Saturday, May 31, 2014

Smile Because It Happened

Yesterday was the last day of school. Gus was promoted to 6th grade, and Niko moved up to 2nd.  A few dozen kids joined them in taking a big step to the right, symbolizing they were stepping up to the next grade, stepping up to something new.

The ceremony brought something new to the school as well: Saint Sophia Hellenic Orthodox School will no longer function as an elementary. The grammar school doors are closed. Next year the school will return to its original intention and focus exclusively as a preschool.

In the four years my kids were students at this amazing school they learned so much more than reading, writing and arithmetic (or even Greek). They learned they were cherished, embraced and celebrated for who they are. They learned that education isn't about passing tests or No. 2 pencils, it's about reaching your potential and succeeding for yourself. They learned going to school every morning can be fun and stimulating - worthy of their excited anticipation.

They learned that teachers can really, truly care about their students. Sure, part of those connections were the result of very small classes (the death nail for the school), but it was really because of the type of teachers and administrators that the school attracted. Those who cherish children and learning, who honor all families no matter their composition.

Although we are optimistically excited about the prospect of the boys' new school - the American International School of Utah - we will always be grateful for Saint Sophia. It is the school I wish I could've attended. I am so very thankful that my kids did.

On that last day, hugging the director, Dana Easton, and the school's amazing office manager, Judy Haws, I admit my eyes teared up. But then I remembered an old saying:

Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened.

Because Saint Sophia happened I will always, until my last breath, smile.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Grow Some Teeth!

Babies, by their nature of being, well, babies, have absolutely no control over their bodies, what comes out of those bodies, or where it ends up. There's not a parent in the world, who hasn't been spat up on...or worse.

When the boys were babies, I had very few issues with all the gross body fluids that seemingly came flying out of them at all times.  I didn't mind wiping noses or butts.  Not that I want to start up again any time soon.

But there is another natural kids' body event that turns my stomach: the loss of teeth. Now that Niko is 71/2, he's starting to lose his "baby teeth" left and right. And almost daily he tortures me wiggling a soon-to-go-missing tooth, or worse yet, he shows me the big, gaping hole where just days before a perfectly fine tooth had once resided.

Seriously, for a guy that has been peed, puked and pooped on, you'd think a tooth dropping out wouldn't phase me in the  least.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Hiking

This afternoon we took our first family hike of the season. Since Big Cottonwood Canyon had more of its fair share of the parked cars of families enjoying the holiday, our goal was to drive up to Brighton and from the ski resort hike up to Dog Lake. Only problem: the late precipitation means the place is still covered in snow, and we didn't bring snow shoes!

We ended up hiking up the surprisingly-uncrowded Mineral Fork, which proved to the perfect place for the first family hike of summer.
I have no idea...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Crazy In Love

On May 18, 1949 a 23-year old Greek Navy veteran eloped with an 18-year old redheaded nursing student.

They were crazy in love.

After 65 years of marriage, 6 kids, 7 grand kids, and 7 great grand kids later. They still are.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why Niko Will Never Have the Title of Sole Survivor

I still enjoy the CBS program Survivor.

I find the human interaction, and how people choose to portray themselves on national television fascinating. It's also interesting to see just how far they're willing to go to win the title of Sole Survivor (and the $1 million prize.)

Several times over the many seasons, one of the challenges the competitors have faced is to eat local, exotic delicacies. Of course, these are foods that Westerners wouldn't touch with a ten-foot poll. Grubs, partially-developed eggs, brains, etc.
This morning, Niko called me down to the TV room. He had helped himself to some blackberries and in horror informed me that he could never eat this one:
Well, there goes his title of Sole Survivor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Odd Child

Now, I'm the first to admit that I was an odd child, blessed - or cursed - with a vivid imagination, and unhindered by many social norms. I mean, I knew better than to abandon all conventional norms in public, but alone just about anything flew.

Growing up, one of my favorite board games was Uncle Wiggily - based on the children stories dating back to 1910 - which I played with my friend, Connie, or simply by myself.

I'm not exactly sure anymore what the objective of the game was, but I remember I loved the player pieces.
To me they always looked far less like arthritic old rabbits, than like four of the ugliest women I had ever seen. And thus off of the board game and the oppressive restrictions of Milton Bradley's rules that's whom they became: The Four Wiggily Sisters. They were my own personal one-and-a-half inch action figures out for adventure.

Now, I recognize that the above is unusual enough, but gentle reader, it does get stranger.

I had just read Rikki Tikki Tavi, the adventures of a young boy as seen through the eyes of his protective mongoose.
Thanks to Rudyard Kipling, my Four Wiggily Sisters ended up being Victorians living in Colonial India on a watermelon plantation...bravely going it on their own after their parents' tragic disappearance in the wide river that separated their spacious home and the watermelon fields.
The river, of course, was the driveway, and the melon fields were the iris plants in the flower beds along the south side of our house. I discovered that iris pods bear a striking resemblance to miniature watermelons.
Their home was under the old lilac bush next to the driveway. In the spring the blossoms perfumed the air, and in the summer it offered cool shade from the blazing Indian / Utah sun. Just me and those four brightly painted plastic old men rabbit figures. Or as I saw them: ahead-of-their time adventurers battling cobras, tigers, the fickle river, and societal norms. All the while - and against-all-odds - keeping their parents' watermelon plantation thriving!

And forty years later, I still see those girls in my head every spring.
I never said I still wasn't a little odd.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to the world's greatest mom! A mom, who loves me in spite of me being being a jerk. A mom, who is freakishly patient with me. A mom, who probably had plenty of chances to drown me in the tub while making it look like an accident, but never did. Now that's love!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thank You for My Awesome Life

Today Gus came home with a Mothers' Day present for us that he made in school. It was a recipe holder along with a sugar cookie recipe and a couple of samples.

It struck me as kind of odd, since the school has always been good about having the boys make these presents for yia yia or nouna. But when I suggested that he may want to give it to one of them instead, he steadfastly insisted it was meant for Kelly and me. Not so much the gift, but the card.
Words cannot begin to express how emotional I got when I read what he had written. He finds his life awesome. He thinks we're brave.
He doesn't realize it, but "sweet," "wonderful," "strong," and "cool" are words that come to mind when I think of him.

Thank you, Gus, for my awesome life.