A financially savvy giveaway for your child!

Edited to add: Lucky number 14, Sarah, is the winner! Congrats, Sarah!

Every day as a parent, you learn something new. Or, you re-learn things you should have learned in the first place. Like basic math skills. Or the value of a dollar. These are two areas that need major improvement in my life. Amazingly, the two sort of go hand-in-hand!

I am a shopaholic. I spend way too much money on things I don't need, and on things my children don't need. They have it all. I can't say no, most of the time. I am learning, however, to say to them: "You can buy only one thing - so what do you want?" if we're out shopping now. So far, so good. (And yes, even that makes me feel a bit guilty, but we'll talk about therapy for me in a later post!)

As a parent, we want to teach our children well. We want them to learn from our mistakes, and we want to learn with them. I want my boys to grow up to understand the value of a dollar. I want them to realize that things are not going to be handed to them on a silver platter forever. I want them to feel proud about saving money they earned.

I recently stumbled upon a great way to teach my children - especially my 4 year old - how to start making smart financial decisions, thanks to Canadian author, Jeanette Ramnarine, who has written the award-winning children book The 4 Little Pigs . The 4 Little Pigs comes with four colourful piggy banks - each one called: Spending, Saving, Sharing and Schooling.

The book talks about how a child can start putting their allowance, and other money they come across, into each of these piggy banks. The book won a Mom's Choice Award, as well as a Moonbean Children's Book Award. What I liked the most about the book was the list on the last page, showing how much money should go into each piggy bank, per week, according to the child's age. It was an eye-opener for me! If only I could follow the saving/spending ratio, then I'd be way better off!

Jeanette kindly gave me a kit and book to review and keep, so I can teach my children about the importance of saving. She has also generously given me a kit and book to give away to one of my readers!

I showed my 4 year old the four piggy banks, and he said, excitedly,

"I am going to put money in my 'savings' piggy bank so we can go back to Florida again soon!"

And when we were talking about his 'sharing' piggy bank, he said he could use the money in it to help "the people who had that big earthquake."

This conversation took place during breakfast - clearly he's an eager learner, and along the way, I'm sure I'll learn a thing or two about saving, as well!

If you want to win the four piggy banks and The 4 Piggies children's book, leave me a comment telling me ways you help teach your children the value of a dollar. Do you give your children an allowance?

This giveaway is open to both U.S. and Canadian residents. I'll pick a winner randomly on February 5th.

Good Luck!

We've come a long way, baby!

Today was my son's first time participating in show and tell at his school. Can I just say, 'we've come a long way, baby!'

My once shy little boy has most certainly come out of his shell at school. He talks to me about his day, and when I ask him questions about what he did at school, he answers and tells me stories. I love hearing the things he says. I love that he is no longer as shy as he once was, and that he woke up at the crack of dawn, excited about school.

Today was an extra special day for him - not only was it his turn to do show-and-tell, he was also the 'friend of the day', AND - the best part of all? My mom was the invited guest at the school. She read from the book she recently illustrated, talked about her career as an artist, and did a painting demonstration for the children, from kindergarten to grade 3.

Christos brought in some of his crystal and rock collection, and talked to his classmates about why he loves collecting them and where they came from.

At the end of the morning, he said: "Today was my best day ever at school!" and hearing those words? I melt.

It is hearing the little things like that make my heart beat a little faster, that make me feel like a million bucks, that make me so completely happy as a mom. Isn't it the same for you? When your children are totally happy, what more could you ask for?

Because if my son had the best day ever today? Then I did, too! It's really that simple.

Pretty in Pink!

When I was recently in south Florida with my family, my sister and I were in Tory Burch, because I wanted to buy a pair of comfy flats. I noticed the flats I bought also came in... children's sizes! And in a variety of colours! I picked up a pair, and said:

"I have never wanted a little girl until now!" And that is the truth.

Well, there was one other time I totally wanted a little girl, and that was when I saw this sweater at J.Crew:

I die.

