Monday, March 31, 2014

A 10-Year Old's View of America

The back wall of the church's little gym currently displays the art of the Saint Sophia School kids. Among pieces inspired by Paul Klee are pre-school penguin paintings, and 3-dimensional mixed-media Chinese dragons.

Gus's class also had an exhibit of their original poetry. Here's how he sees his homeland:
That's right, America is awesome!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Just What the Catholic Kids Do

My wonderful friend, the late Michael Courtright, taught and was a vice principal at Saint Monica High School, a private Catholic school in Santa Monica, for many years.  One day, we were talking about the school, and I asked Mike what the non-Catholic students did during Mass. He looked at me with an amused look and replied, "Exactly what the Catholic kids do: sit there bored."

Over all these years, I  thought the answer was just another example of Mike's great sense of humor. But Tuesday was the Feast of the Annunciation - the day the Virgin Mary was asked to be the mother of Jesus. Since I was dropping the boys off at school anyway, I decided to stay for Liturgy.

During the hour they were there, I witnessed kids staring off into space, take great interest in the head of the person in front of them, or get reassigned to a seat closer to a teacher. So, what do non-Orthodox kids do during Liturgy? Same as the Orthodox kids: they sit there bored.

Monday, March 24, 2014

But They Can Marry Whoever They Want

At the end of My Big Fat Greek Wedding the young daughter of the main character asks if she has to go to Greek School. The response: Yes, but you can marry whoever you want.

This past Sunday, the boys joined their fellow students from Greek School to put on a Greek Independence Day program for the community. Over 100 parents, grandparents, and folks just out for a great show enjoyed songs, dances, a skit and poems.
I'll admit, on more than one occasion I got teary eyed watching my sons stand in front of the crowd and confidently and proudly performe. No, my emotion didn't stem just from their comfort in front of a crowd, but from a much deeper place in my heart. 
Throughout the entire evening, I couldn't shake the feeling that sitting next to me were my yia yia and theias - clapping along, cheering, laughing. Proud of the boys, but also of me for embracing and loving the culture and heritage they fostered in me, and the fact I want my kids to experience that sense of pride that comes with being Greek.

But mostly I'm proud of my favorite non-Greek, Kelly, who positioned himself right in front to photograph and videotape his Greek sons. He'll make sure they get to marry whomever they want.

Gus doing his part in the famous Zeibekiko dance, and Niko reciting, "I'm a little Greek boy, and even when I'm old there will be freedom, in my mind and in my heart."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

First Hike of the Season

Although we were still a handful of days away from the Vernal Equinox, last Sunday, seeing the anemic amount of snow in the mountains, the boys talked me into taking them on the first hike of the season.
A quick drive up Milcreek Canyon, and we were on the way.
The problem with Sunday's first-of-season hike was that I allowed Gus to be the leader. He promptly lost the trail and we ended up scaling the side of the mountain.
Hey, at least we lived.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Winter Tradition

One of the highlights of winter is a visit from our best friends, John and Sabine.  The boys always look forward to these visits, usually because we pack a lot of fun into a long a weekend!

We always try to get in some sledding.
Seriously, you cannot beat the views.
And we've added ice skating to the repertoire.
Although we have no lifts, no fancy moves, and no tosses over the shoulder, Sabine and Christopher just have to be ice dancing's newest darlings!
And as always, Kelly just loves to change history with Photoshop (Lieslel, this is for you!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chickens? What the...

In the past few years we've had chickens, I've learned a lot about them.
  • They're not very smart, but are incredibly paranoid. 
  • They can surprise you - like when Thalia flies up to the kitchen window, or wanders through an open back door looking for me.
  • And they never cease to surprise me.
During the summer, the Americaunas stopped producing...they hit the end of their laying years. I think my cousin, Karen, got the last blue egg. Kelly calls them "retired." I say they're "free loaders." Then today another surprise. Among the white and brown eggs, was an oddly shaped blue one. And with it, a very small - humming bird-like - brown egg. 

Chickens, seriously, what the...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Goodbye, Gracie

Gracie Jean: born circa 1998/1999 she left us March 9, 2014. Good dog, good girl, good friend.  No squirrel in heaven is safe.

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened," Dr. Seuss.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Accentuating the Positive

Lately, the boys have been driving me nuts.  They're both at developmental stages during which they have to push and test parental boundaries. Honestly, the snide remarks and eye rolls from Gus combined with the obstinacy and constant appeals to our decisions by Niko have left me underwhelmed with fatherhood. 

So I decided to reboot my thinking and focus on the attributes I most admire about the boys.

  • He's seldom afraid to try something new
  • He never meets a new kid, whom he doesn't immediately call his friend
  • He's admirably protective of his little brother
  •  He loves to make other people laugh 
  •  He has a vivid imagination
  •  He adores his big brother
Perhaps by accentuating the positive attributes of my boys, I'll remember why fatherhood is so rewarding.