As an alumnus of a Jesuit institution the phrase men and women for others is very common to me. Sometimes as we go along our daily lives it is hard to remember this and to put aside the craziness of your everyday life in order to help someone else. Last week I had the opportunity to do just this.
So I’ll fill you in on a secret, if my kid is beyond exhausted and won’t nap at home I get into the car and go for a drive. It isn’t the only way she will nap but if I haven’t tired her out early in the day this is usually a sure way of having one hour of quiet time. Last Tuesday I set out for our usual route and ended up down a residential area near the lake. I had a car pull over to let me go by them. I just figured they were trying to park along the road and began to pull around them. As I passed I could see the elderly gentleman waving at me. I pressed on the brakes, reversed a bit and returned to where I could hear him. The man was traveling with a female companion (presumably his wife). He looked approximately 80 years old and she in her mid 70s. He asked me if I could help him as they were lost and were trying to reach Ontario Shores (a centre for mental health sciences) which was about 10 minutes away. He explained they were from a town about 100 miles away. I told the man he needed to get back onto Bayly Street, to which he replied an emphatic “YES,” and I would lead him there. As I led the man through this residential area I began to think of my own parents and my in-laws and what if it was them who were in this situation. So I found myself driving down the road to Ontario Shores. When I pulled into the street that the Centre is on I rolled down my window and waved for the couple to pass me. The gentleman and his companion both thanked me profusely and he said to me, “I’ll say one for you in church this week.” I thanked him very much and wished them a good day.
It amazes me how this small gesture, 10 minutes out of my day, would get me on this man’s prayer list. I do believe in the power of prayer and figure we can use all the help we can get. I’m glad on that sunny Tuesday, I chose to stop and not stay in my own little world. I’m glad that I chose to live the model men and women for others.
Hello everyone I hope you had a great week!
Last week we did a #famjam road trip to a small town about 90 minutes outside of College Station, Pennsylvania. The road trip was to visit my father-in-law’s sister and her family. It was my first time meeting hubby’s aunt and one of her sons and a reunion for other members of the family who had visited a few years ago for a family wedding. We had a great trip down and our first night were able to be part of a birthday party celebration. Although as what happens with many gatherings, the toddler in the room takes center stage. In this case, she had 12 people singing and dancing to “If you’re happy and you know it!” Picture the group from 12-85 years old clapping on tune. I was too busy enjoying the moment to capture it but it was one for the record books!
This trip makes me nostalgic of my own extended family. My husband is lucky enough to have much of his family within an hour drive. My parents were the only ones to immigrate out of Greece so our entire family is there. Cousins who now have families and who’s kids have families in some instances. You missed so many important moments of each others lives but somehow when you see each other it falls right back into place because after all…you’re family.
Below is a picture of my view while visiting. I call it ‘serenity now’.
If you’re Greek or hang around a Greek long enough you’ll come to find out that once in a while a Nameday comes along and it is a pretty big deal. Namedays are the days in which the Patron Saint that you are named after is celebrated. Today happens to be feast of the Exhaltation of the Holy Cross which is also know as του Σταυρου. It is the Nameday for Σταυρο (Stavro or Steve) και Σταυρουλα (Stavroula). Today is a day to reflect on the importance of the Cross as a symbol in our faith. For more information on today you can read a great post here. I use it as a day to reflect on the importance of faith in our daily lives. You can wear a cross day in and day out around your neck and drape your arm with cross bracelets but it is how you live your life that matters. Are you giving to others? Are you compassionate? What are you instilling and teaching the next generation?
Today as we celebrate του Σταυρου, I remember Γιαγια Σταυρουλα (Grandma Stavroula). She was an amazing woman who touched the lives of so many. She was not my grandmother but rather a surrogate grandmother of sorts. She used to live down the street with her husband and then ended up moving into the apartment below me for where she and her husband lived for many years. She was full of life and was always on the go. She was the woman who would go out and find horta and share them with me. She would always cook for an army and her door was always open. As a typical Greek woman of that generation her job was to feed you and make sure you left when you weren’t just full but ready to explode. The πιτες, τουλουμβες, τιγανιτες, that came from her hands were second to none. What eighty something year old woman do you know who would roll out her own fillo dough for spanakopita? She was baking her own bread up until the end of her life and I don’t believe she ever purchased a loaf. As I was growing up it was wonderful to see her interact with her grandchildren and I like to think she saw me as one of them. She always used to say Roula when are you going to get married? Και να ειναι με ενα καλο παιδι, αυτο σου ευχομαι. Her wish was that it was always with a nice man. Every trip I make back to Boston I go visit her and pappou at the cemetery. I bring a candle to light and spend some time visiting with them. I always reassure her that I found my καλο παιδι and am very happy. There are days that I wish she was around to see it for herself. So today Γιαγια Σταυρουλα, σου ευχομαι να χερεσε το ονομα σου και το τραπεζι σου να ειναι γεματο.