Anyway, as I was holding the itty bitty children's sized Tory Burch shoe in my hand, my sister said to me:

"As if. If I had a girl, I'd never buy her a pair of Tory Burch shoes!"

Remember how shopping with her is a nightmare? She went on to argue about the validity of me buying a pair of Tory Burch flats.

"Well.... why do you need them? It's not like you can wear them to the... park!"

At which point, even the salesperson laughed, because it was clear I had won that arguement!

Anyway, back to my story: I am really, in all honesty, so happy that I have two boys. I love being a mom to boys. Boys are magical, wonderful, so full of life, and so totally active. They make me laugh all the time, and keep me on the edge of my seat, too. They are my boys, my darling little sweetie-pies, and I am so complete with the two of them. I love seeing things through their eyes, and learning everything there is to know about trucks. I totally respect constuction workers, too. I am always in awe every time I see a bulldozer or cement mixer. It's fun to learn things from a 'boy' perspective, you know? Plus, when I was a little girl, I loved playing He-Man and She-Ra and LEGO and watching Star Wars. So it's totally cool that I have boys.

At the same time... girls are so cute, too.

And? I just found out that my baby sister is having a GIRL! A girl in our family! A new baby... a girl! I'm so excited, because do you know what this means? It means that since my sister is having a baby girl, I can now buy her Tory Burch flats! And cute sweaters from J.Crew!

And I can send my sister pictuers of this beautiful nursery from Pottery Barn Kids:

And this one:

And I can buy this new baby a dollhouse! And furnish it, with fine wooden furniture, like this:

Oh, the joy! And a sleigh bed for her dolls? Okay!

Yes, I'm happy with my two little destruction workers, but the fact that my sister is having a girl is totally fabulous... now I can buy pink to my heart's content!

I won't do anything over-the-top, though, like suggest she buy this $20,000 crib. I mean, I know where to draw the line, okay? (But it's kind of cute - admit it!)

And I certainly won't suggest she buy her baby a $4,000 high chair. That's just silly.

And now, even though my sister will probably roll her eyes at my suggestions for her baby girl, there is no stopping ME from buying things for her, right?

Like... cute pink Converse and pink tutus!

Coming up: I'm in charge of planning my sister's baby shower! Squee! I'll be writing a post about this soon, and I'll need your suggestions for everything fabulous and pink for a baby shower!

Interview with a fashionista!

You know those moms who always look perfect and seem to have it all together? Right down to their children's bedtime routines? I don't know many people like that, but there is one mom of 4 who is very active in the blogosphere - her name is Audrey and she is totally that mom!

Audrey is a mom of 4 boys - all under the age of 5 - and she is the founder of Mom Generations. Audrey was recently named one of the most powerful moms on the internet, listed in "The Power Pack" by Nielson Online. She's also been on the Rachel Ray Show, featured in Woman's World and Pregnancy magazine, and is the creator of '365 Days of Fashion Advice for Moms'.

Audrey was recently at the People's Choice Awards, too, mingling with some pretty awesome celebrities!

A mom of all boys who loves to shop and a woman who provides fashion advice every day of year? What's not to love?

Here's my interview with this fabulous mom!

Audrey, I read on your blog that you've been known to find a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $50. Please, share your secret with me!

Yes! This was my biggest score ever! Every summer I go to an event in the Hamptons called Super Saturday. It is hosted by Donna Karan and Instyle magazine... and essentially it's a HUGE designer garage sale. Designers sell their merchandise at amazing discounts, and the best part - 100% of the proceeds go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. I just love the cause and think it's an amazing way to raise money and awareness. So... the Manolos were from that very sale! Yes, $50!

You co-wrote Preconception Plain and Simple - A Deliciously Smart and Sey Guide in Preparing for Pregnancy - what is the one piece of advice you would give to a pregnant woman?

