has given me so much, a mental picture: Niko grinning from ear-to-ear as his daddy sang him Happy Birthday.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Sunday we joined the rest of the Scout troop for their annual hike. It's probably the last hike we'll get in this year; the weather is turning cooler and more rain is expected - the mountains are already topped with snow (the tallest peak in our immediate range had snow all year long).

Gus really enjoys the Scout hike - like all boys his age, he digs hanging out with his peers and being, well, boys. He managed to lobby his way into riding up with the Papadopouloses (to whom, in true Greekness, we're "related" by marriage).

For me, days like this offer Gus an amazing gift: a sense of community, a sense of belonging. Some of the boys he knows only from Scouts. Some are from his Sunday School class or serve as altar boys with him. But it's the shared experience, the shared memories that are important.

Hopefully, the fun and excitement will help him remember what I took away from the hike: the amazing beauty, the moose we saw, the chill autumn air I love so much.

Happy hikers

Hey, Moose!

On the way down the canyon

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Goddess Amongst Us

Gracie is my first dog. Growing up we had cats - Spook when I was a kid; Maggie and then her son, Sam, when I was teenager. I love Gracie - I mean I really love that dog - but there's always been a place in my heart for a cat.

Probably against my better judgement, I succumbed to Kelly's argument that we should "get the pets out of the way when the boys are young" and in celebration of Niko's upcoming birthday, we got the family a cat.

Saturday, Kelly and I spent a couple of hours at the Human Society looking, holding, petting and playing with cats. We needed one that was mellow, was OK with kids and liked dogs. After nixing the idea of a kitten (or two) we landed on a beautiful, 1-year old gray tabby.

To say the boys were surprised and delighted would be an understatement - Gus literally leaped into my arms in excitement. Niko was beside himself. We had finally gotten them a cat.

We've named her Athena, and so far, so good. Gracie ignores her - except to excitedly tell me through her eyes and wagging tale, "Chris, guess what? That cat doesn't eat all of her food! So I get to eat it! HOORAY!!" (We've moved the cat's dish out of Gracie's reach...)

Last night she spent the better part of the evening sleeping along side Niko in his bed. Much to his delight.

She's a sweet little goddess among us.

By the way, this photo was not staged. Athena's actually looking out the window with the Greek flag behind her!