Yesterday was one of those days that my toddler just was being a toddler. We had to do a mall run which I normally avoid and especially avoids during back to school shopping. But we needed to get two things including a gift so off we went. My mother in law came with us for the much appreciated help.
The first meltdown came when we were in the shoe section of a department store. We (the salesperson) was trying to measure her foot to make sure we had the right size. I know a couple of moms reading this will get a kick out of it because you mentioned your little ones had the same meltdown. The poor guy was so flustered he was telling me her foot was a size much larger than it is. How do I know this? Because I have six pairs of shoes in that size just waiting to be worn and I need something to get me there. Needless to say he was flustered when I told him to just bring me anything in a particular size. Ironically enough he had nothing in that size so we left empty handed.
The second outburst came after about 30 minutes in the carriage as we were sitting to have a cup of coffee. Little miss decided she no longer wanted to sit. So here we have a stroller, our Skip Hop backpack that has everything a toddler could need, two bags as we were able to buy a cute fall vest and some long sleeve tees for her and a child who wants nothing more to do with sitting. So as you can imagine the yelling starts, the child comes out, the carriage falls because of the weight of the bags and the looks and stares begin. At that time I proceed to take out a toddler hand harness to put on the little miss. If you’re wondering what the heck that is I’ve included a stock photo below.
Knowing my child wasn’t happy I had a feeling she’d start running so this was a way that I could keep her safe in that environment. She had the freedom she wanted and I wasn’t fighting with her every two minutes because Miss Independent doesn’t want to hold your hand. I will say that I normally have a backpack harness to use in large crowded areas and this was my first time with the hand one. We walked through the food court all the way to other side of the mall stopping about 20 times as you know how sidetracked toddlers can get. But what I found is there was no screaming. There was no fussing.
On the other hand the looks from others was amazing. Perhaps it was the crazy mommy guilt but I swear you’re being judged with each step. One mom who had 2 in a carriage and one in her arms kept looking at me so I spoke up and said, “She’s a runner so I have to make sure she’s safe.” She responded, “Oh lady I think it is brilliant and want to buy at least one!” as she gave me a reassuring smile. Sometimes that is all you need, even from a stranger. You know that you’re doing the best you can in the situation so move onward and upward. You’ll second guess yourself as a mom a million times but stick to your gut and you will succeed!
Okay how the heck did that happen. It is September…seriously?!?! I swear we were just saying we couldn’t wait for summer to get here and now we’re at the unofficial end (Labour Day weekend). I hope you all had an amazing summer and made the most of it. We did even though it was a hot one in the greater Toronto area. Honestly the heat doesn’t bother me it is the crazy humidity. Let’s just say it was a ponytail or bun for most of the summer!
We had so many firsts which is always exciting. The one that we’ve stuck with the most is swimming lessons. We have been going every Saturday for a couple of months now. Miss K is the oldest in the class, we started late in the game but she is loving it. It is so great to see her continue to enjoy the water and learn new things each week. She is fearless in the water and as much as I tell her she needs to hold my hand in the wading pool she’s dragging me to the deepest part in the shallow end (which reaches her chest). It amazes me to see the excitement in her eyes when she pushes herself to new limits. I guess the saying is true:
I can’t believe my little girl is almost 17 months old. Honestly it has been the craziest ride so far and I wouldn’t change any of it. As we plan a couple of surprises for the fall (it is mom’s favourite time of year after all) we want to make sure and soak in every last drop of summer. So make sure to get out there today and enjoy the sun, heat, and each other. Life is meant to be shared. Remember that and open yourself up to the possibilities that lie before you. And if you’re a pessimist and don’t believe the possibilities are out there then get off your ass and make them for yourself!!