My one piece of advice is to relax and let it happen. That was the reasoning behind writing the book. When you're trying to get pregnant you get very focused on getting pregnant. When I was trying for my first son, it's all I thought about. I was enjoying the process or relaxing. So I started researching fertility rites from ancient times, all the way through modern day. The one underlying theme was relax... and enjoy. It was tough to change my way of thinking, but through the process of writing the book - I learned about foods that increased fertility, aromas that increased fertility... tons of things! All of a sudden the process became FUN! I was relaxed and enjoying it... that's my advice.

Your '365 Days of Fashion Advice for Moms' is a huge hit, where you offer one piece of fashion or beauty advice daily on your blog - what are your top 5 pieces of fashion advice you'd give a mom?

1. Know what colors best look good on you.

2. Own one pair of jeans that fit you like a glove.

3. Make sure you own classic pieces - blazer, LBD, button down blouse - not just trendy pieces.

4. Own a sweater wrap!

5. When in doubt, monochromatic styles are always a safe bet - my advice, all black clothing works for everyone.

What do you think are the important items to spluge on? For me, it's all about designer handbags and sunglasses - they complete an outfit! As well as a great pair of comfy flats - I adore my Coach and Tory Burch flats!

You know, I agree 100%. I always have splurged on handbags and shoes. They are pieces that you can wear year after year after year. A fabulous black handbag never goes out of style. A spectacular pair of black heels don't either. I invested in a Louis Vuitton Now bag a couple of years ago. Best investment I've made. Not to mention... on shoes, they are truly the foundation of your outfit. It's what you stand in, walk in... you want to make sure they are high quality and comfortable.

What is your favourite part about being a mom?

When I've been away for the day... or even just to the market... and I walk in through the door and hear 4 boys scream, "Mommy's home!" and dash at me with hugs. There's nothing like that!

How do you keep your patience in a house with 4 boys under the age of 5? Are you a very strict mom?

OMG... this is a tough one, I have to say. I totally cannot sweat the small stuff anymore! My boys are non-stop. I also work from home with no outside help, so it can get challenging. I try to keep my patience by having a sense of humor with it all. I mean, I never thought in a million years I would have 4 boys! That alone has gotten some getting used to... Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Cars... it's so different and so fun from what I knew as a child. I'm not a strict mother, I have to say... the boys totally know they have me wrapped around their finger.

Where is your favourite place in the world to shop? (For me, it's the Bal Harbour Shops... heaven!)

My favorite place in the world to shop is probably J.Crew. I love the classic trendiness that they have going on. I have always been a huge fan of their quality and just those sophisticated looks with a little fun/playful "something-something!"

What's your bedtime routine - for your children?

Bedtime is pretty crazy around here because the boys go to bed at different times (except my older 2). At 7PM, Henry (my 1 1/2 yr old) goes down. He needs his light on and the door cracked a little. My 2 1/2 year old, Benjamin goes down at 7:30PM, he's now in a big boy bed - so it's been an adventure with the ga-billion "Mommy and Daddy!" calling at night. My oldest guys - William and Alexander (5 and 4) go to bed at 8:30PM... we usually read right before they go down (We're into the Magic Treehouse books at the moment).

Do you love being the mom to all boys?

Oh, yes!! I absolutely love it! You know, it's funny. I was a very girly-girl growing up. I always thought I would have a daughter... and there's still time, so you never know! ;) But when I was pregnant with my first, I remember thinking it would be cool to have a son. When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, who would only be 12 months younger than William, I thought it would be wonderful to have 2 boys close in age. Plus, my husband never had a brother, so I know he really wanted to give that to our oldest son. With my 3rd... I had just suffered a miscarriage before his pregnancy... so to say I just wanted a healthy baby is an understatement. The sex never even entered my mind. When I found out I was pregnant with my 4th... I thought to myself... 4 boys, we have a boy band! ;)

Hope and prayers

As I sit her watching the Hope For Haiti Now telethon in the comfort of my safe 2-story home, with my children sleeping soundly upstairs, my tears are flowing freely.

I am a very emotional person, and ever since I became a mom, I am even more emotional. Especially about children - I can't bear the thought of any child in the world suffering. It breaks my heart, it haunts me, it keeps me up at night. The earthquake that recenlty happened in Haiti took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Thousands of children are now orphans, left alone, scared, without a mommy or a daddy to hold them, to hug them, to rock them to sleep.

This to me is the greatest tragedy of all - that along with the fact that parents have lost children, too many children, in this devestating earthquake.

It is too much - if you let yourself feel, it is too much. Donating money is all I can do, and sadly, that does not feel like a lot at all. I wish I could transport myself to this nation right now, so I can pick up a child, or two, or more, and hug them, feed them, provide for them, make them feel safe again.

The thought of adopting a baby from Haiti has entered my mind, more seriously tonight than every before. The thought of adopting a child from another country has been a thought of mine before, too - after I watched a special on an orphanage in Romania that nearly broke my heart.

I want nothing more than for every child who is suffering right now to be reunited with a loved one again, or to be adopted by loving parents, and to live in a warm, safe home. I want every child to be filled with love again, and laughter. To go to school, to reach their full potential.

Tonight, as I sit here watching the video footage from the tragedy in Haiti, seeing children being rescued from crumbled buildings, seeing families reunited, seeing babies sleeping side by side on crib mattresses outside, with no roof over their heads, I am overcome with sadness and a feeling of utter hopelessness - but at the same time, I'm thankful for the people - the volunteers - who are in Haiti right now, on the ground, helping those who are suffering.

I'm thankful organizations like UNICEF and SOS Children's Villages and Doctors Without Borders and of course, Red Cross exist - because of these amazing organizations and volunteers, so many lives have been saved, so many more will be saved, and children will be fed.

I know we have all done what we can, financially, to help the people of Haiti.

I hope I always remember how I feel tonight on days when I think I'm having a rough day, on days I complain about being tired. I'm so lucky to live where I do, to have all that I have, to be blessed with my boys and a roof over my head, and to have access to medication and clean water. I will continue to keep the children and everyone in Haiti in my prayers for a very long time.

I hope you will do the same.

Say Cheese! A giveaway for photo-happy moms!

Edited to add: Congrats to lucky number 17, Carabee, for winning!

Once you have a baby, you will spend a LOT of time taking pictures. I couldn't put my camera down once I had a baby - everyday, I try to capture the perfect shot.

As you all know, it can be quite difficult to get your infant to look at the camera, and sometimes, we go through great lengths to get our child to look at the camera. From singing songs, to jumping up and down and waving our hands in the air - yes, we try it all!
I was recently given the Shutter-Buddy to review and I think it would make a great gift for any new mom.

All you have to do is attach the black and white patterned material around your camera, and bingo - your baby will not want to look away from the black and white pattern!
I'm giving the Shutter-Buddy away to one of my readers... if you want to win, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me who you'd give this to, or if you'd keep it for yourself, and why!

The contest is open to U.S. and Canadian citizens and I'll pick a winner through random.org on January 29th.

Good Luck!

Bath-time tantrum time!

Everyday our children do things to us that test our patience, time and time again.

Yet, we survive. We survive on very few hours of sleep, we survive having our hair pulled, we survive cleaning up vomit from the back seat of a car, and we survive having food thrown around the house. We break up fights, we clean markers off the couch, and we act like clowns to get our babies to eat. All these things are more or less daily occurances, things that are now part of the 'new' way of living, right?

Isn't it amazing, how every single day, we solve epic battles in a house filled with... children? We are basically every profession, rolled up into one.

Please, tell me - is there a harder job than that of a mom? I think not.

Friends, we have now officially entered the tantrum stage with our otherwise perfect and oh-so-well-behaved 2 year old.

It just happened one day - he woke up, and decided to make life a little more difficult for his mommy. Anything will set him off. Although, to be honest, for the majority of they day, he is well-behaved. But when he wants his own way - watch out, world!

The other night, I took Dimitry upstairs for his bath - which he usually loves. I managed to take off his clothes with no problem, and then removed his pull-up diaper after I placed him in the bath.


The screaming commenced.

The crying.

The tantrum only a 2 year old is capable of acting out.

"Back on! Back on! Back on! Back on!" Dimitry was saying, while crying at the same time, motioning for me to put his diaper back on.

"Sweetie-pie, I can't put it back on, I ripped it off, and it's soaking wet now! See? Look how big it's getting... diapers are not supposed to be in water... Let me get you a new one?"

"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo... diaper... back on! Wahhh!!!!"

"Look, let's play with your favourite duckies, instead... here you go!"

Before I knew it, the duckies had made it half way across the room.


"How about I get you a new one? I can't put that diaper back on."

At this point, the diaper, having been sitting in a bath full of water, was now the size of a watermelon, weighing about 20 pounds.

He would not let me get rid of it. He kept insisting I put it back on him.

I didn't know what else to do, so I called for back-up.


My husband and 4 year old came running up the stairs, wondering what all the commotion was about.

"He wants his old diaper on! Look! I can't put it back on! He won't stop screaming! HELP ME! I don't know what else to do!"

My 4 year old decided to get in the bath with his brother. Which made Dimitry stop crying.

Thank God.

But then, Christos decided to pee on Dimitry.

So I had to empty the water, and fill the bath-tub again.

And then I got a bucket of water thrown on my newly dry-cleaned pants.

At which point, I sighed, yet again, and brought out the foam letters.

This all took place within a 30 minute period.

It truly is amazing I don't drink more wine on a regular basis, no?


I can't believe it. My baby boy, my youngest child, is now two years old.

Wow. My baby... is two!

Two years ago today, I was in the hospital getting induced, as I was 10 days late. My darling baby boy, it seems, was very happy to stay inside me for as long as possible.

That day, I was exicted to finally meet my baby boy, and nervous, because I going to spend a night away from my oldest son.

Except for my 45 minute epidural experience, which I'll save for a later post, giving birth to Dimitry was pretty easy for me. Since I had already given birth before, feeding, burping and holding my newborn was much more relaxing this time around.

My baby was born at 6:24 p.m., and I remember looking at him, thinking he was just so beautiful, with such bright eyes. He had a lot less hair than his older brother, too!

Since the day my baby was born, he's been nothing but a ray of sunshine. I've woken up beside him for two years now, and he always greets me with a smile this big first thing in the morning:

It's hard to be in a bad mood in the morning when you have this sunshine face to wake up to!

Last year, my baby turned one.

How quickly the year has gone by!

Dimitry is a social butterfly, very independent, very friendly, and very much a dare-devil. He has no fear, which is both good and bad - I've suffered some minor heart attacks because of his antics! He's rolled off of beds, fallen down stairs, climbed furniture and hidden himself in closets. He's been accidentally locked in a hotel room, he runs toward escalators and he's fallen backwards while sitting in a chair onto a tiled kitchen floor.

My baby, two years old today, is already a seasoned traveler - he's been to Florida two times, to Bahamas, to Washington, D.C., to Toronto and to Montreal several times. Except for the fact that he can't sit still on airplanes, he's a good little traveler.

He's friendly with everyone he meets. He's very smart, and he understands everything. He wants to know what we're talking about all the time. He tries his hardest to keep up with his brother, in every sense of the word. He loves to skip, and to run, and to dance.

He fills my heart with so much happiness and pride. I'm SO blessed that he is my baby boy, my darling ray of sunshine.

I love the pitter-patter of his little feet, kissing his toes, talking with him, reading to him, snuggles on the coach, and falling asleep beside him. I love seeing him blow kisses to his brother, I love hearing his voice, and I love hearing him laugh. He has most certainly completed our family.

Happy Birthday, baby boy - you're two years old now, and, according to your big brother, you're officially old enough to join the 'boys club' now! I love you SO much!


I'm back!

I'm back! Back from our beautiful vacation to sunny south Florida. It was our third time staying at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, and I have to say, I love it more each time we go - so do my children!

Despite the fact that Florida was going through some less than seasonal weather, for us, it was amazing! We were able to walk on the beach, and listen to the sounds of the weaves crashing on the shore, while wearing flip flops and little sweaters... instead of boots, coats, neck warmers, gloves and hats!

By Wednesday, the weather was HOT. Well, hot for Canadians, anyway! We enjoyed swimming in the beautiful pools, and spending a lot of time ON the beach, of course, looking for seashells - we came home with a bag full! We built sand castles, too, although nothing as good as this one we saw!

It was funny to see Floridians wearing scarves and mittens when we arrived - I guess it really was cold for them! If that was my winter? I'd be very happy, indeed.

Travelling with my children is not that hard - although I did have my grandmother, mom, and sister with me, so they certainly helped! However, Dimitry was pretty difficult on the airplane. He will NOT sit still - a 3 hour flight is the longest I'll take him on, at least until he's 5 years old. This is his 4th time flying, and it's not getting any easier with him. (Of course, at 6 months old and 12 months old, he was easy, but he's not a baby anymore!) My 4 year old, on the other hand, has always been great on airplanes.

What a great feeling it is landing in Fort Lauderdale, and seeing all the palm trees!

I loved waking up to this view every morning...

And playing on the beach with my boys...

Swimming in the lagoon style pool with waterfalls, and in the infinity pool...

And, of course, shopping at my favourite shopping mall in the entire world, Bal Harbour Shops, and eating dinner out at one of my favourite restaurants, Carpaccio's!

I loved the weather. The breeze, the palm trees, the ocean. The pools. The resort, the funny things that only happen to my family, shopping, people watching, and buffet breakfasts. I loved seeing my children playing together nicely, and visiting with other family members and friends who were also vacationing there at the same time. We all had a great time. And now? I need another vacation, because I'm depressed that my vacation is over. Isn't that always the case?

I know we'll be back soon, and I'm glad that we came back to pretty mild weather. It is nice to be home. And my boys, especially my oldest son, were thrilled to see their daddy again!

Now, time to plan my baby's 2nd birthday party - it's tomorrow! I can't believe my baby is almost 2 years old!

Just have to finish doing the laundry... the never-ending laundry...

Winter woes... to ocean breeze and palm trees!

It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of winter. In fact, there is very little I like about winter. To be honest, the only thing I like about winter is Christmas.

Now that Christmas is over, I'm ready for winter to be over, too. I know, you must think I'm crazy, because it is only January and this, folks, is just the beginning. I have many more mornings left of waking up to de-ice my car, cursing under my breath the entire time. And of course, there will be many more snowstorms to get through before April arrives, when we can finally rejoice in spring!

For now, I'm trying to make the most of it. By going to Florida! I just have to see something other than snow! Despite that fact that Florida is going through some really cold temperatures, it is still going to be far, far better than the weather we have here. I just want to walk on the beach, build sand castles with my boys, enjoy one of my favourite resorts, SHOP, eat at some great restaurants, SHOP, and sit by the pool drinking something tropical. Oh, and did I mention SHOP?

I wrote a post about traveling with children and how to keep sane while doing it a few months ago - I just read it again, to refresh my mind on how I'm going to stay sane when we travel. And with the new 'carry-on' rules at airports, it's going to be a bit more of a challenge, in terms of keeping my boys entertained on the plane.

The other day, we ventured out to shovel the driveway. One of the worst things about winter is the fact that it takes 30 minutes just to get dressed to go outside - from snowpants, to boots, to gloves and neck warmers and hats and then jackets - it's no fun at all. However, my 4 year old actually likes being outside, and I think that's great. I'm all for encouraging a love of the great outdoors. (Especially if I can wave at him from inside my warm house!)

On the other hand, my almost 2 year old does not like the cold. Every time we step outside, he almost gasps, and he says, repeatedly: "Cold! Cold! Cold!" He hates wearing his gloves, so he takes them off, then he cries because he hates how cold the snow is. Yet, he keeps putting his hands in the snow. He just can't win, my little guy. He's like me. He likes to compain about the weather. And rightly so.

Yesterday, we took a walk to the park, and we nearly froze to death. I pushed my baby on the swings for a while, and he was laughing... until he started to cry, because his fingers were so cold. I ran home the entire way, pushing the jogging stroller, and, of course, almost crying myself, because my lungs were frozen.

Yes... I'm quite happy I'll be in the Sunshine State as of tomorrow. Florida, stay sunny for me, please! Here we come!

Facing your fears

Growing up, I spent many weekends on the ski hills with friends, and aside from the always entertaining ride up on the chair lift, my favourite part of the day was going to the chalet to eat and to warm up.

I'm just not cut out for sports, or for the cold. Well, I was a really fast runner in school, and I'm still a great swimmer - so that has to count for something, right?

But skiing... it just wasn't my thing. Truly, the only fun part about skiing for me was the cute outfits and ski goggles and the rides up on the chair lift.

My friends and I would play a game where we'd have to finish singing American Pie on each ride up before we got out. It got to be really stressful, and we'd laugh and sing the entire way up. I was always scared I'd forget to get off and have to go back down again.

Even after a few years of skiing lessons, I was never brave enough to venture off the bunny hills. One day, while skiing with my friends on a new hill, I felt confident. I was doing great!

Halfway down the hill, my friend turned to me and said something she never should have said:

"Loukia! I'm so proud of you! Do you realize you're going down a black diamond hill? I did't want to tell you earlier, because I didn't want to scare you."

Of course, after those words were uttered, I stopped skiing, sat down, and refused to move. I was all of a sudden scared out of my mind. What the heck was I doing skiing down a black diamond hill? I was paralyzed with fear - I simply couldn't ski anymore! I tried going down on my bum, but that didn't work really well, considering I still had my skis on. My friend's boyfriend had to ski beside me, ever so slowly, the rest of the way down, because I was so scared that I wouldn't make it down in one piece.

Living in Canada, weekend ski trips away were common among my friends and I. Once we decided to go tubing in the snow. Let's just say - it's just as scary as it sounds. Instead of going down a hill on skis, you go down in an inner tube. Many people find this winter activity fun, but not I. It was the scariest thing I'd ever done, physically.

It was out of control... the speed in which we were going down that hill, I thought we would surely die. We survived, however. I didn't go down a second time.

A few years ago, I went white water rafting with my sister and her friends. I was naive, as I didn't even think I'd get wet. I had my hair in cute braids, wore my purple bikini and cute shorts on top. I had a little fanny pack around my waist, with snacks and my cigarettes. Our instructor took one look at me, and all but laughed in my face. "I'm not going to get wet, am I?" I asked him. A few minutes later, as our boat hit the water, I realized how dumb I was. We were white water rafting at about a level 3/4 - which was totally insane. I fell out of the boat twice - yes, twice - and I tried so hard to swim back to my boat, but it was impossible, as I was stuck in a current. I was thrown a life preserver, and I managed to make it back on the boat. Completey drenched, of course. So much for my peanut butter sandwich. And my cigarettes.

Later, we took a break, and had a chance to swim in calmer water. It was my first time swimming in a river, and it was pretty cool. Still, it didn't compare to the ocean. I kept thinking of the scene in Stand By Me, where the boys went swimming and then came out covered in leeches. I was conviced that would happen to me, too.

Afterwards, we had a little party with all the other rafters, and 'awards' were given out to people. I received the award for most entertaining rafter. Something to be proud of... or ashamed?

As you can see, I'm not really a big risk taker. My first night in L.A., I was too scared to walk down Sunset Boulevard, thinking I'd get shot. I survived, though, and I survived having a stranger play with my hair on the subway in New York City at 5 a.m, even though it was one of the scariest experiences ever for me.

However, no matter what scary thing I've experienced, or tried, or have lived through - nothing, nothing is as scary as being a mom.

My children went to bed at 5:45 tonight, on our drive home. As any mom knows, a bedtime that early is very scary... very scary indeed. It's going to be 'one of those nights'. One of those nights where as soon I fall asleep at midnight, one - or both - of my children will wake up. And they'll want to go downstairs. Or play. Or something dreadful like that. At a time when all I will want to be doing is sleeping.

Oh, the nights of a mother! Sometimes, there is nothing more scary than the night itself.

Nights when the children wake up, crying from a bad dream, nights when you have to clean up vomit and change the sheets, your child, and yourself, in record time, nights when you can't sleep because you're worrying about your children - now that is scary, on a whole other level.

I've been a mom for over 4 years so far - and I feel fairly confident that I can ski down any black diamond hill now. Because really, the skills it takes to ski is nothing compared to the skills it takes to be a mom!

Mistakes moms make

Last year, my husband captured this picture of my children, holding my Christmas gift, a week before Christmas. He emailed it to me at work, where I proceeded to squeal with joy, because that's what I do every time I see a little blue box. And oh, yeah - because my boys are just so darn cute in the picture!

This year, on Christmas Eve, after our festivities at my parent's house, we hung out around our tree before putting the boys to bed. My boys gave me a little blue box to open up, and excited as I was, I wanted to 're-capture' the great picture that was taken last year. For some reason, my youngest son wasn't in a very co-operative mood, almost refusing to sit with brother for the picture. I had no idea why, until later... you can see in the picture for yourself why he was so uncomfortable - in the rush to leave my parents house, in all the excitement on Christmas Eve, we forgot to put a diaper back on our baby. Oops.

I discovered this when I brought him upstairs to put on his pajamas. I took off his pants and... well, let's just say... it was very messy. Very messy indeed. And not just pee-pee messy.

Now I know why my baby was in such a bad mood - and I'll try to never forget to put a diaper on my baby again!

2010: The amout of times I've done laundry so far this year!

Happy 2010!

So far, the year has been... well, a bit puke-filled, to be honest, but fine. We celebrated with my family at an early New Year's Eve dinner complete with a fake countdown, which the children loved, and then we went to our friend's New Year's Eve party and came home in time for my oldest son's first vomit episode of the year - literally, before 1 a.m. Yes, we rang in the new year and then moments later, my oldest son threw up! Not the best start to a new year, but it can only ger better, right?

New Year's Day we celebrated with our families again, and Christos was the 'lucky' one, as his piece of vasilopita (Greek New Year's cake) was the piece with the lucky coin in it! That means he'll be lucky all year long, according to tradition. Dimitry got the coin last year.

Dimitry also really, really enjoyed the cake...

Last night, Dimitry woke up and threw up. He's been sick on and off all day, and on top of this new stomach bug, he still has a double ear infection. Both boys are getting over their colds, and coughs. It has been seriously non-stop so far this winter - and I hope this is the last of it!

So far in 2010, I've done an insane amount of laundry. It's almost astonishing, the amount of sheets and clothes and pj's that have been washed in the last 48 hours! I'm also really tired, as my life has been totally hectic since about December 20th. I am looking forward to sitting on the beach soon, and enjoying the warm sun with my children.

I'm hopeful and excited for the year ahead. I wish for health and happiness for all my loved ones, and for all of you. I haven't really set any 'resolutions' for myself, because I often fail, but the one thing I hope to change about myself is to worry less. That's something that will probably be the hardest thing to change about me - harder than losing weight, harder than quitting smoking, even. So far in 2010, I've stayed true to not smoking, and to eating healthier. I still have to work on my patience, though!

What are your resolutions, if you have any?
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